Part 2: “To the Death”

In the silence, Rose walked into the room. She had been standing in a side doorway and neither of them had noticed. She’d heard most of what they’d said, enough to scare her. Walking over to Ted, she put a hand on his arm and left it there.

She looked back and forth between Miriam and him, frowning.

“What does all of this mean?”, she said. Ted felt a quiver go through her body and he pulled her to him.

“It’ll be OK, Rose. Miriam here is a federal agent, and she’s got enough artillery in the back there to take down anything,” he said. But we may have to leave soon. It might be safer that way.”

She straightened and looked up at him, then at Miriam.

“If it’s that bad, then let’s go,” she said. Calm. He looked at her for a second, and then laughed.

“You are one interesting woman,” he said.

“I’ve got to get something from my car first, and then we can go,” she said.

She would deal with whatever had happened, would happen between Miriam and Ted. She at least knew her own mind and heart, now. What his choices would be would be his.

But this other thing was much more frightening, what she overheard about the woman that was after Miriam to kill her. And maybe Ted.

“What will be, shall be,” she said to both of them.

Che sarà sarà. ‘What will be, shall be. 

She’d heard it a number of times from an elderly Italian diplomat at the UN, where she had worked for a few years as a translator. He was in his 70s, but had charmingly tried to seduce her with attention and invitations to quiet conversations with wine and walks and talk of the world and of books and music. 

He was generous and courtly and gentle, and showed genuine appreciation for her beauty and brains. Or, at least, that’s how he made her feel. She ate it up, but always turned  down his gentle propositions to come to his bed with blushing good humor. The old rogue graciously accepted her refusals, sighing as he kissed her hand, invariably murmering “che sarà sarà”

“You have broken my heart, but I am only delayed, not deterred,” he would say, every time. She adored him, but never relented. The last time they met, she asked him why he made such an effort when he knew she would say no.

“Ah, mia cara Rosa,” his mellow, deep voice slipped back forth from English to Italian. “—A name never blessed another so well as it does you, and I mean that most sincerely.

“A woman is always a woman first. She is a woman before she is a mother or wife. And there is nothing more beautiful, no matter her physical gifts, than a woman who is loved for her truth.

“It is only then that she blooms like the rose and spreads light and happiness all around her. Women are wonderful beings, and I do what I do so that the world has more love in it, not less. I do what I can…’ and with this, he always finished with a shrug and a very Italian palms-up gesture of resignation.

She remembered clasping his thin hands in both of hers and kissing him on the cheek with great feeling. He was a hopeless chauvinist and still saw women as best suited for motherhood, but it was hard to resist the charm and genuine admiration and desire he projected.

The last image of him was as she walked away and looked back. He stood in a doorway, tall and thin, impeccably tailored as always in a $4,000 grey suit, blowing her one last kiss, waving with a rueful smile. If she did not have a ticket for the train, she might have turned back.

The memory warmed her still, and she found herself wryly hoping he was still up to his own tricks. She was sure he would be, even with his nurses on his death bed.

What will be, shall be. She felt herself smiling, wistful.

Time enough to sort this out later. She had a business to run, and with a last glance and a smile back at Ted, she turned, nodded slightly to Miriam, and headed down the hall to the kitchen and the back where her car was parked. Her purse. She’d left it there last night. She found herself humming the old Doris Day song, based on the phrase as she went.

“Wait.” Miriam’s voice called from behind her. “I’ll go with you.” Rose paused and Miriam was soon beside her, the Glock in her hand.

“I’ll explain it all to you later, but I need to go with you. And this—“ she raised the gun and showed it to Rose —“is necessary.”

Ted was standing in the hallway, just outside the door to the study by the front entry, the Lab by his leg. He just nodded to Rose and the two women walked down the long hallway toward the kitchen. The sight distracted him and he was full of conflicting emotions all of a sudden.

When Ted tried to remember what happened next, he always had the feeling that it was happening to someone else.