The tension in the car was so thick Tony felt like he could cut it with a knife. Even worse was that he didn’t know what to do or say to alleviate the pain Eden had caused last week by her stunt at the baby shower. Danny, Josh, and him had arrived to a scene of chaos. Michelle and Reva had both been fuming and Dinah had gazed at him with a speculative look on her face that he still didn’t quite know what she meant by. But worst of all had been Marah’s demeanor that day. She hadn’t been crying, she hadn’t yelled, she had just been…numb. She had sat there silent and stoic as the chaos erupted around her. Thankfully all the other guest had gone home by that point but the damage had already been done. If Eden’s goal had been to destroy everything she had succeeded yet again. By the end of the night everyone in Springfield would know the drama unfolding in Tony and Marah’s marriage. But even more than that was the relief Tony had felt at getting Marah back, was replaced by the fear that she was slipping away. All because Eden had thrown some photographs into the mix.
Even if the photographs weren’t real. Because he would bet his life that he wasn’t an active a participant in that room. Not that it mattered. A set of doctored photos ruined his life once before, and it was doing the trick once again. The silence in the car was starting to become too much for him to take. They might as well be three miles away from each other rather than less than three feet. But still Tony tried, “If I haven’t told you already tonight. You look fantastic.” And she did. As she had descended down the staircase tonight it had taken every ounce of self-imposed restraint not to muss her up. Her dress was that silky material designed to flatter her baby bump.
Marah turned her attention from the landscape that was passing by the car windows and faced him briefly. “Thank you. You look nice too.” She then turned her attention back to the window, to scenery that he doubted she really saw or cared about.
He gripped the steering wheel tighter in frustration. That brief conversation was par for the course for them these days. Tony was getting really tired of talking to Marah about the weather. He wished she would yell at him, anything but her silence. “Marah you know those photos Eden-”
Marah quickly cut him off. “You know I really don’t want to talk about it. Tonight I just want to celebrate the opening of the community center not have to even think of the name Eden August.”
Tony didn’t know what to think. He wanted to plead his case, but he was also stunned that Marah had actually spoken that many words to him. Pulling up to the Guiding Light Community Center he handed the keys to the valet that had been hired for the opening extravaganza. Lightbulbs flashed nearby alerting them to the press coverage the event was receiving which was good, it was time Fifth Street got some good press for a change. And though Marah stood stiffly in his arms as they posed for their pictures Tony was just glad he got to hold her for those brief moments.
Eden did some final touches on her makeup then turned to face her captive audience of one. “Ready when you are.”
Carlos leveraged himself off the bed and smoothed the front of his rented tuxedo. He knew nothing about dressing classy but he figured a tuxedo was what a person wore to functions like the one tonight. “About time. Woman you sure took your sweet time.”
“We couldn’t be the first ones there. These things are pretty boring anyway, just a bunch of rich snobs drinking champagne while under the pretense of being do-gooders.” She tossed her lipstick in her clutch and closed it with a snap. “But at least I will get champagne.”
Carlos gritted his teeth. Eden never seemed to grasp the concept that this whole thing wasn’t about the little perks. This party they were attending wasn’t about drinking champagne it was about something much bigger. But he let it go, let her believe whatever kept her from suspecting anything. “Let’s go rock the citizens of Springfield.”
Danny and Michelle stood near the bar and watched the people mill around. Nothing like a party with free champagne to bring out the great citizens of Springfield. But tonight their focus was on one couple in particular. Michelle turned to her husband and sighed. “They are not happy Danny.”
Danny knew without asking who his wife was referring to. They had both been watching Marah and Tony closely since they had arrived. How even though they stood close they might as well have been miles apart. His cousin’s face showed lines of frustration, the same frustration he had voiced numerous times over the past week. But there simply wasn’t anything Danny could do or say to make things better for them, and that was even hard for Danny to bear. He hated seeing two people he loved fall prey to someone as nefarious as Eden August. He brushed his knuckles along his wife’s cheek to reassure her. She had such a tender caring heart. Just one of the many reasons he loved her.”They’ll work it out Michelle. You’ll see.”
“Are you sure?
Michelle was as convinced as Danny was. He simply didn’t know. But he hoped they did. They had to work things out. He didn’t want to lose his cousin again to the darkness that consumed his soul without Marah in his life.
Doris Wolfe was practically giddy with excitement. The turnout for the Community Center surpassed the board members’ expectations, it seemed as if the entire town was in attendance. She grabbed Marah’s hands enthusiastically. “Marah I couldn’t be happier with how the place turned out!”
Marah tried to smile but the movement felt empty and hollow. “I am so glad you are please.” She felt Tony move next to her, restless and edgy. She made some polite small talk with Doris before Tony and her were able to make their exit. They made their way over to Danny and Michelle whose warm greeting barely hid their curious glances. Marah felt as if every eye in the place were watching them, scrutinizing them like specimens under a microscope. Fighting tears she excused herself for the lady’s room.
Tony watches Marah scurry away before turning towards the bartender. “Jack. Neat.’
Danny lifted an eyebrow in concern. “You think drinking is the best course of action tonight?”
Tony took the glass the bartender handed him and slammed it back in one gulp, grimacing at the harshness of the liquor. He handed it back then signaled for another. When he had the second one in his hand he turned and answered his cousin. “I have a one night stand that is trying to destroy my life and my wife can barely stand to be near me. Drinking seems the least of my problems.”
Danny and Michelle both shared worried glances but seeing the pain on Tony’s face they both let it go for now.
Tony listened to everyone talk around him but he wasn’t really listening or an active participant. Realizing that Marah had been gone awhile he visually scanned the room but came up with nothing. Nothing but the person who had essentially detonated a bomb within his marriage. Again. He placed his glass on the bar, the contents sloshing over the side with the motion. “You have got to be kidding me!”