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. “I’m right here, Ed.”
“Promise. Print shop.”
“Yes. I promise.”
He didn’t answer.
“I’ll do anything you want.”
The rhythmic beat of the heart monitor filled the room.
“What do you want me to stop?” She pressed his limp hand against her heart. “You’re the love of my life, Ed. Do you hear me? Please stay with us. We need you. I need you.”
“I love you, Ka—”
The monitor’s steady pattern faltered. It paused, beeped, then paused again.
A moment later, it flat-lined. The dirge it whined shattered her heart.
Quinton Long and Katherine Kohler
“One more thing.” His steady gaze never wavered. “Your husband has a brother.”
“Yes. Oren Kohler. Why do you ask?”
“I don’t remember meeting him at the memorial service.”
“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.”
Her heart thumped in her chest. Her stomach lurched. She took a deep breath and swallowed hard. “I do not want to talk to that man. Not now. Not ever.”
Katherine stood next to the woman’s bed. Intravenous fluids flowed into IVs inserted in both arms. A tube transported oxygen into her nostrils, and a monitoring system recorded her vital signs at regular intervals.
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. She blinked and stared at the woman standing beside her.
“I’m Katherine Kohler, Edmund’s wife.”
“I am Yoshiko. You have my son?”