Archive for the ‘Michelle and Danny Santos’ Category

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 8

August 29, 2017

Republisher’s Note: We finally reach the very end so far of the story from The Mob’s Cardinal. I’m sorry there isn’t more.

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 8

“This house seems bigger than the house plans. Do you think the builder misinterpreted the square footage?”

Sipping on his second cup of coffee, Danny had grown accustomed to listening to Michelle with one ear and responding at the right moment to her question. “Michelle, you saw every stage of the house being built. The house hasn’t changed in size from the pouring of the foundation to the time when the moving van moved us back to Springfield. Don’t tell me that you miss the cozy condo in Philly?”

Smiling at her husband’s intuitiveness, “We did out grow the condo but it was very convenient to the hospitals where I worked. It was home away from home to Gabby, Bethany and Pascal. They had a park close by to provide hours of entertainment, the Schuylkill River outside their windows and the ever convenient corner ice cream shop.” Taking the Saturday morning paper out of Danny’s hand, Michelle sat down on his right leg. Stroking the dark curls with one of her fingers, “I miss the city living. Laurel Falls is farther out from Springfield than I would like for the children to be. Saturdays are crazy with our schedules. We have soccer games for the boys, theater rehearsals for Bethany Joy with dance lessons thrown in addition to getting the right son at the right field for a game. Maybe, we made the wrong decision in building the perfect home. The lake house was where we always came back to when we visited Springfield.”

“Michelle, Michelle! the lake house had been remodeled when you and I met, it wasn’t feasible to alter the house again to suit our growing family; besides it gave Ray a sanctuary to escape to when we were in Philly.”

Looking at the view of the waterfalls from his chair at the kitchen table, “You can’t tell me that this view doesn’t take your breath away in the morning sunrise with the light beams bouncing off the water to create a prism. So what is wrong?”

“Danny, it isn’t anything wrong but what is right. My babies are growing up and I miss having a little one to hold in my arms. I never thought I would consider having another baby after Lance Pascal was born. My residency, private practice as short lived as it was; opened the door for me to do pediatric research.”

Kissing Danny on his forehead, “I have had it all, but the job that I liked the best was being the mother to your children. Danny, you are aware that Father Ray and I meet every Thursday.”

“Ray, God bless his soul has listened to me mumble and grumble over a house. Anyway, last week, Ray being the good Catholic Father told me that I should fill it with Santos children.”

Swallowing another sip of the hot coffee, “Ray has good intentions but how do you feel, Michelle?”

Michelle intertwined her fingers in with Danny’s fingers. “Bethany has begged for a sister to even the count and Lance Pascal has joined in the petition in the past. The house has many rooms that are never used and only see me when I give them a dusting and a promise, but it was built for a time in the future when our children have children.”

“I wanted the house to be big to accommodate their visits and a gathering place. Carmen’s house is a cold museum. She spends more time here and at Pilar and Bill’s home in Chicago than she does at Casa Santos. Abuella is content to stay at the villa in Puerto Rico with her arthritis but when she travels back to the USA, this is where she stays.”

“Honey, we have two preteens and another son that are involved in their specific activity that reflects their talents. Having another baby would please me but we would be starting over with wet diapers, breast feeding and lots of sleepy nights for the next two years.”

The banging noise coming from the laundry room turned their attention to Bethany standing with her ballet shoes in her hand. “Mom, I forgot to tell you but I broke the ribbon off my toe shoes. Can we go downtown early this morning? I apologize for listening in the laundry room but my friends love to come to visit me here at Laurel Falls and please get busy and do what ever it is that you do and make a baby sister or brother. I vote for a sister. Uncle Ray is right, this house laughs when we are all here.”

Slipping off Danny’s legs, “Yes, we can go into the city early to buy new toe shoes or get them repaired. The other subject is up for debate, if I become pregnant and that is a big “IF”. The baby will add joy and stress to our already busy lives.  We are all busy.Your father has his offices in Springfield and San Juan. I have a major research project going on with the NIH in Washington, DC and then the normal life of three active children going in multiple directions.”

“Mom, I know that you can do it because we have Mommy Olga to help us. Please, pretty please with sugar on top.”

“Bethany Joy Santos, can you go back upstairs and make sure that your brothers are up and getting showers. Your Daddy has made his special waffle mix and we have fresh strawberries from the garden.”

Bethany banging on Pascal’s door and the quiet pecking on Gabriel’s door followed the clacking sound of feet running up the steps. “Bethany is respectful of how she approaches Gabriel in the morning but with Pascal, she is always ‘Here I am in your face.'”

Laying the paper on the table, Danny stood and walked to the kitchen counter where he turned the waffle iron setting down to medium. “Honey, Gabby and Bethany still have their own special communication. Gabby is the quiet leader and Bethany, well, she is vivacious and isn’t afraid to speak what is on her mind. And Pascal has been playing catch-up since he was born with the twins. It is purely sibling dynamics at work.”

“Gabriel and Pascal were downstairs in the basement late last night building a model airplane. Bethany isn’t interested in the project but she was down there with a new CD pleading with Gabriel to be her dance partner. Thirty minutes later, she is upstairs in her room making plans to go to the mall with her girl friends to see a new Star Wars movie.”

“Danny, I don’t see anything unusual about BJ’s flitting from dancing in the recreation room with Gabby to meeting up with her girlfriends to see the movie.” Pausing to express her thought carefully, “Bethany is going to be the child that is going to require us to be one step ahead of her.”

“So you are telling me that she is like her mother. Maybe Ray can find her a nice convent to live in for the next several years. I’m not ready for Bethany to move to the full-blown teenage scene. When Bethany got home; she went immediately to Gabriel’s room and they talked for hours about the new space characters and special affects. It seems to me that when it is just the two of them, she is on equal footing and when Pascal is added to their mix; Bethany will compete for Gabriel’s attention.” Michelle placed the plates in the warming oven while pondering Danny’s observation.

“They aren’t identical twins, but it appears to be more of a girl-boy development issues. Gabriel has always liked the toy objects for building and anything with wheels. Bethany preferred Barbie Dolls and crafts with art. They are both musical and the three all love to read.” Leaning her head on Danny’s chest, “They have the same love of books as you do.”

“Danny, why don’t you start the waffles and I’ll pour the Orange juice. I think today is a good day for a little mother and daughter talk. Lance Pascal is so accepting of their behavior, but I can see the boys beginning to want to do their thing and Bethany struggling to understand that her twin brother is growing more independent of her.”

“Michelle, the bond between Gabby and Bethany is stronger than ever. Bethany goes to Gabby quicker than she comes to us. They still operate in unison. Bethany and Gabby welcomed Pascal into their world from the beginning. They are all close, which is good; Mick and I were close once, but we didn’t connect like our three children have done.”

In the background, Danny heard the phone ringing. “Can you pick up, Michelle?”

“Good morning, Dr. Bauer-Santos speaking.” Handing the receiver to Danny, “It is your lawyer, Mr. Stewart in Philadelphia.”

“Is this personal or family business?” Listening and lifting a golden brown waffle from the skillet, Danny smiled. “No, it’s not going to be a problem….Consider it a graduation gift to Paul. Maria stays in the lower level of the villa and I will give her a call to warn her of his visit. Better yet, I can get Abuela to come here for a visit while Paul and his buddies take a vacation there…..Has he decided to move to New York City? It is where the acting action is happening…..I hope that he is successful in finding work…. If he needs help finding a job to support himself, I have connections to a few restaurants where the waiters make great tips……Our family is well. Michelle and I were just hashing over the pro and con benefits of living in the country. Bethany Joy has the cultural interests and we are in the city frequently for ballet lessons and theater rehearsals. Gabby and Pascal have soccer and swim practice, which requires flat fields and indoor swimming pools. Here at Laurel Falls, we are on the low end of having any nearby.” Hanging up the phone and resuming the business at hand, Danny loaded the waffles on the five plates.

Pascal was the first to join his parents at the kitchen table. “I could smell the waffles cooking upstairs.” Pouring the warm Vermont maple syrup from the bluestone pitcher, “We have the best breakfasts on Saturday mornings. May I please have the strawberries?”

“Certainly Pascal, and you have the nicest manners.”

“Oh Mom, you always try to embarrass me.”

Reaching over to ruffle his long curls, “I know two boys that are in great need of a visit to the hair salon.”

“Nay, Gabby and I like our hair longer just like Pap.”

“Is it hot when you play soccer?”

“It’s hot either way but it keeps my head warm in the winter. I hate to wear hats, you get the hat rings on the hair. It isn’t cool to wear hats to school here in Springfield.”

Michelle tapped Pascal on his shoulder. “Do the kids tease a lot at school?”

“No, they don’t bother me. Everyone knows that I am Gabby Santos’s baby brother and he will protect me on the playground.”

Sitting down next to Pascal’s chair, Michelle prodded Pascal for more information. “Have the boys been picking fights with you and Gabby?”

“Oh Mom, it goes with the territory when we first moved back and being the new kids at school. There is always a bully, but Gabby was well liked at the school and it doesn’t hurt to have Father Ray as an uncle.”

Michelle smiled at Pascal’s answer. “So Gabby charmed the bully?”

“Yea Mom, something like that and all the boys have crushes on Bethany Joy.”

“Speaking of Gabby, was Gabby out of the shower before you came down the steps?”

“He was packing the soccer bag for the game today….Mom, can I invite RJ and David to come over after the game today for a sleep over? I checked your calendar before asking and I didn’t see any of Bethany or Gabby’s friends written down.”

Glancing up to meet her husband’s eyes, Michelle winked at Danny. “Pascal, do I need to call their parents to verify that the sleep over is OK? We all go to church at 8AM. Mass.”

“Mom, their parents are cool with RJ and David coming out here to our house. Everybody knows and has heard the rumors about Papa’s business. It is no big deal; I told them that Daddy is a secret agent for Interpol.”

Danny almost choked on the bite of waffle in his mouth after hearing Pascal’s version of the crime syndicate business. “Pascal, I appreciate your support but telling the white lie isn’t good. I’m really a secret FBI agent.”

“Pap, that is what Gabby tells his friends. It makes sense to me and his friends aren’t scared to come here to visit. Bethany Joy and Gabby have lots of friends at the middle school. RJ and David are nice and we all are on the same soccer team. Besides, I told them that my Mom makes the best lasagna in the world. Can we have it tonight for dinner?”

“Hum…I’m sure that we can have the family favorite tonight. Why don’t you go and call the boys and tell them to bring their swimming suits when they come. I know that your father and I are glad that you are making friends in Springfield.”

“Honey, can I get you another cup of coffee?” Michelle poured the hot coffee in the almost empty mug. Danny’s arm wrapped around the tiny waist of his wife and with the free hand, he caught Michelle’s hand in his hand. Bringing the hand up to his lips, “You knew this day was coming.”

“I thought you had talked to Gabriel and Bethany Joy about the La Familia.”

“I have but from what I heard from Pascal; Gabby has a safe story to fall back on at school.”

“Danny, my Pascal is too young to hear the truth. I don’t want him to hear the truth till he is old enough to understand both sides of the business. The family was safe in Philadelphia; our last name wasn’t prejudged there. Did we make a mistake by coming back to live in Springfield? Have I put my children in the crosshairs of a society that can harm them?”

With Michelle’s chin locked in his hands, “I promise you that all the business here in Springfield is legit. That is all you need to know. Our children will prove themselves to Springfield’s society. Gabby is charming and Bethany Joy is the rising new society teen that is doomed to break many young men’s heart.” Kissing Michelle on the tip of her nose, “We couldn’t have written a better chapter in their lives. All of our work has bought us to where we are now.”

“Michelle, Carmen raised her family in a close family unit behind walls of security. Yes, we have bodyguards and security, but it is what anyone would do if they are wealthy. Our children attend Catholic schools and are engaged in public activities. We have given them a normal life if there is such a thing as a normal life. The business has never touched their lives.”

“Michelle, I think it is time for me to take the kids down to San Cristobel for a quick trip to pick up Abuela. Mr. Stewart’s oldest son and a few friends are going to use the villa for a couple of weeks. It might be a good time to see what is going on in their heads away from Springfield. Plus, I want to make sure that Paul Stewart takes care of the villa while my grandmother is away. A little face to face meeting won’t hurt to check out the situation.”

“How long will you stay, Danny?”

“It will be an in and out one day trip.”

****

Three weeks later, Danny sitting in the pilot sit settled the leer jet wheels down on the tarmac at the International Airport in San Juan. In his heart and mind, he felt the surge of warm memories rising up. He was back where he belonged. The fleet of black Mercedes waiting in the parking lot had increased over the years. The family hotel and casino business had multiplied tenfold. The big spenders received all the niceties after dropping their wealth on the gambling tables thus enriching the bank accountants of the Santos Empire in Puerto Rico. At the bottom of the steps stood the five bodyguards with his aging grandmother. The grand matriarch, Maria still insisted on coming to the airport to meet her grandson and his children.

Resting in her wheelchair, she greeted Pascal, Bethany Joy and finally Gabby. “Gabriel Santos, the oldest great grandson and the heir to the Family. I think the Saints of Santos for allowing me to see my great-grandchildren grow up in my old age.”

Danny squatted down to meet the light dancing in the hard old eyes of a woman that he greatly respected. “Abuela, it is good to see you in good health. Michelle sends her love and is happy that you can visit with us in our home in Springfield. Have the guests arrived at the villa?”

Lifting her hand to point up to an imaginary living space being occupied by the young adults, “They are very quiet and the young man was polite and introduced his friends after they arrived. They bought back many memories of a time when you and Mick were the making of many headaches for Miguel and Carmen.” Raising her eyes to scan the steps and as far as she could observe inside the jet, “Michelle didn’t make the trip? This is a first!”

Pascal stepped forward to answer his great- grandmother. “Mom was coming, but at the last minute she decided it was too much. Mom preferred to stay at home and recuperate.”

Danny wrapped his arm around his younger son’s small shoulders, “Maria, you have your answer.”

Checking his gold wristwatch and making the time adjustment, “Let’s get to the villa and see the young Mr. Stewart. He should be up by now.” The lead bodyguard informed Danny that the college crowd had returned to the villa by 4am. “Abuela did you hear them coming in this morning?”

“No, but you must remember that I take my hearing aids out of my ears when I retire for the night.”

Waiting patiently out of respect for the old woman, Santana spoke in Danny’s ear. “They were quiet as a church mouse.”

“Good, the words that I wanted to hear.”

Danny and Maria watched the next generation run down the rocky steps to the white beach below the marble balcony. “Abuela, everything is changing. It use to be, Michelle and me running down the steps; then it was Michelle and me with Gabby and Bethany Joy. Now, I’m here observing with my grandmother.” Sipping the Sangria, Danny placed his tan hand over the crippled hand of a woman that he loved and adored. “Michelle is expecting again! We haven’t told Pascal. Michelle wants to do it at the right time.”

Turning the tiny wheel in her hearing aid to adjust the volume, “Pascal has always been special to Michelle as you were to Carmen. He is very attached to his mother and Michelle to him. It is for all the right reasons. I’ve observed his mannerisms. Pascal has the right mentality and fortitude to be the next leader of the Santos family. I’ve watched Gabriel and Pascal grow up. Gabby is too sensitive and influenced by Bethany. I tell you, Pascal is a natural born leader.”

Bending down to kiss the tips of her now crippled fingers from the progressing arthritis, Danny ignored Maria’s apparent approval and selection of Pascal. “Pascal’s disposition is more like Michelle than any of our children. The business world that you and my grandfather knew is in constant change. Our business is too big for one to handle. When I’m ready to step aside, I want my sons in an equal partnership; there will be plenty to share.”

“But Danny,” Caressing Danny’s hand in hers, “There has to be a go to man and I’m telling you that it is Pascal.”

Rising back up to the standing position, Danny heard the laughing voices of the three below in the water. “I will see which one is ready for the challenge.”

“I see. Michelle still rules your heart and mind. She has influenced your thinking for a long time. I am an old woman and going to die soon, but before my coffin is lowered down to my final resting place; I want to breathe my last breath with the knowledge that the Santos name is respected here and in the USA.” Requesting her promise in Spanish, “Please do me that honor!”

“Abuela, the child that Michelle is carrying might possess your genes and Carmen’s. I think this conversation is over. I want to catch up with Paul Stewart. I want to re-enforce my presence here with the young man.”

Back inside the villa, Danny took the white marble steps two at a time till reaching the landing on the main level. The aroma from the fresh brewing coffee coming from the coffee maker was a good sign. Someone was up and Danny was betting that it was the young Stewart. Walking to the kitchen cabinet that housed the coffee mugs, Danny selected one and reached for the coffee carafe. After pouring the mug full of the hot caffeine beverage, Danny sat down on the high cushioned stool to await the appearance of a living, moving body. Giving the family room a thorough checking with his observant eyes, he was pleased and satisfied at the neatness.

The quietness of the villa was interrupted with the sound of bare feet walking on squeaking clean marble steps. The cordial greeting followed, “Mr. Santos, I didn’t expect to see you here.”

Danny pushed the swivel chair around to face the college graduate. “I’m here on business and to retrieve my grandmother. I thought it might be less stressful for you and your guests if she wasn’t here. Just saying hello and goodbye. We are all leaving by 8PM and the entire villa will be yours to enjoy. Oh, I should warn you that my children are down on the beach taking advantage of the quick trip here. In case you hear the sound of young voices, it will be them.”

Paul smiled a sigh of relief when he comprehended the meaning behind the presence of his father’s boss in the villa. Extending his left hand to Danny, “I want to thank you for your generosity. I promised my father that we would leave the villa cleaner than we found it, but the place was spotless when we arrived. I have a good bunch of my friends here and we are having a blast. We were out late last night in San Juan; so everyone is sleeping in this morning.” Stroking his full head of dark curls, “Where are my manners? Have you had breakfast? I can make a mean cheese omelet.”

For what seemed like an eternity, Paul waited for an answer from his father’s boss. Danny took another long sip of coffee before dumping the remaining coffee in the sink. “Thanks for the coffee, I don’t think that I will see you again before I leave going back to Springfield. Oh to be young again and full of energy. Take care. The young ladies of Puerto Rico are beauties, but you don’t have to wear yourself out in two weeks.”

Paul rolled his head back and chuckled a short giggle, “Yea, I understand there are lots of them from what I have seen out at night at the clubs.” Thanking Danny Santos again for the generosity, Paul walked Danny out the open French doors to the poolside. With the final parting words, Danny Santos left Paul Stewart in charge of the Santos villa.

After Danny left, Paul decided on a quick plunge into the deep end of the pool to refresh his body. Grabbing the suntan lotion, Paul liberally applied the white solution to his body before lying down on the out stretched beach towel. The Caribbean sun beat down on his burning bare chest and face forcing the young college graduate to roll over to the comfort of his stomach. The sound below the pool was the voices of two young boys playing catch with a baseball, the all American summer sport. The splashing sound of someone diving in the pool and the pleasant sudden spray of water falling on his body startled Paul. “What in the hell!” With his startle reflex in high gear, the handsome young man stood up immediately to see which of his college friends had invaded his world. Expecting a male face to surface out of the water, Paul was taken back to see the pretty preteen face of a young girl resurface at the edge of the pool where he stood. “Hey brat, it isn’t cool to scare the sheer-crap out of someone when they are trying to sleep.”

Bethany was shocked at the lecture that she was getting from the young stranger standing above her. Voicing her irritation back, “I’m sorry but I didn’t see anyone before I dove into the pool. I wanted to rinse the salt water off my body before I went inside and took a shower. Besides, this is our villa! Who are you?”

“Ah huh, you are Bethany Joy Santos, I bet. You don’t remember me? We met once about…” counting back the years”..seven years ago in my father’s office in Philly. You and your twin brother had started kindergarten. My father is one of your father’s legal advisers. I’m Paul Stewart.”

Reaching down with both hands, Paul pulled the petite girl from the swimming pool. On the deck of the pool, Paul caught himself staring at the teen girl with the big dark pupils. Bethany felt the intense eyes of the man called Paul resting on her body. “May I use your towel, I can get another one for you out of the laundry closet?”

“Sure”, picking up his towel, Paul handed it to her.

“I’m full of apologizes, but I don’t remember meeting you back then but Pap has mentioned Mr. Stewart often.” Wiping the water from her body, “Pap has loaned the villa to you as a graduation present. He said you are going to be an actor and live in New Your City!”

Smiling at her excitement, “Yes, I’m leaving for NYC after I get back from this trip. I’m going to try my luck in the big apple and see what develops. Are you a young budding actress?”

Taking a deep breath, ” Kind of but my dream is to be a ballet dancer.”

Paul tried to control his eyes while at the same time; his eyes followed the outline of the female figure. The wet turquoise tankini top clearly showed the growth of her youthful breasts with the hardened nipples standing out at full attention. His eyes were drawn to the young face standing innocently in front of him. The picture inside the villa flashed in his mind and he wanted to explain what he felt was inappropriate behavior to Mr. Santos’s daughter. “There is a wedding picture inside the villa of your mother and father. I can’t get over the remarkable resemblance of you to your mother.”

Grinning a broad smile of pride, “I hear that often from Pap and Uncle Bill.”

Bethany handed the wet towel back to Paul. Thank you for the use of the towel but I had better get inside and get a shower. Pap gave us specific instructions to stay in Abuela’s living quarters. I’m the one that has over stepped the boundaries. Good luck in NYC! Maybe I’ll see you someday on Broadway when I finish growing up!”

Clutching the towel in one hand, “I hope it won’t take that long to get a role in a play on Broadway. Keep dancing, I may see you perform with a famous ballet company.”

Unbeknown to either, Danny Santos had watched the entire encounter from the gatehouse security screens. Bethany had handled herself well. What bothered Danny was the new manifestation of watching Bethany Joy with the opposite sex. He uncrossed his arms and walked down the rocky steps to join the two boys on the beach. Halfway down the flight of steps, Danny glanced back up to the lower balcony and swimming pool. Paul wasn’t in sight. The encounter was innocent. Stewart’s twenty-one year old son was only talking to his twelve year old daughter. Danny couldn’t wipe out the image that he saw on the security screen. He saw Paul admiring his daughter’s body.

Stepping off the last step into the sand, Danny signaled the two boys to join him for a swim out to the white anchored sailboat in the cove. “I’ll race you out to the boat and the last one there is a dirty stinking pirate with a bottle of rum.” With a portion of the race completed, Danny felt a hand touching and then tugging at his ankle. Gabby was giving his father a true race, which instantly caused Danny to turn on the afterburners to remain in the lead by less than a half body length. Danny touched the ladder first by edging out Gabby’s hand by inches. Gasping for air to fill his hurting lungs, Danny saw Pascal finish barely a body length behind his father. “Oh Pascal, is the dirty pirate with a bottle of rum! I guess we have to let the dirty pirate go up the ladder first and give us permission to board the “The Santos Cove.” Pascal took the hint and ascended the ladder first followed by Gabby then Danny.

“Don’t tell Michelle that you almost beat your father today! Your mother will be impressed that you have one of her many talents. She is a great swimmer. Did I ever tell you about the night that she was mad at me and wanted to swim across the lake to the lighthouse?”

Pascal laughed at the mention of the night swim. “Mom must have really been mad at you to try swimming that far at night.”

Patting his son on the knee, “Michelle was fit to be tied and I was fortunate enough to remember a hobby of hers. She was a long distant swimmer and if Michelle had gotten away from me that night…our lives would have been…boring to say the least.”

“Gabby, where is your sister?”

“Bethany went back to the villa pool. She preferred meeting the young actor staying at the villa than throwing the baseball with her brothers. It sounded cool to me, she is forever buying the magazines with all the gossip.”

Danny’s voice pitch changed after he heard what he considered a lame excuse from Gabby. “Gabby, how many times do I have to remind you that you must be the voice of reason with Bethany Joy? She reacts and then thinks. Bethany had no business going by herself to evade the privacy of the house guests.”

“But Pap, Bethany dreams of performing on stage one day; it seemed perfectly normal for her to use the occasion to meet “An actor”.

His father’s intense gaze displayed the disappointment. “You and I will talk later in private. Your job now and in the future is to protect your sister until I release you from that obligation. My Bethany isn’t going to get off as easy. We can take a short rest, then we will return to the villa and see precisely how charmed “our princess” is with Mr. Stewart.”

Behind the screen door, Bethany applied the soft lip-gloss to her lips. “Abuela, do you like the shade of lip-gloss with my complexion?”

Pinching her cheeks with her twisted fingers, “You are perfect without the lipstick.”

“Granny, it isn’t lipstick; the term today is lip-gloss. I went shopping with Mom one afternoon and we picked the color out together.”

Holding the young face in her hands, “Are you wearing this with the approval of your father?”

Bethany reached over to kiss Abuela on the cheek, “Pap approves.”

“Approves of what?” came the voice standing inside the villa.

“The lip-gloss.”

“Gabby and Pascal, go ahead and get your showers.”

“The lip-gloss is an approved item but ‘Miss'” interfering with an invited guest isn’t.”

Bethany reacted with stomping her foot. “I have traitors for brothers; my little brother, Pascal ratted on me.”

Lifting his hand to halt Bethany’s tirade, “The problem is a twelve year old pre-teen seeking out a twenty-two year old MAN.” Danny gave the Man a strong pronouncement indicating his displeasure “…because he is a potential actor. Missy, you didn’t respect his privacy and you owe Pascal an apology. I’m going upstairs to get a shower and apologize for your rude behavior. Not that I have to explain but I saw you with my own eyes from the security screen at the gatehouse. Missy, you are the one causing the ruffle in out tranquil trip to Puerto Rico. When we get back home, you and I will be having a “set down” with your mother.”

“Ah, ah…”clearing her throat, Abuela watched the tears forming in Bethany’s eyes. “Stop this, I have an errand for Bethany Joy. My child, can you please go to the gatehouse and ask Ricardo to bring the young potted orchids to the front of the villa?” Removing the lace handkerchief from her pocket, Abeua wiped the tears from her great-granddaughter’s cheeks. “My old mind has a tendency to forget important things. The new orchids will require my attention when I visit your home. The orchids are like you and your beautiful mother.”

Raising her eyes slowly to meet her father’s eyes. “Am I excused?”

Danny motioned with his left hand for her to go ahead with the errand.

“Abuela, I don’t want you interfering when I am correcting my children!”

Shaking her hand at Danny, “Why are you being hard on the girl? She did nothing wrong. I maybe deaf but I can hear with these hearing aids. I heard every word! Bethany is growing into a beautiful young teenager and she was excited with the prospect of seeing the ‘actor on her own turf’. She will go back to Springfield and do a little bragging among her friends. Normal girls do gossip and they love to talk about their favorite subjects-the opposite sex. So Bethany Joy has a temporary crush on your lawyer’s son; they most likely will never meet again.”

Danny shook his head and ran his hand through his thick curly hair. “I need a haircut. After I shower, I’m going into the old city to get a haircut. Tell, Bethany that I want her to accompany me when she returns from your errand.”

“Abuela, the world that you grew up in doesn’t exist anymore. I have an idea of what BJ was doing. She was flirting with Paul and I don’t like it. Bethany started having her periods this spring. Michelle and I aren’t ready to turn her loose on the world.”

“Gee, Daniel, you can’t keep her in a glass house. Flirting isn’t sleeping with a boy.” Mumbling in Spanish to her grandson, Danny smiled at his grandmother’s veracity. “Do you have anything else to add to this conversation?”

“Yes. Be honest Daniel, it isn’t Michelle. You want Bethany Joy to be your little princess forever. A warning Daniel, the day will come when Bethany will choose to fly away from your protective nest. The man that she chooses will most likely be like you. Your harshness will break her spirit.”

Danny left the sunroom without responding to the matriarch.

“I finished moving the pots from back of the Gatehouse.”

“Good, my princess. You remind me of Pilar when she was becoming a young lady. Carmen saw every male as a potential rapist. The last straw that Carmen refused to tolerate from Pilar was climbing out of the windows at night and hitch hiking with her friends into Chicago. The next day, Pilar was packed up and sent to boarding school in Spain.”

Bethany laid her head down on Abuela’s lap where the gentle hands stroked her hair. “Do you think Pap will send me to boarding school in Spain?”

“Never sweet one. You are his only princess and the spitting image of your mother. His great passionate love for Michelle is transferred to you. Your father is fighting a future demon; the man that steals your heart. The day will come when you break his heart for the right reason. God made a man and woman to yearn and desire each other. It is the yeaning that is driving your father crazy. You must save your virginity for the right man; it is the way of the island people. But it will be different for your brothers; they will be encouraged to come to their wedding bed with experience.”

Popping up from the security of Abuela’s lap, “I get it. Pap knew how to make love to my mother and my mother was a virgin when they got married!”

Kissing the top of Bethany’s head, “You ask too many questions. Speak with your mother; she can answer that personal question.” The sparkle in her deep eyes bubbled forth as she hugged Bethany Joy, “Your father is going into the old city of San Juan; he wants you to join him.”

With the small number of bodyguards walking in front of them and behind, Danny clutched his daughter’s hand. They followed the familiar streets where local venders greeted Danny and his daughter. The cobblestone streets still lead to the pastel shops and homes with the many shades of red, purple and yellow flowers blooming in the various sizes of pots sitting on steps and above the wrought iron porches. Danny and Michelle had roamed the same streets in the late afternoon on their way to the San Cristobel Fort to watch the setting sun. Pausing to stop at one of the store windows, Danny saw the tiny reflection of Bethany in the window.

“Pap, what are you looking at in the window? Do you see something that you want to buy for Mom?”

“No, but this is the store that I bought your mother’s pearl necklace and earrings.”

Inside the store, Danny asked to see a pair of pierced cultured pearl earrings. With four pairs displayed on the black velvet tray, Danny held each pair up to Bethany’s ears. “Which pair do you like Bethany?”

Bethany picked the cluster of three tiny pearls. “Are you sure? I’m giving them to you and when you get back to Springfield, you and your mother can make arrangements to do the ear piercing.”

Spontaneously hugging her father’s neck, “I’ll be the first one in my class to have pierced ears. Thank you Pap!”

Holding Bethany tight in his arms, “I overreacted with you today and I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings. It breaks my heart to see you cry. I have to tell you that the next few years are going to be hard on your father. Time is rushing by when I want it to stop. Michelle and I only want the best for all of our children. There is a special bond between fathers and daughters. What I am saying might not make sense to you, but I want to protect and keep you safe. Watching you grow into womanhood will not be easy!”

“Oh Papa, it will be a long time before I fall in love. I don’t like the birds and bees thing.”

Smiling at Bethany’s statement, “Keep it that way for awhile!”

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Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 7

August 28, 2017

Author’s Note: It has been along time since I posted another chapter. The chapter was almost finished when I left the story for a while. I had several other projects going on at the same time. I designed and stitched a new counted cross-stitch project and in between made two “ABC Quilts” for a church project. This chapter is very long. I wanted to give you a good chapter because it maybe late in the summer before I get back to FWFS. I have a major writing project to finish for my family that will be published.

It was nice to have Danny get caught with his pants down. LOL I didn’t think about the lock on the door but that goes to show that it must be there in my subconscious thoughts. This chapter deals with a loss that I didn’t include in TMC. Reminder that I have the previous chapters archived at my own site and you may find them there. Thanks for your comments and e-mails that I have gotten from the lurkers. I continue to be shocked at the acceptance of TMC.

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 7

Michelle stood in the darkness outside of the villa on the balcony. The white cashmere sweater shielded the night chill of the ocean breeze. Pulling the long sleeves down on her arms to cover the chill bumps, Michelle gasped at the brilliant light streaking through the southern sky. The thought of where the shooting star eventually landed briefly occupied her mind. Michelle smiled at the simpler things of life, like enjoying a night sky. The heavens above kept their mysteries of where the particles from outer space landed on earth or danced across the sky to burn out in infinity. Danny had been her faithful instructor of learning the art of watching a night sky.

The quiet time at night that they shared was often spent in her resting in his arms leaning back to see the changing night sky. It became their time that they discussed what was going on at home and in the outside world that affected their home life.

Michelle broke off the saltine cracker in her mouth, which was followed with a sip of ice-cold ginger ale. The old stable ally helped with the late afternoon nausea. Between the sounds of the wafer being chewed in her mouth, Michelle listened to the waves breaking on the nearby rocks below the steep cliff. Wiping the moisture from her hands on the black Capri pants that she wore, she battled her nerves. The courage to pretend had abandoned her once again when she heard Danny’s voice inside the villa speaking to Carmen on the phone.

“They are going to be natural born sailors. It must be their pirate blood.” Danny listened to Carmen while watching Michelle standing alone on the balcony. “Mama, you either love the ocean or you hate it. They wanted to spend the night on the sailboat but we hadn’t made the preparations to do that. Michelle wants to be back on land with Gabby and Bethany Joy before the sun goes down…..Yes, it is a mother thing….Mama, I have to go, but I will be in Springfield on Wednesday and you will have Gabby and Bethany Joy all day while I am at the office.”

Snapping the cell phone shut, Danny stood inside the screen with both hands on his hips. Attentive to his wife staring out in the expanse of the darkness, Danny reflected on the quietness that had slowly increased since they had anchored the sailboat in the protective cove.

The screen door opened allowing Danny to walk out to the balcony. “Hey, your mind seems to be a thousand miles away tonight.”

“You noticed.”

“Yes and you seem more distant tonight.”

“Danny, I miss having Carmen and Abuella here with us in San Juan. They are an important part of Gabby and BJ?s lives. It seems unusual to not having them here watching us.”

“Hum, is this a new attitude change that I am hearing?” With his arms enveloped around Michelle’s upper body, “What can you see out there in the darkness?”

“I can’t see anything but the night sky and hear the soothing sounds of the ocean.”

“I was thinking about our baby.”

Danny’s arms tightened on Michelle’s waist in an effort to protect her from the pain of the loss. “The miscarriage again.”

“Danny, I hate the word-Miscarriage. It was the baby that I wanted. I was so happy to be pregnant.”

“Honey, I know that you wanted the baby, but your body discarded the fetus to correct the malformation of the cells.”

“Danny, you can stop the normal medical spin. Remember, I saw the tiny baby in the specimen jar and the baby looked normal to me. I had made plans with the baby. I was going to do everything with the baby that I didn’t do with Gabby and Bethany. Stay at home and change all the diapers. Shop for her clothes. You know the baby was a girl when I had day dreams. Danny, did you ever have any dreams with the baby?”

Swallowing to cushion his own inner pain, “Yes, I dreamed the baby was a girl. I saw you holding her in a pink blanket and you had a Jack in the Box with a hand on the crank with the music playing from the music box. The baby never had a face that I could see. I never told you because I saw it as a bad omen….Our trip to Hawaii after Thanksgiving was supposed to fix the problem.” Turning Michelle to face him, “Do you have something that you want to share with me? Bethany saw you vomiting this afternoon. And unlike her mother, she tells me everything. How many more pregnancy tests are you going to do before you tell me?”

The tears formed in the corner of her eyes, “I was afraid to display any emotion of happiness, the happiness can turn quickly to grief. There isn’t a guarantee that this baby will make it to full term. My schedule isn’t going to get easier, if anything it will get harder with more responsibility. I’m battling racing thoughts of whether it is a good time to be pregnant along side the yucky side effects of the pregnancy.” The reassuring hug from Danny with his usual kiss on top of her forehead was what she had grown accustomed to in their short marriage.

“Do you want to see a doctor here in San Juan?”

“No, not here. I’ve made an appointment with a doctor in Philadelphia that specializes in difficult pregnancies. The first pregnancy was complicated with toxemia and the second one ended in a spontaneous abortion. I’m a doctor and I know that I have to give this pregnancy the best medical care that I can.” Tapping his hand, “This time, I want to wait until I am through the first trimester before we tell Gabby and Bethany that a sister or brother is coming in the late summer.”

Tucking the always-loose strands of hair back behind her ears, “I have my own secret. After you lost our baby, I arranged to have the remains buried in the family plot in Chicago. Abuella went with Ray and me to the cemetery where the tiny white casket was interred beside my father and Mick. The tiny grave is marked simply with Baby Santos on a white marble stone with an angel holding a butterfly in her hand.”

Michelle gasped at hearing Danny’s secret. “Our baby has a tombstone!”

Sobbing in Danny’s secure arms, Danny held Michelle close to his body pausing for the right time to continue. “Honey, I’m not sure if this is the best time to have this conversation. The stress of reliving the loss of the baby can’t be good for you or this baby. Dr. Sedgwick advised me to wait until you were ready to talk about the loss of our baby. Thanksgiving came and by early December, you wanted to try to have another baby.” Grinning at Michelle, “The long weekend in Hawaii was doctor ordered and we came home with this baby.”

Raising his eyebrows, “The new baby helps to explain your behavior at Christmas in Philly. It wasn’t the quiet Christmas that we wanted with Carmen renting a suite in the Ritz Carlton.”

“Carmen will always be in our lives and I want her to feel free to visit her grandchildren. When Pilar and Bill have a baby, the focus will shift to the grandchild closer to her.”

“Danny, you and I know this baby will draw Carmen even closer to our family.”

“Yes, it will but with scanning pictures and sending e-mails, Carmen has settled down nicely into our new living arrangement. She may not like the separation but she has accepted the thousand miles separating her and the grandchildren.”

“Now, we have Carmen out of the way; what are we going to do to help the expecting mother and father?” With their fingers interlocked, Danny rested his chin on Michelle’s right shoulder. Michelle answered, “Trust God to give us another miracle with a normal delivery.”

Danny added, “Think good thoughts, eat properly Dr. Bauer-Santos, no skipped meals.”

“Danny, I do eat well when I get time to grab a meal at the hospital.”

“Michelle, the key isn’t to grab a meal but make sure that you try to put it first.”

“Danny, I promise to do better this time.”

Biting the saltine cracker in Michelle’s hand, “You ought to add some peanut butter on the crackers.”

“The idea is to soothe the acid in my tummy not add to the acid.”

“Rest is very important and the first sign of spotting, means to bed you go. Right, Michelle?”

“Yes, I will do exactly what my doctor hubby wants. Until then, can I be treated normal?”

“Michelle, when have our lives been normal? Normality would be very boring for people with our disposition.”

“Danny, I would love to have one season of normalcy.”

Lifting her chin up to the sky above, “What type of activity are we having in the sky tonight? This might be as close as we are ever going to get to being a normal couple.”

“There have been a few shooting stars in the northeast, pointing with her finger to the sky off to her right side. Orion’s belt is above us. The Southern Cross is directing us to the two Gemini.”

Danny saw the two bright stars that he knew to be in the winter sky back home. “My wife has become an astronomer!”

Pinching Danny’s cheeks, “I had a very good teacher. Danny, where do the shooters go to after we see them in the sky?”

“Ah, you are asking me?”

“Yes.”

“I think the heavens have kept that mystery for a later time to be disclosed.”

“But that is a question for the Jolly Mon as Bethany Joy would say.”

“Bethany Joy loves the book and she is satisfied that the whale is up in the sky taking care of everyone’s problems. We are very lucky to have two healthy kids with great imaginations.”

“Yesterday, it was extremely enjoyable to watch Gabby pretending to read Jimmy Buffet’s Jolly Mon book to Bethany Joy.”

“They have the pages memorized of certain books. If our next baby is a girl; it would be nice to have a Savannah Jane. Another little island girl for Bethany to play Barbie with and setting Gabby free of the Ken and Barbie world.”

Squeezing Michelle’s body closer to his chest, “Do I hear a preference being voiced here?”

“No, I don’t think that I have any preference; transference of my thoughts of a child lost to one belonging to the future.”

“Michelle, what do you think of us waiting until the baby is born to know the sex? With the number of sonograms done to follow the development of the baby, it takes the surprise out of the gender of the baby.”

“So you want to wait until the moment that the lower extremity is delivered to know the sex of this baby.”

Nodding his head indicating “yes”, “It will protect us from developing an attachment to a specific sex and God forbid if an awful tragedy occurred again.” Shifting his feet to support Michelle’s body weight and his weight, “I don’t want to ever have you go through the pain that you did last spring.”

“Never, never.”

Danny’s eyes roamed to the downtown San Juan. “I will always ascertain that the FBI agents constant harassment was the fundamental cause of the stress, which resulted in the miscarriage.”

“Danny, the FBI are never going away. They see me as the outsider with the information to solve a murder.”

“Mick is dead but his contribution to the family still haunts the future of my family.”

“Well at least, they haven’t visited me in Philadelphia.”

******

Danny blocked out the part of hearing Philadelphia and inserted a spring day in Springfield. The day had been unusually busy with one phone call after another, which prevented the concentration that he desired to review the monthly reports. Listening to the concern in Rick’s voice, Danny shoved the reports off the desk to the floor. The immeasurable anguish burned immediately inside his stomach. The unfolding event happening at the hospital was out of his control. Once more, he was in a place that he felt exposed to One with an authority and power over him.

“Danny, you have to come immediately to the hospital. Michelle had a spontaneous abortion a few minutes ago. Dr. Sedgwick wants to do a D&C as soon as possible. I know that you want to be here for Michelle.”

“I’m on my way!”

Yelling for Olga while picking up the reports off the floor, “Olga, I have to leave the house. It’s Michelle and the baby. I want you to call my mother You know the evening routine with Gabby and Bethany Joy. I might be away for the night. If they ask questions; tell them that I’ll be home after they go to sleep.”

“Se Danny, the baby is OK?”

“No, the baby isn’t OK. The baby is no more.”

Grabbing the man that she served, “Why did this happen? This will break Michelle’s heart. She wanted this baby so very much.”

Jimmy’s arrival in the house switched the focus to Danny. “Why the buzzer?”

“I’ll tell you on the way to Cedars Hospital.”

Jimmy sat in the passenger’s seat watching the speedometer of the black Porsche reach a speed above the 90-miles/per hour on the beltway with barely a reduction in speed on the downtown street exit close to the Cedars Hospital. The siren from the police car followed close to the barely visible black dot that grew to the size of a car in front of the Emergency Room. Leaving the engine running in the car, Danny told Jimmy to “take care of business”.

The automatic door opened to Danny where one of the nurses in the ER recognized Michelle’s husband. “Mr. Santos, Dr. Bauer was transferred to the OB-GYN unit.” Writing the number 301 on the note pad, she pressed the piece of yellow paper in his hand. “I’m very sorry.”

Danny acknowledged her words with a small nod of his head. “When was Michelle transferred?”

“Approximately 15 minutes ago. Dr. Sedgwick wanted Michelle to have some privacy to grieve. She is devastated.”

At the busy unit, Danny saw the room numbers listed on the plate on the wall, to his right the rooms went to the delivery room and well baby nursery and to his left was the room where Michelle laid in a hospital bed. Standing at the door for a quick moment to gather his thoughts and strength, Danny heard the voices of Rick and Michelle speaking with Dr. Sedgwick

“Danny will be here soon. I’m not going up to the OR until I see him. I have to tell him. He will blame me for not taking care of myself.” The sadness stirred in Danny’s heart with hearing Michelle’s assessment of the miscarriage.

Tapping on the door, Danny turned the metal door handle. “I’m here, honey.”

The pale color of Michelle’s face contrasted with the two bloodshot eyes. The two physicians reasoned with Michelle to explain the loss alongside giving the words of comfort to a fellow colleague. Dr. Sedgwick clutched Michelle’s hand in her own. “Danny isn’t going to blame you. This was out of our control. For a reason unknown to us, the uterus decided to expel the fetus.”

Michelle listened to the words of her trusted physician. “Did you save the fetus?”

“Yes, it is in a specimen container. As you know, the fetus can be sent to the laboratory for diagnostic studies or we can……”

Danny stepped inside the door, “Michelle- Michelle and I will make the decision together. Can I speak with Michelle in private?”

Dr. Sedgwick left the room and waited for Rick outside the door. Rick paused at the foot of the hospital bed where he patted Danny on the shoulder. “Take as long as you need.”

Danny’s warm tears merged with Michelle’s tears when his cheek brushed her cheek where his hands held her face to his face. “I wish, I had the words to heal your broken heart. Dr. Sedgwick is right. The medical reason isn’t important why the uterus expelled the baby. It can’t bring the baby back to us. Let me tell Dr. Sedgwick that I will take care of the remains.”

Danny left Michelle’s bed and opened the door to find Rick leaning on the wall. “Michelle is ready to go to surgery. There won’t be any diagnostic studies done on the baby. After Michelle leaves the room, I will call a funeral home.”

“OK Danny. If you need a burial plot, I know there are several next to Maureen.”

The orderly with the stretcher arrived and several minutes later, Danny walked alongside the stretcher to the double doors of the OR Suite. Rick pushed the round knob on the wall for the doors to open. “Danny, the procedure will take less than 5 minutes and Michelle will be in the Recovery room for at least one hour before she is brought back to the floor.  If all goes well, she will be discharged to go home tonight.”

Smiling down on Michelle, Danny leaned down to kiss Michelle one more time. “Remember I love you.”

“Danny, I love you.” The whimper of the hushed sob was the last sound that Danny heard after the doors closed.

At the end of the hallway in a solarium by himself, Danny dialed the phone to summon his cousin. “I need you to perform a service for the family. Michelle lost the baby late this afternoon. I want you to take the remains to Rundle’s Funeral Home tonight.”

Ray made the sign of the cross before he entered the room where Danny stood looking out the window. The early spring thunderstorm raged outside the window. “Danny, did Michelle have any symptoms indicating there was a problem?”

“None that she ever expressed to me.” Danny handed the paper bag to his cousin, “The funeral home is waiting for you to bring this to them. The director has a tiny casket ready for the baby. He will transfer the contents in the container to the casket. Tomorrow, you and I are driving to Chicago to bury Baby Santos with my father and Mick.”

Taking the bag from his cousin, “Is this OK with the hospital? They might be able to discover what went wrong.”

“Ray open the bag and look at the fetus in the container. The fetus isn’t a damaged goods. I want the baby buried intact and definitely not dissected baby parts. Also, I do not want Michelle seeing you leave here with the remains.”

“You are right, Danny, but how are you?”

“I haven’t had time to digest the consequences. I was the one fighting Michelle having another baby so soon after the birth of the twins with her entering a residency program in Philly. When she found out that she was pregnant in February, she was as happy as I have ever seen her. Michelle is the type of woman born to be a mother. I personally think that motherhood keeps her connected to Maureen.”

“Strange as it seems God takes what is good and gives what is good.”

Turning to his cousin, “I want you to explain the mystery to me one day.”

**************

Eighteen months later, while shaving Danny thought of the turbulent day in spring and to the day in January when Michelle announced that God was back in the giving business.

Danny rechecked the two backpacks next to the door. Inside the backpacks were the new items purchased at the Toys R Us when he and the twins had made the trip to shop for their morning sessions at the Child Care Center at the Thomas Jefferson Hospital. Michelle had given him the list and he had chuckled at the list: large bath towel for naps, crayons, finger grippers for pencils and writing pad with lines.

Michelle was two weeks overdue and the visit yesterday to her specialist had been discouraging. The baby was in the right position for delivery but he wanted to wait another week before inducing labor. Last night, Danny and Michelle had listened to the heartbeat of their baby and watched the baby stretch the arms and legs in her expanded abdomen. The baby’s name was undecided and many trial names had been written on the note pad on the bedside stand in Michelle’s fine script.

Danny closed the backpacks and went to get his morning shower. Out of the shower, Danny toweled his wet body off while he listened to the early morning messages on the answering machine. The burning question of the day was from two women in Springfield. “How much longer was the doctor going to let Michelle go before medically inducing labor?” Danny pushed the conference call button and dialed the two telephone numbers. “Good morning Carmen and Aunt Meta. Michelle went to work this morning. The baby is fine and the head is in the downward position, which is causing a lot of pressure on Michelle’s bladder. The doctor wants to wait one more week before inducing labor. He thinks the baby will come before Michelle’s next scheduled visit.”

“Yes, today Gabby and Bethany are starting preschool. They are cautiously excited….. I’ll hang around until I see that they are settled in for the morning…… They have visited the school with Michelle a couple of times…..Mama, we have been over these questions too many times to count……They are only spending the morning at the preschool. Michelle and I felt that with the new baby, they might get a bit jealous if they are suddenly out of the house all day and the baby is here at home.”

Sitting down to dry his feet, Danny saw the red numbers changing on the clock next to the bed. “They keep asking when the baby is going to come out of Michelle’s abdomen. Michelle is great with letting them listen to the baby’s heart beat and then they listen to their own hearts with Michelle’s stethoscope……I promise that as soon as I hear the word, I will call……Bye to both of you.”

Outside in the hallway, the noise of Bethany and Gabby running from their room to the nursery bought Danny’s immediate concerns back to the twins. “Hey, what are you two doing in here?” Raising his eyebrows at the two beaming faces staring up at him, “We have got to eat our oatmeal and get dressed for preschool.”

“Pap, whas tha babe?”

“Your Mommy still has the baby growing in her abdomen….Remember the baby has to be able to eat and breathe on its own before its ready to leave Michelle’s body.”

Danny had seen how their inquiring minds seemed satisfied with the simple truth. Michelle had used the stages of her pregnancy to teach Gabby and Bethany about the impending birth of their sibling. The concept of time was impossible to explain to the twins but they did understand eating and breathing in air into their lungs.

At the hospital, Michelle pulled her patient’s chart from the carousel and flopped down in her chair. On the back desk was the clear glass fish bowl with money that continued to grow with the baby pool. Each day another person lost their money when Michelle’s light was turned on signaling that she was back for another day of duty.

The staff on the Pediatric unit had given her a baby shower the first of August with many expecting an early delivery. The first of September came and went with the middle of the month finding Michelle’s pregnancy two weeks overdue. The prospect of having a medical induced labor was an unpleasant idea so much that Michelle had begged her specialist to let her go one more week.

With the new pen in her hand, Michelle began her chore of writing new orders on the stack of charts. Flipping the pages in her faithful notebook, she placed a check beside the young patients name and crossed through the note before handing the chart to the nurse. The sharp pain came out of the blue and the “Oouch!” was out of her mouth before Michelle realized the significance.

“Dr. Bauer-Santos? Is this what I think?”

Rubbing the top of her abdomen while waiting for another indication that the pain had a rhythm, “I believe the labor has finally begun. I’ll finish writing the orders and charting on the progress notes for my patients. Dr.Graham will be covering the few patients that I have. Danny has his hands full today. The twins start preschool. They are possibly on their way to preschool as we speak.” Michelle signed the last order on the chart and then extracted the cell phone from her white lab coat.

“Hi. Where are you?…..Hmm, you are still at the center…..Are you planning on spending the entire morning observing Bethany Joy and Gabby’s interaction with the other children? ”

“No, Michelle but they keep looking around to see if I am still here.”

“Danny, why don’t you tell them bye once more and walk out the door. After you do that; then come and have a cup of coffee with me.”

“Michelle, you have time to have an leisure cup of coffee with me this morning! Have they finally kicked your pregnant butt home? ”

“No, but I might be in need of my handsome husband to hold my hand this afternoon.”

After hearing Michelle’s speculation of the pending birth, “You are in labor!”

“Yes, yes, our baby is finally coming.”

“Michelle, where do you want me to meet you?”

“I’m preregistered at the admitting office. All I have to do is show up at the labor and delivery unit. I’ll wait here in the doctor’s lounge for you.”

Michelle heard the swear words in Spanish. “Of all the days for this to happen, this baby decides to make his or her entrance into the world. Gabby and Bethany are expecting me to come and get them after lunch….Well, it is going to have to be Olga and Jimmy doing what I can’t. Carmen and Aunt Meta can be here in 3 hours after I call them. The jet is on stand-by waiting for Carmen’s call. Michelle, you stay put where you are until I get to the hospital.”

Meta Bauer sat the suitcase and package down on the bench outside of the Bauer kitchen door. Abbey waited with her while she watched Freddie playing with his fleet of matchbox cars in the sandbox. “Aunt Meta, please tell Michelle that Rick and I will be coming to see her and the new baby the next weekend that Rick has off. I put a new matchbox car in the bag for Gabby and I knitted a Barbie doll sweater for Bethany’s Barbie. The baby quilt is for the new Baby Santos. Michelle has always been so appreciative of hand made presents.”

Meta smiled at Abbey, “She will love it. Michelle is surrounded with wealth but the girl has her priorities straight.”

“It was nice of Carmen to offer you a seat on the Santos jet.”

With her usual dry humor, “The two legged spider has her decent moments. Danny has made a honest effort to keep the spider in her own web and away from Michelle. Michelle living in Philadelphia with those sweet children of hers has been hard on the Bauers. I try not to think what it would be like if we had all stayed home that summer and not taken vacations leaving Michelle alone in this house. It is almost like yesterday that we came home to find Michelle gone and married to the young handsome man connected to what they call “The Family Business”. I block out the thoughts of the twins being raised under the influence of that ruthless woman.”

“Meta, Danny loves Michelle and their children with the passion that we all wanted for her.” Making a silly face with wiggling her nose, Abbey said, “Danny wasn’t Bill Lewis.”

“No, he wasn’t and now Bill Lewis is married to Pilar. I think Vanessa and Maureen gave Michelle and Bill a special gift to see the best in other people. Abbey, take care of my little buddy while I am away. I see the black spider’s car coming.”

“Aunt Meta, you have got to watch what you say. Freddie might start calling Carmen, the black spider lady. ”

“Abbey, please don’t make her into a lady.”

“How long are you going to stay with Michelle and Danny?”

“As long as she will have me.”

“Oh my, I see the duel of an aunt and grandmother on the horizon. ”

“No, both of us are well passed that stage. I want to help where I can until things settle down for Michelle. Carmen has Pilar’s daughter back in Chicago to dote on these days.”

“It saddened my heart when I saw Michelle struggling to move on with her life after the miscarriage. The sadness was with her and she put up a brave front to hide the loss. The support was here for her but they withdrew from all of us to take their love to a higher plain where they found the healing balm, which repaired the wound in their hearts.”

“Aunt Meta, the baby was a cure for Michelle’s depression.”

“I totally agree, Abbey. This baby will do wonders for Michelle. It has already erased the doubts that she would never be able to carry a child to full term.  Everyday, Michelle deals with sick babies; many suffer from complications of being born too early. When she finally holds a well full term baby, she will be free of her own guilt.”

**********

In the doctor’s lounge, Michelle made a list to give Danny. She smiled at the items on the list for Danny to accomplish in the next twenty-four hours.
1.Call and reassure Gabby and Bethany
2.Do not fill the hospital room with flowers
3.ASAP bring Gabby and Bethany to hospital to see the baby
4.Be patient with me as I adjust my schedule
5.Please no supplement bottles “Yet”
6.Be a nice host to Aunt Meta and Carmen

Michelle heard Danny’s voice long before she saw his excited face. “What type of hospital is this that you don’t have an adult wheelchair?”

“Mr. Santos, this building has only infants and children to 10 years old. May I remind you that we have chairs that fit the size of our patients. Dr. Bauer is perfectly capable of walking to the elevator and riding down to the ground level where she can walk across the quad to the Adult Services Hospital.”

Danny’s voice raised another decibel. “Get this straight -Michelle’s name is Dr. Bauer- Santos! Santos!”

Michelle took another sip of her caffeine free tea before she pushed her chair back from the table. She dropped the Styrofoam cup in the wastebasket. Draping the strap from the tote bag on her shoulder, Michelle joined her husband at the Nursing station. Speaking in a stern tone, “Danny, I’m ready.”

Danny anxiously questioned Michelle. “Ready for what? Are you ready to have the baby here?”

Stomping her swollen foot on the floor, “To walk to the Labor and Delivery Unit. You did call Aunt Meta and Carmen?”

Raising one of his eyebrows at Michelle’s question, “Yes, I did.” Danny placed his hands on his hips where he locked his thumb inside his black pants. “Ah, I hum honey, I asked a simple question.”

Michelle put her finger up to his lips. “Shhh! You got an answer from the nurse.” Michelle folded the paper in half and tucked it in Danny’s shirt pocket. “This is a list to keep you busy while I read all the medical articles that I am behind in reading.”

“OK, I get your point. I admit to being hyper but don’t you think it is a little strange that they don’t have an adult size wheel chair?”

“Danny, give it up!” Rubbing the top of her abdomen where she felt the baby’s foot kick, “Now apologize to Martha and we can go.”

Counting to ten before he responded and biting the top of his bottom lip, “Martha, I’m sorry to question the service of this fine institution….Michelle hand me your bag. It weighs a ton!” Danny walked to the elevator where he pushed the down button. Danny and Michelle rode down in silence. Walking across the quad, Danny was struck with the poignant idea that if all went well; by dinner, they would know the sex of the baby. Neither had openly expressed a preference during the pregnancy. For the first time, Danny wished for another son. The reason was simple. He wanted the infant buried in Chicago to maintain her special place in his heart.

Danny paced the imaginary circle outside the bathroom door while Michelle finished the last details of the preparations for the labor stage. “Michelle, are you sure that you are OK?”

“Danny, I maybe a little green but believe me; it is much better this way. Have you heard from our families?”

Talking through the door, “Yes, they will be landing in Philly in thirty minutes. Justina went with Olga to the preschool. Bethany and Gabby are making cookies for Carmen and Aunt Meta.”

“Danny, the contractions are getting close to five minutes apart. The labor is moving quicker than I thought it would.”

“Michelle, what do you want me to do?”

“I think the nurse might want to know and call the doctor. Dr. Marcello is in the hospital.”

“Are we going to have to go to another room for the delivery?”

“No Danny, the room is a faade. Don’t you remember the tour that we had after the birthing classes? It is a new concept with making the rooms appear more like home.”

At the hospital bed, Danny pressed the call button. “My wife’s contractions are close to five minutes apart.” The door opened from the outer core before Danny had finished telling the nurse that the doctor should be called. “The enema must have increased all the abdominal activity. We have to get Michelle hooked up to the internal baby monitor.”

In what seemed like a short time, the room was filled with a resident, intern and another nurse. Michelle was positioned on a bed with the foot dropping down at the same time that the resident started an IV. The nurse watched the intern position the probe in the opening in the uterus. The fast heartbeat sound from the monitor satisfied the staff that the probe was in the right place. “The labor is moving light speed into the final stage.”

The resident rattled off the patient’s information to the intern.”Dr. Bauer- Santos has what many describe as a silent labor. The uterus has been contracting for a while with what many feel are Braxton Hicks contractions. Her history presents with multiple preemie birth and a miscarriage in the fourth month. The expected due date is questionable but the last sonogram shows a baby with a normal six and half- seven pound weight. She is a good eight centimeters dilated. Dr. Marcello is on his way down from the OR. He wants to be here to deliver the baby.”

“Dr Santos, how are you doing? Are you still committed to a natural delivery? This is the last call for an epidural if you have changed your mind.”

“Yes, I am committed to the natural delivery and I want a local for the episiotomy.”

Patting her on the knee, “Gotcha” The nurse dropped the disposable medication on the table holding the sterile instruments. “Okay, we wait for the tiger.”

Dr. Marcello entered the room with his hands and arms scrubbed up to the elbows. “Michelle, you pulled a fast one on me. I didn’t think that we would meet this soon.” With the doctor dressed in his sterile gown and gloves, he inserted the needle into Michelle’s stretched skin to insert the xylocaine. Danny turned his head away from the overhead mirror. Next Dr. Marcello lifted the scissors to cut the skin, which would allow the baby’s head easy passage. “Mr. Santos, how would you like to catch the baby? After we have the head and shoulders out the rest will follow easy.”

“Michelle has done her part.” Danny shook his head. “I’ll cut the cord but the delivery is in your hands.”

“Danny, I want you to take the baby from my body. You can tell me the sex of our baby.”

Ten minutes later, Danny held Michelle’s hand as she screamed and pushed the head from her body. “Oh God, this hurts so bad.”

“Baby, you are doing great.”

“Michelle, we need you to really concentrate.  This is going to hurt but the baby must have some help to make one more effort to push the shoulders through the birth canal.”

“I don’t think I can do it, Danny.”

“Michelle, you can do it. Listen to me. The baby is exhausted and you have got to find the strength to push with all your might or they are going to have to use the forceps. Focus on the breathing.” With one final push, Michelle pushed with all her might to deliver the baby.

Resting in the green surgical towel was the baby that they had waited nine months for to be born. Dr. Marcello placed the baby on Michelle’s abdomen. “You have a fine baby boy.”

The scissors almost slipped out of Danny’s hand as he cut the slippery umbilical cord. His son’s movements began with the kicking of his feet and putting his thumb in his mouth to suck. The flickering long eyelashes with the white substance opened to see the bright light shining. The big dark pupils matched the eyes of Michelle, his mother. The nurse lifted the baby from Michelle to wrap the baby in the warm white baby blanket. “Little one, there is a mommy that is waiting to see you.” She held the baby boy down so that Michelle could get a closer observation of her son.

Michelle softly touched the baby’s face and kissed his forehead. “He is so big…..Danny, we have another son and he is hungry already.” Michelle guided the baby’s mouth to the nipple of her enlarged breast. With the nursing connection established between the baby and the nipple, the baby rested in Michelle’s arms, content for the first minutes of his early life.

Dr. Marcello asked the new parents, “Have you settled on a name for your son?”

Danny listened while Michelle answered the question. “No, I wanted to wait and judge the baby’s disposition. With our family being bilingual, it is important for the name to fit both families. I toyed with the idea of naming the baby after the gender of the grandparent’s names. He doesn’t look like a Miguel or Edward.”

The news of the baby’s arrival reached the Santos’s condo shortly after Olga had served the lunch to the two ladies. The business phone started ringing then the private home line when Olga picked up the phone in the kitchen.

“Se Danny.Beb est aqui!” Meta chewed a bite of chicken salad as she listened to the housekeeper.

“I don’t know many words of Spanish but I did hear the word baby.”

“Cuando? Ah ten after twelve.”

Carmen laid her napkin on the table. “Let me speak to my son!…..Daniel….Un Muchacho…I’m repeating your words to Meta…..7Ibs. 22 in. ….We will finish our lunch and walk to the hospital…..I understand. Michelle wants to tell the twins the sex of the baby herself….How is my daughter-in-law? Tell her that she did good.”

Hanging up the phone, Carmen threw an imaginary kiss up to her husband in heaven. “Olga, what florist does Danny use here in Philadelphia?”

“I’m not sure but it has the words Blue Gates. There is a card from the florist in the drawer beside the refrigerator.”

“Hum, I want to order Michelle’s favorite flowers and dinner from the Italian Restaurant for them to have at the hospital tonight. Michelle can eat fettuccini and a white cheese sauce. Daniel was fond of the salmon with rose sauce and penne noodles. Meta, we are going to eat out tonight to celebrate my new grandson.”

Danny held his son and rocked the sleeping baby while Michelle ate the light lunch. “The gang is on their way here. Where do you think the baby should be when Bethany and Gabby arrive?”

Contemplating the question, “The bassinet is a neutral ground.”

Michelle closed her eyes to catch a few minutes of rest while she waited for her twins to make their appearances. Danny kissed her forehead and slipped out of the room to place the call to the downtown florist. “I want to place an order for three dozen red roses…..First quality only. To be delivered by 11am tomorrow. On second thought, change the order to four dozen roses.” Danny choked back the words to be written on the card. “From the four little Santos Hearts.”

The elevator door opened with Gabby and Bethany arriving with their plastic zip lock bags filled with oatmeal cookies. “Pap, wee have wookies for Mommee.”

Danny scooped up the two in his arms. “Do I get a kiss and a cookie?”

Smothering Danny’s cheeks with wet kisses, both answered “Wes”

“Your mommy has somebody to show you. The baby was born today. Inside the room, your mommy and the baby are resting. Now when you touch the baby, you touch very softly. What I am telling you is important to remember; do not touch the top of the baby’s head. Do you understand?” Nodding their heads to indicate that they understood their father’s instructions.

Danny carried the two in his arms back inside to Michelle’s room. “Honey, we have visitors. Aunt Meta, Carmen and these two were hunting for the room with a new Baby Santos.” Michelle patted the two spots on the bed for the twins to sit. Her arms extended to receive their hugs and kisses. “Come here and tell me about your day at school.”

“I wade wriends and had snacke” was the first response given by Gabby.

“Bethany, did you make new friends?”

“No, Gabbyee, my wriend. Thay don’t play Barbees. Gabbyee plays Barbee whiff me. Wee play outside.”

“Hum School is a fun place to go and learn how to play with other children your age. I have someone very special in the room. Your baby brother is a sleep in the bassinet. Do you want to see him?”

“Wes.” Taping Michelle’s hand to get her attention, “Can I weed tha babee?”

“Only a mommy can feed the baby now but when he gets older, you will be able to share your yogurt and cookies with him. Your Papa is going to bring the baby here and you can hold him briefly.” With the twins resting on their knees, Danny lifted the baby’s head and torso from the bassinet and carefully laid the blanket wrapped bundle in Michelle’s arms.

Gabby touched his lips to the baby’s red cheek. “Mommy, tha babee has a wenis?”

Bethany turned Michelle’s chin to face her for a moment to ask the next question. “Tha babee made like my bratha.”

“Yes Bethany Joy, the baby is made like your brother.”

“Can my bratha kry?”

“Yes but he is resting and isn’t talking to us yet. Babies cry when they want to get our attention.”

Meta and Carmen stood at the door watching the baby’s introduction to the two three-year-olds. Meta busied her time catching the precious moments on the digital camera in her hand.

Carmen kissed Danny’s cheek, “I have to say that this is as good as it can get. Abuella would be here if she could travel but her hip surgery has kept her mobility to a minimum.”

“I know Mama; we will get her out here soon.”

Gabby’s fingers pulled the white closure back to open the carefully packed plastic bag of cookies with the intention of sharing one with his brother. “Sweetie, it is a nice gesture to share your cookies but the baby can’t bite and chew cookies yet. He doesn’t have any teeth. I see that you have brought two special people to the hospital. ”

“Mommie, Gwan mommie and Weta whur at home wheen wee got home from schykuly. Thay ahre steying fer a wong tyme.”

Combing Gabriel’s curls with her fingers, “Isn’t it nice that your grandmother and Aunt Meta could come to see us?”

“Yep.”

“Honey, why don’t you get Carmen settled in the rocker so that she can be properly introduced to her new grandson….Carmen, can you stand the thought of having another grandchild?” With his hands, he outlined the shapely figure of his young attractive mother. “You are too attractive to be the Abuella to four grandchildren.”

Reaching out to pinch her son’s cheek, “Thank you Daniel, I’m glad that you noticed.” Snuggling the baby against her body, Carmen drifted back to the time when she had held Mick, Danny and Pilar in her arms for the first time. Her smiling husband beaming with great pride at what they had created from their own love.

Carmen’s silence and far off distance stare lasted until Danny called her name. “I wish that Miguel was here to enjoy the births of all of his grandchildren. He would have been a good grandfather. Thank goodness, Abuella is still alive. She is going to love this little fellow.”

Meta bent down to see the baby’s facial features. “Michelle, I hate to tell you what my old eyes are seeing and I don’t know if I should say what I see but the baby is a replica of one of my old beaus from New York City.”

“Aunt Meta, you must be talking about the financial adviser. What was his name?”

“I’m not sure that I ever did tell you his name. Lancelot Shakespeare. With a name like that you might expect that he came from a family of frustrated entertainers. Lance and I spent many a cold night in the city walking from the financial district up to the theater district.”

“Why didn’t you marry the mysterious Lance?”

“There were many reasons but the outstanding reason and the one that I prefer to discuss; he was a east coast man and I was a Midwest gal. In my day, it was unheard of for a couple to be married and live in separate cities.”

“Your love story is sad, but if you had decided to stay in New York City; all of Springfield might have missed your lectures on what is really important in life. My brother Rick and Phillip Spaulding certainly benefited from your wisdom and guidance.”

Winking at her niece, “They were two tough cookies to crack. Rick and Phillip didn’t have mothers and it was easy to step into the role of a substitute mother. Speaking of your brother, Abbey and Rick sent a present for the little charmer….Danny, if you like, I can take Gabby and Bethany Joy back to your home. It is an easy walk.”

Shaking his head, “No Aunt Meta, I will walk everyone back to the condo. I think the excitement of the day’s events might be getting to two young kiddos.”

“Michelle, it is important that you get the needed rest while you can. Do you have everything here?”

“My bag is packed at home with my nursing bras and pads. Inside the bag are a mint green baby gown and a white flannel blanket for the baby to wear home tomorrow. You might want to take the time and put the baby carseats in both of our cars. Are you coming back tonight?”

“Yes, I plan on spending the night here at the hospital with you and our new son.”

“On the top of my bedside stand is a book for baby names. Please bring it back tonight.”

Kissing Michelle on her lips, “Sure, but can the baby leave the hospital without a name?”

“Yes. I can’t wait to be home with the baby but I want him to leave the hospital with a name. Baby Santos isn’t very charismatic sounding. If I have one regret in my life; I didn’t give our last baby a name.”

Tucking her loose curls back behind her ears, “I hear what you are saying. We will take care of the naming business tonight.”

“Okay, Gabby and Bethany Joy, it is time to hug and kiss Mommy goodbye.” Planting their kisses on Michelle’s cheek and hugging her neck, they sled down the bed to go and get a last glance at the baby that was getting a lot of attention in their grandmother’s arms.

Tapping Carmen’s arm, “Granney, you hav to gibe the babey back to Mommie.”

“I know. I was getting properly introduced to my grandson. Do you want me to put the baby in the bassinet?”

“Wes.”

“Hum, do I sense a bit of jealousy here?”

“Carmen, let us get going before the “J” word really starts.”

The late summer afternoon was beginning to show the change coming soon in the weather with the cool refreshing air hitting their faces as they exited the hospital door. The Santos family strolled home walking through the park where Gabby and Bethany ran to the vacant seesaw. The seesaw lost its fascination for the swing sets standing unused. The request from Bethany of “Push me higher” highlighted the adventuresome spirit of one twin. Gabby was content to pump with his own legs to push his swing higher. The promise of an ice cream cone at the corner ice cream shop stopped the play in the park.

The older shop owner smiled down at his two young customers. “What flavor are we eating tonight?”

“The usual for me, Sammy, and my mother and Meta will have the lemon sorbet.” Danny lifted the twins to see inside the glass-cased freezer where all the 52 flavors of ice cream sat in the large round cardboard containers.

“Banilla pleeasz”

“Jocolate for mee”

“Where is the Doctor this afternoon? I haven’t seen her in the store since she came in and got the two gallons of hand packed chocolate ripple ice cream.”

“Michelle had our new son today! The only food item that she craved during the two pregnancies was chocolate ripple ice cream. She didn’t like running out of the item at home.”

Handing the small cones to Gabby and Bethany, “Now, I know why you two like vanilla and chocolate ice cream.”

Sitting at the round table, Carmen and Aunt Meta watched the twins licking their cones with their dark pink tongues. At a certain point, Gabby and Bethany exchanged the cones. “Hum, I don’t know how hygienic it is for them to continue to share their cones but it is so sweet and cute to watch.”

“I agree with Meta. Danny, why don’t you ask for the two flavors on one cone.”

Lifting his left eyebrow, “We tried that once, but Gabby doesn’t like the flavors mixed. Michelle has taught them to share and they share everything including switching ice cream cones.”

A half-hour later, Danny sat at the computer desk and connected the digital camera cable to the tower and sent the new images of his family to computer screens at Rick Bauer and Pilar Lewis’s home.

Michelle and I have another living extension of our love. I know our love will go on forever. D&M.

Down the hallway, Meta placed the wrapped package from Abbey on the rocker in the Nursery. The soft yellow walls with the abstract white and blue sky and clouds dabbed over top of the base paint resonated with joy and peace. The room reflected the inner emotions of her niece. On top of the dresser was a family picture of Michelle in the early stage of the last pregnancy with Danny, Bethany Joy and Gabby taken on the beach in San Cristobel. Michelle’s life had come circle. In the past two years, all of Meta’s doubts had been erased. The tormented teen years had been replaced with the peace and joy that a woman discovers in motherhood.

Opening each of the four drawers, Meta saw the neat organized baby clothes, which was evidence of Danny’s skills. The flashback to the clutter in Michelle’s closet then and to the neatness now in her home showed how Danny ran his home with the help of Olga. Olga had done what she had failed to do with Michelle. Taking a baby gown and another undershirt from the drawer, Meta added the two items to the white baby shawl and infant white socks.

“Meta, you didn’t have to do this chore!”

Smiling back at the man with his folded arms, “I wanted to help where I could. Michelle is known for traveling light and I added the extras for the baby in case the baby spits up on his coming home clothes. Carmen is reading to Gabby and Bethany Joy in their room. It only takes one to read and I got the hint pretty quickly that is her domain.”

Rolling his eyes and smiling, “My mother can do that to people. She does it with Abuella also.”

“Michelle described the Nursery to me over the phone. She did a good job!”

Danny unfolded his arms to touch the baby bed, which Mick had made. “Everything in the room is new except The Pirate Bed. Michelle and the twins use to love climbing in the bed to read. Your niece taught them how to jump up and down on the bed. We had a hard time getting Bethany and Gabby to accept twin beds; the Pirate Bed has been their only bed that they could recall. Michelle finally told them a little white lie that the baby had to have the bed to sleep in at night.”

“So the Santoses didn’t have funds to purchase another bed! Business must be bad back in Springfield.”

“Meta, business couldn’t be better, but I’m sure that your ears don’t want to hear details.”

Astonished at Danny’s honesty, “You have got that right. I think we should move on to a safer subject, food. Your mother ordered dinner for Michelle and you from a restaurant, which both of you like.”

“Carmen told me.”

“Danny, I might be overstepping our set boundaries but I often wondered what happened to Dr. Heidi Rasmussen after she left Springfield?”

Leaning back against the wall, Danny answered Meta’s question. “Heidi has a new job back in New York City.” Pausing for a moment before giving out additional information, “You didn’t have any personal knowledge of Dr. Rasmussen but she was unable to have children. Regardless of your personal opinion, Heidi was an advocate for Michelle and I admit to my own interest. She identified with Michelle and the female doctor issues. At the time, Michelle was in need of a mentor. Michelle was a young mother of twins struggling with a mother’s guilt of not being picture perfect to Gabriel and Bethany Joy. Michelle was close to walking away from her professional dream. If I had to, I would have made a pact with the devil to make Michelle’s dream come true.”

The sudden angst of the night came rushing out of the place that stored the unpleasant memories of his life. Stepping closer to Meta, the tone and flow of Danny’s voice changed to frighten the older woman. “I don’t know if Michelle shared with you, but I gave her the chance to walk clear away from me. I offered Michelle the freedom of flying out of my life and release from what I am sure the Bauers saw as an imprisonment.”

Speaking in a calming voice, “My niece never bought her married life to me, maybe to Abbey. It is obvious to everyone that was concerned that she chose to stay in the Santos family. The Nursery, in itself is a message of her lifetime commitment to you. I may have celebrated many birthdays but my old eyeballs can see the endearing behavior and actions, which Michelle and you share. Love can soften the hardest of hearts. The love that both of you have is the purest kind of love.”

“The Bauers are pretty strong headed and have been known to make a few mistakes. Abbey made a quilt for the baby and I was to inform you of their impending visit later this fall. Possibly about the time of the peak color changes in the fall.”

Danny smiled at how far Meta and he had come in their relationship. “Uncle Rick’s antics are entertaining to Gabby and BJ. Freddie Bauer is their only Bauer cousin and I want the twins to connect to that side of the family, also. I do have to get back to the hospital.” Clutching the small book of baby names in his hand, “I’ll add this to what you have gathered. Thank God that Michelle has room in her heart for all of us.”

The catered dinner was in the process of being set-up when Danny slowly opened the door to Michelle’s hospital room. “I smelled the aroma of the seasonings outside in the hallway. Can you believe all of this food? There has to be enough to fed the staff.”

“Honey, I’m starving. After you and I eat then we can open it up to the staff. How is my son doing?”

“Your son was starving, same as you. He is a quick learner and has down pat the breast feeding.”

“A son after the ole man huh!” Peeking at his sleeping son in the wooden cradle, “He has already started to change since I last saw him. Can I serve a plate for you, Michelle?”

“Please but go light on the salad dressing.”

“You might like to know that Meta and I had a civil discussion earlier this evening.”

“Hum now what does that mean?”

“Exactly what I said, we kept our attack dogs in the kennel.”

Carefully gauging Danny’s comment, “Aunt Meta has always treated you with respect; she will speak her mind when pushed.”

“Honey, I’m specifically talking from the time of the Christmas night dinner at the Bauers till today. Your Aunt has had an attitude adjustment or has an accommodating new vision of your life with me.”

“Oh how I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to have heard this conversation. I can see it now! You had your arms folded with your eyebrows arching depending on how the conversation was going.”

“Stop making fun of my idiosyncrasies! You do know me.”

“Well, to tell you the truth, I have seen you react with the folded arms, arching eyebrows and hurt puppy dog look on several occasions.”

With the two filled plates in his hands, Danny approached the bed. “I’m the luckiest man in the world.” Softly kissing Michelle on the cheek, “Maybe, we should try and do this again next year.”

Michelle wrinkled her nose at Danny. “The way my bottom feels at this moment, I have no intentions of being a mother again.” Their eyes connected for the brief time and the spell was broken when Michelle spoke, “I am the lucky lady for I walked into a college night club with few expectations and left with a very handsome man that was going to take me on a life altering journey.”

The flashing snippets of their brief history emerged in her mind. Her sassy conversation with a mysterious man, the smell of his cologne, dancing in the security of his arms, the whirlwind courtship, a wedding chapel at night, the camping trip to El Yunque, their first road trip around the exotic island, the raging hurricane and birth of the twins on New Year’s Day, a tiny white grave marker in Chicago and now a new healthy son sleeping a few feet from her.

“Danny, I am the fortunate one….All the many years that Aunt Meta has been in my life, she seldom talked of the time, which she spent in New York City. There was a tiny rumor of leaving her heart in the city. Today, for the first time, I can understand her sacrifice. Aunt Meta was there for me when my father wasn’t. What I am going to ask is totally unplanned. I want to give our son a name, which reflects our heritages. Lance gives off nice vibes with a touch of mystery. In the Spanish section of the baby names, I saw Pascal and it keeps popping up in my mind. The name just seems to fit our son. I like the sound of Pascal Santos.”

“Michelle, are you sure of the names? We don’t have to rush into naming our son. Why don’t we try out the names and see if they fit his personality. He is different from Gabby and Bethany. They were demanding of everyone’s attention for months. This baby is quiet and very content to be with you.”

Danny set his plate aside on the table. Lifting the sleeping baby boy from the cradle, “Honey, I forgot how tiny and light a baby was until I held our second son in my arms.” Repeating the name out loud, “Lance Pascal Santos.” The eyes of the baby blinked with the long black eyelashes opening and the baby stretching his arms and legs to the full body length. The beaming smile on Danny’s face spoke the words, which Michelle shared with her husband.

When I heard the news, there’ll be baby shoes in your near future.
I waited and wondered if they would be pink or blue.
No one had to tell me what a heart beat means. It was a heart beating with a bit of you and me.
The words can’t describe what I see. It was going to be a little of you and me. Words can’t describe how I feel inside; life is such a wonder.

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 6

August 27, 2017

Republisher’s Note: Manny and the twins celebrate New Year’s.

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis – Chapter 6

Danny washed Gabby and Bethany’s hands once more before he allowed the two to add the plain M&Ms to the two cakes with the foamy seven-minute frosting. In front of Gabby and Bethany Joy sat a plastic white bowl filled with M&M candies. Unable to resist the multi-colored candies, the fingers went into the bowl picking out their favorite color.

“Honey, you have got to accept the fact that the cakes aren’t even but they will serve their purpose. Please let Gabby and Bethany go ahead and stick the M&Ms in the frosting. They can’t resist eating the candy. Next year, Aunt Meta is coming with us to San Juan to help you make the birthday cakes.”

“Why is it that everyone cringes when I insist on baking the cakes? It must have something to do with the moisture or the altitude down here and adjusting the oven temperature.”

“Michelle, I think that it is the way that you put the batter in the pans and then again it might be the fact that you don’t make a cake but once a year.”  Hugging his arms around her waist, “But I love your determination to do this for our children.” Pointing to the refrigerator, “It looks like the cakes will have to be kept in the refrigerator to keep them from sliding off the plates.”

“Well, Abuella told me that she had used the refrigerator once for the same purpose when she first got married.”

“When are we going to celebrate the big number two birthdays?”

“Dr. Pasteur said that he could come after 5PM for drinks and Carmen and I are going to decorate the patio during nap time.”

“Good, we will have the birthday party early. I made reservations at a restaurant for 11pm tonight to ring in the New Year with my sexy wife. Carmen and Abuella have agreed to baby-sit tonight if we get back before 6AM.”

“Hum, we haven’t stayed out that late since Gabby and Bethany were born. Do you think that we can make it till 6AM?”

Rubbing his hands over Michelle’s derrire, “We can use our imagination to last the night away.”

Finally the last M&Ms rested in the foamy frosting with each cake having its share of the candy. Climbing down off the padded stool, Bethany Joy ran to the nearest bathroom to her potty chair where Gabby followed to watch his sister take the next step in her growth and development. The confusing and challenging time had him frustrated. Danny had demonstrated the male urinating stand up position repeatedly and it worked if Gabby was outside but watching Bethany inside bolstered the confusion of deciding when did you sit and when did you stand.

If one had to go, then the other twin tried to copy the other twin’s behavior. Gabby had many accidents with his toilet training falling quickly behind that of his sister. The fear of sitting on the large commode and the noise of the flushing water was more than his young body could handle. Their individual personalities had been seen from the beginning days after their birth but after two years; it had become evident that they preferred certain toys and Bethany was ready to be toilet trained. Gabby struggled with the toilet training because his body wasn’t ready for the process. He curiously watched the process with making attempts to copy his sister by removing his disposable training pants. His excitement came in the unwinding of rolls of toilet paper and running through the house with the paper. The discovery of the unwinding paper provided the comical relief that his parents needed with him. Danny and Michelle finally had to confiscate the rolls of paper and put them in the cabinet underneath the sink with kid-proof locks to ensure having tightly wrapped toilet paper.

Michelle watched as her husband sat on the floor with Gabby and Bethany Joy building the two buildings with the large plastic snapping blocks. Gabby excelled in the finger dexterity and was easily entertained with the various shapes that Danny built. He always added on where Bethany usually spent her time taking the shapes apart and trying to put it back together.

With the beach bag prepared for the morning beach trip, Michelle grabbed her nylon briefcase to look over the final applications to submit to hospitals in Philadelphia. The choices would be decided by the national placement system but she had limited the applications to only hospitals in the Philadelphia area. Danny’s visit in the fall had secured the Santoses safety. Unknowingly Michelle had met the mob leader at Danny’s Homecoming football game at the luncheon held at the Yellow Britches Restaurant overlooking the Schuylkill River. The men in the fraternity had arranged Michelle’s sitting beside the well-spoken Italian man with a specific intention in mind. At the end of the luncheon, Michelle’s classy behavior had wrapped the deal and won the future protection of her family.

What she wanted the most hadn’t happened. Michelle wanted another baby, but Danny had insisted that it was either a new baby or the residence program but not both. The decision had been hard especially after she had weaned the toddlers from nursing. She missed the closeness and quiet time that only she could give Gabby and Bethany Joy when they nursed at her breast. Danny had promised her that there were going to be more children in the future but the immediate future was out of the question. Weighing the yellow manila envelopes, she checked the postage stamp cost and unrolled the roll of stamps and began counting the stamps for each envelope. With the wet paper towel, Michelle applied the stamps and returned the applications back to her briefcase refocusing her attention to the three people on the floor.

Kneeling down on her knees to be near her husband and her two children. “Can I play with your Legos?”

“Wes, Mommie.”

“Bethany Joy, what are you making?”

“Ah pish”

Gabby joined the triangle piece to the tall stack of Legos, “My tiehower.”

Snapping several of the soft pastel colored Legos together to form a kite, Michelle showed her creation to the busy and contented children.

“Honey, did you take the red wagons back down to the boat shed after Carmen and Abuella used the wagons yesterday at the coffee plantation?”

“I didn’t, but Dietz took the wagons down to the shed when they got back last night. Are you ready to go down to the beach?”

“Yes. Today is spectacular and I want to swim in the warm water with Gabby and BJ this morning. I promised both of them before they went to sleep last night that we would build a giant sand castle this morning with their new sand castle making toys from Carmen’s sister. It was nice of her to remember their birthdays.”

“Yesterday, Mama and Abuella had a special outing with Gabby and Bethany Joy at the plantation. They got to show off their great and grandchildren to the family that lives on the plantation. You know Carmen was proud of the fact that Gabby and Bethany Joy spoke only Spanish while they were visiting Carmen’s family.”

“Oh yes, that remains a sticking point with Carmen and me; she gave me a tape of Spanish phrases in my Christmas stocking this year.”

Smiling with the grin of killer grins to Michelle, “I think I remember telling you to learn a little more Spanish in your spare time once before myself!”

“Yes, you did tell me to learn Spanish but you were really mad at me that day. I didn’t take it as a serious challenge then, but my children can speak and understand the Spanish language better than I can.”

“Well baby, the bar has been set by your own children; you are going to have to get serious and learn the language.” Leaning over to Michelle’s lips, “You are out numbered!”

“I know.”

***********

“So we are building an official Santos Castle where the prince and princess lives with the king and queen on an island far out in the ocean.”

“Mommie, Gabbee the preence, Daddee the keeng, mee the preencenzes.”

“Yes, sweetie but we are going to build the castle on the beach this morning.”

“Gabbee twook my sphoon.”

“Bethany, you switched shovels with Gabby….Gabby, what do you want to eat for lunch?”

Continuing to play with the Legos, Gabby reguested, “Wrapes, cookey, peewutputter.”

“And Bethany, what would you like to eat for lunch?”

“Galley, peewutputter and gewce.”

“Funny, but I packed all the right goodies. Danny, do you want your usual lunch?”

Reaching to touch Michelle’s thigh underneath the khaki shorts to briefly massage her upper thigh, “The usual is fine but can I have a nookie for my midday reward?”

“I think you need to start watching where you are putting your hands when the kiddos are alert and watching our every move. To answer your last question, it all depends on how quickly Gabby and Bethany go down for their afternoon naps. They usually collapse in their bed at home after the workout that Olga and Justina give them in the mornings but Bethany has been fighting her afternoon nap here. ”

“Michelle, Bethany Joy is testing your patience. She isn’t use to having you home in the middle of the day and Bethany knows how to pull at your heart strings.”

Packing away the Legos in the fishnet storage bag and admiring the almost finished products, Danny and Michelle each started undressing a twin and redressing in a swimsuit with a generous supply of suntan lotion. Bethany’s bright lime green swimsuit with colored frogs contrasted to Gabby’s navy blue swimsuit. Bethany squirmed from Michelle’s lap when she started to brush her daughters thick curls up into a ponytail Danny snapped Bethany into his arms. “Bethany Joy, don’t you want to wear your hair like Mommy today?”

“No, it whurts.”

“Bethany, if you didn’t wiggle all over the place; Mommy wouldn’t pull your hair and it wouldn’t hurt as much. If you are going to play and swim in the water, you have to keep your hair out of your eyes. Will you let me put your hair in a ponytail?”

“NO!”

Michelle smiled at her daughter’s answer. “Oh yea I’m the only sucker that Bethany pulls the heart strings deal on down here in San Juan. Danny, Bethany’s hair is thick and she has tight curls even with the hair conditioner. The ponytail isn’t worth the fight.”

“Michelle, you are letting the princess off the hook to easy. At home, she allows Olga and Carmen to brush her hair.”

Reaching for Bethany, “Well, that is in Springfield and right now she is with me. Besides Gabby has been known to raise hell at the hair dresser when he goes with you to get a haircut.”

“But Gabby sat in the chair and did get his hair cut.”

“Danny, he sat in the chair on your lap and you had his arms and hands locked in a vice grip with your hands.”

“Gabby and Bethany know when I mean business.”

“Oh yea Danny, obedience by force.”

“Honey, you are the doc but you need to read the next chapter in your growth and development book, Gabby and Bethany Joy are going into the Terrible Twos.”

“Danny, I refuse to agree with you all the time. I want to explain to them why I want them to react in a behavior that is acceptable. The Terrible Twos don’t have to be terrible.”

“Oh the Bauer think tank is issuing a decree to the Mean Santos think tank.”

“Indeed not, I’m just saying that there are other options to lead the young ones through the Terrible Twos and survive with our minds intact. ”

“Touche.”

“It is time to get the soon to be twos down to the beach. I’ll walk down to the lower level to let Carmen know that we’re out of the house and I’ll join you on the terrace where the steps go down to the rocky shoreline. I have to change into my bikini before I can meet you at the steps. Did you call the guardhouse to tell them that we are going to be on the beach?”

“Yes.” Danny lifted Gabby and Bethany Joy from the white marble floor and quickly went to the lower level in search of Carmen.

With the large beach bag hung over her left shoulder, Michelle grabbed the small cooler in the other hand and exited the screened French doors. At the top of the steps, Danny waited with Carmen and the twins for Michelle.

“Good morning, Michelle. You look gorgeous this morning and with a figure that flatters the bikini. Don’t you think so, Danny?”

Glancing at his wife’s body from the top of her head, he paused with his eyes resting on her breasts and the hourglass figure. “Michelle doesn’t have one stretch mark which I can attest to but the bikini isn’t bad on my eyes either.”

“Danny can take some credit for that. He did help with applying the cocoa butter lotion to my expanded abdomen. Carmen, are you joining us down on the beach?”

“No, I have to sort and wrap the birthday presents for Bethany Joy and Gabby. Maria ordered certain items and I added onto her order. Dietz is putting together the tricycles in the basement. Maria has cooked the ice cream custard and is busy making homemade ice cream for our party. Oh Michelle, I did bring a package of the tofu hot dogs for the children to eat at the party. It is beyond me how they eat the tofu dogs!”

“Carmen, the tofu takes on the taste of the seasonings. They haven’t been exposed to the junk food hotdogs or at least I don’t think they have.”

Avoiding the question, “You young people must get going down to the beach. I may join you later after I finish wrapping the gifts. Daniel, do you want me to carry one of my grandchildren down the steps?”

“No, Michelle and I can handle everything. You go and do your grandmother thing.”

The sandcastle grew with Danny and Michelle building the base and digging out the mote around the castle. Outside the castle, Gabby and Bethany kept busy filling the plastic red buckets with ocean water and carrying the buckets to the castle where they filled the mote with water. The dry white sand absorbed the vanishing water, which puzzled the twins. With the walls of the castle two feet tall, Danny lifted Gabby over the inside walls of the castle where Bethany Joy soon joined him.

“Gabby and Bethany are prisoners in the Santos castle. Michelle, shall we feed the prisoners peanut butter sandwiches, grapes and cookies or give them water to drink?”

“They look hungry to me so I vote to feed the prisoners after we swim in the water to remove the sand covering everybody’s bodies.”

Michelle extracted the two toddlers and ran toward the water running from Danny. The splashing water of the three jumping in the water was caught on the video camera with Danny directing Michelle to swim away from Gabby and Bethany in hopes of catching the twins swimming to Michelle. In seconds, Danny was smiling at the scene that he had on the screen. “Perfect, Michelle!” Gabby and Bethany hadn’t hesitated at all to swimming in the ocean. Stopping the recording, Danny laid the recorder down on the blanket and ran to join his family in the water.

With the water up to his waist, he dived under the water and came up with Bethany in his arms. “Honey, the water is great and did you see how Gabby went under the water first instead of Bethany?” Danny’s smile revealed his beautiful white teeth. “They are both comfortable in the water. Thanks to you. I knew they were OK with a pool but now they seem OK with the ocean. How do you feel about taking them out sailing tomorrow?”

Michelle gazed beyond Danny’s face to the Santos sailing boat. “Only if Jimmy and Justina can go out with us; Gabby and Bethany are so active that I don’t think that I could handle them both if we got into high winds with the boat leaning on the sides. I know that you tether them to the boat with lines but it is scary.”

“The new book that you gave them about the seahorse and the pearl has become their favorite. I thought being out on the sail boat might give them the chance to experience the ocean where the animals live. Gabby wanted to know where did the seahorse sleep. It gave me an idea. Pilar and Bill are arranging for a salt water aquarium to be set up at our house with sea horses and bright colored tropical fish. Gabby and Bethany can feed the fish and help take care of the tank.”

“Danny, you never fail to surprise me with your generosity with our children. I tend to think of the simple gifts. It has to be the difference in the way that we were raised.”

Bethany held onto Michelle’s arm, “Mommy, I wungree.”

“OK, it is time to eat, we came out to rinse the sand from our suits and skin. I’ll give you a shove back toward the beach.” Pushing Bethany’s body across the water, Bethany kicked with all her might to reach the beach with her Mom following her to the shoreline. Behind the ladies, Danny had Gabby on his back as he did a modified breaststroke to the shore. Danny with Gabby reached the shallow water first where Danny lifted Gabby out of the water and threw him up in the air. “Good job swimming, Gabby!”

Michelle emerged from the water adjusting the tiny straps on the bikini top with the outline of her hardened nipples showing through the turquoise swimsuit fabric.

“Do you know how sexy you are in a wet bathing suit?”

“Danny, you are a man and men get erections with visual excitement of seeing female anatomy.”

“Michelle, I like what I see and we haven’t had sex for five days with you having your period. After the kids eat, I can take them up to Carmen for their baths. The beach will be ours to do as we please if you get my drift.”

“Honey, I’m very aware that Carmen knows that we catch up on our sexlife here, but I still feel uncomfortable watching Carmen watching our every move. I prefer to make love in the privacy of our bedroom this afternoon so keep your engine running.”

“Hmm, it is running and I can’t wait to make love to you this afternoon and all night.”

Michelle gave a quarter of the peanut butter sandwich to Gabby and Bethany with a box of apple juice with a straw. Danny opened the plastic bowl of cold grapes for the four to eat with their sandwiches and unwrapped his tuna on rye bread sandwich with the slices of sweet pickles. Biting into the sandwich, Danny winked at Michelle. This sandwich is very good. I can’t understand how you can make a decent tuna sandwich and never taste the final product.”

“Maria showed me exactly how to mix the tuna with mayonnaise and horseradish when I was pregnant. It was one thing that I could do to learn to prepare your favorite sandwich.” Michelle licked the spoon clean of the peach yogurt then chose a piece of celery with peanut butter and raisins to eat in between the mixture of red and white grapes.

Danny and Michelle slowly sipped the Sangria while watching Gabby and Bethany eating the second quarter of their sandwiches. Gabby finished first and was rewarded with a soft oatmeal cookie that peeked Bethany’s interest. Bethany slowly chewed the unfinished sandwich before finally offering the wheat bread with the sticky ingredients to her Daddy.

“Bethany, Daddy isn’t eating your sandwich. If you want the cookie then you have to eat the sandwich or have a half of a cookie.”

“Wookee bleease.”

Michelle tore the cookie in half and gave the one piece to her daughter. “She still has a small appetite at mealtime that matches her petite body.”

“Honey, she is following your example and Carmen’s.” Lifting Bethany up to sit on his lap, “Bethany Joy is Daddy’s princess. And Gabby is going to always take care of his sister. Right Gabby?”

“Si, pah-pah.”

Hugging Gabby, Michelle smothered Gabby’s face with kisses. “You are the best brother. It is time to pack up, go get a shower and take a nap. We are having a birthday party this afternoon for Gabby and Bethany Joy.”

Standing under the outside showers, the warm water rinsed the shampoo and soapsuds down and off the four nude bodies. With the baths finished, Danny and Michelle dried their bodies and quickly got dressed while the twins jumped up and down with their feet splattering the water as it ran down the drain. The soft white towels surrounded each twin after they were wrapped in the security of the arms of a parent. Giggling with joy and hugging the parent dressing them, Gabby and Bethany with the appropriate blue and pink pull up training pants and San Juan tee shirts are whisked up into Danny’s arms and carried up the steps in the villa to the bedroom that they share.

Depositing Gabby and Bethany on the queen size bed across from the bedroom where he hoped to soon join his wife, Danny started the daily afternoon routine of preparing the twins for their naps. The two paper cups of water were set down on the bedside table after Gabby and Bethany took their sips of water that followed the activity of using their bed for a trampoline.

“OK, you have had enough jumping on the bed. Here are your blankets and teddy bears.”

“Wead wook Mommee wead wook.”

“No Mommy and Daddy are going to take a nap. I want you to stay in the bed and get your nap. This is quiet time just like what we do everyday when we are home.”

“Pah-pah wark?”

“No Gabby, Pap is resting with Mommy in our bedroom. I have theBeauty and the Beast tape in the tape player and you can listen to the story and music until you fall asleep. I love both of you very, very much.” After starting the tape player, Danny closed the wooden blinds completing the napping preparations.

Pausing outside the bedroom, Danny waited a minute to see if the two stayed in the bed. The quietness was good so far; the only noise was the tape player. Walking softly a few steps, Danny stopped to see if the noise level was still the same. This time, he heard the voice of Bethany and the sound of feet walking on the hardwood floors. Turning in the hallway, Danny caught Bethany and Gabby standing on the floor with books in their hands. Trying to keep from smiling, Danny stood with both hands on his hips. Raising his eye brows, “What are you two doing out of bed? Get back in the bed and you can keep the books to look at the pictures. If I catch you out of the bed again, I will spank your bottom. I can hear you in the hallway making noise in here.”

The noise coming from their bathroom was Michelle brushing her teeth. “Hey baby, I think the troops are settled. They have both gotten out of the bed once and I caught them in the act getting a book to read.”

Grinning at his wife with the mouth full of toothpaste,”I’ll brush my teeth to get rid of the tuna taste and we can begin our nap.”

“Did you tell a little fib to Gabby and Bethany?”

Spitting the contents of his mouth in the sink, “You bet that I did! I am looking forward to the day when we can have a vacation by ourselves.”

“Danny, you are saying that at this minute, but I know that you can’t stand being away from Gabby and Bethany Joy.”

“True, but we have got to rethink these family vacations with the grandmothers. Sometime this year, I want us to go to Hawaii by ourselves. In the mean time, we can have some fun here in our villa on the bed in our bedroom.”

Backing Michelle against the shower door, “Let the fun begin.”

Giggling at Danny’s suggestion, “Your engine is roaring.”

Michelle’s hair covered Danny’s fingers on the side of her head where he leaned down to kiss the space in between her left ear and shoulder blade. The slow intentional movements of Danny’s tongue up Michelle’s neck to the exposed ear stirred the moaning of a woman desiring to be close to the man as only a woman can be with a man.

Danny whispered, “What is it with us making love in the bathroom when we have a comfortable bed less than twenty feet away?”

The voice purring answered, “It is the adventure of being risque. ”

“We don’t need your blouse anymore.” Placing a kiss on her lips after he unbuttoned the small white pearly buttons on her blouse. “The khaki shorts can go.” The disappearance of each item of clothes from their bodies went quickly until they both stood naked in the bathroom. Swallowing the room air in his nostrils, “The feeling of your skin next to my skin is the best sensation next to screwing.”

“Danny, you are the romantic one. You have the magic fingers and your kisses aren’t bad. What position are you up for this afternoon?”

“How about doing the Clan of the Cave Bear?”

“Hum, I left the bedroom door open.”

“It is only you and me upstairs with Gabby and Bethany sleeping across the hallway.”

With her hand in his, they walked to the bedroom where Danny mounted Michelle from behind. The rocking motion finished with Michelle resting on her knees and elbows with Danny plunging in deep into her vagina. The warm natural vaginal fluids lubricated Danny’s full erection where he waited until her vagina adjusted to his penis. His upper body held Michelle’s hips against his lower body pushing with all the strength that he could muster into the narrow space that provided Michelle an orgasm. Danny fell forward with the final thrust expelling his semen fluid in Michelle. The two collapsed in a prone position with Danny resting on top of Michelle. Their wet bodies sticking to each other from the energy exhausted in the sex act.

“Michelle, I love banging you from the rear but damn it is exhausting. You are great at moving and lifting up your bottom, which gives me better and deeper plunging motion. Tonight, we do your favorite position in celebrating Gabby and Bethany’s birthday.” The feather touch on his big toe startled Danny. Danny lifted his head to look at the four dark brown eyes starring at his nude body. “Michelle, we have company at the foot of the bed. Shit, I don’t know how long they have been here.”

“Dam it Danny, they have seen you screwing me.”

“Michelle, be still and I’ll take care of them.”

“Why are you out of the bed again?”

Bethany showed her father the book in her hand. “Mommee wead wook.”

Evaluating the situation that he was in with the twins, “OK, Mommy will read the book; then you are going to take a nap this afternoon.” Positioning his body to hide Michelle’s nakedness, “Scoot under the sheet. Bethany, what book do you want Mommy to read to you?”

“Cee whorse and purl.”

“I think Mommy has read this book to you every night since Christmas Day.”

Danny pulled each twin up on the king-size bed with Michelle piling the pillows behind her back making a cozy nest for Gabby and Bethany to snuggle beside her in the bed.

“Pay-pah nayked.”

Smiling at Danny, “Yes, Daddy is naked and cold without his clothes. I think Daddy should go to the bathroom and get dressed.”

“Pah-pah wurt Mommee.”

“Michelle don’t try and explain this to Gabby and Bethany. It is evident that their young eyes saw us doing the deed.”

“No, Daddy didn’t hurt Mommy, but we made each other feel good. Daddy put you in bed to take a nap and you disobeyed Daddy. You came in our bedroom when we wanted to spend time by ourselves.”

Michelle opened the thin gray-blue covered book with the picture of the sea creatures and a bright star in the night sky. The Seahorse and Pearl written by Mischa Damian.” Do you see the seahorse, Gabby?”

Gabby pointed with his fingers at the greenish creature.

“Bethany, what does the seahorse have wrapped in his tail?” Pointing at the white object, “Purl!”

Michelle waited for the twins to look at the pictures on both pages.

Look up above! Cried the little seahorse Why is it so bright tonight? The puffer fish didn’t know, so the little seahorse swam to the top of the ocean to investigate. What a surprise was waiting for him! Countless fishing boats sailed by, but no nets were cast. Hundreds of birds flew across the shy, and above shone a star, brighter than any star he had ever seen.

Michelle read the last three pages to the two sleeping toddlers with Danny repeating the lines from memory.

The star is no longer moving, the dolphin announced. Its stopped over the land, said the seahorse sadly. We can’t get there. The little king will never see our pearl. At that moment, the dove flew by. Come little seahorse, he called. I’ll take you with me! Swift as an arrow they flew, and soon they saw the stable. The star was directly overhead. The dove, with the seahorse on his back, flew down, and into the stable they went. The little seahorse looked at the little King for a long time. I bring you all the best wishes from the undersea creatures, he said quietly, sliding the pearl into the Child’s hand. The Child smiled at him. And from that night on, whenever the little seahorse remembered the Child’s smile, his heart filled with peace and joy.

“Shall I move them?”

“No, their last memories will be of the seahorse getting the pearl from the oyster and traveling with the lantern fish to the whale and to the dolphins. The birthday party will be a further distraction and hopefully they will forget what they saw this afternoon. I am going to get a shower and go down to help Carmen put up the balloons.”

Dr. Henri Pasteur’s arrival with his native born French wife had become a New Year’s Eve tradition in the Santos family. It gave the doctor that delivered Gabby and Bethany Joy a chance to see the growth and development of the Santos twins. The first party, Dr. Pasteur saw the two twins attempting to make steps in the process of learning to walk but preferring the crawling motion to getting around on the villa floors. When he saw Michelle coming down the steps holding the hand of the toddlers, he clapped his hands and turned to salute Danny. “They are no longer babies. You would never know that they were preemies.”

“Michelle, your beauty and elegance radiates when I see you in the mother role. I saw your strength the night we met two years ago. There is nothing better to see than a vibrant mother with children.”

“Dr. Pasteur, you are kind but I still struggle with the role and medical school. Did Danny tell you that I am going to do a residency in pediatrics?”

“No I thought you might have decided to have another baby.”

Glancing to Danny, “I would tomorrow but my husband is less than enthusiastic.”

Danny gave the glass of white wine to Michelle; “I want Gabby and Bethany out of training pants before we dive back in the diaper routine. Maybe next year.”

“Gabriel and Bethany, this is Dr. Pasteur. He took you out of Mommy’s abdomen when you were born. The party is to celebrate your birthday.”

Gabby held onto Michelle’s leg, “Mommee tummee.”

“My mother and grandmother are out on the terrace with hors doeuvres. They will be delighted to see Mrs. Pasteur and talk with her about the latest French fashions.”

“Oh Mr. Santos, your mother is a striking lady.”

“Mrs. Pasteur must join my mother on one of her European shopping trips.”

“Danny, did you pour ginger ale for Gabby and Bethany Joy?”

“Honey, their cups are ready on the counter. Michelle, when you were dressing them for the party did they mention our afternoon activities?”

“They seemed tired and wanted to rest on the bed. The party with the gifts and cake will keep them busy. Carmen actually showed some restraint this time with the planning. Next year, I want Gabby and Bethany Joy to have other children at their party. If and when we move to Philadelphia, it is important for our children to interact with other children. Except for Freddie, they don’t know other kids.”

“Well, that isn’t completely true, they have met my lawyer’s children in Philadelphia.”

“Danny, that isn’t exactly what I want. Mr. Stewart’s children are too old except for their youngest son. The middle boy is always showing off and entertaining their oldest son with the cerebral palsy.”

“Michelle, I know what you are talking about. We can get Gabby and Bethany enrolled in child care program with children their age.”

Carmen sorted through the two piles of presents and recounted to make sure they were equal. The noise from inside indicated the guests had arrived. “Mrs. Pasteur must have been a model in France. Her facial features are exquisite.”

“Carmen, she is too European for me.”

“Stiff and formal Dr. Pasteur has become a close confidant of Daniel’s. He is a good older male friend. The past year, I have sensed that Daniel has withdrawn from me. Our discussions have certainly taken on a superficial involvement in his life.”

“Carmen, Gabriel and Bethany Joy don’t require our assistance as much as in their early days. Michelle’s career has settled down and Danny and Michelle have their way of doing their own thing. Michelle will always be a Bauer and she has begun to use her influences with Danny.”

“Michelle has been vocal about wanting another baby, which hasn’t happened yet. Daniel and I did discuss this briefly and I advised him against the baby with all the new changes coming in their lives. The move to Philadelphia is bad enough, my grandchildren will be over a thousand miles away. I hate the day that Heidi Rasmussen suggested the city. Shhh, they are coming!”

“Mama and Abuella, you remember Dr. Pasteur and his wife.”

“Why certainly! It is nice that you both could join us at the villa for our party. I see that Daniel has gotten a drink for you and your wife.”

“Daniel, where is Michelle and my beautiful grandchildren?”

“They are coming. Michelle is giving them a snack of ginger ale and animal crackers since dinner is being served later this evening.”

“Senora Santos, the views are spectacular from your terrace. I never realized how isolated your home is out on this ridge.”

“My husband Miguel bought the property. He loved the beach and to fish. The property was given to Daniel and Michelle as a wedding gift so the villa is theirs now. It doesn’t get used as much as it use to when Daniel was single and my son Mick was living. In the future, I hope Danny and Michelle will choose to live here.”

“Did I hear my name?” Michelle walked over to Danny. “Have I missed anything?”

“No. We were talking about the villa.” Danny wrapped both arms on the waist of Michelle and automatically began to give Michelle a tummy rub.

“Your pink dress is a shade of the sky in the east.” Mrs. Pasteur admired the silk dress with the high front bodice and open back with the one button closure creating an O opening. “Michelle can certainly wear any designer clothes in France. She has all the assets shall I say.”

Blushing at the remarks, “I can assure you that I have a few physical flaws. Your husband saw my expanded abdomen two years ago.”

“Michelle, I told you this morning that your figure flattered the bikini but your short hair cut agrees with your soft facial features.”

“Thank you Carmen but yours aren’t too bad. Gabby and Bethany have gifts for Dr. Pasteur. I’m not sure they understand the gift giving procedure. They have cried when I tried to get them to exchange their own birthday presents. They have identical presents of Play Dough that are wrapped in different paper.” Smiling at Gabby sitting on Carmen’s lap and Bethany with her arms hugging Abuella’s neck, “Tomorrow, I’ll open the Play Dough for them.”

Maria spoke quickly with the suggestion, “Daniel, switch the presents. Gabby and BJ are too young to grasp giving a gift. What they have in their possession is theirs. Don’t you remember Mick’s six birthday party? You had chosen the red race car and when the time came for you to give Mick the present; you cried and refused to part with the car in your hand. The car was yours in your heart and mind.”

“Abuella, Mick and I had more fights over that red car. It was my father that made me give the car to Mick. Mama took me to the store to buy another red race car but they didn’t have anymore in stock.”

“What is the lesson here, Maria?”

“Your children are growing-up. Don’t expect them to easily do something that you yourself struggled with in the past. We have treated them as one unit, but now we are seeing the individual spirits developing. S est bueno.”

Danny released his hold on Michelle. “Gabby, you are the first born and its time to give Dr. Pasteur a thank you present for taking care of Michelle. Henri, Gabby and Bethany Joy spent yesterday up at the coffee plantation and bought you back several pounds of fresh coffee beans. Excuse Gabby and me but we have to go inside to get another gift.” Danny returned with Gabby holding a box of Cuban cigars. “Gabby, give the box to Dr. Pasteur.” Stretching the box to the gray haired man, Gabby said the words that his daddy whispered in his ear. “Whank wou.”

“When I see these two children, I recall the late hurricane season that year. The storm had the potential to destroy the island. The night was dark and stormy but gave way to the morning light and the birth of Gabby and then the namesake of the storm. We came so close to loosing Bethany Joy. I predict that she will be the fighter with a wild spirit and will break your heart one day. You can see it in her eyes. She has the spirit of a strong willed hurricane much like that of Michelle. I saw it in Michelle that night; she was willing to suffer incredible pain to protect the life within her body.”

Wiping the tears from her cheeks, “Danny and I are the fortunate ones. We have Gabby and Bethany Joy. It is time to celebrate their births. Carmen, how do you want Gabby and Bethany Joy to open the presents?”

Carmen wiped her tears and reached down to pick up Bethany Joy. “Sweet Bethany Joy. Dietz has their tricycles downstairs. Maria and I wrapped their new clothes in four boxes, two for each child. They have a box of bathing suits and beach wear clothes for summer wear at your pool and here before you move away from us. Maria bought camp shorts, polo shirts and a backpack for Gabby. Maria picked out the cutest smock front pants and jumpers for Bethany with matching sweaters. I vote that we open them after dinner.”

Maria raised her hand. “I bought a backpack for Bethany Joy with her name monogrammed on the bag. Carmen, what is the name of the beach shoes that everyone likes?”

“Tevas. Michelle, they are the cutest. Bethany Joy has bumblebees on hers and Gabby has butterflies.”

Michelle picked up one of the boxes, “This weighs a ton. LL Bean must be happy that you are one of their good customers. I saw the packages from Fed X being delivered.”

“Michelle, it is hard to find new gifts with Gabby and Bethany having their birthdays so close to Christmas. Surely, you won’t take this small joy away from me. I love to shop for my grandchildren’s clothes.”

“I know that you do and that is why I only bought artistic materials for Gabby and Bethany Joy. Paint smocks and finger paints.”

Olga opened the screen door to announce that dinner was ready. The subject changed to a safer subject while Maria led the way to the dining room. At the dinning room table, the twins sat in their booster chairs with the cloth napkins tucked under their chins to protect Gabby’s white polo shirt and khaki shorts and Bethany’s navy blue sailor dress with red and white braid on the wide collar. Olga offered the platter of raw vegetables to Michelle. “Thank you, Olga, for preparing these for Gabby. Gabby, we have raw carrots and cauliflower. How many do you want to eat?” Gabby held up one finger. Placing one carrot and one cauliflower on his plate with the sliced tofu hotdogs and mashed potatoes, Michelle switched the spoon and fork from Gabby’s left hand. “The fork is easier to use than the spoon with the hotdogs.”

To her right, Danny prepared Bethany’s plate. On her plate were the cooked carrots casserole, rice pilaf and the sliced tofu. “Do you want mashed potatoes?”

Shaking her head, “No, pah-pah.”

“Are you sure? The potatoes have sour cream and cheddar cheese.”

“Sorry to bore you Henri and Mrs. Pasteur, but as you have probably noticed; they both have food preferences. Gabby doesn’t like cooked carrots and Bethany will eat any kind of vegetables but potatoes. The soup tureen has corn chowder and the Lobster Newberg is one of my favorites and more pleasing to an adults taste.”

“The dinner is very appropriate with having your twins join us at the dinning room table. It is nice to see that you are training Gabby and Bethany to eat in a formal atmosphere.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Pasteur They do pretty good.”

The main course was finished with Michelle helping Olga to clear the table in preparation for the two birthday cakes. The dessert plates were placed with the silver cake knife in front of Carmen. At the buffet, Maria poured the fresh brewed coffee into cups for the adults. Dimming the overhead light above the dining room table, Danny and Michelle entered with the cakes and the two candles burning.

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Gabby and Bethany,
Happy Birthday to you.

“Gabby, tell everybody how old you are going to be tomorrow.” Arranging his two fingers and showing Danny to see if had it right, “That’s right ….Now, Bethany Joy it is your turn.”

“Twoo.”

“Correct.’

“May I take your pictures?” offered Dr. Pasteur. “That would be nice,” said Danny. “We can have family pictures with parents and two generations of grandmothers. A great picture to send to Michelle’s father in Africa.”

“Michelle, this is one of your best cakes that you have made even if you did put small dowels in to hold the two layers together.”

“Maria, the layers of the cakes are never level. They all have little mounds on the top after they are cooked with hard crust on the edges. Danny made sure that Gabby and Bethany’s hands were clean when they stuck the M&Ms in the frosting. I don’t think the cake is contaminated with their germs!”

“Daniel, I wish Miguel was here to see his grandchildren! He would have taken Gabby out fishing on the yacht.”

“Mam, Michelle and I are taking Gabby and Bethany out tomorrow sailing. Justina and Jimmy are going along to help, so don’t worry! We won’t lose them overboard.”

“I know that you prefer the sailboat, but it is so dangerous. Please be careful.”

“Now to the gifts.” On the floor, Michelle sat with Gabby and Bethany unwrapping the four boxes of clothes. In the beach wear box for Gabby were two bathing suits with a tribal red-orange and black fish motif and one, a tropical surfer with a turquoise background with white palm trees. The three pairs of cropped clam-digger length shorts of red; royal and navy matched the three solid colored t-shirts of white, navy and chili. In his sky blue soccer backpack was a yellow terry beach cover with a dog embroidered on the hood and a pair of tevas. The second box had three pairs of camp shorts, navy, khaki and stone with three Polo shirts, one a nautical red stripe, another one navy, green and white stripe and the last one a red stripe with white and blue and a pair of navy blue sneakers.

Bethany waited patiently with her two boxes until Michelle was ready to give her the undivided attention that she wanted to spend with each child. The beach box had two new O back tank swimsuits with wide stay up straps. The turquoise and pink suit matched the pink beach cover with a cats face embroidered on the hood. The purple backpack had a ladybug design. In side the bag was her tevas and three sunhats that matched the three-smock front pants with a yellow flowerpots motif, a pink crocus picnic theme and a blue flower print. Bethany’s second box was filled with three jumpers with a three-button back and tie. The jumpers were made of a gingham print with the pink, light blue and blue iris being selected by Carmen. The white, yellow and pink pointelle shirts with the swing shape had a stretch picot-edge neckline with cap sleeve and lettuce edge hem that could be worn under the bibed pants. At the bottom of the box were three cardigan sweaters, white, and soft yellow and pink to match the pink canvas sneakers.

“Gabby and Bethany Joy, you must give Carmen and Abuella big hugs and kisses for your birthday presents. All I can say is that I appreciate your generosity and the clothes are beautiful and practical. If you don’t mind, I would like to wait until tomorrow to open our presents for Bethany and Gabby.”

“Honey, I think it is good idea to wait. The tricycles are downstairs and I don’t want them up here on this level.”

Danny stooped down to pick up Bethany and Gabby. “It is time to say goodnight to our guests and way past your bedtime.”

The two said “Goodnight” and threw kisses at everyone in the room. “Honey, you stay down with our guest while I put these two to bed. I don’t want a repeat performance from this afternoon.”

Danny skipped down the steps to join the guests. “They both fell asleep before I had read three pages in the Jack and the Beanstalk book.” Pouring the brandy in the small glasses, Danny served the brandy and sat down in a chair facing the ocean.

“It is heaven here.”

“Henri, Michelle and I should move here and raise Gabby and Bethany. Get out of the rat race in Springfield!” The smoke from the Cuban cigars rose from the burning crimson ends, while the two men puffed the sweet rolled tobacco. “The Cubans do know how to make a good cigar.”

“The island is a good place to raise children. Mrs. Pasteur had her reservations with the education system. Our children went back to France to a boarding school for high school and attended universities in Europe. When the time comes and Michelle is ready to practice; perhaps she will consider San Juan. The island looses more of the best people every year. They all dream of leaving the island and living in the USA.”

Dr. Pasteur pulled the gold chain from his pants pocket to check the time on the sentimental watch. “The time has gone very quickly this evening. I’m due to be at the hospital in an hour. There is a young doctor waiting anxiously for my arrival. Do you and Michelle have plans for tonight?”

“Yes, we are going to a nightclub to dance in the New Year. Michelle can dance a mean salsa with the best. She gets the rhythm and the beat.”

“Thank you for inviting Mrs. Pasteur and me to share in this special occasion. They will be grown before you blink your eyes.”

“Hum that quick?”

“Our lifestyles have changed drastically. Mine more than Michelle’s. With Michelle being in medical school, my business and raising the twins, we don’t get out socially as much as I would prefer. When I want to go out, Michelle wants to stay in with Gabby and Bethany. We struggle to balance the scale. Thank you for coming tonight and Gabby and Bethany will open your presents tomorrow. My mother and grandmother have a tendency to overbuy, which irritates Michelle.”

After seeing the couple to the door, Danny punched in the speed dial number to the guardhouse. “Did the florist deliver the flowers?”

“Boss, they are here. Are you ready for the delivery?”

“No, don’t bring them over until after we leave tonight. Carmen will be expecting you to bring the flowers to the house. By the way, what condition are they in right now?”

“Perfect buds with no spots I checked them myself.”

“Good.”

The clicking noise of the black heels on the marble floors and the twirling red skirt produced the reaction that Michelle wanted from Danny. “Um, You changed.”

“Do you like my red dress?”

Eying the dress from the shoulder down to the deep U front and back bodice to the hem length above the knees. “Ah ya ya! Did you wear the dress for me or the other men that you are hoping to see tonight?”

“I refuse to answer because I might not get out of the house tonight.”

Touching the chin of her husband and starring in his dark eyes, “When are we leaving?”

“Your carriage awaits, Madame.”

The black car speed out of the gate with the second car following close behind the Mercedes with the two bodyguards. Inside the car, Danny spoke with Jimmy. “Bring Hugo in the club tonight. I want to observe him. Carmen wants to bring him back to Springfield. Do you think Hugo is ready for primetime?”

“He is anxious to please.”

Kissing Michelle’s hand, “We have to beef up the soldiers with our pending move to Philadelphia.”

The maitre’d greeted the Santos party. “Mr. Santos, do you want to be above the dance floor as usual or something more private.”

After looking at Michelle, “Michelle, the mezzanine or the private table?”

“Private please.”

“Follow me.”

At the table, Danny pulled the chair out for Michelle. “Give us a few minutes. I’ll signal you when we are ready to order.”

“Certainly. Mr. Santos.”

Michelle waited until the waiter was out of hearing range. “Is this club one of your old hangouts?”

“I did visit the nightclub frequently. The atmosphere is one of the best. Good mixture of local and European tourist traffic in the club with beautiful single women hunting for men willing to spend money. It is a great place to showcase your dancing skills and have fun when the sun goes down on the island.”

“Danny, isn’t it strange that you would bring me here tonight? I don’t fit the quote single European beautiful woman category.”

“No, but that isn’t why we are here tonight. I have a cardinal rule: Don’t mix pleasure with business. Never left the club with a customer. I might have seen them later at another club and enjoyed their sexual attributes. It was the part of growing into manhood thing. A smart man doesn’t carry that kind of woman home.”

Almost choking on hearing the words, “Isn’t that how you and I connected?”

Raising his eyebrows at Michelle’s question, “I’m in deep sh**! A smitten man carried you home. I knew when I first saw you that you were a one of a kind young beautiful woman. I had seen many here and in Europe. You didn’t know it but I watched you inside the Y2K. The bartender told me that you were the one and only Michelle Bauer, which meant nothing to me at that time. The more that I watched you with your friends; I knew that clubbing wasn’t your scene. The smart mouth attitude was a turn on and when we danced I knew that we had connected on a spiritual level. I didn’t know until later when I wanted to take you home that I had found the woman that I wanted to spend my life with. Everything here at the club is superficial but you were the real thing.”

“I knew the family business was going to be a problem, but I thought hell, we can date and when the right time comes I will tell her, but it all got out of control. The Santos battling the Bauer crept in and I was faced with kidnapping you and disappearing. Instead we have come to an unorthodox family agreement with two beautiful children. When I come here, I see what was and what I have now.” Lifting her hands to his lips, “I would do it again in a minute.”

“Danny, you love with such passion. You were the experienced one that taught me how to love with passion and dignity. Our relationship seems like a myth even though I know it is real. When we are here in San Juan, it is like we live in a magical world. It seems like I have always know you. Maybe, I knew your soul in another life. You were the Spanish pirate and I was the island maiden that he fell in love with and married against the will of his Spaniard family. Our spirits wondered for generations searching the world until we met in Springfield once more to love with all the energy that our hearts can muster.”

“Abuella and her Voodoo dolls would tell you that is what happened. I want my son and daughter to share the same intensity with someone in their generation. They will use our love as the standard to measure their feelings and love. I know that we got it right, Michelle.”

“Have you decided what you want to drink?”

“Pina Colada.”

With his finger, he motioned for the waiter waiting patiently in the corner. “I’ll have my usual and Mrs. Santos will have a Island drink-Pina Colada. I want an order of fried mushrooms and cheese sticks.”

“Yes sir.”

“We have spent three New Years Eve together. The first two where worth remembering. The birth of our children and last year Gabby and Bethany both had middle ear infections and were teething. We took turns walking and rocking the night away with two sick babies. Finally this year, they are healthy. We can dance the night away and welcome in the New Year.”

“Let’s show the singles what a married couple can do on the dance floor.” Danny led Michelle to the lower level where the salsa music played from a DJ’s booth. Waiting for the music to end and a new selection to begin, Danny whispered in Michelle’s ear. “Remember that you are a married woman. No flirting with the tourists.”

Danny faced Michelle and held her in the standard partner position. Tapping the beat with his foot, Danny stepped forward with his left foot on the sixth beat and Michelle stepped back with her right foot. On the 7th beat, Danny and Michelle changed direction with Danny rocking back onto his right foot and Michelle rocked forward with her left foot turning into multiple swivels. Michelle turned back into Danny’s waiting arms with a neck wrap cuddle of her husband’s neck to the outside turn and back into hip pull by Danny. Winking at Michelle, Danny moved to one of their personal favorite dance positions, the cuddle sweetheart. Danny lifted his left arm over Michelle’s head then lowered his hands down to Michelles waist where she shimmed in front of him where he waited for her in a squatting position. Returning to the standing position, Danny wrapped his left leg behind Michelle’s right leg where they locked in the grinding motion moving up and down finishing with an overhead hand swipe and moving into more complicated steps of swivels.

Unaware that people had rushed up to the Mezzanine to watch the entertaining couple execute the flawless dance moves, Danny twirled Michelle off the wooden dance floor to a thunderous applause. The manager approached his boss. “Everyone wants to know if they are going to have to compete against you tonight?”

Smacking Michelle’s butt to move her back on the dance floor, “Our nightly dance paid off tonight. Let’s dance until five minutes before midnight, then we can have our drinks and go for a walk down on the pebble walkway to old San Juan.”

The movement of the red skirt dazzled the eyes of the men and women watching Michelle with her temptress and flirtatious moves. They moved in and out of the dance with moves difficult for the trained eyes to follow. Danny and Michelle moved as one on the dance floor with their own sexual chemistry radiating out to the crowd.

At midnight, Danny and Michelle left the club to watch the faithful locals begin walking backwards from the Catholic Cathedral to the ocean. Walking out to the old San Cristobel fort in the early morning hours, they watched the pitch-black sky with the occasional shooting star and the marching of the planets across the horizon from the east to the west.

At three am, Michelle climbed up the steps with her husband to their bedroom. On the bed were two pieces of paper with the handprints of Gabby and Bethany. The bouquet of red roses rested on her pillow. The card attached to the bouquet was signed with the print like writing of Danny.

I started to live the day that I met you.
Love, Danny

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 5

August 25, 2017

Republisher’s Note: I have no idea why they bothered to put in a specific address for the Bauer House when it was the wrong one. The Bauer House is located next to the Spaulding Estate on Skyline Drive. The background as Aussie gives it messes with the timeline of the original story making it seem like Manny were dating longer before they got married than they actually were.

Author’s Note at the bottom.

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 5

Michelle removed the egg, cheese and mushroom casserole from the top oven and placed it on a warming tray to keep it warm until the remaining Santos family members arrived for a light breakfast. Danny leaned over to Michelle’s neck to lay a soft kiss on her skin. Giggling at her husband’s attention, “Hey, you are supposed to be entertaining Bethany and Gabby!”

“Honey, I am. They are sitting in their sleds with no place to go. Perfectly content.”

“Danny, you are being cruel to them. They are waiting for us to take them outside for another ride in their sleighs.”

“I’ll let Pilar and Bill have the next honor.” With one arm wrapped on the side of Michelle’s waist, “It is all your fault. I’m dragging my ass this morning because of your naughty ways last night. I bet Bill Lewis would be shocked to see what the prim and proper Michelle Bauer Santos does in the privacy of our bedroom!”

“Sweetie, you promised not to tell anyone. Remember it was in the privacy of our bedroom.”

Sipping his second mug of coffee, “I might have to invite your old boyfriend to look in your lingerie drawer.”

“Danny, I know you to well. You are teasing me. Bill and I are still close friends and we did go skinny dipping when we were ten years old at Laurel Falls. Bill can testify to the fact that there wasn’t much to see back then and it sure discouraged any future interest.”

“So my sister’s fiance has seen the diamond in the rough but lacked the imagination to see the shining diamond.”

Handing Danny the oven mitts, “Can you take the Cinnamon Buns out of the lower oven? I know this is supposed to be a light breakfast but I want be able to make it to Carmen’s for her Christmas Day Brunch.”

“Honey, I told Carmen that you have a shift to cover at the hospital. She is OK with it.”

The banging of the bags of presents on the glass panes diverted the couple to the arrival of Danny’s family. Opening the door for Pilar and Bill, Danny kissed Pilar’s cheek. “Merry Christmas, Peanut! What do you have in all these bags?”

“Presents for my niece and nephew. I couldn’t resist buying for them. Ask Bill I spent one entire afternoon shopping for your two children.”

“Danny, I can vouch for Pilar. Pilar hit every children’s shop in Chicago. Your sister can do some serious damage when turned loose in a store.”

“Oh Danny and Michelle, I found the cutest clothes and I had the hardest time deciding which to buy. You will love the cute pink and purple bathing suits for Bethany Joy and the little sundresses. They make the cutest little boy sun suits to match the sundresses. I actual caught a couple of sales and I purchased clothes for next year as well.”

Michelle counted the bags, “Pilar, are these all clothes?”

Hugging her sister in law, “No, I did buy a few toys. I saw the neatest box of make believe food for Gabby and Bethany Joy to use in their pots and pans. Michelle, the rest are for Danny and you.”

“Why are Gabby and Bethany Joy sitting in the sleighs with their fleece hats on their heads?”

Michelle punched Danny in his side, “Danny, why don’t you tell Pilar and Bill what you have in mind for them to do after we eat breakfast.”

“Peanut, Santa bought the sleighs last night and Michelle and I were out at 6am this morning pulling your niece and nephew on the snow. After we came back inside, Gabby and Bethany kept on crawling back into the sleighs and getting out and walking to the door. I gave them their hats to assure them that they were going outside again soon. They have been waiting patiently for Bill and you to take them for another ride. Did Carmen and Abuell follow you here?”

“They were stopping by to pick up Ray from the church parish. When we left the house, Dietz was packing the car with presents. ”

The front door bell rang twice before Danny opened the door to see two enormous white bears with red scarfs hiding the two small Santos women. “Why didn’t you call me on the cell phone so I could come out and help with the bears.”

“We wanted to see how Gabby and Bethany Joy react to the bears. The bears have big sunken stomachs where Gabby and Bethany can crawl on and rest.”

“Mam, I hope you are planning on keeping them at your house. We are running out of space quickly today.”

“Where is Dietz? He is gathering the remaining gifts after he helped Maria up the walkway and steps. You might want to help him. There are several heavy boxes of antique china boxes and silver serving pieces for Michelle from Maria. I have a nice contemporary painting for Michelle as my gift. The same art dealer in Boston made me a deal that I couldn’t refuse.”

Danny grabbed his navy double-breasted coat from the coat rack and went quickly down the steps to Carmen’s car.

“Dietz, did you check with Jimmy last night?”

“I did. Boss. The Spencer girl spent the evening in Chicago. The neighbor said, She is going back to Australia before New Year’s Day. Right now, the girl is in Chicago and not in Springfield.”

Shaking his head at the good news, Danny lifted one of the boxes. “Michelle has a shift at the hospital from 12noon until 6pm. You can take the rest of the day off.”

“OK, Boss.”

Back inside the house, Danny watched while the ladies opened the Christmas gifts for the twins. Carmen had Gabby sitting on her lap and Maria rocked Bethany Joy in the Boston rocker with Pilar holding the outfits up to each child. Danny poured fresh coffee in all the mugs and prepared another batch of fresh ground beans to brew another flask of coffee. The room was quickly becoming a scene of strewn boxes and colorful wrapping paper with opened gifts piling up on the floor.

Bethany Joy spotted Maria’s string of pearls and pulled the pearls up to her mouth, which prompted Danny to scream “No Bethany.”

The shock of the loud noise had Bethany crying spontaneously.

“Daniel, why did you scream No to Bethany? You have scared my baby.”

“Abuella, she was putting your pearls in her mouth. I didn’t want her to break the string and she needs to learn what No means. Yesterday, Bethany hurt her finger with a sharp needle from the Christmas tree and I was afraid of her swallowing a pearl.”

Michelle laid a present down and reached up to take Bethany from Maria. “Bethany was probably fascinated with the pearls and thought they were a toy. It is fascinating to witness the insatiable curiosity of a child-especially when a forbidden object presents itself. The battle usually begins with a parent’s gentle warning be careful or don’t touch. Initially Bethany Joy is alarmed until the overwhelming urge to see for herself takes over usually resulting in a broken vase, a broken string of Marias pearls or a hurt finger. How many times have we seen Maria and Carmen drape expensive jewelry on Bethany’s neck?”

Abuella supported Michelles statement, “Your wife is right, I have given the pearls to Gabby and Bethany Joy to play with but I watch what they do with them. Curiosity is a normal thing. They have to learn what will hurt and still keep a sense of curiosity. At High Ridge, we have had to do house keeping and put breakables up higher out of their reach.”

Giving Bethany back to Maria, “I’m sorry but I have to leave to go to the hospital. Thank you all for your generosity Please make sure the twins get a good nap this afternoon; they have a long day ahead with dinner at the Bauer House tonight. I put several new books in their activity bag.”

Pilar stood up and hugged Michelle, “I promise to read to Gabby and Bethany. Bill and I can bring you a late lunch this afternoon. We are spending the later part of the afternoon and night at Vanessa and Matt’s lake house home.”

“No, you don’t have to that; I will get a free lunch today at the hospital. Part of the deal of working a holiday.”

Scraping the ice and snow off of the Mercedes together, Danny pulled Michelle in his arm for one last hug and kiss before releasing her to go to work. “I’m going to miss you today. Last Christmas I was sick but we spent all of the day together. This sucks with you leaving to go to work.”

“Danny, there are sick people at the hospital that are never going to have another Christmas.” Flipping the snow from his dark thick curls, “But we will be together looking at the watch on his right wrist in six hours. It has always been this way at the Bauer house. Daddy often missed most of the day.”

Opening the door for Michelle to climb up in the SUV, “Please choose a specialty that will allow you to be home on the holidays.”

“Honey, you married the wrong woman!”

Leaning inside the car,” I married the right woman but she is very determined to be a doctor on call all the time.”

Giving one last kiss to Danny and remembering the odor of her husband’s body before backing the SUV out of the parking place, “One reminder Danny, no meat for Gabby and Bethany until tonight.”

Danny stood and watched Michelle drive away from him. Saluting with his hand at Michelle until the SUV was out of sight, Danny returned to his family and their Christmas celebration. In six hours, the new generation of Santoses would be sitting down to dinner at one of the most respectable families in Springfield for Christmas dinner. Miguel Santos had to like how the family had turned the corner in the social part of society.

The sun had set early in the late afternoon when Meta stood in the Bauer dining room recounting the forks, spoons and knives. She straightened the table-runner before lighting the candles on the table and the sideboard. The increased noise level in the Bauer kitchen was Daniel Santos arriving with Gabby and Bethany Joy for their first Bauer Christmas. The bells on the hallway clock were striking half past the hour, which meant if all was well with Michelle’s schedule; she would be arriving shortly.

Abbey had finished pouring the red wine after placing the last favorite, green bean and onion casserole on the warming plate. “Aunt Meta, this Christmas dinner is special for the Bauer family. We have Michelle’s two children and Rick and I have Freddie. Even Ed seems less restless and he has stayed for more than a year.”

Smiling at the inner peace that was evident in Ed and patting Abby’s graceful hand that showed the evidence of the hard work from her days spent living on the Amish farm, “Yes, we have three new grandchildren and all at once we are getting crowded in the dining room.”

Abbey sighed with the vision of seeing the three highchairs in the dining room and going through her mental checklist again, “To tell you the truth I don’t feel the spirit of adventure as I did early this morning when we invited our extra guest for dinner at the last minute.”

“Abbey, I know what is right and wrong and today, I am correcting a social injustice.”

“Now, we need one of the men to bring in Gabby and Bethany’s highchairs and warming their plates in the microwave.”

In the kitchen, the large turkey sat on the carving tray with Ed doing the carving honors on the cooked bird. “Merry Christmas Danny and Merry Christmas to Bethany Joy and Gabby. Danny, do you think Gabby and Bethany are still too young to chew on a turkey leg? This will be the last year for them to have the honor of claiming chewing rites since Freddie isn’t equipped with a set of teeth.”

Admiring his children’s outfits, “Ed, Gabby and Bethany will pass on the chewing rites. My sister Pilar went a little overboard this year with their outfits and this is their third outfit for the day. I have specific orders from her to make sure that Michelle saw the twins dressed in the red velvet outfits. Bethany’s dress with her white lace underskirt is a sure target for any grease and you saw last night what Gabby does with his hands.”

“Did they get their naps at your mother’s house this afternoon?”

“Yes, they both took nice long naps after brunch but I suspect they are exhausted and might fall asleep at the dining room table. We are fast approaching the hour when the Sandman comes and they fall asleep for the night.
Have you heard from Michelle? I called and left a message on her cell phone but she hasn’t returned my call.”

“Meta heard from Michelle a few minutes before six and she said that she was starving to death- no lunch today and a typical Bauer mode of operation for a holiday.”

The lights from a car pulling in the driveway flashed in the kitchen window. “That’s my girl and she is right on time for a change.”

Flashing her high beam lights twice to call for help, Rick gave Freddie to Danny. “You hold Freddie while I help my sister. She wants help to bring in something.”

“Rick, I can go out, I forgot all about the pile of gifts for the Bauer family.”

“No Danny, Freddie wants to get a close up view of his Uncle Danny. With our schedules, we hardly have time for a nice leisure visit.”

Catching her breath as she ran in the kitchen, “I’m almost on time.”

Danny with his free hand helped her with her coat after she dropped the pile of packages on the loveseat near the door. “Thanks, honey. What can I do to help in the kitchen?”

Meta answered, “Nothing honey, I saved the dishwashing for you, young lady.”

Michelle kissed Danny and then rubbed her cheek on Freddie’s fat chubby cheeks. “Freddie has the cheeks that you want to squeeze.”

“Michelle, did you have the heat on in the Mercedes?”

“I got here before the car warmed up, but I’m not sure if the blower is working properly. I like the car but the diesel engine is very slow in producing heat. Have you feed Gabby and Bethany?”

“Oh my Michelle, I forgot to put their water based plates in the microwave! We have been discussing your children’s wardrobe. Bethany and Gabby are cute as buttons with the matching outfits. I don’t think that I have ever seen small fur boots until today. And may I say that you look pretty nice today as well.”

“Danny gave me the black man made leather mini skirt with the red lamb’s wool sweater. I even got a few cat calls from some teens in the ER today. The clothes caught their eye. I informed them that I was the mother of twins after they called me a Sexy Lady One of the boys said, Then you are one Sexy Mama and I then got my revenge by checking for undescended testicles.” Winking at Danny, “I must show you how this is done.”

“Hey this is enough of medical shop talk, why don’t we all gather in the dining room and I’ll bring in the baby plates with their food.”

“Aunt Meta, you go ahead, I’ll get Bethany and Gabbys food. You have to be tired.”

Danny motioned Meta out of the kitchen, “Michelle and I will take care of the food for our children. Plus I want to talk with Michelle about the lack of heat in the Mercedes….Why didn’t you tell me that the heater wasn’t working in the car?”

“It happened gradually and today was the first day that the blower didn’t function. The heater wasn’t working this morning when I left our home.”

Throwing his hand up in the air, “You go ahead, I’m calling the car dealership. They are going to tow the car tonight and I want the heater fixed before we get back from Puerto Rico or a new loaner in my driveway for you to drive. Come here Michelle, baby you could get a cold or pneumonia driving in subzero weather.”

“Danny, please don’t make a big fuss of all nights. The tow driver has a family too. Did Daddy take Gabby and BJ in the dining room?”

Nodding his head and indicating YES, Danny spoke sternly into his phone in the quick Spanish phrases, which Michelle recognized as curse words.

The sight of their Mother energized the tired toddlers bodies as they almost jumped from their grandfather’s arms to the extended hands of Michelle. Gabby smothered Michelle’s cheek with his wet kisses and locked his hands in Michelle’s thick curls. “How’s my big boy? Mommy missed your beautiful face.” Turning her attention to the small replica of herself, “Miss Princess, your Aunt Pilar must have had this dress under the tree at Granny C’s house.” Bethany hooked her arm and hand tightly around Michelle’s neck. The tiny petite fingers of her left hand touched Michelle’s lips for a kiss. “Danny, you have got to come and see what your daughter has learned!”

“I’m sorry to be holding up dinner but Michelle and I are leaving town early in the morning and I wanted her car towed tonight so that they will have ample time to fix her car while we are away. What’s this with Bethany Joy?”

“Danny, watch where Bethany puts her fingers on her left hand.”

Danny bent down to the eye level of Bethany. “Do you want Mommy or Daddy to kiss your fingers?”

Switching to her Daddy’s lips, “Dada.”

“Oh Bethany, you want Daddy to kiss you!”

Answering Danny in his native language, S, s Shaking his head and laughing at his daughter’s response, “Tell Mommy what No is in Spanish.” Gabby and Bethany, both moved their heads sideways indicating their answers with a physical response and yelling “No” to their audience in the dining room.

Beaming as a proud parent would after seeing Bethany Joy and Gabby respond with their bilingual talents, Michelle asked her brother and sister-in-law, “OK Rick and Abbey, when is my nephew going to display his IQ?”

With his own joy of finally having a child and loving every moment, Rick went into his silly face routine for his son. At the right moment, Freddie smiled and laughed at his Daddy. “Michelle, this is the best that we can do this year but next year Freddie Bauer will be able to keep up with the Santos twins.”

Danny and Michelle sat next to each other with one of their children on the other side to help minimize the confusing sitting arrangement in the dining room. “Did you bring their pajamas?”

“Carmen packed the diaper bag with an extra set of PJs but we shouldn’t stay out tonight very late. We have an early departure in the morning at 10am. And I hate to wake them up transferring them from here to the car and back in the house. If it is possible, I want to leave after we open our gifts. You still have to pack and I know how long that usually takes you……Meta when I went outside to give the keys to Michelle’s car to the tow truck driver, I saw a car attempting to pull in your driveway. I think the driver went down the street to turn around or decided to wait until the tow truck was out of the driveway.”

“Hum, I thought our guest had gotten lost. Ed, will you and Rick go out the front and kitchen door and see if you see any hungry guest wondering in the backyard or out on the side street.”

Ed responded, “I’ll turn the security lights on out front since Meta has invited a lonely and evidently lost Springfield new resident.”

Abbey looked at Michelle, “How can anyone get lost finding 5 Church Street?”

Michelle hunched her shoulders, “Please hurry, I’m starving!”

Outside Ed and Rick walked out to the street. “Dad, did Meta mention to you whom she invited to dinner?”

“Dr. Heidi Rasmussen and one of Michelle’s friends. No doubt, Meta is trying to fix me up with Dr. Rasmussen.”

The tow truck backed into the Bauer driveway blocking the entrance to the driveway forcing Dr. Heidi Rasmussen to choose an alternative-parking place. And after turning at the end of the street, she stopped the car in front of the house with the #5 address.

“Wasn’t that Michelle’s car being towed? Must be urgent to have someone out on Christmas night to pick up a car!”

“Michelle’s husband isn’t exactly the patient or tolerating type of business man. You can bet that he demanded and got immediate service for Michelle’s car.”

“He has a reputation of being totally fixated with Michelle. Do I detect a little bitterness with your friend’s husband?”

“No, not really, it is his arrogant attitude. Michelle had a life and friends before Danny met her but in his mind, everything and everyone is non- existing before the time of Daniel Santos. Michelle’s life started with him and will end with him.”

“Tonight will be interesting and I thought that I was attending a routine dull Christmas dinner. Will there be fire works tonight?”

“NO not at the Bauers. They are genuine good people and have always kept an open door policy. Besides Meta Bauer is known for her reputation of being gracious and an outstanding cook.”

“I’m glad Meta Bauer invited me to dinner. I haven’t made many new friends in Springfield and the holidays can be lonely in a new setting.”

“Oh I know what lonely means and I miss seeing my friend Michelle everyday.”

“Meta told me that you had transferred to a medical school in Australia.”

“Yes, I did transfer and it has been almost two years.”

“If I may ask, why did you transfer?”

Waiting a moment before answering, “I went to Australia to help a friend. A new turn of events suddenly appeared on the horizon one day. I ran with the offer because it was the best offer on the table. Dr. Andersen, the former Medical School Director, that you replaced had ties with the mob. One afternoon, the medical staff and hospital board voted to remove him from the Medical School.”

“Are you saying that the mob had reasons to infiltrate the power base at the medical school? Very unusual activity for the mob to be active in a hospital setting.”

“Dr. Rasmussen, don’t ever underestimate their power! They can find or make friends in high places where ever they need control. They have an uncanny way of finding the right people. For all I know, you might be on their payroll.”

“Aussie, you are bitter and it might be wise for you to learn to hide your true feelings.”

“Dr. Rasmussen, I am well beyond feeling bitter. I have my life back such as it is and I have moved on to a new life in Australia. I like Danny Santos will never forget what he ordered done.”

Waiting on the sidewalk for Dr. Rasmussen to exit and lock her car, Aussie saw the front outside lights shining to light their way in the house where she had first met the single man, that had bounced into her friend’s life so suddenly. Danny Santos had come in Michelles life with the mystery and charm, which had fascinated and won Michelle’s attention. She recalled how Michelle started to disappear for dates with the mystery businessman. For the first time, Michelle took time out from her more than busy schedule to smell the roses of life with a man obviously in love with every ounce of her body and soul.

In her mind, she had replayed the events leading up to when she had connected Pilar Santos and Danny Santos. What for all purposes had seemed a giddy love story had turned sour quickly. The horrifying minutes had grown into hours while she waited for Michelle to reappear at this house. Her imagination had created every possible evil scenario and when she didn’t hear from Michelle, she knew Danny had prevented her friend from contacting anyone outside of his compound. Aussie felt the emotion of fear rising from within her stomach. Aussie wanted to run from the house but the voice of Rick stopped her response.

“Dad and I have circled the front and backyard twice trying to find Meta’s guest. Welcome to the Bauer house Heidi. Aussie, do you mind hanging Heidi and your coat in the closet? You are like family and Michelle will be glad to see you again. The gang is all in the dining room. Heidi follow me and the aromas coming from the dining room.”

Danny swallowed two gulps of wine when he saw the two guests. The last person, which he expected the least was Dr. Heidi Rasmussen with his nemesis Aussie Spencer. Danny stood up to greet Dr. Rasmussen, but ignored Aussie.

“I apologize for being late but I forgot what time it was in my office this afternoon with the early sunsets.”

Meta pointed to the place setting next to her side, “Oh, don’t give it a second thought, we have a history of serving dinner late at the Bauer hospital. Michelle arrived and her new car has a non-functioning fan for the heater. Michelle and her family are going out of town tomorrow so Danny made arrangements for the car to be picked up tonight for repair. I assume the tow truck delayed you parking the car.”

Underneath the tablecloth, Michelle placed her hand on Danny’s upper thigh in an attempt to divert his attention from Aussie’s presence. Whispering in his ear, “Do you want to leave?”

“No, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Michelle, we have to eat dinner and I’m not going to embarrass you in front of Dr. Rasmussen. We are staying.”

Tapping her fork on the water glass to her right side, “Many Christmas dinners have been enjoyed in this dining room and each year since Maureen’s death, I have chosen to continue Maureen’s tradition of hunting for lonely people to share Christmas dinner. My choice as you can see are Dr. Rasmussen for obvious reasons; she is new in town without family and Aussie is visiting from half-way around the world. It is my gift to Michelle. Alan Spaulding has dropped the Lighthouse Restoration Project in my lap. He suggested having an Art Show with a Masquerade Ball. Alan is one person in Springfield with the taste and desire for fine art. He saw an original Jackson Pollack painting in Heidi’s office and pointed me in her direction. I met Dr. Rasmussen and issued the invitation. If we could all put our best efforts forward in producing a high powered art auction, it would provide funds rather quickly for the restoration. The Bauer family owns the property but we have kept it open for general public use. Even with the historic funding, the project must have matching funds.”

“Danny, this where you come into the equation. Michelle told me about the painting that San Core purchased and donated to the Art Museum in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Would San Core possibly be interested in co-sponsoring the Art Show with the Spaulding Corporation?”

Meta Bauer had done what no other man in the world had ever done with spreading her spider web to trap him. Had Meta connected his family to Dr. Heidi Rasmussen or how far was she willing to push his button tonight was his first concern. “Aunt Meta, San Core is a diverse company. We are always interested in listening to any good public relations project, but my company doesnt usually buy art. Our subsidiary in Puerto Rico was contacted as a source to purchase a painting that was on loan from a local artist to the Art Museum. The Museum was afraid that the painting was going to be sold on the world market. I made the decision to purchase the painting to keep it in Puerto Rico to be enjoyed by the people of Puerto Rico.”

“I’m sure you are aware that most well known art ends up in private collections and is lost to public viewing. Periodically pieces are loaned to Museums and the pieces of fine art manage to find their way out in a world market where deals are made in secret. And it is not unusual for very good copies of art to appear and the buyer has to be able to identify the fraud or loose good money on a painting worth hardly the cost of the paints. Perhaps, this explains Dr. Rasmussens Pollacks painting in her office in Springfield. I don’t think any insurance company would pay if it was loss or stolen.”

Picking up on his cue, “Mr. Santos, I can assure you that I have it insured. I have a friend in New York City, that fell on hard times and made me a very good deal. The museums staff was aware of my love of Pollack’s procedure of dribbling paint on a canvas to produce a painting instead of a brush or spatula. The painting finally made its way to my office where I think the security of the Medical School keeps it safe. And quoting your words, the painting is in my private collection and I’m sharing the fine art with anyone that visits my office.”

“An interesting point Dr. Rasmussen, I have never seen a Pollack painting. I would love to see yours.”

“I have an open door policy and I invite you to stop by anytime.”

“Michelle and I are leaving tomorrow for Puerto Rico; I’ll call you when I get back in town.”

“Speaking of leaving Aunt Meta, Danny and I must get Gabby and Bethany Joy home early. They have had a long and busy day with all the excitement of enjoying their first Christmas Day.”

Looking over the top of her glasses at her niece, “Sit still Michelle and enjoy the dinner with your family. Gabby and Bethany Joy can’t do anything but fall a sleep and we have your old baby-bed set up in your old bedroom.” Folding her napkin with the embroidered green holly and red berries, “It isn’t just the twins, I will be up most of the night packing for the trip.”

“Honey, Carmen and Pilar packed two bags for Gabby and Bethany Joy this afternoon. We don’t have to leave early. I want to talk with Meta concerning the fundraiser.”

Directing her statement to Michelle, “Your husband and his family are supportive of your career. It is a strong family that unites in a common cause and it must be reassuring to leave your babies at home with family providing care for the twins.”

“Danny has made my life at home to be almost problem free but my family has been by my side all the way.”

The noise of Ed Bauer pushing Gabby in the large orange dump truck on the hardwood floor had Michelle in stitches at the sight of Gabby trying to see who was behind his ride. “Grandpa, I dont know which person is having more fun, the pushier or the one being pushed.”

“I am daughter and Princess Bethany is going to get a ride in her white wicker doll carriage before you leave this house tonight. I’ve been thinking of getting your old doll house down out of the attic and putting a fresh coat of paint on it for next Christmas.”

“Daddy, you are rushing Bethany Joy? I know what I’m doing. Your big brown eyes that Christmas was worth all the work. It was one of our best Christmases. Maureen spent six months making the tiny furniture in secret. Rick and I built the house out in the garage under the pretense of building a table tennis table.”

Hugging her Daddy, Michelle stroked the brownish hair in the early stages of graying. “You aren’t thinking of leaving again are you?”

“Michelle, the agency called last week and I’m going to miss all this here but there are many children over in Africa that need me too. When I leave this time, I will be back. I want to see Gabby, Bethany Joy and Freddie grow up. They change very quickly. I’ll come home when my leave is due this time. Michelle, you have a husband that will be by your side always. He isn’t the man that I would have chosen for you but Danny is your soul mate. You found him and Danny found you.”

Wiping the tears on her cheek with his handkerchief, “Why don’t you stay in here with me while Danny is in the kitchen getting his spanking from Meta?”

Danny stood across from the dishwasher where Meta busied herself waiting for her niece’s husband to begin settling the score. “Aunt Meta, I understand that this is your turf and you are righting an indiscretion in your eyes. I respect your age and wisdom but don’t ever try to do this again if you want Michelle and our children spending time here at the Bauer house. Even in my line of business, the holidays are off limits.”

Closing the dishwasher and punching the start button, Meta smiled her I got you where I want you look at the handsome man standing with his arms crossed in front of her. The noise of the dishwasher hid the increase level of Meta’s voice, “Danny, I did it for Michelle. Michelle is so busy trying to be a super student at the medical school and super mom to your children. What I saw yesterday at your home was scary! Michelle was raised by a woman driven by her passion, compassion and love for her family. Michelle doesnt have a clue how to fight equally with you but I do! Danny, you are smothering Michelle. Don’t you love Michelle enough to let her dance alone occasionally without arranging or manipulating everything in her life? Trust Michelle to do the right thing. Maureen’s spirit lives through Michelle. I promise you, the spirit will be good for the Santos family.”

“You are not use to hearing people talk back to you but I have one more issue to settle with you tonight. You are slick, but I have lived in this city a long time and there are only two families in Springfield with the funds to purchase a Jackson Pollack painting, Alan Spaulding and San Core. When I learned that one of his paintings was underneath our noses in Springfield, I connected the dots from Dr. Rasmussen to your family. Heidi was good tonight in the way that she followed your lead. I don’t how your family did it but Dr. Rasmussen is another Santos stooge just like Dr. Andersen.”

Feeling her heart beating through her clothes, Meta finished her speech. “No doubt, Heidi is there at the medical school to protect your interest or investment as you see it. My niece isnt going to be used like a pawn on your family’s chessboard. Let Michelle find her own way.”

Looking past Meta to Michelle holding Gabby, “I guess we are at a checkmate.”

“Yes, we are.”

“When the right time comes and as much as it will grieve my heart, I want you to take Michelle away from your mother. If and when you do this, I will believe that you are committed to Michelle.”

Danny sat in the darkness at his desk sipping the whiskey. He had long lost count of the refills. The usual sleep hadn’t come after he watched Michelle struggle with her choices of clothing to pack. In bed, Michelle immediately fell asleep while his mind replayed Meta’s life speech. Fearing his restlessness was going to awaken Michelle, Danny left their king-size bed. He picked up the Nursery monitor in his hand and placed the monitor in front of his seat at the desk. Listening to the breathing sounds of his children, he checked the red-lighted numbers on the clock before closing his eyes again. Opening his eyes when he smelled the familiar odor of Michelle’s body, the white shadow standing in front of him sent chills down his back.

“How long have you been standing here?”

“Oh long enough to know that you are far away and something is eating away at you tonight.” Taking the glass of whiskey from his hand, “You are drinking Jack Daniels alone to erase or ease the pain.” Holding Danny’s face in her hands, “I’m your partner in life. Why can’t you share your problems with me? Haven’t you ever heard that two heads are better than one?”

“Seeing Michelle’s warm brown eyes, Why are you awake?”

Kneeling in front of Danny’s legs, “I was dreaming and the dream turned into a nightmare.”

“Michelle, you are shaking like a scared rabbit and I’ve only see you this way once before. Tell me your dream.”

“I was at the hospital and you met me in the cafeteria with a prepaid ticket to Australia. You asked me to decide if I wanted to stay in the Santos family. I was crying and pleading with you but you acted cold and detached.
The dream skipped to the airport where I was late arriving and I saw the Santos jet taking off without me and you were looking out of the window at me. I was forced to take a commercial flight to San Juan and arriving at the villa in a taxi. Everything was wrong at the villa. We shared the same bedroom but you refused to be intimate with me. Late one night, you announced that we were going out to a Casino where you danced with a beautiful Latino woman named Jasmine. Hot salsa dancing. The next night was New Year’s Eve and your family had a large party and Jasmine was there. Carmen told me to enjoy the party that my usefulness was over. I floated around the room attempting to make conversation with the guests. The guests seemed to ignore me and I had every kind of paranoia vision of you having sex with Jasmine in our bedroom. The dream was so real and I was struggling to wake up from the nightmare. When I was finally awake, I realized that I was alone in our bed. The Nursery monitor was gone and I was afraid the dream had become reality.”

Breathing in deeply to absorb Michelle’s pure essence, “Oh baby, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to disturb your sleep. You were dreaming, but what I have to tell you is worse. I have been awake all night struggling with how to tell you the truth. No that is a lie. I have been fighting my own demons. The truth or another lie.”

“Danny, what truth?”

Barely touching her face with both hands for fear of hurting her face, “Michelle, you know I would use these hands to kill anyone that was the cause of me losing my children or you.” Gritting his teeth, “I have a problem if I lose control. Apparently, I am not programmed like the social acceptable Bauers. To often, my initial response to displeasure or stress is to strike back violently against the source of my frustration.”

Michelle smelled the booze vapors coming from her husband’s mouth. “Hmm, where is this all coming from with your new insight? I haven’t heard any glasses breaking on the stone fireplace. Danny, you are drunk and on a pity-pot. When you sober up in the morning, we can talk.”

Shaking his head, “No, No, tonight Aunt Meta informed me that my lifestyle is smothering and destroying you. His breaking voice continued, I want to be truthful to you because it is a matter of time before Meta tells you what she suspects.” Rubbing both hands through his hair, “You are going to hate me! Dr. Heidi Rasmussen has been doing a job for my family. When Dr. Andersen was released from his position, we searched and found a very qualified candidate to replace him. Heidi agreed to come to Springfield until you finished medical school and in return for her services; Carmen magically arranged for a Lost Pollack Painting to become a priceless possession of Heidi’s.
Unfortunately Heidi’s greed and pride was placed on public display for your friend Alan Spaulding to recognize in her office. Alan is a very astute business man; he had to wonder how a doctor had the painting in her possession. The rest of the story, you heard tonight. Meta, Meta Bauer is one tough lady.”

Moving her head closer to hear Danny’s mutterings, “Yes, she can be tough if the situation calls for her to be tough.”

Touching the tight long curls, Danny pushed the strands back from her face hoping to wipe away the hurt and confusing thoughts showing on Michelle’s face. “Do you understand what I am saying to you?”

“I think that I do.”

“Meta was meddling where she shouldnt have been, just like Aussie! Tonight, Meta and I had a small conference in the kitchen. A light bulb went on in her head after her meeting with Alan and she connected the painting from Heidi to the Santos family.”

“Are you telling me that I’m not really in my third year of Medical School?”

“Honey, you are in your third year. Heidi implemented the process of getting the hours of your volunteering at Ray’s clinic transferred to the hours that you missed with the pregnancy and birth of Bethany Joy and Gabby. The board voted unanimous to credit the hours and they didn’t have a heavy standing behind their backs with a gun at the back of their heads. What I am telling you now has to shake any confidence that you might have had in me. Meta has issued her own ultimatum; she wants our children and you far away from Carmen and her daily influences. I brought you into the family and I am the only one that can let you go without any repercussions from the family. I have struggled with pleasing Carmen and myself and keeping you clean. Meta is right; my family will crush and smother you. There is only one solution; I’m ready to let you take our children and go.”

Standing up from the knelling position, Michelle stomped her foot down hard down on the floor. “Damn-it Danny, it’s not your decision alone to decide. I can’t imagine a day beginning or ending without you. You are my morning, my day and my night. My children aren’t going to grow up without you. And yes, I’m furious with your control issues and I do not understand why you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. I’m here to stay!”

“Michelle, don’t you get it! I can’t ever promise you that I won’t do it again.”

Rubbing the sides of her temples on her head and trying to absorb the words that Danny had said to her, “OK Danny, for the first time, I believe you. I didn’t sign the marriage license with my eyes wired shut. I will fight with every ounce of my body to save our marriage for Gabby and Bethany Joy. Gabby and Bethany Joy are you and I. Life isn’t any fun with only one parent. I know. I’ve lived and done that and it isn’t any fun.”

Danny stood up and wrapped his arms around Michelle’s shaking body. “I don’t deserve you. You are Maureen’s daughter. Together, you and I will escape from my mother’s interference. Michelle, it is going to cost you, also. Long separations from your own family. I’m sure that you have issues with Dr. Rasmussen but she is a top notch administrator. She has suggested the Philadelphia area if you choose to do a residency in a specialty like pediatrics or research but we can go to any city in the world. If we go to Philly, I have to meet with other bosses for us to dwell safely in the city. They have to understand the reason why the Santos family is residing in their territory. They have to be courted. Other than that, we will live a normal life. No attention being drawn to our family. But you have to choose the city.”

“Last night, I listened to Gabby and Bethany’s respirations and they breathe exactly like you do when you are sleeping. Their physical traits lean to the Santos family but they are a true extension of you. I want Gabby and Bethany to grow up and show the world that they are Maureen’s grandchildren. I never met Maureen but she did one hell of a job raising you.”

The twins babbling noise on the monitor interrupted the healing moments for Danny and Michelle. The time had come to refocus on where their family would journey next. Michelle loosened her arms from Danny’s neck. “I have to go to them.”

Catching her hand in his hand, “Can you wait? I have to tell you this before the time slips away and this morning has slipped into the back of our minds. And it won’t be because of the loss of importance of today but we will move on with our dream of finding a place for our family to be the family that you deserve.”

Whispering the words, “I want to believe you, Danny. If we have been given the dream then surely God will provide us a solution to make it happen.”

“Michelle, I have to express in words what you mean to my family and most of all to me. When I was a little boy, I would stay up late at night to watch the full moon shining with its brightness lighting the dark sky. I didn’t know the moon’s light source didn’t come from its own energy source but from the sun shining on it out in space. You bring warmth and light to a fairly cold family that can and has been ruthless in the past. Your inner qualities of goodness and love shine in the darkest corners of the Santos world.”

Touching the new growth of his beard with her soft fingertips, “Once before I had decided to marry you, Father Ray tried to rationalize why I was good for your family. It is hard for me to separate where my Bauerness begins and ends with the Santos family. Your family heritage is powerful and strong. There are times when I am overwhelmed and I’m afraid for Gabby and Bethany Joy. Their heritage, good and bad, comes from both families. Danny, you have always had at least one parent in your life. My father abandoned Rick and me for years; yet he was from a respectable family where this behavior wasn’t expected. Danny, I’ve seen the good side and the bad side of the Bauers.
All I want is for my children to be free of the La Familia. What I fear is down the road that one of my children will be the chosen new leader of the families. I can’t see you designating your power to someone outside of the immediate family. Danny, you and I know the time will come and the ring on your right hand will be passed to the next generation.”

The moment of silence grew from seconds to what seemed as an eternity. Michelle locked her eyes with the dark mystery eyes in front of her face. “Your silence is yes that from our union will come the future leader.”

“Michelle, I didn’t answer because I agreed with you that neither twin would be placed in the position. We are discussing a male child that hasnt been born.”

I really had fun writing this chapter. Nice to have Danny caught in a place where he couldnt escape Aunt Meta. I wanted Danny and Michelle to mature in their relationship. The emotion of fear had to be there in their relationship even with their love always coming to unite and keep the couple together.
Thank you for all the comments and e-mails that I have received from the site where this fiction is being archived.

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 4

August 24, 2017
Republisher’s Note: A very nice Christmas with the Santos family.
 Author’s Note: Finally we get to the funny and entertaining section of the twins first Christmas. Christmas has always been a much-anticipated holiday in my youth and older days. Our tree was never decorated until Christmas Eve and the tradition has continued in my family. The activities on Christmas Eve seemed to never finish and this is the background that I have chosen to give the young Santos family. Thank you for all the nice compliments.

Fair Winds and Following Seas Chapter 4 by Phyllis

In his heart, Danny knew how cold the words were to Ray. The words had bounced back to Danny. Michelle and Danny had danced and tipsy toed around Aussie Spencer since Thanksgiving. Less than six hours, he would face the young woman. The christening was the formality for the twins in the Catholic Church, which connected his children to the faith of the Santos family. The 5pm Mass would be filled with children and adults of all ages. They would be eyewitness as Michelle and he dedicated their twins back to God and swore to raise them in the Catholic faith. Instead of Michelle raising Gabby and Bethany Joy outside of the Catholic faith; she was allowing the Catholic Church to become influential in the future twin lives. Strange as it seemed, Danny chuckled at the thought of Aussie being a part of the final push of Gabby and Bethany Joy deeper in the Santos circle.

Danny smirked at the thought of Aussie Spencer being in the room with the very family that if she had had her way would be far today from his grasp. The official christening service had opened a door through which Jimmy and he could monitor Michelle’s communication with Aussie. The hospital with all the staff was the perfect place to hide her communications with Aussie. Michelle maintained her silence with him and never had mentioned the distant medical student till the question of the godparents
had come to be debated in multiple heated discussions.

Starting again with Aussie wasn’t going to happen when Danny heard his name being called from the direction of the end of the snow-covered walkway. “Danny, we are hoping you can use two more sets of hands; we can wrap presents or vacuum.”

Hugging Aunt Meta, then running his hands through his long curls. “I’m so happy to see Ed and you. I promised Michelle to get to the barber shop today and if you can help with the tree, I might be able to make my appointment.”

Taking the metal container from Meta’s hands, “What do you have in the cookie tin?”

“Cookies for Michelle and you. Maureen baked these every Christmas for Michelle and Ed. Today is special with Maureen’s grandbabies being baptized that I thought the cookies might give Michelle the gift of knowing that Maureen is never far from her presence. The distant days are as close as closing her eyes and remembering.”

Kissing Meta’s cheek, “Meta, you are a lady of wisdom.”

Opening the door for the two added visitors, Meta and Ed entered the Santos home. “Merry Christmas Michelle!”

“Daddy and Aunt Meta-I can’t believe you took the time to come here.

“Sweetie, we have another day to finish cooking the famous Bauer Christmas dinner. Rick has taken Abby and Freddie to the mall.” Smiling at Ed, “We were lonely and thought why are we here when we can be with Gabby and Bethany Joy. Plus I baked Maureen’s favorite sugar cookies and,” handing the tin to Michelle,” These are for you.”

“Oh how generous to share with the Santos clan.” Opening the green and red plaid metal tin container, Michelle chose the blue frosted angel cookie. Taking a bite of the soft cookie, “This will be Gabby and Bethany’s first Christmas to eat one of the best ever cookies.”

“I see where my hands can be put to quick use. Meta, you can use your careful interior decorator eye to guide my placement of the light bulbs.” Ed picked up the first set of colored lights and started stringing the lights from the top of the tree. Meta carried the untangled lights from Danny to Ed on the stepladder and pointed to spots on the tree where the lights might be placed. The trio finished the light-stringing job when the knocking of a foot on the outside door alerted the decorating crew that the twins were returning with Father Ray. Michelle ran to the porch door, “I cant wait to see how they react to the tree. Danny grab the cam recorder!”

Michelle opened the frosted glass door and extended her arms to take the twins from Ray. Rubbing her nose into their cheeks, “You have cold faces. Thanks Ray, we are almost ready to add the ornaments and I shopped wisely this year. We have gold mesh ribbon to wrap as garland on the tree and then we can add the two new boxes of non-breakable ornaments on the bottom of the tree.”

First removing his winter coat and gloves, Ray untied the hats and zipped the snowsuits on Gabby and Bethany Joy. “These two really enjoy being out in the cold and today a female cardinal ate seeds from Bethany’s hand. Do you know how unusual that is for a bird to come near an active small child?”

“Oh Ray, the birds know that you are the one bringing the seed.”

“True Michelle but the female cardinal is easily scared; she took a risk and landed on Bethany’s hand.
Michelle, there is a bucket of three eggs outside from the chicken house. While outside, we had to make the rounds and check the chickens. Mr. Rooster and Hinny are safe and cozy in the straw after I raided the nest.”

“Good, I can use them in my egg and cheese casserole for tomorrow morning.”

With one child on each hip, Gabby and Bethany Joy look at the Christmas tree with the lights. Michelle watched the Christmas lights being reflected in their dark glassy eyes. “See the pretty lights. But do not touch!”

Ed came down the stepladder. “Come to Grandpa.”

Switching from their mother’s arms to their grandfather’s large arms, “We are decorating the tree because a magical man dressed in a red suit is coming tonight to bring you presents. By the way are you two going to go along and teach about the Santa Claus myth?”

Danny and Michelle turned to each other. “Ed, I hadn’t thought much either way. I grew up with the idea of Santa existing until my older brother Mick told me otherwise. Michelle, how did your family handle Christmas?”

“We had presents and Dad dressed up in a Santa suit and passed out the presents. I knew Santa was Daddy. Well, I guess we will have to make a decision next year when the twins are older about Santa.”

Michelle broke a cookie in half. Placing the sweet sugar cookie in their left hands. “Hum, a good cookie and Aunt Meta made the cookies for us.”

Taking a bite of the cookie, Bethany moved her cookie to her right hand. The cookie lost its charm to the glowing lights on the tree with her leaning out to touch the tree with her hand. Crying in a sharp squeal from the pain inflicted on her fingers, Bethany Joy laid her head down on Ed’s shoulders and started whimpering.

“No, no Bethany Joy, do not touch the sharp tree needles.” Ed patted her back and kissed her fingers.

“I hope Bethany has learned her lesson and babbles to Gabby to stay away from the tree.” Danny moved immediately to Ed’s side, “Come to Daddy.”

Bethany raised her head from Ed’s shoulders and stretched her hurt fingers to Danny.

“You want Daddy to kiss your fingers and make the boo-boo go away?”

“Danny, I didn’t mean for her to get so close to the tree; it happened too fast to stop her.”

“Ed, it wasn’t your fault, the princess has a reputation of exploring. Bethany likes to check out her surroundings….Bethany, do you want to play with the pots and pans with your wooden spoon in the cabinet drawer?” Sitting Bethany in front of the open drawer, Danny watched his daughter hit the pot with her spoon. Next Bethany was busy trying to fit all the misfit tops on the pans and taking the plastic blocks out of one pan and putting them in the next pot. Michelle placed Gabby in front of his drawer and watched him pull the cabinet door open to gain access to his set of pots. “This is the best toys, they love to spend time with the one cabinet door and drawers where they can open and play with the metal pots and pans. Olga went to a yard sale and came home with various sizes of pans and misfit lids. They are charmed by the noise and the big spoons. The only time that we have trouble with the pots is when one of the twins takes both spoons. They haven’t figured out that you can take it back from the other twin yet but I guess that is good for now.”

Ray was the first to leave the lake house after the ornaments found their special place on the green tree boughs. Ed and Meta followed his exit. The Bauer and Santos family would next meet at the church parish where they would enter the church as a unit.

Bethany Joy and Gabby sat in their highchairs with the warm vegetable soup being spooned into their opened mouths. In between swallowing the soup, they ate the cheese fish crackers on the tray of the highchair. For dessert, they had an individual cup of fruit yogurt. Wiping their faces and hands with the warm washcloth, Michelle removed the bibs, “It is time for a nap and Daddy can run to the barber shop.”

“Oh yea baby, I almost forgot the haircut with Bethany hurting her fingers on the tree. Do you think I really need to get it cut today?”

Kissing her husband on the cheek and running her fingers at the nap of his neck, “Yes but a small trim, I like the curls. The back of your neck needs the haircut more than anything.”

“Michelle, you could do that for me.”

Shaking her head at his newest suggestion, “I don’t think so unless you want it to look like I put a bowl on your head.”

Smacking at her butt with the dishtowel, “I’ll help you put the twins down and then run to the barber shop.”

At 2:30, Michelle had the twins in the bathtub giving them their Christmas Eve baths. “Am I confusing you today by giving you your baths this early? We are going to get dressed up in our pretty new outfits and go to church where the man dressed in red will pour warm water over your hair just like we have been practicing here at home. There will be lots of children in the church with us today and my friend Aussie will be there.”

The four o’clock chime was ringing after Michelle had finished dressing Gabby and Bethany Joy in their white velveteen outfits. Gabby’s white John-Boy pants fastened on the shoulders with single S shaped buttons. The white jacket covered the long sleeve white turtleneck with a monogrammed S on the portion of the turned down collar. Rubbing baby oil in her hands, Michelle applied the oil to the short thick hair curls on her son’s head. “You smell perfect Gabriel Santos and I’m turning you over to your father to finish getting you dressed with the white leather shoes…. Honey, Gabby might keep the shoes on his feet if you put them on today.”

Standing back to admire Gabby, “I love our son with his black curls against the white suit.”

“Well, he finally did get some hair and when it came; it came in a hurry. Michelle, he took after his old man with the color but the curls are yours.”

Switching Bethany Joy back to Michelle’s arms, “Do you think Bethany will keep the hair pins in her hair with the tiny white rosettes?”

“Honey, your guess is as good as mine. I think all the white streamers on the rosettes are going to be the problem. Pull her hair back further with the hairpins and maybe she won’t feel them dangling on her neck or the side of her face.

Michelle brushed the thick long curls around her finger creating rows of curls with the white rosettes holding the curls in place. With a quick squirt of hair spray to the back of the curls, Michelle announced, “I’m finished. Your little daughter is radiant in her first white long dress. The large satin bow tied in the back with the pointed lace on the border makes the dress like a tiny gown. Carmen insisted on the white ballet slippers for Bethany. The dress is a tiny replica of a wedding dress.”

“Michelle, please do not say the words, the time will come too soon for me to give her to another man. Bethany is my little princess and going to be my girl for along time. The guy hasn’t been born that is good enough for my princess. Bethany, your granny has started you out wearing designer dresses early in your life.”

The Santos family started gathering at the Parish house at 4:30 pm. Carmen and Abuella had arrived with their large yellow manilla envelopes for their annual contribution to Father Ray’s church. Inside they sat waiting for Bill Lewis and Pilar to arrive with the gold crosses.

“Carmen, you did tell Pilar to close the shop early today?”

“Yes, for the last time Maria, Pilar is on her way with the crosses.”

The door opened and two young women with wrapped gifts came into the living room. Speaking in Spanish to Carmen, “One must be Aussie Spencer. Do you know which one is the trouble maker?”

Carmen whispered back to Maria, “The one with the Australian accent.”

Ray saw the young women entering the house. Smiling as he approached the two with the gifts, “I’m Father Ray Santos and one of you must be Aussie Spencer, Michelle’s friend.”

The young woman with the green wool suit extended her hand to Ray. “I’m Dr. Aussie Spencer, the Godmother.”

“This is a neat way to meet. I’m the Godfather to the twins. Michelle and Danny should be arriving any minute with Gabriel and Bethany Joy. I believe this will be your first time to see the two in person.”

“Actually, Michelle and I had dinner at Caitlin’s apartment a couple of days ago. I saw Gabby and BJ that night. We watched a lot of videos of the twins and I feel that I’m pretty much caught up with the toddlers. Michelle has done wonders with her career and raising the preemies till now.”

“Carmen, did you hear what that girl said to Ray, she is giving Michelle all the credit for raising Gabby and Bethany Joy! What is this BJ thing?”

“Maria, the letters are Bethany Joy’s initials. Evidently, Michelle calls Bethany Joy BJ.”

Ed Bauer, Aunt Meta and Rick with Abbey rushed inside the house. “There is a wreck at the nearest light and we had to almost bribe the police to let us get here on time. Where are Danny and Michelle?”

“They must be stuck in the traffic.”

Carmen had the cell phone in her hand and dialed the number, which she had on speed dial. “Where are you?”

“I’m parking the car in front of the parish house. We had to go back over the Nickel Bridge but it looks like we made it with a few minutes to spare.”

Carmen closed the phone down to its compact size.” Danny has saved the day again, the Santos family will be entering momentarily.”

Michelle came in holding Gabby and the traveling diaper bag followed by Danny with Bethany Joy. Father Ray gathered the group in a circle. “This is a copy of the service and where the baptism is listed in the program. The Godparents and family will approach the altar where the Cardinal Monahan will perform the baptism.” Ray immediately lined the family up to enter the church. “I forgot to mention it but this service has the young Christmas pageant and if history holds true it can be very entertaining.”

The loud organ music struggled to overcome the sounds of the joyful voices singing “Joy To the World” with the procession of the cross and Bible followed by the small children dressed as shepherds, sheep and angels with wings made of every imaginable material. The littlest angel with stars in her basket stole the show as she dropped gold stars on the floor. When she reached the front of the church, she spotted the two toddlers. Pulling a star from her basket, she handed one of her stars to Bethany Joy. Looking at her empty basket, she ran back down the aisle and picked up a star from the floor. Running back to where she left her last star, she handed the star to Gabby. Gabby and Bethany held the stars in their hands and cautiously watched the strangely dressed children. Michelle whispered in each of her children’s ears, “The angel is the star bringer angel and she is sharing her stars with you.”

Tapping Carmen’s shoulder, “Mam, I’m here with the crosses. The stupid police finally let us through the intersection with the wreck. Michelle and Danny are striking with Gabby and Bethany Joy. The white and black theme is clean and fashion forward. Bethany Joy is going to turn some eyes in the future.”

The Cardinal served as the Celebrant:
Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

The people responded: And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen

With the normal responses read until Pilar stood to read the lesson and closing with: The Words of the Lord and the people responding: Thanks be to God. Then, all standing, Ray began the reading of the Christmas birth of Jesus Christ. After the conclusion of his reading, The Gospel of the Lord. The people: Praise to you, Lord Christ.

Standing, the Cardinal motioned for Danny and Michelle to come forward with Gabby and Bethany Joy.

Celebrant: The Candidates for Holy Baptism will now be presented.

Danny and Michelle together said: I present Daniel Gabriel to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. I present Bethany Joy to receive the Sacrament of Baptism.

Celebrant: Will you be responsible for seeing that the child you present is brought up in the Christian faith and life?

Danny and Michelle: I will, with God’s help.

Father Ray and Aussie: I will, with God’s help.

After reading the list of renouncing Satan, all spiritual forces of wickedness and the evil powers of this world, Danny and Michelle answered on behalf of their children.

Next the Celebrant moved to the vessel containing the warm water.
We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water. Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation. Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.
We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Pouring the water in the basin and touching the water:
Now sanctify this water, we pray you, by the power of your Holy Spirit, that those who here are cleansed from sin and born again may continue forever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Savior.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.
Leaning over to whisper to Danny, Please give me Daniel Gabriel. Handing Gabby to the Cardinal, Danny wrapped his arm around Michelle’s waist. The Cardinal held Gabby up for the audience to see and laid the toddler in his arms with his head over the basin. With the ocean shell, he poured the water onto the dark curls. “Daniel Gabriel, I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Wiping off the excess water, Gabby was returned to Danny’s arms. Turning his attention to Bethany, the priest took Bethany in his arms. Bethany reached back to Danny and called “Dada.” Puckering her lips to cry after she was lifted up for the audience to see. Bethany cried as the warm water touched her scalp. Drying the excess off quickly, the Priest smiled at the bundle in his arms. “Bethany is mad at me for messing up her curls.” Back in the safety of Michelle’s arms, Bethany cuddled into her mothers neck.

“Bethany Joy, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christs own forever. Amen.” Marking a cross on the forehead of Gabby, “Daniel Gabriel, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christs own forever. Amen.”

“Let us welcome the newly baptized.”

Carmen and Maria stepped forward and placed a gold cross on the necks of Gabby and Bethany.

The priest waited until the families had returned to their seats. “What a wonderful way to begin the Christmas season. We are here to celebrate the birth of a young child over 2000 years ago in a tiny village in a country suffering under the occupation of a foreign nation. It wasn’t until the time when the child was a grown man that we had to learn to deal with our relationship with God’s son. My homily is short tonight and in your program; you will find a poem, which I am giving to you as a present.”

The Word is born this very night:
Hail, Mary, full of grace!
A hanging lantern sheds its light
On Joseph’s anxious face.
The Word must come in human form,
In God’s redemption plan.
A Babe takes every heart by storm,
But who will heed the Man?
The Word is born this very night,
And humble is the place;
The world is dark, but hope is bright
And sinners look for grace.
The Word has come to end the war
Which Adam first began.
O bless the Babe who sleeps on straw.
And listen to the Man!

Words: Fred Pratt Green

The first Adam gave us the bondage of sin, the second Adam offers us freedom from darkness. I ask that each of you listen to the Man. Listen to what he is saying to your hardened hearts and follow the words of the Man.

The final blast from the organ pipes signaled the end of the 5pm. Service. At the different pews, the members greeted each other and many approached the young Santos family. “Mrs. Santos, I remember you reading at the Midnight Mass last year. And to see your children being baptized this year brought tears to my eyes.”

Michelle took the older woman’s hand with her one available hand. “Thank you Bethany Joy is at that stage where she won’t go to strangers. Did you hear her calling for her Daddy?”

“Yes and that was what made it special. It is evident that she is very close to her father.”

Danny spoke with many of the members after Carmen had relieved him of holding Gabby. Reaching down to pick up the diaper bag, Danny spotted Jimmy standing at the door with Aussie and Michelle. “Excuse me but I see a person that I need to speak with this evening.”

Aussie gave the two wrapped presents to Michelle. “The gifts are two Children’s Bible Stories books.”

“Aussie, you didn’t have to buy Gabby and Bethany a gift. But you can come to our home for dinner. You did promise to help bring them up in the Christian faith and life, which includes regular visits.”

“Michelle, we both know that your husband isn’t exactly crazy about me. I think we have tested his endurance.”

“Aussie, there will be a crowd at the house and I’m sure Danny and you can manage to avoid each other.”

Jimmy placed his hand on Michelles white coat. “It is time to wrap up the conversation, the Boss is ready to leave the church.”

Michelle pushed Jimmy’s hand away. “I’ll leave when I’m ready to leave. I’m having a private conversation with my friend.”

“Well Michelle, you can tell it to your husband personally. He is heading in your direction.”

Aussie hugged Michelle goodbye. “I don’t want to get you into trouble with the Boss on Christmas Eve. Caitlin and I are having dinner with her family tonight. ‘Ill see you tomorrow at the hospital when you do your shift. Go before the man in black explodes in church. Bye.”

Michelle dabbed at her eyes with the handkerchief that Jimmy gave her. “Don’t you have something else to do tonight?”

“I just saved your butt from Daniel Santos. He had that evil eye from across the room and you and I know how he can get. Aussie did the right thing by refusing to come to the house. Let’s go.”

“Michelle, we will have hungry guest appearing at the house expecting to be fed and we want be there to greet them.”

Stomping her foot, “You always have an answer and dance around the elephant in the room but I hate the way you have treated my friend Aussie. The priest should give you the poem written in stone that he read to us and make you wear it around your neck. You listen to the man inside the evil side of your heart.”

“Michelle, we aren’t going to get into this tonight. But it is time to deal with the elephant in our lives.”

The ride back to the lake house was silent with Gabby and Bethany sleeping in their car seats. Michelle watched the snowy road through teary eyes and Danny listened to a Spanish Christmas CD. Several of the guest cars had arrived before Danny parked the car in the warm garage. Michelle unsnapped the car seat on her side and carried Bethany Joy up the steps to the back hallway. From the front of the house, the sounds of the music played and the aroma of the mixed spices boiling in a saucepan greeted all entering the house.

The catering service had placed red and white poinsettias on the floor and tables with the bayberry scented candles. Carmen hurried with the help removing the poinsettias from the floor where Gabby and Bethany might crawl and pick up a poison berry.

“Who ordered the poinsettias?”

Danny answered his mother, “I did.”

“Oh Daniel, the flowers are dangerous with toddlers crawling and putting any new fascinating object in their mouths.”

“I’ll have the catering service take the flowers out to the garage. We can let all the guests take one home to add to their decorations.”

“Oh Michelle, your white woolen pant suit went well with Bethany and Gabby’s outfits.”

“Carmen, the suit was another unexpected gift from you. You have to stop all this gift giving.”

Carmen exchanged glances with Danny. “Michelle, the suit isn’t from me.”

“Honey, I had the designer in NYC work up the pant suit. It was one of your Christmas gifts from Gabby and Bethany. You evidently didn’t check the label very closely.”

Clutching Bethany tighter in her arms, “I didn’t. I assumed it was from Carmen since it came with the Christening outfits.”

“Why don’t you help Carmen with the poinsettias and I’ll get Gabby and Bethany in their pajamas.” Taking Gabby in her other arm, Michelle carried the twins into the nursery.

“OK Daniel, what is wrong with your wife? Why is Michelle so bitchy tonight? Can I guess?”

“Mam, Michelle is angry because I didn’t invite Aussie to the dinner tonight or fall at Aussie’s feet. Then again she might be having PMS.”

“Daniel, speak with Michelle in private, her behavior is out of order for tonight. The Sandovals and Machedos are here.”

At the laundry room door, Meta Bauer stood listening to the end of the conversation between Carmen and Danny.

“Where is my niece?”

“Aunt Meta, Michelle is changing the kidos in the nursery.”

“I’ll see if I can help Michelle.” Meta walked down the hallway to the nursery.

Leaving the two Santos in the laundry room, “How much did she hear, Daniel?”

“Meta isn’t the kind of lady that stands and listens for information. Carmen make sure the booze is flowing generously with the guest. Michelle and I are going to talk briefly in the nursery.”

Meta had left with the twins and Michelle was in the closet hanging up the new clothes. “Hey sweetie, you have had a lot on your mind lately. I was wrong to accuse you of not taking the time to check the label.”

“Danny, it isn’t the suit that baffles me, but how easy it is for you to apologize to me when you can’t apologize to Aussie for completely disrupting her life. You had a golden opportunity to offer her a token of peace by inviting her to dinner. Just for your information, Aussie and Caitlin had other plans for dinner and they wouldn’t have soiled your precious house or gangster buddies.”

Turning to leave the nursery, Michelle’s body was suddenly blocked by Danny’s forearm. “No Michelle, you aren’t getting off that easy. I gave you what you requested. You wanted Aussie to be their Godmother. The damn dinner wasn’t included in the deal. It maybe petty to you but it isn’t to me. If she had gotten to you in some other place besides here; I wouldn’t have a wife and two children. It is no doubt in my mind that she and her buddies would have convinced you to have an abortion.” Holding his wifes face tight in his hand, “Do you understand my contempt for Aussie?”

The voice in the room was Meta’s voice speaking, “What is going on in here? Daniel, take your hand off of Michelle’s face. I’m normally not a busybody but I have heard quite enough tonight. You both should be ashamed. This is a dinner in celebration of your children’s Christening and you are choosing to fight over water that has spilled over the dam. Michelle, you are asking Danny to do what he isn’t able to do yet in his heart. Danny, you are asking Michelle to choose you constantly over her friendship with Aussie. Aussie was right to have other plans for dinner even though it is highly irregular. You have guest waiting to see the entire family together not in shifts. I suggest that you attend to that matter.”

At the door, Gabby and Bethany crawled into their nursery to hunt for their parents. “I see Bethany and Gabriel have found their parents and want attention. And Danny, I do not ever want to see you manhandling Michelle again.”

Squatting down to their eye level, “Everything I do, I do for Gabby, Bethany and you.”

Resting her body against the door of the closet waiting to regain her public composure, “Danny, I believe you think you are always right. This is where our worlds collide and clash but it doesn’t have to be a struggle of Bauer power against Santos power. This is how I see my world today; I go to the hospital and play doctor and in our home, Carmen and you make all the major decisions with our children. I find out after when you are ready for Michelle to know even down to buying my clothes. The suit is gorgeous but white would have been the last color that I would have chosen.”

“The designer suggested the color scheme with me dressed in black turtle neck and suit and you in a white sweater and suit. Honey, you have been hunting for a fight since your talk with Aussie at the church. We have had two fights and it is interesting that Aussie has been the root of both. Michelle, what message are you sending me?”

“Danny, I don’t have any message. All I want is for you to treat her as a human being. She isn’t exactly crazy about you either.” Swallowing hard, “I admit that I did get pissed off at the church but I wasn’t hunting for a fight.”

Handing Gabby to Michelle, “Michelle, Carmen and Meta both picked up on your vibes. It was your Aunt Meta that had the nerve to approach you. I rest my case.”

Leaning to kiss Michelle’s forehead, “I don’t know how many times do I have to tell you that I’m sorry.” Checking his watch, “It is time to give Gabby and Bethany Joy solid food before they go to bed. Do you want to breast feed them before or after they eat?”

“After.”

In the kitchen, Danny pulled the highchairs to the counter while Michelle pulled the frozen packages of vegetables from the freezer. Most of the attention went to the guest watching the twins eat and their ability to handle the water in their cups. Alternating between the pureed vegetables and applesauce, Danny shoved the food in their tiny mouths as fast as they opened their mouths. In between the pauses, Bethany and Gabby held the spill proof cups up their mouths for sips of water. With their small plates empty, Danny gave them their spoons to play with and watched how they mimicked eating.

Ed picked up a silver fork and hit the tongs on a crystal glass. “I hate to interrupt my grandchildren’s show but many of you here know that Gabby and Bethany will celebrate their first birthday a week from tomorrow. Danny and Michelle will be in Puerto Rico on their birthday, which makes it impossible to share the special day with Bethany Joy and Gabby. Aunt Meta has made a birthday cake for Gabby and Bethany to share with everyone here tonight.”

Meta and Abbey carried the cakes with a lighted single candle toward the two highchairs. “Everyone with cameras and video equipment get ready! This is a moment to save on film. The cake is chocolate and the icing is a seven minute frosting, which is perfect to make a mess on their faces.”

“Oh Dad and Aunt Meta, I love the cakes and I bet Gabby and Bethany will like the frosting and cake. I don’t think they have ever had cake before tonight.” All joined in singing Happy Birthday to Gabby and then repeated the chorus for Bethany. Michelle made a wish for Bethany and blew out her candle and then Gabby’s candle. Slicing thin servings of the devil food cake, Meta placed the cake on the tray of the highchairs. The tiny fingers touched the new texture of the cake and frosting. With small segments of the cake and frosting in between her thumb and fingers, Bethany tasted the sweet delicacy. Gabby’s two hands mashed the cake into mush before tasting the cake and rubbing his frosted covered hands in his hair.

Laughing at the mess and the chocolate covered faces, Danny and Michelle watched with a lighter weighted spirit and mind. The children had done what had seemed impossible; they had cleared the air of the anger and hurting words. They were back on track with what meant the most to both parents.

The music playing in the background was from a Kenny Rogers CD The Gift. Michelle hummed along with the tunes while wrapping the books that she had carefully selected at the Corner Bookstore. Pressing the edge of the paper down with her fingers, the memories came rushing fast from the past. The special books had always been included in her Christmas gifts from Ed and Maureen. The book covers were removed when Maureen and Michelle curled up in front of the fireplace on a snowy afternoon with hot chocolate and the famous soft sugar cookies. Maureen read the magical words to Michelle and they traveled to distant real and make believe countries.

Today had been nearly perfect in an imperfect world. The empty space in her torn heart reserved for Maureen was slowly healing. The gifts of the cookies from Aunt Meta gave Michelle’s new family a piece of the Maureen history.
Danny sat the glass of red wine down on the counter in front of Michelle. “A penny for what you are thinking.”

Wrinkling her nose at Danny, “How do you know that I was in the process of thinking?”

“You have a distant look in your eyes.”

Letting the past slip back into the past, “I was with Maureen in front of the fireplace with a book. Danny, do you think that I went overboard and bought too may books for Gabby and Bethany Joy?”

Tightening his hold on her body,” You tell me how many books do you have to have to have too many books? The way, which you read to Gabby and Bethany, I would have to say the stack of books will take care of next month.”

Snuggling closer to the area behind Michelle’s ear where Danny hinted his true intentions. “If I was Santa, I would throw all the books in one big box. This year, Gabby and Bethany aren’t going to be counting presents. You can see how I handled the wrapping. I didnt wrap anything at all.”

“Danny, I think Santa purchased the right amount of toys for Gabby and BJ. You bought the action toys and I took care of the intellectual side.”

“Honey, where did you get the idea of the pull sleds with runners and wheels?”

“I saw a young father in the park pulling his son. The two Good Humor trucks were added at the last minute. I saw them at Toys R Us. I wanted to give the twins their first riding wheel toy. They can push the truck with their feet until they learn to peddle with their feet. The storage portion of the truck has make believe ice cream and I bet in the future we might find other toys stored in there. When I was young, Mick and I use to get money from Maria to buy ice cream from the Good Humor man.” Biting the edge of Michelle’s ear, “It is a wonder how we got all the aspects of Santa covered.”

“Michelle, I probably need to give you a heads up alert with Carmen’s gift to Gabby and Bethany Joy. I saw the gift being delivered last week.”

Smiling one of her OK what has the master manipulator done this time looks? “Are you ready to think big?”

“How big?”

“Carmen bought a miniature carousel. You know one of the ones that you see outside of a K-Mart or grocery store where you drop quarters in a box and ride two or three minutes.”

Turning her head to meet Danny’s dark eyes, “You have got to be kidding! Carmen is never going to sit and drop money in a machine.”

“Michelle, you do know Carmen better than I thought. Carmen had it jerry-rigged and the carousel is now Push Button operational.”

“And what is Carmen giving our children for their first birthday? Live ponies with a cart!”

“No, my mother was actually sensible with her birthday gift. An outdoor gym and swing set, which she is having installed in her backyard.”

With the last gift resting in front of her, Michelle held the bright red paper with Santas down on the box for Danny to apply the scotch tape. Pulling a large section of tape from the dispenser, Danny intentionally taped Michelle’s hand with the gift. “I couldn’t resist being a naughty Santa’s helper.”

“Interesting, I have a naughty surprise myself from Santa.”

The cry of mommy from the baby monitor moved Michelle quickly in the direction of the nursery. “It is Bethany Joy calling me. I wonder what is wrong?”

Inside the nursery, Michelle checked her daughter and found her soundly sleeping. Tracing her fingers on Bethany’s hair, Michelle waited to see if the toddler opened her eyes or if there was any indication that Bethany wasn’t feeling well. The monitors were working quietly while the toddlers traveled with the Sandman to sleepy time land.
Satisfied that all was well in the nursery, Michelle turned up the volume on the hand unit of the monitor and returned to the living room where the roaring fire burned perfect in the last minutes of the Christmas Eve.

“Was Bethany awake?”

“No, she and Gabby were sound asleep. It must be a new stage in their growth and development. Dreaming.”

“Bethany did eat a lot of the cake tonight and I’m wondering if the chocolate has affected her. Come sit with me in front of the fire before it burns down for the night.”

Lying on the floor with her feet resting on Danny’s lap, Michelle continued to ponder the mystery call from Bethany. “Danny, it did sound like Bethany and Gabby put most of his cake in his hair.”

“Honey, that is why we have the monitor and it hasn’t failed us yet.”

Danny began to massage Michelle’s feet. “How long have you been wearing the 3 in. heels?”

“Oh, I didn’t take the time to change but my feet are tired and I’m ready for bed myself. Have you ever wondered why the fire glows the best right before you have to go to bed?”

“I haven’t a clue but it is essential to be in the right place at the right time to see the burning logs. Also having good dry maple wood.”

“Danny, I am going to get dressed for bed. Our growing toddlers will be up in less than five hours and we have a busy morning to still face with the Santos family coming for breakfast.”

From behind his back, Danny pulled out an oblong box with a big red bow tied to keep the valuable gift secure until it found its home in Michelle’s jewelry box. “Then, this is the best time to give you my Christmas present.”

“You have got to stop buying me expensive jewelry but I do love the thought of you caring for me to buy them for me.”

The red ribbon fell to the floor when Michelle saw the blue sapphires and green emerald in a heart shaped setting on a gold band bracelet. “Hubby, you never cease to amaze me but my present is one of a more practical sense. I hope that you won’t be disappointed. Do you remember that next semester, I am studying alternative medicine. The use of body massages is highly recommended and I signed you up for free body massages.”

Smiling at the news, Danny winked at Michelle. “Are you going to be my masseur?”

“Certainly, I’m not crazy to allow another woman to touch the gorgeous parts that only my eyes get to enjoy.”

“I might have to classify this Christmas as my best. Actually, I’m ready for bed also.”

Kissing her husband’s wet lips, “I have another present but I have to go get dressed for bed.”

“Michelle, I get your drift. We are moving the action from here to the bedroom.”

“Maybe but Santa’s elf has to take care of business.”

After brushing his teeth, Danny waited in bed underneath the white down comforter for the young woman that increased his heart beat whenever he saw her. Michelle reappeared wearing a new short red robe, which had been tied especially tight. Michelle smiled the sexy smile to Danny. “I’m embarrassed that I thought and even bought this present for you.”

“Oh Michelle, I think we are far from being embarrassed with one another.”

Promise me that you want ever tell anyone that straight Michelle Bauer did this for you.”

Patting the bed with his left hand. “Let me see what you are hiding under the robe.”

Michelle untied the robe and watched Danny’s dark eyes grow larger. “Yea baby, this stays in the family. Where did you buy the red bra and throng?”

“It was a special at Victoria’s Secrets in the downtown mall. I thought you might enjoy seeing what Santa’s reindeer are giving Santa for Christmas. Michelle crawled in the bed beside her nude husband with the red lace bra and tiny reindeer with small buckets on each nipple with the sign Food for Santa. Embroidered on her red throng was the simple message Santa’s toys.”

Smiling with total glee, “Mrs. Santos, you have been bad and a very naughty tonight.”

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 3

August 23, 2017

Republisher’s Note: This is a sequel to Mob’s Cardinal, but takes the form of dropping in scene and stories that fit within the original stories.

Author’s Note: The fun part of adding the more detailed story of the Santos Clan has to be giving time to the characters, which the TV writers didn’t adequately cover. I have taken creative liberties with the characters, which I hope have made them more fun to read. I love all the comments. This chapter is long but what is new! I worked on it before Christmas but I didn’t have the time to get it up before the big day. My son arrived and it became time to play. The next chapter deals with the rest of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the Santos home with the twins.

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 3

Danny held the baby-drinking cup up to Gabby’s lips and watched his son struggling with the sips of milk. “Gabby, you can do this for your Mommy. Mommy will be proud of her big boy and you don’t want your sister to get all the glory. Bethany Joy hasn’t had a bottle in three days. This is much easier than sucking the rubber nipples.” The small hands reached up to grab the cup at his lips. Sitting on his father’s lap, Gabby’s legs were kicking in excitement of getting to taste the breast milk.

Danny smiled at his six-month-old son, “This is more fun than going over to the Childcare Center, isn’t it? You can stay home with me and we can play together with Bethany. Your Mommy is one busy lady and this helps with her schedule at the hospital.” Near his legs, Bethany Joy sat in the baby swing listening to her father’s voice. Clapping her hands when hearing her name, Bethany reached out her arms to her father. “Olga, can you hold Bethany Joy? She wants some attention until I finish with Gabby and his training cup.”

“Senor Danny, you are so patient with the babies. You are Mommy and Daddy to them.”

“Olga, you deserve an award yourself. Michelle and I are very appreciative for all that you do for all of us. We have come along way haven’t we since the last of January.”

Nodding her head and speaking more words of praise to her boss, “Senora Michelle misses out on a lot but when she is home; she spoils them more than we do in the daytime.”

Danny asked, “Is that why they have never slept through the night?”

“See, Michelle is determined to spend her time here with them when they are awake. They have adjusted to her schedule. Senor, their little faces light up when they see Michelle.”

“True, Olga.”

The noise from the porch was heard before Danny saw Meta Bauer. “Who’s there?”

“Just me, Danny I was in the neighborhood and had a few minutes. Hope I’m not interrupting you I haven’t been here as often as I would like with Abbey giving birth to Rick’s son. I’m busier than ever and loving every minute. How is Gabriel and Bethany today?” Reaching her arms to take Bethany from Olga, “They are constantly changing Michelle stopped by to see little Freddie yesterday and she said the babies have caught up with their growth charts.”

Smiling at the news, Danny raised both hands. “It is true and in the waiting room at the pediatricians office, Gabby and Bethany Joy are two of the most popular babies there. The way that they interact with each other has been noticed.”

“In other words Danny, they are Santoses genius already!”

“Meta, your niece has them learning the alphabet and counting their toes.”

Pausing for a moment and wiping a tear from her eye, “When I heard that Michelle was pregnant last summer, I want you to know that I cried and they were not tears of joy. Now I’m crying tears because her mother would have given anything to see these two bundles of joy. I never doubted what type of Mother Michelle would be because Maureen was the perfect example to copy. Now can I take Gabby and Bethany Joy out in their carriage for a ride in the backyard? They chatter in their own language at the trees, the bushes, the lake and the squirrels. The last time when I was here, Father Ray took Gabby and Bethany Joy to the birdfeeders where they watched the birds flying and landing at the feeders to eat.” Pointing her finger at each twin, “They do not miss a thing.”

“Oh Aunt Meta, you are sweet. I’ve noticed that they like being outside and the fresh air is good for them. I’ll get the stroller out of the closet.” Opening the closet door in the hallway, Danny pulled and unfolded the double stroller with one hand. “OK Gabby, you and your sister are going for a ride outside in the yard.” Next he placed Bethany in the space next to Gabby. “Aunt Meta, I’ll carry the stroller outside for you. This will give me time to catch up on some business from the office.”

“Michelle did mention that you had moved your office back home and took the twins out of the childcare center.”

Winking at Meta, “I did it to keep Gabby and Bethany out of the germ infected place.”

At the bottom of the steps, Danny watched Meta pushing the twins in the yard and stopping to pause at the rose bushes to smell the fragrance of the blooming buds. Running back up the steps, Danny immediately was on the phone to Carmen. “Hey Carmen, I got a call from Dr. Heidi Rasmussen, she got the last Pollack painting yesterday. This was easier than what I thought it would be. With Dr. Rasmussen keeping her maiden name, she hides her connection to La Familia……. Carmen, we have to be double sure that Dr. Rasmussen’s secret is kept between you and me. We need her for the remaining two years of Michelle’s medical school then she can go back to New York City.”

“Daniel, I told you that Heidi was worth the Pollack painting. The painting was one of Pollacks worst creations and must have been done when he was drunk as a bat. It was easy to pick up on the black market but it had what she wanted. It was signed and now she owns an original Pollack. Heidi got what she wanted and our family got what we needed; we have complete control of Michelle’s career here in Springfield.”

“Now how are my sweet babies doing this morning? Great, Meta is here and is giving them a buggy ride outside. I’m leaving for the downtown office. I have some business with a lawyer from Philadelphia. He has flown into town with some new contracts, which I have to sign. I’ll be back home in less than two hours. Let’s have a late lunch together at the house to celebrate. Michelle and I want eat dinner till late tonight and I’ve pushed my lunch back later in the day to compensate.”

Six hours later, Michelle raced up the porch steps entering the house that she called home. Sitting in their high chairs were the faces that she greeted first before planting a short kiss on Danny’s lips. “I know I’m late but I got caught up in a rather promising case at the hospital and the time passed quickly before I realized how late I was leaving.”

Raising his eyebrows to indicate his understanding, “I figured as much and we went ahead with our back up plan. Gabby and Bethany are almost finished dinner but they are ready for the final course and desert. Are you going to breast feed them on our bed or sofa?”

Michelle unstrapped Bethany first from the highchair while answering Danny. “Our bed is the site tonight. I’m going to feed them both using the u shaped nursing pillow. That way I can put up my feet and rest while spending time with my sweeties.” Bethany smiled when she heard the familiar voice of her Mom and started licking her tongue in the area next to Michelle’s bosom. Michelle lifted the edge of her short sleeve pink sweater and unsnapped the nursing bra where Bethany latched on to her nipple. Danny lowered Gabby down to the other side of the pillow and Gabby was soon receiving his favorite source of nourishment.

Danny knelled beside the edge of the bed and watched the three people that he loved the most. “Michelle, you amaze me more everyday. I should never have doubted that you might master the double feeding feat. This is one time when it is worth seeing to appreciate your talents. I’m going to pour a glass of Sangria for myself and a glass of caffeine free mint tea for you. Dinner is in the warming oven and after you have given the babies their baths and read to them, we can eat out on the porch.

Nodding her head in agreement, “I won’t be long honey.”

An hour and half latter, Michelle appeared in a two piece turquoise bathing suit with a large white scarf wrapped over her hips beside the swimming pool where Danny sat with his tanned legs dangling in the water.

“Did you give up on me?”

Patting the cement with his hand, “Sit with me here for a minute. No, but I wondered if you had started reading a new classic to Bethany and Gabby!”

Kneeling on her knees, Michelle reached out to hug Danny’s head next to her face. Swaying for a moment, “Only if you think The Three Little Bears is a classic. Gabby and Bethany Joy pat the pages and rub their fingers over the brown plush material and I admit to reading the story twice to them. Finally, I laid them down in the pirate bed and they fell asleep without a fuss.”

“Michelle, I want to remind you that the family vacation starts in two weeks and we will celebrate our first anniversary in Puerto Rico.”

“I can’t believe it is a year. I started my third year in medical school and have many responsibilities. I haven’t asked for the time off yet. I missed so much time last fall with the pregnancy that I don’t feel comfortable asking for a vacation. To tell you the truth, I haven’t even looked at my schedule past next week. At this moment, I am more interested in food; I missed lunch today.”

Leaning into Michelle’s face closer, Danny kissed two feather- like kisses on Michelle’s forehead. “Dinner is ready We have Olga’s Spaghetti sauce with noodles tonight, Caesar salad and homemade French bread.”

Lifting his legs out of the pool water, Danny stood up and pulled Michelle to her feet before pretending to loose his balance. The two fell in the pool with a big splash of water hitting the pool deck. Resurfacing to the edge of the pool, Danny encircled his arms around Michelle’s upper body. “I want us to be in San Juan in two weeks. All work and no play make a dull marriage. We deserve a break. We need time to be alone and have some fun. I want to give you nights of making love all night long. Gabby and Bethany have finally gotten to the stage where they can be easily cared for by others and we can go off by ourselves for a romantic rendezvous. We can take the jet and fly to Majorca for a long weekend. Stay in bed for as long as we want and make love without waiting to hear a crying noise in the background. What do you say?”

“Danny, it sounds wonderful and I promise to check my schedule soon.”

“Michelle, soon isn’t good enough, I want you to do it tomorrow.” Ending his words with a kiss where his tongue touched the wetness of Michelle’s tongue. “We can hurry and eat then spend the rest of the evening in the pool or in bed.”

Looking at the nursery monitor, “You are being pretty positive that Gabby and Bethany are going to sleep through the night.”

Danny lit the candles while Michelle gathered the food from the warming oven. Carrying the tray with two bowls of Spaghetti and the Caesar Salad, Michelle sat the tray on the wicker cart near the table. “It is so nice to hear the sound of quietness here at home. I never imagined being able to identify the sound.”

Clicking his glass of Sangria with Michelle’s tea glass, “To quietness May the Sleep Fairy sprinkle Gabby and Bethany Joy with a hefty dose tonight.”

Twirling her fork with the noodles, Michelle lifted her fork to Danny’s mouth. “Thank you for giving me the twins. My world certainly hasn’t been boring since I met you.” Looking out at the lake from her chair, “I haven’t tried to swim across the lake anytime recently.”

Throwing his head back slightly, “What made you think of that night?”

“Oh I don’t know, I think from the moment when I saw you waiting for my appearance outside the bedroom door; I knew to the depths that you would go to keep me in your world. I resented you very much then but I am beginning to understand your world. All of this abundance comes with a price. I haven’t forgotten your position in La Familia.”

“Why are we having this conversation, Michelle?”

“Tonight when I was bathing the babies, I noticed new clothes for Gabby and Bethany Joy. Do you realize that I have never shopped for my own children? Everything is done by Carmen and Abuell. This Saturday, I am going to Kids R Us and shop to my heart’s content.”

Taking Michelle’s hand in his hands, “My mother and grandmother saw what Gabby and Bethany required when you hardly had the time to check their dressers. Their clothes are washed frequently and they have out grown their 6 months size a long time ago. Michelle, do you even know what size they wear?”

“NO!”

“Baby, go shopping and spend whatever but I appreciate Carmen and Abuella taking care of the shopping for the twins; it relieves me or Mrs. Martinez from doing the task. Baby, what is really bothering you tonight?”

Choking on her words, “I almost missed feeding Gabby and Bethany tonight. I’m a horrible mother by putting my profession ahead of their care. I’m missing all the special moments with Gabby and Bethany and evidently I’m even failing on the marriage side of things.”

Wiping her tears with his napkin, “Michelle, you are far from failing. You are incredible but the human body can only accomplish so much in one day. Yes, you are going to miss special moments but there are many that you will see with your own eyes. Gabby and Bethany Joy are going to reserve the best for you.”

Danny and Michelle finished their dinner in the quietness of the summer evening. Clearing the table, Michelle carried the nursery monitor back inside to the kitchen where the music of Ricky Martin played. Danny rinsed the dishes while Michelle rechecked the nursery. Gabby slept on his back with his left hand extended out to Bethany’s right hand. Bethany had scooted close to Gabby and had fallen asleep with her knees drawn up under her body. Covering their bodies with the summer lightweight blanket, Michelle bent over and kissed both goodnight again. Feeling the presence of Danny standing behind her, “I think Bethany is trying to learn to crawl. Look how she has scooted to be near Gabby. I love to stand outside of the door before the Sandman or Sleep Fairy comes and hear then cooing and talking to each other. They make sounds that I have never heard. I don’t know if it is Spanish or a combination of Spanish and English.”

Resting his head on Michelle’s shoulder, “I bet it is a combination. They hear Spanish all day and when you get home the English classes begin. They are the combination of two nationalities and I expect them to be bi-lingual. Come on Mrs. Santos, the music of the Latino culture awaits us. Ready to dance?”

Giggling her answer, “Oh yes Mr. Santos.”

In the morning, Michelle checked her E-mail and quickly viewed what she determined important. The one from Dr. Rasmussen’s office caught her attention. Opening the e-mail, the note from her superior was short. Please stop by my office ASAP. Sighing at the thought of the pending interruption in her schedule for the day, Michelle walked the long hallway to the administration offices. Knocking on Dr. Rasmussen’s open door, Michelle entered after the doctor raised her head acknowledging her knock.

“Good morning Dr. Bauer-Santos. You must have got my message right after I posted it on the Internet. I’ve been wondering how we are going to resolve your leave of absences last year. You exceeded expectations with your class work but the hours of practice falls short. It has been brought to my attention that you volunteer at a church mission downtown and practice your medical skills. After the review of this good news, I am pleased to inform you that the Board of the Medical School has seen to credit those hours to your second year of medical school. You, Dr. Santos, are up to date and on schedule with the rest of your classmates. Matter of fact, the clinic has identified your medical talents as being exceptional in the field of Pediatrics. Have you given much thought of considering the field of pediatrics as a specialty?”

Smiling with the gift of the good news of her standing at the medical school, “Honestly the answer is no; I am interested in research and helping my father find a cure for AIDS. I will give your suggestion some consideration.”
Swallowing before asking the question, which she dreaded. “I know this is highly inappropriate, but I was wondering if I could request one week of vacation in July; I promise to continue working in the clinic to make up for the time away from the hospital.”

“Dr. Santos, I believe all the doctors get a month of leave during the year and you just have to submit the request for vacation. I suggest you check your schedule for July and then put in the request.”

“Thank you Dr. Rasmussen, I will do that and get my request signed today.”

“Good day, doctor.” Waiting for Michelle to leave her office, Dr. Heidi Rasmussen turned her chair around to admire her new painting on her wall. Pulling the cell phone from her white lab coat, she dialed Carmen Santos’s number. “The task is complete and I had the complete support of the entire Medical School. The Pollack painting is worth being in this backward city for two more years. The ground work has been laid for Michelle to continue her studies in Philadelphia; if she chooses to pursue additional studies. This is an easy assignment. My ex- husband sends his respect to the Santos matria.” And in the house on High Ridge Road, Carmen laid the headpiece of her telephone in the cradle. Silently saying to herself, “Give my regards to Miguel’s distant cousin.”

Michelle walked in the hospital cafeteria to grab a large cup of coffee. This was one item, which she still allowed herself to enjoy. Sipping the hot beverage, Michelle chose hot oatmeal with cinnamon toast for breakfast. The day was already looking better. Seeing her favorite table was empty, Michelle carried her small tray to the table. Her thoughts returned to last night and Danny’s suggestion of celebrating their first anniversary in Majorca. Last night, the trip seemed impossible but at this moment it was possible.

Rechecking her watch, Michelle called the lake house number.

“Santos residence.”

“Olga, can I speak to Danny?”

“Senora Michelle, Danny isn’t home. He is having breakfast at Carmen’s house this morning.”

“How are the twins?”

“They are with their father.”

“I guess they are having breakfast with Carmen and Maria also.”

“Oh Michelle, they always go on Wednesday to Carmen’s house.”

“Thanks Olga, I’ll call Danny on his cell phone.”

Dialing the speed dial number, Michelle sat in astonishment. Danny hadn’t shared this part of his schedule with her. She waited for the usual three rings before expecting to hear her husband’s voice.

“Santos.”

“Danny, I called home to give you some exciting news. I spoke with Dr. Rasmussen this morning and because of my volunteering at the clinic; I have received credit and am now an official third year medical student. This is the best news, it looks like we can have the first anniversary in Majorca if you are still interested. I haven’t checked my schedule but I think I can get at least a week off in July.”

“Baby, the news is the greatest! Do you want to say hello to Bethany Joy and Gabby? We are having breakfast with both Grannies.”

“Danny, I didn’t know that you did this with the twins.”

“We started doing this months ago. I used to have breakfast with Carmen and Abuella every Wednesday before I got married to a sexy doc.”

Holding the phone to their ears, Danny heard Michelle’s voice speaking to the babies. He watched the twins reaction to her voice. “Hey Michelle, I wish you could see their response. Carmen is recording Gabby and Bethany listening to the phone. You will love it.”

“Danny, I have to go, I wanted you to hear the good news. Bye sweetie.”

Closing the cell phone shut, “Michelle called to tell me about her good news. Heidi Rasmussen used your information with the clinic to our advantage.” Clicking their cups of coffee together, “Salute.”

Throwing her thick head of hair back against the dining room chair, “Daniel, I was very careful this time. The trail back to Dr. Rasmussen is impossible to trace. The doctor was once married to your father’s distant cousin. Being the professional woman that she is, Heidi Rasmussen never changed her name. There isn’t a name trail. I hit a homerun with this one Daniel, I think I did OK.”

Warning his mother again, “Be careful.”

Refocusing her attention to her two grandchildren, Carmen placed the spoon of baby cereal in Gabby’s mouth, “Sweet Gabby, you are just like your father when he was your age and Bethany, you look like Michelle but you are a Santos to the core. Danny, you are free to leave anytime. Maria and I are going to enjoy the rest of our day with Gabby and Bethany Joy. We have lots of family pictures to look at in the albums and Maria will tell the stories of the Santoses coming to settle in San Juan. Maria bought a new pirate book yesterday with lots of pull out pictures.”

Kissing Carmen on the cheek, “Mam, I trust you are telling only the colorful side of the Santos history.”

“My goodness, it is only the Santos heritage that your children are hearing. Get out of the house, I want to enjoy my grandchildren.”

“Dr. Bauer-Santos can I join you?”

Glancing up to the voice that she recognized, “Dr. Forest Richards I thought you had left Springfield.”

“I’m here to finish the last of my senior residence duties. Tying up unfinished business.”

“I can’t wait till the day comes and I can say those words.”

“Michelle, the time will go faster than you think!”

“My children will be two and a half when I graduate.”

“Michelle, are you still having doubts?”

“I have my moments. Last night wasn’t a good night and Danny was peeved.”

“Michelle, remember I told you that only other doctors that have been in the trenches understand what we give up to become a doctor. I take it that Mr. Bauer-Santos isn’t getting enough action in the bed.”

Michelle’s face turned crimson red. “You hit the hammer on the head of the nail. Truthfully, I give most of my attention to Gabby and Bethany when I am home. By the time I fall in bed, I’m asleep and they still wake up at least once during the night. In the morning, I don’t have the time to have sex before I leave home. Forest, what am I going to do without having you listen to my whoes?”

Pulling his new business card out of his jacket, “This is where I can be reached.”

“You are starting your practice in Seattle, Washington!”

“Yeah The Northwest is a good place to raise children. Oh, I almost forgot. Aussie Spencer sent a letter on my e-mail for you. This will brighten your day. The medical school is allowing me the professional courtesy of keeping my e-mail address here for one year. This is my password and user name; you can continue to communicate with Aussie without your husband ever discovering our secret. My goodbye present to you. I’ll see you before I leave but I know you have to get going for morning rounds.”

Quickly reading the letter from her friend Aussie, Michelle patted her male friend on the top of his hand. “Thank you, I wouldn’t have made it this far if you hadn’t covered for me so many times.”

Dear Michelle,
The pictures of Gabriel and Bethany Joy are so cute. They have grown since the last ones that you sent via the good old scanner. Bethany Joy is the spitting image of you and the olive skin tone shows the Santos blood runs in her veins. Gabriel sounds like a handful and very spoiled. A characteristic, which he inherited from your husband to say the least, because there is no way that a child with Bauer genes, would refuse to drink from a bottle. All Bauers love to eat.
Chelle, I like the medical school here in Australia and what Danny meant as a punishment has benefited me. It will look good on my resume. I do plan on returning to the USA in two years whether Mr. Santos likes it or not. He will surely be over his rage by then; don’t you think? He has the twins and you but we still have our friendship, which he can’t take away.
I talked with Caitlin last week. She says that you are still leading the class. The Bauer power still reigns. I’m tired most of the time myself and there is a hot senior resident here in surgery that keeps my heart pumping. We have had a couple dates but both of us are too busy to get serious. It still amazes me how you managed to find the time to meet Danny, get pregnant, have two weddings and give birth to my godchildren. By the way, when are you going to have the official baptism service? Have you told Danny that his arch enemy was granted this honor?
I miss seeing your happy smile and hearing your contagious giggle but I know others are enjoying your features. We have two more years of this terror from hell. I have to say that being in Medical School isn’t what I would encourage anyone in their right mind to pursue. We must have been crazy to commit to this torture!
Please hug and kiss my godchildren. I have their pictures in my locker at the hospital along side the picture of their mother and yours truly.
Friends Forever,
Aussie

Michelle kissed the letter and placed it inside of her white lab coat. Yes, we are friends forever.

Saturday morning came finally and Michelle was up preparing breakfast for Danny and herself. In one arm, she carried Gabby at her side. He was being extremely fussy and biting the cold teething ring. Michelle had rubbed his red and swollen gums with the topical medication. Gabby’s nose was running and the low grade temperature showed why he was being more demanding than usual. Gabby dropped the teething ring from his mouth and moved his head down to the area where he usually nursed. “Oh Gabby, you will have to wait. Your Daddy and I are hungry.”

From the baby monitor came the cooing noise of Bethany. Michelle lifted her eyes toward the ceiling. God, please give me patience. The knock at the door and the sight of her father and Aunt Meta gave Michelle the assurance of God sending angels to help her. “I’m so glad to see both of you. I can’t seem to calm Gabby down and Bethany is awake now.”

Aunt Meta saw the confusion on Michelle’s face, “Michelle, I’ll get Bethany Joy and Ed can check Gabby. By the way, where is Danny?”

Michelle pointed in the direction of the bedroom, I heard the water from the shower running a few minutes ago; he must be getting dressed.

Ed gently lifted his grandson from Michelle’s arms. “Gabby, will you allow your Grandpa to look in your mouth and see what all this fuss is about today?” Pulling a tongue blade from his coat pocket, he pried Gabby’s mouth open. “I see the problem; Gabby is cutting two bottom teeth. See and one has barely broken the skin surface.” Leaning the baby’s head down to Michelle level, “Can you see the tiny white tooth? Gabby, you win the prize because you beat your sister.”

“What’s going on here? What happened?” Danny stood in the room dressed only in his white boxer shorts.

“Danny, I panicked and called my father a few minutes ago. Gabby was acting strange and I wanted some reassurance. Aunt Meta and Dad came immediately.”

“Is Gabby OK?”

“Yes Danny, his first tooth finally broke the skin surface. Gabby is displaying the symptoms of having a good case of teething. After the first ones are in, you have a better sense of what is going to happen. The Tempra will relieve the low grade fever.”

Gabby reached his arms out for Danny. “Hey little guy! You are lucky to have a Grandfather that is a doctor. Thanks Ed for coming. Why don’t you stay for breakfast?”

“No Danny, Meta and I had breakfast earlier but a hot cup of coffee sounds nice. Meta was going shopping with Michelle this morning anyway. Ladies, is the shopping trip still on?”

Meta waited for Michelle’s reaction. “Aunt Meta, I’ve decided to cancel the trip to Kids R Us. I can go another day. I want to spend the time with Gabby and Bethany; Bethany can’t be far from experiencing the pain.”

An hour later, Meta and Ed were on their way back home. In the Santos house, Michelle had showered, dressed and was resting in her husband’s arms with Gabby and Bethany down in the crib for their morning nap.

“Do we dare think of the Majorca trip?”

Danny thought the consequences of the question over in his mind. “It isn’t fair to Bethany or Gabby. We can go another time or year but the time isn’t right. We can have fun in San Juan and slip away for day trips to have our own sexy rendezvous. Truthfully, I hadn’t considered the twins getting sick. The time is vacation for Carmen and Abuella and I do not want to rain on their parade. They both grew up on the island and they visit old friends. I want them to have the freedom to go and come as they please. Are you disappointed Michelle?”

“Never with you, Danny.”

The jet wheels burned the rubber of the tarmac as it landed in San Juan. At the gate, the tanned skin men waited for their boss and his family to arrive. Danny had increased the security detail with the growth of his family. Everyone knew the rules; the men were to be available and discreet. Low profile at all times especially when Michelle was out with the children. Inside the house, the maid and cook doubled as part of the security. Even in Puerto Rico, the South American wildcard gangsters werent above kidnapping. Danny wanted the word out on the street to be as truthfully as possible. His compound was guarded with the best men in the business. Jimmy still managed the security but his cousin had the responsibility for the Santos villa.

Jimmy emerged first from the plane. Raising his hand, the two black limousines pulled up to the bottom steps of the jet. Danny carried one twin down with a blanket over his head and Michelle came down the steps following the same procedure. The babies’ faces had been hid from the general public. The darkened windows hid their faces inside the car. Outside the gate, the head security car pulled ahead of the two cars and two other cars joined in the convoy behind the black limousines. Michelle had recently been told of Danny’s fear of the twins being kidnapped after the failed kidnapping of their famous music friend. This time Michelle had accepted the hardcore fact that her children were worth millions to those outside of the family.

With everyone settled in the villa, Gabby and Bethany Joy crawled on the marble and tile floors to search out their new surroundings. The fascination of steps occupied their time with Maria and Carmen chasing down the two speedy crawlers. One would move to a different area in the villa and the other twin followed. Any object coming within their grasp was examined and immediately went in the direction of the mouth. Their new favorite toy became their great grandmothers knitting bag where the unraveling balls of different colored yarns magically moved away from their small hands. Their double activity was a challenge to the caretakers and the placement of the twins in the playpen brought out the tears and sad faces. New toys were summoned to take on the challenge of providing a diversion to the limited space in the playpen until their babbles called for Mommy or Daddy.

Outside on the terraced garden, the swimming pool became the playground for Danny and Michelle. They swam in the pool and lounged on the plastic white recliners. Two days passed and Danny’s body was taking on the appearance of a rested man. On day three, Danny watched Michelle swimming in the pool and the twins sleeping under the blue awning. Danny walked over to the portable crib where the two babies dressed in only a diaper slept with their thumbs in their mouths. Michelle’s hand inched up Danny’s back.

“Would you think that I was crazy if I told you that I want to have another baby soon?”

Reaching for her hand on his back, “Crazy isn’t the exact choice of words that I would choose. It isn’t going to happen this year but maybe next year.”

Pressing her body closer to Danny’s chest, “I loved all the attention that I got from you when I was pregnant.”

“Baby, you are lying through your teeth. You were sick! You are not going to have another baby this year. We have two reasons in front of us.”

Tracing her finger down his chest to his belly button, “When next year?”

“Michelle, I don’t know when next year.” Lifting her up in his arms, “But we can practice the act over and over until we make another perfect baby. Speaking of perfection, Ray asked if we wanted to have the twins official baptized here at the church where we were married.”

Breaking suddenly away from Danny. “No never, I considered the baptism at the hospital to be official. If Father Ray wants to do another baptism, it will be done in Springfield where my family and friends can attend.”

Scooping up Michelle in his arms, “I love your feisty attitude. Choose the date and I will tell Ray.”

Out of the blue, the date of December 24 was flashed in her mind. “The date may be problematic but Christmas Eve at the children’s 5pm service at Father Ray’s church is my choice.”

Snuggling in the space between Michelle’s neck and shoulder, “The date is December 24 and I don’t want to hear later on how I pushed this upon you.”

“Have you any ideas of who you would like to ask to be the Godparents?” Danny placed Bill and Pilar’s names on the possible list.

With her sexiest voice, Michelle whispered the name of Aussie Spencer in Danny’s ear. “Wrong name and choice Michelle, you are going to have to come up with another friend!”

“If you have to know in my heart, Aussie Spencer is the twins’s Godmother and I’m not changing my mind.”

Smacking Michelle’s butt for added attention, “We have 5 months to agree to disagree. Aussie will never be welcomed by me to a family event.”

“I didn’t say that you had to welcome her but you can learn to be civil and lay down the hatchet for a evening.”

“After a year Michelle, you still don’t get it. The possibility of me loosing you was there and Aussie Spencer was attempting to get you far from me.”

The five months went fast and each month, Michelle hassled Danny with the Godmother decision. By early fall, Michelle detected a slight softening with Danny’s latest rendition of his refusal to her request. At Thanksgiving, Michelle dropped the news that Aussie was visiting Caitlin at Christmas and the church was a perfect neutral place for Danny and Aussie to meet. The maximum amount of time that the two would encounter each other was two hours. A week later, Michelle heard the words of compliance from Danny. Aussie Spencer was being accepted as the Godmother only because none of the Santos money was paying for her travel to Springfield.

Christmas Eve morning started with the usual activity with the added new tradition of decorating a fresh cut tree from the tree farm. Danny’s day had started with getting the large tree in the stand. Ray had chosen to check in on his cousin with a live appearance and fresh baked cinnamon buns from Sister Rock’s warm oven. “Where are my favorite Godchildren?”

At one end of the dining room table, Danny sat attempting to unwind the strands of lights and checking the bulbs. Michelle moved the boxes of new Christmas decorations from the sofa to an empty space on the kitchen counter after Bethany Joy had spotted the enchanting new toys.

When Gabby heard Father Ray’s voice, he pulled his body up from the knelling position to the standing position at the sofa. Holding onto the edge of the sofa, Gabby walked to the spot occupied by his sister. He stood and stared at Bethany. His movement temporary stalled until he dropped to his knees and crawled to the other side of Bethany. Full speed ahead, Gabby got to the dark pants leg. Ray reached down to lift the littlest male Santos in the air. “Hey buddy, you want an airplane ride? Michelle, did you see how Gabby got around Bethany? He went back to his old form of transportation. Cousin, it looks like I made it here in time to be of some use this morning. Are you two up to having a family dinner here tonight?”

Pouring another mug of coffee for Ray, “How did you know that you were our back up plan? The dinner has been taken care of since it is being catered as a family gift from my Dad. Sweet Olga has the day off. The monstrosity of a tree has to be decorated. Gabby and Bethany Joy resent the playpen with a passion. Aunt Meta is tied up with preparing food for the Bauer Christmas dinner tomorrow night. Abby has last minute shopping and my old friend Bill Lewis is unavailable. That takes care of my family. Carmen and Abuella are wrapping gifts. Yes, we need a spare set of hands to either watch the troops or decorate the tree.”

Ray kissed Michelles cheek and took a sip of coffee. Next Ray bent down and picked up Bethany in his empty arm. “This is what Christmas is all about- Family. I think Christmas Eve is my favorite time of year. Spending time with those that you love. Having strangers meet your eyes on a busy street and wish other strangers Merry Christmas Last minute decorating and singing familiar carols. The tree isn’t as challenging as these two will be. I’ll baby-sit and you two can decorate. Gabby and Bethany can go with me to refill the birdfeeders.”

Danny jumped up from his seat. “The tangled lights can wait. The blanket is the laundry room that I’ve been using to keep them warm.”

Walking from the closet, Michelle held one pink snowsuit in one hand and a dark blue suit in the other hand. “Father Ray is taking you outside to see the birds in the wheel barrel.” Sitting on the sofa, Michelle lifted one of Bethany’s legs and then the other in the snowsuit. Next the mittens tied on with yarn finally covered the two hands and the hands went into the armholes with the zipping completing the task. Kissing Bethany on both cheeks, “You are cute as you can be and you look like a fat Eskimo.”

Michelle carefully placed the white fleece hat on Bethany’s hair, “I know you hate the hat but it will keep your ears warm outside.”

Across the room on the kitchen counter, Danny repeated the same steps with Gabby.

Michelle handed the bundled Bethany to Ray, “Please watch this one. She has managed recently to remove her hat by pulling her mittens off with her teeth.”

With Bethany in Father Ray’s arms, Danny followed his cousin down the steps with Gabby. Inside the shed, Ray set the blanket over the cold plastic surface. In one corner, he placed Bethany Joy and Gabby in the other corner. Danny pulled the jar of white face cream from his coat pocket and applied the cream in generous amounts on the cheeks of his children’s faces. “OK, you are set to be outside with Ray. The peanuts are for the squirrels and the sunflowers for the red cardinals.”

“Hey cuz, where did all the large bags of birdseed come from?”

“Santa made an early delivery this morning and dropped these out of his sleigh for you. A priest is very hard to buy a Christmas present for these days and your dresser has to be full of those ugly sweaters that you wear at the parish house. It was Michelle’s idea.”

“Speaking of Michelle and today, how are you with Aussie Spencer being at the church this afternoon?”

Breathing hard before answering, “Today is Christmas Eve and I’m in the Christmas spirit. I’ll stay clear of Aussie for Michelle’s sake. Aussie will be in your territory today.”

Listening to Danny, “I may be pushing the envelope but are you inviting Aussie here for the reception following the baptism?”

“Ray, I don’t have that much spirit. You are babysitting and the troops can get restless and bored quickly. Danny, you and I have got to discuss Aussie and the reception.”

Danny held the shed door open for Ray and the wheel barrel. “Ray, the subject of Aussie is between Michelle and me. I gave Michelle what she wanted. Two hours of Aussie at the christening service.”

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 1

August 22, 2017

Republisher’s Note: This is a sequel – sort of – to The Mob’s Cardinal. It isn’t a story that comes after though, it goes back and fills in scenes that take place during the original timeline.

Author’s Note: From the beginning of The Mob Cardinal, I saw God’s hand in the story and his guidance of where the story was to travel. I wanted to end the story with chapter 36 but it ended with 37. The numbers mean a lot to me, three-The Holy Trinity and seven- perfection. The Lord created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

We are picking up the journey with Danny and Michelle at the hospital after the birth of the twins. In between here and Benjamin meeting Maggie, we can journey out of our ports of travel to explore the building relationship of all the members of the Santos family. Our ship will be a journal. There is a phrase said when sailors move out to sea, which gives the title of this story. “Fair Winds- Following Seas,” this is my wish for all of us as this journey begins.

Fair Winds and Following Seas by Phyllis Chapter 1

Running with a new strength from the Delivery Room to the Waiting Room, Danny’s face showed the answer that Carmen and Abuellá had waited to hear. “We have a boy and a little girl!” Carmen’s eyes showed the disappointment of hearing the words of only one boy. “I was sure the twins would be both boys.”

Mumbling some curse word in Spanish to her daughter in law, Abuellá touched the stubby growth of hair on Danny’s chin. “You look exhausted and tired. Do they look like Santoses or Bauers?”

Smirking at his grandmother’s remarks, “You Spanish women never give up do you? They look like small babies, very tiny with bald heads and wrinkled red skin. They are in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and we can see them anytime. The next hours and days are critical and I’ll be spending most of my time here with my children and Michelle. You might as well learn now that Michelle is determined to breast feed the babies. Michelle with the nurses help extracted milk from Michelle’s breast with the milk pump. The milk from mothers of preemies is quite different from that of mothers of full term babies. The premies need the mother’s milk for nutritional and prevention. Please give Michelle some space to handle the breast feeding, she doesn’t want them to use a bottle until they have adjusted to sucking her nipples.”

Carmen waited for Maria to speak. Maria threw up her hands in the air, “How does she expect us to help her?”

Placing his arms over both of their shoulders, “Let us go to the preemie nursery.”

Outside the nursery door, the nurse’s aid helped the three generations get properly attired in the yellow paper gowns and mask to enter the near sterile environment. The clear glass isolette shielded the two babies dressed in the white preemie tee shirt and disposable diaper and when the twins had been dressed, the nurses had placed a pink and blue cap on the baby representing the sex of the baby.

Danny stood in between the great grandmother and grandmother. Carmen rubbed the glass of the two isolettes and asked the nurse caring for the twins, “How are they doing?”

“Pretty good so far, the male infant is bigger and stronger because he was born first but the female is a fighter. The vital signs are stable and they have been given nourishment with an eyedropper from the mother’s breast milk. They both have a sucking reflex, which is very important. If they can’t suck and swallow, we will have to put down a feeding tube until they can function on their own.”

Abuellá bent down to get a good view of the two babies. “I knitted their sweaters too big. They will be a year old before they fit their tiny bodies.”

The nurse laughed at the statement. “They will grow faster than you think and catch up. The male preemie weighed five pounds and the female, four pounds and ten ounces. Don’t be afraid to touch and hold them because they are a smaller version of what you expected. I’ll open the side ports and you can pick them up and hold each infant in your hands. You might want to rub their backs and let them hold your finger. We like to keep the preemies in the warm isolette with oxygen and room air mixed for a couple of days. The babies will gradually be weaned from the isolettes and then transferred to the big baby nursery.”

Danny asked the question, which he was most concerned, “How long will they be in here?”

“It can be weeks, you do not want to take sick babies home. The preemies require lots of attention. It depends on their weight gain and how well they continue to breathe on their own. They may go home with breathing monitors. You and the mommy are going to be very busy this year.”

“That reminds me, I have to call Michelle’s family. They will want to help and Aunt Meta has already volunteered to stay with us. We will have to set up a schedule with our family helpers.”

The two Santos women smiled with glee at the thought of being included in the baby care.

Sliding his hands through the side ports, Danny quickly placed his hand on his son’s head before lifting the baby with one hand supporting the head and the limp tiny body. In his hands, the tiny body stretched out the arms and legs. The dark eyes opened for a few moments. “Hey little guy, I’m your Dad. You must be surprised how much room there is out here.”

He laid the baby back down and moved to the next isolette. Danny smiled down on his daughter’s petite body. Magically, a finger of his hand touched her tiny hand and Danny watched the tiny fingers grasp his finger. “Hey little princess, I’m your Daddy. Your big brother is sleeping close by in another isolette.”

Carmen wiped the tears from her eyes. Hugging Danny, “They are cut from the Santos cloth. Little Danny looks exactly like you when you were born and your princess looks like Pilar.”

“Carmen, why is it that you see what you want to see? The princess is a spitting image of Michelle, the button nose, eyes and chin. I thought the twins were identically when I first saw them in the delivery room. He is longer by a couple of inches and she has tiny curls on her head.”

Abuellá waited for the right moment to insert her final thoughts. “An old woman has waited a long time to have great-grandchildren, I want the boy to have a strong name, a good Spanish name-nothing Anglo. Miguel is a good name; the boy is your father’s first grandson.”

“Michelle and I will give the name consideration. For now, Little Danny and Princess will have to do.”

Carrying an extra large cup of coffee in one hand and a dozen yellow roses, Danny’s shoulder pushed the door open in Michelle’s private room. Standing next to her bed, Danny placed the flowers and coffee on the bedside table. Pulling the chair up close to the hospital bed, he sat and watched the restful state of Michelle’s body. The redness in her cheeks had replaced the pale swollen face. Covering her thinner body was the flowered printed gown with several blankets to keep her post partum body warm. The large masses of long curls from Michelle’s head covered the pillow. Danny laid his face in her curls to smell the scent of her favorite shampoo. Back on her left hand was the wide gold wedding band. Wrapping his hand over the hand with the band, Danny lifted her hand to his lips watching for a response from his wife. The smile formed on Michelle’s lips. Whispering the word, “Danny.”

“Baby, I’m here.”

“Have you been here very long?”

“Oh” looking at his watch “about an half-hour. Abuellá and Carmen came by to see you but you were napping and I stopped them from awakening you.”

“What do they think about the babies?”

“Their usual typical Santos agendas, our son looks like me and our daughter looks like Pilar.”

Sitting up in the bed on her sore bottom, Michelle swore briefly from the pain. “If our little girl resembles Pilar, then she has to be a keeper. Pilar is a pretty young woman and Bill Lewis is madly in love with her. What do you think of the idea of naming our little girl after her Aunt Pilar?”

“Honey, it is a nice gesture but Father Ray suggested a name for the princess. Ray will never have any children and if anyone knows how much he has helped us to stay together; it has to be you and me.”

“Tell me, what is Ray’s preference?”

“Bethany. It is the name of the place where Jesus ascended to heaven.”

“It is a different name and not commonly heard.”

“Oh gosh before I forget, I have your first cup of major caffeine coffee and today’s newspaper.”

“And who are the flowers from?”

Leaning to touch his lips next to Michelle’s lips, “Some dirty mob guy.”

The kiss lasted longer as their wet tongues played on the surface of the other’s lip and tongue. “How long are you going to have to stay in the hospital?”

Whispering softly in his ear, “I’ll be home before the babies are able to come and I will be hanging out here.”

“Honey, I will make arrangements for you to have a room to stay here and rest.”

For the first time, Michelle spoke of her lack of confidence in taking care of two preemies and continuing her professional pursuits.

“Michelle, we will have all the help necessary but you will have to relinquish some of your involvement and requirements. You can’t be super mom and super medical student. We have to work to keep our relationship growing. There is so much that you and I don’t know about each other. Abuellá and Carmen want to help and you are going to have to accept them being around as not threatening your role of being a working mother.”

“Danny, we haven’t spoken lately of our “agreement” but those two women are determined to have our son in the family business.”

“Michelle, I promise you on my father’s grave it will never happen. How many times and ways do I have to tell you this “agreement” is ours?”

“I’m afraid that they want ever agree.”

“Michelle, please don’t openly challenged my mother or grandmother. Time is on our side and we will guide our son away from the Familia. Let’s talk about naming our son. The consensus name is Little Danny but two Dannys can be confusing. So will it be Daniel what or what Daniel?”

“Danny, do you remember when I read the reading on Christmas Eve at Father Ray’s church?”

“Yes, I was sick as a dog that night with the flu.”

Lifting her hair off her neck and wrapping the long hair in a knot, Michelle spoke of how special the Christmas Eve activities had been for her. “I spent time with my father and my new family. The angel announcing the birth of Jesus was named Gabriel. I felt an attachment to that name and it has popped in my mind many times. I want to name our son Daniel Gabriel and call him Gabriel. What do you think?”

Danny caught the connection quickly. “It suits our son perfectly; an angel’s name with a saint Santos.”

“Gabriel and Bethany’s names are a nice mixture of their heritage. I guess we will stumble across another middle name for Bethany.”

“Will it be Bethany Michelle or Michelle Bethany?”

Shaking her head in disagreement, “There will come a time in the near future when you will be angry at your daughter and I can hear the tone in your voice when you are yelling my name with her name. No, no, no, we have to do better than my name. Please give me the newspaper, I want to read the headlines and save it for their album.”

The front-page headline read, “Fickle Hurricane Joy” saves the island by turning out to sea and allowing the islanders and tourist to savage the celebration of the New Year’s Day. “Sweetie, do you think your Princess Bethany’s character is of a hurricane status?”

“Why would you want to name our daughter after a hurricane?”

“Danny, we have been caught in two hurricanes here on the island. One on our honeymoon and this one has a woman’s name. It is like following a family tradition. In the Bible it says, Jesus’ followers ‘returned to Jerusalem with great joy’. I want to name our bundle of joy, Bethany Joy.”

Danny wrote the two names down on a piece of paper and tucked the paper in his pocket.

“I’ll call Ray and inform him that his name has been accepted. Are you ready to walk down to the nursery to write our children’s name on the ID cards?”

“Sure, it will be a nice change to actual have names identifying our children.”

“Where is your robe?”

“It is still in the small suitcase inside the closet.”

Danny opened the door to see the robe hanging on the hanger. “Babe, someone has unpacked your suitcase.”

“It must have been done by one of the nurses when I was napping.”

“Have you been out of the bed since the delivery?”

Danny pushed the button to call the nurse’s station. “Mrs. Santos do you need someone?”

Danny answered, “This Mr. Santos, I want to take my wife down to the NICU to see our babies and I was wondering if Michelle should walk or go by wheel chair?”

“I’ll send a nurse right down with a wheel chair.”

“Danny, I maybe a little tender and sore but I know it is important to be up and walking as soon as possible.”

Michelle had barely finished uttering the last words when the nurse came in with the blood pressure cup and stethoscope to check Michelle’s BP.

“Mrs. Santos, I need to get one more BP reading to see if you can walk to the NICU.” Satisfied with her reading, the nurse gave her ok for Danny to walk Michelle to the nursery. “Your BP has come down nicely, if you need any assistance when you are ready to come back, just ask the nurse to call the unit. When you get back, it will be time to give your sore bottom the warm heating lamp and perineal care. It is important to have a happy and well mother when the time comes for you to take those two precious bundles home.”

Michelle reached for one armhole of the robe while Danny held out the robe and waited for his wife to stand and put the robe on her greatly reduced size body. “Looks like this robe will have to be replaced today. It is big enough for two Michelles. I forgot how big and swollen your body had gotten with the twins.”

“Danny, I have plenty of robes at home. This will have to do for now.”

Shaking his head to indicate that he wanted another one for Michelle, “Carmen can have one delivered here in an hour even though it is New Years Day. We do a lot of business here and the right people owe the family. What color do you want?”

Michelle decided on a rose color and requested an above the knee kimono style. Dialing the phone in Michelle’s room, Danny gave Carmen her instructions.

“We won’t be available for at least an hour. Michelle and I are going down to visit our son and daughter and you maybe interested to know that they have names…..Well Father Ray did have some influence in naming our daughter. It has a biblical connotation and island reference. Her name is Bethany Joy Santos and his name is Daniel Gabriel Santos…..I agree with you Mamá that they are strong names….Yes, I will tell Michelle that you both send her your love.” Placing the phone in the cradle, “You heard that they are pleased with you and I am very pleased with our names.”

Holding Michelle’s face in both of his hands, Danny kissed Michelle passionate with pulling her body close to his tired body.

“What away to start the year! I have a wife and two children.”

Michelle stared into the dark eyes of her husband’s handsome face. “And I have my own family. I won’t ever be lonely again. I lost two important people in my early years and I felt different from my friends. Maureen, my mom with the accident and dad was alive but physically and emotionally absent from Rick and me. I will never understand why God chose for me to walk down the most outrageous path to find what I have always wanted. It goes against the normal life, which I wanted.”

“Michelle, Ray says that God uses the foolish and least expected to show power and wisdom to people that serve him. In all of my imaginations and expectations, I would never have dreamed of having a woman like you to share my life with. I promise you that the twins will never be in the Family business. I made a deal with God and every time that I say or hear Bethany Joy’s name; I will remember who is in control. The hurricane Joy was a class 4 hurricane and it could have destroyed the island but at the last moment it turned out to sea.” Danny wiped the tears from Michelle’s cheek, “Your son and daughter are waiting for you to come and see them.”

Walking hand in hand, Danny and Michelle entered the NICU. Danny guided Michelle to the two isolettes with the pink and blue caps near the two oversized rockers. The nurse joined the couple standing in the space between the two twins. “Are you ready to hold your babies, Mrs. Santos? They each have small monitors connecting to the EKG and respiration monitor. You may hold the preemies for as long as you want. It is time for them to be fed if you are willing to try and see if they are ready to latch onto your breast. What we have been doing since their birth is to give them your breast milk with the medicine dropper. They both like to suck their fingers so we are assuming that the nursing will be easy for them to adapt. We will place one on one breast then the other twin can nurse from the other breast.”

Showing Danny and Michelle the clipboard with the form to indicate, which twin had last nursed from the breast. Patting Michelle on the hand, “It is best that they nurse from both breasts to prevent the preemies from favoring one side over the other side.”

Danny whispered in Michelle’s ear so the nurse wouldn’t hear his remark. “I have been a good husband because I like both of your breasts.”

Smacking at his cheek in a playful manner, Michelle put both of her hands through the open ports of her son’s isolette. Holding his tiny body as he stretched out his limbs, Daniel Gabriel slowly moved his thumb up to his mouth. “Gabriel must be hungry. I’ll feed him after I hold Bethany Joy.” Leaving her son to be held by Danny, Michelle slowly picked up her daughter. Peeking under the pink cap, Michelle saw the tiny curls. “Honey, she has our curls. I wonder will she hate us or love us for giving her the curls one day!”

“Babe, on humid days, she might be a little mad, but we are going to brainwash her into thinking how great it is to have natural curly hair.”

The nurse returned with the U shaped pillow and a cloth diaper. “Mrs. Santos, you will never forget this time when you start the nursing. You offer the tip of the nipple to the roof of the baby’s mouth. He will latch on and start sucking. At first, the sucking is only going to be for a few minutes and gradually they will increase up to twenty minutes. Until then, you will have to use the pump on your breast to provide us the supplement feedings. For now, I want you to do only one baby at a time but later on you will be able to do both to save time. Are you ready?”

Michelle looked at Danny while the nurse placed her son at her right breast with the cords attached to his body. Holding Gabriel’s head close to her nipple and putting the pointed tip in his mouth, Michelle felt the gentle suction action on her anatomy. The warm liquid began to flow in her son’s mouth. Gabriel slowed the sucking action to rest and then began to suck again before falling a sleep. Gentle the nurse lifted the baby from Michelle’s arms and replaced him in the warm isolette. “You are a natural at this.”

Returning with the preemie wearing the pink cap, the nurse repeated the process. “Your daughter is a picky eater and she might not nurse as well as the baby boy.”

Michelle watched the sucking action and true to the nurse’s words; Bethany Joy sucked once or twice then stopped before nodding back to sleep. The nurse rubbed and tapped Bethany’s feet to keep her awake. Reassuring Michelle that the baby would improve with time, she took the baby and placed her back in her nesting place.

After pumping her breast, Michelle and Danny watched their babies sleep in the contentment of being warm and fed. Back in the room, Michelle rested in her husband’s arms and cried because she felt overwhelmed.

“Honey, why are you crying?”

“I don’t think I can do this twenty-four hours a day. I’m barely back from feeding the babies and pumping my breast and it is almost time to do it again!”

“Baby, we will hire nurses and use my mother and grandmother to help. Don’t worry, we will get through all this activity.”

Shortly afterwards, Michelle fell a sleep. Danny pulled his cell phone out and called Meta. “How soon can you come to Puerto Rico? Michelle needs some reassurance from someone that she trusts.”

Danny smiled when he heard the comforting words from a lady that he had grown to respect in a short time. Meta would be in San Juan on the next flight. When the nurse came to get Michelle for the next feeding, Danny refused to let her awaken Michelle. Instead he called the chief of a nice restaurant and asked him to send a nice meal over for them to share when Michelle awakened.

Stepping out of the shower at the villa, Danny dried the water from his rejuvenated body. He replayed the last moments of last night when he and Michelle had finally shared a good meal. Michelle had picked at her food, mostly eating the salad and rice with the island tomato and spice sauce. After 2AM, he had left the hospital. The warm breezes blowing across his naked body was the first indication that he was alone in the king-size bed. His eyes struggled to see the time on the greenish numbers on the bedside clock.

Next to the clock was a picture of Michelle and him. It had been taken in Ponce. The picture had been one of his favorites of the newly married couple. Michelle’s was dressed in a dark brown topless sundress with a wide band folded down across the top of the bodice of her dress. He was standing behind her with his arms wrapped around her tiny waist. The memories of sharing their intimate moments sent warm electrical charges to his already full erection.

Choosing a cold shower to resolve the erection, Danny heard his mother calling his name from the bedroom. “Daniel, Meta Bauer just called. She said you asked her to come to San Juan. Why invite her down here now?”

“Mamá, Michelle is very close to Meta and I wanted her here for Michelle. I’m sure Michelle and Meta will allow you to touch and care for the babies but Michelle is in dire need of positive build-up.”

“Last night at the hospital, the truth hit home for Michelle. She realized caring for the preemies and being the perfect Mother and continue her medical career is a far reach. Meta is for Michelle and Meta is a smart woman. She will direct Michelle to accept assistance, which will open the door for you and Abuellá to be more active in the twins lives. This is what you want isn’t it Carmen?”

“Yes but having Meta nearby is going to cause problems when I have business to conduct here.”

Raising his eyebrows at his mother, “Carmen, when has it ever been a problem when you want to conduct business?”

“Danny, how long are we going to be down here in San Juan?”

“I’m guessing several weeks until the preemies are out of danger. I’ve made arrangements for Michelle to have a room to stay at the hospital to rest in between breast feeding the babies. Right now, I want Michelle to put her motherhood ahead of her medical career. I know being a Mother is most important to her and doing it right.”

Kissing Carmen on the cheek, “Thanks for shopping for the kimono; it was perfect. Michelle looks beautiful in rose and pink clothes. Now, I have another job for you. We have all the baby items in Springfield; it seems we are going to need a few items here to transport Gabriel and Bethany Joy back to Springfield.”

“Maria and I can shop today.”

“Pick up the combination baby seat and carrier and what ever preemies might need.”

*******

Two and a half weeks later, the aid brought in the final vase of fresh flowers with the customary signature of Gabriel and Bethany Joy. “Mrs. Santos, the staff is going to miss having you and your husband here at the hospital. I have never seen a mother get flowers everyday from her babies.”

Michelle smelled the flowers and placed the card in her purse. “Danny has lost his mind as you probably have decided for yourself. He is generous but he knows that I send the flowers onto other patients. The twins have been in the regular nursery for three days and we are taking them home tomorrow at least to the villa here in San Juan. My Aunt Meta has gone home to get everything ready for our return to Springfield. She was a calming influence on me the past two weeks. I’m going to miss this room and all the staff. It became home away from home.”

At the door stood Danny, Michelle closed the suitcase with the final items being carefully placed inside. “Honey, are you sure that I should give up this room today?”

Walking inside the room and closing the door, “Yes, I want us to have tonight alone before our growing babies completely take over our lives.”

“I’ve missed having you in bed with me at night.”

“Danny, you are aware that we can’t have sex for at least three more weeks.”

“We can’t have or do everything but we can still have some fun tonight.” “I promise to have you back here before 6am to feed our son and daughter.”

Smiling the innocent grin to her husband, “Fun …um we do deserve a night of Fun. Just what does my husband have in mind for tonight?”

Biting the edge of her left ear, “You will have to wait and see!”

Before leaving the hospital, they walked back to say good night to their son and daughter. For the past three days, Gabriel and Bethany Joy had shared one crib. Even with their weight gain, there was plenty of room in the nursery crib. Danny handed the nurse his cell number where they could be reached if there was an emergency. Both Gabriel and Bethany were sound a sleep with their thumbs resting near their tiny mouths. Kissing their heads, Michelle paused to count their respirations before leaving the unit. Satisfied that they were medically OK, she left with Danny for their adventure.

Danny parked the green jeep at the mariner near the Santos yacht. “You haven’t had the opportunity to go out on my father’s prized possession. He used to take Mick and me out to go fishing and it was a great time to bond with him here alone. It was our special place and I wanted to share it with you. The crew is going to take the yacht out beyond the outer harbor where we can look back at San Juan and the old San Crystabol fortifications. I promise that we want be more than an hour from the shore.”

Danny helped Michelle out of the passenger side of the jeep. Taking her left hand in his right hand, he guided Michelle up the steps to meet the boat captain. Giving the final instructions to the boat captain, Danny and Michelle walked to the front of the boat and sat on the bow as the boat backed out of the mooring. Heading out to the dark ocean waters, Danny held Michelle in his arms as the wind blew through their hair with the yacht picking up speed. Then the boat made a wide turn to face the night-lights of San Juan. Danny pointed out the villa on the left side of the horizon and the center of San Juan where their babies hopefully were sleeping. The noise of the engine shut down so the only sound that Danny and Michelle heard was the water hitting against the side of the boat.

“Danny, this is wonderful and I can see why your father loved the boat and I’m astonished that he would spend so much money to have a boat to go fishing to find peace and quiet.”

Rubbing Michelle’s inner thigh, “it was the only place that he was away from the business and a regular Joe. When our children get bigger, I want to bring them out here. It is the one good place where he was allowed to have fun. He loved to fish. And this is where I’m going to teach Gabriel and Bethany Joy to fish.”

Snuggling into Danny’s arms, “Suppose they don’t want to learn to fish.”

“Oh I see you think I don’t know how to fish!”

Pushing her fingers in the curls of his dark hair, “I think you can do anything that you set your mind to do.”

“For a young woman, you are learning well. Come with me down the steps to the living quarters, I want to show you the very comfortable bed.”

Giggling at the suggestion, Danny opened the door to the bedroom with the bottle of cold champagne sitting in the bucket of ice. “I want to celebrate the birth of our twins. Have a seat on the bed and I’ll pour a glass of bubbly.”

Michelle kicked off her sandals and climbed onto the bed. The liquid started bubbling as the cold hit the side of the glasses. Passing a glass to Michelle, “To Daniel Gabriel and Bethany Joy, may we do right by them.” Clicking their glasses together, Danny and Michelle sipped the cold liquid. Taking the glass from her hand, “Now we have that out of the way, we can get down to why we are here.”

Leaning into kiss Michelle, Danny gently pushed her body back down on the bed. “Your body is so sexy and I want to make love to you but I know that we can’t.” Unbuttoning the coral stretch blouse, Danny pushed his face deep in between Michelle’s full breasts. “You don’t even look like a woman that gave birth almost three weeks ago.”

“Danny, it hasn’t quite been three weeks.” Nibbling the outer edge of one ear then the other, Danny slid his hand behind Michelle’s back and unfastened her bra. Moving his hand down to the zipper in her coral Capri pants, Danny unzipped the pants and with both hands pushed them down Michelle’s hips, thighs and legs. Danny pulled his shirt over his head to reveal the tanned chest before unzipping his own pants.

The two stared at each other until Michelle nodded her head for Danny to continue. “Are you sure, Michelle?” Gasping for the words that they both understood in Spanish, Michelle’s fingernails dug into Danny’s side and back. Kissing the sides of her neck, Danny’s lips moved down her shoulders to rest with one nipple in his mouth. Danny felt Michelle’s warm milk oozing from her breast to touch his skin. Licking the secretion, Danny moved his tongue down to Michelle’s navel. Breathing hard over Michelle’s body, Danny’s finger went under Michelle’s bikini panties to feel the warm moist body secretion flowing in between her legs.

Suddenly Michelle sat up in front of Danny, “I want to stop now. We are getting close and ready to have unprotected sex. I’m scared of getting pregnant again. I don’t trust a condom because I know we will make love all night. I’m sorry but I can’t do it tonight.”

Danny fell onto his back and gasped for air. “Michelle, I’m sorry that I pushed you too hard tonight. I will have to wait until the doctor gives the ok for us to have sex. I definitely don’t want you to get pregnant again any time soon. We can be physically close tonight in the bed and dream of making love.”

“Have you discussed with Dr. Sedgwick the birth control issue?”

“Yes, she suggested a diaphragm and spermicidal foam.”

“When do you get the diaphragm?”

“At the six week check up, which is February 14, the date when the twins were due.”

Danny whispered in Michelle’s ear, “I will have a special Valentine present for you, Mrs. Santos.”

 

 

Mama’s Boy The March 8th Episode Essay 7

August 17, 2017

Republisher’s Note: I think Jennifer is entirely right in this. For the first half of the Manny story is definitely Danny being torn between Michelle and his family, particularly Carmen. Watch the episode Jennifer is reacting too. It’s when Michelle plays blind.

 

From the Rustle of the Sheets

“Mama’s Boy” (The March 8th Episode)

By Jennifer Hallmark — posted on the Mannyac Board.

Danny and Michelle Santos are involved in a triangle on Guiding Light, but Jesse Blue is not the third corner and neither is Drew Jacobs. Instead of the typical, tawdry triumvirate of young lust and betrayal, the players in this particular game involve a man, his wife and his mother.

Yes, in the beginning of the Manny storyline, Jesse was a factor in their relationship, but as time has passed, he has become an afterthought. It took an extreme situation and his actual presence to even remind Michelle that she loves the guy. When it has been just her and Danny, Jesse has not even crossed her mind — definitely not an indication that Jesse Blue is the love of her life (as she once naively claimed.) In fact, I would say, her biggest connection to him is not Jesse himself or the love that they shared, but instead is her mother’s heart which now beats inside of him. And her growing feelings for Danny are already beginning to overpower that pull.

As for Drew, although I haven’t seen Danny and Drew’s, oh, let’s call it a plot twist, I do believe that it is safe to surmise (based on Tammy Blanchard’s comments in the “Soap Opera Weekly” and the relationships of all involved) that this event will be nothing more than a one-night stand. While admittedly, Drew thinks that Danny is attractive (she’s not blind after all), she is not attracted to him. If she were, we would have seen some sign of it before now.

Likewise, Danny hasn’t exactly been hot-to-trot for Drew either. In fact, when he first came to town, he rebuffed her manipulated advances (she was trying to get him off their — Drew, Jesse, Michelle and Bill’s — trail about Mick’s murder.) and showed an interest only in Michelle. The simple truth of the matter is that Drew loves Jesse (why? I have no clue. To each their own.) and Danny loves Michelle. The “plot twist” between the two is just that . . . a plot twist.

The actual third figure in the triangle is mama Santos. She loves Danny. Danny loves her. Danny also loves Michelle who is starting to fall for him. Meanwhile, Michelle hates Carmen and vice versa. So here we have the basics of a true triangle — two people (in this case, Michelle and Carmen) fighting over the affections of one person (Danny). Now honestly, does anybody really think that Danny considered Jesse a threat? Of course not. However, Carmen truly does see Michelle as one … and she is.

Based on conversations between mother and son, it is perfectly clear that Danny was and is “mama’s boy.” He is her baby (I think this will continue, despite the soon-to-be-seen younger sister) and, again based on previous comments, we know that Carmen has never had a rival for her son’s affections and devotion.

Danny was a ladies’ man with probably a different woman on his arm every week — no threat to the allegiance he showed Carmen. And then along comes Michelle and suddenly, Danny is putting another woman before mama. Now, he is cold and sharp to her, and he threatens to leave her if she doesn’t accord “his wife” the proper respect.

On Monday, March 8th’s episode, after Danny said, “you don’t run me. You got that? When are you gonna get that through that head of yours?,” Carmen cried out that he’d never spoke to her like that before she came into his life. And the hurt in her voice and on her face was evident, as was the obvious relief and contentment when he admitted that he had set a trap for Michelle as Carmen had suggested. It was during this scene that I realized that Carmen’s animosity towards Michelle ran deeper than vengeance for Mick’s death. She wants Michelle out of Danny’s life simply because Danny loves her.

And now we’ve come to an interesting point, anyone who reads spoilers knows that it is Michelle’s betrayal that drives Danny away, sets up the “plot twist” and leads to Danny’s ‘deadly decision.’ While Michelle truly did betray him, the knowledge of that betrayal is in fact false and planted by Carmen herself. Like in any true triangle, one member always plays dirty and this is Carmen’s role. Nothing Jesse did and I doubt that anything Drew does (even the “plot twist”) will drive a wedge between Danny and Michelle the way Carmen’s machinations will.

Now, once Danny and Michelle have found their way back to each other (and they will), it will be interesting to see what lengths Carmen will go to to separate them — interesting provided that true love wins out in the end of course … and if Carmen is still in the picture (and I believe she will be.) I doubt that Carmen will ever truly accept Michelle and once Michelle begins to admit and act upon her true feelings for Danny, she will fight back.

I can only hope that TPTB follow through on the promise of the rapier-sharp points of this triangle because it will be quite a ride. Of course, this all depends on whether I am even remotely correct in any of my assumptions and predictions.

Jennifer H.

 

Mistaken Identity by Lisa

August 8, 2017

To make it easier to direct people to this story I wanted to put all the chapter links in a single post, in other words do a link roundup. This story is in the General AU fanfic category.

“Mistaken Identity” (1 of 2 by this name) – Michelle goes into the witness protection program immediately after Mick’s death. At the same time Danny finds a way to break free of the mob and ends up with a paternal uncle in the same town, Galveston, Texas. She trips at the door to a party and falls into his arms and the Manny magic takes off both electrifying and healing them both. A big part in this one for Ben Warren.;-)

 

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/mistaken-identity-ch1 (Chapter 1)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-chapter-2 (Chapter 2)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch3 (Chapter 3)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch4 (Chapter 4)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch5 (Chapter 5)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch6 (Chapter 6)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch7 (Chapter 7)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch8 (Chapter 8)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch9 (Chapter 9)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch10 (Chapter 10)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/mistaken-identity-chapter-11 (Chapter 11)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch12 (Chapter 12)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch13 (Chapter 13)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch14 (Chapter 14)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch15 (Chapter 15)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch16 (Chapter 16)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch17 (Chapter 17)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch18 (Chapter 18)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch19 (Chapter 19)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch20 (Chapter 20)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch21 (Chapter 21)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch22 (Chapter 22)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch23 (Chapter 23)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch24 (Chapter 24)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch25 (Chapter 25)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch26 (Chapter 26)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch27 (Chapter 27)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch28 (Chapter 28)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch29 (Chapter 29)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch30 (Chapter 30)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch31 (Chapter 31)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch32 (Chapter 32)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch33 (Chapter 33)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch34 (Chapter 34)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch35 (Chapter 35)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch36 (Chapter 36)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch37 (Chapter 37)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch38 (Chapter 38)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch39 (Chapter 39)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch40 (Chapter 40)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch41 (Chapter 41)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch42 (Chapter 42)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch43 (Chapter 43)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch44 (Chapter 44)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch45 (Chapter 45)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch46 (Chapter 46)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch47 (Chapter 47)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch48 (Chapter 48)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch49 (Chapter 49)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch50 (Chapter 50)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch51 (Chapter 51)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch52 (Chapter 52)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch53 (Chapter 53)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch54 (Chapter 54)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch55 (Chapter 55)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch56 (Chapter 56)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch57 (Chapter 57)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch58 (Chapter 58)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch59 (Chapter 59)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch60 (Chapter 60)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch61 (Chapter 61)

Chapters 61 and 62 are identical.

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch63 (Chapter 63)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch64 (Chapter 64)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch65 (Chapter 65)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch66 (Chapter 66)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch67 (Chapter 67)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch68 (Chapter 68)

https://glmanny.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/mistaken-identity-by-lisa-ch69 (Chapter 69)

Archived Links Version

This version is incomplete, but with many of the chapters
http://web.archive.org/web/20040321094349/www.geocities.com/kell88c/colliding/1.htm
The second link takes you to all the chapters.
http://web.archive.org/web/20021013052902/www.mannystories.com/lisa/ (Complete Version!)

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s Turning Me into Something That I Swore I Never Would Become Essay 6

August 3, 2017

Republisher’s Note: May I second all the negative things about Danny and Drew in this essay, but as it plays out it isn’t really as bad as it could have been. However, as a long time Michelle fan, I’d like to point out what was glossed over by many Manny fans that this is Michelle’s worst fear – that what happened to her mother would happen to her – and here it is right down to the fact that it was a friend of hers he slept with. Watch the episodes where Danny sleeps with Drew. Find out the affair revelation that spurred on Maureen’s death.

Also, there is a reference to Dinah Marler and Matt Reardon. For reasons I will never understand there was a strong contingent of fans who absolutely loved Mattessa (Matt Reardon and Vanessa Chamberlain). Honestly I don’t get it, she treated him like a toy boy and he was FAR more likeable in every other single pairing they tried. Both characters had to be weakened for the pairing to work and I HATE when they do that. A romantic pairing should make both characters better like Manny does. But as Kristi references in the essay below when they did try Matt in other pairings (and I LIKED Dinah and Matt despite my general don’t like stories where you sleep with related people guideline), the Mattessa fans would howl bloody murder and TPTB caved every time.

From the Rustle of the Sheets

“It’s Turning Me into Something That I Swore
I Never Would Become”
(The Danny-Drew One-Night Stand) Essay #6

By kristi

I don’t think anyone here is overjoyed at the latest bombshell (I was having such a violent reaction when I heard it, it scared me, that I could become so emotionally involved in a soap story . . . I’ve been watching soaps for about a decade and never felt quite like this), but some people managed to rationalize it for me (and I hope a few others) in the chatroom and while it’s still hard to feel cheerful about this, at least I’m now resolving myself to grit my teeth and go through with it. I have two weeks left to come to terms with it emotionally, maybe the shock and [name every negative emotion you can think of] will wear off by then. (Yeah right. I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back three times, by Drew, Danny and TPTB. Double blows for Michelle too. I knew I was living their story vicariously, just never realized how much.)

I was reminded of what Danny said the night he and Michelle almost made love, and in a way Danny reverting to his old ways (Ray did say he used to be a ladies’ man, and how about the re-appearance of the leather jacket?), drowning his sorrows in drinks and, um, you-know-what (very unusual for a man who values self-control and sacred vows), it’s all an indication of how much he’s hurting, how he’s spinning out of control. All because Michelle betrayed him. That’s how much he love(s? d?) her.

So here is my wish list/”positive” spin about this:

1. Let’s make this a “human” story, not a black-and-white one where Michelle is the “virgin Madonna” (in a manner of speaking) and Drew the slut. Everyone involved has something to feel guilty about, let’s not turn this into a story where one is more right than the other. Healing will take some time but I hope all the relationships (Michelle and Drew’s budding friendship included) will be salvaged in the end and the characters will all grow up with the experience.

Tammy Blanchard has indicated in Soap Opera Weekly that Drew would develop a friendship with Danny (she makes it clear Jesse is still the one Drew’s in love with), and that could prove very positive for Manny, meaning that she could help them (of her own will) get together. I don’t necessarily think of this as a triangle, not even the beginning of one (it’s just a one-night stand, hopefully nothing more will come out of it), but if you wanna see it that way, there are good triangles on soaps where no one is the bad guy, and this could be one of them. I hate what’s going to happen, but I’ll be even more pissed if Michelle and Drew go back to sniping at each other afterward. (Think Rick and Phillip, their friendship also had its ups and downs.) There’s nothing I hate more than seeing women hissing over men, no matter how worthy they are.

2. Why am I not even talking about Michelle and Danny in all this? That’s because they’re the only thing I’m 100% sure about, it’s not even worth mentioning in a way. It looks like TPTB are setting this up as a catalyst to speed up Michelle’s realization, and while I’m bummed they’re going this way, if anything could speed it up, this probably was the fastest and surest way to do so. This is all assuming Michelle gets wind of this very soon.

3. The one thing that makes me really smile: how Jesse’s fading. (and how!) He’s becoming almost weightless. Let’s speed up his exit from the show now, shall we?

4. Before this became known to be a fact, I talked about how the current PTB never went all the way in triangles. (You can stone me for getting your hopes up, it’s not going to hurt me any more than I already am.) Well, they’re going to with this one (even if technically, it’s not a triangle). In other words, they’re taking a risk, a huge one at that, knowing full well there might be viewer backlash. (As I understand they backed off from Matt and Dinah and some other pairings for that reason.) They know they’re raising the stakes here (just like they did when they chose to put Manny on the front burner back in January), and I don’t think they’d do that (especially this regime) if they weren’t sure about Manny. They’ve made all the right moves with this couple (which is why this one really stunned me at first, it didn’t strike me as a right move and I admit still having difficulties seeing it as one) and unless there’s a change in the creative force behind them I’m not aware of, I’ll trust their judgment and instincts this time as well. Let’s just hope they won’t prove me wrong.

5. I hope Danny feels really, and I mean really guilty, about this. I hope Drew lets it slip or tells him herself that … {I} she was also at the beach when Mick was killed or … {II} Michelle is developing feelings for him or … {III} Michelle did try to call off the F.B.I. I hope Michelle, when she learns about this, will feel more hurt than angry, I don’t want her to become judgmental.

6. And after all we went through, we don’t get some form of pay-off by May sweeps? That’s when I will flip out for good.

Kristi

 


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