The Morrow Family Saga, Book Three: Laughing, Chapter Seventeen

Toffer’s plane landed at the Des Moines airport just as rain began to fall. Odd how the day mirrored how he felt inside, sad. Sad, but relieved. It had felt good to actually confess all his crimes.

His sadness stemmed from the fact that he knew his freedom was not going to last long.  Hell. He really wasn’t free as it was. Not as the puppet of the mob.

But that had been his mistake. He had borrowed too much and paid back too little. He had thought it would never come to this. He’d thought that he would slip through their hands unnoticed.

But reality struck hard. Now, with prison looming in the near future, it seemed that relief was in sight. Funny he should see prison time as relief, but it was a way to remove himself from his current mess. Perhaps prison would do Tobias good as well, but the boy was still too young to be prosecuted as an adult. Juvenile Detention wouldn’t be a bad place for him either. But they had to catch him first.

Toffer smiled sadly. Perhaps it would have done him good. There was no way of telling now. He had gotten away with all he did for way too long. It had given him a false sense of confidence in the idea that he would always get away with it.

But with everything else, his reign of terror had to come to an end. He was just relieved that Michael Morrow had been the one to bring the end. He should have known that his attempt to bring his rival down would result in his own fall, But he had done the same thing to so many others. It was the reason only two milling companies were left in Des Moines.

Had he played fair, there would have been five. Maybe six or more. Maybe some of the milling companies would return after he was gone. He hoped so.

He disembarked from the plane and walked over to where his car waited. For some reason, he wasn’t all that eager to get home. Hell. He wasn’t even eager to be back in Des Moines.

Maybe it was the fact that he was about to go on trial for his crimes. Or maybe it was because he would have to face Joey again. Either way, he was looking at doing time. He would have to thank Michael Morrow for putting the trial in motion.

He got into his car and made his way slowly to the manse. As he drove, he wondered what kind of mess awaited him. Had Toby done any laundry? Had the boy cleaned the dishes he had used? What about the house? Had he taken initiative enough to keep the place clean?

After all, they no longer had domestics to cook or clean. It was one of the first things he’d had to let go of when he lost it all.  They were no longer rich.It was now up to father and son to keep their home clean as well as the dishes and clothes.

Hell. They had never been rich. Nor financially secure. they had been using other people’s money to keep up appearances.  But those days were gone. Now, they were just normal people, a less than normal family.

He pulled up outside the manse. Everything seemed quiet. A bit too quiet. Quiet made him nervous.

He turned the car off and got out. Might as well face the unknown. He headed for the door, unsure of what he would find. Reaching the door, he turned the knob.

***

Michael settled his family into the guest rooms at Farley’s home. It was going to be a long week for him, but he hoped that it would fly for his wife and daughters.  They had an hour to unpack and get ready for dinner. After that, they would head out to Longchamps . It was to be their first culinary stop in DC while they were there. They would also sample the delights of Rive Gauche, The Colony, and La Salle du Bois. 

While he was gone, Michael knew that Valeria was planning to take the girls to  the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the National Gallery of Art. That would keep the girls busy for eight hours, allowing for them to break for lunch at some point. The following days weren’t so well mapped out. He hoped that she wouldn’t have any trouble doing so. But, then, Farley’s wife would probably have a few suggestions as well.

Perhaps they would go to see The National Theater, Ford’s Theater, Folger Theater, The Smithsonian, and whatever other sights they could discover. He knew the theaters would interest Natalia more than the other attractions. She was stuck in the movie or stage actress stage that seemed like to refuse to fade. Still, history and art would do her good. Even if she didn’t want to learn, she would see what else was out there.

He left Valeria to finish the unpacking. He needed to discuss things with Farley and Tab. Tomorrow was going to be hell, and he knew it. It would be hell for all three of them. Tonight, they had to talk strategy.

***

It didn’t take Valeria and the girls long to finish unpacking. The girls, Valeria knew, were hungry. Longchamps was waiting for them. By the look on Natalia’s face, the restaurant was calling her name. Valeria couldn’t help but laugh.

They didn’t eat out at restaurants very often. Michael believed in family meals at home. She believed in meals at home. Restaurants were meant for special occasions and times when they were away from home. Fine food could corrupt the heart, the same way wealth and privilege did.

Both of them tried to instill humility in their girls. Shasta seemed to allow it to take root. Natalia, not so much. She was proud. Stubborn.

Natalia had a mind of her own. Both parent believed that it would be a source of great sorrow for her and continued to try and reach her. They both hoped that they could get her to see  before it was too late. For the future’s sake.

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