Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 2

Republisher’s Note:┬áIn this story both Danny and Michelle are pushed to take on new identities.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 2

Michelle let Ben’s questions replay continuously throughout the cavities in her mind. It was as though she had no control to stop them. It was hard for her to believe the man who had virtually let her sister-in-law rot in jail when he had the evidence to free her, would be the same man to help her now. It was as if Ross had played some hidden trump card. By all rights Ben Warren could have fed her to the wolves, but he wasn’t. A fact that both frightened and relieved Michelle. She was having difficulty deciding which one she felt more.

In this case relief won out. She had been walking in fear for so long now that to be at ease was a comfort. She found herself laughing at the thoughts that paraded about her head. The actuality of finding relief in this nightmare was a joke. Yes she would most certainly be alive, but she would never be Michelle Bauer again. The life that she envisioned for herself went up in a puff of smoke. She felt as though she was the product of a magician’s act that had gone awry. And the worst part being, that there wasn’t a damn thing she could do to stop it from happening. Her fate had been sealed that night on the beach. She may have taken Mick Santos’ life but he had stolen hers just the same.
Without warning the tears fell. The sight of what she had always called home…..a place that after tonight she would never step foot in again…the flood of emotions was far to great. So many wonderful things had happened to her in this place. She had learned to ride her two-wheeler in the driveway, gotten her first grown up kiss under the trellis in the garden, the annual Bauer barbecues, the scent of Maureen’s that still lingered in the house after all these years…..all those things would be no more then memories for her now.

“Michelle?” Ross rested his hand on her shoulder. In his quiet way he did his best to fill the void left by her father. Ed was off saving the world. Seemed as though it was easier for him to reach out to those unknown to him rather then those closest. It angered him that his friend had dropped the ball so to speak when it came to his children. In the years Ed Bauer had been gone, Ross watched the Bauer children struggle and grow into wonderful adults. It was a shame that he chose to miss all of that.

“I’m fine?” she responded wiping the tears from her cheeks. She knew what he would ask before the words even came, “I just can’t imagine leaving here and never looking back,” the anguish consumed her voice.

“It’s something that you must do,” Ross assured her.

As true as his words were, they brought little comfort to her at the moment. The only thoughts she was able to entertain were those of utter loss. In a way for Michelle, it was like losing her mother all over again. The devastation that accompanied Maureen’s death was something that she never expected to ever totally get over. This house had been her last tie to the woman who raised her, taught her so much about life and love. The thought of never seeing it again was more then she was able to bare.

“I understand that here,” she said pointing to her head, “But it hurts so much here,” Michelle laid her hands across her heart.

“I wish there was another way around this. I just don’t see one,” Ross added sympathetically. The Bauer house had been a port in a storm to many of those wayward members of Springfield society. It had come to mean a great deal to so many. And for Michelle that feeling had to be much more intense. This was the only home that she had ever known. But now due to circumstances beyond her control she was being asked to forget all that she loved and knew. Asked to start over again as a new person in a new place. For a girl of nineteen that had to be unthinkable. Unfortunately it beat the all too real alternative.

“You ready to go in and say good-bye?” Michelle hated the finality of Ross’s words.

“Don’t see as I have much choice,” she stated. After tonight Rick and Abby would not exist in Michelle’s world. There would be no contact with them. She would never know if they were to ever have children. She would never know if her father was to return. Ed Bauer couldn’t even be found. There was no way for Michelle to even say a proper good-bye to her father. That notion troubled her in a way but it was somehow fitting as well. For all intensive purposes she would be dropping out of sight in the same manner that he had done years before. But for Michelle that was little consolation. It still hurt like hell.

“Hello sweetie,” Abby embraced Michelle as she came through the door. The was no hiding the fact that both she and Rick had been crying. Neither of them were taking the reality of this any better then Michelle herself was.

Rick had retraced every step with Ross trying to come up with any choice but this one. In his heart Rick knew that Ross’s instincts were right on the money. The longer Michelle stayed in Springfield the easier it would be for the Santos Family to come knocking on their door; however that didn’t make letting his little sister walk out of his life any easier.

“Hi……………….” Michelle gasped before bursting into a new round of sobs. Rick and Abby rallied around her while Ross hung back still feeling as if he had been the reason for the pain in the room. Knowing he was doing the right thing for his best friend’s daughter still didn’t erase the agony he saw in her eyes.

“I’ll wait for you outside,” Ross said heading for the door.

“Ross, please…….stay,” Michelle implored.

“Thought you might like to say your good-byes in private,” he countered.

“You belong here too. You have been through it all with us. And right now if it wasn’t for you I don’t know where I would be. Please stay.”

Ross gently took Michelle into his arms embracing her like she had hoped her father would have been there to do. “You are a strong young woman. You will make the best of this.” Ross hoped his words were more convincing then the way the sounded ringing in his own ears.

“I’m glad one of us has faith in me,” she gave a half-hearted laugh.

The four of them sat around the table drinking coffee and reminiscing. Michelle couldn’t get enough of the stories. She would have recorded them if you thought that she could have gotten away with it. As much as Rick’s over-protectiveness drove her crazy, she would miss it. The little things that once had been an annoyance would now be treasures locked away for safe keeping.

“We really need to be going,” Ross prodded as his eyes went to the clock on the wall. He had extended Michelle’s visit much longer then it should have been.

Ross’s words brought tears to all the eyes at the table. Michelle let herself be wrapped tightly in the arms of her family.

“We love you honey,” Rick said through his tears, “No matter where you are or who you are….a part of you will live on in all of us,” he choked.

“I know,” she returned through her own cries. “As you all with me.”

Rick and Abby looked on as Michelle and Ross made their way up the drive. She felt as if she had been sentenced to death row rather then the witness protection program. At this moment Michelle didn’t think death could be much worse.

The blackness of night seeped through the window panes encircling Danny. He tried to find comfort in it’s stillness, yet the sensation of comfort had long since left him.
He had sat behind that desk for the greater part of the day making calls, issuing orders, but threats were now what he had been driven too. On numerous occasions he caught his mother or Dietz watching him from the corner of his eye. They both waited to pounce on him for his lack of vigor in dealing with this problem.

This had been Carmen’s ultimate test of her son’s ability. His lack of determination concerned her while Dietz’s overzealous wiliness to strike down all and any in his path troubled her as well. It was as though she was stuck in the middle of some bizarre tug of war. One side pulling so furiously that she might collapse under their force while the other side was barely breaking a sweat to bring her down.

Danny walked over to the side board filling his glass with scotch again. This had become a ritual of sorts with him. The alcohol dulled the senses enough for Danny to somewhere in his soul find the strength he needed to be the ruthless boss that he was expected to be. His words and actions were too far removed from his true character. Even growing up Danny had always been the one with the gentle touch and soft voice. He was the one that Pilar would come to when she had had a bad dream or needed some comforting. In this stone palace they called home, Danny was the only member with a heart.

Thoughts of Pilar lept forward. How he missed his sister. Once their father had been killed, Carmen had whisked her daughter off to a boarding school for her own protection. Those had been Carmen’s words, but Danny knew now it had been for different reasons entirely. Initially, yes, it had been to keep her daughter safe but as time wore on it become a convenience having her out of the picture. It gave Carmen the time she needed to rally the troops and take over as head of her family. She stepped into his father’s shoes quite willingly. Carmen was a player as soon as she was out of the starting gate. It didn’t take long for the other families to recognize that the Santos Family wasn’t about to dry up and wither away just because they had been successful at chopping off its head. In fact a more ferocious one grew in its place. Dietz had been a long loyal employee under Danny’s father. He kept a watchful eye out at every turn so he became Carmen’s right hand man without question. Looking at them now Danny had to laugh. His mother and Dietz looked more the couple then he ever remembered his father and her to be. Seemed as though Carmen and Dietz were cut from the same cloth. They saw everything in the same twisted light. The same light that they had gotten Mick to see as well.

Danny found it hard not to lay some of the blame for Mick’s demise at his mother’s feet. She had reeled Mick in with her words of greatness and the power that he saw in her. It was obvious to him that she used Mick, her own son, to do the dirtiest of work for the family. That was a fact that Danny found unfathomable. But Mick had taken the bait and fell easily into all the trappings of this life. A life that Danny could see had the stench of death hanging about it.

He wasn’t about to let himself be pulled into that trap. Revenge or not, Danny wasn’t the Santos to lead this family anywhere that Carmen wanted it to go. He had dreams of legitimate dealings, things that were above board not the backstreet deals, not the associations that enabled them to live off the misery of others. That’s not what Danny had wanted ever. He didn’t care what high hopes his father had for him. The longer he stayed the less he recognized or liked himself.


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