In the door way stood a tan, young woman in lime-green capri pants and a black shirt tied to show her middle. Her dark curls were loosely tied back with a ribbon and she was weighed down with boxes. She had the expression of a small child caught in the headlights – wide eyed and nervous. Action had never imagined seeing a Spic as pretty, but this girl was beautiful.
But it wasn't just any Spic girl. It was the Spic girl. The girl from outside Doc's and at the dance. The girl that haunted his dreams with her smooth skin and bright eyes. Just my goddamn luck, thought Action bitterly.
"Sit those down there, okay chica?" Action drawled, playing it cool, trying to prove to himself how little her existence mattered to him.
"Sí," she breathed, in a barely audible voice.
"Huh? You're gonna needta speak up señorita."
"Sí." Rosalia repeated, slightly louder.
Rosalia remained silent as she unpacked various cream and ivory coloured fabrics, trying her hardest not to look up at Action, lest she be turned to stone. To be honest, he was treating her better than he had in their previous encounters. Rosalia wondered if the boy was feeling ill.
Just then Action's mother
Action took a deep breath and sighed. "Don't talk much do ya darlin'."
Rosalia looked up at him, taken aback by the slightly kinder tone. She stared right into his emerald eyes, opened her mouth as if she was going to speak then shut it again, afraid. Rosa shook her head in answer to his question.
"You really gotta…stand your ground, y'know? Stick up for yourself a little more."
"I-I try but, but, es una tarea imposible..an impossible task. I'm just so afraid here."
"I'm just about the opposite –when I'm with my buddies, I'm not scared of anything. Probably why I get into trouble with the "honourable arm of the law" a little more than the rest of 'em."
Just then the pair of adolescents heard yells of "Danny, you still around? Danny."
Action's cheeks flushed slightly red at the mention of his name. He went and opened the door to shut his ma up.
"Danny, you're still…" Mollie glanced over and saw the young Puerto Rican, "Oh I'm sorry, hun, I didn't see you there. Sorry to keep you waitin', I had to make sure my youngest got to school alright. My Danny's treated you well I should hope."
"Ma!" Action protested, pushing his curls out of his eyes.
"Your son has treated me very well, Miss Thompson." Rosalia murmured.
"Well…that's good," Mollie said finally, "Can I see my dress child? I just haven't got long before I need to get to the grocery store."
"Here it is, Miss Thompson," Rosa said handing her a simple yet beautiful white gown.
"Oh, hun, it's beautiful. I'm gonna go try it on."
Action had barely heard a word that had been said. He was so confused. The Spic had lied to protect him. Why would she bother after all he had done to her and the rest of the Sharks for that matter. It made no sense. No sense. After all he'd done to drive her away, she was protecting him. Then Action realised the girl had been talking to him.
"I said, that your mother will look very beautiful in her dress."
"Oh, yeah. Yeah she will."
"Your father is a very lucky man."
"Your father? He is lucky to be marrying such a beautiful woman."
Action felt himself steam up. Paul was nothing to do with him and the whole world needed to know that for a fact. "Let's get one thing straight señorita," he spat out the word like it was a curse, "Paul is not, and never will be, my father. He's a good for nothing, and he is half the man my old man is, you got that?" By now Action was leaning over, right in Rosalia's face and scaring her half to death.
"You've really screwed up now, buddy boy," he thought. The Riff in his head told him to play it cool and to try to win her back over.
"I-I'm so sorry I didn't realise. I shouldn't ha-" Rosalia's big eyes darted around the room looking for escape, but she seemed frozen where she stood.
"No, no," Action breathed, moving away from her, "I should be sorry. I have a bit of a temper problem, y'see. I just can't stand that Paul."
Action could see the damage he had done – the angel-faced girl, who had begun calming and relaxing her muscles, was now tense and terrified. In that moment Action didn't care he was a Jet and she was a Shark. In that moment he knew just how much this girl meant to him.
"I-you, you have the most sweetest eyes."
"Your eyes. They're nice." Action could hardly believe that he was saying these words, but it felt right. He continued, "And I couldn't hurt you because…I like you."
"Oh. Gracias, senor."
"Don't mention it." Action walked around the table to where Rosalia was standing. "My name's Danny Thompson, Action to my buddies, what's yours."
"Rosalia Sanchez, Rosa to my friends."
"Rosalia Sanchez," Action repeated as his mother walked back in, a vision in white. She had the brightest smile, so happy you looked past the wrinkles and saw a woman being given her second shot at love.
"Ma, you look beautiful."
"Do I really? I feel it. It's perfect, thank you so much."
"Here's the $16 I owe you. Thank you so much."
Before Action could say another word to her, Rosalia Sanchez had packed up and left.
"You like her don't you, Danny?"
"I don't know what you mean ma."
"I've never seen you look at a young lady like that before. If you do, you go after her Danny. Don't miss your chance."
Action flung open the door and ran outside the apartment. He knew she'd take the elevator, with all her boxes to carry, so he'd cut her off if he ran down the 4 flights of stairs. By the time he was at the bottom, red in the face, she was halfway down the street. He sprinted to her. His hair looked more manic than usual. "Excuse me Miss Sanchez," he said politely, "But that seems like a lot to carry. Can I give you a hand?"