Emma researched the incidents Nathan outlined. The information he’d given her was verifiable. Understandably, more so now she’d read the incidents involved, the need for secrecy. A fragile child, taken out of an abusive home, and a woman, regularly beaten. Both incidents tragic as the woman and child involved were fragile looking and delicate. The beseeching look in the eyes of both woman and child, begging silently for assistance. Someone had caught them in a moment of panic and the “deer in the headlights” fear was very apparent. Both occurrences pulled at her heart-strings. She understood why someone like Nathan, strong, obviously adept, and with funds at his disposal would choose to take action.
Even though there were resources available to those willing to make that step to ask and receive help, it may not always be available to the wealthy with power whose control was far-reaching. Hence, Nathan’s desire to step in.
Setting the laptop aside, she dropped her chin in her hands. Wow! Impressive, and scary. She understood the dilemma all too well. If these people were wealthy enough that no one dared stand against them, it was logical to assume, they would be as willing and able to rain reprisals down on all who objected or took action.
Her admiration for Nathan jumped several notches higher. There were admirable men out there and plenty of them, Nathan obviously fell into that category. Equally so, there were those disgusting miscreants posing as parents that were cruel and vicious.
That was enough digging. Any more might set off alarms and trigger interest neither she and obviously Nathan would want. It was imperative that the identity and safety of the victim front and center. She was fully in Nathan’s corner. The risk, minimal to herself, insignificant. If she could assist in any manner, she was definitely in.
The doorbell’s sudden peeling startled her. Hopping off the love seat, she glanced at her watch and saw it was ten. Rather late for a caller, she thought before heading to the door. Peering out through the peep-hole, she saw Jim standing solidly looking straight ahead. He must have noticed her shadow for he smiled.
“Hello, Jim, what’s happening? It’s rather late, I was more than a little surprised to find you standing on my doorstep.”
“Sorry about the hour, Emma, if I may be so bold.”
“Goes without saying,” Emma responded.
“I have a gift from Nathan. He finished it only moments ago. The pain is still fresh, so I suggest you wait a day or two before attempting to hang it.” He stood aside indicating a small picture standing against the door, carefully wrapped in brown paper. “May I?”
“Certainly, come in.”
He removed his hat and placed it under his arm and lifted the package and as she stepped back, he stepped inside. “Where would you like it?”
“On the sideboard is fine.” Emma was curious and eager. As he stood aside, she yanked the paper aside and was stunned and captivated by the beauty of the painting before her. It was the garden behind the house, an evening picture depicting the quaintness and warmth in twilight. “OMG this is simply breathtaking!” Her eyes went from the painting to Jim. “Stunning!”
“Common sense tells me to return this, but my absolute delight overwhelms me.”
“Nathan wouldn’t have given it to you otherwise. Very happy you like it. Nathan will be elated I’m sure.” Donning his hat, he nodded and turning, left.
Emma stood there for another fifteen minutes before she could take her gaze from the exquisite piece of art. “OMG it’s mine! I can stare at it all day long. Savour it’s brilliance forever.”
After plunking down in her high back chair, she continued peering at the picture. It wasn’t going anywhere, but these first moments of joy were too precious to pass off as trivial.
Finally, when she could tear herself away, she picked up her cell and dialed Nathan. The second he answered her joy bubbled forth, “Nathan, it’s the most exquisitely beautiful piece of art I could possibly want. How did you know?”
“Your sheer pleasure in the little garden was obvious, and I wanted, selfishly, to immortalize a very special evening as well.”
That took her breath away as her cheeks pinked at the memory. Now, regardless the two would remain united in her mind, indelibly.