THE PLEDGE CHAPTER 20

"Dinner's ready," Sonny called out.

Craig escorted his mother inside to the kitchen and held her chair out for her.

Sonny placed the pizzas on the table.

They said grace and dug in. Dara was ravenous and sat quietly and ate as she watched Sonny and Craig interact. She had a continuous feeling of dj vu, a few months ago in a different kitchen it was Marcus in Sonny's place. How had her life change so radically and so quickly? She sighed. It was incredulous how one earth shattering death, murder could turn your life, your world upside down.

Craig had told her that he and Sonny had been spending time together, but seeing them together, it seemed like they had known each other for years.

"So why did my dad love Deke, yet you can't stand him?" Craig asked innocently.

Dara froze. She couldn't believe what she'd just heard. Looking over at Sonny, she saw his stunned reaction but then he quickly played it off.

Taking a sip of his Coke, Sonny wondered how he was going to answer his son's question. Truthfully, how else could he answer it? "Deke was a snake that could shed his skin at the drop of a hat. Your dad saw a man who mentored promising, fatherless kids and I saw a man who beat my mother to death."

Craig's pizza fell out of his hand as his mouth dropped open. He had not been expecting that answer. "How could Dad not know that?"

"Deke only showed your dad the side he wanted him to see."

"But Dad is- -was good at reading people."

Sonny refrained from giving his son his honest opinion about that statement. "As an adult, but he was just a kid when he first met Deke."

Trying to digest what he'd heard, Craig took another bite of his pizza.

Following Craig's lead, Dara and Sonny began eating even though they had both lost their appetites.

"So Dad never met you so you could tell him the truth?"

"No, Deke made sure to keep us separated. Although he did mention us to each other." He could still hear Deke going on and on about what a great kid Marcus Taggert was. How Marcus was going to amount to something in life. How Marcus made his mother proud. Marcus wasn't some loser, punk criminal. A kick to his shin thrust Sonny out of his wayward thoughts. He looked up at Dara and he saw understanding there and a smile. She could always bring him out of his dark place. He returned the smile with a slight one of his own.

"Did he abuse you, too?"

"Yes."

"Dad didn't believe that, did he?"

"No."

"Bastard! Deke, not Dad," Craig explained.

Dara nodded. Once again the room was filled with the unpleasantness that always accompanied discussions about Deke.

"I'm sorry," the teenager apologized.

"What for?"

"Dad used to tell me these stories about Deke and how much he meant to him and how he saw him as a second father, and I used to think he was such a great guy. But that was all a lie."

"It wasn't a lie to your dad, Craig." He never thought, in his wildest dreams, that he would ever be defending anything about Deke to anyone.

Craig huffed.

"Look at it this way. In the coffee business, in the DA's office, your mom and I both have to be tough and show no signs of weakness, but we're not like that all the time. We come home, we unwind, we enjoy life and our kids."

The teen nodded. "Got it, mob boss and ADA in the streets, loving parents at home."

Dara dropped her pizza in shock as she stared at her oldest child.

Feeling his mother's gaze on him, the teen responded, "Dad taught me to learn everything you can about the people around you. Besides, in a house that rivals the White House in security, I can talk openly about my biological father being a mob boss along with being a legitimate businessman." Turning to Sonny, he asked, "Is Deke the reason you became the antithesis of a cop?" quickly changing the subject as only a teenager could.

She was simply stunned. When and how did this evening spin so completely out of control? And did Craig just call Sonny his biological father? She wished the floor would open up and swallow her whole.

Biting the inside of his cheek was the only thing that kept Sonny from laughing out loud. He figured Dara wouldn't appreciate his laughter, but their son was a trip. He knew that sooner rather than later that Craig was going to put the pieces of the puzzle together both in regards to his paternity and his career choice. He was sure the library or the internet made Craig aware of his career and lifestyle, but the paternity he would be interested to learn how he'd found that out.

Sonny glanced over at Dara. She wasn't in the right frame of mind to see the humor of the situation or the brilliance of their offspring. This had been a trying day for her, being hit with one surprise after another. And based on the dark circles under her eyes and the tiredness that radiated from them, she hadn't gotten much sleep the night before. It was time to wrap this evening up for Dara's sake. "The choices I made in my life are a discussion for another day and- -"

"I know, I know," Craig answered, standing up and taking his plate to the sink, "whatever you tell me stays between us even though you're not going to tell me anything good."

Sonny nodded as his son rinsed the plate and glass out and placed them in the dishwasher.

"It was Michael," the biracial young man said, answering Sonny's and Dara's unasked question. "Or rather Michael showed me a picture of your mom, my grandma, and it all fell into place. Now I know where I get all my good looks from." Walking over to his mom, Craig kissed her on the cheek. "I'm going upstairs to check out my new stereo system." He stood and looked at both his parents. "I miss Dad like crazy, but Im glad he sent you to us even if Uncle Mac and Uncle Alex are going to flip their lids over this," he commented, exiting the kitchen.

Shaking his head, Sonny sighed. It constantly amazed him how Craig could go from a mature, insightful young man to nave, innocent teenager in a flash. And that last comment was all teenager because if Craig thought for one moment Tags would be happy or grateful for what he had done for his family Craig was crazy.

"Mac and Alex, I didn't even think about them. How did everything turn out so- -" she cried.

Abandoning his seat, Sonny rushed over to Dara and embraced her as the pressures she faced got the best of her.