A Soft Place to Land: Chapter Twenty-Seven

Tony knew fear.  Growing up it had been an emotion best left unsaid, a Santos did not show fear they made others show it instead.  He had felt it as a young man, watching Marah reach for her dreams and fearing that she would leave him behind.  He had felt it being held captive by his former friend, the fear that today could be your last and he would never be able to see those he loved ever again.  He had felt it last winter as he watched Marah’s blood seep out of her and being powerless to help her.

So yes, he knew fear.  Fear and him were old friends.

And he knew fear now as he moved towards where Marah was sitting calmly sipping a glass of tea.  But after years of watching every nuance of that woman he knew she was anything but.  He feared that this would be the biggest fight of his life.  Placing the baby monitor on the table he folded himself into the opposite chair and…waited.

They sat like that for a while.  In silence.  The only sounds around them were the leaves moving in the soft breeze and the occasional bird.  So deceptively calm considering the emotional tension that swirled around them.  Tony left like a wire pulled too tight, ready to snap.

“When I first came home from the hospital I had a panic attack just looking out the kitchen window.”  Marah paused before continuing, “And today I remembered that I found a dead body out here.  Lying right there on the pool cover.  Even now I have to force myself to sit here, to sit and think that someone died not five feet from where we are sitting.”

“I promised that we would get a new pool once the weather permitted.  It’s getting close-”

“Damn it Tony it’s not about the pool!” Marah slammed her hand against the table before turning to face him, “It’s everything.  I remember seeing Eden and you in that hotel room.  I remember seeing the fear in your eyes when I learned that you had slept together.”

Yes Tony knew fear, but he also knew when to fight.  And Marah was coming out swinging. “Years ago Marah.  I made one mistake years ago.  I haven’t touched another woman, much less thought about touching another woman since I came back home.”

“How can I trust you Tony?  You have done nothing but sell me half-truths from the beginning.”

Tony leaned forward, “Everything I have done was to protect you.  To protect our family.”

Marah scoffed, “Protect yourself is more like it.  Had you told me about you and Eden I would have been upset but I would have gotten over it.  But I wouldn’t be upset about the fact that you had sex with Eden, I would have been upset that your guilt over it caused you to push me away all those years ago and it ultimately cost you years of freedom.  I would have said that what we had,” She gestured between the two of them, “Was strong enough that no incident from years ago would even be able to touch it.  But you didn’t give me the chance Tony.”

“I know.  I know I should have told you but at the time I thought I was protecting you.”

“I am not a fragile flower.  Hell, that wasn’t even my first kidnapping!  But don’t you see, this goes deeper than you not wanting to tell me about Eden.  That was just the catalyst.  Because you didn’t trust me with the truth I lost more than just my memories.  I lost giving birth to our baby.  I lost hearing her first cries and holding her in my arms.  My God for months I held her at arm’s length I was so lost.”

Tony watched helplessly as tears poured unchecked from Marah’s eyes.  He wanted nothing more than to go and hold her in his arms and whisper things were going to be all right.  But he knew that wasn’t a wise move.  She was more likely to hit him than fall into his embrace.  “I am sorry.  I know I should have told you then and I just didn’t think the fallout would be what it was.”

“I know.” Marah wiped the tears from her eyes and smiled ruefully, “I know you didn’t.  And I am sorry for disappearing last night but Tony something is broken.  Broken between us.”

Tony reached across the table and took her hand in his, “Don’t say that.  We have just hit some bumps, but we have made it through worse.”

“While you were gone I went and visited Michelle.  And she reminded me of when she had to convince Danny to let her stand by his side.”  She removed her hand from his, “And I realized that I have always loved you.  Always.  Even without my memory I felt a pull towards you and no one else.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Tony tried to smile but he was sure it was less than convincing.

“But even knowing that I love you.  That I have loved no one but you I know exactly how Michelle felt.  Pleading with her husband to just trust in their love.”  Marah sighed and turned watery eyes to her husband.  The man who had owned her heart since she was still in high school.  And she knew she was making the right choice.  The choice that would either allow them to grow or bring them crashing down, “You don’t trust in our love Tony.  You don’t trust in me.  And I think we need some time apart to figure out if what we have is strong enough.”

Tony felt like someone was choking him.  He had expected a fight, but never this. “What are you saying?”

“I think we need to separate.”

***

Tristan crept away from the open window her forgotten cell phone charger clutched in her hand.

She wasn’t even supposed to be here, today being her day off from watching Lanie.  But she had woken up in that dingy hotel to find her cell phone had died and not a charger in sight.  Retracing her steps she realized that it must have fallen out when she had rushed to pack up her bag last night.

She had knocked but there had been no answer and so she had used her key.  Hearing Tony and Marah’s voices she had gone to the kitchen to announce herself but instead was met with…this.  This development could change everything.

As their voices continued to carry through the house Tristan hurried to get out without alerting anyone to her presence.

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