Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis Chapter 21A

Author’s Note: There are three chapters, which I am fond of and looked forward to the creation. This is one of the chapters.

Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis – Chapter 21A

“Boss, no disrespect to Michelle and you, the lady is a feisty broad. If she is as feisty in the bed, she is worth the war. This is war and she has drawn a line in the sand. I can’t wait to see who is going to cross the line.”

Danny smiled at Jimmy.

Checking to make sure Michelle didn’t see his approval of her behavior. “I didn’t expect her to pick the table up like it was a blanket and throw it. I wish you could have seen the way you scrambled from the table. Michelle is strong physically and mentally.  I got a taste of her physical strength yesterday. I had my arms around her to prevent her from leaving with Ray. It was like trying to hold on to a tornado.” Warning Jimmy to be aware of the need to use two men if necessary to keep her safe and unharmed. “She has the cutest petite frame which is deceiving. The swimming has developed a disciplined adversary.”

“You wonder why and what those kids think when training and swimming all those miles of laps in a pool. They go back and forth and at each end of the pool they do one of those fancy flip turns to swim to the other end.”

Danny said, “I know why. They have prepared their bodies to endure the physical and mental pain to win.”

“Danny, this is kind of funny and as I see it neither of you like to lose. With your tendency to throw objects when angry and Michelle is ready to fight like a lioness, this is going to be an interesting week. Instead of sending my wife to shop for food, I should order some armor for myself. What are you going to do with the 2 pm deadline? Michelle is going to win on that one.”

Danny agreed with Jimmy. “Michelle is smart enough to figure the solution. If she stalls, she thinks time is on her side. Time is really on our side because she doesn’t know the exact date of our departure. I have an idea if we can convince Michelle that we leaving Springfield sooner. If she continues to refuse to do the paper work, we are to imply she will be medicated and put on the jet. Michelle is a freak about doing everything naturally. She refused medication when she was sick as a dog to protect the fetal development of the baby. Olga has packed Michelle’s new clothes in the suitcases. Get the bags, we are going to show Michelle her new wardrobe. Follow my lead and do what I ask you to do.”

Danny and Jimmy carried the bags to the porch. Placing one of the suitcases on the table, Danny opened the suitcase. “Michelle, Jimmy is taking your luggage to the jet. Look through the clothes, this will help you decide on making your list of clothes to pack from your house. This black one piece swimsuit is attractive.”

Taking the suit out of the bag, Danny suggested Michelle swim some laps in the pool before leaving to go to the airport. “Danny, I didn’t think your family was going until this weekend.”

“You are right, but we are leaving sooner.”

“Didn’t you promise me the opportunity to explain my trip to my family?”

Danny closed the suitcase and opened the last piece of luggage for Michelle’s observation. Michelle ignored the suitcase, which Danny closed. “Jimmy, the luggage is ready.” Jimmy took both pieces of luggage and left the two to continue the standoff.

“Danny, I can’t do this. Please if you ever loved me the way you say you do then don’t force me to do something I will hate you for the rest of my life. I need more time.”

“How much time do you want, Michelle?”

“I can’t believe I am saying this but a day.”

Danny repeated back to Michelle the time frame. “Twenty-four hours is the deal.”

“Danny, I don’t understand why you don’t get it that this is so wrong. How long can you keep me stored away in some hideaway? Will you ever trust me on a street anywhere in the world?”

“Michelle, I will trust you again because I know what makes you tick inside. The driving force behind all of your actions is the same force that is driving me. Twenty-five years from now and even fifty years down the road, the answer will be the same. The answer is a passion for life and sharing that passion with someone you love with all the power that God can give a person.”

“Danny, I refuse to accept that the God I know would allow you to destroy my life. The tirade of you gloating over the derogatory facts of my dysfunctional family is a little more than sadistic.”

“Michelle, you are loaded with caustic adjectives today.”

“This isn’t meant to be on the lighthearted. Yesterday, you gave it to me with both barrels; today it’s my turn. For your information, there is NEVER a day in which I don’t remember the days after my mother died. In my mind is a tape that plays over the scenes at the funeral home, the casket, the odor of lilies and the cold touch of dead flesh. You are right my father did abandon my brother and me but it wasn’t a choice if he was well that he would have made. I can forgive him for hurting me, but I can’t forgive you because you are deliberately choosing to be mean and cruel. Danny, I’m questioning how I ever thought I was falling in love with you.”

The words of her declaring and entertaining the love, which he sought, had come at a high cost. She was at a crossroad in her life where the balance of the scales was scary.

“Everyone says words they wish they could take back. Yesterday, I spit out an encyclopedia worth. If I could go back, I would undue all of this. Michelle, you are right because I am a selfish bastard but the truth is and as bad as it sounds; I would still rationalize my doing it all again. If I have to, I will give you a whiff of some anesthesia gas to get you on the jet safely. Michelle, do you want to wake up in a bed in a strange country? We have friends in high places and the family does a lot of off shore business. Springfield is a secondary operating location.”

“Danny, I really don’t have a choice, do I?”

“Honey, the choice is how do you want to leave and IF and when you want to return to Springfield.”

Seeing the black swimsuit, Michelle collected the suit from Danny’s hand. “Danny, this is a waste of my time talking with you. I am going to swim laps until I die or collapse.”

Michelle dove into the deep end of the pool without creating a splash and began the ritual of warming up with the free style, backstroke, breaststroke and ending with the killer butterfly stroke before beginning the freestyle marathon. After the first hour, Danny watched with amazement the precision of each stroke and the speed which Michelle carried her body through the water. The speed of her laps picked up instead of slowing down. The threat of Michelle’s words loomed in his mind; she was willing to die in his pool and was attempting to swim herself to death. Removing his shoes, he waited for Michelle to swim into the deep end. Danny’s dive allowed him to swim under water and surfacing next to Michelle. The interruption of the color under the water caused a pause in Michelle’s rhythm breathing. She stopped at the edge of the pool to find Danny’s head next to hers. Moving to the corner of the pool, Michelle was trapped briefly as she took a breath of air and went under the water to swim at the bottom of the pool. At the bottom of the pool, Danny and Michelle met. Danny locked his arms under her arms forcing her to the surface. Taking a breathe of air, Danny gasped as he told her this madness has got to stop.

“I can’t promise you what is going to happen in the future, but I can promise you that I will always love you.” With that Danny kissed Michelle on her lips refusing to let her break their embrace. Michelle held on to Danny’s shoulders and rested her body against his wet clothed body. “Today must be the designated day for everybody to get wet with their clothes on,” referring to Michelle’s cold water shower.

Michelle told Danny to follow under the water. Under the water, she swam to the opposite side of the pool. She lifted her body out of the pool and collapsed on the cement surface. Danny stood above the black bathing suit admiring the firm buttocks. He pulled his shirt over his head and threw the shirt down on the cement. Michelle saw his dress pants land on the cement. Lying down on the cement on his stomach, Danny rubbed his hand across Michelle’s back and down to her buttocks. “Michelle, what do you think about when you swim the laps?”

Michelle answered that in general she gets in a zone and just counts the laps, “but today I was determined to kick your butt.”

Danny massaged the tight muscles on her shoulders and upper arms; then paying attention to her thigh and lower leg muscles. With the warmth of the sun beating down on her exhausted body, Michelle drifted off to peaceful sleep. Danny draped his loose arm over Michelle’s back and his leg rested in between her legs. Finally, they had come to a place where they both could get some much-needed rest. The thundering noise in the distant and the darkening sky warned the couple of the approaching summer storm coming off the plains from the western horizon. The booming thunder signaled the end of the afternoon outdoor activities.

“Michelle, wake up. A storm is coming.”

“I know. I heard the thunder.” Sitting up and moving to the edge of the pool, Michelle dangled her legs in the water. The sound of the wind increased as the storm began to blow in off of the lake. Danny gathered his shirt and pants and then started to put the deck furniture into the pool. Michelle ran from the pool deck to the porch. Inside the house, they each choose a room to go to and close the windows.

“I want to get a shower and get this chlorine off my body but I want to wait until the lightening stops.”

“Danny, what are we going to do until then?”

“Wait and hope the storm passes quickly. Michelle, I have an idea.” Taking her hand, he led her into the bedroom. Smiling at Michelle, he pulled the bedcovers back. “We can lay here and watch the lightening flashes and count the distance of the thunder until its safe to get a shower.”

This triggered the memory of Michelle when her family had spent time at the Bauer cabin. The sitting on the cabin porch with her Dad and Mom watching the course of the storm was from her favorite good years. Ed had taught Michelle to watch the lightening in the sky and count until you heard the thunder. It was a simple means to calculate the distance of the storm from where you where. “My dad taught me how to measure the distance of a storm when I was a little girl.”

“I can’t believe it, Michelle, but we actually have something that both of our Dads did when we were growing up. My father wanted his kids to be prepared for any circumstance and that included the weather. It gave us boys the time to get home before a storm.”

Wrapping strands of her tight curls around his finger, Danny suggested they declare a truce for the night. “I want to take you to a nice restaurant in Chicago.”

“Why Chicago and not a restaurant in Springfield?”

“I grew up there and there are some neat ethnic restaurants in the city. There is one particular restaurant which my father was very fond of for various reasons.  1. The food is good 2. My grandfather opened the restaurant many years ago. 3. The restaurant is still in the family and I like to support the business.”

“Danny, did I understand you correctly? You want to take me right smack in the middle of a mob scene?”

“Honey, the restaurant has tables, chairs, and a kitchen which receives the best and fresh meats in the Midwest. Most of the customers are regular normal people out for a night to eat traditional Latino food. The recipes are from my grandmother. You can eat the beans and rice and I can have the Spicy Island Chicken. For dessert, we can have fried bananas with rum.”

“No Danny, I’m repulsed with the idea of being near the mob.”

“Michelle, is the truce on or off?”

“I never accepted your offer of a truce. The idea of eating out at a restaurant is sweet but the problem is where the restaurant is located.”

Irritated with Michelle turning down his proposal, Danny left the bed and went straight into the shower. The water running in the shower was brief as compared to the time Danny usually spent in taking a shower. He came back into the bedroom to tell Michelle the bathroom was hers. Danny dressed and pulled the luggage from the closet.

“Danny, what are we doing?”

“Michelle, what does it look like I’m doing?”

“I can see you are beginning to pack a suitcase.”

“A brilliant answer from a woman in medical school and the answer to the rest of the WE is as soon as the airport gives small jets the clearance to take off, WE are leaving for Puerto Rico.”

“I’m NOT leaving today.”

Pointing to the outside, Danny told Michelle that she had better pray for storms all night because that is all that was going to keep her butt in Springfield.

Michelle envisioned the handkerchief with some weird odor being placed over her nose and mouth. Where would the medication be used and did they know how dangerous this could be for her babies? “Danny, will you resort to using the anesthesia? Please don’t do this to me.”

“Michelle, the final choice will be yours and if it comes down to anesthesia; I promise a doctor will be there to monitor you. You have heard of Versed? Dr. Andersen supplied us with a couple of syringes with 5cc in each. A couple of cc of the drug and you will never remember the trip but you can talk to any authorities. They will just think you had to many pina coladas down on the plane.”

“So we are back to where we started yesterday? Danny, I have a family that cares and loves me. This will never make any sense to Rick and Aunt Meta. I came from a stable home before my father lost his own will to live. I lost my father but Rick was a brother and father to me. What Rick couldn’t provide, my parents friends came forward to help. My Aunt Meta is a wise lady and she has always given me good advice. The one thing that she has always said was in making a decision, the decision will affect more than one person. I need to find this peace to stay and make the decision that you expect me to make. I must have some peace of mind, heart and soul. I have to protect my babies.”

Danny and Michelle turned to the source of the noise coming from the kitchen. “I’ll leave you to finish your damn packing.”

Jimmy was removing the few items of food from the plastic grocery bag. The one item, which he was pleased with, was the smoothie his wife had picked up at the nature food store. The wife had assured him that the smoothie was the one item all vegetarians enjoyed and used as a protein supplement. He had the container in his hand when he heard the sound of an unknown object hitting an inside wall.

“All right you two, I’m getting tired of dodging flying objects. My wife did the food shopping for Michelle.” Leaving the bedroom with one of her medical books as a tool to distract her from their latest clash, Michelle realized that she still dressed in her swimsuit. Handing the smoothie to Michelle, Jimmy made some remark about getting in a swim since she was still dressed in the black suit.

“I didn’t try to swim in the lake and your goonies didn’t have to bring me back if you think that is the reason Danny is throwing his shoes at the wall. I did swim laps in the pool earlier in the afternoon.  We fell asleep in the sun then the storm started. Danny got his shower and I was waiting to use the bathroom when you came with the groceries. ”

“My wife picked up this strawberry and banana smoothie for you. She told me to tell you it was made with soft tofu what ever that means.”

Tasting the cold fruit drink, Michelle smacked her lips in approval. “Would you like a sip?”

“The stuff sounds strange to me. I’m a meat and potatoes guy. Justina sent a few items.” The shopping was simple with four bananas, two cartons frozen strawberries, two packages of soft tofu, a jar of fresh ground peanut butter and a loaf of whole wheat bread. “Justina felt that Olga kept the kitchen well stocked and I guess you won’t be needing too much anyway.”

“What did the boss throw this time?”

Answering Jimmy’s question about the cause of the noise, Michelle mouthed the words, a tennis shoe. “Danny is angry because I refused to go with him to a family restaurant in Chicago tonight.”

“You refused to go to Rico’s? Bad mistake, the food is the best. The place is small maybe twenty-five tables and packed in the building like a can of sardines. Every night, there is a line outside of the building with people dying to get the chance to spend some money on a piece of history. Did Danny tell you the history of the place?”

“He did tell me that his grandfather owned the business and the food served is from his grandmother’s recipes.”

When Big Daddy Santos came to Chicago, he wanted the chance to own a little eatery. He opened the business and in those days the thugs started hitting on the man because he spoke very little English. They forced Mr. Santos to pay money for protection to keep imaginary officials away. Back then; he was barely making enough money to survive. Al Capone’s boys roughed up Mr. Santos once. After the beating, Mr. Santos being a proud man organized a resistance. The neighborhood united under the Santos banner. He and some of the younger men protected the smaller business from the thugs. The family business started in the meetings in the kitchen. Families started coming to Mr. Santos to solve problems. The old man gained respect in the community and eventually his word was the unwritten law. Danny’s grandmother took over the restaurant business and it became the front for years for the illegal business. The general public has a fascination with organized crime. The business remained opened after Abuelá retired for the sole purpose to allow the public to say they had been in a mob operated business. Abuelá receives all the profits and she donates the money to Father Ray’s mission downtown. Michelle, you have got to understand you are in the family whether you like it or not. Wise up to this fact, you are getting low on brownie points with the boss. Take my advice, go get a shower, put on one of those short little dresses, cuddle up with the boss and do the thing that all you women know how to do so well. Give Danny some attention tonight, he may soften up on you a little. Besides Michelle, I don’t like flying in that little jet in bumpy and turbulent air.”

“Jimmy, why are you offering me this advice or befriending me?”

“You are my job and we are going to be seeing and spending a lot of mutual time together in the future. All the Santoses have a counselor. Carmen has Dax and Danny has Carmen and Abuelá. You need to know when to fight and what to fight for in the family. I can’t be that person because I’m Danny’s lieutenant. The battle is over and you are in the stage where the peace agreement is being written and the spoils of war being divided and taken.”

Michelle asked Jimmy, “The spoils of war are what in my case?”

“As I see it Michelle, Danny takes you but you can save the baby from this life.”

For the first time since hearing Aussie’s words, Michelle had a new outlook on her crisis. Jimmy didn’t know she was pregnant with twins so the term spoils of war took on a new meaning. Michelle finished the smoothie. “Thank your wife for doing the shopping. The smoothie was exactly the kind that I prefer and thank you for the advice.”

Danny gave the packed luggage to Jimmy. “The pilot says it is unlikely that we can fly out tonight from Springfield. The storm system is backed up to Colorado and Montana and will blow thru tonight.”

Seizing the open door, the storm system had given her valuable time to work Danny. “Jimmy was telling me, I made a mistake when I refused to go with you to the family restaurant. If you still are interested in going, I‘m willing to go with you tonight.”

“Michelle, what are you trying to do? Manipulate me to stall for time?” Walking around Michelle to determine the cause of her change of attitude, Danny stood in front of Jimmy. “I smell a rat.”

“Boss, I did tell her about ‘Rico’s’ and the good food.”

“Michelle is like all women, they are fickle. I think Michelle changed her mind.”

This time Michelle came to Jimmy’s defense. “NO, I am NOT stalling for time. You said yourself the storm system will prevent the plane from leaving tonight and it is evident from the way you threw the shoe at the wall that you are angry with me. Jimmy’s wife did send a fruit smoothie but I am interested in having some solid food tonight. I can get a quick shower and be dressed in fifteen minutes. Danny, call ahead and let the owners know that we are coming for dinner.”

“Michelle, you are sure you want to go into this mob infested den?”

Michelle took a few steps to stand in front of Danny and leaning her swimsuit clad body into his body before giving her answer. “I want to go to Rico’s.”

“Get your shower and I’ll call the restaurant.”

Dressed as Jimmy had suggested in a short black sundress and black sandals, Michelle emerged thirty minutes later to display her physical beauty to Danny and Jimmy. The sundress had wide straps on the shoulder and a deep and low cut front which drew attention to Michelle’s full bosom. Danny had on a black dress jacket, black pants and a dark blue shirt with the top buttons of the shirt left unbuttoned to indicate the informal attire. “Well, I believe you two are perfectly coordinated in dress tonight. Everybody is dressed in black and the black Corvette will even be coordinated. Boss, do you want me to call “Rico’s and tell them to bolt the tables down?”

“No Jimmy, I am going to be on my best behavior tonight besides I’m not the one that turns over tables.”

Michelle leaning into Danny and whispered, “I guess I’m that culprit” The two left the lake front home. After seeing the couple off to their intended night out in Chicago, Jimmy dialed the number to Father Ray’s rectory.

“Father Ray, this is Jimmy speaking. I did what you told me to do. The situation was perfect. Matter of fact, I got back at the perfect time. I had time to explain the situation to Michelle. She understood the concept of negotiating for the spoils of war. I planted the idea of her having a counselor. The rest is up to you, Father Ray.”

“Thank you, Jimmy. I will wait one more day. Danny has always come to talk as a friend. If he hasn’t called by noon tomorrow, I will come by the lake house to put food in the birdfeeders. God will answer our prayers.”

The drive from Springfield to Chicago added to the excitement of the evening, the driving rain and Michelle’s distracting body slowed their arrival in the windy city. Danny drove the car down the street searching for a parking place close to Rico’s. True to Jimmy’s description, the crowd on the street waited in the rain to gain entrance into the restaurant. “This isn’t looking good for any nearby parking. It looks like we are going to have to park in the back alley. This isn’t the way I had planned for you to go into the building but it will save you from getting drenched. Michelle, get out of the car and run to that door that has DELIVERY ONLY. Open the door, I will be right behind you.”

When Michelle and Danny burst in the kitchen, the cook held up a butcher knife ready to attack the intruders. “Daniel, this is a nice way to bring me such a beautiful package.” Pulling the towel from his apron, the cook offered the towel to Michelle. Speaking in Spanish to a helper in the kitchen, the helper returned with a bundle of kitchen towels. Danny took a towel and helped Michelle dry the rain off her back and shoulders. Michelle took her sandals off of her feet to dry the leather and her feet. The noise from the kitchen alerted the staff to the commotion. Within minutes, the kitchen was full of Danny’s distant cousins. The traditional kissing and hugging took over the welcoming of Michelle to the restaurant. Proudly displaying each entrée and attempting to explain the food to Michelle, the cook gave Michelle and Danny a plate each. Danny guided Michelle to choose the rice and stewed beans. Danny had his usual stewed chicken and rice. Danny walked over to the wine rack and taking a bottle motioned Michelle through the swinging door to a table waiting for them. The cook followed the couple with two wine glasses and a corkscrew.

Opening the bottle, he poured the white wine in the glass and waited for Michelle to taste the wine. Michelle was surprised at the fruity and light taste and gave the wine her immediate approval. “I like this very much.”

Danny watched as Michelle charmed the staff. Her classy and sophisticated looks had attracted everyone in the restaurant. The first bite of the rice and bean dish was shared with Danny. “I don’t have words adequate to tell you how good this food is and I can’t believe because of my stubbornness, I almost missed this. This is everything that Jimmy said it would be like. What creates these taste?”

Danny had begun to tell Michelle the mixture of the spices when a couple approached the table.

“Daniel, it is nice to see you in the city again.” Looking up to see Carlos Sandoval and his niece Theresa standing at his table, they waited to be introduced to the young attractive honey blonde woman sitting at the table.

“We made a last minute decision to come into the city. I wanted Michelle to see the restaurant and enjoy some island cuisine. Michelle, this is Carlos Sandoval and his niece Theresa. Michelle is a close friend and a medical student. Michelle, Theresa was an old flame and we were engaged at the ripe age of sixteen.”

“Yes Danny, it was fourteen years ago when you broke my heart.”

“How are things going for you, Theresa?”

“I divorced my third husband last year and I live with my three children in California. My father prefers that I stay away from Chicago.”

“Theresa, I would take his advice.”

Theresa asked Michelle if she was from the city.

“What city do you mean?”

“Chicago of course.”

Danny kicked Michelle’s leg under the table to get her attention and not to divulge where she was from. “No, I’m not from Chicago.”

Carlos apologized for interrupting their dinner. He wanted to pay his respect to Danny. Danny shook Carlos hand and told Theresa it was nice to see her well. After they had left the building, Michelle asked who the creeps where.

“Carlos Sandoval was in a crime family with a lot of dirty dealings. The rumors had been he was responsible for the turf war, which had caused his own father to be killed. Theresa had once been a beautiful girl in her teens. She had started to use drugs early in her teens and was now crazy from all the crap she put in her blood. Her last husband had been Johnny Machedo. Her father had custody of the grandchildren. Carlos was baby sitting Theresa to keep her from a morgue slab.”

“It is like what Jimmy said, the public comes to see the mob and I guess I saw the ugly side.”

“Honey, you did.”

“Danny tell me about the sauce and the seasoning in the food.”

“Yea, getting back to the varied spices and condiments, which season the island food. The base of the majority of native dishes is the Sofrito, an aromatic and well seasoned sauce made from pureed tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers, sweet red chili peppers, coriander, annatto seeds and a handful of other spices. The sauce adds a zesty taste to the meat stews, rice’s and stewed beans. Did you like the taste of the rice? The rice is cooked in coconut milk. The Sofrito sauce on the rice and beans is to die for when you hungry. What do you want for dessert? The popular dessert is a flan custard made of cheese, coconut milk and vanilla and fried bananas with rum and other passion fruit.”

“Danny, what do you suggest?”

“I usually get the fried bananas with the rum and a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.”

“Danny, did your mother cook like this because it is hard for me to imagine her preparing food.”

“Carmen always had help in the house, she was devoted to caring for my father and her children. She occasionally prepared special foods on holidays. Now, Michelle does Carmen look any way like a cook in her designer dresses and suits?”

“Carmen is one well preserved woman.”

“Dad stopped by here often to eat his mother’s cooking. Abuelá had a knack for cooking good food which stayed with you. When I was young, she had all of her grandchildren peeling and slicing vegetables. We worked here for a couple of dollars a week and all the food we could eat. I swept the floor, washed dishes and bused tables.”

Taking Danny’s hands into hers and looking at his well manicured hands and nails. “Looks like to me that the work didn’t hurt. What did you do for fun?”

“We played soccer and baseball in the back alley. In the spring, we go in the alley and play catch with a baseball. When fall and school started we threw a football around and played some basketball. Really exciting for a bunch of mob kids, huh?”

“When did you find out about the family business?”

“Michelle, I grew up thinking my father’s work was normal. After my father died, Carmen told me why and how. Pretty cold way but it was easier to accept his death. In high school, the kids stayed away and books became a way to escape the real life. My college life opened my eyes and I saw what many people saw as legal as illegal as any of the activity in the families.”

“Do your friends from college know who you really are?”

“Yes, a couple of the accountants and lawyers work for San Cor. I hired them because they had the best business minds in my class. They get paid very well for their work and loyalty. The rest you have heard from me or Aussie.”

“Danny, since you bought up Aussie’s name. Why did you go to such extreme actions in retaliating against Aussie?”

“I think we have been over this once before Michelle.”

“Danny, she was being loyal to me.”

“1.Aussie was meddling in mob business 2. I didn’t and I don’t ever want her feeding you shit behind my back. Aussie will be safe in Australia and she didn’t get a new pair of cement shoes if you get my drift.”

“Danny, I WILL continue to be Aussie’s friend.”

“Michelle do you think Aussie is going to want to be your friend after this extended trip to a medical school in Australia? Michelle stop being naive. I may assure you that Aussie got the message.”

“Danny, let me be sure that I understand you correctly. I am never to speak or communicate with Aussie again.”

“Michelle, you finally understand.”

“Danny, this is what I understand.  I WILL find a way to communicate with my friend and explain why you are being so mean and hateful to her.”

“I love you when you are so feisty.”

“Danny, the trouble with you has to be everyone is afraid of you. I was Michelle Bauer before I met you and I am still Michelle Bauer.”

Danny moved his chair next to Michelle. Placing his arm around Michelle’s shoulder, he whispered in her ear how excited she made him when she fought back. She felt his hand on her thigh and down to the hem of her skirt. The bare flesh of his hand and her thigh meeting distracted Michelle.

“Well, we don’t have any stockings on tonight and can I guess the color of the bikini panties? Black or red? Red!”

“Danny get serious.”

“Must be black.”

“I’m not telling.”

Taking a one hundred dollar bill from a money clip, Danny put the bill in front of Michelle’s face. “I bet you this bill before the night is over and specifically before midnight; I will know the color from my personal gained knowledge.”

“Danny, you are always so sure of yourself.”

“Michelle, you keep the money and I will collect it from you at Midnight.” Danny slipped the money down in between Michelle’s breast.

“You are embarrassing me here and you know it.”

“Honey, expect the unexpected.”

“Ready for dessert, Michelle?”

“Yes, I want the bananas with rum.”

“What are you going to have for dessert?”

“Passion fruit for now and some of you for later.”

“You are pretty confident. Danny, I may want to see the city tonight and the Chicago skyline is known around the world.”

“You are being a naughty girl. I’m onto your stalling and I have the keys to the car in my pocket. Michelle, we can go dancing and have some champagne at the Chicago Hilton in the revolving restaurant on the top floor and spend the night at the hotel. Matter of fact, I will add another one hundred bill to the kitty for safe keeping.”

Snuggling up close to his neck and running her wet tongue across his ear, she took the bill from his fingers. “Danny, you are going to lose big tonight.”

Danny motioned for his cousin to bring another bottle of wine. Rico’s closed at 10pm.Danny and Michelle were still drinking wine with some of the family and enjoying the salsa music. Michelle watched as the men pushed the tables aside and put the chairs on top of the tables to provide a dance floor. The atmosphere changed into one of erotic movement on the floor. The sensual dance exploded into grinding and quick Spanish step dance. “Come on Michelle, let’s see if you can dance or if you have two left feet.”

“Danny, there is no way that I can do that in front of all these people. It is downright sexual and explicit. It is sexual teasing on the dance floor.” One of the women took Michelle’s hand and motioned her to follow her moving hips. Explaining the basic steps and movements to Michelle and then following up with a demonstration with one of the waiters to show how the male fit into the dance, Michelle was encouraged to take to the dance floor with Danny.

“Michelle, you can’t get out of here until you have danced some salsa with me. It is easy to do. All you have to do is follow me. The secret is to remember that we are two people moving as one. The male responds to the movement of the female partner. If you grind up against my leg; then I grind up against your thigh. If you move up, then I move down and in between we meet and do some necking in public. The rhythm of the music determines the passion of the dance. Follow my eyes and keep as close as you can and then you can walk out of here as tonight’s hero.” The music started and all in the restaurant took to the floor. Danny held Michelle close and she followed his lead. They started a slow grinding movement when his legs wrapped around her thigh. The intensity of the dance increased until the dance floor was theirs alone. Danny and Michelle were lost in their own world and unaware that the sexual tension had exploded to a place of complete harmony. The clapping noise of their audience brought the two back from their own smoldering dance. Danny kissed Michelle in his open display of love and appreciation for the dance. The couple left with a chill bottle of champagne for the ride home.

“What a night! I can’t believe I actually danced in such a provocative manner.”

“Michelle, you even looked like you were enjoying the dance.”

“I did but having the wine certainly loosened me up for my exhibition. When did Abuelá quit working at Rico’s?”

“After my father and uncle died, she worked for another ten years. When I came back to Springfield, she retired and moved to Casa Santos. The profits from Rico’s are donated to Father Ray’s mission downtown. Abuelá was the one all of us went to for anything.”

“Why not go to your own mother?”

“Interesting question but it had to do with respect. Mother respected Abuelá but when my father died; Abuelá wasn’t able or cunning enough to run the business. Carmen had quietly watched my father and gained the savvy to do business with the other families. Carmen benefited from all the work and organization skills of my father. Miguel had put in place a plan to move our family into a more legit position. It was easy for me to follow the guidelines. The turf war was long finished when it came time for me to move to the head of the Santos family. My father was killed because he wanted to move the business out of the gutter. His blood gave his family the right to choose the path we are traveling now.”

The return trip back to the lake home went quickly. Michelle had gotten answers from Danny, which seemed to shed light on a single mob family. The problems of being an immigrant in a big city where the man without a voice stood up to the criminals and in the end became a force for all to deal with. The one striking observation Michelle had of Danny was the lack of any emotion when he spoke of his father. The troublesome ideology of crime and Danny’s interpretation of a crime was foreign to her. Danny’s frolicking and playful actions had given Michelle a much-deserved reprieve to face the future.

Michelle removed her sandals to run through the rain puddles and up the stone steps and back inside the security of a dry house.

“What a night to be out in the rain.”

“ I agree but it was worth the effort. We are both soaked from the rain and I don’t know who’s hair is the curliest at this moment.”

Placing his sports jacket on the chair to dry, Danny switched the music system on to play a CD of Garth Brooks. The selection was titled The Dance. “Michelle can we keep the atmosphere going here from Chicago? Will you dance with me?”

Wrapping her arms around the back of his neck, they swayed to the lyrics of a love song. The words being sung by a man they neither knew expressed their own love story. “I waited a life time for someone like you.” The theme was being written in their hearts. The dance would be their journey together.

Michelle concentrated on the music and the words of wisdom from Jimmy. Dancing was a form of cuddling in her mind. “Hum, you smell so delicate and sweet Michelle and good to eat as my late night dessert.”

“If I recall, we had dessert at Rico’s.”

“Well, I know for a fact that the passion fruit I’m interested in having is here in my arms.”

“Danny, are you insinuating the two of us have the passion fruit tonight in bed?”

“Michelle, are you willing to get rid of all of your inhibited behaviors tonight?”

“What inhibited behaviors?”

“We have got to find a new place to make love. The bed has been used many times, the jet more than once and the shower has been christened. We almost made love in the pool this afternoon.”

“Danny, I don’t remember any almost making love in the pool.”

“Michelle, are you interested in a late night swim?”

Looking out the window to the pouring down rain, you have got to be kidding!”

“Honey this will be a special kind of swim, no swim suits allowed. What does a little more water in the pool mean when you are wet. You owe me two big bills and you have been keeping them close to your heart.”

“I’m a traditional woman and the bedroom is looking inviting. You still don’t have the cardinal knowledge of the color to get these two one hundred dollar bills back. If the clock is correct, you have less than ten minutes.”

“The bedroom is the place for the deed tonight, Michelle? I can still win this tonight.”

“I don’t think you have a chance.”

Danny lifted Michelle up into his arms and laughing so hard as he carried her to the bed. Kicking off his shoes and unbuttoning his shirt at the same time, Danny was determined to be undressed and nude in several minutes. “ Michelle, I ‘m coming to get my payoff.” Michelle rested on her knees while laughing in the pillow. Taking the pillow from Michelle, Danny threw the pillow in the floor. Michelle pulled Danny’s naked body down next to her. Their wet tongues danced across the others lips. Danny reached behind Michelle’s back to unzip her dress. The loosened dress allowed Danny’s hands the space to explore down to her naked buttocks. Michelle fell back laughing at Danny’s discovery.

“Sorry buster but the big ones are mine. It is worth the look on your face to know that I pulled this on you.”

“When did you get the idea of removing the panties?”

“Danny, I had two items of clothing on at Rico’s. One you were confident of the black dress. The dress was easy to remove and underneath should be my panties. Danny, I was checking your sense of humor. I wasn’t as inhibited as you thought.”

“This is looking pretty good from my point of view and better than I could have planned. Michelle, I want to make love to you all night in the pool.”

“We can start here and see where we end. I want to stay here.” Michelle moved her tongue down Danny’s chest to his navel where she paused until reaching his erection. Danny ‘s eyes closed as Michelle’s tongue moved around the sensitive organ. The electrical nerve impulses sent pulsating pleasure into the groin area and down both of his thighs. The urge to ejaculate was coming to the point of no return.

“Get on your back, Michelle.”

Getting rid of the dress and rolling over to get in position to receive Danny’s erection, Michelle and Danny reached for the other’s lips and tongues. The deep kissing lasting until Danny groaned out in the pleasure of the pain of the release of the warm fluid inside of Michelle.

*****

“I can’t believe we slept here last night.”

“Well, I can because it has the best view of the sunrise.”

“This chaise lounge isn’t exactly the most accommodating for the two of us but the view I have of your body is spectacular. Danny, I can’t believe we went skinny dipping in the pool when it was raining. I loved watching the raindrops fall on the surface under the water.  Making love on the cement deck has to be a first, the rain coming down on the both of us.”

“Michelle, it saved us from getting a shower inside the house. This lounge was the perfect place to finish the night.”

“The sunrise means the storm system must have passed through sometime early this morning. Which brings up the popular trip to Puerto Rico, Michelle I have been going over all this in my mind. You need to talk with a person who can help you with the family and Mob.”

“Gee Danny, I don’t exactly have any friends with Mob experience that I can call up in a spur of the moment.”

“Honey, I know you don’t. I might have an idea of someone that can help you. I don’t know why I didn’t think about this before. Ray or Father Ray has experience of life on both sides of the coin. From the beginning, Ray was on your side. Ray can give you counseling.”

“Danny three days ago, you kicked him out of the house and now, you want him to come back and get involved.”

“Ray will not be involved! He can provide a safe place to share your concerns and I trust he can give you wise council.”

“Can I trust Ray?’

“Yes”

“Then call Ray.”

“Ray has a 7am. Mass, he can’t come till after 8:30 at the earliest. I’ll call the rectory and leave a message.

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