What Matters Most~ Chapter Twenty-Five

Despite his state of undress Tony moved towards the door. But when he got within touching distance Marah stiffened, it was clear by her body language that she was barely holding it together, and that if he reached out that fragile tether would break. “Baby this isn’t what it looks like.” The comforter he had wrapped around him slipped with his movements and he gripped it tight in his fist. Marah’s eyes were drawn to that like magnets and her breath hitched.

Marah wrapped her arms around her midsection, reinforcing that fragile grip on herself and her emotions. “Tony do you know how cliché you sound? I wish men would find a better line than that. I certainly expected better from you.” In more ways than one.

Tony’s eyes were huge with desperation. He had to make her see, make her understand. “Marah I swear to you. I admit, I came to meet Eden this afternoon, but just at the bar. But how we got here, in this bed, is a mystery even I don’t know. Because I know I would never sleep with Eden.”

On the bed Eden stretched languidly, as if being caught practically in flagrante delicto was of little interest to her. She leveled herself up on her elbows, keeping the sheet tight around her chest. “Really Tony? Still lying to Marah and yourself I see.”

Tony whirled on her in fury. “Shut your mouth! I don’t know how but I know you are behind this.”

“I wasn’t the only one on that rooftop Tony. You were right there with me. Perhaps the words ‘we always knew this would happen if we let it’ will jog your memory.” She could see pure malice in his chocolate-brown eyes and felt a moment of panic. Baby steps Eden had to remind herself. Baby steps.

Marah had remained motionless by the door watching and listening. She was sure this was a dream and any minute she would wake up, safe in their bed at home. Because right now it felt like her heart had been ripped out of her chest. She felt a slight twinge in her stomach but it quickly passed. Seems the baby knew her mother was in the middle of a global meltdown. The discovery of her husband naked with another woman had taken presidence over just who that woman happened to be. But now she could see beyond the brassy blonde dye job that it was none other than Eden August. Eden was back in Springfield. And from the sound of their side comments Eden and Tony had a history that she knew nothing about. “You two slept together? Before today?”

Tony cringed at the devastation in Marah’s tone. She had stood against everyone; him, his cousin, and even her own family to give Eden a second chance. And then they had done exactly what everyone had warned her about. “Baby it was right after we broke up. Before I left Springfield. I was hurting…”

“I was hurting too! But did I go and sleep with your friend?” She turned her wrath towards Eden. “Or could I ever really call you a friend? You were always after Tony, even then. I should have listened to everyone who warned me, they warned me Eden, but I said you deserved a second chance.”

Eden shrugged a bare shoulder. “The heart wants what it wants.”

“Screw you! You should have stayed gone Eden. Because I can guarantee no one in this town wished for the day you would darken their doorstep again.”

For a brief moment Marah had the satisfaction of seeing pain flash through Eden’s eyes. But the other woman quickly masked it over with her trademark condescension. “Sure seems like your husband enjoyed our reunion just fine.”

Marah had to concentrate to keep her face neutral, to not let on that Eden had struck a fatal blow. But the shock of the situation was wearing on her already unsteady hormones and she knew she had to get out of there before she burst into tears. And she would not let Eden see her cry. She turned towards the door that had remained opened throughout the entire exchange. She was proud of herself when her voice came out surprisingly strong. “Tony don’t bother coming home tonight. Maybe you can stay at Danny’s. If not maybe Eden will let you room with her. Just know you come near me and I will take care of you, Lewis style.”

“Marah wait! We need to talk about this!” Tony tried to grab the door as she slammed it close but got caught up in the cover wrapped around him and tumbled to the ground. He untangled himself as quickly as possible before picking himself up and following Marah out into the hall. But even as he ran down the hall calling towards the elevators calling her name he knew she wasn’t going to turn around. He watched as she stepped into the elevator and reached them just as the door closed. He punched the closed metal door with his fist. Oh god what had he done?

An elderly couple stepped out their room and gasped. It wasn’t every day that you saw a half-naked man standing in the hallway with his heart bleeding out.

***

Marah rushed to her car and slammed the door. She was afraid Tony would be hot on her trails, naked in a comforter or not. The twinges she had felt upstairs were back, in force. She wanted to chalk it up to stress, finding your husband in bed with another woman would be stressful for anyone right? But now she was scared and didn’t even have her husband to lean on right now. She picked up her cell phone and dialed the next best thing. “Mama? I need you.”

**

Tony thundered back into the room and slammed the door shut behind him. Stalking up to the bed where Eden had once again lounged back as if she had not a care in the world Tony had a brief moment of satisfaction when her eyes showed a hint of something akin to fear. Good. She should be scared. Because the way he felt he was sure he could rip this room apart and not feel a thing. “How did you do it Eden? How did you get me in this room? In this bed? Because I know I could not have come willingly.”

Eden rolled her eyes. “Please. You act as if I have to force men into my bed. ” She stretched like a cat in the noon day sun. The sheet dropping down to reveal herself in what she expected to be an enticing manner. “I never had to force you either if you remember correctly.”

He hated that he couldn’t refute her claims. They had both used each other that summer but she hadn’t forced him to pursue her. And later, that had been him on that roof using her once again to drive away the pain of losing Marah once again. But had he come in this room with her willingly? Every fiber of his being screamed no but yet he still stood with just a comforted wrapped around his waist. He thought back to meeting downstairs at the bar. He remembered telling her that her return was a waste of time, that he was in love with his wife. But after that the whole event got fuzzy. But he had wasted enough time, Eden wasn’t going to answer his questions and it was plain to see that she wasn’t leaving town any time soon. Tony hurried over to where his clothes were strewn across the nearby chair and began getting dressed in a hurry. He had to get to Marah. He had to make her see that this was all just a mistake, just a trick that Eden had devised. Because his heart wouldn’t accept any other answer.

“Running after the little woman? She’s not the one for you Tony.”

Tony jumped when Eden’s arms came around his waist and he quickly maneuvered out of her reach. “That’s where you’re wrong. With Marah I am whole. She is everything that is good and decent in my life. You? You were a mistake that for some reason keeps coming back like a bad rash.” He sidestepped her and moved towards the door. “Now get out of my damn way.”

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