Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 48

Republisher’s Notes: Michelle is in Texas living as Melanie Branson in the Witness Protection Program. She is dating Danny “Sampson” who was also trying to start a new life, but his mother has just tracked him down.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 48

Danny watched as the world around him continued as if nothing had changed, but in the brief second it had taken the phone to ring everything had changed. The days, hours, minutes, seconds that ticked past since Carmen’s call seemed like an eternity. Danny jumped with each chime of the phone; each swing of the club door; each tap of his shoulder. His nerves were as raw as child’s cheeks after a long day of exposure to the wicked winter winds. Everything set him on edge. He despised the box that Carmen had succeeded in putting him again. The anticipation of her next move was unnerving. He had been grateful for the fact that the past few days Melanie had been so busy with the preparations for her party that she hadn’t seen him in his present state.

“Danny,” he jumped at Albert’s voice, “I’m sorry son. You have to relax.”

“Relax!?!?” Danny repeated.

“Yes. This isn’t doing you any good. You barely sleep. I haven’t seen you eat a thing in days……”

“I can’t. I………”

“Danny, I wish I could tell you not to worry. Even if I said the words I know that you would anyway. It’s been days and we haven’t heard even a peep from Carmen……..”

“That’s what concerns me the most.”

“What do you think she’s going to do? She certainly can’t force you home.”

“Albert,” Danny turned and starred at him, “Have you forgotten this is Carmen we are talking about? She has gone to great lengths to get and keep what she wants. I seriously doubt that she wouldn’t stoop to whatever means necessary to be sure that I am right where she wants me to be.”

“Daniel, have you forgotten who I am?” Albert stated.

“No,” he said not fully understanding his uncle’s statement.

“Then believe me when I say that Carmen has much less power then she would like to think. It was me who those men expected to take Miguel’s seat. And I fully intend on making that fact be known again if I should find it necessary.”

“You can’t do that!”

“I can and I will!”

“Albert, you don’t want that life anymore then I do. And Jenny would be going through the roof if she even suspected that you were thinking about sacrificing yourself for me. And in good conscious I can’t let you do that. This is my battle.”

“Jenny and I have discussed this. And no I have no intention of ever rejoining that life, however I still garnish enough respect to remove Carmen and ensure that you will be left alone.”

“Carmen removed?” Danny said knowing exactly what Albert was getting at.

“If need be.”

Danny could see the underboss that Albert had once been come rising to the surface. The thought of having his own mother disposed of sent bile rising into his throat. In a bizarre way Danny knew that it was possibly the only way to ever be completely free of her and that scared the hell out of him. He never thought his freedom would come at such a high price. And more importantly could he live with the cost? How would this be any better then what he had been trying to get away from for so long now?

“There has to be another way,” he said.

“Well if you come up with one please do fill me in. I don’t have to explain your mother to you, do I Danny?”


“Then you know that this won’t be over until she says it’s over. And the only way to be certain that you have the life you want is to rid yourself of the problem.” Albert’s words were cold and hard. His face was etched in stone.

“She’s my mother,” Danny whispered horrified.

“She stopped being that person long before your father died. And you have been nothing more then a means to an end for her. I am sorry to lay this on you, but you know in your heart Bernardo and the others don’t want her. They never have. It’s you that they saw greatness in. So without you where does that leave Carmen?”

“I don’t know,” he cried.

“She most certainly isn’t going to just leave the table quietly. Hell, Carmen has never done anything in her life quietly,” Albert said with contempt.

“I just can’t believe that after all I have done to walk away that it has come down to this of all things,” exasperation filled Danny’s voice.

“Well it very well may have.”

“And Jenny agrees with all of this?” Danny found it hard to believe that his aunt would want to be party to any of this.

“Jenny has decided that the way she has handled things in the past works now. The less she knows the better. But I do have her blessing to handle the situation.”

“Amazing!” Danny gasped.

“I agree. Daniel, please understand that I will do whatever it takes to protect you. I failed at that with my own son. I let my greed and power blind me. I won’t let that happen this time.”

“I know,” Danny said resigned in the facts as Albert presented.

“Enough said. We have a party to attend tonight. So put things in perspective and enjoy your lady. She is something special. Something that you….yes you,” Albert said grabbing Danny’s disbelieving face, “deserve.”

“I hope you are right about that.”

“Have I been wrong yet?” Albert laughed.

One by one Ben threw the shot glass filled with it’s amber liquid back letting its fire burn the back of his throat. Each one giving him the courage needed to go into that room filled, each member looking to further their own agenda, himself included.

He was uneasy about exactly what Carmen had in mind. He knew that Danny wasn’t about to roll over and play dead like the obedient dog that his mother had hoped for. And he found it extremely unlikely that “the Knights of the Round Table” would be up for many more of her put offs and explanations.

Had he been truly smart he would disappear as well. Unfortunately the draw the Carmen’s potential power exuded was too strong for Ben to resist. By some stroke of luck, if they agreed to Carmen’s wild scheme then he stood to profit greatly. It was the flip side of the coin that he chose not to think about. Him floating face down in the Chicago River wasn’t a pretty image to entertain.

He took the last gulp of his scotch and threw some cash on the bar. He knew Carmen was expecting him to arrive well before the others. She wanted all her ducks in a row, she had said. Only problem with that likeness was all Ben could see was the set up for target practice.

Michelle did one last check of the food before heading off to get ready for the party. She was filled with excitement. She was finally feeling completely comfortable in her new skin. She had made a good life out of a horrible mess. Her longing for her family in Springfield was still there but the sensation had dulled a bit with the inclusion of each new person in her life that faintly resembled one that she had left behind. It saddened her, but mostly she understood that this was the way it had to be. For her life to go on it was time to put the past in its respective place and live again.

Michelle fingered the deep green velvet bow on the present she had spent so much time preparing for Sarah. The wonders of modern technology were astounding. She had gathered all the information she was looking for via the Internet and e-mails. It turned out that Amanda Wainwright was well loved in her hometown and everyone was willing to lend his or her stories once Michelle had explained what she had in mind. She actually ended up with enough information to do the scrapbook and a framed picture of Amanda and Sarah taken recently from what the old women from their church had said. Michelle only hoped that this would help her friend get through the next few days.

“Coming,” Michelle called at the knock she heard on the door. She threw it open fully expecting to see Matt with the Christmas tree that he had left hours ago to go retrieve,

“What took you so long?” she asked.

“Hello Melanie.”

“What are you doing here?” she asked amazed in Jeremy Lucas’ persistence.

“I wanted to give you this,” he handed her a tiny wrapped box.

“I can’t accept that,” she pushed it back at him without actually touching it.

“Please,” he pleaded.

“I thought I made myself abundantly clear?” she questioned.

“You did. It’s just a peace offering,” he assured.

“I can’t.”

“Melanie, I was a cad and I know it. The way that I handled myself was so wrong. Could you just let me do this?”

“All you have said is true but I still can’t take that,” she pointed at the brightly wrapped box, “Please understand that I just can’t.”

“Fine, if that’s the way you want it.”

“It is.”

“Have a nice holiday, Melanie. And please remember that I will always be there should you ever need me.”

“How could I forget?” she quipped closing the door.

Jeremy put the box in his jacket pocket feeling as though he had just been kicked in the chest.

Carmen sat along side of Ben and looked on as the members of the table made their way into the room. Ben’s eyes darted amongst them all. The effects of the scotch were beginning to ware off and he was now thinking better of his need for the power that he thought was contained by these walls.

Ben’s eyes weren’t the only set probing the room. Dietz stood by the door doing exactly the same thing. His plan to save his own hide securely planted in his mind. He was playing this close to the vest, his only hope was that it would work. There certainly wouldn’t be room for error.

“Can I offer you gentleman drinks?” Carmen asked as if this was some party rather the meeting to determine the fate of The Santos Family that it was.

“How about we just get on with the business at hand?” Nino barked before the others had a chance to answer.

“Bernardo, if you wouldn’t mind keeping your son in line?” Carmen said in her most commanding way.

“You mean like the way you have your own son, Carmen?” Manuel countered smartly.

“As I have told you previously, Daniel is out conducting business for the family. Expanding an already lucrative business might I add.” Carmen used every opportunity to promote the fact that she had added a substantial amount of money to the coffers.

“And I told you previously that I fully expected to see Daniel the next time we met. So where is he?” Bernardo questioned.

“Daniel will be returning shortly.” Ben did his best to hide the smile that he was certain was trying it’s damnedest to creep across his face, “When his business is concluded.”

“What is this business you keep talking about?” Nino remarked.

“Gentleman, those drinks?” Carmen motioned for Ramone to come forward and begin dispensing them.

“I think we all would like to hear the answer to Nino’s question,” Bernardo countered as the others nodded their agreement.

“I must ask when was Nino granted the privilege of speaking at these meetings?” Carmen questioned, “Has he been promoted within the ranks of your organization?”


Ben shifted uneasily as the confrontations were only beginning. He reached for the liquor bottle and pour himself a generous amount of the amber liquid.

“I have every right to be here, Bernardo. And I will not tolerate being spoken to as though I do not,” Carmen returned with authority.

“You won’t tolerate it?!?!?”

“That’s correct. I have more then answered your questions about Daniel’s whereabouts. It is you who choose to not believe.”

“Answered our questions????” Manuel countered incredulity, “You have done everything but.”

“He is conducting business for the organization. Nothing more nothing less.”

“Exactly what kind of business?” the question was asked again.

“It is too early in the stages to be discussed.”

“OH HOW CONVENIENT!!!!!!!!!” Nino spat.

“Bernardo, restrain him or I will have it done for you!” Carmen said through clenched teeth.

“I don’t think so Carmen,” the man countered, “I think it’s about time for you to be restrained,” with that said Nino and Manuel stood, “It’s come to my attention that you feel that you can dupe us. And it’s also been brought to my attention that you don’t have a clue where Danny is. So this ruse of expanding the business……..well you can save it cause no one’s buying it.”

“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING!?!?!” she countered as the men took each of her arms in their hands. Hiding her terror was becoming increasingly difficult.

“What should have been done years ago,” Bernardo offered as explanation.

“Where did you get this alleged information?” she asked hoping to buy herself a bit more time.

“Not to worry Carmen. You should know me by now. I never act on anything without first checking it out thoroughly. I know for a fact that the man sitting next to you has been trying for weeks now to locate Danny. So the game is up.”

“Well I hate to ruin your party but your thorough investigation has misled you!” Carmen remarked ripping her arms from their grasp.

On instinct Bernardo shot a look in Dietz’s direction. He didn’t like any surprise that hadn’t been engineered by him. Dietz couldn’t do more then swallow hard around the lump in his throat as he knew that he had been made on both sides as a rat.

“Well then do enlighten me.”

“Daniel is in Texas.”

The group stood back to admire their work. The tree before them was spectacular. Better then any tree Michelle remembered ever having. She leaned deeply in Danny’s open arms but couldn’t help feel that something was suddenly different between them. It was like the distance that once separated them had returned. She did her best to push those thoughts to the back of her mind with rationalizations that he was preoccupied with the club and all its holiday parties but that wasn’t making the uneasy feeling vanish.

Jenny and Albert mingled with Tony Rodgers and his wife. It was nice to have company a bit closer to their own age, but neither one of them could concentrate. Both, like Danny, were waiting for what Carmen might do next. It was best for them never to underestimate her. Albert had done that one too many times already. He wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice.

Jenny looked on as she watched Danny going through the motions of his life. What should have been the happiest time for him was so full of anguish. He certainly did his best to appear in high spirits of the holiday season but on closer inspection of his dark eyes one could see the distance and vacant stare there. It wouldn’t be too long before she was sure that Melanie would see it too. And that pained her. Melanie Branson was the light that Danny needed to guide him through the hell she knew was too come and she certainly didn’t want anything to stop that from happening.

“Do you mind if I steal my nephew for a dance?” Jenny asked.

“Of course not. I need to check on the food anyhow,” Michelle said.

“I told you I should have had Reggie handle this. Then you could have just enjoyed yourself.”

“I am enjoying myself silly,” she kissed him gently on the cheek as she left him to dance with Jenny.

“Ah but I wish you were,” Jenny sighed.

“Wish I was what?” Danny questioned quizzically.

“Enjoying yourself.”

“Who says I’m not?” he countered.

“Every feature and expression on your face.”

“Not true!”

“Very true. Danny, I won’t minimize what has taken place in the past few days, but don’t let Carmen do this to you again. Don’t let her take away from you the things that are good in your life.”

“She isn’t.”

“I don’t believe that. Have you looked in a mirror lately? If you saw the looks on you face as of late you wouldn’t think that. And if I see it then Melanie does as well. The only difference being that I know why and she doesn’t.”

“She never will!!!!” Danny said heatedly.

“I agree, but sooner or later she is going to start thinking that it’s her that you are upset with. Is that really what you want to happen?”

“No,” he sighed.

“I didn’t think so.”

“How can I just forget that there could be danger looming around the next corner. Danger that could bring harm to her?” Jenny heard the angst in his tone.

“You can’t. But you have to get some perspective. Danny, I meant it when I told you to stay. And when I said that we would help you get what you want. Whatever means necessary…….”

“Ssshhhh,” Danny placed his finger to her lips not wanting to have this discussion twice in one day, “I understand. I just don’t know.”

“The decision is yours. But know that you have options now. And you don’t have to do this alone.”

“All right everyone,” Michelle’s voice broke their conversation, “It’s present time.”

“Presents??????” the chorus of voices countered.

“Yes, presents. What’s a Christmas party without presents?”

Michelle went about the room handing out decorated gift baskets to all those there. Each one uniquely suited to the person. Mr. Rodgers was filled with all the tobacco he loved; his wife’s with the bath soaps she had heard so much about; Jenny’s was adorned with every cookbook Michelle could get her hands on.

“Thank you,” Jenny was almost speechless.

“Danny told me you are a wonderful cook. Thought you might enjoy trying your hand at some new recipes.”

Albert’s basket looked like she had cleaned out the specialty coffee store. It was overflowing with flavored creamers, international blends and even a personalized mug; Matt’s contained more CDs then he ever imagined possible and tickets to a concert he had desperately wanted.

“Yours will come later,” she said teasing Danny.

“Looks like you are getting her in a basket,” Matt laughed from across the room.

“Very funny,” Michelle punched him in the arm.

“Where’s mine?” Sarah cried being left out of all the fun.

“Oh not to worry. I saved the very best for last.” Michelle went around behind the sofa and retrieved the packages that had been hidden there for days.

“Both of them?” Sarah questioned as Michelle handed them to her friend.

“Most certainly.”

The room watched as Sarah opened them with the intense fury of a five-year-old on Christmas morning. Michelle reached for Danny’s hand as Sarah lifted the lid of the box that held the scrapbook. The leather embossed with the words ‘The Life and Times of Sarah Wainwright’ starred back at Sarah. The second she lifted the cover the tears began to flow. She was met with the picture of her mother holding her as an infant. That had been the one good thing that Carl had given Michelle. It was the start of a wonderful book filled with memories, great stories and pictures that Sarah would treasure.

“How?” was the only word Sarah could utter.

“With a little help from your friends.”

“I can’t believe you did this.”

“I knew how much you missed your mom. And with Tony’s help and the internet there were many people back home who wanted you to have a great first Christmas here in Texas.”

“Well that has been a success.” Sarah leapt to her feet wrapping her arms tightly around her friend’s neck.

“What? You haven’t opened the other one yet.”

“Oh yeah.” Again she ripped into the second package, “Melanie!” Sarah gasped. The picture brought so many memories flooding to the surface. Sarah couldn’t do much to stop the tears from flowing down her face.

“I guess that means you like?”

“Thank you,” she whispered hoarsely.

“You are more then welcome.”

“That was a nice thing you did for Sarah tonight, actually what you did for everyone,” Danny said as he helped clean up the kitchen, “You are one hell of a woman.”

“Thank you, but is this just your way of buttering me up for your present?” she teased kissing the tip of Danny’s nose.

“Well now that you bring it up?” Danny had trouble hiding his own excitement.

He had taken Jenny’s words of advice to heart and wasn’t about to let Carmen rob him of anything more in his life then she already had.

“You finish up in here and I will be right back,” she did a feeble attempt at an Arnold Schwartenzager voice. She entered the room again hands behind her back smiling like a Cheshire cat. “Here,” she handed over the box wrapped in golden foil.

“For me?” he questioned in mock surprise.

“Well if you don’t want it,” she pulled the package from his hands.

“Now I didn’t say that.” Danny reached behind her back as she did her best to keep his intended package just out of his reach. The game ended with a playful kiss.
“So you really want this huh?” she laughed sweetly kissing him once more.



Danny removed the ribbon and the wrapping to find a crystal picture frame. One heart held his own picture and the other the most amazing photo of Melanie he had taken at the pond weeks before. He was at a loss for words.

“I know it’s not…………………….”

“It’s perfect, amazing.”

“I just wanted to give you something that showed how much us coming together meant to me. You showed me that love doesn’t always end badly. And that it’s okay to give your heart to another person without fear of it being broken.”

“You deserve all of that,” he whispered.

“Thank you.”

“Now what about my real present?” Danny said sheepishly.

“Real present, huh?”

“Well everyone else got his or hers in a basket. I was hoping maybe Matt was right,” he toyed with the buttons of her silk blouse.

“Oh were you now? Looking for me wrapped in a big red bow,” she said turning off each light as she made their way to her bedroom.

“Texas,” Bernardo echoed Carmen’s words.

“Galveston, Texas to be exact.”

“What on earth for?”

“As I have said before business.” Carmen wasn’t about to back down now.

“GIVE IT UP WOULD YA!?!?!?” Nino shouted, “There ain’t no business in that state that we’d be interested in.”

“Quiet Nino!” Bernardo turned and spat at his son, “Go on Carmen, we all are listening.”

She searched for some plausible reason for Danny’s being there. She knew there wasn’t much leeway in this matter. Anything that she came up with had to be viable. Seeing as she knew that Bernardo wasn’t about to leave any stone unturned.

“We are waiting!”

“I think I might be able to answer your question,” Ben offered while Carmen looked at him as stunned as the others.

“So what now the mouthpiece does your talking!?!?!” Nino bellowed.
“Carmen, what’s going on here?” Manuel questioned. “Surely you can’t expect us to sit by and let you question Nino’s ability to speak at this table and then have this suit be given that right.”

“I have the answers you all are wanting to hear. I knew exactly why Danny is in Texas and it has nothing to do with expanding the operations.”

“BEN!!!!!” It was all Carmen could do to contain her composure. This wasn’t supposed to happening this way. She was to be the one in control of the game.

“It’s all right, Carmen. Everything will be clear in a few minutes.”

“OH THIS OUGHTA BE GOOD!!!” Nino snickered.

“Danny is in Texas taking care of some unfinished Santos Family business.”

“Sounds like the same old song and dance to me,” Nino quipped.

“Not quite. Danny is in Galveston avenging his brother’s murder. I have it on good authority the person responsible is there.”


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