Chapter 1: Mistletoe
Carisi points above their heads at the little green branches hanging above them in the foyer, “What do you say, Rollins?”
She looks up.
“No,” she says with an odd smile and a shrug. She walks away to join the rest of the party.
“Aw, come on!”
This is it. Their first kiss. There is absolute silence - a stillness even - between them right before their lips meet and ignite the flame that had been smoldering for more than a year.
Passionately they dig into each other as ties loosen, buttons pop, and they find themselves falling to the floor just beneath the staircase. Forehead to forehead, his nose pressed alongside hers, they close their eyes to pause and breathe in each other’s air for just a moment. There is an almost silent stillness again just before their lips meet with the searing fire that continues to build between them.
She breaks the kiss.
He pulls back.
“What is it?”
“Look,” she says pointing behind him, over his shoulder.
He sees the boughs of holly decking the staircase above them. He turns back to her perplexed, “What?”
“Boughs of holly,” she states simply. “Better than mistletoe I’d say.”
He grins wickedly and agrees.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Candy Canes!
Chapter 2: Candy Canes
An OTP Advent Calendar consisting of 25 fic promts! Prepare yourself for some Rollisi romance . . .
Underneath the staircase they have lost all notion of where they are: Carisi’s family home. But there’s a not-so-subtle reminder of this fact lying in wait on the floor.
“Wait! Stop!” Amanda exclaims and pushes against Carisi’s chest, breaking their passionate kiss. As he pulls back she says ‘Eww! Ick’ and turns her head to the side, away from his face.
He furrows his brow in consternation. Was she suddenly disgusted by the way he had been kissing her? He had to admit it - it was getting a bit out of control.
“Oh, yuck. Get up,” she says pushing him off even more, and rolling into a seated position.
“What is this?” she asks in dismay, putting her hand to the back of her head. “It’s wet. And sticky.”
“Here, let me take a look,” Carisi says gently, taking her shoulder and turning her so he can see. He is beyond relieved that it was not something he had done wrong.
When he sees what’s stuck in her hair it should make him laugh. But it doesn’t.
“Peter!” he shouts, ducking out from underneath the staircase. “Come over here. Now.”
“What are you doing?” Amanda says, standing up herself in a bit of a panic. She grabs his arm in an attempt to pull him back. “Carisi, your nephew’s gonna see us. Look at us. He’s going to know what we were up to.”
Carisi hadn’t thought of that. Oh well, too late now.
“He’s five, Rollins,” he says with a wry smile. “It will be okay. He won’t have any clue.”
“We’re halfway undressed, Carisi,” she hisses quietly.
It’s not just Peter that comes over with an ‘Uncle Sonny’? on his lips.
“My, my,” his sister Theresa says from behind Peter, her arms crossed and shaking her head.
This whole situation is quickly making Amanda even more uncomfortable.
Carisi says to the little boy sternly, “Now Peter, how many times has Grandma told you not to eat part of a candy cane and then leave it lying around on the floor, huh?”
The little sandy blonde haired boy looks up at the ceiling and practically counts out loud, finally coming to an answer. “Seven?”
“Seven. Okay. Peter, look at what you did.” Carisi spins Amanda around, showing him the two candy canes that are stuck in her hair. The kid gets an ‘oh wow’ look on his face.
Carisi’s mom arrives on the scene as Amanda turns back around. She joins in on the chastising. “Peter! What have I told you before? Just look what you did to this poor girl. You’re in big trouble!”
“I’m sorry,” Peter says forlornly.
“That’s okay,” Carisi says to him, gently placing a hand on his shoulder. “You understand why we want you to stop this now though, right?”
“Okay then, go play. And next time eat your whole candy cane or throw it away. In the garbage.”
The boy runs off.
Carisi’s mom studies her son and Amanda, noticing the undone shirts, the missing buttons, the disheveled hair and decides that there’s someone else who needs to be admonished. Her son.
“And what have I told you about taking girls under the staircase, huh Sonny?”
Amanda turns beet red.
“Ma!” Carisi exclaims.
“Come on,” his mom waves impatiently at Amanda. “Let’s go take care of this mess. Into the kitchen with you.”
Amanda reluctantly takes a step forward. And then another. Following her in. She gives Carisi a wary look as she passes him.
As Carisi’s mom has Amanda tilted back in the sink, applying warm water to her hair to dissolve the sticky sugar and remove the candy canes she says, “I just wanted to clarify something.”
“Oh yeah?” Amanda asks, still feeling awkward. She’s not quite sure what this woman needs to clarify.
“My son, he’s not that way.”
“The type to … well … you know. He doesn’t get around.”
“I know he doesn’t.”
“I just didn’t mean to imply something that wasn’t true. About my boy you know. He only had one other girl under there.” One of the candy canes comes loose and falls out of Amanda’s hair. “He’s a good boy.”
“I know he is,” Amanda replies, smiling warmly back up at her.
“When I caught him under there with his other girlfriend –“
“Ma!” Carisi interrupts from his position at the kitchen table, not more than 10 feet from where Amanda and his mother are.
“We’re not –“ Amanda starts.
“Yeah, we’re not together,” Carisi finishes for her.
Theresa had followed them into the kitchen and now she’s standing there, arms still crossed. She snorts. “Yeah, right.”
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Christmas Tree!
Chapter 3: Christmas Tree
Amanda and Carisi are standing side by side near the Christmas tree.
After his mother had removed the candy canes from her hair he had taken her back to the bathroom he had used in his youth and blow dried her hair for her.
"I can do that," she had said and reached for the hair dryer that he had used back in high school.
"Nah, I got it. You just sit back and relax."
Amanda wasn't going to argue with a little pampering.
As he was blow drying her hair she noticed his Robby the Robot well . . . everything. A soap dish, shower curtain, toothbrush holder, you name it. She smiled wondering what he had been like as a kid. As he was blow drying her hair he would look over her head from time to time, catch her eye in the mirror, and smile softly. And from time to time his fingers would stray a little too long as he would run them through her hair to lift it. She became very relaxed under his gentle touch.
When Carisi was done he set down the dryer and planted a kiss on the top of her head. His lips lingered there, his eyes closed, hands resting softly on her shoulders. She closed her eyes too and brought her hands up to rest on his. There was that stillness between them once again.
Afterwards when there was movement, it was not hurried or rushed as it had been before. She took his hands and brought them down to her waist so his arms could encircle her. His head came down to rest alongside her face and they rocked in silence for a while in each other's arms, his breath tickling her neck.
Now they are standing in front of the tree at his parents' house in plain view of all of the guests the Carisi's had invited to their home for that year's Christmas party. Most of them are family.
Out of nowhere his sister Theresa starts taunting them. "Sonny and Amanda sitting in a tree . . ."
"Oh you mean this tree?" Carisi interrupts and jerks his thumb back at the Christmas tree behind him.
No one answers him. Instead only more people join in, including his sister Bella. His baby sister Bella.
"Come on! You too now Bella?" Carisi's disappointment is evident in his expression.
Amanda smirks. Carisi's family is great. This is hilarious.
"First comes love . . ." they all sing.
Amanda beams up at him.
"Then comes marriage . . ."
He returns her gaze with a little gulp when he sees the expression on her face and gets drawn in by her eyes.
"Then comes a baby in a baby carriage!" the crowd finishes ebulliently.
The little spell that had momentarily captured both of them breaks and Carisi coughs a little to shake it, returning to the present. He turns to the crowd says, "Hey, Rollins already had one of those."
"That I did," she acknowledges matter-of-factly, turning towards the crowd herself.
"And you know what, Theresa?" Carisi says.
He turns towards Amanda and says quietly, "You down for this?"
She has no idea what he's talking about but agrees anyway. "Sure."
The next thing she knows that fire is raging through her again, emblazoned by his touch. He has the nape of her neck firmly in his grasp as he kisses her deeply, hotly, wetly. Entangling her hands into his hair, she pulls him into her even further. Their bodies . . .
The crowd gasps as he begins to push her back into the tree, his body pressed tightly against hers. The needles prick against what little of her flesh is exposed and he moans. The crowd chuckles nervously.
She likes this Carisi. Where did he come from? She grabs at his waistband temporarily forgetting where they are. She wants even more. Now.
As her passion overtakes her reason, they basically fall into the tree.
Carisi's mom hears the rattle of the ornaments and more than one pop and break from all the way back in the kitchen. She knows the tree is falling over. She runs out into the living room just in time to see her son and Amanda wrapped in a tight embrace, buried in the tree, as it hits the wall behind it.
"Sonny! Oh no!" she screeches. "You're going to knock the tree over!"
"Too late for that, Ma," one of her children says sarcastically. It's pressed against the wall, Sonny and Amanda having fallen on it. Their bodies hold it in place.
Nose to nose, sharp needles and branches poking into them, Carisi and Amanda come to their senses and share a little laugh.
"What the hell was that all about?" Theresa demanded. "You just set a terrible example for my kids, Sonny! Knocking mom's tree over like that."
Sonny disentangles himself form the tree and holds out a hand to Amanda, helping her to disengage from the branches herself.
"Hey, you asked for it," he says to his sister.
"What?" she sputters.
"'Sonny and Amanda sitting IN a tree. . . K-I-S-S-I-N-G.'" He throws her taunt back at her and then gives her an almost condescending smile. "Just obliging you, dear sister."
She looks at him crossly.
Amanda smiles up proudly at Carisi. Apparently, he's good at getting everyone's goat. Even his family. This is impressive.
"Theresa," his mom says sternly. "What have I told you about not egging on your brother?"
She throws her hands up, "Ma! Look what he did to your tree. I didn't do that."
Carisi's mom turns to him now, "So what do you have to say for yourself, 'dear son'?"
"Look, mom," he says, turning towards her, unable to disguise his frustration, "There's only one place anyone can get any kind of privacy around here at all - one place in this entire house."
She folds her arms. "Under the staircase."
"Yeah. Exactly," he says with indignation. "And you kinda ruined that for me and Amanda tonight so instead you get this."
With a wide sweep of his hand he indicated the mess they had made of the Christmas tree - lights, broken ornaments, and all.
They don't connect roughly this time, not in any way. In fact, it's quite the opposite. He cups Amanda's face with both of his hands, drawing her up to him as he bends down to her. Their lips come together this time not in heat, but in warmth. And they linger.
"Awww!" the crowd of Carisi's family surrounding them sighs.
Softly he pulls away and places his forehead on hers. One of the hands that had been on her cheek now trails down it softly.
"Oh, yeah, now I believe you," Theresa says sardonically.
"About what?" Carisi asks and turns his head away from Amanda.
"That you're not together."
"We're not!" Carisi and Amanda both protest simultaneously, grinning like fools.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Yule Log!
Chapter 4: Yule Log
“I like you around your family,” she murmurs, pulling him in for yet another searing kiss.
He moans as he pushes her back into the side of the car he had driven to Staten Island. He had just been trying to open the door for her… but they hadn’t quite managed that yet - they were still outside. The sounds from the street of his childhood reach his ears as he presses into her wanting more than he thinks he should. He breaks their heated kiss and her head drops.
“They bring out a side in you I’ve never seen before,” she pants against his exposed chest. His shirt is open at the neck and quite a ways down from there as well. They never retrieved those missing buttons …
He chuckles softly before tipping her chin up to look at him, “We’ve gotta slow it down, Rollins. Slow it down.”
“Okay, Carisi.” She reaches up to stroke his cheek as they wait for their breath to catch up with them, his arm is still firmly about her waist, holding them in their embrace. A few quiet moments pass between them before she asks, “Why?”
He looks down, a little sheepish, not answering.
She thinks for a moment before it dawns on her. “Because like your mother said, you’re a good boy. Is that it?”
“Something like that,” he admits before looking back up and smiling at her shyly. In the poorly lit street she can’t see the color that has risen to his cheeks. But he can definitely feel it.
“Hey Rollins!” He runs to catch up with her at the elevators at the end of the workday.
“Hey if you’re not doing anything, I was wondering if you wanted to go hunting for Christmas trees with me? I was thinking of getting a little one for my place you know.” He indicates a height of about four feet with his hand.
“Sure, sounds fun.”
As they lug the tree into his apartment - one much bigger than he had indicated he wanted before they left to go get it - Amanda notices the log in the entryway. It has a note attached to it.
“What’s this?” she asks curiously, sets her end of the tree down carefully on the floor, and bends down to pick it up.
“Whoa there!” Carisi exclaims and drops his end of the tree, rushing over to snatch it from her hands. He stuffs it into his pocket in haste. “That’s nothing!”
“It doesn’t look like nothing. Your ears are burning.”
He touches the tips of his red-hot ears. It’s not the only part of him that’s blushing, just the reddest. He tries to shrug it off nonchalantly.
“So they are,” he admits.
“You’re a weird one, Carisi.”
“So I am,” he smiles back in agreement. “Okay, let’s get this done.”
After the tree’s all set up, Amanda is curled up on his sofa. “I didn’t know you had a fireplace.”
“Yeah, this place came with one, but I’ve never used it.”
“There’s never been any reason to.” He shrugs. “No one to share a fire with, you know.”
That sounded lonely.
“Come here,” she pats the space on the sofa beside her.
“One sec,” he says and ducks back into the entryway.
He comes back, a huge smile on his face, the log in his arms. “Would you like to share a fire with me, Amanda?”
She smiles at him affectionately. “Sure, that sounds great.”
Carisi had a devil of a time getting the fire started. A lot of false starts. A lot of excited ‘I think I’ve got it’s, only to have it fizzle out time and again. It was obvious to Amanda that he had never done this before. It was only with her patient assistance that he finally got it started.
Now they were settled back on the couch comfortably, his arm around her.
“What did that note say?” Amanda asks him.
“Ah, it was just something from my mom,” he says dismissively.
“What did she have to say?”
He doesn’t answer.
She teasingly pushes on his shoulder some, “Come on. Show me.”
“Alright,” he says reluctantly and pulls the note from his pocket. As he hands it over to her he mumbles, “I can’t believe I’m showing you this.”
Here’s a Yule log for you and Amanda this Christmas season. Remember, it’s bad luck for the fire to burn with such intensity that it goes out before it’s finished, so light it with care, and let it burn slowly.
She folds the note back up, turns to him and says quietly, “We gotta slow it down, Carisi?”
“Yeah, we gotta slow it down,” he answers her just as quietly.
He takes the note from her fingertips and kisses her ever so softly, his fingers trailing gently through her hair. “But it’s gonna be hard.”
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Hot Chocolate!
Chapter 5: Hot Chocolate
“Hey, Sonny, come on in,” Kim says warmly and opens the door for Carisi. “Do you have it?”
He lightly shakes the Blu-Ray of Frozen he has in his hand. “Yes, I’ve got it.”
“Oh good. Amanda really wanted to watch that for movie night tonight. To get us all in the spirit of winter, you know.”
“Yeah, she told me.”
“Well, come on in. Do you need a place to put that?” She indicates the bag of stuff he’s carrying.
“Just show me to the kitchen and I’ll be fine.”
“What is he doing in there?” Amanda asks her sister quietly. Jesse is between them on the couch chewing on her large plastic key ring. “He’s taking forever.”
“I don’t know. He only had one bag – It can’t be that complicated. Why don’t you go check on him? I’ll play with Jesse, won’t I little girl?”
Jesse gurgles back up at her aunt.
Amanda gets up from the couch and heads back to the kitchen.
“What are you doing back he –“
“I thought you’d never come.” Before she knows it he has her in his embrace. Sinking a hand deep into her hair, he tips her head back to expose her neck. His lips land there and blaze a trail of fire from her jawbone to her –
“Hey now,” Amanda says softly. “I thought we were –“
“We are,” he pauses, his lips staying right where they are. The hot breath on her skin is driving her to distraction. She wants him so badly.
“But do we have to?” she asks meekly.
“Unfortunately, yes,” he says as he lifts his head, a little disappointed, but still in control. Then he dons a wry grin. “Thanks for reminding me.”
She taps him teasingly on the shoulder, returning his smile. “Any time.”
“’Manda, hey!” they hear Kim approaching from the living room.
Amanda disengages from Carisi’s embrace quickly and he gives her a confused, questioning look as she tears herself away from him. He almost looks hurt.
“Hey Kim, what do you want?” she asks, turning away from Carisi, self-consciously tucking a strand of hair behind her ear from the side he was …
“Oh uh … I can come back,” she says looking at both of them carefully, Jesse on her hip.
“You’re not interrupting anything Kim,” she turns back to Carisi to give him a pointed look before turning back to her sister. “What’s up?”
“Well, I can’t seem to get this player to …”
Amanda follows Kim back into the living room to provide tech support.
After they all had finished watching Frozen, Jesse is gurgling what sounds like music from the movie and Carisi is back in the kitchen working on his ‘mystery project’ again.
“Guess she really liked it, huh?” Kim says, smiling down at Jesse, shaking the little fingers that had grasped onto her.
“Yeah,” Amanda says and joins her daughter in singing along softly with her gurgling.
Then out of the blue Kim hugs her and says excitedly, “I’m so happy for you, Amanda!”
Amanda pulls out of the hug. “Happy about what?”
“You and Sonny! Oh Amanda, he’s perfect for you.”
Kim notices Carisi over Amanda’s shoulder carrying a tray from the kitchen and she continues with her praise of him, “He’s so nice – not like –“
“We’re not together,” Amanda interrupts her harshly.
When Carisi hears that, he stops walking. And then he heads back to the kitchen. He sets the tray down on the counter, thinking. This isn’t like what they did at his family’s house where they were pretending to deny having a relationship. She is seriously denying it. And it bothers him.
“Hey, what’s the hold-up?” Amanda comes into the kitchen and rubs him lightly on the shoulder.
He doesn’t really respond, but she looks down at the tray on the counter and notices what he’s made for them and gets excited about it. “Oooh. . . Jesse’s going to love that. And so is Kim. Come on.”
She jerks her head towards the dining area and he follows her, carrying the tray. Time to suck it up.
“Look Jesse, it’s Olaf!” he exclaims and sets down the tray carrying mugs of hot chocolate on the kitchen table. He removes one from the tray just for her and points to the snowman he made out of marshmallows that is floating in it. He had tried to make it look as close to the snowman in the movie as he could.
Jesse makes some kind of noise akin to a sound in the English language and reaches out a finger for one of the marshmallows that make up the snowman.
“See, he’s all warm? Just like Olaf always wanted to be. But that chocolate he’s in is hot, so be careful Jesse.” Carisi warns her.
“Yeah, be gentle,” Amanda instructs.
So Jesse pets “Olaf” with her finger, not touching any of the chocolate and then breaks out laughing with delight. They all do.
“I made that one kind of tepid,” he tells Amanda, cocking his head. “Just to be on the safe side.”
“You really went above and beyond, Carisi,” Amanda beams up at him, “Thank you.”
“Hey Sonny,” Kim approaches Carisi as he’s putting on his coat at the front door. Amanda’s in the back room putting Jesse down for the night. “I just wanted to say thank you. That was great what you did.”
“I’m glad you all enjoyed it.”
“Listen,” she says in a quiet voice, taking his elbow.
He looks down at her guardedly and carefully removes his arm from her grasp. She doesn’t seem to notice.
“My sister, she’s like Elsa, you know.”
His brows furrow.
“I’m more like Anna.” She chuckles, referencing the two sisters from Frozen.
“So you’re saying your sister’s The Snow Queen, eh?”
“That’s not a very nice comparison.”
“But it’s true Sonny.” Kim says with a little whine - she wants him to understand. “Look, Amanda and me? We’re different. But we went through the same stuff. Our childhood wasn’t easy. All the abuse … the neglect.”
“She’s been really hurt, Sonny. She’s slow to trust. It’s even harder for her to love.” Kim sighs and crosses her arms. “She still hasn’t let me back in. But after all I’ve done to her over the years I know that will take a lot of time.”
“Yeah, a lot of time and good behavior,” Carisi says sternly.
“See?” Kim says with a smile and slaps him on his shoulder. “You’re good for her. You look out for her. You’re someone that actually cares about her. She hasn’t had a lot of that, not really. She needs it.”
He sighs and looks down. He’s not sure about that. Amanda doesn’t seem to ever need anything.
“Hey, if anyone can melt her heart someday, it’s you Sonny.”
He looks back up at her.
“I don’t know, Kim.”
“Have patience. Go slow. It will happen.”
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Fireplace!
Chapter 6: Fireplace
Here is a link to a scene that is referenced in this fic:
As he breaks their heated kiss to pull back she rises up to meet him, and his hand curves over her –
Carisi wakes with a start. That didn’t happen.
He’s lying on the couch where it could have happened though. He turns his head and looks over at the fireplace. The ashes of the Yule Log he had burned with Amanda cover the bottom of it. They had let it burn slowly until it went out, heeding his mother’s advice.
Why hadn’t it worked? Why was she embarrassed to be with him?
His phone rings.
“Vino!” he sings into it as he accepts the call, using his old childhood pal’s infamous nickname. Vino was a lush and would never be able to live that name down until he gave up drinking, which didn’t seem likely any time in the near future.
“Sonny, my main man! How ya doin’?”
“Well, I’m not two sheets to the wind like some people I know.”
That gets a laugh from Vino – jolly Vino. “Hey listen, why dontcha stop over tonight? We can catch some sci-fi.”
“This hot chick, man.”
“In a science fiction show? Noooo!” Carisi jests. He knows his friend has a thing for scantily clad alien babes.
And that’s exactly what Vino had cued up for them to watch that night. He wants to show Carisi some chick on a show called Farscape that he had never seen before. He had never even heard of it.
“Where do you find these things, Vino?”
“The Hot Alien Babe network, man.”
Carisi gives him a look.
“Hey, where do you think I find this stuff?” Vino asks defensively.
“Uh, the internet?” Carisi answers him with a ‘no-duh’ sound to his voice.
“Alright, you caught me.” Vino smiles good-naturedly. “Ready to get started?”
“Okay, this chick Chiana? Man she’s really –“
“Just play the damn show, Vino.”
Carisi sits back in his friend’s easy chair and watches as the show opens to a couple making out in a cockpit. It’s all kinds of romantic and sappy.
He can’t believe his friend would be into this kind of thing and gives him some flak for it. “You watch this stuff, Vino?”
“Is this science fiction or a romance novel?”
Carisi just grins. Amanda has a soft spot for this kind of stuff, although she’d never admit it to anyone but him. He thinks perhaps she’d like it.
After the woman in the cockpit shuts down the guy she had just been canoodling with, Vino’s main squeeze shows up.
“There she is! Look! She’s Freakin’ Hot, Man!”
“Hold your horses, I see her.”
Chiana, an attractive yet monochromatic alien girl, approaches the dude who had just been rejected to give him some advice. With her pelvis.
“Go fast with the body … slow with the soul.”
She practically purrs as she rubs up against him from behind, wiggling her backside oh so slowly.
“Yeah I know, right?” Vino is grinning like a fool. “It gets even better. This is a great episode for her.”
“Lemme guess … she goes fast with the body … ?”
“You can say that.”
“Man, you need to lay off the booze and the porn masquerading as science fiction or you’re going to find yourself being taken advantage of by some random alien babe.”
“In my dreams.”
“I’m telling you Vino, your vices are going to get you into trouble.”
“Only at Comic Con.”
He hadn’t really paid much attention to the rest of the show. What that alien girl had said kept running through his mind.
Go fast with the body … slow with the soul
Besides, there was probably too much back story to follow it all, right? They hadn’t started anywhere near the beginning of the series. It didn’t matter though, his mind kept drifting to Amanda regardless.
Vino eventually drunk himself into oblivion to the point that he would only occasionally cry out from his easy chair ‘hot man - she’s so hot’ anytime that alien chick would get down with this tough looking warrior, exposing some grey flesh in the process. He didn’t make it through the three episode arc before passing out entirely. Carisi shut off the TV, covered him with a blanket, and let himself out. Man, Vino needed help. But he would never let anybody help him.
Go fast with the body … slow with the soul
Is that what Amanda thought? He thought that was wrong. Backwards.
He lead with the soul – opened himself up early, trusted quickly, fell hard. But he held back with the body despite the fire that would rage inside of him sometimes, the burning desire that would test the strength of his will - especially with Amanda. But he never gave in. That was reserved for something special.
He couldn’t let this rest. Sure, at work they had been keeping things on the down low, that was only prudent, but even so, despite the fact that it’s the middle of the work day he stops her in front of one of the vending machines in the break room just as she retrieves a soda from it.
“Amanda, we need to talk.”
“Okay.” She seems totally calm. Quite in contrast to his pent up emotions.
“What the hell, Amanda?” he just blurts out as if she can read his mind.
“Excuse me?” she answers with a raised voice, hackles up.
“Hey, keep it down,” he stage whispers instinctively with an over exaggerated hand gesture to match.
“What the hell’s wrong with you, Carisi?” The volume of her voice doesn’t drop. “You’ve been acting weird all day.”
He responds to her just as loudly, forgetting where they are. “What was wrong with you on movie night? Huh? What was that with Kim?”
Fin pops his head into the break room and says, “You guys might want to keep it down if you don’t want the whole precinct to know about this little thing you all have going on here.”
“We’re not together!” they both turn to snap at Fin, who just raises his eyebrows and says ‘ri-ight’ before ducking back out.
Amanda turns back to Carisi, agitatedly flicking a hand through her hair. “What the hell are you mad about?”
“You have no problem practically having sex with me in front of my whole family – at my parents’ house no less – yet heaven forbid you let your sister see me touch you?” He’s so hurt that all of his emotions are playing out on his face.
“Oh that,” Amanda says softly.
“Yeah, that,” he replies, still fuming. “What? You’re good enough for my family, but I’m not good enough for yours? What the hell, Amanda?”
“It’s not that,” she says staring softly at his face that has turned so red with anger. He just doesn’t understand. “Let me explain. Come sit with me.”
“No.” He crosses his arms. “I am not going to sit with you. Heaven forbid our colleagues here might think I like you or something.”
He’s so loud she’s sure that everyone can hear them now. Amanda tries not to chuckle at his complete overreaction to the situation. It shouldn’t be funny, he’s so mad … but still. She can’t help but smile and by some miracle that deflates his anger and he uncrosses his arms.
“Come on.” She indicates a table for them to sit at.
“Okay,” he says begrudgingly. Like a child.
She takes a seat as he perches on the table, looking away from her at first.
“Look Carisi,” she says softly. She wants to reach out to touch him, but realizes it’s probably not the right time and holds back. “It’s not you –“
“’It’s not you, it’s me’?” He grumbles and says cynically, “Typical.”
Without even looking at her, he starts to get up.
“Sit down.” She says firmly and he stops. “It’s not that. Carisi, listen to me. Look at me.”
He sits back down. When he finally turns his gaze on her she can vividly see the hurt still swimming in his eyes – their light blue color has gone dark. She marvels at how raw he is, how open. So unlike her.
“Carisi, my sister …” She thinks this should be obvious, but apparently it’s not. “I don’t trust her.”
“Okay,” he says carefully. “What does that have to do with us?”
“I don’t trust her with my feelings.”
“But you trust me?”
“Yes, oh yes.” She has to restrain herself from jumping up to kiss him, to show him. They are still at work and she hasn’t lost sight of that. “Of course I trust you. We wouldn’t even … ”
He gulps and a tiny flicker of hope begins to light his eyes.
“I wouldn’t even have let you IN. Don’t you understand that?” Her eyes plead with him.
He nods quietly.
“I don’t want my sister to know that I’ve let down my barriers with you.” She sighs. “That’s the last thing I want.”
“She’ll hurt me, Carisi. She always finds a way.” She looks down at the table, idly running a finger in a circle upon it. “I don’t like to let people in.”
He places a hand on her back, stroking it softly. They sit in silence for a while, each remembering that night in front of the fireplace letting the Yule Log burn down slowly.
The night when nothing happened. The night when everything happened.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Stocking!
Chapter 7: Stocking
There is a knock at her door. Amanda is busy lugging boxes of decorations into the living room.
“Carisi, just come in,” she yells back at her front door.
He peeps his head in quickly and says, “That would be rude, Rollins.”
Before she can even groan, he’s ducked his head back out and closed the door.
“Ugh,” she puts down the box she has in her arms and goes to open the door.
She pulls on the handle to let him in, but it doesn’t give. He’s holding it shut. “Carisi, what are you doing?”
Okay, he wants to play a little game. Fun. She can play along with that. She answers in a sing-song voice, “Who’s there?”
He opens the door and grabs her by the waist. “All I want for Christmas ‘Tis You!”
He spins her around and gives her a kiss that is even more dizzying than the circles he’s moving her in. But then he stops the circular motion as he presses her somewhat roughly against the wall. Pictures hanging on it rattle. Breathing into the intimate kisses he’s smothering her mouth with he says, “That’s really all I want, Amanda. Oh God, I want you so badly.”
His hands slide up from her waist.
Frannie barks. Loudly. She is alarmed.
Amanda reluctantly breaks off their passionate kiss. “Frannie, it’s okay. I’m okay. It’s just Carisi.”
She whines a little, wagging her tail.
“Was mommy kissing Santa Paws too roughly for your liking, Frannie?” Carisi says, squatting down to pet and reassure her that everything was okay.
Amanda puts her hand on her hip. “Santa Paws?”
“Yeah, lemme show you.” He bounds off back towards the front door, opens it, and pulls something from off of the floor outside. “In my haste, I dropped this. You were just too hard to resist there, Rollins.”
He grins a little sheepishly and holds up a ridiculous looking green and red stocking with the word ‘WOOF’ on the top of it.
Amanda sucks it up and pretends it’s not hideous for his sake. “Oh, Carisi, you didn’t have to.”
“Hey, what would a Christmas decorating party be without a stocking for Frannie?”
Amanda smiles carefully. She already had a stocking for Frannie. But he didn’t know that. Best to keep it under wraps.
“Your sister gonna join us later?”
“Nope. She bailed. It’s just us tonight.”
“Just us, huh?” he smiles wickedly and leans in, wrapping his arms around her.
“And Jesse, don’t forget Jesse.” Amanda interrupts before he can kiss her.
“How could I?” He waggles some fingers at Jesse in her playpen and Jesse laughs back at him. “So, Rollins, I got one for ya. . .”
Is this going to be an innocently crass one like most of his jokes?
“Lay it on me.”
“Why are women’s boobs like the erector sets that Santa brings children for Christmas?”
Yes, yes it is.
“Erector sets? Oh my god.” She tilts her head to the side and just shakes it. She knows him too well. Smiling at him she says, “Okay. Tell me why.”
“Cause they’re supposed to be for the child, but the father wants to play with them too.” He grins and chuckles at his own genius.
“Are you not-so-subtly saying you want to play with my boobs, Carisi?”
“Your boobs. . . your t. . . “
He lists off a variety of innocently crass terms for a woman’s breasts. Or maybe not so innocent ones. . .
“You’re too much,” she says tip-toe walking him back to the couch, laughing all the way. They fall onto it, not so innocently at all.
"Hey Amanda!” Fin calls out across the precinct. They’d been making Santa jokes all day. “Did you kiss Santa Claus last night?”
“No I just slept with him. Ho! Ho! Ho!” she chuckles in response and winks at Carisi.
“Hey!” Carisi objects. “I didn’t see you making the two-backed beast with Santa Paws last night.”
She just sits there laughing and shaking her head. “Santa Paws? No, I definitely didn’t sleep with him. We were up all night playing with an erector set.”
Carisi blushes a deep pink.
Fin is starting getting annoyed at the “secret” yet obvious relationship between Carisi and Amanda. “’Santa Paws’ and an erector set? You two need to cut it out with your own personal lingo. There are other people in the world besides you two, you know.”
“Ooooh . . .” Carisi decides to direct his energy at the older detective then - he seems to be asking for it. “I think I know what Fin wants for Christmas.”
He gives Amanda a devious smile.
“What?” Fin grumbles.
“Santa’s list of naughty girls.”
“Bitch please, I got more Ho’s than Santa.”
“And that, my friend”- Carisi points a knowing finger up into the air – “is why Santa only leaves you with batteries and a note that says ‘Toy Not Included.’”
“Or just a USB cord and a note,” Amanda says sardonically. “If Fin ever decides to join us in the 21st Century.”
“Oh, ganging up on me, I see?”
Carisi and Rollins exchange sly grins.
“Well, it sounds like you might just be on Santa’s naughty list, Fin. You know, with those ho’s and all.” Carisi says in mock seriousness, raising an eyebrow at him.
Amanda continues with mock sensitivity, “And you may not be aware of it, given your age there, good buddy . . . but Santa doesn’t leave coal in stockings anymore.”
“Yeah, it’s bad for the environment,” Carisi adds with a wicked smile.
Amanda just loves his snark.
Fin grumbles at the two of them. “Go back to work.”
Rollins and Carisi exchange high fives.
Carisi is back at her place the next night. Kim has conveniently left them alone again.
“Hey Rollins!” he shouts to her as he looks through a box of decorations. They needed to finish up what they had started the previous night. They had been too distracted by each other to get very far and most of the Christmas decorations hadn’t gotten put up yet.
“Yeah?” she calls back from the kitchen.
“Where is the – “ He spots something unexpected in the box he is sorting through and stops. “Oh, never mind.”
He sees a Christmas stocking with ‘Frannie’ embroidered upon it. It’s old and looks like Amanda’s had it for years. He deflates a little. He’s such a dumbass. He should have asked. But then he looks up at the mantle and notices –
Amanda strides out of the kitchen, holding two mugs of freshly heated hot cider.
“Oh, so I see you’ve mastered the art of heating up liquid in the microwave.” he says to her teasingly.
“Don’t be a dick.”
“Okay, got one for you, Carisi.”
“Why is Santa’s sack so full?”
“Hey, I thought I was the only one who was allowed to be crude around here!” Carisi protests.
“Please.” She takes a sip of her burning hot cider. She had over-nuked it. She notices that Carisi had put his down right away.
“Okay Rollins. Why?”
“Because he only comes once a year.”
“Or never.” Carisi mutters quietly without thinking, not looking at her.
Amanda hears the touch of bitterness in his response and sets her mug down. “Hey, are you okay?”
“Yeah, fine.” His mouth was always getting him into trouble - he shouldn’t have said that. He waves dismissively and forces himself to smile. “It was nothing. Funny joke there, Rollins.”
She thinks for a moment, then approaches him differently.
“Got another one for you, Santa baby.” She comes up to him and purrs, walking her fingers up his chest nice and slow, fire burning in her eyes.
“Hey there,” he says softly and reaches out to stroke her soft hair. He likes where this is going . . .
“I’ve heard that Christmas should be about what’s in your heart.” She stops and places a warm hand flat against his chest and looks deep into his eyes.
“Agreed.” He bends down to kiss her.
When he pulls away he notices she’s donned an evil grin. Devil and Angel, indeed.
“Not about what’s in your pocket,” she says coyly, and draws her hand down from his chest, over his waistband, and then . . .
“Hey, where you going there, Amanda?” He says nervously and finds that she has her hand in his pocket before he has even finished his sentence . . . and she is –
“Amanda!” he says a little more sternly than he intended, roughly pulling her hand out of there. He shakes his head in a ‘no.’ He realizes that he needs to make sure she knows how far he is willing to go and puts his hands on her shoulders. “Look, your stocking isn’t going to get stuffed this Christmas – I wanna make sure you understand that.”
“I figured at as much.” She says and shrugs casually as if it’s no big deal, turning down the heat that she had been trying to stir up.
“And you’re okay with that?” he asks. “Cause it doesn’t seem like it – “
“I get it, Carisi,” she says, bringing a hand up to his cheek and saying gently, “I understand.”
“I think so,” she says and then buries her head in his chest. Her words are muffled, but he can still hear them. “You can explain it to me further if you’d like –“
She feels his chest heave uncomfortably.
“- when you’re ready,” she says firmly as she pulls back to look at him.
He lets out the breath that he’d drawn in, utterly relieved, and they nod at each other.
He pulls her close and rests his cheek on the top of her head. Silent and still. Looking over at the mantle, he sees Frannie’s stocking hanging there. The old one is still in the box - the stocking he bought had supplanted it. It’s just one more way that she has let him into her life. They begin to sway in each other’s arms.
Thinking about Frannie’s stocking, Carisi knows that he’ll want to share all of himself with her too … someday.
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Many of the jokes I used (but not all) were variations on Christmas jokes I found at Jokes 4 Us. But some were actually mine, I swear! (or Carisi & Amanda’s -however you want to interpret it)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Santa Claus! (or is it Santa Paws?)
Chapter 8: Santa Claus
Carisi and Amanda are pushing Jesse in the stroller around the mall, taking turns. She is kicking her little legs to the rhythm, content. Kim had saved them a place in line to see Santa Claus, so it was just them.
“Hey, now that she’s not here, I wanted to ask you … How’s it goin’ with Kim?” Carisi asks.
“Well, I’m not sure her meds are adjusted correctly. She’s seems to be in a little ‘consequences don’t matter’ phase, you know. She’s thinking everything will work out just fine no matter what she does. Well, I maybe I’m exaggerating a bit – maybe it’s not that bad. But I worry about her, you know? She’s become a bit impulsive lately.”
“Have you talked to her shrink about it?”
She just squints her eyes at him in confusion.
“Sometimes it’s good to tell them what you’re observing. You know, from an outsider’s point of view.”
“Isn’t that illegal?”
“It’s only illegal if they discuss her case with you without her singing off on it – you know, HIPPA laws and such. But they can listen all they want. And it’s really good, too – people with mental illnesses don’t always see their own behaviors for what they are. Input from friends and family can go a long way in helping the docs figure everything out.”
“I didn’t know that.” She smiles. “Thanks, Carisi.”
“No problem – I know you’re always looking out for her.”
“Always have. Someone had to. I wish someone had done the same for me.” She looks wistful.
“Really?” Carisi asks. She’d never admitted to anything even remotely like that before.
“Yeah,” she says softly. “Don’t tell anyone, okay? I’ve gotta keep up the façade.”
“My lips are sealed.” He makes a keylock motion with his fingers to his lips and throws the imaginary key over his shoulder. “I won’t tell them about your romantic side either.”
She punches him lightly in the shoulder. “I don’t have one.”
“Oh sure you do, Rollins. I caught you crying while watching a dating show. Come on - you know you’re never going to live that down.”
“But you’ve kept my secret so far.” She smiles at him. “Thank you.”
“And you’ve kept mine.”
“What secret is that?”
“Come on,” he tips his head sideways and says quietly, “You know.”
“I’m not sure I do. You’re a pretty open book.”
He looks at her puzzled. “You mean you haven’t figured it out yet?”
“Don’t be cryptic.”
“You gonna make me say it out loud?”
“Spit it out.”
He puts an arm out to stop their progress and says very quietly. “I’ve never … you know.”
“Never what?” She truly doesn’t understand what he’s getting at.
“Oh come on!” he exclaims exasperated. Then he pulls her close so no one else can hear. With his lips touching her ear he whispers, “I’m a virgin.”
“Oh that,” she says, nodding as he pulls back.
“What do you mean ‘oh that’? It’s kind of a big deal, Amanda.”
“I didn’t mean it that way,” she says, trying to explain herself. “I just figured you were, so it’s not a big revelation to me, I’m sorry. But, I understand how it could be a big deal to you.”
“It’s not a big deal to you?” he asks, scratching the back of his head with his hand.
“Frankly no, Carisi.” Once his hand drops, she rubs his shoulder reassuringly and smiles impishly. “Besides, I like you the way you are – inexperience and all.”
He just stands there and sputters, absolutely flabbergasted. “What?”
“Yeah,” she says and draws him in for a light kiss on the lips.
She likes him this way? It doesn’t disturb her in the least that he has never ‘done the deed’? He can’t believe his luck. No one else …
He tries to turn the light kiss into something deeper, but she pushes him away.
“And about that …” she starts. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you …”
“Even though we’re trying, we haven’t been very good about taking it slow you know. Especially in that regard.”
“Yeah, I know,” he admits. They start to walk again.
“I think we need to. Because -”
“Because I know you’re not ready. And I know it’s hard for you.”
He’s silent. Contemplating that.
“I mean, the passion is there, the desire is there - there’s so much going on between us right now. But I don’t want us to get caught up in the moment and do something you’ll regret.”
She stops him and touches his face gently, making a light circle on his cheek with her thumb. “I don’t want to do that to you.”
He reaches up his hand to hers and takes it into his own. He stares down at it for a moment before saying,“Thank you, Amanda.”
Kim waves them over after their fourth pass around the mall. Damn that line was long. They barely catch up to her before they see her jump on Santa’s lap and wrap her arms around him.
“Ho! Ho! Ho!” he says exuberantly. “I’m not sure Santa’s lap is for big girls.”
“How about naughty girls?” she asks and touches his naturally red nose seductively.
“Kim!” Amanda tries to get her sister off the poor man’s lap by grabbing her arm, but Kim just yanks it away from her, snuggling deeper into Santa instead.
“Vino?” Carisi says with surprise, recognizing his friend underneath the suit. It was hard not to - you could smell the alcohol on his breath from where he stood.
“Hey now, what’s your name naughty girl?” Vino is liking Kim’s attention and has forgotten his role as Santa for the moment.
“What do you want it to be, sugar?”
“Kim!” Amanda rolls her eyes and then puts her hand on her forehead in frustration. She turns to Carisi, “You know this guy?”
“How?” She points to the drunk Santa that has begun fondling her sister in appropriate ways. “I thought you were a good boy. Yet you hang with a guy like this? He’s one of your bros?”
“Hey, just so you know, good boys don’t all flock together, Amanda. Some of us hang with the fallen ones if you will, like it or not.”
“What’s an Orion Slave Girl?” They hear Kim giggle, snuggling into Vino’s fake beard.
Carisi tips his head towards Amanda. “I know him from the neighborhood.”
“That doesn’t excuse this.” Amanda counters.
“I know, I know. He’s going to have your sister donning green body paint here any minute.”
“Green paint? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Yo, Vino!” Carisi gets his friends attention. “You’re working here. You want all the little kids to see this? She’s not even an alien chick, man. It’s not worth it. ”
“But she wants to be … right little girl?”
“That’s enough,” Amanda yanks hard on Kim’s arm and finally has success removing her from Vino’s lap. Then she whispers to her harshly, “We’re here for Jesse, not you.”
“I got his number,” Kim sing-songs in response.
Amanda hears Carisi mutter an ‘Oh no’ and turns to him, her face echoing the same sentiment.
In case you’re not old enough or not nerdy enough to know what an Orion Slave Girl is, here ya go!
From the Original Star Trek series. Ironically this is a woman named Vina in the guise of an Orion Slave Girl. (I am not making this up!)
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Egg Nog!
Chapter 9: Egg Nog
They are settled in on the couch in front of the fireplace. Jesse is sleeping peacefully nearby. Amanda’s on one end of the couch while Carisi holds her feet in his lap, rubbing them in all the right places in time to the rhythm of the crackling fire. They are playing “I Never” with rum-spiked eggnog.
He had already gotten her to take a sip countless times with variations on the theme “Never have I ever had sex.” So many euphemisms . . .
She wants to share something with him when she does her next “I Never,” but somehow doesn’t expect for him to ---
Amanda says to him clearly, “Never have I ever been in love.”
--- take a drink. Casually, quietly, without saying a word. Without breaking eye contact.
“Wait? You have?”
Why does this surprise her?
“Yes,” he says calmly.
In front of the Yule Log that had roared so many nights ago . . .
“We gotta slow it down, Carisi?”
“Yeah, we gotta slow it down,” he answers her quietly.
He kisses her ever so softly, his fingers trailing gently through her hair. “But it’s gonna be hard.”
“I know, but I’ve already –” she says a bit anxiously.
“Already what, Amanda?”
“I’ve wanted to let you in. In many ways I already have.”
“You can,” he reassures her, sensing her unspoken fear. He places a kiss on her forehead and whispers. “It’s okay. I won’t hurt you.”
“Everybody hurts me,” she says with a touch of bitterness and pushes away to stand up.
“I won’t,” he says steadily.
“How do you know that? You don’t know that.” She squeezes her hands through her hair. “Everybody lets me down. Everybody disappoints me in the end.”
“Amanda –” Carisi stands up as she interrupts him.
“I’ve already let you in so far.” She almost whimpers. “So far. . . You have no idea.”
“Hey, hey there.” He wraps her in a hug and kisses her forehead. “It will be okay, I promise. You can let me in.”
“No one else. . .”
“Has treated you like I will.”
That makes her pause and think. Think about how different he is than all of the others . . .
She looks up at him and sees the sincerity in his soft blue eyes. She takes a deep breath and makes a decision.
“I will let you in,” she says firmly. “All the way.”
“Really?” He smiles. The flames of the fire flicker within his deep blue eyes.
“Yes.” She smiles back at him and reaches up to stroke his cheek softly. “I will. I promise.”
“Never have I ever been in love.”
He takes a drink. Casually, quietly, without saying a word. Without breaking eye contact.
“Wait? You have?” she asks incredulously.
“Yes,” he says calmly.
But then he thinks about it and takes a good hard look at her.
“Wait? You haven’t?”
She’s been wanting to tell him this for a long time. “No. Never.”
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay Tuned for tomorrow's Snow Man!
Chapter 10: Snow Man
Re-posting after massive technical issues.
Here was my original note on this one:
Sorry no picture with this one. Massive tech issues since last week. I haven't a single working computer at this time and my SmartPhones are intermittently working - which is why I haven't answered any comments either - been focusing on trying to get these chapters out. Also please excuse any formatting errors. I'm doing the best I can with the limited tech I still have at my disposal. I will fix later.
Unfortunately at this point I give up. Don't know when this fic will be back . . . I'm continuing it long hand for now and will transcribe it when I can. Thank you for your patience and enjoy Chapter 10! :-)
And I'm still having technical issues today - renting a piss-poor laptop just to get some graphics made. Sorry guys. :-(
They are sitting in front of that warm fireplace, rum-spiked eggnogs in hand.
He had taken a sip of his after she had said, “Never have I ever been in love.”
“Wait You have?” she says.
“Wait? You haven’t?” he says.
“No never,” she confirms.
Then they both say “How is that poss –?“
Amanda’s phone rings loudly. It’s her building superintendent. Why is he calling?
“Hold that thought, Carisi.” She turns her attention to the phone. “Yes, Bud. This is Amanda. What’s up?”
“Thanks for coming with me, Carisi,” Amanda says as they walk back to her place.
“No problem Rollins.”
“I have a feeling I’ll need back up.”
He just smiles. She probably won’t. He knows she doesn’t usually ask for help . . . so the only conclusion he can come to is that she wants his company – and that makes him happy.
They can hear the crazy loud music coming from down the hall. Bud is waiting for her.
“She’s not answering the door. Can’t hear it I suppose. And your next door neighbor is pretty pissed.”
“I bet,” Amanda muses.
“I would have just let myself in, but frankly I’m a little scared of what may be going on in there,” the superintendent shakes his head. “Really weird noises.”
They hear one of them. It sounds familiar to Carisi.
“I would have called the police . . .”
“But we’re the police,” Carisi finishes for him.
“Okay, thanks Bud,” Amanda says. “We’ve got this covered.”
She and Carisi enter the apartment to see green paint all over her light colored couch and a man and woman practically copulating against one of the walls nearby. He is naked and she has pieces of some skanky green and gold costume practically falling off of her. The wall is smeared with green paint as well, likely from her green body being smushed against it. There’s a song playing at full-blast, heavy with notes from the rarely heard theremin instrument. Carisi would have recognized it anywhere - it was most often used in scores for science fiction shows.
“Vino!” he yells at the same time Amanda screeches, “Kim!”
Jesse is screaming, still in her car seat, but can barely be heard over all the noise. Carisi shoots his friend a vile look of disgust and goes over to shut off the stereo. Jesse abruptly stops screaming and whimpers instead. Amanda picks her up.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Vino?”
“Uh, getting laid man. You’re spoiling my game.”
“Get off of her, Vino,” Carisi growls.
“I thought you were supposed to be my wing man,” he whines as he steps away from Kim, who is giggling in amusement.
“I’ve never been your wing man,” Carisi says firmly.
“Gawd! Way to spoil the evening, Sonny,” Kim pouts.
“Spoil the evening?” Amanda sputters and points behind her. “You destroyed my couch!”
“And your wall,” Carisi interjects with a wry smile twitching at his lips.
“Thanks for pointing that out,” Amanda tilts her head and looks back at him with her own wry smile.
“No guys. No we didn’t,” Vino protests, putting up his hands briefly before he grabs a pouch from the coffee table. “Look!”
Carisi recognizes his buddy’s “overnight pack” – complete with condoms, skimpy alien costumes, and body paint.
“See?” he says, drawing out a big green tube. “It’s easily removed with water.”
“Is it?” Carisi asks testily. “Why don’t you read the fine print for us, Vino? As I recall, your green paint isn’t –“
“Uh oh,” Vino says as he looks at the tube more carefully. He still hasn’t even bothered to put on any clothes – he is buck naked as he stands there with his mouth open.
“Thought so,” Carisi grumbles and points a stern finger at his friend. “Yeah, and you know what else, Vino? Now you’re going to have to foot the bill to get all of this paint off Amanda’s couch, the wall …”
“What a party pooper . . .” Kim says and comes up to Carisi, putting a green streaked arm around his shoulder. The body paint that had been hastily applied is now dry enough that it only deposits a few stray flecks on his coat.
Amanda puts Jesse down in her playpen and takes a good look at her sister glomming onto Carisi like that. She is high - on something. And before she knows it, it turns nasty. “Never knew you were such a cock blocker, Sonny."
“Kim . . .” Amanda says with a warning tone.
“What can't figure out is what my sister's even doing with you. I mean, Amanda . . . She's such a good time girl and all. Why would she want to be with a prude like you? Such a good boy . . . such restraint." She laughs at him, stopping suddenly to give him a condescending smile. "Frankly Sonny, you’re not her type.”
“Kim!” Amanda becomes alarmed that her sister seems to have found about them. And what did she just say about Carisi? Does she know he’s never - ?
“My sister used to be so much FUN. She would never even consider anyone like you.” Kim leaves Carisi’s side and flounces about a little, losing even more pieces of her costume in the process. “She even used to be the Snow Man’s girl once . . .”
“Kim.” Amanda says, a deadly tone creeping into her voice. “Shut up.”
Carisi is stunned. If Kim is talking about the crusty old drug runner who had been in business since Pablo Escobar’s days, Amanda’s in trouble. Deep trouble. And so is he.
The notorious Snow Man had come into his own running cocaine from Miami to Boston for Escobar - up and down the entire Eastern Seaboard. He was one of Escobar’s main distributors and they had been tight.
The Snow Man had had to change his business strategy somewhat after Escobar and the operation he had been running out of Columbia was taken out in the late eighties. But he was still running drugs, among other things. . . Everyone knew about him. And his jealous temper.
“Did you know she slept with the deputy chief back in Atlanta, too? Her captain wasn’t good enough for her. She turned him down - embarrassed the hell outta him. Got herself in a little bit of trouble. . .”
“Kim, that’s enough!”
Amanda doesn’t notice the look of hurt that has formed on Carisi’s face – she’s too focused on her sister.
“I did that for you, Kim. And you know it.”
Carisi’s heart sinks. He can’t believe what he’s hearing. Did Amanda just admit to . . . ?
“No, you like to party. Just like me. You just won’t admit it to yourself. You’re so repressed.”
“Amanda, is all this true?” Carisi says weakly. He isn’t even heard.
“No, I’m not like you. I’m nothing like you. You’re an addict, Kim.”
“Like you’re not?"
There is a moment of shocked silence that passes between Amanda and Carisi. Her eyes flitter to his briefly and he sees the shame in them.
Kim scoffs. “You and Daddy. Two peas in a pod. Only Daddy didn’t get himself into a situation with Murphy. You still owe him what, Amanda? Like twenty-thousand dollars?”
What the . . . ? The bookie? What the hell is Kim saying?
“Amanda. What’s going on? Talk to me.” Carisi pleads.
She looks back at him with immense pain swimming in her eyes. “You don’t want to know, Carisi."
But he needs to know.
“The Snow Man?” he asks quietly. “Did you actually sleep with him? He’s bad news Amanda.”
“I know,” she says quietly.
“He even threatened Nick,” Kim interjects with glee. “More than once.”
“He did,” Amanda admits.
“So it’s true? It's all true?” Carisi demands.
Amanda just hangs her head in defeat. She has no reason to lie.
This is not the woman he thought he knew. Carisi can’t abide secrets - not in relationships - and these are doozies. He thought she’d been opening up to him, letting him in - she told him she was. He’d been so honest with her . . . But obviously he had been so wrong. He doesn’t know who she is anymore. He wonders if he ever did.
He feels like a fool.
The hurt rages in his heart as he comes to a decision. “That’s it Amanda. I’m done.”
He walks out the door.
“You just destroyed everything!” Amanda screeches at her sister, tears falling in torrents down her face.
“I didn’t mean to, Amanda,” Kim whines.
“You never mean to,” Amanda says fiercely. “What are you on, Kim? Huh?”
“What are you ON?” Amanda screeches at her.
Vino burps loudly and pukes all over himself.
Kim crosses her arms and looks over at him, “Obviously not what he’s on.”
Amanda now turns her attention to Carisi’s friend. His FRIEND. What a disgrace. “You can leave now, Vino.”
“But I need to - “ He points to a pile of clothes on the floor.
“Get out!” she screams. “You can stand out in the cold naked until that vomit freezes on your chest for all I care. GET OUT!”
“Amanda,” Kim reaches for her sister’s arm once Vino has gone. “I’m not on anything – I swear.”
“Yeah, right Kim. How am I supposed to believe you? There's a frantic look in your eyes – you’re almost crazed. You can’t tell me you’re not high right now.”
“Amanda, I’m not.” Kim starts crying. “I’ve had trouble controlling it.”
Amanda crosses her arms. “So I’ve noticed. Have you talked to your doctor about that or have you just decided to throw caution to the wind and get high tonight? What did Vino bring over? What did he give you?”
“Just wine, Amanda - that's all he brought over. Just wine. That’s all he drinks. But I didn’t have any, I swear. Here, smell my breath.”
She approaches her sister to show her.
“Eew! Yuck,” Amanda protests and pushes her away. But Kim gets close enough to smell the strong scent of rum on her breath before she does. “Damn, Amanda. What have you been drinking?”
“You’re unbelievable,” Amanda grumbles, heads to her bedroom, and slams the door. She slumps against it in defeat and cries in earnest. The weight of the situation crashes down upon her. Her sister’s using again and Carisi is gone. He's just gone . . .
She needs her father right now.
Carisi arrives home. His thoughts have troubled him the entire way. After Kathleen, he just couldn’t . . . He had sworn to himself never again. The secrets from her past that she had kept hidden from him had destroyed what they had . . . and utterly shattered his heart. He never thought he could recover.
He slumps against the door, looking over at the partially empty eggnog glasses that he and Amanda had left on the end tables near the couch.
“I Never” my ass. He pushes away from the door and paces about his place, muttering bitterly to himself.
“I never slept with a drug kingpin.”
“I never slept with my boss’ boss.” He thought about that one a moment. That would be Chief Dodds. Yuck!
“I never went TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS into debt with a bookie. Doing Lord knows what.” He shakes his head.
“I was never a slut.” He feels bad as soon as he says it out loud. But there it was.
He notices the rum bottle they had used to spike their eggnog. It is more than half empty. He remembers refilling their glasses several times. How much had they drunk that night?
He hangs his head and calls Fin, who used to work undercover in Narcotics.
“What do you know about the Snow Man?”
Amanda pulls her laptop onto the bed. Kim is pounding on her locked bedroom door, begging her not to do something she’ll regret.
Amanda misses her father something fierce. He was the only man who had ever loved her. She was sure of it – even though he had done a piss poor job of protecting her from anything.
And she knew of only one way to be close to him. One way to make him proud. She looks through the spreads for all of the upcoming college bowl games. She cracks her knuckles. She can do this. She remembers the joy in her father’s voice all those years ago. . .
“I’m so proud of you, Mandy – my little girl. Picking out the winning Keno numbers!” He gave her a side hug as they sat together in a deep booth covered in green vinyl in a restaurant in Atlantic City. They had made a very long and ‘very special’ road trip together.
“I’m gonna take you to the horse track next. Would you like that? Do you think you can pick out my lucky horse?”
“Sure, Daddy,” she beams up at him.
“I love you, little girl.”
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Reindeer!
Chapter 11: Reindeer
They were lying together by the fireplace. He was moving on top of her, skin against skin, his fingers tangled deep in the silky hair that shone a light gold by the flames of the fire, clinging to her. She moaned as he moved within her, arching against him in pleasure.
"Amanda . . . I love you," he breathes.
He rolls over in bed, clinging tightly to the pillow in his arms, not wanting the dream to dissipate. Because in reality that never happened. He's sighs deeply, knowing now that it never would. He lets go of the dream and sits up on the edge of the bed, burying his head in his hands. Oh God, What have I done? It was over now . . . and she hadn't deserved that. If only he had known . . .
Kim is growing frantic - her anxiety is through the roof. What is Amanda doing in there? She knew her sister - so tough on the outside (she wished she could be that way) - yet she was prone to crumbling into self-destruction when she was triggered. And Carisi walking out like that? She knew whatever Amanda was doing in her room was bad. She continued to pound on her bedroom door, her efforts going completely ignored.
What to do what to do? Think Kim. Think. Your brain isn't addled with drugs right now, just this damn mania. You've gotta figure something out. If Amanda goes off the rails again - or worse - who will take care of you? Who will take care of Jes - ?
"Jesse!" Kim cries in relief.
"Come here, little girl," she coos as she picks Jesse up out of her playpen. "We're going to bring Mommy back. Can you help me with that?"
Jesse just makes little noises as she swipes flecks of green paint off her her aunt's body. Happy noises. This is not good - Kim needs her to cry. She walks her to Amanda's bedroom door and begs her to cry, but Jesse is too content. She is distracted by the gold applique on Kim's Orion Slave Girl costume.
"C'mon, Jesse," Kim pleads. "Please cry!"
It takes a really long time and a lot of work prying the baby's curious fingers off of her costume again and again, trying to get her to cry. Jesse eventually gets frustrated at not being able to explore this new and fascinating green and gold THING in front of her and Kim's mounting anxiety only adds to her distress. She finally starts up with a wail.
"That's a good girl, Jesse. Keep crying for your mommy. Help me save her from herself."
As Carisi slowly dresses for work - he's dragging it out because he really doesn't want to see Amanda today - he remembers the conversation he had the previous night with Fin.
"What do you know about the Snow Man?"
"Why you calling me in the middle of the night to ask me that, man?"
"It's not that late."
"Look I got a clan meeting - "
"A clan meeting? What you join the KKK or something? How does that work?"
"Don't get smart. A clan meeting for KOBS. You know -"
"Yeah, yeah Fin. You and all your buddies wanna shoot up some virtual bad guys -"
"They're not my 'buddies,' Carisi - they're just my clan."
"Whatever. Listen. We need to talk. Real world stuff." Carisi pauses. "Amanda used to date him."
Fin goes ice cold. " No one 'dates' the Snow Man."
A sharp pang of anxiety stabs at Carisi's stomach. "What do you mean?"
"All his girls are sold to him."
The sharp pain in his belly begins to twist. "What do you mean? He's a trafficker, too?"
"No. Nothing like that. He gets his 'girlfriends' from - " Fins stops himself. "Hey, how much do you know about Amanda's past?"
'Too much,' Carisi thinks, but answers, "Not enough."
Amanda submits her bid for $400 on the University of -
She stops. The world stops. Everything stops.
She hears her baby girl crying from the other side of the door.
"Fin, she has a problem with gambling, doesn't she?"
Carisi didn't want to think it, didn't want to know it, but that bookie Murphy? That kind of gave it away. Thank god he's in jail now. "What kind of gambling?"
"Sports. Almost always sports. She feels confident betting on certain teams because she follows them religiously if you haven't noticed."
"Yeah, I noticed. Didn't know that's where that came from though." He had always assumed it had something to do with her father, whom she never talked about.
"When she really goes off the deep end," Fin continues, "She winds up in the underground gambling scene. That's where she met Declan - he was working an undercover sting operation in one of those joints."
Declan Murphy. Amanda'a former lieutenant. Her former lover. Jesse's father. Carisi really doesn't want to think about that right now.
"About this Snow Man?" Carisi asks Fin, feeling sick. "How does he 'acquire' his girlfriends?"
Amanda opens her door and takes a crying Jesse from her sister's arms.
"Kim, what the hell?" she asks her as she brushes flecks of green paint off of her daughter and prevents her from putting a small piece of gold applique in her mouth.
"Amanda don't do it!" Kim says anxiously. "Whatever it is. We don't want to lose you."
"You won't," Amanda says, taking a steadying breath. She had only made that one bet so far. Even though it was a decent amount of money, she tells herself that she can find some way to eat that $400 should she lose. She knows she can.
"Thank you, Jesse," she says, rocking her girl a little bit before turning to her sister. "And thank you, Kim."
"YAY!" Kim exclaims excitedly and smiles. "Finally I get to repay my debt to you."
"Yeah, you've always looked out for me, Amanda. Ever since we were little kids. Now I can repay you for it."
Amanda thinks about that for a while. Her sister had been wise enough to bring Jesse to her attention. Amanda now held in her arms a good reason to stop destroying her own life when things got rough. She didn't want to take her baby girl down with her should she falter. She refused to be her mom - she shuddered at the thought - or her dad. Not even her dad. . .
"Thank you, Kim," she says again.
Kim hugs her, Jesse between them. The three Rollins girls.
But when Amanda pulls away, she speaks in all seriousness because everything is not okay between them and she needs her sister to know that. "Kim, I told you that you couldn't stay with me if you started using again. And I meant it."
Kim looks offended. "I'm not high, Amanda! Test me. I'll pass any drug test you can throw at me. You can do that right? You're a cop."
Amanda studies her sister thoroughly. She looks high. And her erratic, compulsive behavior? Was it really just mania? She had been so cruel.
"Kim, those were my stories to tell - in my own time. You drove him away, you know." Amanda says, referring to Carisi. She wants her sister to understand the consequences of her actions - something that had always been hard for her.
"You stole him from me." Kim says, taking Amanda off-guard.
And there it is. Mama had never been enough for her. She had always wanted both of them. But Daddy had been hers.
"You took him from me, Amanda. You take everything - you get everything. I get nothing."
"You have Mom," Amanda argues.
"Pfft! Mom," Kim scoffs. "I needed a father!"
"You were young, Kim," Amanda tries to explain, tries to be sympathetic to Kim's 'plight.' I got to do more things with him because I was older than you. Because I could."
Kim just starts crying. She brings shaking hands to her forehead, pushing her hair away. "That doesn't mean it was fair. It doesn't mean he couldn't have loved me, too."
Her shoulders slump as she heads back to her bedroom. Amanda takes Jesse into hers and closes the door. She turns on the television and lays down on the bed with her baby girl. She holds her in her arms as she cries a bit. Not even Jesse can really comfort her. She hears a familiar tune on the TV, but cannot make out the screen through her tears.
. . . They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games . . .
Yes, Kim had been excluded. Just like that red-nosed reindeer. Her father had only played 'reindeer games' with her. But did that really matter? It wasn't Amanda's fault that their father loved her more. Amanda hiccups through her tears. Kim's jealousy had turned vindictive and cost her dearly. She had wreaked havoc and tore a hole in her life once again - just like her mother. For absolutely no good reason.
He's gone . . .
They're both gone . . .
And her father.
Carisi comes into the precinct early, getting there before Amanda on purpose. As soon as he takes off his coat and gloves and puts some of his stuff away he heads over to Fin's desk.
"We're taking him down," Carisi announces. Just like that.
"Who, the Snow Man?"
"Yep. You can bet on it," Carisi says firmly.
"How you going to take him down? Narcotics and the DEA have been working that case for decades . . . Haven't been able to touch him."
"I can do it," Carisi says confidently.
"Really? You're just an SVU detective. And you may have passed the bar, but you're not even working as a lawyer yet." Fin leans forward, trying to lighten things up, to distract Carisi from his fool's errand. "Hey, anything happening with the Brooklyn DA's office yet?"
Carisi waves him away. "That's beside the point."
"How is that beside the point? They can't even figure out what laws to stick him with. He's too slimy. Everyone else does his dirty work."
"Not a problem."
"'Not a problem' he says." Fin is amused by Carisi's audacity. "Okay sport, what's your master plan?"
"He's committed a sex crime. I'm an SVU detective," he says simply, as if it's obvious. But just as Fin tries to interject the fiercest look crosses Carisi's face. He points a finger at Fin, saying menacingly, "I'm going to take him down."
"Who's committed a sex crime?"
Amanda has approached Carisi from behind and his heart lurches for a second when he hears her voice. He doesn't look at her, but instead looks down and shuffles some paperwork on Fin's desk nervously. He wavers. "Uh, you know. Just this guy. . ."
"Uh, yeah." Fin tries to back him up. "We've got this new case."
But neither of them say anymore and the silence is palpable. Amanda looks back and forth from one man to another. Fin feigns innocence while Carisi can barely look at her. She has no idea that they'd been talking about her, that Carisi is planning to go after the Snow Man for committing a sex crime - against her.
When Carisi does look up and meet her in the eye she just crosses her arms and shakes her head. Disgustedly she says, "Fine. Don't tell me about it. I'll leave you two alone to play your reindeer games."
She gives Carisi a dirty look before storming off to her desk.
Fin turns to Carisi with curiosity and says quietly, "You two alright? That was pretty harsh."
"No. No we're not alright."
"I'm sorry, man."
Fin thinks a minute, bringing his fingers to his lips in a steeple. "If you're planning what I think you're planning, we're going to need her help."
Carisi glances over at Amanda who is on the phone, working hard to ignore both of them. "You're right."
"Shoulda thought about that before you broke her heart."
"Who said I broke her heart?" Carisi says defensively.
"Look at her man, really look at her."
Carisi does and then hangs his head in shame. Fin is right.
He had taken an early lunch to go to FAO Schwarz and get something. He still has his purchase in the bag when he ambushes Amanda in the breakroom. Upon seeing him she gets up to leave.
"Hey, don't walk out on me," he says. "I want to talk to you."
She scoffs. "Says the man who walked out on me."
"Amanda - "
"No, it's okay," she says firmly. "I'm done, too. I mean, what would a 'whore' like me want with a 'saint' like you?"
"Amanda - "
"Leave me alone, Carisi." She sniffs and refuses to look at him. "You called it. It's over."
He puts his hands up in frustration. "It's not about us. It's about this case. . ."
Now she feels like a fool for misreading his intentions - probably. She looks at him warily. "Talk."
Silently, he pulls the cutest stuffed reindeer out of a bag from the famous toy store.
"May I ask why?" She puts a hand on her hip. "This isn't a set up is it? You're not trying to win me back with this thing are you?"
"No." He says. Not if you don't want me to. . . But his thought goes unspoken. "I would just like to invite you to join in our reindeer games."
He gives her a smile, trying to coax one out of her. He shakes the plushie in his hands enticingly. She allows herself one small smile, giving in. Just a little.
"Okay Carisi, tell me about this case." She takes the reindeer from his hands, 'unintentionally' letting her fingers linger. It does not go unnoticed. He lets his heart ache at her touch . . . just a little bit.
Chapter 12: Menorah Part 1
Amanda, Carisi, Fin, and Benson are all sitting around listening to Munch spew his latest theories on anything and everything. Amanda smiles. She remembers fondly how entertaining he had been around the precinct before his retirement from Manhattan SVU. And despite their strong differences of opinion, she’s always loved seeing the camaraderie between Munch and Fin . . . the way they always gave each other grief over just about anything - yet in the end they always remained close, loving even. Brothers. In the truest sense of the word.
Munch’s latest topic of discussion had been the Menorah and its symbolism, its history. One thing sticks with her and makes her look over at Carisi time and again. Munch’s introduction to the topic had included how in the Jewish tradition, people would light the candles of the Menorah during subsequent nights of Hanukkah to ward off the darkness. Pushing it back with their light.
She finds she can’t stop looking over at the man she so recently lost, his bright smile beaming every time Munch and Fin bait each other. She wishes his light was turned on her – she’s missed its radiance. He had driven away her darkness – almost all of it. And she is so afraid it will consume her once again.
A lump rises in her throat the very next time he smiles. He doesn’t even notice her. The lump turns into an ache. She wishes she had been good enough for him …
Disclaimer: Everything I write about the Menorah & Hanukkah in this (and the next) chapter is from stuff I referenced online. Meaning – I’m probably wrong about a lot of it … so I do apologize if I’m way off-base.
I did not have time to have this beta’d or even looked at by someone who actually knows about the Menorah and/or Hanukkah in depth. I usually do thorough research before posting anything, but for this story I am really pressed for time (and I’m very behind at this particular moment) so I can’t even get it beta’d either. So sorry. I hate flying blind…forgive me?
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tonight’s Menorah Part 2!
Chapter 13: Menorah Part 2
Carisi is at the courthouse when he runs into Arlene Heller, a defense attorney he deals with often.
“Hey there!” he greets her. “Happy Holidays!”
“I know you had to restrain yourself from wishing me a Merry Christmas there, Detective,” she says sarcastically. “I’m Jewish, you know.”
“I know. That’s why I wished you a Happy Holiday instead.” He smiles brightly.
“You’re too good, Carisi. Always the saint.”
He harrumphs. “Hardly. My mouth gets me into trouble all the time.”
“Ah, you’re just from New York.” She slaps him on the shoulder. “So am I. We just rub people the wrong way sometimes. They’ll get over it.”
“Not everyone does, you know.”
Carisi laughs. “I’m still no saint.”
“Sure you are. My son Larry could take a lesson from you. I’m always catching him watching porn, you know.”
Carisi turns a bit pink. Why is he being compared to this kid exactly?
“See. A grown man who blushes!” She continues. “Let me tell you Detective, we’re going to be lighting the Menorah in earnest this year. Our son needs some purification so I don’t have to slap those nasty thoughts out of his head myself. Maybe God will help us.”
Carisi gets a confused look on his face. “Purification?”
“Yeah, you know – the Menorah brings brings light to the darkness, purity to the defiled, spirituality into the physical world … yada yada yada. We’re going to focus on that purity part for Larry.”
“Well, let me know if you need any help with that.” Carisi grins wryly.
“I don’t think anyone can help my son at this point,” she says and begins to walk away. “But thanks for the offer.”
“Purity, huh?” Carisi muses to himself after she’s gone. Was he really such a ‘saint’ that he could be held up as an example of purity? He doesn’t think so.
His thoughts stray to how he had judged Amanda that night without knowing the entire story. Now that Fin has caught him up to speed somewhat he realizes that there is no way she wasn’t coerced into having relations with the Snow Man. Or the Deputy Chief of Police in Atlanta.
He kicks himself for not really listening. If he had been paying more attention to what Kim and Amanda were actually saying that night instead of being shocked at all of the secrets from Amanda’s past that had come pouring out he might have figured it out - figured out that Amanda had been a victim in all of this. There’s no way she had consented to sex with either of those men. This should have been obvious to him, he’s an SVU detective after all, but too much of his heart had been at stake.
Ironically, it turned out that she WAS the person he thought he knew - yet in a knee-jerk reaction he had run out on her. All because he couldn’t face going through that pain again – the pain of an illicit past that comes back to destroy you and the one you love. He shakes his head, trying to shake it all away. He is such a fool.
He wishes he could take it all back.
Disclaimer: Everything I write about the Menorah & Hanukkah in this (and the previous) chapter is from stuff I referenced online. Meaning – I’m probably wrong about a lot of it … so I do apologize if I’m way off-base.
I did not have time to have this beta’d or even looked at by someone who actually knows about the Menorah and/or Hanukkah in depth. I usually do thorough research before posting anything, but for this story I am really pressed for time (and I’m very behind at this particular moment) so I can’t even get it beta’d either. So sorry. I hate flying blind…forgive me?
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Carols!
Chapter 14: Carols
Carisi strokes her cheek softly, mirth swimming in his blue eyes. “We’ve got a good thing here, Mandy. You, me, and Jesse you know.”
He bends down to place the softest of kisses on her mouth – the mouth that had been yearning for the return of his touch. He withdraws and gently places his forehead on hers. A breath passes between them in that moment as they hold each other.
“I promise I’ll never leave you - I’ll never abandon you or your little girl.”
A warm glow fills her entire body upon hearing his proclamation. But …
“Why would you promise me that?”
“Because I love you, Amanda,” he says as his fingers trail down her cheek, her neck …
The warmth intensifies and her toes almost tingle. She’s never felt this way before… Secure… Content. . . Loved…
“I love you, too …" she whispers as Jesse’s cries wake her. Just on time – like clockwork. She no longer needs an alarm.
She rolls herself over and sits up on the edge of the bed.
That will never happen. She’s taught herself not to want forever from anyone. So why is she dreaming about having it with HIM?
She shakes her head to clear it.
It doesn’t matter. He’s already gone …
“Okay Carisi, I think I’ve got something,” Amanda hollers out excitedly from across the squadroom.
He hustles over to her desk and looks over her shoulder at her computer screen. “Whatcha got?”
“See this woman here?” she points to a picture of security footage from a downtown shopping area. It is frozen on a tall statuesque black woman wearing an old leopard print winter coat.
“That’s Carol. I’d recognize her anywhere.” Amanda looks back up at him with hope, excitement, nervousness, and a jumble of other emotions she can’t pin down now that he knows some of the truth about this part of her past. “She was one of us. One of the Snow Man’s girls.”
“Great job,” Carisi says, and forgetting himself for a moment he puts a hand encouragingly on her shoulder. “Go see if you can bring her in.”
Carol. Carol M. What did she really know about her? Certainly not her last name.
She had been the one ‘before.’ The one who had prepped Amanda to ‘service’ the Snow Man. Carol would be set free once he was satisfied that Amanda was ready. The Snow Man didn’t consider himself ‘loose’ or immoral – he only wanted one woman at a time - a ‘girlfriend’ if you will. And only a ‘clean’ one.
Amanda had been put through a battery of testing for STD’s before the Snow Man agreed to take her in payment for her bookie’s wrong doing’s towards him. Amanda was stuck in this situation because she owed this particular bookie almost $50K. He owned her ass.
Bought and sold like chattel. She just hangs her head in shame at the memory as she waits in the same downtown shopping area she had just shown Carisi.
Carisi knew all about the transactional aspect of her ‘relationship’ with the Snow Man now - but not the emotional side - not what it had cost her to basically be ‘owned’ by someone else. He could only guess at that.
Amanda had decided to go through with becoming the Snow Man’s girl because her bookie would forgive her debt if she did. And it was not supposed to be a permanent situation. The way she saw it, she had sold herself. Not that she’d had really had a whole lot of choice in the matter … but still in her mind, she had made that choice.
She sees the woman from the security footage duck out of a storefront, looking even taller than she remembered in four inch heels. And her hair was dark now too - no longer bleached out as blonde as she could get it - the Snow Man had a thing for blondes. She was crying into her phone.
“Carol!” Amanda calls out. “Hey Carol!”
The woman turns around and her face goes ashen. She looks like she’s seen a ghost. She has.
“I’ll call you back.” She drops the phone into her purse and starts to run.
Amanda runs after her and catches up to her with no problem despite the difference in height which should have given the other woman the advantage. But her non-practical four inch heels had been a real hindrance. Amanda is able to grasp onto her elbow and stop her. “Carol -?”
Carol flinches and ducks away from her, almost crouching to the ground in a protective position.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Amanda asks in a voice she uses to calm others down, lowering herself to Carol’s level.
“I won’t do it any more – I won’t I promise. Okay? Just tell him that for me – tell him I promise.”
“Carol, what are you talking about? Tell who what?”
“I won’t date anyone else. For life.” She whimpers. “I promise. Never again.”
A cold burst of what feels like pain shoots down Amanda’s spine. Instinctively she knows that the Snow Man has done something to Carol. And to someone she loves…
“Carol, I’m not involved with the Snow Man or his operation any more. And I haven’t been. For years.”
“Yeah, for real.” She helps the gangly woman get to her feet.
“It’s just today … It’s just that you found me today.” Carol shakes her head.
“What happened today?”
“Carl. It was Carl. He … “ she takes in sharp breath as she tries to contain her tears.
“What happened to Carl?” Amanda asks softly, a deep coil forming in her belly telling her that she really doesn’t want to know the answer.
“Oh God, we thought he was safe. He was in Corrections. You know the Snow Man doesn’t like to mess with the police…”
“Yeah.” Amanda remembers. That’s why Nick had only been threatened. Nothing had ever actually happened to him. The Snow Man was extremely jealous and possessive – didn’t like his discarded ‘girlfriends’ to move on. But he had usually been smart enough to know to leave certain types of people alone – like cops.
“I came home from work this morning –“
“Hey it’s okay, Carol,” Amanda wraps the woman in a comforting hug and lets the woman cry on her shoulder.
“God I loved him so much, Amanda. I couldn’t bear to see him that way. Strung up like that …”
Oh God, Carisi. Amanda thinks as she listens to Carol tell her what she had found when she had returned to her and Carl’s apartment after her shift. It could have been him.
While on his lunch break Carisi thinks he sees a ghost. It can’t be …
“Carole?” He gets the attention of a woman who has just entered Starbuck’s with him to get out of the cold.
“Sonny?” she asks. “Sonny Carisi?”
He smiles. “In the flesh!”
They hug quickly and she says, “Oh my God, it’s so good to see you! It’s been so many years. How long has it been?”
“Too long.” He thinks for a second. “Hey, didn’t you move away when –“
“Yeah, we’re living in California now. But mom wanted us to bring her back for the holidays … it’s been so long since we’ve all been back.”
“Ah, that explains the accent.” Sonny grins.
“Hey it’s not all lost - it’s coming back. Everyone will think I’m from Staten Island again in no time.”
“Sure, right.” He teases her. “You sound like you’re from The Valley.”
“I totally do not!” she protests and punches him lightly on the shoulder.
He raises just one eyebrow in doubt and quirks his head at her.
She laughs and amps up the Valley in her voice, intentionally overplaying the California girl he’s accusing her of sounding like. “Okay Sonny, you like totally win. I’m just like so totally from California now, you know?”
He chuckles. “So how’s your mom?”
“Never been the same since –”
“Sure. Sure. I get it.” He nods.
“But yeah, for her – she’s doing alright.”
She looks him up and down, shaking her head. “You don’t look a day over … wait, how old were we when –”
“Fifteen,” she repeats. The mood has suddenly gone somber. “That’s a long time, Sonny.”
“Yeah. We lost a lot that year. All of us.”
“I think she’d want to see you.”
“Yeah,” Carole says softly.
“You’re still in touch?”
“We were best friends.”
“Yeah, we lost track of her for a while there. But some things never die.”
Carisi is suddenly uncomfortable in his own skin. He shuffles his feet and scratches his head before answering her. “I don’t know about that, Carole.”
“Let me get in touch with her, Sonny. See if she wants to see you again.”
“I don’t know…”
“It will be fine,” she assures him. “I think you need to see each other. It will be good for both of you.”
Carisi purses his lips in doubt and stuffs his hands in his pockets, but says nothing.
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Christmas Crackers!
Chapter 15: XMas Crackers
Here’s a link to the song that is referenced in this and subsequent chapters:
“Yeah Carisi, Homicide’s on the scene now. Please let Fin know so he can contact -”
There is silence as Carol watches Amanda nod and listen to the man on the other end of the line. Her warm winter coat doesn’t seem so warm as she stands just outside the door to her apartment. The place where Carl had been . . . she can still see his ravaged body in her mind.
“Okay. Got it. See you tomorrow.” Amanda hangs up. “Hey, sorry about that. Are you doing okay?”
“No, I don’t think I’ll ever be okay again.” Carol wipes a stray tear from her cheek.
“Hey, Detective Rollins,” one of the Homicide detectives pops his head out of the door. “This what you were talking about?”
He holds an innocuous looking snow globe in a gloved hand. When he shakes it Carol flinches.
“Yeah, that’s it. That’s his signature.” Amanda says glumly as she watches plastic “snowflakes” swirl through the water in the glass and flurry around the snowman in the center of the globe. “That’s a key piece of evidence. You’ll want to get Narcotics up to speed on this right away, too. They can confirm that this is the Snow Man’s handiwork.”
Carol emits a strangled sound.
Damn, Poor choice of words.
“Sorry,” Amanda says to her softly.
“At least I didn’t have to hear that horrible song of his when I found Carl.” Carol says. “I’ve heard that’s part of his ‘signature,’ too.”
His eyes are like angels, his heart is cold. . .
Amanda remembers and nods. Neither of them wants to hear that song ever again.
‘No need to ask he’s a smooth operator . . .’
“Come over here honey and sit on my lap.” The Snow Man gives her a wide smile, making room for her. He had her in yet another skimpy costume to show her off to his ‘business associates.’ Drug dealing scum, all of them. The Snow Man liked his women ‘clean,’ but somehow didn’t seem to mind dressing them up like whores.
He had his signature song playing loudly throughout the club . . . some leftover smooth jazz tune from the eighties. It had been featured in a Miami Vice episode back then, which ironically had been a very popular show among drug runners. The Snow Man had somehow acquired this as ‘his’ song years ago and the places he frequented would play it for him every time he came by - sometimes even on a loop when he was in a particular mood and demanded it from them.
Amanda had dutifully sat down on the old man’s lap, playing the ‘girlfriend’ he delusionally thought she was. She brought out the Southern Belle in her voice and in her mannerisms which always charmed his ‘friends’ to no end. That’s what she was here for, right? Well, that and . . .
Ugh. She was never getting out of here . . . where was the next blonde that would be offered to the Snow Man in payment that would be enticing enough to draw his attention away from her? She’d been playing this game far too long . . . the house had won long ago. She was anxiously awaiting release.
‘No place for beginners or sensitive hearts.’
Every time she heard that lyric she found it hard not to roll her eyes. It was beyond true. Good thing she was neither.
“Hey Ma!” Carisi bellows into the phone when his mother picks up. “Theresa invited me over to make Christmas cookies with you guys tonight -”
“Yeah, yeah,” he says nodding at her response. “I would like to come.”
He listens to his mom for a bit. She tells him about all the different stuff they planned to make and how they need as many people in the kitchen as possible.
“I thought you only had a three butt kitchen Mom. You’re always complaining about that. Can you fit any more people in?”
“Yeah well, ideally I’d like to make it a six butt kitchen tonight, even if we’re climbing all over each other. And the kids don’t really count. So with you and Theresa, I’ve only got three.”
“You want me to bring someone?”
“Yeah. How about that nice girl you were with?”
“Amanda.” He clarifies. “You know her name, Mom.”
“Yeah, I do.” She chuckles. “I’m just giving you a hard time, Sonny.”
“I don’t know if she’ll be up for it, Ma. She had to process a difficult crime scene today.”
“Sonny, you and I both know that’s not why she’d turn you down if you asked her to come tonight.”
He sighs heavily as she continues.
“Ask her. It'll be good for her – help her take her mind off work. Use that as an excuse.”
“Sonny, just do it okay?” she says sternly. “I don’t like to see you moping about all the time. It’s Christmas. I’m giving you the gift of a chance to make things right.”
Carisi responds with silence.
“You know you need to apologize to her.”
“Yeah, but she doesn’t want me to.”
“You sure about that?”
“Then call her.”
He hangs up the phone, sighs, and calls Amanda. Why is he doing this again?
He looks over at the snow globe that was at his doorstep along with his sister’s note when he came home from work that night. As he waits for Amanda to pick up, he shakes it and then sets it back on the counter. He watches the “snow” fall around the snowman in the middle of it as her phone rings and rings. And then finally -
“You’re lucky my sitter was available at the last minute, Carisi,” Amanda grumbles as they leave her place to head to his parents’ house on Staten Island. She had reluctantly agreed to come with him after much persuasion and cajoling.
“Come on, don’t be like that,” Carisi teases lightly, stopping her.
“Be like what?”
“You know this will be good for you after today and all.” He wants to reach out and take her hand in sympathy, but they aren’t at a place emotionally where he can do that right now. He can only try to comfort her with his words. “I know that had to be hard on you.”
“Yeah, it was,” she says solemnly. “That man is a monster.”
“That’s why we’re taking him down.”
“You know,” she muses. “It’s only supposed to be temporary . . .”
She doesn’t really hear him, just stares out into space and mutters to herself. “You give yourself to him for a little while, knowing he’ll move on. . .”
“Hey,” Carisi says softly, still yearning to take her hand. She doesn’t really hear him.
“But he doesn’t let go. He never lets go. You’re never free of him.” She wipes a stray tear away. “Even if he’s free of you.”
That’s it. Carisi can’t just stand there and watch her cry like that.
“Hey Amanda,” he says and takes her hands in his.
But then she takes him by surprise, grabbing onto him in a desperate hug. He lets her cling to him for as long as she needs to and she cries into his chest. She would like to have him - and this comfort in her life - always. She knows she wants more from him than she’ll ever be able to have and that just makes her cry even harder.
When they arrive at his parents’ house one would never even have guessed how desperately she had been crying earlier. Carisi marvels at how skilled she is at putting that mask in place. The “everything’s alright” mask.
“Hey there!” Carisi’s mom and two of his sisters grab both of them in a great big Carisi family hug as soon as they walk in the door. Some little kids glom onto the outside of the mass they have created too.
As they all pull apart, Carisi’s mom puts them all to work right away. Amanda is stationed at the kitchen table with Carisi’s sister, Gina. She doesn’t know her very well. Turns out the kitchen really is a three butt kitchen and they are relegated to this table outside of the kitchen since there is no room left. It’s occupied by Carisi, Theresa and their mom. The sixth butt never showed up. . . Carisi’s mom couldn’t wrangle one up.
Amanda doesn’t quite understand the orders that Carisi’s mom is barking at all of them but does her best. She’s only got one batch of cookies she’s responsible for thank goodness. She looks over at Carisi in the kitchen – he’s got two. She marvels at how he obeys his mom’s commands with fluidity, efficacy . . . he looks like he’s doing everything right. She’s lost. Where’s the sugar?
Gina is messing with some bowl of white crystals. Amanda grabs it from her when she’s done and adds it to her mix, hoping she’s got the proportions right. Carisi has coached her on how essential proper measurements are to the baking process and it was stressing her out a little right now. All of the Carisis seemed so competent, so at ease in the kitchen. She felt completely out of her league.
Now Gina’s cookies are on cookie sheets and ready to go into one of Carisi’s mom’s ovens. Amanda didn’t know you could even have more than one. But even with the extra oven, they are having to double up and Carisi’s mom is doing frantic calculations on how to get two different recipes of each kind of cookie to bake up just right in each oven together.
While they are awaiting orders, Carisi comes over to her and makes a big show of inspecting her work. “So what’ve we got here, Rollins?”
“Knock it off,” she says quietly and bumps into his arm. “Don’t make a spectacle of me. You know I don’t’ know how to do this.”
He smiles down at her. She hasn’t really moved from the position she leaned into in order to bump him. She’s almost tucked into him, all he would have to do is put his arm around –
He hears Theresa ask his mom ‘Are they together or what?’ and steps away from Amanda quickly. Doesn’t want his sister to assume anything that might upset her. He begins giving Amanda directions on how to finish these cookies loudly - talking over his mom and sister, hoping that she won’t be able to hear the rest of their conversation.
“No, they’re not,” his mom answers.
“They getting back together?”
“It doesn’t look like it,” his mom answers sorrowfully.
Thanks Ma. Amanda may not have been able to hear them over his excited instructions to her, but he had.
“Okay Amanda, let me go get the icing. Hey Ma! Where’s the royal?”
As the two of them start decorate the cookies at the kitchen table together, they settle into the Rollins & Carisi routine, complete with entertaining banter for his whole family to enjoy. She had forgotten how comfortable he made her – even as friends. So comfortable in fact that she takes a piping bag full of red icing and quickly draws a line down his nose before he can even react. He stands there for a second with his jaw open before he lifts his own green bag of icing menacingly.
She squeals and runs away from him, into the living room and up the stairs.
He gives chase, catching up to her in his old bathroom where he practically pins her to the floor and starts dotting green icing all over her. She laughs like a child being tickled. But she’s no slouch either and has gotten bands of red icing in his hair and over his eyebrows.
“You look ridiculous.”
“So do you.”
There’s a sharp clap at the door.
“Alright! Enough kids. We’re running out of time to get these cookies in the oven,” Carisi’s mom says sternly.
“Can we clean up a bit first, Ma?”
“No. Get your butts back down there.”
She marches them down the stairs. Carisi and Amanda are laughing all the way. He doesn’t bother to try remove the icing from his nose or eyebrows – and it’s hardening. And Amanda looks like she’s gotten her face decorated in green polka dots. She hasn’t bothered to even try to wipe away hers, either.
“Well, you two look a fright,” Theresa says sarcastically as they return to the kitchen.
There’s chuckles all around.
“Okay you two, finish up. I need to see some sprinkles!” Carisi’s mom barks at them as they return to their station at the kitchen table.
They buckle down and focus - focus on the sprinkles. But still he teases her for not doing it right, not even bothering to look over at her creations in the mad dash to get his part done - he’s just making an assumption. In return, she gives him hell for being a slob.
“Stop! Hands up! Cookies in the oven now,” Carisi’s mom commands.
“What, is this a cooking show or something?”
“Don’t sass me, Son. Get moving. We’ve got limited time. Cookies bake up in minutes, you know.”
“Alright alright. Hold your horses, we’re coming.”
They put their cookies in the oven just as his mom instructs and then find a place to catch their breath for a few minutes while they wait for the coolies to be done. They plop down on one of the sofas in the living room in front of the tree.
“You look pretty cute sporting the leprechaun measles there, Rollins.” Carisi reaches up a hand to peel one of the green dots off of her face.
“I don’t even know what the heck you’re supposed to be there Carisi, but at least now I know why no one uses red eyebrow pencil.”
“You calling me ugly?”
She looks him up and down in mock seriousness. “Yeah, I guess I am.”
“Why you little . . .” He commences tickling her and she shrieks. But again, she gives as good as she gets. She has Carisi rolled off the couch and onto the floor in no time, holding his sides in pain from the fierce tickles she’s giving him back.
Theresa and her mom step out from the kitchen to see what all the ruckus is about. Gina has herded the kids into another room, keeping them occupied while the cookies bake.
Theresa tilts her head towards her mom, “You still say they’re not together?”
“No,” she answers. “If you look at her carefully, even though she’s laughing right now . . . there’s something there.”
“What?” Theresa asks, perplexed.
“They’re not getting back together,” her mom answers her gravely. “Not until something changes. There’s too much pain there.”
“Not even Sonny can fix that,” the older woman says, eyes downcast. She wipes her hands on her apron before stepping back into the kitchen.
The cookies are on the racks, cooling . . . everyone is waiting in eager anticipation until Carisi’s mom gives the go-ahead that they can all try some.
Amanda steps out onto the back porch alone. After a beat, Carisi follows her.
“A little cold out here, huh?”
“Yeah, a little,” she agrees and turns to him. “Hey, thanks for tonight. I really needed that. A good belly laugh.”
“Or two,” he says reaching out to tickle her once again.
She puts up her hand to stop him, yet still gives him a little smile. “No, Carisi. I’ve had enough for tonight.”
“Okay,” he says and just stands there in silence with her for a while.
His stomach flutters. He knows this is the perfect time . . .
“Hey, Amanda, I’ve been meaning to . . .”
“Well . . . to tell you something.”
“Okay. . . “
“I … uh…”
“You’ve never been at a loss for words, Carisi. Spit it out.”
“Rollins, I’m sorry. I … I …”
She just stands there, expressionless. Even the small smile is gone. He can’t read her. This is so nerve-wracking. He wants her back, but has to get through this apology first, to try to make everything alright.
“I didn’t know. I didn’t realize –“
“Of course, you didn’t. You just jumped to the conclusion that I was a slut.”
Okay, mad. She’s mad. Now he knows.
“Rollins, that’s not exactly how that came about.”
“Then how did it? Why were you suddenly ‘done’ with me?” she feels a lump rise in her throat and pushes it back down. Hard.
“I just . . .” He flounders. He can’t explain his reaction without explaining Kathleen – and he doesn’t think he can do that right now. Running into Carole had sent him back to that painful place – opened up old wounds. Made them fresh again. He’s too raw. And she’s too cold now – too distant.
“It’s fine, Carisi,” she states simply. “It’s a good thing we’re not together.”
His brows furrow. What? Why?
She takes a deep breath, steeling herself to reject him completely. “It really is.”
Before he can even react to her unexpectedly painful words, a gaggle of kids come screaming out onto the porch.
“Amanda made crackers!” they’re all shouting over each other.
“Crackers?” she turns to Carisi.
“Yeah, saltine crackers,” she hears Theresa say from deep inside.
The faintest touch of a smile quirks at Carisi’s lips. He’s never going to let her live this down.
“Come taste,” he says to her, leading her inside.
Amanda had substituted salt for sugar. The gratuitously iced cookies look pretty but taste like . . .
“Blech!” Amanda exclaims as she spits her own creation out onto a paper towel.
They all have a good belly laugh and she smiles over at Carisi. He smiles back at her, but not fully. This time she’s broken his heart, leaving him adrift in a sea of emotions. Alone.
I actually really like that song by Sade, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that if you were Amanda and you heard it over and over again in that situation . . .
It is an appropriate song to use for this story, which is why I chose it.
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tonight’s Snow Flakes!
Chapter 16: Snow Flakes
This is going dark, guys . . . With violence & other uncomfortable stuff in this chapter. Sorry to those of you who were looking for the fluff. If you are, you can still read up to the first break - cause I do have some yummy stuff there - but after that, this chapter takes a turn.
However, it shouldn't be this intensely dark in every chapter moving forward ... I'll warn for it again as the need arises.
That’s it. He can’t take it anymore. He is done waiting. This is stupid. He doesn’t care anymore, not about anything. Only her.
He doesn’t care if she’s angry. He doesn’t care if she thinks they shouldn’t be together. Screw it. He wants her. And he’s done with his heart being broken …
A soft Jazz tune fills the hallway to her apartment, its lyrics muffled. He stops them and presses her against the wall. The look in his eyes is fierce, but she doesn’t say a word, doesn’t resist him - she only looks back at him steadily.
The tune fades away into silence. There is only them. And they are still. So still.
And then fire ignites them.
He is pressed against her. Hard. Their hands are tangled in each other’s hair, and they are desperately kissing each other deeper and deeper. There is no end.
She wants to lose herself in him. Just once. Then they can stop. Stop so he’ll be safe. But she wants this now – and he seems to want this too. She wants a connection with him. If only just once …
She pulls him down the hallway, towards her place. They roll along the wall, one on top of the other as they start ripping at each other’s clothes, their lips searing into each other.
No place for beginners or sensitive hearts …
The lyric races through her mind and causes her to stop. He’s both. She wants him so badly but doesn’t want to take that from him just to leave him afterwards. He deserves better than that.
“Carisi …” she whispers against his lips once he’s pulled back from their intense kiss.
He’s still got her body pressed against the wall and she can feel him hard against her. He pulls his head back far enough so he can look into her eyes.
They are still.
Moments pass between them … until the silence is shattered.
“His eyes are like angels, his heart is cold.”
Her face crumples when she hears it. She stares into the bright blueness of his gaze, touching his cheek, trailing her fingers down it, wanting to extend the moment, knowing she can’t. Yes, his eyes are like angels – so much so that she wants to weep at what will come next - but his heart isn’t cold.
Hers is. Steely cold. She knows what she has to do.
“No. Stop. Get off me!” She shouts and shoves him hard. Hard enough that he hits the opposite wall.
Hurt, pain, and confusion all swim in his eyes at once. He can’t read hers.
“Leave me alone,” she screams and then grabs him by the collar, pulling him close. Her eyes are intense as she says lowly, menacingly, “Get away from me. NOW.”
Her hot breath is on his cheek … he doesn’t move.
He doesn’t have the time to get away. They never had a chance.
Both of them had been ushered into her apartment by his goons. They stand before him now, bound and held in place by two of them each.
Where’s Kim? Where’s the sitter? Where’s Jesse!?!?? Amanda thinks in panic.
Carisi is thinking the same thing. Neither of them are really paying attention to the danger they are both in. Instead they are thinking about others who may be hurt …
“So, this is the new one, eh?” The Snow Man is seated comfortably on her couch, his arms stretched out to either side. He evaluates Carisi from head to toe, as if he’s nothing more than a carcass hanging in a butcher shop. Deciding upon what part he wants to devour first. “Your new cop.”
“Not really,” she says coolly and gives Carisi a quick look. The one that only they know means ‘play along.’
“Is that so?” The Snow Man picks up a snow globe from her coffee table and twirls it in his hefty, meaty hands. The white flecks of ‘snow’ swirling around in it match the tiny amount of white hair on his head. He prefers to keep it in a buzz cut - doesn’t want to look like a no-good hippie.
“Well, what did they see out there, huh?” Amanda pointedly looks at his goons, forever the tough girl. “Huh, what did you see?”
None of them answer her.
“Did we look like a couple? Huh?” She scoffs. “Get real. He’s just a co-worker that followed me home. Got a little rough. You saw me fight him off.”
Carisi gets where this is going. Time to put on the perv persona. Just like work. They know how do this. He has every confidence that they can bluff their way through this.
“Yeah, but the uptight bitch wouldn’t give me any,” he says.
“Satisfied?” Amanda asks the Snow Man.
“No,” he says and stands up, walking towards her. He circles her, evaluating her, trying to intimidate her. “I worry that you’ve been whoring yourself out my dear. To every cop that comes around.”
He gets into her space, breathes on her neck. “How many have you had since me? You think they’re safe? That I won’t touch them?”
He turns on Carisi violently and screams at him, “Don’t touch my property!”
Carisi would put his hands up in surrender if they weren’t bound, but he can’t. This guy is a power freak. Time to play submissive and capitulate. “No hey man, I won’t. I swear.”
“How many has she had? Huh? I know one of them fathered her baby.”
Amanda blanches, but her expression doesn’t change. They need to get through this – and she had to believe that Jesse was okay or risk losing her focus. She can’t show any weakness.
“Man, I don’t know, man,” Carisi at least can pretend – or even be – nervous. It helps in this situation, makes him look weaker, which he can then work to their advantage. “I just got here man. Haven’t been working with her long.”
“Long enough to see her for the slut she’s become? Try to get some of that for yourself?”
“Man, if you say she’s a slut, I don’t want any part of that.”
Amanda huffs bitterly. Yeah, he’s probably not pretending there.
“She didn’t use to be,” the Snow Man says coming back over to her, stroking her hair, possessively dropping a hand to her waist, pulling her in. “Did you?”
“No, sugar,” she speaks in the Southern accent she knows he wants to hear. “It was all for you.”
“That’s right. You weren’t a dirty girl back then.” He reaches up to -
Carisi slips and comes to her defense. “She’s not now.”
Amanda shoots Carisi a warning look. She can’t believe he just blew it like that. God, he’s in so much trouble.
Carisi tries to backpedal when he sees the look of menace the Snow Man has turned on him. “Look man, I was just trying to score. It was taking me forever. I was probably going to have to force her. Your goons saw her reaction to me when I had her pinned against the wall there. They know.”
The Snow Man looks surprised. “You guys in SVU do that?”
“We get a pass on that kind of stuff.” Carisi bluffs. “You know, cause of the work we do. We know how to play it - make the others look the other way.”
“Huh.” The Snow Man’s expression is unreadable to him.
So he feels the need to say more. “Look man, you can have her. I don’t want her. She’s obviously too much hassle. All yours, buddy.”
Okay, that’s going a little too far … He may just take you up on that. Amanda shoots him another look.
“You willing to lose your chestnuts over that?” the Snow Man asks roughly and nods to the goons that are restraining him.
Before he knows it, Carisi has been stripped from the waist down. Amanda turns away. She doesn’t want to see this. She knows he wouldn’t want her to see either.
“Afraid to look, Amanda? Afraid I’m going to hurt your lover?” the Snow Man taunts.
“Oh, he’s so not my lover. Not even close.” She gives it right back at him, but doesn’t even give Carisi a glance.
The Snow Man looks doubtful and signals to one of his goons. Before Carisi knows it, his scrotum is in the grasp of one of these guys and he feels the prick of a knife underneath it. He draws in a sharp breath.
The Snow Man says simply, “You touch her. You lose those.”
There is a deadly pause and then he says to the goon with the knife, “Show him.”
Amanda is still turned away. She shuts her eyes tightly as she hears Carisi groan through gritted teeth. She can almost feel it herself.
Then Carisi screams at the Snow Man, “I said you could have her! She’s not worth my nutsack!”
The Snow Man approaches him purposefully, still gripping the snow globe. Even through the Snow Man’s fat fingers, Carisi can see that it has a snow man in it … just like the one he found on his doorstep that evening.
“Oh, it was just a little scratch, right boys?”
Both of the goons holding Carisi nod.
“Wouldn’t want you to lose your chestnuts this close to Christmas now would we?”
A snarl escapes the Snow Man as he lifts the snow globe high over Carisi’s head.
The world goes dark as plastic snow flakes burst out of the globe and onto his head as he falls to the ground.
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tonight’s Nativity!
Chapter 17: Nativity
"You willing to lose your chestnuts over that?”
As he sinks into darkness, it’s the chestnuts that linger …
Chest … Nuts …
“Ewww … his chest is gross. If you had only seen it!” He sees Bonnie talking to one of her friends at her locker. Her friend smirks at him as he passes by. He frowns. He had been close to Bonnie. Once …
Nuts … Balls …
“What, don’t you have the balls to go all the way?” Maureen says angrily, half naked and looming over him, her hands on her hips.
“I don’t want to –“
“”I don’t want to’ he whines. You’re a pussy, Carisi.” She throws his shirt and belt at him. “Put your clothes back on.”
And then he goes back. Back to the beginning of the end … Kathleen. Back to the time when she destroyed his heart – and left lasting scars in her wake …
“Hey there!” Sonny says cheerfully as he greets Kathleen. She is at the front of the sanctuary making some minor adjustments to the nativity scene that her CCD class had been responsible for setting up and maintaining throughout the Christmas season. “Nice work.”
“Yeah,” she says solemnly, almost morosely, and then mutters to herself, “A virgin birth, huh? What a miracle.”
“Hey, are you okay?” he comes up behind her and slips his arms about her waist, sinking his face into the smooth chestnut hair at her neck. She smells so good. He rocks her a bit from side to side.
“I’m okay now that you’re here,” she says, sinking back into him, wrapping her arms around his. “I’ll always be okay as long as you’re around. You’re my rock, you know that?”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Carisi says and reaches a hand up to touch the necklace she’s wearing in reminder. It’s a gold heart that’s been broken in half. He has the other half. “I’ll always be with you, Kathleen. Always.”
He had fallen hard and fast for Kathleen. Sure, she’s still a freshman and he’s a grade above her, but she’s pretty and if they had been in the same grade she definitely would have been out of his league. He still marvels at how lucky he is that she turned her attentions towards him.
Just a few weeks ago he had purchased that necklace on their one month anniversary as a promise to her. He couldn’t imagine not loving her. Ever. To his fifteen-year old heart it was an easy promise to make.
While he holds her he notices something.
“Hey are you getting soft on me, Kathleen?” he rubs a little circle on her belly. It’s rounder, and a tiny bit bigger than he’s used to.
She stiffens. “What do you mean?”
“You seem –“
She breaks from his embrace and spins on him. “Are you calling me fat?”
He grins wickedly, “Well are you?”
“You have no manners,” she snaps. “You know it’s rude to call a girl fat, don’t you Sonny?”
He puts his hands up in defense. “Hey! Hey there … you usually like it when I tease you.”
“Not about that. You should learn to watch your mouth.”
He blushes a little at her chastising and stammers out an apology. Yet, he can tell she’s still upset. Really upset. Even now. “Hey, what is it?”
“I need to think about something,” she says cryptically and leaves him standing there at the front of her church by the altar. The manager she had just been adding more hay to is at his feet. Baby Jesus stares up at him blankly.
Carisi is over at Vince’s. Kathleen is long gone. Vince’s girlfriend Dionne and her little sister Carole are hanging out with them, too.
Vince nudges Carole, “C’mon now, Car. He needs to know what you told me … but break it to him gently.”
“I don’t think there’s any way to do that.” She looks a little intimidated.
“It’s okay, Carole,” Carisi says gently to the younger girl, Kathleen’s best friend. “I won’t get mad, I promise.”
“Maybe just sad,” Vince mutters.
Dionne pokes him. “Not helping.”
“It’s true,” he says back, exasperated.
“I just want to know what happened to her, Carole. Please tell me,” Carisi begs.
“Well … her parents thought it best if you two were separated.”
“Uh huh. Go on.”
“They sent her to go visit some aunt or something, far away. But she’s not coming back.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Carisi sees Vince take Dionne’s hand. She grips it tightly and he wonders what they are worried about.
“She knew you were a good guy, Sonny. She knew that you would take care of her…”
“You’re so good to me,” Kathleen breathes, laying on top of him. She had climbed through his bedroom window that night after leaving him behind at her church that afternoon. He had just walked home from there, stopping by his own church on the way because he was feeling unsettled and needed to pray.
And now she’s in his bed. With his entire family sleeping in adjacent rooms. This was a bad idea, he knew it was a bad idea, especially since his mom had just caught them under the stairs a couple of weeks ago and was furious. But he found couldn’t say no to Kathleen – he could never say no to her. He loved her.
He pulls her down to him and kisses her deeply, quietly. She moans softly and pulls at her own blouse, starting to open it.
“Hey, not here,” Sonny whispers.
“Yes, here,” she says. “I need you tonight, Sonny.”
“No, Kathleen, we shouldn’t.”
“Oh yes we should,” she smiles seductively and rolls him over on top of her, expertly removing his shirt in the process.
She runs her hands over his bare chest as he breathes heavily from above her. His body responds in ways he wishes it wouldn’t. They’re going to get in so much trouble.
She has managed to get her blouse and bra off too …
And they begin to play. But he only lets it go so far. Eventually frustrated, Kathleen starts pulling at the waistband of his PJ bottoms.
“No,” he says firmly and stops her hand.
“Please,” she says desperately. “I need you. I really need you tonight.”
“I don’t want to. You know that. You know I want to –“
“Wait until marriage. I know.” She stops trying and flops over, dejectedly. “What is wrong with you?”
“What is wrong with me?”
“Always the good Catholic.”
“Hey, you’re Catholic, too.”
“Doesn’t mean I have to live like a nun.”
That makes him stop and think. He’d heard stories about Kathleen. Long before they’d gotten together. And she is awfully forward… It makes him sick to think about it - she is so young - but he has to ask.
“Have you ever?”
“Yes. Yes, okay?” she says and starts crying. “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me.”
“Doing what?” he rolls to her side to hold her, to comfort her. He feels so helpless when girls cry.
“You said that you’d be with me. Always.”
“And I will. I’m not going to break our promise.”
“Yeah, well we can’t be together if you don’t do this - and do it now,” she says angrily, a note of desperation in her voice..
He pulls back from her. “What are you saying?”
“She knew that you would take care of her … that you would never leave her.” Carole is saying.
Her belly …
Carisi puts two and two together. “She got pregnant, didn’t she?”
“I’m sorry man,” he hears Vince say. Vince knows the baby isn’t his - that she was pregnant before she and Carisi even got together.
“She just wanted – just wanted…” Carole stammers.
“To use me,” Sonny says gravely.
“Yes,” Carole says in a very small voice.
She had left him behind in that bed in a flourish. Had they broken up? He would never really know. He never saw her after that night. Ever again.
Her secret had destroyed them - her past had destroyed them. If only she had just talked to him about it. If she had really loved him they could have figured something out. Instead she was just gone - leaving his heart behind in tattered little pieces. There was no Always.
He had always wondered… was he just a ‘good guy’ she wanted to stick with a kid for the rest of his life? Or did she really love him? It felt like she had. Perhaps she had wanted him to take care of her and her baby because she did love him … perhaps she truly wanted to make a little family with him even though they were both so young …
He had held onto that hope for years, missing her, still loving her with his broken heart. But he knew he would never really know the truth and at times it would just eat him up inside.
As he awakens to the present he vividly remembers Kathleen … Kathleen and their broken promise of Always.
He awakens to Amanda …
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tonight’s Lights!
Chapter 18: Lights
The light was so bright, the headache so intense. But shining through the light, through the pain was Amanda, looking down at him like an angel. His tears for Kathleen dried up and he tried to reach for her.
“Ouch!” he cried out as his head dropped to the floor. He hadn’t even banged it on the side that hurt, yet everything he saw was coming in and out of focus rapidly. Like Amanda hunched against a nearby wall. Is she shaking? Or is that just his vision that is off?
“Hey Amanda, are you okay?”
“You shouldn’t be asking me that question, given your situation.”
My situation? He shakes his head and the world spins. Oh that wasn’t a good idea.
“Doesn’t matter Mandy, I’m asking you,” he says when it slows down a little.
Did he just call me Mandy? Like Daddy used to? That bump on his head must be worse than it looks.
“Are you cold?”
“Huh?” he looks down and notices the blanket covering the lower half of him. His pants and everything else are still gone. “No, I’m fine Rollins, thanks for protecting my modesty.”
“I didn’t look.”
“I thought you’d want to know that.”
Huh? Why is she acting so weird? Is it his head?
He sits up, making a little squeak where the floor hits his. . .
“No, don’t do that!” she says alarmed.
His head is spinning but he wants to reassure her. “It’s okay, Amanda, I’m fine. It was just a little scrape. Seriously. No harm done.”
“Are you sure? When he was cutting you with that knife it didn’t sound so good.”
“Well, it’s a sensitive area.”
She looks doubtful.
“Look, if he had cut deeper – enough to do some real damage, I would have been screaming at the top of my lungs.”
“But you still need to go to the hospital.”
“Because you have a goose egg on the top of your head the size of a baseball, silly.”
“Do I?” He reaches up and blood and plastic snowflakes come away. Just touching it hurt.
“Yeah, we need to go.”
He’s so dizzy.
“Can you help me up?” When he tries to reach for her she flinches and schooches further down the wall, away from his hand. She remains hunched against it.
It dawns on him that something bad must have happened when he was knocked out.
“Did he hurt you?”
“Did he hurt you?” he demands, almost yelling. He didn’t mean to be so loud.
She flinches again, but answers him meekly. “He hurt you.”
“Yeah, we all know that, we can see that. But Amanda, did he try anything with you?”
She looks up and away at the wall, like she’s fighting off tears. He moves closer, wanting to comfort her.
“Don’t touch me!” she shrieks when she notices his movement.
“Okay, okay,” he says backing down. Something must have happened.
“Mandy, listen to me …”
There’s the ‘Mandy’ again.
“You need to answer me,” he says firmly. “Did he hurt you?”
She finally answers him.
“Not tonight Carisi. But he didn’t have to. He did before.” Her face crumples. “And now he’s hurt you.”
Just then Kim and Vino burst through the front door with Jesse and the sitter.
“Oh my God,” Kims exclaims when she sees them, running over to her sister. “What happened here?”
Some of Carisi’s clothes are in a corner, he has a gigantic bump on his head with blood, liquid, and white plastic bits all over it. He’s sitting up, half covered in a blanket and Amanda is hunched up against the wall. Kim has seen her that way before. Before she puts the mask back on - the ‘everything’s alright’ mask.
“Amanda,” she says, hugging her fiercely. “It’ll be alright. You’ll get through this. We always get through it, remember.”
Amanda nods numbly.
“We’re like cats,” Kim tries to joke a little, to pull her out of this state she’s in. “Nine lives and all.”
“No one can break us, we just keep coming back,” Amanda says, reciting a mantra from their childhood. “Like the cat. Who came back.”
“That’s right,” Kim answers. “No one. They can’t touch us no matter how hard they try. You taught me that, remember?”
Jesse starts to fuss a bit and Amanda looks up abruptly. The light comes back to her eyes.
“Jesse,” she says standing up and demanding frantically, “Give her to me now.”
She hugs Jesse to her chest and Kim comes up and hugs both of them.
“Us Rollins girls?” Kim says. “We’ll be alright. We’re always alright. Always.”
Vino’s at the hospital with Carisi who has to stay overnight for observation.
“Thanks for getting me here in one piece, man.”
“I don’t think that counts as one piece. They took your pants away again.”
Carisi just laughs. Yeah, hospital gowns aren’t exactly modest and the hospital staff didn’t want him wearing anything down there while he was still healing. But it was just a scrape. Jeez, they were over-cautious in these places.
“Vino?” Carisi asks, just noticing something about his friend.
“Are you sober?”
“Mostly? How does that work?”
“Well, I’m trying to dry out so I can go to AA tomorrow.”
“What?!?! That’s great news.” Carisi beams at his friend. “Should we start calling you Vince again?”
“It’s a bit early for that,” Vino answers. “I don’t need that kind of pressure.”
“Backing off man, backing off,” Carisi says, putting his hands in the air. “Why the change? Why now of all times?”
“Well, this has probably got to be the worst time of year for me to even try.” Vino sighs heavy with the weight of all that has plagued him since high school. “But Kim has been –“
“Kim?” Carisi says unbelieving. “Amanda’s sister?”
“Yeah, man. She’s been through a lot. Her own struggles with addiction…”
“You’ve gotta be careful with that one, Vino.”
“I know, I know,” he dismissively waves his hand. “But she started talking to me about her own journey. And Jesus –“
“Wait,” Carisi can’t believe what he’s hearing. He must have been knocked really hard on the head or something. Was this for real? “She’s brought you back to Jesus?”
“Something like that.”
“I thought we lost you years ago.”
“You did. But I want to come back. I’m going to go to mass tomorrow before the meeting, try to find some redemption.”
“Good for you, man,” Carisi smiles warmly at his friend but still says, “I can’t believe it was Kim …”
“Miracles come from unexpected places.”
“They sure do, man.”
They are silent for a while but then Carisi wants to tell Vino something. Something only he will understand. He says quietly, “I ran into Carole the other day.”
“Carole? Dionne’s -?”
“Sister. Yeah. She’s back in town visiting with her mother.”
“I gotta stay away from that one.”
“Agreed. Good thing she belongs to a different church.”
“Um, she …” Carisi falters just a little bit. This is Vince, he tells himself, he was there back then. He knows. “She wants to put me in touch with Kathleen.”
Vino looks up in shock at that. “Really? Why?”
Before Carisi can even answer Vino says, “Wait. Carole knows where she is?”
“Yeah, somehow they’re back in touch.”
“Listen man,” Vino says gravely, leaning forward. “Don’t do it. It’s not a good idea.”
Carisi goes straight to work after being released from the hospital the next morning.
“Hey, what are you doing here?” Amanda says with concern when she sees him and goes over to his desk where he’s still putting his stuff away.
“I told you – I’m alright. I didn’t even need stitches.”
“I doubt you’re alright, Carisi. It’s going to take more than stitches to fix that and you know it.” She lowers her voice and says, “You were brutalized.”
“Yeah,” he admits, looking down at his feet. “But can we not talk about it?”
She definitely understands not wanting to talk about it and changes subjects. Kind of. “Okay. What about your head?”
“No concussion. Doctors released me.”
“I can still see a lump.”
“So could they - and they still released me. Relax, I’ll be fine.”
“I don’t know…”
“Look, I appreciate your concern. It’s cute,” he says and winks.
“’Cute’ he says.” She rolls her eyes.
He gives her that grin she loves and she can’t help but smile back at him. They get to work on the Snow Man case. They have so much to report.
Sometime in the middle of the work day when Carisi is at his desk the Christmas lights that had been strung around the place come crashing down. Some land on his head and he explodes. He grabs a handful of them and yanks them out of their socket. The cord containing the lights goes whipping about the office.
“Hey,” some people shout out as the cord narrowly misses them.
Carisi shakes the lights in his fist and yells, “I’m going to string up that mother fucker with these goddamn lights.”
The rest of the precinct sits in shocked silence staring at him. They’ve never heard him swear before. Everyone but Amanda. She is out of her chair in an instant.
“I’m going to do to him what he did to Carl. See this cord right here?” Carisi holds one up and pulls it taut.
“Hey, Carisi,” Amanda says softly from behind him, in an attempt to talk him down. He doesn’t hear her.
“I’m going to wrap this around that cocksucker’s balls and pull it tight. Put his balls in a vice.”
“Hey.” Fin jumps up, joining Amanda in her efforts. “Put down the lights, Carisi.”
Carisi doesn’t listen. He just continues, rage pouring out of him.
“And then you know what? I’m going to string him up on the ceiling until they turn blue and come off. ‘Pop!’ Now that’s what I call blue balls!” He laughs hysterically at his own joke.
Amanda reaches out to him, strokes his arm and says quietly, “Not here, okay?”
This finally gets through to him. She’s touching him. He didn’t think she would do that after last night. Something has shifted. His anger ebbs away under her soothing touch.
“Come with me,” she says softly.
He puts down the lights and follows her.
Days later the Snow Man’s arrest is imminent. Fin has gone back undercover with the Narcotics unit to get a bead on his location, in preparation for bringing him in.
Carisi is excited, buzzing around the office. He’s even happy to do paperwork. Amanda shakes her head at him. How anyone could enjoy their job so much that they even found the most tedious tasks pleasant she will never understand. Carisi comes over to her desk to discuss the legalities of how they will take him out for good - get him a life sentence.
“ … with my testimony, Carol’s testimony, and your testimony –”
Amanda interrupts him. “I’m not testifying.”
“You can’t be serious. We can’t make the case without you.”
“You don’t need me. You’ve got Carol.”
He pushes air through his teeth. “C’mon. She’s cagey - a flight risk. You won’t run.”
“And I also won’t testify.” Amanda gets up to refill her coffee in the breakroom, hoping she’ll lose him.
No such luck, this is Carisi after all – dogged as ever. He continues badgering her.
“If Carol runs, we can’t make the case. What he did to me can only get him what? Ten years? Seven years? You’re a reliable witness - we need your testimony to prove that he was trafficking even though no money changed hands. We need you to talk so we can put him away for good. So he’ll stop hurting you.”
“He’s not hurting me.”
Carisi tilts his head to the side. “C’mon. You know that’s not true. Don’t you want to be free of him?”
“I’ll never be free of him.”
Carisi nods - he gets it. “As free as you can be then.Testifying will help you to do that.”
She is silent.
“You need to do this. Not just to lock him away, to keep you safe, but for your own healing. Don’t you get that? You tell the vics this all the time. Are those just meaningless words to you?”
She looks away – she can’t look at his intense eyes when they’re boring into her like that.
“If you refuse to testify I can make you.”
She looks back up at him in fear. “You wouldn’t.”
“Yes, I would,” he says firmly. “I’ll get Barba to subpoena you. Force you to give testimony as a hostile witness.”
“Please don’t make me do this,” she pleads.
He can’t believe how vulnerable she looks – like a victim. He’s never seen her this way and it scares him. This is Amanda, completely raw, terrorized, and without the mask.
“Why are you doing this to me?”
“Because I love you.”
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Scrooge!
Chapter 19: Scrooge
The movie referenced in this fic is Scrooged from 1988, starring Bill Murray.
“Ma! I’m telling you it’s no good – it ain’t going to work. I told her I loved her and I blew it.”
“You need to –“
“Yeah, I know, I get it. I need to apologize to her for so much. For judging her, for running out on her… For telling her I love her.”
“Now, Sonny you listen to me. That last one? You’ve got nothing to apologize for there, you hear me?”
“Yeah, but she didn’t take it so well.”
“That’s cause you’ve been letting everything build up!” his mother says, frustrated. “Resentment only grows with time – you can’t let that stuff sit. You were supposed to apologize to her the night we made cookies.”
“I tried!” he practically yells into the phone, exasperated, but then he softens. He knows better than to yell at his mother like that. “Sorry, Ma. I tried, but she wouldn’t accept it. She shut me down.”
“Why?!?! What’s the point? What’s the freakin’ point?”
“Because you love her.”
He goes still.
He realizes that his mom is right, she’s so right. It doesn’t even matter if Amanda loves him or not, he loves her and not setting things straight only hurts her. The resentment just grows because he’s caused her pain - pain he needs to take away.
He needs to make amends.
Amanda is sitting on her couch, flipping through reality shows mindlessly. Every time a commercial came on – click. At one point there’s nothing BUT commercials. She sighs and lets her mind wander.
He loves me? Where did that come from all of a sudden?
Sure, he seemed to want to protect her, but that wasn’t love. She knew that so well. Protective men tended to be stifling. She didn’t need that. Had too much of that in her life when she’d lose her better judgement and get involved with these kind of men out of some desperate attempt to make them into a father that cared enough to …
Carisi had never been protective before - he had always trusted her to be able to take care of herself - he respected her competence. But with this Snow Man thing … things had started to get blurry. When was she protecting herself? When was he? Were they doing it together? Was that even possible? Heck, she had even tried to protect him… And done a piss poor job of it. She had a lot of regret over that.
Her doorbell rings, startling Frannie and making Jesse look up from her playpen excitedly. She loved visitors. Vino had just been by to pick up Kim and she was delighted by him – he was almost as good as Carisi was with her. Surprising what he was like sober, if only for one day. She didn’t expect it to last. Not with her sister’s influence.
She gets up to open the door … on Carisi.
He smiling shyly. “I brought movies.”
He holds up about five DVD’s. They’re all Christmas movies from the 80’s and 90’s.
“Carisi, what are you doing here?” She sighs. He’s the last person she wants to see right now. She needs some distance.
“I thought you and Kim and Jesse and me could do movie night tonight. You know, like we used –“
She interrupts him angrily. “What makes you think I want to re-instate movie night with you after you so foolishly declared your love for me like that?”
“Whoa, Rollins, way to kill the mood,” he says, defensively falling back on humor to save face. But inside . . ? Yeah, that smarts. Too much. He begins to question his judgement for even being there.
“You know what, Carisi? If you really do feel that way –“
“I do,” he says steadily. Foolishly.
“Then what the heck is your problem?”
“What the hell are you talking about Rollins?”
“You’re a miser, Carisi.”
“What the –“
“You heard me. You’re holding back on apologizing to me – you have too much pride –“
“What are you even saying right now? You know that’s not true.”
“Why else won’t you apologize to me? God, you have so much you need to say to me before I would EVER consider letting you back in. Yet there you stood today declaring your love for me. Like that’s enough. You’re so naïve.” she says condescendingly, bitterly. “You can’t come back like that.”
“Can I come in?”
“I don’t’ know. I’ll have to think about it.”
So he just stands there and crosses his arms. Waiting. Not moving. Letting her decide.
She finally grumbles. “Get your ass in here.”
“Thank you,” he says and comes in, shaking off his coat and mittens. One of them rolls near Frannie’s dog bed. Neither of them notice her take it into the other room where her secret stash of toys are.
“Have a seat,” she says and he plops down on her couch. This was going to be interesting.
She joins him. “I’m pissed at you.”
“I can tell,” he answers evenly.
“Where do you get off telling me that you love me –“
He interrupts her, “Hey –“
“No, let me finish,” she interrupts him back. “How dare you say you love me when you would just leave so easily? Just take off like that? I don’t know what that is, but isn’t love.”
“You don’t know what love is, Amanda. You told me you’ve never –“
“Well, I know what love ISN’T,” she retorts. “Oh, you’re all fine being with me when it’s smooth sailing, but the second there’s rough water you bail.”
“You can’t deny it, Carisi. It’s what you did.” She shakes her head bitterly. “You up and left me when you couldn’t handle the truth. Just like all the rest.”
“Listen, it wasn’t –“
“It wasn’t what, Carisi? You ran from the truth. You can’t handle who I am – who I was. No one can.”
“Dead wrong.” He takes her hand, surprised she lets him. “It wasn’t the truth I ran from. It was your secrets.”
“The secrets that make up the truth of my past.” She tries to pull her hand from his, but he holds on a little tighter.
“No, it wasn’t that. It was the fact that you were hiding that stuff from me at all.”
“Hiding from you?” she says with disbelief. “You think I was deliberately hiding that stuff from you?”
“Well, weren’t you?” he asks, creasing his brow.
“Oh my god, no. How long had we been together when Kim dropped those bombs?”
“I don’t know, a few days?”
“Exactly!” she says. “You expect me to just tell you everything at once? Over the course of a few days?”
“Well, when you put it like that …” But then he thinks a little. No, it still bothers him. “Well, you see Rollins, I kinda expected to have known those things before.”
“Yeah, before we were actually together and stuff. We’d been friends for a very long time. I had feel -”
Amanda puts up a hand.
“Okay, okay, Carisi. You can stop right there. I don’t want to know.” She can’t go there with him right now. “I’ve heard enough about your feelings for one day.”
He removes his hand from hers and just slumps dejectedly back onto the couch. He should leave. This isn’t going anywhere. So why does he still want to stay? He knows she’s just going to torture him like all the rest. . . Only in a different, more heart-wrenching way.
He watches her picks out a movie from his mom’s collection that he had brought over. He sees the movie she picks out and scoffs.
“Scrooged. How appropriate.”
“Hey, I like Bill Murray. Even if I have to pop a DVD into a BluRay player to see him.”
“It’s an old movie, Rollins. You’re lucky I didn’t bring it over on VHS.”
“Cue the snark. I can always rely on that from you, Carisi.”
“Yeah well, I’m in a mood.”
“Of course you are.”
“You put me there Rollins!” He’s getting angry. Their usual banter isn’t lightening the mood, it’s only darkening it. “You know what Amanda?”
“Where do you get off calling me a miser? You’re the miser!”
“Is that so?!?”
“Yeah, you can’t let yourself have feelings. Heck you can’t even let others have feelings. ‘I’ve heard enough about your feelings for one day.’ What the hell is that, Amanda?”
“No, it’s not the truth. It is so far from the truth because you’re deluding yourself. You won’t let this happen. You won’t let US happen. I don’t understand you. Why are you holding back so much?”
Because you’re going to leave. Just like Daddy did. The thought races through her mind unbidden. If they’re going to do this she needs him to stay, even through the hard times. But she won’t let herself admit that to him - she is too ashamed to show him that weakness - it’s not who she wants to be.
“Put the damn DVD in the player,” she unceremoniously tosses the DVD at him.
He grasps it tightly thinking he should just throw it back in her face and leave. But something tells him not to. Instead, he puts the disk in and they settle back on the couch to watch Scrooged, arms crossed over their chests, refusing to touch each other.
That’s the one good thing about regret. You can always change tomorrow. – Claire to Frank, Scrooged 1988.
Carisi suddenly realizes that he needs to change their tomorrow, he needs to give this one more try. She’s worth it. He presses the pause button as Claire and Frank are still holding each other onscreen, before things go south for them once again.
“Look Amanda,” he sighs and sits forward. “I have regrets. A lot of them.”
“About what?” she says cautiously.
“About making you feel like …” God, how to say this without sounding like a cad… “like I thought you were a slut, not good enough.”
Tears prick at her eyes. She’s uncomfortable and looks down at her lap.
“And Mandy?” He tentatively reaches out to take her hand.
Why is he calling me that right now? She’s not sure she trusts where this is going, but she gives her hand to him anyway.
“I am so, so sorry for walking out on you that night. If I could take that back I would. Believe me.”
“I shouldn’t have done that,” he whispers. He reaches out to stroke her face, “I never wanted to abandon you. I didn’t mean to.”
She leans into him and drops her head on his shoulder. He puts his arm around her.
“Thank you,” she whispers. She didn’t realize how badly she had needed to hear those words until they passed his lips.
She’s not really paying attention to the movie anymore, she just watches his chest as his breaths make it rise and fall beneath her cheek. She wants him in her life - she knows that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
As his hand idly strokes her hair she thinks about why it hurt so much when he walked out that door. It wasn’t humiliation – she wasn’t ashamed of her past. She hadn’t done anything wrong - wrong had been done to her - and had she dealt with it the only way she knew how to at the time. She was secure in the fact that he had this knowledge now too. No, it was something else.
“Carisi?” she asks and looks up at him.
He pushes the pause button. “Hmmm?”
“I need to tell you something.”
“It’s about my past.”
A little twist forms in his stomach. Oh no. Not more secrets. He doesn’t think he can handle any more of those.
“I think I need to tell you about my Daddy.”
This is serious business. He sits up and sets the remote down. He turns to face her. “Okay.”
“I loved him. And he loved me, too. I’m sure of it.”
She doesn’t sound so sure.
“He just … he had his faults, you know.”
“Uh huh. Go on,” Carisi says softly.
“He wasn’t too good at protecting me and Kimmy, you know. He loved us, but we had to fend for ourselves.”
“Maybe you did, Amanda, but Kim had you looking out for her.”
“Yeah, you’re right. But no one ever really looked out for me.” Amanda looks up at him, realizing something. “Until now.”
He smiles lightly. She understands.
“Thank you,” she whispers.
He strokes her cheek. “You’re welcome.”
She looks back down briefly and then shakes her whole body, steeling herself to tell him the rest. “But Daddy … well, I’d like to think that Mom drove him off.”
Amanda scratches her head and squints her eyes, eventually balling some hair into a fist. “I don’t really know for sure. But it doesn’t matter.”
“Because I loved him so much and I thought he loved me…” She gulps, the fist holding her hair tightening, her fingers turning red and then white.
Carisi notices her distress and takes her balled up hand and removes it from her hair, taking it into his own. It is warm and his fingers are gentle.
“He loved me but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough – I wasn’t good enough to keep him around.” She begins to cry in earnest. “I loved him so much. I gave him so much and then he was gone.”
“There was nothing left.”
She looks him straight in the eye, tears still pouring onto her cheeks, “I’m so afraid, Carisi. I’m so afraid.”
“I know,” he says, takes her into his arms and rocks her. “I get it Amanda. I get it now.”
“I’m not sure I was ready for this. To let you into my life. I thought I had been at first, but …”
He feels terrible. “I’m so sorry I walked out. I can’t believe I did that to you.”
“I know. I want to love you, but -”
“It’s okay,” he says softly, tucking her head under his chin. She doesn’t have to continue that sentence. “It’s okay…”
Somehow they make it to the end of the movie. They had had to take a break to put Jesse down in the middle of it though. Amanda had missed having Carisi’s help with this kind of stuff and she can tell that he’s missed doing it too. She watches him watch the end of the movie, the changing colors on the screen making patterns on his face.
Bill Murray suddenly shouts out, “You have to do something! You have to take a chance!”
The sentence captures her interest, but she doesn’t turn her head back towards the TV, she just continues to watch Carisi as Bill Murray goes on.
“It can happen every day, you’ve just got to want that feeling. And if you like it and you want it, you’ll get greedy for it! You’ll want it every day of your life and it can happen to you. I believe in it now! I believe it’s going to happen to me now! I’m ready for it!”
I’m ready for it …
He gets the girl in the end. Frank wins Claire back.
Amanda begins to weep uncontrollably as “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” plays over the credit sequence. He knew she was a sap for these kind of things, but still …
“Hey Rollins, you’re embarrassing yourself over there.”
“I’m ready,” she says in a small voice, so quiet he almost doesn’t hear her. But he does.
She wipes the tears from her eyes and nods.
“I’m ready to love you.”
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tonight’s Mittens!
Chapter 20: Mittens
She nods in assent. There are still torrents of tears covering her cheeks. She is unsuccessful at wiping them all away. “I’m ready to love you.”
Put a little love in your heart…
Before the line is even finished, he has her head cradled in his hands. “Amanda…?”
“Yes, yes I am.” She nods.
Then she smiles and lifts her own hands to the side of his face and traces one finger down a smooth cheek. They share a gentle kiss.
And then another.
“I … I’m so happy,” he breathes.
“Yes, I am too.” She pauses for just a beat before smiling brightly. “I love you.”
His heart swells at hearing her say those three little words and he groans, his nose pushing into hers, his lips finding hers as he presses the two of them back against the couch.
She tilts her head back as he dives into her neck, exquisitely tracing a long line from the base of her collarbone to just behind her ear with the tip of his nose. He waits there, silent, breathing against that part of her neck. His soft panting is driving her wild.
“Carisi, please,” she whines.
He bites. Just a little love bite on the tendon that runs up behind her ear …
She moans and pulls at the hair at the base of his neck, drawing him into her further. She grabs at his lower back, positioning him on top of her. She feels him grow hard.
He pulls back to look into her beautiful aquamarine eyes and his index finger traces the gold fringe along her hairline. His hips start up a rhythm as she moves beneath him gently, softly, slowly.
He reaches down to the top of her blouse, settling on the top button. His fingers are shaking. Why are they shaking? He’s done this before. But this time is different. This time …
“We shouldn’t do this here …” She breaks the spell.
“Huh?” He’s lost.
“Kim should be home soon.”
“Oh,” he says, disappointed, dropping his head to her chest.
She puts her lips to his ear and whispers seductively, “No worries. I’ve got a bedroom with plenty of privacy.”
She feels him shift above her.
They both peel off the couch and she holds out a hand to lead him to her bedroom. He takes it shyly.
“Are you blushing?”
“Maybe,” he answers.
“I’ve never been in a girl’s room before.”
“Good one,” she says and laughs. “C’mon.”
She pulls him in and shuts the door behind them. He looks over at her bed – he seems nervous.
“Hey, are you alright?”
“Um, sure. Yeah, fine.”
“Hey, listen to me,” she puts her hand up to his cheek and strokes it. She can guess what’s wrong. “If you’re not ready, I promise we won’t …”
He lets out a breath of relief. “Thank you.”
“No problem. You want me to be on panty patrol?”
“Yeah, I’ll make sure we keep them on.”
He grins wickedly. “I don’t wear panties.”
“Well, whatever you wear that passes for underwear then.”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“Yeah, actually I would.”
“I just might let you then.”
“Really?” she purrs, wrapping her arms around her neck, walking him back to the bed on tip toe since he towers over her and she pulls him down for a kiss from time to time as they make slow progress in that direction.
When they get to it they don’t just fall into it, they linger. He looks down at her and marvels at how she opened herself up to him tonight. It’d been a long time coming, but it had been worth the wait. She still looks a little scared, but now he knows for sure that she wants this - wants to be with him.
“I love you so much, Mandy,” he says as he bends down to kiss her solemnly.
When they break from the kiss, she puts her hands on his chest and they stand there in absolute stillness for a while.
“Why do you call me that?” she asks him without looking up.
He shrugs. “I don’t know. It just fits. It just seems to fit when you’re …”
“When I’m what?”
“I don’t know. Open? I guess …?”
She draws a circle on his chest, still not looking up. She says to him softly, “Can you always call me Mandy? I like it when you call me that.”
“Yes.” He takes her into a hug but then laughs. “When I’m not calling you Rollins.”
She chuckles back.
“In all seriousness, though,” he pulls back to look at her and sinks a hand deep into her hair. “I want to go further tonight, Mandy.”
Before she knows what’s happening, she’s fallen on top of the bed with him on top of her, their bodies yearning for each other, grinding against each other. In a mad dash they take quick breaks from each other to remove their clothing. But only quick breaks.
He’s still got his shirt half on, hanging by an elbow on one side, too distracted by the glory of her to finish removing it. His hardness is between her legs. She only has her panties on now, as promised, and it excites him to no end.
Her breasts lay below him and he tenderly takes a nipple into his mouth, his pink lips caressing, teasing it into hardness. She sighs as he trails his fingers over to the other one.
“Oh God, Carisi,” she moans and writhes beneath him as he pinches it, getting a rise out of it as well.
Now with both nipples taut, erect, he lays his bare chest against hers. Skin to skin. As much skin contact as they will allow themselves as he grinds into her, the fabric of their undergarments between them. His chest hair is nothing but hot friction against her breasts, now sensitized and hyper-reactive to his touch.
She grasps onto him and he onto her. Her fingernails dig into his back. She wants more – so much more – but she knows she’ll have to wait for him to be ready for that.
At some point they start kissing again, but it is frantic, almost as frantic as the rest of their almost coupling. As their kisses deepen, he grasps onto her breast in desperation. He wants more too. So much more. He moans in a way that is almost a whine. He wants …
Something inside of him changes. Oh no.
Amanda looks up at his face as it starts. He is so beautiful. The dichotomy of his cheeks softening and his eyelids squeezing tight make her want to reach up and touch …
He is crying out.
Her fingertips reach his cheek just as his face contorts into a grimace. “No…”
That almost sounds like he’s crying. Something’s wrong …
Before she can even think, he has withdrawn from the bed and has disappeared. What the - ?
Oh God, no. I didn’t want to do that. He is hunched over the sink, gripping the white porcelain of its rim with both hands. He looks up at himself in the mirror and he is ashamed.
That wasn’t supposed to happen. How did I lose control?
There’s a soft tapping on the door. “Are you - ?”
“Don’t come in!” he stammers anxiously. He needs to clean up in private. “Please go away. I just need some time.”
“Okay,” he hears her retreat and lets out a deep sigh.
He starts to clean the sticky stuff off of himself, but the underwear is hopeless. He’s made too much of a mess. He takes it off completely.
“Ouch!” he says involuntarily when he pulls too much on the cut below his scrotum. He didn’t expect the mark the Snow Man and his goons had left on him to hurt so much. They must have cut deeper than he realized. His face contorts in more than just physical pain at the thought and he slams a fist down onto the rim of the sink.
“Dammit!” That hurt, too.
When he’s done with himself, he’s standing there naked except for that pathetic shirt hanging off of his elbow. Looking in the mirror again, the guilt is overwhelming.
I really didn’t want to do that.
But he chose to dance too close to that fire – he wasn’t forced. It’s all on him. He hangs his head, trying not to cry, wishing he could go back.
“Hey, Amanda!” she hears him call from the bathroom.
Not Mandy, like she’d asked him to call her. Amanda.
“Um, could you bring me my pants?” There’s a pause. “And maybe even my shirt.”
She walks them to the bathroom door. “I’ve got them.”
The door opens and closes so fast she can’t even see him as he grabs the clothes out of her hands.
She hears him put his clothes back on, along with a little whimper at some point. Oh no! The wound. They shouldn’t have… Lost in the moment, she’d forgotten.
“Hey Carisi, I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have –“
The door bursts open and he says, “Yeah, we shouldn’t have. I gotta go.”
He brushes past her and hurries to his coat hanging in the living room. “Where’s my mittens?”
“Are you leaving?” she says incredulously.
“I can only find one. Where’s the other one?” He doesn’t even address her question. He is frantically looking around.
“Hey, talk to me. What’s going on?”
“I need to find the other one … I’m not complete withou–“
“Carisi, slow down. Where are you going?”
“No, I need to see my priest. Now.”
“It’s late. Wh –“
“Where’s that other mitten?” He’s looking desperate. “I need it. I need it.”
“Stop.” She grabs hold of him. “Why is it so important that you find that other mitten RIGHT NOW?”
“Because it’s not complete. It’s missing … it’s missing.”
“What’s not complete?”
He just looks down at her with sorrow lining his face. But is it sorrow for something he had lost - or something he never had in the first place?
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Gingerbread!
Chapter 21: Gingerbread
He hangs up on her once again.
Frustrated, she just shakes her phone in her hand. “God –“
She stops herself, figuring Carisi’s mom wouldn’t appreciate her taking the Lord’s name in vain in her own house. She looks over at her contritely. “Sorry, Ma’am.”
“I’ve already told you Amanda, stop calling me Ma’am. I know that’s considered ‘polite’ down where you are from, but you’re in New York now. Up here it just makes a girl feel old.”
“I’m sorry …” Amanda grins a bit. “Miss?”
“Huh! You’ve got the same sass as my son.” The older woman then shakes her head, muttering under her breath, “Birds of a feather.”
She walks Amanda to the kitchen, ready to start on their task. “So he’s not coming, huh?”
“No, I don’t think so… And I haven’t seen him all day – keeps saying he’s tied up on this case, but that doesn’t make any sense… “ Amanda says anxiously.
“Look, I don’t bite. I don’t mind spending some time with you without my son to chaperone us if you don’t.”
“Oh no, it’s not that …” That was the last thing on her mind. Things had ended so weirdly with Carisi the night before and she really wanted to see him. He was supposed to be here.
“Good! Then let’s get started.” Carisi’s mom smiles warmly, pulling out a worn and ‘well-loved’ recipe card out of a recipe box that had ‘Gingerbread’ printed in a fine hand at the top. The picture that had been taped to it was of something that looked like sheet cake. Not at all what she was expecting.
She squints at it. “I thought gingerbread was for houses?”
“Not in this family.” Carisi’s mom taps the recipe card proudly with one index finger. “This is Carisi gingerbread.”
“Okay, my son tells me you don’t know your way around the kitchen.”
“No, not at all. I thought that might be evident from the ‘crackers’ I made the other day,” she answers with a touch of sarcasm.
“Are you sassing me?”
“Oh no, M –“ Amanda stammers.
“Relax, I’m just giving you a hard time.” She puts a hand on Amanda’s forearm as if they’re good friends already. “I already told you, I don’t bite.”
“Okay,” Amanda says, relaxing a bit. But something tells her not to let her guard down around this woman. Something about her was unnerving even if she was as warm and friendly as her son.
Carisi’s mom bustles over to the oven. “Okay, first we gotta preheat this thing here.”
She turns a knob to 375 and a light goes on.
“What’s that?” Amanda asks.
“That light will tell you when it’s ready. It will go off when it is. It’s important to let it heat up all the way. Give it time or else you’ll be dissatisfied.”
“Now, I’ve already got our pan prepared for us. You noticed how I greased it?”
“Greased it? With what - motor oil?”
“Butter, silly.” The older woman just shakes her head. “You and my son … I tell you. You crack me up, Amanda. Just like him.”
“That’s what I’m here for.” She smiles widely. “Your personal entertainment.”
“No, I think you’re here for a lesson. And not just on baking.”
Amanda’s forehead creases. Now just what does she mean by that?
“Now, we’re going to cream the butter and the sugar. I’ve already had the butter out on the counter here, softening. Again, this is something you gotta wait on - it has to be ready before you use it. Soft, but not too soft – and definitely not hard. It’s really important in baking that the timing is just right so that everything can come together perfectly.”
Once the butter and the sugar are being beaten together in the mixer – being ‘creamed’ as Carisi’s mom had called it - they have to wait for the mix to become ‘fluffy’ before continuing. Whatever that means.
Carisi’s mom is moving about, placing all of the other ingredients just where she wants them in preparation for their addition to the batter. Amanda notices that some eggs have been on the counter since before they started.
“Hey, is that safe? Aren’t they going to spoil?” she asks, pointing at them.
The woman chuckles back at her. “Oh no dear. It’s perfectly safe – those eggs will be baked right up with the rest of this. No worries.”
“Why have they been on the counter all this time?”
“Same reason as everything else. They needed time.”
“Yes, time to warm up – to match the temperature of the other ingredients. So they don’t come in and mess everything up.”
Carisi’s mom pulls out a gigantic bowl of what looks like shredded … What is that? It’s pungent.
“And now, for a little bit of spice!” she exclaims.
“A little bit?”
“Ginger!” Carisi’s mom exclaims proudly. “Fresh ginger!”
Amanda’s just staring at it, as if it’s some freakish monster on display.
“Don’t be afraid, girl. It won’t bite. It’s our family’s ‘secret’ ingredient. Well, not so secret actually …”
“It smells so strong … how will it not overpower everything else?”
“Well, it’s kinda supposed to. It’s the signature taste. You know, GINGER bread.” She chuckles.
“But dang, I wouldn’t want to put anything that strong in my mouth.”
“It gets tempered. By the baking process - by the heat and cohesion with the other ingredients. It melds with them, yet retains its flavor. Becomes something better, yet still itself. Like marriage.”
“Whoa. Okay that’s way too deep there.” Amanda says, drawing back from the counter.
“Yeah, Sonny told me that about you. But he didn’t have to - I already saw it.”
“That you like to withdraw. Emotionally.”
Amanda is suddenly very uncomfortable. “What the hell has your son been telling you about me?”
“He tells me everything, dear. I’m his mother. We’re close.”
Well that’s not good.
Amanda pushes back, wanting to make her uncomfortable as well. “Does he tell you about our sex life, too?”
Carisi’s mom was ready for that volley. “What? That you haven’t –?”
“Yeah, no. We haven’t.” So he does tell his mom everything. “Yet.”
Carisi’s mom wasn’t expecting that one. He hasn’t told her? She just shakes her head. Sonny what are you doing … ?
The gingerbread is in the oven and they’ve got almost an hour to wait before it’s done. The two of them are seated on the couch in the living room, just looking at the lights of the Christmas tree, sipping on eggnog.
“You know, my son’s good for you. He’s a good boy.”
“Yeah, I know,” Amanda says smiling softly and looking down into her eggnog.
“And you can make him happy, I’ve seen it.”
Amanda just nods and smiles to herself, but stays quiet.
“But Amanda, there’s something wrong here.”
“Oh?” she asks, surprised, looking back at the older woman.
“You have a darkness. And I don’t want you dragging my son down into it.”
“He’s too good for that and you know it,” she says sternly.
Amanda puts her hand to her forehead, not realizing it’s shaking a bit. If his mom thinks … Oh God, I could lose him right here.
Carisi’s mom takes her trembling hand away from her forehead and catches it between her own. Amanda is unable to hide the tears swimming in her eyes.
“I know you care about my son –“
“I love him.” It almost sounded like a plea.
“Then you need to deal with your demons. I mean it.” Carisi’s mom gives the hand that’s trapped between hers a firm shake.
“And you can’t drag my son into your mess to help get you out of it.”
“I would never –“ Amanda pulls her hand away defensively.
“- I’m tired of girls trying to use him. Trying to take advantage of his decent heart. Never again.”
“Look, Ma’am –“
Carisi’s mom shoots her a warning look.
“Ma’am, Miss … whatever. I would NEVER expect him to fix this. I take care of myself.”
Carisi’s mom looks her up and down.
“I always have. You have no idea.” Amanda slumps against the couch, defeated. This woman seemed to have so much insight, yet she had no clue who she was.
“Perhaps you do …” his mom says after some time.
“Yeah, there’s no perhaps about it.” Amanda snaps.
“Look, I just …” Carisi’s mom tries to backpedal a bit. “I take care of my boy. He puts his heart out there too easily, no matter how much he’s been through. He attracts the darkness with his light.”
“And I’m the darkness.”
“You don’t have to be.”
Amanda sighs, crosses her arms and looks away.
“You could be good for him, Amanda. I can see that.” Carisi’s mom reaches out to her again. “He does love you. But you need to get a handle on this okay? Get yourself free of those demons - for him.”
Carisi, where are you? She has the phone to her head and it just rings and rings as she paces impatiently. Why has he been so unreachable today? It is so aggravating.
She gets his bright, sunny voicemail greeting and gives up trying to reach him live. At the beep she says, “Uh, yeah. It’s me. I just wanted to tell you that I’m going to testify against the Snow Man.”
And then she hangs up, clutches the phone to her chest, and closes her eyes.
Yes, no matter how hard it may be, this is the right thing to do.
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for today’s Chestnuts!
Chapter 22: Chestnuts
He calls her back immediately.
“Yeah? Did you get my message?”
“No.” He’s breathless. “Listen, we got him!”
“The Snow Man. Fin collared him.”
“That’s great! Where are you?”
“I’m still on the scene. The boys from Narcotics and –“
“Wait? What are you doing there? Benson pulled us off the case after –“
“Rollins, don’t be mad.”
“Mad about what?” she asks cautiously.
“Well, they kinda used me as bait.”
There’s a deadly silence.
And then Amanda responds lowly, “They did what? Who’s plan was that?”
“What? Are you crazy?”
“No, Rollins. It was the best idea we had – and really I wanted this guy behind bars. For good.”
“About that …” Amanda starts.
“I’ve decided I’m going to testify.”
She can’t see it as he beams his bright smile into the phone, but she can hear it in his voice when he says, “That’s great Rollins, that’s great. You won’t regret it, believe me - it will be cathartic for you. Kinda like tonight was for me.”
“So you’re okay?”
“I’m more than okay.” He watches as the CSI team scurries past him. Not much more for him to do now. “Hey, Rollins? Want to meet over at my place when you’re done with my mom?”
“Instead of having you come over here as planned? You’ll break her heart.”
“Nah, she’ll get over it.”
“Well, the gingerbread is cooling on the rack right now. I guess I’ll just have a piece with your mom and then head over.” She still really wanted to talk to him about the awkwardness of last night and that would probably best be done at his place instead of his mom’s.
“Be prepared to celebrate!” he says excitedly before hanging up.
“Door’s open!” she hears him shout when she knocks.
And so it is. She lets herself in. Jesse is with her, still strapped into her car seat – the sitter couldn’t stay any longer and even though Kim had offered, she still didn’t trust her sister enough to leave Jesse with her. So off to Carisi’s place she went, her daughter in tow.
“What are you doing?” she asks him.
The place had an unfamiliar aroma and Carisi had his back to her in front of the fireplace. It looks like he’s shaking something in the fire. She hears an odd little slithering sound…
“Roasting us some chestnuts.”
“Chestnuts?” Wait? What? People actually did that?
She comes closer to the fire to see, releasing Jesse from her car seat and holding her instead.
“Remember I told the Snow Man that you weren’t worth my chestnuts?”
“Well, maybe you are.” He winks. “We’ll just have to see how bad these taste.”
“I don’t think those were the chestnuts he was talking about.”
He turns back to her with pursed lips. “C’mon. Don’t go there, Rollins.”
“Actually, I’d like to.” He’s always been direct, now it was her turn. “I’d like to talk about what happened last night. What was that? What happened?”
“Did you find my mitten?”
“No, what does - ?”
“Whoa, wait! Looks like they’re ready. Get out of the way!”
Carisi makes a mad dash with a hot pan into the kitchen to dump the nuts into a bowl where they can cool. Amanda can hear them tinkling as their hard shells hit the sides. A few minutes later when he comes back in with the bowl, Jesse and Amanda are already settled in on his couch.
“We’ll just have to wait for them to cool a bit before we can eat them. Cool and then peel. It will be fun!” He smiles at her. “New experience for you, eh Rollins?”
“Yeah.” She studies him carefully. “Last night was for you too, huh?”
He just looks down at the bowl of nuts in his lap for a few moments before speaking. “I wasn’t ready …”
She waits patiently for him to finish that thought as Jesse plays with her necklace.
“I wasn’t ready for THAT to happen.”
“Rollins, you don’t understand what it’s like to be my age and still be … you know.”
He chuckles. “Yeah.”
She senses he wants to talk about it and she would certainly like some more insight as to why he reacted so oddly to –
“Do you want to know? Want to know what it’s really like?”
“Yes, I do. Definitely.”
He sighs and leans back on the couch. “Girls are mean, Amanda. Girls can be really mean…”
He doesn’t tell her that it all started after Kathleen, about how he was branded a ‘chump’ to the whole world – at least the ‘whole world’ of high school – after she disappeared. It seemed everyone knew she had left Staten Island in disgrace because she was pregnant – and that the baby hadn’t been his. But even though he doesn’t mention Kathleen, he does tell Amanda about each encounter – each painful ‘close encounter’ he had experienced where he refused to ‘give it up’ or go farther than he wanted to.
She and her friend snicker at him as he passes by her locker. He had made out with her a little bit, but wouldn’t do anything much more than take off his shirt. And now he suffers for that brief exposure because he wouldn’t go any further.
“Molly, please stop right there.” He he puts up a hand to stop her from removing her blouse.
“You afraid I’m going to seduce you?”
“I just … I just don’t want to yet, is all. Can we slow it down?”
“Ugh. We’re going so slow already! Are you gay or something? Afraid of a little boob action?”
“No, I just don’t want to touch you there right now.” Wrong thing to say.
“What? You think I’m disgusting?”
Before he can even answer, she turns on him.
“You’re the one who’s disgusting. Why don’t you grow up and be a man?” She straightens her clothes and gives him a parting shot as she leaves. “Real men like titties, you know.”
They had gone a bit further than he was comfortable with.
“I said wait,” he says a little more forcefully.
“And I said no.” She unzips his pants.
He jumps away from her and zips back up.
“What is wrong with you?”
He doesn’t answer her, looking for his shirt.
“Are you deformed or something?”
“I just don’t want to is all.”
“What, show me your cock? What are you afraid of?”
‘At this point, you,’ he thinks, but doesn’t say anything.
“Are you even a man?”
“What does that mean?”
“Uh, I’m sitting here offering myself to you and you turn this away?”
She shows off her mostly naked body. She does look good, he has to admit.
“Any other guy would die for this chance … I’m eager, ready, and willing. Who would say no?”
“Yeah, ‘cause you obviously can’t take it - take a real woman. You probably wouldn’t know what to do with me anyway.” She shakes her head in disgust. “Go home and play with your dolls.”
He just puts his shirt on and leaves.
“’I don’t want to’ he whines,” she says, mocking him. “You’re a pussy, Carisi. Get dressed.”
His shirt and belt smack him in the face as she throws them at him in frustration, pissed because h e won’t comply to her demands for sex.
“I love you.”
“Yeah?” He doesn’t, but …
“Yeah. SO MUCH.” She straddles him.
“Shannon, what are you doing?” He’s alarmed as she starts riding him, grinding against him.
“Hey!” He rolls out from underneath her.
“Hey, you owe me!” She’s suddenly flustered and angry.
“I owe you?”
“Yeah, I’ve put up with you hanging on me in public for weeks now. You know the hell I’m being put through by my friends just for being with you?”
“You’re a pariah, Sonny.” Her eyes grow steely. “You owe me for this, this ‘favor’ I’ve given you – and now I want to fuck!”
“I don’t owe you anything.”
“God, you’re a pathetic little dick, you know that? No wonder you’re still a virgin.”
He thought they really had something special, that maybe this could be love. But they had been together for quite a while and she didn’t want to wait any longer. It started slowly … she was very good at seduction. He almost never realized it until they were apart and then he would feel the guilt.
Guilt because he almost always went further than he wanted to in his encounters with her. He kept telling himself he would do better next time, but kept failing. He felt the need to talk to her about it, thought that if he just explained it, just asked her to help him to set some boundaries, everything would be okay.
It didn’t work out that way at all.
Instead she cried. She asked him again and again why she wasn’t good enough for him, not believing him when he said this was his personal choice and had nothing to do with her – they were just going too fast for him. She called him cruel, claimed he broke her heart. His guilt only intensified.
She became bitter and resentful and they became exes in the worst way possible.
One thing about all of what Carisi had revealed to her puzzles Amanda. “Why so many?”
“So many what?”
“Why did you keep, I don’t know … trying again? These girls, women, whatever they were – they obviously really hurt you. Wouldn’t you be gun shy?”
“You would think so, huh?” He smiles. He holds his hands out for Jesse and Amanda passes her over. “You’ll never believe who helped me with that one …”
“Yeah.” Carisi looks up at his good friend, the senior who had inexplicably taken him under his wing.
Vince takes a chug from a wine bottle he had snuck into school that day. It was almost empty. He and Carisi are sitting outside after classes had let out in a place where no teachers or security guards would stumble upon them. Vince knew all the best spots.
“Let me tell you something, Son,” Vino swirls the contents in the bottom of the bottle in a slow circle. “Chicks are cruel man, chicks are cruel.”
Sonny looks down. Recent experiences confirm this.
“I know they’re saying shitty stuff about you. That you’re a pussy, you can’t get your dick up, all of that.”
Sonny blushes in shame. Vince is so cool – why did this stuff have to get back to him? He shakes his head. ‘Cause it’s all over the school.
“But let me tell you something,” Vince continues. “They’re not all like that, man.”
Vince holds the bottle up to the sky and says, “Dionne.”
“Yeah, Dionne,” Sonny whispers quietly. He knew all about Dionne.
“She was my angel.” Vince kisses the top of the bottle, still looking up at the sky.
Sonny has to look away while Vince takes another drink lest they both see each other tear up. They sit in silence for a few minutes.
“I guess my point is, you can’t give up now just because of some petty high school bitches. And some not so petty ones,” Vince says and nods. They both know to whom he’s referring. “There’s a Dionne out there waiting for you man, and she is glorious. Don’t hold back.”
“Yeah, Vino. Vince. Yeah.”
“He’s a good guy. Underneath it all, he really is a good guy. He just has problems.”
“Sounds like you had problems.”
“Yeah, with Catholic chicks.”
“Wait, they were all Catholic?”
“Yeah, can you believe that?” Carisi snorts. “Ironic, no?”
Amanda thinks for a second and then grins. “You know, I don’t think you had problems with Catholic girls actually.”
“Nope. Let’s see.” She starts counting off on her fingers. “Bonnie, Shannon, Molly, Eileen, Marueen, Colleen … is there another ‘een’ in there somewhere?”
Too close to home. Carisi looks away briefly lest Amanda see his expression.
“I think you have a problem with Irish girls,” Amanda states simply.
Carisi turns back to her. “You know what, Rollins?”
“I think the only Irish girl I have problems with is you.”
“Is that so?”
“Well, maybe you and little Jesse here.” He touches the tip of his finger gently to baby Jesse’s nose and she smile-gurgles back at him.
“And how exactly are we causing you problems? I’d like to know. Especially Jesse. She’s just a little love bundle of cuteness over there, aren’t you Jesse girl?” she wiggles her fingers at her.
“Exactly. And that’s what makes you guys so deadly.” He smiles lovingly. “You two have got me wrapped around your little fingers. I would do anything for you.”
“But you don’t have to do THAT.” They exchange a look, both understanding that she’s referring to sex. “I won’t ask that of you until you’re ready. I’ll wait until you tell me you are.”
“About that …”
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for today’s Poinsettia!
Chapter 23: Poinsettia
“Mandy, I’m Catholic.”
Her heart soars at hearing him call her Mandy again. It had only been a few times, but she missed it when he had gone back to calling her Amanda. She felt like they had lost a connection somehow.
He pets Jesse’s head a bit, takes a short strand of her red baby hair between his fingers and swirls it a bit. The chestnuts had been forgotten and were utterly uneaten.
“You know what that means right?” he says, looking back over at her.
“I think so.” She was afraid of this – afraid of what she knew he was going to tell her. There was a reason he was still a virgin. And she’s not sure she’s comfortable with it.
“I don’t want to have sex until I’m married. The church is against it and so am I.”
That’s a pretty strong statement. “Why?”
“Because, Mandy. Sex leads to children. That’s what it’s for.”
“That’s not all it’s for.” She reaches out to stroke his arm and he smiles back softly at her.
“Well, that’s another reason I only want to share that with my wife. Because it’s … well, it’s a very intimate thing. A part of me I only want to share with one woman. But the main one?”
“People get pregnant when they have sex. You know that.” He looks pointedly at Jesse, bounces her in his arms for a bit. “And when it’s not the right time? Sometimes it’s a tragedy.”
Her brow furrows.
He needs to explain further … tell her something that had stuck with him all these years. A harsh lesson that he learned at a very young age.
Vince was on top of the world. He and Dionne had finally done the deed. They had been at yet another science fiction convention when it just happened. She was really into what was known as cosplay nowadays. But back then mundanes - people who didn’t understand the life of die hard fans - would ask her, “So you dress up for these things? These Star Trek conventions?”
Dionne would patiently explain to them that not all science fiction conventions were Star Trek conventions. Although she did have a particular love for certain Star Trek aliens. Vince loved her when she was an Andorian – said the baby blue paint on her face only made her blue eyes a deeper blue – and more beautiful. And those antennae drove him to absolute distraction. That was the costume she was wearing that day – they day they lost their virginity to each other.
Many weeks later, Vince just kept telling Carisi how great sex was – harping on it actually – and about how he couldn’t understand why the church would forbid such a beautiful thing, such a beautiful act between two people. Carisi would just stand back and grin. Man, his friend had fallen hard – he wanted to give him a hard time about it, but …
Well, he had fallen hard for Kathleen himself. They were two fools in love.
“You should try it man, seriously.” Vince would encourage him.
“She’s only fourteen man. I think she’s too young.”
“Kathleen? Nah man, she’s mature for her age. Believe me.” Vince gives him a knowing look.
“What does that mean?” Carisi says, feeling like he suddenly needs to defend Kathleen’s honor.
“I didn’t mean anything by it man, relax.”
Carisi still doesn’t want to go there with her, no matter how much fun his buddy Vince is having with sex.
He will never forget the day he saw Vince crying in the boy’s room. One of their mutual friends had tracked him down and told him that he should go check on his friend before a priest found him and he got in trouble. Vince had foolishly brought a bottle of wine with him to school that day and was drunk off of his ass. It was the first time he had done this – it wouldn’t be his last.
“Vince, man. What’s going on?” Carisi asks as he pushes open the door to the stall.
Vince just burps – he’s sitting to one side of the toilet.
Carisi sits on the ground, his back to the stall door that he had just closed, facing his friend. “C’mon, man. Talk to me.”
“My life is over.” Some tears escape Vince’s eyes. Not many, just a few. But still, they were there.
“Dionne?” Carisi asks. Kathleen had just so recently left - it was the first place his mind went.
“Yeah, man. It’s bad - it’s really bad. I’m not ready to be a father.”
Carisi is shocked. “She’s pregnant?”
“Yeah, I knocked her up.” He grinds his hands into his hair. “What am I going to do, man? I’m only eighteen. You know what this means, right?”
“I can kiss that scholarship goodbye - I won’t be going now.” Then he turns red as veins bulge at his temples and he clenches his fists. He shouts. “My future is GONE!”
“Hey.” Carisi tries to soothe his buddy. This is devastating.
“Just like that, it’s gone. It’s all over.” Vince whimpers.
“But you’re eighteen, right?” Carisi tries to find a light side. “You guys can get jobs that pay okay cause you’ll both have time to finish high school before the baby comes, right? I mean, you’ll never be rich, but you’ll be okay right?”
“I don’t know man. I don’t want to think about it.”
Carisi tries a different tactic. “You still have Dionne though, right?”
“Yeah,” Vince says softly. “I still have her.”
“That’s something, right?”
“THEY KILLED MY BABY!” Vince screams into the phone as soon as Carisi gets on the line.
“Vince, man. Calm down. What’s going on?”
He hears glass shattering in the background.
“Dionne’s parents. I’m going to fucking kill them. I’m going to go over there right now and fucking kill –“
Carisi hears Dionne crying out in the background. “Vince, please stop you’re drunk. You’re scaring me.”
“I’m heading over there,” Carisi says, hangs up the phone, and immediately heads to Vince’s house. He needs to help calm his friend down but wasn’t sure if that was possible.
Dionne had never been the same after the abortion her parents forced her to have. Immediately following it, she had become quiet, withdrawn. She kept to herself and gradually lost all of her friends. She stopped talking to Vince entirely and shut down their email correspondence – blocked him actually. Eventually he had no way to contact her. They went to different churches, different schools. They spent Easter separately for the first time in years.
Vince began to drink too much at parties. Carisi had to drag his sorry ass home so many times …
“We found her by the poinsettias,” Carisi said glumly.
“Yeah, they were left over from Christmas, to be discarded – thrown away. Shriveled old things that had never made it into the garbage. Vince was never the same. He saw her before I did.”
Tears spring to Carisi’s eyes with the memory. Jesse notices this change and looks up at him, worried. He was still holding her and now gives her a little hug of reassurance. But whether it was for him or for her, he didn’t know. “That’s okay there, Jesse. It’s okay.”
Amanda leans in to comfort him herself, all three of them in a big hug, she and her daughter giving him comfort.
“What happened?” she whispers.
“Dionne had decided to kill herself.” Carisi sniffs. “At our church. She wanted Vince to find her. And he did. He was never the same again.”
Amanda strokes his back and Jesse whimpers a little bit.
“The blood was everywhere – seeping up into those awful pots containing those flowers. I … I just will never see poinsettias the same way again. All that red, all that blood.”
Now he actually lets himself cry and at first Jesse clings to him harder, not understanding what’s going on, near tears herself. Amanda pries her away from him and soothes her a bit, letting him cry on his own.
“Mandy?” he says with a tear-stained face.
“The worst thing…” He gulps and wipes his eyes. “The worst thing was that she tried to tell Vince something … left him a note. It was on her body. You could barely make out that she had even addressed it to him.”
His eyes look so haunted.
“All the words were covered in blood. Unreadable. She tried to reach out…”
Amanda reaches out her hand to him.
“Not everyone is as strong as you, Mandy. Not everyone can do what you’ve done here with Jesse. You have no idea how much I admire you - admire your courage.”
“But I was afraid.”
“I know you were. But you were strong – you went through with it anyway.”
She smiles at her little girl. “Yes I did - and it was worth it.”
“But I’m not that strong.”
“I’m not ready for that responsibility. I’m not ready to be a father just yet.”
“That surprises me, Carisi. You seem to love Jesse – love playing house with us.”
“I do. But in a way, we’re just playing.” He leans back on the couch and sighs. “I won’t be ready to be a husband, a father, until I’m working as an attorney. I want a big family, a lot of kids – and that takes a lot of money. I can’t get married until I’m ready.”
“Okay, but we’re not talking marriage here.”
“Yes we are. I cannot have sex with you … I will not have sex with you unless you are my wife. The church is right on this – sex belongs within a marriage - not outside of it - because sex produces children.”
“Thanks,” Amanda says sardonically. Jesse had been born out of wedlock and she felt the sting of his insult.
“Oh God, I’m not trying to pass judgement on you – I’m not.” He takes a hand from her – the hand that’s not holding Jesse. “It’s just that . . . premarital sex is not right for ME. Please wait for me, Mandy. Please wait for me to be ready to take that step.”
She sees the plea in his eyes and feels terrible because she’s not sure she can do that. This is the conversation she was dreading. Somehow she always knew this was the reason for his virginity, but wanted to live in denial about it for as long as she could.
“Look Carisi, I could have waited until you were ready for sex. But I don’t think I can do this … marriage?”
His face crumples.
“What are you saying?” he breathes in near panic. “I love you.”
“You don’t understand – you don’t get it. You live in the ‘moral’ world. The rest of us live in the real world.”
His breath hitches. He can’t believe where this conversation is going.
“Waiting for marriage? Do you know how big a part sex plays in marriage? Sexual compatibility and such? I don’t think I can just wait to find out about that, make a full commitment to anyone before I know. Not even to you.”
“Are you breaking up with me?” he asks and then continues in a small voice, grasping her hand harder, not wanting to let go. “Please don’t. Over this? Please don’t leave me over this.”
“I love you so much, Carisi – you’ve made me feel something I’ve never felt before – you made me trust -” Now it’s her turn to hiccup. “No, we’re not breaking up. I just …”
“I need to think about this. I just need time to really think about all of this.” Amanda starts to pack up Jesse and her things. “I … I gotta go.”
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Winter’s Solstice!
Chapter 24: Winter Solstice: The Darkest Day
Four Days before Christmas
The Darkest Day of the Year
Everything stops when Carisi sees the note on his desk - all thoughts of Amanda are gone – everything.
“Personal & Confidential”
He knows what it is.
With shaking hands he picks it up.
“Good morning,” Amanda says to him as she comes in to the office.
He doesn’t answer her, just sets the note down, unread.
He came in here to get … what exactly?
Amanda finds him staring at the ground with a palm flat against the vending machine, but not idly. He’s tense, taut, every muscle from his shoulder to his wrist is engaged, pressing against that machine. His eyes are looking down at something intently. Yet there is nothing on the ground.
“Hey are you okay?” she asks him.
“No,” he answers, pushing against the machine. Without even looking at her he returns to his desk.
He’s gotta open it. He knows he’s gotta open it. Before it’s too late.
Vino’s warning ‘don’t do it - it’s not a good idea’ runs through his head. But he has to.
He opens the letter as Amanda watches him from her desk. He’s shaking more than when he first saw it and this does not go unnoticed by her.
One hand goes to his mouth as he reads it. The only thing that steadies its shaking is when it clasps hard, pulling on his face, drawing the bottom of his eyelids down. His red lined eyelids.
Suddenly he drops the letter – like its hot. Like it’s something he’s afraid of. He gets up from his chair and bolts to the breakroom where he paces, muttering to himself. Fighting with himself about what to do.
Amanda follows him, worried. She stands by the door and watches him for a while. He’s pacing, bringing his hand up to the back of his neck every once in a while, then flinging it off. He’s talking to himself. Talking in a quiet jibberish she doesn’t quite understand – some kind of Carisi shorthand.
“Hey,” she calls out to him.
Her call goes unnoticed so she comes up to him and stops his pacing by grasping both of his arms. “Hey, talk to me.”
He becomes still and looks into her eyes. He is haunted. Absolutely haunted. By a ghost from his past…
“Kathleen?” Amanda asks.
His jaw drops and he goes white as a sheet, all the red blotches on his face that had formed from his distress disappearing all at once.
“How did you -?”
“After you were knocked out by the Snow Man, when I held your head in my lap …”
Wait, she held me?
“… you kinda called out for her.”
His face distorts. Oh no.
Amanda holds out her arms to him, offering him her comfort.
He pulls her into him and holds her tight – ever so tight. He squeezes his eyes shut against the tears – holding them at bay. But yet he gasps from time to time, hitching his entire body as she tries to hold him still. He can hold back the tears, but not the cry itself.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” she whispers, stroking the back of his neck, trying to soothe him.
“No, it’s not okay. It’s never been okay,” he says as he pulls back from her. “I gotta go.”
And in a flourish, he’s out of there in seconds. Amanda’s still standing in the breakroom as he whips his coat off the coat rack and pulls it over his shoulders.
He’s striding down the sidewalk. Fast. Towards the place she wanted to meet. His long legs carry him through the crowd.
And then he sees her - the chestnut hair - he would recognize her anywhere. The most beautiful …
She sees him too and the most sad smile forms on her face, her lovely face … He doesn’t want her to be sad.
He closes the distance between them in heartbeats.
He hasn’t been this close to her in years. Her green eyes that used to sparkle are shiny with unshed tears, darker than they should be in this winter light.
“Sonny … I just wanted to see you … and finally …”
Now her tears start in earnest. He always hated it when she cried. His first instinct is to hold her, to comfort her, but he finds he can’t. He needs to know.
“Did you ever love me?” he blurts out.
This startles her and the tears stop flowing. “What?”
“Did you ever love me, Kathleen?” Carisi demands more forcefully.
“Of course I did,” she says softly and reaches out to stroke his cheek. He does not pull back – he’s needed to hear her say that for so many years. “How could you ever doubt that?”
“Because you … you…” He can’t finish because he’s choking on his own tears now, something inside of him is breaking.
“Because I was pregnant?”
“Oh Sonny.” She hugs him and they cry together for a bit. “Sonny, I … I was just so scared. I NEEDED you.”
“I would have been there for you. Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you try to seduce and dupe me instead?”
“I thought you wouldn’t understand.” She takes in a sharp breath and lets out a sob. “Wouldn’t understand if you knew the baby wasn’t yours.”
“You should have talked to me. I’ve spent all these years feeling used. Wondering … wondering if what we had together was real. You hurt me so much, Kathleen.”
“I know.” She’s quiet for a minute before she speaks again. “I think there are a few things you need to hear Sonny.”
“First off, I loved you from the start. I think I loved you long before I ever got pregnant, loved you before we got together. Long before. Remember when we were kids? When Carole would invite me over for Easter and you and Vince would be there? Vince had it for Dionne something bad.”
Carisi smiles a bit, remembering those crazy Easters. Vince acting the fool. “Yeah, he did.”
“But she didn’t even notice him at first. It took him years to turn her eye.”
Carisi thinks back fondly on all the things Vince would do to try to impress her.
“It was the same with you and me.”
“Sonny, I’ve had a crush on you since I was ten.”
“Yeah, you were the older boy. Cool Vince’s buddy.” She wipes away some of her tears now that she’s stopped crying. “You were always so nice to me but you treated me like a little sister. I always wanted more. But I wasn’t even on your radar until high school.”
Some brightness returns to Carisi’s face. “You sure were cute in high school.”
“And you were adorable.” She touches his nose softly.
He pulls away from her, a bit uncomfortable. He’s forgotten himself, where he is now - in the present.
“Sorry,” Kathleen says softly, understanding. “I take it you have someone now.”
“Well, at the very least you could say my heart is taken,” he says and sighs, looking down, dejected. “The jury’s out on the rest of it.”
“That doesn’t sound good.”
“Nah, no worries.” He waves it away.
“Okay,” she says and lets it drop. It’s really none of her business, especially now that so much time has passed. “The other thing I’ve been meaning to tell you Sonny …”
“Well, I just wanted to let you know I wasn’t …” she gasps in an attempt to hold back tears again. This is so hard for her, but she needs to tell someone. And she trusts him.
“Go on.” He rubs her shoulder gently.
“I wasn’t the type to get around. I wasn’t pregnant because I was …”
She starts crying in earnest.
“Because I was a slut. It was Father –“
“- Mallory,” Carisi finishes for her in sudden realization. I should have known. There was always something about that guy .. .he would hang around Kathleen, almost possessively at times. It had been weird. Father Mallory would often make him feel uncomfortable, like he was somehow sinning by just being around Kathleen - like he shouldn’t be there.
He’s just kicking himself now, knowing he probably wouldn’t have let himself believe it – that a priest could do something like that back then. Even if she had told him … What if he hadn’t believed her? God, no wonder the case with Father Eugene had hit him so hard. It had brought up things he hadn’t wanted to see, didn’t want to admit.
Well, things were different now.
“You knew?” she asks, shocked.
“No, but I should have. I’m so sorry he hurt you back then, but we’re going to do something about it right now. RIGHT NOW.” He balls his hands into fists. “I don’t want him hurting anyone else. Is he still out at your old church out on Staten Island?”
“No? Then do you know where he is?”
“Yes. I’m free.”
“He’s dead, Sonny. He’s dead and I’m finally free.” She hangs her head and cries as Carisi folds her into a warm, comforting hug. One she’s needed for a long time.
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for the second part of Winter’s Solstice! Posting today.
Chapter 25: Winter Solstice: Rebirth of the Sun
Four Days before Christmas
The Sun is Reborn
Kathleen pulls away from Sonny and asks him, “Do you want to see her?”
“My daughter. She’s all grown up now.”
His brow furrows as she reaches into her purse.
“I named her after you. Kind of.”
“Wait.” Carisi puts his hand up.
“I couldn’t really name her after you … but I asked her adoptive parents to make her middle name ‘Sunny’ and they did. I really wish she had been yours though…”
“Kathleen, stop.” Whatever she’s pulling out of her purse, he doesn’t want to see it. “We need to close that door now.”
She nods, looks down. “I understand.”
“And we need to keep it closed,” he says firmly. “So we can both move on.”
She’s still looking down. She sniffs. “I know. You’re right. I had a feeling you’d feel that way, so …”
She draws something else out of her purse. It’s in a ziplock bag. “I won’t say goodbye. But I can give this back to you.”
She takes it out of the bag and places it in Carisi’s hand. A huge lump rises in his throat.
“Always …” he breathes.
She nods. “Yes, Always. I’ll always love you Sonny. Even if the door is shut between us forever.”
“Me too.” He hugs her, closing his fist tightly over the remembrance she has just returned to him. “Always.”
He sounds haggard.
He asks her to meet him. Meet him now.
“Carisi, I don’t’ think I can get away right -”
“I need you. Please.” It’s almost a whine.
He sounds like he really does.
“Okay. I’ll find a way…”
They step into his apartment together. He had met her outside before they went in.
“Stay here,” he instructs her as he goes into his bedroom and locks the door. She hears him rummaging around in there. Some clicks, a quick slide.
Then he bursts back out of the room. “Got it!”
“Got what?” she asks.
“This,” he says and places half of a broken heart into her palm. “You hold on to my heart, okay?”
It is grey and very cold as they walk down South Beach’s long fishing pier on Staten Island. Amanda is bundled tightly into her white wool coat. Carisi is wearing one of his short navy ones and Amanda wonders if he’s warm enough, but he doesn’t seem to even notice the cold.
They stop at some random point partway down the pier. “This is where …”
He doesn’t finish the sentence. Instead he just sighs and removes his gloves. He looks over at Amanda and asks, “You got it?”
“You mean your broken heart?”
He looks down kinda sheepish. “Yeah, I guess I mean that, don’t I?”
“I do,” she says, taking off a glove to retrieve the small pendant. “I have it.”
He pulls a chain out of the pocket of his slacks. He slithers it into his hand, pendant first. It is the other half of the heart. The other half that Kathleen had given back to him.
He shows Amanda his palm with the necklace laying in it. The “You” side of the pendant is facing up. Amanda places his broken heart into his palm with the “I Love” side facing up. He turns them both over.
A broken “Always” is inscribed on the back of them, cracked in half partway through the ‘w,’ but not completely.
“I guess Always isn’t forever,” Carisi says and balls his hand into a tight fist, crunching the two broken halves together, and breaking the chain in the process.
Amanda watches his face contort into a variety of expressions, most of them sad, angry or hurt. Then he steps up to the edge of the pier and throws the necklace into the water. It disappears so fast there’s not even a ripple. He stares out into the water where he threw it in absolute stillness for a very long time.
Finally Amanda breaks the silence.
“You wanna talk about it?” she asks carefully.
He doesn’t answer her for what seems like an eternity, just stands there with pain lining his face under the grey overcast of the day.
The clouds part a tiny bit. A tenuous shaft of light illuminates his face - the weak sunlight of winter.
He looks down and nods.
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Is it a Wonderful Life? (yes, I will be posting out of sequence and doing something a little different)
Chapter 26: Is it a Wonderful Life?
Amanda lay in bed reading, winding down for the night. Jesse was down and Kim was out doing something with Vince. Attending a meeting she said. Amanda hoped that was the truth. She really didn’t like seeing those two together - two recovering addicts. She remembered her time with Nate. Things could feel so intense, so right, when you’re in recovery together. But they could also go terribly wrong.
There’s a knock at her door. Who could that be?
She gets up to answer it and opens it up to…
An Orion Slave Girl? WTF?
If it wasn’t for Vince’s little fetish, she wouldn’t even know what that costume was supposed to be.
“May I come in?”
“Uh … who are you and why are you at my door?”
The young woman laughs warmly. “Why don’t you take a guess? I wore this costume just for you. I figured it would likely be the only way you’d recognize me.”
Dionne. Amanda shakes her head. Why is that the name that comes to her mind? The name of Vince’s dead girlfriend from back in high school …
The young lady laughs. “You’re right, Amanda. I’m Dionne. Glad to meet you.”
She steps forward to hug her and Amanda jerks back.
“Sorry. I don’t want to get green paint on me.”
Dionne says to her, “Not even possible. I was just kidding around. See?”
She reaches out to Amanda and her arm passes right through her. A cold sensation makes its way up her arms and sends icicles shooting through her heart. She’s suddenly short of breath.
“Who are you?”
“I told you, I’m Dionne.”
“Yeah, but WHAT are you?”
“I’m an angel.” Her laugh is like the tinkling of tiny bells. “Well, almost. Still need to earn my wings you know.”
“And you’re here to … ?”
“Do just that! Come on, I have so much to show you.”
“What’s this?” Amanda looks around a stuffy old office. It looks even more fuddy-duddy than Barba’s does.
“Have a seat.” She hears a booming voice behind her.
She turns towards the door to see Carisi ushered in by … Buchanan? John Buchanan?
“Just watch,” Dionne whispers.
Amanda does. She watches in shock as Carisi makes a deal with the devil, signing his life away to become a defense attorney for this scumbag’s law firm.
She turns to Dionne and asks, “Why would he do this?”
“Men do strange things when they think their life is a waste.”
Dionne and Amanda are at bar.
“What am I looking for?”
“Just watch.” Dionne draws closer to her when Carisi enters the bar. She whispers to Amanda, “This actually happened a while back. A long time before he joined Buchanan and –“
“Shhh!” Amanda cuts her off, wanting to hear what Carisi is saying to some overly attractive woman who had just sidled up to him at the bar after he sat down. She watches in disgust as the woman flirts outrageously with him - at one point even wrapping one leg around him in a show of … who knows what? Flexibility. Carisi leers back at her, enjoying every minute of it.
“What has gotten into him?”
The scene shifts to his bedroom. That hussy is in bed with him and he’s …
Amanda doesn’t want to watch. Doesn’t want to see him with that woman. Or with another, and another. The scene changes so fast and there’s so many of them. Blondes, redheads, brunettes, black, white, almost every race, almost every color, every age is in his bed. The only thing they have in common? They’re women.
“Why is he doing this to himself? I know he just wouldn’t . . .”
“Let me show you,” Dionne says.
“Kathleen, hey,” Carisi says into his cell phone. It’s night time and he’s alone in his apartment.
“Why is he calling her?” Amanda asks.
“Shhh! Listen,” Dionne says.
“Listen yeah, I was hoping to meet up with you.”
There’s a pause.
“Yeah, I know I said my heart was taken. But remember I said that things were up in the air?”
Carisi looks kinda sad, wiping away some tears that aren’t really there. “Yeah, well, they just fell down.”
But he also looks hopeful as he listens to Kathleen respond – hopeful and desperate. Amanda can’t hear what Kathleen is saying on the other line. Dionne tells her she’s not supposed to.
Now they’re at the precinct. It looks like New Year’s is underway. Everyone is buzzing about what they will be doing that night.
Carisi is on his work phone with Kathleen. Amanda sees herself sitting glumy at her desk across from him, trying to ignore him.
Carisi is being all lovely-dovey as he talks to Kathleen about their New Year’s plans, using the most corny euphemisms she’s ever heard. Amanda’s other self sits there frowning, alternating with eye rolls.
“I don’t look happy.” Amanda muses.
“You’re not.” Dionne replies.
“I still don’t understand. Why is he with her all of a sudden? It looks like this is just a few days from now.”
“You didn’t want to wait until marriage …”
“But I don’t think I could do that. Sex is so important -”
“Well, no worries. You didn’t.”
“And he ends up with HER?”
“Something like that.”
“He’s not really happy, you know.” Dionne says as they are in some kind of “between” place.
“Yeah.” Dionne continues. “It’s an unhealthy relationship. He’s trying to undo years of hurt, pain, and betrayal by revisiting this. And to say their relationship has trust issues is a gross understatement.”
“Then why is he even with her?”
“He’s seeking validation,” Dionne says simply. “Validation that he’s worth loving. Since you didn’t.”
“But I did!” Amanda protests. Then realizing what she’s said, she corrects herself. “Do.”
A new scene abruptly comes into focus.
It’s Carisi’s apartment and he and Kathleen are lying in front of the fireplace getting very very close. Most of their clothes are off. This looks familiar, so familiar. It’s like he’s revisiting stuff with her – not just Kathleen.
“I don’t want to see this.” Amanda turns away.
“But you must.” Dionne insists. “It’s his –“
“It’s his what?” Amanda demands.
“It’s his first time.”
“I’m not watching this,” Amanda growls and attempts to get away.
Dionne grabs her.
Amanda looks down at Dionne’s hand in shock. “You’re solid? How did you do that?”
“In this place …” Dionne waves her hands around. “You and me? We’re the same.”
She forcefully turns Amanda around to face Carisi. Kathleen is moaning below him. They are both naked now.
“You need to see this.” Dionne insists and then says quietly. “He needs you to see this.”
Suddenly the couple on the floor in front of the fireplace both stop what they are doing. He is inside of her and shock lines both of their faces.
“I didn’t mean to … I didn’t want to …” he stammers.
Kathleen just pushes him off roughly and starts crying.
“It was an accident. I didn’t mean to. You know I didn’t want this either.” He reaches for her.
She pulls away and screams at him. “I thought you were one of the good guys. That I didn’t have to worry about this with you.”
“It was an accident. We got carried away.”
She looks down at her hands, softening yet still crying. “I know. But I didn’t want to either.”
“I know,” he says softly. “It just happened. Somehow …”
“I know,” she says. “We should have been more careful.”
He tries to reach out for her again.
“I … I just can’t do this,” Kathleen says.
She puts on her clothes quickly and leaves. Leaves him naked on the floor.
“Oh God, what have I done?” Carisi buries his face in his hands and rocks a little.
“I lost my …” He chokes on a sob, clenches his fists in his hair. “For this?”
He tips over onto the floor and curls up into a fetal position, his eyes going dead. Each individual word that spills from his mouth takes the light from his eyes even more. “I’m never getting it back. God must hate me.”
“Oh my god, no.” Amanda rushes to him, crouches down on the floor, tries to pick him up, to comfort him. But her hands slip through him time and again. It’s like she’s not even there.
“Dionne?! Dionne please. He needs me.”
“I can’t do anything about it, Amanda. I’m sorry.”
“Baby, baby, it’s alright.” Amanda hopes her soothing words reach him somehow, but deep down she knows he can’t hear her. Can’t hear her at all.
They are in the “between” place again.
“Dionne, that wouldn’t make Carisi into … into … what we saw before? Would it? He’s so resilient. Besides, he has his church, his family, his friends. They wouldn’t let him fall like that. Not over this.”
“Amanda, the hard truth is that Carisi never went to church after what you just saw. He had too much guilt over what had happened with Kathleen.”
“But Vince -?” she argues.
A pain comes over Dionne’s face but Amanda doesn’t recognize it for what it is. She continues. “Vince was such a good friend. Never letting stuff like this get him down.”
“Vince, well … he …”
Now Amanda notices the tears in Dionne’s eyes. “He fell off the wagon. Wasn’t himself. Couldn’t help Carisi because he could no longer even help himself. Again.”
“Oh no. That’s too bad,” Amanda says sympathetically.
Unexpectedly, Dionne turns on her.
“That’s because of you, too,” she spits out bitterly.
“When you broke Carisi’s heart, Vince stopped hanging out with Kim. It was too awkward. He wanted to be loyal to his buddy.” Dionne just shakes her head. “Loyal to a fault, that one. Loyal to his own detriment.”
“And somehow not hanging out with Kim led to …”
“She’s good influence on him, Amanda. Even if you don’t trust her.” Dionne crosses her arms. “Without her support he hit a rough patch – just after Easter – and faltered. He never made it back.”
“Dionne,” Amanda reaches out, wanting to hug her. “I’m so sorry.”
“I think you need to see one more thing,” Dionne says. “To really understand what happened to Carisi.”
“Okay,” Amanda says.
And just like that, they are back at Carisi’s apartment, standing outside his door. Two of the Snow Man’s goons are pounding on it. She would have recognized them anywhere. Carisi foolishly opens the door and is pushed back inside roughly. The door closes behind them.
“I don’t think I can watch this,” Amanda tells Dionne. “Please tell me we don’t have to go in.”
“Okay,” Dionne answers. “Just listen.”
The noises are horrifying. Amanda places a hand on his door – a hand that wants to slip through. But she doesn’t let it – just holds it up and cries. Cries with him, cries for him.
When the goons are done, Amanda dares to venture in.
He’s lying on the floor, in the same place as before. Except now instead of cradling himself in a fetal position, he’s holding himself down there, whimpering in agony.
“Oh my god. What did they do?”
“Nothing permanent,” Dionne says. “At least not physically.”
“How is he going to recover from this?”
Amanda’s lower lip quivers. “But he has to.”
“He can’t. He’s got no one to talk to. No one to share this with. No church, no priest, no friends, no family. This is not something he can share with them. This will be a burden he carries alone until his dying day.”
“Why didn’t he call me after this? I could have talked to him, I could have listened … we’ve been through this before. I was there when the Snow Mans goons attacked him the first time. I would have understood - I could have helped him through this.”
“He didn’t know that. How was he supposed to, Amanda?”
“Do you want to see the end?”
“Do I have to?”
“I think you should.”
Carisi is sitting with his elderly mom at the kitchen table, she’s having trouble getting up and around and he helps her from time to time, but keeps bumping into things himself.
“You’re as bad as me!” she exclaims and laughs.
“I love you, Ma, but I’ll never be as bad as you.”
“I’m blind as a bat, and you’re getting that way, too. Don’t lie to me.”
She harrumphs. “You don’t talk to me like you used to, Sonny.”
He sighs. “There’s nothing to say.”
“How many years has it been since you’ve been to church Sonny? At the very least you should be talking to a priest. You used to be such a good boy …”
“Will you can it with that already, Ma?” he says angrily. “I tell you again and again, you’ve lost this sheep. I’m not coming back to the flock.”
“Well, you should at least see a doctor. I may be almost blind, but I can see that you are, too.”
“Nah Ma, it’s nothing. Just some floaters and the light bothers me sometimes. Not what you have at all.”
“Well then how come you bumped into that coffee table just now when you were walking me to the kitchen, eh? It’s kinda hard to miss. Even I know it’s there.”
“My vision just gets blurry from time to time. It’s no big deal.”
“’No big deal?’ he says.” She throws up her arms in frustration. “Whatever’s going wrong with your eyes Son may be treatable.”
“I don’t know Ma,” he says hopelessly. “I haven’t been to the doctor in years.”
“I know. You men can be so stubborn, but even if you won’t do it for yourself, can you at least see a doctor for me? Huh?”
“Okay Ma,” he leans forward and sighs heavily, giving into the mom-guilt. “I’ll do it for you. But only for you.”
He kisses her head and tells her he loves her on the way out.
“Well at least he still loves his mom,” Amanda says as the scene changes yet once again. “He hasn’t lost that.”
“A neurologist and an infectious disease specialist? For an eye infection? You’ve gotta be kidding me, doc!”
“Calm down, Sonny. Hear me out –“ The ophthalmologist tries to talk down his agitated patient now that he is out of his chair and pacing.
“First you put me through a spinal tap and now you’re sending me to more doctors? I don’t need this. My eyes just react poorly to light is all. This is ridiculous.”
“You reported floaters, blurred vision, and sometimes even pain … These are not minor things. You have pan-uveitis.”
“Great! Then treat me for it.” Carisi stops pacing, spreading his hands wide.
“There’s other things going on here. Your cerebrospinal fluid test …”
“Okay, just give me the damn referrals,” Carisi growls and snatches the piece of paper from the doctor’s hands and takes off.
“Well, you’re lucky you don’t have HIV,” the infectious disease doctor muses, looking over Carisi’s test results, his charts. He’s just entered the room – hasn’t even introduced himself yet.
“Uh, I would say anyone who doesn’t have HIV is lucky not to have it.”
“Well, your risk of getting HIV increases when -” The doctor stops abruptly. “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m Dr. Johnson.”
The doctor puts out his hand and Carisi shakes it.
“So why am I lucky not to have HIV again, doc?”
The doctor sits down on one of those rolly chairs that puts him on the same level as his patients.
“Well, because I often see HIV in patients with untreated syphilis. That’s why you’re here.”
“Syphilis? You’ve gotta be joking.”
“I’m afraid not. So, can you tell me about your high-risk behaviors – how you think you might have contracted this? This and uh… let’s see … chlamydia, gonorrhea, and … “ The doctors double checks his charts again. “No wait, that’s all.”
The doctor appears to be smiling. Sick bastard.
“Uh, I uh …” Carisi puts his head down, looking ashamed. “I have a lot of sex.”
“You could say that, yeah.” Carisi scratches his head, thinking. “Nothing monogamous since …”
“Since never actually.”
“No. I’m just a whore I guess.”
“Okay, you’re going to need to inform all of your sexual partners –“
Carisi scoffs, “Like that’s even possible.”
“Okay, enough with the counseling.” Dr. Johnson snaps Carisi’s chart shut. “I think we’re done there. Let’s talk treatment.”
“Now, I can treat you for the chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea with some antibiotics, but you need to understand three things.”
“There are some antibiotic resistant strains of gonorrhea out there. The treatment I’m going give you will likely work, but there’s a small chance that it won’t.”
“And the second thing?”
“You’re likely sterile.”
Carisi almost laughs at that. “Not a problem doc. That ship sailed long ago. What’s the third thing?”
“Can’t do anything about your eyes, son. You’re in the tertiary stage of syphilis – all the damage that has already been done is permanent. I can only stop it from doing more.”
Carisi looks down and just nods.
“You must have been feeling awfully sick for a really long time. Why didn’t you come in sooner? This was preventable.”
“I don’t know,” Carisi answers and the doctor leaves the exam room to go get some shots.
Once he’s alone Carisi says to himself, “Yeah, actually I do know.”
“I am sick because I fucking deserve it.” He clenches his fist.
“I’m a bad person and I deserve to suffer.” He slams it down onto his knee.
“No you’re not!” Amanda protests, futilely reaching out to him once again. “Oh baby, you don’t deserve this. You don’t deserve this life. You’re too good. You’re such a good person.”
And once again he reacts like she isn’t even there. Hating himself, grinding that fist in.
Dionne says gravely, “The gonorrhea is resistant. It’s going to kill him.”
Spinning around on Dionne she asks, “Why? Why does he have to suffer like this?”
“It doesn’t have to be this way.”
“This is not right. You know this isn’t right. This isn’t -” Amanda hiccups against a sob. “This isn’t HIM.”
“This is just one possible future – a future based on one decision. And futures can be changed in the present.”
The scene dissolves and they are back in Amanda’s bedroom – where she had been reading before Dionne came to her door.
“What’s more important in a marriage, Amanda? Sex or love?”
Suddenly, Amanda hears Kim let herself back in followed by a deep male voice right behind her. She looks out towards her apartment as she hears Dionne faintly whisper beside her, “Vince …”
After a second, Amanda turns back to Dionne, but she’s not there anymore. The angel has vanished.
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Advent Calendar! (yes, as you can see I am be posting out of sequence and doing something a little different)
Thanks so much to @skittle479 for the medical fact check! I have my own personal disease obsessions (syphilis), but it’s nice to have real-world scenario backup since most of my information is historical.
Chapter 27: Advent Calendar: Part One
Part One of Seven
Her veil has been carefully removed and placed on the dresser. Absolute silence hangs heavy about them. Until his hands come up to her shoulders from behind and softly move her hair out of the way. They whisper as the tips of them graze the top of her white gown …
Her phone rings. It is him.
“It’s been a little while. Have you … you know … had enough time to think about it? I’m getting a little antsy over here.”
“Oh, I’ve been thinking about it alright,” she smiles, imagining him doing a little ‘ants in the pants’ dance. She looks down at the major craft project laid before her. It is almost overwhelming. “I’ve definitely been thinking about it.”
“Well, good. Do you ah … Do you have an answer then?” He sounds crazy nervous.
“I think so.” She doesn’t want commit to anymore than that – not yet.
“What’s the answer then?”
“I’m not ready to tell you.”
He groans loudly in frustration. “Seriously? I’m dying over here.”
“Yeah, I’m serious, Carisi. I’m just going to need a little more time.” Looking down at the project again she thinks I really am …
She hangs up the phone and gets back to work.
He pulls down the zipper of her bridal gown, exposing her warm back. As the dress spreads to reveal it, one of his hands trails in its wake. Once it’s all the way down both of his hands reach in and circle around her waist, loosening her garment even more. He pulls her into him and breathes in the scent of her hair, sighing.
She feels … Secure … Content … Loved
As she knew she would.
“Oh, he’s going to love it!” Kim exclaims excitedly.
She’s not quite over her manic episode, but has calmed down quite a bit since her change in dosage. And she’s been taking her recovery seriously. It’s nice to see.
Amanda smiles at her sister. “You think so?”
“Yeah,” she breathes. “Look at all the work you’ve put into this.”
Amanda looks down at the stuff on the table and smiles. She really has been busting her butt on this project. There’s still so much more work to do, though. She frowns. How much time is this really going to take her?
“God, you guys are just so cute together. This is perfect! A perfect way to say ‘I love you.’”
“You think so?” It’s so much more than that. Way more than just a way to say ‘I love you.’ But Kim doesn’t know that.
“Yes,” Kim says with hearts in her eyes, squealing. “I totally ship you guys.”
Amanda gives her an odd look. “You’re spending too much time online, Kim. You sound like a fan girl.”
“Skedaddle. I need to keep working on this. Shoo!”
“Sonny and Amanda sitting in a tree …” Kim sing-songs as she leaves Amanda to her task.
He’s kissing her neck as her dress drops in a white pool of silk around her, his hands still warm on her stomach. She reaches back for his head, pulling him into her farther, before spinning around to capture his lips in hers.
The heat they have felt in each other’s embrace before is nothing like the passion that burns between them now. They can feel each other’s hearts beating frantically against each other. Skin to skin. Heart to heart.
She feels a flutter in another place …
“Yeah, Carisi?” she barks into the phone, a little irritated at being interrupted yet once again.
“Uh, Mandy … ?”
“Yeah?” She sets down what she was working on and pulls herself away from the table. “What do you need?”
“When are you coming over again?” He sounds like a little boy whining to come over and play with a friend … he’s cute. Maybe she’s being too cryptic.
She looks over at the table. No, no it has to be this way.
“I don’t know,” she says scratching her head and evaluating the progress she’s made on this project… doing some calculations in her head. “Two or three days?”
“Two or three days? It will be Christmas.”
Her head darts to the calendar, her heart sinking a bit. “So it will.”
She’s never going to finish this.
“I would really like to see you before then. Even if you don’t have an answer for me.”
“You can be patient.”
“Yes,” he grumbles. “Even though I don’t want to be.”
“I’ve shown great restraint. You can too.”
“Yeah,” he says softly. “Thanks for that, by the way. It’s uncommon.”
“So I’ve been told.”
“So we’re talking Christmas then? Christmas Eve? Christmas Day?”
“Christmas Night,” she says firmly.
“Yeah. I really need the time, Carisi.”
“Oh.” He sounds defeated.
Before she can let him get to her she signs off with a cheery “Goodbye! See you then!”
She tucks the mitten into her purse. Well, jams it actually – there’s not much room and it’s puffy.
Frannie had brought it to her, carrying it in between her teeth up to the bed, just after Dionne had disappeared that night. Just when Amanda had made up her mind. It was uncanny.
And it meant something.
“What the heck is in that big package?” Carisi badgers her. Again.
“I told you, I will only reveal your gift to you when you can rustle up some privacy.”
“Yeah, but in this house …?” He looks around his old childhood home on Staten Island, watching kids terrorize their grandma’s Christmas tree, Bella and his sisters yelling at them from as far back as the kitchen, the men talking politics, taking up all of the sofas surrounding them, sprawling out into other rooms to continue their cantankerous discussions.
“I’m not going under the staircase for this. I told you that.”
“Let me check something.” He darts up the stairs and then comes back to the landing to yell back down to the first floor. “Ma! Hey Ma!”
“Yeah?” she yells from the kitchen, not coming out.
“What’s with all these coats in my room? Can we move them?”
She steps out briefly, noticing Amanda still holding the cumbersome package she arrived with. She nods. “Yeah, move them to my room, ‘kay?”
“Sure thing, Mom.”
“Mandy, wanna come help?”
She heads up the stairs to ‘his room.’ Hmmm. She doesn’t think she’s seen this before – the room he grew up in. She sets down the heavy package and they each take piles of coats and traverse the distance back and forth between his room and his parents’ room.
“Uh uh. You can’t take that one, Rollins.” He says, removing a dark navy blue wool coat from a pile she’s carrying. A heavy one – made for chilly New York winters.
“You look cold.”
“I look cold?”
“Well, aren’t you?”
“Well, yeah, but I don’t need to wear your coat. I brought my own you know.” She looks out into the hallway, making sure no one else is up there with them. She turns back to him and says almost in a whisper, just in case, “I thought it would be rude to wear it indoors. Cause you know … everyone likes different temperatures.”
“No, my parents are just cheap. Dad’s always complaining about having to ‘heat the whole house.’ So here, take my coat.”
She just looks at it warily.
“Look, I know you’re cold Mandy - your thin Southern blood and all.”
“I’ve been out of the South a long time, thank you very much. It’s thickened up.”
“It’s not rude to wear a coat in here, trust me. Not when they keep the house this cold. Here.”
He helps her into his coat, one sleeve at a time. It’s supposed to be a coat that hits at mid-thigh, but he’s so tall and she’s so short that it falls past her knees. It is heavier than it looks and it smells like him. She grabs it into herself, trying to make a waist of it, and sinks her nose into the collar to breathe in even more of his scent. She’s so grateful. “Brrrrr.”
“See, I told you. You were cold.” Carisi beams brightly at her and pats the bed. “So whad’ya got for me?”
She comes over to the bed with the package and sets it down between them.
“Wait,” Carisi says, putting up a finger. “Please, before you show me anything … I’ve gotta know what you’ve been thinking. About us.”
He tucks a strand of golden hair gently behind her ear.
“I’m dying here.” He whispers, “I want to know that you’ll wait for me.”
“No,” she says firmly. “You’re just going to have to be patient and wait for me to go through this with you to get your answer.”
Amanda removes the package’s wrapping, revealing a large white box with twenty-four drawers in it.
“Yes. A calendar of us and how we came to be.”
TO BE CONTINUED …
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Advent Calendar Part Two!
Chapter 28: Advent Calendar: Part Two
PART TWO OF SEVEN
Amanda pulls out the little white box marked “1” from the calendar she has put together for Carisi.
“Look inside,” she says to him.
He pulls a tiny green sprig with a little red bow on it. “Holly?”
“Yes, our first kiss.”
Then lean in to each other and exchange a brief, almost chaste kiss. It is the first time they’ve kissed since she had asked him for some time to think about things. Neither of them wanted to put too many expectations on the other…
“Hey Mandy,” Carisi asks, “I’ve been wanting to know something.”
“Why did you reject me under the mistletoe?”
“A girl can’t just give in to the first advance.”
He looks dumbfounded. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Carisi, you ain’t from the South. We do things a little differently down there.”
“But you live in New York. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you have for years.”
“You can take the girl out of Georgia …”
“Okay, I get it.” He says, nodding, smiling, knowing that there will probably always be a little bit of culture clash between them, being raised so differently.
It will keep things interesting if they end up staying together.
“Number Two?” he asks.
“All you,” she says, indicating that he should go ahead and open the box marked ‘2′ with a small movement of her hands.
He pulls out an intricately fashioned staircase – A miniature staircase. It looked just like the one in this house. The one where they had …
“Mandy, did you MAKE this?”
“Yes,” she says smiling proudly.
“Wow! I didn’t know you had these kinds of skills.”
“I’ve got some mad skills you just haven’t experienced yet, baby.”
He grins, wondering if she’s talking about her prowess in bed. Then he flushes.
“Got a question for you now,” she says, toning it down. “Was it Kathleen that your mom caught you with under the staircase? The ‘girlfriend’ your mom mentioned after we were caught?”
“Yes, yes it was.”
“That’s kind of flattering,” Amanda muses.
“Well, you’ve only been under the staircase with two people - Kathleen and me.” Amanda pauses. “And I know how you feel about her. What she means to you.”
THREE: HAIR DRYER
Carisi clears his throat nervously and changes the subject. “Shall we do the third one?”
“Be my guest. It’s your gift to explore.”
Pulling out a box and opening it, he looks at what’s inside and smiles. “Oh, I remember that day.”
Amanda smiles back at him as he reaches out to touch her hair, playing with a tendril that had fallen in front of her face gently before tucking it back behind her ear. “That was nice.”
“Yeah it was.”
Amanda takes the tiny hair dryer out of the box marked ‘3.’ “You know, that night in your bathroom as you blow dried my hair … ?”
“I saw all your robot stuff - your childhood stuff. And I wondered what you had been like as a boy …”
“Well, it’s pretty simple.”
“I was a nerd.”
“No, really?” Amanda pretends to be shocked.
“Nerd, geek, dweeb, poindexter … you name it – that was me.” He grins that big goofy grin of his.
“I can’t believe it.” Amanda continues in mock shock, still giving him a hard time.
“What, the Robby the Robot toothbrush holder didn’t give it away?”
“Hey, things have changed now with Comic Con and all. If I had grown up nowadays, I would have been considered cool.”
“How so? You seem pretty …” Amanda waves her hand randomly.
“I don’t know. Just NOT COOL.”
“Why you little… “
She shrieks as he lunges for her tummy, seeking to tickle the bejesus out of her. But he bumps the calendar seated between them in his efforts and the little boxes threaten to spill out of it.
“Ooops!” Amanda grabs it just in time to save them all from tumbling to the floor. The tickle game ends before it begins.
FOUR: CHRISTMAS TREE
“Okay now, Carisi. Focus. Number four.”
“Okay, I know what this is,” he says pulling out a tiny Christmas tree with little tiny decorations adorning it. They are all to scale. Amanda really put some work into this.
“They night you helped me set up my Christmas tree, no?”
“The same,” she answers.
“Man, some of that was a real pain.”
“You were supposed to get a smaller tree. That’s why you ran out of lights.”
“Christmas lights,” He huffs. “The bane of my existence.”
Amanda doesn’t chuckle at that. She remembers the day the lights came crashing down on his head at the precinct…
“Okay, chop chop!” She says, changing the subject, not wanting the mood to turn melancholy. “Number five.”
As he pulls the tinest BluRay on earth from the box labelled ‘5’ he is in wonder. “How did you DO this?”
He can actually read the tiny print, see the details. Its’ an almost perfect miniature of the movie they had watched that one night: Frozen. “Damn, Amanda.”
“Thanks,” she shrugs.
“How did you do this?”
“A lady never tells,” she sing-songs.
“Is that another Southern thing?”
“No, just a chick thing.” She gives him a wry smile.
“Man, speaking of chicks, your sister had me convinced that you were the Snow Queen. You know – like Elsa.”
Amanda harrumphs. “Let me guess, she told you she was Anna.”
“Something like that.”
“Oh, Kim and her flights of fancy.” Amanda says dismissively.
“She told me something else, Mandy…”
“What was that?”
“That if anyone could melt your heart, it was me,” he says and looks down sheepishly.
“Oh, hon.” Amanda puts her hand softly on his cheek stroking it a bit with her thumb. He looks like he need reassurance. “You already did. Long ago.”
“Yeah?” He looks up.
“Yeah, like over a year ago.”
He beams. “That long?”
“Yes,” she breathes and pulls him in for a kiss that is a little more heated than the last one.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Advent Calendar Part Three!
Chapter 29: Advent Calendar: Part Three
PART THREE OF SEVEN
SIX: VENDING MACHINE
“Okay, okay,” Amanda pushes Carisi away from their kiss after just a moment, not wanting it to get too intense. “Next one.”
Carisi takes a look inside box number six. “Now what is this?”
He pulls out a tiny replica of a vending machine – the one they have in their breakroom at work.
“Just a little reminder that the whole squad knows about us now.”
“Nah, that can’t be.”
“Of course it can – remember our fight that day? The day after you made those hot chocolates with snow men marshmallows for Jesse, Kim, and I?”
“Yeah, kinda. Was I loud or something?”
“Let’s see you practically shouted ‘Heaven forbid our colleagues might think I like your or something’ when I asked you to come sit with me. Dead giveaway there, Carisi.”
“Are you sure they figured it out?”
“Uh, yeah. Fin talked to me afterwards.”
“Hey Amanda, remember what I told you about not taking this job home with you?” Fin says.
“That includes Carisi.”
“What do you mean?” she tries to play it off.
“C’mon now. Only lovers quarrel like that.”
“We’re not lovers.”
“Aren’t you? You looked pretty cozy there once the yelling died down.”
Amanda remembers Carisi stroking her back, comforting her after she told him that she didn’t trust her sister and was uncomfortable letting people in.
“Were you spying on me?”
“It’s not like the whole squad couldn’t see, Amanda. The breakroom’s a public place you know.”
She gives him a wry grin. “Keep it on the down low okay?”
“Not that it will do any good, but I won’t say anything to anyone around here. You and Carisi just need to watch it – you hear me? You could get in a lot of trouble.”
“So Fin knows?”
“Yup. And I strongly suspect he’s not the only one.”
SEVEN: ERECTOR SET
Carisi reaches for the box labeled ‘7’ and grins like a fool when he pulls out a miniature erector set box.
It’s not just a box labeled “Erector Set” either. Amanda had put little pieces inside of it. “Open it.”
“Damn Mandy, I could play with this thing right now.”
“Wouldn’t you rather play with something else?” There is a devious twinkle in her eye, as she remembers back to their night of jokes.
He gulps, remembering how that night ended too. “Uh yeah.”
“Well then . . .?”
Really? Is this really going to happen? With Amanda in his old childhood bedroom? ON HIS OLD CHILDHOOD BED?
He hurriedly moves the calendar box that is between them off of the bed so he can move closer to her. Without even a kiss, a word, anything he opens the coat she’s wearing and begins unbuttoning her blouse. And then he unhooks the front clasp of her bra. She gasps softly when it’s released, anticipating his next move.
And he does not disappoint. His hand moves over one of her now-exposed breasts and before she can even sigh he’s caught her lips in a fiery kiss. It turns into a moan. He pushes her back onto the bed as she reaches for his dress shirt, starting to unbutton it as well.
“Damn, your T-shirt was a lot easier,” she says to him, breaking off the kiss so she can focus on the buttons.
“Yeah, but this way we can both kinda keep our clothes on. You know, just in case,” he ticks his head back towards the door.
He’s right, there’s not enough privacy for them to be bare chested, skin to skin, like they had been that night. She undoes the final button at the bottom of his shirt . . . the one precariously close to . . .
She stops herself from going there. That’s definitely not what this is about tonight. But she does allow herself to run her fingertips up from his tummy to his partially exposed chest, savoring every piece of flesh that she comes into contact with.
He follows by putting a hand on her chest, his fingers moving over and tweaking one of the nipples that has gone taut just from the sight of his chest laid bare. Then he moves over to the other one, leaving the first one yearning in agony at the absence of his touch.
She moans and her fingernails dig into his chest.
“God, I love you,” he breathes and drops his lips to the neglected nipple, giving it a little tug with his teeth, his fingers never letting go of the other one as they pull on it as well.
“Oh god.” She arches beneath him, wanting to feel him – to feel his excitement. But she can’t. He’s kept his distance there, lest they go further than he intends to once again. He’s learned his lesson.
They hear a bump followed by the pitter-patter of little feet running up the stairs.
“Oh no, it’s the cops!” Carisi exclaims and breaks away from Amanda. “Quick! Put your clothes back on.”
Amanda just calmly refastens her bra and begins to button back up, watching him do the same. “’The cops?’ Carisi, we are the cops.”
“Yeah, it’s just something we kids would say when we were about to get busted for doing something naughty.”
She gives him a wry grin. “Funny.”
Just then the expected barrage of kids bursts into the room with shouts of ‘Uncle Sonny.’ They want to take him downstairs to show him something.
“Hey guys, I can’t do that right now okay? I’m playing with Amanda.” Amanda smirks at the euphemism as Carisi continues. “She made this cool box for me you see and I am still looking at all of the toys inside of it.”
‘Ooohs’ and ‘Ahhhas’ excitedly escape from their mouths as Carisi shows them some of the miniature objects that have already been revealed. But the gaggle of kids quickly lose interest and run downstairs to amuse themselves elsewhere after only a few minutes.
“Not quite like last time, eh?” Amanda asks him.
“It didn’t last all night this time. You, me, an erector set. . .” She smiles mirthfully.
“That’s right! That was the first night I ever spent over at your place.” He grins. “We fell asleep on the couch, remember?”
“It was also the last,” she says and the mood grows somber..
“I don’t want it to be the last.”
“I don’t think I want it to be either.”
“Okay, next,” Amanda says, shaking it off. No need to get too serious. Yet.
Carisi pulls a replica of the mall they took Jesse to that day they found Vince working as Santa Claus.
“Damn,” Carisi says. “Vince and Kim, huh? What’s going on there?”
“I just hope it’s not romantic,” Amanda muses. “Kim isn’t too good with relationships.”
“Are any of you Rollins girls?”
Amanda punches him lightly. “Hey! That’s not nice.”
Carisi laughs. “Relax Mandy, I’m pretty sure they’re just recovery buddies. Vince isn’t really interested in more as far as I can tell.”
Amanda breathes a sigh of relief. “Thank god. I really don’t think it’s a good time for her, you know? I’m glad he’s just a supportive guy in her life and all but I do hope you’re right and that he’s not all that interested in pursuing other things.”
“Well, I don’t think he’ll have an interest in anyone for a while yet. He needs to recover from losing Dionne and I have a feeling that will be a long road for him. He’s only just started.”
She nods. “Hey, did I ever tell you about the conversation I heard between them? After she got his number? And BEFORE they left green paint all over my couch?”
‘No, I’m pretty sure you haven’t.”
“I told you that you could call me anything you want to. . ..”
Kim listens to Vino’s reply. She had called him and it sounded like they were arranging a hook up. Amanda was not happy with that.
“’Dionne?’ Yeah that has a nice ring to it. You can call me that.”
“Uh huh. Uh huh,” Kim continues, listening to him. “So what costume would you like me to wear? You mentioned Star Trek so I went online to look at various cosplay options. Andorians looks kinda cute. Would you like to see me as an Andorian, baby?”
It takes only seconds before Kim backpedals. “Oh no no. I didn’t mean anything by it. If the idea of me as an Andorian upsets you I’ll totally be something else. No problem.”
“Really?” Carisi asks Amanda. “An Andorian? Are you sure you’re remembering that correctly?”
“Yeah I think so. What’s the big deal?”
Carisi sighs and shakes his head, crossing his fingers and looking down at them resting in his lap. “An Andorian? That’s bad. Kim shouldn’t have suggested that to him.”
“I thought I mentioned – oh maybe you forgot. It’s so obscure. Dionne would dress up in costumes for all the science fiction conventions they would go to together. And when she would go as an Andorian . . .”
“Oh that’s right!” Amanda suddenly remembers. “That’s what she was wearing the first time they had sex.”
Carisi tips his head and raises just a corner of his lips. “It was more than that, Rollins. It’s not always about sex you know.”
“What was the ‘more’?”
“He loved her in that costume – thought she was cute you know. It was his favorite. And it was how he remembered her after she died.”
“It was bad enough that he suggested Kim go by the name ‘Dionne.’ After that, hearing that she wanted to dress up as an Andorian would have broken his heart. It would have been too much.”
“Yeah,” Carisi turns away and raises an index finger to the corner of one eye briefly and he hopes discreetly. He rarely teared up at the thought of what happened to Vince and Dionne anymore . . . why was it getting to him now?
“Hey, are you okay?” Amanda rubs his shoulder lightly.
Damn, she notices.
“Yeah, it’s Vince’s heartache, not mine. Let’s move on.”
“And lucky number nine!” Carisi exclaims, practically ripping open the box labeled ‘9.’
Amanda smiles at his enthusiasm.
He chuckles when he sees what’s in the box. “A fireplace, huh?”
“Intricate work here. I’m impressed.” He runs his fingers over the little logs with their realistic texture and up the ‘flames.’ They felt odd to his fingertips and weren’t anything he was familiar with. “What are these made of?”
“A girl never tells, you know that.”
“You know what Rollins?”
“A girl does tell.”
“Is that so?”
He begins to recite phrases from the I Never game they had played while getting drunk off of eggnog.
“Never have I ever had my bodice ripped.”
She gives him an ‘oh please’ smile.
“Never have I ever had male delivered to my box.”
She rolls her eyes.
“Never have I ever played someone like a flute.”
“You’re too much.” She laughs.
“Never have I ever sheathed a sword.”
“A bet not,” she snarks.
“Never have I ever danced with a Coney Island whitefish.”
“Okay that’s it!” She lunges towards him, practically knocking over the calendar this time herself, going in for the tickle. He doesn’t resist, although his belly laughing looks uncomfortable. Amanda never knew there were so many variations on a grimace. She starts squealing when he tries to tickle her back.
“Okay, okay. We’re getting too loud. My mom’s going to wonder what we’re up to.”
“Afraid you’re going to get caught doing something naughty in your room?” Amanda mockingly gasps.
“Cut it out.”
TEN: COUCH ALA GREEN PAINT
“Time to check out what’s next. Lucky number ten!” Carisi says with enthusiasm.
“Is every number lucky to you? First nine then ten?”
“Every number’s lucky when I have my Lady Luck around.” He smiles and plucks her cheek.
“Uh . . . Yeah,” Amanda looks down and pulls his coat a little tighter around herself. She had lost that $400. She wasn’t lucky at all.
“Let’s see what we’ve got here.”
When he pulls out the little couch he laughs. It is smeared with green paint just like hers had been and had a teeny tiny little bottle of what could only be green body paint sitting on it.
“What a night, eh?” he says.
“Yeah, and it wasn’t a good one.”
“I didn’t react so well . . .”
She puts up a hand. “I know. You’ve already apologized. No more please. The guilt phase is over.”
He smiles, glad to know that he really and truly is off the hook. But then . . .
“There’s something I don’t understand about you, Mandy. Something that would have helped to know that night.”
“What is it?”
“This gambling thing … how does it work?”
Oh, he wants to have this conversation.
She breathes in carefully and steels herself before opening up to him. “Well, you see my daddy was a gambler. And this was the only way I could be close to him.”
She sniffs, but has no actual tears to cry. “Before AND after he left us.”
He reaches for her hand and holds it tenderly while she details gambling with her father as a young girl, how much he had meant to her, and how gambling had become her coping mechanism as an adult.
It gets really hard for her at one point – the point where she tries to tell him a truth that is buried deep within the core of her being. It is the truth about how she felt once she realized her father had actually left her behind for good. Not the ‘truth’ she tries to tell herself to cover the pain, but the real truth.
Carisi puts a soft hand behind her neck and draws her forehead into his. “Hey, it’s okay. Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”
It is all she needs to hear for the floodgates to open and she is able to tell him all of it – everything about this vice that has plagued her for so many years.
A bit of her darkness is banished in the process – burned off by his compassion. His attentiveness, his patience as she discusses these hard truths has allowed her to free herself from them.
God, how she loved him in those moments.
TO BE CONTINUED. . .
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Advent Calendar Part Four!
Chapter 30: Advent Calendar Part Four
PART FOUR OF SEVEN
ELEVEN: FAO SCHWARZ BAG
As he pulls the miniature shopping bag from the most famous toy company out of the box marked ’11’ he remembers that day.
He frantically hurls himself through the crowds. He only had so much time during his lunch break.
‘This has to work this has to work’ he thinks as he heads to the toy store. Since it’s Christmas time he easily finds a selection of stuffed reindeer. He finds the once he thinks she’ll like the best. This is more than just a peace offering . . .
As he gently removes the tiny reindeer from the bag he says to her, “I wanted to apologize to you that very day you know.”
“I had a feeling.”
“Then why wouldn’t you let me?”
“I didn’t want to watch you try to win me back just to have to turn you down and hurt your feelings.”
“Why would you have turned me down?”
“I was too raw, Carisi. It was too soon.”
“Yeah, but you’re tough.”
“You know that’s not true. Not when it comes to this stuff.”
“Does that explain your sappy side?”
“Come on.” She tilts her head to the side and gives him that look.
“That was unexpected you know - finding out that you’re a romantic at heart.”
“Okay, move it along,” she insists.
In box number twelve there is a little light. Carisi twirls it in his fingertips. “What’s this?”
“You’ve brought light into my life. It’s as simple as that.”
He leans in for a soft kiss that they let linger between them, like butterfly wings beating tentatively against each other.
THIRTEEN: SECURITY FOOTAGE
“Let’s see what’s in box number thirteen,” Carisi says as he finally pulls away from the kiss, dragging a finger softly down her cheek.
Inside of it he finds a little computer with an odd little picture on its screen.
“Now what’s this?” he asks, eyebrows drawing down in consternation.
“Remember I found Carol on that security footage? The day everything changed?”
“Yeah.” He looks down. “And something else changed that day too.”
“What?” Amanda asks.
When he looks back at her there are tears swimming in his eyes. “That’s the day I ran into my own Carole. She’s the one who put me back in touch with Kathleen.”
“Oh.” She takes his hand gently.
FOURTEEN: ROYAL ICING
The mood becomes lighter when he takes out what is in the box labeled ’14’: Two tubes of icing – one red and one green.
“Is this functional?” he says, getting ready to replay the ‘fight’ they had at his parents’ house. The day they made cookies. “I want revenge.”
She chuckles. “No, silly. And why would you need to get revenge? Nobody won.”
He looks back at her with a brilliant smile - knowing smile – and tips his head. “EVERYBODY won.”
“That’s true.” She smiles back at him radiantly.
He hands her the green tube. “Here you take red and I’ll take green this time.”
He starts dotting her, yet no icing comes out.
She giggles. “I told you they weren’t functional.”
“Won’t stop me, no siree.”
“Okay, you’re asking for it.” She takes her tube and starts dotting him back, squealing as she dodges his attempts to ‘take revenge.’
Finally they tire of the game and put the tiny tubes away.
“Hey, I need to ask you something.” Carisi says.
“That night, out on the porch . . .”
“You said it was a good thing we weren’t together . . .”
Her jaw drops. She can’t believe he needs clarification on that one. “Wait? You don’t know why I said that too you?”
“No,” he says meekly.
“Not even now?”
“Mandy, I wouldn’t be asking if . . .”
“I didn’t want the Snow Man to hurt you. He had just strung up Carl. That very day.”
“Oh, yeah. That’s right.”
“And he was in corrections. I had thought you were safe because the Snow Man hadn’t ever really messed with cops before but when I saw Carl killed like that . . .” She shakes her head. “I knew you weren’t safe.”
“So you were looking out for me?”
He lets out a sigh of relief.
She gives him a questioning look.
“I just . . . I just thought it was something else. Something that may still be in play.”
“There’s nothing in play, Carisi.”
FIFTEEN: SNOW GLOBE
“Shall we do the next one?” he asks.
“Go for it.”
As he pulls the snow globe out of the box labeled ‘15’ he says, “Now that’s creepy.”
“Agreed. But it’s part of what we’ve gone through together. I had to include it despite . . .”
“Despite the painful memories?”
“Speaking of . . .”
Carisi puts the snow globe down and takes a hard look at Amanda, remembering her clinging to the wall that night after the Snow Man had left. He knows she must have been through hell under the ‘care’ of the Snow Man and that she had been traumatized.
He asks her gently, “What was it like being the Snow Man’s girl?”
She was not expecting that question from him tonight. She looks down into her hands and realizes she needs to tell him. She needs to talk about it so that she will not be the darkness that robs him of his light. She CANNOT drag him down into her pain – the pain she’s carried for so many years. She needs to begin the healing process. And so she talks.
“Well, you see, once I sold myself –“
“Murphy sold you,” he says adamantly, correcting her.
“- I became his slave. More than just his sex slave.” She takes a deep breath. “He told me what to wear, what to eat, how he wanted me to talk, behave around his scumbag ‘associates.’ He wanted me to tease them with the promise of pleasure, hint that the Snow Man would let them ‘borrow’ me. I got into some pretty sticky situations - those men were aggressive. But somehow I was never raped by any of them.”
“But the Snow Man?”
“I wasn’t raped Carisi, despite what you may think.”
“How were you NOT raped?” he says almost angrily.
She reaches forward and places a hand on his thigh and says almost condescendingly. “I sold myself. I let him do that to me.”
“Did you want to?”
“Of course not.”
“Look, you didn’t consent.”
“How did I not consent? I didn’t say no. I put myself in that position.”
“Did you feel you HAD to have sex with him?”
“Of course. If I hadn’t he would have –“
“Would have what?”
She doesn’t answer. Doesn’t want him to know how truly dark it could have gotten.
“Would have what?” he continues to press her for an answer.
She still doesn’t give it to him.
“Well, that clinches it,” he says matter-of-factly. “It was coercion, plain and simple. You DID not consent. You were put in a position where you couldn’t say no out of fear of your own personal safety. That’s rape.”
She looks down at her fingers. They are shaking. She starts to cry.
“So it wasn’t my fault?”
“No. Oh no, Mandy. It wasn’t your fault. Nothing he did to you was your fault, even if you ‘let’ Murphy sell you to clear your gambling debts. And I for one have my doubts about how much say you really had in that matter anyway.”
He pulls her into a hug and rocks her. Holding her head securely to his chest as she cries, he rests his cheek on top of her head.
“Shh… shh, Mandy,” he says to soothe her. “We’re going to get this guy. Make him pay for what he’s done to you and make sure he’ll never do it again.”
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Advent Calendar Part Five!
Chapter 31: Advent Calendar: Part Five
PART FIVE OF SEVEN
He had held her for a very long time, comforting her, before she was ready to go on and have him open the next box. From box number sixteen he withdraws a small piece of cloth.
“That’s from the blanket. I took an actual piece of it,” she explains.
His brows wrinkle. He doesn’t understand.
“I wanted to protect your modesty.” She’s almost shy as she says it, “After what the Snow Man did to you.”
He looks down at it quietly. He is almost ashamed that she was there to witness that, even though she had turned away, averted her eyes.
“That was the night I learned about Kathleen,” she continues.
“When I held your head in my lap, waiting for you to wake up – you called out her name.”
“Oh yeah, I remember you saying something about that. I’m amazed you even touched me Amanda. When I awoke you were clinging to that wall.”
“You weren’t scary when you were asleep. You were helpless, hurt. I just wanted to take care of you. But when you woke up the reality of our close encounter with the Snow Man came back to me full force and I … I just couldn’t continue.”
“But it was painful to hear you call out a name that wasn’t mine. Some woman I knew nothing about. I know I shouldn’t have let it bother me, but it did.”
“See why I don’t care for secrets?” Carisi says sardonically.
“Yeah, I guess I do.”
“Okay, moving on,” Carisi says and pulls out the white box labeled ‘17’ from its slot in the calendar.
“A cat?” he asks, confused, removing a small yellow tabby cat plushie from it.
Amanda explains, “Kim and I had a childhood philosophy. We told ourselves that we were like the cat – the cat who came back.”
“The cat who came back?”
“You know … “ she begins a light tune…
The cat came back
The very next day
You know we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back
The very next day
“Never heard of it.”
“Really? What rock did you grow up under?”
“Obviously not the one you did.”
She laughs. “Well, Kim and I would often sing or chant this to each other after bad things would happen at home. You know, to remind us that we were resilient – that no one could keep us down no matter how hard they tried.”
“Why did you include this one here? Right after the blanket . . ?”
She tips her head at him and says gently. “Come on. You know why.”
“I didn’t process things very well at first did I?” he says remembering the lights crashing down on his head when he was just trying to work the day after their encounter with the Snow Man.
“No one does,” she says sympathetically, rubbing his forearm.
They both remember that day.
“Not here,” she had said and led him away from the squad room, where he had been melting down. They had left the precinct entirely so he could distance himself from it.
“Carisi, you should talk about it.”
“That was a lot of anger back there.”
He stares at her in stony silence.
He pushes air through his teeth. “Look, it’s not like I was raped.”
“But you were sex–“
“You had it much worse, Mandy.”
“How does that not matter?”
“You were brutalized. Sexually assaulted.”
“That’s not what that was.”
“Of course it was. Intercourse does not have to happen for it to be sexual assault – you know that. That goon grabbed you by the –“
“Enough.” Carisi puts up his hand. “You made your point.”
“I’m not listening to this.” He begins to walk away from her.
“Hey,” she says and stops him by grabbing his arm.
She’s touching him again. How can she do that when she had just been so afraid of him? She’s somehow recovering from the trauma of their encounter with the Snow Man already. He’s not.
He jerks free of her and heads back to work.
“Guess you really are resilient, huh?” Carisi says to her. “More resilient than me.”
“But you came back.”
“Like the cat?”
“Yeah, like the cat.” She smiles as he holds up the plushie in his hands, inspecting it carefully, wondering how that really happened.
EIGHTEEN: BILL MURRAY
He laughs so hard when he sees what she had put into box eighteen.
“Lemme guess, Bill Murray?”
“In the flesh!”
“Or in the plastic,” he says wryly. “Was this a Ken doll?”
“No, a Ken doll would have been too big.”
“How did you do find this?”
“I made it.”
“Made it? How did you get this doll’s head to look like Bill Murray?”
“Well … if a girl must tell, I had that commissioned on Etsy.”
“Huh. Well the artist did a really good job. I was able to guess who it was right away.”
“The outfit didn’t give it away?” The doll had clothes on that matched exactly what Bill Murray was wearing in the final scene of Scrooged when ‘Put a little love in your heart’ had started playing.
“Well, yeah, that was part of it.”
“Good because I spent a decent amount of time making those clothes.”
“Wait? You made them?”
“Yeah, had to learn a thing or two about how to craft doll clothes from Kim, but it was worth it.”
“Damn, I’m impressed.”
Amanda smiles. “Thank you.”
There’s a pregnant pause between them.
“And I wanted to thank you for something else,” she continues.
“Thank you for listening to me talk about my daddy.”
“Anytime Mandy, any time.”
She takes in a deep breath.
“Hey.” He touches her shoulder. “What is it?”
“If we’re going to do this … do this at all … “ she starts and his hope for their relationship returns in an instant. She really DOES want to do this … ?
“I need you to promise to never leave.” She chastises herself for saying that, but it’s the truth. How many more weaknesses can she admit to him before he stops loving her?
He realizes in that very moment he can give her what she wants. Because he doesn’t want to ever leave her - he wants to marry her …
She’s said too much - she brushes him off. “Okay, next box.”
“Mandy, we need to talk –“
“Nope. Open this.” She hands him the box labeled ‘19’ from the calendar.
Little pink panties spill into his hands. More doll clothes. His seriousness dissolves into giggles.
“What are these, Rollins?”
“My panties. Don’t you remember?”
She had worn pink that night. The night he had lost his mitten. The night she finally found out just what type of underwear he wore. She snickers to herself.
“What’s so funny?”
“Hey, my mom made those!”
“Your MOM embroidered ‘legal briefs’ on your boxers?”
“Yeah. I can’t afford to buy –“
She interrupts him. “No, seriously. Your mom?”
“Yeah,” he says defensively.
“I think you need to take a look at the next one,” she says gesturing to the box labeled ’20.’ “It’s about your mom.”
A Yoda action figure is inside of it and he takes it out marveling at it. He is incredibly excited about it.
“Oh my God, where did you find this??? He’s got everything . . . the robe … the snake… the light. Man, those are hard to find. That little light always gets lost when these are out of their box.”
He pulls up the robe on the figure to look at the back of its leg. ‘1980’
“It’s from the original movie!”
“Yes. After seeing your bathroom somehow I knew you wouldn’t have it any other way.”
He moves in to kiss her excitedly.
“No, seriously. Where did you get this?”
“Oh, from a little buddy of yours who’s into hot alien chicks. He hooked me up.”
“Is this from his collection?”
“Wow! Wait, why would he part with this?”
“He wanted to support me in this project. He believes in what I’m doing here.”
“And what are you doing here?”
“A lady never tells,” she sing-songs again.
“Damn Southern belles.”
“You love us and you know it.”
He smirks and a little dimple forms on his right cheek. “I guess I do.”
She looks down and blushes a bit.
He notices she’s uncomfortable at this confession for some reason. Although … she should already know that, right? Didn’t he just tell her while they were in the ‘throes of passion’ playing with that mini-erector set … among other things? He changes the subject to alleviate the tension.
“So what does Yoda have to do with my mother?”
“Your mother IS Yoda, silly.”
“Really? She doesn’t appear to be short, green and live in a swamp to me. And I know she has the same way of talking that I do, but c’mon, you can’t confuse that with the weird way he talks. We’re easier to understand than that little guy, right?”
“You maybe, I don’t’ know about your mom … She gave me all this ‘sage advice’ the night we made gingerbread all wrapped up in a cooking lesson. She sounded like Yoda to me.”
He smiles. “Yup. That does sound like my mom.”
“She ambushed me you know.”
“All this talk about timing everything just right, ingredients melding yet retaining their identity. Like in a marriage.”
“Yeah, she was a little heavy handed. I went over there to cook, Carisi. Not be lectured on how to be a proper daughter-in-law.”
“Well, she was just looking out for me.”
She wants to say what’s really bothering her about this whole thing so she just blurts it out, “You talk too much, Carisi. She knows way too much.”
“What are you talking about?’
“Our sex life? You talk to your mother about that?”
“Hey, I don’t talk to my ma about my sex life! Where did you get that idea?”
“From her. She seemed to be well aware that we weren’t having sex.”
“That’s just cause she knows me well, Mandy - knows that I keep the faith. So she knows I want to wait. I never told her anything about us in that regard.”
Amanda doesn’t quite believe him. “I don’t know. You two seem awfully close.”
“Look, she didn’t even know I applied to college.”
“Yeah. We’re not as close as you may think.” He sounds very bitter about that.
“Yeah, well it is what it is. Some things you can’t change.” He looks down into his hands and mutters dejectedly, “You can’t even win their approval … you can only be a continual disappointment if they don’t even care about what you are doing.”
“I had no idea.”
“Yeah,” he says softly, still looking down. “It sucks that my parents don’t even care.”
“I care,” she says.
“Oh yeah?” he says, looking up.
“Yes. I know how much this means to you – how important it is for you to fight for justice. Without that, I’d be afraid you’d lose your spark. And I don’t want that for you.”
She runs her fingers over the hair at the top of his head and down to his ear.
“I love you, Mandy.” He puts up a hand before she can say anything in protest. “Now I know that may make you uncomfortable right now, but it’s the truth. I will not deny it by keeping quiet.”
“It’s not a problem. You should know that I still love you, too.”
She pulls him in for another soft kiss, another butterfly kiss that lingers …
TO BE CONTINUED …
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tonight’s Advent Calendar Part Six!
Chapter 32: Advent Calendar: Part Six
PART SIX OF SEVEN
TWENTY ONE: CELL PHONE
In the box marked ‘21’ Carisi finds a miniature cell phone. Just like his.
“A cell phone, huh?”
“Yup. From the time you were ‘unreachable.’ Putting yourself out there as bait. What really happened anyway?”
“Well, as you know Fin had been working with narcotics on this and he dug up the deets on the Snow Man’s latest girl, Bianca Nieves.”
“Bianca Nieves?” Amanda asks with an arched brow. “Snow White?”
Carisi chuckles. “Yeah, imagine that.”
“So did he change type or something? Does he go for the anemic goth girl look now? Skin as pale as snow, hair like night, lips blood red –“
“Nah, she’s blonde, just like the rest. She’s a chick from the Bronx.”
“A blonde Snow White. Hmmm …”
There’s a knock at his door. Carisi and the four armed men in his apartment exchange a look. Silently they take their positions out of sight as Carisi heads to the door.
He opens it and sees a rough looking man in his late twenties with a teardrop tattoo under his eye waiting for him.
“Who are you?” Carisi asks.
“I’m Santa Claus,” he replies and mashes his hands together. “And you’ve been a very naughty boy.”
“Is that so?” Carisi says.
The man pushes past him and lets himself into the apartment followed by two goons – the two he’s seen before - the two that . . .
Involuntarily Carisi shivers at the sight of them.
“Yeah, looks like you’ve been playing hooky. Didn’t go into work today.”
“I was sick,” Carisi says defiantly.
“You don’t look sick.”
“Well, I am.”
“Too sick to piss off the Snow Man?”
So he had taken the bait. Good. Carisi can’t help but smile wickedly and says with obviously feigned innocence, “What are you talking about?”
“Wipe that goddamn smile off your face or I’ll wipe it off for you!”
“Try it, punk.” Carisi says and steps up to ‘Santa Claus.’ They are now chest to chest.
The man tilts his head back towards Carisi’s still open door. “Hey, I thought you said this guy was weak!”
“Sensitive, not weak.” The Snow Mans slowly strides into Carisi’s apartment, looking menacing while twirling a lit Cuban cigar in his fingers. Carisi knew he would show.
“He seems to have a soft spot for my girls.” He comes up to Carisi and looks below his belt. “But as I recall, that’s not the only soft spot he has.”
“Is that a threat?”
And then it’s over in a matter of seconds. The four armed men come out of hiding as eight more rush the apartment and the Snow Man, Santa Claus, and the goons are all subdued in a flash. The Snow Man is flat against the floor, hands cuffed behind his back, a Narcotics agent holding a gun to his back.
“I just want to know one thing, old man. . .” Carisi says as he crouches down beside the man laying prostrate before him.
The Snow Man just snarls.
“Was Bianca worth your chestnuts?”
“Well, I hope I was worth your chestnuts, Carisi,” Amanda says wryly. “I know your mom doesn’t think so.”
“What do you mean?”
“She told me that you attract the darkness,” she says simply. “With your light.”
He just crinkles his brow, not understanding.
“I’m the darkness, Carisi.”
“Why would my mom say that to you?” he says, suddenly a little angry.
“Because she’s right.” Amanda says firmly and puts up a hand as he tries to protest. “But I’m working on it. I really am. This stuff with the Snow Man? You were right, Carisi, it’s cathartic. Other men who have hurt me have been punished already . . . Murphy . . . Deputy Chief Patton. It helps –“
Carisi takes her hand as she gulps back an unbidden sob.
“It helps to know that it wasn’t my fault,” she says in a small voice and looks down. “It helps to know I can be part of the solution by testifying in the case of the Snow Man. Put that man behind bars for what he did to me. Not as a cop, but as one of his victims. Someone who didn’t deserve to be treated that way. . .”
Carisi pulls her into a tight hug and she lets herself cry a little in his arms. “You’re doing the right thing Mandy, absolutely the right thing.”
“We’ll banish your darkness together, okay?”
She nods into his chest and then pulls away, wiping her eyes, curious now. “You said the Snow Man ‘took the bait.’ What was the bait?”
Carisi shifts a little uncomfortably on the bed and scratches the back of his head.
“Well, Fin got one of Narcotics’ informants – one of the guys who’s in deep and close to the Snow Man – to convince him I was moving in on Bianca.”
“Really? How did he pull that off?”
“He told the Snow Man he’d seen me with her earlier that night, sidling up real close to her, flirting. Said he overheard me telling her I could take her away from this life, that I could save her and stuff. You know, cause I’m SVU.”
“He told him that or you actually did that?”
Carisi looks at her a little guiltily. “Both. I was undercover that night you were making gingerbread with my mom.”
“What do you feel bad about? You were just working right?”
“Yeah - and it was the only opportunity we had – Bianca was finally by herself – or at least without the Snow Man and our informant had been selected to ‘watch’ her that night – we couldn’t have been any luckier. But I felt bad bailing on you and my mom like that. Especially because Fin & I had been prepping with Narcotics all day, planning this and I didn’t get a chance to see you . . .”
“After that night . . .”
“Yeah, that awkward night.”
The both grin kinda wryly at the memory.
TWENTY TWO: BABY
“Okay, moving on,” Carisi clears his throat and opens the box marked with a ’22.’
After inspecting what’s in his hands for a bit he turns to her and says, “This is a little creepy Rollins.”
She laughs. “It’s just a baby.”
“It’s a tiny, naked, pink, immobile, hunched up little thing. You can’t even squish it. This thing is gross! Look.” He shows her that it can’t be squished – it’s made of hard plastic.
“Hey, it’s Christmas, my options were limited,” she protests.
“Limited? It’s Christmas. Everything’s on sale!” he argues.
“Not this late in the year. Trust me. Besides, it’s not like it’s a toy for you to play with - it doesn’t matter if it’s functional, creepy, whatever. It’s what it represents that matters.”
That gives him pause. “And what does it represent?”
“You told me about Kathleen’s baby, you told me about Dionne’s baby, you told me about why you want to wait. . .”
There is a heavy, almost pregnant silence between them and she takes a deep breath. “I think it’s an important part of our story.”
His eyes soften, the crinkles around them relaxing. It’s almost as if he’s hoping . . .
She changes the subject . . . she’s not ready for that. Yet.
“You know Carisi, my daddy used to call me Mandy.”
“I love it when you call me that, truly I do.”
“Well then, Mandy Mandy Mandy . . .” he says as he teasingly plants kisses in a circle all over her face.
Amanda squeals a bit, but then pushes him back.
“No, but in all seriousness Carisi, those few times when you stopped calling me Mandy it nearly broke my heart.”
“I’m sorry,” he says instinctually, but he honestly doesn’t remember doing that. “When was that?”
“Well after . . .” she hesitates.
He raises an eyebrow.
“Well, you know, after that night. The night you lost your mitten.”
“It got a little awkward didn’t it? After that? Even after I explained myself . . .”
“Have we recovered?”
She gives him a soft, yet unreadable smile.
TWENTY THREE: HEART SHAPED LOCKET
“I think you should open the next box.”
So he does.
Inside it he finds a heart-shaped golden locket. It is the fattest heart-shaped locket he has ever seen. It is bulging.
“What is this?”
“Well, for one thing, it’s not broken,” Amanda says wryly.
“Are you trying to tell me that the whole two halves of one heart thingie is bad luck?”
“You tell me. How well did it work out with Kathleen?”
He snorts ironically. “Not so well.”
“I’ve made my point.”
They stand together on the pier in the cold. He is prepared to tell her about Kathleen now.
“I told you I’ve been in love before. . .”
“Well, that was her,” he points out towards the water where the two broken halves of their promised hearts had come back together, sinking into the icy depths as one. They would always be together now – always cold, always broken.
But it gets brighter. The sun slowly breaks through the clouds as he tells Amanda about Kathleen, his heart lifting as he tells her everything and unburdens himself from a lifetime of pain.
Amanda takes the necklace lying in Carisi’s palm.
“THIS heart isn’t broken,” she says emphatically, opening it up to show him the unfilled halves of the locket. “In fact, it’s got plenty of room to fill with love.”
“I like that,” he says softly.
“Yeah, I do too. I think it’s better.”
He leans over to kiss her softly, resting his forehead on hers briefly before pulling away. Then he turns her around and puts the necklace on her in complete silence. When he’s done, she lifts her fingers to the locket, and he covers them with his own. For a few moments they are utterly still.
TWENTY FOUR: ANGEL
“Okay, next,” Amanda says, breaking the silence and turning back around to face him. “Only one more box to go . . . And then . . .”
“And then what?”
“You’ll see. Hurry up. I’m getting anxious.”
And he could see that she was suddenly, inexplicably nervous. Bouncing a little on the bed.
“You okay there, Mandy? You got ants in your pants or something?”
“I’m fine, just go,” she says indicating the box labeled ‘24’ with a shake of her hands, still visibly flustered. She was worried about what was coming after box twenty-four. About what she had prepared to do.
Inside of box twenty-four is a small ceramic angel. Detailed curlicues of gold adorn all of it. It is dainty and beautiful.
“An angel?” Carisi asks, holding it delicately.
“Dionne,” Amanda answers but says no more.
A shaft of coldness shoots down his spine. Vince would refer to Dionne as his angel from time to time . . . but only after she had passed. Had Amanda seen her? Was it possible . . . ?
Amanda doesn’t hear him. She is remembering all that Dionne had shown her of Carisi’s terrible life. The one he would live if she didn’t choose wisely.
Finally she says quietly, “I have something for you. Something real.”
She retrieves her purse and with shaking hands removes . ..
“The other half!” Carisi exclaims in an excited whisper, taking the lost mitten from her. “You found it.”
“I never thought you would.”
“I know.” She puts her hands over his, the mitten between them. She looks up solemnly at him. “I will wait for you. I will honor your desire to wait until marriage, even if that never happens for us.”
He looks down at their hands, the mitten between them forming a complete set. He had finally found her. The one who was willing to wait.
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for tomorrow's Advent Calendar Part Seven!
Chapter 33: Advent Calendar: Part Seven
PART SEVEN OF SEVEN
“I’d like to show you something,” Carisi says softly.
He sets down the mitten that had been between them on the bed, stands up, and takes her hand. “C’Mon.”
He takes her to the top of the staircase just outside his bedroom, looks over the railing briefly and nods in satisfaction. He then turns back to her and raises a finger to his lips in a warning to be quiet. Together they tiptoe from the landing and down the hallway to the master bedroom.
Amanda whispers, “Isn’t that your par-“
“Shh!” he says, bringing his finger to his lips once again.
They go into his parents’ bedroom where they had moved all the coats. He carefully and very quietly closes the door behind him. The click is barely audible.
“Here, let’s move some of those coats so we have a place to sit down.”
After they’ve cleared a space he has her sit on the bed and wait while he goes over to his mother’s jewelry box.
“Carisi, what are you doing?”
“Just a sec,” he says and then mumbles to himself, “I know they’re in here … Unless she moved them or something…”
He stands back and scratches his head, looking at the ornate antique jewelry box carefully.
“Got it!” he says and pulls out a small drawer near the bottom that barely looks like it has a handle.
He comes back and sits by her on the bed, something curled up in his fist. He opens it slightly and shakes it nervously. Amanda can see a quick flash of metal and hear delicate clinks as whatever is in his hand is being jostled around.
He suddenly snaps his fist shut when he notices her noticing him.
“Here,” he says and deposits two gold rings into her hand unceremoniously.
“What are these?”
“Let me tell you a story …” He stares off into the distance and she studies his profile. His imperfect, but strong Roman nose, his knitted brows and slightly downcast eyes …
Elbows on his knees, he laces his fingers together and then drops them between his straddled legs and begins - but it doesn’t keep him from breaking them apart from time to time and using them to embellish his speech along the way.
“You see my great grandmother’s mother, Josephina, stayed back home in Italy when Giuseppe first came to America to work as a fisherman. He had been an apprentice fisherman back in Genoa but had heard that there was more money to be made doing it out in California - and he wouldn’t have to apprentice anymore either.” He tips his head to the side in emphasis. “He left behind those rings as a promise to her - he asked her to wait for him – to follow him over here once he was established.”
Amanda looks at them more carefully. One was larger than the other, but outside of that they were identical.
Carisi continues, “It was 1905 when he left and she was only thirteen. In 1906 he sent for her because by then he had steady work with a herring fishing operation out of Sausalito and was ready to get married.”
“I sense a ‘but’ in there.”
“Yeah.” He nods. “When she landed that April and got through Ellis Island a telegram was waiting for her.”
“And it said . . ?”
“Giuseppe instructed her to stay in New York – and not come West – to wait for him even longer.”
“The San Francisco Earthquake.”
“Yeah. It happened unexpectedly during her passage. Giuseppe wanted to stay and help rebuild San Francisco after the fires. North Beach had been devastated and he knew so many people that had been affected in that community. He felt obligated to stay.”
“Why didn’t he want her to join him?”
“He saw that the whole city was a mess after the earthquake – rough and tumble. No place for a lady.”
“So he was a gentleman?”
He grins over at her. “Yeah, something like that.”
“How long did she have to wait?”
“Well …” he scratches the back of his head. “That’s where it gets interesting.”
“By the time he was ready and sent for her she didn’t want to come.”
“Yeah. Nothing like having your girl wait for you for almost two years, feeling all secure like that and then having her tell you no.”
“I can imagine.”
“They fought back and forth over it. By MAIL if you can imagine - telegrams were too expensive. Months and months of arguments. Ma still has their ‘love spat’ letters.” He chuckles.
“Why didn’t she want to go? She still loved him, right? Was there another guy in the picture by then?”
“Nah, no one else. It’s just she had settled in Manhattan quite comfortably. Lots of families from the Old Country were there - lots of Lombards, people she knew. I think she was afraid of uprooting once again – this time for the ‘Wild West.’ But she never admitted to that in her letters.”
“Let me guess, she won.”
“Yeah, after another year he gave up California for her and found his way to New York.” Carisi nods at Amanda. “Now that’s true love.”
“Sacrifice,” she corrects him. “On both ends. She had agreed to come to a foreign country on her own and wait for him. And she did. For a long time.”
“Yeah, you’re right.” he says quietly and takes a deep breath. He needs to say it. So he does. “But I don’t want to wait, Mandy.”
A little flutter that starts in her heart makes its way up her throat.
“What are you saying?”
“I wanna ask Ma for these rings.” He takes them from her hands. “Josephina gave them to her grandson, my grandfather, her dad …”
“For his wedding.”
He looks at her carefully.
“She’s not going to be pleased about that,” Amanda says knowingly with a grave nod. She knows where this is going, what he is asking. Knows that his mother will disapprove at how fast this is all suddenly happening.
“But would you be pleased?”
“Yes, oh yes.” Amanda cups his face reassuringly. “I love you and I think …”
“I think I always will,” she says quietly, dropping her hand from his face and fiddling with it instead, almost embarrassed at her admission and turning red, hoping he won’t see.
Carisi instantly bristles at that word. Always. It’s not their word.
He gently takes her hand in his and unfolds it so her palm is flat. He places the smaller of the two rings into it.
“I want to show you something, Mandy.”
He holds the larger ring up to the light pointing at the engraving inside of the band. Her ring has an identical engraving and she can see it as she twists it in the light.
“Josephina had these rings engraved while she was waiting in Manhattan for Giuseppe. I think ‘forever’ is a better word for us. Don’t you?”
Amanda thinks about that for a minute before she looks back at him.
“It is,” she agrees.
As their blue eyes meet they can both see the truth shared in that gaze – the strong bond that has formed between them over the course of more than two years - the love that now flows endless between them like an electrical current.
Amanda nods at him slowly and says, “Forever.”
“Forever,” he acknowledges and they come together in a tender kiss as silence and near stillness drops around them.
They both know that it will be.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
Stay tuned for the FINAL CHAPTER! Coming tomorrow. :-)
“It’s time isn’t it?” he asks her, looking around the room a little nervously.
“Hey,” she comes up to him and strokes his cheek softly. “Not if you don’t want it to be. Not if you’re not ready.”
“It’s not that, it’s just –“ He pulls on the constricting gray bowtie throttling his neck.
“Here, let me get that,” she says and removes it expertly. She also undoes the button at the top of his neck, and touches a finger to his Adam’s apple as he gulps.
“I … I want to –“
“I know,” she says simply. “But let’s not focus on that right now. One step at a time, okay?”
“Sure.” He nods. “What do we do?”
“Let me lead for a little bit, okay? Then you can jump in when you’re ready.”
He breathes a sigh of relief. The pressure is off.
She lovingly undoes the buttons of his formal suit jacket at his waist before circling behind him, her hand trailing around it . . . Her fingers linger a little over the buttons at the top of his tails. Gray suited him – even from behind. It brought out certain characteristics in his hair . . .
She reaches up to his shoulders and helps him out of the jacket and puts it aside. She comes back to face him again, pulling his head down for a little peck on the cheek.
“Come on, that’s all you got for me?”
“You want more?”
“Yeah, I just might.”
“Then take it,” she says simply, waiting.
“I . . . I don’t know,” he stammers after staring at her for a while. “You might be too beautiful or something . . .”
How many times had she been called beautiful? How many times had it actually meant something? But with him - right now in this moment - she knows that’s its sincere. For once. It warms her heart something fierce.
“It’s okay,” she says softly and continues, starting with the buttons of his embroidered gray vest. The embellishments matched the subtle coloring of her bridesmaid’s dresses. Everything had been softened, subdued. Unusual for such a large wedding, but that’s the way they had wanted it. They wanted to be able to lose themselves in the quiet stillness that they knew would form between them as they dedicated their lives to each other.
She does not remove the vest once the buttons are undone but instead focuses on the tiny buttons of his shirt. It’s difficult not to make them break off. If she’s any rougher . . .
Finally they are all undone and his chest is exposed. She runs her hands lovingly over it and stares into his eyes. It doesn’t take long before he scoops her face up to his and ignites the flame within her with his kiss.
By the time they part he is breathing heavily. He reaches for the cuffs of his sleeves, removing the onyx cuff links. They had been a gift from Barba, who wanted to make sure he was dressed in the very best of everything for his wedding. Then he rips off his shirt and vest in a hurry, pulling his wife into his embrace once again. His lovely wife.
He practically moans as he grips her, his hand firmly about her waist, pulling her in, wanting to be closer. But her wedding gown is still on and no amount of pressing into the petticoats of her skirt gives him the satisfaction he desires. Not even when he presses her against the wall. . .
She breaks the kiss and pushes him back a little.
“I think we need to . . .” She is panting a little. “Remove my dress.”
She turns around so he can access the back of it. With a coy little grin over her shoulder she says, “A little help?”
And then the world goes still, silent.
He approaches her with intent, moving her hair out of the way gently, lovingly – giving it one extra stroke as he sets it over her shoulder. His fingertips trail softly over the exposed skin at the top of her back and shoulders. They brush the top of her dress, making the faintest of whispers.
He exposes her back, one hand pulling on the zipper, the other following in its path. She sighs softly and he wants her even more than he ever thought possible. He reaches into her dress to pull her closer and sighs too, his nose buried deep in her hair.
Before he knows it, her dress is gone and her mostly naked form is pressed against him, skin to skin from the waist up. Their hearts are beating so fast.
She kicks off her heels as she pushes him back onto the bed. As she looms over him her hand trails slowly down . . .
“You ready for this?” she asks him when her hand settles at the top of his waist band.
“I think so,” he answers.
“Oh honey, I need you to be sure.”
He reaches up his fingers to stroke her neck, trailing them from her jawbone to the top of her breast.
“I want you,” he says in a voice gravelly with lust.
She smiles and sets about her task, freeing him of his pants, his socks, his shoes.
They slowly find themselves in a place they have been before, just the thin cloth of their undergarments separating them as they furtively cling to each other, both of them wanting more, wishing to connect as man and wife.
“I need to . . . I want to . . . “
“Yes?” she asks, running her fingertips through the silver at his temples.
He doesn’t answer in words, just tugs at the top of her panties, and then his own underwear. . .
And now they are naked before each other – everything laid bare.
“Oh God,” he breathes as he touches her there for the first time and she moans.
“Please,” she begs and he slips his fingers inside of her. Just at his touch, at feeling him after having wanted him for so long she almost loses it right there. She arches back and groans. “Please more.”
He gives her more, even capturing her lips in his as his fingers move inside of her. But eventually it is too much – she doesn’t want to finish right now.
She disengages and rolls him over.
“Bear with me,” she says with a devious smile and slowly burns a trail of kisses from his chin down his chest all the way to . . .
“Oh!” he says with a little surprise in his voice.
As she takes him into her mouth it is his turn to sigh, moan, and groan. He doesn’t hold back at all, gripping onto the sheets in pleasure. Almost immediately she realizes she needs to slow down. He’s never done this before . . .
As she breaks away he makes a little ‘uh uh’ noise in disappointment and lets out a sigh. But as soon as he comes to his senses he’s got her rolled over onto her back lightning quick and he’s pressing his body into hers heatedly. He wants to claim his wife. Now.
His hardness is flush with her and she has become very wet, ready for him. A soft fluttering turns into a sharp twinge within seconds. She needs her husband. Now.
As he settles himself into a position to join with her, he gently entwines his fingers in hers. The silence between them is deafening and there is a prolonged moment of stillness as they gaze deeply into each other’s eyes, knowing they are on the precipice.
And then it happens. They become one flesh. Man and wife.
She sighs as the sensation fills her. She feels . . .
Secure . . .
Content . . .
He looks down at his beautiful wife and feels . . .
Appreciated . . .
Cherished . . .
“I love you,” they both breathe into each other simultaneously.
She never realized how easy it could be when you were with a kind man – a man who loved you. No ‘technique’ could ever compare to the sensations he could rouse within her just by being himself. His eager, loving self.
His eyes shine a bright blue as she begins – his smile is radiant as watches her, realizing what is happening even though he’s never experienced this before.
“Mandy,” he says softly, stroking her hair gently before cradling her head, holding her securely as she screams out his name, holding her steady as she quivers around him. Staying with her. Like he will forever. There is nothing like it that she has ever experienced before.
As she comes down she is breathing heavily, shaking. “Oh God, I love you.”
“I know. I could tell,” he says wickedly.
She weakly bats his shoulder and laughs. “Now it’s time for you to show me that you love me . . .”
“That won’t be a problem,” he says duskily and his eyes get serious - his whole face gets serious. He almost frowns with concentration as he starts up a different pace, a different rhythm.
She raises a shaking hand to his cheek, feeling the sweat there. He is drenched. His face contorts into the one she’s seen before and she knows he is starting.
“Come on baby,” she whispers and he cries out, thrusting fiercely now. He is so hard.
He stops abruptly still deep inside of her and grasps onto her, his eyes rolling back into his head. It is faint but she can almost feel it as he quivers inside of her. And then . . .
“Arrgh,” He lets out a loud groan and collapses on top of her, shaking. There is no ‘oh no’ this time. He is satisfied and happy – there is no shame.
After a while, he pulls back to look at her and they both share an intimate smile.
She is his wife. And he will love her forever.
Thanks for reading! This fic nearly killed me. So I hope you all enjoyed it. :-)
Here’s the Master List for this series in case you missed any Rollisi goodness. :-)
This fic was not beta’d but could not have been possible without the help of a few people . . .
Candi711 & @minidodds your comments and our private conversations about this fic made me see a few things a little differently and had influence over the direction this fic took in certain parts (but I bet you didn’t know that now did you?). This fic would not be the same without you two. Thank you soooo much!
And as some of you may already know this fic brought up stuff for me that I thought was long buried. Not shoved under the rug per se – it’s just that I thought I was already over a lot of this. Guess not.
So I wanted to thank @skittle479 & @minidodds for listening to me talk about some of this stuff (and yeah, I know I only told each of you small bits … no one outside of me, my husband, and one other person knows the entire story), but thanks for being there for me emotionally. Certain chapters really did a number on me (15, 17, 18, 19 … ) and if it wasn’t for you guys I don’t think I would have recovered at all after Chapters 24, 25, & 26 came in quick succession like that, ripping out my heart and leaving bleeding it on the floor. My own fic has NEVER made me cry before but the aforementioned chapters starting with 15 did. Damn. So thank you for being there, guys. *hugs*