"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?"