Finally, Scott’s utter lack of compunction and grace under pressure proved itself useful!! Monica wrote off his abrupt outburst as some sort of manic fit brought on by the taxing events of the day. He couldn’t have been more grateful. It was as if she’d hit the ‘do-over’ button and he was back in the game. Not that his offer wasn’t sincere, it was. However, urine samples and propositioning the love of your life reeked of desperation and self-loathing, neither of which applied to him.

It was a quarter after one when Anna came bounding through Sharon’s door, a little saddened to see Sharon asleep as she’d yet to speak to her. She sat a vase of flowers on the bedside table and greeted Scott and Monica who were snuggled together on the settee.

“Kevin’s next door talking to Willow,” Anna said quietly.

“No need to whisper,” Scott said. “She’s sedated.”

Anna looked around the room. “Where’s Grant?”

“He went to check on his mother. He’ll be back shortly, and then we’re going home.” Monica stood and stretched. “Coffee?” she offered.

“Yeah, please.” Scott answered and Monica grabbed her purse and left for the café downstairs.

Anna turned her eye to Scott slumped where Monica had once sat. She bit back the words she’d come so ready to expel, the words that had almost come tumbling out of her mouth. Scott, of all people, would understand her vacillation. But would he trust her again? In Anna’s mind, the answer was a big fat no. She wouldn’t trust her. Lying is one thing but possible without evidence that may or may not send Anthony to jail for the rest of his life was another. Hell, she didn’t know what was in the luggage he brought with him from Macon. The damn thing had been sitting in the spare room since the day he arrived and every time she went near it Anthony turned into Mister from The Color Purple “Don’t you touch this here mailbox. I done fixed it so I know when it been messed with.”

For all she knew it could be anything or nothing at all. But she placed her bets on its contents having to do with his attempted murder BS which inspired his sudden flight to Atlanta. Could she be held accountable? The apartment was in her name not his. She took one look at Sharon sleeping and it didn’t matter. She’d at least point the hounds in the right direction.

“Undeliverable,” Joy shouted into the phone. “I have three events tonight and you’re canceling! What am I supposed to do for staff? We’re stretched thin and my guys can’t be everywhere at once.” She tried valiantly to keep the boat afloat while Monica and Sharon were away but operating on half staff and even less office space was unbearable. Following Kevin’s advice, Joy and the staff moved into three small offices while the police investigation was underway. By noon everyone was bickering, and the staff setting up Monica’s LA office called hourly for updates. And then, to make matters worse, in walked KC and Cody. A quick deduction of their somewhat questionable attire left Joy with the impression they’d come to pick around the farmyard for gossip like hens. Oh brother! Joy tried to slam her office door before they entered. No such luck, they were in. Let the clucking begin.

Joy gave her “Don’t start” speech and sat behind her desk and made peace with her misery. But in some rare hint of sympathy they came offering their assistance instead of annoyance. Joy’s mouth was still agape when Cody leapt from his seat and marched into the adjacent office to sort out the employee’s persistent calling. No doubt feelings were hurt in the process as he had a special way of dealing with troublesome underlings. Meanwhile, Joy gave KC the bad news: the staffing agency cancelled due to overbooking.

“Shit,” KC sighed mulling over the projects in front of her. “Those cocks couldn’t organize a bum rape in a barracks.”

“Tell me about it.”

“We don’t have enough people.” KC grabbed her purse and fished for her phone. “My crew will be there handling the floral arrangements. I’ll ask them to stay on and backup your team. That’ll give us twenty-five extra people we can divide between the three events. Where’s Anna?”

“She’s taking sometime off.” Joy said as she scribbled a note.

“Good to see she’s working just as hard as I am.” KC said sarcastically. There was no love lost between them. “Cody!” she called out. “Do you have any staff you can spare?” she asked when Cody appeared in the doorway with his hands on his hips, none too happy to hear his name being yelled. “We need a backup crew for tonight’s parties.”

“I can spare fifteen and I’m sure I can scrap up another ten from around town. You know folks won’t leave Monica hanging. Shit … not if they know what’s best for them!”

“Thanks Cody,” Joy said thoughtfully. “I mean it.”

“No problem,” Cody said. “We look out for one another. It’s a shame Anthony didn’t know who he was messing with.”

“He’ll get what he deserves.” Joy flipped through the contact list on her cell and looked up when Cody gave a hardy laugh.

“Girl please! He’s dead meat. We’ve already put out the word. Folks from the old neighborhood started a pool to see which cousin or baby-daddy will get to him first. My money’s on Peanut…that crazy bastard has nothing to lose!” He laughed again and left.

It didn’t surprise Joy that Monica and Sharon’s old friends were there in their time of need…it rather touched her. They held sway and clout but underneath the designer clothes Monica and Sharon were still the two girls from the projects who’d made something of themselves and neither forgot or denied from which they came.

The sun barely kissed the treetops as Mr. Fitz looked through the heavily curtained window out across his vast estate. This was all supposed to be his late sons’ inheritance but it wasn’t to be. No amount of love or compassion could heal a man resigned to a life of desolation and there was only so much a parent can do for their children. It is only when all earthly resources have been exhausted that a parent lets go and places their children in God’s hands and strives to find a measure of solace. Mr. Fitz hadn’t given up on his son, but with his death, Mr. Fitz had given up a little on himself.

Yet, standing there in the wake of another life threatening event, he smiled in a way he hadn’t in years. Through the adversities of his yesterdays, through the darkness of his night, the sun rose and fell not because he willed it do so—rather it was the nature of existence itself.

“From the darkness a new day begins,” he mumbled.

“Excuse me?” Grant asked from Mr. Fitz’s desk.

“Nothing.” He quickly composed himself and walked over to Grant.

“All done.” Grant slid him a pen and the document he’d been working on. “Sign for me and I’ll get these over to Barry.”

Mr. Fitz scribbled him signature and sat proudly. Out of the corner of his eye Grant could be seen shaking his head. “What?”

“You gave him everything.” Grant grinned.

“Would you have expected anything less?”

“No,” Grant said thoughtfully. “You’re not that kind of person.”

“Well, we’re not dead yet and I don’t want them knowing about it. You know how they are. They can’t accept anything—let it be a surprise. After the ball and chain and I are gone, he and Monica will have something to look forward to. And Barry will help him manage the estate.”

“How do you know Monica will say yes?”

“Please!” Mr. Fitz snorted. “Our worry is that he doesn’t do anything stupid in the meantime.”

Kevin paced up and down the hallway with his phone pressed to his ear. He’d sat with Willow as she typed her account of the prior evening. As hoped and without encouragement, she confirmed what the surveillance video showed: she’d come into the building and lobby unchecked by security. The security guards were only alerted to her presence when she tracked them down. No one, not even the doorman was on post.

“Damn it!” Kevin said aloud startling the nurses at their station. “Sorry,” he said as he walked into Sharon’s room. “We hit a roadblock.” He said to a barely lucid Scott.


“I’m trying to get a search warrant for Anthony’s apartment but the damn judge is stalling.”

Anna chimed in. “I can let you in. It’s my place. There are four months left on the lease. I’m the lease holder not him.”

And then there was light.

“Why didn’t you say anything before now?” Scott came to.

“No one asked.” Anna shrugged.

“Anna, I could kiss you.” Kevin said with more animation than anyone had seen from him. “Come on. We’ll call my guy from the car.” Anthony wouldn’t make it to trial but if there was evidence linking him to the crime at least the victim and her family would finally have closure. And closure seemed to be the order of the day.

“Wait, I can’t leave Sharon.” Scott pointed out.

Kevin ran next door, grabbed Willow’s elderly aunt, planted her in the chair beside Sharon’s bed with the TV remote and a twenty for her trouble, and waved for Scott to follow him. And he did.


Grant came upon his mother and Mrs. Fitz chatting in her study. No doubt they were running damage control. Frankly, WASPs are guarded; what happens inside of the compound stays inside the compound. And the speed and efficiency by which they close ranks is practically occult. If the tiniest morsel of private information was leaked to the public it goes without saying that it was done purposely and after much forethought.

Such was the world from which Grant hailed. Protective. Guarded. Closed. Self-contained and self-important. Yet this was the world it seemed anyone trying to make a name for themselves took pains to enter. The inhabitant, the WASP, happily condescended to a poor soul’s obvious efforts to appear as something different than what they were, to imitate their manners and ways because it entertained them like a child playing dress up in their parents’ clothing: cute and fun for a while but an ill-fit.

Witnessing seemingly intelligent people kowtow to a WASP simply because of their breeding used to trouble Grant. Even as a youngster Grant was treated differently, more so by those he later came to recognize as social climbers. It was sad when the social climbers realized their overenthusiastic hospitality towards the WASPs was only looked upon as an acknowledgement of their superiority.

Luckily, his family and close relations were of a different stock-- one which favored social works rather than idleness. However, there was one commonality Grant wouldn’t subvert for anything in the world: their loyalty to one another. An affront on one is an affront on all. And this isn’t taken lightly…ever.

Anthony, the daft prick, was about to have his testicles handed back to him on a heirloom silver platter.

“I’m leaving.” Grant rounded the doorway but didn’t step inside the room. “Monica needs to be relieved.” His brow furrowed when his mother slyly tucked a slip of paper out of sight. Mrs. Fitz’s nervous cough did little to cover her trail of guilt. “I’ll send the car back if you’d like.”

“No, we’re staying in.” Mrs. Fitz eyes darted. “There are enough people in and out of Sharon’s room. We’ll sit tight.”

“Yeah, well, I’m staying with Sharon tonight so don’t wait up.” Grant decided it was best he didn’t know what they were up to. There’s nothing worse than a pissed off WASP mother and her devilish sidekick. Too much money … too much time … too many contacts … yep, someone was gonna bleed.

“Who the hell are you?” were the first words out of Sharon’s mouth when she awoke to Auntie grinning at her. Grinning was all she did, she never spoke a word. “Well, alright then.” Sharon looked suspiciously out of the corner of her eye as if the little old white lady to her right was a drug induced hallucination. Thankfully, Monica returned a few minutes later and introduced Auntie and planted herself on the settee.

Still Auntie said nothing. Murder She Wrote took center stage.

“How is everything going?” Sharon asked Monica. They hadn’t had a real conversation since she’d been in the hospital.

“Joy is running the show. Cody and KC are helping her with tonight’s events and my office is almost ready so…” she shrugged.

“So when you are you leaving?” Sharon asked bluntly as this wasn’t a topic Monica wanted to confront least of all under the current circumstances. “I’m headed to New York as soon as the doctors release me.”

“Do we have to talk about this right now?” Monica rolled her eyes in Sharon’s direction. “We have company for goodness sake.”

Sharon looked at Auntie. Auntie pursed her lips and turned her attention back to the television.

“What happened? Did Scott ask you to marry him?”

Monica laughed. “I think he meant to ask but it was too rushed and he obviously wasn’t prepared. I let him off the hook. He’ll try again in a few days and I’ll say yes. I hope he’s ready to move to LA.”

“His semester is almost complete and his job…”

“His job?!” Monica interrupted. “He’ll have to quit his job regardless. I can handle being apart until his term is over but he’ll have to quit working immediately.”

It took a second for Sharon to realize that Monica was dead serious. “Mon, you can’t ask him to quit overnight.”

Monica sat up. “Why not? I don’t wanna be in California worried about him getting burnt to a crisp—remember, he’s flammable! At least give me the consolation that he’s not in harms way.”

“She has a point,” Auntie chimed in. All eyes fell on her. “Well, I’d better be going now. Willow will be looking for me.” She stood, kissed Sharon and left.

“Great!” Sharon huffed. “Your bad attitude ran Auntie off.”

“Bitch, don’t make me throw something at you.”

“I wish you would!” Sharon snapped playfully and then moaned as pains pierced her side. “I guess that’s what I get for being hardheaded.”