Christmas Punch: part three

Need to catch up?

Read Christmas Punch: part one 

and

Christmas Punch: part two 

Micky left Vern in charge. The husky man recognized Delphia, but other than a slight tip of his hat, he remained silent. Micky directed Delphia to his car, never letting go of her elbow, even as she tried to shake him off. He thrust her in the open driver’s side door. She slid across the seat to the other side. In a few moments, they left the cargo truck behind in the dark alleyway. Snow started to flutter down from the sky. It reminded Delphia of winters in Iowa, but she didn’t get any joy out of it as she usually did. The snow didn’t amount to hardly anything at the coast in her experience.

The cold nipped at her nose, cheeks and toes. Her hands were deep in her pockets to stay warm. Despite the frigidness, she was boiling inside. She had finally started to feel like herself. She was beginning to explore the new world around her as a single woman. The stress of caring for her ailing mother has long since dissipated. Now she was in control of her heart. Then Micky shoved his way back into her life. She was angry, but chose to remain quiet.

Micky’s mind was going a mile a minute as he tried to decipher what was actually happening. He knew he should have tried harder to contact her. Things had gotten all mixed up some how. He had taken care of Lena, so she wouldn’t get in the way and she still managed to do just that from beyond the grave. Delphia was never supposed to know about her. Sicero’s punishment of keeping Micky under house arrest at the Farm didn’t help smooth matters out and they’d let the wound fester for weeks. When he saw that another man leaning into her ear, it had ignited his need to reclaim what was his. He stole glances over at her as she sulked in the cold. Her eyes remained on the road ahead. Her face expressionless. It made the short car ride to her apartment seem like it took an age to finally arrive. Without a word, she let herself out and led the way up the front steps.

In the foyer, the cold air was beaten back the heat of a radiator. Delphia could feel Vera’s eye at the peephole of the landlady’s door as she climbed the stairs with Micky somberly following. They entered Delphia’s apartment. She crossed the room and sat in a wing-backed chair. That left Micky with the davenport. He discarded his hat and sat on the cushion furthest from her without taking off his coat. The lighting intensified the shadows under his eyes and to Delphia he looked exhausted. They stared at one another waiting to see if the other would speak first.

Delphia finally cleared her throat.

“Martin is a nice man. What makes you think you can barge in like that?” she said firmly. Micky tilted his head.

“You’re my girl, Dollface,” he said, causing to Delphia scoff.

“Your girl? I haven’t seen you. The night in the pantry you made it very clear that I’m not anything!” Her voice rose. She put her hand up to her mouth to stop herself from screaming.

“I haven’t even had a chance to explain!” he exclaimed. Delphia folded her arms.

“Then this is your chance, Micky! Explain! I’d like to know how we got here!”

Micky rubbed his face with his hands and sighed before he began to speak again in a resigned voice.

“Sicero found out that I brought you to the Farm and I’ve practically been his whipping boy since. I can’t leave the Farm, unless he tells me to. I’m never alone. Cylus makes all the telephone calls now. I still managed to arrange this apartment for you though him. I thought you’d like it and it’d make up for not hearing from me.” He shrugged as he gazed around the room. This was his first time setting eyes on it. “The last time I was at Libellule I was bringing samples for a man from New York called Marchesi. I don’t know what Sicero arranged for him, but I was only in town for a minute. It was frustrating when instead of being glad to see me, you rake me over the coals as if I haven’t put up with enough of that from Sicero.” Delphia’s lips pursed as she tried to hold her tongue. She couldn’t quite make up her mind if what he said was true or a giant fabrication. He didn’t continue his story as he sunk into the cushion with defeat.

“You said I didn’t know anything about your marriage. Care to explain that?” At the question, Micky’s eyes rolled up and landed on the ceiling.

“You were never supposed to know,” he said followed by a minute of silence, before he finally looked at her. “Before I worked for Sicero, I was arrested for bootlegging. Lena packed up and left before I made bail. I don’t know where she went. Didn’t even have time to look. I had the job offer from Sicero and had to leave immediately.” Micky shrugged as he stared at the door. “We went our separate ways, I guess.” Delphia didn’t respond. The silence hung in the room like a blanket. Delphia glanced out the window and saw the snowflakes falling in larger clumps. Christmas was supposed to be a happy time, instead she felt awful. It seemed like all her problems were her own fault.

“I heard she died, then you were pissed that I was married…” Micky shook his head.

“I’m sorry,” Delphia squeaked. She didn’t want to be mad at him anymore. “I’ve been a fool all this time…” She rose out of her chair went to him. She put both hands out and stroked his cheeks before she kissed him. He let out a long sigh as she pulled away. She sidled down to lay her head in his lap and gaze up at him. He ran a finger slowly across her forehead and pulled a curl away from her face.

“So what about this Martin?” he asked.

“Who?” she asked lightheartedly, but he gave her a stern look. She clarified, “Done and gone.” They sat in a comfortable silence as he ran his finger through her hair over and over again. It felt like it was before and Delphia began to wish all the heartache had been avoided.

“Why didn’t you say she was dead then, when we were in the pantry?” Delphia asked quietly. It seemed like a perfectly easy solution that would have prevented it all.

“Because nobody knew she was dead yet?” he said uncertainly.

“What? Then how did you know?” she exclaimed in surprise.

Micky’s eyes narrowed they were focused on something across the room.

“Intuition.”

Delphia thought it was a funny answer as she laced her fingers with his. Her eyes landed on a white, half moon scar on the back of his hand. She remembered the state of his hands in the darkness of the pantry. The angry red welts had healed fine like he had said they would. She tried to shake a sudden idea out of her mind. Micky had said he couldn’t leave the Farm without Sicero’s orders, so the thought was ludicrous. She glanced at the scar again, she wondered what had made it and couldn’t help thinking of her own fingernails.

 

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