What Matters Most~ Chapter Thirty-Seven

Tony quickly scanned the ruins of the place he had called home so many years ago. It barely looked recognizable. He doubted reasoning with Carlos would work but he had to try something. “I did what you wanted me to, not let Marah go. It’s me you want to hurt anyway.”

Carlos made a sharp tsking sound as he shook his head. “You think I just woke up one day and decided to get vengeance for Catalina’s death?” He leaned forward in his chair, resting his forearms on his thighs, pinning Tony with a harsh look. “Losing Catalina was like a dagger through my mother’s heart. My brothers and I watched her wither away into a shell of the woman she used to be until she finally died from a broken heart. No this has been a long time coming, years in fact.”

“I didn’t kill her.” Tony pointed to Marah who still lay motionless on the ground, “And she sure as hell didn’t kill her!”

“You might as well have! It was her association with your family that got her killed. So this is what we call payback. Just like your family took someone who mattered to us, you are going to stand there and watch as I take what matters most away from you.”

Anger, fear, and panic rushed through Tony like waves upon a sandy beach. He knew Carlos had most likely wanted him to watch Marah suffer but he had hoped, lord had he hoped, that Carlos would turn his anger on him instead. He hoped like hell Frank had worked out a plan to get them out of here, because time was quickly running out.

***

“Santos!” Danny quickly moved when Frank beckoned him over. When he drew near the trunk of the police car they were gathered around he noticed that they had all been huddled around blueprints. Blueprints that looked suspiciously like Casa de Santos. Frank pointed to a spot on the drawing, “Is this the only exit other than the front?”

Danny silently admonished himself. Of course! He stepped forward and flipped the page which caused quite a few raised eyebrows among Springfield’s finest. “There is a secret escape tunnel. It’s not on the blue print but it is right about here. Your guys with the night vision still say they are in the main living room?” At Frank’s affirmative nod Danny pointed to an area off to the library. “Then this is probably the way to go if you want to do a sneak attack. Though how accessible it is after so many years is anybody’s guess.” Secret tunnels in case the house had been raided. Like he needed another example to show him that his parents hadn’t been Ozzie and Harriet.

The logistics over with Danny looked Frank in the eye and got real, he wanted answers. “You said they were in the living room. Are they alive?” When Frank hesitated Danny moved closer and pitched his voice low and dangerous. “I asked if they were alive.”

Frank sighed in frustration. “They are right now. It looks as if one of them has been injured, their life signs have grown steadily weaker which is why we need to act now. Now do you have any other questions or can I go do my job?”

Danny nodded and stepped back. He returned to holding vigil along side Rafael and the Lewis family as they overheard Frank talk about breaking into two teams, seemed they were about to make a move. About damn time. Josh turned and looked at him with a haunted expression on his face. “For once in my life I am actually thankful your family wasn’t traditional nine to fivers.”

“You and me both.”

***

“You know I have to hand it to you Tony, you sure know how to pick ’em.” Carlos was once again sifting his fingers through Marah’s blonde hair causing Tony to hold back his growl of protest. He wanted the other man to keep his filthy hands off of her but he had Tony at a slight disadvantage. “Marah is quite a woman. Classy and elegant with a bit of sass. I can see why she appeals to you. Can also see why Eden hated her.” Carlos stopped the stroking of Marah’s hair and looked at the body of Eden before raising an eyebrow at Tony critically, “Though it seems the ladies just can’t help but fall in love with you Tony Santos.”

“It wasn’t like that, with Eden or Catalina.” Tony bit out harshly. Again Carlos motioned for Tony to continue. Seemed he was in no rush, which was accurate. The longer they stayed here the likelihood of Marah dying increased. Tony made a show of being tired of standing and settled on the floor, still in Carlos’ line of sight but at least this gave him the means to search for something to perhaps use for a weapon. He started talking while taking brief scans of the surrounding room, “I dated Catalina after I broke up with Marah. There was no love involved, at least not for me. The same with Eden. She was a one day rebound, clearly she thought we were more. But my heart has always belonged to Marah Lewis and your sister knew that.”

Carlos looked Eden’s lifeless body and shook his head. “Like I said, I hated to kill her. She had her uses. But she was a bit insane.”

“Yeah you are the poster child for mental health.” Tony looked down and spied something white in this sea of black. Looking a bit closer he realized it was the marble angel statue that Romeo used to kill Catalina. Within arms reach, he mentally calculated if he could grab it and get to Carlos without him getting a shot off. He still clutched that gun tight in his right hand.

A sound from somewhere in the back of the mansion caught Carlos’ attention and when he turned his head Tony made his move. Springing to his feet he grabbed the statue in his hand and quickly closed the five feet separating him from his target. Lifting the statue back he swung it hard enough to make even a cleanup hitter from the Chicago Cubs envious. Carlos didn’t know what hit him, or if he did he certainly didn’t see it coming. Tony lifted the statue up again and brought it down just as Frank and the Calvary entered the room. “Tony! That’s enough! Let us bring him and do this by the book.”

Lost in a fog of anger Tony shook his head at Frank’s words. Looking down he saw the statue in his hands, the wings permanently stained pink with Catalina’s blood. He dropped it to the marble floor and watched it shatter on impact. He ignored it and rushed to Marah’s side feeling for a pulse. It was weak but it was there. Just hang on baby. Just hang on,” He shouted to whoever would listen, “I need an ambulance!”

Frank had Carlos up and in handcuffs and was marching him non too gently towards the door. Seeing the carnage that filled the room shocked even him, a seasoned police detective. “They are right behind us Tony. Coming up the stairs now.”

And Tony heard it, the pounding of feet and shouting of orders and suddenly there they were, two men crouched at Marah’s side.

“Good Lord, “The medic swore under his breath as he assessed the situation. He didn’t even spare Tony a second glance before ordering, “I need you out-of-the-way. Now!”

Tony listened as the two men discussed Marah’s injuries while they simultaneously cut away her clothing. “Head trauma. Possible concussion.” The man looked up at Tony, “Has she been unconscious long?”

Tony fought to think. He fought to breathe. “Since I have been here. Maybe longer.” The two men exchanged a look and got to work loading Marah on a stretcher.

Carlos has been standing near the chaos he had caused with a satisfied smirk. Even handcuffed and heading to prison he had won, he had robbed Tony of his happiness. He couldn’t resist a parting shot, “Hey Tony! Checkmate.’

Rage unlike anything he had felt before burst inside of Tony’s soul. Moving to his feet he launched himself at the other man with the intent of killing him, he was going to rip him apart with his bare hands! But his own plans of vengeance were thwarted by Josh Lewis. His father in law caught him around his middle and held him tight and whispered harshly, “That isn’t going to help her. That isn’t going to help you. Now it is taking everything in me to hold you back when everything in me wants to rip that guy apart. But it’s not about what we want, it’s about what she needs.”

Tony knew Josh was right and so he nodded and without sparing Carlos Riviera Quesada another glance he waited as they loaded Marah into the ambulance. Then he was once again by her side, holding her hand as if he never wanted to let it go.

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