Posts Tagged ‘Sam Dietz’

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.

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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.

Amazing! Essay 4

May 8, 2017

Watch the episodes where Michelle packs to leave for the Bauer House.

From the Rustle of the Sheets

“Amazing!” By Kathy

(Written after the March 10th episode — The one where Carmen confronts Danny about Michelle; and Michelle packs.)

I think I rewound and rewatched that scene [Michelle packing, Danny twisting his wedding ring] about one hundred times yesterday. I actually think that this was the most pivotal scene in the episode. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the other scenes with Mama because, as always, Paul Anthony Stewart was amazing in showing his inner turmoil. And the scenes between Michelle and Drew where she admitted that she didn’t know how she felt about Danny, I honestly felt her confusion. Both Stewart and Joie Lenz were amazing in this episode. But, the last scene in the bedroom really got to me.

I did notice the tugging and the rolling of the wedding ring. And I also noticed the way he was so soft spoken as if to say, ‘I am really angry but I am not going to let my anger get the better of me.’ I mean, at that point he knew that Michelle had betrayed him and still he was calm. But those tiny actions foreshadowed what I think will be happening in the next couple of weeks.

He is going to think real hard about what his next actions are going to be, but his love for Michelle is so strong that her betrayal didn’t just hurt his heart but also his soul. Danny is a man who sticks, but how can he when he feels his life is a lie? I mean, his mother is actually excited that Danny might kill his wife. He knows this. He knows that his family is soooo sick, sick enough to have him kill the woman he loves.

Then, to make matters worse, his wife, the woman he loves, the woman who he thought was beginning to love him, in his eyes has been making a fool out of him. I feel for Danny, more than I do for Michelle and for Carmen, because as someone said, Danny is the one who is locked up, who is a prisoner of his family and of his heart.

And Stewart is just amazing, his acting is just superb. Guiding Light was so lucky to snag him. And we are so lucky to be able to see a master at work. GOD, WHAT A MAN!!!

Kathy ( hopelessly in love with Paul Anthony Stewart!)

 

One Night Only by Samj Chapter 14

October 28, 2015
Republisher’s Note: Yesterday’s episode ended with a gunshot.

One Night Only by Samj Chapter 14

Michelle watched in horrified fascination. They’re all moving in slow motion. I thought that only happened in the movies.

You’re in shock, that’s why it looks slowed down, a detached, clinical voice inside her head explained, but she was too distracted to process the information.

It took an eternity just for Carlos to fall to his knees.

Danny’s arm followed the motion of Carlos’ body, his gun remaining trained on Carlos’ head.

The man standing behind Carlos lowered his arm as well, dropping it to his side and allowing his gun to hang loosely from his fingers.

Only when Carlos’ face hit the carpeted floor could Michelle see the blood spilling from the small hole in the back of his head.

She shrieked incoherently, tripping over her own feet in her haste to reach him. Her mind frantically recited the facts she would’ve presented had she been in the E/R. Gunshot wound, no visible exit, bullet’s probably lodged inside.

She ignored the warm, wet blood pouring over her fingers as she searched Carlos’ neck for a pulse. Unable to find one, she looked up at Danny with eyes made huge by fear and gasped out, “He’s dead.”

Danny crouched down beside Michelle and grabbed her by the waist, pulling her away from Carlos’ body and onto his lap. “I know, baby, I know,” he soothed, gently rocking her back and forth. “It’s gonna be okay.”

Carmen addressed the man who had been standing behind Carlos. “Deitz!” she exclaimed in a mixture of shock and relief.

Deitz spoke with great deference to his employer. “I’m sorry, Boss, I would’ve been here sooner, but” – his gun disappeared into his jacket – “Carlos had some men positioned outside, and it took longer than it should’ve to contain them.”

“But you have the situation under control now?” Carmen confirmed.

“Yeah.” Deitz looked down at Carlos’ body then back at Carmen. “And I’ll have this cleaned up in a few minutes.”

“No,” Bernard commanded with authority. “Carlos has caused enough destruction for one lifetime. We’re going to allow the police to handle this.”

Deitz looked skeptically at Carmen, who nodded her head almost imperceptibly. “You’re the Boss,” he muttered under his breath, wondering if Carmen and Bernard would live to realize their mistake.
**********
“Of course, Ben,” Carmen replied, rolling her eyes at her attorney’s instructions. “We won’t say anything until you get here.” How many times have we been questioned by the police over the years? she added rhetorically.

“Thanks, Ben,” she finished, closing the cell phone and laying it on the fireplace mantle. Only then did she notice that her hands were shaking violently. With her back to the others in the room, she shielded her eyes with her right and did something she hadn’t done since Mick’s recovery – Carmen Santos broke down in tears.

While Carmen had been calling the police, ambulance, and Santos family criminal attorney, Bernard had been making calls to Carlos’ organization and the other New York and Chicago families to eliminate any possibility of a power vacuum forming as a result of Carlos’ death. Catching a glimpse of Carmen’s bent head out of the corner of his eye, however, he immediately handed the phone to Deitz and approached his wife.

Bernard stood behind her, his hands hanging awkwardly at his sides as he searched for some way to comfort her. When he finally spoke, his hushed tones conveyed the heaviness of his heart. “I’m so sorry, Carmen.” He placed his hands gingerly on his shoulders, unsure of what her reaction would be. Will you hate me for what my brother did to you? “I know how hard it must be for you, hearing about Miguel this way.”

Carmen turned to face him, running her hands over her face to rid it of her tears. “No,” she choked out, shaking her head.

Bernard handed her his silk handkerchief, then waited expectantly while she dabbed at her eyes.

“I mean, yes,” she sniffed, “of course it hurts, but….” She looked up at him with eyes brightened by tears. “I’m responsible for your brother’s death. How can you ever forgive me?”

“Oh Carmen,” he sighed, wishing he could somehow absorb her pain, “there’s nothing to forgive.”

“But you lost your brother because of me,” she protested, steeling herself against the anger and blame she expected from him. I know what those feelings can do to a person. I know what I almost let them do to me.

Bernard flashed back to Miguel’s violent and ugly death – at Carlos’ hand. He remembered the anguish he had felt, burying first his wife and then his best friend – in the span of only a few months.

“I know now that I lost my brother a long time ago,” Bernard confided sadly. “And the madman’ who showed up here tonight was a complete stranger.”

He glanced almost carelessly at Carlos’ body, then returned his full attention to his wife. “It would’ve been so much worse if I had lost you,” he whispered sincerely.

“You know, I really do love you,” she assured him, managing only a weak smile in light of the grave situation.

Bernard took a deep breath and asked the question that terrified him more than any other – “Even knowing what my brother did to you?”

“Both of us,” Carmen corrected, firmly grasping one of his hand between both of hers. “He did this to both of us” – she noticed a picture of her children sitting on the mantle – “all of us.” She gave him a more confident smile. “But we survived Miguel’s death, and we’ll survive this too.”

The other families can’t possibly believe that women aren’t strong enough to run the mob, he thought as he gazed at Carmen in amazement. They’re really afraid that the women will do too good a job. But he kept those thoughts to himself and settled for a simple, “I love you too, Carmen.”
**********

Ben Warren’s legal maneuvers prevented the police from gathering very much information from his clients regarding Carlos’ death, but the police had several matters to discuss with Michelle – beginning with her kidnapping and ending with her efforts to revive Carlos. While she was being questioned, Bernard and Carmen assembled Danny, Nino, and Teresa for questioning of their own.

“Danny, I want to know about the deal between you and Nino,” Carmen demanded without any sort of lead-in.

Danny tried one last time to dodge the confrontation he knew was coming. “Mama, don’t you think there’s already enough going on?” He waved his hand in the direction of the police investigators.

“I want to know about the deal,” Carmen repeated slowly and deliberately. “Now.”

“Fine,” Danny sighed in defeat. I didn’t want to hurt you; you have to believe that. “It was pretty straightforward – all of my holdings in Chicago in exchange for cash and a guarantee of protection from the other families.”

Bernard’s eyes bore into Nino, causing both Nino and Teresa to brace themselves for an explosion. Although Bernard certainly had a lot to say, he graciously allowed Carmen to go first.

Carmen’s face went deathly pale, but she kept her voice down to prevent the police from overhearing. “How could you betray this family? If you needed money, you could’ve come to me.”

“It wasn’t about the money Mama. I was going to give you the money, to make up for the loss.” Danny paused, his heart constricting when he saw the pain in his mother’s eyes. “I just wanted out,” he explained. “I’ve always wanted out.”

“And I wanted in,” Nino supplied before Teresa mouthed don’t interrupt.’

Carmen ignored Nino completely, instead continuing with her interrogation of her son. “Why this way, Danny? Behind my back, involving an outsider. Why?”

Danny stared at his hands as he spoke. “Do you remember, Mama, when Mick moved to New York? You told me that I was the future of the family, that I had to carry on Papa’s legacy.” He met her eyes and asked softly, “How could I come to you and tell you that I didn’t want it anymore?”

“I’m your mother and I love you, that’s how,” she informed him. “All I want is for you to be happy.” I did all of this for you, for you and Mick and Pilar.

Bernard knew that Carmen would do anything for her children – hadn’t she proven that by marrying him to protect the boys? – including letting Danny leave the family completely, but he also knew that losing him the way she lost Mick would be a devastating blow. He saw an opportunity to make both of them happy, as well as to repair a tiny piece of the damage that Carlos caused all those years ago. “Have you closed this deal yet?” he asked Danny, still ignoring Nino.

“No,” Danny admitted reluctantly, grateful for the reprieve from his mother’s disappointment, “we were ironing out the final details when Tony Moreno showed up.”

“All right then. Daniel, you’ll hand back your Chicago holdings to your mother,” Bernard instructed, “and I’ll give you full control of Sancorp. Will that be acceptable?”

“Yeah,” Danny agreed, clearly caught off guard by Bernard’s offer. It can’t possibly be this easy. I didn’t even ask for Sancorp. What’s going on here? “Mama…” he prompted, seeking her approval. Please forgive me.

Carmen smiled at Bernard, aware of all the reasons behind his proposal. “That’s acceptable to me as well, as long as it makes you happy Danny.”

Danny rose from his chair and kissed his mother lightly on the cheek. “Thank you Mama,” he whispered sincerely. “I’ll make you proud of me. I will.”

Teresa grew frustrated and could no longer hold her tongue. “What about Nino and I?” she inquired of her father. “Danny promised us those holdings.”

Bernard still couldn’t comprehend how his little girl could run off to Springfield and marry a man known throughout the organized crime world as “the stupid one.” He decided to postpone dealing with it. “I know that the police will demand that we stay in Chicago until this investigation is finished,” he began. “You and Nino will stay here at the house with Carmen and I, and we will sort all of this out – your marriage, whether either of you should have any part of the business, etc.”

“But Danny gets everything he wants right away,” she whined.

“Enough,” Bernard warned sternly. “Believe me, we will discuss all of this in detail. Later.”

Danny overheard one of the officers tell Michelle, “We took your car from the parking lot and put it in the impound yard. You’ll be able to pick it up in the morning.”

“I think they’re done with Michelle,” he informed the group. “I’m gonna take her home now.” He kissed his mother’s cheek again. “I’ll call you in the morning, Mama,” he promised.

I may get my family back after all, Carmen realized.
~~~~~~~~~~
Michelle’s apartment, several hours later.

The detached, clinical voice had returned. “Sex is a reaffirmation of life,” it lectured as Michelle rested her head on Danny’s chest and willed her breathing to return to normal.

Oh I’m definitely alive, she quipped, her entire body still tingling. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alive.

When they had arrived back at her apartment, Michelle had headed immediately for the shower, her only concern washing the blood and sweat from her body. Standing under the hot, cleansing water, however, she had been mercilessly assaulted by thoughts and images of Carlos’ death. By the time she had emerged from the bathroom, she had been desperate for any kind of reprieve.

Seeing Danny standing at the foot of her bed, Michelle decided that he could be a quick fix to her problem. Boldly she unwrapped the towel from her body and then used her own weight to push Danny down onto the bed.

Danny had been running on adrenaline from the moment he learned of Michelle’s kidnapping, and more than anything at that moment he just wanted to know that she was indeed safe…and real. He quickly rolled them both over and helped her in her efforts to rid him of his clothing. . . . .

But now that their “activities” had ceased, Michelle could no longer push aside those distressing thoughts.

I almost died tonight. The words hit her like a physical blow, and left her reeling. If Dietz – it was almost funny to think that she owed her life to a man named “Dietz” of all things – had been delayed a few more seconds…. If Carlos had decided to “eliminate” her before he went after Nino…. If, if, if….

I almost died tonight, she repeated to herself, trying to come to grips with the statement.

Danny, who had yet to form a coherent thought, felt Michelle stiffen in his arms. “Are you okay, baby?” he whispered in her ear, knowing instinctively what her answer would be.

“Am I okay?” she parroted back incredulously, raising her head from his chest and looking him straight in the eye. “No, Danny, I’m not ‘okay.’ I almost died tonight.” She paused, still wrestling with the monumental impact of that statement. Moving unconsciously from fear to anger she accused, “I almost died tonight because of you.”

Danny refused to admit the truth of her words, even though his own conscience had been telling him the same thing ever since the kidnapping. Attempting to reassure her, he brushed hair out of her face and stated firmly, “I promise that nothing like what happened tonight will ever happen again.”

“You’re damn right it won’t!” Michelle shot back angrily, rolling off of him and then grabbing only a pillow with which to cover herself as she scooted to the far edge of the bed. “I want you out of here, Danny!” she declared, turning her back to him and planting her feet on the floor. When he didn’t respond she stood up from the bed and faced him, holding the pillow across her body with one hand and pointing toward the door with the other. “Leave, Danny. NOW!”

Danny sat up and leaned against the headboard, crossing his arms in front of his chest in a defiant posture. “I’m quite comfortable right here,” he informed her.

Furious, Michelle picked up Danny’s pants from the pile of clothing at the foot of the bed and threw them at his head. “This is my apartment, Danny, and I’m telling you to get dressed and get out.”

“You know,” he ducked the flying pants and allowing them to remain perched half-off and half-on the headboard beside him, “even if I did want to get dressed, which I don’t, I would probably need my boxers before I could put on my pants.”

“Not a problem,” she retorted, crumpling his boxer shorts into a ball before hurling them at him with as much force as she could manage.

He caught them easily, which only caused to infuriate her further. She quickly gathered up his shirt, socks, belt – even his shoes – and threw them all towards him.

“Hey!” he exclaimed as the belt buckle stung his bare chest, “knock it off.” Picking up the pile from his lap he made a show of dumped it where Michelle’s pillow had been before she had left the bed. He balled his hands into fists and pressed them down into the bed, one on each side of his body – simultaneously bracing himself and restraining his own growing anger. “I’m not gonna let you run away from me again.”

Michelle stormed over to the dresser and yanked one of the drawers open with both hands, letting go of the pillow in the process. Under normal circumstances she would’ve felt incredibly self- conscious, but at the moment her anger was overriding all other considerations.

Grabbing a pair of panties she hurriedly stepped into them and pulled them on while insisting, “You can’t possibly expect me to stick around and wait to get killed, Danny.”

“I told you -”

She cut him off before he could continue. “What makes you think that next time will be any different, huh?” she challenged, struggling into a tank top. She couldn’t seem to make her arms and head cooperate, and it took a few extra seconds before her head emerged from the top of the shirt. “You couldn’t protect me this time, Danny, so why the hell should I believe that you’ll be able to the next time?” Without bothering to put on any more clothing she spun around and locked eyes with him, reminding him, “After all, you’ve lied to me before.”

“I wouldn’t lie to you about this,” he roared in indignation.

“I wouldn’t lie to you,” she mimicked sarcastically. “Should I take your word’ for that?”

“Yeah, you should,” he answered seriously, lowering his voice momentarily. “I’ve never broken my word. Ever.”

Michelle only glared, which caused Danny to reemphasize loudly, “I wouldn’t lie to you. Not about this. Not now.”

Shaking with anger, Michelle clutched the dresser to prevent the room from spinning. “Why not?” she shouted.

“Because I love you!” Danny shouted back, startling even himself with the revelation.

Michelle tilted her head back and let out an exasperated sigh that conveyed her extreme skepticism at his revelation. “You don’t love me Danny,” she stated matter-of-factly.

Danny’s mouth gaped open at the sheer audacity of her statement. How the hell can she dismiss this so lightly?

His anger immediately overriding his shock, he snatched his boxer shorts and shoved his legs into them. “Do you think I just casually throw those words around?” he challenged, staring her straight in the eye.

“Love is more than just sex, Danny,” she lectured impatiently, rising on tiptoe for emphasis on the word sex.’ “What happened here tonight was a natural reaction to fear of death.”

“Psych 101?” he mocked, his feet tangling in his pant leg and almost causing him to fall. “I took that class too, Michelle. And I’m not stupid.”

“I didn’t say that you were,” she defended, keeping her distance because she doubted her own ability to resist him, not because she thought he would hurt her.

“I know why tonight happened, Michelle. I felt the same mix of fear and anger and relief that you did.” He popped the button off his pants in his haste to fasten them. “I didn’t say that I love you because of that.”

Why can’t he just be reasonable about this? Why does he have to keep pushing? “You can’t love me Danny,” she reiterated, trying a different argument. “You don’t even know me.”

He was completely still as he informed her, “I know you. I do.” Then he resumed dressing, yanking his shirt off the bed and putting it on, his anger still evident in every move.

The tone of his voice sent shivers down her spine, and for a moment she forgot why she was even arguing with him. But then the events at Bernard’s house came rushing back with frightening clarity, and she found the motivation to continue. “Oh really? Is that one of the skills’ you picked up as a mob boss, the ability to ‘read’ people?”

He walked toward her and lowered his voice to almost a whisper. “This isn’t about reading people. This is about you…us.” Finished fastening the last button, he reached out and brushed his hand over her cheek. “I – know – you,” he repeated slowly, emphasizing every word.

She batted his hand away and tried to step back, but the dresser stopped her progress. “I’m not falling for your lines,” she claimed, flattening herself against the dresser to stay as far away from him as possible.

“Fine,” he agreed easily, too easily for Michelle’s tastes. “I heard everything you said about Bill, and your family, and your life in Springfield when we had dinner together. Or had you forgotten about that?”

“That isn’t enough, Danny. You know why I came to Chicago, I’ll give you that, but do you know why I stayed in medicine after I got here?” She inched along the side of the dresser until she was out of Danny’s reach. “You know why I haven’t been back to Springfield, but do you know why I still co-chair Cedars’ fundraising gala for the AIDS program?”

When Danny failed to respond, Michelle relented slightly and switched to more “softball” questions. “Do you even know what I like on my pizza, or the name of my kitty?”

Danny shook his head ruefully. “You know, for someone pontificating about what love is, you sure have a-helluva-lot to learn.”

Instead of following Michelle when she stalked over toward the doorway, Danny went back to the bed and sat down to put on his expensive Italian dress shoes. “Love isn’t knowledge either, Michelle,” he pointed out, deliberately concentrating on tying the shoes. “I could know all of those things about some other woman, but that wouldn’t make me love her.”

He’s right, she realized with complete certainty. I know everything about Bill, and I don’t love him.

Danny decided to take advantage of the indecision on Michelle’s face. Sliding gently off the bed, he approached her cautiously, using eye contact and the tone of his voice to try to soothe her. “We’re connected, Michelle,” he whispered. “In our hearts, we’re connected.”

“But you’re in the mob,” Michelle whispered back, tears forming in her eyes. “And I can’t live with the fear and the danger and the violence that you do, that I did tonight.”

“I’m out,” he insisted, resting his hands on her shoulders. “So you don’t have to worry about any of that anymore.”

She placed her hands over his and asked seriously, “How can I believe that, Danny? How would I ever know if you’re really out?” She pressed her hand against his mouth to prevent his protests. “How do I know that being ‘out’ will actually keep me safe?”

He kissed her fingers, prompting her to remove them from his mouth. “Then just give me some time to show you,” he implored, gliding his hands along her shoulders and up her neck. “I’m going to run SanCorp as a legitimate business,” he vowed. For the first time since Mick got into trouble, I’m going to do things my way. “Just give me some time…” he breathed into her ear.

This is insane, Michelle. He’s in the mob. You almost died. Throw him out.

Before she could rebuild enough anger to say those words, however, a second voice spoke up in her head. You’ve been waiting for this…chemistry, this…intensity, your entire life. You threw away everything in Springfield on the hope that you would find it someday, even though part of you doubted that it actually existed. And now you’re just going to walk away?

If the mob kills me, I won’t have the opportunity to walk away, she argued.

You’re a smart girl, Michelle; you can protect yourself. All he’s asking for is a little time.

“How much time do you want?” she asked breathlessly, mesmerized by the sensations he was creating by running his tongue around her ear.

“To be with you? Forever,” he whispered directly into her ear. Pulling back to break the spell, he chuckled slightly and amended, “But I think I only need six months to pass your tests.”

Shaking her head to clear it she took a deep breath and offered, “Why don’t we start with six weeks and see how that goes?”

He gave her his best “puppy dog” look. “Six weeks? Come on, give a guy a break here.”

She couldn’t help but laugh at his expression. “You’re just lucky I didn’t say six days, buddy,” she joked, amazed that she could find any humor in the situation. You’re delirious, the clinical voice diagnosed. One step away from hysteria most likely; that’ll be tons of fun I’ll wager.

“Six months,” he persisted. “I’m not leaving here until I hear you say six months.”

“Six months,” she enunciated slowly. She took his hand and pulled him through the doorway towards the front entranceway. “Okay, I said it. Now get out of here before you lose the six weeks I agreed to.”

“Six months,” he sing-songed, padding along behind her but also playfully dragging his heels in a token resistance.

She let go of his hand to unlock and open the door. “You never give up, do you?” she asked in feigned frustration.

“See, you’re learning about me already,” he grinned, leaning against the doorframe and wrapping his arms loosely around her waist. “How about dinner tomorrow night?”

“Call me around lunchtime tomorrow,” she suggested, reaching behind her back and unclasping his hands. “I’ll let you know then what my schedule is like.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay with you tonight?” he asked seriously, sure that a terrible mixture nightmares and sleeplessness would plague her when she tried to sleep.

She glanced at the police officer who had been assigned to guard her until the details of Carlos’ death were fully investigated. “I’ll be fine, Danny,” she assured him, returning the officer’s nod of acknowledgment. “Besides, I think having a policeman outside the door will be more than enough drama; I really don’t feel up to introducing my roommate to the head of the Santos mob operations.” Your roommate? Your parents will probably have you committed to the psych ward when you tell them; compared to that, Katie will be a breeze.

“Ex-head,” he corrected somewhat defensively. “I’m just your run-of-the-mill CEO of an ordinary, legitimate multi-million dollar corporation.”

“Yeah, well, she has six weeks to find that out,” Michelle replied, nudging him into the hallway. “Provided that you convince me of it first.” I’m not going to let you charm me into being with you if it means putting my life in danger.

She isn’t going to give me an inch, he thought, simultaneously frustrated and intrigued by the challenge she presented. But she’s definitely worth it.

“I will, Michelle,” he promised. “Trust me, I will.”

“Good-bye, Danny,” she called out, waving and slowly closing the door.

“Six months,” he tried one last time before she disappeared from his sight. The officer having already summoned the elevator for him, Danny entered the car and punched the button for the ground floor, faintly humming the tune to which he and Michelle had danced in his hotel suite as he did so.

Michelle, meanwhile, leaned against the door of her apartment until she heard the elevator descending, then went to the kitchen to put the kettle on to boil. She knew that she had a long night ahead of her, and she hoped that a cup of herbal tea would help to calm her nerves.

While she waited for the water to boil, she picked up the phone and dialed a familiar number. “Father Patrick, please,” she requested, wedging the phone between her ear and shoulder and grabbing a clean mug from the dishwasher. Father Patrick had been the priest at St. Mary’s parish for most of Michelle’s life, and he had been a trusted confidant ever since Michelle had entered high school and discovered that a child for whom she babysat was being physically abused by his mother.

“Hi, Father Patrick, it’s Michelle,” she began, reaching into the cupboard for the honey.

“No, I’m still in Chicago,” she replied, “and everything’s fine at the hospital. But I do need to talk if you have the time. There’s a lot going on right now and it’s….” She stopped, at a complete loss for any way to characterize the bizarre events. “I just really need someone who’s more objective’ to help me sort things out.” Because Danny makes me anything but objective, she added silently to herself.

“Great,” she sighed in relief, removing the whistling teakettle from the stove. “It all started a few weeks ago….”
**********
They talked into the night, and when Danny called the next day at exactly twelve noon Michelle agreed to have dinner with him.

As she hung up the phone she couldn’t help but grin. These may turn out to be the best six WEEKS of my life.

A Season of New Beginnings: A Continuation by Robansuefarm Chapter 2

December 22, 2014

Author’s Note: This was the first fanfic I wrote as part of my one in every category challenge. I had a stem, but the end of yesterday’s chapter and all the rest are mine. I particularly like the part about people reacting to the first big snow.

A Season of New Beginnings: A Continuation by Robansuefarm – Chapter 2

The snow had continued to fall not picking up much in intensity, but like Eeyore, it stubbornly stuck to its task and a couple of inches had accumulated on the formerly dry pavement before Michelle had worked her way through her list of donation pickups. Michelle was still hesitant about driving Rick’s UAV and that probably translated into more careful driving than usual which was just as well in the first big snow of the season. In Springfield, just like all over the Midwest, the first big storm tended to induce a combination of amnesia and panic on the part of the local residents. Amnesia in that they seemed to forget everything they ever knew about winter driving and panic in that stores would be completely emptied of bread, bottles of water, batteries and other necessities that the unwary purchasers would still be trying to use up months from now. By the second storm the hysteria would have passed to be replaced by a blasé acceptance, but that didn’t help anyone to survive the first storm every winter. Michelle had mostly been driving on Springfield’s main streets where the heavier traffic had kept the streets relatively clear, but she was finally down to the last name on her list, Maria Santos. Michelle had looked ahead to Mrs. Santos every time she checked a name off her list of donation pickups. Michelle had heard stories of the Santos family her whole life. True she couldn’t remember hearing much of anything they’d done in Springfield lately, but everyone raised in Springfield knew that if you heard the name Santos you backed off, you headed in the other direction. Now she was headed straight to their house.

“Isn’t this just peachy?” Michelle asked herself as she buckled her seat belt and started Rick’s car heading towards High Ridge Road. She was just making the turn on to High Ridge when out of nowhere a black Jag came sailing over the hill heading right for her. They’d both been driving along the single track of wheel ruts that ran along the center of the road because it was hard to tell where the edge of the snow covered road was. Now Michelle had to hit the brakes and she pulled the wheel to the right. The UAV which had seemed to be riding along a curtain of air and responding instantly to every touch suddenly began to buck like a wild bronco as the car started to fishtail wildly. When she had a moment to spare, she’d send up a prayer of thanks for the defensive driving class Rick had insisted she take, but right now the road and the car had her full attention and she managed to ride out the slide, although her car was turned around about 200 degrees from where she’d originally been facing when it finally came to a stop. The sick feeling of fear that often descends after a danger is successfully dealt with descended on Michelle’s stomach, twisting it painfully. Suddenly everything about the day from reliving Jesse’s betrayal to her broken Christmas tree fingernail to the near accident that had just happened boiled up in her and she was out of the UAV and headed over to where the Jag had managed to stop itself in white hot flash of fury. The fact that the snow had melted and then iced over the road didn’t help, it was just as slick to walk on as to drive on and the ice was in chunks in spots and she’d almost fallen down more than once before she made her goal, a fact that only enraged her more with each almost fall.

Michelle reached out her fist and pounded on the window glass. In any other set of circumstances, Michelle would probably be asking with concern if the other driver was OK. This time she had no such concern. She didn’t even wait for the tinted window to come down. “Just what in Blue Blazes do you think you’re doing? You could have killed us both….” Michelle raged on not really seeing the handsome man behind the wheel of the Jag. He could certainly see her though and he didn’t know when he’d seen a lovely sight, for all her unwarranted anger at him. Her golden curls tossed by the winter wind and her own animation created a halo around her face, set off perfectly by a gleaming jeweled hair clip. Her chocolate brown eyes snapped with fire. Her voice, well he had to admit, at the moment her voice was screeching rather painfully at him, but it was coming through full lips that he wanted to reach out and tug on with his own. This little spitfire would be a joy to tame. He wished he lived the kind of life where he’d be the one to get the chance to try to tame her.

Michelle’s didn’t stop. She was taking out all the frustrations of the day on this stranger, but somehow she just couldn’t stop herself. Danny’s own frustration level began to rise as the beauty continued her tirade without showing signs of stopping anytime soon. After all, his mind began to argue it was at least as much her fault as his that they’d almost crashed. It had been her vehicle that spun almost all the way around. His was still pointed in the same direction he’d been going in before. Besides he was getting tired of her standing there yelling at him when what he really wanted more than anything else at that moment was just to talk to her, to find out what her name was, what she wanted out of life, what her lips tasted like and the fact that he felt it was unlikely he’d ever know any of those things spurred his frustration onward and upward, which is why he sounded so harsh when he finally did get a word in edgewise. Early Danny

“Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! I don’t see how you think this was my fault, Miss….” He couldn’t help it, he had to try to find out her name.

“None of your business!” she snapped back.

“All right, Miss None of Your Business. I’ll have you know that you were pulling from a main road into a side street and therefore it was your responsibility to yield, NOT mine.” Danny really didn’t have any idea what the law would be in this case, but he had long ago learned that the person who won an argument wasn’t the one who knew the most about the situation, it was the one who staked a position that made them right and stuck to it strongly. Knowing a lot about a situation only let you see the nuances of the case which was a handicap in most arguments.

His declaration brought Michelle up short. Was he right, she wondered? She didn’t know what law would be, but she didn’t have any intention of backing down. “Sounds like you spend a lot of time in traffic court. What’s the matter can’t you control this black piece of junk?” She kicked at the wad of snow that had built up behind the front tire and felt good when the dirty snow crumbled and dropped to the road. But the momentum was gone and she knew most of the anger she felt wasn’t really because of him. Finally she fumed, “Merry Christmas!” and stalked off back to Rick’s UAV continuing to slip and slide, but making it there, she felt, with her dignity mostly intact.

Danny watched in his rear view mirror as Michelle slowly pulled to the next driveway and turned the UAV around and headed down the road. He wanted to follow her and maybe find out the answers to some of those questions. He sighed. After her little tirade seeing his car following behind her would only scare her and the last thing he wanted was to do that. She might also call the police on him and the next to the last thing he wanted was to give Springfield’s finest a legitimate reason to hassle the family. As he had slowly, painstakingly, moved the business into legitimate enterprises and away from criminal activities, the Santos family had slowly fallen of the FBI’s radar. They were more interested in flashier and newer targets. They’d take a conviction on a Santos if it was practically handed to them, but they weren’t going to waste resources on an organization whose criminal enterprises were dying on the vine. The Springfield local LEOs had grown up in the bad old days when the entire business had been under his mother’s control and still saw the Santos family as their personal version of the boogeyman. No matter how hard he fought he was beginning to believe that the only thing that would change their perception would be a change in generations. He sighed again and instead of following the petite blonde with the gorgeous curls he started again for St. Michael’s where he was going to pickup his cousin Ray so they could have lunch before he headed to Cedars.

Michelle was extremely careful the rest of the way up High Ridge. Slowly she pulled up to the large gated estate. The name Santos was spelled out in a wrought iron arch above the open gate. Michelle carefully maneuvered Rick’s UAV up to the area in front of the house. She got out and walked through the terraced area in front of house complete with topiary and statues. The servants had been working on keeping the area clean of snow and after her harried experience trying to walk on the icy road, she was pleasantly surprised to walk on a dry and secure surface. Michelle thought how nice it must be not to ever have to worry about little things like snow and sleet removal, to always have people take care of you, she’d been having to take care of herself for so long. Rick had done the best he could, but really since her mother died she’d been responsible for taking care of herself and 12 was too early to have to become a grown up. A line of the song that woke her up that morning came back to her, “Old Mr. Webster could never define what’s being said between your heart and mine.” How nice it must be to have one person you could truly trust to take care of you and while she hated to admit it, she’d never known that, not even when it had still been good with Jesse. He had followed her lead on everything, but Drew. However, he had been high maintenance she had to admit, she had constantly been having to reassure him that he was good enough to hang with her college friends, that he wasn’t stupid even though he hadn’t finished high school let alone college, that his art deserved to be in galleries. She hoped Drew was enjoying stroking his ego all the time. She walked up to the door and rang the bell.

A late middle aged, balding man answered the door. He wore a suit, but somehow still looked disreputable. He even moved in a disreputable fashion. “Um, I’m here to see Maria Santos. I’m with the Pediatric fundraiser.” Michelle told him. The disreputable man nodded. “You’re expected. This way please.”

Michelle followed the man into an incredibly ornate entry way around through a set of fancy double doors and through a huge room that seemed to be some kind of office and in through a smaller door to a staircase. He led her up to the second floor, stopping in front of an extra wide, wheelchair accessible door. He knocked, “Mrs. Santos.”

From the other side of the door Michelle heard a soft, gentle voice, “Come in, Dietz.”

The disreputable man, apparently named Dietz, opened the door and gestured for Michelle to precede him into the room. He followed her. He stood at his version of attention. “Mrs. Santos,” he said “This young lady is from the Pediatric fundraiser, Miss….” He looked at Michelle. She stepped forward, “Bauer, Michelle Bauer.” She smiled at the kindly looking old lady sitting in an embroidered dressing gown with a lap robe over her knees. She was sitting in front of a fireplace with a roaring fire. She sat in the far one of a pair of wingback chairs with a small oval table sat between them and slightly to one side. The whole scene could have come from a welcoming Christmas card. She smiled at Michelle, exuding a sense of kindliness and frailty.

“Sit, sit down my dear,” Maria said gesturing towards the chair opposite hers.

Michelle remembered that this was house of the infamous Santos family, no matter how inviting the scene. “No, no really, I only came to pick up the donations. I don’t mean to intrude. If you’d just tell me where they are I’ll be glad to…..”

Maria interrupted. “Nonsense. Of course you must have a cup of hot tea. It’s a cold blustery day and I can’t let you go out again in this weather without something to take off the chill.” She turned to Dietz. “Dietz, take Miss Bauer’s keys and see that the things are loaded.”

Michelle saw no way out of it. She handed Dietz Rick’s keys complete with the miniature rubber chicken key ring. Dietz looked at her. “It’s my brother’s car. He thinks he has a great sense of humor,” she explained.

“I’m sorry I missed that.” A joke. Michelle was almost sure Dietz had told a joke. She wouldn’t have believed it.

Michelle watched Dietz leave the room and pull the door shut behind him. Then she perched uneasily on the edge of the chair.

“Michelle, may I call you Michelle, my dear?”

“Yes, of course, Mrs. Santos.”

“Call me Maria. How do you take your tea, Michelle?”

Michelle looked over the well stocked tray, not to impolitely ask for something that wasn’t there. “With a slice of lemon, please.” With skill from years of practice and an old world flair, Maria poured two cups of tea, adding a slice of lemon to each. Then bending forward, she handed Michelle her cup.

Michelle fidgeted, but was grateful to have something to do with her hands. She held the saucer in one hand and the delicate hand-painted, bone china cup in the other. She took a sip. It was very good tea and very hot. It must have been made just before she got here Michelle realized.

“Michelle, you seem a little nervous. Did you grow up in Springfield by any chance?” Michelle nodded, feeling tongue-tied. How was she supposed to answer the question she feared was coming next. She just couldn’t say, yes I know your family is a pack of dangerous criminals.  Maria continued, ”Then you have heard old stories about my family. I assure you they are old. My husband…” here Maria trailed off as she got a far away look in her eye. Michelle recognized the look. It reminded her strangely of her Great Aunt Meta. Michelle reached out and laid her hand on top of the older woman’s. The reminder of the present served its function as Maria’s eyes slowly focused again on Michelle’s face. “Thank you my dear,” Maria said turning her hand over and giving Michelle’s a quick squeeze before she released it. “Sometimes the past is too much with me. I was saying, my husband could be a ruthless man and it led him into some dangerous decisions, a dangerous way of life. My daughter-in-law Carmen is much like him as was my eldest grandson Mick, God rest his soul.” Maria crossed herself. “However, they are in the past of the family now. My son Miguel wanted a better life for the family. It was partially because he was trying to remove the criminal element of the family business that he was killed.” Again Maria made the sign of the cross. “Now, my grandson Daniel is the head of the family. He had been working very hard to make the business legitimate. The family’s business interests are easily as legitimate as the Spauldings now, if not entirely sanitized yet.” She deliberately caught Michelle’s eye. Maria seemed to be trying to see into Michelle’s soul. “You may feel completely safe here, with my family.” Michelle felt like there was more than the obvious meaning behind Maria’s words, but for the life of her she couldn’t fathom what this hidden meaning or purpose might be. Also, she realized, she believed Maria without a doubt. Something about the way Maria spoke of making the business legitimate, Michelle knew instinctively she was telling the truth. Michelle relaxed somewhat and settled back in her chair.

Maria picked up the only family photo remaining in the room. It was an old photo, a family group and had been sitting on the oval table next to the tea tray and a small bouquet of flowers. Maria’s fingers slightly bent with age pointed to the figures. “This is my son Miguel and his wife Carmen. These are their children.” Maria pointed a toddler in a fluffy dress, “Pilar” then to the oldest boy barely a pre-teen in the photo, “Mick” and finally to a handsome young boy with something that set him apart from the others, “my Daniel.”

Maria handed the framed photo to Michelle as Michelle found a place for her cup and saucer on the table. “It is amazing,” she thought. “Here I am, sitting in the home of what I thought was the biggest crime family in all of Springfield and they are just normal people with hopes and dreams and family photos.” Michelle thought, “It’s strange, I feel so at peace here. This must have been what it would have been like to visit Grandma Bert if she’d lived longer.” Michelle’s eyes settled on the image of Daniel, the little boy who would grow up to throw out all the criminal elements that his grandfather and mother had brought into the family business to keep the family safe, to give it a future. She wondered what kind of man must he be? She thought about what strength of purpose and character he must have, so different from the men in the Bauer family who all seemed to have some weakness inherent in their psychological makeup. It was the women in the Bauer family who’d always had to be relentless and strong. Michelle wondered what it must be like to not have to be the strong one all the time, to have someone who you could lean on. It must be nice to have a mate like this and she thought whoever Mrs. Danny Santos was, she most likely a very lucky woman.

Michelle felt tears starting to well up in her eyes and she blindly handed to photo back to Maria. “Why what is it, my child? You can tell me.” Maria said it in such a kind, grandmotherly voice that Michelle felt that she could tell her. She suddenly realized she desperately wanted to talk to someone, to let go, with someone whose feelings she didn’t have to worry about hurting. Everything that she’d been keeping locked up inside her as she was the good one, the strong one, the grown up, came spilling out to this kind, attentive, grandmotherly woman. She told her about her father’s infidelities, her birth mother’s abandonment, Maureen’s death, Ed’s retreating from the world in penance which actually left her abandoned again. She told her about Jesse, how he told her over and over again not to worry about Drew and then he had dumped Michelle for her. She told her how she felt she’d wasted the 190 days since Jesse left. “And just today, I’ve been feeling even worse. It’s like a little voice has been telling me that none of it would ever had been real anyway. That it never would have worked with Jesse. It’s like the last shreds of the dream are being taken away from me.”

Maria, who had been making comforting and understanding noises during Michelle’s story, patted her knee. “I think maybe this Jesse was just the straw that broke the camel’s back you certainly have had worse problems than losing this bobo, this fool. He seems like he was merely a chico, a boy. He would probably still have been a boy if he lived to be 90. You, despite this latest heartbreak, you are a woman, you need a someone who es todo un caballero. Como dice en ingles? Un hombre con machismo. Al Diablo.” She paused slapping her hand on the arm of the chair in frustration trying to find the right English phrase. “A real man. You will find him soon I’m sure. Now run along and wash up your face in the bathroom. Dietz must have loaded your car by now.” Maria pointed to another wheelchair accessible door. Michelle smiled her gratitude and escaped into the bathroom. She emerged having put her face back on.

“Thank you for listening to me, Mrs. Santos.” She smiled a timid smile. A little apprehensive as she realized she’d dumped all her problems on this stranger and maybe she resented the presumption.

“Call me Maria, my dear and come back any time. My sciatica has kept me practically housebound this fall. I know you are busy with your donations today or I would not let you go so quickly. I’ve enjoyed your visit so much.”

Michelle was glad. She found she had enjoyed her visit, too. It was so nice to have someone to talk to about everything without feeling that they might take what she said as a criticism like she was afraid Rick or Aunt Meta would. She would be back to Casa Santos she was sure. “I enjoyed it, too, Mrs. San…, I mean Maria. I’d like to come back. Thanks for everything. Goodbye….Adios”

There was a definite new spring in Michelle’s step as she retraced her steps back to the car where she met Dietz who handed back the keys. He pointed to the chicken. “It’s a good thing your brother is a doctor. His little friend there looks like he could use one.” She smiled at Dietz. Maybe things were finally starting to turn around after all. It wasn’t until she was pulling off of High Ridge back on to the highway that it struck her. “How did Dietz know Rick was a doctor?”

Maria was back at her window again, watching her new young friend leave. She listened to the voice on the other end of the phone. She nodded to herself. “You were right. She is perfect for the plan.” (A pause) “No, she suspects nothing. (Another pause) Yes, I’d say the first part of the plan is complete.” Maria’s smile broadened as she hung up the phone.

Translation Note:

*Local LEOS – Local Law Enforcement Officers

*bobo – fool in Spanish

*chico – boy in Spanish

*es todo un caballero – is a real gentleman in Spanish

*Como dice en ingles? – How do you say in English? In Spanish

* Un hombre con machismo – A man with assertive masculinity in Spanish.

* al Diablo – To the devil (an expression of frustration) in Spanish

END NOTE: I only had 4 years of high school Spanish, please excuse any mistakes and I hope you enjoy my attempts to follow Danny’s directive to “Learn some more Spanish!”

Sleeping Beauty, Manny Style by Samj Chapter 2

December 7, 2014

Republisher’s Note: A continuation of the Manny fairytale fanfic based on Sleeping Beauty.

Sleeping Beauty, Manny Style by Samj Chapter 2

The years passed, and Carmarias thugs and goons relentlessly searched for the young princess, but with no success. Frustrated and angry, Carmaria called them into her overly ornate office and demanded, “Have you searched the entire forest? The caves? The villages?”

Her henchmen cowered in fear, babbling incoherently. Finally, one was brave enough to speak. “Yes boss,” Ben stuttered, “we’ve searched the forest…and the caves…and the villages….”

“Uh-huh, Jimmy and Alden” agreed in unison, “and all the cradles.”

“The cradles?” Carmaria repeated incredulously. “The cradles?” She cackled wickedly, and the brainless henchmen laughed with her until she cut them off with a curt, “Silence!”

“Did you hear that, Deitz?” she asked her loyal raven gently. “All of this time, they’ve been searching for a baby.” Deitz just rolled his eyes, whether at the stupidity of the henchmen or of his boss vendetta was anyone’s guess. 

“Listen carefully, Deitz,” Carmaria instructed. “I need you to go out and find me a girl of twenty-one years, with hair of blond curls and clothes of pink Prada. Do not fail me Deitz.”

The loyal Deitz left immediately to find the now-grown-up Princess Berta.
~~~~~~~~~~
Meanwhile, in a small cottage in the woods on the edge of Laurel Falls, Rick, Abby, and Meta had been happily (albeit without the use of their magic) raising the Princess, whom they called Michelle to protect her identity. Rick had been in charge of caring for the tiny infant, and although only a few days of changing diapers and 3 AM feedings had brought a harsh reality to his fantasies of having children, he loved the young girl as though she were his own sister and carried out his duties with care and devotion. As Michelle grew older Rick’s duties changed, of course, but they never became less challenging. 

Abby had been in charge of the house, and she also conducted Michelle’s education through the equivalent of high school. Since then, Michelle had been training with Rick to be a doctor. She had an amazing hunger for knowledge, and a natural ability for academic work, both of which thrilled all of her guardians. 

Meta had been in charge of the kitchen, creating marvelous breakfasts, dinners, and desserts. More importantly, she shared her wisdom and experience with the younger members of her family, and supervised everything they did.

On the morning of Michelle’s twenty-first birthday, Rick, Meta, and Abby cleverly got Michelle out of the house by asking her to pick a basketful of daisies, her favorite wildflower. With the cottage all to themselves, the three were busily planning a grand celebration.

Rick decided that, since it was his last day as Michelle’s guardian, he wanted to bake her birthday cake, even though he’d never cooked before. Caught up in the excitement, Meta decided she wanted to decorate the house with streamers and banners, even though shed never done much artistic work before. Abby, of course, simply tried to maintain a level head.

Unexpected Visitors by Samj Chapter 2

December 2, 2014
Republisher’s Note: Not much to add from my last note. Hope you enjoy it.
Author’s Note: Sorry that this took so long to get written and posted especially since there isn’t much more to tell. I didnt realize that RL would be keeping me so incredibly busy. (Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why I vowed not to write another series.) Thank you, as always, for the wonderful feedback. I love you guys. Oh, and a public service announcement: Sharing prescription medicine is illegal and dangerous. Don’t do it, but I figured members of the mob wouldn’t have qualms about such things.

Unexpected Visitors by Samj Chapter 2

“Hello, Michelle,” Deitz leered, pointing a gun in her face and walking her back into the apartment.

“Wh- wh- what are you doing here?” she stammered.

By way of answer Deitz said, “You know the one thing I’ve learned since Danny married you shoot first, answer questions later.” 

Michelle blanched at his words, but summoned up every ounce of courage and tried to buy herself some time. 

“Danny won’t let you get away with this.”

“I’m not deaf, Michelle. By the time he gets out of the shower, I’ll be gone.”

“But he’ll know it was you,” Michelle pointed out.

“And you’ll already be dead,” Deitz countered. “He won’t be able to change that.”

“But…” she objected.

He cut her off immediately. “No more discussion.”

Deitz put the gun against her temple and whispered, “If you shout, or call for Danny, I might have to hurt him too.”

Michelle knew that Deitz wouldn’t intentionally kill Danny, but if there were a struggle… She thought about all of the sacrifices Danny had made for her, all the risks he had taken to keep her safe, and saw a way to finally repay him.

Michelle closed her eyes and prayed silently for Danny to be safe.

Startled by the sound of the front door being kicked in, Deitz took his gun off of Michelle for just a second. Somewhere deep in Michelle’s brain, her instincts took over she dove to the floor and rolled out of reach.

She hadn’t even begun to process what was happening when she heard a small popping noise and watched Deitz fall beside her. He clutched his left knee and howled in agony.

“What the hell?!” Danny shouted as he ran from the bathroom, dripping wet and wearing only a towel wrapped precariously around his hips. His words stopped abruptly at the sight of Michelle on the floor beside a still-howling Deitz.

“You son of a…”Danny shouted, lunging at Deitz, but a strong hand pushed him back.

“I’ve taken care of him,” Uncle Frederico announced with a solemn nod.
Not even bothering to acknowledge his uncle’s words, Danny pulled Michelle to her feet and into his arms. “Are you okay, baby?” he whispered in her ear while holding her as close as possible.

“He didn’t hurt me,” Michelle managed to whisper back, her mind still trying to comprehend what she’d seen.

Danny pulled back to look in Michelle’s eyes, searching for confirmation of her words, then inspected the rest of her body for signs of injury. Reassured that she was in fact physically okay, he embraced her once again. “I’m so, so sorry, baby.”

“It isn’t your fault, Danny,” she assured him, giving him an extra squeeze. 

Danny looked over Michelle’s head at his uncle and asked, “Now do you want to tell me what the hell is going on?” 

“Perhaps you’d like to get dressed first,” Frederico suggested, his mild tone sounding out of place in the intense circumstances.

“I’m fine,” Danny replied quickly, not releasing his wife.

“Danny, just go grab your robe, okay?” Michelle said.

“Okay,” he agreed reluctantly, not taking his eyes off Michelle until he had to turn the corner into the hallway.

Michelle couldn’t stifle her laughter when Danny returned seconds later wearing the fluffy yellow terrycloth robe that didn’t even reach his knees. 

“I couldn’t find mine,” he explained shortly before she could even ask, too worried about the situation at hand to feel embarrassed. 

“Well?” he prompted, still waiting for someone to catch him up.

“I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner, Daniel. The pharmacy didn’t have my prescription filled when I arrived.” He produced a bottle of prescription pain killers, shook two out into his hand, and offered them to Deitz. Deitz took one hand off the blood-soaked towel on his knee and accepted them, dry-swallowing the pills with a grimace. 

“When I finally arrived at the restaurant, one of the busboys told me a man had been looking for you. The description made me think of Deitz immediately. I called your cell phone, but only got your voice mail.” 

Danny hung his head sheepishly. He’d turned off the phone because he wanted to avoid interruptions during his time with Michelle. He berated himself silently for his stupidity. 

Reading his thoughts, Michelle chimed in, “You couldn’t have known Danny. And I’m the one who convinced you to turn it off. It’s my fault, not yours.”

“No, all of this is my fault,” Danny argued.

“All of this is your crazy mother’s fault,” Frederico declared with finality. He’d suspected that Carmen had lost it after Miguel’s death; he considered the afternoon’s events to be proof of that. 

“How did Mama even know Michelle was here?” Danny asked Deitz.

“She doesn’t,” he answered. “I was playing out a hunch. It was going to be like a Christmas present or something.”

“What were you going to do, mount my head on a plaque and gift-wrap it?” Michelle asked, anger replacing her fear.

“Sure kid, whatever,” Deitz replied, distracted by the pain coursing through his body.

“So how did you figure out Michelle was here?” Danny amended, still waiting for an answer. 

“I didn’t.” Deitz smiled as he felt the painkillers begin to work. “I gotta hand it to you, Michelle, you set up a pretty good screen. You could’ve done great work for the family.” 

Michelle scowled at the intended compliment.

“But when Carmen started going on and on about the new girl in Danny’s life, I got suspicious. I knew Danny actually loved you, and that he wouldn’t just move on to somebody else that easily. So I did some investigating, but everything in Florida checked out.” 

Deitzs eyes closed briefly, and Michelle worried that he was about to pass out. Opening them again, he continued, “When Frederico insisted Carmen stay away from this mystery woman, I decided to check her out. That’s where you made the mistake you guys forgot to invent the other woman.” 

Michelle and Danny both nodded almost mechanically. They’d thought that Frederico’s backup would be enough. How could they have left such an important detail to chance?

“So like I said, I was playing a hunch. I wasn’t sure until she actually opened the door.”

“And then you shot him,” Danny finished, looking at his uncle.

“I didn’t have any other option.”

“I’m not complaining,” Danny clarified. “It’s just going to make things more difficult now that well have to take him to the hospital, and get the police involved.”

Frederico shook his head. “Let me take care of that. There will be no need to involve the police.”

“What do you mean?” Michelle asked suspiciously. To the best of her knowledge, Frederico didn’t have the connections that the rest of Danny’s family had.

“I have a few favors I can call in,” Frederico hinted vaguely. “The police will be willing to overlook this incident, and Deitzs leg will be attended to by a private physician.”

Michelle took a step away from Frederico.

“The restaurant is completely legitimate,” Frederico said. “But it never hurts to have friends precisely for situations like this.”

Michelle still felt uncomfortable, but she wanted to wait until she could talk to Danny privately before she said anything. The question that couldn’t wait, though, was, “What happens when Deitz gets back to Springfield and tells Carmen?”

“I think it’s time that Carmen and I had a little meeting,” Frederico decided. “This ridiculous hiding has been going on long enough. It ends now.”

~~~~~~~
Frederico made all the necessary arrangements. Carmen was on a flight to Los Angeles the following day. 

The meeting was tense for all of them, but at its end Carmen understood that Michelle and Danny were under Frederico’s protection and that she had no say in the matter. She and Deitz left for Springfield immediately after the meeting; Frederico returned to the restaurant. 

Danny surprised Michelle with reservations at a five-star hotel in downtown LA, but Michelle insisted that they head back that night so that she could study for exams. She was silent the entire ride back. 

“Sweetheart, you gotta talk to me,” Danny insisted when they got back to her apartment. He’d wanted to avoid the place because of the memories it held for them, but Michelle needed her books and notes.

“Are we ever going to be free?” she asked without preamble. “Completely and totally free?” 

“No,” he sighed. “Not really. I’m sorry, baby.” 

“I just wanted to have a normal life,” she whispered, holding back tears. 

“Michelle, being here won’t be like when we lived in Springfield. I won’t be doing anything illegal, and there won’t be bodyguards or guns or FBI raids. But we need Frederico’s protection. That’s as normal as I can offer you.”

Michelle fingered the cover of her textbook but didn’t speak.

“I’ll understand….,” Danny choked out, his own eyes beginning to tear up.

Michelle looked up at him questioningly.

“If it’s too much. If you don’t want this.” He rubbed his eyes. “If you want to leave me.”

Michelle shook her head almost frantically. “I love you Danny. I’m not leaving.”

“You don’t deserve to live this way.”

“Neither do you. But this is how things are, and I can handle it.”

“Are you sure?” 

He held his breath while he waited for her answer.

“I’m sure.” 

The End.

Author’s Note: Sorry, I know that’s a lousy place to end it, but if I didn’t end it here it probably would’ve never been posted. Especially since my computer keeps freezing up while I try to work on it. Maybe the next ficlet will be longer. One never knows. 

 

Ties That Bind: Ch. 22 by Blue Eyes

April 25, 2014
Republisher’s Note: I’m sorry, but this is a sad one. It’s also one of a group that was popular for awhile to work the Stenz actors who played Michelle and Danny, or at least their names into the story. This chapter as the best doctor being Paul Stewart.

Ties That Bind: Ch. 22 by Blue Eyes 

The suddenly stormy weather sent a flash of light streaking across the night darkened sky. It seemed almost ironic that the storm outside had erupted at almost the precise moment her own personal storm had begun to tear through her soul. The tears burning trails down her cheeks fell in sync with the drops of rain gliding down the window pane before her. Standing in front of this window now, watching the fury of nature, her mind gave her a much needed reprieve and transported her away from this night, away from this nightmare. She could go back, couldn’t she? If she just closed her eyes she could envision herself sitting on the swing in her backyard, her bare toes brushing through the lush green grass below her as she watched her children play. Their laughter echoed in her ears as their father pushed their swings higher and higher through the air. Then he was there, by her side. She could feel his warm hands encompassing hers, their fingers interlacing. So much love and passion radiated from his eyes. Those eyes. Sometimes she thinks she fell in love with his eyes long before she knew she loved him. But then again, in her heart she felt like she’d always loved him and she’ll love him forever. “till death do us part.” Her body shuddered at the memories now plaguing her mind. She could still hear his voice the day he spoke those very words to her. Their wedding day. Even then, though her head was telling her this man didn’t truly love her and she would never love him, her heart already knew. This man completed her. He was her soulmate. People search their entire lives looking for their one, but never find what they long for. She was one of the few lucky ones in this world. She found her one, her one and only forever. “till death do us part.” After all this time, after everything they had endured, everything they had fought so hard for, here they were. In some ways she felt like the same scared girl he had saved that night on the docks. That night, hearing the gun shot, then feeling her body being slammed to the ground. For several minutes, she hadn’t known whether she was dead or alive. She had felt nothing. Her body was numb. But he was there with her, whispering comforting words in her ears, assuring her that he would protect her,he would take care of her. And he did, from that moment on. And now here she stood. A little over eight years after that life altering night and she felt like no time had passed. Yet it felt like a lifetime ago. But this time he wasn’t here.”Michelle?”The strained voice calling out to her drew her back to the present, back to the reality she had been trying to escape. She felt two strong hands gently kneading the twisted muscles in her shoulders. Couldn’t she just close her eyes again and let her mind transport her back to a time when these could be her husband’s hands comforting her? Her body needed to feel his touch. Her eyes needed to see his beautiful face. Her heart needed to feel his love.”Michelle?”Reality was too strong of a pull. No matter how much she wanted to turn and run the other way, there was no escape. This was her life. This was her greatest nightmare.

“Hey, you need anything?”

Her body reluctant, she finally turned to see his eyes. Those piercing dark eyes, full of so much pain, but so much love. Those eyes, so similar to the eyes of her husband. Ray. Her husband’s beloved cousin. His best friend. The godfather to their children. She knew how much he loved Danny and she knew how much he was hurting. The pain was written all over his face.

“How are you holding up?”

She swallowed hard, trying in vain to find the air that would allow her voice to somehow find its way to the surface.

“I don’t know,” she finally managed to whispered. “I’m numb.”

“Well, that might not be such a bad thing right now,” he sighed, bowing his head. “Feeling your heart being torn in two is almost too much to bear.”

“What am I going to do, Ray?” she mumbled, her eyes staring off into the distance. “How do I do this?”

“Do what?” he questioned, his fingertips gently lifting her chin. “What do you mean?”

“How do I live?” her tortured eyes found his once again.

“You find a way,” his hands braced the sides of her face. “You look deep inside your soul and you find the strength Danny’s love gives you. You find your faith that will sustain you. And you think of those two children, those children who will forever be a part of you and a part of Danny. And you never let go.”

“Michelle.”

Her heart pounding painfully against her chest, she willed her body to move away from Ray and cross the room toward her brother. More tortured eyes showered her with sympathy and regret. She couldn’t take this anymore. Her heart literally ached with each thump. No matter where his words took her, she had to go, she had no choice.

“He’s out of surgery.” Rick looked down at her, trying to read her face to see if her mind was allowing his words to register. She finally looked up at him, her eyes pleading with him to continue. She had to know.

“The bullet didn’t pass through, so they had to go in and remove it. They also had to remove his spleen. He’s stable, but Michelle, he lost a lot of blood and he’s extremely critical. You know, you know there’s a chance…”

Her eyes were trained on his lips. She heard the words coming from his mouth, her medical training understanding every detail. How many times had she been in this kind of situation? How many times had she been the one delivering these details to a desperate family? But this was different. This time she was on the other side of the equation. This time it was someone she loved fighting for his life. This time it was the man she loved more than her own life. This time it was her life that felt like it was ending.

“Michelle?”

Their voices vibrated in her ears as her feet began to stumble backwards, moving her body away from them, back deeper into the dimly lit room. Suddenly she felt the air leaving her chest and found herself gasping for breath.

“Sit down,” Rick demanded as each man grabbed an arm and ushered her down into the cold vinyl chair by the window.

“Ican’tbreathe…”

“Lean forward and put your head down,” Rick ordered. “Now try to calm down and take a slow deep breath.”

She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block out the glare of the overhead florescent lights as the brightness coupled with her sudden lack of air made her head swim. After several minutes, she felt her lungs burning, oxygen slowing returning and her labored breathing finally eased into a steady rhythm. With some effort, she raised her body into an upright position as both men trained their worried eyes on her.

“You okay?” Ray’s voice pleaded with her.

She nodded as she turned her head back to her brother, her eyes urging him to tell her everything. Knowing her look, his shaky voice continued. Paul Stewart did the surgery, so you know Danny had the best. Paul said he would come out and talk to you in a few minutes. Danny’s still in recovery, but they will be moving him to ICU soon.

Without warning, Michelle leapt to her feet and stumbled toward the hallway. “The kids,” she muttered almost incoherently. “I need to check on the kids.”

“Wait,” Ray raced after her, his hands reaching for her trembling body. “I just talked to Abby before I came to find you and they are fine. They don’t know anything about what is going on. They think Danny’s working and you had to come in to check on a patient. Frank put a few more officers outside the house, so they’re safe. You don’t have to worry about them.”

“What about Danny?” her voice shook. “What if whoever did this to him comes back? I need to call Frank and tell him to get someone here to protect Danny.”

“He took care of that too,” Rick explained. “There is a uniformed officer who will stay with him until he gets to ICU and then he’ll guard the door. Everyone is being watched, now you just have to worry about yourself.”

“I can’t,” she shook her head vehemently. “I have to worry about my husband. I have to worry about my kids. I have to find some way to tell them what happened to their father.”

“Michelle, why don’t we wait and see what happens before you upset the kids,” Rick began.

“You mean wait and see if Danny dies?” her sharp eyes cut across the room. “No, Rachel is going to know something is wrong. She probably already knows.”

The three of them turned at the sounds of commotion coming from just down the hall.

“Where is my son? I demand to know where my son is!”

In a moment, the voice finally had a face, though Michelle had already known. She had heard that angry voice on more than one occasion. It was a voice she didn’t think she could ever forget, no matter how hard she tried.

“Carmen.”

“Michelle,” her head snapped around as she quickly closed the distance between them, Bill and Pilar quick on her heels. “Where is Daniel? Where is my son?”

Michelle was silent for a moment, not sure if her mouth could form the words to explain something to her husband’s mother, something she didn’t even understand herself. Rick, noticing her silence, took the initiative and repeated what he had told Michelle just moments earlier.

“How bad is it?” Pilar’s voice quivered.

“He’s critical,” Rick sighed, resting his hands on Michelle’s shoulders. But they did retrieve the bullet, which is good.”

“I knew something wasn’t right,” Michelle finally muttered.

“What are you talking about?” Carmen snapped.

“When Danny left the house earlier tonight something told me to not let him leave,” her voice shook. “Frank said they found him at the warehouse where Justin was held. He went there looking for answers because I was scared. I was scared they were going to come after Justin again. Why did I let him go? I should have made him stay at the house with us.”

“This is not your fault, Michelle,” Bill sighed. “Danny wanted answers and nothing you could have said would have stopped him. You had no way of knowing what was going to happen.”

“Paul,” Rick interrupted, as the young surgeon approached the group.

Michelle broke loose of the stronghold Rick and Ray held on her arms and moved closer to the newest member of the assembled group. “How is he, Paul? How’s Danny?”

Deep penetrating eyes stared back at her as he fought for the words to say. Michelle looked into his dark brown eyes and she saw it again, she saw pity and regret. She didn’t want this. She didn’t want anyones pity or sympathy. All she wanted was her husband.

“He’s being moved to ICU as we speak,” he sighed deeply. “I’m assuming Rick has already shared the information I gave him earlier. My biggest concern right now is the internal bleeding. Danny lost a lot of blood and we had to give him a number of transfusions. Unfortunately, Danny has ‘A’ negative blood type, which is rare and the blood bank is running low. So if any of you can, we really need someone to donate some of their blood.”

“I can do it,” Michelle demanded. “I’ll go down to the lab right now.”

“I will too,” Carmen interjected. “I’ll give my son whatever he needs.”

“Great,” Paul began. “Michelle, if you and Mrs. Santos will head down to the lab, I’ll call them and let them know you are on your way.”

“Okay,” she nodded. “Rick, as soon as I’m done in the lab, tell the nurses I’m going in to see him.”

“I’ll take everyone else down to the blue unit waiting room and we’ll meet you there,” he began. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay down there? You want me to come with you?”

“No,” she shook her head. “I’ll be fine. Take everyone to the waiting room and I’ll be there in a few minutes.” She turned to her silent mother-in-law. “Carmen. You ready?”

Carmen slowly nodded and followed Michelle toward the elevator. They walked in silence as they stepped through the doors that would take them down to the third floor laboratory. Carmen shifted her eyes at Michelle finding the irony in this situation. Danny had always tried to get them to do things together and now he had finally succeeded.

“Michelle,” Carmen called after her as she stepped off the elevator.

Michelle’s weary body turned to face the woman who had been the source of so much pain in her life, but who now shared an unexpected bond with her.

“I know we’ve had our differences,” she began, her voice tight with emotion as the tears pooled in the corners of her eyes. “But I love my son and I would do anything for him.”

Michelle slowly nodded her heavy head. “I know,” she whispered. “I know.”

“You go in,” she motioned with her head. “I just want to collect myself before I go in.”

Michelle nodded and pushed the heavy door open with her shoulder as Carmen watched the door close began her. Pulling her cell phone from her purse, the cold mask fell over her face once again. Her eyes scanning the hallway in front of and behind her for any sign of intruders, her fingers forcefully pushed the necessary buttons on the phone.

“Dietz,” she snapped when the other line was answered. “Where is Mick? I don’t care! You find him now. My Daniel is lying in the hospital barely hanging on. You find Mick and you tell him, he got his brother shot and it is his responsibility to take care of this matter. He knows what he has to do. And I want to see him as soon as its finished.”

Dietz assured her he would find Mick and pass along her instructions.

“You will receive justice, Danny,” she muttered into the air. “I promise you, you will. And your brother is going to be the one to give it to you.”

Celtic’s series–PG-13 Chapter 6

June 25, 2013

Republisher’s Note: This is one of my favorite chapters of the story.The underground bunker story isn’t much, but I just love the washing the car stuff.

Celtic’s series–PG-13 Chapter 6 – Spring Heat

Danny took one more look at the recent photograph of him and Michelle before touching the key in the car ignition. His mind was so cluttered, but he remembered vividly how the small of her back felt every time he pushed her on that swing. With each push, he could feel her relax more. The wall had dropped between them for a time, and he closed his eyes as he felt the warmness fill his chest. His lips moved as he envisioned the way that she had kissed him softly at first, then more needy, hungrily lustfully. The way she had pressed her chest into his, and the movement of her rib cage as she had gasped for air synchronized with his own breathing. He felt his toes curl and opened his eyes. Someone had been there. But who? He desperately searched the view in front of him through the windshield, but knew the answer didn’t lie there. He cleared his throat, threw the picture in the passenger seat, and turned the key. The engine revved, and he recklessly descended down the half mile driveway.

Within 30 seconds, he angrily punched the buttons on his cell phone and slammed in against his ear. “C’mon, c’mon.. answer the damn phone.”

A deep voice came on the other end. “Yeah?”

“Yeah, it’s me, what did you find?”

“Danny, the Boss said to keep you out of it.”

“Dietz! I don’t care what my mother said! This is my business, now tell me what you found out. You work for me, too, or have you forgotten that little detail? I can quickly remind you, you know”

“Danny, I don’t think it’s a good idea..”

“Dietz, if you want to play this way, I’m game, but I warn you, I’m not in a particularly forgiving or gracious mood.”

“Alright, Danny, just calm down, I haven’t even told the Boss yet…”

Danny cut him off. His impatience was suffocating him. “C’mon, continue, I’m en route as we speak.”

“Well, that guard didn’t amount to a whole lot more than a scared pile of shaking jelly. Wouldn’t tell me anything, just ran off, so I trailed him. Followed him into what looked like some worn out old shed and listened while he made a quick phone call”

“Shit!” Danny swore as he dodged an oncoming car. He took a second to run his clothed forearm across his forehead and repositioned the phone next to his head.

“You OK?”

“Fine! Go on!”

“Well, I don’t know who he was talking to, but Sammy’s definitely here, there’s no doubt about it. And something is going to happen at that shipment tomorrow night, I think we should call it off.”

“Why? What’s gonna happen?”

“Didn’t get the exact details, but I caught the gist that there’s going to be more in that shipment than what we’re expecting… hard stuff, Danny. We’re looking at life in the pokey with no parole if the feds show up. And I’m also sure they will.”

“OK.”

“There’s more, Danny. Nino’s name came up.”

“What? Do you think he’s in on it?”

‘No, that’s not what I gathered. Sounds more like Sammy’s trying to get Nino and his family against you more than what they are already. I think they’re gonna try and screw Nino over one more time, help him out, and in debt him even more. Then collect on that debt by helping them nail you.”

Danny felt a drop of blood trickle down his lower lip, becoming aware that he had been chewing on it. “Alright. Where are they?”

“Don’t know where Sammy is exactly, but I got a feeling that it’s close to here. About 1 mile off of 14 and 121. There’s an old silo with black graffiti sprayed all over it, you can’t miss it. Rumor has it that there’s an underground compound attached to it. If that’s true, I’d watch out for mines.”

Danny snickered. “I don’t think they’re going to give themselves away as easy as that by putting mines out to blow up and draw attention to themselves.”

“Well, be careful anyway. I gotta deal with the Boss now, she’ll kill me for talking to you.”

“Don’t worry about that, I’ll deal with my mother.”

There was a pause and Danny reached for the off button when he heard Dietz’s voice again. “Danny?”

“What?”

“There’s one more thing” he waited before going on. “The guard brought up a girl. Michelle.”

Her name rung in his ears and his foot dropped like lead onto the gas. “What about Michelle? What did he say?” Danny’s voice breached the sound barrier while the veins stood out in his neck.

“Don’t know, but they know a lot about her. The guard seems to be quite fond of that one pink frock that she wears and he likes her hair up off her neck.”

Danny felt a surge of rigidity sieze his back and neck. The car tore fish tailed around the corner 14 and 121, leaving remnants of his tires steaming in the aging afternoon sun.

Danny disconnected his recent cellular transmission and threw the phone against the glove compartment. He felt a few pieces of the broken plastic hit him in the knee, but he didn’t flinch. He ground his teeth until he felt the stinging burn swim through his jaw and dive down his neck. He swallowed, and he swore that his throat had shrunk at least two inches in diameters since this whole mess started.

The black car whipped by the tall weeded grass, sending it dancing in the abandoned whirlwind.

His eyes frantically roamed from side to side, and his mouth puckered as he caught sight of the silo Dietz was talking about. His foot finally let up on the gas, and he pulled into a cluster of trees and brush off the side of the road. He shut the ignition off, squared his shoulders, and opened the car door. Shutting the door as if it were made of tissue paper, he surveyed his surroundings and breathed in the steamy air. The Spring was amazingly warm and dry this year, and the greenery was telling on it as they hung their wilted edges in the hot breeze.

Danny shed his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt cuffs. He continued to curl his sleeves up to his elbows while scanning for a possible route to approach. He had that numb feeling, like he was standing next to himself, watching everything that was going on without being attached to it. He wiped the sweat off his lip and chin and smeared the trail that was trickling down the grooves on his neck. “OK, Santos” he shook his shoulders and began his pep talk in his head. “Get it together, you gotta find out what’s going on.” He remembered the sting of Michelle’s name out of Dietz’s mouth and his legs began to move with determination.

———————————————————————–

The wet back of Danny’s black shirt clung to his skin as he approached the silo. His now stiff curls poked him in the neck, but he paid no attention to the discomfort; he was busy observing the diagrams and encrypted messages painted on the aged sides of the silo. He felt a chill start in his flushed cheeks and descend through his body, bringing every hair to attention until it reached the bottom of his hot and aching feet. His black shoes and pants were covered with the dust of the field, and he couldn’t remember feeling so dirty since he played baseball those few summers as a kid.

He looked around him with the same carefulness as a gazelle searching for a lion hiding in the weeds. Seeing nothing, he began to circle the structure and halted when he saw the handle to a door. His pulse raced as he reached for it, but quickly slammed his body against the side of the round structure when he heard a noise from above. He breathed so slowly and quietly, that his exhalations blended in with the breeze. He squinted in the sun and gazed up above to see the source of the noise. His eyes focused on the back of a man standing at the top of the silo. He appeared to be talking into some sort of small, black wonder of the expanding technology of communication.

“Yeah, it’s clear, go ahead and send them out.” The strangers voice sounded young and strangely familiar. Danny remained plastered to the side and sucked his breath in as the door opened next to him. He squeezed behind the door and its shadow as two men emerged from the unchartered pit below. The men were in casual clothes blue jeans and white t-shirts with contemporary logos on the back. Danny reached his hand out and caught the door. In step with the men, he entered into the darkness.

The door shut behind him, and he closed his eyes, allowing for them to adjust to the dark without overtaxing them. The stale air burned his nostrils, and he slowly raised his eyelids. Scanning the view above him, there was nothing, just blackness. His eyes lowered to the floor he stood on, and honed in on lines of light coming from beneath.

As if barefoot on broken glass, he stepped lightly towards a door in the floor. He dropped to his knees and placed his ear next to the hot steel. He heard the muffle of noises moving about. He couldn’t tell how many were there, but there was more than one. The voices got softer, and he reached for the handle of door. Softly, he turned it and held his breath through the exertion of raising the heavy square.

The light escaping dried his eyes, and they once again had to refocus before he could continue. A ladder was propped against the top of the door, and Danny pivoted himself around for his feet to find the top rung.

He descended slowly, listening for any surprises. He continued on until he reached a platform and landed on it. He moved over to some boxes to the side and crouched behind them. He listened intently for movement, but there was none. Inhaling slowly, he peered around the side of one box and surveyed the room. It was crowded, and appeared to be some sort of storage room. A table stood in the center with a bunch of paper work, and with what looked like blue prints under a couple of automatic rifles in the process of being cleaned. Danny felt the jolt run through his spine as a door opened, and 3 men entered the room.

There was one blond man, and two brown haired. The blond held an apparent stance of leadership, and wore a holster across his shoulders; he was the first to speak.

“Alright, you heard the plan. Do we need to go over it again?”

The two brown haired men stared blankly forward.

“OK, tomorrow, at precisely 9:30, you two pop in on Nino and drop the bomb that Santos moved in on his shipment, increasing the weight of his own, and alerting the feds. Then tell him that Sergio thought he might want to know, and is more than happy to offer his help, Nino won’t be able to turn it down. I’m sure he’ll b-line it to the Santos’ and cause a big stink. With Danny at the docks with the shipment and the commotion, he’ll be delayed. And with Nino down Camen’s throat, I’ll have ample opportunity to get the girl. Do not, I REPEAT do not show up before 9:30. I gotta have time to distract the guards before Nino pops in. Got it?”

They nodded, not revealing if they had tongues to speak. Danny logged the entire briefing in his head, and narrowed his eyes as the door behind them opened once more.

His breath stopped on the way out as he spotted the gray eyes of the man standing there. That smirk. Never changed. Danny mused he must have been born with it.

“Got some new news, need to brief you over it. It’s about the girl.” Sammy waited for his crew to file out before following them. He turned back once more and looked around the room. He took a sniff like a predator searching out it’s prey. He sensed someone there, but just smirked and walked out. If Danny was there, then his plan could be sped up. Advantageous either way.

The door shut, and Danny’s heart jumped into his throat. Every fiber in him was tearing him into following Sammy, but he knew he had to get out of there. He had to get to Michelle and get her somewhere safe. He couldn’t care less about the shipment anymore or Nino. He had to get to Michelle. He ascended the ladder as carefully as he had come down it.

———————————————————————————————-

Carmen was sitting at the desk in the study, tapping her fingers and glaring at the unfinished paperwork left there by her son. It was late afternoon now, and he had gone out after telling her he wouldn’t. What was worse, she knew that he had spoken to Dietz. She searched her brain worriedly for a way to control her son. It was that stupid girl. He wouldn’t’ be acting so crazy if she weren’t here. “Just how can I get rid of her?” She leaned her head back against the black swivel chair. “Oh, I guess I have more immediate problems now. I can deal with her later. There will be much time for that.”

Her eyes sprung open when she heard the front door slam. Hurried footsteps ran up the stairs, and a moment later, they came back down just as quickly. A soaked and worn Danny ran into the room, tracking dust and broken off grass onto the carpet. Carmen looked him up and down.

“Danny! What’s going on? Why do you look like this? Just what did you do? Why did you-”

“Not now, Mother. Where’s Michelle? I need to talk to her. NOW. She’s not in our room, where is she? Did she go somewhere? I need to find her-”

“Danny calm down, and tell me what’s going on.” Carmen stood up and pleaded with her son.

“No, not now. Where’s Michelle? Do you know where she is?” There was a panic-stricken look in his eyes, and it scared his mother.

“She’s fine, Danny. She woke up a few hours ago, and decided she needed to enjoy the weather some. If you can believe it, she’s out at the garage helping the attendants wash the cars.”

Danny was taken aback. “Washing cars?” He repeated his mother’s words, letting them sink in. Once they registered, he flew back out the door just as quickly as he had come in.

———————————————————————————————-

He ran with his stiff clothes scratching his skin to the garage, silently cursing the contractor that had planned their estate with all the buildings so far away from each other.

The cars came into view, and a soft rhythm filled the air and tickled his ear drums. As he came closer, the music became louder and he could make out the forms before him.

The two attendants were sitting in chairs laughing. When they saw Danny, they jumped up and grabbed their towels. “Hey, guys, where’s Michelle? My mother said she was out here.”

He jumped when a drop of water hit him on the nose. Then another, then on in his eye. Soon, there was a steady stream of water droplets showering his head and body. He stepped aside and wiped the water out of his eyes and looked toward the source of the shower. He saw the stream coming from the hose that his wife was using to wash the top of their black mustang off. She looked over and saw her wet husband as gasped.

“Oh! I’m sorry! I didn’t see you there.”

He couldn’t help it, the corners of his mouth curled. He gained his composure, and looked back at the attendants. “Um, ah-hem, guys, why don’t you go take a break. I need to speak to my wife.” The attendants dutifully obeyed and bowed out of sight.

He looked back at Michelle, her hair flying in the breeze with a touch of sun kiss in the strands. The knots in his muscles untied long enough for him to walk to her side of the car, but became taught once again when he caught sight of all of her.

She stood there, in a short pair of cut off jean shorts and in nothing else but a baby blue bikini top, strategically placed to cover the ‘must be covered’ parts. His eyes traced her form, the slight pinkness of her shoulders and arms from the sun, her soft belly and navel. He continued down her legs to her pink painted toenails.

“Uh, Danny? Do you need something?” Her words pulled his eyes to her face once again. It was her turn to look him over. “You look awful. Is everything OK?” The madness from earlier that morning and afternoon faded. He had obviously just been through something.

He shook her question off. “Um, I’m fine. I just needed to” Her eyes caught his and he lost his words. She looked right into him and he couldn’t lie to her. His tongue swelled in the heat and dryness of the atmosphere. He crossed his arms and smiled. “Well, I didn’t exactly expect to be shot with a hose, you know.”

She laughed. “Well, you shouldn’t sneak up on people like that.” Her lips played and danced on her face as she chuckled.

He pulled the front of his shirt up and down, fanning it to get some air to his suffocating skin. “It’s so hot today. I can’t believe this weather.” He flashed a quick smile at her and his teeth gleamed in the sun. “Actually the water felt nice.”

Michelle pointed the hose at him again. “Well, I can always give an encore performance.” She flashed his smile right back at him. “Well, if you don’t tell me what’s going on, that is.”

He threw his hands up to the side. “No, that’s alright. Everything’s fine, don’t worry. I, uh, just felt bad about my behavior before and I wanted to apologize. There’s no reason for me to take my stresses out on you. Forgive me?”

She cocked her head to the side. “Oh, I suppose. But you know, if you talked to be ABOUT your stresses, you wouldn’t have to take them out on me.”

They smiled at each other for a minute. Danny glanced at the top of the car she was working on. “Your soap’s drying.” He motioned to the car.

“Oh, I better get back to work.” She smiled, and his heart rate slowed and sped up again.

“Need some help?”

She looked at him. “Sure, but you might want to change first. You and that black. No wonder you’re hot.”

He looked down at himself for the first time that day. The sweat stains created a white water mark halfway down the sides of his shirt, and his black pants were covered with brown dust and flecks of green grass. He looked back up at her with a defeated smile. “Guess I’m a mess, huh?”

She nodded and chuckled slightly before she turned back to rinsing the car off. Danny looked back down at himself, but decided there was a much nicer view in front of him. He traced the arch of Michelle’s back as her small frame struggled to rinse off the entire top of the car. The tie on her back that held her top on dangled against her skin, and he couldn’t help but notice how it had almost come undone. He raised his hand to the top bottom of his shirt and eagerly began ripping at it. He successfully discarded the rigid shirt onto the ground and kicked off his shoes and socks. His feet sighed at the relief and took deep breaths of the fresh air exposed to them. He bent down and rolled the cuffs of his pants up, and walked into the warm, soapy water running down the pavement.

Reaching into the bucket of soapy water, Danny pulled out a sponge and walked to the back of the car. He began lathering the trunk, and continued to wipe in the same circle for 5 minutes while staring at his wife hard at work. Every movement she made was mesmerizing. The intensity of the afternoon evacuated his mind, and he was completely caught up in the intensity radiating off the creature before him. His jaw dropped slightly, and he could feel the heat on his tongue.

She was busy washing the windshield and hood. She was just short enough that she practically had to lay on the hood to reach across it. Her torso disappeared behind the window frame, and Danny’s eyes watched, captivated, as her lower half raised up in the air, feet coming off the ground.

Danny continued to lather that same spot, unaware that he was about to wear a hole in the paint. Michelle’s legs seemed to be in slow motion, moving ever so slightly as she balanced herself.

The music playing in the background became louder, and the words barely registered in Danny’s head.

“Heart in my mouth
Pulse in my head
Mercury risin’ into the red
The smell of her skin
Can light up all the fires in me

Hungry to touch
I’m eager to please
Out of control
And I hand you the keys
Every night I am burning to make love to you”

Michelle came down off the hood, and motioned to Danny that she was ready to water it down. He stood back, and watched as she aimed the hose at the car. Her shoulders jerked back slightly from the pressure, and he felt himself walking towards her.

“But don’t try to tell me
You think it’s all physical
It goes much deeper than that
You oughtta know

It’s an affair of the heart
It’s an affair of the heart
It’s an affair of the heart
Have a little blind faith in me
It’s an affair of the heart”

His breath became shaky as he felt her hair blow in his face. He reached up and stroked it out of his eyes. He leaned forward, and could feel her body temperature on his bare chest. He closed his eyes and took in the scent of her.

“When we make love
It’s a passionate thing
You shudder and shake
Sink you teeth in my skin
I almost believe you were made
To be plagued by my heart

You got the power
It amazes me still
And you play my emotions
With consummate skill
I don’t have to look any further
Than into your eyes”

His hands pressed on her back, and she jumped, sending water flying into the air and sprinkling down back onto both of their heads. It was cold, and sent goose bumps trailing down both of their skins.

She looked at him embarassed and dropped her head, but her eyes stuck on his chest before her. His breathing was slow and deep, he labored to control it. He felt her eyes on him, and the goose bumps came back. Her lips curled as she saw the minute peaks emerge all over his chest, and his hardened nipples led her into trance, as the words of the music filled her head.

“So don’t try to tell me you think
It’s all physical
It goes much deeper than that
You better know

It’s an affair of the heart
It’s an affair of the heart
It’s an affair of the heart
Have a little blind faith for me
It’s an affair of the heart

Hey-”

The music faded, and Danny placed his hand under Michelle’s chin and raised her face to meet his. She grabbed hold of his arms to steady herself, and the hose dropped to the ground, once again sending water droplets into the air. The pain and worry she had first seen in his face a few minutes ago was gone, and that gentle look was back; it caressed her spirit.

“You’re coming undone.” His voice was deeper with this statement, and she felt her knees wobble. His hands slid up her back, jolting every vertebrae on its journey, and she felt him tug at the strings to her top.

She gasped as she felt him untie her bow, and the cloth over her breasts loosened. She could exhale, but her throat was to constricted to bring any air in. His hands flattened against her back, and she could feel the warmth of his entire palm circling her spine. She pressed her chest into his, and laid her hands on his chest, the bumps on his skin buffing her palms. Her fingers bent, and her nails pressed into his flesh.

Danny’s hands came around front and rubbed her exposed belly. His index finger circled her navel and sent a shiver through her. Michelle was unable to move. She felt the desperate need well up inside of her the need of something to happen the wanting, yearning. She couldn’t pull away. The sun in the sky was relentlessly hot, but they both stood there shaking from the chills.

Danny placed his face along her collarbone, and peered down her bare back. He slid his hands back up along her spine and smashed her into him. “No one is ever going to hurt you, Michelle.”

The utterance caught her by surprise. “What do you mean, Danny? I don’t think you’re going to hurt me.”

He pulled away slightly, and she felt the strings of her top tighten again. “Danny? What’s wrong?”

He looked at her and smiled. “Nothing. Nothing at all. We’re getting out of here.”

“What do you mean?”

He picked up his shoes and tucked his wadded shirt underneath his arm. He took her arm by his free hand and tugged.

“Danny-”

“Just trust me, Michelle. If there is ever any time that you need to trust me, it’s now. We’re getting out of here. I need to talk to you.”

She shrugged her shoulders and followed him through the soapy puddles.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 60

August 9, 2012

Republisher’s Note: Danny is fighting for his life in a hospital while Albert figures out what’s been going on.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 60

Carmen was still sitting perplexed blankly staring when Ben entered the room bottle of champagne in one hand and two crystal glasses in the other.

“I thought you wanted to celebrate?” he said gathering from the picture before him the tide had changed but again, “Carmen!” his voice resonated in her ears but never elicited response.

Suddenly the harsh reality of Jenny’s words were ringing true. Danny had been shot; Danny could die, a single tear made a track down her cheek. Ben stood in awe of the first true emotional display, other then rage, that he had been witness to. An immediate wave of cold fell over him. He couldn’t place the change but this was different and he couldn’t help but wonder just what it all might mean for him. He had wormed his way into the belly of the beast so to speak but abruptly he wondered if he would be its final meal.
Carmen sat silently wringing her hands, knowing that Ben sat on the edge of his seat wondering and waiting for her to speak but her mouth was too dry to do so. This was not the way things were to have played out.

The sweet tones of her once mothering voice took up residence in her brain. Magically she found herself thrown back in time, to the day Danny had been born. In slow motion she played frame after frame of his childhood. How inquisitive he was as a toddler always searching for something or wanting to learn something new. She had never been able to keep up with him. Carmen recalled how proud he was of himself the day he had won the elementary school spelling bee. ‘Mama, mama! I beat them all even the sixth graders!’ Carmen heard his voice as plain as if he had been standing right beside her now. ‘I know mijo, you are my smart one. You are going to grow into a smart, handsome man one day,’ Carmen even saw herself leaning in to kiss his head full of chocolate curls.
Where had that adoration she felt for him changed? Where did she suddenly see all her children as a means to an end? At the moment she couldn’t put her finger on it. It had just happened. She wanted to delude herself into believing it had taken place without her knowledge but even in her altered state her head and most definitely her heart wasn’t buying it.

“Carmen,” Ben’s voice again pricked at her.

“Yes?” she returned.

“What happened?”

“Daniel’s been shot.” The calm way she spoke startled him. There were no hysterics, no tears nothing. Her words were so devoid of any and all emotion that Ben found them eerie.

“Shot?”

“Yes.”

“By who?”

“I don’t know.”

“Carmen,” Ben said the panic that should have been Carmen’s was now his.

“What?”

“Is he alive?” Ben choked on the words.

“For now.”

“What are you going to do?”

“About?”

“ABOUT!?!?!”

“Yes?” Carmen said still lost in her dream state of days of yore. The frames had now toggled to scenes of her and Miguel bringing Pilar home and how much Danny loved his baby sister. She was still so desperately searching for the point in time when she ceased being a mother.

“DANNY’S THREAT!!!!” Ben’s voice rose an octave imagining how the fall out from all of this would ultimately effect him.

“What about it?”

“WHAT ABOUT IT!?!?!?!” Ben placed his face in hers probing her eyes for the remnants of the woman who only moments before had been Carmen Santos. Whoever had now taken up residence in her body didn’t understand the gravity of the things going on around her.

“Yes?” she said as she continued to watch the rerun of her life play out in her mind.
It was then that the scene she had waited for scrolled forward. It should have been an unheard conversation, however that hadn’t been the case. She had listened to Richard arguing with his father. Unhappy about the place that both men possessed within the family ranks. She heard the young man’s angry voice rattle off things like they should have been more then just killing machines; Miguel was using them to do his dirty work; why wasn’t it his father who had the power. Carmen could see Richard’s face as plain as day. At that moment in time was when she envisioned a threat to her family. And threats weren’t something that Carmen took lightly.

“CARMEN!!!!!!!!!” Ben’s angry voice forced her to stop reliving things that she had no control to change any longer.

“WHAT?!?!” she spat the Carmen that Ben knew had returned front and center.

“What the hell’s going on in that head of yours?!?!”

“Damage control.”

“Are you sure? For a minute there it looked like you were lost in a purple haze.”

“I was waging my plan of attack.”

“That means you have one?” Ben wasn’t so sure he was buying this just yet. Minutes ago she looked like a woman shell-shocked and now she was again the commander in charge. Ben felt as if she was walking the razor’s edge of sanity.

“Don’t I always?” she countered.

Ben raised his brows but said nothing. In the months that he had come to be a part of this organization, he had serious doubts about Carmen and her abilities. There were times he even found himself wondering if the others on the commission had the right idea about her from the get go, but for now he played along.

“That you do,” he smiled at his own private thoughts.

“We need to get to Texas right away.”

“But I thought you said………”

“Forget what I said,” she cut him short, “The rules have changed again,” she sighed, “I need to see my son.”

“More damage control, I take it?”

“Yes. I most certainly can’t have Daniel die,” Ben waited to hear any remorse at that word, but there was none, “without gaining control of the information I need.”

“What are you expecting to happen when you get there?” Ben questioned.

“I will get the information I need to put a stop all of this once and for all!”

“Oh really?” Ben suppressed a laugh.

“Either way I intend on remaining in my rightful place at the head of the table. Now pack your bag and be ready to leave for the airport in the hour!” she ordered.

“What about having someone stay behind to mind the store?” Ben said half-joking half-serious. Texas was the last place he wanted to be.

Carmen hadn’t divulged much of the story as to how Danny ended up getting shot in the first place. He couldn’t squash the feeling that the information that he had provided Carmen about Michelle Bauer had something to do with it all. He certainly couldn’t take the chance of showing up there and having her recognize him. That would lead to his head being on the chopping block as quick as hers. That was even if she was still alive.

“If we don’t get to Texas now!” she barked, “There won’t be a damn store to mind.”

“But Carmen what about what you said about Bernardo and the others. Don’t you think that it will raise their suspicions if both of us go? I mean we both know very well that none of them respect me. Wouldn’t it be better for me to stay behind?” Ben was pulling out all the stops. He would say just about anything not to have to go to Texas with her.

“Nothing will look out of the ordinary. For god sakes my son has been shot. He could die!” This was the first time that Ben heard her voice falter when she said that word. “I don’t think any of them would question my taking you with me. Now go get packed. We don’t have much time!” she ordered again.

Reluctantly Ben made his way out of the room feeling sicker to his stomach with each step he took.


Jenny looked up and was shocked at the faces that looked back at her. They were faces that she had never seen more then once or twice at meetings of the respective families that were passed off as family gatherings.

“Hello Jenny, you remember my son Nino?” Bernardo asked coming forward.

“Yes,” she said hearing her voice shake as she spoke.

“We heard the news about Daniel. How is he?”

“In surgery. Everything is pretty much still unknown at the moment.”

“We understand that Daniel was here because of some family business.” Bernardo would have preferred to speak with Albert but from the look on her face he knew that time was of the essence.

“Excuse me?” Jenny suddenly felt the panic rising into her chest.

“Carmen said that Danny’s here looking for Mick’s killer.” Nino spoke before forgetting that they were not alone in the room. The adrenaline that coursed through his body got the better of him as it always did.

“Nino!” his father growled looking directly at the timid girl who was now cowering behind Jenny.

“Sorry,” was all Nino could muster.

“Where is Albert?” Bernardo asked cursing himself for bringing his son in the first place.

“He had something to attend to at the club,” Jenny said squeezing Michelle’s shaking hand. She had no idea how much these two knew about Michelle and her role in the whole mess, but it looked like she was about to find out. She gathered her strength and continued, “Bernardo, I would like you to meet Melanie Branson. She is Danny’s girlfriend.” Jenny held her breath watching and waiting for the man’s reaction.

“Nice to meet you Melanie,” he reached for her trembling hand, “Daniel is a strong man. He will pull through this,” he said thinking that her tremors were more of fear of Danny’s condition then what was truly behind them.

“Why are you here?” Jenny finally said.

“Many reasons,” Bernardo began, “But the most important one is Daniel. I wanted to see him. Since his father died he has been like a son to me. I couldn’t think of any place I should be other then here.”

Jenny held her tongue. There were so many things that she wanted to say to this vile man standing before her, but she thought better of it. There were far too many variables and far too many lives at stake in this game.

Joe rounded the corner and nearly dropped the cups of coffee he was carrying. He knew in his gut he should have never left them alone. He had let Jenny talk him into believing that they would be fine in his absence. Currently from where he was standing that certainly didn’t appear to be the case. Jenny was doing her best to be the strong one but it was the look on Michelle’s face that troubled him the most. She was petrified. It was written over every part of her body. In haste he dropped the cups on the counter and pulled out his phone to call Albert. He didn’t know what else he could do.

“WHAT!?!?!” Albert’s voice barked at him.

“I think we have trouble,” Joe said meekly in comparison to that voice that met his ear.

“Trouble??? What do you mean by trouble? Is Danny’s mother there?”

“No, but there are two men here.”

“Men?” Albert searched the archives of his mind to put his finger on who Joe could have been talking about. For at the moment he was so over wrought with the things he had just read he couldn’t think straight.

“Yeah an older gentleman, well maybe not old. I would say about your age he looks serious in command and a young guy’s maybe a little older then Danny he seems like a punk with a lot of swagger. Michelle looks like she scared out of her mind…………….”

“And Jenny? How is my wife?” Albert’s words caught in his throat. The description was now bringing forth who was standing with Jenny and Michelle.

“She is holding her own. I just didn’t know what to do.”

“You did the right thing. I will be there momentarily. All I want you to do is follow Jenny’s lead.”

“Huh?”

“Joe, those men well the older one, is part of The Commission……..”

“Commission?” Joe questioned.

“Never mind, all you need to know is that they are part of the world that wasn’t too happy that Danny decided to form a life outside of the one that they wanted for him. Jenny knows these men, so trust me when I say follow her lead until I can get there.”

“Whatever you say, Albert. I will do my best.”

“Good man, just be sure to let Jenny know I am on my way.”

“Will do.”

Albert sat back against the cool leather of his chair running his hands endlessly over his wary face. Why were Bernardo and Nino in Texas? He couldn’t believe that they had come at Carmen’s request. He wondered exactly how much they really knew with regards to Michelle and her role in the Santos family. Then there was the ever present question did Bernardo have any clue as to the things that he held in his hands. Had he been party to the things that Dietz had been?

Albert wouldn’t entertain such thoughts. Bernardo had been like a brother to he and Miguel. He couldn’t wrap his mind around such thoughts. It couldn’t be possible. Bernardo would have never been party to such an act, but maybe his being in Texas would come in handy after all.


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