What Matters Most ~ Chapter Two

“Are you sure you can’t see it?  It’s right there, that little white blotch.”  Mentally Tony cringed.  He really hated calling his child a blotch, but that’s basically what he saw in the picture Michelle had printed for them.  And truthfully he wasn’t even sure he was pointing out the right area, the whole thing looked like a mild version of television static.

Rafael looked closer to what Tony held before him, but he still couldn’t tell what he was looking at.  He had no prior experience in this sort of thing and was definitely out of his element.  He made an estimated guess and pointed to the picture. “Is it this right here?”

Tony’s eyebrows wrinkled in confusion, he may have been unsure but that definitely wasn’t where Michelle had pointed yesterday.  “Danny!  I need your help.  I lost my blotch again.”

“Again?” Rafael was asked in amusement.  This was a completely different side of Tony and it made for great entertainment.  Much better than the Tony that had been either brooding silently or snapping at anyone who crossed his path.  Yes Tony the nervous father was a sight to behold.

Danny emerged from his office shaking his head. “You bellowed?”  As he descended the stairs he took note of the crowded bar before continuing,  “Seriously we might want to look into an intercom.  That way we can at least attempt to look professional.  This is a place of business after all.”

Tony just waved off the comment and looked around before whispering. “Yeah, yeah.  Can you point out the baby again?”

Danny couldn’t contain his bark of laughter and turned towards Rafael shaking his head. “Loosing his own kid already.  I already had to show it to him twice this morning.  I told him he reminded me of Rachel on Friends.”

“Everybody’s a comedian!  And I got you back when I threw a stapler at you.  Now point out the baby already.”  Just like he’d promised Marah, he wasn’t letting fear or doubt ruin this for them.  Oh, he was still scared shitless but his fears ran to the more reasonable fears typical for expectant fathers.  The fear that he would somehow end up being like his own terrible excuse of a father.   Or that he wouldn’t know what to do when the baby was actually here so he had stocked up on every book written on the subject.  So the fact that he couldn’t point out his own child on the ultrasound was pretty small in comparison to that.  He was pretty good with Danny’s kids, except for that whole hooker boot fiasco that he had yet to live down.   So maybe with eight months of preparation he wouldn’t end up scaring his child for life.

Rafael looked at where Danny pointed on the ultrasound then back at Tony. “I can definitely see the family resemblance. ”

Leave it to Rafael.  But at least this time Tony could finally join the others in their laughter, “And you call me a smartass.”

“You are.  I’m just better at it.” Rafael nudged him with his elbow, “So what does Marah think about you flashing photos of her uterus to everyone you come into contact with?”

“I didn’t show everyone, just you guys, and since Danny already knew I figured one more into the inner circle wasn’t too bad.  Besides, Marah and I promised not to tell her parents until after the Bauer bar-b-que.  Technically I am not breaking the rules.”

Danny went behind the bar to pour himself a glass of water. “Still don’t know why you are keeping it a secret.  It’s not like secrets stay secret very long in a town like Springfield.”

Tony sighed, “Because the book your wife recommended we read said that most miscarriages happen in the first two months of pregnancy.  Just thought it best not to tell everyone until we pass the eighth week mark.”

Danny looked into his glass of water as if it held all the answers to life’s biggest questions.  Danny didn’t think about it often, he had too much in his life to be thankful for to dwell on the past, but sometimes when the kids would reach some milestone he would think about the baby Michelle and him lost early in their marriage.  In hindsight, he sure as hell wish he would have waited before ordering the most elaborate gift basket he could find.   He could still remember the blinding pain he’d felt opening the box when it arrived, a pain he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy much less the cousin he loved like a brother.  He looked up and forced a smile at Tony,”That makes sense.   At least you have a few months to bolster yourself up before he or she gets here.  Don’t want to faint and miss the whole thing.”

Tony cringed while Rafael just returned to laughing loudly, “Michelle swore that was protected under doctor-patient confidentiality!”

Danny couldn’t help but join Rafael in laughing at the visual of Tony fainting, “Oh it is.  Marah’s the one who told me.”

Tony could feel his face heat with embarrassment, “So now you both know I fainted when I found out.  This is just great!”

“Actually all three of us know.” Ray came in and took a seat at the bar.  He looked at his brother with mirth in his eyes, “What? I just happened to be there when she told the story.  I have to keep it in my memory banks for later. Future big brother torment and all that.”

Danny shrugged his shoulders, “Marah thought it was cute.” He looked down at his watch and swore, “As much fun as this is I have to get going.  I promised Robbie we’d watch the Cubs game together.  They better win tonight, they have been in a slump lately.”

Rafael watched Danny head back towards the offices before piercing Tony with his penetrating gaze, “So you seem more excited than you did a few days ago.”

Tony was surprised Rafael had waited this long before calling him out on his recent behavior, “Okay I was having a bout of stupidity.  But I’m over it now and everything is back to normal.”

Ray narrowed his eyes.  This was the first he had heard about Tony’s behavior and Ray only hoped it wasn’t a case of history repeating itself, “Just how stupid are we talking?”

“Not as stupid as you’re thinking judging by the look on your face.” He turned and spoke to Rafael, “It’s just that Marah and I have a past, and some of that past isn’t pretty.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.  I pretty much got the abbreviated version from you and everyone in this town over the course of a year.”

“Anyway,” Tony emphasized dramatically, “In the past when everything was going good in our lives something always came around and messed it up.   Well things are about as perfect as they can possibly be.  I am married to the love of my life and we are expecting our first child.  That’s prime fodder for fate to come along and kick us in the teeth.”

Rafael shook his head admonishingly, “How many times do I have to tell you to not borrow trouble?  You have to decide what matters most, your happiness or your fear.”

Tony grinned, “Oh really wise one?  Well Marah happens to agree and after our talk yesterday she agreed to give me a much deserved kick in the ass if I started thinking negatively.”

The older man looped his arm over Tony’s shoulders, “Always knew I liked that girl.”

From his seat Ray nodded then saluted Tony with his water, “Marah is definitely the best part of you brother.  Don’t know how she puts up with you half the time, I’m just glad that she does. ”

Tony grabbed his chest as if struck by his brother’s words, “You wound me brother.  And people actually come to you for relationship advice?”

“I save the good advice for my parishioners.  For family they just get brutal honesty.”

***

Vulture’s Canyon, Nevada

“Hey sugar?  Could I actually get a refill on my coffee this week or are you going to stand there gawking all day?”

Angela felt like telling him to take his coffee and shove it but instead plastered on her most disarming grin, “Of course Bill.” She nearly choked on the words as she poured the noxious brew.  In another lifetime she would have this guy eating out of the palm of her hand and begging for seconds.  But not now.  No, now she was reduced to this menial and demeaning job of truck stop waitress.  Life just wasn’t fair sometimes. “Would you like anything else?”

The overweight trucker rubbed his protruding stomach while leering at her with what he probably thought were seductive eyes.  If only he knew there wasn’t a chance in hell. “Yeah hot stuff how about the truckers special, my eggs over easy.”

She took their order on her notepad before turning away, “One truckers special coming up.” Accompanied by a side order of spit.

She had just turned in the order when she looked at the newspaper someone had left behind on the counter.  Or more appropriately the headline that stated in big bold letters “Mafia Leader Vincent Salerno Murdered in Prison”.  Angela grinned.  This changed everything.

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