One Week Later…
Marah was pulling a fresh batch of her favorite muffins from the oven when there was a knock on the front door. Toby barked loudly and hurried towards the front door, his tail wagging behind him. Removing the pot holders from her hands she moved to answer the door, abet at a much more sedate pace than the dog. She didn’t care who was on the other side of that door, all she knew is she needed a distraction. Stat.
For the past week Marah had looked at every photograph and scrapbook in order to learn something about her life, to no avail. No memories, no feelings, everything was still a big blank. And although Tony had answered all her questions regarding their recent history he wouldn’t answer anything about what had caused her to lose her memory. Any time she brought it up he would look away and claim “doctor’s orders”. It was incredibly frustrating.
Opening the door she was pleasantly surprised by who awaited her.
“Dad!” Marah practically launched herself at her father in order to hug him.
“Well Darlin’ if you aren’t a sight for sore eyes.” Josh squeezed his daughter tight before leaning back and looking into her beautiful face. She was so lucky to be alive, they were so lucky to not have lost her special brand of light. Which reminded him, “Darlin’ I love you more than life itself. God knows I do. But if you open that door without looking to see who is on the other side I will tan your hide. I don’t care if you are a grown woman or not.”
Marah laughed but nodded at her father’s stern warning. “Okay dad. So what brings you by? Not that I’m not glad to see you.”
“Tony called me. Said there were some apple cinnamon muffins in my future. You know I could never turn those down.”
Marah was momentarily shocked. When had Tony had called her father? And her father wasn’t launching imaginary daggers out of his eyes regarding Tony? She had seen the pictures of them looking almost friendly but both had tried playing nice around each other in the past, that had never lasted very long. “Umm…yes. I just pulled them out of the oven a few minutes ago.”
Josh looped his arm through hers and headed inside. “Great! While we wait I can catch up with my beautiful daughter. Not to mention I can spend some grandpa time with my granddaughter.”
They were both seated in the kitchen when Marah finally asked the question she was dying to know. “So Tony called you huh?”
Her father swallowed his bite of muffin before answering. “Tony has kept everyone informed on your progress. But I thought I would come over and see for myself. Do you want a refill on your coffee?”
Before she could decline her father was over at the pot refilling her mug. But Marah saw his attempt at changing the subject from a mile away. “Since when did you and Tony get all chummy?”
Her father returned to the table and smiled, “I always knew Tony loved you. Anyone with eyes could see that. But the last thing a father wants is his daughter married to a mobster, especially when said daughter seemed to always be getting hurt in one way or another. And scary as it sounds, he reminded me a little bit of myself in my younger days.” He slid her mug of coffee across the table towards her, “But Tony lived through stuff I can only imagine, stuff I don’t even want to imagine. And he did that so that he could come back to you. Honey, he may have loved you before but now? Now he is a man who has tasted the bitterness of loss and is damn sure determined to never experience it again.”
Marah stared into her coffee and sighed, “I guess even with all that he still managed to lose me. At least the me that he married.”
Josh reached across the table and covered her hand with his, “But you’re still here, and you’re alive which is the important part. You are just a little lost right now but I know in time you will find your way back to us.”
Tony hesitated in the doorway, wary of interrupting their time together. But the phone vibrating in his pocket for the third time wasn’t going to go away. He pasted on what he hoped was a convincing smile and entered the room, “Hey Josh, it’s good to see you.”
Josh nodded in response, but his eyes gave away his true thoughts. That Tony looked like hell and wasn’t convincing anyone of his jovial mood. “You too Tony.”
“Babe, Danny needs me at the office to go over some paperwork. I fed and changed Lanie so she should be down for a while. But I really shouldn’t be gone too long.” He leaned down and kissed the top of her head, “Maybe I can pick up some dinner on the way home.”
Marah felt an overwhelming sense of panic. In all the time she had been out of the hospital she had yet to spend any real time with their daughter. She could tell Tony was growing frustrated with her inability to bond with the baby but Marah just couldn’t bring herself to take that step. She swallowed down her panic and managed to nod at Tony’s statement. “Sounds good.”
After Tony left Marah let out a deep sigh of frustration. Frustration at herself, this situation, basically at everything. She eyed her father and finally admitted what she feared most, “I can’t bond with my baby, and I worry that I never will.”
Tony sat in his car and wearily rested his head against the seat. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up. He had spent weeks hoping that Marah would bond with their baby. He could accept her distance from him, he may not like it but he could accept it, but her reluctance to even hold the baby was even worse. But that didn’t even compare to the harsh knowledge that if Marah’s memory never returned he would have to make a decision. It would kill him to talk away from what they had together but he would do it for Lanie.
But there were times when Tony thought Marah was finally ready to let herself love their daughter. Like just the other night…
It was just after two in the morning and with her bottle finished, Tony stood gently rocking a fussy Lanie. He had quickly run through his limited playlist of nursery rhymes and found himself quietly humming “I Believe in the Mystery”, the song that always reminded him of Marah. He closed his eyes and continued to rock slowly as he thought about when she sang that song to him. So long ago but he could remember it in vivid detail.
Lanie’s harsh cries slowly quieted to sniffles, until she finally fell asleep. Softly placing her in her crib Tony stood watching her sleep until a slight movement in the doorway caught his attention. He was shocked to see Marah standing there, nervously fingering the drawstring on her pajama pants. They stood there several seconds before he broke the awkward silence. “Sorry if she woke you. I think her tummy is upset.”
Marah continued to fiddle with the drawstring before she turned her eyes to him and smiled. “It’s okay. I heard her crying and I just wanted to…I don’t know.”
Her voice died away and Tony didn’t know what to say. What to do. So they just stood there looking at each other from across the room. But they might as well have been miles apart. “I think she might be down this time.” He walked towards her and placed his hand on her lower back, “Come on babe let’s go back to bed. She will want her breakfast in only a few hours.”
Marah hesitated, looking back towards the room a moment, before nodding and following him towards their bedroom.
Tony could have sworn that Marah wanted to go in that room and check for herself that Lanie was sleeping comfortably. But something held her back. And that something was what hurt the most. He jumped when his cell phone ringing broke the silence. No doubt it was Danny calling to see where his ass was. He pressed the icon and brought the phone to his ear, “I am on my way. Hold your damn horses Danny.” He started the car and backed out of the driveway.