She stood right in front of his door. She couldn't even believe she had the guts to come all the way to New York. She hasn't seen him in exactly a year and a lot had changed. Sure, if she'd have told him the truth, she wouldn't be here right now. And she could have told him, one phone call, two words, and he'd have taken the first flight back to L.A. But no, instead she was standing here, carrying their three-month-old baby girl and she was about to change his life forever. Was he gonna slam the door right in her face? She wasn't planning on ever telling him, but the minute Anna was born, everything changed. Her daughter deserved to know who her father was and he deserved to know he had a daughter. So she worked during weeks to get enough money to fly over here. And here she was, too afraid to even knock on his door. And the second she finally did knock, she knew it was too late to leave.
Carmine opened the door and stood speechless in front of her. Maybe he was too shocked to see her here to say anything?
“Laverne?!” he finally came to his senses, “W-what are you doing here?” he carefully wrapped his arms around her.
“It's nice to see you too...” was he blind or did he really not notice anything? “Notice anything different?”
“You-you have a baby?” okay, what was happening? Was he really gone that long?! “What's her name?” he finally invited them inside but having no idea she was coming, his apartment was a real mess.
“Annabella. She's three month old.”
“Well, she's very cute. Where's the father? Is he in town?” he asked in the same breath.
She almost smiled, “I'm standing right in front of him.” she imagined this scene in her head a thousand times but usually it ended up with them being happy about it. Somehow she could feel this wasn't gonna happen.
The color drained from his face, “W-what?!”
Tears welled up in her eyes, “Think back, Carmine. Way back.” did he actually hear what she just said? That was a dream, right? He was gonna wake up and Laverne would still be in Burbank. That's right, it was just a dream. This shit couldn't be happening. He remained silent, so she continued, “The night before you left we kind of s-” she stammered, “slept together.” that was their way of saying goodbye to each other. And in the heat of the moment, they didn't use any protection. Maybe they should have just hugged, like normal friends!
He chuckled nervously, “That's a joke, right? Okay, you got me, where's the camera?”
She said nothing looking downcast and wiping her tears,
“Why the hell didn't you tell me?” he shouted so loudly that the walls shook and the baby started crying, “Don't you think I should have known?!”
“You- you were finally starting your new life. I-I didn't want to hold you back.”
“I called and wrote you, you never said anything.” he was glaring at her so intensely she honestly thought he was going to hit her.
“I..I tried several times...I couldn't go through with it. I'm-”
“Oh, no, don't apologize.” he interrupted her yelling, he was so angry right now he wanted to kill her. “Stop talking.” he sat down on the couch, burying his head in his hands.
After what seemed an eternity, he talked again, “Why did you keep it?”
“Because I didn't want to be all alone. My pop died and you were gone...” she wiped her tears, “I...I had no one else..I know it was selfish of me.”
“W-what?” he finally looked up at her, “Frank died?”
She nodded, “A couple weeks after you left...”
“Oh, Laverne, I'm so sorry.” why didn't she tell him about this either? “Why didn't you tell me anything? I wasn't even there for the funeral...” So many news at once it was a miracle he hadn't fainted yet. “You never wrote about it in your letters. I asked how he was doing, you told me he was doing great!” how could she have lied to him? “How the fuck could you lie to me?”
“Because I didn't want to ruin what you deserved! Because I didn't want to be a burden to you! Because you worked so hard to make your dream come true and I didn't want to be the one holding you back! Is that so hard to understand?” she was the one shouting this time.
He rose to his feet, walking slowly toward her, “So, why tell me now?” the baby was still crying and Laverne miserably tried to calm her down.
“Because..I thought, I..I, because I want Anna to know who her father is.”
“Are you even sure I'm her father? You know, with all the boyfriends you have..or had.”
She was hurting too much right now to even be offended over that, but who could blame him?
He needed proof. “I want a blood test.”
She nodded, “Anything you want.”
They were silent for a while after that, he finally stopped yelling and the baby somehow calmed down at the same time. He's never seen Laverne cry so hard like this in all the years he's known her.
“You're sure she's my kid, aren't you?”
She nodded again.
“Laverne, how could you do this to me? I'm not ready to be a father, I mean-”
She was the one sitting down now, she didn't even have the courage to look at him anymore,
“I'm so sorry, I know you hate me and I don't blame you. You won't have to do anything, financially speaking, and you-you won't even have to be there for us,” she stammered, “f-for her, I mean. All I'm asking, and I..I know it's a lot, it's just one day Anna's gonna ask me about you and I..I just want her to be able to at least meet you once in her life.”she wiped her tears for the hundredth time, “I'm just asking that you don't hate her too. Please.”
He stared at them and it broke his heart, “Come on, I don't hate either of you.” he sat beside them, “I'm very angry with you and I don't think I'll ever forgive you for this. But I don't hate you.”
For the very first time since they got here, he took a long look at his daughter. Even thinking about the word was weird, “She does have my eyes, I'll give you that.”
“Would you like to hold her?”
He shrugged, “Yeah, okay.”
“Boy, she is tiny, isn't she?”
She nodded wiping her tears, “Yeah.”
“When's her birthday?”
“Do you have pictures of her when she was born?” he needed at least one..to hang on the wall or something. She managed to find her wallet in her purse and quickly found a picture of Anna at the hospital. “There you go.”
“Squiggy took the picture.”
He couldn't help but laugh, “Squiggy?!” he shook his head, “Poor kid, her first moment into the world and she had to spend it with Squig.” he was amazed to see that the baby wasn't crying. She looked happy, actually. It was like she knew her father was holding her.
“Actually, believe it or not, without him I'd have probably given birth on the street.” she giggled, “He was the one driving me there at four in the morning.”
He wasn't sad -yet- that he missed it. That he also missed the first three months of his daughter's life. Hell, he had no idea she even existed an hour ago. He told Laverne to hold the baby again and she did. “So, what am I supposed to do now?” was he supposed to give up on his current life to focus on his daughter full time? “I guess I have to buy all that baby stuff, huh?”
“So you want to be part of her life?” she was crying but she could not be happier for her daughter.
He rose to his feet, “Hell yeah, I want to be part of her life. What do you think?” he wouldn't be able to live with himself knowing that Anna wouldn't know him. The kid shouldn't have to pay the consequences. It wasn't her fault, she didn't ask to be born.
“We have to fly back to Burbank tonight.”
“I'm not moving back to L.A.” he said now.
She finally managed to stop crying, “W-what?”
“You can't just come here, announce that I have a kid and then just go home and visit me whenever you have the money. That's not how it works. I want to see Anna every day. My life's in New York and I ain't moving back there.”
She looked downcast, “I barely have the money to buy all the things she needs....how am I gonna find enough money to move here? I had to work during weeks to pay for the plane tickets.”
A part of him wanted to say that he didn't care if she didn't have the money but truth be told, he did care. Because before being his daughter's mom, she was his best friend. A best friend he's known since he was twelve years old. He couldn't let her sleep in the streets! “You girls will move in with me. As soon as you find a job here you get your own place, all right?”
“You're serious about this, aren't you?” she got up from the sofa walking toward him,
He nodded, “Yeah. While you go back to pack your stuff, me and Anna will stay here.” and he was the one holding the baby now.
“So you can get that blood test, huh?”
“No, so I can spend time with her. I missed three months, remember?” even more than three months, he wish he had been there the whole time during the pregnancy and most importantly the birth. He couldn't help but to glare at her. “If it's okay with you, I'd like to catch up on things.”
“It's-it's gonna take a few days..I need to pack everything and uh-” why was she constantly stammering?
“Take all the time you need. We'll still be here when you get back.” Thank God he had a little money saved up to buy her a crib and other things. “Do you have some extra clothes and diapers?”
“I..I have a couple of diapers but no clothes..since I-I thought we'd go home tonight...” she managed to find everything in her purse and placed them on the coffee table. “And..uh, you'll need to use formula milk because I-I won't be there to feed her...”
He sighed, “All right. One of my neighbors has a daughter too, hopefully she'll be able to lend me some stuff.”
“What time is your flight?” it was barely one in the afternoon.
“At five thirty.”
“You still have time then.”
She was avoiding his gaze now, because if she looked at him she'd start crying all over again.
“I..I'm just gonna wait at the airport.” she doubted he wanted her to stick around, “Can I just say goodbye to her first?” it broke her heart to leave Anna here. It was gonna be the very first time that she wasn't going to be with her daughter for more than a few hours. When she was working, Rhonda was the one babysitting her.
“You ain't leaving now, I need you to help me with some stuff. We have time before your flight so let's use it.” he had a car but no infant car seat so he needed to buy one. So many things to buy, so little money.
“I..I have one at home.”
“Yeah, but we need one for the next few days, don't we?” he snapped at her.
She couldn't blame him for being mean to her and she tried her best not to burst into tears which wasn't easy. He grabbed his wallet, handing her twenty bucks, “There's a store down the street, can you get her milk and diapers, stuff like that?” he needed to clean the apartment. “When you get back, we'll go get a car seat and a crib, all right?”
Anna was back in her arms now and she nodded. As she was leaving, tears were slowly falling down her cheeks and he noticed them.
He called after her and she turned around, “Thank you.”
“For telling me. I know it took a lot of courage for you to come here today.” Sure, he honestly wished she'd have told him the second she found out she was pregnant but she could have waited years before telling him he had a kid. He was lucky enough Laverne even told him in the first place! She could have never said anything and when they'd meet, she could have lied saying some other guy was the father. Imagine that?! So although he was mad as hell, he was grateful she decided to tell him the truth. She nodded quickly and he watched her leave.
Around five o'clock, Carmine was driving Laverne to the airport. Anna seemed to like her new car seat because she fell asleep the second her mom sat her in it. Or maybe she was just exhausted? She had a long day for a three-month-old after all. The rest of the afternoon went pretty good. They got a crib and the car seat and a couple of outfits too. He was acting cold to her half the time though, but she was lucky enough he even agreed to do all this. Not in a million years would she have thought she'd go shopping with him! She was one hundred percent sure that if the father had been one of her numerous old boyfriends, the guy would have just slammed the door in her face. But Carmine wasn't like that, he was a responsible guy, always trying to do the right thing and with a huge conscience too. And the fact that they've been best friends forever also helped. He parked the car in the parking area. He managed to lift Anna out of the car seat and breathed a sigh of relief when she didn't wake up. They didn't talk all the way to the gate, not even when she had to get a refund on her daughter's ticket. She was gonna use the money for Friday's ticket. The plane was leaving in twenty minutes so she had to go now.
“We'll see you on Friday evening.” Carmine said now.
Laverne didn't want to leave her daughter and she was sobbing, “Can I call you to ask how she's doing?” although she was only gonna be gone for four days, she still needed to know her daughter would be okay.
“Of course you can.” he tried reassuring her, because seeing her sob like this was no picnic.
“She'll be okay. You can trust me.”
She smiled, “I know I can.” she didn't want to wake her so she couldn't hold her one last time. She stroked her head gently instead.
Her flight was announced, “That's me.” she chuckled sadly.
“Call me when you get there so I know you got home safely, all right?”
She wanted to hug him but she didn't have the courage so she just waved instead. Right before giving her ticket, she looked back. Carmine wasn't watching her anymore and he had already disappeared in the crowd..
* * * * * *
She sold everything in her apartment that she didn't need. And she only got about five hundred bucks for them. Which wasn't a lot. She kept all the baby stuff since she will need them when she gets her own place hopefully soon. She managed to get all her daughter's outfits and her own in the suitcases and she was carrying the stroller which thankfully wasn't heavy. All the other furniture were gonna be delivered tomorrow at Carmine's place. His apartment building had a storeroom so everything would stay in there until she'd move out. He had a date tonight, in an hour actually, with the woman he's been seeing for the past month, which he didn't tell Laverne about, but he still decided to pick her up because he knew how much she missed the baby. Who, by the way, didn't really let him sleep. Anna was still not sleeping through the entire night and he had to get up at least three times last night to feed or change her so he was pretty exhausted. And the first night when he heard a baby crying, it took him a few long seconds to realize that was his daughter.
The second she noticed them, Laverne nearly ran to her daughter. Those had been the longest four days of her life. She was so happy right now, she was crying. “Sweetie!” she exclaimed, “Hi, Anna, hi. Mommy missed you sooo much.” The baby smiled back and it made her day. She barely acknowledged Carmine was here too. Her anxieties were all gone now that she was holding Anna in her arms. And Carmine was left carrying all her suitcases.
“Hi.” she finally said now smiling, “I can carry one of them if you want. I'll put her in the stroller.”
“No, that's okay.” he cleared his throat, “I have to be somewhere in an hour. So I'm gonna drive you girls home and I'll carry everything upstairs so you won't have to go up and down the stairs four times.”
“Thank you.” she appreciated that.
“Yeah. No problem.” they didn't say anything else until they reached the parking lot.
Once in the car though, he wasn't saying anything and it stressed her.“So, where are you going?” she asked now just to make conversation.
He was confused, “Well, I'm driving you home...”
She shook her head, “No, no, you said you had to be somewhere soon. Where are you going?” she finally noticed he was dressed up. “If-if you don't want to tell me,” she stammered, “y-you don't have to. It's okay.”
“I have a date.”
“Oh,”she felt her heart sink, “that's nice. What's her name?”
She always hated that name, “How long have you guys...?”
“Been dating? Five weeks.” why all the questions?
“That's nice...” she repeated trying to sound sincere. He glanced at her and she looked a little sad but he said nothing. The last thing he wanted was to argue or have yet another long talk. He's had enough in one week. She stopped asking questions because it hurt too much to listen to the answers. She preferred silence after all. They only talked again when they were in his apartment.
“Okay, everything's here.” he placed the last suitcase on the floor, “I'll lock the door behind.”
She nodded remaining silent.
“I don't know at what time I'll be back so don't wait up.” as he was leaving she called after him,
“I hope you have a good time.”
He almost smiled, “Thank you.”
She took a deep breath, trying not to cry as he shut the door behind him.
Less than two hours later, he was already back. Although it was only nine o'clock, Laverne was exhausted and fell asleep on his sofa. She fell asleep trying to read some book she found lying around. The slam of the door woke her and the book fell on the floor, “I can't believe this!” Carmine shouted, throwing his keys across the room. It took her a few seconds to realize what was happening. “W-what?” her voice was barely audible and Anna started crying.
“Oh, geez...” Carmine whined, he forgot he could no longer slam doors whenever he wanted to.
“That's okay,” she tried reassuring him while walking to the crib.
“I didn't mean to wake her.”
“I know.” she bent over, “Come here, sweetie. It's okay.”
Then she stared at Carmine who looked really mad.
“What happened? Do you want to talk about it?”
“I fell asleep!” he almost shouted.
“I'm not sure I'm following you. You fell asleep?”
“Tamara was telling me about her day and I fell asleep! Now she won't talk to me anymore.” He sat at the edge of his coffee table, burying his head in his hands. He was this close from losing it. “I haven't slept properly in days.”
She felt terrible, she knew it wasn't easy for him, “I-I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you she doesn't sleep through the night yet.” Once the baby fell asleep, Laverne went to sit beside him.”I'll go look for a job as soon as I wake up tomorrow morning. And uh, I..I'll pay for my own food and I..I promise, me and Anna will go out as much as possible so you won't even know we're staying here.” she couldn't do much to change the situation they were in but she could try to make it better.
“I..I'll go to the bank tomorrow to give you what you need for the rent and-”
He sat normally, “Keep your money.” he interrupted her, “I know you'll need it later.”
She felt so overwhelmed by everything that was happening right now that she started crying. And she felt so guilty for putting him through all this she could barely breathe.
“Come on, stop crying....”
“I ruined your life.” the poor guy never asked for any of this.
He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, “You didn't. I told you I wanted to be part of her life, didn't I? You're not forcing me.” And that was true, she never asked him to be there for Anna or to even support them financially. Actually, she said the opposite. He made the decision on his own. And after spending four days with his daughter, he couldn't see himself being ever away from her. “And I think she likes me.” He smiled.
She chuckled, “Who wouldn't like you?”
“Yeah, I'm a pretty cool guy. Aren't I?” he laughed too. The first time this week.
“I'm sorry about your date.” that wasn't entirely true. She was happy he was here instead of being with someone else.
He shrugged “Eh. Thanks.” he finally unwrapped his arm. He sure wasn't looking forward to the apology he was gonna make to Tamara...another thing to stress about.
She wiped her tears, “Are you going to tell her?”
He shook his head, “No. Not right now.” he only told his neighbor and his friends at work so far and it hadn't been easy. He didn't have much choice since he had no one to babysit Anna while he was working the first two days, he had to bring her to work with him. Then his neighbor helped him.
“If it gets serious, I'll have to.” he knew he shouldn't wait too long but hey give him a break, he only found out he had a kid four days ago!
And she felt another pang in her heart at what he just said, although this time it was not like in the car earlier where she looked sad. She was already crying so he couldn't see how it affected her.
He handed her a tissue and she thanked him, “I...I have a long day tomorrow. I'm gonna go to sleep if that's okay...” she rose to her feet and he nodded,
“Sure. It's a sofa bed so let me just get everything ready for you.”
She appreciated that, she was too tired to even move, “Thanks.” she was amazed to see how kind he was being to her after everything that's happened.
Five minutes later, the bed was made. It didn't look very comfortable but it was better than sleeping on the floor. He even got her a blanket and one of his pillows. “There you go.”
She wiped her tears, “Thank you.”
Carmine nodded, “Good night.”
He quickly glanced at Anna and then locked himself in his room.
They were used to being roommates by now. They'd wake up at the same time and have breakfast together every morning, and sometimes he even drove her to her job interviews so she wouldn't be late. Four weeks had passed and it seemed like Laverne had moved in ages ago. He was used to seeing her pantyhose hanging in the shower or her makeup taking half the space on the sink. And truth be told, it didn't bother him. And it was insane how much Anna had changed already, she was so much different from when he first saw her. Sure, the first few days had been a little difficult but now he was used to see them when he came home from work. He was even looking forward to it most of the time, how crazy was that? He also had to tell Tamara the truth, after she finally accepted his apology, and as insane as it was, she didn't mind him having a kid. He thought she was just kidding at first but it turns out she wasn't, she's always liked kids and she's even dated guys who had kids in the past so it was no problem for her. She even wanted Carmine to bring Anna with him so she could meet her. Which Carmine wanted to do at first, but won't after all because he didn't want to argue with Laverne about it. Anything to avoid arguments. Especially with her because he always ended up saying hurtful things he didn't mean. He also noticed whenever he talked about his girlfriend, Laverne always looked upset and managed to end the conversation quickly. He even caught her wiping her tears the other night and when he asked why she was crying, she told him she just had something in her eye. Of course that was a lie but not wanting to argue, the conversation stopped right there. Today was a happy day though, because after weeks of searching and calling everywhere, she finally got a job. And she called Carmine at work to tell him and he offered they'd have Chinese food tonight to celebrate. Laverne was looking forward to it and so was he..until Tamara called him at the last minute to make sure tonight's dinner was still on, and he honestly completely forgot about it. He had to meet her in forty-five minutes at the restaurant. But first, he had to cancel the plans he made with Laverne earlier in the day, which he refused to do over the phone, and he felt guilty about it. He took a deep breath and finally had the guts to open the door. They moved the crib in his bedroom so they'd be able to watch TV when Anna would be sleeping. Which meant he gave his bed to Laverne while he slept on the sofa.
“Hey!” she exclaimed smiling, “They're playing your favorite movie on TV tonight.”
He almost smiled, “That's nice. Where's Anna?”
“Asleep. We have at least four hours before she wakes up.” she looked so happy he didn't want to ruin her mood. But what could he do? If he canceled on Tamara, she'd be upset too. Especially since he canceled on her several times the past few weeks to stay with the baby and Laverne instead. It was a miracle Tamara hadn't accused him of cheating or anything yet. He never told her Laverne lived with him, he lied telling her she had gone to California and Anna was only gonna stay with him for a few weeks until Laverne would come back. And he also had to make up something about his apartment being a complete mess at the moment, with all the baby stuff lying around, so she wouldn't ask why he never invited her to his place anymore. He wondered how long he was gonna have to lie about this too.
He stood near the sofa and she looked around, “Didn't you forget something? Where's the food?”
“I didn't go, I'm sorry.” he cleared his throat, “Tamara called right before I left work. I promised her we'd go to the restaurant and I completely forgot about it. I promised her last week we'd go tonight.”
The look on her face when he pronounced her name broke his heart, “But..I..I promise, we'll celebrate tomorrow night. I'm sorry.” and he really was.
“Don't worry about it.” she shrugged, “It's okay.”
“You're not upset, are you?”
She was and he could see it. She shook her head, “Upset? No, I'm not. Don't be silly. It's only Chinese food. We'll celebrate another night, it's fine.” she rose to her feet, gathering the magazines on the coffee table. She was trying to avoid his gaze but unfortunately for her, he saw she was crying. And why was she anyway? After all, they weren't together or anything. They were just best friends...who slept together and had a kid. And it was not because they acted way more like a family than just roommates lately that it meant anything. They were only friends. Nothing more. He could date whoever he wanted. Like she could date whoever she wanted. The only difference was that the only person she wanted to be with was standing in front of her.
“You know what? I'll just call Tamara telling her I can't come after all...that something came up, an emergency or something.” he took his jacket off, “I'll cancel everything and I'll order the food and we'll watch the movie, all right?” he smiled.
“I told you, it's okay.”
“Laverne, you're crying.”
“I am not.” she lied miserably, “Now go. Tamara's waiting for you.”
“I'll cancel everything. It's okay, I'm sure she'll understand.” that was a lie, it'd be a miracle if Tamara would talk to him again after that. But he never thought Laverne would react like that, she was crying in front of him! What was he supposed to do? Just leave?
“I'm serious. I want you to go. Don't worry about me, I'm fine.”
“Just go, all right? You promised her. And besides, I..I have lots to do like uh,”she waved the newspaper in front of him. “I..I have to start looking for another place to live.”
“You just got hired today...”
“Yeah, so? You said I had to move out as soon as I found a job.”
“Come on, I didn't mean right on the same day.” could he feel any more like shit right now?
She shrugged, “Why wait? You don't want me to stick around forever, do you?” she wiped her tears staring at him.
“As a matter of fact, I do.” he said, surprising both of them, “I don't want you to move out. I like having you here.” there he said it and that was how he felt.
“It's not so easy, Carmine...”
“W-what? What do you mean?”
“We can't just live together while you're dating her.”
“Why not? We've been doing it for the past month...”
She nodded, “Yes, but now I can't do it anymore.”
“Because it hurts too much.” she almost shouted, “I can't stay here hoping every day that you'll choose to spend the evening with me and Anna and not with her.”
“If you're still upset about tonight, I told you I'm stayi-”
“This has nothing to do with tonight.” was he really that blind?
“I don't know what you want from me, Laverne; I'm trying to do the right thing for Anna.” and God knew he tried! He gave up on so many things to be there for his daughter.
“The right thing would not be to date another woman than-”
“Than her mom.” he finished her sentence and suddenly everything became clear. “That's what you were gonna say, right?” At least now he knew why she always looked upset whenever he talked about Tamara.
She shrugged,“Why do you think I came here, Carmine?”
“You came here for Anna.”
“At first, yes, that was my only reason. But now, I mean-”
“You want more. You also want us to be together. You want us to be a family.”
He took her silence as a 'yes'.
“I..I'm gonna have to ask you to make a choice. But don't choose me because it's the right thing to do. If you choose me it has to come from your heart. “ the last thing she ever wanted was to be in a loveless relationship. “If you don't choose me, I'll have to move out. But don't worry about Anna, I ain't gonna move back to California or anything. You'll still see her every day. I promise.”
“And what about us? We'll still be friends?”
“We'll always be friends...”
“You know what I mean, Laverne.” what was happening? For the first time in weeks he finally seemed like he had his life slowly back on track and now everything was falling apart again. “Why does everything need to be so complicated?” he actually felt like crying. He thought if she stayed here while he continued dating Tamara, everything would work out. This way Anna would live with both her parents and that would be the right thing for everyone. Sure, he'd have told Tamara the truth one way or another but he was pretty sure things would work out. And now this happened.
“They're not complicated Carmine, you just have to follow your heart.”
“And how the hell am I supposed to do that? I can't compare nine weeks of relationship I had with Tamara with twenty years of friendship I had with you! That's not fair Laverne, you can't do this.” he sank in the sofa and buried his face in his hands.“What if it doesn't work?”
“Between us. Remember all those years ago when we sort of dated behind everyone's back and we ended up fighting and calling each other names. What if we end up hating each other? What happens then? Worse imagine we get married and then we divorce, do you really want us to fight for custody?”
She wiped her tears, “No, I..”
“I can't do it, Laverne. Our friendship means the world to me and I don't want to risk everything we have now just to do the right thing. I love you but we can't be together. There's too much at stake here. I'm sorry.”
She felt like someone just ripped her heart out of her chest. She could barely breathe, “I..I'll move out tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? Come on. You didn't even find a place yet.”
“Me and Anna will sleep at a hotel until I do.”
Her face was so red and puffy, it broke his heart. “Don't be silly, i-”
“You should go. Your girlfriend's waiting.”
“At least let me help you pack, I'll-”
“No.” she shook her head, “I don't need your help.”
“Of course you do, your stuff's scattered all over the apartment-”
“Sorry I didn't mean for my stuff to burden you.”
“That's not what I meant.” he took a deep breath, “Maybe we should talk about what just happened here.”
“What's to talk about?” she shrugged, “I'm fine.”
“You're fine?! You're sobbing.” he grabbed her hand, “Come here. Now I know it's hard but it is the right thing or us.”
“How'd you know?”
“Because I know. I've seen friends get together now they're not friends anymore. Some of them are even enemies. You don't want that to happen between us, do you?”
She had to admit, he was right. Finally, she shook her head. “I..I need to pack, I want to be out of here by tomorrow morning.”
“What's the rush?”
She took a deep breath, “Have fun on your date.” she said instead of answering him. Within seconds she grabbed an empty box and made her way into the bedroom.
By the time Carmine came home, the place looked literally empty. He didn't know how she had done it but everything was packed in boxes. In two hours she managed to clean the entire apartment and pack everything. “Wow. That's a lot of boxes.” he exclaimed chuckling.
She turned around glaring at him, “I'll be gone by the time you wake up tomorrow. Good night.”
He sensed she was angry with him and he sighed, “Wow. Wow, what's going on? I thought we were okay.”
“You hate me.”
she threw the sponge in the sink “So what if I'm angry, I'm not allowed?”
“That's not fair, I-”
“Yeah well, life isn't fair. I don't hate you but I don't want us to see each other for a while. Except to pick up Anna but that's it.”
“So that's how it's going to be from now on?”
She said nothing and avoided his gaze.
“We can't be together so we stop being friends?” what the hell happened? He honestly thought they were okay when he left earlier. Guess he was wrong.
“I never said we shouldn't be friends, I said I didn't want us to see each other for a while.”
“That's the same thing. A while's gonna turn into weeks then months and then before you know it, Anna will be old enough to decide who she wants to live with and we'll never see each other again.” “What am I supposed to do? I can't pretend to be happy for you while you and Tamara are together. Hell, I've done it for fifteen years when you and Shirley were together I won't do it again and if you honestly think I'm gonna pine for you while you live the happy life with your girlfriend, well you're sadly mistaken.”
“Please explain to me, what happened between the moment I left earlier and now? We were oka-”
“Yeah, we were but then when I was packing I just did some thinking and I don't see why I should be the only one hurting in all this. You made your choice well I'm making mine.”
“And what's that?”
“Well, you rejected me so I'm rejecting you.”
“What? But that's childish.”
“Maybe but if you're hurting as much as I am right now then maybe I will think about talking to you again.”
“So we're not talking anymore?”
“Starting tomorrow, nope.”
“And how long are you gonna keep this up?”
“Until I decide you've suffered enough.”
He scoffed as she retreated to the bedroom.
When he woke up the next morning, she was already gone.
The loud knock on her door startled her. It's been almost three weeks and the only words she and Carmine exchanged were 'Hello' and 'Goodbye' literally. He always tried to talk to her but she didn't want to hear about it and now it's been three weeks since she moved out and here they were. Not only Carmine 'lost' his best friend, he lost Tamara too. He finally told her the truth about Laverne and she didn't forgive him for lying to her. So needless to say he was feeling pretty lonely. He even brought flowers, that was how desperate he was to get his friend back.
“Yeah, Anna's almost ready.” Laverne said without even a 'hello' and went back to dressing her daughter.
“I'll have her back by Thursday evening. Did you find an apartment yet?”
“I did. I'm just saving up a little more so I can afford the first two rents.”
“I could loan y-”
“No, thank you. There you go.” she handed the baby, “I'll see you on Thursday.” she almost slammed the door in his face but he managed to stop it with his foot.
“We have to talk.”
She glared at him, “Isn't Tamara waiting for you?”
“There's no Tamara anymore. Besides I didn't come here to talk about that. I came here hoping you'd come back.”
He nodded, “Yeah. Move back in with me.”
“So we can be 'roommates' again? No, thank you.”
He sighed, “You won. I feel like shit, okay? I don't know what to do anymore. Please can we just be friends again? I miss you.” there he said it.
She wasn't saying anything and it stressed him even more, “Come on, I brought flowers.”
“But we can't be roommates again..it's too hard a-and we can't be just 'friends' because we both know we're more than that. So what are we?”
“We're Carmine and Laverne and if something happens, something happens. But I want us to always be friends no matter what I don't want to relive those past three weeks ever again. I've really missed you.” he sounded so sincere she couldn't help but smile;
“I've missed you too.” she finally accepted the flowers. “Wanna come in?”
“I'd love to.” he entered the room and embraced her in a warm hug.
She smiled and closed the door.
X o x o x o X