She gathered her belongings and quickly headed for the back door. The last thing she needed tonight was to confront either of them. Right now actually, she hated them. They were her best friends, and they didn't even have the decency to tell her the truth. And not only that, but Squiggy, Squiggy of all people, had to do the job for them. He was right though, they were gutless cowards. Why did they even help her if they knew she was terrible? Were they really going to let her make a fool of herself in front of all these people?
Carmine caught sight of her as she was leaving and ran to stop her just in time.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey, where are you going? Aren't you going to sing?Ã¢â‚¬
She turned around, glaring at him so intensely it gave him the creeps. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah. Wouldn't you like that? Wouldn't you like to see me make a fool of myself in front of everyone.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“At least Squiggy had the decency to tell me my singing stunk. You-you lied to me. You and Lenny both did-Ã¢â‚¬
She started crying again and it broke his heart, Ã¢â‚¬Å“We just didn't want to hurt your feelings.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hurt them anyway.Ã¢â‚¬ she shrugged, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You know what hurts the most? You let me believe I was talented.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Stop lying!Ã¢â‚¬ she shouted now, surprising both of them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Okay, so you can't sing.Ã¢â‚¬ he admitted, Ã¢â‚¬Å“But that doesn't mean you're not talented.Ã¢â‚¬
She said nothing so he continued, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You can dance.Ã¢â‚¬ and that was the truth.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Why should I believe anything you say?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Because I'm your friend.Ã¢â‚¬
She scoffed, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Friend?Ã¢â‚¬ Laverne shook her head, Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, I don't think so. Friends don't lie to each other.Ã¢â‚¬
He sighed, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Come on, Laverne, did you honestly think you could sing?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well now, thanks to you, I know I can't sing. At least next time I'm doing something and I'm terrible at it, have the decency to tell me instead of sending your friend Squiggy.Ã¢â‚¬
He felt terrible, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'm sorry I wasn't honest with you.Ã¢â‚¬
She wiped her tears, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah, I'm sorry too.Ã¢â‚¬
Rhonda barged into the room interrupting everything, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What are you guys doing here?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We're talking, so would you mind leaving?Ã¢â‚¬ Carmine almost shouted.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It's okay, Rhonda, you can stay.Ã¢â‚¬ Laverne glared at him, Ã¢â‚¬Å“We're finished anyway.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, we aren't.Ã¢â‚¬ Laverne ignored him and shook him off when he grabbed her arm to stop her. She turned around, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Leave me alone.Ã¢â‚¬ She stormed out and he watched her leave completely powerless.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What was all that about?Ã¢â‚¬ Rhonda asked now. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Why is she crying?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Stay out of it, would you?Ã¢â‚¬ Carmine shook his head and walked past her angrily.
She was walking home and she was halfway there although she could barely see where she was going because her tears blurred her vision, when a familiar voice called her name. Lenny slowed the car right where she was, Ã¢â‚¬Å“How about I drive you home?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How about you leave me alone?Ã¢â‚¬ she shouted.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nope, sorry. That's not an option.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Come on, just get in, would you?Ã¢â‚¬
This time he stopped the car and stepped out, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'm not gonna leave until we talk so you either get inside nicely or I'll have to carry you. Your choice.Ã¢â‚¬
He was standing right in front of her, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know you're mad at us and I'm sorry we hurt your feelings.Ã¢â‚¬ it was Lenny's turn to apologize now and just like Carmine, he felt terrible. Ã¢â‚¬Å“How about I make it up to you?Ã¢â‚¬ she said nothing so he continued, Ã¢â‚¬Å“How about you write the songs and I sing them? Your songs are very pretty.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You're just saying that to make me feel better.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, I'm not. I'll be honored to sing them.Ã¢â‚¬ he smiled this time.
There was a pause and she almost smiled back.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You mean that?Ã¢â‚¬
He chuckled and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah. And I'm sure if you ask him, Carmine would love to sing them too.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I don't want him to. I'm still mad at him.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, really? But you forgive me, right?Ã¢â‚¬ Lenny was a nice guy he was never mean to her or really if he was, he never meant it. Carmine on the other hand, said rude things to her from time to time and she tried not to get offended by them but this time he's just been too far. So since she was angry with him, she decided to make him pay for all these times where he made tiny hurtful comments.
She rolled her eyes, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Just drive me home, please.Ã¢â‚¬
An hour later, Carmine and Shirley came home together. Lenny told him Laverne forgave him so it meant Laverne had cooled off and hopefully she had forgiven him too. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Laverne, where are you?Ã¢â‚¬ Shirley called.
Laverne had her outfits scattered all over her bed, trying to figure out what she was gonna wear tomorrow. Thinking her best friend was standing in the doorway, she was almost smiling. Ã¢â‚¬Å“So, what do you think?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I like it.Ã¢â‚¬ Carmine said now.
She gasped, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Carmine!Ã¢â‚¬ she almost shouted, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You scared me half to death.Ã¢â‚¬
He chuckled, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sorry.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What are you doing here?Ã¢â‚¬
He walked toward her, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lenny told me you forgave him..so I wanted to make sure we were okay too.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yes, I forgave him.Ã¢â‚¬
He didn't really like the sound of that, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What's that supposed to mean?Ã¢â‚¬
The silence that followed after his question felt like he had just been shot.
He was slowly losing his temper, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What the hell? You can forgive him but you can't forgive me?Ã¢â‚¬ what did Lenny do that he didn't? Ã¢â‚¬Å“I apologized too, didn't I?Ã¢â‚¬
She glared at him, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You did. But your apology is not accepted.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“W-what? Why not?! What did I do?Ã¢â‚¬
He was waiting for her answer but she avoided his gaze,
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Are you going to tell me or not?Ã¢â‚¬ he was confused as hell. What the fuck did he do?!
When she still remained silent, he lost it, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Fine. Have it your way!Ã¢â‚¬ he shouted, Ã¢â‚¬Å“When you decide to tell me what's going on, you know where to find me.Ã¢â‚¬ Her glare was so intense he's never seen her so angry before. As he was storming out she called after him, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wouldn't count on it if I were you!Ã¢â‚¬ Oh, he heard her perfectly and it made him even more upset.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So, what's going on?Ã¢â‚¬ Shirley walked toward him, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Did you-Ã¢â‚¬ She was interrupted by the slamming of the front door inches from her face. Wow. She didn't see him so mad since that time they argued about Lucille and hell, it was what? five, six years ago?!
Shirley made her way upstairs quickly and stood at the bedroom doorway. Laverne saw her but she was remaining silent.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Don't you think it's getting ridiculous here? I know he-Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I don't want to talk about it.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But he apologized!Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I said, I don't want to talk about it.Ã¢â‚¬
Shirley stepped a little closer and crossed her arms, Ã¢â‚¬Å“How can you forgive Lenny but not Carmine?! It makes no sense.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What part of 'I don't want to talk about it' do you not understand?Ã¢â‚¬ she shouted before locking herself in the bathroom. Shirley dropped her arms at her sides and sighed.
The entire weekend had been the longest two days ever. Carmine tried several times to talk to her but she always managed to be 'too busy.' Or when he'd try to sit next to her, which Shirley surprisingly encouraged despite her extreme jealousy, she always got up and sat somewhere else. He kind of figured she was angry with him for a couple of things, not only about what happened Friday night. Because if it were the case, she'd have forgiven him already. Sadly, he still had honestly no idea what he's done and what those other things were. It was Monday late in the afternoon, actually it was almost 6:30, and there was no costumers at the moment. He knew she'd be alone since Shirley didn't work today. He managed to find an adorable stuffed bunny in the store earlier. Maybe he thought she'd like it? He was standing right behind the wall, and waited until she wasn't looking to approach slowly. Then he placed the bunny on the counter and knelt down so she wouldn't see him.
Laverne turned around, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What in the world...?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hello, Laverne.Ã¢â‚¬ Carmine said, in a high-pitched voice,
She rolled her eyes almost smiling, Ã¢â‚¬Å“How are you doing today?Ã¢â‚¬ the bunny asked.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, Mr. Bunny, not so good.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Aww, what's wrong?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had a fight with someone I care about the other night and I know he apologized for not being honest, but this whole thing was just too much. He's very rude to me sometimes and what he says is really hurtful.Ã¢â‚¬ she shrugged, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I've just had enough, that's all.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Maybe he never meant to be rude and had no idea you were hurt?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What about the time he said he'd rather get hit by a truck than go on a date with me?Ã¢â‚¬ she paused, Ã¢â‚¬Å“He didn't mean to be rude there?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Maybe he said that because someone else was in the room?Ã¢â‚¬ Every time Carmine would say something slightly nice to her, Shirley would throw a hissy fit. He couldn't even compliment her on her outfit without Shirley getting all mad!
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How about the time you made all these jokes about me being easy?Ã¢â‚¬ Those had to be the most hurtful jokes someone has ever made about her. Only thinking about them brought tears to her eyes.
He stood normally now, enough with the bunny, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was an idiot and all I wanted was to impress my friends. I wanted to be funny and I ended up hurting all of you guys, especially you.Ã¢â‚¬
She looked downcast wiping her tears but still listening to him, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The things I said about you in my jokes are not true and I wish I could just take them all back. And I hope you know how truly sorry I am and that you'll find it in your heart to forgive me one day.Ã¢â‚¬ she said nothing so he continued with his apology, Ã¢â‚¬Å“And as for the rude things, they're not what you think.Ã¢â‚¬ he paused, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have to say them.Ã¢â‚¬ when she looked up looking offended, he tried explaining as fast as he could, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I..I have to because of Shirley.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yes. You know how jealous and possessive she can be.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Don't touch Carmine!Ã¢â‚¬ they quoted her simultaneously and then they giggled.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Exactly. You know what I mean, then. If I don't say them and I act all nice with you, like a normal friend, she's gonna get all crazy and to avoid that, I sadly need to say not-so-nice things to you from time to time.Ã¢â‚¬
She wiped her tears again, Ã¢â‚¬Å“But you don't mean them, do you?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Of course not! I never mean them.Ã¢â‚¬ he caressed her cheek gently, Ã¢â‚¬Å“And I'd go on a date with you anytime if you asked me.Ã¢â‚¬ he almost smiled.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You mean, -two best friends hanging out together but we call it a date- kind of thing?Ã¢â‚¬
He chuckled, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That would be nice.Ã¢â‚¬ that was exactly the kind of thing she needed right now.
He grabbed the bunny, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey, how about me and Mr. Bunny wait for you to be finished here and then we go grab a bite to eat somewhere? How does that sound?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, that sounds amazing. I'm starving.Ã¢â‚¬
Carmine smiled, Ã¢â‚¬Å“We'll wait for you outside.Ã¢â‚¬ he waved 'see you soon' using the rabbit's paw and she watched him leave giggling.
Twenty minutes later, they met at Bardwell's entrance like planned. She had stopped crying.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sorry you had to wait so long...I had to clean up.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Don't worry about it.Ã¢â‚¬ he paused smiling, Ã¢â‚¬Å“So, where do you want to eat? Oh, and we need a place where they accept stuffed rabbits, too. We don't want our friend here to feel left out.Ã¢â‚¬
She giggled hitting him playfully, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You're nuts.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How about we share a hot dog?Ã¢â‚¬ she asked in the same breath.
He chuckled, Ã¢â‚¬Å“All right.Ã¢â‚¬
After walking for a couple minutes they found a hot dog stand down the street. They bought one and shared it. They decided to sit on a bench a couple feet away. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Can I ask you something?Ã¢â‚¬
He shrugged nodding, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah, sure.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Did you really mean it when you said I could dance?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Laverne, I know I haven't been honest with you about your singing, but trust me you can dance. And very well too, I might add.Ã¢â‚¬ he could not be more sincere.
She was touched, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thanks.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Remember a few years ago when I helped you rehearse for that West Side Story audition?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah..I failed miserably though...Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The guy was an idiot. He barely let you do anything. You should have gotten the part.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You're being too nice...Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to prove to you that I'm not being too nice. I was gonna ask Shirley but... how about we do it together?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What are you talking about?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, in three weeks there's gonna be a dance contest and the winning couple gets one thousand dollars and a free dinner in Burbank's finest restaurant. How about we enter together?Ã¢â‚¬
She stammered, Ã¢â‚¬Å“W-what? You mean, for real?Ã¢â‚¬ he nodded smiling, Ã¢â‚¬Å“But what about Shirl? I mean-Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We won't tell her.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What do you mean we won't tell her?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, let's put it this way,Ã¢â‚¬ he cleared his throat, Ã¢â‚¬Å“if we tell her, of course she's gonna freak. Then she's gonna be upset I don't enter the contest with her. Also she's gonna want to be in the room with us whenever we rehearse. And she-Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Okay, okay, I get your point. But we're gonna tell her at some point, right?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If we win, yes. If we don't, what's the point? It'll be our little secret.Ã¢â‚¬
She didn't know if it was a good idea, Ã¢â‚¬Å“How about all the hours we're gonna need to rehearse? We need excuses for these so she won't suspect anything..it's too risky.Ã¢â‚¬
He reassured her, Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, it's not. No one beside us can know about this. Not Lenny nor Squiggy, not even your Pop.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Wow...you weren't kidding about the secret part.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now, not to get caught, I'm gonna tell Shirl I volunteered to give dance lessons to a couple of teenagers who are gonna participate in the dance contest and I'll need to give lessons three times a week. So it'll give us nine days to rehearse so approximately it gives us eighteen hours.Ã¢â‚¬ Carmine thought about dancing with her since last Friday night after the argument. He was just lucky enough they made up right on time so they wouldn't miss rehearsals.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah. But what about my excuses? If I leave three nights a week without any reason, Shirl's gonna suspect something.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, you see, there's one thing I'm pretty sure Shirley never asks you about and it is....?Ã¢â‚¬
She chuckled, Ã¢â‚¬Å“..my dates. She never wants to hear who I'm dating because she can't stand all the smut.Ã¢â‚¬
He nodded, Ã¢â‚¬Å“So you see where I'm going with this?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Where do you get all these ideas and solutions?Ã¢â‚¬
He shrugged, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What can I say, I'm a genius.Ã¢â‚¬
She giggled and it made his day.
Carmine lead her to his apartment door, not letting go of her hand for one second, opened it quickly and they walked in together. Tonight had to be the best night of their lives. After weeks of rehearsals and a very stressful evening..they won the contest! They were so happy when the host announced to everyone they won that they kind of..kissed. But not a regular kiss like they often do. No, a real kiss, like in the movies. They were too happy at the time though to even discuss it. And to make this night even better, they dined in the most beautiful restaurant they had ever seen. Everyone treated them like they were royalty. Everyone mistook them for being a couple and they didn't tell them the truth. Especially after the kiss they shared, none of them would believe they were only friends.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had so much fun. It was amazing.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah,Ã¢â‚¬ she giggled, Ã¢â‚¬Å“can you believe we actually won?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, I can't, it's unreal. You were terrific tonight.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So were you.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So..I guess we have to tell Shirl everything after all.Ã¢â‚¬ she didn't want to, but that was part of their deal if they won. And they were lucky she didn't suspect anything.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“W-what?Ã¢â‚¬ truth be told, he hadn't thought about Shirley at all tonight. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Uh, oh, yes, we have to.Ã¢â‚¬ not that he liked the idea, but she's gonna know about the money soon enough.
They were standing right in front of each other now. So close actually, that they could feel each other's breaths on their faces. They were silent for a while and then, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Are we gonna tell her you kissed me?Ã¢â‚¬
He shook his head, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Uh-uh, you kissed me.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, you kissed me back, didn't you?Ã¢â‚¬
He nodded, Ã¢â‚¬Å“That I did, yes.Ã¢â‚¬ He brushed her hair out of her eyes, and ran his finger along the edge of her face. Ã¢â‚¬Å“And why did you?Ã¢â‚¬ she asked now smiling.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I like your hair that way, you know? Has anyone ever told you it looked great?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Come on, don't duck the question.Ã¢â‚¬
He chuckled, Ã¢â‚¬Å“But I am not ducking anything, Miss DeFazio, I kissed you because I wanted to. Like you kissed me because you wanted to, too. Am I right?Ã¢â‚¬
She nodded, Ã¢â‚¬Å“And if I were to do it a second time, would you kiss me back again?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Do it and let's find out.Ã¢â‚¬
She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips to his.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How about a third time?Ã¢â‚¬ she giggled and he kissed her again.
X x x x x x x x X