What Matters Most~ Chapter Twenty-One (Part Two)

Marah had just finished ordering Lucy Spaulding’s new living room set when the bell above the door chimed and in stepped a woman Marah had never seen before. Since her mom had left to take Collin to his doctor appointment she was at the office alone so she stood up to greet the stranger. “May I help you?”

The woman smiled. “Yes I’d like a room remodeled.”

Marah picked up her notepad and pencil ready to jot down notes. “Any idea what you are looking for?

After eyeing some of the fabric samples and some of the framed photos of finished decorating she’d done the stranger sat in the chair designated for clients. “Do you do sound proofing?”

Strange but who was she to judge. “We contract with Lewis Construction and they would be able to meet your needs.”

“Well that’s good. Because I have a room in my home that I need completely sound proofed.” She leaned closer as if sharing a secret. “And I mean completely sound proof. You know how the good people of Springfield are. Wouldn’t want them to get nervous when I host my parties.”

Okay now Marah was really curious and couldn’t hold back. “Parties?”

But it was as if the woman hadn’t heard her. “Can you also have doors reinforced? Steel reinforced doors will deter…misbehavior.”

Was this woman some kind of dominatrix? She certainly had an air of authority about her, as if she had faced the world alone and had acquired a backbone of steel to weather its harshness. But her smile was friendly and open. Marah searched her memory for who this elusive woman could be because she looked somewhat familiar but still Marah couldn’t place her. “What did you say your name was?”

The other woman smiled. “I didn’t.” Then to add to the ever-growing puzzle she stood and walked to the door and called out. “Would you come in? The joke was funny at first but now she just looks terrified.” She made her way back towards Marah, who still sat shocked in her seat, and held out her hand which sported an impressive diamond solitaire on her ring finger. “Hello. You probably don’t remember me from back in the day. I’m Dinah Marler Lewis. Soon to be Lewis again.”

Both woman turned when the door opened and Marah felt tears come to her eyes. The man who entered her business smiled widely when he saw her. “Hello Marah.”

It had been so long since she had seen her little brother, though he wasn’t so little anymore. At one time it had been just them two against the world, their father too busy searching for their wayward mother. But she could always depend on Shayne, and he on her. Marah couldn’t hold back any longer. She rushed up and engulfed him in a hug that he returned with equal enthusiasm. “I am so glad you’re home.”

***

Tony made his way towards Marah’s design business still wondering if his brother may have a point. Marah didn’t want a martyr, she’d told him that before. That she was more than capable of thinking for herself and fighting her own battles. But Tony couldn’t ignore the fact that he was the one who started this mess. Eden wouldn’t even be an issue if he wouldn’t have been so weak and fallen into Salerno’s trap. So for now he would bide his time. He’d protect his family while deciding on how best to resolve the Eden problem before it blew up in his face.

He had just walked past Marah’s big picture window when he saw red. There was his gorgeous wife hugging another man. Hugging with extreme delight hat is. Oh he didn’t think so! He pulled the door open disturbing the love fest going on. “Am I interrupting something? Should I come back when you’re not hugging other men?”

Marah narrowed her eyes at her husband in anger. “What is the matter with you?”

“What is the matter with me? I come to take my wife,” He turned and shot a look at the man Marah had been embracing, “Yeah that’s right buddy she’s married!” Facing Marah again he continued. “My pregnant wife at that, to lunch and find her hugging another man!” He gestured at the stranger who looked like he was covering up a grin behind his hand. Which just fueled Tony’s anger. “Do you find this situation funny?”

The stranger dropped his hand but kept the grin. “In fact I do.” He looked at Tony with critical eyes. “The last time I was in town you were dead. And the time before that you were breaking her heart.”

Marah interjected between the two of them. “It’s a long story. A really long story.”

From her chair next to Marah’s desk Dinah piped in. “I’d really like to hear it. And I’m sure Shayne would love to be filled in on all the Lewis family antics.”

Tony looked at the man and swallowed. Oh shit Tony had a feeling he had just stepped in it, big time. “Shayne? When did you get so…big?” Tony knew he could hold his own in a fight if need be, but Shayne was no weakling.

Marah crossed her arms across her chest while simultaneously tapping her foot. “That is what you have to say? What am I going to do with you?”

Shayne decided to take pity on Tony and looped his arm around his sister’s shoulders. “Aw sis don’t be too hard on him. I know I’d be a mite perturbed if I saw someone hugging Dinah. This is alright Tony? Me putting my arm around Marah? You’re not going to challenge me to a duel at daybreak are you?”

Smartass. But Tony took it all in stride. “My dueling pistols are in the shop so we’re good.”

“That is a relief. I didn’t come all the way home from Europe for nothing.”

Shayne eyed his fiance with a grin. “Thanks sweetheart. Love you too. ” He turned back towards his sister and her husband. He couldn’t believe she was married to Tony Santos. That the man had somehow come back from the great beyond. This story had to be epic. “So how about we all go grab some lunch and you can fill us in on this long story about how Tony cheated death and how you became Mrs. Tony Santos?”

Well there went his plans at coming clean to his wife.  But he could tell she was excited about having her brother back home so how could he possibly say no?  And if truth be told, he wasn’t exactly eager to confess all to Marah.  If there was one thing he never wanted to do again it was hurting Marah and the truth would hurt.  A lot.  So instead he smiled and placed his arms around Marah’s shoulder, “Sounds great.”

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