Loving Michelle by Carla Epilogue

Republisher’s Note: One last peek at the happy family.

Loving Michelle by Carla – Epilogue

“Unca Danny, Aunt Michelle!” The tiny voice split the silence of the first quiet moment that Danny and Michelle had managed to sneak all day. “Hurry come quick! He’s gonna knock it all down!” came the frantic plea.

Michelle jumped off of Danny’s lap as he groaned his frustration and took off towards the playroom where the sound originated.

Michelle found what she feared she might when she entered the room and immediately called “Michael Chance” and the precocious two year old with the same dark curls and same dark eyes as his father turned around and displayed his assortment of teeth and giggled.

“You let go of that tree young man, do you hear me?” she scolded gently. Chance, as he was called, laughed some more and proceeded to pull harder on the tree and Michelle saw it begin to tip even further and fearing the tree would land on their son, called for back up.

“Daddy,” she called in a singsong voice trying not to alarm Chance or the girls “could you please come in here and get your son?” she called.

Danny hit the button on the side of the recliner, pushing the footrest back into place and stood up. What mischief had Chance gotten into now?

He walked into the playroom and wondered aloud why Chance was only his son when he was doing something naughty. His eyes grew wide and his heart stopped however, when he saw how perilously close the tree was to falling over right on top of him.

“Dada!” Chance proclaimed when he saw Danny, smiling and letting go of the tree and running towards him. Michelle quickly grabbed the toppling tree and was able to right it again with no further incident.

Alaina put her hands on her hips, like the eight-year-old little mother she was and declared that there would only be coal in Chance’s stocking this year since he was not being a very good boy.

Danny picked his hyperactive son up and lifted him high in the air, causing him to squeal with delight. He brought him back down and again and put his son’s stubborn forehead against his own and tried not to laugh.

Chance was forever getting into things but when the time came to discipline him, he would look at you with a “what did I do?” look that would have them both laughing which of course threw any plans of discipline out of the window.

Still Danny would feel as if he were shirking his parental responsibilities if he didn’t at least try to discipline his stubborn son. “Don’t touch the tree, Chance!” he said sternly and Chance answered his adored father by patting his chin with his tiny hands.

Born 21 days early, a little small but completely healthy, Michael Chance Santos, had made his way into the world causing mischief and had yet to cease. From the christening of the nurse in the delivery room to this latest incident with the Christmas tree, Chance was always a handful, but despite their claims to the contrary, Danny and Michelle would not have it any other way.

Danny had chosen Michael as a first name after Michelle and Michelle had chosen the name Chance as a reminder of their second chance at happiness that they had certainly made the most of their gift.

Michelle had gone back to work and had never been happier. Sadly, a severely premature baby still died from time to time but now she was able to handle it professionally and on some occasions was even able to help counsel with the grieving parents.

Danny ran Santos Industries exclusively now and turned it into one of the largest export businesses in the country after Carmen had been decided that the best way to deal with her and Danny’s estrangement was to run off with Ben to parts unknown and he had not heard from either of them since. Sometimes, around the holidays it made him sad to think of what had become of the woman who had raised him, but then he would watch Michelle with Chance and realize that Carmen Santos had never understood the real meaning of the word mother.

This Christmas Eve was the second Christmas with Chance but the first one that he could really enjoy and be a part of. His two favorite people, other than his beloved parents, Alaina and Seashell were spending a few hours at the Santos home helping Michelle bake cookies for Santa and waiting for Amy and Chris to come over so they could all open a present before they left.

Chance began to wiggle and try to get off of his father’s lap and rejoin the action in the playroom. Danny loosened his hold on his son but gave him a firm “Stay away from the tree!” before he let his headstrong son go off and play with his buddies.

“Laylay” Chance beamed as he went back over to where Alaina was rearranging the presents back under the tree that had been moved during the tree scuffle. Alaina was old enough to read and had taken on the role of present arranger and had everyone’s presents placed in a pile under the tree according to their name.

“No, Chance!” she called when he tried to pick up a present that had her name on it. “We have to wait. Go and play with Seashell for a while,” she said and he turned his head and grinned at his playmate.

“Seesee,” he chanted and ran on chubby legs across the room where she was putting her doll down for a nap. Soon the children were playing in a quiet camaraderie and Michelle felt it safe to leave them to play again while she arranged the food for the gathering they would have shortly.

Soon, everyone was present and the party was in full swing with the children dressed in their Christmas outfits and laughter and merriment filling the room. Soon however, the children began to get impatient and wanted to open their presents.

Everyone gathered in a circle as Alaina passed out each present with her usual meticulous care. Chance had the time of his life ripping open paper and trying to grab the lights off of the tree and Michelle used four rolls of film capturing his antics on this special day.

All eyes were on Chance as he opened his last present, a surprise one from his father. Michelle eyed Danny suspiciously when he pulled the last present out from behind a chair. This was one that he had picked out on his own and there was absolutely no telling what it could be.

Danny pulled Chance into his lap on the sectional sofa next to the end table that held the picture of Will and pulled the box onto the sofa so Chance could open it easier. Chance patted the picture saying “Wi” which produced quite a lump in Danny’s throat.

Chance patted that picture a lot as if he understood who Will was. Danny and Michelle had tried to explain to him that Will was his brother but they doubted that Chance understood, still their amazing son did seem to know that that particular picture was something to be treasured.

“Yes, Chance, that’s Will,” Danny said placing the picture back on the table but only after allowing his eyes to take in the image of his first son. Sometimes it still hurt so much to look at that picture but other times it brought him great joy and tonight was one of those times.

“Let’s see what is in your box okay?” he said which brought his son’s attention back to his present. The present was in a box that had an easy open lid and Danny showed Chance how to remove it and Chance squealed when he lifted the lid and was rewarded with a face full of puppy slobber.

Chance howled in glee at his new friend while Michelle sat in shock. Danny had gotten their son a puppy for Christmas. She knew why he had done it without asking her and she narrowed her eyebrows at him and tried to give him a scolding look but instead she was reduced to a hysterical fit of giggles when he boyishly shrugged his shoulders and winked at her.

The puppy began to protest being in the box and Danny helped lift him out and soon Chance was following him around the room as he sniffed around his new home.

Michelle got up and moved next to her husband and said “A puppy?”

“Well, I thought it would be good for him to have something to play with and help him expend all that extra energy he always seems to have. Are you mad?” he asked.

“No, I wished you would have told me but it is okay. I think it is a good idea in hindsight,”” she admitted.

“Thanks, baby,” he said and they went back to watching the children enjoying their presents.

An hour later, Amy and Chris and the girls were loading up to go home and wait for Santa to come. Alaina began to protest when she discovered that her Unca Danny had not opened a present.

“I will open mine tomorrow munchkin,” he said. “Tonight, the presents were for my three favorite little people,” he said which she seemed to accept.

When the Morgan’s were gone and Chance was finally asleep with his new unnamed puppy sleeping in a box next to his bed, Michelle brought out a beautiful box with a huge bow on it and put it before him.

“Merry Christmas, Danny,” she said.

Danny reached underneath the sofa and pulled out a box that was smaller but was no less beautifully wrapped. “Merry Christmas to you, baby,” he said. “You first.”

Michelle opened her present and threw her arms around him when she saw the beautiful mother’s ring that Danny had bought. On it, there were four birthstones, which represented the birthdays of her and Danny and Will and Chance.

“Thank you Danny,” she said, “It’s beautiful. Now open yours.”

Danny opened his box and was confused when he found another box inside wrapped in different color paper. That box held another smaller wrapped box as did the next and the next. This game went on through six or seven boxes with Danny getting more and more curious with each box. “Michelle” he said, “What have you done?”

“You’ll see, Danny,” she said. “You are almost there.”

Danny got to what he surmised as the last box since it was very small and very light. What on earth could it be? It was very small and it rattled when he shook it. “Did I break it?” he asked and she just shrugged her shoulders and winked as he had done earlier that night.

“You will have to open it and find out,” she exclaimed watching his face as he gently unwrapped the last of the boxes she had put together.

Danny opened the box and looked at it as if he didn’t know what it was. “Michelle, what is this?” he said as he brought the small packet out of the box.

“Read it” Michelle said and Danny looked at the package and finally realized what they were. “Sunflower seeds?” he asked. ” I don’t get it Michelle, what is the deal with……..”and he found he could speak no more.

Michelle stood up and came over to him and resumed her place on his lap that she had been forced to relinquish earlier. “Merry Christmas, Daddy,” she said nodding to him.

“You mean?” he said and she nodded her head yes. “When did you find out?” he asked.

“Just yesterday. Are you surprised?” she said.

“Yes, ” he said “very.”

“Are you happy?” she asked. “Do you think this one will be like Chance?” she said with a mock look of terror on her face.

“Oh God I hope so,” he answered “now come here. I have been waiting all day to get you alone,” he said pulling her into his embrace.

Chance celebrated the next Christmas with his new baby sister Grace. Many Christmases came and went in the Santos household with each one bringing joy and happiness to each occupant of the house.

Chance grew to be a remarkable young man who eventually captained the high school football team and earned a full scholarship to Notre Dame while Grace opted to stay in Springfield to attend Springfield University and study medicine and become a doctor like her mother.

The Santos family was added on to over the years with both of the children marrying and having children of their own.

Michelle still awoke each day thanking God for their second chance at life and Danny still maintained that the best life of all was one where he could be Loving Michelle.

The End

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