A Soft Place to Land: Chapter Seventeen

After talking with her mother for most of the morning Marah felt like she knew more about her brothers than she knew about herself.  Seemed three of her brothers had made Lewis Construction a second generation family business.  Even Jonathan, who wasn’t even a true Lewis, worked for the company.   She never thought she would see the day when her father and Uncle Billy would pass the torch but it seemed they took to retirement like a ‘duck takes to water’.  Her mom’s words, not hers.

So now Marah sat at Company waiting for Tony to join her for lunch.  Marah worried her napkin through her fingers.  The invite had been spur of the moment and impulsive, two things Marah wasn’t exactly known for.  After her childhood she didn’t like surprises, and didn’t try to act without thinking things through.  In was a lesson she learned early on.

But yet here she was waiting for her husband to arrive.

“Well if it isn’t Marah Lewis.  Though I guess I should say Marah Santos.”

Marah turned her head and got a blast from the past.  She stood up and wrapped her arms around the newcomer. “Sam!  How have you been?”

Sam Spencer returned the hug enthusiastically, “I have been great.  Got engaged last year.”

Marah genuinely smiled at the news.  Lord knows her and Sam had their share of history.  History had included her teenaged self using Sam to forget Tony.  But she was happy for him, happy that he had found someone to love him as he deserved. “I am so happy for you. ” She gestured to the table, “You want to join me?”

“I got a few minutes to spare for an old friend.” Sam joined her at the table, his arm casually thrown across the back of the bench seats, “You sure Tony won’t mind us sitting together?”

Marah raised a brow quizzically, “Why would he?”

Sam snorted, “Please Marah, you have always been Tony’s trigger since the day you two entered each other’s orbits.  You may have forgotten but for six months I was the idiot who stupidly stepped in the middle of your crossfire.”

Marah reached forward and grasped his hand in hers, “You weren’t an idiot Sam.  Back then I was a teenager, completely selfish,”  She sat back and sipped her water, “But we’re not young kids anymore.”

“Touché.” Sam steepled his hands under his chin, “So tell me, how have you been holding up?  I ran into your mom the other day, she said that you are back at work.”

Marah took another sip of her water, “My mom has a big mouth.  But I am doing okay, doctor says he expects a full recovery.”

Sam nodded, “So you haven’t regained your memory back yet?” He smiled at her, “Though I am glad to see that you at least remember me.  Though I will say, I am pretty memorable.”

Marah laughed at Sam’s attempt at a joke, “Not yet, though like I said.  My doctor expects my memory to return eventually.”

“What do you think about Carlos Riviera getting charged?  My sources say that he is expected to receive the maximum sentence.”

Marah was confused at the turn of conversation, “Who is Carlos Riviera?”

Sam’s mouth opened in shock before he snapped it closed.  He tried again, “Carlos Riviera.  The man who attacked you.  He’s being charged,” Sam looked down and checked his watch, “Right about now in fact.”

***

Tony check his watch.  He was going to be a few minutes late meeting Marah for lunch.

When he woke up this morning he had no intention of coming here.  The man had plead guilty, this was just a formality.  But then he had been sitting at his desk an Infierno and he suddenly felt the need to see Carlos Riviera get the punishment he deserved.  Well, in his opinion the man deserved life.  But the justice system wasn’t always just.

The judge looked over the paperwork in her hands before facing the man wearing prison orange,  what would hopefully be the uniform for the majority of his miserable life.  “You understand that by pleading guilty you waive your right to a trial of a jury of your peers.”

Carlos stood stoic beside his public defender. “I do.”

“Reading over the testimony presented by the District Attorney my judgment is that you showed intent to cause serious bodily harm to one Marah Santos and her unborn fetus.  It is the decision of this court to sentence you to the maximum possible, fifteen years.”  She signed the papers in front of her before facing the man again, “Do you wish to address the court.”

“Nope.  They say actions speak a thousand words,”  He turned his head and locked eyes with Tony, “And I think I said it all.”

Tony stood and made his way towards the exit.  Fifteen years wasn’t life, there was always the chance that Carlos would intrude on their lives in the future.  But Tony left like a weight had been lifted.  The man was at least going to prison, for a long time.  He reached the large oak doors and stopped.  Turning around he walked towards the front of the courtroom, “Your honor I would like to say something.”

The older woman peered down from her bench, her glasses perched on the end of her nose. “And you are?”

“Tony Santos.  The husband of the victim.”

Mel Boudreau looked as if she wanted to stop him, but seeing the intent in his eyes she nodded slightly.  She knew he was going to say what he came to say one way or the other.

The judge gestured to the podium, “I’ll allow it.  Though keep in mind Mr. Santos, the sentence has already been passed down.  There will be no amending the outcome.”

“I understand.  I just have to say something, ”  Tony stood at the podium and faced Carlos,  The man had the look of someone who was bored, not someone who had just lost fifteen years of their future.  Tony was reminded of the cocky, arrogant, man he used to be.  This could have been him had he not had his family.  And Marah. “You think you won.  You think you stole something from me, from Marah, from our families but you didn’t.  We may be battered, we may be bruised, but we are something you will never be.  We are strong.  And when you wake up in a cell for the next decade of your life I will wake up and see the beautiful faces of my wife and child and know that we are the ones that won.”

And on that note Tony again walked towards the oak doors.  His steps lighter than they had been in months.  He had a lunch date with his wife.

***

Carlos Riviera face revealed nothing.  Not that he was worried about going to prison and not that he was moved by Tony’s impassioned speech.  It wasn’t until later, as he sat in his cell waiting to be transferred that he relived Tony’s statement.  A sly smile crossed his face. “You just wait Tony.  You haven’t won yet.”

***

Marah pushed herself back from the table and stood, “Attacked?  I was attacked!” She shook her head in denial, “No, everyone said it was an accident.”  Marah thought back to the past couple of months.  At everyone skirting around the topic when she brought it up.  At the pitying looks she got from those she met on the street.  The people she had known all her life.  “Why would anyone want to attack me?”

Sam stood and rested his hand gently on her arm, “I didn’t mean to upset you.  I thought you knew.”

“Well I didn’t!” Marah practically screeched.  She was aware that she was getting some curious looks from the other patrons around her but she didn’t care.

“What in the hell is going on here?”

Marah and Sam both turned to see a very angry Tony striding toward them.

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