What Matters Most~ Chapter Eleven

Angela knocked on the adjoining door of what the shifty looking night manager had the audacity to dub a “suite”.  Not sure who he was trying to fool.  The Rex Motel was not known for four star accommodations, their clientele ran more towards the no-tell motel variety.   It’s basic amenities included a bed, a television that was reminiscent of the dark ages, and a guy behind a desk who didn’t ask too many questions for the right amount of cash.  Which made it the perfect hideaway, even as it made her skin crawl just being inside the dingy walls.

The connecting door opened and she was ushered in without a word.  The room was a carbon copy of her own.  The peeling wallpaper that held the unmistakable odor of cigarette smoke and age.  The sagging moth-eaten mattress.  Yes the Rex motel was definitely a hole.  Her companion smiled snidely, “Have a seat.”

Angela eyed the unmade bed with suspicion.  She and her partner were thrown together by circumstance and a common goal, revenge.  But who knew what unwashed trash he brough back to this room to pass the time away with. “I’m fine standing.”

He walked over to the foot of the bed and thew the comforter over the crumpled sheets, “There you go princess. Does that help your delicate sensibilities?”

She straightened her spine at the mocking tone of his voice, “I am not delicate.  I just don’t know what kind of nasty women you have brough back to this flea-ridden room. And who knows what kind of filthy things you do in this room.  I know men and you strike me as the down and dirty type.”  To prove that she wasn’t intimidated by his fierce intensity Angela sauntered over and took a seat on the haphazardly made bed. But before she could speak she was pinned down flat on her back, her companion’s bulking weight effectively caging her in, “So, you want to find out?”

She placed her hands on her shoulders and pushed to no avail, “Find out what? That you’re an ass? I know that already.”

He leaned his head back and laughed then turned those brown intense eyes down at her, “No princess. You want to find out what filthy things I do in this bed?”

Angela felt another shiver go through her body that had nothing to do with cold or fear.  She had always been attracted to strong men, and he certainly fit the bill. But something told her that he wasn’t acting on attraction but trying to assert his alpha male dominance over her.  Well he had another thing coming, “Hardly.” She brought up her knee and surreptitiously hinted that she’d have no issue kicking him in the cojones if he didn’t move off of her. “Now move or sing soprano for a year. Your choice.”

He eyed her for a few moments before leveling himself off of her with a terse, “Your loss princess.”

“And that’s another thing. Stop calling me princess. It’s annoying.”

He laughed without humor, “Have you taken a good look at yourself? You act like all this is beneath you but despite what you believe I’m no one’s fool.  I’ve done my homework on you.  So while you may play the princess I bet this dive is hardly the worst place you’ve stayed in your life.” He crossed his muscled arms over an equally impressive chest.  It was a classic move intended to intimidate and damn if it didn’t work though Angela managed to hide it as best she could.  But he still pinned her with his laser-like intensity, “So let’s cut the crap.  You are currently slumming here by no one’s choice but your own.” Judging by her frown he could tell that she really hated when he was right.  Tough luck sweetheart. He had only been playing earlier, pushing Angela to see how far she was willing to go.  Though it’s not like he would push her out of his bed if the opportunity presented itself.  He was hardly a monk and she was a good-looking woman.  But he had someone else in his sights…

“I still think that considering how much dough you are raking in we could afford some better living accommodations.  This place should have been condemned years ago.”

There were times that he was tempted to shake some sense into her, even more times when he was tempted to choke the life right out of her.  But he held back because he had plans for her.  She had her purpose even if he wasn’t going to fill her in on the whole plan.  “You know why.  Does discretion mean nothing to you? ”

Angela feigned boredom.  Yeah she knew why they had to live in this hovel, but she didn’t have to like it.  “So tell me about this amended plan of yours before I fall asleep already.”

He watched her eyes spark with interest and mischief as he laid out the details.  Such a blood thirsty little wench.  Tony Santos wouldn’t know what hit him.

***

Tony knew he shouldn’t have let some stranger’s words affect him tonight but he couldn’t seem to stop it any more than he could stop them from effecting him now.  Hours later and he could still hear the echo of the innocent enough question and it brought all the pain from the past upon him like a tidal wave. Why did the past never stay buried like it should?  He was married to the love of his life, they were expecting a baby together, and he had his family back.  He should be enough to leave the past where it belonged.  It should be, now if only someone would tell his fool head maybe it would shut up.  He wanted to scream and rage.  Instead he reached behind him and tried to punch his pillow into submission.

Marah paused in climbing into bed and instead stopped and sat upon her heels, eyeing him warily, “Feel better?”

He looked at her sitting there and felt the knot in his chest pull even tighter.  She was so damn beautiful and everything he had always dreamed of.  She was simply everything, which made him feel that much worse. “Not really.”

She tilted her head inquisitively, no doubt thinking about how best to approach the situation.  “Do you want to talk about it?”

Tony let out a brief sigh.  “It just when that guy asked if it was our first child…it all came flooding back.  I was going to be a father before.  And then that brought even more stuff from the past.  All the hurt and pain.  From Romeo. From Catalina.”

“And me.”  Marah moved forward until she could brace herself against the headboard alongside her pensive husband.  “I hurt you too Tony and you hurt me.  There was a lot of hurt that summer.  It took a long time for us to move forward and find our way back to each other but we did.  I didn’t think we were going to be able to have this chance together but we do Tony.”  She reached out and grabbed Tony’s hand and placed it on her slightly rounded stomach. “Sure we didn’t plan to have children this fast but considering how much time we have missed out on maybe it was God’s way of making up for some of it.”  She lifted her hand from his as he moved to rest his head on her stomach next to their child.  He liked to sit and talk to the baby and Marah thought it was perhaps the most beautiful sight in the world, Tony being a father.  Even if that baby was still in utero.  As he took his nightly position Marah began sifting her fingers soothingly through his hair.  It may not be much but she knew he liked the small gesture, and if it was the only comfort Tony would accept she would offer it gladly.

Tony raised an eyebrow as he gently rubbed his knuckled back and forth across her abdomen, “Have you been talking to Ray again?”

Marah stopped her soft caress, “Maybe.  But in all seriousness does this feel in any way like when Catalina was pregnant?”

Tony sat up quickly dislodging her fingers from his hair and looked her in the eye, “Hell no!  Catalina getting pregnant was one of the worst times in my life.  I felt like an animal caught in a trap with nowhere to go.  Bound by a sense of duty to a woman I didn’t love and a child I helped create.  And also torn because I desperately wanted to be with you, the one who I have always loved and who I will always love….”  Tony paused, “I am sorry I ruined dinner.  I was an ass.”

Marah laughed, “You didn’t ruin dinner.  And you weren’t an ass.  Really I think everyone kind of thought about that summer for a brief minute.  But no one could begrudge you a moment to collect yourself.  No matter what you lost a child Tony, no one can take that from you.”

“I love you.”

“I know.” Marah leaned forward and kissed him then settled beneath the covers, “Now turn out the light.  The baby and I want to snuggle some more with you before we fall asleep.”

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