What Matters Most~ Chapter Seventeen

One Month Later…

“What is going on with you two?  Last month you and Tony were all smiles but tonight at dinner you two barely spoke a word to each other.”

Marah looked into Michelle’s worried eyes but she didn’t know what to say.  If she said the words they made them more real, they gave credence to this feeling she had in the pit of her stomach.  But at the same time she felt like she would explode if she didn’t tell someone and Michelle could talk her off that proverbial ledge so to speak.  She took a deep breath finally released what she had been dreading for the past week. “Tony has been hiding something from me.”

***

Danny looked at the monstrosity that Tony was attempting to assemble in his expected child’s nursery.  This was no ordinary project, this was what men like them paid extra for.  So that others could assemble these kinds of things.  “Woah Tony!  Did you read the instructions?  This thing clearly needs instructions.”

Either Tony didn’t hear him over all the cursing he was muttering under his breath or he chose to ignore him.  Whatever.  Danny looked at the floor to determine the best possible path without breaking his neck.  After five minutes of tip-toeing through the room he snagged the instructions and thought his eyes crossed for a moment. “These instructions are frightening.”

“I know.  I just want her to have the best you know.”

Danny perked up, he knew Tony had been hoping for a girl. He slapped his cousin on the back. “So the baby is a girl? Congrats man.”

Tony still looked every inch the defeated man.  “Thanks.  She’s going to be a princess you know and a princess needs a carriage.” He indicated the intricate crib that still lay in pieces,  “Not sure if it’s me that’s the best for her though.”  He stared at Danny gravely, “Marah had this room painted purple.  Some scary eggplant color.  Then some bubble gum pink that made me think of that nasty Pepto stuff.  Though I guess for a girl it would be good.  But a couple of weeks ago I found her on her a ladder making yet another paint change.  I had to put my foot down.”

Danny bit the inside of his cheek to hold in his smile.  Put his foot down.  Like that would ever happen. “And how did that work out for you?”

“Marah agreed because of the baby, paint fumes and all that.   But we finally got the room painted and the furniture picked out, even chose a name.  Things were going so well Danny that I didn’t see it coming, though I should have known.”

“Known what?” Danny was alarmed at the distress in Tony’s tone.  It was the same tone Tony had used right before he had left town that last time, right before Romeo had wielded his brand of evil.

‘That things were going too good.  That my past would come back to haunt me.  And that she was right under our nose this entire time.”

Okay now Tony was just talking in riddles and Danny was about at the end of his rope.  “Just explain.  Whatever it is, we’ll work through it.”

*

*

*

Tony sent off a dirty text to Marah in response to the equally dirty one she had sent to him.  He had a little time left going over the day’s invoices before he could finally head home and put those texts to action.  So for now Tony focused his attention on Infiereno.

Business was really booming.  And their deal with Black Fox seemed to be a good one, the man was always one time in his shipments and so far there hadn’t been any discrepancies in the books.  All together it equalled good business for the Santos cousins.  Next to his elbow his cell phone chimed.  Another text message from Marah, this one a photo message.  Tony groaned loudly in the dark office. “You don’t play fair baby.” But thankfully his work was done for the day as he sent off a rapid fire text informing her of his impenDing departure  or more appropriate, his impending arrival at him.

As he went about locking up his office he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end.  He got the feeling like someone was watching him.  Which was strange since he was the only one here.  At least he had been when he did a walk-through an hour ago.  Still he couldn’t shake the eerie feeling and went over to the bar and checked behind it.  Nothing. “Strange.”

Chalking it up to an overactive imagination Tony once again headed towards the front door, he had more important things to do than investigate imaginary men in the middle of his locked up club.  He unlocked the front door to let himself out, locking it behind him.  Walking through the dark parking lot he got that feeling again, like someone was watching him.  Though this time a voice stopped him dead in his tracks.  It’s very existence served as a reminder of things better left forgotten. “Why if it isn’t Tony Santos.”

*

*

*

Danny looked shocked by what Tony told him.  Tony couldn’t blame him, he was shocked himself. “What did you do?”

“I got the hell out of there!  Jumped in my car and came home.”

Danny got up and paced back and forth as much as the cluttered room would allow. “How I wonder? And why now?”

“I don’t know.  All I know is that I can barely look at Marah.  I can’t stand lying to her but I never wanted to hurt her with that.” Tony rested his head against the wall, “And this crib is going to take the work of trained professionals. ”

Danny sat alongside Tony and nodded. “I get wanting to protect Marah, I do. But lying to her isn’t going to help.  It will just make her suspicious.  In fact, that was why I was dispatched up here.  To find out what was wrong with you at dinner.  But we’ll figure it out, we always do.  As for this bed, two words of advice: Call Josh.”

Tony couldn’t stop himself from turning and hugging his cousin tightly.  He didn’t know what he would do without Danny.  Now he just had to figure out how to get rid of the past before it ruined everything.

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