"Angela come back here, we have to talk," Tony said. Angela's bold outburst unnerved him. He stared at her back, which was rigid with determination. She spun around to face him; her jaw set with a frown cementing the smile that usually emerged when met with his boyish charm.
"What's the point, Tony?" she spat. "We always talk…about the kids, the house, now to add to the drama, we have in-laws"…Angela's voice trails off. She is glaring at him; their conversation is becoming too intense. With all her heart, she doesn't want to be angry with him. She avoids his gaze. Instead, she looks down at her hands, which are clasped tightly against her chest. Her eyes rest on her diamond engagement ring, which shines brightly as it reflects the kitchen light. Angela sighs deeply and her face softens.
Tony is anything but inattentive in this moment as he realizes how much of his relationship with Angela rests on non-verbal cues.
"I think I understand," Tony says quietly. "We have in-laws and yet, we're still not married."
Angela stares at him—wondering how he can know her so well. Their eyes meet as she starts to speak.
"Tony, I guess I'm just frustrated; every time we talk, I always get interrupted." She pauses slightly; then continues, "Four years ago when you were pondering Frankie's marriage proposal, I was about to tell you something…"
Tony, looking perplexed, interrupts her. "Angela--what does four years ago have to do with what's being said right now?"
Angela's eyes narrow. "Because four years ago, if Samantha hadn't self-importantly burst though the door with her own news, I would've told you then that I was in love with you." She exhales deeply.
Tony's eyes widen. "Angela, you fell in love with me four years ago and you kept this from me?" He is stunned, so much so that he starts to fall backward. Angela pushes a kitchen chair behind him.
"Tony, are you all right?" Angela asks. Tony's eyes are fixated on the ceiling as he mutters to himself, "Why are men always the last to know?"
"I honestly don't know why I waited so long to tell you," Angela says sheepishly; placing a soft kiss against his lips.
Now fully alert, he asks, "Do you still love me?"
"Of course I love you, Tony; don't ever doubt that, ok?" Her eyes radiate the warmth he has come to depend on, and before long, her bright smile warms his heart.
"I could never doubt you, Angela…Your love is my constant; I wake up knowing that you will come down the stairs and greet me with that smile…I clean our home with your smile on my mind, it's infectious—ya know?" He stops for a moment to wipe a single tear that slides down her cheek. She takes his hand and entwines it with her own as he lets his heart speak once more.
"When your smile fades, Angela, I feel cold—and I will do anything, say anything, to have your love warm me again."
Angela's tears are free-flowing now, as she tries to explain her erratic behavior while choking back sobs.
"Tony, I don't know what to say—I guess I've just been feeling neglected; I know you'd never intentionally ignore me or our relationship—but...with circumstances as they are, with us having to live under the same roof with a newly wedded couple; a couple who emerges from what used to be our sweet little girl's bedroom, each wearing half of a pair of matching pajamas… Angela's tone is elevated and acerbic now, and the contented smile Tony wore just a minute ago is replaced with a look of bewilderment.
"They're family Angela…"
"That's just it, Tony; they are family, and I think that is part of the problem." She maintains eye contact with him, willing him not to misinterpret her words. "I love Samantha with all my heart, but lately…" She stops speaking for a moment, as she tries to articulate her thoughts and feelings into a simple sentence.
"I feel as though I'm in competition with her." As the words tumbled from her lips, Angela's bitterness became relief. She was no longer an emotional time bomb. Free from anger clouded judgment, she saw only sincere warmth reflected in her fiancé's eyes.
"Aww Sweetheart, You have no reason to feel this way", Tony said; eveloping her in his strong arms.
"Don't I, Tony?" she asked, her head resting in the crook of his neck.
"It seems like they've already surpassed us in so many ways." "They've managed to get married before us, not to mention well, you know…"
"Tony, do you remember when we wore...?"
"Yeah, Angela, I remember… that was the night I developed the patience of a Monk."
"And let me tell ya, it hasn't been easy to exercise that patience over seven years."
"There's somthin' else I've been thinkin' about too." He looks at her intently and she returns the same steady gaze.
"Do you realize how special our relationship is?" "I mean, the first time I laid eyes on you at camp, I was 11 years old…You were the first girl I ever had…you know, 'feelings' for."
"I loved Marie with all my heart, but our happiness was short lived." "You have given me the greatest gift, Angela." His eyes remain fixed on her face, their gazes mirroring one another.
"You have given me the opportunity to grow with you, Angela." I'm not 'Brooklyn' Tony anymore…what defines me now is this family we've created. I think I started to change the moment I walked though your door. "And you—you're not 'inflexible' anymore." "You can kiss me in the middle of a game of one-on-one, you skinny dipped in Jamaica, (I wish I could have seen that, by the way) he gives a slight chuckle to offset the seriousness of their conversation; and you have enough confidence in yourself to have asked me to marry you—it took seven years, but it was worth it."
"Yes, it was", she agreed; her eyes shining.
"Me and Marie, we never had a chance to grow;" he said wistfully, his voice cracking
A light came into his eyes again.
"But, ya know, maybe we did, because she brought me to you."
His eyes are watering now, as Angela tenderly strokes his face. Her slightest touch adds a glow to his olive-tanned skin.
"Why Mr. Micelli, I do believe you're blushing," Angela playfully remarks.
"Do you see what you do to me Angela?" He wags his finger at her with mock sternness.
"You should be ashamed of yourself, making a grown man blush like that." His breath tickles her ear as he huskily whispers, "Please do it again."
They both laugh in unison as their 'moment' becomes a little too heated, even for them.
"You see, Angela, there's nothing to worry about. Sam and Hank will thank their lucky stars if they're as hot for each other as we are after seven years of being together." "After all, we kept the tongues of Fairfield wagging years before we became a couple."
"Isn't that right, Boss?" he asks, pulling her toward him for a kiss.
"No argument here," she murmured; brushing her lips against his.
The next morning, Sam and Hank were in the kitchen brewing the coffee when Tony and Angela walked arm-in -arm through the swinging door.
"Somethin' sure smells good in here," Tony remarked. "And I didn't even make it." He chuckled. "There's a first time for everything."
"Very funny, Dad." Samantha turned away from the counter to look at Tony and Angela for the first time that morning. Her eyes widened. Tony was wearing plaid drawstring pajama bottoms sans shirt; his arm draped around Angela's waist.
Standing beside his wife, Hank looked Angela up and down. She was clad in Tony's flannel plaid pajama top, and her hair hung in loose waves around he shoulders. Hank continued to stare.
"What are you lookin' at?" Tony asked Hank when he couldn't help but notice that Hank's eyes were glued to his fiancée.
"Like mother like daughter" was Hank's only reply.
Samantha continued to look at Tony and Angela quizzically. "Ok," she said, "I'm still trying to figure this out…When did you two start wearing the same set of pajamas?"
"It happened one summer…" Tony and Angela said in unison with the same smug smile decorating each of their faces.