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Chapter 34

Yvonne on Fire

Kyle was not sure what to do with his time off. It had been a while since he had time to relax. He thought he could go over and surprise Yvonne at her office. He had not been there since they first moved all the office furniture and supplies to the new office after the fire made them move.

It was crazy over there as Kyle thought about all that had happened in that office. On the good side, he built a multimillion-dollar empire, even though it was taken from him by Howard and the courts. Howard, he left and went back to Chicago to start his empire with all that he stole from Kyle. He burned up in a fire in his apartment. They said it was caused by a white candle that was burning and fell on to the floor, catching the drapes on fire. David, his best friend, turned on him and tried to kill him and rape his neighbor’s wife. The janitor refused to clean the offices anymore because of the bad spirits that live there. The bad spirits who took over the office and wrote threatening words in blood on the walls and exploding candles. Kyle was getting depressed thinking about all the negative energy in that office and how it changed the lives of those who got caught up in it all. Even himself, now working for the Family, after losing his company, his marriage, and most of his millions, Kyle wondered about this curse the witch put on the candles. Was it the curse causing all the bad things to happen to those involved? He was feeling very uneasy. He had been smart and put some away when he saw that things were starting to go sideways at work. Also thank God for Yvonne who jumped in and started to run the company and, with hard work, started to build it back up. The good thing for her was that she got a new office in San Francisco, Marina District, and it came with a nice view of the bay. He was happy that Yvonne was not hurt from all the bad energy, and the curse if it were real, he wondered if his life could ever get back to normal, or maybe, this was the new normal. After visiting Yvonne for a little while, she suggested that he come over after work and barbecue a couple of steaks and kick it at her house. That sounded good for Kyle. He went across the street to the Safeway and picked up the necessary items for a good dinner with a pretty lady. Lucky guy.

Yvonne gave him the key to her condo so that he could put the groceries away and get things ready for the grill. When YL pulled up and came into the house, Kyle had a cold cocktail ready for her and some fresh flowers to lighten up the kitchen. He was busy getting the steaks marinated and some mushrooms to sauté, throw in some loaded baked potatoes, a fine bottle of wine, and you have dinner. It was a nice night for grilling as he looked out over the bay with ships coming back into the port for the evening. He had a fine cigar and a fresh cocktail. Things were good. Were things going to remain good? Could he quit worrying and just enjoy all the good things in life? They sat around her dining room table and enjoyed two medium-rare steaks with the mushrooms she loved so much. A fine dinner was had and then to the couch to just relax for this night. They had both decided that they wanted to stay home after Yvonne asked Kyle to spend the night with her. Kyle notified the ship that he was not going to be there tonight, and he gave the steward and the chef the night off. They both just kicked back and were watching television. Yvonne smiled over at Kyle, “I wanted to ask you about your family, you don’t talk much about them.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Everything, start with your mother and father.”

The conversation went on for hours it seemed, Kyle did not talk much about them, but when he did, he had a story to tell.

For Kyle’s family, it all started on an island south of San Diego where his dad had a job working for the navy as a firefighter. His father came from an affluent family in the Pacific Northwest where his family had flourished in the founding of a town. His dad had left the security of prominence to go on his own even though his grandfather had founded the town and pleaded with him not to leave what was to become his fortune in the future, but he wanted to do it his way and took his family and headed south to a beach town far, far away. This decision would turn out to be a wrong one, and if he could do it over, Kyle was sure his dad would have stayed and raised his family among all who loved them and had a great respect for the family.

Kyle’s mother, on the other hand, came from a family that worked the waterfront of a young city. His mother never got to know her own mother; it seemed she had disappeared, leaving very young siblings behind. With such a messed-up life for his mother when she was young and having to grow up without her mother being around, her father, who worked at the boat works in Coronado, the city where Kyle was born did not have the time to raise three children, his mother, and her two brothers. To make his life easier, her father took her to a mission in Oceanside to be raised by the nuns. His mother was devastated being taken away from her brothers and the only family she had ever known. How unfair this was, she thought as she cried her eyes out, feeling loneliness in her heart and that empty feeling of fear that hurt in so many ways. This was not easy because her father was so strict and never believed his children when they told him about their lives, and he just did not care, immersed in his own problems at a time in history when children were to be seen and not heard. Kyle never understood the stories he heard about her father being so strict to his children because he was a loving grandfather to his grandchildren.

Kyle always enjoyed hearing the stories of his mother’s family and how they were significant in the founding and leadership of a young city growing along the waterfront. The waterfront of bridges being built, boatyards busy building boats of all sizes for those who lived along the shores with businesses springing up everywhere. Those who worked so hard and went through so many hardships, all were so excited and full of hope to be part of a young nation. One could hear the noise of saws and hammers along with seagulls singing their praise. Her Grandfather Benjamin was a fur trader hunter from Connecticut, and in the early 1800s, he left New England in one of those big sailing ships with the large masts blowing in the air that he had spent a childhood watching them come into the Boston harbor in all their glory of sails in full bloom and the wind blowing them in and out of this very picturesque beauty of the mix of water and land. Those leaving, going into a world that was little known about, and it was men like Benjamin who opened the wilderness to all the rest of us, and on this day, he was on one of those magnificent ships he dreamed of, and now those dreams of an adventurous young boy were to come true.

Kyle admired his great-grandfather; they did not make many men like him. He traveled from Connecticut to San Diego, trading his furs along the way and seeing things others only dreamed about. He reached the coast of Southern California after months of exploring and gathering his wealth, and he was instrumental in the founding and the growth of this small coastal town. Kyle always thought back proudly of the history of his family and of his great-grandfather who had also fought in the Mexican American War.

The federal government had brought in troops on the Texas Mexico border after tempers were reported flaring between the two countries, leading the United States to declare war on Mexico, and within one month, California became the Republic of California, and the bear flag was raised in Sonoma. Benjamin’s bravery and leadership were noticed by those in rank and awarded him four thousand rolling acres in the region where he would build his ranch for his family. He set up a blacksmith shop in San Diego and built the first wagon using spoked wheels instead of the solid wooden wheels that were used at the time. It was there in San Diego on those beautiful hills and valleys that he would build his ranch and raise his family.

As Kyle’s mother would tell him and his brothers the story, there always had to be a box of Kleenex on the table because she would always start crying as she remembered her great-grandmother. As the story goes, her grandmother was pregnant and needing a doctor, so her grandfather, running out of solutions, put her in the wagon and got two of his most dependable mares and hooked them up to the wagon, and they headed to the city, San Diego. It was a rainy, dark afternoon. The sky blackened with clouds and wind blowing over the hills as they started their three-hour trip to the city on a dirt road with wagon tracks dug deep into the well-traveled dirt road, which was now flooded. Could they have picked a more miserable afternoon to travel? Benjamin moved his pregnant wife down the bumpy road, giving her positive enforcements that everything would be okay as soon as they got to the city and to the doctor. It was not much longer when Benjamin found his wagon wheel stuck in a hole, and his horses could not pull them out. Benjamin climbed out from under the tarp he made to keep them dry. Her great-grandfather Benjamin, who had sailed thousands of miles, went where no others had gone, lived off the land, and was now stuck in the mud with his pregnant wife in need of immediate medical attention. Knowing he had to do something to get the wagon unstuck, he got out to push the back of the wagon, but it would not move, so he went to the wheel and was pushing on the spokes when it started to roll back. As it did, it caught his pants, and then the wheel rolled over his chest, killing him there, in the wet rain, in the dirty mud, and his wife in shock and in severe pain and bent over the wagon.

Such a tragedy that afternoon devastated the family. Kyle’s great-grandmother went on to live a long life, one filled with a lot of work and love, running the ranch and taking care of the large family. Kyle was very proud of his family and all that they had accomplished in the early 1800s, including Benjamin, being one of the founding members of San Diego.

After such a tearful story they were ready for a good night’s sleep. They had been asleep for a couple of ours when there was a noise at the kitchen door. It was just after one in the morning, and someone was trying to break in. Still asleep in the bedroom, the intruder was now in the kitchen. He had a gas can and was throwing things around in the dining room, working his way back to the kitchen. When he made it to the back door, he threw a match into the kitchen area and watched as it all went up in flames before he bolted out the door and away from the condo. The inside was now all on fire and spreading to the front room when suddenly there was a crash in the bedroom. Jumping up out of sleep, the two of them looked around the room.

Kyle asked, “Did you hear that crashing noise?” as he wiped the sleep from his eyes. Yvonne was on her way to the bathroom to see what had fallen.

“Kyle, it was the candle on the back of the toilet. It had slipped off and crashed on the floor.”

Kyle asked with a look on his face, “Hey, do you smell smoke?” Yvonne started to walk over to the bedroom door that was closed.

“Yes, I do.” Kyle yelled at her, “Do not open the door! Get away from it!” He got out of bed and went over to the door. He put his hand on the door to see how hot it was before he opened it.

“My dad taught us this. Let’s see what is going on.” He opened the bedroom a crack and investigated the front room.

“Holy shit! The whole room is on fire. We will not be able to get out that way.” There were no windows in the condo. Both looked at each other. Kyle looked around the room as the smell of smoke got worse and started to come under the door. Yvonne was now noticeably shaken up, looking at Kyle, hoping he came up with some way to get them out. He spotted a floor light pole behind the nightstand. He grabbed it and tore off the light as Yvonne watched.

“What are you going to do with that?”

Kyle with the pole in his hands said, “Stand back. I am going to break through this wall.”

He started swinging the pole into the drywall repeatedly as the fire was hotter and spreading very fast and was starting to burn the door. Yvonne was alarmed and counting on Kyle. If he was wrong, they would both burn up and die. With all his strength, he kept smashing the wall and was now through one layer of the wall, working on the other one. He was not sure if he would have enough time but kept swinging as fast and hard as he could.

“Hell yes!” he screamed as he broke through to the other side.

“Come on, Yvonne. Follow me as I clear the wall.” Kyle was now in the bedroom of the couple who lived in the other unit. He climbed on his belly as he pulled himself through the hole.

“What the fuck is going on?” said Larry, lying on his bed and watching two people come through his wall. Kyle got to his feet.

“Sorry to meet you this way, but there is a fire in her condo, and we all need to get out of here. Wake her up,” Kyle said, pointing at the person asleep next to him.

“And get the hell out of here. I am going to call 911.” Yvonne and her two neighbors grabbed their coats and ran outside as the whole condo was going up in flames. Kyle met the other three out in the street as the San Francisco Fire Department raced around the corner. The fire was lighting the whole night up as several more fire trucks arrived to get this blaze under control. Kyle had Driver come over to get Yvonne.

“So you called your girlfriend? Everything okay for you to stay there for a while?”

“Oh, of course. She is ready for me.”

“I will have Driver take you there. I am going to stay here and talk with the fire inspector, then I will go to the ship. I just want to make sure that you are all right. I am sick over this, Yvonne. Yes, you are all right, and that is all that really matters, but you have lost everything, and I want to find out how the fire started. Driver, take Yvonne over to Sarah’s and then come back for me. I should be done soon, and thanks for the clothes.”

“No problem, boss. Be right back. Are you ready, Yvonne?” The fire had just burned out, thanks to all the trucks and men that showed up to put it out. There was nothing that was salvable from it, just a smoldering mess. The fire inspector walked up to Kyle.

“It is early to say anything, but you both are lucky to be alive. It looks like gasoline or something like that was used to start the fire. We found a gas can in the kitchen. Mr. Stone, someone tried to kill you.”

That was not the news he wanted to hear. What was he going to say to Yvonne? She just lost everything due to him. Kyle was sick to his stomach.

Back on the boat, Kyle emerged from what had happened last night and who was trying to kill him. The Russians were front and center in his mind, but there could be others before he blamed them. He was mostly concerned about Yvonne and her life; he just burned up. He had been on the phone with Woody, going over everything, and they were going to wait until the investigation was complete before they would decide on what action would be necessary to take. Woody agreed with him about Yvonne, and that made Kyle happy. He made a couple of phone calls and was ready to leave. He decided to go over to Sarah’s apartment where Yvonne was staying. She was not going to work, being so shaken. Driver pulled up to Sarah’s, and they went to the door. Sarah opened the door.

“Oh, Kyle, please come in,” she said as she looked at him and the other two individuals, he had with him.

“Hello, Sarah, is Yvonne around?”

“Yes, I will get her. Please, you all can have a seat.” They sat on the couch as she went in the back to get Yvonne. Yvonne came out, and one could see that she had been crying with her eyes watering and her nose a light pink. She had just gotten out of the shower to get the smoke out of her hair. Kyle stood up to hug her as they shared what they both just went through. Kyle was ready to introduce the two he brought.

“Yvonne, I want you to meet some special people I brought over to meet with you. I know it is just after the horrible fire, but that is why they are here. I know you just lost everything, so Maryanne is your new real estate agent. Yvonne, we will replace your home. We will buy you a new one. When you are ready, Maryanne and you will go house shopping in what area you want to live in, and we will buy the home for you.”

Yvonne now sat in the chair. A smile came over her crying face as Kyle shared the good news with her.

Kyle said, “Besides, I know you lost all your clothes and belongings. I want you to meet Cathy. She will be your personal shopper. She will help you purchase all the clothes you need as well as furniture and everything else you will need. I am so sorry this happened. I will do anything it takes to make you feel happy and safe again.”

They both hugged each other. Yvonne started to cry again as Sarah hugged her, but this time, it was happy tears. “Kyle, I cannot believe you have done this and taken care of this all so fast. I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything. I just want to make this all up to you, make it right.” Kyle had not told her that the inspector thought that it was set on fire, not an accident. He would tell her, but this was not the time. He needed to fix it all first and then tell her later. He still wanted to wait for the final report. Kyle addressed the two he brought in.

“Okay, you guys share contact info, and then we need to go,” he said as he reached his hand for Yvonne’s. The agent and personal shopper left the apartment, and Kyle hugged Yvonne.

“I am going to stay on the boat. You just rest and take care of yourself. I will call you later.” They shared a kiss. Kyle left and went to the boat, not telling her that he was probably the target.

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