No Marah and Tony for Monday. Instead, after the revelation that Danny and Michelle were pregnant again last week I thought I’d give them some time to shine. So here is a Manny short story….
Danny opened up the front door and was immediately bombarded by noise. Placing his keys on the entry table he looked around and surveyed the room at large. Television blaring though no one was watching. Book bags strewn about on the floor, contents spilling out. From upstairs the rapid pounding of feet and no doubt Robbie or Hope needled the other into some sibling squabble.
It was controlled chaos. And he loved it.
He made his way to the kitchen and stood in the doorway and watched this other slice of heaven. Danielle on the floor knocking plastic cups against each other, laughing excitedly at the noise they made. And of course there was his Michelle. After a hectic day at the women’s clinic she had shed her work clothes for her standard lounge wear, yoga pants and a t-shirt. Her hair was disheveled and her feet bare. And yet she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
The sound of a door slamming overhead had Michelle yelling out, “You two better cut it out! I mean it!” She looked down at the baby and smiled, “Give it a few years honey bun. You’ll be right in the middle of the madness.”
Danny barely contained his chuckle, because Michelle wasn’t wrong. Some days their house did resemble madness, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Danielle was the first to spot him, her little face lighting up and she waved the cups around with glee. Standing up of her pudgy baby legs she toddled towards him, “Dadda!”
Danny crouched down as she made her way across the kitchen and threw herself into his arms. Standing he turned to his wife who was watching with a smile on her face. “We you lurking like a creeper again?”
Clearly through with the excitement of her father being home Danielle stretched her arms out to be put down. And Danny watched as she once again toddled over to where she had been, creating more noise. Danny moved towards his wife and pulled her into him gently, “Just appreciating the view.”
Michelle laughed, “Some view! You just wait and see Danny, my body isn’t in its twenties anymore.”
“Neither is mine.” Danny had plans to live a long and happy life. He wanted to see his kids grow and do great things with their lives. And so he took care of himself, he worked out regularly and ate right. Sure he was no glorified gym rat like his cousin Tony but he was no slouch either. “And I think you are beautiful. And I will think you are beautiful until they put me in the ground.”
Michelle smiled then tears started streaking down her cheeks. Pregnancy hormones, got to love them sometimes. “You are so sweet Danny Santos.”
Danny slapped his hand gently on her backside, “Don’t let that get around. I have a rep to protect and all that.” Giving his wife another kiss he gently maneuvered her towards the table, “Now sit and let me finish this.” He went back to the stove and checked on the status of dinner. He took the spaghetti and let it drain in the sink.
“You ready to tell the kids?”
“Sounds good to me.” Then suddenly Danny whirled around and pointed the spoon towards her, “And if the question about where baby’s come from comes up it’s on you this time. I butchered it so badly last time there are no words to describe the experience.”
Michelle laughed because the experience had been hilarious. He had started talking about birds and bees to which Hope had cried that she “hated bees” so that turned into a fifteen minute speech about how bees were important for ‘pollination’ which had Hope crossing her arms and stubbornly declaring that she still hated bees. Then Danny tried the stork approach which had Robbie snorting saying ‘birds couldn’t carry babies’. The more the kids talked the more flustered Danny got, and the more Michelle had laughed. Probably not the crown jewel of their parenting moments but it had been a moment to say the least. But still she couldn’t put her husband, much less her kids, through that again. “Deal.”
Dinner was the time that Danny liked the noise the most. Growing up their mansion had been more like a museum than a home. Dinners were silent and tense affairs, where one wrong word could spark World War Carmen. So Danny, and later Tony and Ray, had learned to be silent and still. Mick had been Mick, living like he fed off the discord. So watching his kids joke and tell stories while stuffing their faces was a good thing.
“Your mom and I have something exciting to tell you.”
Robbie’s head perked up and he slurped up the spaghetti noodle into his mouth. Not even bothering to wipe the sauce from his face he asked excitedly, “Are we getting a dog?”
Splattered with spaghetti sauce from the waist up Danielle waved her spoon around, “Dawgie!”
Hope excitedly clapped her hands, “Oh a dog would be super fun! We could get one of those small ones that you can dress up.”
Danny just shook his head, “We’re not getting a dog.”
Robbie’s smile slipped but he kept on hoping, “A cat? Not as cool as a dog but I can deal.”
Beaming Michelle jumped in, “Your father and I are having another baby.”
Silence. There was no reaction for several moments before Robbie threw his head back and cried, “Aww come on!”
Surprised by his son’s reaction Danny lifted an eyebrow, “Something wrong Robbie? I think another baby is a great thing.”
“First I have Hope breaking my stuff, now Danielle. Girls suck dad. When I get married I’m not living with anymore girls.”
Danny tried to hold in his smile. His son’s logic was amusing, if not sound. He turned towards his wife to see she was fighting the same reaction. “You hear that Michelle? Our son is getting married and not living with anymore girls.”
“Oh yes, I heard.” Michelle tilted her head and asked, “But what if it’s a boy?”
Robbie seemed to ponder this before nodding, “A boy would be okay I guess. Though I’d still rather have a dog.”
Danielle laughed from her high chair, “Dawgie!”
Beside her brother Hope crossed her arms and pouted, “No little brothers. Sarah has two and she says they are no fun. They never want to do anything cool, they just make messes and break things!”
Jumping right on that Robbie exclaimed, “You break my stuff all the time!”
“I do not!”
Danny watched his children squabble for a few minutes before clearing his throat, “Okay guys this stuff doesn’t matter. What matters is that this family is getting a new addition. And either him, “he looked to Robbie then at Hope, “Or her is going to be just as loved no matter what.”
Hope huffed out a breath, “Yes Daddy.”
“I still hope it’s a boy,” Robbie muttered, “But I’d still rather have a dog.”
Michelle smiled at Danny, “At least we didn’t have the birds and the bees talk again.”
From her side of the table Hope twisted her face into a grimace, “I hate bees!”
Getting into bed that night Danny looked over at Michelle who was applying lotion to her arms, “Are we crazy?”
Without looking up Michelle answered, “Absolutely.” She put the lotion bottle on her nightstand and turned towards her husband, “But you need to be more specific if you want me to describe just how crazy we are.”
“Having another baby. Four kids. One of whom is only two years old.” Danny sighed wearily and laid his head back on his pillows, “We must be crazy.”
Michelle curled into Danny’s side and rested her palm on his chest, “You know it won’t always be like this. One of these days Robbie and Hope, and eventually Danielle and whatever this baby turns out to be, will look back and be glad they had each other. I know I feel that way about Rick.”
“Yeah your older brother locked you in a psych ward and my older brother was Carmen’s little bundle of evil.”
“True but look at Rick and me now, we are closer than ever. And you know Tony and Ray were closer to you than Mick. You three are like brothers and you three stand beside each other through thick and thin.”
“How did I find someone like you in my life?”
Michelle smiled than leaned up and kissed her husband soundly, “Just lucky I guess.” She twisted and turned off the bedside lamp before moving in to her husband’s arms again, “And come on, one more Santos in this world isn’t such a bad thing.”