Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 28

Republisher’s Note: Michelle is in Texas with a new identity as Melanie with the Witness Protection Program.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 28

Michelle looked at the clothes laid out on her bed. She still couldn’t believe that she had let Sarah talk her into the black leather ensemble. Sarah’s words replayed in her ears, “No…not short enough….No…..you wore red the last time…..No…..it looks like a grandma dress….”

“Well then what do you want me to wear? Since none of my choices seem to be good enough?” Michelle heard herself say to her friend.

“This!” Sarah said with a sheepish grin as she pulled this tiny black leather mini and matching black leather cropped jacket from behind her, “This is just the ticket!”

“You are kidding right? Me in that? I don’t think so!”

“Come on just try it on,” Sarah prodded.

“I can’t wear something like that.”

“And why not?”

“I just can’t.”

“Try it on!” Sarah wasn’t about to give up on this one. She could just see Danny’s face now when Melanie met him at the door in this number.

“Fine….but there’s no way I’m buying it…….”

Michelle let her fingers run along the supple material recalling how it fit her like a second skin. And how Sarah wasn’t about to let her buy anything but that. She hadn’t known where her brain was as she handed over her credit card to the sales associate. Back in Springfield she would have never dreamt of purchasing something this outrageous let alone wearing it. The whole look had Drew Jacobs written all over it. Michelle had definitely let Drew handle the leather at home. She had to laugh now though thinking just where that had gotten her. Alone and without a man. Not something she was looking to repeat; however she still wasn’t so sure she would have the nerve to actually put the outfit on when the time came.

Michelle walked over to the stereo flipping the switch flooding the room with sound in an attempt to calm her ragged nerves. Ever since Danny’s invitation she felt as if she were walking a tightrope in her mind. On one hand she was filled with titillation at the thought of actually going on a real date with this man who since the day she laid eyes on him had occupied her every thought. Yet on the other there was this intense apprehension for all the let downs of her past. She could help but wonder if this was the set up for just one more fall in her life.

She inched the volume up a bit further in vain to drown out the voices of doom and gloom. She didn’t want them to win, not this time. She wanted more from this go around then just another notch in her long list of failures. After all she had gone through, surely she deserved a little happiness.

Michelle stepped under the pounding stream of hot water. She let its extreme heat penetrate the cold place in her chest, that place being her heart. Her absentee father followed by Jesse’s betrayal with Drew had left her heart stone cold, a virtual block of ice. No amount of scalding water was about to change that.

She had encased herself in this invisible wall that was somehow supposed to protect her from the all those things bad in her life. Unfortunately that was a far cry from how it really had worked out.

With each hurt and disappointment that befell her another row of stone was added until Michelle’s barrier towered miles above her. What she once thought of as protection was now her prison. It had been ineffective in keeping her shielded from those things that would harm her, but rather isolated her to the point where Michelle didn’t know what to trust. She so desperately wanted to get lost in these budding feelings for Danny, but she didn’t know who or what to believe anymore.

This was the second shower that had grown cold while Michelle let her mind wander,

“Damn,” she scolded herself as she wrapped a towel tightly around her shivering body,

“You have to get a grip on yourself.” she said to the reflection in the mirror, “This isn’t Springfield anymore. There is no one here out to hurt you. So lighten up for heaven sakes.”

Michelle padded her way from the bathroom to the bedroom. Her eyes went to the leather outfit laying on the bed. Still apprehensive about Sarah’s “perfect outfit”, Michelle went about the business of getting ready for her date.

First was the make-up. She was torn as to what kind of statement you was looking to make. She had to laugh thinking that anything had to be better then the image of her tossing her cookies in the parking lot of Danny’s club. Finally she decided on simple but elegant. If this did turn out just to be a “shop talk” kind of thing she didn’t want to look the fool by being way too made up.

Second was the hair. No matter what she did that night her unkempt curls had a complete mind of their own. After a total meltdown on her part, Michelle ended up with a mock French twist kind of thing going on. She had to admit it actually looked rather good. Not that she would have said that forty minutes before. The soft tendrils that fell around her face gave her just the desired effect.

The last thing to do now was get up the nerve to put on her clothes. She again looked at the black leather outfit. “What the hell!” she finally spouted, “You only live once right?” she asked the air around her.

Michelle pulled the supple material over her jet black hose positioning the skirt on her hips. As she inched the zipper up it was as though she became one with the leather. Next came the black and white striped spandex tank. The top was just short enough to leave her belly button exposed. Michelle caught a glimpse of her reflection in the full length dressing mirror that hung on the wall. It didn’t look like the Michelle she knew but the was no denying that if this outfit didn’t get Danny Sampson’s attention the boy must be dead.

Hurriedly she pulled the jacket on and retouched her lipstick just as the doorbell sounded throughout the apartment. “He’s early,” she said looking at the clock on the bedside table. She had been hoping for a bit more primping time. Michelle slipped on her black pumps as she headed for the front door.

“I thought you said eight o’clock?” she countered opening the door.

“WOW!!”

“Agent Lucas,” Michelle was startled to see him standing in front of her. She hadn’t seen him nor heard from him since their little spat at the bookstore days ago.

“Jeremy, please. You look sensational. May I come in?” he asked entering without waiting for an answer.

“I guess,” she returned having little choice in the matter, “Is there something I can do for you?”

“No, not really. I just was checking to see if you were still mad at me,” he shifted uneasy as his eyes combed her body. His desire for her filled him again. He knew it would have been better had he just stayed away.

“I was never really mad, per say. I just didn’t understand why you were so angry about me making friends.”

“My job is to protect you. I guess I was just a bit over zealous.”

“I would have to agree.”

“So like I said. You look sensational. Where are you off to on a Thursday night looking like that?”

“To a club to check out a new band,” Michelle returned not at all comfortable with his line of questions.

“So you and that friend you were telling me about the other day?” he prodded forward.

“No…..Sarah has other plans tonight.”

“I see then you are just the social butterfly are you now?” Michelle detected a note of sarcasm creeping into his tone again, “So you got a hot date then, right?”

“And what if I do?” she countered not backing down this time. Enough was enough already.

“Well, all I can say is please remember be careful,” Jeremy Lucas did his very best to keep the green eyed monster in his soul in check.

“I will. If you don’t mind I really need to finish getting ready. Thank you for stopping by to check on me. But I don’t think that will be necessary anymore. I have your card if I run into anything I can’t handle.”

“Well enjoy yourself.” That was all Agent Lucas was able to say before Michelle closed the door on his face.

Danny opened the passenger side door and let Melanie slide inside. If it hadn’t been for her honey blonde locks and white stripes of her shirt she would have melted into the black leather interior of his car.

“Would you mind it terribly if we had dinner at The Two Step? It’s only been under my direction for a short time now and I want to be sure that it’s running smoothly before we head out to check out this new band?” Danny asked hoping not to sound like too much of a cheap skate seeing as how it was his club and all.

“No, that’s fine. Actually I have never had dinner there in the times that I have been there so far.”

“Then you are in for a treat. Reggie is a hell of a chief.”

They rode in silence as Danny swung the car in the direction of the club. Michelle was far too nervous to initiate the conversation and Danny was far too interested in her shapely legs to concentrate on the road much less talk.

“Ah Daniel…..Melanie,” Albert met them at the door to the restaurant, “I have a table waiting for the two of you.”

“Uncle Albert, where is Samantha?” Danny asked scouring the room for his hostess.

“Not to worry, Daniel. Everything is under control. Sammie had a family emergency. I’m the host tonight.”

“Maybe tonight isn’t such a good night for us to do this,” Michelle said looking at Danny’s angry face.

“Nonsense!” Albert said, “I have been doing this for many years. One night will certainly not do me any harm. Besides Daniel here deserves some time off for a job well done.”

“Danny?” she asked looking to read his reaction.

“No, Uncle Albert is right. This place was his long before I showed up. He knows his way around here. He certainly doesn’t need my instruction.”

“Now go enjoy yourselves.”

Danny pulled out a chair and motioned for Melanie to sit. He was quite the gentleman she had to admit. Much more polished then anyone she had met in quite some time.

“How about some wine before we order?” Danny questioned raising his hand for the bartender.

“None for me thank you,” she groaned recalling her last attempt at alcohol.

Danny couldn’t help but laugh at the expression the beautiful girl before him wore on her face, “So you have sworn off liquor I see? Well I have to say you are smarter then the average Joe. From what I recall it took me at least half a dozen times of being sicker then a dog to get the hint.”

“I’m a quick learner.”

“I bet you are. What would you like to drink then?”

“A mineral water would be fine.”

“A mineral water it is then. You don’t mind if I have a drink do you?”

“No…please do.”

“Joe, a mineral water for the lady and I will have a scotch neat.”

“Right away.”

Again there was silence between them. It was as if neither knew what to say to the other.

Each one fearing that if they opened their mouth to speak the illusion would be shattered.

“Thank you,” Danny said as their drinks were placed in front of them. “Would you like to order?” he felt so inept right now the feelings coursing though him at the moment were worse then any of those he had as a teenager. It was surreal.

“Sure,” she said. In all her life she had never been at a loss for words. That was until she was within three feet of this man. It was though she lost complete control of her mind and body. “What do you suggest?” she asked trying to keep her voice even as not to reveal how truly nervous she was.

“I’ll order for both of us if you wouldn’t mind.”

“Please do. This is your restaurant. I assume you would know what’s the best,” She could have kicked herself. She was sounding like a total idiot.

“I’ll be right back. I will deliver our order to Reggie personally.”

“That’d be great.”

Michelle took a sip of her water as Danny went in the direction of the kitchen. ‘This is going well…..NOT!!!!’ she thought to herself.

She spied Sarah and Matt Johnson coming through the door. Michelle had never been so relieved in all her life. At least now maybe she wouldn’t have to sit there alone sounding like a bumbling fool.

“Sarah,” Michelle called from across the room, “Sarah!”

“How’s it going?” Sarah asked, “That outfit is totally hot. Danny all hot and bothered yet?” she joked.

“I wouldn’t know.”

“Excuse me? Wouldn’t know?”

“We haven’t gotten past the small talk yet. I’m so bad at this,” Michelle cried.

“Would you relax. My god girl you look like you are standing in front of a firing squad or something.”

“I wish I could. It’s like all of the sudden I’m back in Junior High at one of those dances where the girls stand on one side of the gym and the boys on the other neither one of the groups making it to the middle of the floor.”

“Well, I hate to say this, but it looks as though your boy is crossing the gym as we speak.”

“Shit! Sarah help me.”

“Sarah….hi,” Danny said as he came back to their table. “Would you like to join us?” he motioned to one of the empty seats at the table.

“No, really I can’t thank you though. Matt and I are here for dinner.”

“You both could join us, couldn’t they Danny?” Michelle asked hoping for any distraction.

“Sure,” he returned wondering if she was finally having those second thoughts about being out with him tonight.

“No…..really you two enjoy your evening. Thank you for the invitation. I’ll talk to you later, Melanie.” With that Sarah had gone to join Matt at a table across the room.
There it was again. That silence that even in the room filled with people and noise was so apparent. Michelle sipped on her water and watched the animation of the room around her. She wanted to get lost in the commotion. Anything but to sit there across from Danny not having a clue what to say.

As the waitress placed their salads before them Michelle was thankful for something to do other then stare at his handsome face. She could have gotten lost in the depths of his inky black eyes. On first inspection they were hard and driven but if you looked deeper you could see the softness that was hidden. Michelle found herself wondering what had caused the gentleness to be glossed over. Why this man who on the surface appeared to lead a perfect life had eyes of steel?

“I’m sorry…what?” she said at the question that had gone unheard.

“I asked if you would like another drink.”

“No, I’m fine thank you.”

So far this was not turning out the way that Danny had hoped for. They had been sitting at this table for a half hour already and nothing but inane small talk if it had even been that had passed between them. That’s not how he had wanted it. He had this irrepressible urge to tell this woman everything about him and that scared the hell out of him. Never before in his life had he wanted to do that.

Secrets, hushed rooms and codes of silence had always been what he had lived by but right now he didn’t want any of them. Danny wanted nothing more then to be the man he was pretending to be. He wished with all his heart that Danny Santos had never existed. That Danny Sampson, night club owner was the person he had always and forever been. Maybe just maybe for tonight he could forget about the box that he had been forced to live in and spread his wings and enjoy what it meant to be a man and not the man of the hour.

“Danny? Are you all right?” she asked placing her hand softly on his. Her flesh against his sent a tingle up and down his arm.

“Yeah…..yeah I’m fine. I’m sorry though I didn’t mean to space out like that.”

“I guess we are both a little nervous, huh?” she asked finally deciding to break the ice and see if they would sink or swim.

“Am I that obvious?” he laughed.

“Not any more then me. How about we say we start again?”

“I’d like that,” he said with relief.

“Me, too.”

From that point forward it was as if the barrier between them was gone. Sarah watched from across the room as the two people at that table had transformed from statues into real live breathing people. She looked on as they laughed and carried on like two people who had known one another their entire lives.

Sarah looked back at Matt. Yes he was extremely handsome, funny and she enjoyed his company, but she was more then certain that they didn’t look anything like those two across the room. From where Sarah sat Danny and Melanie looked like two halves of one whole.

Jenny watched as her husband and Carl moved about the restaurant and the adjoining club. She motioned for another glass of wine. More and more she found herself drinking to find some solace in what was now her life.

Without a moment’s notice her world as she knew it had been completely turned upside down. She felt as if she had lost another piece of herself with Danny’s arrival. That some way, somehow that old life had claimed her husband.

In all reality she knew that wasn’t true. Albert had not walked backed into the Mafioso but she felt he left her just the same. He shared a closeness with Danny that she could never achieve with him. Maybe that was her own fault. Maybe it was due to the fact that she had never wanted to know. Never had the lust for power that Carmen had had. Right now Jenny didn’t know who was better off because in her mind Miguel was dead but in many ways Albert was to her as well.

“A shot of Oozo,” Jenny heard herself say to Joe.

“Oozo???” Joe questioned.

“What are you deaf? Don’t understand English?” she spat at his questioning her request.

“No, Mrs. Sampson. I understand,” Joe said pouring the clear liquid into a shot glass motioning to Albert at the same time.

Jenny tossed her head back and let the flaming licorice flavored liquid set her throat on fire.

“Pour me another,” she spouted slamming the shot glass on the bar.

“I don’t think so!” Albert growled.

“So what now you don’t understand English? Would you prefer I spoke in Spanish?”

“Jenny get a hold of yourself for God sakes!”

“And if I don’t?” she countered angrily.

“You are making a spectacle of yourself.”

“SO WHAT!?!?! You don’t even know I’m alive half the time. So now all of the sudden you care?”

“I have always cared, Jenny.”

“Not as much as you cared about ‘la familia’. You made that abundantly clear when you took my son……MY BABY and you brought him into be made!” Jenny’s cries were now drawing the attention of those surrounding them including that of Carl Beck.

“JENNY, THAT’S ENOUGH!!”

“Why did you do have to do that to him, Albert? He was such a gifted boy. He had so much more potential then the life you fed him to!!!!!!”

“JENNY, STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!!!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND STOP IT!!!!!”

“You think by letting Danny stay with us you can replace Richard. You think that he can be the son you lost!?!?!” the tears were now streaming down Jenny’s cheeks but nothing was going to stop her alcohol induced triad, “YOU REALLY THOUGHT THAT I WOULD JUST ACCEPT CARMEN SANTOS’ SON WITH OPEN ARMS IN PLACE OF MY BABY!??!?! CARMEN SANTOS WAS NOTHING BUT A POWER HUNGRY, BLOOD LUSTING WOMEN!!!! I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT HER SON!!!!!”

Before his wife could do anymore damage, Albert yanked her hard by the arm dragging her into the kitchen. In fifteen minutes Jenny had ripped to shreds what had taken fifteen years to build. Everyone in the place had heard the name Santos. Texas or not Albert knew all too well that sooner or later that name would come back to haunt them and Jenny had now just hastened the likelihood of that event.

“Do you realize what you have done?” he asked shaking her, “Do you know what you have just destroyed for us and for Danny? DO YOU!?!?!?” Albert screamed.

“Danny Santos….huh?” Carl said as he slipped away quietly. He didn’t have a clue what this meant to him yet but from Albert’s reaction to it he knew it had to mean something.

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