Authors: Francine LaSala
Amy had just come out of the shower when she heard her front door open. “We're here,” Jane shouted from the foyer. So Amy greeted Jane and ZoÃ« dripping wet and in a towel. “I just used my key,” said Jane apologetically. “I hope that was okay?”
“No problem,” said Amy. “You know that. But what are you guys doing here?”
Jane and ZoÃ« looked at each other, and ZoÃ« shook her head. “Your date?” ZoÃ« said.
Jane and ZoÃ« looked at each other again. Now it was Jane's turn to speak. “Honey, you don't honestly think we would let you get ready for this on your own, do you?”
Amy was perplexed. “Jane, just because you're a mother, it doesn't make you everyone's mother.”
“Auntie Amy, you need us. You know you do.”
“I think you could use our help,” said Jane and she and ZoÃ« looked at one another again. And then Jane looked back at Amy. “First of all, what are you going to wear?”
ZoÃ« said, “Mama, you know she has nothing to wear.”
“Right,” smirked Amy. “I'm Urban Amish.”
“Not that there's anything wrong with that,” said Jane, looking chidingly at ZoÃ«.
“Well for your information, I was thinking about taking a shopping trip,” Amy said as she walked into her bedroom. She reemerged with a shopping bag. “So I could find something to wear withâ¦” she said as she reached into the bag like a magician reaches into a hat and pulled outâ¦“These!”
“Rita Hayworth's shoes?” ZoÃ« remarked, impressed.
“Oh, my God!” squealed Jane. “They're gorgeous!”
“Worth every penny,” said ZoÃ«. “Truly.”
“You really went through with it. Good for you!” said Jane.
ZoÃ« approached and craned her small neck to examine the shoes. “You're sure they're authentic?” she asked.
Jane shook her head. “Oh, what does it matter? Put them on. Please.”
Amy slipped her feet into the shoes and paraded around the living room in only the shoes and her towel.
“You look like a stripper!” ZoÃ« gushed.
“ZoÃ«!” Jane gasped. “Nice little girlsâ”
“What? Don't compliment their friends when they look hot?”
“No. Nice little girls
don't know what exotic dancers are for a start,” she said, and then softened. “But nice girls
compliment their friends, it's true.”
“I've never seen a stripper, Mama. Just read about one. Promise,” she waxed angelic.
“Can we take you shopping, Amy?” asked Jane. “It would be so much fun!”
“And a makeover!” exclaimed ZoÃ«. “Mama, please tell her she needs a makeover.”
“Okay, and a makeover, too,” smiled Amy.
“How about for you, too, Mama?” said ZoÃ«.
“Really? You thinkâ¦”
“Mama has a new boyfriend, you know,” ZoÃ« said, smugly.
“You do?” asked Amy. “Who?”
Jane blushed. “It's nothing, really. It's no one.”
“His name is Ollie and he's a cop!”
Jane shook her head. “He's a detective, actually.” She looked at Amy. “I was going to tell you, but really, it's nothing.”
“Not yet!” beamed ZoÃ«.
“You know him, actually,” she said. “This is so embarrassing. It's the guy who was investigating Heimlich's death.”
“The guy with the crazy moustache? Franks?!”
“That's him, yes.”
“I don't understandâ¦”
“I was going to tell you. It just didn't seem that significant. He came around a couple of times afterwards, you know, asking questions about you. And after that, I guess he just kept coming around.”
day,” said ZoÃ«.
“Anyway, do you think you can babysit for me next week? Ollie wants to take me out to dinner and my parents have other plans.”
“Sure,” Amy smiled. “No problem. Looks like things may be looking up for all of us then, huh?”
“Looks like it,” said ZoÃ«. “But not while you're looking like this. Let's go now. Please?”
Five hours later, a blonder, more gorgeous, and saddled-with-shopping-bags Amy walked up to her apartment building. Predictably, but comforting in its way, the Boys were planted on the stoop. But instead of calling out to her as she approached, they just parted to let her pass. She was surprised to feel sad about not having their attention, especially now, but even more surprised when Angelo politely regarded her as “Ma'am.”
“Ma'am?” She flipped around. “Who are you calling âma'am?”
“Miss Amy, it is you?” said Frankie, as he stuck out his hand and nodded to Mario. Mario shook his head and reached into his pocket.
“What's with the new look?” Angelo wondered.
“Dunno. I guess I was bored with the old one,” she said. And then tentatively, “You like it?”
“I think you look great,” said Frankie, as he counted the stack of bills he'd won from Mario, and slipped them into his pocket.
“I kind of liked you the way you were,” remarked a sulking Tony.
“I have a date,” she confessed, and they all nodded.
“That him?” asked Mario, nodding to a figure making its way toward the building.
“Holy shit. What time is it?” she panicked.
“Go ahead,” said Tony. “We'll stall him.”
She hesitated a moment, unsure of what that would mean coming from Tony.
“We got it covered,” said Mario. “Hurry up.”
“Okay,” she stalled, and Frankie waved her in. “Thanks, guys!” she said and she darted inside.
Amy flew into her apartment, tossed her shopping bags in her bedroom, tore one open, and dressed in a somewhat clingy white and pink minidress. Then she raced to the closet to pull out the finishing touch: Her beautiful shoes. As she crossed the room, she caught her reflection in the mirror and she smiled. She stood up stick strait as she took in the new her. She was happy.
Then she remembered that Brendan was only seconds away. “Oh no!” she said, and darted around to finish getting ready.
Nearly breathless from getting dressed so quickly, she entered the living room and waited for the buzzer.
Where was he?
As the minutes passed, she became sure he had changed his mind, that he'd realized finally that a guy that good-looking didn't date mousy girls like her. Except she wasn't a mousy girl anymore, was she? As she sat, she watched her foot tilt back and forth in its amazing shoe, and another explanation occurred to her. The Building Boys scared him away. In a panic, she flew to the window and looked outside. They were all there; Brendan was not. She slumped into a chair just as her buzzer rang. She hadn't realized she had been holding her breath until she rose to answer the door.
“Wow,” said Brendan as she let him in. “You look amazing!”
“Thanks,” she said shyly, quietly praying the heat she now felt in her face at the sight of him wasn't manifesting as red blotches on either cheek.
“And the shoes. You got the shoes?” he asked.
“You noticed,” she said.
“Baby, I thought they'd be hot,” he said, smarmily, and licked his luscious lips. “But they are
“Uh,” she paused. He smiled at her and motioned to the front door and she froze where she stood. And then that starlight shone out of his eyes again and she decided to ignore anything else that came out of his mouth for as long as she could stand it.
Twenty minutes later, Amy and Brendan entered a Japanese restaurant on Northern Boulevard where she and Jane had eaten many times before. She never came here with David, however, because she never went out to dinner with David. The restaurant was expansive and loud and decorated like a Japanese garden, with seating outside in the back in an actual Japanese garden, though Amy knew the restaurant, like most of the pizza restaurants, taco stands and sushi restaurants in the neighborhood, was Korean-owned.
“So you used to come here with your ex?” Brendan asked.
“My ex?” she replied, defensively.
“I'm sorry,” he said. “I didn't mean to pry. Lauren told me some things.”
“Oh,” she said. “What did she tell you?”
“Not much. Just that you were in a bad relationship for a long time,” he said as he reached for his menu, “and that you haven't had sex for about five years,” and opened it.
“Don't worry,” he smiled, looking up, smiling a lascivious grin that sent a crackling of electricity to her nether regions. “I know how to fix that.”
Amy was horrified. Not only was this guy already expecting sex at the end of the date, she was almost positive she was going to give it to him. He was breathtaking after all, like perfection itself had been poured into a mold of sensuality and hardened into an exquisite, god-like form. Now if only he would stop talkingâ¦
“That came out all wrong. Sorry. I'm not expecting to sleep with you tonight,” he said.
“Oh,” she replied, relaxing a little but also feeling somewhat disappointed. “My ex never came here,” she explained. “He didn't believe in restaurants.”
Brendan stared blankly at her. “I don't get it.”
“He didn't think it made sense to spend money on having someone else prepare and serve your food when these were things people should be able to do for themselves.”
“Huh,” he grunted. She could feel her clothes peeling off, piece by piece in his head, as he stared at her from across the table. He grunted. “Still don't get it.”
“It's not important,” she said, hoping her attraction to him wasn't too apparent. “And honestly, I'd rather not talk about him anymore.”
“Fair enough,” Brendan said, and the salacious grin he now wore indicated to her that the last article of her clothing had indeed been removed in his tiny mind.
“So what do you do for a living, Brendan?” she asked, admittedly breathless, as she opened her menu.
“I'm in sales. Or at least I used to be. Now I don't work.”
“Had to get out before I killed my boss,” he winked. “You know how that is.”
“Yes,” she said, and cringed a little. “So where did you go to school?”
“No, I mean after that.”
“After? Are you kidding. I couldn't wait to get out of school. I mean, my folks made me do a couple of semesters at Queens, but wow. Not for me. I meanâ¦ I'm supposed to
for that? I didn't like it when it was free.”
“Oh,” she said.
He leaned across the table and clasped her hand and she nearly jumped out of her skin. “But does any of that really matter?” he asked, in a tone so seductive that she began to feel that it really didn't matter at all what he said or would say ever again. Something that had lain dormant in her for so long was starting to awaken. There was a pull across the table, a pull so electric she felt like her skin was on fire. Like he was in possession of some erotic remote control device that fueled all of her most scandalous desires. It was almost too much to bear.
Then ZoÃ«'s little voice sounded in her head, “You can't fall in love with a body.”
“Brendan, will you excuse me?” she said, nearly panting. “I have to use the ladies',” she said, lifting herself out of her chair and grabbing her purse.
“No problem, gorgeous,” he winked. “I'll be right here, waiting for you.”
Amy made it to the bathroom door, but instead of going in, she made a quick left toward the exit and darted outside. She scrambled up Northern Boulevard and onto 192nd Street, and then broke into a sprint.
Thankful that the Boys seemed to have something else to do this evening, she ran into her building and up to her apartment. Safely inside, she secured the lock, both dead bolts, and the chain. She headed into the kitchen, where she opened a bottle of cabernet and poured herself a full glass.
Twenty minutes later, there was gentle knocking on her front door. “Amy? Are you okay? It's Brendan.”
She didn't say anything.
“You took off so quickly. Are you sick? Do you need me to call an ambulance?”
“Babe, I know you're here. Angelo told me,” he said. “They watched you come in. They let me in. Let me help you.”
She opened the door. “I'm not sick.”
“Then why did you take off like that?” he asked and moved close to her. Very close to her. So close, she could feel the heat radiating from his manhood.
“I'm just a little overwhelmed I guess,” she breathed. “It's just been so long and Iâ¦I'm not sureâ¦”
He pressed up against her and she felt as if all of her joints were going to give, that she was going to fall right into him, and that she was powerless to resist any of it. He kissed her, gently at first, and then in a way that spoke his full intent. She kissed him back, hungry for itâfor his kiss, the feel of his body, desperate to be ravaged by him. Â
And even while being with him violated all common sense,
being with him was an outrage to her other senses. She already knew how he looked and the seductive rhythm of his voice, despite the banality of the words that voice spoke. But the way he smelled when he held her close. The bristly, rugged texture of his skin. His hot breath on her neck and the taste of himâ¦
Her body trembled as he kissed her so skillfully. So ardently. Just the swirling of the tip of his tongue on her lips had caused a stirring down below. A tingling she had all but forgotten could exist within her. She had no other choice but to give in.
Brendan swept her up in his incredibly sculpted arms as he continued kissing her. Her entire body was alive. He brought her to the bedroom and gingerly laid her down on her bed, where he treated her to a thousand tiny, euphoric deaths before collapsing in her arms.