She was blond. And maybe three years ago, he might have thrown her a line. And three years ago, she might have looked...But not now. He had three kids. What would a blond, approaching her thirties, want with him anyway? He stared at the blonde directly in front of him with the video camera in her hands. He turned away from the one, and kept his focus on the woman behind the lens.

"Come on, Tony, putting on a smile for Billy won't kill you."

"That's what you think, Angela, " he thought. "The smile won't, but the pool might swallow me." He shuttered.

"Angela..." That's why he wouldn't give the younger, sun kissed blond a backward glance.

She couldn't handle him or his immaturities... she was just too...young.

Angela could, though. She was videotaping every second of them. "Tough love" she called it. And that's why, without a ring on his finger, he loved her.

"Billy, sweetheart, don't run!" Angela's sing-song voice rang out in warning as the waterlogged little boy made a beeline for the men's locker room.

"I'm right behind him, Ang," Tony said. "I might not be able to swim, but I can still..." He stopped when he felt her hand on his shoulder.

"Tony, can I speak to you for a minute?"

"Sure; what's on your mind?"

"What do you think of Pam?" Angela queried.

"Pam?" he repeated; his tone rather rhetorical and dismissive.

"She's blond, young, and a 'swim' instructor," he said with obvious distaste.

"Gotta admit though, she keeps me on my toes." Angela couldn't keep her eyes from rolling at his last remark.

"And," he added, taking her left hand in his, his eyes never straying from hers, "She thinks we're married."

"Really?" Angela mused. "I wonder what gave her that idea?"

"Well, I, uh,...I may have dropped a hint or two. Fully expecting Angela to call him on his little white lie, he looks down at the various creatures that are etched into the pool's sea floor.

"Avoidance isn't the answer, Micelli," he mentally chides himself. Angela's been party to enough childish behavior from you for one day. He thought back to the last seven years, all the while looking at Angela with the love and reverence of a saint for putting up with him through it all.

His eyes level with hers, he prepares himself to defend his fib like the man, the married man he pretends to be.

He begins earnestly, "She asked where your ring was, Angela." "I told her it was at home, that you didn't want your symbol of love and commitment to me floatin' at the bottom of a pool."

"And you, yourself, should know this isn't much of a stretch---the way we tote our five year old around." He wags his finger at her, a means of emphasizing his point, but drops it quickly as he sees her lips curve into that smile; the smile that tells him that this is 'typical Tony behavior.' No gesturing needed. And who is he to point the finger at his wife anyway, he thinks to himself, seeing as how he almost let himself and his maturity sink to the bottom of that abysmal pool.

"She gave us a compliment too, Ang. She said she had never seen a couple who could actually act as two halves of a complete whole. That my weakness was your strength. And she had a feelin' that it extended far beyond swimming too." There was no escaping the warmth that shone in his brown eyes as they met hers. "She's right, Angela." "She also went on to say that as a woman in her early thirties who has douted the sincerity of nearly every relationship she's been in, that 'we' were refreshing to see."

Imagine that, Ang... we're a poster couple, and we're not actually married," he said; a proud grin on his face. "Ahh technicalitities..."

Speaking with the same earnestness she reads in his eyes, she asks, "So Tony, speaking of technicalities, is there an actual ring? Or is that just another..." Before she comes up with the answer she assumes he'll give her, he decidedly responds, "It's exactly where I told Pam it is... Your ring is at home, Angela." "I just haven't slipped it on your finger yet." As you may have noticed, I'm kinda slow when it comes to these things. And if you haven't, I'm havin' some serous doubts as to what kind of wife you'll make."

The teasing glint in his eyes brings out the resplendent shine in her own as she steps in as as close as she can to him. Her lips remain just a fraction away from pressing against his when she says, I'm sorry, did you just say you had doubts?"

His breath catches in his throat, causing him to swallow---hard. She continues as she looks at him through those big, beautiful wide eyes.

"About me?"

"Being your wife?"

"No baby; my one and only hope is that you'll say 'yes' when I ask ya."

"You will say yes, won't ya Ang?"

"Let's go get our son, Tony."