The Candy Shop

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CHAPTER 51

Frank’s funeral was beautiful and his murderous actions and sexual sins remained a secret. Kira thought it best to let Michael and Mallory believe that their father had died standing against mafia crime. In their minds he would always be a hero.

Leon had written a clause into his Will that left everything to Audrey, despite the fact that they had divorced. She was financially set for life. After baking a batch of her mother’s special chocolate chip cookies, Audrey took them to Father Montague, promising to attend mass every Sunday and to go to confession regularly.

Captain Jameson promoted Officer Reginald Peters to Special Detective and he became Rocco Sterling’s new partner.

Strangely enough, the entire Nader family was found dead. Benjamin was found floating in the Mississippi with a bag over his head. The rest of the family blew up when their house exploded due to a nasty gas leak. Kira imagined that it was the ski-masked men who wiped out the Naders, though no one would ever know for sure.

With Michael and Mallory back at school, Kira gave herself permission to break down. She mourned the loss of Frank and with some professional help, came to terms with the fact that she had killed Leon albeit in self-defense. She couldn’t get the images of his body out of her mind, but the therapist assured her that those too would fade in time. “Stay busy,” the therapist advised, which was often easier said than done.

A day never passed without Kira thinking about Rocco. A part of her wished he would call but the night Frank was killed, she had asked Rocco to stay away. She didn’t know how to cope with what had happened. At that time, she didn’t know what she was going to tell Michael and Mallory and the last thing she wanted was more confusion in her heart. She needed time to process and to heal. Still, there were days and especially nights when loneliness engulfed her and she would have given anything to lie in his arms.

In the weeks that followed, Audrey and Kira met for coffee, every Tuesday morning at the Starbucks on the corner. Although it was Tuesday, Kira didn’t feel like going. Teary-eyed and feeling sorry for herself, she dialed Audrey’s cell phone and cancelled.

Fifteen minutes later the doorbell rang. Kira exhaled and shuffled toward the door in her oversized, white, terrycloth robe and bulky slippers. She knew when she opened the door she would find Audrey standing there, holding two cups of coffee and lecturing her on how to fight depression. Sure enough, she opened the door and there stood Audrey with two cups of coffee. “You’re predictable,” Kira moaned.

“Right back atcha,” Audrey rebutted. “I was already in the drive-thru line to get our to-go coffees when you called to cancel.” Audrey stuck her tongue out at Kira and strode passed her, heading for the kitchen.

Kira was about to close the door when something caught her eye. It was a car that had turned onto her street and stopped in front of her house. Her heart started racing and although she wanted to yell for Audrey, she stood frozen.

Stepping out of the Hummer carrying a giant box of chocolates was Rocco, who abruptly stopped when he saw Kira standing in the doorway. Their eyes met and everything slipped into slow motion.

Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as he approached.

“You asked me to stay away,” he began and Kira’s eyes welled up. He drew closer. “But I was hoping, over the past several weeks that you might have had a change of heart.” A single tear ran down her cheek and Rocco inched closer to wipe it away.

“I don’t know how to do this,” Kira whispered, emotion rising in her throat. “I don’t know how to get through this.”

“One day at a time,” Rocco answered quietly, taking her hand in his and squeezing it tenderly. “Sometimes, one minute at a time.”

Kira fell into his arms and clung to him. In that moment she knew she was going to be okay. His arms wrapped tightly around her provided the security she needed to let everything else go.

Peering around the corner Audrey met eyes with Rocco. She gave him a smile and a thumbs up and he blinked his eyes slowly and mouthed the words, “thank you.” They had made a secret pact that, when the time was right, and Audrey believed Kira needed him, she would call and he would come. Audrey had made that call this morning.

Leaning forward, Kira brushed her lips against his and Rocco took it as his cue to surrender to the passion between them. He pulled her into a deep and tender kiss. A kiss that told Kira growing older didn’t mean she had lost her sexiness. A kiss that let her know she didn’t have to be alone. It was a kiss of healing, a kiss of truth, and one that soothed her soul. It was a new beginning.

Suddenly remembering the chocolates, Rocco handed the box to Kira. “Don’t eat it all at once,” he teased.

“Bite size pieces,” Kira said quietly, remembering Lucas’ words. “Bite size pieces.”

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