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

Marah had soaked in the tub for nearly thirty minutes before once again donning her seductive lingerie. Then she had spent another twenty minutes applying lotion. As her mom would say, she had polished herself to a fine shine. She was a woman on a mission and that mission was seduction. Tony had been coming to bed late for days now, and though their earlier talk seemed to alleviate some of the widening gulf between them she missed the intimacy between them. So she was trying to see if perhaps a second time was the charm for this silky number. She even arranged several candles around the room to set the mood before striking a provocative pose upon the bed. She was more than ready to ravish her husband.

But as more time passed her eyes began to grow heavy and the candles melted down and soon she fell asleep…

She awoke with a start and was surprised that Tony was not yet beside her in bed. In fact, his side of the bed showed no indication that he’d been there at all. Checking the alarm clock she was shocked to see that it read 11:30.

She descended the stairs and was once again surprised by how quiet the house was. Checking rooms she called out his name. “Tony?” She looked in the dining room hoping that maybe he had fallen asleep doing paperwork. But that room, just like all the others, was empty.  The evidence was pretty clear, Tony was gone.

***

Carlos Riviera sat watching the large estate house for any movement but saw nothing but the wind rustling the trees. The mansion was an imposing figure in the darkness nestled away from the road from any prying eyes of curious Springfield residents. Though from the looks of things no one had set foot on the property except for vandals and vermin. It was perfect for what he had planned.

Lifting the large crime scene box in his arms Carlos carefully made his way through the foot-high weeds. Hidden among the foliage and forgotten to time was a For Sale sign. The sign was rusted and barely recognizable due to fading. He would have never been able to see it himself it the moon wasn’t so bright. Clearly the interest, besides that of dubious nature, was extremely low.

Whether due to teenagers finding the house desirable because of its secluded location or simply due to neglect, the large front doors barely hung on their hinges and one strong push admitted entry into its vast interior. And flipping on the flashlight he also carried showed just as much neglect as on the outside. To his right he heard rather than saw various rodents scatter and hide as his footsteps echoed down the large cavernous hallway. And although he was sure the family had taken some furniture with them, and the house had no doubt been looted through the years, some broken furniture remained. It was as if the family who lived there just had gotten up and left everything behind.

Carlos set the box upon the floor and surveyed the large living room. This would be the place where he would dole out his vengeance. How fitting that he was bringing it back to where it all started. It was almost poetic. For the next two hours he cleared trash and debris from the room like he was processed. And perhaps he was. His revenge was so close he could almost taste it.

When he was satisfied with his work he placed his box upon the fireplace mantle as if it were a place of honor. And for him it was. Or it soon would be, when the time was right. Finished for the night he secured the outer doors before fastening them with a padlock. No longer concerned about the potential wildlife lurking the weeds Carlos stomped his way back to his vehicle whistling before driving into the night.

***

Tony paced in his office in Infierno like a mouse in a cage.  Out of the three men assembled he was the only one who was wide awake and full of restless energy.  His life was spinning out of control and he couldn’t seem to stop its trajectory into hell.

Danny tried to stifle his yawn but both he and Rafael had been woken up in the middle of the night and summoned here for a ’emergency meeting’.  He wasn’t really firing on all cylinders just yet. “Tony would you sit down? You’re making me even more tired just watching you.”

Tony stopped pacing but couldn’t sit. He just faced two of the men he trusted most.  If ever he needed guidance it was now. “She texted me. How she got my number I have no idea, but Eden texted me. She wants to meet me tomorrow at Towers.”

Well that certainly got their attention, Danny and Rafael were instantly awake both sitting upright in their chairs. They had both known this moment was coming, when Eden would make her move, but they had hoped to have formulated a plan by now. Rafael was the first to speak. “Son have you figured out what her angle is yet? Because let me tell you, I have given her nothing but shitty shifts and grunt work and she does it with a smile on her smug face. She knows she has us over a barrel and is happier than a hog in shit.”

“Rafael is right. Eden bas always been trouble but I doubt I have to tell you that.” Danny shook his head at his cousin. “I am actually surprised you told us. Usually you try to handle things on your own.”

Tony let out a frustrated breath.  Funny thing is that Danny wasn’t that far off the mark, that idea had gone through his head.  But he had quickly discarded it.   Not listening to Danny last time had cost him so much, he didn’t want to go down that road again.  Hence the emergency meeting. “Yeah well we all know how that usually turns out.”

Rafael sighed in resignation. This was not a good situation and he didn’t foresee it getting any better any time soon. “My contact in the bureau is giving me the runaround regarding your friend Eden August.  I think it may be time for me to make a trip to D.C. to pay him a personal visit.”

“It all comes back to Tony. She wants what she never got the first time of that I am sure.”

“Well she can’t have me. And I am not the same person I used to be. Hell she knew I regretted our one night stand the minute it happened!” Tony one again pushed out of his chair and resumed his pacing.

“I have half a mind to cancel my business meeting tomorrow. I shouldn’t be in Bay City with Carlos Riviera when you are walking into the viper’s den.”

Tony eyed his cousin. Always holding the weight of the world on his shoulders. “I am a big boy Danny. I can handle Eden. We need to keep good relations with the wine guy.” He turned to Rafael. “Can do me a favor?  Can you keep an eye on Marah? I don’t know what Eden’s game is but I certainly don’t trust her where Marah is concerned.”

“Of course I will. You have my word.” The older man stood and embraced Tony tightly. “Watch your back, Tony.  That’s all I can say.  Watch your back.  That girl has something planned I can feel it.”

Tony could feel it too, he just hoped he didn’t go along with her plans willingly.

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