A Soft Place to Land: Chapter Five

Marah looked at Tony with a look of absolute horror on her face. “Romeo Jones?” She pulled the sweater she was wearing tighter around herself, as if it would help ward off the memories.

Where Marah was concerned there was nothing good associated with Romeo Jones.  Nothing.

Tony ached to hold her close but he knew she was not ready for that intimacy, even if it killed him watching her huddled in the corner of the couch.  “The one and only.”  Tony felt a swelling of anger build up inside him.  Even after all this time the deception by his own grandmother was almost too much to comprehend.  The years spent living at Romeo’s mercy just added fuel to an already raging fire.  His life with Marah had been a balm that helped soothe the ache, but it never seemed to go away forever.  And being forced to relive it now didn’t help matters.  “After you and I broke up that summer I went to visit the old neighborhood in Chicago.  Which in hindsight wasn’t the brightest decision.  I was drinking…a lot.  Once again, not the brightest decision.  And the next thing I know I was waking up locked in a cage with Romeo smirking at me from the other side.”

Marah was confused. “I thought he was in prison for killing Catalina.”

Tony shook his head, “He faked his death and set up a new life in California.  I would say that the worst part of this story is that my Abeula helped fund his little foray into the world of organized crime.  That he saw his opportunity to get retribution from the Santos family and he took it.  But no, the worst part of this charming Santos tale was that Romeo sent another person to take my place, one that managed to fool everyone.  Even Ray and Danny, the two people who I have known my whole life, were fooled.”

Marah thought back to the months following Tony’s return to town.  He had changed so much after their breakup, like he was angry at the world and everyone who loved him.   Tony’s story was almost too outlandish to believe, like it was something from a soap opera.  “It is quite hard to believe.  Yet you changed so much it all sort of makes sense.”

Tony joined Marah on the couch and took her smaller hand between his. “I know it’s a lot to take in Marah.  Especially right now with so much up in the air.”

Marah couldn’t take her eyes off Tony’s hand holding hers so gently.  Reluctantly she forced herself to move away from his comforting grasp, Tony had always been her kryptonite.  She stood up from the couch and walked over to the fireplace.  Marah studied the photographs lined up there before picking up a snapshot from their honeymoon.  Trailing her fingers along the silver frame she mused, “It seems like we were happy.”

“We were.  Are.  I don’t know how to phrase it.”  Tony paused, debating if now was the best time to tell her about Eden.  About what happened that fateful summer before he left town and her latest mechanisms the previous  summer that led to Marah’s amnesia.  Dr. Salas may want Marah to regain her memories on her own but it was like a bomb sitting in the corner waiting to go off.  Like ripping off a Band-Aid Tony decided to just get it over with and deal with the fallout. “Marah I made a lot of mistakes that summer.  Leaving town is just tip of the iceberg. My biggest mistake was-” A cry from the bassinet in the corner interrupted his confession.  With a sigh he stood, “I’ll take care of her.  Why don’t you get some sleep, you have had a long day.”

“Um, thanks.  I think I will do that.” Marah could hardly keep her relief to herself.  Relief that was instantly replaced by shame.  Shouldn’t a mother love her baby?  Yet Marah could barely look at her own daughter.  How can you love something you don’t even remember?  Marah felt so lost, without a hope that she would be found.  She slowly made her way up the stairs.  At least she didn’t need help finding the master bedroom, she had lived her before.   She curled up on the bed and let her tears lull her to sleep.

***

Downstairs Tony finished feeding Lanie her bottle and was cuddling her against his chest slowly rocking her back to sleep.  “It’ll be okay Princess.” He softly whispered, “Your mommy is just a little lost right now.  She’ll find her way back to us, I’ll make sure of it.”  He breathed in his daughter’s beautiful baby scent and fought back the tears that came to his eyes.

***

Frank looked across his desk at the man lounging as if he hadn’t a care in the world and glared, “I hope you know how lucky you are that you aren’t being charged with arson.”

Danny shrugged nonchalantly, “It was my property to do what I want with, and it’s not like I am going to make an insurance claim.”

“Not the point damn it!  An uncontrolled fire could have damaged surrounding property, it could have-”

Danny cut Frank off with a wave of his hand, “Surrounding property?  The closest neighbor is almost a mile away.” Danny sat up straighter and eyed Frank with a piercing glare of his own. “That eyesore had more pain and suffering inside those walls than anyone can even imagine.  The only positive thing to happen there was when I married Michelle.  Other than that it was a mausoleum of control and deception.  The town is better off without it there.”

Frank sighed in defeat, there wasn’t any point in arguing with Danny about law and order.  The Santos family had always played fast and loose with the law. “Just don’t go around burning more buildings you own.  Doubt Ms. Wolfe and Ms. Boudreaux would be too forgiving next time.”

“Duly noted.” Danny stood and shook Frank’s hand.  As he walked towards the exit he stopped and looked at the sad excuse for a human being laying in the holding cell.

The man  sat up and smiled broadly once he saw who his visitor was. “Well if it isn’t Danny Santos.  You just can’t stay away from me can you?  I hear poor Marah still has a bit of a memory problem.  Such a shame she can’t remember all the fun we had.”

“I hope wherever you are going that they put you in general population.  The Santos family may be out of the game but we still know all the right people.”

Carlos laughed, “Threatening me again Danny?  Perhaps I should file a complaint with Dudley Do-Right.”

Danny gripped the bars between his hands and smiled menacingly, “More like a promise.”

Carlos looked at Danny with speculation, “Such venomous anger over your cousin’s wife.  You sure you don’t have a thing for Marah yourself?  I can see why.  She is quite beautiful.  All that blonde hair and sweet nature, you know that underneath that is a firecracker just waiting to be set off.”  He tsked mockingly, “Such a shame we didn’t have enough time together.  We could have had even more fun.”

Refusing to rise to the bait Danny just sneered, “Watch your back Carlos.  You mess with one Santos you mess with us all.”  He pointed an angry finger at the other man, “Just watch your back.”

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