author's notes: thank you so much for the reviews and the patience and the e-mails. it's been a really tough time for me. i lost my grandmother in september and i'm trying to accept that she is no longer in my life and she was like a second mother to me so it's really, really hard. old fiat - my dear. i know that his name is not really cornelius conrad but i've come so far in the story that there really is no point of me going back and changing it. so i stick with cornelius conrad. thanks for letting me know though. :-)
"I absolutely cannot wait for the Miss Teenage Hairspray competition, Link!" Amber was speaking to deaf ears. Link's strong bond with his comb could not be tested, even by the most popular dancer on the Corny Collins' Show and she was really too into herself to pay much attention.
Corny watched the kids as they lined themselves up to make their exit. Spring came crashing over their heads like a ton of bricks and while the teenagers seemed to have a problem adjusting to their changing hormones, Corny and Maybelle seemed to enjoy it.
There was just something about spring…
Velma complained the morning she'd come to the set and found flowers (the ones Corny couldn't clean up anyway) littered all over the place. When she asked him and Mr. Spritzer angrily why the cleaning crew was too lazy to do it, Corny simply said that it wasn't the cleaning crew's fault and she should calm down.
Even Velma von Tussle couldn't tamper with his attitude.
As the kids piled out, Corny started his way down the hallway, whistling a made-up jolly tune. A flash of green from his office caught his attention and he stopped whistling. He stood looking at the opened office door and sighed. Seaweed Stubbs seemed to be peeking from behind the door and he didn't seem to be too pleased.
"Is something the matter, Seaweed?" Corny asked, closing the door behind him once he walked inside.
"You ashamed of talking to me?" Seaweed asked testily, looking at the now closed door.
Corny looked at the knob and then to Seaweed. What was he talking about?
He asked the question aloud, frowning a bit. "What do you mean? Of course I'm not ashamed of you. Where has this come from?"
"Nothing, man." Seaweed looked away and slumped in his chair. His frustration was bubbling down in his busy feet as they tapped furiously against Corny's shag carpet.
"What's going on? Have I done something wrong?"
"Oh, you done something, all right!" Seaweed's voice rose then fell dramatically. He turned back to Corny and sighed. "You tryin' to get my mama killed? You know what they'll do if they find out she's foolin' around with Corny Collins?!"
He was fighting the urge to stand up and hit Corny, he could tell. Corny looked at his balled up fists sitting impatiently in his lap.
Unable to play innocent or deny the accusations not fully implied by Seaweed, Corny could only sit on the edge of his desk in front of Seaweed and rest his hands in his lap, showing Seaweed that he meant no harm with his body language.
"I know that I'm not exactly painted in the best light but before you want to hit me or scream at me, can I just say that the feelings I have for your mother are the most genuine feelings I have ever felt for any woman. Maybelle is something special to me and I don't want you thinking that I don't care for her because I do.
I love her."
Seaweed's fists unclenched but that frustrated expression did not change.
"Then why you hiding it from Inez?" Seaweed not mentioning his own name made Corny feel a bit foolish. Of course he knew about him and Maybelle, Corny was foolish for not even considering it.
"It wasn't my intention of hiding it."
"You slept with my momma, Mr. Collins, with all due respect. I think you should stop trying to seem innocent."
Corny stood from his desk and looked down at his shoes and at Seaweed.
"Watch the things you say about your mother, young man."
Seaweed looked away but Corny continued.
"I love your mother and you may not think so but I do, nothing's going to change that. Even if I wanted to, which I don't, couldn't change how I feel. She's an amazing woman and I'm doing everything I can to show her that."
Seaweed did not offer any opinion or thought as to how he felt about this.
"I just think for all her hard work and all her struggles, she needs attention. I'm not even saying I'm the best man for the job. I don't even think I deserve someone as strong but she chose me. God knows, she did and I'm lucky."
Seaweed noticed that Corny had sort of zoned out when he started talking and it was a little strange. Here he was, boldly sitting in the office of a white man with quite a bit of power, spitting angry words at him and the man had done nothing but defend his own honor in return.
Hell, maybe he wasn't so bad.
"You should have just told us. We ain't stupid and Inez can add one and one. Besides, you know how crazy it looks when our momma leaves damn near midnight and coming home the next morning? You wouldn't like it if your momma did it." He added a little pout to push the effect.
Corny sat back down on his desk and shook his head. "Seaweed, it was never my intention to give off that sort of idea. I guess, I really didn't think about it like that."
"Sounds like you didn't think at all."
Corny held up a finger but nodded in agreement.
"I want to work this out the best way I can," Corny said, sounding genuinely apologetic.
Velma watched with contempt and calm, seething hatred as Corny and the Stubbs boy left the studio side by side in a hushed conversation. She narrowed her eyes when they left the studio.
What on earth had he been doing in WYZT on a none Negro day? She folded her arms over her chest and looked over her shoulder to see Brenda getting chatty with one of Mr. Spritzer's many executives.
If that girl wasn't careful, she'd get pregnant.
Velma smirked as the light bulb went on with a flash in her head and she sashayed her way down the hall and to her office.
Maybelle had been worried about Seaweed the moment she saw Inez coming home from school, walking down the street alone. She knew something had to be wrong. When she asked Inez about his whereabouts, Inez could only shrug. She was not only late to start the radio show but Nadine had to come in and watch the record shop since he was gone.
"And don't forget to tune in every Thursday to Negro Day on the Corny Collins show!" Maybelle was now ending every radio hour with a small Corny Collins/Negro Day promotion. This was mostly because people in Patterson Park would literally stop her on the street and tell her that they were rooting for the integration and would help her when the time came.
She shut the station off when WEDD's regular programming came on and headed out of the garage, wondering exactly where her son could be. Corny's car sitting in front of her records' shop garnered suspicion.
"Where on earth have you been?" Seaweed standing behind the counter and Nadine showing Inez new moves while Corny took notes was the sight that greeted her. Needless to say, she wasn't too pleased about it.
Seaweed opened his mouth and Corny stopped him before he could explain.
"Before you fuss at him, can I just say that it's really my fault. Can I talk to you in private?"
Maybelle was about to argue, mainly because of the obvious knowing smirk on Nadine's face but she swallowed that large gulp in her throat and slowly nodded her head. He took her by the hand, giving it a gentle squeeze and she walked with him. Leading into the garage where she recorded her one hour radio show, she was about ready to fume about Seaweed's irresponsibility but was cut off by Corny's lips pressed gently against hers.
When he pulled away and smiled, Maybelle did not return the favor. "That's not going to work every single time I'm annoyed. You know that, right?"
"Who says I'm trying to pour water on the fire anyway?" Corny leaned in to kiss her again, taking her chin in his hand and tilted his head to the side.
Some part of Maybelle, the reasonable part, was somewhere shaking its head and how silly she was behaving. She was acting almost like a teenager. But that unreasonable part, which was the part that mostly reared its head when Corny was around didn't care. Here he was, his arm propped high over her shoulder and kissing her like he was trying to remember every single crevice on her lips.
He eventually did pull away, however, when he felt his lungs fight the losing battle to withhold oxygen.
"Seaweed and Inez know. And I think we've been fighting it for too long, Maybelle. It's about time we just talked with them. I talked with Seaweed today about all of this. He's protective of you and he should be. You've been leaving the house all time of the night and before you argue with me -" because she had opened her mouth to tell him a piece of her mind, he continued on.
"I think we ought to just talk to them about it."
Maybelle stared at Corny, the determination apparent in his eyes. Clearly this man had an agenda and it seemed sincere enough. She gazed at him, her hard expression melting. He was a good guy. For every scary studio head like Mr. Spritzer, there was a Corny Collins.
"All right. We can."