The Favor

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Chapter 20

After her conversation with her mom and Ethan, Jane excused herself and headed to her room. She needed privacy to think about Ethan’s dilemma. She couldn’t decide whether Ethan was brave or naïve. Maybe neither. Could it be that he was objective, and she wasn’t? Springer had turned her life into a nightmare, and she wanted— if not revenge, at least satisfaction. They both wanted justice. Ethan wanted justice for Teresa. She wanted the police or FBI to make an example of Springer. If Springer and the other scum who preyed on the vulnerable suffered consequences for their actions, the world would be a better place.

Much of Springer’s financial gain had come through manipulation, bribery and blackmail. He expected his employees to do his bidding without complaint.

Kathryn AKA Jane had learned the hard way that Springer was a hard taskmaster. She worked twelve hours a day when she took over as club manager. She had never applied herself in school, so early on she made mistakes. Fortunately, she was a quick learner. By her third year as manager, the club was thriving. She had never been patient, but she had acquired patience.

The atmosphere changed when Springer walked into the club. In front of customers, he treated her like a queen. In private, he raked her over the coals for the existing and non-existing irregularities that popped up. In truth, he knew that he was lucky to have her.

Springer and Ethan didn't clash because he followed orders, and the customers liked him. Ethan was quirky, but he was a good worker. Unlike some of people on staff, Springer didn’t try to intimidate him. Ethan kept his mouth shut, followed orders and was a favorite of the club’s customers. In other words, a valued employee. There was no reason for Springer to consider Ethan a threat unless a customer in the bar happened to hear Ethan’s ramblings when he was drunk.

Unlike Ethan, not only had she humiliated Springer, she had betrayed him. Time away from the situation had given her the clarity she didn’t have when she lived in New York. In hindsight, she was embarrassed by her behavior. Not only was she guilty of making excuses for her actions, she had been an accessory to crimes committed.

When she was a teenager, she had been so sure she didn’t have options. There were always options. She was blind to them. Once she made a choice or chose an option, she didn’t have the courage to admit she had made a mistake. Teresa’s death and Duffy’s disappearance were a grim reminder of the bad choices she made.

If fairy godmothers existed, and hers granted one wish, Jane would wish for a redo. Life wasn’t a fairy tale and redoes weren’t possible. Instead of wishing for what could never be, she was determined to accept responsibly for her mistakes and move on. First, she needed to make apologies to the people she hurt. Next, future decisions would only be made after considering the consequences of her actions.

Last, but not least, she would remember her mom's words. Life offers second chances.

She brushed aside her thoughts and went in search of Burke. She didn't want Ethan on her conscience.

When she entered the room used as an office, her dad was seated in Burke’s cubicle.

She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. “Are you in training to become an agent, Dad?”

He chuckled. “Not on your life. I don’t like violence and I don’t like sitting in a chair for hours at the time. The only reason I’m filling in for Jim is because Shawna keeps me laughing.”

Kathryn glanced at Shawna. “Agent Martin, I appreciate your efforts to make Dad’s day less tedious. He likes to keep busy, so being here in the safe house has been difficult for him.”

“I understand. I don’t like being idle either. I'm thinking about adopting your dad. My dad died when I was fourteen. Spending time with Ken reminds me of the good times my dad and I shared.”

“I’m sorry about your dad.”

“Thank you. It was a long time ago. Fortunately, my husband Bill and our two children helped fill the void in my heart after Dad’s death. You are very fortunate to have a dad, especially one like Ken.”

Tears welled in Jane’s eyes.

“Yes, I am, and I don’t tell him as often as I should.”

Her dad said, “And, we are lucky to have you back in our lives.”

“Thanks, Dad. Is Burke taking a nap or is he just taking a break?”

“He said he needed to rest his eyes. Staring at a screen for hours is hard on the eyes.”

“What about Simon? Where is he?”

Agent Martin said, “He received a text from his PI. It must have been important, because Simon zoomed out of here.”

“Hm-m. Maybe somethings brewing. What about the updates you’ve been getting? Anything useful.”

Shawna shook her head, “No. Remodeling crews start their day early. At four or four-thirty the crew in the warehouse should be ending its workday. I doubt Springer will show up this late in the day, but you never know. If the agents suspect that Springer is inspecting the completed work after hours, there is a chance they will do a stake-out.

“Try to be patient, Jane. This will soon be over.”

“I’m okay. It’s Ethan I’m worried about. He is planning to leave tomorrow.”

Agent Martin frowned. “Burke is probably in the library. Talk to him. If he thinks Ethan should hang around for another day or two, he won't mince words.”

“Thanks.”

Burke was lounging in a recliner with his eyes closed. Kathryn started backing out of the room, but she stopped when Burke said, “I’m not sleeping, I’m resting my eyes.” He slowly opened his eyes. “Are you looking for me?”

“I can come back later.”

“No need.” He motioned to a chair. “Have a seat.”

Kathryn took an armchair to his left.

“Something on your mind?”

“She repeated her conversation with Ethan, and then asked, “Do you think it’s safe for him to leave?”

Burke rubbed his eyes. He seemed to struggle for words. “Unless Springer is aware that Ethan overheard his conversation with Garcia—and Ethan is confident Springer didn’t—Ethan isn’t in danger. We asked him to stay here for a few days as a precaution. Is there reason to think otherwise?”

“From my perspective, there have already been too may deaths and disappearances. I don’t want Ethan to be another victim.”

“I agree. Simon’s PI send a text about a rumor he heard. If it turns out to be true, Springer will be in custody by tomorrow night.”

“I don’t suppose you are going to elaborate.”

“Not until I hear from Simon. Try to relax, Jane. The worst part of your ordeal will soon be over.”

“Not necessarily. If I have to testify against Springer, he will shred what’s left of my reputation.”

“Then let’s hope there is enough evidence to keep you off the witness stand.”

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