What Matters Most~ Chapter Twenty-Seven

Despite Marah’s order for Tony to not come home that was the first place he headed.  Though her car wasn’t in the driveway he hoped for what he didn’t know, he just hoped.  But throwing open the door he was immediately aware of that fact that he was alone.  Marah was gone.  Racing up to their bedroom he noticed the haphazard disarray his wife’s closet and dresser were in.  Clothes were strewn about indicating that she packed a hurry.  Utterly lost he lowered himself to sit on the bed and picked up the flimsy garment next to him.  It was the lingerie Marah had worn to entice him with.  He let the silk slide through his hands and crumple to the floor before burying his head in his hands.  He was such an idiot.  He had tried to protect her from his mistake and had instead made the situation a hundred times worse.  Even worse is that he couldn’t remember if he had sex with Eden or not.  His heart refused to believe he would betray Marah.  But there was that part of him, that low voice in the back of his head that reminded him that he had done it once before.

The sound of a door slamming downstairs brought Tony from his misery.  “Marah.”  He moved quickly to the stairs, ready to plead his case but was brought up short.  But instead of the wife he expected to find Tony instead saw his father-in-law.  Oh shit.  He didn’t know if this was a good thing or not, it had taken over a year for Tony and Josh to come to this place in their relationship.  Before that Josh had never considered Tony good enough for his daughter.  So it was great that Tony could actually say he and Josh were no longer enemies.  But that was before today.  Josh’s face was all hard lines and he looked like he was primed and ready to battle it out.  The way Tony felt right now he would almost welcome the pain.  He gripped the banister tight. “Just tell me, is Marah okay?”

***

Josh looked at his son-in-law speculatively.  The boy was a walking and talking poster for misery that was for damn sure.  Which considering what Reva had told him served him right.  “She is fine considering what went down today.”

Tony hung his head low as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.  Josh hadn’t made it easy for Tony when he was a young punk kid and even when he came back a year ago he had made Tony prove himself.  Marah was his baby girl and always would be.  But she had always told him that there was more to Tony and over this past year he had seen what Marah saw in Tony.  What he saw now.  A man who was insanely in love with his daughter.  But that man had hurt her and as her father he had to make him suffer a little. He moved about the room like he hadn’t a care in the world though they both knew better. “She felt some twinges.  Michelle said they were Braxton Hicks which Reva assured me are normal.  But after the stress of today she prescribed two weeks of bed rest to be on the safe side.”

A knife to the heart would have been less painful.  He didn’t remember walking to the couch or lowering himself to the plush cushions.  All he remembered was the pain, sharp and fierce coursing through his body. “Oh God!”

Josh leaned over the back of the couch to interrogate Tony. “So do you want to explain what happened?  Why my daughter is crying during what is supposed to be the happiest time in her life?  Or more importantly why she caught you in a hotel room with Eden August?”

Tony bounded off the couch in a fit of fury. “I don’t know! I don’t remember!  One minute I was trying to get her to leave town and the next I was waking up in that room.” He raked his hands through his hair in frustration. “I love Marah. She was the one thing that kept me going when I was locked away by Romeo.  The life we have together is the answer to every dream I had.  I wouldn’t throw it away for Eden August.”

To Tony’s utter surprise Josh nodded.  “I believe you.”

Stunned Tony just stared at his father in law in.  He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You do?  I was expecting a beat down by the males of the Lewis family.”

Josh laughed slightly. “With Billy out-of-town we’d have had to wait anyway.  But yes, I believe you.  I am a big enough man to admit when I am wrong.  And though I still think you were a punk when you were younger I think the man you became is what matters.  And the man before me loves my daughter.  I can’t deny that so I won’t waste my time.  But you have to admit the situation looks bad.”

Tony knew that.  He couldn’t deny that if the situation were reversed he would have ripped that hotel room to shreds in anger.  “So what do you think I should do?”

Josh looked at him wryly. “Hell I am married to the hellcat of Tulsa and I still don’t have the answers.  But no one ever achieved anything by lying down when they should have fought for what they wanted.  Remember that.”  Josh patted Tony on the shoulder before heading towards the door. “Don’t make me regret putting my faith you Tony.  One day, when you look into your little girl’s eyes and you fall in love all over again you’ll understand why I fought so hard.”

Tony already knew why Josh fought their relationship but he nodded at the words.  Left alone with no one but his thoughts he contemplated the monumental task before him.  Josh had told him to fight and Tony had been well-versed in the art of fighting.  But would it be enough?  He began to pace…

***

Around midnight Tony felt like he was slowly going crazy.  The house was too silent without Marah’s gentle voice and teasing laughter.  He had scrubbed the taint of Eden’s touch off his skin and yet even that small act had brought another kind of pain.  The soap smelled like Marah.  The shampoo smelled like Marah.  He tried to lie down and sleep but the bed felt too empty without her by his side.  Tired of his own company he went for a drive and ended up at the one place he felt he could go.  But once he got there he couldn’t get himself to turn off the engine and exit.  The lights in the house were off, the family were no doubt in bed like any normal person would be at this hour.  He lowered his head to the steering wheel at the thought of turning around and heading back to that empty cavern he called home.

The knock on the window jolted him from his thoughts.  And nearly scared ten years off his life!  Still dressed his pajamas and hair mused from sleep, Danny gestured for Tony to lower the window.  Once Tony complied Danny leaned on the car door, practically in the window. “Michelle wants to know if you are going to sit in our driveway all night like a creeper or are you going to come inside?”

He don’t know what he would do without Danny.  “You sure?  I don’t want to wake the kids.”

Danny opened the car door himself and gestured Tony to exit. “Get your ass in the house.  You should know by now that my kids could sleep through just about anything.”

Tony wasn’t going to argue with Danny’s logic, not when he needed his advice.  He quickly turned off the car and both men walked towards the house. “Thanks man.”

Danny slung his arm around his cousin’s shoulders. “That is what family is for.”

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