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Tony lay restlessly awake in the hotel bed. He could hear the soft breathing of sleep from Kathleen. Thoughts raced through his head, so many of confusion that he could not keep track of them. Something had happened here tonight, and he wasn't quite sure what it was. Well, he thought with a frown, he knew some of what had happened, but it was all tangled up in memories. Some were sad, some were hopeful, some were frightening, and all had led to this moment of passion. If he could only get them organized and straight in his head, he might figure out where these uncomfortable emotions were coming from. He took some deep breaths, calming himself. Where had it all started?
The slides, he thought. He sighed, remembering the nervousness he had felt, the slight embarassment of being in the room alone with Kathleen. She had made him feel...reminded him of...he didn't know what. Feeling more and more uncomfortable, so wrong, Tony got out of the bed and began pacing the room in silent frustration. He looked at the peaceful form underneath the covers, and realized he needed to go for a walk. Fresh air. That was what he needed. He grabbed his shirt, jeans, and belt, dressed himself, and silently made his way out of the hotel room. Arriving outside, he breathed in the cool night air. He began to walk, and slowly his thoughts began to unravel into coherence.
He stopped at a bakery just opening on his way back, needing a reason for his absence if Kathleen had awoken before his return. He picked up some warm rolls and made his way back to the hotel room. What he was going to say, he didn't know, but things couldn't continue on as they were. Entering the room, he found the bed to be rumpled but empty. The bathroom door was closed, so he sat on the bed and waited silently, his eyes sad, his face worried.
Kathleen emerged from the bathroom, fully dressed, a look of disappointment creased her features and was quickly replaced my startlement as she saw Tony sitting there.
"Tony!", she exclaimed as he jumped to his feet. "Where did you go?" She moved towards him, her arms outstretched in welcome, and he quickly thwarted her attempt at an embrace by placing the bag of rolls in her hand.
"I thought you might like some rolls, " he replied.
She raised her eyebrows at him quizzically. "At this hour? It's not even light yet."
"Yeah..well...uh...the early bird catches the buns, " Tony said with a laugh.
"He certainly does, " said Kathleen with a slight purr, attempting to move closer to Tony. He pretended to not notice the flirting, cleared his throat, and turned to gather up the projector. Avoiding Kathleen's eyes, he attempted to get himself out of there without a hitch.
"Listen...uhhh...Kathleen...I gotta go. It's really late...or really early...gotta get back to Angela's..." he trailed off, noticing that his Brooklyn accent kept thickening the more he spoke.
"I understand, Tony. I have to go as well. So many things to do. We will see each other soon, though, right?" She smiled warmly, tentatively, and as Tony glanced up at her, he suddenly reached out and embraced her tightly, wanting to give comfort, wanting even more to receive it. So much pain. So much hurt. So many memories that she, this Kathleen, was not a part of. At that moment, he said only what she wanted to hear. No need to cause more pain, more grief.
"Of course!" he responded jubilantly, and kissed her softly on the cheek.
Dawn was peeking through the cracks of the blinds as he turned to leave.
Tony rolled his eyes as he remembered his conversation with Mona. Yes, he had needed someone to talk to, but sometimes she could be a little...insenstive...when it came to serious discussion. Yes, it was true that his and Angela's relationship wasn't really defined and there was truly no commitment to one another. But if that were so, why had he said that he felt he had betrayed Angela? He knew the truth, and a part of him had wanted Mona to see through him and recognize that truth. Something lay unspoken between he and Angela, and not only had he betrayed her, he had also betrayed himself. What he had wanted was someone to talk to about those feelings, to help him find the right words to say to Angela, so she would understand what had happened. So he would understand as well. He wasn't sure if he was ready for this, if he would ever be ready. It could all disappear in a moment, and that he would never be ready for. Tony opened up his heart, and hoped his words were heard.
"Ya know, I was watching those slides...well...me and Kathleen were...and all these feelings, thoughts, and pent up emotions starting coming to the surface. I was sitting next to Kathleen...but I was thinking about Angela...you know Angela...I've told you about her before. Anyway, they got all mixed up together...Angela and Kathleen, I mean. Not literally, but in my mind. Kathleen reminded me of Angela when I first met her. Ya know...a little driven...a little serious...a little pushy. " Tony laughed uncomfortably, then looked sober again. He continued soflty. "Angela...she's so beautiful, smart, and funny. They both are. And Kathleen was there...and..and...Angela wasn't. She was home...entertaining her new friends." A slight sneer curled the corners of Tony's mouth on that last word. "Kathleen...she was...close...safe...but I knew...I knew what was really going on. Somehow I knew. This is what I wanted. To be with Angela, but with no risk of losing her. Kathleen was almost the real thing, ya know what I mean? And now I've ruined everything. I've betrayed everyone involved. Kathleen...myself...Angela..even you." His voice broke and he sat silently for many moments.
He resumed, a new determination in his voice. "I knew you would understand. You always did. I lost you. You know what that did to me. I can't lose her , too. I gotta talk to Angela, tell her the truth. I need to know what's in her heart. We gotta lay everything on the table..and...and...see what's what. But I'm so scared. Will she really understand? Do I really understand her? I wish I knew what was really in her heart. I thought I knew with you, but I messed up. I don't wanna do that again. Well, I guess I already did mess up again." He paused and swallowed hard. "Well...uh... you know how Sam's doing. I know you are so proud. But I guess not so proud of me, huh? I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I miss you so much. You always knew the right things to say. Please tell me what to do, Marie. " Tears glistened on Tony's dark cheeks. He swiped at his eyes, rose to his feet. He heard no answers. "I love you, baby," he whispered.
Tony lay the flowers he had brought upon the grave and slowly walked away. A breeze gently swirled the leaves around the headstone.
Tony stood there, at a complete loss for words. Angela had just walked out the door of her study, and nothing had come out the way he expected. He had wanted to tell her everything, but he was so unsure of her feelings, and he didn't want to move too fast and lose his chance with her forever. He had tried to leave hints for her to open up and tell him what she wanted, but somehow the signals had been crossed. Maybe he was leaving too much open. Maybe what she felt for him wasn't as intense as what he felt for her. She was so beautiful, so elegant, so selfless and he was unaccustomed to dealing with someone of her graces. A fiery outrage he would have understood and been able to quench with tender explanations.
Why didn't she get angry with me?, he thought. I deserved it. I could have told her I deserved it. We could have kissed and made up and it all would have worked out...except...
He didn't know. Not after their conversation. He didn't know if that was what she wanted. She had said that she didn't want him to be unhappy and maybe that was her gentle way of saying she didn't want to be unhappy. She had had feelings for other men, and maybe she wanted to explore them, and he would never try to hold her back from what she wanted. His lovely Angel, his best friend, deserved whatever made her heart happy. She had let him off the hook, and that might mean that she wanted to be let off the hook. But she had also said that she was closer to him than almost anyone she had ever known. What could she mean by that almost? Maybe there was someone else. But she had seemed deeply hurt, and maybe he did need to talk to her about that. Why was she hurt? How could he help to heal that hurt? What did her heart really want?
Tony breathed in deeply, confused, his insides aching, empty, wondering where to go from here. He thought of Kathleen, and a stab of pain went through him. What could he tell her? Was there a possibility for a relationship there? Angela had left him free to pursue it. But did he want to? Would he end up hurting her as well? It was all such a mess, one Tony the housekeeper wasn't sure how to clean up.
A sudden pain pinched at Tony's heart. It felt as if a finger had poked him there, from within. A chill went through him, sending gooseflesh up his arms. An eerily familiar voice, a sweet but firm feminine sound from his past, whispered "What does your heart want, Tony?" He staggered back, shivering, looking around the room. Was his mind playing tricks on him? That had sounded like...
His mind trailed off from that thought for a moment. What did his heart want? That was the easy question. The one he had an answer for, he thought in wonderment. Maybe it was time for him to jump in, and risk it breaking. It was as if he had been given permission to take that leap by Ma....No, it couldn't really be her. Could it? Or was it just his own heart letting him go, giving him permission? He didn't know, but he had to say what he felt, no matter what Angela might do or say. It was time.
He rushed out of the study, calling for her "Angela!". She was just leaving, and did not hear him, or chose not to. Tony stopped; unsure, sad, silent once again. He wondered if her ghost would haunt him forever.