Cole started to laugh, then broke into another fit of coughing. Finally composing himself, he smiled. “It’s ok Key… I forgive you.”

“I’ll be here for you, Cole. We can fight this thing. I’ll be by your side the entire time, no matter what.”

“I can’t fight it,” I told her. “The only way I can escape this thing is with a double lung transplant, and there isn’t a match in the donation pool.”

“So, I’ll get tested,” I told him.

“No.”

“Yes.”


“No, you don’t understand…I have to have both lungs replaced at once. Otherwise, there will be reinfection, and I’ll only buy myself a few weeks. If it’s not both, it won’t work.”

“Cole, you’re the most selfless man I’ve ever met,” I told him. “You deserve a few more weeks, and I want to be there with you to enjoy them.”

I knew her intentions were good, but that wasn’t going to work. “Key, you’re being brash and impulsive,” I told her. “First of all, we’re not even the same race – the probability of you being a match is close to zero. Secondly, I’m not going to let you make a mistake like this. You’ll move on with your life, you’ll take what I leave you and live a life free of fitting into everyone else’s rules and restrictions to get by…”

“There HAS to be a way!” She shouted, throwing her arms around me. Kiona buried her face into my chest. “There just…there has to be something else…”

“There isn’t,” I told her gravely. “We’d need a miracle.”

“Miracles can happen,” Kiona sobbed.

“Not in my life,” I told her, my arms squeezing around her shoulders. I clasped her head against my chest and held her as she cried. “I don’t believe in miracles. I believe in math.”

I held her like this for several moments, until she finally pulled herself free, wiping off her eyes. I bowed my head in shame for putting her through this… And I felt her take my hand.

“I love you Cole,” Kiona whispered.

Part Four

Chapter 24

Devin

And they thought it would be so easy to get rid of me.

The board was lying, backstabbing pack of fools. A den of thieves and liars, they were, the entire rotten bunch of them! A gaggle of sanctimonious, self-serving hypocrites, they bitterly argued among themselves and threatened to drag this entire operation into oblivion. These insignificant worms thought that they wielded power.

They wield no power.

I wield power. True power.

I’ve paid my dues. My contacts brought this hungry and growing company to new echelons of success. Without me, Andrews Enterprises would be nothing. NOTHING! Half of these gluttonous suits wouldn’t have a chair to squat on if it wasn’t for all the work that I’ve done. Did they honestly think that they could toss me aside like crumpled garbage? Did they believe that I was such a lowly cretin, just a strong breeze away from losing everything?

No. Not Devin J. Coppersmith.

Cole Andrews was a fool, too – a dying fool, that’s marginally sympathetic, but a fool nevertheless. The day I discovered his secret, I discovered my power. That was the day that I forged the alliance that would save me.

He never suspected his darling little Kylie.

Whatever he did to piss off that little ginger minx, it did the trick. I would have never known that he was breathing his last without her help. It was she who “accidentally” gave me access to his files – she who showed me what I needed to know. Of course, he needed to know this for the plan to work.

The rookie changed the game. She played her part better than I could have imagined. Larry Higgins was perhaps the biggest fool of them all, but that was yesterday’s news. The imbecile should have seen right through her deceptions, but he let her do the job I hired her for.

She was just like me. She was a survivor.

Her skills were exactly what I needed and she came well recommended. I set up a little shell corporation named Technolust and reached out. It was all so easy, I didn’t even have to leave a paper trail. For promises of a paltry sum, she was willing to compromise this entire company. She would start with Larry and work her way up. With the right passwords and access I could reach to the core of this company and take control of Cole Andrew’s little magical box.

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