Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis Chapter 29

Author’s Note: I hope you are happy that we are back in Springfield. Fletcher is back in the story, which brings about some animosity between Danny and him. There will be time frames from here on until the fiction is finished. The time from the summer of their marriage till Michelle finishes her residence is what I call Love-Hate years. Michelle’s life with Danny and their children-The Conquest Years. The last chapters will deal with Father Ray-The Cardinal, Benjamin Reade and the future of the Santos family- A New Journey Continues. I am amazed at the comments of people reading the story. My wish for all of us when the journey is over that when you hear the names Danny and Michelle; you will smile and see the faces of PAS and JL

Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis – Chapter 29

The original architectural plans were spread out covering the surface of Danny’s desk. Danny and the young architect were looking at the measurements and changes in existing walls when Fletcher arrived at San Core. Fletcher by passed the secretary sitting at her desk to enter the office with the open door. Danny looked up to see the man he had expected to appear at his office. “I don’t recall you being on my appointment schedule for today. My secretary can give you an appointment for another day. I’m busy with an architect in making changes at the house for a nursery.” Crossing his arms before delivering the last sentence, “A father has to provide a loving and safe place for his children to live.”

“Maybe your architect can step out of your office for a few minutes?”

Danny motioned for the man to leave the office. “Close the door behind you; this will be brief. OK Fletcher Reade, what is so important today?”

“I got your special delivery last night! It is obvious your dirty goons have been in close proximity to my son and wife. I want to see the family album filled with their pictures. For that reason only, I will never write a word in my paper about your mob connections as long as you live. But I am going to watch you and Michelle. She deserves a better man. I have no doubt in my mind how this marriage developed. Michelle became pregnant and you seized her vulnerability to force her to marry you.”

“Fletcher, it is your opinion that Michelle deserves ‘a better man.’ You don’t have a clue to how our marriage developed. I’m concerned only with what Michelle desires. Your newspaper can disappear tomorrow and I would never know. But Michelle’s humanitarian concerns would be affected. Fletcher, my business with you is finished.”

“Be a good citizen and keep the ugly head of the mob out of the Springfield sewers.”

“My business here is legit. You have got to embrace the idea of the beautiful young woman marrying an international businessman. If you do that then I won’t have to deliver this picture to your office.” Handing Fletcher the picture of the serene cemetery in Springfield, “I hope it never comes to this. When I was growing up in Chicago, I attended a Catholic school. Every day we read a chapter from Proverbs in the Bible, there was a verse in the chapter talking about a wise son accepting his father’s discipline. The verse is an example of the code, which I live by and it may mean more to you today.  The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

Jimmy waited in the outer office until Fletcher left Danny’s office. Danny called for the architect to come back into the office. Jimmy followed Fletcher outside to the parking garage. On the cement floor was the picture torn into multiple pieces. Jimmy picked up the pieces of the pictures off the floor and threw them in the trashcan. The picture had served its purpose.

Rolling the blue prints up and putting them in a cylinder to transport them back to the drafting board. “Mr. Santos, do you want me to draw the sketch plans for your wife to see?”

“No, I want Michelle’s input. If I know her, she will want the nursery connected to our bedroom. The room takes away a great window, which I am not willing to give up. The red marks give an idea. Michelle and I can discuss the changes. From my perspective, it is easier to build a new house.”

Jimmy waited until Danny’s office was empty. “What do you have for me, Jimmy?”

“Fletcher reacted exactly like you expected. Your read on him was right on target, Boss.”

“Fletcher is one of the types of people you want in a society. Good, honest person with a weakness of all good fathers. His true inner feelings may want to do what is right but he will do what is necessary to protect his child. I trusted his desire to protect his child would over ride his feeling to do what was right. Fletcher will bear watching.”

“I’m meeting Michelle for dinner in the hospital cafeteria. After dinner, we are driving up to Chicago on a business merger. Tell Jake to be a little more diligent tonight at the gate house. Michelle want be home before 10pm which gives me plenty of time to conduct business.”

Danny waited in the cafeteria for Michelle. Rechecking his watch with the clock in the cafeteria, Danny decided to check the menu listed on the wall above the trays. The voice from behind him was the voice he anticipated spending dinner with in the cafeteria. “Hi Sweetie.”

“I was beginning to give up on eating together tonight.”

“Get use to the pleasant side of eating, late and cold meals. The benefits of being a doctor.”

“You look tired.”

“I am exhausted but the lab will be a different pace.”

“Michelle, what is safe to eat here?”

“The salad bar and fruit is popular with the staff. The hospital food isn’t exactly gourmet food. I see they have one of your favorites chicken cacciatore.”

“I think in the future, I’ll order carry-out from a restaurant and bring it here.”

With there salads, fruit and frozen yogurt, they sat outside on the patio to eat. “How did the doctor’s visit go with Dr. Sedgwick?”

“Do you want the bad news first? I gained 1 lb. My hemoglobin was low and Sedgwick read me the riot act because I forgot to take the prenatal vitamins. When I get home tonight, I have the latest picture of the sonogram. The tadpoles have changed.”

“Today, the architect that drew the addition plans at the lake house was in the office. He and I played with the dimensions of existing rooms to create a nursery. We are waiting to see what you think but the choices are few without tearing the house apart. I like the house the way it is now and prefer to convert one of the existing rooms. Honey, I have a meeting in Chicago tonight but I plan on being back by 10pm.”

“It sounds like we will arrive back at the ranch close to the same time.”

“Jake will be at the gatehouse. Walk me out to the lobby.” Kissing Michelle goodbye in the lobby, “Don’t stay a minute longer than you have to here tonight.”

“I will be home before you if you are driving to Chicago tonight. Bye.” Standing in the lobby, Michelle watched her handsome husband exit the building. Turning back to catch a last glimpse of Michelle; blowing a kiss back to her, Danny left the hospital.

    Writing the finished results of the lab experiments in her notebook, Michelle thanked Dr. Richards for assisting her through the tedious procedure. “It looks like you will be out of here early tonight and home to your husband. And almost an whole hour early, but Danny is in Chicago for business this evening. The hour means I can have some time by myself at the house.”

“What are you going to do with the hour?”

“I haven’t had time to think but I might swim in the pool. Hey, I know this is a short notice but you are welcome to come to the house and swim, too.”

Thinking twice about the generous offer, he declined her offer. “Maybe another time, Michelle. Michelle, I don’t want you to think I’m prying but what is it like to live with a man with power to alter a person’s life?”

“I try to compartmentalize Danny into two men. One is the man, which I met and had a blast with on numerous occasions but the business man is hard and difficult to deal with on a personal basis. There are times when I have to deal with both of his sides at the same time. During those times, Danny the business man dominates our lives. Dr. Richards, I shouldn’t have shared my inner conflict with you.”

“Michelle, medical school is hard enough with our schedules and adding extra factors in the survival equation; can spell disaster. If you ever need an ear to listen, I have some experience with the chaotic life we have chosen to pursue. Please call me.”

Leaving the lab with Dr.Richards, “I will.”

Michelle parked the Volkswagen near the stone steps. The additional reward of having quality time to spend doing what she wanted was exciting to Michelle. The jubilation of swimming laps in the pool was a benefit of experiencing the rush from the endorphins. The pain of pushing her body to the physical limits had its benefits from burning up calories and the dreaded anticipated weight gain.

Michelle finished the laps and turned to the side of the pool with the ladder. Clutching the metal ladder, she saw the towel drop to the edge of the pool. Startled from the unexpected movement of the towel, Michelle saw the black Italian leather shoes with the scuffmarks. The facial features were familiar but different. For the briefest moment, Michelle thought it was Danny in a disguise. When he spoke, the voice was similar to Danny’s voice with an edge of hardness in the tone giving off dangerous vibes. The young man spoke to her after he picked up the towel from the deck. “I dropped the towel to get your attention. I hope I didn’t startle you too much but we haven’t been introduced due to family inconveniences. I’m Mick Santos, your brother-in-law.”

Offering his hand to help pull her up and out of the water. “I stopped by to drop off a wedding present to the bride.” Placing the towel around Michelle’s shoulders, “I predict Danny is out on business. He still follows my father’s routine of leaving the wife at home at night.”

Michelle dried the water off of her body before answering Mick’s question. “Actually, I was at the hospital until about an hour ago and I expect Danny any minute. Can I get you a glass of lemonade to drink?”

“I usually prefer a stronger beverage but tonight lemonade is a safe drink for me.”

Pouring the lemonade in the tall glass filled with crushed ice, Michelle sat across from Mick Santos. “I trying to recall where I have seen your face before in my mind. It may be because you look like Danny, but I have seen you some place.”

The sound from the slamming car door shifted Michelle’s thought back to Danny’s anticipated arrival. “That has to be Danny.” Michelle called Danny’s name from the pool deck so he could find Mick and her quickly. Seeing Danny on the porch, “We have company.”

Taking the steps two at a time, Danny and Mick embraced. “When did you get into Springfield?”

“Late this afternoon, I had dinner with Carmen, Pilar and Abuellá. I came over to drop off a wedding present for Michelle.” From Mick’s coat pocket, he pulled the oblong box wrapped in white wedding paper and ribbon. “This is for you Michelle.”

Michelle opened the gift. Inside the box was an antique cameo necklace. “Mick, it is elegant but you didn’t need to give this to me. It has to have cost you mega bucks.”

“Nope, it came from the pirate’s chest like the opal and blue sapphire ring that you wear on your right hand. May I put the necklace on you?” Checking with Danny for his approval, Mick fastened the gold clasp of the necklace. “Danny, Michelle enhances the necklace; don’t you think?”

“My wife enhances everything. I’m glad you came down early for the reception on Saturday afternoon. I think we have your job lined up but the final details are being kept silent until you leave. The timing is the issue with the normal rotation taking place in September. Mick can you stay clean until September?”

“I have a friend that has a place up in Alaska. We met in rehab and he was my counselor. He got out of the cure business awhile back. My buddy started a small furniture making business. I can hang out there until September.”

“Good, Mick. I’ll come by Carmen’s tomorrow and we will put your extended trip together.”

Mick stood up from his chair indicating his departure from Danny and Michelle’s home. “I understand congratulations are in order with the pregnancy. The next heir to the Santos dynasty is growing in Michelle’s womb. Carmen has to be happy. It is what she always wanted. The heir comes from the intellectual Santos.”

“Mick, you have said too much tonight. Your drug involvement has cost you years, which can never be reclaimed, but the heir to the Santos family isn’t your concern tonight.”

After Mick had left the property and Michelle was sure of Danny’s disposition. Michelle questioned Danny if he had spoken to Carmen about their agreement. “Michelle, the pact is between you and I. Carmen doesn’t ever need to know.”

”How long was Mick here?”

“I don’t know. I swam my laps and he was here when I started to get out of the pool. Danny, I feel uneasy around him.”

Holding her in his arms with his arms wrapped tightly over her lower back, “Mick is disappearing from our lives for a long time. Don’t worry about Mick. Did you remember to take the prenatal vitamins today?”

Smelling the chlorine in her hair, “ Why don’t we start tonight with a shower together?”

The steamy vapors from the water in the shower matched the activity in the shower. Michelle tucked the large white towel into the edge of the towel while waiting for Danny to finish brushing and flossing his teeth. Standing on the digital scale, she removed the towel to check her weight again. Mumbling to herself, “This isn’t looking good Danny. I have gained a half pound since yesterday.”

“Michelle, your hair is wet which explains the weight gain.” Draping his hands on both of her shoulders, “I‘m not interested in the scales tonight. I bought another Jimmy Buffet CD today. It is a older CD with a mixture of his music from 1969. It has a couple of my favorite songs on it: Last Mango in Paris and Margaritaville. We can dance and go from there what we do best before you have to get up in the morning.” Dancing from one selection to the next, the songs varied from Jolly Mon, Jamaica Farewell to Volcano. Their motion moved from the dance floor in the living room to creating their own volcano blowing off in the bedroom.

In the morning, Michelle drank orange juice at the dining room table while she glanced at the blueprints. The red marks meant absolutely nothing to her. Danny walked to certain spots indicating walls and placed chairs where future windows would occupy space. Either from being tired or unable to make the decision this early in the morning, Michelle suggested they use the spare bedroom for the official nursery but place two baby cribs in their bedroom. Later on depending on the sex of the babies, they could remodel. The plan suited Danny because he hated to see the lake house floor plan altered.

It was perfect for entertaining his business associates. And Thursdays was the night he invited the other family heads to a friendly poker game. The poker game in reality was a front for payoffs and meetings. Tonight was the first scheduled meeting since his wedding and with Michelle planning to stay late to work in the lab; Danny chose to let Michelle come home to find an innocent card game. The introduction of his wife into his usual behavior had to be slow. The recognition of names of the families and faces was important to Danny with closing the circle around Michelle. The heir to the Santos dynasty rested now in Michelle’s womb. A grin formed on his face when he thought of having twin heirs. Two sons made from a passionate night of lovemaking was a double benefit. Sending Michelle off to her medical world, Danny notified Olga the Thursday card game was back on schedule.

Late in the afternoon, Michelle’s lab partner cancelled out from the lab experiments freeing Michelle to be home early. The memory of the sizzling lovemaking last night sent electrical sparks down in between her thighs. Her desire for her husband could be satisfied early tonight. The potential for a nice surprise crossed her mind when she thought to call Danny. Instead she ordered Chinese take-out for their dinner.

Michelle opened the door to the kitchen to see Olga preparing large trays of meat and cheese for a buffet. The variety of breads on the counter indicated a variety of taste being catered. “It looks like you are having company tonight.”

“Senorá Michelle, it isn’t for me but Danny’s Thursday’s night card game. I place the meat and cheese on trays and Danny takes it from the refrigerator for his guests.”

“Olga, this food is unhealthy. It is loaded with fats.”

“But Michelle, this is what the men want to eat.”

“What they want and what they need are two different things. This has to be changed. Olga, when are the men coming?”

“I’m never here when they arrive.” Michelle placed the Chinese food on the counter. The bar was set up on the mahogany buffet with new bottles of hard liquor, glass tumblers and two ice buckets. In front of the French doors was a round table with six chairs. Ready for the players were the turntable chips and cards.

Thinking quietly, instead of a night of intimate lovemaking, I can spend the night with my family at the Bauer house. Picking up the carry out, Michelle turned to leave the house when Danny and Jimmy entered through the door. “Honey, did they let you out early?”

“My lab partner cancelled. I ordered Chinese food for us but I get home to find you have other plans for the evening and night.” Danny looked to Jimmy, “Why don’t you check to see if Michelle’s car needs gas?”

“Danny, Jimmy doesn’t need to do that. I’m going to visit with my family as this looks like an all male gathering.”

Motioning with his two fingers for Jimmy to leave. “I want you to stay here with me. I’ll get rid of the guys early.” Taking the bag from her hand and smelling the contents in the bag, “I’m hungry, we can eat out on the porch before the men arrive.” Danny pulled two plates from the cabinet while Michelle fixed two glasses of water.

While they ate, Michelle shared her original intimate plans for the night with Danny. “Why didn’t you tell me about the card game?”

“I wanted you to walk in on the game in process to met the guys. This is a part of my life which you hadn’t seen. I may have made a mistake, Michelle. I’ll call Ray to come here. You and Ray can swim or visit with each other while I play poker.”

“Danny, is this an illegal high stake game?”

“No, we do discuss business but the guys eat, drink and smoke Cuban cigars.”

Ray arrived before the other head of the families appeared at the Santos home. Danny trusted Ray to keep Michelle occupied for the remaining evening. The cars arrived sharply at 7:30pm. The bodyguards greeted each other outside the house before the five men representing the families entered the house. The lieutenant of the Machedo family gave the box of Cuban cigars to Johnny Machedo. Johnny put them on the buffet to be shared by all the players. After everyone was present Danny alerted the men to Michelle and Ray being on the property. Danny’s explanation was acceptable to the men. The brief cases exchanged to the proper hands and true to his word the poker game began in earnest.

From the beginning of the card game, Danny was distracted. His concentration was off and he found himself getting up more frequently from the table. Several trips to stand in front of the window to search for a glance of his wife outside caused the men to engage in sexual fantasy talk.

“Danny, we are going to leave a tip for Michelle tonight.”

“She has managed to keep you from winning every pot tonight.”

“Your sharpness isn’t quite what it usually has been in the past.”

“He is weak from the lack of sleep or sleep deprivation. Which is it Daniel?”

Danny answered, “Lady Luck hasn’t dealt me any decent cards tonight and I have been getting plenty of time in bed.”

Laughing at Danny’s response, “It wasn’t sleeping and you know it was enjoying the young woman outside. We can call it quits for tonight.”

Sitting back down at the table, “Deal me in for this round.”

From his chair, Danny saw Michelle’s leg on the chaise lounge outside on the porch. The cards in his hand had been the best he had been dealt. He raised his bid and watched Michelle kick off her shoes and rub her toes against her leg. The movement of her toes triggered his memory of her toes against his legs when they last made love. He felt the arousal beginning in his penis. When Michelle said goodnight and left Ray on the porch, the glow from the light in their bedroom reflected on the screen. Danny took another look at his cards. Placing the cards face down, Danny told his buddies I’m out for the rest of the night.

Closing the door to their bedroom, Danny saw his wife propped up in bed with a book in her hand. Smiling the I’m sexy smile to her husband, “Has the card game finished?”

“I quit.” Taking the book from her hand, he placed it on the bedside stand. Switching off the lamp, Danny laid down next to his wife. “I’m yours the rest of the night.”

“Danny, it is rude to leave your guests.”

“They can’t do for me what you can do now.” Kissing the space in between her shoulders and ear with soft feather like kisses. “Michelle, do you want the first time tonight to be a quickie or a long one?”

“Hum, a long one.”

“Baby, I will try but the urgency is out of my control.” Michelle pulled his dark blue shirt from his pants and slipped her fingers up his muscular back. The nails cutting into his skin increased his animal instinct to deposit his semen soon inside of Michelle.

Outside the dealer looked at Danny’s cards. “Lady Luck struck Danny twice tonight. Look at this, a royal flush Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 of spades. Once here and once behind the closed door. I’m going home to see the old lady. I might get lucky myself.”

With Ray’s help, Jimmy covered the meat and cheese platter with the plastic wrap and returned the tray to the refrigerator. The dishwasher was the recipient of the glasses and plates. “Jimmy, the man upstairs was working here tonight.”

“If you say so Father Ray but I wasn’t privy to God’s handy work.”

Pointing to the table at the cards left unplayed, “The winning hand was in Danny’s cards. Danny left the card table knowing he could win but chose to be with his wife. For once Michelle was more important than the crime family tonight.”

“Father Ray, Danny is a man and Michelle is a very attractive young woman. They are in their own world when together.”

“You see it too, Jimmy? Tonight, the family heads from the other families saw the connection and left the game early. When has that ever happened?”

“I can’t remember a poker game ever ending before 1am. Danny is under Michelle’s spell at times but the history of the Santos heritage is Michelle’s battle. The two other Santos women aren’t going to give up the hunger for power easy.”

Saturday morning began with Michelle spending the early hours with her study group in the library. At noon, she had lunch with Rick in the cafeteria and left there to stop by the Springfield Country Club to visit with Aunt Meta and Abbey for a quick glance at the last minute preparations. The director of the club and the women gave the final walk through.

The director told Meta and Abbey, “I have never seen the Country Club as elegant decorated since Vanessa Reardon’s debutant party.”

“That goes back a long time. We wanted the reception to be more than a party but a special occasion for Michelle.”

“It looks like a wedding instead of a reception. We prepared for 600 guests. Mrs. Santos sent over 100 cases of champagne. The ice sculptures are in the freezer and we will place them in the serving centers at 1:30pm.”

Issuing her final instruction, Meta told the director, “Make sure we have enough food and booze.”

“We have trucks lined up at the service entrance for back up. The social editors at the Springfield Journal and Chicago Sun report this is the most valued invitation in town.”

“Abbey and I think Michelle is special but maybe too much emphasis is being placed on the social event from outsiders.”

“I finally found you two.”

“Michelle, honey why aren’t you home getting ready?”

“I’m on my way but I wanted to stop by to see if I was needed?”

“Michelle, please leave this to Aunt Meta and me. Have you seen Rick today?”

“Yes, I had lunch with my brother. He and I left the hospital at the same time.”

“What do you think of the Bauer Power and the preparations so far?”

“It is breath taking.”

“Ed and Rick insisted no expenses be spared.”

“I hope this wasn’t the results of dueling families.”

“Maybe but Carmen Santos will never know.” Meta and Abbey high five their hands together and smiled their secret mission completed.

Danny was partial dressed when Michelle came running into the door. “I’m a little late but I stopped by the SFCC and it is breath taking.”  Taking the winter silver color-wedding gown from the closet, Michelle touched the magical dress. Debating whether to attach the organza train to the tea length skirt, she decided to go with the entire ensemble, the train and mantilla.

Completing the shower, Michelle braided her hair in a French braid before wrapping the hair up into bun. Danny watched Michelle apply the finishing touches of her natural looking make-up. “This is the best I can do.” Fastening her strapless bra, she pulled on the thigh high white-laced hose. The skirt barely fastened until Michelle discovered the tab extension, which gave her room to breathe. Danny laced the corset opening in the back of the top closed barely before 1:45pm.

“I hope you give me more time to get to the hospital when the twins are born.”

Danny drove his black jaguar to the SFCC. Danny opened the door for Michelle, then slipped on his white sport coat before they made their way up the circle stairway into the ballroom. Whispering to Michelle, “Do you know all of these people?”

“Most of them are family friends and kin. The Reardons are my Mom’s family. Bill Lewis’s mother is married to Matt Reardon now. There are lots of Lewises and Spauldings here. Many are former patients of Dad. Danny, look they are running the video of our wedding on the large screen.” Walking out to the balcony, the entire grassy area was covered with guests. Danny and Michelle waved down at the guest. Back inside, Meta insisted a greeting line be formed after Carmen arrived. The atmosphere was relaxed with the food and booze satisfying the palate of the guest. People were busy taking note who was present and absent from the reception. Outside under the old shade trees was a band playing big band swing music. The hot topic of conversation was the rooster and hen ice sculptures.

Inside the ballroom, the salsa music started with Danny and Michelle grinding to the seductive dance before Carmen and Dietz took to the floor with the families from Chicago joining them. Rick spotted the man he wanted the most to speak with at the open bar near the entrance.

“Dr. Andersen, it is nice to see you made it here.”

“I don’t recall seeing your name on our family list of guests. It must have been on Carmen’s list.”

“Dr. Bauer, my wife takes care of the social obligations in our family.”

“Mrs. Andersen is a nice lady but I heard an interesting gossip at the hospital board meeting. A search committee has been formed to find a new administrator of the medical school. It seems like you are going to be replaced soon. You might want to make the drink a double.” Rick watched Andersen’s face change from red to pale white. “Carmen Santos can’t protect your position at the medical school.” Patting Andersen on the back, “You might want to notify Carmen of your demise at the school.”

Michelle ventured away from Danny’s side once to dance with Bill Lewis. “When we were growing up did you ever dream of being the main focus of a huge social event in Springfield?”

“Never. My dream was simple. I dreamed of a knight coming to rescue me on a white horse and getting married at Laurel Falls with a bouquet of daisies. Enough about me, Bill. I saw you arrive with Pilar. Have you seen her since Monday night?”

“A couple of times. Pilar is different from any girl that I have ever dated.”

“How so?”

“I think it is her European sophistication and add the Latina slant to the mix.”

“Bill, I understand what you mean. But you and Vanessa visit Dinah in Europe often to feel comfortable with that lifestyle.” When the music stopped, Bill went to get Michelle a cup of the orange sherbet punch.

The music started again when a hand appeared from her right side to lead her to the dance floor again. Michelle smiled when she saw the familiar face of Fletcher Reade.

“What a nice way to reconnect with Ed and Maureen’s grown daughter.”

“Fletcher, I have been so busy with being back at the school and hospital but I haven’t forgotten you.”

“Michelle, I want to talk with you but we have to be careful and I mean careful. Keep smiling. If you have any questions from Danny; this is the subject of our conversation while we danced. Your wedding dress is the talk of the ladies, which is true. I will tell you Aussie is well and she is still a good friend. Aussie will contact you through Caitlin. The one request is to use Caitlin’s computer.”

“I understand. You had a visit from Jimmy, Danny’s bodyguard?”

“No, the visit came from Danny. He told me you are pregnant with twins.”

Michelle’s eyes swelled with tears at the mention of the twins. “I am. I can tell you Fletcher, I’m protecting their future.”

“Michelle, you are gambling with their fate.”

“I’m betting on time to bring changes in Danny’s heart. Fletcher, what are you going to do with the story of the dark knight from the mob marrying the simplistic young woman.”

“Watch from a safe distance and see how it develops.”

Satisfied with Fletcher’s answer, “Your words have made my day. I have an idea of a safe place to meet but I have to work out details with Father Ray.”

“Good.”

“I see Bill is back with my punch.”

“Thanks for the dance, Michelle.”

Sipping the punch, “This is refreshing.”

“It is good and you might want to go easy on it Michelle.The orange juice and sherbet is the base for the ginger ale and equal parts champagne. It has a good kick to it.”

Michelle was kept busy greeting guest and catching up with old high school and college friends. Danny stayed in the vicinity where the families had staked out as their own. Mick’s low-key arrival came undetected until the noise from the outside crowd erupted into loud applause. The couple dancing to the swing band music had captured the crowd’s attention. Michelle moved closer to the balcony edge to see Mick dancing with Theresa Sandoval. It was obvious that they had spent time together. The two had taken on the Springfield society showing the crowd how to dance to the music. When they left the floor, the Santos family saluted the couple from the balcony. Carmen rushed to greet her oldest son and Theresa.

Danny spanned the crowd until he saw Michelle. “Have you been working the crowd honey?”

“I’ve danced with old friends like Bill Lewis and Fletcher. Mostly visiting. Mick and Theresa are crowd pleasers.”

“Mick was always the party man and you know the history of Theresa and Mick. Let’s go and say hello to my brother.”

Hugging his brother, “You had to up stage me again on the dance floor.”

“Danny it was a side benefit of being in drug rehab. The crowd was to stiff for me so Theresa and I decided to loosen them up.”

Carmen smiled in glee, “Mick takes after his father. Miguel was the best dance partner.”

“Danny, may I dance with your wife?”

“Why ask me?”

“Michelle, are you willing to risk a dance with me?”

“I’m afraid that I’m no match to Theresa; you will find me to be one of the stiff crowd.”

“I saw you dancing with Danny to the salsa music. It was anything but stiff.”

Fortunately for Michelle, the band played Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York song. Michelle discovered the smooth flow of dancing with Mick to be pleasant. “Thank you for dancing with me, Michelle. It means more to me than you will ever know.”

Pulling back briefly to look at Mick’s eyes, “You are making more of this dance than necessary. I’m sure we will have other opportunities to dance.”

“It won’t be anytime soon. I leave tomorrow for Alaska and in September for a six month stint on the ice.”

“What ice?”

“Your husband is sending me to Antarctica to work with a pharmaceutical company. My friend in Alaska is going to help me make your twins a special bed. I read in a book that twins don’t want to spend time separated. We are going to make a twin size baby crib. I want to carve a pirate ship and chest on the bed. Do you like the idea Michelle?”

“It is nice of you to spend your warm days doing this for the twins. But why is Danny sending you to Antarctica?”

“He hasn’t told you of my sin?”

“No.”

“Let me whisper in your ear my dirty deed.”

“Mick, confess it to Father Ray.”

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