A Soft Place to Land: Chapter Twenty-One (Part Two)

In typical Lewis fashion her ‘celebration’ dinner became more of a family roast with each member taking turns telling stories.  Stories about her.  Some that she knew well and some brand new.  But as she watched her family drink and be merry she had to admit that this was a good idea.  Getting together as a family.  They had needed it just as much as she did.

Marah rubbed her forehead where the residual migraine had taken up residence.

“You okay?”

Tony’s face was filled with concern and Marah was quick to reassure him, “Just a bit of a headache.  Probably too much wine is all.”

“Why don’t you take one of the migraine pills the doctor prescribed.  I’ll get you a water.” Tony signaled the waitress over and Marah smiled weakly.

On the other side of the table Dylan stood up, “This wouldn’t be a celebration dinner without a speech so bear with me. The first time I met Marah, hell the first time I met the majority of the Lewis family, was right before Josh and mom’s wedding.  The first one.” Everyone laughed and saluted Josh and Reva with their drinks, “For all anyone knew I was some hitchhiker that Dad picked up off the side of the road but Grandma Sarah still offered me breakfast and Josh offered me a place to stay.  But then this little girl with the cutest smile came running up to me with her doll.  See the arm had broken off and she hoped I could fix it.  Well, being the awesome Mr. Fix-It I am I reattached that arm like a pro and she looked at me with that same mega-watt smile and said ‘thank you’ and then before running off she pointed at me and asked ‘what do you say?” Dylan shook his head at the memory.  Of a little precocious little girl and her ability to charm everyone in her midst. He looked over at Marah and smiled himself, “I can still see your smile and hear that giggle you used to do.  I may not have always been around while you were growing up but I am always going to be thankful that I have you in my life.  And that I can see your smile.”

Marah reached up and brushed the tear from her eye and catching movement out of the corner of her watery eyes she saw her mother doing the same thing.  She never heard Dylan speak like that about…anything really.  She smiled at her older brother and raised her glass of water in a toast which everyone followed suit.  She took a sip before moving to stand up, to thank everyone but was forestalled by Tony’s hand on her shoulder.

Tony stood and looked out at all the people gathered, the family that he had always longed to be a part of.  “When I met Marah I was the last thing her parents dreamed for her.”

Josh laughed, “You could say that again!”

Tony chuckled himself at the years he tried in vain to make Josh’s approval.  It had been worth it though.  To get where he was now. “But she took my breath away.  And to my eternal horror I asked her if she believe in love at first sight.” Everyone around the table, Marah included, booed Tony’s lame pick-up line.  “But it was the start of the best thing that ever happened to me.  And we had our share of ups and downs.  Okay, sometimes it seemed like more downs than ups.  But she is still the best thing that ever happened to me.  So I want to cap off this celebration dinner with a toast.” he raised his glass and everyone followed suit, “To Marah.  For showing me that it’s okay to fall, as long as you have a soft place to land.”

***

One by one her relatives left Infierno.  It had been a night of laughs and a few tears thanks to Dylan’s sweet speech.  But the tension that Marah had sensed in her family was gone.  Marah had even hugged Jonathan and made tentative plans to get together sometime in the near future.  She almost didn’t want the night to end.

Josh helped Reva put on her coat, “Your mother and I were wondering if you wanted up to keep Lanie overnight.  Give yourself some time to yourselves.”

From deep down inside Marah felt a flash of panic.  Sure she wasn’t totally in the mother-zone yet but she was lowly getting there.  And if nothing else her panic at having Lanie stay overnight somewhere else proved it.  She felt Tony’s hand at the small of her back and looked up at him, “What do you want to do?”

Tony smiled, “I think I want to take my girls home.”  He reached forward and shook Josh’s hand, “Thanks anyway.  Maybe next time.”  And Marah watched as he bundled up the baby like a seasoned professional and lifted the baby carrier in his strong arms.  “You ready to go home?”

Marah smiled herself as she hurriedly put on her own coat, “Sure am.”

***

An hour later Tony walked into the bedroom after finished feeding and changing Lanie.  He was so tired his eyes had begun to droop as he had rocked Lanie to sleep.  Tony was ready to dive into bed and get some much-needed sleep.  But the minute his feet crossed the threshold all thought of sleep flew out the window.

There, sitting on the bed, was the object of his every fantasy.  Marah sat atop the covers and gone were the plaid pajama bottoms but in their place was the skimpiest nightie he had ever seen.  He couldn’t do it.  Not with the lie that still stood between them.  His mouth was suddenly dry as a desert, “Marah I have to tell you something.”

Marah stood from the bed and laid a finger across his lips, “The only thing you need to tell me is that you want me.”

Tony reached up and moved her finger from his mouth, and using his hold on her wrist he pulled her to him, “Marah I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want you.  But I-”

Marah silenced whatever Tony was about to say with a kiss.  This kiss was not like the ones they had exchanged in the previous months.  This one was full of passion, and heat.  Full of promise.  Fisting her hands around Tony’s neck Marah boosted herself up, wrapping her legs around his waist, “For the first time in what feels like forever I feel almost whole.  I may not have my memories back but I don’t feel as if I am this fractured shell of a person.  Not right now.  And I want to be with my husband.”

Tony closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  He tried reciting the Cubs starting line-up.  But to no avail.  Marah had always been his very own kryptonite.  But he tried one more time, “Are you sure?  Because-”

Once again Marah stole the words of protest from his lips.  And just like Pavlov and his damn dog Tony fell into the kiss like Marah was the air he needed to breathe and he began walking towards the bed with Marah clinging to him.  He deposited her on the pristine white sheets and followed her down, “Marah I love you.  No matter what happens, I hope you know that.”

Marah smiled and reaching up she grabbed Tony’s face in her hands, “I love you too.” And she pulled his face towards hers and let the heat engulf them both.

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