I started this story back in November. After a couple of attempts, it never felt like it was coming out right so I put it on the backburner. I still don't love it, but I tried to polish it up into something publishable since I haven't been putting much effort into any edits or new stories. Hoping the muse will find me again soon! Thanks for reading as always :)
Tony couldn't take his eyes off of Angela. Not in the usual way he did when they were alone together for any significant amount of time, but more out of wonderment. Happiness radiated from her, her smile warm and eyes full of what he swore was endearment. Now and then he caught her staring at him, seemingly unaware of her fixation. She didn't look away, only smiled wider. What happened while he was bowling?
The conversation they had when he got home still baffled him. Their usual spot? Of the few times she'd come to Brooklyn with him to visit Mrs. Rossini, they'd never gone out onto the fire escape. Angela was afraid of heights! It didn't add up. There was a dreaminess about her he hadn't noticed when he left earlier in the evening. Clearly, she'd been asleep when he got back to the apartment, but that was hours ago.
"All right, Angela," he said when they finally decided to come back indoors, "what gives?"
As she climbed through the window, minding the cat didn't get out again, she questioned, "What do you mean?"
He shut the window behind her. "You've been acting weird all night."
"Not in a bad way," he clarified, "but different."
She shrugged, smiling slightly but not alluding to much.
He grasped for any explanation. "You're not mad at me, are you?"
"No, of course not!"
"Then why won't you tell me what's going on? I mean, you never got a chance to tell me what brought you all the way to Brooklyn, either."
"I told you, I wanted to surprise you," she answered as she sat down on the couch. "I thought you might want some company when I heard Tiny and Vinny were out of town for the weekend. I guess I should have called. I can't help but feel like I intruded."
"You could never," Tony said. "And I appreciate it. I still feel bad leaving you here. I shouldn't have gone out."
"Let's not get hung up on that again."
"Fine, fine. I still wanna know what's got you acting all… I dunno. Female."
She rolled her eyes. "Interesting way of putting it."
"I can't make heads or tails of the way you're acting. Why can't you tell me?"
"Because it's silly."
"Angela, it's me you're talking to."
Her cheeks grew warm. "It was just a dream I had. That's all."
"What was it?" he asked.
Bashfully, she replied, "You don't want to hear it."
He sat next to her. "Sure I do!"
"It was nothing, really. I dreamt I was a housewife living here in Brooklyn. This apartment actually."
Tony smirked. "Ten minutes with my friends and you're fantasizing."
"It started that way," she admitted, "but then it turned into more of a nightmare."
"All right, nightmare might be too strong a word, but it took a turn."
"Then why have you been so smiley all evening?"
Angela glanced to the side. So much of her wanted to tell him, but logically, she knew it was risky. Things were just starting to settle after the Jamaica trip. She feared he'd take it the wrong way.
With a sigh, she surrendered. "Okay… Just remember it was a dream. It doesn't mean anything."
Tony put his right hand over his heart and held up his left. "Promise."
"You and I were married. Samantha and Jonathan were ours. We had twins, too, and another baby on the way. Obviously, the power of suggestion is strong. But it was strange. Things were sort of opposite. Jonathan was walking around with greased hair like he owned the block and Samantha practically worshiped him. Mother was living with us, too, but was old and sickly." She chuckled. "And she was on us about being too affectionate with each other."
"Mona?" he questioned with wide eyes.
"You wouldn't have recognized her."
Curiosity blurring his common sense, he pried deeper. "We were 'affectionate'?"
She shifted her footing. "A little bit. That's not really the point."
"Once the kids left and Mother went in to take care of the twins, I told you I wanted to talk about something and so we went out on the balcony. I told you that I was thinking about going to night school and that's when things started shifting."
"You started going off on me, telling me my job is to be home for you and the kids. Something like that. How you were taking care of us just fine."
"So that's why you started asking me all those questions," he realized.
"You thought that's how I really feel?"
"I don't know," she shrugged. "I wondered. The girls were telling me that you said you missed Brooklyn and I started worrying that you weren't happy with the way things are."
With a mixture of shock and sympathy, Tony said, "How could you think that? You know moving to Connecticut was the best decision I've ever made."
"Admit it, Tony. You change whenever you come here. Sometimes it's subtle, other times more drastic. This isn't the first time I've wondered if you would rather be living here than stuffy Fairfield. You're so at home here."
"Sure I am, Ange. I grew up here. And sure I miss it sometimes, but that doesn't mean I want to leave the life I've made in Connecticut."
She was quiet a moment before saying, "I guess I just feel so out of place here and I see you so comfortable and free that I assume you feel what I do in Connecticut."
"I did at first," he admitted, "and yeah, still do every so often. That still doesn't mean I want to move back to Brooklyn. Especially not after seeing how much Samantha is thriving outside of the city. Really, Angela, I love that kid and I know from my own experience that she was on the way to the same teenaged years I lived through. I didn't want that for her and I'm so grateful for you taking her under your wing."
Touching his knee, she said, "I'm grateful for the both of you, too. I love her like she was my own. You know that. And I know you love Jonathan."
Angela pulled back after a moment, both of them looking away before their eyes lingered too long. They were suddenly aware of the fact that this was the first time they'd been truly alone since that heated moment in Jamaica. It was different at home, always the threat of the kids or Mona passing through and keeping them from any risky topics.
Tony was the first to break the silence. "So, yeah… never worry about me giving up what we have — all of us — for Brooklyn. I'm glad to come home and visit my old buddies, but I look forward to going back to Connecticut at the end of the day. That's my home now."
"And you don't wish that I was the one staying home while you went off to work?"
Tony laughed. "That'd be a little strange, wouldn't it? Me living in your house then taking another job to support us?"
"Oh," she said uncomfortably. "I mean if… well, never mind."
He finished the sentence for her. "If things were different?"
Carefully, he said, "That's why I wanna keep things how they are right now. 'Til I can figure things out for myself. It's not that I need to be the one who provides, but I do want to be more than a housekeeper."
"We've talked about this already."
He went on anyway. "I can't see myself working for you and being romantically involved. I don't know what that would mean for our living situation, but that's a problem for another day."
"Tony, just because I dreamt we were married doesn't mean I'm sitting here counting the seconds until you graduate. I'm not going to pretend there aren't times I wish we were something more, but ultimately I'm not ready, either."
"Not as long as you're uncertain of everything. The last thing I want to do is push and ruin our chance for something wonderful. I understand why you don't want to be involved with the person writing your paychecks. But that isn't the only factor. We have the kids to think about. While they'll be more understanding now that they're older, I still want to be sure of things between us before we drag them into it. Things have been clearer between us as of late, but this isn't the first time we've been faced with the question of 'us'. Not wanting to risk our friendship still stands. I'm less afraid of that now, I think we've reached the point where the foundation is strong enough, but of course I worry."
Tony nodded as Angela continued.
"There are other things, too. Like our backgrounds. I know it was just a dream, but seeing your friends tonight reminded me that I can never be that for you."
"I don't want you to be. I had that kind of relationship with Marie. Yeah, we had similar upbringings so those roles worked for us, but now I realize how much time I ended up missing with her working long hours then going on the road with the Cards. If I could change anything it would be to go back and be home with her and Sam, which is why I guess I was so open to taking a job as a housekeeper. I got to be there for the rest of Sam's childhood and got the son I'd always hoped to have with Jonathan. I've liked being able to go to school now that the kids don't need me as much. When… or if… something happens between us, I want to contribute."
Doing her best to stifle a grin, she said, "And I'm touched that you care about me enough to think that far ahead."
He looked at her, his voice shy as he said, "I care about you a lot."
Grin turning into a sweet smile, she said, "And I you." She paused, then finished, "Whenever you are ready to reevaluate things, I'm here."
"You don't need to apologize."
Tony sighed. "I just feel bad that I'm the one who's hesitating."
"Didn't you hear what I said? I have my apprehensions as well."
"I know, but you seem more ready than me. Like in Jamaica. I felt terrible being the one to pull back."
Biting her lip, she said, "One of us needed to be thinking clearly."
"I just don't want you to think I'm not attracted to you or nothin'. Believe me, I was kicking myself for days afterward."
Angela smirked. "Your attraction to me is the least of my worries."
"You're not exactly subtle when you check me out."
Laughing now, she said, "It's no use denying it. You're practically drooling whenever I show off my legs or wear a backless dress."
Defensively, he replied, "Drooling might be an exaggeration. Ogling, perhaps. But hey, don't think I haven't noticed your eyes on me when I've come back from a workout."
"I've made no attempts to hide that," she said coyly.
His embarrassment quickly turned to amusement as he gave her a once over for good measure. "I'll keep that in mind."
"While we're admitting things…" Angela started, "I wasn't completely honest earlier. I didn't come here just to keep you company."
"I wanted to spend time with you. I've missed you."
Surprised, he questioned, "Missed me? I see you every day."
"I know, but we haven't spent that much time together lately. I've been busy with the new campaign and things have been kind of different since we got home. I figured you being stuck here made for a good pretense."
Nudging her arm, he said, "Hey, you don't need a pretense with me."
"I just don't want you to think I'm pushing."
"I don't. I love spending time with you."
"Good," she said gently. "I'm glad."
Silence fell upon them again. Tony stood once he realized he'd been staring at her again, pacing around the room and trying to make sense of all that'd been said before speaking again. Angela did the same, sitting almost frozen as she told herself she needn't feel embarrassed. She was glad they'd elaborated on some things. At least now they could go back to their old routine, albeit, with some more certainty of her place in his life.
Eventually, she stood. "I should get going before the trains stop running."
Tony looked at his watch. "It's nearly midnight. You can't leave now."
"You're okay with me staying here?" she asked.
"We live under the same roof at home," he said perhaps overconfidently. "I'm not concerned."
Relieved, she said, "All right, then. I'll take the couch." Tony started to protest, but she held up her hand. "Don't argue with me on this. I'm sleeping here."
"Fine," he conceded. "I'll go grab you a pillow and blanket.
Angela thanked him as he went into the bedroom. Sitting down again, she smiled, a chill running down her spine. Though the evening didn't turn out as planned, she couldn't say she was disappointed with the outcome. The tension between them she hadn't fully realized was there had eased. While she was tired of playing a waiting game, at least now she knew it wasn't in vain.
Maybe, if she was lucky, she'd get a do-over of her dream tonight.