What Matters Most~ Chapter Seven

Angela looked over at the man seated across from her.  Even more striking than his good looks was the anger that burned bright behind those cold dark eyes.  He was a man with an axe to grind, which made him the perfect partner for her plans. “So are you in or are you out?”  The man paused in devouring the greasy burger in front of him and turned those dangerous brown eyes towards her.  Even with all her experience with men like him the pure hatred she saw there caused her blood to run cold.

“Trust me.  I have no intention of backing out.” He tossed his uneaten food back onto the plate and leaned forward towards her menacingly, “Tell me something Angela,” He practically sneered the words, “Have you ever lost someone close to you?  Someone who you would risk everything, even your own life, for?”

Instead of recoiling like he expected Angela met his question with equal anger and resentment, “I have lost everyone that mattered to meEveryone.  My life,” She practically spat out, “has been taken from me more times than I can count.  So I have absolutely nothing to lose.  Can you say the same?”

“Let’s get something straight here princess, you don’t question me or my motives.  Ever.  The only thing you need to know is that when it comes to Tony Santos I know exactly where I stand.” He sat back and crossed his arms over his chest, “You don’t trust me any more than I trust you, but I’m all you got.   Now as long as your ao-called plan benefits me and suits my needs I’ll go along.  But if you cross me you’ll wish you stayed away.”

***

“Why are we playing miniature golf again?” Tony asked as he gripped the too short putter with two hands.

“Because it is fun.” Marah and the kids watched as he took his time putting the ball in the right spot and then stood contemplating the best way to get it past the moving windmill. Marah had thought it was a great way to top off the end of the kids’ stay with them.  The night was perfect for it and Danielle was feeling much better since Rick’s visit.  But they had been there an hour and had only gotten to hole four.  At this rate they’s be there all night. “Tony you are not Jack Mickelson and this is not the Masters.  This is putt-putt golf and some of us are getting hungry.”

Tony looked up from lining up his shot, “Alright I get it.  I am just preparing myself.”  They all watched as he tapped the ball…and then as it bounced off the moving windmill and rolled back towards Tony’s feet.  Tony sighed, “Clearly golf is not my game.”

“Aunt Marah!!!” Every head in their vicinity turned towards the high-pitched squeal, which was currently coming from the petite little girl with a mop of curly hair running towards them.  Sarah Randall was sweet and petite, but when she got excited her shrieks could shatter glass.

Tony leaned in and whispered. “I am always shocked that such sounds come from such a small little girl.  She must get it from her mother.”

Which earned him a gentle elbow to the side, “Quiet you.” While Marah then went to greet the newcomers.  Tony never would have thought that a year ago he’d consider Marah’s brother as an actual friend but he wasn’t one to question life’s little surprises anymore.  And at least the guy didn’t look any more thrilled than Tony did to be playing miniature golf than he was.   Probably got skunked on that tricky bridge at hole two. “Hey Jonathan.”

“Tony.” Jonathan raised his putter in greeting, “See you got roped into a rousing game of mini golf too.”

Tony eyed the windmill again with distaste. “Your sister’s idea.  She figured we’d have some ‘fun’ with the kids since Danny and Michelle are coming home tomorrow.”

Marah playfully poked her husband’s side.  “And it is fun.  Tony here just doesn’t like to lose.”

Jonathan smiled mischievously at his sister. “Well I must say sis, marriage looks good on you.  You got a nice…glow about you.  How have you two fared being thrown in the deep end for a week?”

Marah ignored the ‘glow’ comment and instead nudged her brother. “Hey!  Did you doubt us? We’ve watched Sarah before and she is a handful and a half.”

“That she is. She comes by it naturally though.  Between my interesting genetic make-up and Lizzie’s Spaulding contribution Sarah was bound to be a wildcard.  Well, and that I basically raised her by myself the first years of her life.”  Jonathan glanced at the wildcard in question.  Satisfied that she was safe chatting excitedly with Hope he turned back towards his sister, “So are you going to answer my original question?”

Tony placed a supportive arm around his wife’s shoulders, “Let’s just say there was exploding spaghetti, a DVD player that bought the dust, and a midnight visit from Dr. Rick Bauer.  But the house is still standing and we made it through relatively unscathed.”

Robbie ambled over, no one had noticed that he had shifted away from the group and avoided making eye contact with a suddenly shy Sarah.  Marah and Tony exchanged a look but having no answer they just shrugged their shoulders, must be the cootie stage.  Robbie leaned on his golf club and sighed dramatically. “Uncle Tony I’m starvvving! Can we go eat yet?”

More than ready to hang up his putter for the night Tony ushered his group out of there while Marah called over her shoulder that they’d get together soon.

***

Marah picked off a piece of pepperoni from her pizza and popped it in her mouth. “I know I am eating for two but if I keep chowing down like this I am going to be as big as a house by the time month nine gets here.”

“Well it’s a good thing you married me dear wife.  Because even if you do get to be as big as a house I can’t imagine loving anyone as much as I love you.”

Marah’s blue eyes filled with tears, “Oh I’m sure you’ll find my swollen ankles real desirable!”

Tony’s face was both contrite and panicked.  He quickly moved to the other side of the booth to sit beside his upset wife, “Is this one of those pregnancy hormone reactions? Because if it is I am so sorry baby.   I will love you no matter what, swollen ankles and all.  Forever, remember?”  He continued to hold Marah’s body tight to him until he noticed that she wasn’t racked with sobs she was racked with…laughter. “Marah are you okay?

Marah wiped her tears away, though Tony could now see that they were tears of laughter.  “You dear husband are too easy.”

“Aw, now that was just plain mean.”

“It was just too beautiful to pass up, ” Marah placed a hand on his chest teasingly, “But how about I rustle up the kiddos from the game room so we can head home and I can spend all night making up for my evil ways.”

He took her hand and kissed it lovingly before scooting to the end of the booth. “Now you’re talking!”

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