So, I'm back, so to speak. I've had some life stuff that has caused me to have to take a break, but I still have much to write. I know I have works to finish, but I needed something to get things flowing again.
I am currently working Jersey Boys, and I have this ability to see a character and find something a lot deeper than just what's on the surface. Maybe I think too much, but I love to give people backstory. So...here's this.
For those of you who are not familiar, Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, an incredibly successful group from the sixties. If you don't know what they wrote, look up "Oh what a night". I guarantee you've heard it. Their story is full of drama and tension and romance and everything else, and the character of Tommy DeVito fascinates me. He never settles down, constantly gets in trouble and causes problems, and yet has this intense loyalty. And I love nothing more than to crack the facade of even the hardest character. So, here goes. I hope this is good fun, and it may have a part two, possibly. Also, although Jersey Boys is based on real people, I prefer to write from the premise of the fictionalized characters that you see in the show.
Let me know what you think, and I promise to continue the stuff I've left hanging.
The Eyes Have It
She'd promised herself things would be different, this time. When he'd walked into the casino surrounded by an ever-growing posse of managers, staff, security and fans, she hadn't felt anything but the same resentment she'd been nursing for nearly a year now. And she was glad. She was relieved. She wanted it to finally be over. Her head had known for some time that it was a careless and damaging relationship, but she wanted her heart to agree. So, when she immediately wanted to slap him hard across his smiling face, she was relieved. Then, he looked at her.
Slipping away from the flashbulbs while the attention was on Frankie, he crossed the room to where she stood, carrying a tray that she'd been loading with empty glasses. Sliding a twenty across the smooth table top, he said, "How much for a good time, Maggie DeGrasso?"
It had become something of a joke between them, for him to present the money and proposition her. He'd been doing it for years now, each time he came into town. Although, Maggie remembered, the first time she was quite sure he'd been serious about buying her. She'd known what she was to him. She wasn't naïve or inexperienced, herself. Legal or not, taking money from the wealthy men who frequented the casino in exchange for a night in their suite was just padding her tip money, she'd always thought. She was wanted by the biggest of the big shots. The high rollers. She refused to compare herself to the raggedy girls who stood on the corners a few streets over, baring their breasts to oncoming traffic. She was no cheap call girl. At least, that's what she'd always believed. Now, in this moment, however, she'd never felt more dirty.
Maggie stared at the money, and then looked up into his face.
He was the same, mostly. His dark hair was slicked back, meticulously combed and parted. His jaw line was strong, his smile more a smirk. The straight line of his nose made him ruggedly handsome. It was his eyes that always stopped her, though. Today, Maggie knew she was done for when she met his eyes. They were strangely, piercingly blue for someone who was otherwise so very Italian. With everything else about him being so crisp, expensive, and larger than life, it was his eyes that made him human.
"So, midnight? My usual room?" Tommy widened his grin, showing his faint laugh lines.
Against everything her brain was telling her, Maggie nodded.
Tommy gave her a wink and waltzed away to rejoin his group of adoring fans and nagging managers. Posing for a picture, he wrapped his arms around two attractive girls and planted a kiss on each of their cheeks. Maggie looked down at the table, saw the twenty again, and felt like she'd been punched in the stomach.
For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, Maggie warred with herself. She'd been so sure this would never happen to her. She had made her own way in life, starting the day she'd turned eighteen and her drunken mother had kicked her out onto the streets of Reno. Maggie had never looked back. She aimed her sights towards Las Vegas and had scorned the notion of ever settling down. She'd seen what married life had done to her parents. She was watching it do the same thing to her sister.
Maggie considered herself lucky. She could make more a night in tips than a full-time seamstress could make in a week. While most women were having babies and ironing their husband's shirts every morning, she was working tables at one of the classiest casinos in Las Vegas. Maggie was also a part-time singer and dancer. She was on stage about four nights a week, smiling her wide, ruby grin, her chestnut curls upswept in combs glittering with rhinestones. It was the dream life, she'd always thought. There were no attachments, nothing tying her to anyone or anything. She was free to see who she pleased, to stay out till dawn broke and sleep the day away. She needed no one, because she had everyone. Or so she thought.
The concert ran late that night, and the packed house cheered and whistled for the four young men on stage. They were superstars, international recording artists, and all devastatingly handsome. They were the Four Seasons, as the crowd saw them. Frankie, Bob, Nick, and Tommy. They were brilliant, talented musicians with full bank accounts and enough star power to charm the knickers off a nun.
Maggie watched the crowd watching them. She scanned the wives, sans husbands, sipping cocktails and eyeing the boys like prey to be devoured. She looked at the young couples, star struck and smitten with both the performers and each other. She saw what she knew Tommy saw, an endless sea of women, his for the taking. They could each have almost anyone they wanted, especially Tommy. And for some reason, that reality now made Maggie want to vomit.
Gritting her teeth together, she decided she wouldn't go to his room tonight. She didn't have to. She didn't owe him anything, and he couldn't very well start screaming that he'd paid for her. That was a practice that might be overlooked, but was never defended or even acknowledged. So she simply wouldn't go. It was becoming too complicated, she decided. It was better to cut it off.
Let him be angry. Let him be alone. I don't owe him anything.
Maggie repeated those things over and over to herself as she cleared tables and brought fresh drinks. She even stayed late, after the patrons had dispersed and the stage was quiet. She took her time stacking glasses and wiping tables. She was doing more than was required, she knew. She was paid to please the male patrons, to bend over just a little too far when serving their drinks, not wash glasses. Still, Maggie lingered.
And she nearly succeeded in avoiding him. She thought he would have given up on her, when a voice in the quiet theater startled her.
He was standing in the corner by the stage, all in shadows. He had his arms crossed over his chest and one eyebrow quirked upward. Maggie froze, towel in hand, and swallowed hard.
Turn around. Walk away. Tell him you're through with this. Leave him here. You know he's left dozens of women the same way. Walk away.
Instead, she stuttered, "I was just…"
Stepping from the shadows, Tommy smiled. He turned to leave, and gestured for her to follow.
And Maggie did. Like a moth to a deadly flame, like a deer drawn toward the lights of its oncoming slaughter, like a fairytale princess lured by a poisoned apple or a cursed spinning wheel, she went.
She followed him through the darkened hallways that wound behind the stage, knowing the back way up to the exclusive suites very well. She caught the scent of him as he led the way, something between musky cologne, cigarettes and the sweat from a lengthy performance. Maggie took a deep breath, breathing it in, feeling her stomach flutter.
But you've always been a little star-struck by the caliber of people that come here. There have been so many actors and singers. They've always captivated you. That's why you love this. He is no different.
Maggie continued to try to convince herself that all the men made her knees weak like this, that there was always this spark that threatened to burst into flame between them.
When they reached the door of suite 325, Tommy's room of choice, he quickly worked the lock and swung the door open. When the door clicked shut behind her, Maggie stood there, trying to look casual.
Tommy started to pour a drink but Maggie stopped him by saying, "For twenty bucks, I'm not sure we have time to drink."
Tommy set the decanter down, meeting her eyes with a smirk, and said, "So we're past the pleasantries, then?"
His Jersey accent was thick and undiluted, even after years of criss-crossing the country.
Keeping up the front, she shrugged, "You've been showing up for four years now."
Trying to hide her rapidly beating heart and her trembling hands, Maggie crossed the room to him. Seizing him by his expensive tie, she pulled him toward the lavishly dressed bed. Shoving the silken quilts and heavy pillows away, she laid herself out on the soft sheets.
Tommy looked at her hungrily, and Maggie knew she was a carnal fantasy come to life. Her skin was ivory and without blemish. Her breasts filled out her dress just a little more than they should. She wasn't particularly tall, but her legs were long and shapely. Maggie pouted at him, knowing she was beautiful, and pulled the clips from her hair.
Shaking it out, she said, "Get to it then. I don't have all night."
Yet the moment he touched her, she wished she had eternity.
Tommy loosened his tie and cast it away as he finally kissed her. He worked his tongue into her mouth, gently yet urgently. Then he turned his mouth on her neck and her breasts, pulling the dress away.
Sex was always fun. Sometimes it might be more tedious than others, but Maggie always enjoyed herself. She refused to ever be a victim, feeling that if someone was getting something from her, she might as well get something in return. She knew herself, knew what she liked. Yet here, in this warm, aching moment, she was shocked by the sheer hunger she felt. She wanted him. She prayed he couldn't see the desperation in her eyes as she ripped clothing away from both their bodies. She was even more forward than usual, trying to cover how very smitten she was.
Tommy relished it and, as usual, went to take her without bothering to remove his trousers. Maggie stopped him, though. Rolling him over and pinning him in what she hoped he saw as merely a performance intended to please him, she then stripped him of his clothes. Impatient and entirely aroused by her aggressiveness, he then laid her back on the bed and took her.
As skin slid against skin and breath mixed with breath, Maggie savored his body. They were one on one, one in one, together. She closed her eyes and took in his scent again, running her fingers through his thick hair. She let herself go, feeling captive and free, hungry and full. She went with him over the precipice of pleasure and had to close her eyes. She bit her lip, not because he was opposed to her making a little noise, but because she was afraid of what she might say.
After several long, breathy moments, Maggie felt him start to pull away. Before she could catch herself, she pulled him back against her. Winding her legs around and through his, she savored the moist heat between them. She savored his skin on hers, from chest to toes. She looked up at him, watching his chest rise and fall from the effort. Then she looked into his face, studying every angle, every line and every scar. She met his blue eyes and, without thinking, pulled him into her lips. She kissed him long and slow, wanting not to excite him but to know him. When they finally separated, he seemed to sense something was off. He didn't say it, though, stating instead, "Your eyes…they're green."
It was a statement. He was trying to cut the awkward tension. Tommy didn't care what color her eyes were. She knew that. Still, those four words sent her over the edge. Her breath caught as she stared up at him. She was wrapped in him, covered in the scent of him and filled with him, and her heart was as naked as her flesh.
Wrapping her arms tighter around his shoulders, she said very softly, "I love you."
Tommy stared at her for a moment as though he had no idea what she'd said, as though she'd spoken a different language. Then, when the words finally registered, Maggie saw the panic. He pulled away from her and quickly started throwing his clothes back on. Maggie sat up, pulling the quilt around herself, terrified.
"You're not in love with me," he stated flatly, "You're just drunk. This is not a 'love' situation, here."
Maggie felt her heart break. She very softly whispered, "Why not?"
"Because Tommy DeVito doesn't fall in love," he threw out harshly.
Still clutching the quilt, Maggie slid from the bed and stood up, facing him. She demanded, "And why not? Why is that so impossible?"
"Look," he threw back, straightening his shirt, "I've got a million of you out there, in every city across this country. Why would I want just you, when I can have you, and everyone else?"
Maggie felt tears prick her eyes, "Maybe that's true. Maybe I'm crazy. I never wanted to fall in love, either. I've never said that before. But I meant it. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"
Tommy raked his hand through his hair and said, "What do you want from me? I'm leaving tomorrow and who knows when I'll be back. It makes no sense. You're not in love, sweetheart."
Suddenly wounded, Maggie said, "Don't call me sweetheart."
Tommy met her eyes, and she couldn't read his expression.
Maggie stood up slowly and crossed to him, dropping the quilt. She stepped close enough to feel the heat between them again, to look in his tumultuous eyes, and said, "Tell me you don't feel something."
Their eyes were locked for a moment, and then Tommy tore himself away, the tension obvious. He focused intently on retying and straightening his tie.
"What's wrong with loving someone?" she asked, "Even if it's not what you expected…"
Tommy whipped around and shouted, "I don't need anyone! I've done just fine by myself for twenty years! I've been taking care of myself and brother since I was thirteen and we were both on the streets! And look what I've made of myself! Look what I've made of everyone around me!" he took a breath, "You're an accessory, Maggie. And I'm not giving this up and tying myself down…for you."
Maggie trembled. She was angry and devastated, and then more angry because of how devastated she was. She'd never been this wounded, and she was furious with herself for letting her feelings so viciously betray her. Still, she couldn't hate him.
There was a long, very quiet moment. When he said nothing else yet made no move to leave, she stepped into him again. She reached up and ran her hand around his neck and into his hair. When he didn't stop her, she pulled him in and kissed him one more time.
And for a long time, he didn't pull away. Maggie thought maybe he'd changed his mind, when he suddenly, violently, shoved her away. She stumbled backward, shocked. She wanted to cry. But, then, she saw it. Tommy looked at her, and she saw in his eyes that he'd finally felt it, too. He was shaken and his usual arrogance was replaced by a look of fear as he stared at her.
Then, just as quickly, he looked away. Pulling himself up to his full height, he started towards the door. Without looking back, he threw out, "Stay the night, if you want. I ain't coming back."
The door shut, and Maggie threw his expensive liquor across the room, watching it shatter with very little satisfaction.