Full Circle by Erin – Chapter 14

Republisher’s Note: Michelle fainted and had to spend the night at Casa Santos, when Danny didn’t believe she’d be kidnapped.

Full Circle by Erin – Chapter 14

Sitting at the breakfast table across from Danny this morning is easily the most mortifying moment of my life. I thought nothing could top that day in eighth grade when I unknowingly started my period AND fell down in front of my entire Algebra class while making my way to the chalkboard.

Funny, but when you compare that with having to make pleasant conversation with someone who you just had mind blowing but distant sex with… well, let’s just say hand me the Tampax and the chalk.

Luckily, I am saved from having to say much by the presence of the ever-dominant Carmen. She pretty much monopolizes the conversation as she and Danny discuss “business” and Mick stares at them blankly.

I really want to ask Danny about Mick. If this had happened a couple of months ago, we would have had one of our late night talks about it.

That’s when Danny and I always did our most important talking: after we made love, we lie in each other’s arm and stare into the darkness, confessing past sins, admitting hidden feelings.

A pang grabs my heart as I think of those times. Times we’ll never have again.

Danny suddenly looks at me and I feel that old familiar sizzle go through me.

Then I remember that he believed Carmen over me and that he actually believed I had run out on him.

But even knowing that doesn’t dilute the spark.

Dammit.

“Michelle, if you’re ready, I’ll take you home now.”

I’m a little surprised that Danny would make that offer, but I don’t let it show. Instead, I say coldly, “Shouldn’t you get Dietz or some other ‘do-boy’ to do that for you?”

Danny shrugs as he takes his napkin from his lap and flops it on the table. “I guess I could, but let’s consider this my last husbandly duty, shall we?”

I glare at him. “Don’t do me any favors.”

He raises an eyebrow. “I already have.”

The tone of his voice leaves no question that he’s referring to last night and I nearly choke on my outrage.

Mick, as stupid as he is, picks up on the meaning too and slaps Danny heartily on the shoulder.

“Good one, bro.”

Danny shrugs Mick’s hand off and looks at him like he’s the village idiot. Which, at least in the Santos house, he is.

Mick seems unfazed by Danny’s obvious distaste. He just goes back to munching on a muffin, staring into space.

I shake my head and wonder how someone like Mick ended up in this family. Danny, Pilar, even Carmen, as much as I hate to admit it, are all smart, observant, and physically beautiful people. And then there’s Mick.

Danny must be reading my thoughts, because he smiles a little half-smile.

I nearly smile back before I catch myself. I affect my air of coolness again as I rise from the table and say, “All right, let’s go.”

Carmen finally lowers the paper she’s been hiding behind since Danny offered to take me home, “Good-bye, Michelle. I wish I could say it was nice to see you again.”

Triumph is gleaming in her eyes. Strangely, I don’t totally blame her for what’s happened. After all, she may have arranged this whole thing, but Danny didn’t have to believe her.

I don’t say a word as I follow Danny out into the hallway and out the front door. His car, a black BMW, has already been brought around to the front.

He opens my door for me and I slide in, the familiar scent of leather and Danny bringing back the memory of a night not too long ago. We were driving back to the lighthouse after having dinner with Bill and Pilar and things got sort of…amorous.

I look at Danny out of the corner of my eye and wonder if he’s thinking of the same time. His eyes are straight ahead but his knuckles on the steering wheel are white. I smile as I sink back against my seat. Oh yeah, he’s thinking about it.

My smile quickly fades as I realize this is probably the last time I’ll be alone with Danny. My hand almost goes to my stomach, but I catch myself just in time. I can’t have him suspect, not now.

My throat aches with unshed sobs for what should have been. Right now, Danny and I should still be snuggled in our bed, making grandiose plans for our baby.

Instead, we’re driving in awkward silence, completely closed off from each other. To keep from crying, I attempt to make small talk.

“So, you must have been happy to see Mick?”

Good job, Michelle. Small talk is “Nice weather” or “How’ve you been?”. What do I pick? “So, Danny, must be nice to see that I didn’t kill your brother after all, huh?” Just great.

Danny just replies, “Yeah, I was.”

Silence falls again.

Then I say softly, “I’m sorry it has to be this way, Danny.”

Even that doesn’t seem to get his attention. His eyes, when not glued to the road, keep glancing in the rearview mirror.

“Danny?”

He looks at me then, startled. “What? Did you say something?”

The hair on the back of my neck begins to rise. “Danny, what’s going on?”

Cool, composed Danny returns. “Nothing. I’m just taking you home.”

I suddenly become aware of our surroundings. “Danny, this isn’t the way to Rick’s.”

“I’m taking you to the lighthouse.”

Panic is rising now. “This isn’t the way to the lighthouse either.”

He takes one hand off the wheel to run it through his hair in frustration. “Dammit, Michelle, I know where I’m going. Now for once in your life, would you just shut up?”

I open my mouth to fire back that I will NOT shut up, but something in his eyes makes me stop.

Danny turns the car off the main road and onto a little dirt path.

Stupidly, I think of all the dust that’s going to cover this beautiful car.

Then I realize where he’s taking me.

To the beach.

I try to tell myself not to be scared. Danny would never hurt me.

But as he stops the car and nearly drags me out, my heart begins the staccato rhythm of fear.

“Danny, where are we-”

“Shh!”

He has my hand and is pulling me down a deserted strip of sand. Big rocky cliffs rise to our right. I’ve been to the cliffs before. They’re nothing huge or foreboding, but right now, they’re scaring the hell out of me.

Then I notice something I’ve never seen before.

In the wall of rock, there’s a little opening, only about three feet across.

That’s where we’re headed.

My mind races back to the time I spent in the “cabin” and all I can think is, “Not again, please God, not again.”

Danny pulls me behind him into the cave, which, I discover, is not a cave at all, but the beginning of a serpentine tunnel.

We make our way through that tunnel and I shiver, not just from the chill of the damp rock, but from my imaginings of what’s going to happen here.

I just can’t believe Danny would hurt me, much less kill me, but this whole situation is reminding me so strongly of the night he found out about Mick.

Danny comes to a stop inside a tiny cave. It’s tall, nearly ten feet, but a very narrow six feet across.

I’m shaking uncontrollably now.

“Don’t worry, baby,” I silently comfort my unborn child. “Daddy would never do anything bad to us.”

But when Danny turns to me with heat in his eyes, I’m not so sure.

He clamps a hand on my waist.

“Danny, please, don’t-” I begin to whimper.

The pressure on my waist tightens and tears prick my eyes.

“Danny-”

Before I can finish my plea, he pulls me to him and his lips come down, not roughly at all, but gently, lovingly, and insistent on mine.

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