What Matters Most~ Chapter Thirty-Six

Crouched over Eden’s body checking to see if his bullet was lethal Carlos effectively ignored Marah, but that didn’t stop the shudders from going through her body. He had shot her not five feet in front of her face! Then, as if in slow motion, Marah had watched helplessly as Eden’s body fell to the floor in a lifeless heap. “Oh God. Oh God. Oh GOD!”

As her hysterical crying gained momentum Carlos turned those cold, dark eyes on her. Gesturing with the hand still holding the gun he said, “If I were you I would worry less about Eden August and more about your current situation.”

Marah opened her mouth to tell him off when she caught sight of what he had been gesturing at. Her dress was not only tattered and dirty but she suddenly felt moisture on the front of her dress. Had she gone into labor? Looking down she was horrified to discover that she hadn’t gone into labor but instead that moisture was blood! A sob tumbled from her lips ash she held her belly protectively. The baby was in trouble and she was in the clutches of a madman. Feebly she begged, “Please, just let me go. You can still get away, just let me go.”

Carlos watched as a small puddle of blood began to form under Marah’s body. He was no medical expert but he knew this did not bode well for Marah Santos. He had to work fast or all his hard work and planning would go out the window. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and made the call.

***

Josh pulled Frank aside and growled, “You better have a good explanation for not getting your ass in there Frank.”

Frank removed Josh’s fists from his shirt but kept his voice low and steady. He had to keep the situation under control not make it worse. “Like I told Tony, if this is personal Carlos has clearly planned it out for a while. Too long to simply end it now without getting to the final act.”

Tony raked frustrated hands through his hair. Nearby Josh paced angrily along with the rest of the Lewis family. Tension ran high like a thick cable that was fraying the longer time passed but yet no plan seemed to be in place to get Marah out of there. From his pocket his cell phone rang its sound piercing the night air even among all the other sounds going on around them. Frank heard it too. Knowing that it was likely Carlos this seemed to be what they were waiting for because Frank moved closer and indicated he should answer it. Answer it he did with a harsh, “Marah better be safe or I will rip you apart with my bare hands.”

Despite the threat of Tony’s words Carlos chuckled. “Tony you should be thanking me.”

Thanking you?” Tony shook his head, sure he had heard Carlos wrong. “Thanking you for what exactly? Putting my wife and child in danger? It will be a cold day in Hell before I ever thank you.”

“For taking out the trash so to speak. The lovely Eden August was easy on the eyes but she simply lost sight of the prize. It was such a shame.” Carlos paused as if he actually was remorseful than continued. “But all good things must come to an end. And now it’s time for you and I to settle old scores. You have five minutes to make your appearance. You come solo, no cops, no weapons, and none of that entourage that is always with you. Marah’s fate is in your hands, don’t be late.”

The minute Carlos disconnected Tony threw his phone as far as he could with an angry, “Son of a bitch!”

***

Marah lay on the hard ground and listened while Carlos taunted Tony. She tried to muster up the energy to do…something. Anything. Try to warn him that he was walking into the path of a psychopath. But Marah could barely manage the energy to keep her eyes open. Her whole body ached, from her head to her toes. If only she could close her eyes, just for a little while. Maybe she would just rest her eyes. Just for a little while….

***

Frank tried once again to talk Tony out of the suicide mission he was bound and determined to carry out. He understood his frustration, he would be just as anxious to get in there if that was Marina in Marah’s shoes, but there had to be a better way. But when all his protests fell on deaf ears he raised his hands in surrender. “Fine! I give up. But just for the record, I am completely against this.”

Tony nodded in acknowledgement, “Duly noted. But it’s not like the Springfield PD has come up with any other viable solutions so now I am playing by Carlos’ rules. Once I am in there you better come up with something quick, I don’t know how much time we have.”

Danny reached out and grabbed Tony’s arm as he rushed by. Pulling his cousin in for a tight hug he whispered in his ear, “Try not to get yourself killed.”

Standing alongside Danny was Rafael who nodded solemnly, “I would really miss your smartass self.”

Tony grinned though it was forced. “And deprive the world of Tony Santos? Wouldn’t dream of it.” The faked humor faded from Tony’s face and he was once again serious with determination when he told them, “I will get her back.” Then he took off sprinting towards the darkened mansion.

Rafael turned to Danny with a grim look upon his face. “You better call Ray. Not only because that’s his brother walking into the line of fire but Tony could use all the prayers he could get.”

***

The interior of the house was almost as dark as the outside. The only illumination seemed to be created by candles, their flickering glow casting eerie shadows along the walls. He had lived in this house for years but had avoided it on principle since coming back to Springfield. It was tainted by the evil that had resided in the hearts of Maria and Carmen. Catalina had been murdered within these walls. She may have lied to and manipulated him but she didn’t deserve that. And who knows what Marah had experienced tonight. Yes, this house was practically saturated by evil.

But he had one thing going for him, he knew these halls like the back of his hand. Even time could not erase the memory of growing up here. It was imprinted on him like a brand. Even the darkness couldn’t stop his forward movement.

Not seeing anyone just trash and decay he yelled, “Carlos! You got me here just like you wanted. Now let Marah go!”

“That is far enough Tony Santos.”

Tony stopped immediate and looked ahead and what he saw made his heart feel like it stopped beating in his chest and his hands got clammy. Oh mi Vida. Marah lay on the ground, eyes closed, and her dress covered in what had to be blood. There was no mistaking it, he could smell the metallic scent from here. And if that wasn’t enough it looked as if there was a small pool of the stuff forming below her. If they lived through this he would never forget this image, of Marah lying helpless in a pool of her own blood. Tony fell to his knees in pure agony.

Carlos chuckled in sick amusement from his seat next to her prone body. He leaned over and sifted his fingers through her soft blonde hair while keeping his eyes locked on Tony. “She’s not dead. At least not for now.”

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