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A Step in the Right Direction [ - ]
by Anneli
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Author's Notes:

None of these characters belong to me..I'm just taking them out for a little ride! 

This is a companion piece to Stepping in the Right Direction: http://archives.wtbr.com/viewstory.php?sid=954  and this time we’re peeking into Angela’s head and heart in that very same time frame and during those very same events as the first story that evening after the dance at the Starlight Ballroom. Just a forewarn, I’m not sure whether it’s not as well written or if maybe Angela’s thoughts are just more obvious to me, but either way it seems more simple to me than the first. But I hope you enjoy it anyway. Once again, my story begins at the moment the episode ends.

A Step in the Right Direction

The last strains wrapped themselves around the two as the music finished and the needle rhythmically clicked on the record edge. Lost in his sway, she allowed herself to slip once again under the familiar spell created between them in these undisturbed moments together. The rest of the world turned off, leaving only the sweet harmonizing croon that was uniquely theirs. Inevitably her increased heartbeat added cadence, and at times it seemed conspicuous enough that when he was this close she wondered if it would give her secret away. The captivating echo between them had been the one reliable symptom for measuring what he hadn’t confirmed but she desired more than anything. The chemistry had steadily built over time, and until a few months ago, his clear and matched responses seemed unmistakable. She had thought they were falling in love. But now it felt like forever since he’d last sent her into this glorious heart-racing lightheadedness, and although her feelings for him hadn’t changed, she had wondered if their essence together would be the same. In spite of recent detours, this evening had been an encouraging step in the right direction and she couldn’t help but feel promise in the moment. Grateful for second chances, she closed her eyes and sank into the welcome and familiar pattern of it all.

He shifted slightly, drawing her closer, and she let herself follow his lead completely. His breath teasing her shoulders and neck, she gladly settled into him, her arms sliding easily around his neck.

Do you think we’re moving too slow?  His words and the accompanying flutter of euphoria had repeated themselves to her several times already that evening. The USO tale of destiny and romance earlier in the evening along with the impression that he seemed to be showing signs of an awakening had caused a surge of sensations in her that she knew was a reaction more than a revelation that she needed to share with him. Over the last several months she had concentrated on forcing herself to at least ponder the idea of life without him, and in her mind she had her perfect and productive existence without him all worked out, even if trying to begin living it was a much harder and in fact impossible prospect. But now the evening had brought a hopeful yet somewhat still surprising affirmation in that he had wanted to ask her to the dance himself, and in his arms she felt great relief that the burden of contemplating what she was going to do about him had been lifted at least for tonight. But beyond that, it seemed no matter how she tried not to think so much, the suppressed realist in her nagged that she was still as helplessly in love with him as she ever was and moments like these still stirred dizzying dreams filled with high hopes and great expectations, serving only to highlight that it was going to have to be dealt with at some point.

She remembered being in love with him had surprised her at first, but once Dr Bellows had helped her realize and admit it, it was all bells and stars, fireworks and freight trains. And in the beginning she had been plagued with every cliche from weak knees to a fluttering heart to all smiles to first babbling then speechless moments. She had no idea how he hadn’t found her out. But then things had changed, throwing her into a disconcerting emotional tailspin. Even then, and much to her chagrin, she would find that her fiery infuriation stemmed from prevailing attachment, or that a smile and a wave during his comings and goings would trigger ripples of affection that straddled dark and immense grief.

But now, his hands on her back and his body against hers, intense passion began to swirl around her once again, and she felt momentarily disgusted that she could have such strong reactions from such minute encouragement, considering the mutual confusion of sentiment over the last several months. Somewhere deep in her thoughts she worried for herself falling so hard again, but it seemed inevitable and certainly unstoppable now. She had always felt they were just a breath away from love and even though her head was issuing warnings, her heart was unabashedly ready and willing to believe it again, completely. This love for him felt ways it never had for her before, and all she could do, all she wanted to do, was surrender to it and hope it would come to him soon.

She considered leading him over toward the fireplace, but quickly pushed that thought out of her head before it could get away from her and overrule her good sense. It was too soon, and she wanted to let things run their course for a bit longer before she began once again nudging him with subtle messages. But the evening had rattled so many emotions and the more she stayed the more they were building into a powerful force to be reckoned with. The sheer happiness alone was difficult to contain and all of a sudden she found herself battling a strong urge to tell him everything, even if for the sole purpose of putting it in his awareness before someone else beat her to him again. She clung to a thin thread of sensible resolve, and she hoped she could keep it in check long enough to say goodnight.

 

"I, uh...I guess we should call it a night."

She caught a wisp of disappointment as his expressive eyes locked on hers and seemed to be articulating everything his words never could. He was clearly asking her to stay a bit longer, and she was very thankful at that moment for his notorious inability to verbalize his feelings for she knew even a single loving whisper from him would anchor her there next to him for good.

 

"Thank you for a lovely evening Tony."

His eyes and his warm hand settled on hers in a final plea, and she fought to keep her exit and her levelheaded plan in front of her. His luring persuasiveness and physical attractiveness churned in her head and in her heart and seemed to feed the persistent hunger that simmered inside her. She could hear it...actually hear their rhythms communicating in a synchronous melody, pulsing at a tempo that beckoned her to him, to their destination. She wondered for a fleeting moment if he was hearing it too, when at the height of it the expression in his eyes changed, and she sensed in him a shadow of deep sorrow, a haunting regret. His raw vulnerability touched her, and, in spite of past hurt and anger, she suddenly wanted and needed to comfort the one she loved. Instinctively her hand moved to his cheek and her lips to his.

When he gently began to kiss her back she felt herself weakening and she knew she was venturing onto unsteady ground. He started to pull her close again and the idea of leaving him now seemed less in their best interest than it did moments before, and she found herself first considering then rationalizing and minimizing repercussions of staying in his arms until morning. She was aware that she was teetering dangerously on the brink of changing everything, and possibly damaging their fragile new beginning. A shred of lucidity urged her to go now or she wouldn’t at all.

She was thankful for whatever force powered her feet to step back, and her hand slid down his cheek and over his jaw as she turned toward the stairs. On the third step she momentarily reconsidered the situation but her resolve stuck. Away from him she was able to clearly reason again and she was sure she had made the right decision for now. She felt certain she could only define what radiated from him as love, although she knew she had thought that before, too. But she had sensed regret as well, and she couldn’t help but feel that once again it was all right there in front of them, if they could just reach for it. And she smiled at the thought that this time she was going to try harder to make sure that they continued taking steps in that direction, that they continued reaching. As she neared the top of the stairs, the entire pleasurable evening began the first of what she knew would be many, many replays in her mind. It was a new day tomorrow, full of promise and new dreams, and she could hardly wait to begin following them to see where they would take her. She rounded the corner toward her bedroom and glanced momentarily toward his, her fingertips on her lips.  Sweet dreams, my love.

 

End