Chapter Twenty Six

“And he just proposed to you on top of the Eiffel Tower?”

Marah looked at Michelle and smiled.  She’d been doing that a lot lately, it was like her face was permanently frozen in a happy expression..  Like now, sitting in Danny and Michelle’s back yard grinning like a banshee recounting their surprise engagement.  “Yup.  It was perfect Michelle, complete with champagne.  I have never been this happy in my life.”

Michelle let out a few tears for the couple.  But when she saw Marah’s stricken expression she was quick to reassure her, “Don’t mind me, I’m just happy.  Well and under the influence of post-pregnancy hormones.  So have you told your parents yet?”

“We’re telling them tonight.  Hoping that revealing it in public may reduce the risk of casualties.” That was an understatement.

Michelle was confused, “Why is that?  At the bar-b-que they seemed to have reached a truce.”

“For now.  But that’s mainly due to my mom’s influence.  But enough about me.”  Marah reached behind her and pulled out a gift bag, “Open your present.”

Michelle started in on the pink tissue paper, “You didn’t need to buy me anything, you’ve done enough already.” Inside was a snowglobe featuring the popular monuments in Paris.  She gave it a shake and watched the silvery-white flakes dance. “It’s lovely.  Thank you Marah.”

***

Across the yard Tony was observing what could only be described as a disaster in the making, “Danny don’t you think you should put the lid back on?  Those flames are getting pretty high.”

Danny just growled as he contemplated what he was doing wrong this time, “What do you know about grilling?”

Tony waved the smoke away from his face.  At this rate the neighbors were going to call the fire department.  “Next to nothing.  But even I know open flames aren’t good.”

Danny eyed him with a scowl but had to concede that he could be right.  Seeing no harm in testing out Tony’s suggestion Danny placed the lid back on.  “Okay Mr. Smarty pants let’s see how much of a grill master you are.”

“Why are you grilling anyway?  I thought Michelle took away those privileges.”

“She did.  But I finally convinced her to let me practice.  I hate it with the passion of a thousand suns but Michelle loves it.  And I love her.  Just wait until you’re married, really married this time instead of in name only.  You’ll do all kinds of things you never thought you would to make your wife happy.” When the smoke stopped billowing out from under the lid Danny felt it safe to remove the lid.  All that was left of the hamburgers were charred remains, “Well damn.”

Tony peered over Danny’s shoulder and laughed, “Looks like you need more practice.”

“Looks like it’s pizza again, the kids should be happy.  You and Marah want to stay for dinner?”

“Can’t.  Meeting Reva and Josh for dinner tonight.”

Danny raised an eyebrow, “The big engagement announcement?  Oh how I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that one!”

Tony was prepared for whatever tonight had in store for him.  He hoped.  He had fought too hard for too long to lose now.

***

“Would you stop fidgeting.  There’s no reason to be nervous, tonight’s going to be fine.” Marah reached up and smoothed his cornsilk blue tie.  Like she was one to talk.  Underneath the calm exterior she was a bundle of nerves.  She figured her mom would be happy for them, what really worried her was how her father was going to react.  Where Tony was concerned he could go either way.

“I’m not nervous Baby I’m excited.” He noted her look of skepticism, “Okay so maybe I am a little nervous but I can handle it.”

Nearby Rafael stood and tugged on his own tie.  “Tell me again why I am here?”

Tony slapped him on the back, “You’re here to make sure Marah’s father doesn’t stab me with his steak knife.”

Marah really hoped it didn’t come to that.  It may take her dad some time to accept their engagement but hopefully bloodshed wasn’t in tonight’s repertoire.  “Come on you two, they’re already seated.”

***

Once everyone was seated and drinks were ordered talk seemed to center around innocuous topics such as the newest addition to the Santos family and what Marah planned to do now that she was back in Springfield.  No potential landmines there.

“How was Paris? Did you get everything squared away over there?”

There it was.  “Paris was amazing.  My boss was sad to see me go but understanding.  And well…”  How was she going to tell them?  Should she just blurt it out or ease them in gently?

Tony took her hand in his and gave it a slight squeeze to reassure her, “I asked Marah to marry me and she said yes.”

Well that was one way to go about it.  Marah looked at her parents to gauge their reaction.  They both were shocked to say the least but her mother was the first to recover.

“Well, that’s um great news, isn’t it Joshua?  Congratulations you two.”  She stood up to embrace Tony “Welcome to the family.”

Her father hadn’t said anything, Marah wasn’t sure he’d even blinked.  “Dad?  Are you alright?  I know this must be a shock but I love…”

Josh abruptly scooted his chair back from the table interrupting what Marah was saying, “If you’ll excuse me for a moment I need some air.”

Well that went well.  Marah was at a loss at what to do.  “Mom do you think I should go after him?”

Reva looked at her daughter and future son-in-law, it was time to finally put things to rest once and for all.  “No.  Tony you go.  It’s you he wants to talk to anyway.”

As Tony stood up to go out to the terrace Rafael placed a hand on his arm to stop him, “Look at it this way son.  At least he ordered chicken and not the steak.”

How comforting.

***

“Marah stop worrying.  Your father would be like this with any man you decided to marry.  You and Tony have a history, and some of it is a father’s worst nightmare.  But he’ll get over it.”  Reva looked at Rafael who so far had remained silent most of the night, “So Mr. Santiago how are you liking Springfield so far.”

“Must say it’s quite the town.  So full of character and life, and the occasional homicidal psychopath.”

Reva knew the feeling well. “That’s Springfield for you, never a dull moment.”

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