The next time Marah opened her eyes it was to Jonathan sitting at her bedside. He looked just as exhausted as her parents. But unlike her parents she could sense his suspicion and the hint of anger brewing beneath the surface of his dark eyes.
“I sent Reva and Josh home, said I’d drive you home. We really need to talk. Two days ago you nearly knocked me out with a sauce pan and then yesterday someone cut your brake lines with the intention of killing you. I knew you were lying before but I didn’t want to push you. Now I want to know what is going on, and don’t you dare lie to me Marah.”
Marah sighed. Where to begin?
Ray felt…guilty. You would think that after years of being a priest he would be used to keeping secrets. But when it came to family it was different and keeping Tony’s secret was taking its toll. He had been dodging Danny and Michelle’s phone calls but couldn’t put it off any longer. Tonight was Sunday dinner at the Santos house, a regular occurrence since Danny and Michelle had moved back to Springfield.
“Hello Michelle. How was your checkup this morning?”
Michelle placed her hand on her rounded belly, her face glowing with love and happiness, “Baby’s healthy, I’m healthy, Danny is driving me crazy with his hovering but what else is new?”
Ray chuckled, “Where are Danny and the kids? It’s deceptively quiet tonight.”
Michelle laughed while she checked on dinner, “The kids were driving me crazy tonight so Danny took them out back to run off some of their excess energy.”
No sooner had the words left her mouth when Danny entered the kitchen carrying a child under each arm, “These rugrats claim they are starving. Better feed them before they waste away.”
Ray loved seeing Danny interacting with his kids. God knows growing up Santos didn’t leave a lot of warm and fuzzy family moments, although Danny at least had some fond memories of his father. But Danny was an excellent husband and father, and Ray was immensely proud of him.
“Well you’re just in time, dinner is served.”
As they all gathered around the table Ray said Grace…and said an extra prayer that he was doing the right thing keeping Tony’s confession.
“The other night, the night I hit you, I received a St. Anthony’s medal in the mail.”
Jonathan looked confused, “And I suppose this is a bad thing?”
“It’s a long story, okay. Years ago Tony Santos gave me a similar one for Christmas. When Catalina got pregnant I gave it back to him since Tony was no longer mine.” Marah turned towards the window and thought about that painful time. It still hurt to think about it, much less speak about it aloud. “He ended up giving it to Cat. One night I confronted her about loosing the baby and lying to Tony and I ripped it from her neck. And then she was killed and to make a long story short I saw Tony’s friend Romeo wearing it and knew he killed her. So you can see why it’s not exactly a great memento.”
“You know I never really knew Tony Santos well but from what I do know you could have done a hell of a lot better.”
Marah’s heart grew wistful. People had always gotten Tony wrong. All they saw was the tough mafia guy exterior, and sure that violence had scared her at times. But there was another side to Tony that he showed to those closest to him. The side that recited a poem to her on Valentine’s Day, who refused to sleep with her on Prom night out of respect for her even if she hadn’t seen it that way at the time, the person who had helped her plan Danny and Michelle’s surprise wedding. For all the bad in Tony that people saw there was just as much good, at least there used to be. “Tony changed after we broke up the last time. But there used to be a softer side to him that made him special, at least to me. Plus you’re one to talk! You were no prize when you first came into our lives either.”
Jonathan barked out a laugh, “Good point. Tony and I would have probably gotten along. But hey, had to try to offer some big brother support here.”
“Doesn’t really matter now, he’s gone.”
Tense silence filled the room. But Jonathan finally asked the million dollar question, “So who do you think sent it?”
Marah had no idea, “Your guess is as good as mine. Everyone involved in that part of my life is either dead or wasting away in prison.”
“Michelle you have outdone yourself again. I think your arroz con pollo rivals Little Havana’s.”
Michelle beamed at the compliment. Arroz con pollo was Danny’s favorite meal, and like the loving wife she was she had been trying to master it for years. “Why thank you Ray. Glad you liked it.”
“You spoil me Chelle. I’m going to go show Ray that little project we were working on.” Danny led Ray to his home office and shut the door with a soft click. “Okay Ray are you going to explain why you’ve been avoiding me?”
Ray knew this was coming, had tried to prepare for it, but he still flinched at the inquiry. “I am not avoiding you Danny I have just been busy.” He sat on the office couch and tried to look like he wasn’t as conflicted as he was, ” It is wedding season after all.” Great! Now he was using the church to cover his lie. He was going to have to do thirty extra Hail Mary’s tonight.
Danny still looked skeptical but at least he dropped that line of questioning. “I have been trying to get ahold of you because there have been some strange things going on. Tony’s dormant account was accessed, I have my accountant trying to track down a surveillance photo but he said it may take a few days. And then Marah was…”
Ray sat up straight, “Wait! Marah is back in town? When did that happen?” Curious that Tony hadn’t mentioned anything. Ray had always thought Marah and Tony belonged together, just like Danny and Michelle. Marah had always challenged Tony to be more than what he believed he was.
“A little over a week. But as I was saying, Marah received a St. Anthony’s medal in the mail and then yesterday someone cut her brake lines. Put her in the hospital with a concussion.”
Ray had a feeling the “trouble” following Tony was lurking in Springfield and once again his conscience demanded he tell Danny the truth. But he couldn’t violate the sanctity of Reconciliation. Sometimes it just didn’t pay to be a priest. “You think the events are related?”
Danny looked grim. “With this family? I have no doubt.”
Note: Check out GLManny’s fanfic for when Michelle mastered arroz con pollo. http://glmanny.wordpress.com/