Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 44

Republisher’s Note: Michelle is living in Texas under the assumed name Melanie Branson, dating a young man she knows as Danny Sampson.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 44

Michelle flopped down sinking deep into her sofa, thankful that the tedious day had finally drawn to a close. The lack of sleep had set her on edge and coupling that with the bizarre encounter with Agent Lucas it had been enough to drive anybody batty.
There was a part of her that wanted nothing more to crawl under her down comforter and get lost in a blissful slumber. Yet there was a larger part that wanted to shower and change and find her way into Danny’s arms once more. She sat weighing the two as the doorbell sounded.

“I was looking for you at school all day! Where have you been?” Sarah asked bursting through the door.

“Aaahhhhh!” Michelle heard her brain silently scream. “I got caught up in some things beyond my control” she said trying to remember that is wasn’t Sarah she was angry with, “I wasn’t supposed to meet you or something was I?”

“No……I just was hoping to catch up with you.”

“Are you okay?” Michelle asked pulling two Cokes from the refrigerator.

“Fine, why?” Sarah answered reaching for the cold can that was offered.

“Just wondered. With Christmas getting closer I thought maybe you were having a rough go of it.”

“Carl’s trying……but his idea of Christmas is a silver tree from lord only knows what century,” she groaned.

“That bad huh?”

“Norman Rockwell he ain’t,” Sarah laughed.

“Then might I suggest that you show him how it’s done?”

“Like he cares. He’s so wrapped up in that club that he’s lucky to know that it is even Christmas time.”

Michelle thought that rather odd. She knew from her own observations that Danny was not giving Carl all that much responsibility. So why was it that he still didn’t have time for his own daughter?

“I would just rather pretend the damn holiday didn’t even exist,” Sarah scoffed.

“You can’t mean that, really?”

“It’s not Christmas without my mom and all the things that she made special about this time of year.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault that she died,” Sarah heard the sharpness to her words. The whole Christmas season was wearing thin on her frayed nerves.

“Sarah,” Michelle spoke softly kneeling beside her friend, “I have been where you are. It hurts like hell. You don’t think that you will ever get through it. But you will. Not immediately but through time you will come to cherish the memories that you have of your mom.”

“God, I wish I believed that,” Sarah sighed.

“You can………………”

The doorbell’s shrill sound stopped Michelle mid-sentence.

“We need to talk,” Jeremy Lucas said stepping over the threshold, “Oh sorry, I didn’t know you had company,” he was startled to see the young girl on the verge of tears sitting on the edge of the couch.

“I’m kind of busy right now,” Michelle said through a clenched jaw.

“It’s really important,” he countered.

“So is this,” she shot back. This is exactly what she had been afraid of happening. Now, no matter what she was going to be forced to come up with yet another lie. The tale she had woven thus far was growing far too large for Michelle to keep all the lies straight.

“Please.”

“I’ll be right back, okay?” she asked Sarah hoping that her friend would flat out refuse.

“Sure whatever.”

“Damn,” Michelle said to herself.

“What on earth could you want now?!?!?!” she did her best to keep her voice and temper in check.

“I think we, I mean I, need to clear the air between us.”

“I am quite clear on everything thank you!”

“Please hear me out,” he said stopping her turning the knob on her apartment door.

“Why? So you can once again tell me that you are doing this for my own good. How this is your job and you intend on seeing it through until you feel that it’s done?!?!”

“Not exactly.”

“Then what?”

“I know this goes against every protocol of my job but I can’t help myself. I….,” he hesitated.

“You what?”

“I think I am falling in love with you.”

“Huh?”

“From the minute you walked off the plane in the airport I knew that I should have turned you over to another agent. You set every part of my body on fire. I thought I could handle it though. Well I can’t. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t stand the thought of you not being a part of my life.”

Michelle was dismayed by the words that she had just heard. Here was this man who represented all the things that she had left behind; was a constant reminder of the all she had lost and he wanted her to feel something for him.

“Please, say something.”

“I don’t know what to say,” she countered honestly.

“Melanie,” the door swung open, “Danny’s on the phone,” Sarah’s words were all the conformation that Jeremy Lucas needed.

“Tell him I will be there in a sec, kay?”

“No that’s okay, I got the picture,” Jeremy said.

“Sarah, please. I will be in in a second.”

“Sure thing, Mel.” Sarah closed the door not exactly sure what she had just been witness to.

“I’m sorry,” Michelle said searching for the words to make him understand.

“I see what has kept you so busy now.”

“You have to understand something,” Michelle said, “I can’t feel about you the way you do about me. Not even if there wasn’t anyone else in my life right now,” Michelle watched him cringe at the realism of her words, “You have to appreciate the fact that each time I am with you forces me to remember why I am here. And who I truly am. Maybe other people can live that double life but I can’t. I have to be free to move on. Please know that it’s not you, it’s the circumstances…….”

“But if it hadn’t been for the circumstances I would have never met you,” he cried his voice begging her to reconsider.

“Agent Lucas,” she said forcing him to remember who he was to her, “Please don’t make this harder then it has to be.”

“You don’t understand……..”

“I do. But I can’t. More importantly I won’t. Please don’t make me have to go over your head,” she pleaded, “I will be in touch when and if I need to be.”

“Can I ask who’s the lucky guy?”

“His name is Danny……Danny Sampson.”

“Well you tell him for me that if he isn’t good to you, he’ll have me to answer to!”

“I’ll be sure to do that.”

“Good-bye, Melanie.”

“Good-bye, Jeremy.”

“Who was that?” Sarah asked the minute that Michelle stepped inside.

“Not now,” Michelle said holding her hand up in front of Sarah’s mouth. She needed a few seconds to regroup and come up with something believable.

“Danny, you still there?” she asked.

“Yep.”

“Sorry for the wait.”

“That’s okay. I was just calling to be sure you got my message. Are you coming to the club tonight?”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Michelle said looking longingly at the bed that called to her from the other room.

“Okay. Well then see you in a bit. And Melanie,” Danny paused, “I can’t wait to see you.” Those weren’t the words he had really wanted say but for the time being they would have to do.

“Me neither. See you soon.”

“One at the door, one on the phone…..I wish that I had such troubles,” Sarah smiled letting herself forget her own misery for the moment. It appeared that Melanie had as much drama as she did.

“Very funny,” Michelle said falling back against the sofa for the second time that day.

“So are you going to tell me who the hell that was or do I have to drag it out of you?”

“I thought we were talking about you?” Michelle countered.

“Well you are far more interesting.”

“No seriously, I want to do what ever I can to make Christmas better for you.”

“If you could resurrect my mom………,” Sarah’s voice trailed off.

“Can’t do that but how about I help you remember her instead of mourn her?”

“Isn’t that one in the same?”

“Not hardly.”

“Remembering is much better and far easier on you then the mourning.”

“I still don’t see the difference.”

“Remembering let’s you laugh about all the wonderful things you two experienced together. The inside jokes that only you both understood. How you knew what the other was thinking without even saying it. That’s much better then crying over what you can’t get back.” Michelle’s words of wisdom had come from many years of doing exactly what Sarah was doing now.

“You make it sound so easy.”

“Sometimes it is. You just have to let go of the hurt and remember the happiness. I promise to help you.”

“Thanks. I am sure that I am going to need it. Since Carl doesn’t give a damn.”

“Forget him. Don’t let his lack of Christmas spirit bring you down.”

“Easier said then done.”

“Look Christmas is less then a week and a half away. How about you stay with me? I mean we can do all of the traditional Christmas things….you know the cookies……the whole nine yards.”

“Won’t that cramp your style?”

“What are you talking about?”

“What about you and Danny and who ever that was at the door a few minutes ago? It looked pretty intense from where I was standing.”

“That was nothing,” Michelle tried to sound nonchalant. She really hadn’t had the time to process all that Jeremy Lucas had actually said.

“Yeah, tell me another one.”

“No, it’s nothing.”

“The look on that guy’s face said he wasn’t buying it.”

“No he understood. There is no future for us.”

“You mean because of Danny?” Sarah asked.

“Yes and no.”

“Huh?”

“Even if I had never met Danny, there would be nothing between the two of us.”

“Why? From the quick look I got of him, he is handsome enough.”

“Circumstances. It just would have never worked.”

“You are one complicated girl,” Sarah said studying Michelle carefully.

“So are you going to stay here or not?” Michelle said ignoring Sarah’s pointed comment.

“As long as you don’t think it will interfere with you and Danny.”

“Not a problem.”

“Then I would say that it looks like you got yourself a new roommate.”

“Cool.”

Michelle had asked for Sarah as much as herself. This Christmas would be tough on her as well. She tried hard not to think about all the things that she would be missing back in Springfield. It was time she started forming her own traditions and stop reaching for things that weren’t attainable any longer.


Danny exited the office with a smile that could have reached from one side of the continental United States to the other. Even in his state of uncertainty the thought of Melanie brought him comfort. It was such a strange sensation, that being the thing that scared him the most was the very same thing that brought him great peace.

“Danny,” Joe called across the room, “Albert’s on the phone.”

“Hello.”

“I hate to ask you this but can you handle things for a little while longer tonight? I know that Jackson’s daughter is playing the club and it should be packed but………” Danny heard his aunt giggle in the background.

“No explanation necessary, “ Danny said, “I won’t expect you this evening,” it was difficult for him to contain his gladness for them. Things seemed to be working out.
Danny swallowed hard knowing it would be necessary to rely more on Carl tonight then he would have liked. Ever since he had arrived at the club late this afternoon, that man had been buzzing around him like a fly that came back no matter how many times you swatted at it.

“The action should be heating up soon,” Danny said to Joe, “I need to ask you a favor man.”

“Sure.”

“Albert more then likely won’t be in tonight.”

“He’s okay?” Joe questioned. It was very un-Albert like not to be at his establishment each and every night.

“No…no he’s fine. Actually I would say much better then fine,” Danny remarked slyly, “But I will need you to pick up some of the slack. Would you mind too much stepping out from behind the bar tonight?”

“Are you sure? I mean isn’t that gonna piss Carl off?” Joe grinned mischievously knowing the answer to his question before he even asked it.

“I’ll handle Carl. Not to worry. I just need to be sure who is watching my back.” Danny heard those words and the ominous meaning they once had. But in a way that’s exactly what he was looking for. He didn’t trust Carl and wouldn’t have put anything past him. So in this instance, the old habits would come in handy.

“Thank you so much for letting me borrow this dress,” Sarah said as she smoothed the seam on Michelle’s olive dress.

“It looks a whole hell of a lot better on you then it does me. I say your proportions fit it a bit better,” Michelle laughed as she pointed to her B-cups.

“Get out of here!” Sarah swatted at her playfully. Since Melanie had asked her to stay with her during the holidays it was like the dark cloud that had been hanging over her for days had lifted.

“Hey beautiful,” Matt said slipping his arms around Sarah’s waist.

“Hi yourself.”

“Hi Melanie,” Matt said as he opened the door for the ladies.

“I thought you weren’t going to be able to make it tonight? You told me they needed you to help out at the station tonight.”

“Change in plans. Danny called me and told me that ‘She Devil’ would be performing here tonight. So I thought I would scoop some of the other local college stations and get an interview with them. Station Manager thought it was a hell of an idea.”

“Good thinking, Matt,” Michelle offered.

“Besides that means I get to see you too. Now how could you go wrong with those odds? I make my boss happy and my girlfriend too.”

“Even better thinking,” Sarah said looking at Melanie.

“Looks like we better find a table, it’s filling fast.”

Michelle searched the crowd for Danny. She hadn’t said anything but knowing that Alexa Packerd was on the premises had her a bit spooked. The images of Danny’s first encounter with her were burned into Michelle’s memory.

“I’m going to grab a drink. Anyone want one?” Michelle asked her nervous energy getting the better of her.

“Sure I’ll take a beer,” Matt spoke up.

“Sarah?”

“No nothing for me right now.”

Michelle eyed her friend as she walked away from the table. She had to come up with something that would help Sarah deal with not having her mother this Christmas. It had been easy for her. She had family to do that for her. The whole town pitched in and made her feel like Maureen had still been there. Those were some of the Christmases that she cherished the most. Unfortunately Michelle knew virtually very little to nothing about the life that Sarah had left behind. Her only hope would be in Sarah’s very aloof father. Michelle spied him across the room. He was looking as cocky as ever. She couldn’t blame Danny for not putting his faith in that man. He had left his daughter and her mother penniless in search of god only knows what, but to help her friend it appeared that he was the place to start.

“Hey you!” Danny said softly blowing his hot breath on the nape of her neck. Instantly her body was set ablaze.

She pivoted to face him, “Well hey to you too,” she kissed him sweetly. Danny would have given the world to have been able to slip away with her unnoticed but tonight that wouldn’t be the case.

“Two-fisted drinker tonight? I thought you swore off those?” Danny pointed to the kahula and cream in her hand.

“You only live once right?” she laughed, “Do you have time to join us?”

“The band should be going on any minute. I really should get up there and be sure that they are ready.” Without even realizing it, Michelle looked down at her glass tracing circles along it’s rim with her finger, “Hey,” Danny brought her eyes to meet his, “What’s with that look?”

“Nothing,” she countered as she made a feeble attempt to look away from him again.

“Come on…..what’s going on in that head of yours?”

“I just can’t help thinking about the first time you met her,” Michelle pointed to Alexa, who currently was enjoying the attention that Matt was lavishing in her direction, “I know I shouldn’t care, but I do.”

“Right now I don’t think it’s me you need to be concerned with. Looks to me like it’s Alexa.”

“What?”

“I don’t know Sarah all that well but she is starting to look pretty pissed.”

“Come on,” Michelle said pulling Danny through the crowded room, “I can’t believe I am about to say this but you distract Alexa and I will try to keep Sarah from blowing her top. By the way did I look half as pissed that night as she does right now?” Michelle wondered aloud.

“Oh yeah,” Danny said brows arched recalling that night in his mind.

“And you didn’t think I was a total loon?”

“Nah, thought you were incredibly sexy!” he growled.

“GO…..GO…..Sarah’s getting ready to pounce!”

“Matt, you have taken up way too much of my leading lady’s time. I need her on stage man! And I think you are needed back there,” Danny looked in the direction of Melanie and Sarah who looked as if they were enacting the war of the worlds.

“Looks like you might be right. It was really great to meet you. I would love to have you on my radio show sometime.”

“Anything for you sugar,” she purred.

“Oh brother,” Danny thought to himself. “You about ready to go on?” he turned to question.

“You bet.”

“Can I have everyone’s attention please,” Danny said into the microphone, “It is my pleasure to introduce for the first time to The Two Step and many more I hope ‘SHE DEVIL’” The blaring guitar rift mixed with the cheers of the crowd soon had Danny’s voice drowned out.

As Danny approached the table, his sympathy for Matt ran high. Sarah was relentless in her anger. He couldn’t help thinking there had to be more to this then just Alexa’s mock attempt at flirtation.

“You know what? You can do whatever it is you want! I AM OUTTA HERE!!!” Sarah yelled without looking back.

“Matt, let her go,” Michelle said grabbing for his arm.

“Huh? I can’t just let her walk away. She has to understand that…….”

“I know where she’s coming from, in more ways then one. I think there’s something you need to know before you go running after her.” Michelle motioned for them to sit, “Sarah’s mother died of cancer not all that long ago. That’s why she is here. Her mom made arrangements with her father, if you can really call him that,” Michelle said looking in Carl’s general direction. He was playing up his macho man act for the members of the band. Michelle tried to remember that she needed him if she was going to help her friend get through this holiday.

“Tell me this isn’t her first Christmas without her mom?” Danny asked slipping his arm around Melanie.

“Yes it is. And let’s just say that Carl’s holiday spirit leaves much to be desired. So I asked Sarah to stay with me for a while. She’s just having a rough time of it right now, but that doesn’t excuse your behavior either,” Michelle said shaking her finger in Matt’s direction.

“I only wanted to get her and her band on my radio show……”

“I know everything is business with the two of you,” Michelle turned and looked directly at Danny, “But could you try to be a bit more understanding? I know how tough that is for you men but if you care about Sarah you can at least try.”

“Looks like I have some apologizing to do,” Matt got up from the table.

“Wait there’s one more thing. I want to have a little tree trimming party. Since Sarah is missing all those traditional things about Christmas I thought it would be nice to do something special.”

“I’m in,” Matt said.

“Great, I was thinking next Friday.”

“Sure thing.”

“That was really nice of you,” Danny gently kissed her cheek, “You are a special person.”

“I just remember what it was like those first years after my mom died. I just want to help and I am hoping that Carl feels the same way.”

“What?”

“I was hoping that maybe Carl could help put me in touch with someone, anyone, on Sarah’s mother’s side of the family. I want to put together a scrapbook for her.”

“And you think Carl can help?” Danny didn’t like the thought of Melanie having anything to do with Carl Beck, even if it was just to talk to him. He couldn’t put his finger on it but everything about him spelled bad news.

*****

“Yes, the number I am looking for is in Springfield, Illinois. The name is Santos, Carmen Santos,” Carl scribbled the number and repeated it back to the operator, “Thank you. No….no need to ring through.”

He neatly folded the slip of paper and placed it securely in his pocket while he watched Danny and Melanie walk towards him. He pasted a pleasant smile on his face as they drew closer to him.

“Carl,” Danny said paving the way for Melanie’s idea.

“Yes?” he returned his voice sweet as syrup.

“Melanie has something she would like to ask you.”

“Certainly.”

“Hi Mr. Beck,” Michelle placed her hand in his, “I am friends with your daughter and I was hoping that you could help me.”

“Anything.”

Danny resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Carl was laying it on a mighty thick for even him.

“Sarah is missing her mom a great deal. I wanted to do something special for her this Christmas. Do you think it would be possible for you to put me in touch with some people that could help me gather mementos?”

“I……….,”

“Sarah has told me that you weren’t all that close when she was growing up,” Michelle did her best to sugar coat the truth, “But I was hoping that you could at least lead me in the right direction.”

“Well I may have a few things back at my place.”

“I will take anything.”

“Why don’t you come over Monday afternoon? I am pretty sure that Sarah will be in class. We could go through what I have then?”

“That would be great.”

“Well then Monday it is.”

“See you then Carl,” Danny spoke up. Melanie wouldn’t be alone when she arrived on his doorstep. He wasn’t buying Carl’s act in the least bit. The longer he stood there starring at him the more certain he was then ever that needed to be removed.

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