Kivi met the delivery van outside, tipping the driver and helping him carry in the platters.

He wanted to have it all set up before the others noticed and he worked quickly, spreading the light blue tablecloth himself and laying out the eggrolls, sushi, mini-pizzas, and the two pitchers of iced coffee.

He stepped back to admire his work, then walked down the hall, tapping on all three doors in succession. “Guys, hold all calls, lunch in five minutes.”

As they came out of their offices, he realized that they’d all known what he was doing and given him space to work on his surprise. It was sort of sweet, he decided, as Wagner pulled his office chair toward the open area.

“Let’s eat,” he said, “maskim?”

The others followed and Kivi went to lock the front door.

“Come on, a little l’chayim,” Leizer said, and came back with a small bottle of Booker’s from his cabinet. “It’s appropriate. You know what they say, ‘Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.’ ”

“Who’s they?” asked Wagner. “The people who make the memes? Who probably have no friends at all?”

Leizer laughed and patted Wagner affectionately, like a tolerant rebbi.

Daniel still hadn’t spoken. He was perched at the edge of the couch looking shy.

Kivi cleared his throat, and when no one realized, he said, “I just want to say something, if that’s okay, no major speeches or anything.”

He felt his breath catch and quickly took a drink. He was not going to cry. No way.

“When we started working here together, I had this dream that it would be a chevreh, a little family, you know?”

Wagner raised his eyebrows, as if in warning.

“It didn’t mamash happen that way. Life happened, people got busy, different schedules and paths, all that. But this ending makes me think we got it right. I feel like this is a family.”

Daniel still wasn’t speaking, but he reached out and fist-bumped Kivi and for once, Wagner had no comment to make.

They ate in silence and Kivi looked around, surprised at how relieved he felt. Tomorrow, 55 Norton would be a memory, his dreams and hopes for the little building erased like chalk off a blackboard, but he didn’t really mind.

Leizer had bought the building, excited to implement all those half-plans Kivi had spoken of, to make it a real office space. (To do it right, Kivi had kept thinking, although no one had said those words.)

With his business expanding yet again, Leizer had hired three new employees, friends from Williamsburg who were joining full-time. Someone would have to run the business while Leizer would be supervising his workers at the various sites, and this, really, was the greatest deal Kivi had made over six unremarkable months trying to get a business going.

It had all been very quick. He’d wired the money he’d made by flipping the Fountain Street property to a special account, where Leizer and Wagner had deposited smaller amounts of their own. Then, the down payment from the sale of 55 Norton got them to the magic number needed to pay Noach and cancel Daniel’s debt. Done. Over. His house was safe.

But it came with a price, they’d explained to Daniel.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 754)