Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 51

Republisher’s Note: Michelle and Danny are posed to take on a great new life with different names, but Carmen is waiting to strike.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 51

Albert made his way to where Jenny was standing watching her guests as they mingled throughout the room.

“Wonderful party, Mrs. Sampson,” he whispered in her ear.

“Look at them, they remind me so much of us,” she said nodding in the direction of where Danny and Melanie were dancing oblivious to their surroundings.

“That they do,” Albert wrapped his arms tightly around his wife content for the first time in years.

“We can’t let Carmen ruin that!” Jenny stated with a firmness that surprised him.

“Jenny?” he questioned.

“What?” she countered.

“You never cease to amaze me.”

“Why is that?”

“I just never expected you to be Danny’s champion, that’s all. To be honest I half expected you to be willing to feed him to the wolves.”

Jenny wasn’t sure how to respond to that comment. She herself knew how true it was. There had been a time that she would have gladly sent Danny packing, but suddenly things were different. It was though unleashing Richard’s ghost brought out the mothering instincts in her that had been bottled up for far too long. She most certainly knew that Danny had had very little mothering in the last years, so she couldn’t help but want to fill that void for him as well as herself.

“I just want him to be happy,” she said finally.

“He certainly looks that way.”

“But for how long?” Jenny said foreboding.

“I wish I could say that I knew.”

“Damn Carmen!” Jenny cursed.

“Jenny,” Albert turned her to face him, “We will handle whatever is thrown our way. I want Danny to be happy as much as you do. I don’t have any intention of letting Carmen ruin one more Santos man.”


“Ssshhhh,” he placed a finger to her lips, “It’s Christmas Eve. It’s a time for celebration and miracles, not the devil in carnet. I got my miracle this Christmas. I got my wife back. So I will do everything in my power to ensure that Danny gets his too.”

“I love you, Albert.”

“I love you, too.”

Michelle could have stayed wrapped in Danny’s arms forever. This Christmas hadn’t turned out anything like she had expected it to, nothing about this new existence had. The events that had brought her here in the first place had been a life altering experience but suddenly she was thankful for them. Actually correlating being responsible for a person’s death and then to be thankful for what it brought to her were thoughts that made her shudder at times. It went against every grain in her, but looking into Danny’s black eyes right now she didn’t want to be anywhere but here. To hell with how she had gotten there.

“Hey you two,” Matt’s voice invaded Michelle’s thoughts.

“Hey!” she said looking at her friend’s radiant face, “I would guess by that smile that all went well?”

“Very well,” Sarah replied.

“See what did I tell you? Not a thing to be worried about.”

“Well?” Danny asked as the girls headed to the bar for a drink.

“She loved it!” Matt said thankful for all of Danny’s help.

“I am so glad to hear that.”

“So was I. I was sweating bullets all night.”

“So really how did things go at your place?”

“Perfect. My parents absolutely loved her.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“And you and Melanie? Did she like what you bought her?”

“I haven’t had time to give it to her yet.”


“Well we have been so busy with the party and all that I just haven’t gotten the chance yet.”

“Now who’s the scared one?” Matt joked seeing as the pressure had now been lifted from his own gift giving experience.

“I’m not……….”

“You’re not what?” Michelle asked handing Danny his scotch.

“Nothing,” he kissed her to silence her next sentence.

“Look what Matt gave me,” Sarah said to the pair as she took the beautiful locket in her hand.

“Oh, Sarah, that is gorgeous,” Michelle said taking it in her own hand for closer inspection.

It was a gold puffed heart with diamond chips scattered about its surface. Michelle opened it but found it empty, “So where are the pictures?” she questioned.

“I was hoping you might have a few left of my mom. I wanted to put her on one side. And you on the other,” Sarah said to her friend.

“Me….why me?” Michelle said looking in Matt’s direction wondering if he felt slighted by the fact that he had given the gift but wasn’t exactly part of its meaning.

“Because, if it hadn’t been for you this would have been the worst Christmas for me. So I wanted to have the two women that inspire me close to my heart. For those times when I need reminding that the world isn’t all that bad.”

Michelle felt the tears well in her eyes with Sarah’s kind words. Words that she had difficulty accepting. Deep down she knew that she was the person that Sarah spoke of. But as hard as she tried the reality of her sins came back to negate it.

Danny wrapped his arms tightly around her as her tears fell silently. They were a mixture of the joy and sadness that were rolled into one. She wished that she could find a way to rid herself of the guilt she felt over her happiness. She needed to be able to tell Danny her secrets; needed him to understand her completely. How could she do that though? What would he think of her if he knew her secret? Could she risk seeing the horror in his eyes; could she risk her safety? She hadn’t thought much about the Santos Family since she had come to Texas but they still loomed large in her life. There was no denying that fact. She knew that she couldn’t take the chance but still couldn’t reconcile a life built on a lie.

Ben and Carmen walked up the center isle and took their seats in the Santos pew among the remaining members of the family. In the last days, Ben had been brought up to speed on all of the Santos Family business. All things ranging from legal to illegal. His show of good faith in giving up Michelle Bauer had brought him exactly what he had hoped for. Carmen was more then happy with his work, she was indebted to him. And that fact pleased Ben beyond his wildest dreams. For once he had been thankful for his “brother” Ross’s insistence that he do the “right thing“. It gave him a bargaining chip that at the time he didn’t even know he needed.

He felt the eyes of the other family members burning holes in his back. At the moment he could have cared less. He was right where he supposed to be and had every intention on staying there.

“That’s my nephew, Ray,” Carmen leaned in to whisper as Father Ray Santos came to stand behind the pulpit.

“A priest?” Ben asked raising his brow, “Not something I would have expected from the Santos family.”

“Ray is a good man.”

“What? He’s your token good guy? You know to ensure you are absolved of all your sins?” he joked not able to resist the pun.

Carmen did nothing more then glare at him as Ray began the Christmas story.

Ben had never been much for holidays, and this time was no exception. The words Ray spoke were nothing more then a story. A story that he wasn’t even sure he believed. His life had been less then picture perfect. Christmas for him growing up had been nothing more but another day of the year. So as an adult it held even less appeal. Right at the moment he was more concerned with exactly Carmen had up her sleeve. She had been very forthcoming will all parts of the business, except for how you intended to draw Danny back in by having him avenge his brother’s death.

Each time he made an attempt to broach the subject, she would wave him off. Saying things like she had all under control; that Danny would do what needed to be done. Ben had his doubts about all of it. He had seen how out of control things had been not that long ago. So her words of control now were very little comfort to him. And as for Danny doing his duty as a Santos, well Ben didn’t believe that was going to happen either. It seemed to him that Carmen had conveniently forgotten Danny’s threats. Ben had serious doubts that Danny would be returning home tail tucked between his legs to once again do his mother’s bidding. He had gone to great lengths to ensure that he wouldn’t have to. Ben still thought that Carmen was underestimating her son and overestimating the power she thought that she willed over him.

Carl sat in the darkness of his apartment. The only light was the white glow from the television set across the room. He poured himself another vodka and looked on as George Bailey ran through the streets of Bedford Falls.

He cursed his life. All the things that he thought he would have by now still evaded him in one way or another. There he was a forty something man with nothing, not a damn thing to show for his life. Sure he had a daughter. She despised him and he knew it. The glorious acting career he had fled her and her mother for never came. There had been a few bit parts here and there but nothing that every amounted to that big break he had hoped for. The position he had strived for with Albert and his business had been ripped away like some rug being pulled out from beneath him.

He couldn’t help but laugh thinking that if his life had been used to fashion the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” there wouldn’t have been an angel sent to save him. There would have been no prayers for him. It was a bittersweet testament to the way he had chosen to live his life. Carl Beck had always come first. No matter what else came up he had found a way to work the angles to his advantage. Just the way he had now. He had had the last laugh where Danny and Albert Santos were concerned as well. But why was it he was sitting alone in the dark on Christmas Eve while he was certain that they were enjoying themselves?

Absently Carl pulled out the drawer in the coffee table. His hand reached in and retrieved the picture of Sarah’s mother he kept tucked away there. The photo of Amanda Wainwright was torn and tattered from years of handling. Carl swallowed hard around the lump in his throat. He had loved her. In his own warped way he had. But the call of the bright lights of Hollywood had been too strong for him. Then when she told him that she was pregnant every bell and whistle sounded in his brain. The mere thought of being tied down with a kid sent him running for the hills. He never looked back. That was until the day that Amanda called him to say she was dying and that it was time that he met his daughter. In the beginning she had tried to keep him involved. Amanda would send pictures now and again but then they just stopped. Apparently she had given up on the hope that he would change his mind and return to see his daughter.

Watching the final scenes of the black and white movie playing out before him, he wished he had. He longed to have people in his life like this character George Bailey did. People that would give of themselves without question.

Carl knew better though. He knew you couldn’t get that without giving it first. And he was far too old to start now. And his list of sins was far to long to even think that there would be an angel looking out for him tonight, he thought as he poured himself another vodka.

Dietz ducked out of the bright light of the street lamp. He was far from Springfield but he knew that it would never be far enough. People like Carmen and Bernardo just didn’t let you rat and live to tell about it. He was certain that it would only be a matter of time before they found him.

He laughed wondering if this was his holiday reprieve. He remembered how sacred this time of year was to all the families. He was hardly a religious man. And found it hard to believe that the momentary break in the action somehow gave the families a sense of absolution from what they did for the rest of the year.

He spread out his holiday feast, a hoagie from the corner deli and a warm beer, on the table and switched on the television. He needed to come up with a better plan then to continually be on the run for the rest of his life. He wasn’t meant to live this way. He had grown far too accustom to the lifestyle that he had led for decades now. This stark reality was sobering.

He was a smart man. There had to be a way to still come out on top of all of this. He knew he jumped the gun. But what he had been watching unfold before him, he didn’t see any other way. He thought that aligning himself with the Sandovals was the right thing to do. As much as he admired Carmen for the way that she had weaseled her way in, he knew that was how much Bernardo and the others loathed her. At the time he thought it was the right move. But now the right move was saving his own hide. And to do that he needed to neutralize Carmen and her threats and pray that would buy him the respect he needed from Bernardo to have his life spared.

There was one card that he had yet to play. But just how to go about doing that was something he wasn’t sure of how to do. He needed to find the right time to strike, but he needed to stay alive long enough for that to happen.

“Well it’s about time we headed out for midnight mass,” Albert said approaching the foursome, “You two are more then welcome to join us if you would like,” he added to Sarah and Matt.

“I think I would like that,” Sarah commented, “If it’s okay with you?” she turned to question him.

“Sure, that would be nice. Thank you for the invitation, Mr. Sampson.”

“Call me Albert for heaven sakes.”

“Thank you, Albert,” he said again.

“We’ll meet you there,” Danny said to them.

“Why?” Michelle asked.

“There’s the little business of your Christmas present. That is unless you aren’t interested in it,” he laughed knowing better then that.

“We’ll see you there,” she returned quickly.

“That’s what I thought,” he laughed again.

“Don’t be too long,” Jenny said as they all made their way out the door.

Danny took her by the hand and led her to the immense tree in the middle of the room. He lowered the lights just enough to let the twinkling white lights from its bows dance around the room. He then went over to the stereo and let the soft tones of holiday music fill the air.

“Danny,” she began.

He said nothing, only shook his head for her to remain quiet. He was actually nervous suddenly. He went to the tree and reached down for the gifts he had placed there earlier. He made his best attempt to stop his hands from shaking as he handed the first one over to her.

Michelle reached for the exquisitely wrapped package. As he fingers grazed Danny’s the electricity surged though both of them. Tenderly she unwrapped it to find a velvet black box. Upon opening it, Michelle found a beautiful diamond pendant swinging on a delicate gold chain.

“Danny,” she gasped, “It’s……..” she was at a loss for words. “You shouldn’t have. I mean I never dreamed……..”

“The minute I saw it I thought of you. Here,” he said reaching for to help her put it on.

“But what I gave you………………..”she began self-conscious suddenly of her gift.

“What you gave me was perfect. I wouldn’t have wanted anything but that,” he reassured her. “All the things you gave everyone…..you put your heart and soul into. That’s what makes them special. Don’t ever forget that.”

“I love it. And more importantly I love you!” she leaned her body against his and kissed him restraining the desires that swirled within her. There was so much she wanted to say to him. So much she wanted to share. Maybe someday she would be able to.
Danny pulled away knowing that if he didn’t they would never make it the service.
“I have one more thing for you,” he said as he watched her pout at his ending their kiss.

“One more?” she remarked.

“That’s right. This was another one of those things that cried your name as I walked past it.

“Oh really……did it now?”

“That it did.”

Danny brought a much larger present out from under the tree and laid it on her lap. Michelle ripped away the colored paper to reveal a framed calligraphy that read………

I was lost and blue
until there was you
Your loving gaze
amaze my condensing ways
I thought love was not true
until there was

Michelle choked back a new wave of tears as she read the words again. Those words fit her feelings for Danny perfectly. It was like she could have written them herself.

“I never expected to find love when I came here,” she said her voice cracking.

“Nor did I,” he said, “But I have. And Melanie, please know that I do love you. More then I ever imagined possible. More then I thought I was even capable of.”

“Thank you.”

“I should be thanking you too. As much as you say I showed you that love doesn’t always have to end badly. Well that goes for me too. You enabled me to do something that I never expected. You gave me the courage to be a better person. So thanks to you too.”


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