Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 18

Republisher’s Note: Sharing more of a classic fanfic with Michelle in the witness protection program.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 18

For the second day in a row the sound of a ringing phone was Michelle’s wake up call.
But sleep hadn’t been that plentiful the past evening. The dreams….nightmares was a far more fitting word, plagued what little sleep she did have. On the backdrop of the black canvas of her closed eyes, Michelle saw Jesse, Danny and Mick’s faces. Each one calling to her with their own agenda in mind. Yet no matter which face she chose the out come was the same. She ended up on the beach again. Mick’s body pressed hard against her own. There he was cackling at her like some strung out hyena. The vision took on a cartoonish effect. Each time it played out it was more horrific then the last.

The vibration of the phone’s bell entered her dream state giving way to reality. “Hello,” Michelle’s voice was raspy with a mixture of fear and relief at realizing that where she had thought she was she truly hadn’t been.

“Melanie, this is Mr. Rodgers. I apologize, I know that you were supposed to be off until Tuesday, but…….” he hesitated.

“Huh?” she said still unsure what was real and what wasn’t.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you, but I wanted to catch you before you had the chance to make plans.”

“No that’s fine,” she returned hearing the anxiety in his voice, “I don’t have any plans what do you need?”

“I was just informed that there is a shipment of books that is being delivered today of all days. And I have to have them cataloged and priced before next week.”

“So you need my help?”

“If you don’t mind too much. I know that you were spending Thanksgiving with your friend and I certainly don’t want to ruin the plans that I am sure that you have made. But I’m really in a bind.”

“It’s no problem,” she said thankful to have something to do other then rambling around her apartment avoiding Sarah’s inevitable phone call.

“You don’t know what a life saver you are. I promise to make this up to you.”

“Really….it’s not a big deal. I didn’t have anything else to do. What time would you like me at the store?”

“Is nine o’clock good for you?”
Michelle looked at the clock. It read half past seven. That gave her more then enough time to get ready. “Yes, that should be fine.”

“All righty then….I will see you at nine. And thank you so much.”

“No need to thank me. I mean I am your employee, aren’t I?” Michelle kidded.

“You are far more then just my employee. I think of you as one of my own,” he returned sweetly.

Michelle couldn’t speak as she felt the tears well in her eyes. Even in the mess that was her life she had been blessed with many people that wanted to help her. For as many times as she had cursed God for the things that had happened to her, she had to be thankful for far more things.

“Thank you,” she whispered brushing away the stray tears.

“Don’t thank me. You are like the little girl I never had. Men always say they want sons, but let me tell you something. There’s nothing like having a daddy’s little girl.”

Michelle listened as the dial tone rang in her ear. Mr. Rodgers words repeating in her head. She had always wanted to believe that was how her father had felt about her. That she was the apple of his eye. For many years it had been that way. It wasn’t until her mother died that things had changed.

Michelle couldn’t stop herself from blaming her father for her mother’s senseless death. If he had just been faithful there wouldn’t have been reason for Maureen Bauer to have been on the road the night she died. She wouldn’t have been out in that hellish storm that claimed her life.

In no uncertain terms Michelle let her father know that at every turn. So how could she blame him now for wanting to distance himself from her. With each look into her eyes, Michelle was sure that he had seen the pain that his selfish act had caused her.
But now five years later, Michelle had grown and matured. She wasn’t going to say that she understood why her father had cheated but she was willing to put the past in it’s rightful place and remember her father for more then just that one mistake.
But too little too late she now thought. Her unwillingness to forgive had cost her her father. Ed Bauer wasn’t about risk facing the disappointment he saw in his daughter’s eyes so he stayed away. She had to laugh thinking of it as a two for one bargain….but it wasn’t a bargain at all.

Michelle tied her robe tight around her waist and headed to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. She was going to need it. Between the thoughts of Danny Sampson that ran rampant through her head the night before and the nightmares that she couldn’t escape, she was running on very little sleep if any at all. It was going to be a long day ahead of her. The last thing Mr. Rodgers needed was for her to fall asleep between the stacks of books she was to price.

As she turned on the shower, Michelle heard the phone sounding again. She debated on whether to run to get it or just let the machine pick up. Her gut told her to screen the call. More then likely it was Sarah wanting to go over again how to snag Danny. Right now she didn’t want to even entertain those thoughts; however, even the slightest notion of him set her heart pounding and mind racing. She imagined him standing before her as he had been just last night. How close his body had been to hers. She had wanted so desperately to reach out and touch him. To feel his flesh make contact with hers as it had when he so skillfully kept her from tumbling to the ground. She absently wondered what it would be like to kiss him. To have his lips brush against hers, what his tongue would feel like as it probed against hers………….Agent Lucas’ voice splashed cold water on her fantasy……….

“Melanie, this is Jeremy Lucas again. I thought that I might hear from you last night. I just was checking in on you again. I hope you had a nice holiday. Remember call me if you need anything. Bye now.”

Michelle heard the answering machine beep in indication that he had completed his message. She drew in a ragged breath trying to get a grip on her emotions.

There she was standing in her bathrobe playing out some exotic fantasy about a man that she wasn’t ever going to be able to have. She knew it in her head but why was it that her heart wasn’t taking the hint. Michelle groaned in frustration as she stepped under the beating water hoping to make sense out of the senseless.

Danny was starring at the same spot on the ceiling that he had been all night long as the sun crested into the morning mist. His attempt at vanquishing Melanie Branson from his head hadn’t worked in the least bit. The cold shower had done little except serve to make him look like a wrinkled prune.

There was no denying the in a brief instant she had gotten under his skin. He hadn’t believed in love up until now and certainly not love at first sight. But all things were pointing directly to that.

She occupied his every waking thought and even some of those while he had slept as well. It was as though he was powerless to take control of his own thoughts. That was far from the man he remembered himself to be. Yet maybe underneath all the masks and facades that he had worn for his mother, this was the man that he was meant to be.
He had to shake his head and laugh thinking he sounded more like a love sick school boy. That description had never once even remotely been assigned to him in the past.
For Danny old habits were dying very hard. The untrusting nature of the business he left behind still had a foot hold in his existence here. He whole heartedly knew that Albert was on his side. That was a given. Albert would always be tied to Danny even if he never stepped foot inside the circle again. He and Danny would share an unspoken bond that few would ever really understand without living through it. Danny had his reservations regarding his aunt’s sudden about face. As grateful as he was for it, he still didn’t trust it. As for Carl Beck, Danny didn’t like the man and by no means put his trust in him. Carl was so transparent in his anger at Danny’s arrival, that Danny couldn’t help recalling his father’s words from long ago……’You keep you friends close and your enemies even closer……..’

Danny certainly saw Carl as just that an enemy. He intended to keep a watchful eye on this man. Make sure that Carl knew and understood his place in the organization.
Immediately Danny felt the hairs on the nape of his neck bristle. In those thoughts he heard Carmen’s words and voice. How was he to truly ever escape this life that she bred him for? Is that what his uncle meant when he told him he could change his name but he couldn’t run from the man he was inside? That thought frightened him. The thought that no matter where he was he would see those around him as the enemy.

Danny threw his pillow in frustration. Here he was thinking that he had a chance at a life that was his own for once. A life that just might include some genuine happiness with a beautiful girl and his mother still found a way to creep in and destroy it.

“DAMN YOU CARMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Danny reached for the remaining pillow sending it sailing into the mirror hanging on the wall across from him. It fell to the floor with a heavy thud, shards of glass skated about the hardwood floor. He cursed himself for letting his temper once again get the better of him.

“Daniel,” he heard his uncle’s voice from the other side of the door, “Are you all right?”

Danny hadn’t found a way to break Albert of calling him Daniel. Right now that was a further reminder of how much he still was all things connected to the name.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Danny lied. Yes physically he was fine, but mentally he wondered if he would forever carry these scars.

“Are you sure?” Albert questioned hearing the words catch in his nephew’s throat.

“Yes,” Danny did his best to sound convincing, “I wish I could say the same for the mirror in here,” he said trying to laugh, “Apparently it didn’t much like where it was hung any longer.”

“You sure everything is all right in there?” Albert wasn’t buying into Danny’s phony humor.

“Yeah, nothing that a broom and a dust pan won’t take care of.”

“I’ll go to the kitchen and grab you one,” Albert returned.

“Don’t bother. I’ll take care of it myself. I was just about to grab a shower anyway.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, go have breakfast with that beautiful wife of yours.”

Albert looked back as he walked away from Danny’s door. He resisted the urge to go back and try once more to talk to him. He sensed the turmoil that Danny was wrestling with.
He had had it too. It had been much greater of an obstacle when he and Jenny had first moved to Texas. The demons that lay buried within him had been hard to hide in the beginning. The lessons that he had been taught for all those years, weren’t something that went away quietly.

Albert imagined that Danny too was having the same battle of wills right now. The inner most part of Danny was one of a good man, but all the years spent covering and hiding it made it a foreigner to him now.

“Albert?” Jenny asked noticing her husband’s furrowed brow, “What is it?” her show of kindness to Danny the previous night was now giving way again to the fear that she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to shake.

“Nothing,” he said absently pouring himself a steaming cup of coffee.

Jenny forced herself not to ask. As difficult as it was for her, she tried to remember Albert’s words. That he wanted to be where he was. That he missed his family and the way things would never be. She did her best to recall that Danny was the only family that he had left and pushed all of her questions away for her husband’s sake and maybe even their marriage.

“So what would you like for breakfast?” she inquired as if it was any normal day but nothing had been normal in their house since the night that Danny contacted them.

“Coffee’s fine,” he returned his mind still fixated on his thoughts of Danny.

“Are you sure? I mean I am up for making a grand breakfast in honor of the club’s success last night,” she leaned in and kissed Albert’s cheek.

“No really, coffee will do just fine. Besides Danny and I am have to head out to talk with some new vendors for the restaurant.”

“New vendors? Haven’t we had enough change already?” it wasn’t hard to miss the irritation in Jenny’s voice.

“Jenny,” Albert’s tone was firm as he wondered if they were about to have round one hundred when it came to Danny, “We are taking The Two Step in a different direction, that’s plain to see so it’s natural that we will have to expand into a few different markets.”

“Different markets, huh?” she spoke Albert knowing all too well the underlying question that she wasn’t asking.

“If you have a point I wish you would just make it and be done with it!” he stated feeling the anger for his wife growing again.

“No point,” she lied looking into his fiery black eyes.

“I find that hard to believe,” he countered.

“I am just surprised as all. I mean you have shot down almost everyone of Carl’s ideas, but now that Danny is here it’s like it’s open season on change.”

“Since when did you become the president of the Carl Beck fan club?” Albert spat.

“I’m not……..,” Jenny scrambled for a way to remove her foot from her mouth.

“It sure as hell sounds that way to me.”

“I’m just saying that Carl has been after you to expand for some time now.”

“So?????”

“So…..now all of the sudden I see us expanding and you are leaving Carl in the dust. He has been loyal to us from the very first day….and I always thought that loyalty meant everything to you,” Jenny said parroting a phrase that she had all too often.

Albert felt his blood grow hotter. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. That his wife had the audacity to put his nephew, his own flesh and blood in the same category as a hired hand. It was ludicrous.

“Jenny,” he paused, “You have never been interested in my business,” he said pointedly, “up until now…so let’s say we keep it that way?”

His remark again instilled a fear in her. A fear of Danny Santos and what he was bringing into their safe world once more.

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