Home > Dark Redemption(5)

Dark Redemption(5)
Author: Charlotte Byrd

"Okay, I can see by the expression on your face that you're clearly concerned," Meredith says, "but hear me out."

She sits down in the chair right next to me.

"There's a lot of great and not so great dating apps out there and I'm sure that if we get big enough, we'll get an offer. But ideally, we can provide enough returns to the investors that we won’t have to sell."

"And how's that?” I ask. “I mean, the monthly fee is only going to cover so much."

"With a platform set up the way it is, there's a lot of opportunities to expand."

“How’s that?”

"The aim of the app is to help people into happy relationships long term, so we really want to continue that relationship going forward. If they meet on our site, maybe they'll use our recommendations for wedding venues or maybe even expand into advertising certain services for the wedding industry and beyond, babies, that kind of thing. Digital advertising can be very effective as you know in certain market segments."

"Actually, I'd argue that digital advertising is effective in all market segments,” I say.

"Yes, but what I mean is that we have this very focused and involved community,” Meredith continues with unwavering enthusiasm. “People who meet on our app become huge fans and recommend it to their friends. We have a very big mailing list of everyone who's a subscriber and that's where the digital advertising arm would come in."

"I like that idea," I say, nodding, "and I like your financials and your plans for the future.”

“But?” She winces.

“No, buts. This has been one of the best presentations I've seen in a long time."

"Thank you.” Meredith smiles. She cracks her knuckles and I realize that she has actually been nervous this whole time.

"I know that I'm not supposed to make suggestions,” I say. “But I actually was thinking that one area you might want to consider expanding into is finding friends.”

“What do you mean?” she asks.

“I don't know if you know, but it's kind of hard to make friends as you get older. If you don't have friends from your parents, school, or from work, it might be nice to be able to connect with couples and others and find people who are looking for meaningful friendships.”

"Yeah, I like that idea." Her face lights up. "That seems like such a natural progression for what we're doing now."

We shake hands and I promise that I'll be in touch. Leaving the meeting, I feel uplifted. I was kind of dreading coming here and I wasn't sure who I would meet or if any of it would even make sense financially, but Meredith has really put all the numbers in perspective.

She's detail-oriented, she didn't need to check with her accountant or CFO once, and she clearly knows every part of the business inside and out.

That's what I, and my investors, like to see in the CEO.

When I get downstairs and turn my phone off from silent, I see that I have two text messages. I click on the screen to read, an incoming call comes in. It’s her.









Now it's his turn to not answer my calls. I don't know if I'm getting through or not but every time I call or text, Dante doesn't respond.

He's probably mad at me for being mad at him. It's a vicious cycle that I don't know how to get out of.

A few days later, Mom is feeling well enough to leave the hospital. I help her into a wheelchair and we get onto the next flight to Newark Airport. A late spring snowfall begins to fall, welcoming us home.

I help Mom off the airplane and load everything onto a trolley to take a cab. Of course, Mom keeps trying to help out, carry something in some way and that seems to make the whole process even more complicated.

"Look, I can handle it, so quit trying to be helpful," I insist.

After a little bit of an argument, she finally gives in and lets me take care of it. For the next couple of days, I keep waiting for her to get worse. It's almost as if I can't believe the good luck that we've encountered after so much bad luck.

Can she just be better like that all of a sudden?

Could this really be it?

While I go out to do a quick grocery shopping, I drive past the cemetery where Michael is buried. My thoughts return to the shadow of the person that I’ve become after his death.

Everything turned gray and sad, and I wasn't sure that I was ever going to feel all right again. I'm not saying that my mother's surgery made any of that better, but it forced me to care about someone other than myself.

I have decided to go back to school and finish my degree. I'm almost done with my masters in journalism, one semester left. While I complete the thesis and the coursework that I dropped, I also have time to get a job. I feel like I've been pedaling water for so long and now suddenly, there's a reason to make my life something good again.

For the next few weeks, I call Dante over and over again and I leave him a few messages. I don’t leave one every time I call, but enough to get through.

I apologize for getting upset, but I also tell him that I'd like to talk about it; this isn't over, I need to figure this out.

I wait for him to call me back.

When I call him again, I thank him for all the money that he gave me and my mother and I tell him that I'll never forget it even if we never speak again.

I leave this message a month after we’ve left Minnesota. Again, I still hear nothing.

I know that I should probably leave it alone. He’s angry with me. I have to let him go, but for some reason, I can’t.

Something within me forces me to keep trying. It can't be over just like that, right? I mean, he's going to forgive me, right?

He paid all this money. Yes, I got mad at him, but there were extenuating circumstances.

Why won't he answer my calls?

Why won't he at least talk to me?

Another month passes. Allison keeps telling me to forget about him, he’s not worth it, but I can’t.

I try of course.



I bury myself in schoolwork and in my thesis and try to enjoy the long summer evenings in the city.

I've gone on a few dates since I started school again, and even went out with a guy that Allison set me up with at work. He works in the marketing department as well, but on another project management team. The guy was nice enough, friendly, attractive, but the spark wasn't there. It's probably unfair to compare him to Dante, but for some reason, I'm now comparing everyone to Dante.

Then another idea pops into my head.

What if something happened?

What if he needs my help?

To try to clear my head, I let Allison convince me to go back to The Redemption. They're having their Midsummer's Eve Party, a large extravaganza out in a Hamptons mansion.

“This is where all the debauchery and craziness is going to happen,” she promises.

I roll my eyes.

"You have to go to this party with an open mind," Allison says. "We're going to have a little fun, meet some people, get down."

Maybe, I raise my eyebrow.

"I'm making no promises," I say.

“C’mon, you can't go to an event like this and not meet a few people.”

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