Posts Tagged ‘Sam Dietz’

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.;-) (Chapter 1) (Chapter 2) (Chapter 3) (Chapter 4) (Chapter 5) (Chapter 6) (Chapter 7) (Chapter 8) (Chapter 9) (Chapter 10) (Chapter 11) (Chapter 12) (Chapter 13) (Chapter 14) (Chapter 15) (Chapter 16) (Chapter 17) (Chapter 18) (Chapter 19) (Chapter 20) (Chapter 21) (Chapter 22) (Chapter 23) (Chapter 24) (Chapter 25) (Chapter 26) (Chapter 27) (Chapter 28) (Chapter 29) (Chapter 30) (Chapter 31) (Chapter 32) (Chapter 33) (Chapter 34) (Chapter 35) (Chapter 36) (Chapter 37) (Chapter 38) (Chapter 39) (Chapter 40) (Chapter 41) (Chapter 42) (Chapter 43) (Chapter 44) (Chapter 45) (Chapter 46) (Chapter 47) (Chapter 48) (Chapter 49) (Chapter 50) (Chapter 51) (Chapter 52) (Chapter 53) (Chapter 54) (Chapter 55) (Chapter 56) (Chapter 57) (Chapter 58) (Chapter 59) (Chapter 60) (Chapter 61)

Chapters 61 and 62 are identical. (Chapter 63) (Chapter 64) (Chapter 65) (Chapter 66) (Chapter 67) (Chapter 68) (Chapter 69)

Archived Links Version

This version is incomplete, but with many of the chapters
The second link takes you to all the chapters. (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.”


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.


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.


“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.


“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.”


“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?”


“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


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.


“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.



“By who?”

“I don’t know.”

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


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

“For now.”

“What are you going to do?”



“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.”


“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.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 58

August 7, 2012

Republisher’s Note: Danny is fighting for his life.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 58

Albert’s surprise at the voice that met his ear was written over the features of his face. Quickly he did his best to hide his astonishment knowing full well that the rules of this game had been changed forever by Michelle’s admission of her part in Mick’s death. The once skewed image now had the clarity he needed. His only concern at the moment was how much did this person know and how was he to stop the domino effect of events that was certain to unfold.

“Hey, are you still there?” the voice on the other end of the line questioned.

“Yes, yes I am here. What is it you want?”

“A clear conscience.” Albert had a difficult time believing those words. They were such the opposite of all the things he knew to be true.

“Some how I doubt that,” he countered, “What’s this really all about?” Albert asked again.

“I hear you have had some trouble in your neck of the woods,” the voice said stating the obvious.

“Depends on how you define trouble,” Albert returned not letting himself be baited into this apparent trap.

“It’s all over the news that Danny’s been shot,” he answered putting the first layer of his blueprint in motion.

Albert felt his mouth go dry at that admission. Right now he needed to bring his plan of action into focus. If news of Danny’s shooting had reached him then Albert was certain the others wouldn’t be far behind.

He looked at Michelle as she stood quietly looking out the window. His thoughts were drawn as to how to protect her and his wife from the mass destruction that was soon to follow. Fifteen years to be out of the business was a long time, and at the moment the things that had been instilled in him long ago were not readily returning at the pace he had hoped.

“Did you hear me?” the voice prodded.

“Of course I heard you! So what if it has?” Albert barked.

“Just thought you might need some help.”

“Not from the likes of you,” he shot back not caring what his brother had said about this man. Albert hadn’t trusted him all those years ago and he had no intention of starting now.

“Don’t be so quick to cut me loose,” the voice offered sensing Albert’s hesitancy.

“What is it you think that you can do for me?” Albert scoffed.

“As well as you can do for me,” he countered.

“I should have known.”

“In exchange for the information that I have. Information I might add that you would find very useful in your upcoming battle,” the voice said in an all-knowing tone, “All I want is for you to make me disappear.”

“OH I CAN MAKE YOU DISAPPEAR ALL RIGHT!!!!” Albert remarked in a foreboding manner.

“That’s not exactly how I meant it,” the man countered reading the signals in Albert’s voice.

“Then what did you mean?”

“I was thinking a nice little island in the tropics and enough money to live out my golden years in the style to which I have grown accustomed to……………..”

“Excuse me?!?!?”

“That’s right, I will fade into the hoards of tourists and become nothing more then a face among the crowd.”

Albert looked over again at Michelle knowing that she thought she had been doing the very same thing, yet he was more certain than ever that you can’t escape no matter how hard the attempt may be.

“And exactly how do you plan on doing this vanishing? You of all people know that you can’t just walk away!”

“Oh but I can,” the voice countered confidently.

“How so?” Albert asked.

“The information that I have to offer will ensure that I walk away unscathed.”

“Over confident aren’t we?” Albert joked thinking to himself that this man had truly lost what little marbles he had to begin with. When you were dealing with Carmen no one walked away unharmed; not her family and certainly not some hired hand.

“I would have to disagree. If you understood the weight of the information I have then you would not doubt me so.”

“Then for god sakes let’s have it!!!” Albert growled tired of this conversation. If it hadn’t been for this nagging voice in the back of his mind he would have ended this some time ago.

“Not so fast my friend………..”

“Let’s get one thing straight,” Albert forced, “I’m NOT your friend!”

“Fine but there is still the matter of my terms for my knowledge.”

“And what makes you think that I even trust you? How do I know this isn’t some elaborate ruse to destroy Danny’s life further?” Albert wasn’t about to put anything past this vile group.

“I have been a loyal employee for years………….”

Albert cut him off, “Loyal to no one but yourself! I was the only one that you couldn’t fool. So forgive me if I am having a hard time believing you are now thinking about someone other then yourself! Besides you don’t give a damn about Danny!”

“That’s not true!” the voice countered.

“ENOUGH!!!!” Albert’s voice rose in caliber catching Michelle’s attention. She turned to watch him as he continued speaking into the phone, “I don’t give a damn what it is you think you have that could be of some help to me. I don’t want help from the likes of you………..”

“Not even if it concerns your son and brother’s murders?”

Albert was stunned into silence. The words son and brother’s murders bounced about his mind.


“I thought that might get your attention. So you ready to deal or not?” he asked realizing he finally had him right where he wanted, needed him to be.

“What is it you want?” Albert whispered still uncertain of the believability of it all.

“Some fake ID papers and enough money so I never so much as have to think about the Santos family again.”

“And if I don’t agree?”

“Then seems to me that the murders of your brother and son will forever remain a mystery,” the voice cackled.

Albert lowered himself onto the stiff vinyl sofa and thought about the pact he was just about to make with the devil’s advocate. Once more that nagging voice at the back of his mind came forward. It was a feeling that he couldn’t shake; a sensation that he needed to find out what this man had to tell him. That somehow, someway it would be the key to some of the many gates that imprisoned all of them.

“Tell me what you know.”

“Not until we negotiate a deal,” the man said not ready to divulge anything without a guarantee for himself that he would get the things that he wanted, hell needed, to stay alive..

“THE ONLY DEAL YOU ARE GOING TO GET IS THIS!!” Albert roared, “You will get nothing until I am assured that this so called ‘information’ that you claim to have is real.”

“Oh it’s real all right!”

“Not a cent until then. Now start talking or the deal’s off!”

Albert listened intently to the tale that was laid out before him. He felt the bile rise in his throat as the horrific information was told to him. He reached for the arm of the sofa to steady himself as tremors of anger over took his body. He heard of how he had been robbed of first his son and then his brother. The finely woven web was mystifying but in an odd way so believable. All his life he had been taught to believe in a system, a code and in one sentence all that had been shattered. Absently he wondered if his father had been rolling over in his grave all this time at the mockery that had been made of an institution that he had held sacred in his day.

The story that had just been laid before him would have never been in the days of old, when men like his father and the father’ of the other men that now sat in their seats at the table ruled supreme. This debauchery would have been cut at the knees before it had ever gotten so far.

“Well?!?!” the anxious voice on the other end of the phone prodded.

“I need more then just your word of this. I need proof.”

“I am your proof. I was there. I was witness to it all.”

“And now you expect to be rewarded for your efforts?!?!” Albert raged thinking that the blood of his son and brother were on this man’s hands as well.

“I just want what is coming to me.”

“And so you shall have it.” Albert said making a mental note that he was still a Santos and all those years of dispensing Santos justice were quickly returning.

“So then we have a deal?”

“I want proof first.”

“I don’t have proof per say. Just my word.”

“A smart man like you must have some proof or you wouldn’t have put yourself out there like this. I WANT IT!!!!!” Albert seethed.

“Well there might be some,” the voice relented knowing that he wasn’t going to get what he was after without making this concession.

“I WANT IT!!!”

“And what… want me to walk it on over to you?” the angry voice countered.

“Use the wonders of modern technology man.”


“Fax them to me.”

“You are kidding right?” the voice laughed, “You want me to just walk in and say here’s these papers with information regarding two mob murders could you please send them out?”


“You are nuts you know that?”


“What about my money and papers?”

“You will have that but not until after I make sure that you aren’t trying to pull a fast one.”


“And if you aren’t then you have nothing to worry about, right?”

“Where should I send the papers too?”

“981-555-1498, that’s the fax in my club office. You call me on this same number the minute that you have sent it and we will then discuss your monetary arrangements. Understood?!?!”

“Fine,” the voice said reluctantly.

Albert ended the conversation before the man could say anymore. He leaned back in the sofa running his hands over his stubbled face. If what he had been told was in fact true then all those around him were in danger.

“Albert?” Michelle questioned as she came to sit beside him, “Is everything all right?”

“It will be. I need you to stay with me or Joe at all times. Do you understand?”

“What’s the matter? I thought you said I would be safe with you?” Michelle picked up on his fear instantly.

“You are, but for the time being I need to be sure that it stays that way.”

“Albert, you are scaring me.”

“I don’t mean to, but right now we can’t take any chances.”

“What’s going on?”


Michelle starred intently at his eyes blazing with fury. The security that she had felt just a half-hour earlier was now evaporating like the morning haze in the heat of the rising sun.

Albert motioned to Joe as he and Michelle entered the room. Danny had said all along he had felt a kinship to this man and Albert was about to test that.

“Yes,” Joe said as he came to stand before him.

“Can I trust you?”

“Of course.”

“No, I mean really trust you?”

“Yes,” Joe said again perplexed at Albert’s change in demeanor.

“Michelle and my wife could be in danger.”

“Michelle?” Joe questioned unsure of who he was speaking of.

“Her,” Albert pointed to where the girl Joe knew only as Melanie Branson stood.

“Melanie?” he quizzed utterly confused.

“Yes, but her name is really Michelle Bauer.”


Albert shook his head understanding Joe’s confusion but not really needing it, “Michelle,” he called to her.

“Michelle?” the group said almost in unison.

“Seems like I have some explaining to do,” she said walking towards Albert.

“I think we both do,” Albert added, “Please everyone,” he motioned to the seats around the table in the corner of the room. Albert looked down at the half-completed puzzle and mused at how apropos the image was.

“Albert?” Jenny asked sensing the hardness that filled her husband’s frame, “What is it?”

“Michelle would you like me to try to explain all of this?”

“No…. I think that I better,” she offered wanting all those around her to understand that she hadn’t deceived them intentionally. She needed them to realize how much they had all come to mean to her. How they were suddenly more like family to her then those she left behind.

“Well then let me at least lay the groundwork,” he said.

“Albert?” Jenny questioned as every hair on the back of her neck stood at attention.

“It’s going to be all right,” he assured, “I can promise you that.”

He touched his wife’s hand gently doing his best to allay her apparent fears. If the information he had just been fed was truly real then this was all about to be over.

“Could someone please tell us what the hell’s going on here?” Matt asked. He had long grown tired of all of the confusion going on around them.

“We are just about to do that, son,” Albert said, “First let me say that this young woman sitting before you, no matter whether you think of her as Melanie or Michelle, there is no denying the wonders that she has brought to each of our lives since her arrival in Texas. And like she, Jenny and I aren’t who you believe us to be. If you only think of a person by name alone.”

“Come again,” Matt countered feeling as though this was getting more convoluted rather then clear.

“My true name is Albert Santos. I was once part of a great crime family in the Midwest……………………..”

“What,” he heard Sarah gasped as she backed away from the table.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said, “It’s been a long time since I have had any contact with that way of life. After the tragedy of losing my son,” Albert did his best not to choke on the words. Knowing now that his son’s death was even more senseless then he had once thought, “Jenny and I left that way of life and came here to start over.”

“The Santos family is from Springfield,” Michelle added, “That’s where I am from………………”

“Then you knew each other?” Joe questioned.

“Not really. I didn’t know any of them….well except for Mick.”

“Mick?” Jenny found her voice squeak as she spoke.

“Yes,” she said turning to look at Danny’s aunt, “I was the one responsible for his death……….”

“What?!?!” Sarah gasped again.

Michelle turned to look at her friend silently praying to be given the chance to make this all clear finally.

Between she and Albert they intertwined the threads that made up this elaborate blanket of lies, while the group sat quietly their own thoughts running rampant.

“So you didn’t know who Danny was?” Sarah asked as she tried to get a handle of the bizarre nature of this as a whole.


“That’s unbelievable.”

“I know,” was all Michelle was able to offer. It was that, unbelievable. She hadn’t believed in fate until now, but suddenly that was the only plausible explanation she could come up with.

“But who shot Danny?” Joe piped in.

“A federal agent assigned to protect Michelle. Apparently he believed she was in danger.”

“In danger?” Joe echoed, “From who? Danny?”


“I don’t get it. He loves her.”

Albert shook his head at the little most people understood about the mob. Love played little or no role in the natural order of things. Danny’s mother had been a true testament to that concept.

Albert had been witness to one event that would forever stand out in his memory, at times even more so then the death of his own son.

He watched as childhood friend Dominique Russo put a gun to his wife’s head and took her out without a moments thought on his part. She had been disloyal to his family; had inadvertently said an innocent remark to the wife of a rival family in passing and Dominique’s family had lost a vital territory. The young girl hadn’t any idea that she was doing. To her it had been nothing more than bragging about the man she loved more then life itself.

Albert watched as the tears rolled down Dom’s face as he pulled the trigger. In his heart Albert knew that he loved this beautiful creature; he had watched him pursue her relentlessly until she finally agreed to go on a date with him. He had been the best man at their wedding. He saw the love in their eyes as they exchanged vows that day. But none of that mattered. In the grand scheme of things loyalty was far more important them love, but how was he to explain that to this man.

“Some times that doesn’t matter.”

“So what you are trying to tell me that Danny would have killed her?” he said not believing the words as they fell from his lips.

“NO!!!!!!!” Michelle, Albert and Jenny said together.

“What then?”

“I don’t know how to make you understand,” Albert said honestly, “If circumstances were different, if Danny was a different man then I would say yes, he would have avenged his brother’s death by killing Michelle……………….”

“That’s barbaric!!” Sarah shouted.

“Yes it is,” Albert offered, “But it’s a way of life that has been instilled for generations now.”

“Then what makes you think that Danny is any different?” Matt asked.

“He is,” Jenny spoke up, “He came here looking to make a life outside of the violence that took his cousin, his father and his brother. I can’t explain why we know, we just know.”

“So I have been working for the Mob all these years?” Joe asked.

“No!” Albert stated. “My brother, Danny’s father, let me walk away fifteen years ago when my son was killed. I came here looking for the very things that Danny did. I was lucky enough to find them. I just want Danny to have that same opportunity.”

“He has,” Matt said, “He’s running the club, he has a beautiful girlfriend who loves him. He did it, didn’t he?”

“Not quite. Certain things are expected of Danny back in Springfield. I don’t need to go into all the details but let’s just say that his unexpected departure has angered the powers that be.”

“Are we in danger?” Sarah whispered.

The ringing of Albert’s cell phone interrupted the conversation, “Excuse me. Hello…….yes………I need a number where I can reach you…….not to worry……if what you have to show me is true…….I promise to handle this personally.” Albert looked up to see all eyes resting on him. “I have to go to the club for a while.”

“What?” Jenny said sensing immediately that Albert had been talking to one of them.

“I have something that needs to be taken care of. It won’t take long.”

“Albert?!?!” Suddenly Jenny’s long standing order of burying her head in the sand was no longer an option. She sensed that their lives were about to change forever.

“Jenny,” he took her hand in his, “I have to do this. Please understand.”

“I want to………….”

“Are we in danger???” Matt forced, “I think we have a right to know!!!”


“Albert?” Jenny looked at him not believing him.

“If what I am about to uncover is the truth we won’t be the ones in danger.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Matt questioned again not feeling that he was getting any answers though.

“Joe,” Albert said addressing him again.


“I asked you before if I could trust you. After all that you have heard, can I?”


“Then I need you to be on the look out for Danny’s mother. Jenny knows who she is. I want you to be sure that you keep Michelle out of sight. I don’t have all the answers yet but my gut is telling me that Carmen knows who she is and unlike Danny, she wouldn’t hesitate to avenge her son’s death.”

“You can count on me.”

“Danny told me that as well. The rest of you,” he said turning to Matt and Sarah, “I know how much you want to wait for the outcome of Danny’s surgery but I need for the least people here the better. I have to be honest with you all, I have no idea what’s going to happen and I don’t want either of you to be caught in the middle of a war that you have no part of.”

“But?” Sarah said her eyes moving towards Michelle. The story as unbelievable as it was didn’t make much difference to her. The facts as she had heard them didn’t negate what she felt in her heart about this person who had become her friend without much thought to it. And she couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her alone to pace around this room waiting for word on Danny’s condition.

“No buts. And I know you were staying at Michelle’s apartment but given the circumstances I don’t think it’s such a good idea to go back there either,” Albert said.

“Not to worry, that’s the last place I want to be,” Sarah offered as her mind brought back visions of Danny’s blood pooling on the beige carpet.

“Okay I really have to get to the club.”

“Albert,” Jenny’s breath caught in her throat. Her eyes told him the words she couldn’t bear to say.

“Jenny, I promise you that we will grow old together just as I know that Danny and Michelle will as well.” He kissed his wife passionately on the lips and reached for Michelle’s shaking hands.

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