Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 57

Republisher’s Note: Danny’s life hangs in the balance after he’s shot.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 57

Dietz paced the room as he listened for the umpteenth time the news bulletin that broke across the television screen. He perched himself on the edge of the bed and let the words slipping from the pretty news anchor’s mouth truly sink in this time……..

“Danny Santos, of the renowned Santos Crime Family, was shot today in Galveston, Texas. The federal and local authorities at the present time aren’t releasing much information. Currently Mr. Santos’ condition is listed as critical. We will be back with further details as they are posted…….”

He ran his hand through his thinning hair. The was surreal, even for him. Danny had been shot. The mere thought of it sent him into a tailspin. He couldn’t help wondering if Carmen knew. He could only imagine what must have been going through her head right now. Dietz hadn’t forgotten Danny’s well placed threat, more importantly he knew that Carmen certainly hadn’t either. If the threat was one of substance, Carmen stood to lose everything. Along with the others. Surely they all would be running for cover at the moment. It appeared to him the most opportune time to act. In the weeks he had holed up in this shabby excuse for a motel, he had begun constructing a plan of action for himself. The secrets that he had gained over his long years of loyal service would prove to be quite useful now.

A pang of guilt over took him for a moment. Danny had been a good kid. Dietz recalled all the times he watched the young boy trail after his father-asking question after question. Miguel had been a great and powerful man, yet when it came to Danny there had always been more to him.

A lump came to sit in Dietz’s throat whenever he thought back to the day that Miguel had been killed. Everyone watched helplessly as Miguel slipped away while there wasn’t a damn thing they could do to stop it. In the black of the night there were times that Dietz could still hear Danny’s tortured cries for his fallen father.

He got up and walked over to look at his reflection in the mirror. On closer inspection he wondered where the strong man he once had been was now, was then. Rather then put an end to a reign of terror that had gone on for far too long, he sat quietly by and dutifully played his part. Always thinking that that would gain him a place of respect. But look where that had gotten him now. Absolutely no where. For all his loyalty, Carmen had still not thought him good enough, hell smart enough, to be the right hand that he deserved. So now he was left running from all sides. Bernardo was certain not to just forget the things that Carmen had led him to believe and she may have let him walk but he knew all too well that she would strike when she thought he would least expect it. That wouldn’t be the case this time though, this was the last time that Carmen would underestimate him. Dietz walked over to the phone and held the receiver firmly in his hand. As he dialed the number he wondered exactly what reaction he was about to come up against.


Michelle walked along side of Albert as they made their way through the cold sterile corridors to the surgical waiting area. It was hard to believe that New Year’s Eve had come and gone. She absently wondered where all the party hats and paper streamers were. Where were the familiar tones of Auld Lang Syne? Where was the champagne toast and the kiss that promised great things for the coming year? Where were all the things normal? Michelle found herself laughing despite herself. Nothing in her life equated to normal in a while now, why had she expected this to be any different?

She looked to see Jenny, Sarah, Matt and Joe pacing around the room almost trance like. Each in their own path, all circling yet never colliding.

“Any news?” Albert’s voice barely above a whisper yet it seemed to resonate throughout the room.

“The doctor hasn’t been in to talk to us yet,” Jenny offered, “Melanie, how are you feeling?”

“Better.”

“Danny’s a strong young man. He’s never backed down from a fight. I don’t imagine he will start now,” Jenny said resting her arm comfortably around Michelle’s shoulder for support.

Michelle searched this woman’s loving eyes looking for the words, any words but they eluded her. She turned her gaze towards Albert as well. How could she put into words how sorry she was for all of this? That she never meant to bring harm to their family.
Again she tried not to laugh at that thought. The thought that she brought harm to a family that made a daily living of enforcing fear on all those around them. The Santos family was synonymous with words like fear, terror, harm and violence. Who was she trying to kid?

But yet in the back of her mind, she couldn’t bring herself to see that in these people standing before her. Offering nothing but love and support. This was all such the anthesis of her expectations. Much in the same way Danny had been too. If she was able to turn off the past few hours, there was no way that she could reconcile the fact that Danny would ever hurt her. She just couldn’t fathom the thought. She didn’t care what his actions were putting forth; there was a sensation deep within her heart that wouldn’t let her head believe it. Instinctively her fingers wound their way to the pendant that delicately hung around her neck; and thoughts drifted to the beautiful poem that now sat on a stand adjacent to her bed. A killer didn’t give such gifts. A man with ice water rather then blood running through his veins didn’t take the time that Danny had concocting such an elaborate plan just to enact his revenge. The emotions that had been shared between them had been real. There was no denying that fact. She knew that she couldn’t deny it and she silently prayed that when all was said and done Danny wouldn’t be able to either.

“She’s right you know,” Albert stated more then asked, “He is truly the toughest one in the family. He made the choices that no one else would have dared to.”

“You want to get a cup of coffee or something?” Sarah asked as she and Matt joined them.

“Maybe later,” Michelle said uncertain of exactly what she was to say to this girl who had become like a sister to her. How was she supposed to explain away all the lies?

“I’m glad to see that everyone is here,” Dr. Hacker said closing the door behind him.

“How is he?” each person in the room said in unison.

“Holding his own at the moment………”

“For the moment?” Michelle gasped lowering her fragile body into the chair directly behind her.

“As I suspected the bullet is lodged in the tissue surrounding Danny’s heart. I wasn’t able to assess how much damage it may have done. He’s being prepped for surgery.”

“And?” Albert asked the simple yet foreboding question.

“I really wish that I had an answer to that. All I can say is that this surgery is very risky.”

“Could he die?” Michelle’s meek voice came from behind the others.

“Not knowing the extent of the damage to his heart muscle, I have to say that yes that could be a possibility.”

“I want to see him,” she said finally standing.

“That’s not possible,” Dr. Hacker offered, “He’s on his way to the OR as I stand here talking to you.”

“You don’t understand,” she pressed, “I have to see him. I can’t let him die without knowing……” her voice trailed off as it got lost in her tears.

“I understand but…………….”

“No you don’t. If you did you wouldn’t be saying no!” Michelle’s voice hardened in anger.

“Miss,” Dr. Hacker had little time for the niceties of bedside manner. A man’s life hung in his hands and time was of the utmost importance, “I think it is you who don’t understand. Mr. Santos is in grave condition. The longer I stand here and argue with you the more time is lost in saving him.” The words were harsh but there wasn’t another way for them to be said.

“We are his next of kin,” Jenny began knowing the place this young girl was at right now. As real as the possibility of Danny’s death was, she was certain that there were things that she needed him to know, “We would like for Melanie to be able to see Danny before he goes into surgery,” Jenny looked at her husband who willingly nodded his agreement.

“This is ridiculous; you do know that?” Dr. Hacker said utterly annoyed.

“Yes it may be, but it is well within our rights, is it not?” Albert countered fearful of losing his nephew, yet more so of what would happen to this fragile girl beside him if Danny should die on the table without her being able to see him first.

“Make it short!” the doctor snapped.

Michelle and Albert rode the elevator in silence all the while she was trying to make heads or tails out of all the people around her. Currently she left like she was Alice in Wonderland not sure what was true and what was a fantasy.

“Thank you for this,” she quietly said as they stopped at the doorway that led to Danny.

“There are no thanks necessary. I know this is what he would have wanted. What he would have expected.”

Michelle couldn’t help but wonder if that were really true. If Albert had known the things that Danny had, would he have been so willing to leave the life of another one of his relatives hanging in her hands. She highly doubted it.

“Would you like me to go in with you?” he asked.

“If you wouldn’t mind I would like to go in alone,” she said knowing that the things she needed to say to Danny were meant for him and him alone.

“Certainly. I will be right out here if you need me.”

“You only have a few minutes,” the scrub nurse informed her.

“I understand.”

Michelle held her breath as her eyes rested on Danny’s ever so still body. All the machines were so familiar but at the moment she couldn’t form a coherent thought about his condition. The medical theories that she had practiced in class were nothing more then words on a page she couldn’t comprehend.

She reached for his hand, again thinking how cold he was. Easily her fingers traced the outline of his jaw; touched the fullness of his lips. Michelle brought her fingers to her own lips then gently rested them against his again.

“I love you,” she whispered tears pooling in her eyes. What was she supposed to say to him? How could she explain away the facts as they were? “I’m sorry,” she said, “Sorry for the pain that I brought to you. I never meant to lie to you,” she gasped, “But you lied too, Danny. You let me fall head over heels in love with a man whose brother I killed……….How can I make you understand? I didn’t mean to do it. You just can’t imagine what it was like for me on the beach that night,” she brushed away a stray tear that rolled down her cheek, “He may have been your brother but……………,” she paused sighing heavily, “Danny he was a monster. He ripped at my clothes all the time sneering and laughing like a crazy person. I did what I did without even thinking. I just acted on instinct,” she heard the desperation in her voice, “Just like how instinctively I knew that I loved you the minute I laid eyes on you.”

“Miss,” the scrub nurse poked her head in the room, “We really need to get him to surgery. His vitals are falling.”

“I love you, Danny,” she kissed his cheek, “Let me prove to you just how much,” she said holding in her new wave of sobs.

Michelle and Albert walked back to the surgical waiting area both lost in their own thoughts. Michelle was wondering if there was a ghost of a chance to rebuild what one false move had destroyed, while Albert was still searching for a way to make this all make sense.

Michelle stopped in her tracks when she saw the men in dark colored suits standing outside the waiting area door. Out of the three men there, she recognized only one. It was Agent Reynolds. She could hear the sound of her heart beating in her ears as panic overtook her for the thousandth time that night.

“Melanie,” Agent Reynolds said as he approached them, “We need to speak in private.”

“And just who the hell are you?” Albert’s voice boomed.

The men looked at him and knew in an instant that who he was. Albert Sampson a.k.a Albert Santos.

“This is Agent Walters, Supervisor Brennan and I am Agent Reynolds. We need to discuss the night’s events with Ms. Branson.”

“Well there are a lot of people sitting in that waiting room that would like to know just what the hell happened here tonight, too!” Albert snapped.

“Sir, I am sorry this is a private bureau matter,” Brennan spoke up. For all intents and purposes it looked as though Melanie hadn’t be compromised in any way yet and he wanted to keep it that way.

“THE HELL IT IS!!” Albert shot back, “My nephew is in there fighting for his life. I think I deserve to know exactly why that is!”

“The local authorities will be able to help with you with regards to that,” Brennan offered.

The next leg of lies had been set in motion. With Agent Lucas agreeing to leave the agency, they had been able to get the ball rolling in moving Michelle to a safe house and set up another identity and move her to safety once more.

Danny Santos’ family would be fed a story that centered on a jealous ex-lover and nothing more.

“FUCK THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES!!” Albert spat at them, “What do you take me for a fool? I’m not going to get anything more from them then what I already know, which is very little I might add.”

“This isn’t up for discussion!” Brennan said firmly, “Ms. Branson, would you please come with us.” He took her by the arm and began leading her away.

“No,” she said softly pulling her arm back.

“WHAT?!?!?” all three agents countered in disbelief.

“No, enough is enough already. I can’t do this anymore. I won’t!”

“Melanie…….” Agent Reynolds began.

“Michelle………..for god sakes it’s Michelle!” she yelled having had more of her fill of all the things false in her life.

“What are you doing?!?” Reynolds questioned pulling her next to him.

“What I should have done months ago. Faced the music and taken responsibility for my actions. If I had done that then Danny wouldn’t be lying on that damn operating table fighting to stay alive.”

“What the hell’s going on here?!?!” Albert asked more puzzled then ever now.

“Nothing,” the men tried to cover.

“It certainly doesn’t appear like nothing to me,” he quipped.

“As I said before this is a private bureau matter,” Supervisor Brennan said holding his ground. He wasn’t about to drop the cover no matter what other ideas this young woman had, “We really must speak in private,” he strained looking at Michelle.

“NO!!” she forced again, “My real name is Michelle Bauer. I am from Springfield and I am responsible for Mick’s death.”

At her revelation a hush fell over the hallway.

“What?” Albert asked the single word stuck in his throat.

“WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING!?!?!?!” both Agent’s Reynolds and Walters shouted flabbergasted.

“YOU ARE COMING WITH US NOW!!!!!!!!” Brennan shouted back pulling Michelle off her feet as he made his way down the corridor away from the scene that was unfolding before him. Albert was quick to follow after them, his mind spiraling out of control once more.

Albert leaned his body against the cold wall and did his best to gather his abstract thoughts. Presently his brain felt like a soda bottle that had been shook and was about ready to explode.

“Do you understand the ramifications of what you have just done?” Brennan stared at her disbelieving it all.

“Yes,” she said with clarity.

“We can’t offer you protection now.”

“I don’t need it,” she said seriously.

“THE HELL YOU DON’T!!!!” Agent Walters countered.

“I can’t keep running. I can’t keep lying. It’s time I faced the music for what I have done.”

“That’s just it, Michelle, you didn’t do anything. In the eyes of the law your actions were that of self-defense. Nothing more then that,” Agent Reynolds knelt in front of her remembering the frightened girl he had watched walk up the gangway to a new life that she wanted nothing to do with.

“Then why did I have to run?” she knew how foolish a question that was.

“Because of men like him!” Brennan said pointing in Albert’s general direction.

“I don’t believe that,” Michelle said looking Albert squarely in the eye.

“I would never harm her,” he offered, “My nephew loves this girl.”

“YEAH, RIGHT!?!? Like we believe any of that?” Brennan scoffed looking at his agents standing along side him.

However Reynolds did believe this man. He had been in this business for too many years not to be able to read people. In his gut he was sure that Albert Santos wasn’t the threat here.

“Would someone please tell me what the hell’s going on here?” Albert asked again a little more desperate this time.

Before Brennan could stop them, Michelle and Agent Reynolds went into the montage of the events that had turned Michelle Bauer into Melanie Branson. He listened as she told of the horrific things that Mick had attempted to do her. She explained how she feared for her life that night on the beach; how it had been a case of her or him. She cried as she recounted her dismay the following day when she came to realize that she had actually killed him. “I didn’t mean to,” she gasped as she finished her tale.

“I know,” Albert said gently taking her in his arms as the others in the room were stunned into silence, “Mick was uncontrollable. Miguel always said that Mick would be his own worst enemy. Apparently he was correct in that assumption. But that still doesn’t explain how Danny was shot.”

“Somehow Danny found out. I never meant to lie to him, to any of you. I mean I didn’t know…..I thought you were just regular folks.”

“We are,” Albert said.

“The hell you are,” Agent Walters interjected, “You are gangsters. Each and every one of you. This little act isn’t fooling any of us.”

“Appearances can be quite deceiving!” Albert shot back, “Please go on,” he said returning his attention to Michelle.

“Like I said Danny showed up at my apartment, he knew everything, Albert. He knew what my name really was; he knew that I had been the one responsible for killing Mick. He just went wild on me. I can’t blame him, but he wouldn’t listen….he just wouldn’t listen. Suddenly this man whose eyes had looked at me with love were now these hard black pieces of granite. They were cold and unfeeling; looking at me as if I was nothing more then a bug under the sole of his shoe he needed squash. I just started screaming. Then suddenly there were gunshots and Danny was lying in my arms bleeding. It happened so fast, Albert.”

“Exactly who shot him?” Albert asked needing all of the information.

“One of my men,” Brennan piped in now, “He was only doing his job,” he cringed as those words fell off his tongue. No matter what he truly thought about Agent Lucas he had to do some type of damage control, “It was obvious that Mr. Santos intended on killing Ms. Bauer for her part in his brother’s murder!”

“NEVER!!!” Albert countered with great force.

“How can you be so sure?”

“Danny could not, he would not harm Mela….Michelle. I know my nephew and I know his love for her outweighs the actions he has been taught to take!”

“Oh what a wonderful sentiment,” the man laughed.

“You think that the file you have marked Santos is the only things that we are about. Well you are wrong…..DEAD WRONG! We are people just like you. And though I will admit that very few men in ‘business’ have a conscience, Daniel does.”

“Let’s see mob…..conscience……mob…..conscience……mob,” Brennan laughed as he used his hands as scales, “For some reason this just doesn’t equate for me.”

“I don’t care what you think about him, I know in here,” Albert pointed to his heart, “That Michelle was in no danger from Danny.”

“It looks like it really doesn’t make a difference anymore. We can no longer protect you, Michelle,” he said turning to speak directly to her, “This little stunt of yours has seen to that.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Albert offered, “She is as safe with me as she was with you.”

“You are kidding right? Isn’t that like leaving the fox in charge of the hen house?” Brennan laughed.

“Not hardly!” Albert growled angered by this man’s incessant need to stereotype him when he knew nothing about him.

“Never the less it really makes no difference any more. Don’t say that you haven’t been warned Ms. Bauer but you are on your own now.” With that said the three men exited the room. Agent Reynolds was the only one of them to look back at the pair they had left behind. Something deep within him told him that she was going to be all right.

Michelle sat on the sofa with Albert still apprehensive. It was hard for her to shake the feelings of fear that lived deep within her, yet in some bizarre way the truth had set her free. It was a relief to be Michelle again, a person that had never truly left her anyway.

“Please don’t be afraid of me,” Albert said with his hands out stretched.

“Funny thing is I’m not.”

“I’m glad.”

“I need to know something though.”

“What?”

“Why is it you go by the name Sampson rather than Santos?”

Albert sighed deeply as he began his tale. It was now her turn to sit and listen intently to all the things that had led up to the place he and his wife were presently. Without thought she hugged him as the tears for his son’s death crested his thick lashes. The part of his explanation that interested her the most was that of Danny, and what he had done to escape the life that had been planned for him.

“Michelle, don’t ever doubt that Danny loves you. He’s loved you since the first day that you walked into the club. He’s struggled with those feelings. It was understandable given the life that followed him. But I know in my heart that Danny would not have killed you tonight.”

“I know,” she agreed, “But how do I make him understand? How do I find the words to explain all the deception?”

“When the time is right, it will all make sense,” he said with conviction, “I believe that everything has a reason for happening when it does and I don’t plan on giving up on that now.”

“But…..if Danny doesn’t make it……” she paused swallowing hard around the lump in her throat, “I will be the cause of his death,” she cried in anguish.

“Untrue! The only thing you caused Danny……..was to be alive again. You breathed life back into a barren soul. Don’t ever make light of the things you brought to his life, to all of our lives……….excuse me,” he said as he answered the ring of his cell phone, “Hello,”
The voice that met Albert’s ear was one of the past…..one he was surprised to ever hear again.

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