Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis – Chapter 19

Republisher’s Note: Michelle remains unaware of Danny’s connection.

Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis – Chapter 19

“Do you have another secret romantic trip planned for tonight?”

“Michelle, I believe I earned some brownie points with you when we went to see Ricky. Is this a hint that you are ready for another romantic trip?”

“Well, a woman could get use to all the attention.”

Grinning at Michelle, Danny blew out the candles on the table. “What do you see, Michelle?”

Looking around the porch for some hint of a surprise, Michelle saw only the image of Danny and the darkness. “I can barely see you and the darkness.”

“The darkness is the clue to what we can do together tonight.”

“Hum, I didn’t know it had to be dark for us to make love.”

“Michelle, we can do that before this special date. If our special friend, Mr. Rooster will stay away from the backyard tonight; we are in business.

“I haven’t a clue to what you are talking about doing in the yard.”

 She walked over to the edge of the porch looking for another clue. The lights from the swimming pool revealed the blue colored water. “I know you want to go skinny dipping tonight.”
Danny told her she was wrong but the thought had occurred in his mind. The pool was available all the time to them. “Come sit on my lap.”
Sitting on his lap, Danny snuggled his nose down onto her neck and chest while inhaling the scent of her body. She was distracting his original thoughts. He decided to wait until later to reveal his late night plans. “How are you feeling?”
Michelle didn’t want to turn away of Danny’s advances tonight. Every time the lovemaking enhanced her attraction to the man. The satisfaction of enjoying their physical union increased her desire to be with him. “Danny, I want you to make love to me but later tonight.  Can you wait?  Since we are going to be going out on a date tonight, I have some reading so I can be prepared for class tomorrow.”
“Honey, we haven’t discussed the babies since yesterday.”
“I have had some nausea but all the food has stayed down today. Honestly, I don’t want to think about eight months from now. I accept the fact that I am pregnant but it is hard for me to believe I have two babies living inside of me. I can’t decide if I’m dreaming or if this is an nightmare. Danny, I hardly know you and you are the father of my babies. It is like we have done a lot backwards.”
“Michelle, I am a traditional kind of person. What do you want to know that you haven’t already figured out or seen evidence of that doesn’t seem traditional?”
“We have never discussed any personal issues. Like what is your favorite movie or the music you like to listen to for fun? Do you like to play a particular sport? Danny, are you all business? This is a scary situation for me and I’m not sure how long our attraction will last? We are very different and yet we are alike. Danny, I have waited along time to find a person like you, but I wasn’t hunting for you this time in my life. I can’t be rushed into any permanent decision. When Rick and Aunt Meta get back from their trips, I plan on discussing all of this with them. I have to tell you my father and Rick have terrible records for marriages. I was born out of wedlock and my mother was killed in a wreck because my father had an affair with a nurse at the hospital. I want us to have time to develop a relationship. We can date while we wait for the babies to be born. Does this make any sense to you Danny?”
“Michelle, I only know that I love you and I won’t settle for anything less than a full life with you. You are more independent and liberated than I may like but the situation can change. In my family, we have never had a divorce. My grandmother and grandfather ‘s wedding was arranged by their families. She never saw him until the day of the wedding.”
Smiling back at Danny’s statement, “Gee, we are almost in the twenty first century. Was she forced into the wedding or was your grandfather so ugly; he couldn’t get a wife of his own?”
“It was her honor to be chosen by my grandfather.”
Pulling her head away from Danny’s face to see his reaction to her next opinion. Michelle said, “I would die first before marrying someone that I didn’t love.”
“Michelle, don’t ever insult or disrespect my grandmother.”  With his hand, Danny held Michelle’s face directly in front of his face. She had seen this intensity in his eyes once before. He was dead serious and expected the right answer. “Promise me, Michelle. I want to hear the words from your mouth.”
“Danny, I wasn’t disrespecting your grandmother. If I disagree with you, I am expressing my opinion.”
“Listen to my words again Michelle, Promise me.”
“Danny, I would never hurt your grandmother in anyway. I don’t want to discuss this anymore. I have some chapters to read for tomorrow’s classes.” Michelle sensed the volatile change in the atmosphere. She attempted to push away from Danny’s arms to find his grasp on her body tightening.
Speaking part of the sentence in Spanish, Danny kissed her on the cheek allowing Michelle to get off his lap. “Our date will start around 11:30 pm.”
Michelle walked into the bedroom and wondered why Danny had gotten so angry with her over nothing. The dominating role was as close to fear as she had ever experienced. Michelle decided to take a hot bath to release some of her own tension. This was a side of Danny, she disliked intensely. He had been sweet and kind to her since they first met but this was a dark cutthroat man, which she had encountered tonight. His business was successful and evident from the lifestyle that he lived. The family was on a pedestal and she carried two of his future children in her abdomen. Something was missing; she had to have some answers.
Danny was dressed in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt when Michelle looked up from the book she was reading. His face was totally relaxed and the person before her was the Danny she liked. His easy-formed smile was on his face. The curls in his hair were wet from what she assumed had been a late night swim. This was informal, as she had ever seen him dress. He handed her an old worn Princeton sweatshirt. “You can put this on over your gown. The bug lotion will keep the mosquitoes away unless you against using the chemical on your skin because you are pregnant. “
“Thank you Danny for being so thoughtful.” Michelle pulled the sweatshirt on over her head. “Where are we going?”
“Last night after you went to bed, I was listening to the news from Chicago. The University of Chicago Astronomy Dept. called the local TV station to alert the citizens of Illinois of the unusual activity and brightness of the Northern Lights. The night sky tonight is magnificent. We have a clear sky and the moon will rise in the east after 4:00am. I stole the idea from the weatherman.” Picking a blanket from the bathroom closet, Danny sat down on his bed to get a quick kiss from Michelle. “Are you interested in my outdoor adventure tonight?”
“Yes, I love the idea. When I was young, my friend Bill Lewis and I sat up one night to watch the meteor showers. We didn’t see more than three shooting stars all night. A chance to see the Northern Lights dancing across the sky will be fun and it is free.”
Danny led Michelle out to the backyard with the flashlight. Looking up to find the North Star, Danny spread the blanket down on the ground. Danny sat down first and taking Michelle’s hand in his he helped her to sit down in front of his legs. She scooted back to lean into his chest with his legs pulled up around her body.
“How long do you think it will be before we see the lights?”
“I don’t know but it’s a good excuse to have a romantic night with a sexy woman.” Reaching over and behind her head to touch Danny’s head, Michelle’s body relaxed and rested on Danny’s body.
The lights started jumping across the northern horizon as if on a command performance for the queen of the universe. “Did you see the lights moving up and down over the group of stars with the cup?”
“Yes, I did and the edge of the cup points to the North Star.” The activity increased with various colors of pale blue, green and pink becoming intermingled with occasional shooting stars flying across the expanse of the heavens. Michelle sat up to wrap her legs and feet in the skirt of her long nightgown.
“Honey, are you getting cold?”
“It is the lightweight gown.”
“Michelle, you stay here and I’ll go back and get another blanket and some hot chocolate.” Danny returned with the blanket, pillows and a thermos of hot chocolate. Michelle poured the hot liquid from the thermos while Danny wrapped Michelle’s lower body in the blanket. “Now, we are fixed for the rest of the night.”
“Danny, this is just perfect and thank you for doing all this for me.”
Sipping the soothing drink, the two watched the sky in silence. Danny rested his head on her left shoulder to see the lights at the same angle as Michelle saw the lights. “Danny, have you ever wondered how far the heavens go up there?”
“I’m sure every human being on earth that looks up at the night sky has thought the same question.”
“You have to know something very powerful is out there. Danny, it is like God is showing himself to all of us in the darkest time of a twenty-four hour day. I think you can see the evidence of God in nature. The seasons follow in order and the planets stay in their own orbits. It is so amazing to see all of this tonight and this is sure a memory making moment for me.”
Danny whispered in Michelle’s ear, “Me too.”
To the right in the night sky, the sliver outline of a new moon appeared on the eastern horizon. It was 4:00am and the couple had watched Orion’s Belt and the order of planets travel from the eastern horizon to disappear in the western horizon. “ I think the moon is alerting us to bed time or do you want to sit out and watch the sun rise?”
“How soon will the sun come up?”
“Less than a hour.”
Content to stay outside, Michelle made the decision to watch the sunrise with Danny.
Olga returned to the house after 7:00 am to prepare breakfast for the couple. Danny was usually an early riser and working when she arrived. The blankets and thermos left on the kitchen counter suggested a late night activity. Peaking into the bedroom, Olga saw Danny’s body draped over Michelle. Michelle’s honey blond curls were only visible from the sheet pulled up to block out the morning light. Beside the bed were the clothes they had discarded. Remembering her own youth, Olga closed the bedroom door to give the couple privacy.
The aroma of the coffee brewing awakened Danny. He dressed in the jeans and sweatshirt leaving Michelle to sleep in the early morning breeze. Olga had started the blankets in the wash when she heard the sound of an electric saw. Danny hadn’t alerted her to any scheduled work and she wondered what was being built. Checking out the sound, she went out the side door to see two men building a small frame unit. They were building a hen house and the mesh wire was for a fence to keep the rooster inside and out of the manicured yard. Running back into the kitchen, Olga found Danny drinking a cup of coffee.
“I see we are going to have a hen house. How can we have a hen house without a hen?”
“Michelle wants the rooster to have a hen for company. Please just amuse her with the idea. I’m not buying a hen for her. I want to keep the rooster out of sight.” Danny made his list of things to do and told Olga to pack all of the new items for Michelle for the trip to Puerto Rico. Next he called his grandmother. He wanted her to come over after 10:00am to begin the walk of the family history and tradition. From his grandmother, Danny learned his mother and Pilar would be in Springfield by noontime. Today, Michelle would meet his sister. Michelle was a couple of years older than Pilar. He was anxious to see the reaction of the two with each other. The final must do was the call to the Outdoor Outfitters. He ordered the rain gear and requested the trail guides for the dates he had circled on the calendar.
“Olga, we are going to have three more people for lunch today. I will have cold cereal and fruit for breakfast. Be as quiet as possible, Michelle and I were outside last night watching the Northern Lights. We didn’t get to bed until after 5:00am. I know she will be sleeping late.” Mrs. Martinez called to notify Danny that the jeweler from Chicago had received the ring. The family engagement ring had been adjusted to Michelle’s ring size. Danny told her to call the jeweler back. Danny would pick up the ring himself. He had made the final choice for Michelle’s wedding band.
 Abuelá arrived with Jimmy at 10:00 am. This was an honor to bear witness of the family to Michelle. Danny had given her this privilege and the family was a part of the early colonization of the island country in which she was proud. Olga served the coffee to the matriarch Santos. The two women giggled as Olga told Abuelá about the scene in Danny’s bedroom and the night of watching the stars. The women agreed that Michelle was the right choice for Danny.
Danny greeted his grandmother with a kiss. “Do you have a package for me, Daniel?”
“I do and you need to be sure and hide it before Carmen and Pilar arrive. Michelle is taking a shower and will be joining you soon. Michelle and I were up until five this morning. We didn’t get to sleep until after six so she is dragging.”
“So what prevented you from sleeping from five until six?” The women winked at each other having a good idea of what went on during the hour.
“Why don’t you ask Michelle when you see her?”
Olga heard the sound coming from the kitchen indicating the presence of Michelle. Michelle had turned the computer power on and had her stack of books ready for the day’s work. Beside the books, the small breakfast sat waiting to be consumed. “Miss Michelle, Senoritá Santos is waiting for you on the porch.” Urging Michelle with the waving of her hands to join the senior Santos woman on the porch.
“Olga, I will go and say hello, but I have work to do today,” and pointing to the clock “I am late.”
“No, No, No and speaking in her quick Spanish, Michelle understood Olga to say something about it being important. With her mug of tea in her hand, Michelle joined Danny and his grandmother at the insistence of Olga. Olga reappeared with the warm croissants and strawberry jam.
“Good morning, Michelle.”
“Daniel was just telling me about last night. You shouldn’t let him keep you up all night. When the baby comes, you will have enough of being awake.”
“Mrs. Santos, we seized the moment to watch the Northern Lights.”
Picking up on Michelle’s desire to return to her books. Danny told Michelle that his grandmother had made the visit at his request. Michelle understood the underlying meaning of Danny’s statement. This was a follow up to the discussion she and Danny had last night concerning the respect to be shown to this matriarch. Danny excused himself to leave them alone.
“Abuelá will tell you that the Santos’s all came from a band of pirates that roamed all over the Caribbean.”
“Daniel, you know it is true.” Looking at Michelle with fire in her eyes, she began the story of the Santos family. The woman before her eyes was a gifted storyteller. The magic flow of her words was like reading a master’s written work. Within minutes, Michelle was spellbound by the history of the island and how the original Santos man had come to live on the island.
The Santos saga began with Christopher Columbus and his second voyage across the Atlantic to the new world. This time, Columbus traveled under the orders of King Ferdinand and Isabella. The year was 1493. The Roman Catholic Church granted Spain all the islands and main lands discovered and yet to be discovered. Spain had complete sovereignty over the Indians who lived there. When Columbus stopped off on the island of Santa Maria de Guadalupe, he met twelve Taíno women and two young boys who said that they wanted to return to their home on the island of Boriguan (Puerto Rico). Columbus took the Native Americans along with him as guides. On November 19,1493, Columbus recorded the date the Native Americans saw their homeland and leapt into the water and swam ashore. Christopher Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista after the Spanish Prince Don Juan.
 King Ferdinand rewarded some of the seamen with land grants and one of the sailors was Miguel Santos. He returned to the island to claim his land after the island was colonized under the leadership of Ponce de Leon in 1508.Soon after the Franciscan friars arrived with cattle and horses. Of course the gold smelter was set up and the search for gold became the central focus. The Native Americans were supposed to receive protection and learn about the wonders of Catholicism. My people were naïve because the system was a thinly veiled form of slavery. The big mistake was the natives assumed that these newcomers were immortal.
Michelle asked, “Why did they think the Spanish were immortal?”
The storyteller answered, “It is my opinion that it was owing to their remarkable appearance and superior technology.” The old chief decided to test his theory and experimented in drowning a young Spaniard, Diego Salcedo. When he didn’t revive after three days, the Native Americans realized their mistake at which point they killed nearly half the Spaniards on the island. The Indians escaped to the mountains and neighboring islands. By 1521 most of the Indians had already been absorbed into the races living on the island.
After the depletion of the gold and slave labor, a new profit-making scheme had to be found. The landowners loved the land and climate. They wanted to stay at any cost on the island. The new gold was sugar. The land was turned into sugar cane fields. Then the Portuguese ships came filled to the brim with captive Africans intended to provide labor for the sugar cane fields.
The original city of Puerto Rico was moved to the present day San Juan which name it took and the entire island in turn was renamed Puerto Rico. During the next hundred of years, the English and Dutch attempted to take the island over. With the island forbidden to trade except within the Spanish Empire, a big inter-island business in contraband (ginger, tobacco, and cattle hides) developed during the 16 and 17 century. The landowners owned and operated these ships. Some saw the opportunity to gain more money. It was a paradise for the pirates. So the way the story goes, the Santos men owned some of the ships and benefited from the profits.
The island life continued as a laid back place to live until 1898 when the United States declared war against Spain. The Spanish-American War lasted seventeen days. The island became a possession of the USA. In the thirties, the island suffered a great depression. Many of the people left the island and came to this country to survive. Some settled in New York City and eventually came to live in Chicago.
“So you see Michelle, our people are a mixture of Spanish, Native Americans, English, Dutch and Africans.  We are true Latinos.  A beautiful blend of all nationalities which you will see when you go to Puerto Rico.”
“Danny told me so little about his family. They must have worked so hard to get to have all of this. I have to say they made the right decision to come and live in the USA.”
“My dear, they did work hard and paid for this with their blood. I lost my husband and my sons for the La Familiá.”
Michelle pondered these words and made a mental reminder to ask Danny about the deaths of his father and grandfather. From inside the house, Michelle heard Danny and a young woman screaming. It was the sound of loved ones being reunited. Abuelá announced to Michelle that it must be Carmen and her granddaughter Pilar. The two were joined on the porch when Carmen, Danny and Pillar came out to see how the visit between Michelle and Abuelá had gone.
Pillar ran to hug her grandmother but the person she was anxious to meet was Michelle Bauer. Carmen had told her the exciting news. Her brother had chosen a woman to become Mrs. Daniel Miguel Santos. After getting over the initial surprise, the news of a baby was the final joy. Pilar could hardly contain her happiness for Danny. Danny had reached for Michelle before Pilar and Michelle locked their eyes upon the other. Pilar never hesitated to embrace Michelle. The two young women connected to the other and spent the afternoon talking endlessly about college life, the opportunities of living abroad and the general dating scene. Michelle mentioned she had a friend that Pilar should meet. He was available for dating as unattached. She and Bill had grown up together but the attraction was only friends when they became adults. He was a computer wizard and spent endless hours on the computer. A girl with the looks of Pilar could pull him away from the machine. When Pilar returned from the family vacation, she would introduce Bill Lewis to Pilar.
While the young women visited, Danny and Carmen made the final plans. Carmen had picked out the latest wedding gowns in NYC. The designer was arriving with the dresses on Saturday. The designer had suggested the wedding gown fashion show. All the dresses were beautiful. Carmen’s original thought had been to offer Michelle her gown but she wanted Pilar to have that honor. The designer dresses were ready for Abuelá and Pilar but Carmen had been undecided. Carmen asked Danny if he and Ray had been fitted for their tuxedoes. Danny wanted to wait until Michelle decided on her dress. It could be done at the last minute in San Juan.
Aussie checked her e-mail address in the library. The usual messages were from her parents and several old friends from high school and college. The last message was from Michelle.
Hi Aussie, Today I met Danny’s sister. She is striking as the type that win the Miss Universe. She is about 5ft 6in tall and with straight black hair, which comes, almost down to her waist. I am feeling much better. The morning sickness seems to be over but I still have some nausea. The Santos family is leaving soon for a vacation to Puerto Rico. I forgot to mention that Pilar Santos went to your high school. You have to remember her she is a couple of years younger than us. I hope to be back at my house by Saturday. I look forward to having some normal activity. See you soon, Michelle.
The picture of Pilar Santos formed in her mind. She was the freshman girl crowned Homecoming Queen in Aussie’s senior year. What she remembered was even more frightening, she was the daughter of one of the mob bosses in Chicago. Aussie had to notify Michelle. Somebody had to help Michelle. In the medical school office, Aussie insisted on talking to Dr. Andersen.  Aussie explained her concerns to the head of the school of medicine. He listened patiently and then dropped the bomb on Aussie. Miss Bauer had withdrawn from the school. He showed Aussie the signed request. Aussie looked at the piece of paper and it appeared to be legit. The fear of the power of the mob swept over Aussie. In that moment, she had the strangest notion that Dr. Andersen was part of this scheme to cover for Michelle’s absenteeism. Aussie left the office. She dialed Michelle’s cell phone. The phone was turned off. The only chance that she had to alert Michelle was to e-mail her back.
Michelle, Got your message. Please call me ASAP! Aussie
The next morning Danny called Ray. “Ray, are you sure that you can stay with Michelle? I have some business in Chicago and want be gone for more than four hours. Michelle spends most of her time reading some medical book or on the computer now that she has access to the classroom.”
Ray arrived before Danny left. Ray promised Michelle that he would be outside and stay out of hair so that she could do her schoolwork. Ray and Michelle had a quiet lunch together and heard the sound of thunder in the distance. “Michelle, it looks like we are going to have an afternoon storm. I’m going to take a quick dip in the pool before the storm arrives. Are you interested?”
“I don’t think I can today. I missed most of yesterday with Danny’s grandmother and then Pilar and Carmen were here most of the day; I need to catch up with my reading.”
Ray dressed in his swimsuit. Before going out to the pool, Ray left his cell phone with Michelle in case the rectory called him for an emergency. Michelle placed the phone next to the computer.
 The beep announcing the arrival of e-mail on her computer alerted Michelle to the new mail. The message was from Aussie. Picking up Ray’s cell phone, Michelle dialed Aussie’s number.
“Hello, this is Aussie.”
“Aussie, I just got your message.”
“Thank God! Listen to me Michelle, you have got to get out of there!”
“Aussie, what are you talking about?”
“Michelle, Danny is in the mob.  His family is a crime family from Chicago. I didn’t remember until you told me about his sister. Pilar Santos was the Homecoming queen at my school in my senior year. Please get out of there. You won’t believe this but you have been withdrawn from medical school. Michelle, I saw the form and it had your signature on the form.”
“Aussie, I’m leaving now. Danny is in Chicago. His cousin Ray the priest is here with me.” Michelle looked up and saw Ray standing in the kitchen. The fear in her eyes told the truth to Ray.  “Ray, let me leave?”
“Oh Father in Heaven, Michelle why did you have to find out about the family under my watch?”
“Ray, if you love God tell me that you won’t stop me from leaving this house. Danny has deceived me.” ‘
“Michelle, I begged Danny to tell you from the beginning. Danny won’t allow you to leave.” Michelle started to shiver all over and her body was shaking so hard that Ray held her in his arms to control the involuntary movement.
The sky opened up with the pouring rain. The loud booming noise of the thunder challenged the noise of Michelle’s cries. Danny opened the screen door and saw Ray holding Michelle in his arms. Removing his wet jacket from his body and loosing his tie, Danny saw the cell phone, which Michelle was still grasping in her hand. “What is going on here?”
“Danny, Michelle knows about the family.”
Looking from Ray to Michelle, Danny rested his eyes on Michelle. “Ray, you can leave.”
“Danny, I think I need to stay to help the both of you.”
Looking down at the floor then back up to Ray, Danny told Ray to leave the house. Prying the cell phone from Michelle’s hand, Danny threw the object against the fireplace. “Danny, can’t you see how Michelle is shaking like a scared rabbit?”
“Michelle will be fine. Ray, do you know how Michelle discovered this little information?”
“Danny, you asked me to leave and I’m going to do as you wished. If you need me, I’ll be at the rectory.” Ray whispered in Michelle’s ear. “I know my cousin, he will never hurt you.”
Ray left the room to change his clothes. Danny and Michelle stood in silence waiting for Ray to leave. Ray crossed the family room to leave Danny’s house. The unexpected happened when Michelle ran after Ray begging him to take her with him. Danny grabbed her from behind. She struggled to escape Danny’s tight hold. Michelle pleaded with Danny to let her leave with Ray. His arms held her as tight as he could to prevent her from escaping his hold. Screaming the word “Never” over and over. In the car, Ray was tormented by Michelle’s screams. Praying to God for the mighty creator to intervene, Ray started the car. The loud sound from the security system warned Ray that Danny had activated the gates. Tonight, the lake house was shut off from the rest of the world.
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