TITLE: PERFECT MATCH
GENRE: ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Cali's gallery employee, Stephen, had confiscated priceless paintings, and kept whereabouts of her estranged father secret. Stephen's had a fatal accident and has asked for her.
Cali moved inside Stephen's ICU room, his body covered by a single sheet. Despite the oxygen tube, labored breathing racked his body.
"Stephen, it's Cali. Can you hear me?"
One palm lay open, and a finger crooked for her to come closer.
His glazed eyes stared up at nothing. "Will you?"
She leaned down. "Will I what, Stephen?"
"Please...not much time. I need your forgiveness."
What could be harder? He was dying. She wanted to bolt from the room. In these last moments, no matter what he'd done, she was all he had.
"You still here?" Fear shook his raspy voice. "Can't see you."
Cali's throat tightened.
"Did you turn out the lights? Where are you?"
Even the one who'd wronged her didn't deserve a solitary death.
"I'm here for you, Stephen."
A weakened cough passed his dry lips. "Please."
Hope. He had hope she'd offer a final kindness. All contempt for Stephen disappeared. Without hesitation, she laid a hand over his, its chill pressed inside her soul.
"Yes," she whispered. "I forgive you."
"Thank...you," he managed. "I have no right. Please, pray...
"'The Lord is my Shepard; I shall not want'..."
When his hand relaxed, she thought he'd gone to sleep until an unnatural stillness fell upon him. Stephen had taken his last breath while she prayed.
His last breath.