What Matters Most~ Chapter Thirty (Part Two)

Marah sat in the kitchen shivering as the coroner wheeled the body of John Anderson away. She just couldn’t believe it, their house had become a crime scene. Had it not been for Rafael she would have stepped in the victim’s blood. The morbid thought caused more shuddering to course through her and despite pulling the robe tighter around herself she continued to tremble. Nearby she watched as Frank Cooper interrogated Rafael since he was the one who had discovered the body.

The body. Just a young man barely starting out in life and now that young life was snuffed out.

Outside there was a commotion prompting several police officers to rush over in an effort to contain the scene. But even over the officers’ harsh orders the newcomer’s voice could be heard issuing his own orders, demanding entrance.

Marah poked her head out the door and was shocked at what she saw. Tony and Danny were standing amid a sea of police officers, Danny doing his best to hold Tony back. But Tony was having none of it. His body practically vibrated with fury, his voice barely contained fear.

Seeing her husband fighting to get to her made Marah realize just how much she needed him at that moment. She needed his strength. But more importantly she needed his love. A They still had a lot to talk about but they could do that together. Because looking as the devastation on his face it was clear he needed her just as much as much as she needed him. Marah couldn’t have stopped herself from going to him if she tried. Despite the chill of the night air she ran on bare feet as quickly as her pregnant state would allow her.

***

“No you listen to me. I live here!” Tony felt about as helpless as ever standing there. The last thing he had expected that night was a call from Springfield P.D. informing him that a body had been found at his residence. A body. That’s all he was told as if he would roll over and go back to sleep. Now Springfield’s finest thought they could stand there and deny him access to Marah. Hell after their cryptic call he didn’t even know if the victim was male or female. Don’t go there. “I want to see my wife. Now!”

The officer tasked with trying to talk him down was quickly losing patience with him. “Mr. Santos I understand but this is a crime scene. Do you have any idea-”

Tony opened his mouth to give the officer another piece of his mind when he noticed movement out of the corner of his eye. And there, as if from a vision, was Marah. Barely dressed in her pajamas and a terry cloth bathrobe Tony felt the warm tears fall from his eyes. She was wonderfully, blissfully, alive. “Marah!” He felt Danny release his arm and thankfully the officers blocking his way moved because nothing was going to stop him from getting to her. Not now, not ever. And that is just what he did. He gathered her tight to his body reassuring himself that she and the baby were alright. Burying his face in her neck he breathed in the familiar scent of her shampoo and his heart leaped in his chest. God he couldn’t lose her again. “Are you and the baby alright?”

Marah simply nodded, unable to speak. So they stood like that for long moments, simply holding each other basking in the love that had always been.

From nearby Frank Cooper cleared his throat to get their attention. “Sorry to interrupt but I need to question Marah. Tony you need to wait outisde.”

Marah smiled at Tony reassuringly before moving towards the kitchen. But to his surprise she kept a firm hold on his hand. “Sorry Frank, but I need my husband right now.”

Frank looked like he was ready to protest but it was clear by Marah’s look of determination that she was not backing down. Frank finally relented and gestured them both towards the back door. “Fine. This damn night just keeps getting better and better.”

***

Tony watched as Marah nervously got ready for bed. It would be sweet and endearing if it weren’t for the fact that his presence in their bedroom was the reason for her nerves. He sat on the bed and patted the spot beside him. “Marah we need to talk.”

She had been dreading this even though she knew they needed to clear the air in order to move forward. Logically she knew that just because they had a crisis their problems were not instantly fixed. But still, after the pain from tonight she wanted to go to sleep and simply forget, just for a little while. Still, she sat and waited for Tony to begin.

Tony had a lot he needed to explain, a lot he needed to tell her. Best to start at the beginning. “When you broke up with me after you found those pictures in 2003 I was hurt and I was angry. I couldn’t remember hurting that woman and I wanted answers. I wanted to prove to you that I wasn’t that guy anymore, that angry and violent man. So I went with Eden to New York and confronted Vinnie Salerno. He admitted that they were fake, that they were to get to Danny. Then he laughed, what good would the truth serve he said. Would you see me as anyone beyond those pictures?” Tony lowered his head in shame, even years later. “And I believed him. So, yes, I reached out to Eden. It was just that one time and I regretted it immediately.”

Even though it hurt to hear it, this explained a lot about the time in their lives. “This explains so much. Why you were so distant from me. Why you said you couldn’t be with me even though you loved me.” She looked at him then, tears slowly flowing down her cheeks, “It’s not like it would be first time you had sex with someone I once considered my friend. And I loved you then just as much as I love you now.

“Marah I hated myself when I was with Catalina. Hated that I was hurting you because all I wanted was to be with you. And turning to Eden just seemed to prove that I was still that guy. The guy who does impulsive things and hurts those around him.” Tony reached out and rubbed his thumb across her cheek to wipe away her tears. “And you have always been the one last person I ever wanted to hurt.”

Marah was silent for so long Tony was afraid that by coming clean of the past he had ruined their chances of patching things up. But finally she took a deep breath and looked at him. “You should have told me. We both made mistakes back then, not just you. Though having sex with Eden five minutes after we break up is not your finest moment.” She reached over and took his hand in hers, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “And I know you like to protect me but by shutting me out Eden was able to make us vulnerable. I am not a coward and I am not weak.”

Tony smiled at the fierceness in her tone. No she certainly wasn’t. “Don’t I know it baby. And I should have told you Eden was back, my only excuse is that I simply wanted her gone.”

They sat silently for a few moments before Marah asked, “Tell me about the other day. About Towers.”

Tony swallowed reflexively, he knew things were going too well. But still he met Marah’s gaze head on, imploring her to listen. To believe him. “I met with Eden to try to get her to leave town. I thought meeting her in public would be the safest bet. But the next thing I knew I was waking up in that room and well, you know the rest.”

Marah couldn’t look at Tony as she whispered. “Did you have sex with her?”

“I don’t know.”

Marah’s cry of anguish tore at his chest and when she tried to pull her hand away he didn’t let her. Instead he pulled her closer. Her refused to let Eden pull them apart anymore. “I don’t know because the whole evening is a blur. I remember bits and pieces but it’s all just a foggy mess. Michelle seemed to think that Eden drugged me somehow and that is why I have the blackout. Because I know to the very depths of my soul, I know Marah, I would not have had sex with Eden willingly.”

Strange enough Marah believed him. Maybe it was the adament way he spoke of his unwillingness to have sex with Eden, or perhaps it was because after tonight and seeing death that close to home she saw things more clearly. But she did. But that didn’t mean that Eden wasn’t still a threat. Eden had always had a one track mind where Tony was concerned and Marah wasn’t seeing her with blinders on this time. If she thought she wouldn’t have a fight on her hands she was sadly mistaken. After all, Marah was the daughter of Reva Shayne. She could fight dirty if she had to. But the events of the day finally started catching up to her and she yawned loudly. “Tony, I’m tired.”

Tony’s face remained impassive as though assessing if she were shutting him out. He stood up from the bed and averted his eyes. “Um, okay. I am just going to go get Danny and head out. He is meeting with Rafael talking over heightened security measures.”

But when he went to walk past her she grabbed his hand. “Will you stay? Here I mean? I need you here. I want you here where you belong.”

Tony’s heart shuddered with unrestrained relief. “Let me just go tell Danny.”

***

Laying in bed later that night it still felt like there was a small distance between them even though he held her body tight against his. Though that distance wasn’t as insurmountable as it had been hours before. At least she had welcomed him into their home, into their bed after everything. It gave him hope that he could close that last gap.

In the darkness she whispered softly. “Tony?”

He pulled her tighter against him, worried that she was having residual fears related to tonight. At least his presence would offer her comfort if that was the case. “Yeah baby?”

“We need a new pool.”

Of all the things he expected that was not it. But he understood. She couldn’t look at the old one without seeing it as a crime scene, without seeing the lingering horror of the night. “I’ll make some calls in the morning.” He brushed her soft hair back over her shoulders and smiled. “Now get some sleep.”

“I love you Tony.”

If it were possible Tony felt his heart skip at her words. She always had that effect on him. “I love you too Mi Corazon.”

***

From the doorway Eden watched as Carlos scrubbed the evidence of his crime away with cheap motel soap. “What do we do now? You committed a murder Carlos!”

He didn’t even look up he just continued to scrub, ensuring no traces of blood remained. “I did what had to be done. He was going to give us away Eden, I couldn’t let him do that.”

Eden nodded reluctantly. She may have started this but Carlos had quickly become the mastermind. And now she was an accomplice, even after the fact, to a murder. But it was clear that unless she wanted to end up like John she had better make nice. “I understand.”

Carlos turned off the faucet before meeting her gaze in the mirror. He spoke earnestly. “Good. Because I told you before, I will stop anyone who stands in my way.” He grabbed the knife off the bathroom sink and moved to walk past her. “And I do mean anyone.”

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