A Soft Place to Land: Chapter Eighteen

Tony didn’t wait for an answer.  He marched right up to Sam and wrenched Marah away before moving her behind him.  “What Sam?  Couldn’t get a story the old-fashioned way so you decide to accost my wife in public?”

Sam held up his hands in a stopping motion, “Whoa there Tony. I think you have the wrong idea.  I was just-”

“Spare me your excuses.  What you were doing was plugging Marah for information.”  He pushed Sam back a step, “This how you treat your so-called ‘friends’? Using them to sell copies of that sad excuse for a newspaper you work for?  Classy man, just stay classy.” He turned to face his wife and felt like his heart was clenching in his chest.  Tears were streaming down her face while she nervously rubbed her hand over the area on her head where they had operated.  The scar was hidden, her hair growing out to cover where the incision had been made.  But sometimes he caught her rubbing the spot when she was nervous or when she was lost in the thoughts in her head.  At that moment Tony wasn’t sure which one it was, “Marah, are you okay?”

Marah looked up and took a calming breath.  It didn’t work, “No I don’t think I am.”

***

Tristan looked down at the baby in her arms and smiled.  Eyes closed Lanie sucked down the bottle with gusto, content in her place in the world.  If only everyone was that lucky.

Unlike the little one lying so contentedly in her arms Tristan had been born into a shitty ass situation made worse by shitty ass parents.  From the moment she was old enough to know better she knew her parents never wanted her.  She was a burden they endured for the income she brought in from the state.  Money she never saw a dime of.  Her parents, and that is a term best used loosely with those two, had spent it all on booze and drugs.   It wasn’t long before she was running cons and hustling tourists out of their money.  And she was damn good at it too.  Until she made the mistake of conning the wrong man…

She looked down and saw Lanie’s mouth had gone slack in sleep, milk bubbles forming at the edge of her lips.  Tristan held the baby up to her shoulder and patted her back softly.  “I got to say Lanie, I am a bit jealous.  Here you sleep in a carriage like a princess while I grew up sleeping on a mattress on the floor.”  The baby burped but continued to sleep peacefully.

A soft knock on the door had the dog running to the window to see who the newcomer was.  Before he could bark and wake the baby Tristan moved to the door only to see her past staring back at her.  “What do you want Richard?”

***

Tony reached his hands out intending to pull Marah to him but she took a step back.  Reluctantly Tony dropped his arms and sighed, “What did he say Marah?”

“You do know that he is standing right here?” Sam interjected.  Then he looked around Tony’s broad shoulders to face Marah, “I wasn’t trying to pump you for information.”  He paused then continued, “Okay so maybe the thought passed through my mind for a few seconds but that was it, only a few seconds before I knew I couldn’t do that to you.”

Tony whirled around and pinned Sam with an angry look, “Could you please shut up?  Better yet, get your ass out of here!  My wife and I have enough going on right now without you muddling in.”

Buzz Cooper walked up to them, a dishrag hung haphazardly over his shoulder.  “Hey! Take it outside.  This is a family place.”

Sam smiled placatingly, “I was just leaving Buzz.”  He once again addressed Marah, “Call me if you need to talk, or need a friend, whatever.”  He glanced at Tony before continuing, “Remember what I said the last time we saw each other?  I think that still stands.”  And with those parting words he walked out.

Marah was barely aware of Tony apologizing to Buzz for the commotion, she was too focused on what Sam had said.  She thought back to the day Sam was talking about, when he was heading off to journalism school.  When he visited her at the dorms.

“Oh, there was one story that I was right about.  The one about you and Tony.  The two of you aren’t done with each other.  There’s still some journey left for the two of you to make.  Together.”

Marah took a shuddering breath and placed a hand on Tony’s elbow.  He immediately stopped his conversation with Buzz and turned to face her.

“Tell me.”

Tony lifted an eyebrow in question but Marah just looked at him squarely in the face, “Tell me why someone would try to kill me.”

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