Chapter Thirty-Three

Tony had forgotten how much work went into opening a business.  The long hours, the haggling over prices with distributors, and fighting with the licensing bureau.  All in a day’s work.  But at least he didn’t have to tango with Doris Wolfe over permits, he’d dealt with her enough when she was the district attorney.  Now that she was the mayor?  You couldn’t pay Tony to go near her.  No he’d leave Doris Wolfe to Danny, if anyone could handle her it’d be him.

Next to him Rafael slammed down the phone and started cursing in Spanish. “Problems?”

Rafael actually growled, “Stupid idiots think I can’t tell that they are overcharging.  I may be new at Bar management but I am no greenhorn in business.  Why I ought to…”

As the man carried on with his rant Tony just smiled.  For someone who was afraid this job was offered out of charity he’d jumped in with both feet.  At first he had thought it was because Rafael may have thought that he had something to prove.  Tony quickly learned that wasn’t the case at all.  That was just who Rafael was.  He gave his all no matter what it was he was doing.  “Don’t sweat it Rafael.  There are distributors out there who won’t make the same mistake.”

Interrupted mid rant Rafael just blinked, then frowned,”Why are you here?”

“What do you mean why I am I here?  I am half owner where else should I be?”

Rafael just looked at Tony quizzically, like he was an idiot for not seeing it himself.  “How about home?  You’re here from dawn to dusk, even on weekends.  I am sure Marah misses you though I don’t know why.”

Tony tapped his ben against the table and looked away.  The place was as silent as a tomb, save for them. “Ha ha.  But you’re wrong Rafael, Marah understands.  Besides she’s been busy opening her own business.”

“Tony, go home.  Danny left hours ago…”

“Danny has three kids who need him at home.” Tony interrupted.

“You certainly will never be able to say the same if you don’t get out of here before eight every night!  Marah’s going to get fed up and dump your ass.”

Tony sat back in his chair and placed his hands behind his head.  Rafael had a point.  He had been working extra hours to try to lessen the load for Danny.  Not that Danny had asked in fact it actually led to one of their biggest fights since Tony had left Springfield.  But he meant what he said to Rafael, Danny had three kids who needed him.  But Marah needed him too.  “I think I may head home.”

“About time.  There may be some hope for you yet.”

***

“Honey I’m home!” Tony closed the door and threw his keys on the table.  When he didn’t hear any response from Marah he wondered if Rafael was right yet again. “Marah!”

The knot in his chest eased when he heard her footsteps pounding down the staircase.   Then there she was wrapped in a terry cloth towel while she rubbed another one over her hair.  She’d obviously just taken a shower. “What?  Is everything all right?”

“Why would you think something was wrong?”

Marah just lifted an eyebrow, “Gee I don’t know.  Maybe it was you yelling out my name.  Or it could be because you are home way before nine tonight, that’s such a rare occurrence these days.”

Tony winced when she turned and went back upstairs.  Marah was mad, and she every right to be.  Now he had to dig himself out of the mess he made and hope like hell she’d forgive him.

***

“Marah I’ve been neglecting you and I’m sorry.  I got caught up in trying to re-open Infierno that I lost sight of what truly matters.”

Marah came walking out of her closet holding a blue dress and the infamous “hooker boots”.  Why was she getting dressed up?  “Do you not think I don’t understand all the stress you’re under?  I opened up my own business as well.  Not on the same scale as yours but a business nonetheless.  But have I yelled?  Gotten angry at all?  Even when the one time you take a lunch break and spend it with me you fall asleep?” She ran a brush through her hair and looked at him in the mirror, “But I am tired.  Tired of being in a relationship with someone who is barely here.”

Tony hated that look of complete sadness in her eyes, it cut him to the quick.  He embraced her from behind, “I know Baby and I’m sorry.  I have been an idiot.”

She met his eyes in the mirror and laughed, “No arguments here.”

Before she knew what was happening Tony had her over his shoulder and was spinning her around, “Are you crazy?  Put me down!”

Tony just ignored her and kept walking towards the bedroom, “Crazy about you, you saucy wench.” He plopped her on the bed before following her down, “How about we stay home tonight and order in.   I can start to make up for my stupidity these past weeks.”

When he would have kissed her she put her palms on his chest to stop him.  If he kissed her that would lead to other pleasant activities.  Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but tonight she had made a promise that she fully intended to keep, “Tony as much as I’d love to, we can’t.”

He rolled to the side and sighed her name, his exasperation dragging it out to be six syllables.  To keep from giving in she quickly stood up and looked down at her dress, “Damn, now it’s all wrinkled.  I’m going to have to change.”

“What are you getting dressed up for anyways?”

Marah stuck her head out from the closet and frowned, “You’re joking right?  We’ve been planning on going for weeks now.”

Like Tony needed to give her another example of how stupid he had been.  “We’ve already established how single-minded I’ve been lately.  Let’s not torture me, even if I deserve it.”

She came out dressed and ready to go, “Oh you deserve it but I’ll take pity on you this time.  It’s Hope and Sarah’s Fall dance recital.  I’m sure Danny mentioned it to you, probably Jonathan as well.”

Tony winced.  Yeah they had both mentioned it today in passing, “Give me twenty minutes and I will be ready to go.”

Marah just shook her head as she watched him walk into the bathroom, “What am I ever going to do with you Tony Santos?”

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