The gondolier casually drifted us down the rivers of Venice as Cole and I relaxed, curled up in each other’s arms. The refreshing spring sun bathed us in warmth as I listened to his steady, strong heartbeat, smiling quietly to myself.
So much had happened in the last twelve months.
Larry Higgins funeral had been both a high and a low point. Hundreds of staff and family gathered to spread his ashes and honor his good nature. From a tragedy had come new life. His kidneys were now inherited by a young diabetic girl in Tulsa. His heart went to a thirty five year old father of four… And of course… His lungs had found a new life as well. In his own way, Larry was still with us. He may not have had the money or charitable influence that Cole boasted, but his sacrifice meant so much to so many.
His miraculous tissue type match was a lucky break, but Larry’s type O blood had certainly improved the odds for all of his donor recipients. Four of his six key antigens were matched with Cole, enough for a successful transplant even in his weakened state. Thus far there hadn’t been any signs of organ rejection.
I’m not sure Cole could ever make total peace with the idea that Larry had given him the gift of life, but he worked hard to honor his fallen employee’s memory. The charitable foundation Cole wanted to start upon his death became the Larry Higgens Hope for Hearts organization. They specialized in making future transplant patients comfortable in the months leading up to a suitable match, and provided free emergency high-speed air transport for matched donors and recipients when distance would be a factor in their ability to receive a viable transplant.
Going with Cole to visit the very first recipient of the new foundation’s assistance was a high point. A little seven year old girl was alive because the organization was able to orchestrate immediate cross-country travel with no expense spared to shave seconds off her arrival.
In the meantime, Cole had returned to Andrews Enterprises to oversee the transfer to Megami and to weed out dissension in the ranks. With his health no longer a weapon to be used against his net worth and his company’s value, Coppersmith was Cole’s first target. After some impromptu and fearsome interrogations, surprising and horrifying details came to light. Deprived of his leverage, the careless and embittered Coppersmith found himself kicked from the board and removed from the company.
In the aftermath, Cole launched an investigation in interpersonal company communications in the months leading up to his near death experience. What stood out like a sore thumb was the massive amounts of communication between Coppersmith and Cole’s executive assistant, Kylie. She buckled under the pressure revealed her role in the plot to sweep Cole’s company out from under him. Despite her cooperation, Cole took pity and fired her without involving legal counsel. She met the same disgraceful fate as her associate, but many in the building felt she deserved worse.
Turns out, they hadn’t taken into consideration Cole’s connections in the business world. No matter how powerful your friends are, the wrath of a young and vengeful billionaire will make them turn their backs. The last I heard, Coppersmith was retired and living on social security, and Kylie had taken up work as a waitress in a San Francisco Denny’s.
Partially out of punishment, partially out of necessity, the board was dissolved and reintegrated into lesser positions in the company. A number of them balked and resigned in disgust, but a few were willing to accept responsibility for the nest of vipers that their group had ultimately become. They were rewarded when the Megami deal went through and with it, the huge lump sum payments to all remaining employees. With some strong restructuring and under Megami’s intelligent leadership, the company was steeped to become more capable and productive than ever.
Of course, Alphonse had been made privy to Cole’s little magic box, and seemed to understand the importance of protecting Hunter’s algorithms. Surely he would use his newfound power to propel Megami corporation to new heights, but in his enlightened state, he agreed to pitch in matching funds for any of Cole’s future charitable endeavors. The world, it seems, would be a better place for their partnership.