Vinnie DeMarco survived the bullet my mother lodged in his thigh and is now in jail, awaiting trial for all of his crimes. I wasn’t able to get him on tape admitting his wrongdoings, but with eyewitness testimonies from Melanie and me, his fate was sealed. It also helped that he was so afraid of my mother shooting him again that he confessed to all of his sins in the ambulance ride to the hospital.
Giovanni was so traumatized after watching his boss take a bullet from an old lady, and then getting beat up by said old lady and her friends, that he took a plea bargain and gave Vinnie up. There is no way Vinnie DeMarco will be able to escape the many years of prison time that are in his future now.
My mother and her friends were hailed as heroes at Saint Michael’s for their detective work in finding out who stole the Communion hosts. It turns out I was right about Father Bob looking guilty. He had a serious gambling addiction, and when he couldn’t pay Vinnie the money he owed him, Vinnie sent Giovanni to the church to collect his debts in the form of enough Communion for every church service for the next five years, and every single gold chalice and church heirloom he could stuff in his bag. The Communion wasn’t worth a dime to him, but it was Vinnie’s way of sticking it to Father Bob. Father Bob became so paranoid that the Catholic Church would find out what he’d been doing, strip him of his clergy status, and take away his church that he began stealing money from women’s purses during Altar and Rosary meetings. My mother, Fran, and Eunice caught him red-handed and made him ’fess up.
My mother apologized to Father John at Holy Cross for wrongly accusing him, and they have since asked him to join their congregation. My mother, Eunice, and Fran have also started up a community watch program called The Golden Girls: We’re Armed and Dangerous. So far they have twenty-five members. I hope to God they don’t all buy guns, or the police force will have to look for a new line of work.
After Melanie was questioned, she was sent off with a warning to stay as far away from the Mob as possible and not do anything stupid, or else a prison tat on her ass would be the least of her worries. The next day, she immediately signed the divorce papers for Matt and told him she didn’t want his father’s company after all. Vinnie had given her enough money in the year and a half they dated that she was able to save quite a nice chunk of change. She wouldn’t need a job for quite a while. Little does she know, though, that that money has all been earmarked as stolen, and it will be disappearing from her bank account before she can make it to the mall.
Andy is still Andy. Nearly dying because of his gambling debt didn’t change him at all. Last I heard, he decided to move to Vegas and become a professional poker player. My guess is that he’ll be slinking back home with his tail between his legs very soon. Or the Vegas Mob will get hold of him and we’ll never hear from him again. One can only hope.
“Everyone, please raise your glasses,” Kennedy tells the room.
We all comply, and Kennedy smiles at me. “I’m going to keep this short and sweet because I think I’ve embarrassed myself enough lately with my girly speeches. To one of my best friends—Paige. You’ve annoyed the hell out of me with salon appointments and shopping trips, but you have proven to be an asset to Fool Me Once Investigations,” she announces. “With your help, the South Bend Police Department was able to take down one of the largest crime rings in the city, and Fool Me Once got credit for it. I am officially promoting you to lead investigator, and you are free to handle any case that comes in.”
Everyone claps, cheers, and whistles before taking a drink of champagne. I hold my glass in front of me without taking a sip while the conversations resume around me.
“Hey, why didn’t you drink to that? It’s awesome news and I’m so proud of you,” Matt tells me.
Setting my glass down on the closest desk, I turn and cock my head at him. “I guess I’m just in shock. I mean, this is what I’ve always wanted—to be taken seriously.”
I trail off and Matt sets his own glass down and gathers me to him. “But?”
“But there’s just one thing missing. Something I never thought I would ever want again. Something I stopped believing in a long time ago,” I tell him softly, bringing my hands up to cradle his face. “I love you, Matt Russo.”
Matt smiles and rests his forehead against mine. “I love you, Paige. I’m so glad you thought I was a cheater.”
I laugh and he presses his lips against mine. We get caught up in the kiss and don’t even realize that everyone in the room has their eyes on us until we hear someone clear their throat.
“You seem like a nice young man, Matthew. But if you cheat on my daughter, there will be nowhere for you to hide,” my mother threatens him.
“Don’t you worry, pretty lady. I’ll make sure my boy stays in line,” Mr. Russo assures my mother, walking up next to her.
“Is someone going to order food? I’ve got to take my arthritis pills,” my mother announces to the room at large.
“Are these the only chairs you’ve got in this place? My back is killing me,” Mr. Russo adds.
Matt and I turn away from them as they begin to argue about whether food or comfortable chairs are more important to their health.
“I love you, Matt. And I even love your crazy father,” I tell him with a laugh.
He tightens his hold on me. “And here I thought it wasn’t possible to love you any more than I already do. Our parents are insane, but if putting up with the two of them means I get to have you for the rest of my life, then shame on me for not letting them meet each other sooner.”