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

Tony had faced situations where he had felt out of his element before. But this was so far out of his frame of reference Danny and Josh might as well be speaking another language it went so far over his head. He had at least tried to start on putting the baby bed together but he quickly deduced that it was designed by sadists intending to torture him. But Josh had taken a look at the design and gotten to work. Now Josh and Danny chatted like old pros about, of all things, baby furniture, while he was tasked with holding the damn thing straight. Tony looked at the directions next to him and pointed towards the wall where the other section was leaning. “The directions say we need to attach that side next.”

Josh laughed quietly but kept going about his business. “Are you questioning my expertise Tony? Because judging by the scene when I walked in here earlier my granddaughter would have been sleeping in a dresser drawer.” Josh finished his task with a flourish then looked up at Tony and smiled good naturally. “You were putting it together backwards.”

Danny started laughing as if that was the funniest thing he had ever heard. “Did you not learn anything from the stroller incident? You pay the extra dollars to have people put these things together for you.”

Raising an eyebrow at his cousin Tony said sarcastically, “But then I wouldn’t have gotten to spend the afternoon with you Primo.”

Danny grinned. “Touché.” His cousin looked around the room at all the furniture that had yet to be assembled and sighed. “Where is Rafael? Even with three kids assembling baby furniture isn’t exactly my forte, and it sure as hell isn’t yours.”

Tony shrugged which caused him to momentarily lose the grip he had on the crib railing. After he had regained his grasp he answered. “Said he wanted to check something out. Might be gone until the better part of next week, maybe until the opening of the Community Center. But I’ve learned not to ask too many questions.”

Watching the by-play between the two men Josh had an amused look on his face. But they still had a baby bed to finish putting together and he wanted to get a jump on the other furniture before he called it a day. He picked up his battery-operated screwdriver and resumed work. “As amusing as you two are together I want to get this done before the baby is born and stuck sleeping in a dresser drawer.”

***

A half hour later all three men sat and gazed at the final product. Josh brough his bottle of beer up to his lips and took a healthy drink. “We did good men. Even if Tony just had to buy the deluxe model.”

They all laughed but Tony felt a blush creep up under his skin. He couldn’t help it, he had seen the crib and instantly knew it was made for their little Santos. Marah and his. He opened his mouth to respond but it seemed Josh wasn’t finished yet.

“And this room isn’t a half bad paint job Tony. Too bad I didn’t know this when Reva had me painting Collin’s room last month. I’m not as young as I once was.”

Tony may have laughed on the outside but on the inside he cringed, he remembered all too well what it was like working for Josh. But the room did look pretty neat, even if he only had a small role in getting it there. “I just painted the base color. Under your daughter’s watchful eye mind you. The rest is her gift to our daughter.” And it really was, the mural on the wall of the castle and trees was done by a mother’s loving hand. It really was a work of art.

Josh whistled taking it in with new appreciation. “I don’t know where she gets it from. Damn sure doesn’t get it from me.” Josh slapped his knee before getting to his feet. “Now let’s get ourselves over to Danny’s house. Where there is a baby shower there is bound to be some food. And cake, can’t forget that.”

***

Michelle stared incredulously as Eden brazenly waltzed into her home as if she owned the place. “Damn you started opening presents without me. Oh well, better late than never.” She held out a brightly colored gift bag overflowing with tissue paper. “I hope you like it.”

Marah looked at the gift as if Eden was offering her a rabid cat. And knowing Eden she wouldn’t put it past her to do just that, maybe even worse. The whole room sat nearby waiting on bated breath, silently watching the drama play out in front of them. Her mother rested a restraining hand on her shoulder, no doubt knowing that Marah wanted nothing more than to get up and rip Eden’s eyes out. But also knowing it wasn’t the wisest choice in her condition. But before Marah could tell Eden where she could take her package and shove it Michelle reappeared and angrily ripped the offending package from Eden’s hand. “This shower is for family and friends. You are neither.” She threw the bag to the ground before grabbing the other woman’s arm. “I want you out of my home. Now.”

The entire group watched eagerly as Michelle practically dragged Eden towards the front door. But not to be silenced Eden turned her head and shot Marah a parting smile. “Hope you enjoy my gift. I’m sure Tony will love the reminder. I know I do.”

Marah had a pretty good idea what Eden’s “gift” contained. She felt her stomach turn and it had nothing to do with the amount of cake she had consumed.

If it was possible Michelle looked even more mad. She dug her nails into the arm she held in her grasp which caused Eden to actually wince in pain. “That’s it. I think it’s time you and I had a heart to heart.” The front door closed behind them with a resounding slam.

Perhaps it was due to the shock of what had just happened but the group sat in stunned silence for several minutes after Michelle threw Eden out. Finally Dinah whistled lowly. “Remind me not to piss her off. That is one raging spitfire.” She then stood and walked towards the table still laden with food. “A situation like this calls for sugar. Anyone else want some more of this cake?”

All the women converged on the table like flies on honey, grateful to escape the residual tension in the room, except for Marah. She just sat and stared at the bag lying on the floor, a sense of foreboding filling her heart. Would this nightmare ever end?

***

Eden rubbed her arm where Michelle had dug her fingernails in her skin. Who knew that sweet gentle Michelle had talons? But she quickly dropped her hand so as to not give Michelle the satisfaction of knowing she had left her mark. Instead she plastered on a sardonic smile. “What is the matter Michelle? I brought a present. Not off the registry but you know I like to think outside the box.”

Michelle just stood there and pinned Eden with a look that would have seared a lesser adversary to their toes. “I don’t know how you did it. As a doctor I know you must have drugged him because we all know Tony would have never slept with trash like you.” She raked Eden up and down with a slight sneer. “You were trash the last time you were in town and you are trash now. Now if you don’t willingly get off my property I will call the cops and get your butt thrown off. In fact I would love to see that.”

Inside Eden felt blinding rage boil up inside. The kind her therapist had worked for years to try to channel out of her to no avail. Instead Eden had channeled it to one goal, getting what she had always wanted most. But she checked herself mentally and turned towards the street. But not to let Michelle have the last word as she sauntered away she called out over her shoulder, “Tell Marah there is more to that gift if she wants to see them.”

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