Quench Me by Amy – Chapter 41

Republisher’s Note: We meet a reformed Carmen Santos.

Quench Me by Amy – Chapter 41

After the Bauer Barbecue, Danny returned to work at Spaulding and I resumed my part-time work at the hospital. After a week and a half, we’re settling nicely into our new “routine” – getting up in the morning, going to work, having dinner together at night, and all the other things that make newlywed life such a novelty. We even do the laundry together, which has proved to be quite an interesting and even erotic task. Earlier this week, I went to the university and changed the name on my transcript from “Michelle Bauer” to “Michelle Bauer Santos”, and gave them my new address to be used for any and all mailings to me.

It’s now early on Thursday evening. Danny and I just finished a light dinner, and he’s in his office returning a few phone calls. He promised me he’d be less than thirty minutes, and then I could have him all to myself. I curl up on the sofa with a mystery novel and a glass of wine, content to wait until my husband has finished what he needs to do, and then the rest of the evening will be ours. After several minutes, I’m distracted from the pages of my latest Patricia Cornwell novel by the ringing of the doorbell. I lay my book on the end table and gingerly set my glass of wine beside it, before getting up to answer the door. I think to myself that it’s a good thing I’m still in my capri jeans and white tee shirt, rather than the skimpy teddy I considered changing into when Danny went to his office.
I check my appearance in the large mirror that hangs in the foyer, making sure that my curly hair didn’t become too unruly as I lounged on the sofa. When I’m satisfied that I look well enough, I grab the door knob and open the front door. What I see before me sends shock waves through me. I know exactly who these people are because I’ve seen their pictures on the mantle in the living room. Just then, I hear Danny’s footsteps fast approaching, for which I’m extremely thankful, because I am to stunned to speak. “Who is it?” he calls, just before he reaches the door.

He’s as stunned as I am, and he literally stops in his tracks when he sees who is standing at our front door. “Mother? Pilar?” he questions audibly, as he opens the door wider and motions for them to come into the house. “What are you doing here?”

“Danny, when Pilar told me that about your phone call, she said that you sounded so very happy,” Carmen explains. “And we decided that we just had to come and see for ourselves.”

Carmen reaches out and embraces her son, while Pilar looks on with a proud expression. I’m still standing behind Danny, completely astounded by this turn of events. Danny’s rather morbid descriptions of his mother spring to my mind, and looking at the tender scene before me now, I wonder if something has changed in her, softened her.

“This must be your Michelle,” Carmen says, gesturing toward me.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Danny says. “I’m just so surprised that I forgot to introduce you.” He reaches for my hand and pulls me to his side. “This is my mother, Carmen, and this is my sister, Pilar.” Encircling my waist with his arm and holding me tightly to him, he continues, “And this is my wife, Michelle.”

The two women and I shake hands and exchange pleasantries, as we walk into the living room. “I still can’t believe that you came all this way,” Danny said.

“Danny,” Pilar begins. “I always knew that you would find someone special, and when you called, I was so excited for you. I wanted to meet Michelle, and thank her for making you so happy.”

Carmen takes a seat in one of the plush chairs, and says, “Yes Michelle, thank you for making my son so happy.”

I smile genuinely at them both and answer, “I’m just returning the favor. Danny makes me very happy.”

I look up at my husband and see traces of tears beginning to form in his eyes. “So, how is Europe? What are the two of you doing over there?”

“That’s part of the reason we’re here, Danny,” Pilar says. “We wanted to tell you what our plans are.”

Danny looks questioningly at his mother and his sister, as he takes a seat next to me on the sofa. He places his hand on my knee, the way he always does, as a reminder that we are not only physically connected, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Not knowing what he is about to hear, I can tell that he needs to feel that connection to me.

“My life changed when you left the business,” Carmen begins. “I was angry. I was hurt. When I left the country, I thought I was punishing you for abandoning me. But now I realize that you didn’t abandon me. You opened a new door for me. You forced me to see life in a different way.”

Danny is clearly dumbfounded. “I don’t understand,” is all he manages to say, before he drops his head and commences staring at the floor.

The look in Carmen’s eyes is soft and tender – the kind of look I’d expect to see on a mother’s face – as she continues. “Once I got to Europe, I realized that I felt free. I’d never felt that way before. And then it dawned on me that this was what you wanted for yourself. All you wanted was your freedom… freedom to be whoever you wanted, not the person that this family expected you to be. Before that realization, I’d never even considered what I wanted for myself. My ‘wants’ had never been important. The same obligations that were inflicted on me, I attempted to inflict on you, and for that, Daniel, I am very sorry.”

With the hand that is not on my knee, Danny gently kneads the muscles on the back of his neck. I can’t read his facial expression, but his body language tells me that he is confused and moved, all at once.

“I want to take my life and do something worthwhile with it,” Carmen presses on. “For the past year, Pilar and some of her friends have been working on plans for an creative arts center for underprivileged children. They want to create a place where children, who might otherwise not be able to afford it, can come after school and take art lesson, music lessons, even learn to dance. They have been trying to obtain enough funding, but so far, they’ve come up short. I have plenty of money, Danny. I’m not proud of the way I got it, but I can do something good with it now. I can help young children find a sense of purpose in their lives. I can give them the opportunity to do things that they love. I can foster the dreams that they have, the way I never did with you.”

I wipe the tears that are now falling freely from my eyes, and then wrap my arms around my husband’s neck. “Isn’t that wonderful, Danny?” I ask, as I gently kiss his cheek.

“I don’t know what to say,” Danny replies.

“It’s going to be a wonderful place,” Pilar interjects. “The building will be in one of Madrid’s poorest sections, so that it will be within walking distance for most of the children. I will be teaching the children how to paint and sculpt, and all sorts of other things. My friend Nina will be giving dance lessons. And my friend, Ricardo, will be giving music lessons.”

“Friend!” Carmen exclaims. “Don’t let her fool you, Danny. She and Ricardo are more than friends.”

“Mother!” Pilar protests.

I chuckle softly at their banter, and watch as Danny takes in the sight of his mother, in a way he’s never done before. “I’m so proud of you,” he says. “Both of you.”

Tears spring from Carmen’s eyes and she answers, “I was so hoping that you would say that, son. I’m proud of you, too. There’s just one thing.”

“What?” Danny says, smiling over at me, and then at his mother.

“I didn’t get to see you get married,” Carmen replies with a grin.

“Michelle and I kept it pretty private,” Danny answers. “Even though it was a sudden marriage, it wasn’t a sudden decision.”

“Just as long as you’re happy,” she says. “And I can certainly tell that you are indeed happy.”

“Wait a minute!” I suddenly pipe up. “How long are you going to be in town?”

“We hadn’t planned on staying long,” Pilar answers. “We have so much work to do back in Madrid.”

“At least stay through Saturday,” I say. “My brother wasn’t exactly thrilled that we got married without him, so he insisted on throwing us a reception. If you stay through the weekend, you’d be able to come.” I glance at Danny and smile. “Danny and I want all our loved ones to be there.”

“Can you stay?” Danny asks, the hopefulness in his voice clearly evident.

“Pilar?” Carmen questions. “We can stay until after the reception.”

“Yes,” Pilar says excitedly. “For this happy occasion, we can most definitely stay!”

The look on my husband’s face tells me just how significant this moment is. His mother has found what Danny fought so hard for… freedom. She’s found the liberating feeling of being able to do what she wants and be who she wants. She’s become the mother he’s wanted and needed for so long. She finally understands him.


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