Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis Chapter 28

Republisher’s Note: Manny return to Springfield from their honeymoon.

Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis – Chapter 28

The jet tires hit the tarmac burning rubber. The crosswinds had lifted the nose of the plane at the last minute before dropping it back down causing the pilot to apply more pressure on the brakes. “Where in the hell did that come from?” Flipping back the seat belt, Danny was up in the cockpit in seconds. The pilot explained the problem to Danny. Satisfied with the answer, Danny was disgusted that he had let the minor incident rattle his nerves. He knew the real problem was sitting in the seat next to his seat.

    Michelle waited with the other passengers for Danny to give the OK to release the safety belts. “I over reacted to the skid. The plane caught a crosswind coming off the lake. We landed on a short runway and the pilot wanted to be sure that we didn’t skip, jump and sail into the lake. Are you OK, Michelle?”
“Yes, the seat belt prevented me from landing in Abuellá’s lap.  What time is it?”
Checking his watch and making time zone changes in his head, “Few minutes before 10pm. We will be home by 11pm.”
“Do we have time to stop by my home? I want to hop in and say hello to Rick, Abbey and Aunt Meta before going to bed tonight.” Smiling her seductive smile to Danny, “I won’t create a scene at the house or embarrass you.”
“I can drive you over to the house after we take Abuellá and Pilar to the house on High Ridge Road.”
    The jet came to a full stop when the black Mercedes in the parking lot turned the high beams on to signal Danny. “Carmen is here.”
“Then we won’t have to drive Abuellá and Pilar home. She must be here to welcome us back home.”
“No, what it means is that you are going home to the lake and I am meeting with Carmen on an urgent matter. Jimmy will drive you to our house.” Observing her disappointment, “I have to do this tonight. If all goes well, the meeting will not be a long meeting.” Kissing Michelle on the forehead, “Remember you have a early start tomorrow.”
“I know.”
    The procession of cars left the parking lot. Danny left in Carmen’s car, followed by the family and the bodyguards. Jimmy drove Michelle to the gated entrance where he punched the code into the remote control. The sensor lights came on alerting the guardhouse that the occupants of the house were back on their property. Escorting Michelle inside the house, Jimmy found the note from Justina on the counter. “See you soon. ♥
“Thanks Jimmy, I see your wife is waiting at home for you. I’ll be fine.”
“Michelle after I have checked the house and gotten everything in from the car; I am going to be leaving. You will need this remote for your car tomorrow.” Writing the code down on a piece of paper, “This is the current code. The code is changed on a random schedule. I can pick another remote up tomorrow for my car. Jake is the man on duty in the gatehouse. I missed Justina and I’m going to get out of here.”
“Jimmy, I understand besides Danny will be home soon. He said the meeting would be short.”
    Hearing the car door slam, Michelle went immediately to her large tote bag. Scrounging to find her car keys, Michelle took the remote control and piece of paper with the code to her car. The gadget in her hand was the device providing her freedom tonight and Jimmy’s sexual desire for his wife. Waiting ten minutes for Jimmy to be well down the road on his way to Justina, the faithful Volkswagen started with the first turn of the key in the ignition.
    The drive by Cedars Hospital, the medical school and library justified the ride to the house, which she was so familiar to her. The warm light shining in the backyard meant members of her family were still awake. The Volkswagen engine sound sent Rick flying out the screened door to the arms of his sister. Crying so hard and hugging his little sister in his arms, “I am so mad at you. This hurry up wedding isn’t sitting to well with me. Abbey tells me to wait and see but most of all stay out of your business. And you know how hard that is for me to do. It has been me and you for so long. Michelle, this is a surprise, you showing up here tonight.” Checking the darkness, “Is your husband with you?”
“No, not because he didn’t want to be but Danny had a meeting with his mother.”
 “You are too young to have a husband.”
Holding up her left hand to show the proof of the civil marriage and the religious ceremony.
“Do you have any idea how much money you are wearing on your finger?”
“Danny is very generous.”
“He should be. Your husband got the first place prize when he married you.”
“Rick, you are a little prejudiced.”
 “I saw Dr. Sedgwick one day last week, she told me how sick you was here; when we all seemed to fly the coop at the same time.”
“Have you heard any scuttle butt?”
“There are rumors but most of our family friends have been kind enough to not bring the gossip up for discussion.”
“I can’t stay long. I seized the chance to get over here for a quick visit.”
“Abbey and Aunt Meta are still up. Dad is here. He is different Michelle!”
“I sensed that in Puerto Rico but I didn’t get to spend hardly anytime with him.”
“If there is one good thing, which came from this wedding in Puerto Rico, it is how your husband had the resources to find Dad when we couldn’t.”
“Danny’s resources are unlimited and his family has international connections. The differences in the Bauer and Santos families is the Bauers think of life only in Springfield but the Santoses connect to life in Puerto Rico and Spain.”
Aunt Meta and Abbey heard the voice of Michelle and Rick in the kitchen from the den. “Oh my Michelle is home.”
“Oh- is that our married gal? Michelle, you look simply radiant; don’t you think so, Rick?”
Grinning a big smile back to his wife, “Radiant describes my little sister perfectly. Look at your tanned body. Where is this knight in shining armor that seized the princess from the Bauer castle?”
“Funny that you ask the same question that Rick just asked. Danny is meeting with his mother at her house. Carmen was waiting for him at the airport when we arrived. If you haven’t heard from Dad about Carmen; well let me tell you she likes to wheel and deal. Danny and Carmen are joined at the hip bone. She is a force to deal with from what Jimmy and Father Ray tell me.”
Taking Michelle’s hands in her old wrinkled hands, “Tell us who is Jimmy? Ed told us about Father Ray.”
“Jimmy is a body guard and in the terms from the family a lieutenant. Jimmy and Danny are friends but Jimmy works for the family providing security.His mother in law Olga is our housekeeper. Matter of fact, when he left the house at the lake to go home and see his wife, I grabbed the opportunity to have a quick visit with my family. Plus it gives us some time to give you an idea of what to expect tomorrow night at the cookout. I wanted to give you the address and directions to my house.”
“Oh honey, that sounds so strange to hear you talk about your house.”
“The house is really Danny’s and I live there now if that makes it easier to accept. The house isn’t the easiest to find and you can miss the turn off if you aren’t looking. The house is 3 miles on the right hand side of the road from the Orthodox Synagogue. I assume the gate will be up but if it isn’t push the call button.”
“Michelle, do we need to bring anything to the cookout or any of your personal clothes?”
“I am going to take some clothes tonight but I came to get my picture of Mom and Dad when they got married. I’ll run up to my room and dash back to the lake house before Danny gets home.”
“My goodness Michelle, why do you have to rush off so quickly? Abbey bought a half-gallon of our favorite ice cream, chocolate ripple.”
“Serve me please, I can’t pass that up.”
With the picture of her parents resting in the passenger seat, Michelle punched in the code for the gate to open from the car. From the car, everything looked the same as when she had left the house two hours ago. Running up the steps to the door, Michelle realized the inside wooden door was open. Danny’s loud voice screaming into the phone wasn’t the scene she had expected or hoped for in her mind. “Why in the hell did you leave her here alone tonight? No, you do not need to come back tonight. I trusted you to look after Michelle. I have a good idea where she went and I’m leaving now.” In his rage, Danny observed Michelle standing at the kitchen counter with the picture frame in her hand.
“Where have you been, Michelle?”
“Danny, are you mad at me for going to see my family?”
The deep furrow in his forehead with the dark piercing eyes suggested she tread lightly with Danny when he was in this emotional state. “I come home and find you and your car are gone. Yes, I am damn well mad. You put Jimmy in a very bad position by leaving after you encouraged him to go on home to see his wife.”
Shaking her head in disbelief of Danny’s anger and her own stupidity in allowing her to get caught so quickly. “I went over for a quick visit and I’m back here now.” Stomping her foot on the wooden floor to get Danny’s attention, “I am an adult and I expect to be treated as one. You are not going to control every moment and thought in my mind. And Danny, you had better get use to it. This is where I grew up; it isn’t some foreign turf where you can control me. I went to get my parents wedding picture and you can blow a gasket if you like but this conversation is over. I have a early morning call and I want to get to bed for a few hours of sleep.”
The sound of the plastic and metal breaking apart on the stone fireplace wall assured Michelle that Danny had heard the speech of deliverance. Now, she waited for his next move on the chessboard. This was a game in which she was determined to win.
In bed Michelle waited for her husband until the desire to sleep overcame her. Sometime during the early morning, Michelle was aware of the presence of Danny being in the bed with her. His arm and hand draped over her body. She pulled his hand in closer to her body giving Danny the quiet reassurance of their commitment to each other.
The nervous tension of returning to the medical school had her up and dressed before the 5am alarm went off. Michelle switched the alarm to the off position and knelled beside Danny’s side of the bed. Watching his handsome face, she played with one of his curls on his forehead. “Danny, it is time for me to leave.”
“Hum, you are ready. Do you need help in getting all your books in the car and back into the medical school?”
“No, I’ve got the big tote bag full and I’ll move it back gradually. I should be home by 6:30pm for the cookout.”
Danny took her into his arms, kissing her lips and holding on for the brief moment till it was time to release her back into her world.
Carrying her bag to the car, “You are going to need help getting this in the building.”
“I can manage the bag. I’ll get Rick to help me after we have breakfast this morning.”
“What is on your agenda today?”
“First I will look over the mail here which will begin after you leave the house and then to the office downtown. You had better get going. I love you, Michelle Santos.”
“Danny, if you see Olga tell her that I will call to see if she wants me to pick up anything for dinner tonight. Do not tell her about my mask! I can’t wait to scare her with the mask at the chicken house.”
“Go… go before you are late.”
Seeing the petite woman dragging the bag from her car and across the parking lot. The resident rushed to catch up with the young woman. “Can I help you with this heavy tote? Michelle Bauer, I can’t believe it is you. I saw you name posted again on the board but I’m almost shocked to see you here this morning.”
“Dr. Richards, I am back to stay in medical school.”
“Please call me Forest. We all heard the rumor that Dr. Andersen sold you out for an enormous research grant.”
“Where did you hear the rumor?”
“From a certain transferred medical student.” Stopping in the parking lot, Michelle spoke in a whisper. “If I were you; forget what you heard Dr. Richards.”
“Michelle, you are well liked and respected in the hospital. There are many people here ready to help anyway that we can.”
“Thank you but what I really need is to be treated like the other second year medical students. Dr. Andersen will get what is coming to him soon enough. He is in debt big time to my husband’s family and they are far from finishing using him. God will have his revenge. I hope to see his slip-up with them.”
“I’m glad to see you back and if you need private tutoring to get back to full speed; just let me know. Medical school is a brother hood- sisterhood. We stick together.”
“Is that a subjective statement? I thought it was your goal to weed out the weakest.”
“No, my goal is to expose their weakness and turn the weakness into a strong unbreakable experience. Where are we taking this bag?”
“To the cafeteria. Rick is meeting me for breakfast. Rick can take over from the cafeteria. Thanks.”
Rick was waiting for Michelle with the hot cakes and fruit. “This is like old times, Sis.”
“Yes, it is and I feel like I’m home again.”
“What was it like to leave your husband sleeping in bed?”
“I was up before the alarm awakened Danny. He helped get the LL Bean tote to the car and made sure I wasn’t late.”
“He is supportive of you finishing medical school; I take it.”
“I’m not sure. Danny thinks I have a full plate and if I told him today; I wanted to quit he would be happy. But I am going to become a doctor.”
“Michelle, it has been your dream for a long time.”
“Hey, are ready to help me with the bag?”
“You betcha!”
In his office, Danny waited for Jimmy Santiago to arrive. The two items on his list were 1- Visit Fletcher and 2-global tracking. Danny sat at his desk moving the gold band on and off. Replaying Michelle’s conversation in his mind, before breaking the pencil in his hand. He added purchase another cell phone to the list.
Jimmy had determined that today wasn’t going to be a good day. When he saw Danny, he closed the door to the office waiting for the verbal lashing. “We have a problem. First has to do with you and your allegiance to me. Michelle played you like a violin last night. I can’t have this ever to happen again. Secondly, Michelle announced to me last night that I couldn’t control her. Michelle is in for the lesson of her life. I do control her fate. The last issue is Fletcher Reade. Today, you and I are going to pay him a visit. I want the tracking device put in his car and Michelle’s. The system is to be set up so if they are within a fourth of a mile of each other, we are notified.”
“I want a nice album of pictures to be sent to Fletcher tomorrow.”
“What exactly do you want in the album?”
“Everything close and dear to Fletcher.”
“Boss, I can have the tracking device in my hand in an hour.”
“I’ll be ready to pay my respects to the Springfield Journal by then.”
“Danny, my allegiance has always been to you. Carmen’s meeting threw a curve last night and Justina left a note on the counter, which caused me to lose my focus. It isn’t going to happen again.”
“Jimmy, I know Michelle is feisty and an independent woman. You can’t relax with her sweet innocent behavior. Until the babies are born, we can be suspicious of all her antics.”
When Michelle entered the lecture hall, her fellow classmates gave her a standing ovation. “Stop this foolish behavior. I come back tanned, rested and happy to be here. When I start driving you crazy in the labs for your notes, you will wish that I was back in Puerto Rico.”
The morning passed quickly and uneventful until Michelle ran into Dr. Andersen in the hospital. “Mrs. Santos, it is nice to see you have returned from your medical leave.”
Restrained by the presences of others near by, Michelle spoke in a controlled tone to Dr. Andersen.” “What is it like to be in the bed with the mob, Dr. Andersen? Do you sleep well wondering how to spend the money they paid you? They will make you pay over and over again for the blood money. You see Danny is sure that he would have gotten what he wanted in the end without having to pay the big bucks to you. And I intend to feed his uncertainties of you until The Family makes you pay. Dr. Andersen when you read my name at graduation remember it is Michelle Bauer- Santos. I’m sure we will see you and Mrs. Andersen at the reception at the country club with the rest of the mob cronies.”
The license plate matched the numbers on the piece of paper. Jimmy crawled under the front end of the car. Securing the global tracking device in an area where it would be undetectable. The small screen in his hand displayed the flashing yellow light, showing the tiny device was functioning perfect.
Danny walked through the main office into the room identified as belonging to Fletcher Reade. Fletcher was typing on his computer screen until he saw Daniel Santos standing in front of his desk. “What can I do for you, Mr. Santos?”
“I want you to stay away from my family, my wife Michelle and our babies.”
“I haven’t seen Michelle since the day in the ER.”
“No but you visited my cousin and Michelle called you from Puerto Rico and the call was at least twenty-seven minutes. Fletcher, this is where I tell you if you stay out of my business then my family will stay out of your business.”
“Santos, this is a big story. How did a respectful young woman marry a mob boss?”
Leaning across the desk, “No story! If you care for Michelle and her Bauer connections; then it is simple. Michelle married a business man. It isn’t about me or my family but Michelle wants to live here after the twins are born. I won’t allow you to hurt or destroy their lives. You can print the good news of her marriage and future social functions where we might attend but the first word of the mob connection and you will pay where it hurts. And Fletcher keep our meeting to yourself.”
Danny left the Springfield Journal office with his warning given in person to Fletcher. The message had spelled out what Danny wanted and the repercussions guaranteed. Back in the car, Danny dialed the number to Dr. Andersen’s office.
“Dr. Andersen speaking.”
“I want to know how my wife Michelle Santos’s day is going?”
“Fine, she is back in the groove and I have to say she looks well and recovered from her morning sickness. The medical leave did benefit Michelle and you.”
Smirking in the phone, “You were well paid for arranging the leave. And that brings up your next chore. My family spends the day after Christmas and New Years in Puerto Rico. Michelle informs me that it will be impossible for her to be away from the hospital for that period of time.”
“Michelle is right. With all the holidays coming back to back and the hospital usually full with the winter crap diseases. The medical students and residents fill the voids of regular staff celebrating with their families.”
“Andersen, you have five months to figure out your solution and another medical leave isn’t going to work this time.”
Hanging up the phone, Dr. Andersen saw the petite student standing in front of him. The mob wasn’t finished with him yet and Michelle wasn’t going away. Michelle had promised her payback. Danny Santos’s family was her tool of revenge. The coolness of the hospital staff had begun to be felt recently. They excused themselves from the dining room table when he sat down to join them. Former golf partners didn’t have the time to play anymore. At church, only visitors sat at their pew. The invitation to the Bauer-Santos reception was a reminder that he was in bed with the mob. His wife had already responded to the invitation for the event was the talk of the social climbers in the city.
Danny changed into his khaki pants and light blue long sleeve, which he proceeded to roll the sleeves up to his elbows. Olga promised everything was ready but the sauce for the tuna steaks. Carmen was bringing the hors d’oeuvre and frozen left over wedding cake. The gas grill had a new gas cylinder and the bar was set up for all comers.
Carmen, Abuellá and Pilar arrived first with their goodies. Father Ray wasn’t expected to appear until after the 5pm mass. Michelle called after 5:30 to see if she needed to stop at the store for any last minute item. Olga told Michelle, “Danny says to bring your body home soon. Guests have arrived meaning the Santos clan.”
“I’m on my way.”
 Michelle’s beeper went off and the number was her long time friend Bill Lewis. Taking the time to call him back immediately, Michelle’s voice gave Bill chills. “Where have you been? I thought you had disappeared to the end of the earth. When can we get together?”
“Bill, can you come to a cook out tonight?”
“Sure at the Bauer’s?”
“No. It is at my husband’s house on the lake.”
“Michelle, the rumor is true. You are married.”
“Yes and please don’t be mad with me but I have met a girl that I want you to meet.”
“Now, you want me to join your ranks.”
Giggling at Bill’s response,”No, Pilar is Danny’s sister. I’m offering you a fresh attractive girl to date. Very Latina looking-Miss Universe looks. I’ll pick you up at Lewis Construction.
Danny poured Carmen her usual drink.
“How was your first day at the office?”
“Busy but I accomplished what I set out to do.”
“Have you heard from Mick?”
“Carmen, Mick is in deep this time. I made a call to the Sandovals and mute is the word on the street.”
“Danny, at least Mick is clean from the drugs and alcohol.”
“He is going to need his wits to function where I’m sending him.”
“How soon will Mick be assigned to the job?  Danny, he has to be at the reception. Mick sobered up to attend the event.”
The sound of car doors slamming shortened their conversation. Danny walked out to the grassy knoll above the parked cars. He watched Michelle and the young man walk up the steps to the house. Calling her name, Michelle stopped walking and told Bill to follow her. “Danny, this is my friend Bill Lewis. He is the guy I mentioned before wanting to set Pilar up with for a date. Bill, met my husband Danny Santos.”
“Hum…Pilar is inside…Nice idea to invite Bill. Pilar can become bored quickly.”
Pulling Michelle in close, Danny kissed her forehead. “Well, how did it go?”
“Better than I expected. Lots of offers to help me catch up in the labs, which is the place you miss out the most when you can’t conduct the experiments. The next two weeks, I want to stay late and catch up. I have an appointment tomorrow to see Dr. Sedgwick. Blood work and another sonogram.”
“Honey, you are going to be busy.”
“And what did you do in your office today?”
“I had a very productive day. Managed to get here by 4pm to set up the grill and bar. Carmen and the gang arrived about thirty minutes ago. Why don’t we get a swim in after dinner. I missed your body.”
“Danny, you are embarrassing me in front of Bill.”
“I guess it is time for you to do your thing and play matchmaker. Bill, I warn you Pilar never stops talking and she is my only sister.”
Abuellá and Carmen hugged Michelle immediately before realizing a stranger was in the house. “Michelle, I had no idea your brother was so young and handsome.”
“Carmen, Bill is a close friend and I invited him to dinner. We’ve been friends since we wore diapers. Where is Pilar?”
“I think she is out by the pool.”
“Come on, Bill.”
“Danny, what is Michelle doing?”
Picking up a carrot, “It is called matchmaking. Perhaps, Bill can provide some entertainment for Pilar.”
Pilar was sitting in the chaise lounge when she looked up to see the tall blonde guy with a mouth full of teeth smiling at her. “Michelle, this has to be Bill Lewis.”
“The one and only.”
“And you have to be Pilar.”
“Bill, what did Michelle tell you about me?”
“A Latina beauty….And Danny reminded me; you are his only sister.”
Michelle patted her shoulder. “See you have to listen to Michelle more often. Bill, stay here while I get you something to drink.”
“I’ll take a cold beer.” Bill and Pilar started talking with each other as if they had been friends for years.
Michelle returned with the cold beer for Bill and a cold ginger ale for herself. Danny carried the tray of fresh cut veggies and dip out to the table bedside the pool. Next Danny lit the gas grill and closed the top waiting for the grill to get hot. Michelle wrapped her arms around Danny’s waist. He turned the lighter off and with one arm on Michelle’s shoulder; he bent down to kiss Michelle. “Seems like you scored big with Bill and Pilar.”
“Where are the hamburgers and hotdogs?”
“We are having tuna steaks. Carmen doesn’t like hamburgers and hotdogs plus you said Rick was the master of the BBQ. I wasn’t going to let him come in here and make fun of our burgers and dogs.”
Jimmy greeted the Bauer car at the gatehouse. “Follow the driveway. Park the car next to Michelle’s Volkswagen. I will met you at the steps by the time you have parked your car.”
“Young man, why don’t you get in the car and ride with us.”
“I have a path which short cuts to the house. I’ve done my job here.”
Inside the car, the Bauer’s observed the manicured gardens and wealth of the cars parked in the driveway. “Are you sure we are at the right house?”
“This is Michelle’s car. My goodness this marvels Alan Spaulding’s home any day.”
“Aunt Meta, our Michelle has married into money and lord knows what else. Carmen is the character that I want to meet. From what Michelle says, Carmen is the one to stay clear of in the Santos family.”
Jimmy was waiting for the Bauer’s on the steps. “May I assist you up the steps.”
Giving him her hand, Meta walked with Jimmy. “Danny and Michelle are on the poolside of the house.”
“This is a tranquil setting for a home.”
“Danny likes it for that reason.”
“What is your name young man?”
“Jimmy Santiago”
“When I see my niece, I want to tell her how nice you have been.”
The sound of more voices coming around the house sent Michelle out of her husband’s grasp. “Thank you Jimmy for helping with Aunt Meta.” “Come and say hello to my husband Danny.”
Danny kissed Meta on the cheek. Shook hands with Rick and greeted Abbey. Abbey’s speech ticked off the fact of Abbey being hearing impaired. “Dr. Bauer, it is nice to see you again. My mother tells me you enjoyed the coffee plantation.”
“I did. The climate was near perfect and your grandmother kept me company after Dietz came to the plantation.”
“Excuse me. I want to let my mother and grandmother know the Bauers have arrived…Honey, why don’t you get everyone’s request for drinks.”
“Danny, I’m available to cook the hamburgers.”
“Thanks Rick, but we are having tuna steaks and I can handle the fish.”
“Pilar, I have a chore for you.”
“I’ll be right back, Bill. When Danny calls, he expects an immediate response.”
“Michelle, who was the dark hair beauty sitting with Bill?”
“Danny’s sister Pilar. Now, can I take the orders for the drinks? We have white wine and Danny has the bar open.”
“Two white wines, bourbon on the rocks for Rick and Daddy, what can we fix you?”
“I’ll have ginger ale.”
“I’ll be right back with the drinks.”
Carmen emerged from the porch first. Greeting Ed Bauer, “Dr. Bauer, it is nice to see you again.”
“Carmen, the matron of the Bauer family- Meta Bauer. My son Rick and his wife Abigail but call her Abbey. Where is Maria?”
“Pilar is bringing her out the front entrance. Her knees are bothering her walking these days. She is anxious to meet Michelle’s family. As we all are.”
“Please make yourselves comfortable. We often converse in Spanish, switching from one language to the other, so please forgive us when this happens. We are not being rude but our custom is to speak Spanish in our family homes.”
“What do you do when Michelle is present?”
“Daniel translates but I’m sure she will pick up the language quickly. Maria is fond of Michelle. With the pregnancy, Maria will see her first great grandchildren arrive. She is busy knitting baby shawls and booties.”
Michelle and Danny returned with the drinks and tuna steaks. “Where is Abuellá?”
“Here she comes, Daniel.”
The Bauer men and Bill stood up to greet the elder Mrs. Santos. “My apologies but I do not get around like I use to. Welcome to this celebration of the Bauer and Santos union. Daniel and Michelle are perfect for each other. We will be together for many cookouts. Carmen, when is Ray arriving?”
“Go call the rectory and see if he has left?”
Carmen looked to Danny for assistance. “Abuellá, Father Ray will arrive shortly.”
“Ah, did I hear my name being called?”
“Abuellá was afraid you had gotten lost.” Hugging Daniel and kissing Michelle on the cheek, “Thank you for inviting me to your first family gathering.” “What can I do to help?”
“Let me introduce you to my family. Ray, I know you met my Dad in San Juan. This is my Aunt Meta. The ugly guy with the attractive wife is my brother Rick and his wife Abbey. Bill Lewis is a long time friend.”
Extending his hand to Bill and Rick, “This is a nice evening to enjoy fellowship. Dr. Bauer, when can you visit the church clinic?”
“Father Ray, I was going to call you tomorrow. I’m getting a little bored sitting and eating.”
“We open the doors at 8am till 12 noon and reopen at 6pm.”
“Good, I’ll stop by tomorrow.”
The late evening cookout served its purpose of integrating the two families. Abuellá and Meta managed to be civil with each while Carmen and Ed resumed their conversation of managing the coffee plantation. Danny with Michelle’s assistance grilled the tuna steaks to perfection. Olga added the mustard and lemon dressing to the steaks in the kitchen. Pilar and Bill carried the steaks to the buffet set up on the screened porch. Ray, Rick and Abbey hit it off immediately. Rick found Ray to be much of a clown like himself.
The evening went quickly with the food being a safe subject to discuss if all efforts failed. The subject of the marriage in Puerto Rico was never discussed until Carmen had pieces of the wedding cake served as dessert. Olga served the glasses filled with chilled champagne. “I felt it fitting that the cake be served here tonight. The wedding was small but Michelle was a beautiful bride and my Daniel a handsome groom. Dr. Bauer’s presence closed the circle for Michelle. I would like to toast the couple at this time…To Danny and Michelle.”
With the sips of champagne swallowed, Rick spoke how radiant Michelle looked last night. “I feel Michelle’s family missed out on a very special occasion and I have made plans for a reception to be held at the Springfield Country Club. It seems that there are two receptions planned for Michelle and Danny on the same day. So how do we resolve this problem?”
Danny answered Rick’s question. “I think the Bauer reception has preference. Carmen will cancel her date. Carmen can give you the list of our guests.”
“Daniel, I sent the invitations.”
“Mamá, we can call our guest and notify them of the change.”
“The time change is from 6pm to 2pm. Many of our family friends work at the hospital. The time allows the day and evening shift to both attend.”
“Michelle and I will be there. Thank you for doing this for my wife and me.”
After the dinner, everyone was ready to call it quits for the evening. Danny mentioned that when Michelle had time she needed to move her possessions to the lake house. Meta volunteered with Abbey to help bring items over. “Great idea. If you need help call and Jimmy can be available to assist with the carrying of boxes.”
With all the family members gone, Danny and Michelle breathed a sigh of relief. “We survived Carmen’s subtle dig about the wedding.”
“Your mother really lacks social manners. I almost told her about our civil ceremony.”
“Honey, she did what she wanted to do. Carmen was fishing to see how your family felt about our wedding. Rick didn’t avoid her challenge. Matter of fact, he put Carmen in her place.”
“Now, I’m more interested in us and how are we going to spend the rest of the night. Do we swim first or make love first?”
“My husband wants to go skinny-dipping tonight.”
Finishing undressing before Danny, Michelle dove into the deep end of the pool. Danny swam underneath the water to Michelle’s naked body. In the corner of the pool, Danny kissed Michelle pulling her down below the surface of the water. “Are you trying to interfere with my exercise hubby?”
Smiling a big yes, “I want to move to the other option early.”
In the bedroom, their bodies reached new fulfillment. They danced to music, made love and fell a sleep loving their growing closeness.
Working late at night at his desk, the night security guard placed the special delivery package on Fletcher’s desk. “It has been along time since I received a special delivery.” Tearing the box open, the album had only a few pictures. Most of the fillers were empty. Fletcher’s eyes filled with tears when he saw a picture of his son with the cast on his arm sitting beside the pool. The picture of his wife weeding flowers in her flowerbed of therapy tore at his heart. The last picture had been taken with the three eating an ice cream cone at the local custard stand.
Fletcher saw Call Michelle on his desk pad. Picking up his pencil, he circled Michelle’s name. Then broke the lead of the pencil, crossing out her name.

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