Tag Archive | Danny Santos

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

Marah speared the hunk of watermelon with more force that necessary and nearly sent it skidding off the platter.  But if one more person asked her how her and Tony were doing she just might scream.  All day long she had gotten varying degrees of the same question and hours later she was done.  Done answering questions and done pretending like watching her husband laughing with his brother and cousin wasn’t killing her. a little inside.

“What did that watermelon ever do to you?” Jonathan reached over and picked up the object of her aggression and popped it in his mouth.  “Happy Fourth of July sis.” His mouth full of the sweet fruit Marah barely made out what he was saying.

Marah nudged him with her elbow, “Pig.” She grabbed some more watermelon, with less force this time, and moved down the food line.

“Oink.” Jonathan grinned, “Can’t believe you left me hanging on the egg toss.  You know that this was going to be our year. We were going to take out Shayne and Dinah in a blaze of egg toss glory.”

Rolling her eyes Marah replied, “Seems you did just fine without me.” She looked around the backyard, “Where is your girlfriend anyway?”

“She’s not my girlfriend.” Jonathan reached for the potato salad but paused, “Did Buzz make this?  Because a few years ago on Mother’s Day he gave the town food poisoning with this stuff.”

“I think you’re safe.  Michelle made it.”  Laughing she reached for some pasta salad, “I still can’t believe you are dating my nanny.”

“Why sister, I didn’t know you needed someone to watch you during the day and change your clothes when you make a mess.”

“Har har, you are so funny.”  Marah and Jonathan walked towards the picnic tables where the Lewis clan was currently converged, “So you and Tristan?”

Jonathan shrugged, “Nothing serious.  Just having a bit of fun.”  He paused thinking, “And we do, have fun together I mean.  But there is just something I can’t put my finger on, something off.”

Marah stopped and looked at her brother, “You know I could totally ‘go there’ with a statement like that.  But I won’t because I am a nice sister.”

“I appreciate your restraint.  Now let’s eat!” He nudged Shayne over, “I have to refuel after my stunning egg toss victory.”

Shayne grumbled but moved over to give his siblings space to sit, “Lucky toss brother.  Next year it’s on.”

***

Alan-Michael wasn’t giving up.  Not without a fight even if his wife redefined the word stubborn. “Would you please sit down?  I will get you a plate.”

“I am pregnant Alan-Michael, not an invalid,” Lucy placed her hands on her hips and stuck to her guns, “I am perfectly fine.  In fact, I have never felt better.  Even if I look like I swallowed a beach ball.”

Rubbing his hand along her swollen belly Alan-Michael smiled, “You look beautiful.  But you are also ready to pop any day now.  So my lovely wife, ” With a gentle hand on her shoulder he steered her towards the tables, “Sit down and let me wait on you.”

Looking up Lucy smiled, “You know, I’m glad we found our way back here.”

Alan-Michael knew she wasn’t just talking about them finding their way back to Springfield.  She also meant them finding their way back to each other.  And he knew he would be eternally grateful for that as well.  If he hadn’t groveled for her heart they wouldn’t have Michael or the baby that would be arriving any day now.  Placing a soft kiss on her lips he whispered, “Me to beauty.  Me too.”

***

Danny swung his arm to clear the smoke.  “I think it is time to hang up the spatula guys.”

Tony just grinned, “Might be wise.  One of these days you are going to make the town sick as a dog.  Not a great move for someone who next year will be wanting their votes.”

Rafael indicated the misshapen and charred-beyond-recognition burgers on the plate, “At this rate the only thing they’d vote for is to revoke your grilling privileges away.”

Ray clapped his cousin on the back, “But at least they will be talking about you for years to come.  They still talk about Matt and Vanessa’s wedding reception.”

“Thanks for the support guys,” He turned towards Tony, “How about instead of insulting my culinary brilliance while moping like some Disney Princess you go talk to your wife.”

Rafael and Ray both laughed at Tony’s furious expression and slapped Tony on the back.  Rafael whispered, “Touché.  And on that note I am going to eat some non-charcoal tasting food.”

Tony watched his family walk away and scowled.  He was sitting over here moping like a Disney Princess.  But he couldn’t see any other options.  If he mixed and mingled like usual he got the third degree about Marah and his relationship.  Springfield was a great place but in some ways it was like living in a small town.  Everyone knew your business whether you wanted them to or not.

He may have kept his distance today but like a moth to a flame Tony’s gaze always seemed to seek out Marah.  Right now she was sitting and laughing with her family.  She had a lightness in her posture that he hadn’t seen for a while.  And while he was sure most people were fooled by her acting he knew she wasn’t happy.  The light that seemed to radiate from her was not there.  He sighed and was about to follow the others when a hand touched his arm, “Excuse me Tony.”

Turning he faced Tristan wearing nothing but a bikini and a smile.  He swallowed, “Hey Tristan.  Having a good time?”

Tristan looked around at all the people in the yard, “Yeah this is a great party.  They do this every year?”

“Like clockwork.” Tony indicated the food line, “You may want to eat while you can.”

“Oh I already ate.” Tristan smiled and moved closer which had every red alert Tony had flashing.  “So I was wondering if you could do me a little favor.”

“Um, Sure.”

Tony took a sip of his beer as Tristan held up her other hand and turned away from him,.  Flashing a smile over her shoulder she asked, “Could you put some of this suntan lotion on my back?  I can’t quite reach.”

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

“Looks like you have a great turn out this year.”  Marah bounced Lanie on her hip as she surveyed the Bauer’s backyard.  And to say it was a good turn out was an understatement.  Once again it seemed as if the entire town showed up en masse for the annual event.

Michelle finished hanging the last of the lanterns and stood back to survey her handiwork.  With a nod of satisfaction she turned towards her friend and smiled, “Yeah I think we get bigger every year, and I love it.”  Marah and Michelle walked back towards the house, dodging screaming kids along the way.  “You know, out of all the events in Springfield this is the one I missed the most when Danny and I lived in California.  Even if every year my dad grumbles about cancelling, Rick and I know it’s all bluster.”

Marah laughed, “I was thinking the same thing.  Every year my mom would send pictures and I would get jealous.”

Michelle reached over and rubbed a finger along Lanie’s foot which caused the baby to kick and giggle, “At least we’re all together and can pass this tradition down to another generation.”  She looked up and saw Tony over Marah’s shoulder.  The man’s face was one of pure longing and Michelle’s heart went out to him.  To both of them.  “How are things between you and Tony?  Still separated but not?”

“Yes if you must know.” Marah shifted the baby to a more comfortable position, “I know everyone thinks it is ridiculous but I need Tony to see me as an equal in this marriage.  Not keeping things from me because he thinks I can’t handle it.”

Nodding in understanding Michelle put a reassuring hand on her friend’s shoulder, “I understand.  Do I ever.  But hon, This is part of being married to a Santos.  Even being married for years and I am still telling Danny that I can handle the world and all it has to dish out.  But sooner or later you have to ask yourself, are you punishing him for who he is or yourself for loving him anyways?” And with those words to ponder Michelle gestured towards the house, “Now we better get the rest of the food ready or this party may just turn to anarchy.”

***

From across the patio Tony watched Marah and Michelle talk, his beer clutched in his hand.  Marah had her back to him which gave him unrestricted access to stare at his wife and just…wish everything was back to normal.   They had reached a stalemate and neither side was willing to budge.

“Gripping that beer kind of tight there brother.” Ray joined Tony and smacked him on the back lightly.  Following his brother’s gaze he saw the reason for his brother’s coiled demeanor.  “I see.”

Tony looked at his brother out of the corner of his eye, “You see what?  Because I’d really like to know.”

“You’ll figure it out.  I watched Danny and Michelle fight and claw their way to where they are now, And I have no doubt Marah and you will do the same.”

Tony wished he felt as confident as his brother.  For the first week or so Tony had looked on the so-called ‘separation’ with amusement.  Thinking Marah would see that as long as they loved each other nothing else mattered.  But then came the realization that she had no intention of caving and no amount of flashing his abs would work.  Then came the real battle of wills.  Like Marah sashaying around the house in her babydoll nighties.  And so began the cold showers that did nothing to tame the heat that Tony felt towards his wife.  And she knew it too, the minx.  But what Tony couldn’t figure out is what it would take to mend the rift between them.

***

Ed Bauer clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention, “Welcome to the 47th annual Hunger Games!” As everyone in the yard laughed and cheered he looked down at his granddaughter Hope and asked, “Did I say that right?”  The little girl covered her mouth to stifle a giggle but nodded at her grandfather’s joke.  Turning back tot he crowd gathered Ed smiled, “No there will be no fighting to the death for food.  Who would want to fight for my son in law’s version of barbecue anyway?”

“Hey!”  Danny acted affronted but it was all in jest, everyone knew Danny couldn’t grill to save his life.  But still Michelle rubbed his arm reassuringly.

“Today my daughter and son-in-law told me some great news.  Seems there is going to be yet another addition to the Bauer-Santos household!  And fro that I will gladly choke down one of Danny’s burnt burgers.” The news set off another round of clapping and cheers from the crowd of Springfield residents.  “And I thought to myself, this is why we do this every year.  Because honestly, every year I grumble about cancelling it.  The hassle and fuss, who needs it right?  But every year my children look at me like I am crazy and begin planning anyway.  They know I’m not serious because this tradition is one that I hold dear to my heart.  It is one that I passed down to my children who I know will continue it even after I am gone.  It is one that their children will continue after them.  And that’s the way it is supposed to be.”  The last part caused Ed to pause as he got choked up with emotion.  “So enough talk from me and welcome friends, family, and fellow residents of the great city of Springfield to the annual Bauer Bar-B-Que!”

***

Richard waited until the crowd had dispersed to their various pre-speech activities before he made his approach.  He found the targets he was looking for over at the picnic tables that had been set up on the lawn.  He pasted on a smile, “Hello Michelle you are looking well.  Marah, you look as lovely as ever.”

Michelle crossed her arms and regarded him coolly, “Hello.”  She turned on her heel and marched back to the house without saying another word.

Richard chuckled, “Must be something I said.”

Marah stood and picked up Lanie who was contentedly chewing on a cookie in her hand, “Must be.  Excuse me.”

Before she could walk away Richard held out a hand to stall her.  “I never got a chance to apologize for the other night.  I stepped over the line and I am sorry.”

Marah searched his face for signs of insincerity but found nothing to indicate deception.  “Apology accepted.  I should probably apologize as well, I wasn’t in a very good place that night and I probably was sending all kinds of mixed signals.”

Richard waved her off, “The fault was mine alone.  I knew you were married and I stepped over the line anyway.  I hope we can still be friends.”

Still be Friends?  Marah didn’t think they had ever been friends to begin with.  But social niceties told her to nod and accept, “That would be fine.  Now excuse me,” She indicated the baby in her arms, “I think someone needs to be changed.”

***

From the patio Tony had watched the man approach the Santos women.  He had watched Michelle’s non-to-subtle snub and her march away.  And as it left his wife and daughter alone with the bastard it took everything in him to not go over and finish the job he had started at the Roadhouse.  But Danny had laid a restraining hand on his shoulder, “Stand down Primo.  Let Marah handle it.”

So he had stood back and let Marah hopefully set the jerk straight.

Michelle handed Danny a beer and they all watched Marah walk back toward the house, the diaper bag hanging from her arm a clear indicator at where she was going. “Who invited the asshat anyway?”

“I did.”

They all turned to face Ed who just shrugged at the looks of mutiny he got, “That is what this event is all about.  Joining together.  And Richard Salas has no family in the area.”

They all watched Ed walk over to begin the egg toss.  They were all silent until Danny looked at them and grinned while holding up his spatula proudly, “I am going to give him the burnest burger I’ve ever done.”

Tony grinned and tipped up his beer towards his cousin, “Way to have our backs man.”

A Soft Place to Land: Chapter Thirty

As Tony let himself into his office at Infierno he couldn’t help but smile. His life was in upheaval and he was smiling.  Some may call him foolish but they didn’t see what he saw this morning.  The fire he saw in Marah’s eyes.

Yes over the past week he had stooped to new levels to get a reaction out of his wife but like she said this morning, he was playing fire with fire.  He may have agreed to her separation idea but he wasn’t going to make it easy.  And he wasn’t above using their visceral reaction to each other to get Marah to see reason.  Still smiling he sat behind his desk and starting going over last night’s reports Rafael had left on his desk.

“Hope that smile means last night’s sales were good,” Danny entered the office and sat in one of the visitor’s chairs, “Either that or you managed to mend things with Marah.”

Tony glanced up from the reports, “No she’s still insisting we need a time out.”  He flipped the paged in his hand to the last one and peered over the tallies, “But we are firmly in the black.  No worries primo.”

Danny and Tony sat in silence for a few moments before Danny couldn’t hold it in anymore, “Okay what is going on with you?”

Tony put the papers down and lifted an eyebrow in question, “What do you mean?”

Danny gestured with his hand, “Look at you.  Smiling.  I would expect this situation to bring out the morose brooding Tony, not have you smiling like the cat that got the canary.”

“I didn’t know smiling was a crime Danny.”

“Shut up smartass.” Danny laughed but continued with his point, “Your wife moves out of your bed, abet across the hall, and you sit here smiling.  If Michelle and I were in that situation I would be pulling my hair out.”

“You think I don’t?” Tony laughed bitterly, “Danny I lay awake and night thinking to myself that not 12 feet away is the one thing I’ve wanted most in my life.  And it kills me.”

“So what is with the smile?”  Danny was truly perplexed.

“Because I can hear her.  Tossing and turning at night.  And I know that this separation is just as hard on her as it is for me.”  Tony paused before continuing, “I would bend over backwards to give Marah what she wanted.  And according to her she doesn’t think I see her as an equal partner in our marriage.  I am simply showing her that I do.”  Tony snapped his fingers, “Which reminds me.  I have to call Josh and get a new pool scheduled.”

“Not sure what I said that reminded you of that, or why you need a new pool anyway?”

Tony paused in dialing and looked at his cousin, “Since there was a dead man floating in the one we had now.”

Danny shook his head before standing, “Only in Springfield.”

***

Richard went over the latest tests in the chart and shook his head, “Not good Carmen.  Your brain activity is looking good, in fact I don’t know why you are still in a comatose state.   But your EKG isn’t looking too good for you.”  He looked at the woman lying still on the bed and tsked, “Must be the result of a lifetime of disuse.”

Putting the chart back on the bed he leaned over and spoke in Carmen’s ear, “I hate to tell you like this Carmen but I overheard some nurses this morning and it looks like your precious Danny knocked up his wife again.  You never could keep them apart could you Carmen?  Just another area you failed.”  He patted his shoulder, “A bond between a mother and her son is precious isn’t it Carmen?  Such as ours will be once you open your eyes.”

Richard walked towards the window and looked out, “You see Carmen I have waited my whole life for these moments.  You know growing up I had everything I wanted.  Raised by two parents that doted on me, given the best education money could buy.  A life of privilege.  But I just never felt like I fit in.  Like there was a piece missing.” He turned back towards Carmen and smiled, “Imagine my surprise when I found my birth certificate and realized that I was adopted.”

He could still remember the day he found out, like it was yesterday.  The range of feelings he had, from disbelief and anger to the sweet relief he felt at knowing the truth.  At how the answers he had been searching for fell into place.  “Strange how one little piece of paper can answer so much.  Like why I didn’t belong.  My whole life has led me here Carmen.”  He leaned over her still form again, “Yes the bond between mother and son is precious.  Isn’t it mom?”

One More Santos~ A Manny Short

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!”

“Do to.”

“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.”

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

At Danny’s question Tony quickly debated with himself if he should tell Danny the whole story.  The man was riding high on soon-to-be-a-dad euphoria and didn’t need to come crashing back down to the real world.  But just as quickly as he stopped himself.  Not disclosing the truth, the whole truth, is what had led to last night’s debacle.  So instead he told Danny everything.  About Marah receiving Eden’s scrapbook, about how she remembered the day Eden drugged him (even if she forgot about the drugging him part), and how she remembered learning that Tony had Eden had slept together after they broke up.   As he kept going he noticed Danny’s face pinch tight and his hands tighten on the steeling wheel.  He knew he was in for one of Danny’s “told you so” speeches, and he admittedly deserved it.   Everyone had told him he needed to tell Marah the whole story, that nothing good could come out of half-truths and he didn’t listen.

“Damn it Tony!” Danny slapped the steeling wheel with the palm of his hand, “I told you to tell Marah the truth.  You are the most stubborn ass I’ve ever met.  Do you actually enjoy torturing yourself?” He continued to himself more than anything, “This must have been what Carlos meant when I saw him in the jail.  That he wasn’t done.  And sure as hell you played right into his trap.”

Tony listened to his cousin’s tirade in silence.  It wasn’t like he had an answer anyway, not for the stupid things he had done.  Maybe he did like torturing himself, though that would take a lot of self-reflection and he didn’t have time for that at the moment.  “Danny there is something else.”

“Oh I can’t wait to hear this.” He made a gesturing motion with his hand, “Hit me.”

“Last night I read the rest of Eden’s scrapbook.  She may have had a screw or two lose but she was certainly thorough”, Tony cleared his throat, “And in it she talks about Gus Aitoro.  How he was really a Santos.”

Danny sat silently as he processed this revelation. “That’s not possible, we had a DNA test run.  The test came back negative.”

“Apparently she changed the results.” Tony shrugged his shoulder, “Stranger things have happened.”

Danny pondered this information further then answered with a shrug of his own, “Not much I can do about it, he went to his grave being a Spaulding and I am not going to take that away from them.  It would change anything anyway.  I am sure I have more siblings out there, my father had his own way of dealing with life with Carmen.” He sighed then pointed to Tony, “Now get out and go save your marriage.  And for God’s sake stop being an idiot!”

Tony got out of the car but before he slammed the door he stopped and turned towards his cousin, “You made your share of mistakes primo.  It’s kind of what we do.”

Danny leaned over to look Tony in the eye, “Yeah I did.  But I learned from them and you will too.  That is if you stop  your typical hard-headed BS.”

Tony grinned, “I’ll see what I can do.”

“You do that.” Danny made a shooing gesture, “Now go away and go talk to Marah.”

***

Marah took a sip of the steaming coffee Michelle handed her and nearly moaned in ecstasy.  It was like liquid heaven at that moment.  “So where is Danny and the kids.”

“The kids are having a play date with grandpa today and Danny is visiting Carmen and then going to Infierno.”

Marah nearly choked on the sip of coffee she had just taken.  She coughed noisily and then asked, “Carmen as in Carmen Santos? I thought she was in a coma.”

“She is.” Michelle took her own sip of coffee and just shrugged, “The woman was a menace but she is still his mother.  And it helps him.”

“Helps him what?  The woman tried to kill you.  Repeatedly.”

Michelle put down her mug and thought about how to answer.  Finally she just went with the truth, “Helps him come to terms with the fact that she may have been a crap mother but the good in him trumps all the negative stuff she brought into his life.”

Marah looked at her friend like she was crazy.  She didn’t know if she would be as accepting or as forgiving as Michelle.  Hell, she had heard some of the stories from Tony’s youth and nearly wished his father were alive so she could punch him in the face, “And you are okay with that?”

“It is what it is.  I accept Danny visits his mother once a month and he accepts every time Claire decides to drop in on our lives and try to play mother for a while.”  She shrugged her shoulders, “Like I said, it is what it is.” Michelle took another sip from her coffee then asked, “So you said you needed some advice.”

Marah thought back to yesterday, to receiving that package to her memory returning.  She felt like her mind was moving a mile a minute while she stood still.  “All these months I thought when my memory came back everything would return to normal.  I’d be Marah again and Tony, Lanie, and I would finally get our chance to be a family.”

Michelle nodded in understanding, “I remember when my memory came back and how desperate I wanted things to go back to how they were.  Only by the time I remembered my life with Danny he had moved on with someone else.”  Michelle reached across the table and took Marah’s hand in hers, “At least Tony is still there, he’s been fighting for you since the beginning.”

“I love Tony.  I always have and I always will.” Marah sighed deeply, “Loving Tony has never been the problem.  It’s all the stuff that comes with it.  And the lies and half-truths have me questioning just how strong that love truly is.”

“I know I’ve told you this but when I was pregnant with Robbie my dear husband stupidly tried to push me away.  For my own good he said.  And I took my pregnant ass to New York in hot pursuit and when he still tried to push me away I remember it clear as day.  Even now, when he are going through typical marriage strife I think back to that day.  I looked at him and I told him that I would follow him into hell and bring him right back out.”  Michelle squeezed her friend’s hand gently and released it to grab her rapidly cooling coffee, “Hell being married to a Santos that should be our damn motto.”

“We could have t-shirts made.”

Michelle laughed, “And jackets!”

***

Richard capped the syringe and patted Carmen on the shoulder, “Thanks again for your contribution to science Carmen.”  As usual there was no response, not that he expected one.  This drug trial would either bring Carmen into the light of day or send her into the other one.  Either way he was satisfied.  As he moved towards the door it suddenly opened to reveal a very distracted looking Danny Santos.

Danny stopped in his tracks when he saw the doctor in his mother’s room.  He gestured to the man’s face, “Nice shiner you got there doc.  Guess you pissed off the wrong husband.”

Inside Richard seethed.  The Santos family had always thought they were the toughest in town. “Or maybe your thug cousin should keep a better leash on his wife.”

Danny stepped forward menacingly, “Watch your mouth or I’ll give you a matching set.”

Richard rolled his eyes, “What can I do for you Mr. Santos?  I have patients waiting.”

“Patients who haven’t seen sunlight in over a decade?”

“Some.  I take the care of all my patients seriously.”  Richard moved towards the door, ready to make an exit and stop answering questions.  But before he could exit Danny called out his name.  Turning he faced him with a questioning look on his face, “What now Danny?”

“Stay away from my cousin and his wife.’

“Or what?  You going to make me swim with the fishes?  Give me cement shoes?”

Danny gave the other man his most wicked smirk, “Guess you’ll find out if you do.”

***

Tony let himself in the front door and gently placed the baby carrier on the floor in order to not wake Lanie.  He gingerly unstrapped the baby and lifted her against his chest before carrying her over to the bassinet.  Looking down at her sweet face all lax in sleep he smiled.

He moved through the house looking for Marah before he located her on the back patio sitting in the sun.  “We need to talk.”

Marah moved the sunglasses off her face and turned her head toward her husband, “You’re right.  We do.”

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

Groaning in agony Marah opened her eyes and then shut them as the light streaming in the window threatened to blind her.  In her drunken state last night she had forgotten to make sure the curtains were closed.  Marah chalked it up to yet another case of alcohol and poor decisions.  Marah let out another groan as the memories from last night came back in full force.  Talk about bad decisions. She didn’t drink to excess much but when she did she certainly did it in style.

Marah tentatively opened her eyes and as they slowly acclimated themselves to the brightness in the room the tequila fog lifted and she…remembered.  Like the door that had housed her memories was finally thrown opened she remembered everything.  Her life in Paris, her move back home, the stunning realization that Tony was alive…it was all there.

Ignoring the pain in her head she sat up and turned to wake Tony with the news and then it hit her.  She had basically exiled him to the couch last night.  Though she did have some vague notion of him coming in and holding her last night his side of the bed was void of any indication that he had been there.

There was nothing Marah wanted more than to nurse this hangover like a champion but even more she wanted her baby.  After months of holding Lanie at arm’s length she remembered.  The joy she felt at listening to her heartbeat, the wonder of the first flutters of Lanie kicking inside her womb, the absolute love she felt from the moment she learned she was pregnant.  She wanted her baby.

It was then that she saw the glass on the nightstand.  A glass of water, two aspirin, and a note.  She quickly downed the aspirin as she read the note from Tony.

Marah,

Went with Danny to get your car then to pick up Lanie.  Don’t go anywhere.  We need to talk.

Love,

Tony

Marah contemplated this for a few minutes before she balled up the note and threw it towards the waste can.  If her relationship with Tony had taught her anything it was when to be just as stubborn as her husband.  And this was one of those times.  She picked up her phone and called the one person she knew that would understand.

***

Danny looked at Tony out of the corner of his eye as he drove.  His cousin looked…rough.  And that was being kind.  Truthfully he looked like hell, with those bloodshot eyes and the five o’clock shadow threatening to turn into a full-grown beard.  With their Cuban heritage the beards they tended to be able to grow often resembled some character off a cigar box.

But dealing with Tony had always been a balancing act.  Balancing when to push for information and when to just let Tony stew for a while.  Danny cleared his throat and decided pushing was needed this morning, “You look like hell primo.”  Okay maybe he could have worded that better but it wasn’t like they had hours to chat.  Without traffic they had maybe ten minutes.

Tony laughed humorlessly, “Thanks Danny.  You sure know how to make me feel special.”

Danny shrugged, “I got a text at the crack of dawn saying you weren’t coming into work today.  I get another text asking for me to taking you pick up Marah’s car at, of all places, the damn Roadhouse.  So I am guessing this is a story that make take time and time is one thing we don’t have this morning.  I have to go visit Carmen then go into the office.”

Tony turned surprised eyes to his cousin, “Visiting Carmen?  What for man?  She’s in a coma and hasn’t made any improvement in years.  Not to mention she tried to kill you.  She tried to kill your wife, a couple of times actually.  So I think she doesn’t need to remain of the Christmas card list if you get what I’m saying.”

Danny sighed.  It wasn’t the first time someone had asked that question, and it wouldn’t be the last.  “I don’t do it for her benefit I do it for my own.  So that when I have to meet my maker I can say that even though my mother was a vile creature who made my life hell I got something beautiful out of it.  I am married to the love of my life, we have four kids who are healthy…”

Tony quickly held out a hand, “Four kids?”

Danny smiled but didn’t take his eyes off the road, “Michelle is pregnant again.”

“Wow man that’s great!” Tony lightly slapped Danny’s shoulder so he didn’t cause an accident, “Congratulations man!  But could you please have a boy?  Between Hope, Danielle, and Lanie we are going to have our hands full keeping them away from the dreaded male sex, I don’t know if we could handle another girl.”

Danny chuckled as he pulled into the Roadhouse parking lot, “We are Santos’s, we can take anything life throws at us.”  He pulled alongside Marah’s car and put the car in park.  Turning towards Tony he lifted his eyebrows in question, “So are you going to tell me what happened with Marah or are you going to stall some more?”

***

Marah knocked on the door and waited.  She hadn’t visited since the accident but just looking at the house before her brought a smile to her face.  It was a home that managed to be beautiful but also had lots character and charm.  It was a family home and anyone who saw it would know that even with its large expanse the family was what made the home special.  It didn’t take long before Michelle opened it with a smile, “Marah!  How are you?”

Truthfully Marah wasn’t sure how she felt, other than the residual alcohol funk that is.  She just shrugged, “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

Michelle’s face became serious as she ushered Marah inside, “Sure.  It’s a rare day without husband, kids, or work.  I was just about to make some coffee, do you want some?”

Marah nearly fell at Michelle’s feet in worship.  In her brilliant decision to talk to Michelle she neglected to make herself some, and if she was going to resemble a somewhat live version of herself she needed some ASAP, “You are a savior.”

As Marah and Michelle made their way towards the kitchen she noticed that Danny and Michelle had painted recently.  “I really like this shade of green.  Sage green is very pleasing with the soft wood tones.”

Michelle stopped in her tracks and whirled around, “That is exactly what you said when I asked you what color I should paint the kitchen!”

Marah smiled, “I remember.”

Michelle let out an unlike-Michelle squeal of delight and gathered her friend in a crushing hug, “You remember?  Everything?  When did this happen?”

“Last night actually, it’s a long story.  And well, I could use some advice.”

A Soft Place to Land: Chapter Twenty-Two

Tony sauntered into Infierno with a pep in his step.  He hadn’t felt this carefree in months.  Not since Marah’s accident.  Hell, even months before that tragic night.   A lot had changed between Marah and him last night, and Tony was reveling in the change.

He knocked briefly on his cousin’s open office door before entering, “Got you a coffee Primo.  Just the way you like it.”

Danny looked up quizzically at his cousin but accepted the coffee, “Thanks.”  Taking a sip he regarded his cousin’s cheery demeanor and smiled, “Guess last night was a success.  In more ways than one.”

Tony sat in one of his cousin’s cushy visitor chairs and propped his feet on the large wooden desk.  With a huge smile on his face Tony replied, “It was amazing.  Well, dinner with the Lewis family is always an interesting affair.  You remember how dinners were growing up.  Either tense silence or screaming matches?”  When Danny nodded Tony continued, “Even after years of being around the Lewis family I am still in awe how they interact.  Stories, laughter, there is just so much affection between them.”

Danny nodded in understanding, “I still get that ways sometimes too.  The Bauer’s still amaze me as well.” Taking another sip of his coffee Danny waited for Tony to continue.  When his otherwise loose-lipped cousin remained silent Danny sighed, “So I assumed by that shit eating grin of yours that you and Marah are in a good place.”

Tony tilted his head to the side, “You know I never understood that expression.  Shit eating grin.  Who would be grinning at that?”

Danny pretended to hit his head on the top of his desk, “You know what I mean.”

“Stop inflicting injury on yourself.  I don’t want Michelle to think I smack you around.”  Tony smiled as he decided to put his cousin out of his misery, “And yes.  Marah and I are in a great place.  In fact, I don’t think things have been this perfect since before Thanksgiving of last year.”

“Well your one night stand did flaunt pictures of your naked behind at your wife’s baby shower.”

Tony moved his feet from the desk and sat up straight.  “Yes I know Daniel.  Thanks for reminding me.”

Danny held out a hand in order to halt the tirade he could see forming in his cousin’s eyes, “Look, I am glad things are good for you two.  I have been there, remember?  But you have to wonder how Marah is going to react when her memories return.”

Tony’s eyebrows drew together as his cousin’s words hit home.  His cousin had told him to tell Marah about Eden.  So had Ray.  They had told him to tell Marah about the night that fateful summer that inevitably sent him running from Springfield and the incident from the previous year.  But he had resisted.  Partly due to the fact that Marah and he had enough on their plate without adding in Eden August.  And the other part because he was just plain stubborn.  “Damn it.”

“Look, I have been where you are right now.  When Michelle lost her memory I kept something big from her.  I did it to protect her but in the end she was hurt more than words could say.”  Danny stood and walked towards the door.  Placing a hand on his cousin’s shoulders as he passed, “Just think about it.  I am going to go check and see if Rafael fixed that problem with the water dispenser.”

***

It was strange how much your life could change in a matter of hours.  After spending the majority of the day consulting in Oakdale Marah was finally headed towards the office.  And as she replayed last night’s events she couldn’t say that she was altogether surprised by the change.  Even with her lack of memory Marah was drawn to Tony like a moth to a flame.  It had been that way since she was a teenager and it seemed like nothing would ever change.

And last night was like every romantic fantasy she had ever had growing up.  Full of tender touches and passionate lovemaking.  The had laid for hours afterwards talking and laughing .  It was as if that last barrier had been knocked down between them and they could finally just…be.

And when Lanie had waken up in the middle of the night to be fed and changed Marah had been the one to tend to their daughter.  And with Lanie lying between them in their large bed smiling and kicking her feet Marah had felt contentment unlike she ever felt before.  At least as far she knew.  But it was hard to imagine a better feeling than lying with the man you loved with your child smiling and healthy between you.

Sure every morning she woke up hoping that some sliver of her memory would return.  Especially this morning.  Her doctor at the hospital had told her that she may be subconsciously suppressing her memories for self-preservation.  And after learning that Catalina’s brother had tried to kill her she could see why her mind may try to protect her that way.  But she was in a good place right now, her and Tony were in a good place.  She had hoped that this morning would be the day her mind gave up the fight and let her remember.

No such luck.  It always seemed like her memories were light on the cusp of her mind but when she tried to access them the door was slammed shut.

Marah pulled up to her studio and parked.  Turning off the ignition she sighed.  Maybe she just had to accept that she wouldn’t be able to remember her life before the accident.  That didn’t mean Tony and her couldn’t make new memories right?  Entering the office she didn’t bother to turn on the light.  She had given her mother the day off considering she was going to be out of the office for the day.  She walked over to her desk to begin working on the remodel of Lakeview Towers.  And after meeting with owner Lisa Grimaldi she was certain this would be a gigantic undertaking that would increase her portfolio greatly.

There sitting on the desk was the mail she had forgotten about the other day.  The one addressed to her.  “It’s probably from Tony,” Marah smiled as she  picked up the scissors and tore open the box. On top lay a note and still smiling she read aloud, “Here’s to the memories!”

Her husband could be cryptic when he tried to be crafty.  Lying the note aside Marah reached in and pulled out the contents.  She was surprised to find a large scrapbook.  Didn’t seem like Tony’s type of gift but she could never tell with him.  She was still smiling as she opened the cover and took a look at the insides.

The smile quickly dropping from her face and she stood in shocked horror at what she was seeing.  Turning the pages there were more of them.  Pictures of her husband in bed with another woman.  It was like a train wreck.  Where you want to look away but the horrifying carnage keeps your attention.  Peering closer she took a look at the other woman.  Her smug, self-satisfied smile as she lay nestled against Marah’s husband.  And then as if the book were on fire Marah dropped it to the ground.  And she remembered.

“Eden.”