For the next week, Maggie focused solely on her work. The crowds were smaller and it was harder to keep herself busy, but she felt she must. Staying busy was the one way to get herself back under control. She hoped to pull some sense of calm out of the monotony of work.
She told herself over and over again that he still didn't matter to her. Whatever his demons, whatever his regrets or his troubles, she owed Tommy DeVito nothing. If she catered to his struggles, he would certainly just use her as a way to rebuild his ego. Maggie did not intend to be used again.
So she kept busy, and kept her distance. She gave herself some time to think, to get her emotions back under control. She let time remind her of how badly her feelings could betray her. And she was glad that Tommy didn't come back around.
By the following Thursday, Maggie was feeling in better spirits. She'd worked a good day-shift, making decent tips, and was ready to meet some friends for dinner. Gathering her things, she decided to head out the back entrance. Today, the sun was shining brightly through the brisk atmosphere and the back alley was generally harmless in daylight. Striding through the dark corridors of the theater, Maggie pushed her way through the back door and stopped for a moment, taking in the sunshine. Smiling to herself, she started to walk around the building and home. Then, she stumbled and nearly fell. Finally looking down to see what had tripped her, she realized it was a person.
She immediately knew it was him, but his appearance made her inhale sharply. He was leaning up against the brick wall of the casino, looking as though he hadn't changed clothes since she'd last seen him. Now, however his clothes were dirty and torn, and his shirt was spattered with blood. His left arm was mottled with bruises, and there was another ugly series of bloody bruises along the left side of his face. He held one arm around his right side, as though there was more injury yet to be seen. His eyes had been closed, but he now opened them and looked dazedly up at Maggie.
Dropping her hand bag, she knelt down beside him and said urgently, "Tommy? What in the name of hell?"
He looked her over, as though he was just realizing it was her, and mumbled, "I tried to leave Vegas…"
Maggie looked him over again. She knew Tommy stayed in trouble. She knew he had money troubles and tended to run with dangerous people, and it frightened her. It was another good reason to walk away. Looking at him, she knew she should walk away. But she didn't. She couldn't. Instead, she leaned over him and ran her hand over his face gently, trying to determine how badly he was bleeding.
He flinched and said, "Don't worry. If they'd wanted to kill me, they would have."
The statement didn't make Maggie feel any better. Drawing a deep breath, she asked, "Can you walk?"
Tommy looked at her as though he wasn't entirely convinced she was really present, trying to help him. His eyes searched hers. Wincing, he started to move.
Maggie put one arm underneath his, wrapping her arm around his chest and trying to take his larger, stronger frame onto hers. Using the wall to support himself, Tommy pulled himself to his feet. Maggie kept her arm around him, trying to avoid his right side, which he still seemed to be favoring. Then, very slowly, she led him back towards the building.
Hesitating, she asked, "Where are you staying?"
Tommy shrugged slightly and said, "Wherever I can. I'm on my feet now. I'll be fine."
He was pulling away from her, but she refused to let him.
"No," Maggie stated, "you're not staying on the street."
Noticing there was a duffel bag tossed nearby, she reached down and picked it up. She went to put her arm around him again, but Tommy pulled away. Deciding he was okay carrying his own weight, she took his arm instead.
He didn't say anything else as she led him back inside the casino. Leaving him in a well-worn chair backstage just briefly, she went to the front desk and got the most inexpensive room she could. Even being an employee, it was still an investment, because the casino didn't sell low-quality rooms. But Maggie paid the price. Then, she went back to Tommy and led him upstairs to a room in the far corner of the fifth floor.
He still said nothing as she led him inside the room and kicked the door shut behind her. He watched her quietly as she moved about, pulling the blankets back on the bed and looking for towels. Then, she returned with a warm, wet cloth. Sitting him down on the edge of the bed, she gently tried to clean the wound on his face.
Grimacing, she said, "I think I'm going to end up paying for bloody towels, too."
Tommy just looked at her, and she realized how close they were. He was studying her with those piercing, troubled eyes. Maggie refused to be deterred however. She swallowed over her feelings. She dabbed at his face a little more, and then sighed.
Pulling away, she stated, "You're a mess, Tommy. You need a shower, and probably a doctor's attention."
Struggling to his feet, Tommy answered, "I can take care of myself. You've helped enough."
Maggie looked at him and stated, "Stop being difficult. I'm here now, and I'm not the type of person to leave anyone bleeding in the street."
"You didn't leave me in the street," he went on, "So you can go now. I'll be fine. I don't need a babysitter."
Maggie looked back at him, studying his injuries, his dirty clothes, and then his face. She couldn't quite read his expression, and he would only hold her gaze for a moment or two. Finally, she'd had enough.
"Tommy, what do you want from me?" she demanded.
He met her eyes and answered, "Nothing."
Feeling more than a little wounded, considering what she'd seen and felt from him on the darkened stage the other day, she just stared at him.
"Come on," Maggie finally scoffed, "You show up here after more than a year and you start outright harassing me with your songs! It's blaringly obvious. You want something. So, what game are you playing? Am I just the only option you have left? Or are you hoping to get some of the other girls interested by using me?"
"No," Tommy snapped, and then rubbed his eyes, "Look, my head is fucked up right now. I went from playing for seven thousand people to playing just to have a place to stay. Maybe I don't know what I want right now."
"Well, I guess I should've realized that much. After all, when have you ever known what you wanted?"
Tommy looked away.
"Look," Maggie pointed her finger at him, "You need to figure out what it is you want, especially from me. And if you can't, then you need to go. Go and don't come back to this casino again. There's plenty of other places where you can sleep on the sidewalk."
Starting to walk away, she turned back and threw out, "Stay the night. I paid for the room, anyway."
She looked at him for another moment, and then turned and walked out of the room.
Maggie intended to meet her friends for dinner, still. She was running late, and she wouldn't have time to change, but she still wanted to meet them. So she headed out and went straight to the restaurant a few blocks over. She ordered a drink and nibbled on some bread, listening to her friends chat. She got some pasta and worked her way through it, not really tasting it or listening to the banter around her. She was detached and her mind was in an entirely different place, and she knew it. She was angry with herself for it, but she couldn't focus.
Eventually, Maggie conceded to the fight within herself, and threw in the towel. She very literally threw her napkin down and excused herself. Leaving some money, she feigned not feeling well and left.
Ten minutes later and against all rational judgement, Maggie stood at the door to the room where she had left Tommy. She took a breath and went to knock, and then realized she still had the door key from earlier. She'd dropped it in her pocketbook and had never given to Tommy.
Well then, I suppose if he left, he most likely didn't return, she told herself.
Using the key, Maggie very quietly worked the lock and pushed open the door. Slipping inside, she let her eyes adjust to the dim light. Only one lamp was lit, in the far corner, and Maggie thought the room was empty, at first. Training her eyes over the bed, however, she noticed he was asleep.
Tommy was stretched out on the bed, on top of the sheets and blankets, wearing just a worn pair of pajama bottoms. His torso was bare, and Maggie watched his even breathing for a moment. Then, with another sigh, she looked around. He must have showered, based on how his things were scattered about.
Perhaps for lack of anything else to do, she set about straightening the room. She folded his discarded clothes, feeling certain that the bloodstains would not come out, and placed them in a chair. She put his duffel on the small table, and then moved to the bathroom. She hung up the towels straightened the shower curtain. Then, she stepped out of the bathroom and stared at him again. With a heavy sigh, she tried to decide what to do.
Maggie set down on the edge of the bed, feeling her crisp dress fold beneath her. She had been dressed for work in a full-skirted dress with a fitted bodice and a low neckline. Her shoes were shiny, with just enough heel to accent her legs. She looked good, but she wasn't dressed to spend the night away from home. Looking around the room, Maggie considered her choices. Then, she took a risk. Rummaging through Tommy's duffel, she found one of his sleeveless t-shirts. Carefully pulling her dress off, she then stripped off her shoes and pantyhose. With a little hesitation, she dropped her bra onto the chair as well, deciding the time for modesty with Tommy had passed. She pulled on his shirt and ran her fingers through her hair. Crossing back to the bed, she looked at Tommy for another moment. Then, before she could think about it any more, she slid into the bed next to him.
Curling next to him, she could feel the warmth of his body on hers. He didn't flinch, so she pulled a pillow close and laid her head next to his shoulder. Watching his breathing again, she was reassured by the even rhythm of his chest. Whatever injuries he had sustained, he didn't seem to be in any real danger. After another few minutes, Maggie very gingerly snaked her left arm around his stomach, watching to see if he would wake. When he did not, she let her eyes fall shut, refusing to think about the morning.
When Maggie opened her eyes the next day, it took her a moment to register where she was. The curtains were drawn, so only a sliver of light cast a thin beam across the room. Still, she could tell it was morning. Raising herself up on her right elbow, she considered Tommy again. He still had not moved, hadn't given any indication of having woken. She was mildly concerned, but Maggie told herself he probably hadn't slept in a couple of days. She would give him a little longer before really worrying.
Carefully pulling herself from the bed, Maggie went into the bathroom to freshen up. There, she noted the severe lack of toiletries. After taking care of the basics, she pulled the bathrobe from the back of the door around herself and grabbed her purse. Making a quick trip to the lobby, she slipped into the tiny store and picked up a few things and paid quickly. Fred, behind the counter, gave her a curious look, but said nothing.
Maggie headed back upstairs and let herself back into the room. With Tommy still sleeping, she padded into the bathroom and allowed herself a quick shower and a good teeth brushing. Feeling better, she slipped back into Tommy's soft t-shirt. It still smelled like him, which she couldn't help feeling good about. Going back to the bed, she slid down next to him again.
There wasn't much else for her to do but wait. Lying very close to him, she ran her eyes slowly over his body. His hair wasn't perfectly combed, but still had a dark sheen to it. His features were strong and handsome enough, as always, but the line of his brow gave his eyes a gentle quality that belied his obnoxious nature. There was a soft stubble across his face, and the line of his neck gave way to broad shoulders and well-defined arms. Maggie had never known that was specifically attractive to her before, until she'd met Tommy. His chest was defined, but had the softness of a real man, as opposed to the hard bodies plastered across so many magazines. He wasn't terribly tall, but he had just enough inches on her that they fit together nicely. Maggie flushed, as she realized how she'd chosen to think of it.
Then, she was drawn back to the motley-colored bruises he'd been given. They ran down the left side of his face and were scattered over his left arm. The worst of it, though, was across his right side. His ribcage was covered in dark, ugly splotches that hinted at least one or two broken ribs. Looking at it made Maggie hurt.
Feeling for him, she very gently brought her hand to the side of his face. Then, she ran her fingers over his neck and down his chest. Carefully trailing her hand over his right side, she wondered how they could know if he had broken bones. With no answer, she let her hand continue down the soft plane of his stomach. Stopping at the hem of his pants, she let her hand rest there for a moment. Then, she worked her fingers back up, following the midline of his chest where a soft line of hairs grew, and ending with her palm over his heart.
Feeling its steady beat for a minute or to, she whispered, "I suppose you do have a heart, Tommy DeVito."
After watching him for another few minutes, Maggie drew herself up further on her right arm. Carefully leaning over him, she placed a feather-light kiss on his lips, hoping he might sense her presence in his deep sleep. As she pulled away, moving to lay beside him again, his eyes fluttered and then opened.
Tommy blinked a few times, and then looked around. After a long, very quiet minute, he turned and looked at Maggie.
His eyes said more than he could have. He looked at her with confusion and disbelief and a deep longing that she knew probably scared him. So, being unable to think of any great words of consolation or explanation, Maggie kissed him.
Putting her hand gently behind his head, she softly pressed her lips to his. Feeling the heat of his chest against hers, she didn't want to pull away. Taking her lead from him, she went with it when he deepened the kiss and parted her lips. Being careful not to press too hard or lean into his injuries, Maggie melted into the kiss until her whole body was flushed and alert. With her chest still close to his, she could feel his heartbeat quicken. She pulled back then, knowing he was in no condition for any more than this.
Looking in her eyes again, Tommy asked, "Maggie…why are you still here?"
"Because I must be the biggest idiot in history of time," she said softly.
"I can't argue with that," Tommy mumbled.
Taking a deep breath, Maggie said, "I can't walk away, Tommy. It makes no sense. It might get me hurt again. I don't know. But I…"
She started to say 'I love you' again, but stopped herself, not sure if he was ready.
Not taking his eyes off of her, he stated, "You did a good thing. A thing I don't deserve."
That was good enough for Maggie, for the moment.
So she stayed. For two weeks, she helped him get up and down, and she brought him food. She watched old movies with him and did her best to mend his wounds. She worked her shifts and retrieved things from her apartment. Still, she came back to him. She was doing everything she swore she wouldn't. She was opening herself to the worst heartbreak of her life. But she couldn't walk away. She realized that the heart is a fickle thing, and it is terribly determined when it wants something.
Tommy talked a little about his split from the Seasons, about his carelessness with money and his falling out with his friends. He was no saint, admitting to his selfishness and outrageous spending.
"I was living the life," he explained some two weeks after Maggie had found him, "and who could've resisted it? Who doesn't want the freedom and the fame, the girls and the money? I thought I had a handle on it. And I was trying to run the group, to take care of things and keep it together. And then, Frankie didn't need me anymore…"
Sensing the relationship Tommy had with them, Maggie added, "They grew up, Tommy. They weren't going to need you telling them what to do forever."
"Yeah," Tommy ran a hand through his hair, "but I made them what they are. I held it together and kept pushing. I don't know how to let it go, you know?"
Lying next to him again, Maggie looked in his eyes and said, "But look what you built. Look at who you've all become, all because you had an idea. Maybe you didn't do everything right. I know you can be a real prick sometimes, Tommy. Maybe you have some apologies to make, but there's good left in you."
He looked up at her then, and pulled her in for a kiss. After a moment, Maggie let him pull her into his chest. She was wearing just a worn nightgown from home, and she felt her breasts pressed against his warm chest. For the first time in a long time, Tommy pulled her weight onto him, running his hands over her partially bare back and into her hair. She lost herself in it for a moment, having wanted him to her touch for so long. Then, she pulled away, afraid of hurting him.
"Tommy," she said breathily, shifting her weight.
Pulling her back, he said, "I'm fine. Or at least, I'm close enough to fine."
Feeling a rush low in her belly, Maggie looked at him for another moment before kissing him softly again. Then, very slowly she worked her kisses down his body. Trailing her mouth over his bare chest and stomach, she took her time. She ran her fingers over his arms, still finding they turned her on terribly. Running her hands over his hips, she slowly removed his drawstring pants. Then, she pulled his underwear away.
With practiced skill, Maggie ran her hands over his bare body and, before he could protest, took him into her mouth. Tommy inhaled sharply, and his whole body tensed. Maggie relished it, finding a new joy in making him feel good. It was more than the rush of knowing she was good. It was less selfish. She wanted it to be good for him.
Working her magic, Maggie would've been content for it to be nothing more than this. She knew Tommy was still injured and in pain, so she was surprised when he pulled her back up towards him. Running his hands over her shoulders, he pulled her nightgown away. Then, he started to try to sit up and shift his weight.
Sensing his intention, Maggie said, "No."
Tommy started to argue, but Maggie pressed him gently back against the pillows. Laying herself across him, with one leg between his, she kissed him until her breath was coming in gasps. She twined her fingers with his and worked her mouth over his neck until he moaned softly. Finally, she straddled his hips and looked him in the eyes. Before he could argue, she took him inside herself.
Maggie watched his chest rise and fall for a moment, as his breath came hard and heavy. They had never been together like this, and she wasn't entirely sure he'd ever let this happen before. Tommy was the type to take control, to want to assert himself over his women in a position of dominance. She didn't know of him ever allowing himself to be taken. Now, he was at her mercy.
Pressing her forehead to his and kissing him softly, Maggie worked her body against his. She took her time, stopping to kiss him full on the mouth. She carefully wrapped her arms around his shoulders, keeping her weight off his ribs, and moved in a slow rhythm with her face in his neck. She sat up and ran her fingers over his chest and stomach, relishing the knowing of him. And finally, when she felt that he was completely at the mercy of her and his feelings, she let her movements intensify.
By then, it took just a moment to bring him to climax. The feeling of him full and releasing within sent her over the edge of her own orgasm. Placing her hands on either side of his neck, Maggie closed her eyes and gave in. For a long time, she trembled and focused on the aching rhythm deep in her pelvis. It was deeper, stronger, more personal than she ever remembered it being. Finally, when she was spent, she took a ragged breath and looked at him.
Tommy was staring up at her, his eyes a maelstrom of things. His chest was rising and falling quickly, and he winced a little from the effort. Maggie kissed him softly, feeling the sheen of sweat between them.
Softly he said, "It's never been like that. You've been holding out of me."
Maggie kissed him again and said, "No I haven't. Tommy, you've fucked a lot of girls…but you've never made love."
Tommy just looked at her.
Maggie took a breath, "And I'm not sure that I have either."
There was a quiet moment, then. Maggie pulled away just enough to lie next to him, feeling his heartbeat once again.
After a minute, Tommy stated, "I've never wanted to settle down. I've never wanted to stay in one place…before. I've never felt…"
Maggie looked in his eyes again. She let him stumble over his words for another minute before she stopped him with a kiss. Then, she held his gaze and said, "Tommy…I love you too."
And he didn't argue.