It was around noon when Aunt Charlotte's limo entered Manhattan.
The skyscrapers were shining as if to welcome them back.
Getting out of the car, Charo ran straight to Dread's nest.
"Dread! Where are you? I'm back!"
A big dark shadow appeared from the alley. It was Dread.
"Charo! What are you doing here?"
"Are you okay?"
"Okay about what?"
"You're sick, aren't you?"
"A woman in my dream, she showed me. You were sick and weak and..."
"And that's why you came back. Humph."
Dread lay down and gave out a sigh.
It was the same old Dread, no doubt about it.
"Even if I were sick, there would be no point in your coming back."
"I would hate to think that you gave up your dream, just because of me. Go back west."
Dread closed his eyes as if he hadn't even seen Charo.
This made Charo sad at first, but then he thought for a while and spoke up.
"You taught me many things. I owe you many things. Now I want to help you."
Charo's words sink deeply into Dread's heart, but he couldn't let his feelings show. So...
"Huh. Listen to the way you talk, is that way you picked up Chicago?"
"I learned to be responsible. That's why I came back."
"Humph. Suit yourself. But I'm not sick I'm telling you."
With that Dread fell asleep.
At least that was how it seemed.
He hadn't changed a bit and Charo was relieved, in a way.
He wanted to see Margherita, too, so he headed for Rosa's place.
But when he got there, he realized that something, somehow, was different.
"Arf! Arf! Hello, Margherita! Are you there? Margherita? Margherita! Margherita!"
He walked around the corner to the front door and...
"Charo? Charo! Is it really you? No, it can't be. You're supposed to be in Chicago. Oh, no. Am I seeing things?"
"Oh my! It is you. What happened? When did you come back?"
"A little while ago. I met Louisa and she said I had a better chance here. She sends her best to you, Margherita."
"Really? So you did meet her after all. Good for you, Charo. How was she? Was she doing okay?"
"Yes. Aimee's book became a bestseller and they are famous now."
"Wow! Are you kidding? They're rich and famous, huh? I'm so happy for them!"
"Yes! But... Margherita, the restaurant... is it closed today?"
"Oh, Rosa is opening a new one in Miami."
"It's way down south, Charo. They're going to build a new resort hotel and Rosa was asked to open the restaurant there. Running a restaurant in a hotel was her lifetime dream. And it's finally coming true."
"We were down in Florida and just came back today. That's why there's no food out."
The word "food" made Charo's stomach growl.
"Oh, you must be hungry."
"Yes. A little."
"I suppose Dread is hungry, too. I hope he was able to find his own food while we were gone."
Just then, Rosa came out.
Charo wagged his tail.
"Charo! How have you been? It seems like I haven't seen you for ages!"
"Good boy. Gosh, I really hate to leave you guys, but... Wait, let me get you something."
Rosa went in and came back with a string of sausages.
"A goodbye gift for you. You're gonna be on your own now. But remember, stay strong, okay? Stay ... strong!"
Charo had never seen such delicious-looking sausages.
He couldn't wait to eat them together with Dread.
Thanking Rosa from the bottom of his heart, he started to drag in back to their nest.