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Saturday, February 28, 2015

2:58PM - Home and a Blazing Hearth...

"Hi honey, I'm---"  He stopped, cutting his jovial greeting short, just shy of pushing though the swinging door. Shy? No, that wasn't it. His hand on the door, he shuttered slightly. He was afraid, afraid of what might await him. He hung back, arrested with apprehension, shouldering the weight of Victor Frankenstein, having just reanimated his monster's bride.

"It's Angela," Tony reminded himself. "Your Angela," he repeated, straighting up, lest his ever imposing superego dared to call him chicken.  Angela, at her own uging, and to her housekeeper's chagrin, in daring to play Ms. Mom  had morphed from a confident and capable executive to a simpering she-devil, lacking in both instinct and estrogen.

"...And it's only day three," he whined pitfully to himself.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

1:03AM - Wash & Wear...

Just do it, Micelli. What are ya, chicken?  He had Brooklyn-b

Friday, September 6, 2013

8:28PM - Jailhouse a Rockin'

Angela jumped and shivered as the cell doors clamored shut behind them. "So much for reckless abandon," she said, wrapping the beach blanket securely around her slumped shoulders, ambling dejectedly toward the makeshift cot, with barely enough room for two.

"Sleep tight..." The guard's voice mockingly echoed; his laughter following him as he lumbered away.

"Good riddance." Tony scoffed, roughly rattling the prison bars in his wake before turning and nodding in the direction of the cot. "Is su casa mi casa?"

Angela's eyes stared to well; she couldn't look at him, couldn't even crack a smile, and when he moved to put his arm around her, she dismissively shrugged off his touch.

"Oh, Ay," he said, "I know this hasn't been the romantic night we'd been plannin' on, but we're here, we're together, what's the problem, Angela?"

"You mean aside from the bars, cement, and overall confinement?" She tried to transfer the momentary anger she felt onto the situation at hand, rather than address the elephant that had come crashing into their small cell. She sighed resignedly; he'd get it out of her eventually; he always did; he just had that face.

"I can't give you what you want, what you need, what you desire." She choked back sobs.  "What are you talkin' about, Angela? You've given me everything--- Our home, our family, not to mention I've seen ya, twice now, in nothing at all, and let's just say 'restraint' doesn't even begin to---" "I thought you only saw the bubbles," she said, ribbing him playfully.

"That first time...yeah, well, I told a little little white lie 'cause I didn't want you to can me, and just throwing you on the bed on our second night together, no matter how much I may have wanted to, woulda seen you puttin' me in restraints, so..."  "So, as I see it---" She stared at him pointedly, tapping a perfectly manicured finger to her chin, "You've just admitted lying to your boss," she said, tracing that finger slowly across his lips. "Tsk, tsk." Tony swallowed hard, for there was no denying it, she had him, strung up, by his balls

"You're more than just my boss, Angela. Take a look at at us, will ya? I'm standin' here in nothin' but boxers and a t-shirt, and you, you're in nothin' but a beach blanket, and then there's these---" He said, reveling the role of both sinner and saint, his impish smile spreading into an all-out devilish grin as he pulled a pair of black, French-cut lace panties from his pocket.

"You've had those all this this time?" She asked incrediously. Her eyes were wide, mouth agape. Who was he? Houdini??

His eyes held hers, remembering a night of candlelight, wine, and a conversation interrupted. She cautiously met his gaze, unsure if she should return with him to the finality and ambiguity of it all. Those signatures, in black ink, annulling their life together blurred in her mind before he succeeded in bringing her back; back to that night, her eyes catching sight of his sly smile amid the candlight and wine, always alluding to more than his words ever could. Was she single, married, divorced??? Seven years with him, and hell if she knew. She had gone to the tavern in need of an an escape; the personal ad simply a means of comic relief and release. He'd followed  her lead, needing it too, whatever 'it' was.

"What exactly do you think we are?" She queried, experiencing the slightest hint of deja vu in posing the same question she'd asked of him all those years before. Had everything changed?  Had nothing changed? What did she expect him to say? She asked herself.  She expected him to waltz around the question, and athough she never quite knew where he might be leading her, waltzing with Tony was great, life with Tony was great, and sex with Tony would be... Her cheeks involuntarily flushed; the thin line of her lips curving slowly in anticipation. Nah, she wasn't going to go there. He caught sight of the semi-narcotic expression on her face and smiled. "I don't wanna talk about what did or didn't happen tonight. I wanna make love, here and now. I wasn't kiddin' when I said we'd spend our honeymoon in prision. He was adamant, and who was she to deny him in his adamancy?

"How 'bout a dance, baby?"  Before she had a chance to protest, his strong arms eveloped her swaddled form,eyeing her with a mixure of admiration and anusemement.

    Monday, October 29, 2012

    11:19PM - "Daddy's Little Pumpkin" --- A Halloween Drabble

    Angela watched from a distance as her daughters huddled together as though sharing a secret. They‘d canvassed the patch all day; the perfect pumpkin yet to be found. Rubbing her rounded stomach, Sam pointed, “How about this one?” The little girl nodded, her brown pigtails bobbing up and down. Sam affixed the tot atop the pumpkin, shouting, “All set, Angela.”
    “Smile for daddy, Katie," Angela called.
    “Mommy!” The two year old bounced off the pumpkin and bounded toward Angela, leaving Sam both bemused and bewildered.
    “How do you do it?" she asked.
    “I married your father,” Angela said, grinning.

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    9:38PM - "A Very Long Interlude"

    He was just doin' his job, he reminded himself. Why, however, had he decided to do a daily household chore at such a late hour? He didn't want to see her; that was the sad truth of it. His indiscretion had disrupted the most innocent of activities, like delivering freshly laundered linens to her bathroom. He just didn't feel comfortable. It was just too... intimate. He stood hesitantly outside the door for just a moment, too caught up in rationalizing his own rationale to knock.

    "I thought we agreed long ago that you'd always remember to knock before coming in," she said, her mouth set in a thin, straight line.

    "I'm sorry." He mumbled, quickly dropping his gaze. "I didn't expect you home tonight. I thought you'd be stayin' in the city with---"

    He looked at her then, sucking in his breath in seeing she showed a certain disinterest in covering herself up.

    She stood silently watching his eyes travel down her body, taking her in, inch by inch. The thin line of her lips curving ever slightly.

    "This is what you wanted, isn't it?" She asked quietly.

    "Yes." He answered, knowing his body language had already betrayed him. "I wanted you then, and I want you now!"

    "So what are you going to do, Tony? Have an affair on your girlfriend with your 'wife?'" She surprised even herself in ascribing to the role she saw herself in, only admitting to it within the strict confidence of her shrink. Her tone was harsh- perhaps too harsh- but she was raw and exposed.

    "What about you?" He shot back, his face hot. "Are you gonna cheat on your boyfriend with your 'husband?'" He sputtered, nearly choking on the words.

    "This isn't about me, Tony," she insisted, her voice rising. "I'm not the one who---"

    "She was a mere abstraction, Angela," he said, straining to keep his voice level. "Because the fact is, never have I wanted anyone more than the woman I see standin' before me!"

    She tucked the towel around her once more. Stepping from the tub, she crossed over to where he stood, folding into him perfectly as he pressed his forehead to hers; his hands toying with the towel still draped about her. A gentle tug saw it fall to a formless heap on the floor. Taking her hands in his, he silently led her from the bathroom and into the bedroom.

    Crossing the latitudinal line leading from the bathroom to the bedroom, Tony took his hands from Angela's, never breaking eye contact eye with her and placed them on her waist, letting them rest just above her hips, pausing only a moment to relish their soft curves before effortlessly lifting her up, feeling the length of her legs as they wrapped possessively about his hips.

    He lay her down on satin sheets, bare. Concentrating wholly on the thin line of her lips, those eyes, expectant, perceptive, deep-set, and brown; that hair, damp, unruly, dusky blond ringlets, seemingly begged his fingers to comb suggestively through them. He obliged. His eyes them came to rest on the subtle arch of her back; his libido heightening instantly. Sensing his restlessness, she tugged at his jeans working to push the stiff denim past his hips as he sat, straddling her, his knees anchored on either side of her hips.

    "No," he said, grabbing her wrist more harshly than he meant to.

    "No?" He read the questions in her eyes, glaring comprehensible rejection.

    His face remained inches from hers, drawing closer, millimeter by millimeter, as he gently parted her lips with his. She smiled, feeling his whole body awaken with need as she deepened the kiss, fervored in its intensity.

    "What happened in Jamaica will not happen tonight, or ever again, Angela." He said decisively. "I took ya for granted, and it nearly cost me our marriage, and I now know want I want." His tone was timbral and unmistakably primal as he grabbed ahold of her hips, reveling in the sensation of her body aligning seamlessly with his. His eyes, dark and serious, softened as he said, "We're gonna do this my way, ok? I have somethin' I wanna say."

    She gazed at him with eyes always of the same hue - unadulterated, attentive. He stared at her, his eyes holding hers in a willling suspension of disbelief. He turned from her, eyes averted, momentarily adrift before asking, first incredulously, then accusingly, "How can you look at me like that? Go ahead, Angela, you can gloss over my, uh, 'indiscretion' with any shade of gray you want 'cause even today I can't wrap my head around it... Can't rationalize it, but I still said those three words. 'I don't know', and you still gave me an out. Well, here's another three; I did know; the morning paper hittin' me on the head as I snuck back, adulterously, into our home, not so subtly told me. Then, I heard your voice, unassumingly waking our kids. That, above all, shoulda told me. You knew, too, that I had been warin' the same clothes that I had worn the night before; that dingy gray t shirt and baggy jeans under the blue denim oxford shirt. That's somethin' I wanna forget yet always seem to remember. You also couldn't admit- didn't want to know - that I could do something to you, to us, that would disrupt our happy domesticity. Why didn't you confront me, Angela? If you had confronted me, I wouldn't have said 'I don't know' when you asked me if it was over; this nightmare I allowed us to wallow in; I wouldn't have had the choice.

    "You made the bed, Tony..." She trailed off, a teasing lull in her voice.

    He couldn't halp but grin at that. Here he was trying to be honest and forthright with her as she sat silhouetted in nothing more than a satin sheet, using the sincerity of his words as a means of seducing him. Oh, the irony, the sheer, cruel irony. Only Angela could succeed in doing that, and in simply lying together on her bed, mere breaths away from being friends to becoming lovers, Tony felt more at home and in love with her than anyone else he had ever known, once again wondering why they had chosen to forgo an intimate relationship for so long.

    "How'd we do it, Ange?" He propped himself up on his elbow, turning his head to look at her.

    "Do what?" She echoed, eyebrow raised, piqued with interest.

    "Give this up. This intimacy we've got goin' on here... I can't believe we spent all these years denying ourselves this time. I mean, just bein' here with you---" He shook his head.

    She regarded him thoughtfully, saying, "I know what you mean, Tony. We devoted so much time to protecting our intimacy that embracing it was, well, not even a thought."

    "For me, it wasn't an option." he said, chuckling at the absurdity of his former absolution.

    Angela, too, couldn't suppress a smile at the memory of him knocking on her bedroom door that first night, headstrong Italian that he was, ever prideful of his physical prowess, yet valiant in his resolve never to touch her. She, herself, didn't know how he did it.

    "What a stunod I was," he interjected ruefully amidst her reverie. She soulfully met his eyes before bringing his mouth to hers. "You're a good man, sweetheart," she said, her words settling on his lips as she parted them with hers; a passionate punctuation of her sentiment.

    "So, uh, Angela," he began after having met her lips again and again, as moments manifested into minutes of solicited passion; their immanent desire sublimated only by an exigent need to breathe. He planned on posing his next question tentatively, but innate Italianness and his id got the better of him, deciding at once to muscle-in on the conversation.

    "You never even thought about it?" He blurted, aghast.

    "By 'it,' you mean...?" Her eyes were shy, demure, her grin sly and unabashedly wicked.

    His will was crumbling, held captive in a game wrought by her own hand and voice; his frustration evident on so many levels.

    "You and me, becomin' an 'us'... making love. "

    "All the time." She confessed in a low, tantalizing murmur, divulging then that, on occasion, She played an inward game of truth or dare; admitting she loved him had only caused her sleepless nights; the shrink's raspy voice resounding hauntingly in her head: "You might lose him, Angela..." The voice followed her as she tiptoed across the hall, to his bed, prompting her as she pulled back the covers, prepared to live and love him without pretense. Dr. Bellows, blunt and acute as she was, was right. Tony needed to know; he deserved to know. Angela sighed, unrequitedly content in her resolve to watch him sleep.

    Tony was tickled by this new revelation, envisioning them enacting their own version of a beloved fairy tale. "You could've roused me, ya know," he kidded her, adopting the same teasing tone she had inflected on him earlier. "Come to think of it, I never have been able say no to you; it's one of those cardinal rules... Somethin' about you bein' the boss, and..."

    "So, it's just 'yes' you have an issue with, then." She finished for him, her voice lowering an octave as she angled her face to his, her lips lingering a fraction from their desired target.

    "Oh, Ay," he said, emphatically setting the record straight, "I've asked you to marry me every year since our second anniversary, and I don't ever remember you sayin'---"

    "You didn't know what you were saying that night, and those proposals were in jest..."

    "Joking and anesthesia aside, I still meant what I said."  All humor was gone from his eyes, replaced with a sincerity that seemed to radiate through him. "I fell in love with you that night, Angela. You made me dinner, with candlelight and wine. It was the first time I thought, you know, that maybe, we had somethin.' I mean, you treated me more like a spouse than the subordinate I supposedly was, thinking all the while nothin' went right, and to me, nothing had gone better, and if I'd had my way and hadn't gone into surgery..." His brown eyes bore into hers. "We'd have gone to bed that night."

    "You sound so sure of that." He watched the trademark dimple form on her left cheek as she took delight in ribbing him.

    "There's something you gotta know about me, Angela. I've only loved two women in my life; you and my late wife, and I love in an all-consuming, consummate kinda way. I've said this to you before, and I'll say it again; once I feel it, I don't walk away from it, and I didn't walk away from Marie; she was taken from me. Everything happened so fast; kiss, well, it was more than that, marriage, baby carriage..." He laughed, lost within his own nostalgia. "Then, she was gone." He was somber now, reflective, unwittingly reliving the moment Marie had slipped away from him. Angela listened quietly, knowing he needed her to hear this.

    "Left alone with nothin' but widowed fatherhood, I remember thinkin' we'd done it all wrong. I spent so much time away from her, always tryin' to make it, young naive ballplayer that I was, and I didn't keep her close to me, always thinkin' we had nothin' but time. Time I now have with you; time I wouldn't trade for anything, not even the Hall of Fame. I've been happy with you, Angela. These years that we've had together have been the happiest of my life.

    "So, that's why it's taken us seven years to cross this threshold." Her smile was incandescent, reminiscent of the pearls she always wore; he placed a kiss at the hollow of her naked throat before throwing his hands up in mock conceit, saying, "I'm guilty, guilty of not wanting to turn our happy home into the latest Hard Copy headline."

    "Tsk, Tsk," She murmured, placing a finger to his lips. She pulled back slightly and then said, "It's ok, Tony. I think we were both guilty of that. I'm just happy to be here now."  He smiled, humbled by her words. The smile spread into an all-out devilish grin as he upped the ante. "It does take two to tango, ya know... Speaking of which--- How did you manage to account for the lack of, uh, physicality in our relationship? 'Cause I really can't say we lacked in intimacy; we've always been one very loving household."

    "Well, there was the agency, of course,  the daily happenings with the kids, and then your insistence that I join the gym.

    "Yeah, I'm so glad I thought of that," he said, trying to remain focused on her face, his eyes straying from her delicate features to her flawless body, her long, lean frame accentuated and hugged indiscriminately within the folds of billowy satin. Tony's mind and body were at war as he stared at the vision before him, with rational thought succumbing to the most visceral of desires. Angela watched this inner conflict rise, settling blatantly across his handsome Sicilian face; there was no denying his want and need for her; his every expression silent foreplay, speaking of accorded desire. She shot him an equally intense sidelong glance before she spoke.

    "Are you saying you had ulterior motives, purely selfish ones, perhaps, for getting me to incorperate an excercise routine into my already insanely busy schedule?"|

    "Could be."  His Cheshire cat grin was unmistakable.  "And you," she quipped, "How did you ever manage to sumblimate your desire for---" She held back for a moment, instantly regretting her question for fear that the conversation would then include those that had come before her in his life; those of whom she was all too familiar and wanted desparately to forget. She was none too surprised when he went straight for the jugglar. "Sumblimate my desire for you, ya mean?" She listened intently, noting his list was a near literal transcription of her own, give or take a few minor details. "I guess you could say I wanted the woman in my life to always wake up knowin' that I'm a good man--- that's why I do what do. He grinned broadly, temptuously, adding, "There was, of course, the yoga too." "A good man?" She echoed, needing at once to qualify the sentiment of her partner; the proud Italian who lie in love and aroused beside her, knowing instinctively that taking care of her and his family was requisite, asking nothing and offering his hand and an intimacy her ten year marriage had failed to procure."You are the most incredible man," she breathed, her voice dropping an octave as she crawled calculatingly toward him, holding his libido with her every moment and inflection. Her tone lowered even further, dripping addictively into a coffee drinker's drawl: "Yoga, huh?" "Then you must be an incredibly strong, physical, flexible, and disciplined man, yes?" 

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    12:44PM - Conviction and/or Pitching Myself to the Media...

    I have an extremely inflective voice, and I want to represent the disabled in the entertainment industry. The industry, after all, prides itself on being so 'diverse' these days, does it not? That being said, I want to lend voice a the demographic that has been continually glossed over within the industry. There is not a group with more 'conviction' than that of the physically disabled. Agreed? Well, then, it's time for the industry to take notice, and it can start with me!

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    12:57PM - My Cherished Companion...

    My Egyptian Short-Haired cat, Ramsey, passed away this morning. As some of you already know, I have a physical disability, Cerebral Palsy, which causes me to use both a wheelchair and walker for basic mobility. He was what I like to call my 'dark angel,' as he's all black, and always looking out for me. He would wake me up 3x every morning and stay curled up on my bathroom rug until I showered and dressed for work. This was our daily routine. He was also accustom to sitting atop my lap as I motored around the house in my electric wheelchair. If we'd open the sliding glass door that led to the patio just a crack, he'd go through the motions, angling his paw in such a way that he was able to then slide the door open and push himself through. Talk about intelligence, he had it, and knew it, too.

    He's also a poster kitty, quite the celebrity. He's been featured in the 2011 edition of Workman Publishing's Bad Cat Calendar. His caption ironically reads "I sold my soul..." He really is an angel, though. Ok, so maybe his curiosity brought out the devil in him from time, and yes, he was known to knock things off my desk, but, hey, what do you know, I do that too. That just made him all the more human.

    Rest in peace, Rammy {I know you're curiously scanning the computer screen as I type every word...}

    You'll always be with me,

    Ashley

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    7:21PM - Abstraction...

    Erotic art. That's what had done him in. Blonde hair, too. It lightly brushed against his shoulder as his lips almost met hers.

    Almost. Her eyes were blue, not brown. And in them, he saw the awkwardness indicative of first meeting. He wasn't going to lie. This did have a split second allure, but he wasn't going to go through that again. He didn't have to. The contented domesticity he'd found in her warm brown eyes drew him in and called him home.

    As close as he'd come, he pulled back.

    "I gotta go," he mumbled.

    "Why?" She asked, clearly taken aback. "We were just about to create our our form of distraction."
    Distraction? He said to himself. Abstraction is more like it. He could mull it over later. His own confusion called for a speedy exit, yet he knew he owed her something.

    "Look," he said simply, "We just got our signals crossed." That was as plain as he could make it. He eyed the five cups of now cold coffee, wishing the study group had never left.

    "I led you to a place I never planned on goin'. I'm sorry."

    She sat alone on the stiff, fitted hotel sheets, staring after him.

    Sitting solitarily in his Jeep allowed him to breathe, but offered no solace.

    His hands practically strangled the steering wheel while his head thumped against it, repeatedly.

    He was a man at war with himself; his frustration evident on so many levels.

    Why had he been so tempted to give in? He wondered.

    "Because livin' with the blonde with the deep-set brown eyes is torture, damn torture," his id screamed; his head hitting the wheel once again.

    She had asked him to go, but she might as well have thrown him out, out of their home; her voice taking on that 'bossy tone', urging him to keep his distance. He heard the record execs' laughter, mocking him faintly, as he made his exit. One of them wanted her, he knew. And he was jealous. "She's mine!" He wanted to scream but couldn't, having relinquished any claim to her that night in Jamaica as he wound a chastity belt around her with his words, now serving to suffocate them both.

    There it was in black white: The abstraction of their life together had given way to many shades of gray, or in his case, another shade of blond that had threatened to take him from her.

    He focused on the straight beams of light radiating from the headlights, guiding him as he shifted the Jeep into drive. "Maybe it is just that simple," he mused aloud, "I just need to go home, and give in --- to her.

    Pulling into the driveway, Tony noticed their normally well-lit home was completely dark. He'd been more than a little unnerved, abstracted even, when he'd left, and the blackness that now surrounded him made him all the more uneasy.

    "Maybe those record guys actually had the nerve to ask her out for a drink," he scoffed bitterly. And given the constrained civility of their conversation earlier that evening, she might've rightfully accepted. He briefly imagined both of the guys sitting at the bar taking bets as to which one of them would leave on her arm at the end of the night as she politely excused herself and went in search of the ladies' room.

    "Get a grip, Micelli," he told himself. "She was probably exhausted and went to bed, forgetting to flick the porch lights on," he said, somewhat satisfied with the alternative, seeing as how it was so much more Angela. As he unlocked the door, darkness once again greeted him, disconcerting him enough to wonder if he was indeed alone. His eyes drifted to an otherwise ashen fireplace, seeming also to concede to impending abandonment as well as quell any inclination he may have had of romance burning anew as he entered the house. His eyes half closed, he sighed resignedly. He was tired; tired of all the abstraction, so tired in fact that his eyes narrowly missed the soft light filtering from underneath the swinging door, welcoming him home.

    Tony could scarcely believe that, here, at what one might consider his 11th hour, reality had finally dawned on him. Angela was both at home and awake, and he knew if he stepped just beyond where he stood and into the light, all their years of abstraction would manifest into an exceedingly daunting reality; and so, he hung back, door ajar, looking tentatively at her.

    She sat at their kitchen table, sketching, scribbling, and yes, even erasing, seemingly unaware of his presence. Her long blonde hair was swept up off her neck in a messy French Twist, held modestly in place with a dull point pencil. He smiled; gone was the ever poised and almost posed ad exec persona that she slipped in and out of everyday; the side of his domestic partner that unwittingly told him he would never be good enough for the high-heeled woman who came home to him everyday. The one from whom, at times, he wanted to run and hide. Yet, at present, he could not take his eyes from her, completely captivated by the innate duality he'd found within her, for she now, ever the professional, appeared both candid and content; the archetypal, dare he say, working 'wife' and mother.

    He was in love with her, in every abstract sense of the word.

    "Pulling an all-nighter?" He ventured.

    The sound of his voice never failed to rouse her from the most tedious of tasks. His household chores, too, would cease the minute he heard her heels clicking confidently across the linoleum as she made her way into the kitchen. The kitchen was her first stop, as she knew that was where he'd always be. It was his domain and their routine; the image of him standing in his apron was home to her, and tonight, with the hour hedging just upon midnight, was no different as she looked up, greeting him with a smile rivaling that of the Mona Lisa.

    "Hi," she said. "You're home late." "Studying must've went well, then."

    "Yeah." He paused. "Covered quite a bit, and let me tell ya, Ange, I've never been more tired of all things inanimate," he said, walking behind her, his hands coming to rest on her shoulders. He tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear before adding, "Looks like you do your best work in the kitchen too." He grinned, peering over the the top of her head to get a look at the impeccably laid out storyboard in front of her; his hands now gently kneading her shoulders. She exhaled, sighing softly before she spoke.

    "John and Peter were here; we had a great brainstorming session, and you know me, I just couldn't wait to get the ideas down on paper. And I was---" From where he stood, he could see a dimple punctuating her left cheek, forming the mere hint of of a smile.

    "You were waiting up." He finished.

    For the second time that evening, reality hit him, approaching slowly at first, then washing over him with such an intensity that he shook, stunned, his head swimming in this new revelation: He was married. Angela's head now rested comfortably against his chest, offering him tangible evidence of this still abstract fact, and he shuddered to think about what would've transpired if he hadn't come home.

    He envisioned Angela frantically canvassing all of the local hospitals, or at the very least, making a midnight run to the batting cage.

    His chin rested on the crown of her head, both silently reveling in the slightest of intimacies.

    "Dance with me?" He murmured, his voice low in her ear.

    "Tony," she said, amused, as she protested weakly, "It's a quarter after twelve, and I've still got my heels on; we'll wake the kids..."

    "We're alone, Angela," he said; his brevity and tone putting an end to her every extenuation, rendering his proposition undeniably appealing.

    "...And not for nothin', but never has there been a day that you haven't looked great those heels or any pair at all... very distracting, though you'd look great if you took 'em off too. His eyes met hers with a suggestive smile.

    "Oh, so you're into corporate women now, are you?" she said, her lips curving ever slightly into a coquettish grin.

    "Women?" "...And here I thought I was livin' a settled suburban life with just one, a blonde whose 'excutiveness' is nothin' short of alluring, and oh, I've heard she finds men who know their way around both a weight room and a kitchen with an equal measure of finesse quite debonair.

    "Men?" She questioned teasingly, "Well, maybe just one," she said, gingerly stepping out of her heels as she took the hand he offered her.

    Wordlessly she watched as he rekindled the fire that had reduced to little more than cinders in the hours he had been away from her, the flames now flickering and blazing from within the hearth, as strains of Sinatra's voice sonorously rose and reverberated through the air. He beckoned her to him, his eyes on her and her alone as she came toward him, drawn solely by the slow controlled motion of his index finger. He had usurped every ounce of her femininity with one fluid movement and it wafted about him, the subtlest of perfumes.

    His left hand held her at arm's length, appraising her from head to toe, while his right arm suggestively wound its way around her back, his fingers lightly trailing the length of her spine. Reaching the slope of her neck, he noticed her eyes were half closed, and it took all his willpower to resist drawing her into their comfort zone, with her head coming to rest on his shoulder, but if his near misstep earlier that evening had managed to tell him anything about the six year waltz he and Angela had found themselves in, it was that 'comfortable' just wasn't working anymore. Yet, in the six years she had shared with Tony, comfortable was all Angela had allowed herself to expect, so when she felt his fingers gently tug the pencil from where it remained interred amid her golden locks, she raised her eyes to his questioningly. His eyes darkened, beguiled by the waves of blond cascading down her back. The overt look of desire she saw in his eyes left her feeling uninhibited and free as the last tendrils of hair spilled over her shoulders. With a slight toss of her head and a coy smile, she recaptured her femininity, and held him, reeling, in a purely Angela-induced vertigo. He grabbed ahold of her hips, pulling her to him, in a desperate need to regain his equilibrium and close the distance between them.

    "Hi." He murmured. The intense vertigo he felt moments earlier artlessly subsided as he lovingly pressed his nose to hers.

    "It's been awhile... I've missed this."

    "Hi to you too," she said, looking up at him, her fingers laced lightly about his neck.

    "It really has been awhile since we've had any time alone." She echoed softly. Her statement unwittingly indicative of just how close they had become.

    "Yeah, thanks to Mrs. Rossini and her perfect timing... Maybe we should give kudos to the borough too," he added with chuckle. "Seein' as how the the street fair is but once a year."

    She laughed into his hair, never having felt more connected with anyone in her life.

    "Think about it, Angela, he said incredulously; his exuberance becoming contagious as he continued, "A night with no dependents, that includes your mother too--- who's who knows where with who knows who." he added with a grin. "Whatever are we gonna do?"

    "I'd say this is definitely a step in the right direction." She said, punctuating her words with a demure smile.

    "Yeah, yeah, it sure is." He paused, grinning slyly at her. "For now." His last two words lingered suggestively between them, an open invitation as they moved about their living room, contented for the moment in their exclusiveness.

    "What are you thinkin' about," he asked, placing a chaste kiss into her hair.

    "Us, actually. About the last time we danced like this. We had just become friends with that couple..." She trailed off, watching his eyes roll back in his head.

    "Braaad and Janeee," he said, drawing out the names of of the troubled couple as a means of emphasizing the distaste and disgust the mere syllables left on his tongue.

    "Those two wackos weren't friends, Angela. They were fiends, preyin' upon us because we didn' t parade about that club, regal in our exclusivity. I don't work that way; I 'm a private person, not one to get caught up in a facade. Those two weren't a couple; they were a facade; The guy admitted as much. He couldn't commit to save his life and neither could she!"

    "You seemed to enjoy dancing with her."

    "I wanted us - you and me- to have friends. I can't help it if neither of 'em understood the definition. He rested his hands on her hips, saying, "I mean, the way I see it there's dancing and then there's dancin'," he said, studying her face, his eyes alight with pleasure in seeing how seamlessly her body aligned with his as he pulled her close and held her against him.

    "I kept her at at a respectable distance, and she violated me!" He shuttered.

    "Only you're allowed to do that." An impish smile played at the corners of his mouth.

    She raised an eyebrow, her brown eyes sparkling with mischief. "Violate you?" He knew she was enjoying toying with him far too much.

    "Ah well, you know..." He flushed slightly, struggling to find the words to tell her he enjoyed their own brand of intimacy, no matter how ephemeral it was.

    "Remember Atlantic City, Angela?" He asked, his wistful reminisces supplanting him, if only momentarily, back to their lazy evening stroll along the boardwalk, his hand traversing her face, playfully dabbing away a dot of vanilla custard from the tip of her nose. He then felt her arm dip even lower from where it had been loosely draped about his waist as she gave his derriere an affectionate squeeze. Grinning, he hugged her to his side in silent acknowledgement of a promise fulfilled, leaving onlookers to wonder if they were a newly wedded couple, flirting scandalously within the bond of their young marriage, or some surmised, perhaps they had been together for years; a part of those lucky few who'd managed to 'get it' and keep it going. The long look she returned him intimated as much, and he felt himself being pulled from his reverie, leaving him to once again lose himself within the deep brown depths of her eyes.

    "I wasn't puttin' on a show for the masses there, Angela," he said, willing her to understand.

    "I was... I am... simply caught up in the nearness of you."

    His heartfelt declaration was immediately met with her resplendent smile. The thin line of her lips curving slowly at first, carefully considering the sincerity of his words before ebulliently erupting across her face; a brilliant reflection of her comprehension, an intimation of just how well she knew and understood him.

    Seconds passed as she stood waiting, waiting for that boyish grin to cross his face. When it failed to appear, she stepped back, beclouded with doubt in the interim. Supposing their barely begun dance had come to an end, she turned away, preparing to slip quietly to her room, alone.

    His hands flew to her shoulders. "Angela, don't... don't leave." He stood, for the moment, gripped in fear. "Not when at any minute I could--- Just hear me out... I got more to say. There are things I need ya to know before we---" He cupped his hand under her chin, turning her face toward his. His tone arrested her; her love for him keeping her there as she read the characteristic warmth in his eyes, knowing then that their night together had, in fact, just begun.

    "You mentioned having more to say?" She inquired, drawing the words out slowly as she angled her face to his and wrapped her arms around him yet again.

    "Uh huh," he mumbled against her mouth.

    Her eyes on him, she drew away, millimeter by millimeter, it seemed, causing him to concentrate on the thin line of her lips as they curved to form the dimple that appeared seemingly for the sole purpose of teasing him. He took in her face; porcelain skin, features aesthetically Elizabethan, a composite of all that he wasn't and all that he wanted, inebriated him. He sobered as he started to speak, willing himself not to drown within those expectant and desirous eyes that held fast to his.

    "I did get caught up in you that night," he said, reflecting again briefly on their time at the Paradise Ballroom when he saw Brad slipping that ring on Jane's left hand. He shook his head. "I knew it shoulda been me, slippin' a ring on your finger." "What would those two-timers know about an engagement anyway?" He muttered. "I bet they didn't make it down the aisle, let alone past the first pew. And here we are, six years in, maintaining a home and raisin' a family, and I can't even---" His Brooklyn accent thickened the more frustrated he became.

    "All that jerk did was validate my insecurities, so if I abstract myself from you, or choose to refrain from bein' all over you at a ballroom, it's my bizarre way of keepin' you, of keeping things the way the way they are. I mean, I see things as they are, not as they aren't. It's a curse, I guess. But I also know who I come home to, and that you deal with men who look as tailored and professional as you yourself are, and yet you come home to me, propping yourself up on the kitchen counter, munching on carrots while I make the salad, chatting nonchalantly about your day. And I stand there, fighter that I once was, resisting the urge to pick you up and put you there myself. But I don't, 'cause I know it wouldn't end there, and if there's one thing I've learned in this life, it's that you never tell a man he has everything because it's in that moment of certainty that he realizes how quickly it can all slip away, and you can't tell me it won't happen because it did; it happened to me; everything slipped away with a slide into third, so I contend myself with being both the man and the dad you need me to be, but give me just one night Angela, a night of just you and me, a night transcendent of the rest of our lives, and I'll show you what a loving husband I can be.

    "Tony, you know my recent dealings with John and Peter are just business, right?" She raised her eyes to his to find his lips lightly touching hers.

    "I know."

    "But what's happening here, between you and me, this isn't 'just business' either, right?"

    "No." She said, softly pressing her lips to his.

    He sighed contentedly as she nestled her head against his chest. Looking down at her, his mind wandered; his eyes resting on the nape of her neck, almost hidden from view by the starched collar of her fitted oxford blouse. She sensed his restlessness as he absentmindedly fingered the buttons of her shirt.

    "Would you like some help?" She queried, placing her hand over his. His eyes, having been half closed, flew open as the warmth of her hand and the sound of her voice, having dropped to a husky murmur awakened his appetent need for her.

    Together, they pushed the tiny buttons through the slits of pressed fabric. The material parted, revealing Angela's lace-clad chest, causing Tony to inhale sharply and bury his face in her bosom. He remained stilled by the rhythmic rise and fall of her breathing; his warm breath teasing and tickling her breasts as he sighed, discontented and overwhelmingly aroused by the sight of her nipples hard-pressed against the coarse lace of her bra.

    Leaning down, she kissed the top of his head as he trailed impatient kisses along her neck; her pulse quickening and heart pounding as he mouthed the words, "I wanna make love" in a drawl; lulling, timbral, primal; his voice an Italian aria resounding in her ears.

    He watched her eyes turn fifty shades of brown as he came upon her. His steps strident, keeping pace with her every movement as she backed away from him, her slim waist just out of his reach as she slipped sinuously across the linoleum, her pupils alight with pleasure, then darkening, simmering with unsolidified desire.

    Resistance and distance from Tony was futile, Angela knew. Scant seconds passed before she felt his palm press into her back, bracing her as he pushed her needfully against the banister.

    "I saw your face, and I knew," he said. I knew I wanted you, yet I could never admit it to myself or to you because the look that passed between us lasted only a moment. I mean, I knew, but I didn't know..." His eyes held hers admist his contradiction, and he loved that she'd understood as she always did; he had loved her from that first day.

    "You stood before me, a harried working mom, hell-bent and determined that you'd had enough of me, and still you couldn't ask me to go, and I couldn't ask you to stay. Then, with a frustrated flick of your wrist, your hair tumbled, damp ringlets, blonde and unruly, from the towel they'd been wrapped around. A twist of of fate-literally. I couldn't take my eyes from you, couldn't walk away, and it's been that way ever since, Angela, you and me- we've been caught in a simple twist of fate, and tonight, as back then I couldn't stop starin' at you, still seeing the working mother I've always known, content in her domesticity so unlike the harried woman I first met six years before, and then you looked up at me with that smile. Suddenly, I no longer saw the smile of my best friend, but that of my wife, knowing then that you expected my fidelity, and that what we had was no longer enough."

    "Have you had enough of this, Angela? Of me--- of us?"

    "No," She murmured, and he stood, punch drunk, at her ability to yield such power over him with the subtle innunendo she infused within a single word, her signature verbal foreplay settling on his lips.

    Tony blinked; his eyes abstracted by both sunlight and sleep; his body wrought and sated, after having succumbed, satisfyingly, to exhaustion. He watched her rise, nude, from the bed they'd shared, studying the long, lean line of her body, exquisite in its structure, his eyes concentrated on the nape of her neck before finally coming to rest on the curve of her backside.  He admired her  with the aesthetic eye of Da Vinci, content in beholding his magnum opus.

    He grimaced as she reached for her robe.

    "Don't do that."

     She cast him a coy glance over her sholuder. "Thought this was your favorite outfit," she said, her comment rivaling her expression.

    "Oh, it was; it was--until last night."

    "Last night?" she feigned innocently. "What about last night?" It was clear she was ribbing him.

     Crawling up behind her, he succeeded in slipping the robe past her shoulders once more. "We lost each other," he said, his breath husky and hot against her ear. "Come back to bed, and I'll show ya."



    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    7:34PM - Honeymooning at Home...

    "So, now that all the craziness is behind us, how about settling in and finally watching that movie we never got around to see?"

    "Actually I was thinkin' that we might orchestrate our own brand of entertainment tonight," he said, scooping his fiancee up from the couch.

    "Sound like somethin' of interest to you?

    "I might be persuaded..." she answered, voice low

    "Now where did I hide Mona's camcorder?" He tapped his finger to his chin, giving their living room a once-over.

    "Tony, you're terrible," Angela gushed.

    "You noticed," he said, grinning devilishly.


    Ding-dong


    {Italian expletives are heard through gritted teeth}

    "Oh no, I hope Sam and Hank didn't misplace the key to mother's apartment again."

    "Ang, about the camcorder thing, I was only kiddin'. I mean, who needs a camcorder when I've got the leadin' role right alongside you?"

    "Tony, that's so sweet." "There are always those repeat performances too, you know."

    "Baby, you aint kiddin'."

    The chime of the doorbell is but as Angela's airy laughter rang in his ears.

    Monday, May 31, 2010

    8:21PM - Annulment...

    Her hand was laced with his as they exited the Carolina courthouse. While the firm pressure of his hand in hers contented her, he still felt lost. Disconnected. Divorced. She was always two steps ahead, always had long strides; the askance look in his eyes escaping her. Still,there was still distance between them, no matter how slight.

    He had fallen short, fallen behind. His indiscretion beclouding an otherwise bright sky.

    He tightened his grip on her; her eyes searched his, questioningly.

    "I'm sorry I annulled seven years of our life together, Angela." They both stared at their signatures until they were but blots of blurred black ink.

    "It was a mutual decision." She said quietly.

    "No it wasn't," he said, his voice rising.

    "Would you have consented to it?"

    "No." "I do forgive you, though."

    "Ang, in sayin' that you wouldn't have consented to my... you've just admitted that we were--- that I...betrayed you. How can you forgive me without a second thought? I can't even forgive myself."

    "And yet you've just admitted that the decision wasn't mutual; in saying that, you're taking responsibility for it. Admitting, too, that we were more than boss and employee long before we signed in as Mr.& Mrs. is better than any apology you could ever give me."

    "How'd you get so smart, Mrs. Micelli?"


    "Tony..."


    "Oh, I'm sorry Ang, I meant to say Bower-Micelli."


    "Tony, we're divorced, remember?"

    "Ya had remind to remind me that I'm a divorced Catholic." "As if seein' it in black and white isn't bad enough."

    "I'm sorry." She said simply.

    "Not as sorry as I am," he muttered under his breath.

    Saturday, November 7, 2009

    12:42PM - Conception...

    "Surely the steam must be clouding my judgment," Angela thought to herself as she stepped from the shower. She had just spent the day chasing, chastising, and yes, coddling three five year old boys who, with sarcastic affection, she had nicknamed 'fire, pestilence, and death.' And this... this... is when she decides... His words, long suppressed from years past, now swirled in her mind.

    "Hey Ang, ya ever think about havin' another one?" Her voice carried over his own into the present... "Tony, if we were to have another child..." And, voila, Billy came into their lives and home. A boy who was the spitting image of the man she... Still, she wanted...

    Sighing inwardly she mused, "I must be crazy." Yet, she saw what she longed for with utmost clarity. A little Anglo-Saxon Italian. And there were two ways she could conceive of getting what she wanted. She could ask him to... or they could... After seven years of misconception on both their parts, the latter would render them complete, bonded together in love. One last glance in the the mirror saw her reflection smiling, almost giddy with anticipation and approval. "Completion is most definitely good, desirable too, she said, drawing out her last words. Bounding down the stairs, she met him in the kitchen for what he dubbed was an 'ice cream social for two.'

    "Hiya baby."

    Tony's jovial greeting stopped Angela in her tracks. Her eyes widened in disbelief. She continued to stare at him, stunned. He knows!! But how? I only...Are we just that good? As Angela's logic went into overdrive, Tony watched perplexity scribble it's way across those aesthetically Elizabethan features of hers. He knew how to handle this. Back peddling. It worked every time.

    "I'm sorry, Ang...I didn't mean to...It's just that... well, we've become so much more 'domestic' lately."

    Her enigmatic look vanished as reality set in. It was just him and her seated at their kitchen table sharing a bowl of ice cream. She grinned. He knew each and every one of her smiles, and this one was definitely over exaggerated. She wanted something.

    "Whatever it is---no," he said with mock sternness.

    Here it comes he said to himself, watching her lips curve into that adorable pout.

    "I'm kiddin' Ang...You can take the Jeep; it's the family car, remember? Perfect for carpools. He couldn't resist throwing that in.

    "Tony, that's not what I..."

    "That means I can take the Jag, right?" he interjected; his brown eyes twinkling.

    "Isn't Lois picking you up?" she asked, trying to disguise the jealousy now pronounced in her voice.

    "Not if I take the Jag."

    "We both have a set of keys don't we?"

    "Yeah."

    "Feel free to use them", she said, scooping another spoonful of Butter Brickle from the bowl they shared; a look of satisfaction on her face. If it meant keeping the distance between him and Ms. Delaware, Angela would do just about anything.

    "So, this conversation we've been havin' isn't about the Jeep?"

    "No."

    "And if you hadn't acted like a kid being given a new toy just a minute ago, you'd know that."

    "Ang?"

    "Yes?"

    "Just tell me; what do you want?"

    "Okayyy...I want you to donate something."

    "Oh yeah, that's right, for the PTA fundraiser..."

    "No."

    "I want you to donate something---to me."

    "Like what?" His eyebrow raised, piqued with interest.

    "Tony, I want..."

    Just say it, Angela; she told herself. She was literally on the cusp of mental exasperation. This wouldn't be so hard if she didn't love him with all she had. If she didn't wish with her whole heart that they could conceive of this in another way. His way. Their way. If only he'd...

    Her voice, a mixture of highs and lows, threaded with both want and need, spoke of accorded desire.

    "I want you."

    He stared at her, dumbfounded.

    Who knew their daily musings would turn into this?

    She continued shakily, "Not you per say, of course, I want your..."

    His hand went limp. The cacophonous clatter as spoon met bowl rang in his ears; her last word unsaid. He, however, was as dynamic as she was methodical; and so, he knew.

    As she watched the blood drain from his face, a blush crept into her cheeks.

    "Oh, Angela, No!"

    Her eyes widened. "You know!"

    "Ya think?" His tone went from curious to caustic in mere seconds. He now knew how the cliched cat felt.

    "But I didn't..."

    "You didn't have to."

    "We are that good."

    "No kiddin'"

    "And I'm thinkin' we'd be a lot better if you weren't tryin' to rob me." He sputtered, gesturing wildly between them.

    "Tony..."

    "Don't 'Tony' me, Angela...I got somethin' to say and I'm gonna say it!" His adamancy frustrated him, she frustrated him. And yet, his frustration seemed to have eluded her.

    "I'm tryin' to wrap my head around this, Ang...I really am...I just can't...I mean, how can you wanna have a child, my child, and not want all of me? It isn't me, it isn't us, it isn't Italian!"

    "Us?" Her voice shook with emotion.

    "Yes, Angela, a little bit of me, and a little bit of you." "Tell me, Angela, somewhere within in that methodical mind of yours did ya ever think, just even consider, that I might wanna share this with you? You know, be a little more be a little more personally involved. I mean, not for nothin' but I happen to love 'personal involvement.' We are talkin' about our kid here..."

    "I didn't think you'd want...I mean, you've never mentioned..."

    "Well, gee, Angela, call me crazy, but I didn't think I'd have to ask ya for it! And if I had, given the roles we've found ourselves in over the last seven years, don't ya think that could be considered harassment on some level? I told you I'd never be caught sleepin' with my employer. Have you forgotten that's who you are? My best friend, the somewhat impervious blonde who now drops a bombshell that she wants not me, but my... my... is also my boss." The repercussions that had run through his mind as he first knocked at her bedroom door all those years years ago burst forth, sputtering and uncontrolled, like rapid-fire.

    "Yet you seem to be saying that you want..." Angela logically pointed out, a smile hinting at the corners of her mouth.

    "We have an adopted son, Ang," he said, practically pleading his case. "Not that that's a reason to...Geez, I don't even know what I'm sayin' anymore."

    "I didn't think you loved me enough," she said, unable to meet his eyes. "You did, after all, indiscreetly leave me..." She trailed off, knowing she was treading dangerous ground.

    "You told me to go to the motel."

    "To study." She clarified. "The thought that you'd to pull an all-nighter with a woman you barely knew never entered my mind.

    Pain pricked at her; logic and method, her analgesic of choice, couldn't heal her barely mended heart.

    "You've never asked me to stay." He entreated; his hands clenched in tight fists.

    "Maybe you don't love me enough."

    "You may keep my house, but I am most certainly not your keeper." Her brown eyes flashed; buried betrayal burning anew.

    "I know." "You are my partner, though---in everything."

    They sat in silence, scathed by suppression.

    Raising his eyes to hers, he asked, "Do you love me enough to make love with me, Angela?"

    "Yes," she said quietly as tears welled in her eyes.

    "Aww, Ang, come here," he said, pulling her onto his lap.

    "So, I guess we're havin' a baby," he murmured into her hair.

    His arms wound around her abdomen and rested there as though the child they would conceive had already come into being.

    They sat in quiet contentment, his chin resting on the crown of her head.

    She startled slightly as he gingerly nudged her off his lap.

    "Where are you going?"

    "I'm puttin' away the ice cream."

    Feeling her gentle touch on his shoulder from behind, he tilted his head to look at her; as he did, her lips lightly brushed against his.

    "Thank you." She said softly.

    Her damp locks graced his neck as he tasted the buttery almond flavor still lingering on her lips; unadulterated love shone in her eyes, culminating his appetent need for her.

    He kissed her with fervor, pressing her up against the fridge. Her intake of breath was sharp; meeting her eyes, he pulled back, enjoying the subtle changes in expression as the slightest arch of her eyebrow and curve of her lips intimated their newfound intimacy.

    As his hands toyed with the tie of her robe, he saw a hint of reticence in her eyes.

    "Ang? Are you ok with this? Am I makin' you uncomfortable?"

    She took two steps back, overcome with emotion.

    "Angela, please, say somethin'!" He implored.

    Her eyes darkening, she stepped forward, sending a silent invitation that told him if he wished to consummate what they'd begun, he'd best follow...

    The swinging door swung in her wake.

    Climbing the stairs two at a time, Tony couldn't help but wonder if they'd gotten their signals crossed.

    "Nah," he reassured himself; "That's just seven years of denial resurfacing yet again. "Micelli, you think too much;" he chided, ironically recalling the times he'd told Angela that same thing.

    He chuckled. When had he become his wife? His wife. He liked the sound of that.

    Continuing his ascent, he thought of the many transitions his relationship with Angela had seen. From boss to employee, from employee to friend, from friend to...

    "Make love with me, Angela." How his simple beseech begot her equally simple reply.

    "Yes."

    Lovers.

    He loved her. He loved that much his seven year relationship with her rested on non-verbal cues. A moment. A look. A touch. How what she didn't say spoke volumes. He understood. His denial had fostered ignorance. He was acutely aware of that now.

    There was no denying what she wanted.

    "Angela..." His voice echoed down the hallway from the landing.

    Silence.

    "Ang, baby, where are ya?"

    "Jilting me in my own house isn't the least bit funny, Angela." As much as he hated to admit it, he was amused by the game of cat and mouse she was playing.

    When no padded footsteps or airy laughter could he heard, panic engulfed him. The same panic he felt when she left on another man's arm; the panic that rendered him immobile, irresolute, and alone.

    He remembered watching her dine in a restaurant when someone other than himself was in her company; his eyes steeled in her direction as he said, "For you, I'd...{do anything."} He couldn't see his life without her. The pull of his nightmarish reverie was so strong that he was almost blind to the the blur of pink he saw in his periphery.

    Her robe invitingly hung on the knob of his bedroom door.

    The wave of panic that had washed over him instantly subsided as he slung the robe over his arm, a smile spread across his face. "This robe is as good as her signature," he said to himself, still grinning as he entered the room.

    "What's with the grin?" She asked. Her curious reply coyly rivaled his smile---the smile that never ceased to charm her. He sobered quickly, completely taken with her.

    With a simple toss of her head, her long blonde hair naturally fell over her left shoulder; her delicate features subtly heightened in the dim light cast by a small bedside lamp.

    She started to rise from the bed.

    "Sit." He said. "Just let me look at you."

    She obliged, demurely.

    He first met her eyes, which were wide and expectant, seeking permission to study all that was before him.

    Continuing to appraise her, his eyes started to well as he beheld the soft flannel nightshirt that looked so at home on her body. It had the same allure now as it did then, all those years ago in that ramshackle motel where they'd spent their first night together.

    "I wanted to wear something more..." Her voice bordered on being apologetic as she tried to explain something he already understood. "This just seemed so..."

    "...Appropriate." He finished.

    "You're beautiful, baby." He breathed.

    "Just beautiful."

    She sat and he stood, completely captivated by their intensity; the innate chemistry they always shared; both unsure of what do next because, normally, this was the point at which the tension usually broke; the moment when either of them would look away. Tonight, though, their connection intensified, ignited by a love yet to be expressed.

    "I believe these belong to you," Angela said; her playful toss of their flannel pajama bottoms effectually lightened the mood.

    Skilled catcher that he was, he caught them; his eyes never straying from her face.

    "Well, I guess I'm gonna go change," he said, an impish grin playing at the corners of his mouth.

    "You do that."

    His hand on the doorknob, he glanced at her once more. "Ang, I love you."

    "I love you too, Tony."

    "I'll be here."

    "What are ya thinkin' about?" He asked.

    She motioned for him to join her on the bed. "Just specifically random thoughts, I guess."

    "Ang," he said, kissing the top of her head, "You never stop amazin' me." "Specifically random thoughts, hmmm...? Care to share?" He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at her. "What's on your mind, baby? Business... the kids... us...His eyes clouded over. You're not havin' second thoughts are ya?"

    "No, Tony, of course not." As she placed his hand on his bare chest, he sucked in his breath, feeling his whole body flush at her touch. "That's good, Angela," he said, his voice cracking, "Because I don't think I can---" If Angela had any inkling of the affect she was having on the man who sat by her side, a mere breath away from being friend to becoming lover, she feigned obliviousness as she continued on, innocently enough. Her wide-eyed innocence served to intoxicate him, fueling his desire for her all the more.

    "I hope our baby has those eyes," he said to himself; the slightest bit of apprehension beclouding his own as he pondered saying the words 'our baby' aloud. He imagined mouthing the words, only to wake alone. Who was he kiddin'? This whole night had been so... so... surreal. Sure, their banter always had some heaving breathing behind it, but when had it become about babies? When had her every movement beckoned him to his own bed? Yes; he had dreamt about this. Surely this was just... Surely his vision of her would fade.

    "Tony, sweetheart, did you hear what I said?" Her warm brown eyes stared at him intently.

    "I'm asking you to stay---with me, here, tonight, in what will be the baby's room."

    Her words were his undoing.

    He crawled slowly toward her; she pursed her lips, about to speak, then pressed them together, deciding that her words would only interrupt the silent foreplay playing out between them. His movements, although focused and deliberate, weren't devoid of his boyish charm, as he couldn't stifle the grin that had formed on his face as she placed a finger to his lips.

    Her eyes were dark, serious.

    He sobered, so intent in reading her eyes that he missed the ever slight curvature

    pronounced on her lips as she said, "I believe we still have something to discuss..."

    He gently lowered her finger from his lips and kissed it.

    "What's that?" he murmured; his now lips lingered a breath away from hers as the words lolled on her tongue, never allowing their mouths to completely connect.

    "Your relocating."

    His hands, which had been lazily travelling the length of her body, as she revelled in each intimate caresss

    Saturday, August 22, 2009

    3:29PM - Hope Floats...

    She was blond. And maybe three years ago, he might have thrown her a line. And three years ago, she might have looked...But not now. He had three kids. What would a blond, approaching her thirties, want with him anyway? He stared at the blonde directly in front of him with the video camera in her hands. He turned away from the one, and kept his focus on the woman behind the lens.


    "Come on, Tony, putting on a smile for Billy won't kill you."

    "That's what you think, Angela, " he thought. "The smile won't, but the pool might...it might swallow me." He shuttered.

    "Angela..." That's why he wouldn't give the younger, sun kissed blond a backward glance.

    She couldn't handle him or his immaturities... she was just too...young.

    Angela could, though. She was videotaping every second of them. "Tough love" she called it. And that's why, without a ring on his finger, he loved her.

    "Billy, sweetheart, don't run!" Angela's sing-song voice rang out in warning as the waterlogged little boy made a beeline for the men's locker room.

    "I'm right behind him, Ang," Tony said. "I might not be able to swim, but I can still..." He stopped when he felt her hand on his shoulder.

    "Tony, can I speak to you for a minute?"

    "Sure; what's on your mind?"

    "What do you think of Pam?" Angela queried.

    "Pam?" he repeated; his tone rather rhetorical and dismissive.

    "She's blond, young, and a 'swim' instructor," he said with obvious distaste.

    "Gotta admit though, she keeps me on my toes." Angela couldn't keep her eyes from rolling at his last remark.

    "And," he added, taking her left hand in his, his eyes never straying from hers, "She thinks we're married."

    "Really?" Angela mused. "I wonder what gave her that idea?"

    "Well, I, uh,...I may have dropped a hint or two. Fully expecting Angela to call him on his little white lie, he looks down at the various creatures that are etched into the pool's sea floor.

    "Avoidance isn't the answer, Micelli," he mentally chides himself. Angela's been party to enough childish behavior from you for one day. He thought back to the last seven years, all the while looking at Angela with the love and reverence of a saint for putting up with him through it all.

    His eyes level with hers, he prepares himself to defend his fib like the man, the married man he pretends to be.

    He begins earnestly, "She asked where your ring was, Angela." "I told her it was at home, that you didn't want your symbol of love and commitment to me floatin' at the bottom of a pool."

    "And you, yourself, should know this isn't much of a stretch---the way we tote our five year old around." He wags his finger at her, a means of emphasizing his point, but drops it quickly as he sees her lips curve into that smile; the smile that tells him that this is 'typical Tony behavior.' No gesturing needed. And who is he to point the finger at his wife anyway, he thinks to himself, seeing as how he almost let himself and his maturity sink to the bottom of that abysmal pool.

    "She gave us a compliment too, Ang. She said she had never seen a couple who could actually act as two halves of a complete whole. That my weakness was your strength. And she had a feelin' that it extended far beyond swimming too." There was no escaping the warmth that shone in his brown eyes as they met hers. "She's right, Angela." "She also went on to say that as a woman in her early thirties who has douted the sincerity of nearly every relationship she's been in, that 'we' were refreshing to see."

    Imagine that, Ang... we're a poster couple, and we're not actually married," he said; a proud grin on his face. "Ahh technicalitities..."

    Speaking with the same earnestness she reads in his eyes, she asks, "So Tony, speaking of technicalities, is there an actual ring? Or is that just another..." Before she comes up with the answer she assumes he'll give her, he decidedly responds, "It's exactly where I told Pam it is... Your ring is at home, Angela." "I just haven't slipped it on your finger yet." As you may have noticed, I'm kinda slow when it comes to these things. And if you haven't, I'm havin' some serous doubts as to what kind of wife you'll make."

    The teasing glint in his eyes brings out the resplendent shine in her own as she steps in as as close as she can to him. Her lips remain just a fraction away from pressing against his when she says, I'm sorry, did you just say you had doubts?"

    His breath catches in his throat, causing him to swallow---hard. She continues as she looks at him through those big, beautiful wide eyes.

    "About me?"

    "Being your wife?"

    "No baby; my one and only hope is that you'll say 'yes' when I ask ya."

    "You will say yes, won't ya Ang?"

    "Let's go get our son, Tony."

    Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    12:17PM - Effervescence...

    Her bathroom door was ajar, just as she'd left it. She'd told him to entertain himself while she went to change into appropriate 'sponge bathing' attire. She fought the urge to label herself "La Femme Voyeur" as she spied him playfully wrangling his 'Soap on a Rope' into a lasso. "He's such a baby," she said, putting her hands over her mouth to stifle her giggles.

    Her giggles subsided, replaced by a thought she dared to entertain. "But he's my baby," she said to herself as she continued to stare. He shifted slightly as though he felt her eyes upon him. Now rooted to the rose colored carpeting beneath her feet, she wasn't sure if she should attend to him or run from him and hide. It was too late. He had seen her in his periphery and said teasingly, "What? No nurse's uniform?" "I could have the nurse come back if you'd prefer," she said; her voice edging slightly. "No!" he exclaimed; a look of trepidated disgust crossing his face. "Don't you dare bring that blonde ditz back into our house! She'd probably drown me and leave you with an astronomical plumbing bill."

    "But Tony, I'm blonde too."

    "Yeah, Angela, you're blonde; a blonde bombshell who owns her own agency...you know, the Ad Exec thing you've got goin' on...I find it so, so, incredibly sexy." "Besides, the outfit you've got on is my favorite anyway, he said, cocking his head to look at her in her fluffy pink robe.

    "Really?" "Right along with the ad exec thing too, huh?"

    "You betcha," he said, starting to chuckle with ease at his ability to say almost anything to her. His chuckle became constrained as he tried in vain to reposition his cast leg which was anchored over the edge of the tub.

    "Ow!" he winced. His pained interjection was all Angela needed to come running. "Oh, Tony, I should've never left you alone with your leg in same position for so long...I'm a terrible nurse!" In her haste to get to him, her robe had dropped to a formless heap on the floor. Tony, eyes wide, took in every inch of her as she crouched by his side, seemingly unaware, in a pink polka-dotted bikini.

    "An-ge-la---where'd you get that? I've never washed that before!"

    Angela's hands then instinctively framed her face, covering her cheeks which had reddened with embarrassment.

    "Seriously, Ang, don't sweat the suit; you're startin' to clash; red and pink don't mix," he said, watching her cheeks flush all the more. "It isn't like I haven't seen you it less; he cockily added.

    "I'd watch my words and gauge my expressions if I were you, Mr Micelli." "If you're not careful, you just may find yourself losing those swim trunks, and you won't be able to do a thing about it." Her voice was slightly seductive and controlled, letting him know she was the boss. His grin widened.

    "You know, Ms. Bower, I wouldn't mind that a bit," he said, making a playful grab for her wrist as she walked the perimeter of the tub.

    "Tooony..." Her exasperation turned to effervescent laughter as she pointedly asked between giggles, "If I take a very unladylike swan dive into the bathtub, who's going to nurse you back to health?"

    "Um, let's see?... Mona??" He tapped his finger against his chin as he watched Angela 's eyes grow wide, a hint of jealousy washing over them.

    "Nah," he said; "I'd be the butt of too many machismo jokes if Ms. love 'em and leave 'em came in here." "Guess you've got the job, Ang...And not for nothin' but I'm kinda enjoying seein' you play nursemaid.

    "Did you just insinuate that I'm a 'maid', Mr. Micelli?" she asked with mock sternness. "Because if I'm not mistaken, that's your---"

    "Oh, Ay, so I guess now we're going poke some fun at the whole role reversal thing we've got goin' on...Ok, ok you win; I may be a maid, but I'm the most macho maid there is...And if I wasn't so feeble, I'd prove it. "Besides," he said, in a moment of seriousness, "I love takin' care of you and our...uh, this family."

    "I love how we both provide for our family too, Tony." Angela quietly confirmed. As she leaned over to pour a capful of bubble bath into the running water, she caught sight of him staring at her, openly and overtly. It was then that two pairs of brown eyes met, appraising each other.

    Her words are as delicate as her movements, he thought. Part of Angela's allure, he decided, was her subtlety. In that way, Angela was akin to his late wife, Marie. Marie was Italian, yes, but she wasn't---What was the word he was lookin' for? Showy? Nah, that wasn't it. He looked up to find Angela's deep-set brown eyes staring at him quizzically. There was a word Angela would use. Tony's eyes lit up. Flamboyant. Yeah, that was it, he said to himself. Marie wasn't flamboyantly Italian. The warm radiance of her brown eyes drew him to her and to Angela. The attraction was there; it pulled at him deeply.

    As her hand gently pressed the loofah sponge against his back, Angela felt his muscles tighten at her touch. Laying the sponge on the porcelain tub's edge, she gave new meaning to the concept of eye-hand coordination as her hands alone made their way to his shoulders while her eyes marveled at every inch of his defined physique.

    No one, least of all Tony, would ever know by the slow and deliberate pace of her movements that Angela's thoughts were racing. Should I have this strong attraction to my housekeeper...But he's never been just... In actuality, she rationalized, I'm falling for my son's father, which was the role he had comfortably slipped into the moment he set foot in her house. All these trite thoughts swirled around what she considered to be her theory on sexual attraction: Sexual attraction had no basis in building a lasting relationship. She nearly jumped when she felt Tony's head resting gently against her chest; a contented sigh emerging from his lips. It was then she decided there was so much more to them than just...that.

    His contentedness brought back her sense of restorative calm; and together, they remained in a state of blissful effervescence.

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    12:52PM - We Don't Profess Anything...

    Tony's hand rested on the small of Angela's back as they walked toward the exit of the bar. To onlookers bustling both to and fro, this silent gesture was indicative of their exclusiveness, or as they termed it, their "irregularity." Angela pushed the swinging door open to once again admit Joan Powell, the professor Tony had conferenced with just minutes before.

    "Well, if it isn't the barstool blond and the guy with the boyish grin." Tony's hand dropped from Angela's back and she stiffened; his hand no longer guiding or protecting her. At the professor's ever slight mention of 'barstool blond' she bristled; eyebrow raised, "Excuse me?" she countered; "I don't believe we've been formally introduced; I'm Angela, Tony's uh,..."

    "I see." "You know, I've never gotten more reacquainted with intransitive verbs, adjectives, and the like since meeting Tony here." Angela's brow furrowed; perplexity written all over her face. Although Angela knew exactly with whom she was speaking and being sized up by, she didn't think Tony's use of intransitive verbs should be discussed without the simplest of greetings predicating them. 'Any well versed professor should know that,' Angela said knowingly to herself. As she studied the petite blond opposite her, Angela surmised that civility was the furthest thing from her mind. A small smile formed on her lips as she pieced together what she understood to be the reason behind this woman's---there was no other word for it---cattiness. The smile turned saccharine sweet as she tried to elicit an introduction from the professor once more. "And you are...?" Angela prompted.

    "I'm Joan; Dr. Joan Powell, Tony's Western Civ professor." "Now where were we?"

    "Intransitive verbs," Angela said; interrupting her train of thought.

    "Ah yes," Professor Powell replied. "Those verbs that are intangible, don't profess anything, and are in short, undefined. His response as to why he stood me up was full of them too, so full in fact that if I had strung enough of them together I could've woven a tangled web."

    Angela laughed lightly to offset Joan's terse tone. "You don't say," she returned. "Tony's intransitiveness has never eluded me," she said; her statement simple yet pointed.

    Joan looked past Angela to see Tony's hands resting instinctively on her shoulders.

    Although years of settling minor standoffs between Mona and Angela told Tony not intrude on the estrogen-fueled confrontation between the two blondes before him, innate Italianess weighed heavily on his decision to muscle in on the conversation. Peeking over Angela's shoulder he offered, "She's my 'witness;' I know that's not the definitive answer you were hopin' for, but at least it's not what you'd call intransitive," he said, looking at Joan.

    "And now I see the comment I made to you earlier couldn't been more fitting." The professor said; chuckling at Angela for the first time that evening. "Of all the women at Stromboli's I could've singled out..." She paused; contemplatively tapping her finger against her chin before averring, "In retrospect, now that I've met you, I could be mistaken but I think Tony wanted me to meet you; unwittingly perhaps, but..." She stopped; the smile that erupted across Angela's face being the only proof she needed.

    "And you," she said, nodding at Tony. "Why couldn't you have just told me about Angela.

    "Uh, well..." Tony started to say.

    "Here come those verbs again; they just trip off your tongue, don't they?"

    "All's well that ends well, I suppose." "After all, love is surely the most intransitive; when it's used as a verb, that is." The professor concluded.

    She scanned the restaurant, spying a tailored blazer draped over the back of the chair she'd been sitting in when faced with an agitated Tony no more than ten minutes ago. Excusing herself, she said, "I'd better go grab that before it fits someone else better than it does me."

    Offering her hand to Angela she added, "It's been educational." "And Tony, your midterm is in two weeks; this time, she emphasized, I expect an 'A.'

    "Yes, Joan, uh I mean, Dr. Powell." Tony quickly corrected.

    Tony hugged Angela to his side as they exited the bar. "She's not wrong, you know," he said; his voice low against her ear. "I'm kinda glad we ran into her again so she could see, you know, that I'm not...unattached."

    Peewee said I lived a 'shallow life' last night, Ang." His forehead creased, voice elevated as though he had something to defend. "That bothered me somehow...I mean, I'm livin' my life with you." As her eyes met his, he averted them, flustered. "I'm not attracted to every woman I meet either, Angela." "That's somethin' I need you to know." "Yeah, I"m charismatic, sometimes to a fault." "What's so special about us though, Ang, is that I know you know that. "I'm proud to be beside you, behind you, it doesn't matter where, as long as I'm with you."

    Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a smile playing at the corners of her mouth. "You've told me so many stories, Ang, about being an awkward teen. My 'charms," as you'd call them, are my way of making the best out of awkward situations. I use 'em to disarm rather than charm, ya know?" I'm tryin' Angela; I'm tryin to be less---charming. He looks at her wide-eyed and as she knows he is willing her to believe his words, it takes all her willpower not to burst into laughter and tell him how absolutely adorable he is.

    She need not say anything though; her bright smile outlined and heightened in the moonlight tells him all he needs to know. His eyes leave the line of her lips to focus on those pools; those pools that have darkened now. What is she hiding behind those eyes? He senses she has something she wants to divulge but she won't tell him; not unless he asks. He approaches the question objectively at first by saying, "You never answered the professor's question, Ang..."

    "What question was that, Tony?"

    "Don't toy with me, Angela..."

    "Toy with you; why would I ever do that?" Her intransitiveness coupled with the teasing tone in her voice tantalizingly torments him. This woman drives him crazy, he thinks. And yet, here he stands loving every minute of it. "You have no idea what this coyness is doing to me, Angela." Coerced by her coquettishness he bluntly asks, "Do you want me?"

    "Perhaps...."

    They had been strolling side by side in quiet contentment, making their way to the late showing of "Casablanca" at Ridgemont's Revival Theatre when Tony abruptly quickened his pace, effectually turning about to stand directly in front of her, his hands on her shoulders. His warm brown eyes looked at her, bewildered.

    "Are you sayin' that you don't want---"

    They are standing face to face; so close that he can feel her words settle on his lips.

    "I'm saying I don't want to 'profess' anything," she drawled; her eyes alight with pleasure.

    After a moment he steps back, transfixed, grinning at her like a goon in the light of the moon.

    Falling into step beside her once more, he relaxes as her arm encirles his waist; her head coming to rest on his shoulder.

    "Ya know, Angela, I hope one day we'll be able to profess everything to each other," he says, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye. "And I'm thinkin' this profession oughta be in the form of a vow," he continues, taking delight in the dimples that have formed on her cheeks.

    "You do?" Her voice resounds like a bell as it wafts through the night air.

    "You bet your life I do!" He emphatically avows.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    9:05PM - That's Amore...

    He awoke to find her absentmindedly twisting her wedding band around her finger. Taking her hand in his, he couldn't help but admire the simple platinum bands that told the world they were husband and wife.

    "Morning Mrs. Micelli, a penny for your thoughts?"

    Before saying a word, she angled her face toward his; capturing his lips in a kiss that succeeded in captivating him.

    Their rings became only a momentary, worldly distraction as he succumbed to the kiss; her signature, which he knew was reserved only for him.

    "I guess I'll be leaving the alarm clock unplugged more often; with a wake up kiss like that, who needs it...and ya even managed to sneak out of bed and brush your teeth too," he said; still tasting the fresh minty flavor lingering on his breath.

    "You sly little---Do I dare ask what's on your mind?" Grinning, he prepared himself for a game of suggestive wordplay with his wife.

    "I received a letter from Dr. Bellows yesterday."

    His face momentarily fell as her comment came out offhanded, without the shade of coyness he'd been expecting.

    He faced her; attentive nonetheless. His hand rested pensively on his chin as a mental list of their wedding guests ran through his head.

    "Dr Bellows, hmmm,... was she one of Paul and Isabelle's friends?" He asked.

    Trying to remember who this person was, Tony decided, was fruitless. After being pronounced Mr. and Mrs. Micelli to a cheering crowd at their reception, all those happy faces blurred in to the background as Tony remained lost in the eyes of his elated bride.

    "Actually, she sent apologies for her nonattendance." Angela replied.

    "She was on vacation at the time." She sighed, recalling the same rhetorical response from Dr. Bellows' answering service from years past as she made yet another frenzied appointment each time the waltz she and Tony found themselves in took a step in the wrong direction. And now here they were, settled into a consummate marital rhythm, and the doctor had neither witnessed the union, nor the man, her interrogative counsel had been co-adjutant in wedding.

    "Oh, so she wasn't even there...'cause I gotta tell ya Ang, I was so caught up in you that night, I couldn't have told you if Sam had been there."

    "You are the most adoring, adorable man; you know that, right?"

    "I try," he said as his lips met hers.

    "The last thing I remember was catching the flight to Palermo." Lost in his thoughts, vivid memories of their idyllic honeymoon in Italy resurfaced.

    Angela stood in an ankle length white linen dress; a veiled beret adorning her head. Their vineyard, an arrant backdrop as he murmured, "Sorriso, la mia bella moglie." {Smile, my beautiful wife}

    As his reverie faded he focused on her face, her eyes concerned, yet questioning.

    "Tony, honey, are you alright? Did you hear what I said? About meeting Dr. Bellows, my psychologist."

    "What did ya say, baby? Your who...?"

    His eyes widened as reality slowly dawned on him.

    "Of all the things a man, an 'Italian man' for that matter, wants to hear while layin' in bed with his wife; you're tellin' me we need to see a shrink, Ang?"

    "I didn't say we 'needed to,' sweetheart...It's just something I 'want' us to do...you'll go, won't you? For me...?" Her lips teasingly lingered a breath away from his.

    Otherwise preoccupied with protecting and defending his male ego, which had been slowly deflating since the mere mention of the word 'shrink,' Tony was seemingly immune to Angela's playful persuasiveness as he began gesturing wildly between them.

    "You aren't suggesting we have a 'problem' here, are ya Ang?" "Are we not havin' enough---" He looked at her then, concerned, "Are we havin' too much...'cause we can---"

    "Tony..."

    "Are you happy Angela?"

    "Tony, I'm..."

    "Wait---" he interrupted. "I don't think I can bear knowin' that you 're unhappy with me---with us."

    Crawling up beside him, she softly kissed his forehead and then his nose before her lips met his.

    She was none too surprised when his body fully awakened to her advances.

    "You were saying something about a problem?" She drawled.

    "Did I say that?" His voice dropped to a husky whisper. "You must be mistaken, Mrs. Micelli because I knew we wouldn't have a problem years ago."

    Her eyes darkened; "Years ago, is that so?"

    "When we'd dance, Angela...I knew we'd be---"

    "Rhythmically in sync?" She punctuated his thought with a breathy laugh.

    "You said it, baby." "And Ang, make that appointment with Dr. Bellows tomorrow; I really wanna thank her."



    "Doctor, an Angela Micelli is here to see you." "That's funny, I have records of an Angela Bower, but no file for an Angela Micelli," the receptionist quipped.

    "Ahh, actually, that would be Bower-Micelli." Tony proudly interjected.

    "Bower-Micelli, Micelli-Bower," the receptionist said with a shake of her head, "Why don't you just go on in."

    As Angela entered her office, Dr. Amelia Bellows did a double take. She was still the poised professional the doctor had always known; her overall demeanor, the doctor observed, was much more...relaxed. She wore a black camisole under a tailored black blazer while black strapless heels accented the denim jeans that hugged her long, lean frame perfectly. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail that bounced along with her every movement. And her smile, which had always been shyly charming, was now award winning. This, the doctor knew, was due largely in part to the seven year bond she shared with the olive-skinned man who stood at her side, his arm draped protectively about her waist. She smiled as she couldn't help but be drawn to his boyish grin which was just as charming, albeit more self assured, than his wife's.

    "Angela---She mused; it's been too long."

    "Hi Dr. Bellows," Angela greeted warmly.

    "And you must be Angela's Tony," the doctor said, nodding approvingly in Tony's direction.

    "That I am, Doc...Pleased to meet ya," he said; extending his hand.

    "Likewise," she replied, giving his hand a firm shake.

    Tony's hand rested lightly on Angela's back as he guided her to one of two chintz covered chairs before taking a seat.

    "I take it he's always been this attentive?" the doctor queried; her eyes on Angela.

    "Since the day he moved in." Angela affirmed.

    "She's the boss, ya know? I've always made sure she's been well taken care of." Tony playfully nudged his wife as she returned his grin with a dazzling smile, both of them lost in their own private joke.

    "I see why you married him, Angela." The doctor said, amused, as the connectedness between the two became contagious.

    "So what else should I know about my wife, Doc? 'Cause I believe all the bases have been covered," he said with a wink.

    "Tony!" Angela airily admonished. "Eight years and I can still make her blush," Tony said; obviously pleased in seeing her cheeks turn crimson.

    "So I see." Dr. Bellows said. "How would you like to hear about the day your wife admitted she was in love with you?" She rasped dramatically, opening Angela's file as though it were Pandora's box.

    Sunday, March 8, 2009

    10:41AM - A Touch of Forgiveness....

    With her fingers laced lightly through his own, he was no more than two steps behind her as she led him onto the dance floor. Her lead, an open invitation which he readily accepted. The touch, though inviting, was indicative of---What was it? He wondered. His fingers danced across her palm, searching for an answer. The pressure of her hand on his, still delicate, was now sightly possessive. As he drew her to him, he saw forgiveness alight in her eyes. As they swayed into a rhythm that was theirs alone, her brown eyes darkened; a silent rendering of romance anew.

    Sunday, February 8, 2009

    4:17PM - You & Me Are Everything That's Right...

    Closing the front door behind her, Angela tried to relieve the tension she'd experienced over the last several minutes by making light of Tony's sudden burst of agility. "It's nice to see all those years of 'aerobic housekeeping' haven't hurt you any." His eyes dropped to the floor, and he knew she knew. He was busted. An impish grin met the teasing sparkle in her eyes.

    "Ok, so I was--- Ay,oh...why am I feelin' guilty here?" "I was watching you while 'you' were watching 'me.'"

    Angela laughed; "We're quite the pair, aren't we?" Expecting his laughter to carry over her own, Angela was surprised to find him eying her with a somber warmth. In all seriousness, Angela, I'm glad I overheard what you said about our family... His voice broke; cracking with emotion. ...About Billy bein' 'our' responsibility. "You always slip into that maternal role so comfortably. I fell in love with that Angela, that along with so many other things about you." "I've always thought of you as---"

    "Thought of me as what?" She asked. Her brown eyes begged him to continue.

    "The mother of my children."

    Angela swallowed; digesting what was probably the best compliment she'd ever received in her life. Not even Michael, her ex husband, had thought of her like that. Yes, she had been his wife and Jonathan's mother, but he had abandoned them before a familial bond had ever been cemented. As she looked at the man who stood by her side from the moment he set foot in her door; and who sat by her still, the tears started to fall.

    "Tony, that was..." Angela was so overcome by the weight his simple statement held for her that wordlessly she fell into his open arms.

    "Shh, Ang, what I said wasn't meant to make you cry." Her head was now buried in his chest; his shirt stained with her tears.

    "Tony, these tears are tears that are telling me I've made the right decision."

    His eyes clouded with momentary confusion.

    What are you talkin' about, Ang? I don't understand...

    She rushed on, hoping their embrace would serve to suffocate her words.

    "Tony, the night Andy took me to see 'Phantom' he proposed to me..."

    More harshly than he meant to, he cupped his hands under her chin and brought her face to his. His eyes were soft, his tone pleading, "You didn't say yes, did ya?"

    "No, I didn't."

    He let out a breath and looked around; his eyes coming back to rest on her, curled against him as always.

    "You're here with me and he's not, if that tells you anything."

    Her eyes met his; their familiar look passing between them.

    "It says everything, Angela...It's all we are."

    "How did I get so lucky, huh?" He asked. Even as they sat side by side, her reply seemed to come from far away; as if she were recalling that very day.

    "You knocked on my door..."

    "...And you let me in; not only to your home, but into your heart."

    "How did you manage to..."

    "Forgive you?" The interrogative statement hung in the air as he looked not at her, for if he met her eyes in this moment, he feared buried betrayal would burn anew. This time it was her hands that framed his face; guiding his gaze to her once again. Her characteristic thoughtfulness came forth as she continued, "I guess I didn't want to throw away seven wonderful years for a few tumultuous months."

    Although he was overjoyed to hear these words come freely from her lips, her utterance of 'tumult' stung him; in fact, associating any sort of tumult with Angela seemed antithetical to him.

    "Baby, I won't even attempt to say I'm sorry 'cause saying that can't simply erase the words you just said, or absolve the pain that my...uh, indiscretion has put us both through..." He had more to say; but as her finger pressed gently to his lips, rehashing the past seemed picayune.

    "I don't want an apology, Tony."

    "But Angela, you deserve..."

    She again stopped him.

    "There were so many shades of gray and uncertainty that stymied our relationship over the years..."

    "Shades of gray?"

    She was defending him again; defending his right to... He couldn't think about it; what he had done, to her...to them. The more she rationalized, the more defensive he became. "Let me tell ya somethin' Angela, there were no 'shades of gray' when we sat side by side on that small bed in that hole in the wall motel across from Jonathan's camp. The chemistry was explosive as we both erupted in laughter. In those moments when everything intrinsically came down to you and me, we both knew what we wanted, Angela..."

    He stood in front of her now, knowing he held her complete attention.

    "I need you to do somethin' for me, Angela."

    "Anything." She whispered.

    Frustrated by his own adamancy, a slight gruffness threaded his usually passionate voice.

    "Don't defend me; I don't deserve it!"

    Flinching slightly, she silently waited for his self-inflicted tirade to continue.

    Running his hands through his hair, he paced the length of the couch.

    "Ah, Angela, I haven't been the man that I, and you, needed me to be the last several months. And I haven't been that man because...you see, Angela, I lingered in a liaison that almost threatened all we are, all the while knowing that I was... I am... in love with you. I'm ashamed, Angela---I've shamed you, and in shaming you, I've shamed my name; I can't even say I'm Italian."

    A slow smile spread across her lips. Then came the tears he knew again would fall.

    Pressing a soft kiss against them, he said, "I'll be right back; I'm gonna get you some tissues."

    As Tony strode back through the swinging door, he felt as though he were Atlas himself; the weight of the world now lifted from his shoulders.

    His friend, confidante, and partner---his Angela was coming around again, slipping back into the roles that had always been second nature to her.

    He felt light, buoyant even, and was surprised when no sniffling could be heard as he entered the living room.

    The room seemed vacuous, save for her thick mass of blonde hair peeking over the back of the couch.

    "Do you want me?" She stammered.

    Somewhat glad her back was to him she continued uneasily, "You know, desire me; like you did that night all those years ago at Jonathan's camp?"

    "Angela---"

    He placed his hands on her shoulders; his chin resting on the crown of her head. With movements deliberate and slow, his hands made their way down her back, his fingers clumsily catching ahold of the zipper of her dress. She shivered slightly as he slid the zipper down; the material parting to reveal her ivory skin. He sucked in his breath as the dress slipped from her shoulders.

    "Before my intentions become completely dishonorable, I believe you have to give me the honor of accepting my proposal," he said, whispering against her ear; his hands pressing further into her back.

    "Yes!" Her answer was quick, and came from deep within her throat.

    "No, Angela, not like this." "I want our engagement to be traditional, classic..."

    "If not now, when?" she asked.

    "Definitely soon," he assured her. "Maybe at the Opera."

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    1:49PM - "The Family Man"

    Tony stood with his arms encircling Kathleen. His mind, however, drifted far beyond the closed space between them. Since stumbling across her picture in his wallet, her face was all he could see. He remembered the day the picture was taken. She had just come back from her business trip to Wisconsin and was seated at their kitchen table; her face buried in the bouquet of pink roses and daffodils, the petals rustling along with the gentle sway of her long blond hair as she deeply inhaled their scent. "Angela---" She looked up; her smile captured with the click of the shutter. Looking back, Tony wished he could've froze that moment in time. At the sound of his voice, the smile danced in her eyes before spreading to the corners of her mouth, causing one dimple to appear then another. For his part, Tony just delighted in knowing he had been instrumental in bringing the bright grin to her face.
    "When I see you smile, Angela..." She sat and he stood; simultaneously feeding off the happiness flowing through them.

    Suddenly, the arms that were lightly laced around Tony's neck seemed to strangle him. Extricating himself from Kathleen's embrace, he offered the excuse of a quick bathroom run; admonishing that she had made too much coffee, which, in anticipation of her father's visit, had put her already jittery nerves into overdrive. Kathleen was left staring after him.

    As he sat alone on Kathleen's couch, Tony absentmindedly ran his fingers over her glossed image. Angela had been elated that day; this he knew. So elated, in fact, he doubted she was even aware he'd taken the picture. Her smile simply a natural response to his voice. But there was something else--- something he'd said. He told her he hadn't played around during the week while she was gone, not at all. He had been a 'good housekeeper.' The implication was there---and as their eyes met, understood. They were...

    Tony blanched. Looking at her warm brown eyes staring up at him from the photograph, he murmured brokenly, "Baby, I'm so sorry." "Sorry for what?" Kathleen asked. Stunned by the sound of her voice, his back tensed; the picture, which had slipped from his trembling fingers, lay face down on the floor. Kathleen knelt down; picking up the photo before sitting beside him. He couldn't look at her. "She's beautiful, Tony." Finally meeting her eyes, and not knowing quite to say he muttered, "Yeah." Kathleen continued; her voice edging slightly, "I do have one question though...Why do you have Angela's picture in your wallet and not mine?" As Tony groped for an answer she mused, "Come to think of it, you've never even asked for a picture of of me." Her voice rose and then fell; now acutely aware that she, too, like Tony, had been all to willing, and in willing their relationship to survive, had stayed silent for far too long.

    Kathleen hid in the present; holding fast to the fact that Tony would come to her after school. This charismatic Italian did want her; at least, in the moment. They would go to the theatre. Seemingly the stuff seen on the silver screen, right? Except---Tony was rooted to his past. He would go home to Angela. He raised a family with Angela; had two children, and invited another little boy into the home they shared with open arms. Kathleen knew there would never be any room for her in their home. Her voice then vocalized a question although, in her head, she already knew what his answer would be.

    "Tony?"

    "Hmmm?"

    He seemed so far away; a world apart from her.

    "I want to take Sam shopping, what day do you think would be best?" When he didn't answer, she pressed, "Saturday or Sunday?"

    "What?"

    "I'll condense it for you," she said; her irritation evident.

    "Me; shopping; with Sam," she repeated.

    Tony answered as if he had his daughter's schedule scribbled on the palm of his hand.

    "Saturday Sam works in Angela's office; Ang, well, she cuts down her workload on a Saturday so that she and Sam..."

    "What about Sunday?" Kathleen asked.

    "On Sunday, Sam, Angela, and Mona hit the boutiques," he said; his paternal pride now pronounced though unbeknown to him.

    Kathleen caught the gleam in his eyes and said acerbically, "Shopping is limited to her mother and grandmother I see," she said; now completely certain his future was already drawn out on the lines of his hands as well.

    He just had to make the connection.

    "I didn't mean it like that," Tony said, in response to her change in tone.

    "I know; you never 'mean' anything..." Just like the time we 'coincidentally' ended up at the same restaurant as Angela and her date. And I never did quite understand why you asked her go with you to New Mexico instead of me." Tony's face flushed as it characteristically did whenever he tried to articulate his and Angela's relationship into words. There were words for what was between him and Angela, one word to be exact, and it sat tripping on his tongue as time ticked the years away.

    "Kathleen... he began; Angela went with me to Mexico because she is---" Once again Tony was at a loss for words. "She is exactly what I referred to her as before," Kathleen said quietly. "She is Sam's mother." Her statement was blunt and unarguable and left Tony sitting open mouthed. "Go home to your wife, Tony." "Ay, oh; Angela's not my wife; although, we did pick out the china pattern for the house years ago." He grinned in spite of himself.

    "That's it!" Kathleen exclaimed. At first, Tony thought she was angry, and he couldn't say he blamed her, but instead, she had the look of a sleuth who'd just deduced 'who done it.' "What's it?" Tony asked, dumbfounded. "Tony, do you realize you grin like a goon whenever Angela's name crosses your lips?" Kathleen's interrogative statement couldn't have surprised Tony more.

    "Yeah?" he asked. His reply was more of a conformation rather than a question, and his incredulous look became one of relief as he now had an objective witness confirming the chemistry between him and his boss that he'd denied for nearly a decade.

    "Has your love for her escaped your attention too?" Kathleen queried.

    "No." I may have tried to deny what's between me and Angela, but I've never been able to escape it...I don't want to." His eyes dropped to the floor. "Angela and I share---"

    "A bond that you and I never will," Kathleen said; completing his thought.

    "This picture says it all."

    "As much as I don't want to admit it, you deserve all of her Tony, and she deserves all of you too."

    "Go home to Angela, Tony; she'll be waiting, curled up with your mini-me no doubt."

    He looked at her then; his eyes filled with honest gratitude.

    "Kathleen; for what it's worth, I'm---"

    She interjected, "No apologies Tony; you don't need to feel sorry for something I already knew."

    "Still," he said, "You didn't deserve this."

    "I'll give you that," she said with a small smile.

    Turning to look at her one last time, he thought he'd see a hint of regret, what he read in her eyes, however, was clarity. And he knew she saw that same clarity reflected in his.

    Arriving home, he entered the house; the cold air followed him in, urging him to start a fire despite the late hour. Tony had to hand it to Kathleen. For being an art student with an interest in the abstract, she certainly was astute. He found Angela and Billy snuggled together on the sofa, just as she'd predicted. "A Kodak moment if I ever saw one," he thought to himself. He watched silently for a moment before gently picking up Billy and moving him to the far end of couch, saying, "Keep snorin' buddy."

    Now looking down at Angela, he couldn't resist placing a soft kiss on her lips, which parted in response to the firm pressure on her mouth. As blissful disorientation faded, her eyes flew open; a tinge of alarm in her voice.

    "Tony!"

    "Where's Billy?"

    "Shh...Ang, he's right here, Tony whispered; gesturing to the far corner of the couch. "I can put him back where he was, that is, if you'd rather him be here with you than me. In the dim light cast from the fireplace, she saw his characteristic impish grin playing at the corners of his mouth as she pulled him to her once more. His voice was now both breathless and husky as he mumbled,"That was... that was... quite an invitation there, Angela."

    Pulling her up, his eyes traveled from the top of her head to her very warm toes. Noticing she was clad in the the plaid print flannel pajamas they had worn years ago when they spent night in that leaky hole in the wall motel across from Jonathan's camp, he said, "You wear our jammies so well." The bottoms were about ten sizes too big, but he thought she looked adorable. She grinned sheepishly, explaining that since he wasn't expected home tonight she'd tried putting Billy to sleep in his room to no avail. He'd left them atop his dresser, and they looked to to be the warmest thing she could find. And, she reasoned, she had worn them before...well, at least the top. He listened; his smile widening at her rationale. As he smiled, she smiled until her thoughts overtook her emotions. The smile faded and her forehead creased as she wondered aloud, "Why are you home, Tony?"

    Tony knew Angela so well that he expected her to question his homecoming as soon as his lips had pressed against hers, and it surprised him that she held out this long. He looked at her intently and the words poured from his heart. "Angela---I'm home because I couldn't see Kathleen anymore; truthfully, I don't think I ever saw her; and I never saw her because all I could see, all I wanted to see, was you." His voice went from earnest to emphatic without missing a beat. "Angela, I need you to know you're always with me, he said; eagerly pulling his wallet from his pocket and flipping to the first picture he came across. She focused on his face; her image forgotten.

    "I know."

    "You do?" "But I never showed you..."

    "Tony," she said, placing a finger to his lips, "How many times have you bolted out of this house, books in hand, and left your wallet behind?"

    "I should've known you knew..."

    "I'm glad you found the photo Angela."

    "Actually, I didn't...Mother showed it to me."

    "I knew Mona would enter the picture at some point in this conversation."

    "She always does." Angela's light laughter wafted into a quiver when she spoke again.

    "There were also times you left me behind; those times you dashed out the door to be with---"

    Even though Angela knew their nightmare was over, she still couldn't vocalize that name.

    If she did, she felt as though she were lending voice to something that should've remained unsaid.

    "How could you leave me alone like that?" It wasn't as if you didn't have a choice; you chose to leave me!" Her anguish chilled him.

    He wrapped himself around her. Turning away from him, she felt his tears; damp against her neck.

    "Baby, I'm so sorry." "Angela---he said; his voice weakening as he recalled the evening she had left him; Peter's hand on her shoulder.

    "I love you!" he said with all the strength and earnestness he possessed.

    "I'm saying now what I should've said the night you walked out on me."

    He willed her to believe his words. The relationship between me and Kathleen had so little to do with her and said so much about me and you---it spoke volumes Angela."

    His words and warmth drew her to him. As she angled herself to face him, he watched as her flannel nightshirt slid off her shoulder. He sucked in his breath, his lips now pressed against her bare skin. A breathy sigh escaped from her lips in response to his touch. His mouth met hers, gently at first, then with increasing fervor, silencing her. When he pulled back, the familiar look that always passed between them told them they would not go any further tonight.

    Their eyes rested instead on the little boy who lie sleeping soundly mere inches from them. The evening's love and loss lost on him, as dreams of Lincoln Logs and Legos drifted in his head. Tony's eyes locked with Angela's as he realized he had one last thing to tell her tonight.

    "Ya know, Angela, it was really Kathleen's father who took this situation the hardest of all. In his happiness in seeing I was a family man, he was blind to the fact that I actually am a family man.

    She smilied at him, saying, "A family man, is that what you are?"

    "Yeah Angela, that's who I am, and I've got my better half sittin' right here beside me."

    Her head rested on his shoulder while his lay nestled in her hair.

    Saturday, September 20, 2008

    1:04PM - "The Beer and the Martini: A Story of Cardinal Seduction...

    Tony sat at the bar taking to Mike, a former teammate, of times gone by.

    Betty, an old flame, sat between them trying to ignite a spark that had long since turned to ash.

    Then she walled into the bar...

    Blond hair, black dress, and Stilettos to match.

    Her manner shy, yet steadfast.

    Coming up behind him with a voice sultry and low, she said, "Is this seat taken?"

    He swiveled his bar stool at the sound of her voice. There he sat, drinking her in; drowning, intoxicated, in her brown eyes.

    His breath caught in his throat as he stuttered, "Ha...have a seat, Snookums..."

    She looked away from him just long enough to reply, "Martini; two olives, dry."

    "On second thought," he said; taking the glass from her hand, "There's something I 'd rather do..."

    Her fingers now entwined with his, she slid off her stool as he pulled her into a dance.

    Turning to Betty Mike remarked, "Looks like your 'bunkie' has found his soul mate as he watched Angela's hips rhythmically align with those of the former second baseman.

    "Tell me about it," she said, aghast.

    The Martini and the beer bottle sat side by side, untouched.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    5:20PM - Security Blanket...

    He always knew she had insecurities. Over the past seven years though, he had always seen her come dome down their staircase ready to 'face the world.' Now in their eighth year, their first as a couple, he found it difficult to literally watch her come face to face with those insecurities. He awoke to find her staring deprecatingly into the mirror yet again. He watched as her flannel nightshirt slid off her shoulder as she examined herself from another angle, eyes downcast. He sucked in his breath, rendering his awe inaudible to her. Seconds passed; her expression still stagnant. He could stand it no longer.

    "You're beautiful," he breathed.

    At the sound of his voice, she looked up; her face erupting in a smile.

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