There are times that in life

That don't always turn right.

We wish and we pray

That with all of our might

That our happy wants will come to stay.

But fairy tales don't always work that way.

There's always a witch or villain

Who works the wrong magic

Whose misdeeds make love cry

and turn simply frantic.

So with a type on my keyboard,

Just for today

I'll make that TAN

Go far, far away.

So erase what you know

and for now

Believe it's not so.

Give in to the story

Forget the tears, blind nuns

And Kathleen's momentary glory.

For sometimes love can be what it seems

And doesn't live out

Just in our dreams.

-IMJS

"You have a lot of R and B artists. I want to flood the college market, the urban areas." Angela suggested to Peter and John as they discussed her campaign for their record company.

"Good! She's very good," Peter said interrupting her and following her as she stood near her desk. "She knows music and she's beautiful."

With a blush, Angela answered, "Oh, come on. I don't know that much about music."

The three laughed in the study until they were interrupted by the study group that was meeting in the living room.

"LEONARDO DA VINCI!

Angela and her clients tried to continue their conversation, but eventually the Art History answers became too much and she had to turn up the music.

A few moments later, they heard Tony asking them, or rather yelling politely, to turn it down because now she and her group were distracting his.

"What time is it?" John asked Peter as they waited on Angela who had gone to the living room to sort out the matter.

Pulling up his sleeve, Peter answered. "It's a quarter to nine."

"You know I'm starting to get worried that we're going to miss out on that Carey contract."

"I am, too. With the direction that Angela wants to take the advertising, Mariah would be the perfect centerpiece to our R&B label."

"I'm starting to think a flight to L.A. might be in order."

"Let's finish things up here with Angela and I'll get on the phone with my assistant, maybe we can fly out tomorrow afternoon."

"Planning a trip, boys?" Angela questioned as she walked back into the study.

"The usual," John said as he checked the pager that hung on his belt loop. "Oh no. 911, Peter."

"911? I hope no one is hurt?" Angela asked with concern.

"No, just my assistant giving me warning about a very important client we don't want to lose. Angela, can I borrow your phone?" John asked.

"Sure. Of course, every one is gone from the living room. If you want some privacy you can use the phone near the couch."

"Thanks." John said making a quick exit.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Angela asked taking a sip of water.

"It happens all the time. The talent wants better lighting, they want a certain type of water, they want flowers that are only grown in the South Pacific in their dressing room at every concert. It's just one of those things we deal with all the time."

John poked his head back into the study. "Peter, Columbia's trying to steal her out from under us. I've got to get back to NY for a conference call."

"Do you need me?" Peter asked.

"No, I've got it. You finish up things here and you can fill me in on everything in the morning. I'm sorry to have to disappear like this, Angela. You truly are an angel," he said as he chivalrously kissed the back of her hand.

"No problem. Good luck with your client."

"Thanks," John said rushing out the door.

"Well, I guess you're stuck with me tonight." Peter said with a big grin.

"Once I get done with the financial aspect of my presentation, I don't know if you'll be considering yourself so lucky."

"We'll see."

Thirty minutes later, the deal was signed and Angela and Peter sat discussing the finer points of a demo CD of the possible contract that John was desperately trying to salvage.

"Her voice is just so amazing. I mean the way she can carry the song through so many octaves." Angela said, sitting on the couch next to Peter after enjoying her congratulatory toast.

"So, you do know your music."

"Well, I've been known to play a song or two." Angela said with a little blush.

"Really what do you play?" Peter asked taking a real interest.

"I... I've been known to play the cello."

"Such a solemn instrument for such a playful, high-spirited woman."

"You're too sweet, Peter." Angela said as she walked over to the stereo to turn down the music.

"Well, I'm not exaggerating. You are a beautiful woman, you've got great taste in music and I hope great taste in men."

Before Angela knew what was happening Peter leaned in and kissed her. It was a soft kiss and she found herself reciprocating more than she should have. The kiss only lasted a few seconds, but those seconds brought on more than a few awkward moments of silence.

Upon seeing the shocked look on Angela's face, Peter took a step back.

"Was it my breath?" Peter asked, trying to bring a smile back to her face.

"No, no it's not that." Angela said, the playful expression that had been there only seconds before was now gone from her face.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. The music, the wine..."

"Don't be, Peter. I guess I was sending out the signals. I am sorry, too. It's just that... I shouldn't have let you do that. You see, I'm kind of in a relationship."

"Oh, then I really am sorry."

"Well, I guess I could have told you. I mean... before the music and the wine."

Angela turned away from Peter and stood next to the couch. Standing there for a moment, the realization of what had just taken place sweeping over her. Was it shock or something else? A twinge of guilt now taking over.

"Are you married?" Peter asked, more out of concern for his face than anything else.

"No, no. Nothing like that," Angela said finally having the courage to face him again.

"So how long have you been dating then?"

"Well, I can't say its anything like that either. It's more of an understanding."

"Let me get this straight. You're in a relationship but you're not married and you're not even dating the guy?"

"Something like that." The more she tried to describe what she and Tony had, the more indefinable their relationship seemed. "All I know, Peter is that I feel more guilty about that kiss than I've ever have felt about anything in my life."

"I am really truly sorry. I usually don't mix business with pleasure. You are just so beautiful, I couldn't stop myself."

"Peter, I am flattered but I think I need to go now."

"You mean you need me to go now?"

"No me. I need to go find Tony. I know this is sudden, but I realize that somehow I need this to be more than an understanding."

"Where is he? Can I help?" Peter asked realizing that he had to help make the best of a bad situation.

"I appreciate it, Peter. But I know where he is. He and his study group are at the Hi Ho Motel off the Merritt Parkway."

"Here let me grab my jacket and I'll call myself a cab."

"Peter, I know this is might be hard to hear, but that kiss was the wake up call that I needed. I love Tony and before it's too late I need to tell him."

Not even stopping to park her car in a space, Angela found herself getting out right at the motel's front office door. She ran as if her life depended on it. She needed to get the heaviness of that kiss off her chest. She knew the only thing that would remove it would be telling Tony how she felt, the weight of which she'd been carrying for nearly three years. She needed to admit it face to face with no more excuses.

"Hello!" She said louder than she meant to, as she barged in the office front door.

"Yes. How can I help you?" Asked the clerk as he poked his head out from around the door jam.

"I'm looking for Tony Micelli. He's here with his study group."

"Oh you mean the group of very old college students?" He asked remembering his own joke.

"Well, I wouldn't say old. Never mind. It's not about how old he is, I need to speak to him right now." She was now out of breath and felt as if she was almost out of time.

"Sure lady. He's here. I was just about to take his "study group" some coffee. You can follow me."

Moments before, their younger classmates had left for the night and Tony and another student, Kathleen were left alone in the motel room. They had found in their few moments together that they had more in common than just their Art History Class. They had each been given a second chance to be back at school and they were eager to make the most of it. As their discussion tapered off, they decided to turn their focus back to the slides they had been reviewing.

Tony sat next to Kathleen on the bed and the first slide to appear was a picture of "Psyche and Cupid" by Antonio Canova.

It was a little hot in the room and the picture along with the dim lights started to change the mood between the two students.

"Talk about your alabaster skin," Tony commented trying to lighten the mood. They both fidgeted a little and he quickly changed the slide hoping to find one a little less provocative.

"Paolo and Francesca," Tony suggested as they saw the statue of the young couple in the midst of courting.

"Alexander Munroe," Kathleen agreed nodding her head.

Before they could comment further, Tony once again switched the slide. Any hope of having the air in the room seem less "steamy" was not granted. Auguste Rodin's "The Kiss" as starring back at them.

Quickly, Tony changed the slide again and as they were about to comment on another uncomfortable picture, there was a knock at the door. With a bit of relief, Tony asked who it was.

"Room Service!" Was the reply from the other side of the door.

As Tony opened it, he was surprised to find Angela standing there holding a tray with cups and coffee for five.

"Angela, what are you doing here?" Tony asked taking the tray of cups and coffee from her. As he closed the door behind her, he caught sight of the motel clerk walking the opposite direction down the hall and could hear him mumbling 'coffee for five. . . yeah right.'

"Oh, I see I'm interrupting your studying." Angela said starring at the once filled room and feeling awkward finding only Kathleen there now.

It was as if someone had splashed cold water into the room, for the once tense couple now seemed to be in a hurry to exit their situation.

"No, you're not." Kathleen spoke from the far side of the room. She was collecting her things and it wasn't long before she was headed towards the door. "I'll see you tomorrow, Tony?"

"Yes," Tony answered guiltily, trying to separate himself from the awkwardness as quickly as possible. "I'll have Steve call everyone to let them know when we're going to get together tomorrow." The tension in the room had changed to that of curiosity.

"See you tomorrow then," Kathleen spoke, eager to get away. "Bye, Angela."

Before Angela could return the greeting, Kathleen had closed the door behind her.

Once again alone and once again having the man she loved in front of her, the old walls came up and Angela found herself wondering why she was there and what the heck she was doing. The drive over had made the urgency of her wish more powerful, but seeing him standing there in front of him left her feeling guilty and almost a betrayer of everything they had together.

"Angela. Is everything okay?" Tony questioned, immediately able to tell by the look on her face that something was wrong.

"Tony... there's something I have to tell you."

He'd seen that look on her face before. Not necessarily the guilt that she thought was written all over it, but the face of a change that he could quickly see. It had been there when her ex-husband had come back and when she had started dating Geoffrey. It was there and he knew he did not like it. It meant that he once again missed out on his chance to be with her and he was the one to blame. Not only that, but here he was only seconds before sharing a tension filled moment with someone he'd only known casually. If there was anyone who had messed things up it was him and not her.

"Angela... there's something I have to ask you and you're probably going to think I'm being silly, but.."

"I just don't want you to find out any other way," she said pulling her hand up to her face.

He pulled her towards him as he could tell she was now crying. With her soft blonde hair cascading down her cheek, he said in almost a whisper, "So I'm not being silly."

As her tears subsided, she tried to look up at him but she still couldn't make her eyes meet his.

"I can't believe you're hugging me after what I've done."

"Angela, you're my best friend," he said trying to put on a brave face. "My arms have got to come in handy sometime."

"Tony, stop trying to make me feel better," she said pulling away from him and sitting on the bed. "I let Peter kiss me and I'm so, so sorry. You deserve so much better. . ."

Before Angela could continue, Tony interrupted her as he knelt on the floor in front of her.

"Angela but you're wrong. You're a beautiful woman," he said taking her hand and stroking a tear from her cheek. "I can't believe you've hung around this long waiting for me. It was bound to happen at some point. I knew in Jamaica that I was asking you to give me time I didn't deserve. If you've found love, I won't stand in your way. I care for you, too much to hold you back."

"But Tony... I don't love him." She said wiping her eyes.

"You don't?" Tony asked more to put his own nerves to rest. Her words felt like the lighting of a match to his soul and he wanted more than anything to hear her say it again. Wanting to be close to her, he took a seat next to her on the bed.

"No, Tony. I don't love him and that's why I feel so bad. I feel like I've betrayed you. Like I've betrayed what we have."

"But Angela, forget about the kiss. Forget about it. " He took her in his arms and let her head rest on his shoulder. "I'm just happy to hear that its not what I was truly afraid of. I can get over a kiss, but love... that would almost be too much for my heart to take."

"Tony.." Angela worked up the courage to say as she lifted her head from his shoulder.

"Yes, Angela." He left his eyes closed and was absent-mindedly enjoying the smell of her hair.

"I think you might need to have your heart checked."

"Why?" He asked, coming back into understanding.

"Because I am in love. Just not with him."

So that was the change that was coming, he thought to himself. Every nerve in his body seemed to come alive and for once in his life, he was at a loss for words.

With nothing more than a whisper, he pointed to his own chest and said, "With me?"

"Yes, Tony," she said as her eyes welled up with tears once more. "I.."

She was about to say the words that had been guardedly waiting on her lips for years, when she felt his fingers quieting them again.

"Angela, don't. I've waited long enough. . . "

Angela turned her head wondering if her admission was going to be met by rejection. She tried not to look at him and then she heard him speak again.

"I've waited long enough to know that you deserve to hear those words from me first."

There was a quiet pause, one filled with anticipation and hope, and then without even thinking about it, he let the words escape his lips.

"Angela, I love you. I love you and it killed me every day looking into your eyes and not having the courage to say it."

"Oh, Tony. I..I love you, too."

It only took a millisecond before Tony's hungry lips met hers and they found themselves almost in a deja vu moment, mimicking their kiss in Jamaica. This time it wasn't guarded or controlled, it was six years of passion exploding in a full minute. They only stopped when Angela adjusted herself as she took a breath. The kiss began again and it was Tony who pulled away this time.

"Oh, no." Tony exclaimed.

"Is it your knee, again?" Angela asked almost without thinking. "I can move."

"No," Tony said with a laugh, remembering this same moment in Jamaica. "No. I just realized I was sitting on the remote control for the slide projector and the slides are rotating by themselves."

Angela put her head on Tony's shoulder as she turned toward the screen. There, a picture that had been different than the ones he'd seen with Kathleen appeared before them. This one was subtle and romantic in a different way.

"Starry, Starry Night," Angela said raising her head, while not being able to take her hands from off his waist. "There's such a fevered intensity to it."

"Yeah," Tony uttered, barely able to speak. He was so taken just having her close to him. "It's like a dream, you know."

"The colors are so alive." Angela said gladly kissing his cheek. "The lines seem so organic, so sensual.

"Yeah, Organic." Tony closed his eyes as he felt her lips touch his ear.

"Passionate," she said as her breath tickled his neck.

"And passionate." Their lips met this time, not with the passion of seconds before, but with a love a long time in coming.

"You ready to get out of here." Tony said willing his lips to leave hers.

"What?" She asked not having the slightest idea of what he meant.

"I think we have some planning to do."

"Planning?" Angela asked, almost a little sad realizing that what she thought had been about to happen was not going to happen.

"I love you, Angela and if we're going to do this. We're going to do it right. Not at the Hi-Ho Motel. I know you've waited a long time but will you wait just a little bit longer?"

"How much longer are we talking?" Angela asked letting the years of Tony's influence come through her lips.

"Not long, just long enough for me to find a Justice of the Peace and make a reservation at the Ritz." Tony, surprised at the words that had just escaped his own lips, knew that this was a broader jump than either of them had expected. His surprised turned to peace as he realized that he had said exactly what he had meant to say.

Becoming conscious of what he said and knowing that the smile on his face showed he truly meant it, made her heart burn, almost sing. Without giving too much away, she took his hands in hers. "I've waited this long," she answered," but I'm warning you. You've got two hours and not a moment longer."

Leaning in to kiss his fiancée, he whispered softly in her ear. "Remind me to thank Peter for kissing you."

"Will do."

So if their love had played out this way

We could have had a season of marriage,

Maybe a baby on the way.

Would we have even had a "Billy,"

A "Christopher" or "Andy"?

We could have done without the second

date with Peter or picking out furniture

With Kathy.

And yet we would have missed out on those

Starlight Memories.

We would have missed the train ride,

and Tony tap dancing on TV.

But we also would have missed the tunnel

and the mystic with all the phlegm.

We would have escaped the carousel

And the label "Open Other End."

But because they kept us waiting,

It wasn't really fair

And yet, because we had to wait

We knew their love was there.

We saw them through the heartache, the regret

And second thoughts.

And once their love was kindled,

We realized it was worth the price it cost.

So the moral of the story is

that though the road is rocky,

Have faith and trust

That in the end

True love will always win.

-IMJS