Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 35

Republisher’s Note: Michelle is living under the name of Melanie Branson in the Witness Protection Program. She’s met Danny Santos who has taken on his uncle’s name Sampson when he moved to Texas.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 35

Ben followed Carmen down a long hallway that lead to what looked to him to be a dead end. Magically the wall slid away revealing a room that resembled the smoking room at the men’s club he had left behind in New York.

The walls were paneled in the deepest of cherry woods and the grand conference table was so highly polished that Ben could see his reflection as if he were looking at himself in a mirror.

“Gentleman,” Carmen said as the others in the room turned to look at her and a man they had never laid eyes on until this moment.

Dietz was dumb struck as he watched Ben Warren follow Carmen to the head of the table where she motioned for him to sit in the seat that had once been Danny’s. Dietz felt his blood boil in his veins. This was unacceptable not only to him but to the others in the room as well. He had been part of this organization long enough to know that Carmen was already treading on some very thin ice. Her bringing Ben Warren into the mix was doing very little to secure her position.

“What’s this about?” Nino, Bernardo’s son, stood up as Ben sat down.

“Nino, sit down!” Bernardo said glaring at his son, “Let’s give Carmen the chance to explain why it is that this man, a man who we have never so much as met before, is sitting the chair that was once occupied by Migel and should rightfully house Danny.” Bernardo got his point across in a way that all those around him knew his displeasure with Carmen’s actions and her lack of judgment at the moment.

“We are waiting,” Manuel added as Carmen eyed the men before her.

“May I offer you all a drink?” she asked in complete ignorance of the pointed remarks and questions.

“I would like one,” Ben remarked. He had been in many a tight spot in his life and career yet this one felt the tightest one yet.

“Dietz,” Carmen motioned for him to fill Ben’s outstretched glass. Begrudgingly Dietz complied with the request all the while he watched the eyes of the men whose respect he had earned over the years laughed at him.

“I am so glad that you all could find time in your busy schedules to meet with me,” Carmen smiled.

“Enough with the niceties, Carmen!” Bernardo had grown tired of Carmen long ago, “Are you ready to explain what the hold up is with Daniel assuming his rightful place among this group?”

“Daniel is expanding the organization,” she said vaguely while Ben stifled a laugh.

“Expanding?” Tony parroted, “What are you talking about? What expansion?”

“Daniel is looking into other avenues.”

“Cut to the chase, Carmen,” Bernardo said dispensing with formalities, “And by all means please explain this man’s presence in the room!” Bernardo’s stare shot daggers in the direction of Ben.

“One thing at a time,” Carmen countered, “Gentlemen, I’d like you to meet Ben Warren.”

“We are well aware of who he is! What’s he doing here?” Bernardo was quickly losing his patience for the woman who had once been the wife of his best friend.

“I asked him to join us…………………”

“CARMEN!!” Bernardo had past lost his patience for this guessing game.

“Mr. Warren will be running Sancorp in Daniel’s absence.” Ben tried to hide his shock as he whipped his head around to stare directly at Carmen.

“YOU WHAT!?!?!?” the men said simultaneously.

“Given his extensive background in business law, I felt that he would be an asset to both sides of the business.”

“And Daniel agreed to this?” Bernardo questioned. None of this was sitting quite right. He had a knot in the pit of his stomach the size of a grapefruit. He was well aware of Danny’s hesitancy at taking the place that belonged to him, but he was even more certain in the fact of the love and respect that the man carried for his father still.

“Daniel left things in quite capable hands. The hands that I might add have been holding the reins for over ten years now. I don’t feel the need to justify my actions to any of you,” Carmen said calmly while her eyes showed the fire lurking just below the surface.

“Hands that have held them for far too long,” Tony quipped, “This was never yours to run, Carmen. You are where you are out of our respect for Migel and nothing more!!”

“Haven’t you all not profited from the way that I have seen fit to run things. Have we all not gained further holdings and more power?” The rage fully was encompassing her now. The lack of respect that these men held for her was infuriating.

“And the guise was that you were looking out for the best interests of you son and what belonged to him. I find that laughable!” Manuel said coming to stand along side of Tony. Neither had ever been too keen on the idea of Carmen at the helm. The longer she stood there the more they wanted her to vanish, “It’s always been about you, Carmen! The power, the greed, the control that’s what it has always been about for you. You hid behind the idea of grieving wife and loving mother to get what you wanted. Now it’s time that we get what it is we have wanted for seven years now.”

“AND YOU HAVE IT!!!” Carmen seethed.

“NOT HARDLY!!!” Tony countered.

“ENOUGH!!! All of you this is enough!” Bernardo’s voice was loud enough that even the thick wooden walls couldn’t absorb its reverberations.

“Thank you,” Carmen said misreading his actions.

“Don’t thank me just yet,” he shot back, “I will agree that we have prospered over these last ten years. But as I recall and if you don’t, Carmen, let me refresh your memory. That seat,” he pointed to the one that was now occupied by Ben Warren, “Rightfully belongs to Daniel. I want to see him in it! Am I making myself perfectly clear? I don’t care what business he is away attending. I don’t care if it brings in millions for us as a group, the next time we meet I expect your son, not this suit,” again Ben saw fingers being waved in his direction, “in that chair, Migel’s chair.”

“Are you threatening me, Bernardo?” Carmen asked sitting a little straighter in her seat. She had known it would come to this eventually.

“Take it for however you see it. Just know this Carmen, without Daniel….The Santos Family will be no more!”

The men filed out of the in silence, reserving comments for their own private party, which Carmen was certain to happen.

Danny sat behind the desk in the office toying with the idea of picking up the phone to call Melanie. He had promised to be in touch with her that day. By rights it would have been best for all concerned if he had silently faded from her life, but for him that wasn’t an option that his heart was about to give in to. To hell with the warnings that his head was screaming, the thought of holding Melanie in his arms again was far more enticing.
Danny ran his fingers along the handset, Albert’s words beckoning him……..If you walk away from this girl you will regret it….regret it….regret it………

Danny had so many regrets in his life already. Things that he felt he could have changed if he had been stronger, how things would have played out very differently if his father hadn’t been killed, if Carmen would have been more interested in her role as a mother instead of a head of a crime syndicate. So many what ifs in his life so far. Funny as it was to think about, his feelings for Melanie were the first true emotions that Danny remembered feeling since the love he felt for his father. He again had a heart beating in his chest. It was no longer a rock hard lump there. Danny wasn’t sure what frightened him more those feelings, being human again, or the possibility of it all being taken away once more.

There was a real threat to him and to Melanie if he chose to take that leap of faith and move forward with her. He couldn’t deny that. In all fairness to her, he had to tell her the truth. It was risky given past experience as to how those around him acted once they truly knew who he was, but he couldn’t keep it from her either.

He most certainly didn’t want to blindside her weeks or months from now with the likelihood that the men who sat on The Commission would come looking for him. It was bound to happen. Melanie had the right to not be party to that.

What he was contemplating went against every grain that he was brought up to believe. Yet, maybe this would be the first step that Albert had been talking about. Albert had talked about coming to terms with whom it was he was from the first moment he arrived there. It wasn’t until this very second the he actually understood what that had meant. It was time for him to truly stop running. He had tried hiding behind Albert’s name and that wasn’t working for him. The only thing left was to come clean about who he once was and who it was he wanted to be now. And hoped that the chips fell in such a way that he could handle them.

He picked up the receiver and dialed Melanie’s house. It wasn’t until he got her answering machine that he remembered that she had to work. He hesitated for a moment and decided against leaving a message.

“Yes, I am looking for the phone number for the University of Texas campus bookstore,”

Danny said to the directory assistance operator. He knew he well could have looked up the number in the phone book but in the time it would have taken to do that he would have lost his nerve.

“Would you like me to connect you?” the operator asked.

“Yes please.” Danny listened as the phone rang through.

“Good afternoon, University of Texas bookstore can I help you?” her voice was music to his ears. It conjured up all the visions of her that he was trying desperately to suppress.

“I think you might be able to. I am in search of a text on the perils of drinking too much……”

“Danny?” she questioned with her heart in her mouth.

“Do you think you can help me with such a text?” he continued with his jab.

“Very funny,” she countered.

“Well I thought so.”

“I bet you did. You are never going to let me live that down are you?” she asked.

“NEVER!” he laughed.

“So what can I really help you with?” Michelle held her breath. A call this early had been unexpected, but secretly she did her best to hide her pleasure.

“Nothing really,” Danny said faltering on the real reason for this call. Just hearing her voice again made him wonder if he could really do this to her.

“I’m glad you called,” she said, “I wanted to thank you again for last night. I really did enjoy myself. I know things were kinda rocky there for a while but all in all it was a nice evening. Besides it was nice getting to know you a little better last night.”

Getting to know him? Danny laughed to himself. He had been so evasive it amazed him that she thought she knew anything about him.

“I enjoyed myself too. You are a very special person. You deserve to have the very best,” Danny sighed looking for the inner strength he needed to pursue this, “I think that before we take this any further………”

“Yes,” she countered waiting for the other shoe to drop. It had happened so many times before that why was she holding her breath now? It wasn’t like she hadn’t seen this coming all along. She had just been a fool to let herself be lulled into thinking that it wouldn’t.

“Well…..I just think there are some things we need to get out in the open. It’s important.”


Danny could hear the uncertainty in her voice. He could only imagine what she must have been thinking. The little she had divulged about her past experiences made him all the more sure that she was waiting for him to break her heart.

More then anything he wanted to say something to allay her fears, but what? How could he let her know what was in really his heart and still drop the bombshell about his past on her later? He needed her to hear and fully understand what he was going to explain to her. He couldn’t let that be clouded by the fact that he had these overpowering feelings for her. He sensed that if she knew what his true feelings were, she would have walked through fire to be with him. And as much as that notion filled him with such elation, he couldn’t let that be the case.

For this all to work in his mind, Melanie had to walk into their relationship knowing all there was to know about him. Danny knew the risk he was taking. He only could hope that it was a calculated one. A risk that would be well worth the payoff he would receive.

“Would you like to meet for dinner?”

“Yeah that would be fine,”

“What time should I pick you up?” he asked.

“I’ll just meet you at the club,” Michelle countered not wanting to be as his mercy when he gave her the boot.

“No really, I’ll pick you up. I promise this is a night for us. No business.” Danny feared that he had lost her already.

“That’s very nice of you but I know you are busy with the club. So just let me meet you there,” she stood firm in her desires.

“Okay,” he finally relented. “But I promise no business.”

“That’s fine.”

“See you around seven then?” Danny asked doing his best to pin her down.

“Sure,” she returned in the most noncommittal why she knew how.

“Bye,” he said as the dial tone resounded in his ear, “DAMN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” None of this was looking all that good.

Michelle felt the tears welling behind her eyes. Why she had agreed to this evening she didn’t know. It was like a replay of a very bad movie. It had sounded like Jesse all over again.

She could still hear his words when he told her they needed to talk. That there was something important that she needed to know.

Michelle could only imagine what it was Danny would be telling her that night. Did he have a girlfriend or god forbid a wife back home?

Michelle found herself chuckling amidst her tears. The only thing different about this go round was that there would be no Mick.


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