Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 36

Republisher’s Note: Michelle has been living in Texas under the name Melanie Branson and dating Danny “Sampson.”

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 36

The knot in Michelle’s stomach grew tighter as the hands on the clock overhead inched closer to closing time of the bookstore. Ever since she had gotten off the phone with Danny she hadn’t been able to concentrate on anything except what he had wanted to discuss with her. It was hard to miss the foreboding nature of his tone. Her body had gone cold when she heard him speak those fateful words ‘There’s something important we need to talk about’ after that it was as if she was in auto drive. Nothing said from then on made any difference or even registered with her. The old demons surfaced with vengeance.

“Melanie,” Tony Rodgers voice poked at her inner thoughts.

“Yes?” she questioned trying to keep up the appearance that she wasn’t falling apart inside.

“Would you mind locking the door? It’s that time of day again.”

“Sure thing.”

“You know if you have something to do this evening you can head out,” he offered, “I can handle closing up.”

“No,” she said quickly. The longer she stayed there the less time she would have alone to torture herself with the things she imagined that Danny would be telling her.

“Are you sure? Is everything all right?” He had noticed that since early afternoon her mood had darkened.

“I’m fine.”

“There’s nothing you want to talk about?” he asked seeing her transformed back into the lost soul that he had hired not so long ago.

“Not really,” she said.

Tony took that less then certain answer as his indication that she needed to talk, “Put those down,” he said pointing the to register drawers she was carrying making her way into the back room.

“I was just getting ready to balance them,” she commented in a questioning tone.

“That can wait. I think we should talk.”

There were those words again. Why was it that men always used them? Even in this context they sounded ominous.

“About?”

“The fact that since early this afternoon you look like a storm cloud took up residence over you head,” Tony tried to make light of the situation. Michelle wasn’t seeing the humor though.

“It’s nothing.”

“Like I really believe that.”

“Believe it. I’m just having a bad day.”

“Melanie, please tell me what’s going on with you.”

“Nothing,” she strained holding back the tears that threatened to escape her soft milky brown eyes.

“Honey,” Tony Rodgers gently placed his hands over hers, “You’re not fooling this old man, now please what’s the matter?”

The softness of his voice was all Michelle needed to hear to let the floodgates swing open and the tears come rushing forward. Easily he took the young girl in his arms holding her tight as the sobs continued.

Finally she pulled back and brushed away the remnants of her tears, “I’m so sorry,” she apologized.

“Nothing to be sorry for,” he assured her. “Now please explain to me what are all the tears about.”

“Nothing.”

“Please……I may be old but I am by far senile. Those were hardly tears associated with nothing.”

Michelle searched for the words. She knew how utterly ridiculous the thoughts would sound when she formed them into verbal sentences. She had so little trust or faith in love anymore. It was a shame at the tender age of nineteen she was already so jaded to what was to be a wonderful experience. In the case of hers it had been anything but.

“I’m afraid that things with Danny Sampson aren’t going to turn out the way that I had hoped.”

“Why is that?”

“I can feel it in my gut.”

“Your gut, huh? You know those gut feelings have been known to be wrong at times.”

“Oh really?” she said disbelieving.

“What makes you think that things aren’t going to be the way that you thought?”

“Let’s just say I have been down this road before.”

“What road?”

“The one that ends with me being told that they love someone else.”

“Why would you say something like that?”

“Because it happened. And right under my nose as a matter of fact. So this time I just want to be prepared.”

“You can never be prepared for something like that. Even if you think you are…..you aren’t.”

“Gee thanks. That’s really what I wanted to hear.”

“Sorry, but it’s the truth. If you really think that you can steel yourself against the hurt it’s not going to happen. What is life without love and sorry to say this but life is cruel at times and love is how you learn that rule.”

“So what’s so great about falling in love then? If all it ends up doing is hurting you?” she asked in all seriousness.

“Just because you were hurt once doesn’t mean you are destined to be hurt always.”

“Yeah, but there is no rule that says you won’t either,” Michelle countered.

“No……but you have to have faith and take that leap.”

“What if I can’t?” she said barely above a whisper.

“Well, then I guess you might take the chance of missing out on something incredible. Or you could save yourself a bit of hurt again. There aren’t any guarantees if that was what you were hoping for.”

“You don’t have to tell me that. I learned that lesson all too well a long time ago,” she stately somberly.

“So if you know that then what’s the problem?”

“The problem is that I don’t enjoy having my heart ripped out and stepped on!”

“How do you know that’s what’s going to happen with Danny?”

“I just do!”

“You women,” he scoffed, “You think you know everything about us. Well let me let you in on a little secret missy……you don’t. So before you go feeding that boy to the wolves might I suggest that you hear him out?”

“Very funny!” she countered.

“Well it’s the truth. You already have the whole scene playing out in your head right now. I can see the wheels turning in your head as we speak. So when you do see Danny he has no way of breaking free of the scenario that you have already scripted for him. He’s doomed before he even opens his mouth.”

“That’s not true!” Michelle said even though the words were a lie. Tony Rodgers was so right with his comments. She had done just as he said. Over and over again in her head she had played out every possibility that could have arisen in her conversation with Danny. All of them ending with the worst case.

“Melanie, please don’t lie to an old man. An old man whose been married for forty-five years to boot. I know what it is I speak. I think it has taken my wife nearly thirty of those forty-five years to stop doing that,” he chuckled which forced Michelle to do the same despite herself.

“I just don’t……..”

“Want to get hurt,” he finished her sentence for her, “I know. But honey, you are hurting and right now you don’t even know if you have reason to. You already have your mind made of that Danny Sampson is the devil incarnate. That’s not fair to you and especially not to Danny.”

“I wish I knew how to stop feeling this way though.”

“I can’t answer that for you. All I can say is have faith. And please don’t read anymore into what he says then what actually comes out of his mouth. See the difference between you women and us is we aren’t that deep of thinkers. There aren’t any hidden messages in what we say.”

“Oh, there aren’t are there?” Michelle joked

“No, there aren’t,” he asserted again. He watched as the tightness in he features had faded a bit. That maybe he had been able to ease her mind just a bit, “We feeling better now?”

“Maybe a little.”

“Good.”

“Oh wow look at the time,” Michelle looked at the face of her watch. It read quarter to seven.

“Oh my…..we have been chatting awhile.”

“I am supposed to meet Danny in fifteen minutes. I’m never gonna make it.”

“Go get out of here. I’ll lock up. And remember what I said. Don’t doom him before he even gets out of the gate.”


Danny checked his watch for the hundredth time in the last ten minutes. It was going on seven thirty and Melanie still wasn’t there. He knew the way they had left things on the phone that afternoon hadn’t been good.

He had tried to break away later in the day to go to the bookstore to see her but the opportunity had never come. It was one thing after another that day.

Jackson’s daughter had called to say that her band wouldn’t be able to perform that night due to an illness of one of its members. That left him scrambling for entertainment for the night. Luckily Matt had agreed to come in and DJ again. It really wasn’t what he wanted but it was highly better then having no entertainment at all.

All in all Danny wasn’t sure if this night had been worse then any of the others so far it was just that tonight he had far too much on his mind.

He wasn’t exactly sure how to tell Melanie what it was he knew he had to. What could he say? How could you start a conversation like that? Could he just come right out with it…..say hey you know what I used to have people killed for a living but I gave it up?
Danny found himself laughing at the thought but how far from the truth was it really?

“Danny,” Albert said as he entered the office, “Are you all right son?” Albert noticed how quiet, even more so then usual, that he had been since their discussion earlier in the day. Albert was secretly pleased that Jenny had opted to remain home that evening. He wasn’t in the mood to run interference between the two.

“I’ve been better,” his tone still a bit cold.

“I can imagine. But I really think that you are over estimating the repercussions of what happened here the other night. I highly doubt that anything will come of it.”

“I’m glad you can live with that lie but I can’t.”

“It’s not a lie. Danny we have been living here peacefully for fifteen years now. That’s not about to change.”

“It all changed when Jenny took it upon herself to start shouting the Santos name from the rooftop.”

That’s a bit of an exaggeration don’t you think?”

“Not from where I am sitting. This is my life she is messing with.”

“As well as our own,” Albert countered.

“Then why is it I am the only one concerned about this?”

“There isn’t any need for concern!” Albert stressed again.

“I’ll remember you said that when the men of The Commission are standing at the door of this club looking to bring me back to the fold.”

“I won’t let that happen, Daniel.”

“Like you have a choice!!!” Danny quipped, “Albert, exactly what power do you think you hold anymore? I mean you don’t. So stop kidding yourself into thinking that you do!”
Albert was taken aback by his nephew’s vehemence. This was a side of Danny that he had not yet seen. And one he didn’t particularly care for at the moment.

“So what is it you want then, Daniel? By the tone of your voice and the sharpness of your words, you are by all means ready to take the place that belongs to you. So I say be my guest. But if that’s not what you want then you better get off that high horse and find a way for us to work together to ensure that you aren’t forced into that seat!” the vacant way that Albert looked Danny up and down demonstrated to him that his uncle still had the makings of Under Boss left in him.

“If I wanted that seat do you think I would be here right now, trying to come up with a way to explain the unexplainable to Melanie?”

“What?!?!” Danny’s comment had thrown a curve ball at Albert.

“You heard me. I have to tell Melanie the truth. The whole truth. It’s time I did what you said. Stop running, right?”

“Yes, that’s what I said but I didn’t think you were ready to do that? I didn’t think you were ready to see that look in her eyes. That is what you told me when you first met her. That you didn’t want her to go running screaming from the room. What changed your mind now?”

“The fact that I can’t build something on a lie. I have done that for the better part of my life. I can’t do that with her. She deserves more then that.”

“You love her…I can see it in your expression. Are you sure that you are willing to take such a risk? You could have a good life with her without ever letting on about the past. She doesn’t need to know.”

“You are joking, right? How am I supposed to explain the men who inevitably will come knocking on my door? What am I supposed to say oh hey by the way I am the head of the biggest crime syndicate in the Midwest. I just needed a breather.”

“Daniel, stop with this nonsense. You yourself told me that you had everything under control. That Carmen wouldn’t be a problem. So in a sense you have none either.”

“That was before my dear Aunt decided that spouting off my name in a room full of people was a good thing.”

“Can we please give that a rest already?” Albert had grown tired of Danny’s insistence on that point.

A knock on the door startled them both, “Come in,” Danny said expecting to see one of the staff but instead saw Melanie standing in the doorway.

“Hi,” his voice caught in his throat, “I didn’t think you were coming.

“I was delayed at the store.”

“Well if you two will excuse me I will be making my rounds,” Albert slipped out almost unnoticed by the pair who were starring at each other as if they were etching the impression in their memories.

The awkward silences that had taken them over in previous occasions had come back to encircle them once more. Michelle didn’t trust her voice not to crack so she remained quiet and Danny didn’t even know where to begin.

“You want a drink?” he asked finally.

“Sure,” she answered knowing that the alcohol might take the edge off of her nerves.

She followed him to the bar, “Joe a white wine spritzer and a scotch neat please.”

“Thank you,” she said as he handed her the glass.

“Would you like to dance?” he asked looking for any excuse to avoid talking.

“Okay.” Danny took her hand and lead her to the center of the dance floor. The room filled with the sweet sounds of a romantic melody. Danny let himself be pulled into the moment where it was only the two of them. There was no Commission, there was no code of honor he had grown up believing, no threat of retaliation from the men who wanted his mother gone, nothing except Melanie’s soft skin next to his own, the smell of wildflowers as he buried his nose in the folds of her hair. If he could have stopped time he would have done so at this very moment.

“Are you hungry?” Danny asked when they finally parted, “I did promise you dinner.”

“That sounds nice,” Michelle said trying to keep all those things that she and Tony discussed in mind as she went about this evening with Danny.

“Wait here I will be right back,” he smiled as he disappeared through the swinging doors to the kitchen.

Carl watched as Danny emerged from the kitchen picnic style basket in hand. This was a far cry from the mobster he knew that Danny Santos was. The pieces of this puzzle were growing by the minute and sad to say he hadn’t a clue how that all fit together. One minute he was certain he knew what angle to play and then next he was back to square one. He absently wondered where Jenny was that evening. He had hoped to be able to read more about all of this by watching her a little more closely now given what he had learned. Yet that wasn’t the case. When he had asked Albert about his wife that evening he plied him with some story that she hadn’t been feeling well. Knowing what he did now had his thoughts wondering exactly what he had done to his wife to keep her silent.
He watched as Danny led Melanie out the door basket in one hand hers in the other. Well it looked like he was in charge. Maybe it was time he started getting some answers to his many questions.

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