Edmund Kohler and business partner Quinton Long own a successful printing shop in Colorado Springs. Ed’s wife, Katherine, heads a local hospital’s women and children’s outreach program. The adult Kohler children join the family business, relieving their mother of her promise to take over their father’s job if anything happens to him.
Except for the occasional intrusion of Ed’s younger brother, Oren, who shows up for a handout whenever he’s in need, they all live the good life. A concrete truck careening through an intersection and a deathbed commitment change it all.
Edmund and Katherine Kohler
“Kate…” Ed’s lips barely parted.
She leaned closer to hear his hoarse whisper, brushing his hand with her fingers. His swollen eyes didn’t open.
“I’m right here, Ed.”
“Print shop…please…promise…take my…place.”
“Yes, of course. I promise.”
He didn’t answer.
“Go on,” she urged after several seconds. “I’ll do anything you want.”
He didn’t respond.
“Whatever it is, please tell me. I don’t know what you’re asking.”
The only sound in the room was the rhythmic beep of the machine monitoring his heartbeat.
Quinton Long and Katherine Kohler
“One more thing.” Quin’s steady gaze never wavered. “Your husband had a brother.”
“Yes. Oren Kohler. Why do you ask?”
“I don’t remember meeting him at the funeral.”
“He didn’t come. I tried to locate him, but the last phone number I have had been disconnected. He doesn’t stay in touch. I assume he’s still living.”
“He’s alive and well. He talked to Ed at least three times in the last month, including the day of the accident. Yesterday, he called again. When I told him his brother had died, he asked to speak to you. You’d already gone.”
Katherine swallowed hard to keep from throwing up. Her heart pounded. “I do not want to talk to that man.”
“I take it you two aren’t close.”
His calm voice infuriated her. Why hadn’t she heard about these calls before?
“Oren and I were never friends,” she snapped. “He used to tap on us whenever he needed money. Otherwise, we never heard from him. The last time he called the house, I suggested in somewhat less than flattering terms that he get a job. He never phoned again.” Fury rose in her throat. “Ed never mentioned he called here.”
“Apparently, he didn’t mention a number of things.”
Precarious as her condition was, she looked like an exquisite oriental doll—black hair; full lips; almond-shaped eyes fringed top and bottom with long, dark lashes; and smooth, clear skin, paled now almost to the point of translucence. Her eyes fluttered open and stared at the stranger standing beside her.
“I’m Katherine Kohler, Edmund’s widow.”
“I am Yoshiko. You have my son?” Her weak voice barely exceeded a whisper.