Chapter 28

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I went to work the next day despite Dominic's protests. He insisted I needed at least another day off to deal with my 'trauma' as he put it. I insisted I needed to get back to work and Charlotte to get my mind off of the situation until Friday.

Friday. That would be the day of the meeting.

Dominic had talked it over with his higher ups and they had agreed to supply a wire for Kathy, a small team to be in the vicinity of the meeting, and to pardon my mother of any wrongdoings that may be revealed during the meeting.

Until Friday though, I needed any and all distractions that were within reach.

I spent the entire work day playing game after game of hide and seek with both Maya and Charlotte, losing nearly every round due to their small stature and ability to fit in the smallest of crocks. We all ate lunch together and whilst Maya and Charlotte took their midday naps, I took some time to get to know Dominic's mother better.

While I already knew that Beth was sweet, nurturing, and prone to spoil children at any given opportunity, I wasn't at all surprised to find that more than any other attribute she possessed, strength of heart was her most prized virtue.

I thanked her endlessly for all of her help with Charlotte while I was stuck in a living, breathing nightmare and while she accepted my gratitude, she made it a point share her view on the situation.

"What you, my son, and that poor friend of yours are going through is nothing short of sickening and never in my 64 years would I ever wish something like this on even my worst of enemies. But of all the people I've come across in my years, never before have I met someone as resilient as you, my dear," she spoke.

"I find that hard to believe," I countered.

"Well, you shouldn't. I know I've had less conversations with you than I have the clerk at my grocery store back where I live, but from the short moments I've spent with you, the kind of kid Charlotte has turned into despite your mother and the things my son has said about you in total admiration, I know there's something special about you. Not just anyone can get my son to laugh and smile as freely as you do. If you can do that, sweetie you can do anything."

The day went by notably fast and before I could catch my breath from chasing both Maya and Charlotte around the house with my weapon of choice- a spoon full of peanut butter- while they ran away from me with stalks of celery, Dominic was walking through the front door.

His confusion at the scene before him wasn't entirely uncalled for.

Looking to Dominic with innocence wading in my eyes, I spoke. "They were the celery to my peanut butter... I- Ya know what? There's no need to explain, if you were gonna fire me it would have happened a long time ago."

He pursed his lips. "True."

"You're home later than usual," I observed. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah," he responded quickly, shrugging off his coat. "Just had to get some extra paperwork done before Friday." Nodding, I shoved the peanut butter coated spoon in my mouth, delighted by the sweet and familiar taste.

"Is my mom around?"

"Yeah, she was watching a movie in the upstairs living room last I saw."

"Okay, thanks." He hesitated to move for a moment, standing in still silence. Curiosity blossomed through my chest as I took in his furrowed brows and the deep consideration lofting through his eyes. I hadn't the time to question him though as he gave me a quick and curt smile before resuming movement as he left for upstairs. My eyes followed him as disappeared up the stairs, the voice in the back of my head piping up and insisting that something was off about his demeanor.

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