Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis Chapter 30

Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis – Chapter 30

   Meta’s paging of Danny and Michelle to the wedding cake hindered Mick from dropping his secret and burden to Michelle’s shoulders. Standing next to Danny, Michelle whispered in Danny’s ear. “We have done this scene before.”

Danny held up three fingers to indicate the number of wedding cakes they had cut. The third cake was a simple yellow pound cake with a white frosting. The miniature hen and rooster ice sculptures sat on top of the cake instead of the traditional bride and groom. The social editors from the two newspapers took the couple’s picture for their Sunday morning papers with the sculptures visible in the background. In the future, the ice sculptures would bring back fond memories long after Mr. Rooster and Hinny had died.

    The conclusion of the Bauer hosted reception came to a peaceful end. From a distance, Rick saw Dr. Andersen attempting a subtle audience with Carmen and having the pleasure of seeing the rude brush off from Carmen.

    The time of the party extended till midnight when Rick had to thank the many friends and family members for coming but it was time to wrap it up for the night with one last dance. The multitude of wedding presents overflowed the tables. The variety and size of the gifts represented the respect of the Bauer family in the Springfield community. The director of the SFCC offered the truck to deliver the wedding presents to the Bauer house where they could be cataloged and thank you notes written with the help of Aunt Meta and Abbey.

    Danny and Michelle saw the thin sliver of the new moon in the sky at the same time. The old folks tale was if you saw the moon in the new phase; it brought luck to that person. Danny kept his wish to himself but Michelle saw the moon as God’s confirmation of her commitment to Danny. The three wedding cakes and the Trinity produced the silent confidence Michelle allowed herself to experience when she drifted back to the one pungent occasion of the night. Mick’s sin or secret resurfaced in her inner thoughts. What was Mick’s true intention of sharing his troubled life with someone that he barely knew?

    Deciding to throw out feelers for Danny, “Tonight was perfect with our family and friends meeting on a fairly neutral ground.”

Rolling his neck in a circle to loosen the tighten muscles, “You call the country club a neutral place?” Danny’s bow tie was the next item removed with his shoes landing in his closet. Michelle followed Danny to the bathroom where he lifted the commode lid to relieve himself. “I can guarantee you on one hand how many times my family have been at the club. Less than two times, one tonight and once before when my mother picked up an application for admission. The elite of SF turned her down because she was a widow.” Raising his eyebrows to the board’s excuse, “Baby, it wasn’t a neutral place.”

“How was Carmen going to have her reception there then?”

Pointing his finger at his chest, “I am a member.”

    “Mick and Theresa mixed with my families friends outside with the swing band.” Throwing his shirt into the bin for cleaning with the black pants, “Do I need to drop these off at the cleaners?”

“No, I will take your items in when I have my dress cleaned.”

“Michelle, I want to go to bed.”

“Go ahead, I have a few chores to finish before I can take advantage of closing my eyes.”

Backing Michelle into the side of his closet, “Turn around, I can help get this untied in the back.”

“I think Mick had fun tonight.”

Pulling his boxers down his legs and stepping out of the cotton material, “Mick had his brief moment of fame with Theresa. Nothing more, Michelle.” Lifting the bedspread from the king-size bed, Danny asked Michelle how early to set the alarm?

“6am is early for me but 7 will be best for me. I’m meeting the study group after lunch at the library tomorrow.”

    “Mick told me he is leaving for Alaska tomorrow and then he has a job with a pharmaceutical company down in Antarctica.”

Danny placed his hands behind his head refusing to comment on Michelle’s information.

“He promised to make a twin size crib for the twins in Alaska with a pirate ship and chest carved in the wood.”

“Mick has a good heart at times when he isn’t under the influence of a drug and Carmen and Abuellá will be pleased to hear of the pirate theme of the crib.”

    Returning from the bathroom after brushing her teeth and changing into a pink gown, Michelle sat up on the bed with her legs crossed Indian style. “I feel awful bringing up the subject of Mick in a perverted way but he is a troubled human being.” Listening to Michelle’s interpretation of what had transpired between the two of them during the dance. “I don’t know if the crib was his demented scheme to catch me off guard and then drop his big secret sin on me. Mick was going to tell me a secret; when Aunt Meta called for us to cut the cake. This is my medical opinion, Mick needs to be hospitalized in a psychiatric unit. Sending him to Antarctica will kill him.”  Waiting for Danny to respond to her suggestion of medical treatment, “Will you least consider my suggestion?”

Massaging Michelle’s foot nearest to him, “Mick has multiple problems being a little insane is minor to his secret.”

“This is frustrating to me because you aren’t seeking the correct solution for a permanent fix. Are you listening to anything that I have said so far Danny?”

“Go on, Michelle, finish what you want to say.”

In a pleading tone, “I have a hard time seeing Mick living on the ice for six months isolated from civilization. He has limited coping skills in my personal opinion.”

    Phrasing his words carefully, “One-Mick’s travel is limited. Two-hopefully besides alcohol, Mick can’t get to his old standby drugs to deal with the difficult problem, which he has created on his own again. Third, he doesn’t have a choice.” Sitting up in bed, “I wish there was another way. Michelle, they have psychiatrist and psychologist down there to watch the behavior of the employees. It might force Mick to make decent friends for a change. When he leaves the ice in six months; he may have discovered life can be enjoyed without drugs.”

“The drugs aren’t the driving force behind sending Mick away is it, Danny?” Michelle’s big brown eyes stared back at Danny. “You know what Mick wanted to tell me?”

“Yes, but this isn’t for your ears to hear. Mick did a deed, which I would never consider doing. Carmen asked me to seek a safe solution. This was why she was at the airport on Sunday night and left Puerto Rico early.” Taking Michelle’s hands in his hands, “Yes, I was rude to you Sunday night because of Mick’s problem. I’m sorry for my outburst. Mick has a history of responding before he thinks.”

    “Danny, I see some of Mick in my father. The isolation isn’t the cure.”

Resting his fingers underneath her chin, “I know and I have wrestled with the isolation but I can’t come up with anything better.”

    “Honey, you already have plenty to do at the medical school without adding Mick to your concerns. What Mick wants today is far from what he wants tomorrow.”

“I have experience with people leaving their family for what ever reason. My father is a perfect example of the problem always being there and the problem presents itself with a different face down the road.”

    “Michelle, the subject of Mick is closed for tonight. I’m tired, sleepy and I want you to settle down for the night. We have a small time to spend together at home and I want the time to be quality time.”

Smiling at Danny’s coy suggestion of their intimate sex life, “I want to be with you too.” Crawling up into her husbands arms, “This is definite a benefit of being married and living in the same house. At the end of the day, we met here to enjoy the other’s body.” Giggling from Danny tickling her side as she rolled under Danny’s naked body. “I thought you said you was tired and sleepy.”

“I’m tired of you talking. It’s time for action.”

With her hands at the back of his neck, “Let the action begin.” The sound of Mr. Rooster crowing in the early morning hours was the last sound Danny and Michelle heard before their eyelids closed to rest from their lovemaking.

    Sitting with the study group, Michelle’s attention drifted from her medical student outline to Mick. Danny’s simplistic solution continued to bother her.  The ringing of her cell phone indicated her page to Dr. Richards was being returned. “I want to take you up on your kind suggestion if I needed someone to listen to a problem. I have a peculiar situation, which I would like to run by you if you are available.” Running her hand through her hair, “I can meet you in the cafeteria for a cup of coffee in 5 minutes.”

Dr. Richards was standing at the coffee dispenser when Michelle arrived. “You must have been in the cafeteria when I paged.”

 “No, in the ER.”

 Michelle selected the decaffeinated coffee; then sat at the nearest table. “My new brother-in-law has an extensive history of drug and alcohol involvement. He wasn’t allowed to attend our wedding in Puerto Rico but he managed to clean himself up to attend the reception at the SFCC. You may have seen Mick at the reception. The Latino couple dancing outside.”

“OK, I’ve got the picture in my mind.”

Reviewing in her mind the chills Mick’s behavior caused to surface in her own psyche. “It is obvious to me that Mick could benefit from treatment in a mental health facility but Danny has arranged for Mick to live down on the ice in Antarctica for 6 months.”

“Your husband tends to send people to the far corners of the world.”

“Yea, you are right, first Aussie- now Mick.”

“Danny must have Republican party leanings with his practice of Isolationism.”

Smiling at his joke, “Do you have any suggestions of how to do something other than living on the ice?”

“Does Mick have to go?”

Without revealing her last conversation with Danny, “The probable answer is yes.”

“In this day of technology, computers seem to be the tool of choice. Give him a lap top computer and set up an Internet Provider Service which can function down on the ice. Communicate with the guy daily. It is an answer to keep in touch and limit the isolation issue.”

“I’ll make the suggestion to Danny.”

“Michelle, his bizarre behavior may come from his central nervous system being over stimulated. Your brother-in-law will need unlimited time for his body to rid itself of what is stored in fatty tissues. Is the drug use the only problem?”

“I only know about the drugs. Thank you for listening.”

“Any time Michelle”

Danny was home at his desk when Michelle entered the house. “Hi Babe!I didn’t expect you to be home this early.”

“I wasn’t able to concentrate all that well but I do have another idea about Mick.”

Shaking his head in disbelief, “I had hoped last night was the end of your interference with Mick.”

“My concern is now interference.”

“Forget the word, Michelle. Tell me your idea.”

“Let’s buy Mick a lap top computer with an ISP. We can communicate with Mick daily.”

Waiting to judge Danny’s facial and eye expressions, “I’m willing to do that for Mick if you will please lay off of Mick for now.”

“Thank you for accepting my idea. We won’t have to be wondering what he is doing or thinking while on the ice.”

“Michelle, you are going to make a wonderful doctor in the future. You never let go without a fight to get what you want. Mick is lucky to have you fight his battle.” Kissing her on the forehead, “How about us driving up to Chicago for dinner tonight?  Rico’s.”

“I’m ready to go now.”

The six weeks in Alaska went quickly. Michelle’s schedule increased when she took over the grocery shopping and the preparation of the food for the Thursday night poker game. The first night of Olga preparing the food under Michelle’s specific instructions was petrifying for Olga. The traditional food disappeared. Instead veggie burgers and hotdogs in wheat rolls appeared. Strawberries dipped in low fat chocolate were placed around the large mixed fruit bowl. Michelle had prepared the mixed party mix without any MSG added. In addition Michelle had saved the best homemade fruit yogurt for Bernardo and Carlos Sandoval.

When the men began to arrive, Michelle waited with Ray at the pool in her black one-piece swimsuit with a matching sheer black and pink floral wrap tied around her hips. Michelle confided to Ray her mischievous plan to alter the eating behaviors of Danny’s Thursday night friends. Michelle waited with Father Ray for the call from Danny. After the business was completed, Danny opened the refrigerator to get out the cheese and meat trays. The two trays were piled high with the veggie burgers and hotdogs wrapped in clear wrap ready for the microwave. “Michelle, Michelle can you come here and explain the food. Honey, where is the meat and cheese? Where in hell are the loaves of bread? Michelle is playing a trick on me tonight and has the food hid some where.”

The men saw the empty counter before standing up from their chairs. Johnny Machedo suggested ordering pizza and submarine sandwiches for their meal.

 “Michelle, do you want me to come inside to see the fireworks?”

“Ray, I want you to watch my academy winning performance. I may be in trouble or with charming the male ego win a battle of healthy food.”

“Honey, did I hear you calling me?” Then she greeted each of the men by name before returning her attention back to Danny. Walking up and leaning into Danny’s chest, “What ‘s the problem babe?”

“The meat and cheese isn’t in the fridge and the loaves of bread aren’t on the counter. Where have you hid them?”

“Danny, I didn’t buy any for tonight. Olga and I grilled the veggie burgers and hotdogs earlier. I made homemade mayonnaise and mustard especially for the card game. There is fruit…” picking up a strawberry with chocolate, she placed it in his mouth. “The party mix is in the plastic container, which I made,” placing the emphasis on homemade. “And I’m concerned with the amounts of fats served to Mr. Sandoval”, patting him on his fat belly. “Olga an I made fresh yogurt with fruit just to tempt the guys to try an alternative eating style.” Michelle served the peach flavored cup of yogurt to Ray and placed a teaspoon of the pudding like substance in Carlos mouth. Carlos asked for a serving of the yogurt. Ray placed a couple of the burgers and hot dogs in the microwave. Michelle asked each of the men which they preferred. In a matter of minutes, the men were up dressing their burgers and hot dogs with the mustard and mayonnaise.

“My doctor told me that I needed to cut back on the fats with my high cholesterol. I had no idea that this type of food was half decent.”

“And to think you did all of this for us.”

“Bernie, may I call you Bernie?”

“Certainly Michelle.”

“Bernie,iIt is healthy for you and can extend your days on earth. I recently took over the shopping chores and I do not buy food which is harmful for me or my husband. Next week, we will have vegetable lasagna and homemade breads. Doesn’t that whet your appetite?”

“It sounds better than Danny’s cold-cut sandwiches.”

“Good, I’m glad the food was a hit.

Danny ate his veggie Berger in silence as he watched Michelle work the men into agreeing with anything she put on the table. He wasn’t sure if it was her cooking attributes or her physical endowments, which convinced the leaders of the families that one night a week they were willing to be vegetarians.

Out by the pool, Ray and Michelle quietly laughed at the ease of having the Sandoval’s eating from her hand. “Michelle, I have to assume the healthy food is the beginning of cleaning up other unhealthy habits with the Thursday night gathering.”

“The Cuban cigar smoking is the next goal. In a few weeks, I will have fans blowing the smoke out of the house and air cleaners running. Smoke is detrimental for the development of babies in utero.”

“Michelle, Danny can become very stubborn. He didn’t appear pleased with the veggie Berger.  You haven’t heard the last of his cheese and meat.”

Before diving in the pool, “Danny did eat the chocolate strawberry.”

The poker game ended before Ray and Michelle had finished discussing the possibility of Michelle volunteering time at the clinic. Ray told Michelle that Dr.Bauer was volunteering at the clinic and working on a regular bases. The Latino community was receptive to his kind manner. The glowing report was music to Michelle’s ears. “Do you think my father will stay in Springfield?”

“He has the yearning to be someplace else look in the eyes. My opinion is he will stay here to see the birth of the twins then skip out of town one day.”

“Thank you for being honest with me. I have harbored similar thoughts.”

Glancing up to see Danny approaching the pool, “I see my cousin is coming to join our party. This is where I excuse myself and you take on the crouching tiger.”

    “Have your guests departed for home feeling all healthy?”

“Everyone has left and all the food has been consumed. The chocolate strawberries were by far my favorite but you are in for it, Missy. I expect to have my cheese and meat trays next week.” Picking Michelle up from the chaise lounge, Danny walked out the short diving board with Michelle in his arms.

“Danny, if you throw me in the pool; you will fall in getting those expensive Italian leather shoes wet.” Bouncing up on the edge of the board, Danny demonstrated his balance.

“Ready for your dip Missy?” This time Danny sprang the board higher and jumped in the pool with Michelle in his arms. Touching the bottom of the pool, Michelle pushed off the floor to resurface for air.

“I can’t believe you was willing to get your shoes ruined to express your wounded pride.”

“How long was Olga in on your little surprise?”

“We made the mayonnaise and mustard on Tuesday. Wednesday, I made the party mix. Olga and I finished the strawberries today, it was a joint venture.”

Cornering Michelle in the deep end of the pool, “I love your sense of adventure but in the future I want to know ahead of time when you are up to changing our routine on Thursdays. Promise me Michelle.” Ducking under the water to return to the pool deck, Michelle pulled her legs out from the edge of the pool. Sitting back on the edge of the pool waiting for Danny’s attention, Michelle twirled her feet in the water making her legs and feet available to Danny. Danny’s head surfaced between Michelle’s knees. Kissing the inner side of each knee, “Are you interested in doing the deed in the pool tonight?”

“Why did you think I hung around the pool? You are very sexy with your curls wet.”

“Come on back in the pool Mrs. Santos.” Sliding down in the water, Michelle and Danny’s lips and tongues met in their ritual dance of seeking the journey and place only the two of them could travel together.

Several days before Mick arrived back in Springfield, the UPS delivery truck arrived with the finished crib. The two large cardboard boxes were addressed to Mrs. Daniel Santos. Olga’s call to her son in law alerted Jimmy to his physical assistance being required at the lake home. “Boss, Olga called and UPS made a delivery of two heavy packages from Alaska for Michelle. I’m going there to check the security of the boxes.” Pushing aside the papers on his desk, Danny told Jimmy “It is a baby crib made by Mick. He was going to use his time in Alaska doing woodwork. Let’s go see my brother’s finished product.”

Jimmy scanned the boxes for an electronic controlled device. “The box is clean.” With a hammer and flathead screwdriver in his hand, Danny removed the heavy staples from the cardboard. In one box were the two ends of the crib and the other box held the two sides of the crib with the delicate carved spindles of wood. Carved inside the ends of the crib were the pirate ship and the pirate chest. The mahogany wood had been polished to a brilliant shine.

“Where do we put the crib?”

“In mine and Michele’s bedroom for now until the bedroom is converted into a nursery. The furniture has to be moved to the basement for storage before any work can begin. Michelle has her ideas of what she wants done but her schedule free time to decorate is practically non-existent.”

Sipping whiskey from his glass, Danny called his mother. “Mamá, your grandchildren have a twin size crib made by your son Mick. Mick sent it to Michelle. Abuellá is going to love the theme of the carved woodwork. Come over for dinner tonight, you can enjoy the craftsman’s work. The mattress will be here by the time you arrive. I want the crib ready with a mattress and sheet when Michelle sees it for the first time.”

“Daniel please let me buy a sheet and mattress pad for the crib.”

“Carmen, remember the size is twin.” Disconnecting from that call, Danny punched in Michelle’s number. The voice mail answered his call. The routine of playing phone tag was initiated from Danny’s end. “Mrs. Santos, you have a special delivery waiting at your home from your brother-in-law. Carmen and Abuellá are coming for dinner. Expect you home soon.”

When Michelle checked her voice mail, she was leaving Dr. Sedgwick’s office with her latest sonogram pictures of the twins. On the back of the pictures she listed her weight and listened to the message from Danny. The news of the crib brushed away the irritating weight gain issue. The small size yellow jumper still fit but the matching short sleeve tee shirt was expanded to cover her abdomen. In the car, Michelle switched from her tennis shoes to her raffia sandals. Her physical appearance was foremost in her mind. Michelle appreciated Danny’s compliments of her figure. Until recently, her body had concealed the pregnancy. In the last week, her abdomen became firm with the growth of the two babies. She hadn’t seen her mother-in-law for several weeks. Carmen didn’t miss anything and the change in her physical body was sure to be noted. Danny had been kind to refrain from commenting. She knew he was uncomfortable with her loosing her sexy figure. Their lovemaking had reduced to 3-4 times a week with her schedule but Michelle thought the under lying reason was the pregnancy.

Everyone was present when Michelle finally made her appearance. Danny kissed Michelle on the lips before handing her a cold glass of ginger ale. Swallowing a big gulp of the drink, “This is so refreshing. Where did you put the crib?”

“In our bedroom. Carmen picked up a sheet and mattress pad for the crib.”

“Thanks Carmen.”

“I told Danny, I wanted you two to put the mattress pad and sheet on together. It is a special moment when you realize the babies you are carrying will be here soon.”

In their bedroom, Michelle leaned against her husband while she observed the woodwork. Tracing the carved ship and pirate chest with her fingers, “Mick did an outstanding job.” Danny rubbed Michelle’s abdomen, whispering in her ears Spanish words, which she had learned to understand as endearing words. Together, they opened the packages. The white fitted sheet was made from the new tee shirt material with the soft and smooth fabric gentle for the skin of newborn babies. Stretching the corners of the sheet over the mattress, Danny winked at Michelle.

“We just made our babies first bed.”

“I have a new picture of the twins in my purse.” The sonogram was passed around the family before Michelle added it to the small album of previous sonograms. The first picture was the small two blotches of human cells and went to the last picture of two tiny babies.

Michelle asked when Mick was returning to Springfield? “Mick will call when he gets to the airport. He will be here for several days when you can thank Mick and give him your gift. Carmen, is having a going away party at her house. We want Mick to know that we love him and care for him. I want to discuss with Mick the possibility of becoming a craftsman. The crib is an example of his talent. Our family has a history with the carved Santos figures in Puerto Rico. It is only natural to follow the course.”

“Danny, I agree. It will build his self-esteem.”

Three days later Mick arrived at the Springfield airport. Carmen and Danny hugged and welcomed Mick home for the brief stay. At Carmen’s house, the future of Mick was approached with the promise of his own wood making shop being built in Springfield. Mick agreed the prospect of having his own business was promising. In Alaska, he worked under the skilled hands of his former drug counselor. Mick expressed his desire to return to Alaska after the six months on the ice for an apprenticeship.

“When do I leave for the ice?”

“Two days. Rest today and come by to see Michelle tonight. Party here at Carmen’s for the families. We want to plant the idea of being in Antarctica is another step in your sobriety.”

“You and Carmen have developed the plan well. What time do you want me at your house tonight?”

“After 7pm, Michelle will pick up carry out. Do you have any preference for food?”

“Olga’s spaghetti sauce and homemade French bread. I’ll call Olga and have her make the sauce with meatballs. I have to get back to the office but why don’t you plan on staying with me in the office tomorrow. A brother hanging out with a brother thing.”

“Sure.”

When Olga saw the oldest Santos boy, she screamed with delight. Mick picked up the older woman in his arms. “I smell the sauce. The aroma travels out to the stone steps. I know I’m early but I wanted to visit with you, Olga. How is it working for the new Mrs. Santos?”

“Senorá Santos is quiet and nice. Michelle is seldom here but when they are Danny and Michelle spend most of their time here in the bedroom or swimming pool.”

“Do you think Danny is in love with her?”

“Oh my goodness, he loves her like your father loved Carmen and if possible even more. Mick, it would do you good to find a girl like Michelle.”

“My brother wins in that category too. Danny waited for the perfect mate. He knew what he wanted. I wanted the experience of enjoying many women and drugs.”

“You will find the right girl.”

“Olga, I found her but she is already taken….When do you expect Michelle?”

Looking at the clock, “Anytime.”

“Did I hear my name?”

Mick got off the bar stool to greet Danny’s wife. “Hello, Michelle.It is nice to see you. How did you like the crib?’

“Mick, I love the crib. Follow me into the bedroom, we have it up in our bedroom. We haven’t set up the nursery and the crib found a home in here.”

Michelle traced her hand over the wood. “I love to touch the wood and the odor of the wood is pleasant.”

Touching the top of her hand, “I like the feel of the wood also.”

Michelle pulled her hand away from the crib. “Danny and I have a thank you present for your work. It is in the living room.”

“Your bedroom is like a sanctuary.”

“Danny and I do spend time in here. It is a special room for many reasons.”

“I bet it is special with you being here.”

Leaving the bedroom, Michelle felt the strange feelings of Mick staring at her body. Placing the box in Mick’s hand, “I hope you can use this down on the ice to keep in touch with Danny and Carmen. It is a laptop computer.”

“Thanks, Michelle. Was this Danny’s or your idea?”

“We discussed the purchase together and it was a mutual idea.”

“I was wondering if I could have a wedding picture of you and Danny to take with me?”

“Sure.We have many; you can choose from the album.”

Mick chose the picture taken inside the church with a young priest standing in the background. “The lighting was perfect on your face when you repeated your vows in English.”

“I never noticed the lighting on the pictures. It was probably touched up by the photographer.”

“The photographer captured your natural beauty.”

“I’ll put the picture in an envelope for you.”

Danny’s arrival interrupted Michelle’s follow up to Mick’s comment on her beauty. Hunting for an envelope to fit the picture, Michelle looked at the picture again before sliding the picture in the folder. This time the face of the priest standing in the background jumped out at her. She had never focused her eyesight on the face before. The priest was Mick. Mick had attended their wedding in Puerto Rico. Now, she knew why his face was familiar; she had seen the face at the altar. The shock of seeing her father had blocked her memory but Mick used the picture to share his secret with her.  This explained Carmen’s sudden departure from the island but Danny was sending Mick to a distant continent for his protection. Danny had no intention of revealing anything to Michelle.

Michelle gave the manila envelope to Mick. “I wish I had a frame for the picture but the picture will travel better without a frame and glass.”

“Michelle, I can buy a cheap plastic frame at a drugstore.”

“Which picture did you give Mick, honey?”

“The one with us at the altar and a young priest in the background.”

“I don’t remember the picture but we have only two albums of pictures with the wedding and all the receptions.”

Taking the envelope, “The picture captures the special lighting and Michelle’s beauty.”

“Mick, you are in luck tonight Olga made meatballs with the sauce. If Michelle had made the sauce it would be meatless.”

“My sister-in-law is a vegetarian?”

“Yes, I am and Danny has eaten the meatless sauce without a complaint.”

“What are you going to do when the twins are able to eat solid food?”

“Mick, they will eat what I prepare for them here at the house.”

“If I know Abuellá and Carmen, they will be fed meat at the Casa Santos house.”

Smiling her I know what is best smile to Danny and Mick, “I won’t allow it to happen.”

Michelle lit the candles at the dining room table while Danny poured the Sangria in the wine glasses. They each served themselves and sat down to reminiscent of the many meals the boys had enjoyed at their grandmother’s restaurant. Michelle listened while the two brothers spoke of life before the death of their father and uncles. When the subject of the hit surfaced, Danny spoke of the future direction of the family. Talking to Mick but reaffirming to Michelle the legit business, Danny described Pilar’s new trendy boutique opening in Chicago.

“Pilar goes up everyday. You might want to go with her to Chicago tomorrow instead of coming to my office.”

“Danny, I prefer to ride to Chicago to see the boutique. It will be a nice to spend the day with Pilar. Eat at Rico’s before leaving. Thanks Senorá Michelle for dinner. The computer and picture will keep you and my brother closer than I expected. I want to know all about the twins progress before and after they are born. E-mail me daily after they arrive.”

“I think that job is going to be allocated to Danny.” Kissing Michelle on the cheek, Mick and Danny walked out to the sport coupe.

“Mick, don’t mess with this deal.”

“I won’t Danny. I have found a reason to live.”

Danny and Michelle arrived before 7pm the next night for the bon voyage party. Many of the guests were still arriving when the police officer from the Springfield police knocked at the door. Dietz summoned Danny to the foyer. The police officer repeated the story from the Illinois state police. Pilar’s car had a flat tire on the interstate highway. Mick was changing the tire when an eighteen-wheeler with a tandem trailer had swerved to miss a slow traveling car. Two people had been killed instantly. Mick and a young woman holding the flashlight had died.

“My sister and brother were killed tonight!”

“No sir, your sister is alive with minor injuries but she is in shock at a small town hospital close to the scene of the accident. The young woman was Theresa Sandoval.”

“Her father and mother are here.”

“Do you want me to tell them?”

“I’ll get her parents. The news will kill my mother.”

“Danny, I’ll take Carmen to the bedroom.”

“Do that Dietz.” Danny motioned for Jimmy to wheel Abuellá to Carmen’s room.

“Boss, you look as if you have seen the devil.”

“I have heard of his work tonight.”

The only person Danny sought across from where he stood was Michelle. The sound of Mrs. Sandoval screaming pierced the ears of the guests. Everybody seemed in slow motion as Danny told the guests there had been an accident with two causalities. One was Theresa Sandoval and the other was his brother Mick.

The room started spinning from where Michelle stood. She reached out her hands in the direction of Danny before crumbling to the floor.

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