Chapter Twenty-Three (Part One)

“You did remember to invite Michelle didn’t you?”

Marah didn’t look down from the streamers she was busy hanging. “Yes mother I remembered to invite the guest of honor.  It wouldn’t be much of a baby shower without the mother-to-be now would it?  Don’t worry Danny already called, they will be here in a few minutes.”  She glanced down and pointed to the buffet table, “You about done re-arranging the relish trays yet?”

Reva tried to look insulted but it was ineffective considering she was laughing, “Well you said I couldn’t bring brownies.” 

“Mom I love you but one deserves that.” 

Tony came into the room carrying a large box, “Babe where do you want the present Dahlia sent?” 

Marah pointed to the table already laden with gifts, “The dining room table should be good.”

“Um babe, could you turn me in the right direction? I can’t see a thing.”

Reva laughed, “I’ll do it hun.  Everything looks great.”

She climbed down the step-ladder and surveyed her work.  Not bad for being thrown last-minute.   Lost in her musings she was momentarily startled when strong arms embraced her from behind, “You did good babe.  Even if your parent’s living room looks like it was coated in Pepto-Bismol.”

Marah playfully slapped his arm, “She’s having a baby girl.  Pink is standard fare.  Do you think she’ll like it?”

“I think Michelle will love it baby.  So…do I really have to stay for the actual party?” 

“It’s not going to kill you.  You get to sit in the den and watch baseball with the guys.” She turned and put her arms around his neck,”If anyone should be bailing it would be me.  I am sure I am going to be regaled with childbirth horror stories.  I say you get the better end of the deal.”

“Okay you win. He grinned at her lasciviously,”But you owe me later.”

“Oh yeah? Like what?”

“Well I was thinking we could sneak away to the Beacon for the weekend where you could “pay me back” in private.  Then we can…” He leaned down to whisper his plans in her ear when they were interrupted by the doorbell.  Tony groaned, “Perfect timing as usual.”

“Hold that thought. The guest of honor has arrived.”

***

The party was going well.  Presents had been opened and Michelle had cried over each one.  Especially over the gifts sent by those who couldn’t be there. Dahlia was in the middle of her music tour but had sent enough clothes for five babies.  Even Michelle’s ex-sister-in-law Abby had sent something for the occasion.  Overall Marah considered the party a success.  They had just started in on desert when her cousin Bill’s wife approached her. “So Marah what are your plans now that you are staying in Springfield?” 

Marah finished chewing her cake before answering, “I haven’t decided yet.  I could try to continue my fashion career from here but truthfully I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I used to towards the end there.”

Lizzie looked around at the decorations, “You did an excellent job planning this shower last-minute.  You would be a great party planner.”

Marah thought about the prospect.  She had enjoyed putting the baby shower together, even if she had rushed around last-minute trying to attend to every detail.  “I’ll think about it.”

Michelle waddled up still drying her eyes over her last crying jag, “You outdid yourself Marah it was perfect.”

 She was glad.  Michelle deserved it.  “So you think of any baby names yet?”

Michelle rubbed her protruding belly with love, “Danielle Maureen.”

A blending of their names. “It’s perfect Michelle.”

As the other ladies gained Michelle’s attention Marah wandered into the kitchen and thought about the future.  Everything was so up in the air.  She didn’t have a career, she was living in her parent’s house, and hadn’t even been back to Paris to pack up her apartment.   

“Hey baby. What’s got you so upset?”  She hadn’t heard Tony enter.

“Hey you scared me.” She tried to put her musings out of her mind, “Nothing’s wrong.  Just thinking.”

“About what?”

“The future. ” Seeing the nervousness and the fear in Tony’s eyes Marah was quick to calm his unease, “Since I’m staying in Springfield I was thinking about possible careers I would be good at and also about packing up my apartment in Paris.  I was hoping we could go together.”

Tony let out the breath he didn’t know he had been holding.  That didn’t seem so bad, in fact it sounded terrific.  He’d fly to Paris any day as long as it meant she would be coming back home.  With him.  “When do you want to leave?  We can go tonight if we hurry.”

She laughed, “Did you seem Michelle?  That baby could come any day now, and I know you want to be here when she arrives.”

“Okay you have a point.  But I still think we should have a little R&R at the Beacon.  Too many kids at Danny and Michelle’s, your father still glares at me like I’m corrupting his princess, and Rafael has pretty much squeezed me out of the Lighthouse and made it his home away from home.”

“You can be very persuasive Mr. Santos.  Meet me after the party winds down and we’ll see who’s corruption who.”

Tony growled, “I love the way you think Babe. ”

***

Hours later Michelle sighed as she laid back on the sofa, “I could get used to being pampered like this.  You do it so well.”  She’d sprawled there the second they got home and had no intention of moving.

Danny chuckled as he finished with her left foot and began to massage the other one in the same loving manner, “You usually don’t stay in one place long enough for me to work my magic.”

Michelle just grinned, “You work your magic in other ways Danny Santos.”

Danny wasn’t touching that one with a ten foot pole.  It took every ounce of willpower he had but after the difficult pregnancies she’d had with Robbie and Hope he didn’t want to take any chances.  Instead he continued his ministrations and tried to change the subject, “You two had a long day.  You have fun?”

“I did.  Marah did a fantastic job throwing it together.  Did you see all the clothes Dahlia sent?  And that adorable stroller Abby got us?  I am going to have to write thank you notes.” 

When Michelle went to get up Danny just pulled her foot towards him, “It can wait.  I love howe your organized brain works but right now you need to take it easy.”

This time Michelle’s sigh was one of frustration, “Ugh fine.  Can I at least get some water?  I don’t think that would be over exerting myself.”

“Okay but no throwing the baby clothes in the washer, no starting thank you cards till at least tomorrow, and no putting the stroller together.  I will do that later.”

She looked doubtful, “You ever put a stroller together before?”

“No, but it can’t be too difficult.” And if need be he could ask Tony or Rick for help.

Michelle shook her head.  It had taken Danny, Rick, AND her father Ed to get the crib assembled she couldn’t imagine how challenging a stroller would be.   But she wasn’t going to point that out.  Instead she shuffled to the kitchen for a drink. 

As she stood there drinking the cool liquid she thought back on the events of the day.  It had been a surprise that’s for sure.  But Marah had gone above and beyond.  She’d contacted her old friend Daliah, which was no small feat considering she was constantly traveling.  And Abby.  She was her ex sister-in-law but she’d still sent a present along with a note of congratulations.  She missed Abby.  Not that she disliked Mindy but her and Abby had been close during her marriage to Rick.  She’d supported Michelle’s marriage to Danny when no one else did.  And for that she would always be grateful.

As she went to put the empty glass in the sink she felt a flutter in her lower stomach.  “Um Danny you may want to come here for a minute.”  She was surprised by how calm she sounded when inside her heart-felt like it was going to beat right out of her chest.  She may have given birth twice before but each time was like the first time.

“Danny breezed into the kitchen with a smile, “You called?”

“It’s time.”

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