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Dark Secret Avenged

Short story By: Michael68

Sometimes those secrets we hold inside come back to haunt us. Other times they come back for blood.

Submitted:Nov 10, 2008    Reads: 144    Comments: 0    Likes: 1   

The night air was alive with the sound of rolling thunder as the rain poured down in heavy sheets, allowing the streets to have an obsidian look, in front of the small tavern. The storm itself seemed odd, for just a moment ago, the sky had been clear, no sign of what now was coming down on this small town. And yet, it seemed like this was just the beginning. As if there was something, which waited within its shadows to raise its motley head. The people in the tavern sat within the groups they came in with, or at the bar with the others, trying to forget the horrid tempest that was raging outside. They all sat there drinking and talking among themselves. Yet, the main conversation, which everyone seemed to be focused on, was the storm. How strange it had rolled in without any warning, and of course, when would it end? For most of them there, just wanted to get back to their homes when it let up, before the second wave of the storm hit. Everyone knew that after an Indian summer like the one they had, they could expect to have strange weather like this.
Jessica Leigh sat at a table by the window, staring out at the menacing storm. The light blue and orange neon from the beer sign hanging in it, softly glowed on her pale face, as she had the feeling that something was coming for her. Something beyond the shadows that yet had been revealed to her yet. She had no idea what that could be or even why she was even thinking that way. Her hand reached over and picked up the smoldering cigarette that sat on the ashtray in front of her, then brought it up to her lips. She could hear the people behind her talking about how the storm would soon end and everything would go back to normal. Yet, she had a feeling that once this did pass, nothing would ever be the same again. She took a drag from her cigarette, as her eyes continued to stare out into the stormy night. There was something about it, which she found so serine about it, the way the rain sounded as it tapped on the window. But this time there was something ominous about it, which sent a chill down her spine. So many questions ran through her mind as she sat there. Not just about the threatening storm outside, but also things in her life, which she was forced to deal with. Normally, she wouldn't be at a bar at all, but especially on a night like this one. The only reason that she was there was because Robert, her boyfriend, asked her to meet him there. Saying that there was something that he needed to talk to her about. But here it was, two hours passed and he still hadn't arrived. She had tried calling his cell phone, but there was no answer. At first when she got there, she had felt excited, thinking that he was going to propose to her. But now, she would just be glad to see him walk through that door right now. Body soaked from the rain, hair plastered down, but he would be here and she wouldn't have to worry about him. That of course was not the case and millions of scenarios ran through her head. One that dealt with him getting stuck or in an accident, of course the one that truly haunted her was that he was having an affair. All the signs of him cheating were there, yet she refused to believe it.
"Come on Robert…. where are you?" she whispered to herself.
"Are you alright Jessica?" a woman's voice said coming from the side of her.
The moment she heard the voice, her jumped in fright, for she didn't think that anyone was near her. When she looked to her left, she saw a woman with short black hair, wearing a tank top and tight jeans, standing by the table. Jessica just smiled as she tried to calm herself down. The woman's name was Colleen Jacobs, a woman who Jessica had grown up with in this small town of Mokena. If there was one woman who would be able to tell when someone is telling a lie, it was Colleen. She would always say that it was just a gift that she had, with a playful smile and a joking tone in her voice.
"I'm…. I'm alright, Colleen. You startled me; I didn't think that anyone was there." Jessica said and then took a drag from her cigarette.
"I was worried about you. Sitting here all by your lonesome, staring out the window at the storm." she said, her hand touching Jessica's shoulder, as a slight Southern accent was heard in her voice.
"Have you seen Robert? He wanted me to meet him here, because he had something that he wanted to talk to me about." she asked.
"Oh…."Colleen said, then hesitated for a moment. "No, he hasn't been in today. And from the looks of it, I don't think that he will be coming here at all with this storm."
"I can't help but wonder what it was that he wanted to talk to me about. When I talked to him on the phone, he sounded so serious…as if something tragic was happening to him." she said in a worried tone.
Colleen just stood there with a lifeless expression on her face, yet Jessica had a feeling that she knew something about Robert. Heck, in a small town like this everyone knows everything that goes on. Especially if it is bad news that is worth gossiping about.
"I'm sure it's nothing to serious. You know Robert, he is always over-reacting to just about everything in his life. You want me to get you another beer?" Colleen said.
"Sure, why not. I am not going anywhere with that rain coming down." Jessica replied smiling.
She watched as Colleen made her way back to the bar, as the thought that she knew something still lingered in her mind. As she placed the cigarette back in the ashtray, she reached into her purse for her cell phone. Figuring that she would give him one last call before giving up on it. When she dialed his number, there wasn't even a ring tone, just that silence which was starting to get to her. She looked at the digital screen and saw the words caller disabled. Just seeing that brought a sense of fear running through her, for if he was fooling around, she would still be able to get his voicemail. There was something else that had happened to him, now she was sure of it. In her mind she pictured his Mustang flipped over in a ditch somewhere and he lay there dying. Jessica Sarah Patel that is the silliest thing I ever heard. You have a case of an over active imagination. the voice in her head bellowed. But it wasn't just any voice; it was the voice of her mother, who she had often heard when she was thinking something ridiculous. And in a way this was something that was just that, for she had no idea what it could be that had happened to him. She shook her head slowly, trying to get those thoughts out of her mind, for she knew too well that it would do her no good. Then her eyes went back to the window, wondering what was out there that was making her so curious?
At the bar Colleen stood at the far end, waiting for Candy, the bartender, to come over to get her order. Her eyes looked back at Jessica who was sitting there staring out the window again. A feeling of sorrow came over her. For she felt helpless with whatever was going on between Jessica and Robert. Colleen knew that Robert had been acting strange the last couple days, trying to hide everything from everyone, and become so isolated with the people that he had called his friends. Which was not the way Robert normally was, for Colleen should know, since he was her brother? She tried to forget about it as Candy made her way over to her.
"What you need Colleen?" Candy said in a cheerful Southern tone.
"Another beer for Jessica." she replied.
"Say, what's the deal with her? Why is she sitting there all alone? I thought that she would be up here at the bar talking my ears off. Like she does when I call her on the phone." Candy said.
"Robert asked her to meet her hear, to talk to her about something. He was suppose to be here two hours ago." she said in a serious tone.
Candy looked across the room to where Jessica was sitting with a concerned expression on her face and then back to Colleen.
"You mean she doesn't know about Linda? My God, I thought he would have came out with that already. A couple days ago he told me he was going to come clean with Jessica so he wouldn't hurt her any more. "Candy said.
"If you remember, he was also wasted when he said that too. He probably didn't have the nerve to say anything about it till now." she replied.
"That's your brother for you. Never able to own up to his responsibilities." Candy said as she handed Colleen the beer. "Tell Jessica, this one is on me."
Colleen took the beer and nodded and then walked back over to Jessica. Unsure if she should be the one who should reveal Robert's dark secret. In a way she wanted to, because half the town already knew what was going on. Since a lot of people had seen Robert sneaking away with Linda Stroger, a cashier at the dollar store, to motels just outside of town. Figuring that they were being smart and no one would fid out about it that way. Of course that was not the way it had worked out at all. After the second rendezvous, someone from town caught them and then the gossip grapevine had something new to talk about. She wanted to tell her, because she was her childhood friend, but how could she do it. This was something that she just couldn't bring up in polite conversation. The only thing that she could do was to wait and see if Robert would show up, which was very unlikely. Colleen figured the best thing for her to do was to just wait and see what would happen. As she made her way closer to Jessica, a strange feeling came over her. Not really sure what it was that she was feeling, or why, only that the sensation was there. A feeling of dread, which slowly consumed her, to the point where she could not ignore it.
"Just forget about it. What Robert is doing has nothing to do with you. It is none of your business." she thought.
But in a way it was, for she knew about it, so that meant that she was involved with it no matter what. Still, there was nothing that she could do at the moment, except wait and see what Jessica would do next. When she reached the table, she placed the beer in front of her as Jessica smiled up at her.
"Candy said that this one is on her. Is there anything else I can do?" Colleen said in a caring tone.
"No. Just tell Candy that I said thank you and that I am sorry that I didn't come over to talk to her. I have a lot on my mind and just need some time to figure it out." Jessica replied.
Just from the way she said that, Colleen could tell that she was lost within the thoughts within her head and the worry of Robert. If she only knew the truth, then maybe she wouldn't be worried so much about him. But who was she to tell her that?
"You know you are probably feeling this way because of the rain. Bad weather like this always effects people like that." Colleen said.
"Yeah, I know. But there is something else. I am not sure what it is, but I feel like there is something that is going to happen. Something that is going to happen to me, but I have no idea what that could be." Jessica said, then giggled slightly. "Maybe I am just going crazy. Worrying about something that probably isn't going to happen."
"You are not crazy Jessica, just worried about Robert, that's all. I'm sure that he is alright." Colleen said.
"But I tried to call him just now and it said that his phone was disabled. Don't you think that is weird?" she said in a worried tone.
"Not really, he told me that he has been having problems with his phone for the last couple weeks. But he is too lazy to do anything about it." Colleen replied.
Colleen knew that was a lie, for Robert always was cautious when it came to his phone. Just in case his construction crew would call about a job that would come up suddenly. But when he wanted to be alone, he would pull the battery out so that way no one would bother him. And if that was the case, then she knew exactly where he was now. Jessica just looked at her smiling, not saying a word for a moment.
"You are probably right. He is probably trying to get here right now. Either that or he just can't find a way to call me." Jessica said.
"Yeah…"Colleen said and then looked back at the bar. "I should get back, still got some work that needs to be done. I'll come back in a little while to talk to you."
Colleen then walked away, leaving Jessica sitting there by herself once again. In a way Jessica was grateful for that, for she still had a lot of things on her mind that she needed to deal with. Things that she had buried deep within her, so that she would never have to worry about it again. But the one thing was, the past always found a way to come back and smack her in the face. Or at least that was what she thought would happen, for it had had happened to many times before in the past. She looked away from the window, her hand crushing the cigarette out in the ashtray.
It was then the front door to the tavern opened, the wind blowing the rain of the storm in as a stranger walked into the tavern. A man wearing a long brown trench coat and a brown fedora, the rim of it partially covering his eyes, or so it looked like. Everyone in the room had become silent as their eyes glanced over at the stranger. The door slammed shut by itself it seemed, as he stood there looking around the room. Then made his way over to a table across the room from the door. He sat in the chair so that his back was against the wall and he was facing the door. It was as if this stranger was expecting someone else to enter the tavern and was going to make sure that he saw him. Jessica found herself unable to take her eyes off of this stranger for some reason. As if there was something about him, which drew her attention to him. All that she could see of him was the tip of his nose, his mouth so straight and cold and unshaven chin. Normally someone like this man would be someone that she would have just passed by without even taking a second glance. For seemed like someone out of one of those action or horror movies. Droplet of rain fell off the rim of his fedora and down his trench coat, as he reached into the pocket of his coat and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a silver Zippo lighter. His head tilted back as he lit one, the soft glow from the flame illuminating his rough face. She could see his eyes staring at her for a brief moment so stern, that she found herself turning away from his glance.
"Why in the world is this man looking at me? What could he want from me?" she thought.
Of course she knew the obvious answer, even though it seemed that this man wasn't looking for that from her. Or maybe he was, but wasn't going to make it that obvious to her or anyone else. Still, there was something about this man that seemed almost familiar to her, even though she was not sure what that could be. Maybe it was just her imagination, the wanting to be with someone so dangerous, so daring that would thrill her beyond her own expectations. She loved Robert with her heart, but this stranger suddenly brought about a feeling in her that she never thought she could feel. Her eyes looked down at her hands, which rested on the table, as she tried to get the thought of him out of her head. The only thing was she couldn't. She could feel his stare weighing heavy on her as she tried to find something else to think about. Something…anything that would distract her from the knowledge that the stranger was watching her. But no matter what she tried she couldn't get the stranger out of her mind. She could feel the fear building inside of her, stiffening her back for a brief second as her eyes continued to stare at her hands. Till finally she couldn't take it any more and stood up and made her way to an empty barstool at the bar. She tried not to look at him as she moved, for she didn't think that she could handle catching his gaze.
When she sat at the bar, two men sitting on either side of her looked at her briefly and then turned their attention to the other person that they were talking to. The moment she sat down, Candy walked over to her, smiling so friendly to her.
"You alright Jessica? You seem so distant tonight, so unlike the way you usually are." Candy said.
"I just got a lot of things on my mind. I had to come over here because that guy over there was giving me the creeps. He keeps staring at me, as if he's waiting to do something." she said.
"Can you blame him for looking at you. I mean you are an attractive woman." Candy said.
Jessica just looked at her with a smirk on her lips, knowing that she was always the type of person who always knew how to cheer someone up. Still, she couldn't figure out what it could be that this man would want with her. Just the thought of it sent a chill down her spine, which awakened her senses. And yet there was still that strange feeling which brought about a desire so strong that she had felt like right now.
"Are you sure that you are alright, Jessica?" Candy said and then hesitated for a second. "I guess you found out about Robert. I am so sorry, I can't believe that he would go behind your back with someone else."
Jessica looked at her with such shock on her face, as her bottom lips started to quiver. A tear falling down her cheek, as she wanted not to believe what she was hearing. Still in her heart she knew that it was true. For she remembered the way he had been acting so strange the last couple days, coming home late without an excuse, ignoring her needs most of the time and now this. How could she have been such a fool not to see it? Candy looked at her with a surprised expression on her as she took a step back.
"Oh Jessica…I thought that you knew. I am so sorry that I was the one to tell you. God, is there anything that I can do?" Candy said.
"Just… Just leave me alone for a moment. I need a moment to be alone." she said as the tears began to flow down her cheek.
Candy walked away, looking back at her only once and then going to the other end of the bar. Jessica could tell that she had felt guilty about tell her about Robert, but she didn't blame her, for she was just being a friend. Still, the shock of finding out the truth cut her like a knife. If only she could find someone who would treat her with the respect and passion that she longed for. But in this small town, it seemed that was something that was impossible to find.
"Well, I guess it's another night alone Jessica. Another night of trying to get through the pain and suffering that I have to face." she thought as she lit another cigarette.
At that moment, the bar door flung open as the rain and the cold wind rushed into the bar, yet no one walked in. Everyone in the bar looked at the door, wondering what it could be that had flung it open. Everyone that was, except for the stranger in the fedora. He stood up as if he was facing his most hated enemy. His hands stayed by his side as he looked coldly through the doorway and into the stormy night. Without any hesitation the stranger raced to the door and slammed it shut. It tried to fly open a couple times, but he forced his body against it, and then finally was able to lock the door. Then he turned to the people at the bar, who just sat there unaware of what was going on. None of them said a word, as if they were waiting for the stranger to say something. He just looked around with a cold stern expression on his face, as if he had expected death itself to appear before him.
"Hey mister, you should calm down. That old door always comes flying open once in a while. It's no big deal." a man at the bar said.
But the stranger didn't answer. Yet, the cold stone expression on his face said enough to Jessica to make her fear him even more. She watched as he made his way back to his table, the whole time making sure that no one was able to see his face. There was something about this man that made Jessica feel that she had seen him before somewhere. The only thing was, she had no idea where that could be. She turned back around to see Colleen standing behind the bar, in front of her. She smiled softly at her, not saying a word. Jessica knew what she was going to tell her and it was something which she really didn't want to hear right now. The only thing that she could do was to take a drag from her cigarette and hope that she wouldn't bring up the subject of Robert again.
"That was sort of weird. And that hasn't happened before, because the owner put in a new door just last week." Colleen said.
"There is something out there in the storm that is trying to get in here. Trying to get to me, for some reason." Jessica said in a terrified voice.
"Jess there is nothing out there. You have to calm down, you are talking crazy now." Colleen answered.
But Jessica knew differently, for she could feel the presence of something in the air pressing against her flesh. Something cold and ancient, that came within the shadows and for some reason was coming for her. Maybe Colleen was right though, maybe she was going crazy, from everything she had to deal with. There was that possibility and she had to consider it too. Yet, it didn't seem to be that way to her, as if there was something else that she could not yet figure out.
Her eyes stayed focused in front of her, staring at the rows of hard liquor bottles on the back counter. The jukebox played Elton John's Your Song, which brought back thoughts of someone from her past, someone that she had loved so deeply and then lost from the hands of another. The memory of it was faded and fragmented, for it had been years since she had been in his arms, since that horrible day when she had lost him forever. But the one thing that she remembered the most was the one thing that he had said right before his life was taken away. I shall find you even after death. I will never leave you and my love for you will bring us back together. She never knew what he really meant about that, but always had a feeling that there was some way he would come back to her. But years had gone by and the thought of it slowly began to become nothing more than a dream. Now she was lost within this nightmare that she felt was just starting to come about. Or at least that was what she started to think.
"Why is this happening to me?" she whispered as she looked down at the counter.
The only thing that she found herself able to think about was the past. About the one man who had showed her what true love really was, touching her heart more than any man ever could. Jessica never found out who his killer was. The only thing that police at that time had told her was that it was more than one person who had done it. But who, that was what had bothered her for the longest time. Never able to find out who it could have been that had taken her love away. And in a way she probably never would find out. It was then the man next to her said something that she didn't hear clearly, so she just ignored it. But had a feeling that it was something that she really didn't want to hear in the first place. She could still feel the stranger's stare upon her as she sat there, trying to forget about her past. To forget about the pain of what she had lost. The man spoke again, his language was slurred from the drinking that he had been doing. But it was still clear enough for her to make out.
"Why is a beautiful woman like you feeling so down? Whatever it is, probably isn't as big a problem as you think." the drunken man said.
Jessica didn't respond, even though she knew who the man was. In a way everyone in town knew everyone else that was one of the problems of a small town. This man was Phil Montgomery, who worked at the local bottling factory not to far from here. Even though he wasn't being a nuisance to her yet, she knew that would soon change. Men like Phil always wanted things their way and would do anything to get what they want. But she was determined not to let him get it from her.
"Why don't you just go back to your drink and leave me alone Phil. Or maybe you would want me to call your wife and let her know what you are doing ?" she said in a harsh tone.
He just looked at her with a shocked and embarrassed expression on his face as he just sat there looking at her. Jessica knew that he was going to do something to react to what she said; the only thing that she wasn't sure about was what that would be. But no matter what, she was not going to let anyone hurt her, especially someone like him.
"You shouldn't be talking to people like that. Before you know it, you could find yourself in a whole lot of trouble." Phil said with a wicked grin on his lips.
"I don't think so, at least not from you. We all know that you got arrested for domestic violence and that you are on parole right now. One little slip up and it's back to jail for you and this time there will be no way for you to get out." Jessica said in a stern voice.
"How in the hell did you find out about that?" he yelled.
"It's no secret. The whole town knows about it. There is nothing anyone does in this town that we all don't find out about." Jessica said.
Phil just looked at her with a disgusted look on his face, for he knew to well that it was true. But still, he found himself trying to come back with something that would put her in her place. But because of his intoxicated state, nothing came to mind.
"The people in this town don't know all my secrets. There are some things I have done that no one knows about. Not even you." Phil started to say.
"Phil, we agreed to keep quiet about that. Don't go shooting off your mouth about it. You don't need that kind of trouble." his friend, Ronnie Peterson said, grabbing his shoulder.
Jessica felt that cold chill running down her spine again, this time stronger than she had ever felt it before. Normally, she wouldn't be afraid of him, for he would never lay a hand in a woman. But now that he was drunk, she had no idea what he would do. Before she could do anything, she heard the voice of the stranger next to them. His voice was low and almost threatening. Yet, there was something familiar about it. The only thing was, she couldn't figure out why. She turned and saw the stranger with the fedora and trench coat standing next to them. Shadows covered his face slightly as his hand reached up and grabbed Phil's shoulder. Phil instantly turned to the stranger, his eyes glaring with such rage.
"You don't want to do that. It will be the biggest mistake you will ever make." The stranger said.
"And who are you to tell me what to do? You don't know anything about me." Phil replied, glaring at him.
"You're wrong, I do know you. I know about the dark secret you are holding. About what you and your friend there had done to that man years ago."
Phil just laughed, yet in his eyes was the look of terror which he was trying to hide. He just looked at the stranger, trying to wonder what he was talking about. His body started to shake slightly, as Jessica started to wonder what was going on. She knew that she should have gotten up and walked away from this, but something kept her from doing so. It was as if she had to be there, to witness whatever it was that was going to come about.
"I don't know what you mean. You have the wrong guy mister, so you might as well walk away." Phil said.
"You know you did it. Leaving that man to die in that ditch not too far from here. You and two other men, just because one of them was infatuated with the woman he loved. So the three of you killed him, trying to make it look like an accident." The stranger said, loud enough for everyone to hear.
Jessica sat there, not believing what she was hearing. For she knew that they were talking about Tom Brolin, her beloved, who had been taken away from her years ago. Could it be that Phil and Ronnie had something to do with his death? If so, then who else was involved with it….the third person…the one who was infatuated with her?
"How could you know about Brolin's death? What do you know about it?" she said to the stranger and then turned to Phil. "And id it true? Did you have something to do with his death? Did you kill him?"
Jessica's voice had become panicked, eyes burning with such rage, as she waited to hear what Phil would say. Yet, he just sat there, refusing to even show any concern about what was being said. Ronnie tried to say something in his defense, but before he could, Phil turned around and told him to shut up. Then his attention turned back to the stranger as he stood up.
"Who the hell are you stranger? How is it that you know about me?" he asked as his firsts clutched tightly into fists.
The stranger's hand lifted up and slowly removed his fedora, revealing his identity. There stood a man with short brown hair as his hazel eyes glowed with such anger at Phil. The moment Phil and Ronnie saw his face, terror appeared on theirs. Phil took a step back, his body shaking wildly as he tried to utter something to say, but couldn't. For now they were staring at the face of Brolin, not sure what he was going to do.
"You're dead…we killed you.!" Ronnie screamed.
"No, you didn't. You left me there to die. I ended up in a coma for the last couple years because of you. When I came to, I swore revenge on you. I already took care of one of you, now all that is left is you two." Brolin said harshly as his hand reached inside his trench coat and pulled out a gun.
"It wasn't our fault…Robert told us to do it….We had no choice…He was going to frame us for something that we didn't even do if we didn't go along with him." Phil said in a scared voice.
"Too late for excuses. Now you have to pay for that you had done to me." Brolin said as he fired.
The bullet hit Phil in the chest, sending him flying backwards against the bar. He tried to scream, but it was already too late. His lifeless body fell to the floor, as Brolin turned to Ronnie. Before Ronnie could say anything, Brolin fired, the bullet hitting his head, making the side of it explode as his body flew off the bar stool. He just stood there looking at their dead bodies, not moving at all. Jessica sat there in shock, not believing that her one true love was before her again. How she wanted to rush into his arms and feel his lips against hers, like he did so long ago. But she wasn't even sure that this was really happening. That this was real or just a figment of her imagination.
"Brolin? Is that really you?" she asked in a scared voice.
He turned to her, those hazel eyes staring at her so lovingly as they had done so many times before in the past. He smiled as he placed the smoking gun inside his trench coat.
"Yes my love, it really is me. I am alive, and I have come back for you." He said as he moved closer to her.
"But how? The police told me you died. They said that there was no way they could save you." She said as a tear ran down her cheek.
"The cops that told you that were working with them. They had this all set up to take you away from me. So that way Robert could have you all to himself." He said.
"That's why Robert's not here. He wasn't having an affair, you killed him." She said softly.
Brolin held her in his arms, her head resting against his chest as she could smell the aftershave which he had always worn once again. Even if he were to say that he killed him, even though she watched him gun down Phil and Ronnie, she didn't care. For she still loved him, deeper that she had ever loved any man before.
"I did kill him. He was the one that wanted you all to himself. The one who planned the whole thing. But he was having an affair too. I caught him at a motel just outside of town with another woman. I hope you forgive me for what I done. But this was something that I had to do." He said.
Jessica looked up at him, her eyes sparkling with such excitement as a smile formed on her lips. Even though she didn't say anything, he knew exactly what she was thinking.
"Of course I do. I hope you can forgive me…for being with Robert. But I thought you were dead. I had no idea he had done this." She said.
"I know my darling. But now it doesn't matter. All that does is that we are together again and nothing shall ever keep us apart." He said, then held her close as their lips met in a tender kiss.
Her arms wrapped around him, feeling the passion once again flowing through her veins as if she had been reborn. And in a way she had been, for her true love had resurrected itself and come back to her. Now she could walk out of the shadows of her own despair and live within the warmth of love and joy once again. When they walked out of the tavern, the storm had suddenly ended. The warmth of the damp air surrounded them as the disappeared into the shadows of the night. Ready to continue the life that had been taken away from them those years ago. And live within the joy of their undying love. Right before their bodies disappeared from the sight of the people in the tavern, who came out to watch them. They heard him say something which seemed to hang within the night air for all to hear. I will never leave you. Our love has brought us back together and not even death can separate us, ever again.


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