Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis Chapter 33

Author’s Note: Glad you are enjoying Danny’s changing character. Michelle’s love is the driving force behind Danny’s actions. He is controlling but what he desires the most is Michelle’s undying love. Michelle’s words and actions reaffirm her love for her husband but the future lies ahead with her children and a career. Where they are in the story, Danny is struggling with a human quality of jealousy and trusting in a higher power. Danny has an unyielding and hard side to him, which has to be cracked. My interpretation of Danny’s life from my standpoint is to see how he reacts to future life obstacles. How hard will God have to hit him to get his attention?  I want to explore Michelle’s mother role and career in medicine while juggling being the wife of a demanding husband.

Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis – Chapter 33

The rotating blinking light across the lake slowly dimmed from the tears in Michelle’s eyes. Sleep refused to come and sweep her away tonight. The noise of Danny’s voice speaking to his mother in their coded language affirmed Michelle’s growing dislike of what they expected from her.  The one aspiration in her mind was to protect her unborn children. Michelle had to be prepared and rested for the dreaded face-to-face meeting with the FBI.
 The alarm buzzed to awaken Michelle. Reaching across the empty space in the king-size bed, Michelle felt the cool bottom sheet where Danny’s warm body usually laid. It was the first night of their short marriage that they had slept apart. Her first thought was to call in sick but the fear of drawing attention to her prevented the call. A quick shower and dressed to leave the house, Michelle found Danny smoking a Cuban cigar on the porch.
“Did you sleep any last night?”
“I passed out on the sofa for a couple of hours, but you might say that I’m having a major hangover.”
“Well, I understand a good hang over is the best prevention from having future ones.” Making an attempt at a civil conversation, “Drink plenty of liquids today.”
“I’m having tomato juice and vodka now. Will that count as liquids?”
“You are a big boy, Danny. Drink whatever you like. I’m leaving for the hospital. I have patients waiting for me and I will eat breakfast in the cafeteria.”
Saluting Michelle as she departed the porch, “Is this going to be the way you leave your husband without a kiss?”
“You need an attitude adjustment, Danny and I am mad at being in this situation.”
Rubbing his head from the throbbing headache, “You may be mad at me, but use the edge to deal with keeping your sharpness with the Feds.”
“I will do what I have to do to protect my unborn babies. Right now, I say damn the FBI and the Santos family.”
Taking a puff from the cigar, “I love your feisty attitude and you are right; damn the Feds and Santos family. But, you have a major problem with the twins, they have Santos blood running in their veins.”
Laughing in her sarcastic voice, “I won’t ever forget that fact but they have Bauer blood running in their veins, too.”
“Touché”
Throwing Danny a kiss, “I hate cigar smoke and you can add that to my list with your brother’s name. I have to run with our discussion going longer than I had planned this morning. Danny, you look like hell with the blood shot eyes.”
Laying the burning cigar in an ashtray, “Hold up Michelle, I’ll walk you to the car.” Wrapping his arm around Michelle’s waist, “The mornings are getting darker when you leave. I can’t wait for the time to change.”
“Me too. I missed you last night.”
“Michelle, you didn’t need me anywhere near you last night. Remember, you have to guard every word with the FBI.”
The day passed quickly with Michelle stopping in the cafeteria for a cup of soup and salad for lunch. Choosing the table in the corner with a view of the flowerbeds, Michelle sat her tray on the table waiting for any fellow student to join her.
“Senorá Santos, may we join you at your table? I’m Agent Manez with the FBI in Puerto Rico and the other two agents are from Chicago.”
Memorizing their names and faces, Michelle responded in a cordial manner and invited the three agents to sit down.
“We hate to bother you at the hospital but this is fairly neutral grounds. We have some questions about the recent death of your brother-in-law. Dr. Sedgwick gave us permission to ask a few questions. We are all aware of the problems you have had with this pregnancy.” Michelle saw the two other agents nodding their heads in agreement.
 “You had a whirl wind romance with your husband didn’t you, Senora Santos?”
“I thought you were asking me about Mick Santos?”
“We are but your marriage has fascinated the agents at the bureau. How did a bright, attractive woman met and marry Daniel Santos.”
“Danny and I met in a parking lot at a club in Springfield. I was meeting up with friends for drinks.”
“Go on, Michelle. May we call you Michelle?”
“Please do. What details do you want to know?”
“Did Danny hit on you in the club?”
“I had a drink with my friends and my best friend Bill Lewis was running late. I was at the bar when Danny offered to buy me a drink. Danny had been obnoxious outside in the parking lot. I assumed that he was attempting to be apologetic for his rude behavior outside. We made small talk and then we danced. The rest is history and you described it as a whirlwind romance.”
“With your schedule in medical school, you didn’t spend very much time with Danny at first.”
“Correct, Danny wanted to see me but I wasn’t interested in getting involved.”
“He must have done some kind of talking to change your mind?”
“Danny sent roses and our first date was unbelievable. We flew to NYC to see a Ricky Martin concert.”
“Did Danny ever tell you that he was connected to the mob?”
“He told me his family was in the import and security business, which explained the affluent life….I want to cut through the chase. I became pregnant soon after we met and we arranged to have a wedding in your home country.”
“Which wedding are we talking about Michelle? You see the records indicate a civil ceremony was performed a week before the formal wedding in Moca.”
“I wanted a small civil ceremony but Carmen wanted a big formal wedding. We both got what we wanted.”
“Now, we come to what is important to the agency. Why did the wedding take place in Puerto Rico and the absence of Mick from the wedding?”
“I can answer both questions. Danny’s family had a vacation planned at the villa outside of San Juan and we used the time to have the wedding. Mick had previously had a run in with the police in Puerto Rico and had been deported to keep from spending time in jail. Danny told Mick that he had to be clean from drugs and alcohol to attend a reception planned by Carmen in Springfield. Mick accepted the guidelines for the reception in Springfield.”
“Did you see Mick in Puerto Rico?”
“No.Danny and I spent time in the El Yunque Rain forest and traveled all over the island.”
“The local police in San Juan have run into a wall with a murder committed in the city. Nino Sandoval was killed the night of your second wedding. The agency has heard rumors of animosity between Mick and Nick. The mob has a tendency to use weddings, funerals and social gatherings to settle old scores.”
“Mr. Manez, I haven’t a clue to what you are speaking of and settling old scores. I didn’t take Mob Life 101 in college.”
“I doubt that you did but I’m trying to give you an annotated course of real mob life.”
Checking his watch, “I’m finished but the other agents have a few questions.”
Picking up her spoon, Michelle sipped her soup and mentally prepared for the next questions.
“Mrs. Santos, one of our agents spoke with Mick’s drug counselor in Alaska. The counselor confirms Mick stayed with him for six weeks. While there in his workshop, Mick made a special baby bed for the twins.”
“Yes. It was delivered a day or two before Mick returned to Springfield.”
“The counselor was impressed with the determination Mick had to stay sober and clean this time. When Mick told him why he had this determination, the counselor was worried his sobriety might be in jeopardy.”
“I’m sorry but you lost me.”
“The counselor had the impression that Mick was carrying a torch for you! Did you know Mick Santos was in love with you?”
“Certainly not, I saw Mick maybe three or four times before he was killed in the accident.”
“How is it, Michelle, of all the men in the world; you have two brothers falling in love with you? It is against their code of living in the family.”
Restraining from answering and displaying her disgust at the agent, “Mick had severe damage to his central nervous system and in a professional observation was still toxic while he was in Alaska. He might have said anything to the counselor. If I was you, I wouldn’t assume anything Mick told anyone was true. Mick needed protection from himself and that is why Danny arranged the job down in Antarctica.”
“Matter of fact, all the men are protective of you. The list is long; beginning with your father, your brother, Father Ray, Dr. Richards and your husband. So much that your green Volkswagen has a tracking device on it. A tracking device connected to a global position system. I can tell you Michelle; it isn’t the FBI tracking you. It is your husband! We are not your enemy. Mick and Nino’s death will be ongoing investigations until the cases are solved. Down the road, you may need us.”
Reiterating her stance, “I didn’t see Mick in Puerto Rico. My husband’s family business is normally kept from me. You expressed it so well, I’m an outsider.”
“Mrs. Santos, you may have been an outsider but the ring on your right hand shows that you are an insider.”
“The ring was a gift from my mother-in-law before I ever married Danny.”
Giving her their cards with the names and phone numbers, “We are available twenty-four hours a day.”
Taking the cards in her hand, she tore the cards up. “I won’t be calling either of you gentlemen.”
The three agents stood up and left Michelle alone at the table. Outside the hospital the agents wrote in their notebooks their impression of Michelle. Soft and gentle on the outside-tough as steel inside.
“What did you observe with Mrs. Santos?”
“The questions were all answered truthfully but she didn’t elaborate with any answers.”
“Her explanation of Mick was textbook. I think she didn’t see Mick in Puerto Rico but Dr. Bauer mentioned Carmen’s man Dietz suddenly appearing at the coffee plantation several days after the wedding. Dietz has been Carmen’s shadow for years. Where was Dietz hanging out from the wedding reception till showing up at the coffee plantation?”
“It’s time to find the lizard Dietz.”
Michelle placed her keys in her handbag after slamming the door to her car.    Inside, Olga was cutting up vegetables for one of Michelle’s favorite meals. “You are late getting home.”
“I guess I am late. Where is Danny?”
“He has been outside at the pool most of the day. The swimming pool man came and fixed the chlorine mixer.”
“Did Danny sleep in this morning?”
“No senorá. Carmen called and left you a message. She and Pilar are going to Chicago tomorrow. Carmen wants to take you shopping for maternity clothes.”
“Thanks Olga, I’ll call her later. My summer jumpers aren’t as loose as they use to be. Olga, I can bake the dish later this afternoon if you want to leave early. I prefer eating the lasagna after it has been freshly baked.”
“Senorá, you be sure to tell Danny that because I have his instructions. I am to do all the house work.”
“Olga, I can take a dish from the refrigerator and put it in the oven.”
“OK senorá, but Danny will be mad.”
“What is this about me being mad?”
“I asked Olga to let me cook the lasagna latter this afternoon after I rest.”
“Olga, do what Michelle wants with the lasagna. You can leave after you finish putting the dish together.”
“Olga said the pool man came this morning and from the color of the skin on your chest and back; you must have been outside with him.”
“I was working off the effects of the alcohol by vacuuming the bottom of the pool and scrubbing the tiles on the side. The pool is fixed and safe to swim in, Missy. Why don’t you change and come for a swim with me.”
“Maybe later, I’m very tired.”
“So am I.I think both of us could stand to have a nice nap after last night.”
 Michelle stuck the post a note on the refrigerator. “Call Carmen”
Raising his eye brow at the note, “Why are you calling Carmen?”
“She isn’t happy with my maternity wardrobe and invited me on a shopping trip.”
“You should take her up on her offer, I forgot to tell you but I bought a group of tickets for the Hospital Fall Ball. Carmen has excellent taste in selecting clothes and Carmen has buyers in the stores that hold back dresses for special customers. You can have a dress that is one of a kind at the Ball.”
“Danny, I am going with Carmen and Pilar. I haven’t seen Pilar since before the accident. I talked with Bill and he says that she is guilt ridden. I want to invite Bill and Pilar for a cook out one day this coming weekend. She has to learn that the grieving is a long process. I want to help her through the grieving.”
“With everything in your life, you have the capacity to reach out and give more of yourself to others. Sometimes the words evade my inner thoughts of how much I love you and my actions do not adequately express my love.”
“Danny, you are doing much better today than last night in your drunken stupor. I have a little bit of information courtesy of the FBI. They had lunch with me today at the hospital.”
“Do you remember the agents’ names?”
“Agent Manez from Puerto Rico was the chief interrogator with two other agents. They have talked to my father, Rick, Father Ray, staff at the hospital and the drug counselor in Alaska. Your brother was sicker than I realized. He told the counselor of his undying love for his brother’s wife. How sick and vulgar was Mick? I admit to feeling uncomfortable when he was near me but I understand my intuition now.”
“Michelle, the FBI might have stretched the counselor’s words. They are good at doing what they want to do in getting a point across.”
“What you are saying maybe true but I don’t think they stretched the truth when they said my car has a tracking devise on it! I made arrangements to have the car checked by a security company later tonight to see if the FBI is lying or if you are behind the tracking device.”
Rotating his neck and resting his hands on the sides of his hips, Danny paused before giving Michelle his response. “You can cancel the appointment with the security company. It is there. It was done under my orders.”
“Where in the h*** am I going or doing that I need a global tracking devise? Do not bother to answer me. Your answer will not make any sense. Agent Manez informed me the investigation is on-going and Danny, they are getting close to the truth. They know about my personal intimate life with you AND your buddies on Thursday night aren’t welcomed in this house anymore. You can build an all man’s club house next to the hen house or better move them in with the rooster and hen.”
“Michelle, I can’t do that without a reliable excuse.”
“This is your excuse. I am pregnant! You promised me that the mob wouldn’t be involved with my children. Well, I want to see a show of confidence in our agreement. I was naive when I agreed before but I’m getting smarter. The card game is a front for other family business. I refuse to let it go on underneath my nose and turn my head. I won’t allow my unborn babies to see the business operating in the house where they are suppose to grow up safely.”
“Michelle, the FBI did a job on you today.”
“Danny, they helped me to see the forest instead of the trees. I know and trust you, Danny, but I have to trust my intuitiveness. I will keep silent of the picture but I refuse to go any further in any illegal family problem. I am drawing the line in the sand.”
“OK, I hear what you are saying. Honey, I’ll get the architect to draw some plans for a club house. The families know that the pregnancy has complications and the pregnancy provides a realistic reason for temporary halting the card games here. Now, have you got any more burning issues?”
“No, but can we please go to the bedroom.”
Grinning his sly smile back at his wife, “We do our best discussions in the bedroom and other activities.”
“I agree and did I tell you how lonely I was in the big bed last night?”
“Baby, I missed you.”
The soft music sounds came out of the speakers lulling the two to sleep. Michelle rested her face on Danny’s tanned chest.  Her left leg curled over Danny’s legs supporting her body in a restful position. Neither moved from the position until Michelle awakened with the first noticeable flutter of life in her womb. Michelle placed her hand on the area of her lower abdomen where the flutter occurred. Reaching across Danny’s chest, Michelle grabbed the Fetal and Growth and Development Book.  The chapter’s second trimester went into detail of what was continuing with the maturation and growth of the fetal organs. In the fourth month, a fetus kicks, swallows and can hear the mother’s voice. By the end of the fourth month the fetus is more active and fetal movement becomes perceptible.
“Danny, wake up! I felt the flutter inside of me. They are moving.”
Sitting straight up in bed, “Are you sure?”
“I can’t describe it any better than a movement of a butterfly inside my body. I have to write this in my journal. What a day! First I have a visit from the FBI and then to feel the life inside of me. Thank you God for a sign of good to hope for in my future. Danny, have we turned the course of our family?”
Stroking the loose strands of curly hair from Michelle’s face, “I have problems accepting God is involved in the small details of everyday life but you have to wonder how or why God would bring a good person like you in my life. Between you and God, I can see movement of the future Santos family changing. The bigger question is where do I fit into the equation.”
 “Danny, I only know there will be changes ahead and you and I will have to travel together on the adventure.”
“Babe, I hope the future is a little slower than the past four months.”
“I could stand a slower pace myself.”
“I had the pool fixed especially for you to enjoy and exercise in for the next couple of weeks. The sun is getting low in the western horizon. I want to spend the rest of this day with you in the pool. Next year, we won’t have the luxury of being alone and hanging out by the pool.”
Snapping the elastic in Danny’s swimsuit, “Nice suntan line, Mr. Santos.”
Michelle came out to the pool in the blue and turquoise bikini suit. “ Nice suit.”
“It matched the sarong, which was a wedding gift from one of your Caribbean friends.”
“Prince Edmund of the small island principality, where my mother has laundered money for years.”
“The sarong is woven nicely and smooth to touch. I should go back and get it for tonight.”
Smiling his seductive smile, I don’t think it will be worth the effort for tonight.”
Diving into the pool, Michelle swam the laps until the sun had dropped down behind the horizon. “Why do you watch me swim and seldom come in the water?”
“I hate to be accused of sexually harassing a swimmer.”
“Come on in the water, I have finished exercising.”
Danny’s dive ended with him coming up in front of Michelle. “The water temperature is great. The best it has been all season.”
 “The lasagna is in the oven cooking for at least forty-five more minutes. We have plenty of time to search for your lost top.”
“But I still have my top.”
“I’ve got an idea. Let’s dive for the bottoms of our suits.”
“Danny, you are so creative tonight and a poor effort in hiding your true intentions.” Backed into the corner of the pool, Michelle’s naked breasts rested up against Danny’s chest. Michelle crossed her hands in a lock behind the nap of Danny’s neck. Danny bent his head down to met Michelle’s open mouth and tongue. Releasing his hold to the edge of the pool, Danny embraced Michelle’s body while they sank under the surface of the water.
Resurfacing to take in air, “We are going to drown if we keep this up in the deep end of the pool.”
“I never thought I would see the day that Danny Santos has lost his desire for adventure.”
“Baby, this is being practical tonight. Save your sexual desire for the bedroom until after we eat dinner. I promise to met the challenge later in the bedroom.”
****
Jimmy opened the doors of the Mercedes for the three women. The elevator door opened on the above ground parking lot adjacent to the tower leading to the store where most of the customers had credit cards with unlimited credit. The doorman closed the door and greeted the shoppers. “Which floor ladies?”
“I believe the floor is the third.
Stepping from the elevator, the well-dressed clerk recognized Carmen Santos. “Mrs. Santos, Gretchen will be your clerk for today. She is waiting in the private dressing room for your party.”
The white upholstered chairs were arranged in a semi- circle for the customers. “Mrs. Santos, thank you for giving the store the opportunity to be of service to you today. What designers are you interested in seeing?”
“Today, I want to see forward fashions for a working young pregnant woman. My daughter-in-law is in medical school and pregnant. Michelle needs professional and everyday clothes.”
“Michelle, what else do you have in mind to purchase today?”
Turning to the clerk, “I made a list. I dress rather informally most of the time. I saw stretch leggings and big knotty sweaters are popular and comfortable in the magazine. I have a Fall Ball to attend the last of October.”
Taking the list, “This is an excellent place to start. I have a deep burgundy and a black long velvet suitable for the event in October. What is your due date?”
“February 14.”
“How romantic to be expecting a child on that date!”
“Yes, it is romantic. We will need to have the holidays covered.”
“Dupioni jacket and pant sets are nice. With jewelry and various accessories, the clothes take on a life of their own. I suggest a black fleece cape. It is light weight and will go anywhere. Have a seat and let’s start the shopping. I have several young women majoring in Merchandise that will help gather the items. I promise when you leave here today; you will have seen all the forward fashions for the fall and winter season.”
Five hours later, Jimmy and Michelle carried the shopping bags in the house. Scanning the multiple shopping bags, “Did you and Carmen leave any clothes in the store?”
Squinting her eyes, “The both of us did do some serious spending.”
Questioning Jimmy, “How many more bags are there in the car?”
“Several are for Michelle but the rest are Carmen and Pilar.”
Excited to tell Danny of the shopping spree, “Danny, I was treated like royalty at the store. The clerks gathered the clothes and accessories from the different departments. I sat in a chair and gave the thumb up or thumb down. Your sister Pilar has an excellent eye for fashion. With her living in Spain, Pilar has seen the European fashions. The little boutique of Pilar’s has a future.”
Raising his eyebrow, “I agree…..Michelle, I am going to my college homecoming in three weeks at Princeton. I don’t think it is a good idea to have you traveling to the game. The Saturday morning of the game, I have an appointment with a lawyer from Philadelphia. Maybe Aunt Meta can come and stay with you while I’m in Philadelphia.”
“I’ll be fine here and I don’t need to be entertained. The medical school keeps me pretty busy.”
Three weeks later on the Friday before the Homecoming game, Michelle sat in a chaise lounge while Danny raked the first batch of fall leaves. “When are you leaving for Philadelphia?”
“I’m meeting the pilots at six in the morning. I wish that you could go with me. I have few friends but there are some that I went to college with that haven’t a clue to who I am really. We gather at the local pizza house before the game for pizza and beer. Then we visit the fraternity house after the game for drinks. The new guys on campus set the mixer up for their big Saturday night blowout. The more mature guys meaning people like me muster up the energy to attend dinner at a nice restaurant. We shoot the bull with each other. But this year, I have news to share with my college buddies. I just wish they could see you in person.”
“Maybe in the future, I can go with you but football games aren’t my cup of tea….Danny, this fall season is special. I hate the restrictions but I have seen the green leaves change to the yellow, gold and ruby red leaves. Sitting out here in the yard, I feel so alive. The falling leaves have opened up the yard to a more brilliant sun shining down on us. I can’t wait till its cold enough to have a fire in the stone fireplace.”
“Michelle, we can do that tonight. The clear blue sky over the lake will bring falling temperatures this evening.”
“I have an idea. When I was young, Carmen would rake up leaves for the kids to jump into the piles. We would all lay on the ground and watch the light dancing through the falling leaves. The angle of the sun is hitting against the leaves on the trees perfectly. Later, we can roast the veggie dogs on sticks when I burn the leaves. We can capture our own special day.”
On the ground, Danny held Michelle in his arms while they watched the gold and red crimson leaves fall on the green grass carpet. An occasional leaf fell in their grasp but the breeze from the lake sent the leaves in all directions. The amusement was rediscovering past memories and sharing the peaceful quiet time together. The glory of fall was passing to the next season of their new life.
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