A/N: This story belongs to Iwannahorn, who planted the seed, watered it in with a gallon of Miracle Gro and cultivated it with intensive research. She asked me to write it for her, and I jumped on the opportunity. Special thanks to Lulu1960 for sharing her encyclopedic knowledge of all things Gilmore. I hope that you enjoy this little glimpse into Miss Patty's life and loves. Happy New Year! Mags

It was all Guy Lombardo's fault. She couldn't get it out of her head, every year it seeped in, taking over precious space in her mind. Every year it came out, flowing from her heart, humming through her veins, tickling her throat and dancing tantalizingly on her tongue until she had to let it go. "Should old acquaintance be forgot," she sang softly to herself as she carried the cut glass punchbowl over to the table by the wall. She stepped back and cocked her head as she eyed the 'Welcome 2005!' banner that Kirk had hung for her earlier, and then turned her eyes sweeping the empty studio, relieved that no one was around to witness the tear she wiped from the corner of her eye.

As far as Patty LaCosta was concerned, New Year's Eve was the most important day of the year. She could understand how some people felt about Thanksgiving or Christmas, she enjoyed them too, but New Year's Eve would forever hold that special place in Patty's heart. With a slight shake of her head, Patty looked at the banner wondering where the time had gone. Was it really possible that she had seen fifty-eight New Year's Eves? She didn't feel that old. Patty sighed and walked slowly over to the door, cracking it open as she fitted a cigarette into a long slim holder and then lit it using an engraved silver lighter, a gift from long ago.

Patty looked out at the square, watching people hurry home to prepare for a night out, or a night in. She turned her head and smiled as she saw the diner door swing open, and Lorelai's laughter tinkled through the crisp winter air. Patty watched as she tugged on Luke's hand, pulling her reluctant date down the steps and to the large green pick-up truck parked at the curb. She saw Luke say something into Lorelai's ear, and she would swear that she could feel the warmth of Lorelai's smile as she rose up and pecked a soft kiss to her escort's cheek. Patty sighed happily as she saw Luke open the passenger door, and help Lorelai into the old truck, solicitously tucking the hem of her coat inside before closing the door with a solid thud. A soft purr of appreciation escaped her lips as Luke jogged around the front of the truck, his black leather coat flapping open to expose a snug navy blue sweater beneath. "Lucky girl," Patty breathed as she lifted her cigarette to her lips and drew deeply.

As they drove away, Patty envisioned a candlelit dinner, hands held across a table, Luke's gruff responses to Lorelai's gentle teasing, and the sweet warm kisses she was sure would follow. She watched until the truck disappeared from view, but instead of feeling envious of the younger couple, Patty could only feel happy for them. Oh, to be in love again, she thought wistfully. That heady, delicious delirium of being with the man you adored, his strong arms wrapped tightly around you, your cheek pressed against his as he moved you slowly around a dance floor. She closed her eyes for a moment, and the battle was lost.

The orchestra was dressed in white tie and tails, the tables were decorated with blood red roses and trailing ivy, the wool of his suit was scratchy against her cheek, and the scent of the gardenia she wore in her hair enveloped them in a fragrant cloud as they circled the dance floor. His name was Charles St. John, but everyone knew him as Sinjin. He was tall and solid, with a brutal kind of rugged handsomeness that made him all but irresistible, and he was hers. Eighteen year old Patricia LaCosta had never seen the inside of the Hartford Club before tonight. She had never worn a dress so beautiful, heels so high, lipstick so red, or been so in love as she was that night. Oh, she had boyfriends before. Her first kiss had taken place just days after her sixteenth birthday. Tommy Patterson had lured her into the gazebo in the town square as he walked her home from the movies. As the old church bells chimed the hour, he leaned in and tentatively touched his lips to hers, and Patty had thought her feet would never touch the ground again. She had been wrong. Compared to how she felt in this moment, she realized that she had never even taken flight.

She met Sinjin while she was working at the candy counter at the Roxy in Woodbridge. Patty was only allowed to take the job because it was only two nights a week and a Saturday. Her best friend at the time, Marcia Kelly had been working there for months, and offered to give Patty a lift back and forth to work. Even her overprotective parents couldn't find fault in the plan, and that is where it all began. He came in with a group of friends, but stood literally head and shoulders above the rest. To Patty's untutored eye, he was suave and sophisticated, a recent graduate of Yale with a degree in drama and a passion for all things theatrical. He focused in on Patty, shining his attentions on her like a Hollywood searchlight that had found a star. For weeks, he haunted the candy counter, chatting her up while the main feature ran, and they found that their shared love of the stage was almost as irresistible as their mutual attraction.

Patty, of course, said nothing to her parents. Actually, she said nothing at all, even to Marcia. That is, until the week before Christmas. When Sinjin invited her to the Hartford Club's New Year's Eve dinner dance, Patty knew that she had to go. She finally confessed it all to Marcia, swearing her friend to secrecy as the two of them concocted a plan and pooled their money to go shopping for the perfect dress. So, while she was gliding her way across the dance floor, her parents thought that she and Marcia were listening to the Beatles in Marcia's bedroom. When Sinjin told her that he was leaving, that he had landed the role of Jud in an off Broadway production of Oklahoma!, she was heartbroken. As the crowd counted the seconds down to midnight, Sinjin looked down at her and said, "I want you to come with me. This could be the chance for both of us. I can see if I can get you a part in the chorus."

He kissed her at midnight as the orchestra played Auld Lang Syne. He kissed her over and over again in the cloakroom, his voice hoarse with desire as he slowly convinced her that they needed to be together, forever. He kissed her on a deserted country road outside of Stars Hollow as he whispered plans for their escape. And when she appeared at the Roxy the following day holding a single suitcase containing her three best dresses, a pair of patent leather pumps and her tap shoes, he kissed her passionately before he tossed it into the trunk. He opened the passenger door for her, allowing her one last wistful glance at the movie theater as he pointed the car in the direction of Cleveland, Ohio, and drove off with Patricia LaCosta's heart, mind and body.

By New Year's Eve 1966, everything had changed. Patty and Sinjin had married once they reached Cleveland. His run in Oklahoma! was short, but successful. Sinjin had gathered enough rave reviews to spur them on to New York, and a cold water flat in Brooklyn. They lived on tomato soup made from ketchup purloined from the restaurant where he waited tables at night, occasionally splurging on toasted cheese sandwiches cooked over a single burner. They made the rounds of auditions during the day, and through a semi-acquaintance and some unabashed flirting with the manager, Patty managed to land a job as a hat check girl at the Algonquin Hotel's famous Oak Room. She had learned to act blasé when Mel Torme passed by. She feigned cool indifference as Sinatra and his cronies shed their outwear on her counter. When a tall man in a dapper chalk striped suit handed her a twenty dollar bill and a note that read simply, 'Do you sing, pretty girl?' Patty regarded him with one coolly arched eyebrow.

"It's from Mr. Puente," the man explained, nodding to the renowned band leader standing a short distance away.

Patty lifted her chin and answered simply, "I dance."

The next afternoon, in the deserted club, Patty auditioned for Tito Puente. Across town, Sinjin was doing his second reading for the part of Pete in the new production of Showboat. That night, they celebrated prematurely by tearing each other's clothes off the moment they got home, laughingly promising to replace them once they landed their respective gigs. By summer 1966, Patty was dancing in a cage suspended above the stage in Tito Puente's new show, and Sinjin was humming 'Old Man River' night and day. On Christmas Day, Sinjin presented Patty with a new dress, bright red high heeled shoes and the key to a new apartment.

"Let's get packed, we're moving to Manhattan," he said in the deep, commanding voice.

"We are?"

"Yes, and next week, I'm taking you dancing at the Copacabana for New Year's Eve," he told her with a nod.

"You are?" Patty asked, her eyebrows nearly touching her hairline.

"And then, I start my new career as a television star," he pronounced grandly.

"Television?" Patty gasped, unable to keep the horror she felt from her voice.

And so, Patty and Sinjin danced cheek to cheek at the Copa on New Year's Eve 1966. He took her home to the tiny shoebox of an apartment he had rented for them, and made slow, smoldering love to her until the wee small hours of the morning. As she slept next to him, Sinjin looked down at his wife and whispered, "I'll show you, I'm going to be a star. A big, big star."

Sadly, it didn't quite work that way. Sinjin's role as one of the lesser Hughes' on As the World Turns proved to be short-lived. He was back to pounding the pavement by the summer of '67 while Patty continued to be a featured dancer in nightclub acts across the city. The fact that his little hoofer of a wife was making three times what he managed to bring home from his various odd jobs did not sit well with Sinjin. He began to drink, they began to fight, but as always, the making up was even more explosive than the eruption that began it. Patty ignored his insecurities, focusing instead on her own rising star and leaving Sinjin to pull himself up under his own steam. They passed each other coming and going. Patty's late hours led to late mornings, and Sinjin was usually out making the rounds. By mid-afternoon, she was preparing to head for the club as he would shuffle in weary and dejected, and needing to change into his waiter's uniform.

Patty found herself staying later and later after the shows, laughing and talking with the band was far more pleasurable than going home to a drunk or despondent husband. The weeks faded into months and the months into years as Sinjin's professional jealousy and Patty's impatience with his downtrodden attitude consumed the marriage. On New Year's Eve 1968, Patty danced two performances and then went home to an empty apartment, only to find that this time, his side of the closet was empty too. She brushed her hand across the metal hangers he had left behind, but did not shed a tear. Instead, Patty walked over to the table that held the telephone, and pulled out the yellow pages. She flipped through the book until she located the pages she was looking for. She held a cigarette between her fingers as she ran her nail along the list of divorce attorney's advertised there. She stopped, a small smile playing on her lips as she found a name that was too terribly appropriate to pass by. She marked the page and set the phone book on the table, making a mental note to give Mr. Charles N. Payne a call just after the holiday.

Patty's cigarette had burned down to the filter. She glanced down at it, quickly removed it from the holder and dropped it into an old coffee can that she kept by the door. She pulled the door closed and turned back to the empty studio, trying to envision it as it would be just an hour or two from now. She saw it packed with people, the ballroom globe casting colorful spots on the walls, the punch bowl magically offering up cup after cup of New Year's kindness as the edges of reality blurred and softened. She blinked and then saw it as it really was, a slightly worn down old barn of a building with warped floorboards, chipped mirrors on the wall, and a barre that sagged slightly in the middle. She walked tiredly over to a chair and lowered herself into it, arranging her flowing caftan around her once strong legs. She looked down at the tropical print of the dress that had once looked so festive, and smiled sadly as she traced the outline of a bunch of bananas with her fingertip.

'69 was a very good year, Patty liked to say with a feline smile. Sinjin did not contest the divorce, and by July, Patty was a free woman dancing in Tito Puente's newly revamped act. She was the featured dancer, shaking, shimmying and dancing her way across a set of gigantic drums wearing a skimpy skirt made out of bananas ala Dorothy Dandridge. She ran with the in-crowd on the New York nightclub scene. Every night after the show, you could find Patty at the latest hot spot, sipping martinis and flirting like mad. She loved her life, and the men loved her, flocking to her like moths to a flame. But Patty LaCosta had grown up a lot in the last four years. She was no man's fool, no matter how handsome, charming and rich they may be. No, this time, Patty vowed that she would call the shots. She guarded herself carefully, making sure her tap shoes stayed firmly planted on the ground, not matter how hard they tried to sweep her off of her feet.

Tito was the biggest threat. The bandleader was a shameless flirt, his conversation laced with subtle innuendos, his dark eyes flashing with the promise of passion, if not love, but still she resisted. Patty was a small town girl at heart, and she knew enough about small communities to know that you don't bite the hand that feeds you, no matter how delicious it may look. Instead, she engaged in a passionate affair with his lead trumpet player, John Jarvis. John was the man who had handed Tito's folded note to Patty at the Algonquin seemingly a lifetime ago. John was the man that Patty felt the most comfortable with, both in bed and out. Their mutual attraction had been evident for some time, beating like the pulse that quickened in her throat when ever he leaned in to speak in her ear. The moment the ink dried on her divorce papers, Patty took matters into her own hands. Literally.

It was after a particularly energetic show. The audience had been more than receptive, their enthusiasm washing up onto the stage in waves, drenching Patty in a high so potent that she could honestly claim that she couldn't help herself. She dashed from the stage, her skin slick and shiny with sweat, her heart racing as the sound of applause rang in her ears. She turned, and there he stood, smiling at her from the wings on the opposite side of the stage. Their eyes met, just as Tito's signaled for them to take the stage for an encore.

Twenty minutes later, Patty trotted from the stage, grabbed John by his necktie and pulled him down the hall to the dressing rooms, oblivious to the hoots and whistles that followed them. Once inside, she used all of her strength to push him up against the door, and clawed at the buttons on his shirt as his trumpet dangled from his fingers, forgotten. In that moment, she knew that the power that rushed through her veins was not simply a matter of adrenaline run amok. He was hers now, and she could have him whenever she wanted him.

The band was booked to play Atlantic City over the holidays. On New Year's Eve, they wrapped up the main show, and turned the stage over to the house band to ring in the New Year. After changing into their evening wear, John took her hand and led her to the casino floor. They stood at the end of a craps table when the countdown began. Not bothering to wait until midnight, John kissed her hungrily and then whispered, "What do you say? I roll a seven, and you have to marry me, here. Tonight."

Patty smiled as she lifted his hand and blew gently on the dice for good luck. "Let's see how you do, shall we?" she asked smugly.

John turned and looked at the croupier as all around them couples kissed and sang Auld Lang Syne. He held up his finger and then pushed a stack of chips onto the large red '7' on the table. "One pass on big red," he told the croupier as the dice rattled in his hand. John cast a sidelong look at Patty, and then tossed them to the opposite end of the table. They bounced off of the bank and landed neatly side by side.

"Seven it is," the croupier said with a nod, as he sorted the chips and pushed a stack in John's direction.

John looked at Patty, who stared speechless, her eyes fixed on his hands as he gathered the chips. "Here, hold out your hands," he said as he began to pile the chips into them. "Let's go get you a ring," he said as he took her elbow and steered her toward the lobby.

By two am, Patricia LaCosta had been pronounced Patricia Jarvis, and her new husband led her into the honeymoon suite that he had procured. He leaned down and kissed her sweetly as he brushed her hair back from her face and murmured, "I'm just crazy about you, Patty."

"Can you, uh, just, um, just give me a minute," Patty managed to mumble as she headed for the bathroom. She locked the door behind her and then turned, bracing both hands on the sink as she stared at her reflection in the mirror. She lifted her trembling left hand and looked down at the thick gold band John had put there less than an hour before. "Oh my God," she whispered as she stared at it. She looked up, meeting her own eyes in the mirror as she asked, "What have I done?"

And so, 1970 came in with a desperate whimper, and didn't get any better as the year progressed. Patty found herself moved out of the precious little apartment she had decorated to her tastes into a larger apartment filled with instruments, overflowing ashtrays, a leaking faucet of hot and cold running musicians, and the cloying smell of wacky weed that accompanied them everywhere. Patty couldn't keep from wrinkling her nose each time she walked through the door. She had to get used to the lack of privacy, keeping a robe nearby for she didn't dare step foot out of the bedroom without one because she never knew who he had dragged home after the previous night's jam session. Soon after their marriage, Tito had reworked the show and there no longer seemed to be a spot for Patty. John wanted her to quit working, but Patty would hear none of it. She knew that she held the upper hand in this marriage, and wasn't afraid to use it. She set out to make the rounds of auditions again, but found that there was a fresh crop of starry eyed eighteen year olds nipping at her heels. When she complained to John, he laughed and reminded her that she was only 23, but Patty could not make him understand that for a dancer, a woman, each year that passed came directly off of your shelf life.

Finally, she landed a minor role as one of Miss Adelaide's dancers in a bus and trunk tour of Guys and Dolls. John was livid, ranting and raving about how no wife of his was going out on the road without him. Patty tried to explain that she wanted to dance, needed to dance, but he wouldn't hear any of it. The week before she was set to leave, John made the unwise decision to offer an ultimatum to a woman who, while terribly fond of him, did not love him quite as much as he loved her.

The night before she hit the road, he stood in the doorway watching her pack. "What does this mean?" he asked quietly.

Patty folded a pair of short shorts into her suitcase and said, "You know what it means."

"So, it's over," he stated flatly.

Patty turned, keeping one hand on her suitcase as she looked up at him defiantly. "Those were your terms. I just took you up on them, Sweetheart."

"You're really going through with this," he said blankly.

Patty crossed to him and placed her hand gently on his cheek. "John, darling, you know that I love you. I always will love you. You're a good man. I just don't love you enough."

"I love you enough for both of us," he said hoarsely.

Patty kissed him gently on the lips and said, "No, honey, you don't. It won't ever be enough." She smoothed her hand down his cheek, across his broad shoulder and down to his chest. "You deserve better than that. Things were good, right? We've had a good run. Let's just leave them at good, because once it goes bad, and it will, darling, we can't ever go back."

The following morning, John dragged himself out of bed early to take her to the Schubert where the troupe was meeting to board the buses. He carried her suitcase to the luggage compartment and watched as the driver loaded it on. Patty stood beside him clutching a hard sided makeup case. She turned and brushed some imaginary lint from his jacket. "I'll call you to sort out the details," she said softly.

"Fine."

Patty smiled and said, "I promise to hire a lawyer with a nicer name."

"What?"

"Nothing," she said quickly. She leaned in and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek, narrowly missing the corner of his mouth. "Take good care of yourself," she told him in a throaty voice.

"Goodbye, Patty."

Patty gave him a tight smile and blinked away the tears that threatened. "It was a good run. Standing ovations all around," she said in a voice hoarse with unshed tears.

John simply nodded and stepped back to watch her board the bus. Once she found a seat, Patty peered through the smudged window, trying to catch one last glimpse of him, but he was gone. The bus lurched forward, and the young girl next to her asked, "Have you ever been to Boston?"

Patty smiled benevolently and said in a voice filled with false bravado, "Sweetheart, I've been everywhere."

Patty pressed a hand to her heart to stop the ache. In her mind, she can still see him; tall, handsome, and debonair, leaning in the doorway with his heart on his sleeve. She didn't want to hurt him, she truly did love him, just not in the way that a man should be loved, and not in the way that a woman yearns to love a man. But they were good together. "So good," Patty said with a sigh and a fond smile. She sat for a moment, remembering John, the sound of his voice, the way his smooth chest felt beneath her hands, the way that his talented fingers played her like that trumpet he loved. And the lungs on that man. He could hold a note like no other. The only problem was, he just couldn't hold onto her.

Placing her hands on her knees, Patty pushed herself up out of the chair. "Doll, you don't got the high notes, but you sure got the gams," she murmured as she smiled at the framed photograph that had been taken backstage in Boston. Patty stood to the side, clearly the oldest of Miss Adelaide's Alley Kittens, but she could twitch her tail in a way that none of the younger girls could. She was the leader of the pack, the one that the other girls looked to for counsel and advice, a position that was only cemented by Bette Davis singled her out after they opened in Beantown. At the ripe old age of 23, Patty LaCosta had already seen the apex of her career, but she hadn't yet given up on her dream.

She strolled over to the ancient turntable she still kept in the studio. After sorting through the stack of albums, she pulled out the original soundtrack recording of Follies and set the needle to 'I'm Still Here.' She walked over to the table where the punch bowl sat awaiting her magic elixir. As she uncapped the bottle of vodka, she sang softly under her breath, "I've stuffed the dailies in my shoes, strummed ukuleles, sung the blues. Seen all my dreams disappear, but I'm here."

Every day for sixteen weeks, Patty sang that song. Every night for sixteen weeks, she waited in the wings while Yvonne DiCarlo sang it on stage. She told herself that being an understudy wasn't such a bad gig. She got the easier parts in the chorus, that way if she did have to take over the role of Carlotta, she wouldn't be missed. The rehearsal schedule was nowhere near as demanding as it was for the leads, which left her free time during the days. A friend of a friend landed her a gig answering phones for Ricardo Montalban, the actor who had once starred opposite Lena Horne on the stage, and now was busy filling his time with B movies and guest appearance on television shows. It was an easy job, mainly consisting of fielding calls from agents looking for someone to play a latin lover, or oddly enough, fans who want to want to know what the lasting effects of neural gas actually are. Patty diligently recorded each message, and then left them on the desk for the girl who worked afternoons. Not once, had she laid eyes on the handsome actor. Which was probably just as well, since Patty had that itch once more, and she had a feeling that if she did meet him, she'd lay a lot more than eyes on him.

All in all, she was still in the game, still wrapped in the bosom of a Broadway production, still dancing until her feet ached each and every day. She practiced with the voice coach, honing her skills and covering her lack of natural ability with a certain saucy style. It was backstage at the Winter Garden Theater that she met her third husband, Sergio Andreas. Patty stood with her foot on a chair adjusting the strap on her shoe. She sensed a movement behind her and turned to see if it was Tony, the creepy stagehand who liked to try to peep at the girls as they were changing. Instead, she saw a tall, solidly built man with jet black hair and warm chocolate brown eyes watching her with interest.

Patty slowly lowered her foot, resisting the urge to tug her leotard from her ass as she asked, "Like what you see?"

"Very much," the man answered in a sincerely appreciative tone as he opened an old fashioned cigarette case and popped the latch.

Patty smirked as he offered the case to her. "I didn't know that they still made these," she said as she took a cigarette from the case.

"I'm not sure if they do. This one once belonged to the Duke of Windsor," he said as he smoothly produced a gold lighter from his pocket and flicked the wheel.

Patty leaned in slowly, making sure that he could admire her bustline at its best advantage. She cupped her hand around his as the tip of the cigarette caught the flame, and then let her fingers trail slowly from his as she leaned back. Patty blew a long stream of smoke from her mouth, not bothering to politely turn her head away as she stared him in the eye and said, "Bullshit."

The man chuckled and said, "You're right, it was bullshit. I bought it at an estate sale. A little old woman in Queens, I believe her husband collected them."

"That's a much better story."

He shrugged and said, "Yes, but it doesn't charm the young ladies as well as the Duke of Windsor story."

Patty raised her eyebrows and asked, "Do they even know who the Duke of Windsor is?"

"Not likely," he answered. "Do you?"

Patty threw her head back and laughed. "Of course I do, I've long been an admirer of Mrs. Simpson."

"You have? Some would find that admiration a little misplaced," he commented mildly.

"That's fine, others would find it fascinating," Patty countered as she raised the cigarette to her lips one more.

The man smiled slowly as he said, "I think I find you fascinating, Miss, uh…"

"LaCosta. Patricia LaCosta, but everyone calls my Patty," she purred.

"Ah, well, I don't want to be just anyone, so I think I will call you Patricia," he said, his voice silky smooth as it caressed her name. "I am Sergio Andreas, Patricia LaCosta, and I am thoroughly fascinated."

"Good," Patty said with a knowing smile. She held out her lipstick stained cigarette, and Sergio automatically reached for it with a confused frown. "See ya," Patty said as she turned and walked away without a backwards glance.

Patty later learned that her gentleman admirer was indeed named Sergio Andreas, and that he headed an investment group that part owner of the theater in which their production was running among many, many other things. She learned that when you look like Sergio Andreas, you don't have to chase after cheeky young chorus girls, the women naturally flock to you. And she also learned that when you own a piece of a theater, you could sit front row center every night, and wait for the one you have your eye on to set herself away from the flock. Every night for a week, Patty steeled herself to meet his warm brown gaze. Every night for a week, that gaze was locked on her. From his front row seat, he could pick her out in the chorus no matter what role she was filling that night. Every night for a week, his eyes followed her backstage; patient, confident, and unswerving.

When she had finally had enough, Patty stepped from the communal dressing room in her street clothes and walked over to the spot where he had occupied each night with her head held high. "You know, if you're going to undress me with your eyes every night, you should at least buy me dinner first."

Sergio simply nodded and said, "Get your bag."

And for the first time since she was spirited away from Stars Hollow, Patricia LaCosta was swept of her feet. Sergio wined and dined her, courting the chorus girl twenty years his junior as if she were the Duchess of Windsor. Nothing was too good for his Patricia. If she wanted lobster, they flew to Maine. If she wanted to dance in the streets, he whisked her off to New Orleans. If Patty dared to suggest an evening in, the chef from 21 Club personally prepared their dinner and had it delivered to Sergio's door. Her clothes, shoes and other personal items magically found their way from her tiny studio apartment in Brooklyn to his spacious three bedroom co-op on the upper east side. When he needed to entertain potential clients, he brought them to see Follies and then Patty joined them for a late supper after the show.

Soon he began to plant the seed. She was vital to his success. He needed her by his side to be his partner, to be his hostess, to be available to him at all times. Six am rehearsals interrupted his sleep. Matinees ruined their weekend plans. He couldn't keep bringing his clients to the same show over and over again. As the seed of Sergio's discontent began to germinate, Patty began to see her Broadway career for what it really was. It was a harsh reality for a 24 year old woman to realize that her best days had now passed. Some days, she'd linger in the apartment after Sergio had left for his day, pretending it was theirs, wishing she could call it her home too. She hated going back to Brooklyn, even to pick up a few changes of clothes, or a book that she had forgotten. But no one knew better than Patty that she couldn't give it all up. At least not until she was assured that Sergio was committed to taking care of her.

On Christmas Eve 1971, they sat curled together watching the flames dance in the grate. Sergio brushed his lips against her jaw, his fingers spread over her throat, stroking her tender skin, caressing her as he whispered, "Ti amo, bella Patricia."

"Oh, don't start with the Italian again," she purred.

"You should know it, with a name like LaCosta. It's a crime for you not to know it," he murmured as he pressed soft kisses down the side of her neck.

"Well, I'm a Yankee Italian. We had to swear off the old country in order to get our hands on the pot roast recipe," she said with a throaty chuckle. She didn't bother to correct him and tell him that she was Puerto Rican. The Italians had outgrown their social stigmata, but growing up in the fifties and sixties, Patty was well aware that the Puerto Ricans had not. She had learned early on that it was easier to let people assume she was Italian, and to her mind, it was so much more exotic.

"Lo sposerete?" he whispered in her ear.

"That sounds naughty," she said with a laugh. "If we do that, will I find coal in my stocking?"

"Say yes, and you'll find something you'll like very much in your stocking," he replied.

Patty smiled as he traced the shell of her ear with the tip of his tongue. "I'm hoping to find you in my stockings very soon."

"Patricia, I'm serious," he said in a low voice.

"Well, how can I take you seriously when I have no idea what you're saying?"

"Lo sposerete? Will you marry me?" he translated for her. Patty's eyes widened as she gasped softly. "My beautiful girl, I just want to take care of you always. Say you will, say you'll let me. Say yes, Patricia," he said in a soft, mesmerizing voice.

Patty licked her lips nervously and said, "I'm not very good at being married."

"Marry the right man this time," he answered.

"I want to," she admitted.

"Then say yes."

"Yes," she breathed.

Sergio reached into his pocket and out a ring box. "I hadn't put it in there yet. I'd planned to wait for morning." Patty cut him off with a passionate kiss, pressing into him urgently. Sergio broke the kiss with a laugh as he said, "Hold on, hold on, at least let me put the ring on your finger."

Patty stared at him as he slipped the ring onto her left hand. The moment it slid into place, she pressed him back against the cushions. Without even taking a moment to glance at the enormous diamond on her finger, Patty began divesting her intended of all of those pesky clothes he wore.

On New Year's Eve 1971, they flew to Las Vegas and tied the knot at the Aladdin Hotel, the same hotel that Elvis and Priscilla Presley had married in four years previously, on the same night that she had married John just two years before. She and Sergio laughed as Patty joked about marrying on December 31st, saying that she would have no excuse for forgetting their anniversary. It was only when Sergio turned his attention to the roulette wheel that Patty allowed herself to think of the Christmas card John had mailed to her Brooklyn apartment, signed 'I'll love you forever, John'. She excused herself to the ladies' room and took a moment to compose her thoughts. She looked down at the sparkling diamond band on her finger and wondered how it could feel so much lighter than the plain gold band John has slipped in the same finger 730 days before. Patty refreshed her lipstick, bent over to shake the girls up into a more advantageous position, and threw her shoulders back. "No, they won't be forgot, but you don't have to dwell on them," she told her reflection, and then went to find her new husband.

Patty delved into her new role as Mrs. Andreas with gusto. She also did everything else with gusto. After a decade of denying herself food and exercising for hours each and every day, she indulged with abandon, expecting her dancer's metabolism to outpace her consumption. She was wrong. But Sergio insisted that he loved her new curvier figure. Judging by the lascivious leers of his business associates, Patty figured that he must not be wrong.

At first, the changes were subtle. So subtle that she hardly noticed them. He bought her a new dress for a dinner with some potential investors that wanted to buy into his group. Though it wasn't to her taste, Patty donned the conservative dinner suit and played hostess to the corporate bigwig's stuck up wife. Then it was the trendy nightclub with the 'business' man and his spandex encased chippy. For that night, Sergio presented Patty with an assortment of gold chains and bracelets that would have made King Midas green with envy. And then, the suggestions began. How to talk, how to walk, what to say, what not to say. She didn't hold her fork properly, she drank too deeply.

She soaked up information like a sponge, always willing to learn and improve. Patty applied the discipline honed by years of dance to becoming everything Sergio wanted her to be. She spoke a little more softly, she studied the morning papers, keeping up with current events. She shopped at the stores that he suggested, she bought the tableware that he had admired at an associate's dinner party. Little by little, day by day, Patty LaCosta began to fade into Patricia Andreas, until she herself was not even sure where she started and stopped.

For two years, Patty did her best. For two years, she worked so hard at being happy that she never realized that she was miserable. She had put on a few more pounds over the last year, and soon the suggestions turned to health spas and vials of amphetamines left on her dresser as a not so subtle hint. Instead of inspiring her, the not so gentle nudges caused Patty to rebel. As soon as he left in the morning, she would flush a pill down the toilet, and then head for the refrigerator, searching for something to soothe the hurt. At night, she'd pick daintily at a salad, and smile brightly as she told him that yes, she had exercised that day. Exercised his credit card, that is. Although the war was not overt, Patty and Sergio soon found themselves in a battle of wills. The first day she heard him mumble the word 'fat' under his breath, she accidentally knocked a glass of red wine into the lap of a potential investor, and then proceeded to mop his crotch with a linen napkin as Sergio and the investor's wife looked on. When the man blushed beet red, unable to keep his eyes from straying to the ample cleavage on display before his eyes, Patty purred loudly enough for everyone to hear, "Oh, and so responsive too. Been a while, so I guess I can't really say that I'm sorry. Thank you, Sweetheart."

And then, as subtly as the insults started, they abruptly ended. Sergio was polite, if a little distant; affectionate, but perhaps a tad too brotherly; but worst of all, he seemed disinterested. There was nothing that rankled Patty more than the feeling that she had lost her audience. One morning, as she prepared to step into a hot bubble bath, Patty caught sight of herself in the mirror, and what she saw horrified her. Gone was the lithe dancer's body. The curves that Sergio had once delighted in were now buried in folds of flesh far too ample to even be considered voluptuous. She quickly wrapped a bath sheet around her body and dashed for the bedroom, where she rooted through her night stand until she came up with the prescription bottles she had been systematically emptying into the toilet. Patty tossed back a pill, choking it down dry before rushing back to the bathroom and cupping water in her hand and carrying it to her lips. That afternoon, she donned a pair of over-sized dark glasses and made her way to a rundown Soho dance studio, where she began a new regimen she had concocted during her bath.

The pills made her ansty. Patty could understand how people lost weight by taking them, as she suddenly found herself unable to sit still. She also found that the pills also loosened the tight hold she had kept on her tongue for the past two years. When the phone calls from various banks and investments houses starting coming to the apartment rather than to Sergio's small but luxurious offices in the financial district, Patty was suddenly unafraid to question him, a turn of events that her husband did not appreciate. The fights escalated from slow and simmering to boiling rage. Patty told herself that the occasional heart palpitations she was experiencing were due to the tense state of her marriage, and pushed herself harder and harder as her diet and exercise routine began to show results.

Patty was determined to get back to the woman she once was both physically and emotionally. She wanted more than anything to be that ballsy girl who clawed her way out of Stars Hollow and landed herself on a Broadway stage. She wanted to be that elusive woman that blew smoke in charming men's faces, and walked away with an exaggerated sway, knowing that her prey was captivated. But as the pounds melted away, so did her marriage. The phone rang incessantly. Determined secretaries and assistants insisted that the calls to Sergio's office were going unanswered. When Patty contacted Sergio's new secretary, the young woman blithely dismissed Patty's concerns in a tone that seemed a little too derisive to be used on the boss' wife. When she complained to Sergio, he simply said that Lucy was extremely efficient, if not a bit to brusque at times, and to pay no attention to her. It may have been more than a little vain, but as Patty found her waistline again, she began to fall a little bit in love with herself again. She continued to wear the clothing that was sizes too big for her, camouflaging the changes in her body from everyone, hoping to surprise her husband when she reached her goal. It wasn't hard to do. Claiming that she snored a little too loudly, Sergio had removed most of his possessions to the guest bedroom, and rarely even stepped foot into the room that they had shared, unless it was to look for a stray pair of cuff links.

Patty knew that the clock was ticking. She popped a few more pills; she consumed nothing but broth and tea. With ten pounds to go, the phone calls changed from anxious bankers and investors to disgruntled hang ups whenever she would answer the phone herself. She exercised daily, pushing herself harder, relishing the pull of her muscles under her skin, and basking in the praise of the broken down old hoofer that ran the studio. With five pounds to go, Patty treated herself to a spin through the lingerie department at Saks, only to be mortified when her credit card was declined. At two pounds to go, she decided that it was close enough, pilfered a wad of bills from Sergio's wallet while he showered that morning, did a little shopping, and ordered in a special romantic dinner to share with her husband. That afternoon, she left a message with Sergio's secretary, Lucy, urging him not to be late that night.

Patty bathed, lotioned, powdered and perfumed every inch of her newly reclaimed body. She dressed in the sheer red lace chemise and matching peignoir, and carefully arranged her hair so that it fell in soft waves around her face and tumbled over her shoulders. She opened her jewelry box to look for the diamond drop necklace he had given her while they were still dating, but found that it was missing, along with several of her more valuable pieces. She turned and frowned at the small framed canvas that covered the wall safe in their room, and then moved to open it. Patty spun the dial, repeating the combination over and over again in her head, but it refused to open when she tried to pull on the handle. Finally, she glanced at the clock and decided to talk to Sergio about it later.

And then she waited. When the clock on the mantle chimed seven, she began to pace. By eight, she began to fume. Patty snatched the phone from the cradle and dialed Sergio's office number. She heard a clatter on the other end as the receiver was knocked to the desk, and then heard the the petulant girl that answered his phone say breathlessly, "You're leaving the cow, right?"

Patty's eyes widened as she heard her husband say, "Yes, yes, I have moved everything, she can have nothing. We'll go away together," he promised in a deep silky voice.

"Do you love me?" the whiny little chippy asked as Patty gripped the receiver tighter, her knuckles turning white.

"Yes, yes, I love you," Sergio rasped. "Please, please let me."

"You want me to let you?" Lucy asked softly. "Tell me what I want to hear."

"I love you," Sergio panted.

Patty heard a rustle on the other end as the phone was lifted from the desk. "Tell her. Tell her right now," she heard the girl say. "Mrs. Andreas?" Lucy asked in an overly sweet voice. When all she could hear was the sound of Patty's breathing on the other end, she smiled and said, "Please hold for Mr. Andreas." Then in a lower voice, "Yes, Sergio, you can if you tell her." Patty heard his telltale grunt through the phone and felt her knees go weak. She sank to the floor as the sadistic little bitch held the phone up to her husband's mouth. "Tell her Sergio," Lucy ordered.

"I love Lucy," Sergio rasped into the phone.

"Yes now, Sergio, now," Lucy said as she dropped the receiver back to the desk with a clatter.

Patty's eyes widened as she listened to the sound of her husband screwing another woman, and for some reason, she was unable to stifle the laugh that bubbled up from inside of her. "I love Lucy? I love Lucy?" she asked, laughing uncontrollably as she heard Sergio grunting and groaning away. "Your secretary? Can't you at least try to be less cliché? Oh, Ricky, you have messed with the wrong girl. Kiss the Tropicana goodbye," Patty murmured as she hung up the phone.

tbc