Miracle at Laurel Falls by Muffy Chapter 3

Republisher’s Note: Mannifield Players put on Miracle on 34th Street.

Miracle at Laurel Falls by Muffy – Chapter 3

After their encounter at Chamberlains, Michelle had felt drawn to the jolly old man, not because he said he was Santa…. she didn’t believe in Santa….but because he was just a nice old man who made her smile.

Holly was astonished in the change she saw. Each day after that, Michelle requested to be taken to the store. She would stand to the side and watch Nick interact with the children. When it was break time, they would head for their daily dose of hot chocolate, hand in hand.

They sat and laughed and talked, sipping their hot chocolate and looking onto Main Street from the warm side of the decorated plate glass window. Dressed in a red coat dress and matching beret, Michelle looked like a tiniest of elves. From time to time she would scoot out of her chair, with napkin in hand, and dab the residual chocolate from Nick’s beard. It was a pattern that the two had become accustomed to over the past week.

And then there was silence. Nick followed her eyes onto the street and saw the funeral procession approaching.

“Nick…,” she said in a whispered, breathless voice. “Someone died.”

“Yes, someone has died.” Michelle knew by the way he replied that he knew who it was. She looked at him with the question in her eyes and he continued.

“A man was killed senselessly. He had three children who loved him very much.”

“Oh.” She continued to watch the procession as if mesmerized. Then he noticed the tears forming in her eyes.

“Michelle, are you thinking about your Mom?” He placed his hand on hers.

She looked up into his kind eyes. “I never stop thinking about my Mom…but…I …”

“What is it, dear?”

Now the tears were flowing, unchecked, down her cheeks. “Are you going to leave me now, Nick…are you?? Are you going to leave me to be with those children who lost their Dad? Are you going to leave me, TOO?” she choked out each syllable as if her life depended on his response.

——————-
Now the tears were flowing, unchecked, down her cheeks. She looked at Nick and shook her head. “I was so selfish,” she whispered holding her hand to her heart..

“No..no…no… don’t say that.” Nick raised his finger and shook it violently back and forth.

Michelle cleared her throat and continued on. “There’s a child in trouble, isn’t there Nick?”

He looked down as he chose his words very carefully.

“Yes……and this time I need *your* help, Michelle.”

It was her turn to reach out and cover his hand with hers. “You *know* I’ll do whatever I can…whatever it takes.”

Nick looked deep into her brown eyes…so much love…so much compassion. “I’m so glad to hear you say that,” he smiled.

“OK! That’s settled! Now who is this special little child and when do we get started?” Michelle got up to pour herself another cup of coffee….as she turned back toward Nick, he had a curious look on his face.

“Actually….you’ve already met him…”

Their conversation was interrupted by the doorbell. When Michelle opened it, she was greeted by a man in a chauffeur’s uniform holding the most beautiful three dozen long-stemmed red roses she had ever seen.

As she reached for the attached formal white notecard, the man explained that he had been instructed to wait for her response. The note read simply:

Dinner tonight?

Danny

Her heart felt like it was soaring. She told the driver yes, nodding her head to affirm her response. She was then informed that a car would pick her up at 7:00. With that, she thanked the driver, took the bouquet and inhaled its fragrance. She was just about to close the door when Nick spoke up from behind her.

“Wait up, young fellow. If it’s not too much trouble could you drop me by Chamberlain’s Department Store?”

The chauffeur seemed a bit amused, looking at Nick dressed in his red suit and black boots.

“Sure, no problem.”

Michelle was about to protest, but Nick held his hand up to silence her. “We’ll have plenty of time to catch up later…but right now… I must go… we can’t keep the children waiting.” He smiled, kissed her cheek, walked briskly out the door and down the walkway, the bemused driver following behind him.

The day passed much too slowly for Michelle’s liking. Bill dropped by to pick up his car and had noticed the flowers on display. They really didn’t talk about it, but Bill had gotten the message. They would always be best friends.

The car arrived right on schedule and began its journey out of town. Since she didn’t know where they would be having dinner, she had chosen a simple but elegant sleeveless black evening dress adorned with her mother’s pearls. After about thirty minutes of riding and traveling through a nearby sleepy town, the car slowed to almost a stop, as massive iron gates opened allowing their entrance.

The house and surrounding estate were massive, unlike anything Michelle had ever seen. She didn’t even know places like this existed …and especially so close to Springfield. The car made its way along a bricked circular drive and stopped. Her door was immediately swung open and Danny’s hand found hers, helping her out.

Her heart was beating out of her chest. He was so handsome in his dark suit and that devilish smile and his hand holding hers…. She had to remind herself to breathe. ‘This is crazy,’ she thought as the car drove off leaving them facing each other, ‘I just met him last night but all I want to do is to throw myself into his arms.’

As if reading her thoughts he pulled her against him. “I haven’t been able to think of anything else but you and this might seem crazy….but I’m not waiting any longer, Michelle.”

His lips touched hers, at first tentatively, but then increased in pressure and insistence. She responded by opening her mouth and allowing his impatient tongue to enter and have free access. The kiss was long and hungry and grew so passionate her legs literally buckled underneath her. When they finally came up for air they were both left completely breathless and wanting more…much more.

“Do you believe in love at first sight?” he murmured while resting his forehead on hers.

All reason and logic had moments before flown out the window. She wasn’t sure what was happening but whatever it was, she never wanted it to end…Nothing in her life had ever felt so right…and nothing in her life would ever be the same again.

Her hands boldly grasped either side of his face, greedily pulling his mouth back to hers. As she took possession this time, she passionately and breathlessly proclaimed, “I do now.”

Somewhere in the back of her mind she heard something but the intensity of the kiss and his roaming hands and the way their bodies were speaking to each other made her want to hold on for dear life and …

“Umm,” she mentally sighed…there it was again.

Somehow she found the strength to pull away slightly, stood on her tiptoes and peering over Danny’s shoulder came face to face with a dark haired woman. All the while, Danny’s eyes were ablaze with desire and his lips were searching for hers once again…

“Danny” she whispered.

“Hmmmmmm?” he replied …not really caring to carry on a conversation at this particular moment.

“Behind you….someone’s there.”

Clearly irritated at the intrusion, Danny turned.

“Hello Mother.” His voice sounded cold and distant. He shielded Michelle’s entire body from her view.

“Daniel, I wondered if your guest had arrived.”

“Yes,” he replied, dismissing her inquiry. “As you can see, she has. We will see you later.”

With that, Danny’s strong hand came to hold her waist to guide her westward, along the front the house, and onto an illuminated path. There must have been thousands of tiny specks of light along the walkway, in the trees, shrubbery, and garden area… so artfully placed, they seemed as one, a filtered extension of the moonlight that had just begun to light the sky.

As they entered the west wing, Michelle was awe struck by its understated elegance and beauty.

The distant and cold Danny of a few seconds ago had been replaced by an almost shy, smiling one. She reached up to smooth a wayward curl from his forehead and he caught her hand in his, turned it over, and placed a warm kiss into her palm.

“You wait here…I’ll be right back.”

She wandered around the room looking at the books that were interspersed with pottery and other works of art within the bookshelves that spanned the entire wall. In the middle of the display was a grouping of pictures. She smiled as she picked up the first.

A very young Danny was smiling widely at the camera, one arm around an older man, the other around his skis. He looked so happy and carefree. Replacing the picture, she picked up the next and caught her breath. So much had happened in the last 24 hours, she simply had not made the connection.

My God! She didn’t even know his last name …until now.

She wasn’t alone any longer as she felt his presence behind her. She looked into his eyes and her questions were answered.

“Mick is my older brother, Michelle,” he searched her face for condemnation, but found none. He was holding two glasses and now set them along the shelf holding the pictures.

“Mick has problems,” he continued. “Problems with drugs….. He’s been sent away to a place that will help him with his addictions.”

Michelle picked up the first picture she had held and again looked up into Danny’s eyes.

“That’s Papa.” His smile lit up his face. “God, how he loved to ski,” he spoke tenderly as if reliving a moment from the past.

“Wha…what…” Michelle quietly started but for some reason dreaded hearing his reply. Nick’s words from earlier in the day were resonating in her head, ‘Actually, you’ve already met him’…’Actually, you’ve already met him’…..

Danny gently took the picture from her hand and gazed lovingly at his father.

“I lost him ten years ago… today.”

♪♫♪ “When I first saw you…I already knew. There was something..inside of you.” ♫♪♫

The melody filled the room as Danny and Michelle danced the evening away. Dinner had been perfect. Danny’s instructions had been carried out to the letter….Candlelight, champagne, an intimate table set for two overlooking the moon-illuminated lake.

As they swayed Michelle felt at peace, and for the first time in her life…. as if she had found her true center.

“Hey,” he spoke softly into her hair. “What are you thinking?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she spoke with her eyes averted toward his chest, “…about how wonderful you feel, how wonderful this all feels…and…

“And?”

“How I never want it to end.”

She could feel his smile in her hair. His hands moved up her back and rested there.

“It doesn’t have to …”

She felt a tiny shiver go through her body and realized her zipper was being released. As it inched down she could feel the cool air hit her skin.

She didn’t even think to hesitate, if the truth were to be told, she knew from the first moment she had laid eyes on Danny Santos that this would happen. She welcomed it. She welcomed him.

“I love you, Michelle Bauer…I’ve loved you my whole life.”

With that, she lifted her arms to his neck allowing her dress to fall to the floor. He was watching her with an intensity that almost frightened her… allowing what happened next to be her decision. She answered his unasked question by entwining his neck into her embrace and brought his mouth to hers. Even though the kiss started as a gentle invitation it quickly grew into a raw, desperate need to be joined.

“Are you sure?” he asked as he lifted her in his arms, pushing his bedroom door open with his foot.

“I’ve never been more sure,” she replied as she continued her assault on his senses.

*******

The moonlight floated in and rested on their skin as they lay together. Michelle traced the muscles on his arm with her finger. A brilliant smile illuminated her face.

“I ….I can’t believe…you….never…” Danny was having a difficult time finding the *right* words.

Michelle pushed against his chest bringing herself to rest on her arm while bringing a finger to his lips. “Shhhh…you don’t have to say anything…”

“But…I just …”

“Danny,” her soft, low sensuous laugh filled his ear. “I waited for you….”

The last part of her sentence was cut short as they made love again…..and again..

**********

“Excuse me…” she really felt ridiculous now. Anyone looking at her at this moment would not have to guess as to how she had spent her evening….and morning she thought as she smiled to herself.

The chauffeur, Carlos, was attempting to hide his amusement at her situation.
“I was wondering if you could take me back to my house.” She had left Danny in bed, sleeping soundly, not wanting to disturb him. He looked so innocent. Ha! She nearly laughed out loud at her choice of words. She felt like singing, jumping, and shouting…all at once.

Carlos opened the back door and they made their way around the circular drive, not noticing the pair of piercing eyes watching their departure closely.

*******

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