What Matters Most~ Chapter Four

Reva tapped her pen on the calendar in front of her. Something was going on she was almost certain of it. Her mama always said she had a nose for things like that. Well her words may have been more along the effect of having a nose for trouble but the same sense was telling her something was going on, if only she could figure out what. She raised her eyes to glance at her daughter surreptitiously. Marah was grinning from ear to ear, and it was a Monday! A Monday! That had to be a sure-fire indicator that something was up with her.  No one smiled that big on a Monday.

Marah must have sensed she was being watched because her gaze suddenly lifted and locked with Reva’s, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Reva tried for nonchalant, “Like what Marah?”

“Like you have something up your sleeve.” For a moment Marah was worried that Reva had somehow guessed her and Tony’s secret. But that couldn’t be right, Marah had been extra careful at work to shield her overwhelming happiness. Her mother was good but she wasn’t that good.

Reva laughed at her daughter, “Now Marah why would you think that?”

Marah wasn’t fooled one bit my her mother’s innocent act. Anyone who knew Reva knew if there was a secret within a hundred miles she was sure to pick up on it. Which was why she had to be extra careful around the office. Reva sniffed out secrets like bloodhounds sniffed out scent trails, “Because I know you and have seen you in action.”

Reva placed her hand over her heart in mock umbrage, “Me? Surely you must have me confused with someone else.”

Who did Reva think she was fooling? Reva was a hell raiser in her youth and she was a hell raiser when Marah was growing up. She may have calmed down some in recent years but Reva was, and always would be, like an untamable force of nature. But since Reva didn’t seem to be ready to show her cards Marah decided to changed the subject, “Did you speak with Lizzie or Bill about when they want to start their remodel?”

Reva checked her calendar, “Lizzie said July 16th would be good. And they’re expecting another boy just to let you know.”

Marah nodded, “That is good to know. See I know I hired you for a reason.” She looked at the clock on the wall and winced, “Crap! I was supposed to pick up dinner half an hour ago. I’ll have to work up some sketches for Bill and Lizzie tomorrow.”

“How is having Michelle and Danny’s kids going for you two?”

Marah looked up her mother while crossing her fingers in a gesture of good luck, “It’s only day two and so far so good. But I don’t want to jinx anything, we still have five days to go.”

***

“Ouch! Damn it!” Marah stumbled and sent Match Box Cars scattering across the living room floor. Limping over to the dining room table she set the bag of takeout down before looking at what used to be her living room. There were blankets strewed over every piece of furniture like some kind of makeshift fort, and toys were tossed all over the floor.

And right there in the middle of all the chaos was her husband grinning like a fiend, “Hey baby. How was your day?”

Marah laughed without humor, “Not as good of a day as you apparently.”

Tony had the good sense to look chagrined, “We may have gotten a little overzealous with our fort building.” He leaned down and whispered something to the kids before popping his head back up, “We will clean it all up we promise.”

“I don’t know who’s worse, you or the kids. Do you at least have Danielle in there with you?”

“Of course we do! What kind of babysitter do you think I am?” When Marah just eyed the destruction of the living room Tony raised his hands in surrender,”Present evidence excluded of course. But I mean it, we’ll get this place cleaned up in no time.”

He looked so cute standing there like a big kid she couldn’t even continue her pretend mad, “Let’s get the kids fed first. I don’t want Danny and Michelle to think we starved their kids while they were gone.”

***

Later that night while Marah helped Tony pick up the mess in the living room she noticed something different about Tony. She peered closer before grabbing for his hand, “Tony are your nails painted pink?” He attempted to pull his hand back quickly but there was no denying it, Tony Santos had pink fingernails.

“I forgot all about that. You see while Robbie was at baseball camp Hope got bored and one thing led to another and…”

“And she painted your nails pink.” Marah tried, she really did, but she just couldn’t hold back her laughter. Tony, Mr. Tough Guy, let a little girl paint his nails pink. It warmed her heart that he would subject himself to Hope’s ministrations but it was still too funny to not laugh. And she laughed even harder at the look of annoyance on his handsome face.

Tony picked up one of the pillows from the couch and tossed it at his wife who was currently doubled over in laughter, “Laugh it up baby. I’ll get you back later.”

Marah wiped at the tears from her eyes, “Big talk from a guy with pink fingernails.”

Tony slowly walked towards her, it more like he was stalking her around the couch, “You think so?”

That stopped Marah’s laughter immediately. She glanced towards the steps while backing up slowly, “Tony we have kids in the house.” There was no mistaking that wicked gleam in Tony’s eye. They both knew where this was headed, but the chase was sometimes the best part. Lord knows they’d chased each other for years!

He wasn’t about to be deterred, “Who are sound asleep.”

When Marah made a break for it Tony pounced and spun her around. “Got ya! Not so bad for a man with little girl nail polish.” He lowered his head to give her a kiss intended to leave her breathless.

Marah whispered against his lips. “Nope. Not bad at all”

***

Across town Reva relayed her suspicions to Josh while getting ready for bed.

Josh lowered the book he had been reading, “So you’re thinking something is up with Marah and Tony? They’ve only been married five months!”

Reva paused in smoothing on her lotion, “Slow down there papa bear! Something is going on there all right, but I didn’t say it was something bad.”

Behind his reading glasses Josh raised an eyebrow, “Okay so what do you think it is?”

“I think Marah’s pregnant.”

Josh sat up straight, the book in his hands completely forgotten, “Why do you think that?”

Reva turned towards her husband, “Just this vibe I get. She has this glow about her and every time I look at her she has this secretive smile on her face. Kind of like the one you have now. What are you up to Joshua?”

Josh just shrugged, “Since I no longer want to kill Tony and bury the body the idea of her being pregnant doesn’t make me break out in a sweat.   Doesn’t even give me the urge to take him to the cabin with Billy for a little hunting, you know, Lewis style.  Though you should have seen his face Reva, that one time, it was priceless.  And I like being a grandpa.  We still have Sarah, and I love her, but for that brief time Henry was Shayne’s it was almost like we were a complete family again.   All we needed was Marah to come home, and we all knew she wasn’t okay even though she said she was.  And when the blood test came back and proved Edmund had changed the results? Well, it was heartbreaking for all of us.”

Reva averted her eyes and refocused on her task. She hated to think about that time in their lives. Their son had been so happy. He had a wife he loved, a son he adored, and then it all came crashing down. “Have you talked to Shayne? I tried calling him earlier this week but he didn’t answer.”

“Not since the last time he called. He thought he had a lead in Germany and was going to check it out.” Josh hated to think of his son scouring all over Europe looking for Dinah but he understood. He would go to the ends of the Earth to find Reva. But back to the topic at hand, “What makes you think Marah’s pregnant anyway?”

Reva replaced the lotion on the dresser before joining her husband under the covers, “I don’t know for sure, it’s just a theory.”

“Yeah and Hell is just a sauna. Reva Shayne doesn’t have theories, she acts on suspicions.”

That made her laugh, “Just one of the things you love most about me.”

Josh rolled on his side, “I love everything about you Reva. But if Marah is pregnant I want her to tell us not have you pry it out of her.”

Like Reva was going to steal her daughter’s thunder.  Joshua should at least know that much about her by now. “Agreed.”

Josh leaned down to kiss his untameable wife, “Now it’s time to pay for that papa bear comment mama bear.”

***

After that mess in Springfield David had run back to California as fast as humanly possible. He knew he had screwed up, knew he had failed his boss by not taking care of the Lewis woman.  And when that boss was Romeo Jones you didn’t live to fail twice. His only hope was to get out of Springfield and hope that he could go back to California and prove his loyalty to the other families.  He was no fool, he had saved Romeo in prison and helped him fake his death, but that only bought him so much room for error.

Imagine his surprise when, upon arriving in California, he was informed of Romeo’s death.  And the truth of his error died with him.  As Romeo’s second in command he was now the boss, and it was his responsibility that Romeo’s death not go unpunished.  He didn’t particularly like Romeo, no one did, but the man had wielded his own power fear into the hearts of many, himself included.  But that didn’t change what he had to do, order had to be restored.

He looked up at the man who stood where Mark had only a year ago and pushed the photos across the desk. “Find them.  Romeo wanted his revenge, and now we’ll get retribution for his death.”

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