Warning: Mild profanity and adult situations.
Well this was new. She never would have guessed she’d find herself sitting at a bar with Jonathan. Or that she’d be having so much fun. But here they were.
“She missed you I hope you know.” There wasn’t any anger in Jonathan’s words, he simply stated the truth.
“And I missed her too. I missed all of you. I missed Springfield in general. I have some of my best memories here but also some of my worst you know?”
“I know this brother/sister thing is new between you and me but if the past years have taught me anything it’s that you can go home again. Face the past, lay it to rest, and move forward.”
There was a hint of sadness in his eyes. No doubt he was thinking about Tammy. Unconventional as their relationship was she could tell that he still grieved over her passing. Okay this was downright maudlin time to change the subject fast. “That’s almost poetic of you brother. Have you been watching Oprah?”
Jonathan let out a loud laugh that had all the other bar patrons looking at them as if they’d lost their minds. “I am still rusty on this big brother stuff. Had to brush off on my basics.”
Marah snorted. Like he would be caught dead watching Oprah! Just then the bartender placed a fresh drink in front of her. “Compliments of the gentleman by the window.”
Marah turned and saluted the man with her drink in thanks.
Jonathan leaned over to see who she was looking at. “As a secure heterosexual male I can tell you that he’s no dog. You could do worse.”
“Oh come on Marah, ” He nudged her shoulder with his, “Live a little. Besides I have to get home and relieve the babysitter. You’re only in town for a while, might as well have some fun.” And with a kiss on her head he was gone.
Guess there was no harm in a drink.
Big mistake. This guy seemed to have more arms than an octopus.
“Come back to my place.” He slurred in her ear.
Why was it that guys thought that was “sexy”? She wasn’t even remotely tempted. She had tried being polite but either he couldn’t hear her or he was simply ignoring her. “No thanks.”
He moved forward and pressed her back against HB’s old pickup. Now this was getting ridiculous, she was about ready to deck him.
“Come on babe. I can show you a good time.” He leaned down as if to kiss her.
She shoved him back as hard as she could. “I said no, now I suggest you do sleep it off before you embarrass yourself even further.”
She saw the lust go out of his eyes only to be replaced with anger. He grabbed her hand and pulled her to him, “Listen bitch, you owe me. You’ve been teasing me all night now it’s time to pay up.”
Teased him? Puh-lease! From the moment she joined him he’d been all over her, despite all attempts to let him down softly.
She opened her moth to let him have it when his weight was suddenly gone. She looked to her left where a short hispanic man held the offending man by the front of his shirt. “The lady said no asshole so it’s time to get lost.”
Marah eyed the newcomer. He may be short but it was clear that his height was deceiving. He obviously knew what he was doing and could handle himself in a fight.
“Hey man what’s it to you?” The drunk sneered.
“My problem is punks like you who wouldn’t know your ass from a hole in the ground. The lady said no, move on.”
The younger man looked like he would argue, but then thought better of it and stalked off.
The stranger looked her up and down, not in a creepy way but as if accessing to see if she had been harmed by the offending man. “You alright miss?”
“Yes thank you. I was getting ready to deck him when you came along. You saved me some bruised knuckles in the morning.” She extended her hand, “Marah Lewis.”
If she didn’t know better she would have bet that his eyes sparkled with that bit of information. She knew his grin sure got bigger.
He extended his own rough hand to complete the greeting, “Rafael Santiago.”
Danny knew he was dreaming. Not only was Tony there but they were actually sitting in the old Infierno office, unwinding with a few drinks.
Danny regarded his cousin closely. From the look on his face the man was serious. “What do you mean?”
After a few moments Tony looked over at him. The look of sadness on his face nearly brought tears to Danny’s eyes. “I told you that I always had your back. I proved it time and time again. I may not have been much of a man when I first got to town but YOU changed that. Do you think I would betray you, not to mention Michelle, by going after her when she was most vulnerable?”
Danny didn’t know how to answer that. He never would have thought it of Tony but the truth was that he had changed those last few years. He chalked it up to loosing Marah but there was more to it than that. Not only had Tony joined Salerno’s organization but Tony’s thing with Michelle was the ultimate betrayal. “Tell me what you meant by trouble’s coming.”
Tony just stared, “Do you have my back?”
“I’ve always had your back Tony, just as you’ve always had mine.”
Pleased with the answer Tony nodded, “Good. That’s good.”
Marah felt like she was sixteen again, like she was sneaking in after curfew.
“Have fun tonight?” Reva asked from the porch swing.
She knew this was coming, her mother could always sense when something troubled her. And if she knew her mother she had been building up to this since Marah had stepped in the front door. But still she pasted on her brightest smile and hoped Reva wouldn’t see through the ruse. “I had a great time. It was nice hanging out with Jonathan. We never got a chance to be close so it’s nice that we can hang out. Make up for lost time.”
From the look on Reva’s face she was more than skeptical. “I have made a lot of mistakes with you kids. A LOT. But I still know when my kids are hurting. You put on a brave face but your eyes don’t sparkle like they used to.”
“I’ve just been tired mom. With the new line and all.” The line she hadn’t even started yet.
“I love you Marah but you are the worst liar. I know this is more than just being tired.” Marah just looked at her mother. She had to give her mother some credit, she’d held it in longer than she expected. “And I can’t shake off the feeling that this has something to do with Tony.”
Damn. When had her mother become a mind reader? “I can’t explain it mom. He’s been gone for so long but he’s still such a large part of me. I mean he’s even in my dreams. ”
” If Tony had lived I have no doubt that you two would have found your way back to each other.” Marah’s couldn’t stop her jaw from dropping. Her mother let out a laugh. “What? You think I don’t know love when I see it? I have been in love with your father since what seems like forever. We both made mistakes. MANY mistakes. But it got us here in the end. I knew you and Tony were ‘it’ for each other. Sure his way of life worried me but he changed. Before he left I even encouraged him to not give up.”
“You may be right mom. But it doesn’t matter anymore. We’ll never get our chance at happily ever after. So why can’t I let it go?”
“Maybe that’s why you are here. You never got a chance to say goodbye. Maybe if you finally lay these ghosts to rest you could move on.”
First Jonathan and now her mother. She had to admit that the idea had merit. Not like it could hurt to try.
“Love you mom.”
“Love you too honey. Now let’s go get some sleep. Collin still wakes up at the crack of dawn.”