Tag Archive | Manny

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 Twenty-Eight

Tony stood so quickly the patio chair fell backwards, “Separate?  You can’t be serious!” He raked furious hands through his hair as he paced back and forth across the patio before finally coming to a stop in front of Marah, “You don’t think I’ve learned my lesson?  My God Marah I have fought for us from the moment you woke up in the hospital with years missing from our life together.  I let you hold me and our daughter at arm’s length and I did all that while trying to make you see that our life together was worth remembering.”  Tony punctuated each point with a thumb towards himself.

Surprisingly calm Marah just shook her head softly, “It’s not about teaching you a lesson Tony.  It’s about both of us.  Our relationship hasn’t been easy from day one.  There have been ups and downs, miscommunication, rash decisions, and lies.  I just think we need to take a step back and regroup.”

Tony had to admit to himself that Marah had a point, their relationship had never been easy.  But nothing worthwhile ever was, and what they had together was worth all the struggle and pain the world could dish out. “So you think that to help our relationship we should separate?”

At the sad and dejected tone in Tony’s voice Marah questioned her choice.  It wasn’t the first time, she had rethought her decision at least a million times between coming home from Michelle’s and now.  But it all came back to one single point of contention for her, that Tony didn’t trust in her love.  Not to handle the truth and not to be strong enough for the both of them. “I just think that we need to regroup and decide if this marriage is strong enough.  We have been through a lot in the past couple of years and maybe we need a time out to see if we can just…be.”

Tony righted the chair that had fallen and sank into it.  Lowering his head into his hands he tried to calm himself, and it took every ounce of his self-control to not take Marah in his hands and shake some sense into her.  But above that he wanted Marah to be happy and if this would make her see that what they had was what mattered most than he would do what he could to make her see that. “Fine.  I don’t want to do this but I will, for us.”  He raised his head and looked sad eyes towards the only woman he had ever loved, “And how do you suggest we do this?  We have an infant daughter we need to think about.”

Wringing her hands in her lap Marah had to admit she hadn’t thought this far ahead.  All she knew is that she needed a time out to gather her thoughts. “Well, maybe you can stay at Towers for a little while-”

“Absolutely not!” Tony’s face and voice took on a furious note, “Just because you woke up today remembering you are Lanie’s mother doesn’t mean you get to push me out of her life.  I have been the one to change the diapers.  I have been the one to walk the floor with her on nights when she wouldn’t sleep and wonder what I was doing wrong.  I have been the one who did the midnight feedings without a clue as to what I was doing.  Me.  Not you.”  At Marah’s wince Tony wanted to take his words back.  he knew they were harsh but damn it, she would not deny him their daughter. “Sorry, but it’s true.”

“I know it’s true.  And that is part of the reason I think we need a time out.  We need a chance to deal with the pent-up anger we have.  At each other and everything else.”  Marah thought about it for am moment and conceded, “I can move into the extra bedroom.”

Tony laughed humorlessly, “So you want to separate into separate bedrooms?  And we are supposed to coexist yet we are technically separated.”

Marah shrugged, “It’s the best I could come up with.  You don’t want to leave Lanie and I don’t blame you.  You a great father Tony.  And I don’t want to leave the daughter I just remembered I wanted more than anything in the world.  I want to be there for her now in the way I should have been from the beginning.”  She shrugged again, “I don’t want to hurt you Tony. I just have to do this.”

“Fine.  I’ll agree to this asinine plan of yours but just remember this.” Tony stood and walked over to where Marah was sitting and leaned down.  Reaching out he cupped his wife’s face and his hands and pulled her lips towards his.  And after a searing kiss he look into her eyes, “I have fought for you and the life we could have together for most of my life.  And I would fight until my dying breath to make you see what we have is beautiful and forever.  But when you see it, well I just might make you fight for me for a change.”  Standing up he began walking towards the house but not without calling out over his shoulder, “I am your soft place to land Marah.  And you are mine.”

Marah watched Tony enter the house before lifting her fingers up and touching them to her lips.   That kiss was like electricity that shot off sparks like a live wife through her.  And there was a secret part that wanted to just say ‘the hell with it’ and just go on living as they had been before.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t the same person she had been before the accident.  But damn if Tony didn’t call out to every single molecule in her body.

Marah picked up the phone and pressed the number for the one person who knew about time outs more than a baseball umpire.  “Mom.  You busy?”

***

Reva hung up the phone and turned worried eyes to Josh, “Our daughter and Tony are separating. Well kind of.”

Josh dropped the magazine he had been reading, “What do you mean kind of?”

“Well they are living together but technically taking a time out.” Reva couldn’t help it, she smiled, “Bud that is the most ridiculous thing I have head in awhile.”

Josh shook his head, “Do you think she has any idea what she set herself up for?”

“Nope.” Reva joined Josh on the couch and snuggled into his side, “But I have a feeling it is going to be interesting to watch.”

***

Danny hung up the phone and turned to his wife in their bed, “Tony and Marah are kind of taking a time out.”

Michelle sat up in bed, clutching the sheet to her chest, “What do you mean?  I just saw her today and she said that she has always loved Tony.  Hell, we know she has always loved Tony and vice versa.”

“They are separated but still living in their home”, Danny smiled slyly to his wife and slowly pulled the sheets from her hands and kissed her deeply, “How long do you think before one of them cracks?”

Michelle wrapped her arms around Danny and sank back down on the pillows, pulling him with her, “Not long.  You Santos’ have been known to be charming when you want to be.”

Danny gave his wife a wolfish grin, “And I am about to show you just how charming I can be wife.”

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 Nineteen

Tony moved in to Marah’s personal space and rubbed her arm soothingly, “Marah maybe we should talk about this at home.”

Marah narrowed her eyes and Tony knew by the stubborn set of her jaw that his suggestion wasn’t happening any time soon.  She wrenched her arm free. “No.  I want to know now.”

He raised his hands and raked them through his hair.  This was the worst case scenario for Tony, but the cat was out of the bag so to speak.  Might as well come clean. “Fine! ” He gestured to the table Marah and Sam had been sitting at, “But let’s at least sit down.  Maybe not try to have the entire town in on our business.”

Marah pulled out her chair and sat with a huff, “I don’t care what this town thinks.  I never did.”

Yeah Tony knew that.  But she was one of Springfield’s native daughters from one of the upstanding families in town.  When they had begun dating the first time she had been the princess of Springfield, and he had been the bad-boy outsider.  It had taken years, and a lot of sacrifice from Danny, to remove the taint from the Santos name.  Tony tamped down the bitterness that threatened to surface.  He couldn’t fathom that Marah would have forgotten all of their history.  “Maybe not Marah.  But I do.”

***

“Knock knock.”

Danny looked up from going over paperwork to see Michelle standing in his doorway.  He threw the pen down and moved around the desk towards his wife, “Best sight I’ve seen all day.”

Michelle laughed as she handed over the white bag she carried, “Arroz con pollo as requested dear husband.”

Danny gave Michelle a smacking kiss, “You are too good to me you know that.”

“And don’t you forget it!”  Michelle closed the door and moved further into the office, “So where is Tony?  I peaked in to see if he wanted to join us but the light was off in his office.”

“He actually has a lunch date with Marah.” Danny sat behind his desk and opened the white paper bag.  The aromas alone wafting up from the takeout box made his mouth water. He looked up from the delicious delicacy his wife had brought him and noticed she hadn’t sat down with him.  “Aren’t you going to join me?  I just might have enough here for me to share.”

Michelle shook her head and smiled, “I already ate.”

“You should have told me that before I asked if you wanted to join me for lunch.”

Placing her hand on the shiny desk top Michelle leaned forward suggestively, “Maybe I just wanted to see your handsome face.”

Food be damned. Danny had another hunger that was much more pressing.  Moving the food to the floor he stood and bracketed Michelle hips in his hands, “Did you lock the door?”

Michelle reached up and began undoing the buttons on Danny’s shirt, “But of course.  Though Tony being called to his own lunch date worked perfectly into my wicked plans for you.”

Danny smiled lecherously as he pulled her in for a kiss, “So devious wife.”

“I learn from the best.”

***

Tony reached across the table and covered Marah’s hands in his. “Okay I don’t know what Sam told you.”

Marah moved her hands back and tucked them into her lap.  She wasn’t getting pulled into Tony’s vortex of smooth explanations before she got just that. An explanation. “Tell me about Carlos Riviera.”

Tony sighed deeply before leaning forward as to not be overheard by the still curious crowd at Company, “Carlos Riviera was a man Danny and I hired to supply wine for Infierno.  He came heavily vetted so we thought we were doing what was best for the club.” He leaned back as the waited brought their food then continued, “Turns out that he came to Springfield with a mission.”

After taking a bite of her burger Marah made a gesture for Tony to continue.

“Carlos Riviera is Catalina’s brother.”

Marah stopped mid-chew.  The burger in her mouth suddenly as appetizing as sawdust.  She took a sip of water to help her swallow. “Catalina?  As in Catalina Quesada?”  Marah’s stomach tightened in apprehension at what Tony was going to say.  Though she already knew it was going to be bad, hell she bore the scars to prove it.

“Yes Catalina.  Seems Carlos came to Springfield to enact his vengeance.”  Tony took a deep breath and continued, “He came to Springfield to take away everything I love because he thinks I was the reason his sister was dead.”  Tony hated saying the words aloud.  Because a part of him still felt guilty.  No he hadn’t killed Catalina but she never would have been at the mercy of Maria had he not been a stupid, reckless, idiot all those years ago.

Marah must have read the distress on his face because this time it was she who reached across the table and covered his hand in support, “You didn’t kill her Tony.”

Tony turned his hand over and laced their fingers together, “I might have.  She almost took your life that night, and a world without you Marah is no world at all.”

“You make my world a bit more interesting too.  Just so you know.”  Marah tightened her hand before releasing Tony’s, “So he tried to hurt you.”

“No Marah.  He wanted to destroy me.”  Tony pushed his plate aside.  Any appetite that he had when he arrived was completely gone, “And he almost succeeded.  That night still gives me nightmares.”

Marah wrapped her arms around herself, “Tell me.”

Tony shook his head, “Marah you don’t want to hear that.  It was a bad night, that’s all you need to know.”

Marah slapped her hand against the table making him jump, “You don’t get to tell me what I need to know Tony!  The man tried to kill me.  So just tell me!”

“Fine!” Tony leaned toward Marah, his teeth clenched tight, “Do you want to hear how I watched my wife lying limp on the floor with blood seeping out of her like a river?  I didn’t know if you were alive or dead.  It was a nightmare Marah.  A complete and utter nightmare.  The one thing that I am actually happy you can’t remember.”

Marah covered her mouth with her hand before again reaching across the table and holding Tony’s hand in hers. “Tony I had a dream about that night when I first got out of the hospital.  I had no idea who I was running from but I know I was scared.  Guess it wasn’t a dream but part of a memory.”

“Yeah well, I relieve that moment almost every night.  And every time you laugh.  Or when you scrunch up your face when you are watching a movie.”

Marah couldn’t believe she could laugh, not after listening to Tony recount that night in vivid detail. “I do not scrunch up my face!”

“Yes you do.” Tony chuckled, “When you are trying to figure out the plot your mouth does this scrunchy thing.  It’s kind of cute.”

“Yeah it sounds real adorable.” Marah was quiet as she thought about what Tony had told her.  About the co-called ‘accident’ that had changed their lives in ways they still weren’t sure of, “I guess he did take me from you though, didn’t he?  I’m not the same Marah.  I can feel it, like the wires are just not connected right.”

Tony smiled and wrapped both of her hands in his, “Marah you might have forgotten what we had together but as long as we both are alive there is nothing that can keep me from fighting for us.  So no he didn’t take you from me.  Nothing short of death could do that.”  He look at her quizzically before continuing, “As for you so-called’ wiring that you speak of, you are still Marah.  You could suddenly dress like a hippie and decide to grow our own food and you would still just be Marah to me.”

Marah smiled.  The fact that Tony wasn’t fazed by any of the changes her memory loss had caused was reassuring.  She knew he loved her, but his complete acceptance of her was…beautiful. “They threw the book at him right?”

“They sure did.”  He was lucky Tony wasn’t the same reckless ass he used to be.  Or he’d be six feet under now instead of breathing tax-payer provided air.

“Good.”  Marah took one more sip from her water, “How about we skip lunch and go over to Len’s? I could use some chocolate right now.”

Tony stood up and kissed the top of Marah’s head. “I aim to please.”

Guiding Light: Christmas 2002

I had already posted Marah and Tony clips of Christmas 2002 here.  But as a big Thank You to my readers, as well as other Guiding Light fans, I decided to upload the entire episodes from Christmas that year.

In 2002 a lot of characters, not to mention couples, were experiencing major changes.  Marah and Tony are a couple, and Josh isn’t happy.  Reva is getting threatening calls.  Danny is alive and eager to reunite with his family.  Alan discovers that Olivia and Phillip had a hot and heavy make out session before she married Alan.  Phillip relents and lets Harley spend Christmas with Zach.  Bill has a startling revelation about his friendship with Michelle. Ross and Blake have a new start.

December 19, 2002 (Part One) : The Lewis family is trimming the tree…But where is Marah?  Marah and Tony are up at the cabin enjoying some alone time until it begins to snow.  Alan wants to surprise Olivia by repairing a videotape he found.  Olivia and Phillip have words over the videotape of them kissing.

Josh Christmas 2002

December 19, 2002 (Part Two) : Tony joins the Lewis family for the trimming of the tree, which sets Josh on edge.  Olivia and Alan talk about having a baby.  Phillip has flashbacks of kissing Olivia. Someone on the phone calls Reva a “murderer”.  Alan plays the tape…and sees Phillip and Olivia making out in the elevator.

December 20, 2002 (Part One) : At the police station Harley and Carmen have words.  Blake runs into Ross at the Beacon. Olivia’s happiness is cut short when she sees Alan watching the tape of her and Phillip.  Phillip brings Zach to the Beacon for pictures with Santa. Danny arrives at the station to sign his statement against Carmen.

Christmas 2002 3

December 20, 2002 (Part Two) : Carmen tells Danny that he is the problem, that he chose Michelle-fighting who he truly is.  Phillip tells Harley that Zach doesn’t pine for her.  Zach asks Santa for his mom for Christmas. Alexandra admits she knew about the video. Phillip lets Harley take Zach home. After her accident Olivia calls Phillip for help. Rick has words with Danny.

December 23, 2002 (Part One) : Bill and Beth are exchanging gifts at the Beacon. Danny is excited about spending the holiday with Michelle and Robbie. Cassie encourages him when he gets nervous. Ben and Marina interrupt Michelle’s gift wrapping. She admits she’s nervous. Phillip comes to Olivia’s aid. Danny and Bill have words over Michelle. Phillip calls Alan but there is a bad connection.

December 23, 2002 (Part Two) : Danny sticks around the Beacon, Cassie tells him to not feel sorry for her. Danny gives her his number saying he doesn’t have a lot of friends. Bill, Ben, Marina and Michelle have a snowball fight. Marina and Ben exchange gifts. Beth wonders why Alan isn’t looking for Olivia. Phillip takes an injured Olivia to Company. Danny is snowed in at the Beacon. Bill has a dream about kissing Michelle.

December 24, 2002 (Part One) : The Coopers get stopped in a snowdrift and are joining Alan for Christmas.  Bill helps Michelle build a train for Robbie. Reva calls Tony family and wants Josh to invite him to dinner.  A mysterious guest arrives at the Beacon. Blake gives Ross her gift, their wedding bands. Buzz’s words of wisdom prompt Alan to go find Olivia.

December 24, 2002 (Part Two) : Josh doesn’t think Tony has the same Lewis perspective on Christmas. Tony proves him wrong. Cassie finds clues on the mysterious Stanley. Blake and Ross share their news. Danny gets a surprise at the Bauer’s. The Coopers have a holiday hug. Alan arrives at Company for Olivia. Rick gives Cassie a gift. Ross makes a toast.

Manny Christmas 2002

Is this the End?

Marony47

Not quite.  When I began writing “What Matters Most” I never anticipated it would become a novel that stretched forty plus chapters.  But writing a story covering at least the majority of Marah’s pregnancy had to be a long one.  And midway through I realized that if I were to end Marah and Tony’s story on a happy note than any future insights into this pairing would be one-shot fanfics and short stories.  So I decided to end “What Matters Most” with a cliffhanger.

But all is not lost, I have every intention of writing Story Three very soon.  I have been toying with the titles “Lost and Found” and “Return to Me” but anyway it will be Marah and Tony’s journey back to each other…with of course some roadblocks thrown in for good measure.  Though the amnesia angle is not exactly me favorite areas to explore, it opened up some great possibilities to explore.  Both between Marah and Tony as well as between Danny and Michelle.

In the meantime I plan on finishing the Marah and Tony clips on YouTube as well as some articles on here that I have been working on while finishing the story.

What Matters Most~ Chapter Thirty-Four

The remnants of a nightmare startled Marah awake. Only it wasn’t a nightmare it was all too real. Laying on her side Marah surveyed her surroundings. The room was shrouded in darkened shadows so it wasn’t much and any movement brought an immediate throbbing pain to her head. The last thing she remembered was Carlos tying her hands then gagging her mouth, he must have knocked her out with something. She tested her arms and found they were no longer bound. She gingerly reached up and felt the back of her head and winced. He had definitely hit her with something, a large knot had already formed and when she brough her hand back down she caught the metallic scent of blood.

She listened for any movement to indicate if Carlos was nearby but the only sound she heard were of the vermin variety. Though logically she knew he was close, no one went through the trouble of kidnapping a person to simply abandon them, she let herself relax slightly. Where had Carlos taken her? He said they were going to the scene of the crime. What crime? She had just met the man a few months ago! Sure she thought something was fishy going on. For one small moment in time she even worried that Danny and Tony had gotten mixed up in the mob again. But this was a little extreme and never crossed her mind.

Tony.

Her husband’s face flashed before her and brought a wave of tears to her eyes. After that fight they had Tony probably didn’t even know she was in danger. The very idea made Marah even more determined to make it out of here alive. Yes, Tony kept secrets and had a nasty habit of letting that trashy Eden put her lips on him but Tony and Marah had always had a destino. They had been forever since the day they met, they just got delayed for a while. She silently vowed that when she got out of wherever in the hell she was that they would clear the air once and for all. Make a fresh start for them and for their baby.

Marah once again listened for any signs for Carlos but he still hadn’t returned. Ignoring the intense throbbing in her head she managed to push herself up into a sitting position.  Pausing to catch her breath she saw him, sitting in a nearby chair patiently waiting for her to make the first move. His smile was cruel and taunting. “Got tired of playing opossum? Sorry princess we are still waiting for our other guest to arrive. You know how women are, always making you wait. But I have been waiting years for this so a few minutes more won’t kill me.”

Marah was done playing his little games. She wanted answers and she wanted them now. “Why did you do this? What is it you want?  Money?”

He waved her off as if the very idea was ridiculous to him. “Don’t be absurd.  Your money is inconsequential.  I am afraid my motives were a bit more Machiavellian in origin.” Carlos leaned forward on his chair, his arms resting on his knees. Though his posture was relaxed, she knew he was just scrutinizing her and trying to intimidate. “Let’s see if this will help clue you in Marah Santos.  My real name is Carlos but it is not Riviera, it is Quesada, and I do believe you knew my sister.”

***

Tony looked at the stunned faces currently gathered in his living room and felt the same mix of bewilderment. What Frank was telling them was so beyond what any of them had imagined.  The more they tried to untangle the strings on this web the more messy it became.  “So let me get this straight, I was drugged?  That is why I can’t remember anything after leaving the bar that afternoon?”

Frank picked up one of the documents that had been tucked inside the envelope. “According to this letter John wrote he said that he was paid $1000 to slip you the date rape drug Lady Q, otherwise called Queen of Hearts, into your drink.  So you were correct Michelle, Tony was drugged.  Talked to one of the vice cops, he said Lady Q is quickly becoming a thorn in their side.  It’s quick acting and in less than eight hours completely out of the blood system.”

Michelle hardly looked satisfied knowing she had been right. “That is not exactly a good thing Frank.”

Frank continued explaining. “He didn’t ask why he was asked to drug Tony, he just did it for the money.  But when he saw Eden escort you out he had what he called ‘a feeling’.”  Frank took a breath before continuing, “John Anderson really wasn’t a bad guy.  A little misguided and he fell into the wrong hands.  You two know what that is like don’t you?”

From behind Tony’s shoulder Danny muttered. “Yeah he was a real stand up guy.”

Frank pretended to ignore Danny’s comment and the looks he got from the group at large.  He knew John Anderson had made poor decisions, but he hated to see such a young life filled with potential cut down in its prime.  Instead he continued to search the contents of the envelope for clues.  Perhaps something that would further tie this case together.  He pulled out a photocopy of evidence checkout and suddenly he knew what John was trying to show him, it was right in front of his face.  He slid the paper across the table towards Tony, “Recognize this?”

Tony quickly scanned the sheet but he couldn’t say he really read a word of it.  They were wasting time, time Marah didn’t have.  “Get to the point Frank!”  He felt a restraining hand on his arm and he knew it was Reva holding him back.  “Frank please just tell us.”

“John was paid nearly 10,000 to get a specific piece of evidence out of storage.  Evidence pertaining to case number 041602.”

041602.  That number bounced around Tony’s brain frantically until it finally hit home.  April 16, 2002.  The day Catalina was murdered.  “Catalina.” Tony leaned forward and pinned Frank with a look so lethal even Frank cringed. “Are you telling me all of this is somehow connected to Catalina?”  At his master’s harsh words Toby raises his head and whined.   Sensing the tension in the room the dog had been restless all night, pacing from one room to the next.  Tony absent-mindedly stoked his soft head, reassuring him though Tony wasn’t certain if he was convincing himself or the dog more.  He looked back at Frank and continued, “She never really spoke of her family, not in a way that I would think they would come after my family or myself .  You think this is all about revenge?”

“I think they are connected somehow and frankly it is our best lead in finding where Mr. Riviera, if that is his real name, has taken Marah.”  He pointed to the envelope but didn’t take his eyes off of Tony, “All of this screams that it is personal Tony.  Say Catalina’s relatives came back for revenge where would they take her?”

From where he stood nearby Rafael growled. “Damn it man he’s not a detective.  You figure it…”

“The Santos mansion.” All eyes on the room flew to Tony and he continued. “That was where Catalina was killed.  If it is as personal as you say it is than you don’t get more personal than that.  And it is certainly secluded enough.”

Frank turned to Danny. “The Santos mansion still empty?”

“It has been on the market for years but no takers.  I have refused to set foot on the property since I moved back home.  Too much bad blood there.”  Danny winced at his poor choice of words.  Hopefully no more blood would be spilled that night.

Frank stood and opened his cell phone to mobilize a police unit to that location but stopped speaking when he saw the looks exchanged in the room.  “Don’t even think about it.”

Tony barely spared Frank a look as he stood and walked towards the door flanked by Danny and Rafael. “That is my wife and child damn it!  Don’t even think of stopping me or you’ll have to arrest me for assault.  Even then I would find a way to get to them so save yourself the time and hassle.”

Josh held Frank back when he moved to intercept the trio at the door. “Don’t argue with him Frank.  Just get your men moving!  Nothing matters except bringing Marah home safe where she belongs.”

Frank growled but he finally made the call he had intended to make moments ago. “I need all units to the old Santos place.  Let’s go in under the radar, no lights.”  He turned to the remaining members in the house and shook his head. “I doubt you will listen but this is police business.  You will be more help to Marah here than out there acting like cowboys.”  He closed the door behind him with a resounding click.

Reva stared at the closed-door and dropped her head.  After taking a few deep breaths she turned and faced her husband and grown sons.  Shayne had grown up along side Marah and they had always been close.  Even though he was younger he had always been protective of her and she could tell by his posture that he wanted nothing more than to run to her aid.  And Jonathan?  Though he had grown up away from the family fold he had built bonds with all of them on varying levels.  Since Marah had moved back home Jonathan and Marah had grown close and she knew he was no less worried than Shayne.  So it was with a heavy heart, knowing she was sending her men into a dangerous situation, like the cowboys Frank alluded to, when she simply said. “Go.  Help Tony bring Marah home.  We will stay here with the kids like good women folk.”

As if permission was what they were waiting for her stoic men moved towards the door, ready to do what was needed to bring back their little sister.  Josh paused by her side. “I trust Tony, but that’s our baby girl.”

She kissed him sweetly, “I know Bud.  Just keep the boys safe.  Keep yourself safe, and come home to me.”

He touched her face tenderly.  The face he had loved since they were teenagers in Oklahoma, the face he had always loved.  “Always.”

***

A hard nudge to her side brought Marah awake.  She must have passed out from the concussion.  The smell of sulfur filled the air and when Marah opened her eyes she saw that Carlos had lit candles, the room was filled with them.

Carlos crouched down beside her so that he was in Marah’s line of sight. “Rise and shine princess, our guest has finally arrived.”  He gripped her arm tightly and yanked her to her feet.  The room blurred before her eyes and tilted sideways and Marah stumbled forward.  Carlos stopped her with one of his strong arms. “Can’t have that Mrs. Santos.  Why we’ve barely just begun.”

Marah swallowed down her nausea and was about to tell him where he could shove his ‘fun’ when she caught sight of the newcomer to the room.  Her brain may not have been firing on all cylinders at the moment but she knew this wasn’t a welcome addition to the nightmare this night had become.  Carlos unceremoniously plopped her down in a chair and Eden slithered up to her like the snake she was.  “Why hello Marah.  Having fun yet?”