Chapter Twenty-Two (Part two)

Tony scanned the yard until he found who he was looking for.  In the past month they had reached a tentative truce in their relationship.  At least it beat all the animosity and mistrust six years ago. “Josh can I speak to you for a moment please?”

Marah’s father looked a bit stunned.  Maybe it was that he said please.  Or that he approached him at all.  They may have reached an understanding but they were far from buddies.  “Sure Tony.”

When they were away from the crowd Josh didn’t waste time.  “So what do you want to talk to me about?”

If Tony didn’t know better he would think Josh looked nervous.  “I wanted to know if you’d be willing to do some remodeling work for me.”

Josh definitely looked nervous now, “Remodeling what exactly?”

“I was thinking of buying the old Millennium building and re-opening Infierno. ”

Josh’s nervous look was replaced with skepticism.  Tony went on to explain, “My intentions are honorable I swear.  I want to re-open the business, one hundred percent legit this time.”

“Sounds interesting.  Why don’t you come by the office on Monday and we can draw up some plans.  I am working on another project that will have me tied up for most of the upcoming months but perhaps Jonathan would be able to fit it in this schedule.”

Tony shook the other man’s hand.  Things were definitely looking up. “Thanks Josh.  Now all I have to do is ask Danny and we can get started.”

“Ask Danny what?”  Neither man had noticed Danny and Michelle approach.

” Um I wanted to talk to you about buying the old Millennium building and re-opening Infierno.”

“Since when?”

Tony just shrugged, “Since I’ve been back.  It’s all I’ve ever known, all I’ve ever been good at.  You proved to everyone that you were more than just a Santos and now it’s my turn.”  He eyed Josh before continuing, “i want to set down roots.  And well I want to marry Marah someday.  And I want to be able to provide for our family when I do.”

Josh looked a little green around the gills at that piece of information, “Oh Jesus I need to sit down.”

Both men ignored the comment.  They were too busy trying to feel the other man out.  Then Danny smiled, “To tell the truth Michelle and I had discussed it for a while but it didn’t seem viable with the baby on the way.  This changes things. You want to do this solo or are you looking for a partner?”

Tony grinned, “We always did make a good team.”

Danny offered his hand while Michelle looked on with joy in her eyes, “Partners?”

Tony didn’t even have to think twice. “Partners.”

“Glad you two are in agreement but hope you both know that it will probably take a while before we can even start such an undertaking.  Especially with most of our men busy on Danny’s other project.”  Josh winced when he saw the desperate plea in Danny’s eyes to keep quiet, “Sorry Danny.  My brain is still reeling from Tony’s announcement.”

“What’s he talking about Danny?”  Michelle always knew when something was up. 

“It was supposed to be a surprise.” He glared at Josh before continuing, “I asked Josh to start building at Laurel Falls.  They broke ground a couple of weeks ago.”

“You’re building our dream house?”  Michelle’s eyes teared up, and not just because of pregnancy hormones.

“Your dreams are my dreams and I would do anything possible to make them come true.  I knew we both wouldn’t be comfortable living there after what happened before, with who we thought was Tony.  Now that we have our real Tony back there isn’t anything stopping us.  We can have our dream house and raise our amazing kids in peace.  Of course it won’t be done in time for the baby but the majority of it should be done around Christmas.”

Michelle  dissolved into a fit of tears and embraced her husband, “I love you Danny Santos!”

***

Tony stood off to the side waiting for Marah.  People were starting to gather around for the annual fireworks and he was anxious to get her alone and tell her his plans for the future.  A future that most definitely included her. 

“Well son it looks like everything worked out.”

He grinned at Rafael, “It’s getting there.  What about you?”

Rafael was confused, “What about me?”

“You going to go back to California or stick around.  Have to say, things get pretty interesting around here.”  Tony cleared his throat and looked the older man in the eye, “The only people who have ever truly had my back were Danny and Ray.  Until you.  You save my life, twice.  And yeah, I’d like to see you stick around. ”

If Tony didn’t know better he would swear Rafael had tears in his eyes, which was totally out of character for the tough man he’d started seeing as a sort of father figure. “You’re a good man Tony Santos.  I might stick around, at least for a while.  Someone has to keep you out of trouble.”

***

Tony and Marah sat nestled together on a blanket waiting for the fireworks to start. 

“So what did you and my dad talk about?”

Tony looked down at her and raised an eyebrow, “Nervous baby?”

She laughed.  “Nope.  Just curious.”

“I wanted to talk to him about remodeling the old Millennium building and re-opening Infierno.”

Marah turned around and looked at him in astonishment, “Really?”

“Seems like a good idea and Danny’s going to be my business partner.  What do you think?”

 She kissed his soundly, “I think you should do whatever makes you happy.  And since I know how much you loved running Infierno I think it’s great!”

He waited until she had settled back into the comfort of his arms before he told her the rest, “I know we are taking this slow but I also told your dad that I intend to marry you.”

Once more she whipped around and faced him, “You what?!  How did he take that declaration?”

At least she didn’t look angry.  “He was…shocked.  We agreed to take it slow but I still want to prove to him that I will be a good husband to you one day and a father to any kids we may have.”

She reached up and ran her fingers through his hair, “Honey you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.  I always knew you’d be a good husband I just never thought we’d have another chance.  When the time’s right we’ll know.”

Tony pulled her close.  He intended the kiss to be brief but  they were so wrapped up in each other they didn’t even notice when the fireworks started exploding overhead in a kaleidoscope of colors.

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