Albert Denk sat at the table holding his head in his hands. He’d just read the local gossip rag showing a picture of his daughter under the headline reading “One Long Party.” Gloria was not pictured with her fiancé but with a man he didn’t know she knew. He’d invested a great deal of time in an arranged marriage that Gloria knew nothing about. Now it was ruined with one article and he would be financially washed up if Gloria didn’t marry Javier.
He pictured Ernesto, Javier’s father having him executed for backing out of the agreement. Albert could live with that since he was the idiot who offered his stepdaughter sealing the deal. Once Gloria and Javier were introduced, she would fall for the handsome, smart, and rich, young man. Just her type. Everything was going well until he stopped at the diner where he picked up the gossip paper left on the counter.
Now Albert was looking at a broken deal and possibly his life. He was sick to his stomach. He called Gloria and asked her to meet him there. She had no idea that she was front page news. Gloria was his second wife’s daughter. He’d raised her since she was a little girl and she felt like his own child. She was everything a man could hope for in a daughter. He couldn’t believe he was offering Gloria as part of the deal when he was trying to convince Ernesto to work with him. He was relieved when he saw Gloria happy with Javier he knew he’d made the right choice. Now he couldn’t even bring himself to think about what was going to happen to her.
Ernesto would probably have her killed. And he wouldn’t be a gentleman about it, like a bullet to the head in the night as she exited her lovers’ car, unsuspecting. No. Ernesto would be the type to put her feet in cement slippers and throw her into the Chicago River. Albert knew he couldn’t let that happen to her. He thought about her as a little child when he met her. He was taken over by her innocence and charm. Gloria trusted him as her father.
It was better this way, quick. She wouldn’t suspect a thing. Just a father and daughter lunch, then he’d take her for a walk. Albert reached in his pocket making sure his gun was there. He folded the newspaper into a tight tube and tucked it into his suit coat. She couldn’t know about the article. He ordered lunch for both. Gloria came in and sat with Albert. She appreciated that Albert ordered her favorite, Cesar Salad. They had a wonderful lunch. Albert paid the check, patting his pocket reassuring himself that the gun was still there.
“Gloria, honey, take a walk with me.”
“Okay, Daddy.” He put his arm around her and walked her through the door of the diner. He wouldn’t let her suffer; it would be quick and merciful.
Dawn DeBraal lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, two rat terriers and a cat. Recently retired, she is learning her love of telling a good story can be written.