Chapter Thirty-Five

Marah was beginning to worry about her mother.  For the past month she’d been either late for work or leaving early.  Which wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t for the hushed phone conversations that her mother ended abruptly when Marah entered the room.  Feeling a soft shift underneath her drafting table Marah looked down at Toby, the yellow Labrador Retriever puppy Tony had gotten her for Christmas.  “Baby practice” he’d called it.  All she knew was that he was adorable, “Something is up with her I just know it.” Toby just sighed and rested his head between his outstretched paws.

“Talking to that dog again?  People are going to think you’ve lost your mind.”

Speak of the devil.  “Where have you been this time mom?

Reva looked everywhere but at Marah, “Just had to go run some errands.  So what’s on the agenda today?”

Yeah something was definitely up.  “Mom is everything alright?  You’ve been acting strange lately.”  A thought popped into Marah’s head and it felt like a vice tightened around her heart, “The cancer’s not back is it?  Have you been to the doctor?”

“Marah I’m fine.  The cancer isn’t back and I feel better than I have in years.  I’ve just been busy, what with your father catching the flu and Sarah and Collin being on Christmas vacation.  Things should calm down soon.”

Marah wasn’t convinced but she’d let it go, for now. “Danny called earlier.  Have you rescheduled the meeting for the tables?”

“Um, no.  But I’ll go call right now.”

Marah watched Reva leave as quickly as she’d arrived, “Yeah Toby something is definitely up.” Deciding she wasn’t going to get any work done with her mind occupied with her mother’s strange behavior she picked up the puppy’s leash, “Let’s go for a walk.  Maybe we’ll stop by Infierno and see your buddies, I am sure Rafael has some treats for you.”

***

Danny was pacing in what would soon be his office, “Michelle I still don’t know about this.  What if Reva and you are wrong?”  He paused to listen to his wife’s vehement protests.  “Yes I know Reva wouldn’t have agreed to go along with it if it were a bad idea.  But are you sure that I have to do this part?”

Danny wasn’t exactly sure why he was putting this off when they both knew Michelle would win.  He wasn’t a pushover by any means but when Michelle had her heart set on something he would move Heaven and Earth to give it to her, and she had her heart set on giving Marah and Tony their special day.  He might as well give in before she pulled out the big guns and sent Reva after him, “Okay I’ll do it.  But if this blows up in our faces I am pleading full deniability. ”  He held the phone away from his ear at her delighted response, “Love you too.”

***

The minute they entered Infierno Toby made a beeline towards Tony and Rafael who were sitting at the newly refurnished bar area.  Tony may have bought the puppy for her but he was definitely the dog’s favorite.  Rafael too, but that was because Rafael now had a habit of carrying around treats.  Which just added another piece to the Rafael puzzle, apparently he was an animal lover.

Tony bent and scratched the dog behind his fluffy ears, “Hey buddy!  You better not make a mess in here or Danny will ring my neck.”

Marah went over and greeted her fiancée with a kiss, “He already did his business.  Do you have a minute?”

“For you Baby I have all the time in the world.  And I have something exciting to talk to you about,” he turned to Rafael, “If you think he’s our best candidate for the bartender position then call him in for an interview.  Danny will put him through his paces and see if he’s any good.”

Tony called the dog over and the trio headed towards the upstairs offices.

As they were passing Danny’s office door he called out, “Hey you two, or should I say three with Kujo there, do you have a minute?”

Marah laughed, “Danny you love him and you know it!”

“You should just bite the bullet and get yourself a dog.  You know you want too, and Robbie would be ecstatic at having another male to balance out the male to female ratio in the house.”

“You may have a point.  Lord knows Robbie hasn’t stopped ranting about big paws there since you got him.”  Danny shook his head.  He had a mission to complete and was due to report back to mission control with what Michelle hoped would be the right answer.  He had to admit Michelle and Reva had come up with a pretty good idea, even if there was the underlying subterfuge angle.   Might as well get it over with while he had them both there, “But for the reason I called you in here, Michelle had a great idea for our grand opening.  She suggested a black and white ball.  But I told her I had to run it by you before we could go ahead with the planning.”

Tony rubbed his jaw in contemplation, “Sounds interesting.  Outside of the general theme of the place but still unique.  And the great citizens of Springfield love a reason to dress up.  So I say why not!  What do you think Marah?”

“I think it sounds like fun!  I know I sure love a good reason to dress up.”

Noting the look on her face Tony laughed, “I think Marah is mentally designing her dress for the occasion.  I would tell Michelle it’s definitely a go.”

***

“Well I’d say your plan worked you evil genius.  They both agreed to the party theme and Marah is to quote Tony, mentally designing her dress for the occasion.”

***

Michelle set down the phone after gushing her utter love and devotion to her amazing husband, “Danny said they both agreed to the party theme.  This is going better than expected.”

Reva raised her hand to exchange a high-five with her cohort, “Please!  Between the two of us they won’t know what hit them.”

***

Unlike the other office Tony’s was still under construction.  But it was the only place they could talk with the being interrupted by the obnoxious sound of saws, drills, and other various construction equipment..  He moved around boxes and lumber, “Sorry there’s not much of a place to sit.  I can’t wait till they start work on this next week.”

Marah sat on the step-ladder, the only real place to sit in the room, “It’s okay.  I’m not staying long I just wanted to get your opinion on something.”

“Okay shoot.”

“Have you noticed my mom acting funny lately?  Because she has been really flakey at work and is having these secretive phone calls at work that end as soon as I enter the room.”

Tony thought for a minute, “Can’t think of anything off the top of my head.  Have you talked to her about it?”

“Yeah.  She said it was nothing, that she’s just been busy.  Maybe I am just being ridiculous.  So what did you want to tell me?”

Tony blinked at Marah’s attempt to change the subject.  He could tell whatever was going on was really bothering her,  “First off, I don’t think you’re being ridiculous.  Your mom was sick and hid it from everyone so naturally you are going to be suspicious when she gets secretive.  Maybe you should ask your dad if he has noticed anything or even Jonathan.  As for my secret, remember that thing we were talking about the other day?”  When she nodded he continued, “Well guess who will be here in time for the opening?”

Marah brought her hands to her mouth in surprise, “Really?  Michelle and Danny are going to be so excited!”

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