The Candy Shop

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Rocco got off the phone with Captain Jameson and turned to Kira. “The Captain says Peters is in stable condition,” he told her and she breathed a sigh of relief. She had felt guilty leaving him. They retrieved the duffel bag from Leon’s BMW and then left his car parked by the river with the keys in the ignition. “In this neck of the woods, it’ll be stolen and stripped down before dawn,” Rocco remarked.

After driving back across the Mississippi, they had one stop to make before heading to the station to meet with the Captain and begin re-hashing everything that had occurred. Formal statements and a barrage of questioning lay ahead; but Kira needed to do something first.

Rocco pulled up in front of The Candy Shop and a new valet greeted them. “Keep it running,” Rocco quipped. “We won’t be long.”

“Mr. Coronado has been expecting you,” the new valet said, taking the keys from Rocco and ushering them inside. “He asked me to tell you to meet him in the living room.”

Kira knew Rocco was not happy about stopping at The Candy Shop, but she felt strongly about meeting with Lucas. Rocco made it clear that he agreed to stop only because he didn’t want Kira to meet with Lucas alone. “We still don’t know the depth of his involvement,” Rocco warned as they entered the building. “And he’s a very powerful mob Boss.” Kira appreciated his concern, but oddly enough, she was no longer afraid of Lucas Coronado.

They walked straight back through the double doors and into the room where her nightmare had begun. Kira instinctively approached the stained glass windows and peered down at the stage. It felt like eons ago that she had stood gazing down at the stage, tempted by the curiosity of whether or not she was young enough or sexy enough to still dance. When the side door opened she whirled around expecting to see Lucas, and was shocked to find Audrey standing in the doorway. She looked pale and thinner than normal, but alive. Kira rushed toward her and they embraced in a tearful reunion. “I’m so sorry,” Audrey cried, gripping onto Kira. “I’m so sorry.”

Kira stroked her hair and held her tightly. “It’s okay,” she uttered softly. “Everything’s okay now.” She closed her eyes and fought the urge to crumble beneath the weight of her own emotions. She and Audrey had a lot to discuss but this wasn’t the time or the place. When she opened her eyes again, Lucas was standing by the bar. Kira released Audrey and slowly approached him.

“The bold and the demure,” he said, but this time he looked at Kira when he said the word bold and at Audrey when he said the word demure. “Indeed an irony.”

Kira licked her lips and tried to keep her emotions in check. “Thank you,” she said, her voice cracking.

Lucas held out his arms, palms up and shrugged. “I did nothing,” he said and then subtly gave a quick wink of his right eye.

Kira understood his reason for denial, especially in front of Rocco. He could not admit to sending his men to kill Barkley or in taking out Landon, Ian and Frank; even if his motive was to save her and Audrey. Kira threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. “I know it was you,” she whispered. “You kept your promise. You protected your girls.”

“You will always be one of my girls,” Lucas said softly and then released Kira and quickly cleared his throat. Turning his attention to Rocco, Lucas said, “Detective Sterling, or shall I call you Mr. Green?” His lips stretched into a Joker-esque grin. “I believe your work here is done?”

Rocco nodded. “We’re even.”

“I am happy to hear it. Now, if you three will excuse me, I have a business to run.” Lucas escorted them toward the living room doors. “One more thing,” he said, stopping in front of the doors. “Take Agent Collier with you. I think her work here is done as well.”

“Agent Collier?” Rocco feigned innocence, as if he wasn’t privy to the fact that an undercover FBI agent was at The Candy Shop.

Lucas opened the doors and they stepped into the foyer to find the Cher-look-alike sitting in one of the red velvet armed chairs, waiting. She stood up as Kira approached her.

“You saved my life,” Kira said. “Thank you.”

Agent Collier raised her eyebrows. “All I did was give you the tool. You saved your own ass.”

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