Final Arrangements

Final Arrangements by Nia Ryan Read Free Book Online

Book: Final Arrangements by Nia Ryan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nia Ryan
Tags: Christian, love, Marriage, Christian - Romance, first love, Courtship
"Whew. You better go ahead and become a pastor, Stretch. In
fact, a preacher, or a prophet. Because what just came out of your
mouth wasn't human."
    "Don't you agree with what I just said?"
    "Maybe. No. I don't mean no. I mean, yes.
You're right. What's happening is evil. Yes. But people should be
worrying about their own personal dying day instead of the end of
the world. Because once you die, that's the end of time for you.
Look at my Dad. He was here one day, gone the next."
    "Well said."
    "Why are we talking about this?"
    "Because you thought of your father," he
said. "And what a good, sweet man he was. And how you will miss him
and what he stood for. How the world is a lesser place without
him."
    "And to avoid thinking about him, I asked you
your opinion of the movie industry."
    "Yes. You asked me. And it helped you. For
the brief instant we were talking, your pain was gone. For that
brief instant. We took it away."
    "Keep talking like that," she said, "And I
might marry you at that. But we'd better get going."
    "I know. I'm dawdling. I liked what you just
said. Can I hold out some hope?"
    "Why not, Stretch? And I'm dawdling, too. The
thought of going back to Dad's isn't one I'm looking forward
to."
    "I'll help you," he said. "You're not
alone."
    "Right. God is with us."
    He took her by the elbow, his hand rough and
warm.
    "And I'm with you."
    In spite of herself, and how wrong she knew
it was, she had to admit he was a comfort.

    Chapter 5

    "This is your car?" she said.
    "Yes."
    "A Mercedes?"
    It was magnificent, silver, and a convertible
to boot, with red and black leather upholstery. She wondered where
he'd gotten it from. Not the small convertible, but the big one,
which she knew from her past dealings with a wealthy client to have
a 12-cylinder motor and cost somewhere in the neighborhood of
160,000 dollars. Hopefully it wasn't stolen. The car was the
priciest machine at the moment to grace the Gelson's lot. Not an
easy achievement in this neighborhood, an honor he wouldn't hold
all day. Not considering the odds that at any moment his position
could be usurped by a big fat Bentley, like the red one driven by
Fabio, or a Maserati, of the kind favored by Rod Stewart, which
would exude, even while parked, a sort of fierce, decadent
ferility. There was a paper bag on the passenger seat.
    "What's in that bag?"
    "My portable chess game. It folds up, but I
find it easier to keep the pieces in a bag. I take it
everywhere."
    "Stretch, are your parents rich?"
    "They're rich in faith, but not particularly
in money. My dad worked for Bendix as a mechanic and shop foreman
for 30 years. And now he works for me as my senior manager. But
only because he needs something to do, something to get him out of
the house a couple of days a week."
    "If your parents aren't rich, then where did
you get this expensive car?"
    "Simonson Mercedes in Santa Monica."
    "Not where, how?"
    "The same way everybody does. I bought it. My
accountant begged me to buy it. He said I needed a write-off. He
was running out of places to put all the money I was making."
    "An accountant? I thought you said your
mother kept your books."
    "Well, she oversees things, such as the
collecting of the receipts and such. But I have an accountant for
most of it. And a tax attorney. He paid for his services the day he
got me off the accrual system and doubled my deductions."
    Shannon sighed. Questioning Stretch would
never break the fantasy. It was time to be completely honest.
"Stretch, before we go a step further, I have to tell you
something. And when I do, if you choose to walk away, I'll
understand. You can drive away and leave me standing here at the
entrance to this supermarket and I won't say a thing."
    "I won't do that," he said.
    "You might. Stretch, I realize that you have
some sort of little problem. I know there's no tactful way to bring
this up. I don't even know what they call it nowadays. I only bring
this up because I want you to know I know about your

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