Archive | September 2013

Behind the Scenes

Marah and Tony

I changed many directions during the writing of “What Matters Most”, some I think were for the better and some were simply because the story would have gone on FOREVER if I hadn’t changed things up.   Here are some of the more notable changes I made midstream.

1. The character of John Anderson was originally a main villain.  In fact, he was the character who eventually became Carlos Riviera (AKA Carlos Quesada).  But during writing John became more of a sympathetic character while I was trying to craft an old-school villain, one who lived and breathed vengeance for years and came out swinging.  So John became a secondary character whose story slowly emerged in my head, and whose last act was one of redemption.

2.  I was originally going to have Eden and Carlos pair up romantically.  But Carlos had a one track mind and wouldn’t let me be deterred.  As a villain he was the dominant personality and crazy enough I began to like writing him.  He was an interesting character to dive into especially since he was crafted from a scene when Catalina first arrived with Reva and Noah when she mentioned having several brothers back in Cuba.

3.  After Eden got Tony in the hotel room I was going to have her lie about her own pregnancy in a very old-school soap story twist.  But that would have added even more chapters onto this story!  Instead I reverted back to Marony history.  Like the photos from Vinnie Salerno in 2003, I had Eden play the same game with Marah which caused them angst and left them vulnerable.

4.  And one of the biggest changes was that the “hero” can technically be considered Michelle Santos since she saved Marah and the baby.  The original hero was going to be Robbie Santos but I thought that might be a bit traumatizing for a little boy to see.  So I moved Michelle in as the new heroine who saves the day with her doctor skills.  In fact, any time I went to write a Michelle scene she just seemed to take over.  She was throwing Eden out of her house and certainly wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Remembering Guiding Light

GL History

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the day that fans said goodbye to Guiding Light, and in extension, goodbye to the citizens of Springfield.  For many fans of this legendary soap opera that loss is just as fresh today as it was in 2009 when the words “The End” were scrawled across the Springfield lighthouse.

For seventy years viewers watched Springfield’s resident’s trials and triumphs.  Their epic love stories and their utter despair.  These were more than just characters that came to our televisions every day, they were members of our family.  Yes these members were fictional, but we still cared whether they succeeded or failed.

And even more than that Guiding Light was often a family tradition.  I began watching with my grandmother when I was too young to know what it was that I was really watching.  She was a fan from day one, and she remained a loyal fan until she passed away in 2008.  I remember many afternoons spent sitting in the den watching Roger Thorpe prove just why he was the best villain in soap opera history.  I remember watching Alan-Michael fight his attraction to Lucy and even to my young eyes I knew they were meant to be together.  Watching Vanessa and Matt fall in love, Alan-Michael and Phillip battle over Spaulding, and the great friendship between Hampton Speakes and Billy Lewis.  And I remember being devastated when Maureen Bauer met her untimely end.  That is just one of the reasons Guiding Light was so special to me.  It was something I shared with someone close to me.

So yes, today marks the fourth anniversary of the day fans had to say goodbye but saying goodbye doesn’t hurt as much when fans try to keep the citizens of Springfield alive through fanficition and uploading videos to YouTube.  Why BandstandMike on YouTube is uploading some amazing 90s clips weekly.  And Jezzfanatic uploads Buzz and Jenna clips as well as Alan-Michael and Lucy clips.  As long as there are fans out there sharing clips the light will never fade, and that is what makes all the difference.

svglsign1dec08

“There is a destiny that makes us brothers.  No one walks their way alone.  All that we put into the lives of others comes back into our own” – Reverend Rutledge

Is this the End?

Marony47

Not quite.  When I began writing “What Matters Most” I never anticipated it would become a novel that stretched forty plus chapters.  But writing a story covering at least the majority of Marah’s pregnancy had to be a long one.  And midway through I realized that if I were to end Marah and Tony’s story on a happy note than any future insights into this pairing would be one-shot fanfics and short stories.  So I decided to end “What Matters Most” with a cliffhanger.

But all is not lost, I have every intention of writing Story Three very soon.  I have been toying with the titles “Lost and Found” and “Return to Me” but anyway it will be Marah and Tony’s journey back to each other…with of course some roadblocks thrown in for good measure.  Though the amnesia angle is not exactly me favorite areas to explore, it opened up some great possibilities to explore.  Both between Marah and Tony as well as between Danny and Michelle.

In the meantime I plan on finishing the Marah and Tony clips on YouTube as well as some articles on here that I have been working on while finishing the story.

What Matters Most~ Epilogue

Three days later…

Danny entered the Springfield police station with some hesitation. When Frank had called him and informed him that Carlos wanted to speak with him before he was hauled off to a more secure facility Danny’s initial reaction was to pass on the message for him to “go to hell”. But then curiosity got the better of him. What could Carlos possibly have to talk to him about. So here he was, walking into the Springfield Police Department and meeting with the man who had nearly killed a member of his family. He showed his ID to the desk clerk and signed in.

Frank approached and raised his chin greeting. “Come to chat with Quesada?”

Danny nodded. “I hate to give him the satisfaction but when you called and said he wanted to talk I felt I had to come. I owed it to Tony, to Marah.”

“How is she doing?”

“She still hasn’t regained consciousness which has Tony on edge. Well, even more so.” Danny amended before he continued. “Between him and the Lewis’s they practically live at Cedars. But we have hope and that is important.”

Frank nodded in understanding. “Blake and I wish them the best. I’ll send Mr. Quesada into an interrogation room for you.” He paused was if considering the best way to approach his next request. “He hasn’t given us much. He knew going in that he was either going to lose his freedom or his life. So any information you can ascertain would be more than helpful.”

That sounded fair, everyone wanted the answers to why Marah. Why now? Danny slapped Frank’s shoulder as replied. “I’ll see what I can do.”

***

The orange jumpsuit made Carlos look even more lethal than Danny already knew him to be, but at least it . The man had already killed two people and tried to kill his cousin’s wife. But at least that jumpsuit indicated he was going to be locked away with others like him. He had no idea what Carlos could possibly have to say to him but he would hear him out, even if it was more bitter ramblings from a man headed to prison. “Love the outfit Carlos. The orange really brings out the color in your eyes.”

Carlos waited while the guard removed his handcuffs then took his seat across the table. “How I am going to miss that wit of yours Daniel Santos.”

“I am sure you’ll cope.” Danny wasn’t interested with pleasantries, he wanted to get straight to the point. “What could you possibly have to talk to me about Carlos? Want to explain why you decided to try to destroy someone who had done nothing to you? Why you wasted ten years of your life stewing in bitterness to take out revenge on people who had nothing to do with Catalina’s death.” Danny leaned across the table and dropped his voice to a frosty level. “Catalina was murdered because she tricked Tony into marriage. Because she threatened the family. That was your beloved sister.”

Carlos pointed a finger at Danny in accusation. “Your family corrupted her.”

“Perhaps. I wouldn’t put much past Carmen and Maria.” Danny nodded as if accepting Carlos’ claim. Lord knew Carmen and Maria were rotten to their core. “Doesn’t change the fact that Catalina saw what she wanted and did what she could to get it.” Danny stood and gathered his coat, “I think we’re done here.”

“You wanted to know why I asked to talk to you, it’s pretty simply really. I wanted to see how much I had marked your family. How much I had destroyed you.”

Danny shook his head and walked towards the door. “You don’t get it. You didn’t destroy us, you couldn’t.” At the door he paused and turned to face Carlos for hopefully the last time. “Tony and Marah will recover and live happily with their daughter. Hope that comforts you while you rot in prison.”

***

After leaving the police department Danny knew exactly what he had to do. After stopping to make the necessary purchases he found himself once again standing outside the mammoth structure of the Santos mansion. Only this time he watches as orange flames engulfed the building he had once called home. It had never been a home, not really. All the cold silences during dinner, not knowing when your own family would turn on you, and now it was the scene of Marah’s tragedy. The place was a mausoleum of misery.

He heard the sirens in the distance and before long he was joined by two fire trucks and none other than detective Frank Cooper. Frank stepped from his car and joined Danny in watching the flames lick up the front wall. “This why you asked if we were done collecting evidence?”

“Yeah.” Danny should have winced as the roof finally gave to the fire and crumbled in on itself, but he didn’t. Instead he sighed with relief. “I didn’t want the place. Tony certainly could never live here. So I rid my family and this town of a reminder, a reminder of all that was bad about my family.”

***

Marah fought her way through the dark and the pain, pain that felt like it was everywhere. Light exploded behind her eyes when she tried to open them so she immediately closed them again. What in the hell happened to her? Did she drink too much last night? Phillipe always knew the best bars to go to. That incessant beeping had to go though. It was grating on her last nerve.

“Marah? Oh thank God you’re awake!” A strong hand gripped hers tight and held firm. “I pressed the button for a nurse but I’m not letting go. I’m never letting go baby.”

Well that sounded serious. She hadn’t had a serious relationship since…”Tony?” That couldn’t be right, Tony had broken her heart. Tony was supposed to be dead. Marah opened her eyes, ignoring the stab of pain to her already burning retinas. “What? How? How can you be here? You are supposed to be dead!” She wrenched her hand free from his suddenly slack grip and rubbed her aching head. “Where am I? This is like the Twilight Zone.”

Tony stood in horror as the truth hit him square in the face. His wife hadn’t just lost her memory of that night, she had lost her memory of them. He watched as she trembled in fear and he could do nothing, nothing, to stop it without causing her more hurt. Marah turned onto her side away from him and seemed to curl into herself. He moved silently and laid a hand gently on her hip, which he quickly removed when she flinched. “Marah, please?”

“Just…go!” Her harsh sob nearly broke his heart further but he didn’t think she could take any more at the moment. Especially not declarations of love from someone she thought was supposed to be dead. Outside in the hall Tony found his way to one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs and practically fell down into it. Resting his head in his hands he let his tears fall freely. In true Tony Santos fashion he was a day late a dollar short. He finally leaned what mattered most and now she was simply…lost. He wiped his tears away and raised his head. Marah may be lost right now but he’d help her find her way home. He’d help her find her way.

What Matters Most~ Chapter Forty

When Tony rounded the corner he saw a small group had formed outside the room where Marah had been operated on. It seemed half the town had come to offer their support. But at that moment in time he only had eyes for Michelle. “How is she? How is the baby? Can we see her?” The words rushed out of him as soon as he was within range.

Michelle didn’t give any answers she simply made a sweeping motion to the side indicating she wanted Tony to follow. “Can we talk in private for a moment?”

That didn’t sound good. He turned to see that Josh had the same grave look upon his face, the entire Lewis family did. Facing Michelle again he answered, “Yes of course.” Then he indicated to Josh that we wished for he and Reva to join him. Marah may be the love of his life but she was still the Lewis family princess. They deserved to hear the same news Tony did.

Suddenly a dark-haired man in a white lab coat joined them. “This the family?”

Tony saw Michelle’s body tighten. This guy obviously rubbed her the wrong way and he could see why. The slick hair and air of self-importance, the guy obviously had a god complex. Michelle made quick introductions. “Yes Dr. Salas this is the family. This is Marah’s husband Tony and her parents Josh and Reva Lewis. Guys this is Dr. Salas, Cedars’ resident neurosurgeon.”

Dr. Salas didn’t hold out his hand to shake he simply tipped his head in greeting. He moved towards the door, “I am ready for that consultation now Dr. Santos.”

Reva moved to follow. “If my daughter wasn’t lying in a hospital bed right now I’d kick that guy’s butt.”

***

As soon as everyone was settled Michelle stood on the other side of the desk from Tony and the Lewis’s and began quickly, “First off congratulations Tony. At two thirty this morning you and Marah became the proud parents of a six pound baby girl. She’s a little small but I have checked her over and everything is perfect. Lung function was our biggest concern considering her early delivery but she is completely healthy.” Michelle watched some of the tension in Tony’s body ease. She continued on. “As you know Marah came in here after losing a significant amount of blood. We set up a blood transfusion right away in order to prep her for emergency surgery. ” She paused as she remembered those moments during the surgery, when she hadn’t known if Marah was going to make it or not. “She lost a lot of blood during the C-section-”

Reva grasped blindly for Josh’s hand while muttering, “Oh God.”

Michelle pressed on, determined to get the words out. “Her blood pressure dropped and she went into v-fib.”

Tony had become more tense as Michelle spoke but at this he stood. “You mean she died? My wife is, dead?” He barely managed to get the words out before they became strangled in his throat. He didn’t know if he could breathe, how he stood because surely his heart had stopped beating.

Michelle rounded the desk and took his hand in hers. “She did. But I got her back Tony. She fought her way back and she is going to make it.” She squeezed his hand reassuringly then looked behind her to indicate the neurologist. “Dr. Salas has some things he wants to go over with you.”

Up until that point Dr. Salas had looked bored. Now that he had the floor he smiled like a shark coming in for the kill. “Mr. Santos your wife came in with a severe concussion. Coupled with the blood loss and trauma of surgery there may be some changes in your wife’s brain patterns that we need to address. I will know more when she regains consciousness. She has yet to do so.”

Maybe it was all that happened the night before, or perhaps he was just slow on the uptake, but Tony was having a problem grasping what the doctor was trying to tell them. “Spell it out for us Doc!”

Dr. Salas sighed with aggravation, as if Tony’s inability to comprehend medical jargon was indicative of his intelligence. “I don’t want you to think this is an absolute certainty. I need Mrs. Santos to regain consciousness in order for me to accurately diagnose her condition.” Deciding to give the family a visual aide he moved to the x-ray viewer on the wall and lit it up by flipping the switch. He then slid the film of Marah’s brain scan image and pointed to the first image. “See this black spot here? That legion in Mrs. Santos’ hippocampal region is likely due to the head trauma she endured or it could be due to the lack of blood flow during surgery when she coded. Either way it is likely when your wife does become cognizant she may have some problems piecing together events of last night. Once again, we will only know the severity of her injury once she wakes up.”

Tony nodded in understanding but a secret part of him hoped she wouldn’t remember that night. As selfish at it might make him seem he didn’t want her to live with the reminders of the hellish hours being tormented by Carlos and Eden. Seeing Eden being killed before her eyes. He would never wish that upon her soul. “Can we see her?”

Michelle hesitated before answering. “She’s being moved to the surgical ICU. The visits will be limited to family only and only for limited amounts of time.” She handed Tony a pink bracelet. “However here is your ticket if you will to the nursery floor to see your daughter.”

He reluctantly took the tiny pink band in his large hand. He couldn’t imagine seeing their daughter without Marah by his side. They were supposed to do this together, that was how this was supposed to go. Just another thing Carlos had taken from them. “I can’t go up there, not without Marah.”

Reva reached over and laid a comforting hand on his forearm, “You need to do this Tony, you need to do this for Marah. Because when she wakes up she is going to want to know all about your little girl.”

Seeing the wisdom in her words Tony could only nod in response.

***

Tony stared through the nursery glass at all the tiny newborns. Blue and pink bundles filled the room and one of them was his daughter. His daughter. The idea still sent shock waves through his system. He clutched the bracelet tight in his palm and with his other hand pulled the door open. A tall mousey-haired nurse approached with a smile. “May I help you?”

Tony could just imagine what he looked like. His tuxedo was dirty and covered in blood. He looked like he stepped out of the movie Carrie. He looked tired and haggard, complete with bloodshot eyes. He was lucky she didn’t call security on the spot. “I’m Tony Santos. I would like to meet my daughter.”

The nurse, whose name badge stated was Ann, smiled and checked the bracelet. Apparently it was his ticket because she gestured him towards a wash room in the back. “Right this way Mr. Santos. We need you to get in a sterile gown and scrub up. Once you are done I will go get your daughter for you.”

***

Tony sat hesitantly in the chair decked out in cushions with cutesy teddy bears on them. He rubbed his nervous palms on the pants of the borrowed scrubs. Within minutes nurse Ann was wheeling one of the plastic bassinets towards him the name card reading Baby Girl Santos. Baby Girl Santos. If Tony wasn’t already shocked beyond words that would do it. Looking inside he saw the tiniest bit of humanity he had ever seen in his entire life swaddled in a white blanket with pink and blue stripes. His daughter, his and Marah’s. One tiny fist had escaped and lay against her cheek, and from beneath her pink hat Tony could see dark blonde hair. He had gotten his wish, he had a little girl who looked liked her mother. He felt the tears begin forming. “Hey princess.”

Dark lashes opened and he looked into her hazy blue eyes. And just like that, in that one brief moment, Tony fell in love for the second time in his life. He looked at the nurse with barely contained joy, “Can I hold her?”

The nurse smiled indulgently. New fathers always fell the hardest. “Of course.” She picked up the baby and placed her in Tony’s arms. “There you go. I will just leave you two alone to get to know each other.”

Tony could do nothing but stare for several moments. He knew all babies were born with blue eyes but he wondered what hers would end up being. Brown like his? A mix of both his and Marah’s? He hated that Marah was downstairs while he got to experience the first moments of their child’s life. “I bet you were expecting someone else. Like your mom perhaps. She is right downstairs getting better but rest assured little one she loves you a whole heck of a lot, we both do. See your mom always was the smart one, always knew what mattered most. She was born with an innate ability to love and a close-knit family. I have always been playing catch up.” His daughter blinked unfocused eyes as she listened to his voice and Tony gave the rocker a nudge. “All I know of love I learned from her. But it gets all twisted up in my need to protect. Fair warning little one, you won’t be allowed to date until you are at least thirty but you will always be loved. And that is what matters most.”

Nurse Ann returned and smiled at the bonding father and daughter. “Did you and your wife pick out a name?”

Tony gazed at his daughter lovingly before he looked back at Ann and smiled. “Lanie Luz Santos.”

What Matters Most~ Chapter Thirty-Nine

Note: I did as much research as I could to make this chapter as realistic as possible, however I am not a doctor. Any and all mistakes are my own.

Michelle took a deep breath and began scrubbing the harsh soap along her hands and arms. Normally the thought of surgery didn’t fluster her focus but this was no ordinary surgery, she held the lives on two people in her hands today. One person she loved like the sister she never had and the other she was going to help bring into the world today.

The door behind her flew open with a crash. “Let me guess, you must be Dr. Santos. Ordering CT scans without my council and now here you are about to perform major surgery on our patient without thinking of the risks involved.”

Michelle stood with her mouth agape at the harsh tone, not to mention the implication that she didn’t have Marah’s best interests at heart. Her voice was frosty cold when she replied, “You were paged. You didn’t show up. I have a patient with significant blood loss, a partial placental abruption who could go into shock at any moment. I didn’t exactly have time to twiddle my thumbs Dr. Salas.” She had never worked with Richard Salas before, he had just recently been hired on to the Cedars surgical staff, but Michelle could already tell she didn’t like him. At all. He had a haughtiness about him that made it hard to resist the urge to punch him in the face. She would just love to see the paperwork on that one as she sat in front of the review board.

Dr. Richard Salas crossed his arms over his chest and looked down at her as if he was trying to prove his superiority. Asshole. “You are lucky that the CT scan came back negative for inter-cranial bleeding. Our patient has had one nasty bump to the head which caused a severe concussion. Coupled with blood loss it’s no wonder she is still unconscious but her brain functions appear normal.” He moved to exit the way he came, satisfied he made his point. But before he left the room he made one last parting shot, “I will assess her later. Pending a successful surgery of course.”

Michelle gritted her teeth and turned back to the sink. This time when she scrubbed her arms she did it with enough force she was surprised her skin wasn’t rubbed raw. One of the nurse assisting that night, Ann, opened the door for her. “You ready Doctor?”

Michelle once again took a deep breath, clearing her mind. “As I’ll ever be.”

***

Like a well choreographed dance Michelle quickly handed off a tiny miracle to Mary, the neonatal nurse on duty, who immediately began checking the baby over. The baby was a little small but from Michelle’s well-trained eye she appeared to be completely healthy. With a great set of lungs on her judging by the shrill cry coming from her unhappy little face.

But while the neonatal nurse whisked the baby out of the room towards the neonatal intensive care unit Michelle was already at work on Marah finishing the procedure when she noticed the surgical incision wasn’t clotting normally and Marah was losing blood rapidly. Michelle cursed under her breath. They had started giving Marah blood since she arrived but it seems it hadn’t been enough to starve off the trauma . Normally c-sections were relatively safe, even with the amount of blood lost, but most people hadn’t just endured what Marah just lived through.

The alarm on the monitors sounded through the room. Above her face mask Ann’s eyes were large with adrenaline. Her muffled voice called out, “Her BP is falling!”

Michelle’s critical eyes took in Marah’s vital signs on the monitor. This was not looking good. “Damn it she’s lost too much blood! We need to set up two more units and I’m going to need 1mg of epinephrine to boost this blood pressure fast!” Her worst fear was realized when moments later another alarm sounded. The shrill sound alerting them to the fact that Marah had gone into V-fib. With no time to waste Michelle called for a crash cart. “Come on, we’re not losing her. Let’s move!”

As one nurse pumped the Ambu mask over Marah’s face Michelle was racing against time. “Charging to 200! Clear!” No change. “Give me 300. Clear!” She leaned over Marah’s body and shouted even though she knew the other woman couldn’t hear her. “Don’t you dare leave us now Marah Santos! You have too much to live for, you hear me!” She faced the nurse, “Give me 350! I am not going to lose her! Not today.”

***

“I thought I might find you in here.”

Tony didn’t turn or acknowledge Ray’s entrance into the room he simply stared at the chapel’s unadorned altar. And he continued staring even as Ray sat behind him, silently waiting for Tony to say something so he could gauge his state of mind. As if Ray needed him to say that he was barely holding on by a thread. Tired of pacing the hallways and growling at anyone who asked for the millionth time if he was alright he came here, to the hospital chapel, to find…something. Perhaps some peace. Perhaps some answers. Anything but pity.

“You know the surgery should be over soon. Somewhere in this hospital your daughter is sleeping peacefully.” The wonder and awe in Ray’s voice was clear. “I never thought I would see Tony Santos, family man.” He paused before amending, “Actually I guess we all never thought we’d see it considering we all thought you were dead a few years ago. Glad to say we were mistaken.”

Tony never thought it was possible considering the events of that night but he was suddenly overcome with laughter. Then as quickly as it appeared it was gone and Tony looked back at Ray with a serious expression. “I am a father.” He paused as he let that sink in. He turned back towards the altar and sighed. “I hope I can protect her better than I protected her mother.”

“Oh come off of it Tony!” Both men turned around to see Danny joined them and apparently had been listening at the door. “Like you could have anticipated the actions of Carlos Quesada. That man had been plotting revenge for close to ten years. Even team Santos couldn’t have stopped that. But we were all there Tony, we watched you run into a crazy situation to save Marah with no one at your back. Your daughter is lucky to have you as a father.”

Overcome by Danny’s words Tony didn’t know what to say so instead he chose the part of Danny’s speech that didn’t threaten to bring emotion to the forefront. “Team Santos?”

Danny smiled, “Well if Faith can be on a team about some fictional vampire I figure our family isn’t too far off.”

Ray laughed loudly, the sound echoing in the nearly empty room. “Faith still Team Edward huh? I was always for the dog. Jared? Jason?”

“Jacob.” Tony shook his head at the ridiculousness of the conversation. Here they were talking about Twilight clearly straying from the original point. “So Danny what is Team Santos?”

“Team Santos is who we are. It’s who we’ve always been. We want something bad enough we work to get it. We face challenge head on and work to beat it. We may stumble and we may lose our way from time to time but we’ll find a way to bring each other back to the light. When we triumph we celebrate those victories because we are Team Santos and we have pulled ourselves up from Carmen and Maria’s filth. We are Team Santos and we are pretty damn great.”

After Danny was finished with his emotional speech Danny and Ray sat silently as they took it all in. Then Ray smiled. “I like it.”

Tony nodded in agreement. “Me too. We may have to get shirts. Team Santos.” Tony looked at his watch and was alarmed that so much time had passed. Though talking with Danny and Ray had helped take his mind off of the hellish night and the reminder that Marah was still in surgery it all came flooding back. He was on his feet quickly and headed for the door. “I need to go see what is taking so long. Marah should be out of surgery by now.”

Suddenly Shayne was at the chapel door and it looked as if he had run through the hospital corridors to get to them. “Tony, Michelle wants to see you right away!”

Without a second to lose Tony was out the door, the rest of Team Santos following in his wake.

What Matters Most~ Chapter Thirty-Eight

Bursting through the doors of the emergency room Tony hadn’t realized how relieved he would be to see Michelle’s face, but he was, immensely relieved.  Especially since her normally soft facial features had been replaced by a look of intense determination and focus.  Marah need all the help she could get and he knew, he just knew, Michelle would fight for her and their child.  She hurried along the stretcher listening to the paramedics listed the injuries Marah had sustained.  As she directed them to trauma room one she placed a restraining hand on Tony’s arm. “I’m sorry Tony but you can’t go in there.”

Tony opened his mouth to protest but Michelle briefly tightened her grip on his arm, “I don’t know what I am going to see when I get in there.  But I do know that I do not need frustrated and scared Santos vibes hindering my concentration.  Now I need to get in that room and focus on saving Marah and the baby.”

Tony understood.  He didn’t like it, didn’t want to be separated from Marah for a single second more than he had to, but he understood.  So he nodded reluctantly and stepped to the side.   From his left he sensed others approaching before he actually saw them.  His brother’s arm on his shoulder a comforting weight, his words simple yet encouraging. “She’s tough.  She’s going to pull through this brother.”

Josh and Reva stood nearby leaning on each other for comfort yet they still extended that hopeful optimism his way. “He’s right Tony.  Marah has more strength than people realize.”  Josh hugged Reva tighter to his side. “Just another thing she gets from her mother.”

Tony hoped they were right.  Because life wouldn’t worth living without her light to guide his way.

***

Michelle ordered a CT scan right away.  The head injury and the fact that Marah hadn’t regained consciousness troubled her.  She was not a neurologist by any means but she made the call anyway.  Better to do something than nothing while waiting for the specialist to get his ass down here.

It was the fetal monitor that Michelle watched with eagle eyes.  The baby’s heart rate was low and not climbing the way Michelle would have liked, even with the blood transfusion.  Considering the amount of blood Marah lost it was a minor miracle they were both alive, but she schooled her features when she pushed past the trauma room door and faced Tony and Lewis family.  Right now Marah and the baby were alive, and she would fight like hell to keep them that way.

***

The double doors separating him from Marah swung open and Tony was instantly on his feet along with everyone else in the waiting room.

Michelle smiled though it was strained and didn’t even remotely reach her eyes. “Well I am not going to sugarcoat it for you, it’s serious.  Marah has suffered partial placental abruption my guess is due to a fall due to the bruising I already found forming on the abdomen.  I managed to stop the bleeding but she has lost so much blood that she is at an increased risk of shock.  I have also paged the hospital’s neurosurgeon.  She hasn’t regained consciousness and I want to make sure everything is checked out on that front.”  She paused while the weight of her words penetrated the group at large.  Marah was out of the clutches of a madman but she was far from out of the woods.  She looked at Tony sympathetically, “And then there is the baby.”

Oh God, she had lost the baby.  Tony didn’t think his heart could hurt anymore than it already did but was wrong.  He dropped his head down and cursed under his breath.  He could hear Reva’s harsh sobs but he couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe.

“Like I said, she’s lost a lot of blood.  The baby doesn’t seem to be in any serious distress but her vital signs aren’t evening out like I would have wanted.  I think the best course of action would be to perform an emergency C-section.  She may be a little small but she has an excellent chance of survival.”

“You mean-” Tony had to swallow back the emotion threatening to choke him, “You mean she didn’t lose the baby?”

For the first time that night Michelle’s smile was genuine. “No,  And I am going to fight like hell for both of them.  Once again, not going to sugarcoat it for you.  Both Marah and the baby are still in danger, but if we act fast we can hopefully get both out of the woods.”

“I’ll sign anything you need me to just hand me a pen.”  Tony signed the forms with a flourish and handed them back.  “Can I see her first?  Just for a minute.”

“Two minutes Tony,  we don’t have time to lose.”

***

Tony walked into the white room and looked down at the love of his life.  So motionless and still, her face unnaturally pale due to blood loss.  The beeping of the monitors showing how much of a fighter his wife was, how much their child was.  He reached down and brushed the hair back off her cheek.  “I’m so sorry baby.  If I could trade places with you I could.”  He let his harsh sobs rack his body freely as he rested his hand over the hard swell of Marah’s belly, over where their child lay.  “I know you are probably tired but you need to keep fighting baby.  I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have you and your light in my life.”  He thought about all that had happened to them over the past couple of months.  From Eden and Carlos’ coming into their lives and his misguided attempt to protect Marah from his past mistakes.  “I love you and I promise that we will get this right, I will make things right.  Because this is what matters most.  Our family that we are building.  Our future.”

All too soon the door opened and Michelle returned to inform him that his two minutes were up.  Tony leaned over Marah’s prone body and kissed her forehead gently.  “Keep fighting baby.  I love you.”  Forcing himself to walk away from her at that moment was the hardest thing Tony had ever done.