Signor Russo fell back in his chair, laughing. "I'm sorry, I really shouldn't laugh, that's gotta hurt, but he stabbed himself!"
Mr. Hughes, sitting next to him, also laughed. "What's funnier is the look on his face when the cops came in and handcuffed him. So believe me when I say, go ahead and laugh. He'll be fine. I do believe his pride was hurt more than his leg."
"Taken down by a bunch of kids!" said Lloyd, trying to mimic Hans's foreign accent.
Sunny whacked him. "Stick to English accents, you do better with those." The others laughed.
It had been a week since the Hausner twins were placed in custody. The group had to stay in Sacramento for a few more days until the police got all their stories. They were still there when Roy sent word that Fabrizio Dente was picked up by police at the courthouse, dropping off the evidence for the involvement of the Hausners in the robbery. Roy had sent word to police in Switzerland, where the trial was taking place, about Fabrizio's involvement in the plan against Signor Russo's life and they were more than willing to help since the Hausners had been captured.
But finally the group left Sacramento, with Mr. Steele in tow, and went back to the cabin triumphant heroes and presented Signor Russo with the Adalante. But before he looked for the will, he wanted to know everything that had happened to the group since their departure. As such, after dinner, they convened in the lounge with Dr. Kin, Signor Russo, Josefina Flores, Miguel Jimenez, Roy, and the Richards twins. There they told the story, with Mr. Steele orchestrating the whole thing so they didn't talk all over each other. Then they finally finished with Sunny and Lloyd trying to talk over each as they both wanted to tell the story of how Hans Hausner stabbed himself in the leg with the replica knife Mr. Steele had made. But that got Red curious. Mr. Steele had not explained why the knife looked so similar to the Adalante. Both were set upon the coffee table in the lounge next to each other, along with a magnifying glass, and did in fact look remarkably similar. Signor Russo noticed Red looking at them before turning to Mr. Steele.
"May I ask why you created this replica?"
Mr. Steele glanced down sheepishly. "I, uh, I wanted a replica of it for myself. I mean, that is, if you don't mind. I know I didn't ask your permission, but I was also thinking of giving them this blade so that I could give you the real Adalante."
"Why didn't you just come forward with this information in the first place?" asked Roy.
"Heck, why didn't you tell us you yourself told those crooks about our coming?" asked Sunny.
Mr. Steele winced. "Because I didn't want you to know I had been working with them. Especially once I had found out what they were trying to do to you. I also couldn't let them know I had switched sides. I was of the understanding that whoever got to the Adalante first would inherit everything. It wasn't until they brought the boys to my house that I found out that wasn't the case."
"Really?" said Sunny. "Maybe you should go into acting, because you could have fooled me."
"Sunny!' said Sienna, whacking his arm. "That wasn't nice!"
Mr. Steele sighed. "Gene often warned me about that. I am what you could call a chameleon, I can practically become whatever they think of me. I often feel like I'm never myself because of it."
"That sounds . . . like a rather lonely life," said Red.
Mr. Steele shrugged. "I suppose, I mean, I have my wife and my brother and his family, plus Gene, a few others in Hollywood, and, well, now you."
Sunny raised an eyebrow. "Wait, you consider us friends now too?"
"Hey, didn't you want to meet him?" asked Roy.
"Well yeah, but not like this!"
Mr. Steele's lips curled into a soft smirk. "Sorry to disappoint."
Sunny sighed and crossed his arms. "You'd think I'd be expecting it by now considering the people that Mr. Hughes knows. But I guess I was hoping you would be a little different."
Red turned to Sunny, flabbergasted. "But he is! He realized his mistake and tried to help without putting himself and his family in danger. He didn't sell us out, after all."
"But he also didn't try to warn us either, even when he knew we weren't being eavesdropped on!"
Mr. Hughes held up his hands. "Alright, alright, no use arguing about it. What's done is done, both Ettore and I have decided to forgive him and consider him our friend. I would appreciate it if you did the same." Sunny just humphed. Mr. Hughes shrugged. "It's okay if you take your time, just understand that we have forgiven him, and while you are in my house, I expect you to treat him with kindness even if you haven't forgiven him right now. Are we clear?"
Sunny let out a huff. "Fine."
"Thank you," said Mr. Hughes. He turned to Red. "And thank you for standing up for Mr. Steele."
Red smiled nervously. "Um, you're welcome."
Mr. Hughes rubbed his hands together. "Wonderful. Now I think we're all caught up. Does anything else need to be said or does anyone have any questions?" Mr. Steele slowly raised his hand. Mr. Hughes blinked. "Yes, Vincent, what is it?"
"I, uh, have a question."
Mr. Steele glanced at Josefina Flores who was sitting on the other side of Signor Russo. "Um, is there any chance we could get your grandmother's story?"
Josefina glanced between Signor Russo and Mir. Jiminez before smiling and nodding. "Alright, I think it's time now. My grandmother changed her name because she was an undercover gangbuster." Everyone's mouths dropped.
"She, she what?" exclaimed Lloyd.
"There were undercover gangbusters back in those days?" asked Sunny at the same time.
"So the whole romance with Miguel Jiminez was just a set-up, to take him and his gang down?" asked Red.
Josefina burst out laughing. "Yes Sunny, there were gangbusters back in those days. Gangs have been in America for a long time, and gangbusters about as long. And it started that way, Red, but then my grandmother really did begin to fall in love with him." She nodded at Signor Russo. "And she fell in love with Giovanni Russo as well."
"So she did care for both men," whispered Mr. Steele.
Josefina nodded. "She did, and that's another reason why she left town. If she stayed for the battle, she would be duty-bound to help Giovanni take Miguel down, and she didn't want to do that. Plus, not doing so would also cost her her job as she would be labeled a traitor. She was able to use the pregnancy as a viable excuse to leave the field for a while. She did eventually stop working as a gangbuster not long afterwards."
"Wow," said everyone.
There was a moment of silence before Mr. Steele cleared his throat. "May I have your permission to reveal this information to the world?"
Josefina smiled and gave a quick nod of her head. "You may."
Mr. Steele fistbumped the air. "Yes!"
Mr. Hughes stood up. "Alright, if there are any others, speak up now. I want to hurry up and read Ettore the will." He grinned at Signor Russo. "I think he has other matters he wants to attend to."
Signor Russo blinked in confusion at Mr. Hughes. "Now Reginald, whatever do you mean?" Mr. Hughes shot a glance at Josefina Flores before his grin widened upon turning back to Signor Russo. A soft blush came to the older man's face.
Mr. Hughes chuckled before turning to everyone in the room again. "So, one last time, any other questions?"
"I do have one final question," said Mr. Steele.
Mr. Steele turned to Signor Russo. "May I keep the knife replica?"
Signor Russo held up a forefinger. "On one condition, you create a second one just like this to give to Reginald Hughes as a souvenir of this adventure. And as a thank you for finding the Adalante for me." Tears sprung to Signor Russo's eyes as he glanced at each person in the room and his voice cracked. "Thank you, all of you, for this. I can't properly tell you how grateful I am, except just, thank you."
Mr. Hughes patted his back. "Then hurry up and get better so you can start teaching my fine servants how to fence as well."
"But you said we were going to learn self-defence!" said Lloyd.
Mr. Hughes nodded. "I did, and I know just the perfect sensei for the job." He grinned. "You will be learning karate for the next few months, so you'd better get ready for a grueling regime."
Red beamed. He knew a few Japanese-descent classmates and the culture of Japan as well as his grandparents' country of Mongolia fascinated him. This was going to be awesome! And if he could have known then what dangers laid ahead, he might have curbed his excitement a little bit.
Sunny nudged him. "Guess we have a back-to-back feature to watch! First one involves the greatest fencing match in cinema history, the other being the biggest karate movie of all time! It's sure to get us ready!"
Red chuckled. "Sounds like fun!"
"Alright, if there isn't anything else, then I'm going to find and present the will to Ettore." There was silence. Mr. Hughes smiled. "Great! Let's get to it!" He walked to the table and picked up the blade and the magnifying glass. He looked closely at the hilt. The magnifying glass traveled across the edge where the hilt connected to the blade before going slowly over every detail on the hilt. The others watched with nervous excitement, an excitement that began to fall the more Mr. Hughes's forehead creased in bewilderment.
"Are you not seeing it?" asked Signor Russo. "Grandfather said the hilt specifically."
Mr. Hughes looked at Signor Russo. "I know, but I'm not seeing anything."
"I think the leather comes off. I didn't want to try it though," said Mr. Steele.
Mr. Hughes glanced at Signor Russo. He nodded. "Take it off."
Mr. Hughes nodded. "Here goes nothing." He placed the magnifying glass down and ran his fingers across the edge. He pried off the leather overlay. The bare hilt looked, well, bare. Mr. Hughes placed the leather down and picked up the magnifying glass again. He looked over the whole hilt once again with the same attention to detail. He sighed as he stood up straight and shook his head. He rubbed his eyes and pinched his nose. "It's not there either." Red stood up and strode to the table. He picked up the blade and scrutinized the hilt.
"B-but that doesn't make any sense," stuttered Signor Russo. "Grandfather said the hilt specifically!"
Mr. Hughes shrugged. "It's not there."
Red put down the sword. "He's right."
Signor Russo sat back, blinking. "That, that just doesn't make sense."
"But it's true." Mr. Hughes shrugged and sighed. "I'm sorry, I don't know what else to say, Ettore."
Signor Russo chuckled softly, a chuckle that ended with a sigh. "That maybe it wasn't worth all this and you could have let Fabrizio have it?"
Mr. Hughes shook his head firmly. "No, this is still your grandfather's sword, and it should be yours. It was worth it, Ettore, because you are worth it."
Tears filled Signor Russo's eyes. "Thank, thank you, Reginald, thank you. Thank you, to all of you! Even though the will wasn't found, I think I found an even greater treasure, a group of wonderful friends!" He turned to Josefina and patted her hand. "And meeting such great new people too."
She patted his hand in return. "I'm glad we've met too. I just wish it was under better circumstances."
"Things will get better, I have no doubt about it."
Red frowned as the conversation continued, something wasn't right. Giovanni had to have left his will on the hilt, especially since Fabrizio was going through all this trouble to cheat his cousin out of his inheritance. He glanced at the hilt again. But it wasn't there. He turned to the leather. He had never seen the leather come off, though, and picked up for a closer look. It felt tough yet soft. The designs carved into the leather were rather exquisite. It was mainly of grapes and vines, but Red liked how they felt under his fingers. Curious as to what the back looked like, he turned it over. He paused. Was he seeing things? He blinked, looking at Mr. Hughes before turning back to the leather. He was definitely not seeing things. He yelped. "Mr. Hughes!"
Mr. Hughes went to his side immediately. "What is it, Red? What's wrong?"
Red grinned as he showed him the backside of the leather. "Giovanni did write a will on the hilt, on the backside of the leather!"
Mr. Hughes whooped before taking the leather from Red. "You found it, great job!" He read the will out loud. According to the specifics of the will, Giovanni left three quarters of his estate to his eldest grandson, the rest would be split among the other grandchildren.
Josefina clapped her hands. "This is fantastic!"
Sunny and Lloyd tackled Red. "You little sneak!" exclaimed Sunny.
"I'm not the little sneak, Giovanni Russo just put it in the best place where he thought his family would find it, no one else."
"Still, you found it!" said Lloyd, giving him a noogie. "I'd say you've really become an irreplaceable member of Mr. Hughes's workforce!"
"You mean I wasn't before?" Lloyd whacked his shoulder. "Ow!"
"You know what I mean," said Lloyd.
Mr. Hughes chuckled. "Point is, I am super glad I hired you, Red."
Signor Russo smiled at Red. "So do I."
Mr. Steele nodded. "I think we're all in agreement there."
Red glanced around the room, beaming. Yes, he had chosen well by accepting Mr. Hughes' offer of work. Yes, there were sure to be more dangers ahead, some just around the corner, in fact, but he had found his place, and he felt very lucky. He looked at Mr. Hughes. "So am I."
(Author's Note: Hello my rosy readers! How's this for the end of the first book in the Red Randall series? For one thing, it's finally done! Yay! For another, I need to read the Hardy boys books I'm basing the next book on before I get started on it, not to mention I have four other books to write for fanfiction, and three original that I aim to have done this year. First part of one that I hope will be posted on Wattpad later this month. So, you know, busy, busy, busy! But now that I have finally finished this, I'm going to take a bit of a break before diving back into Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys. So excited! Can't wait! Many thanks again to Elizabeth Joan-hbndgirl and Drumboy100 for continuing to review! You're awesome! And a great many thanks to those who have read it! I really appreciate it! Thanks again for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day! God bless!)