By Maureen Thayer
 

Note: While rereading the first two stories in this series and working on this one, I realized that I failed to take into account Spring Break in the second story of the trilogy. Therefore, I have gone back and made some changes to it. Because of this, Rollie and Angie's "courtship" has been made longer than it was originally.

CHAPTER ONE

A weight on his body roused Rollie to consciousness.  Eyes blinking open, he looked down at the source of the weight.  Angie was sprawled almost completely on top of him, her golden-haired head tucked beneath his chin.  A very soft snore was issuing from her parted lips.  Grinning in delight, the Aussie just laid there and watched her.  They’d utterly exhausted each other last night, making love over and over again.  For a woman who was a virgin only a day and a half ago, Angie was surprisingly adventurous, eagerly willing to try anything that Rollie suggested--and coming up with a few rather daring suggestions of her own.  Rollie had never in his life done some of the things that he and Angie had done this weekend.  Of course, he was far from being an experienced lover, so that wasn’t a surprise.  Well, he was getting plenty of experience now, that’s for sure . . . and he couldn’t be happier.

It was still hard to believe that he and Angie were married, and after barely more than a month and a half of being romantically involved.  His brain told him that they’d probably moved too fast, but his heart didn’t care.  He loved Angie with his whole soul, and he would love her till the day he died.  He couldn’t imagine there ever coming a time when he would regret marrying her.

Rollie looked at the clock.  Unfortunately, their little ‘honeymoon’ weekend was at an end, and it was time to get up.  He ran his fingers down Angie’s cheek.

“Ange?  Wakey, wakey, Love.  It’s time to get up.”  When there was no response, he gave her shoulder a little shake.  “Time to leave the arms of Morpheus, sweetie.”

A faint groan heralded the return of Angie’s consciousness.  Rollie twisted his head around and peered into her face, watching her eyes open a crack.  She groaned more loudly.

“What time is it?” she asked.

“6:30 . . . Monday morning.”

“Noooo.  I don’t want it to be Monday,” she whined plaintively.

“Sorry, Love.  I can’t reverse time.”

“I wanna play hooky,” Angie said, nuzzling his chest and snuggling closer.

Rollie chuckled low in his throat.  “I’d like nothing better than for you to do that and stay right here in bed with me, but you already missed a day of school.  We agreed that we wouldn’t let our marriage interfere with you going to school, and we need to abide by that.”

Angie heaved a loud sigh.  “How come you have to be so sensible and responsible all of a sudden?”

Rollie grinned.  “Well, I’m a married man now.  I have to show more maturity and responsibility.”

Angie grumbled something under her breath.  “Fine.”  There was a pause.  “What time did you say it was again?”

“6:30.”

“Hmm.”  She began to kiss Rollie’s chest as her hands started sliding over his body.  Rollie instantly became aroused.

“Uhhh . . . Ange, what are you doing?” he asked.

“After what we were doing all weekend, you should be able to figure that out for yourself, Rol.”  Angie went back to kissing him, sliding down until she was using her mouth and tongue on his stomach.

Rollie’s breath hissed inward.  “Ange, you have to. . . .”  His words were lost in a low, deep groan as Angie went even lower.

“I’ll have plenty of time to get ready,” Angie explained between kisses.  “If I’m going to spend most of the day without you, I want my ‘Rollie fix’ before I leave.”

Knowing that it was useless to fight, and having no desire to anyway, Rollie grabbed Angie’s shoulders and hauled her upward to take her mouth in a heated kiss.  He rolled her underneath him and devoured her mouth.  It didn’t take long before they were wild with passion.  Their lovemaking was fast and furious, each of them familiar enough with the other’s body now that they were able to bring each other to completion quickly.

Afterwards, the only movements of their bodies the deep rise and fall of their chests, they lay in silent recovery.

“Now, that’s what I call a high,” Angie finally said when she had enough breath to talk.

“Yeah.  There’s no drug that could compare to that,” Rollie agreed wholeheartedly.

Angie lifted her head and looked at him.  “And there’s not a drug made that’s this fun to get addicted to.”

“Nope.”  Rollie captured her lips in a long kiss.  Then he glanced at the clock.  “But I’m afraid that the next fix for our addiction will have to wait.  You need to hustle.”  He gave her bare bottom a light swat.  “Up you go.”

“I’m going, I’m going,” Angie said, more than a little regret in her voice.  She got up and headed for the bathroom, not seeing how Rollie’s eyes swept hotly over her naked body.

Once Angie was out of the room, Rollie let out a groan and laid his head back on the pillow.  ‘Rollie Tyler, you are one lucky bastard,’ he told himself, thankful that he had the stamina to keep up with Angie’s insatiable hunger for him.  That thought brought on another.  Angie was eight years his junior.  In another few years, his sexual peak would be waning, while Angie’s would still be going strong.  Would he still be able to satisfy her ten years from now?  This was something he’d never thought of the whole time they were dating, the issue of the difference in their ages not really being something he thought about.  Unfortunately, he was thinking about it now, and it was making him feel a little down.

Lost in thought, Rollie was unaware that several minutes had passed until Angie, dressed only in a towel, came up to the bed.

“Hey, where were you?” she asked.

“Huh?”

“You were really lost in thought.  And what was that frown for?”

“Oh, uh, nothing,” Rollie hastily said, not wanting her to know about his insecurities.

“Wrong answer, Rol,” Angie said sternly.  “I can see that something’s bothering you.”

Rollie sat up and swung his legs around so that his feet were on the floor.  “It’s nothing, Ange.  Just some stupid thoughts I was having.”

Angie sat on the bed beside him.  “What stupid thoughts.”

Rollie stared at the floor silently.  He didn’t want to tell her, but he knew that she wouldn’t leave him alone until he did.  “I was just thinking about the future, how, um. . . .”  He flushed, getting embarrassed.  “I’m . . . I’m eight years older than you, and, well, in another few years, I won’t be as, uh . . . well, you know.  But you’ll still be pretty young, and. . . .”  Rollie stopped, unable to finish his thought.

There was a long pause.  “Yep, you’re right.  Those are stupid thoughts,” Angie said at last.  “Rollie, look at me.”

After a few seconds, he raised his head to meet her eyes.

“Do you honestly think that you won’t be able to satisfy me?” Angie asked.  “Do you think I’ll lose interest if we can’t have sex two or three times a night?  Because, if you do, then you can get that thought out of your head right now.  If we could only make love once a week, once a month, I’d still feel like the luckiest woman on the face of the Earth.  I love having sex with you.  It is the most incredible, amazing thing I’ve ever experienced.  But having you love me and you being in my life is so much more important.  And that is something that’s not ever going to change, even when you’re ninety-five.”

Rollie pulled her into his arms.  “I just want to make you happy, Angie.  I want you to have everything you want.”

“I do have everything I want, Rol, right here with you.  This is what I’ve wanted since I was eleven years old, to have you love me like this.”

“I do love you, Ange, more than anything.”

“And I love you.”  Angie kissed him and gazed into his eyes.  “So, no more worries about not being able to satisfy me in a few years, okay?”  She grinned.  “After all, it’s the quality that counts, not the quantity, and I have confidence that you’ll still be able to blow my socks off when your hair starts turning gray . . . even if you have to have a little help from Viagra.”

Rollie let out a choked laugh.  “Maybe I should buy stock in the company.”

“Sounds like a wise investment to me.”

Rollie laughed again.  “Thanks, Ange.”

“My pleasure.”  She looked at her watch.  “Ugh.  I gotta hurry.”

Rollie headed to the shower as Angie got dressed.  During breakfast, Angie asked the Aussie what he was going to be doing today.

“Not much, actually.  I’ve got a meeting with Thomas James about a new project this afternoon, but, other than that, I’ll just be puttering around here.  They don’t need me on set today.”

“How about joining me for lunch, then, on campus.  We can have a picnic in the park.”

Rollie smiled brightly.  “That would be great, Ange.  I’ll pick up some fried chicken.  How does that sound?”

“Perfect.  And some macaroni and potato salad.”

“You got it.”

They finished their breakfast, then Rollie drove Angie over to her apartment, where she got her car.  Saying goodbye to him with a long kiss, she headed off to NYU.  Before getting out of her car, Angie removed her wedding ring and stuffed it in her jeans pocket, though she was loath to do it.  But she had decided that she was going to keep her marriage to Rollie a secret until the fall term, and she intended to stand by that decision.  Angie knew that keeping this a secret was probably not a good idea, but Diane’s remarks had angered Angie, and she wanted to prove that hers and Rollie’s marriage would not negatively impact her education.  It was going to be so sweet to make that announcement come the first day of the fall term and watch peoples’ reactions . . . especially Diane’s.

As Angie went to her locker, she noticed a couple of people looking at her oddly but didn’t think much about it.  She reached her locker and put what she wouldn’t need for her first class in it.

“Hey, Angie,” said a voice that the blonde recognized as belonging to Diane.  “Where’d you go off to Fri. . . .  Whoa.”  Diane scrutinized Angie closely, who had turned to her.  “Wow.  You look great.  Actually, you look like someone who just had a really good lay.”

Angie’s furiously blushing cheeks made Diane’s eyebrows lift.  Then the woman started grinning.  “Well, well, well.  So, you and Rollie finally did it, huh?  Oh, don’t even try to deny it, Girl.  I recognize that sparkle in your eyes and that glow on your face.  I’ve seen it in the mirror more than once.  So, is that where you’ve been since Friday, with Rollie?”

Angie sighed, knowing that it was pointless to say she didn’t want to talk about it.  Diane would just keep at it.  “Yes and no.  I was with Rollie on Friday, but not like you’re thinking.  He was injured on location Thursday and ended up in the hospital.”

“Oh no!  Is he okay?”

“Yes, he’s fine, just a mild concussion.  But he had to go back to work Friday, and I didn’t want him trying to handle it alone, so I stayed and gave him a hand.”

“Well, I’m glad he’s all right.  So, is that what finally got you two into bed?  The accident?”

Angie blushed again.  “Well . . . sort of.”  In a way, Diane was right.  Rollie’s accident had been the catalyst for Angie deciding to marry him right away, which, in turn, led to their incredible weekend together, though she suspected that, even if she and Rollie hadn’t gotten married, they would have made love this weekend.  There’s no way that she would have waited a moment longer to have him, and she believed that Rollie had felt the same.

Diane was grinning again, looking very pleased.  “Soooo . . . how was it?”

“I don’t kiss and tell,” Angie replied firmly.

“Oh, come on, Angie.  You can’t tell me that you’re not dying to talk about it, I mean, this being,” her voice lowered to a whisper, “your first time and all.”

Angie sighed.  Again, Diane was right.  She was dying to talk to another girl about the joy she’d found in Rollie’s arms.

“Okay, but not here,” she said, not wanting to talk about her first sexual experience in a hallway with hundreds of other students around.

“How about we do lunch together?” Diane asked.

“Rollie and I are having lunch together.”

Diane grinned.  “Can’t get enough of him, eh?”

“Oh, you have no idea, Diane,” Angie said fervently, amused at the way her friend’s mouth dropped open in surprise at the comment.

“Oh, really.  That sounds very interesting.  Now, I’m just dying to hear all about it.  What’s your class load like today?”

The two women compared their class schedule and determined that they’d both be free for half an hour at two o’clock.  Arranging to meet then, they headed off to their classes.

The morning dragged on endlessly for Angie, who kept glancing at the clock, impatiently waiting for the moment when she’d be meeting Rollie.  As Diane had said, she really couldn’t get enough of him.

At last, it was time, and she hurried over to Washington Square Park.  Rollie was already there when she arrived at the spot they had arranged to meet.  At his feet a blanket was spread out, a box of fried chicken and other containers of food waiting for them to dig into.

As soon as Rollie spied her, a big grin lit his face.  She came up to him and threw her arms around his neck, pulling him down into a deep kiss.

“Mmm.  Good afternoon, Mrs. Tyler,” Rollie murmured once their lips separated.

“Good afternoon to you, Mister Tyler.”

“Having a good morning?”

“Yes, though not nearly as good a morning as I had yesterday.”

Rollie grinned.  “Well, I should hope not!” he exclaimed, remembering how they spent the whole morning making love.  Only the loud rumbling of their stomachs had finally driven them from the bed.

They settled on the blanket and began to eat.  They were only five minutes into the meal when Rollie noticed that Angie was not wearing her wedding ring.

“Angie, what happened to your ring?” he immediately asked.

“Oh.  Um, I guess I didn’t tell you, did I.  I thought I did.”

Rollie frowned.  “Tell me what?”

“That I’m not going to tell anyone at school that we’re married.”

“What?  Why?”

“That Monday after you proposed, I told Diane, and she made it very clear that she thought it would be a bad idea if we got married before I graduated.  She went on and on about how you’d demand all my time, that I wouldn’t be able to go to study groups or parties anymore, that you’d probably ask me to leave school, stuff like that.  I told her that was a bunch of crap, that you wouldn’t be that possessive and that you’d never ask me to leave school.  I also told her that I’d rather spend time with you than go to any party, so there was no loss there.  It made me mad.  Diane was so convinced that our marriage and college wouldn’t mix.  I want to prove to her and everyone else in school that I can be happily married and still do fine in college.”

“But aren’t you supposed to tell the university’s administration if your marital status changes?”

“Um, yeah, I am.”

“Angie, I don’t want you getting into trouble.”

“I won’t.  I’m only going to be keeping this a secret until the fall term.  When I go back to school in September, I’ll let everyone know the truth.  So, it’s only going to be a little over five weeks that I’ll be hiding our marriage from Administration since it’s none of their concern what my marital status is during the summer break.”

“Five weeks, huh.  So, will there be any parties during that time?”

“Of course.  There are parties going on almost every weekend.”

“Then you should go to some of them.”

“What?  How come?  I already told you that I’d rather spend time with you.”

“Well, isn’t the point of this little ruse to show that you can have both a happy married life and a full college life?”

“Yeah, but--”

“And that I’m not going to demand all your free time?”

“Uh huh, but--”

“Well, then, you need to go do things with your friends.  You should go to parties, and get together with your girlfriends, and join study groups.  I told you before that I didn’t want you to lose your freedom, and I still mean that.  This is a special time in your life, Ange, and I want you to enjoy it to the full.  I want you to think back on college in the years to come and remember the fun times you had.”

Angie opened her mouth to say that the reason this time was so special was because of him, but she suspected that she was not going to be able to budge him on this.  “Okay, how about a compromise?” she asked.

“A compromise?”

“Yeah.  I’ll go to an occasional party, if it’s one I want to go to, I’ll get together with the girls sometimes, and maybe, maybe I’ll do a study group every now and then, but, if I do go to any parties, I want you to come with me.”

Rollie shook his head.  “Ange, I don’t think that would be such a good idea.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t think your friends would like an older guy hanging around.”

Angie barked out a short laugh.  “An older guy?  Rollie, you talk like you’re middle-aged.  You’re only twenty-seven!  Some of the seniors are that old.  You probably wouldn’t be the only guy there who’s in his mid-twenties.”  She looked at him more closely.  “But that isn’t the real reason, is it?”

Rollie shrugged, feeling uncomfortable.  “I’d just . . . feel out of place, Ange.  I’d have nothing in common with anyone there, except you.  There would be nothing for me to talk about with them.”

“That is so not true.”

“How so?”

“Rollie, a lot of the movies you make are ones that attract teenagers and young adults, the sci-fi stuff and horror flicks.  All you’d have to do is start talking about your work, the movies you’ve done, the actors you’ve worked with, and I guarantee that you’ll have plenty of people talking with you.”  Angie paused.  “So, that’s the deal.  I’ll keep my social life at school if you come with me to the parties.  Agreed?”

Rollie smiled and shook his head, laughing a little.  “Agreed.”

“Good!  Now, let’s eat our food before it gets cold.”

They were almost done with lunch when Angie suddenly decided to tell Rollie something.

“Um . . . Diane figured out that you and I slept with each other,” she announced.

Rollie choked on the food he was swallowing.  Grabbing a can of soda, he washed down the bite.  “How did she know?”

“She took one look at me and just knew.  She said I had the look of someone who’d had a really good lay.”

Rollie started laughing.  “She’s certainly not shy, is she.”

“Noooo, shy is not a word I’d use for Diane.”

“So, what did you tell her?”

“I admitted that she was right.  She, um, wants to chat with me about it.”

“Oh.”

It was easy to see that Rollie was uncomfortable about the idea.

“I won’t if you don’t want me too, Rol,” Angie told him.  “I’ll just tell her to, as you would put it, bugger off.”

Rollie stared at her.  “Do you want to talk about it with her?”

“I want to tell her how happy I am.  I want to share with her how wonderful you make me feel, how wonderful you are.  But I have no intention of giving her any specifics.  Diane might like to tell the details of her love life, but that’s not my thing.  Our lovemaking is private, and it’s none of Diane’s or anyone else’s business what we do in the bedroom . . . or in the shower, or on the couch, the kitchen counter, your worktable. . . .”

Rollie was laughing again as Angie listed off all the places they’d made love over the weekend.  Then he turned serious.  “You don’t know how happy it makes me to know that I make you happy, Angie.  So, you go right ahead and share that happiness with your friend.  I’ll probably do the same with Leo when he comes back.”

They finished eating, then stretched out on the blanket together in each other’s arms.  All too soon, it was time for Angie to get back to class.  Their goodbye kiss became pretty heated, and they had to break it off before they got too worked up.  Realizing that his hands had strayed a little bit lower than what was proper for a public place, Rollie put them back up around Angie’s waist.

“I’ll be eagerly awaiting your arrival home, Love,” he murmured.

“Mmm.  Me too.”

With a final kiss, they said goodbye.  Angie headed to her next class.  She managed to get through the next hour and keep most of her attention on what she was doing.  As arranged, she met Diane at two o’clock in an area of the campus where they could talk in private.

“Hey, Angie,” Diane greeted.  “Did you and Rollie have a good lunch?”

“Yes, we did.”

“It looked like you did.  I saw you in the park when I was heading back to class.  You and Rollie were kissing, and you were really going to town!  Is Rollie as good a kisser as he looks like he is?”

Embarrassed that Diane had witnessed the heated kiss, Angie replied, “Ohhhh, yeah.  I’ve been kissed before, but nobody else came close to comparing to Rol.”

“Uh huh.  And is he as good a lover as he is a kisser?”

“Yes.  As you know, I didn’t have any experience with that before Rollie so I can’t compare him with anyone else, but he is so incredible.  He makes me feel incredible, like I’m the most beautiful, sexiest woman alive.  Every time we make love, it’s . . . it’s . . . indescribable.  He is so loving and giving, not selfish at all.  He seems to enjoy giving me pleasure as much as getting it.  And he is so, so passionate.  He blows me away every time.”

“Wow.  Okay, I’m really jealous now.  You are so lucky to have found someone like him, especially your first time.”  There was a long pause.  “What about the marriage thing?  Did you accept Rollie’s proposal?”

Angie didn’t reply for a moment, trying to decide how to answer without lying.  “Yes, I did accept his proposal, Diane.  I told you I was going to.  I want forever with him, children and everything.  Obviously, I’m not ready to start a family yet.  We both agreed that we should wait until after I graduate college.”

Diane visibly relaxed.  Angie had a suspicion that the woman had misunderstood and thought that Angie meant they were going to wait until after she graduated to get married, not just that they were going to wait to have children.  Well, that was fine with her.  She’d let Diane continue to believe that for now.  It would make things easier.

“Well, I’m glad that you’re not rushing into things, Angie.  This will work out a lot better in the long-run.  In the meantime, you and Rollie can have a lot of fun together and really get to know each other, find out whether or not you’re going to be compatible as long-term lovers.”

Angie said nothing, knowing that she couldn’t without lying.

Fortunately, Diane steered away from the topic of marriage and started asking for more details about Rollie and Angie’s weekend together.  Angie told her some things, but refused to divulge any details or anything else that she thought Rollie might not like her to reveal.

Diane heaved a sigh.  “You’re not going to give me any juicy stuff, are you.”

“Nope.”

“Well, that is totally unfair, Angie.  I tell you all about what Mitch and I do.”

“That’s you, Diane.  You may enjoy sharing the details of your sexual encounters, but have no intension of doing so.  The things Rollie and I did, the ways we made love, are just between us, and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”

“All right.  I guess I can respect that.”

“Good.”  Angie looked at her watch.  “We need to get to our classes.”

Diane nodded.  “I’m happy for you, Angie.  I’m glad that you have Rollie.  You deserve to have that kind of happiness.”

“Thanks, Diane.  I can’t imagine being happier than I am now, but I have a feeling that the best is yet to come.”
 

CHAPTER TWO

Leo McCarthy pulled up in front of the loft.  He got out of his car and, finding the door unlocked, went in.  The detective glanced about, surprised not to see Rollie.  He glanced at his watch.  10 a.m.  Rollie never slept in this late, even on a Saturday.  Maybe the kid had a really late night at the studio.  Leo shook his head.  He was going to have to give Rollie a lecture about leaving his door unlocked.

The cop walked into the lounge and noticed that the morning paper was sitting on the counter and that the coffeemaker was on.  Okay, so Rollie was up or at least he had been earlier.  Maybe he was in the John.

Just then, Leo heard a sound from the second floor and saw Rollie coming out of his living quarters, naked from the waist up.  He was carrying a food tray.

“Hey, Rollie!  Rough night?”

The Aussie paused in surprise, an odd look flashing across his face, then he started down the stairs.  “Do you have a religious conviction against knocking, Leo?”

“Knocking!  Since when do I need to announce my arrival?”  He studied Rollie carefully as the Aussie came into the lounge.  The young man’s face was slightly flushed, his hair mussed up.  The tray he was carrying had plates and glasses for two on it.  There was no doubt of what the evidence was saying.  Well, well.  So, Rollie had gotten lucky, eh.   Must be this mystery woman he’d been acting all gaga over.  She must still be here, which would account for the Aussie’s less than warm welcome.

“So, are you finally going to tell me her name, Kid?  By the looks of you, it must have been quite a night.”  Leo winked broadly.

Rollie blushed all the way to the roots of his hair.  He opened his mouth to reply, but was beaten to it.

“Her name is Angie,” said a familiar voice.

Shocked, Leo looked up and saw Angie Ramirez standing at the top of the stairs, dressed in Rollie’s shirt--and apparently nothing else.  It was the detective’s turn to blush, something he hadn’t done since he was a teenager.  But the sight of Angie--whom he had thought of as a child up until now--standing there nearly naked, her firm, shapely legs completely revealed to his gaze, was enough to make even him embarrassed.  His eyes dropped from her to Rollie, who was laughing silently at the expression on the detective’s face.

“You. . . .  She. . . .”  Leo’s voice halted, unable to get another word out.

“Yes, she, me, Leo,” the Aussie said, grinning.  He poured himself a second cup of coffee.

The detective glanced up to see Angie disappear back through the door, probably to put more clothes on.  Grateful for that, he joined Rollie.  “But she’s just a kid,” he hissed.

The Aussie looked at him, lifting an eyebrow.  “If you didn’t already notice from the eyeful you just got, mate, she is not a kid, not anymore.”

The detective crossed his arms over his chest, his eyes raking over Rollie.  “Obviously not.  So, how long has this been going on?  Why wouldn’t you tell me it was Angie?”

“Because I wasn’t ready for you to know yet, Leo.  Up until last Saturday, no one except one of Angie’s friends knew that Angie and I are involved.  I had planned on telling you when you got back from your vacation.  Which reminds me.  I thought you were going to be gone until Monday.”

“I got bored.”

The Aussie shook his head, smiling faintly.  The man was a cop through and through.  He lived and breathed police work.

Angie came into the lounge, and the detective was relieved to see that she was now fully dressed.  She went up to Rollie and put her arm around his waist.  The Aussie smiled down at her, wrapping an arm around her.  Leo mentally shook his head, still having trouble adjusting to the concept that they were doing the “wild thing” now, though he had to admit that he’d never seen Rollie looking happier.  Well, if it made them happy, then he was all for it.

“So, what brings you here?” Rollie asked.  “And it had better not be a case.”

In the four years that Rollie had known the detective, the man had been coming to him more and more often for help on cases he was working on, sometimes asking to borrow specialized equipment, other times to get the Aussie’s thoughts or ideas.  There had even been a few times when Leo had secretly gotten Rollie actively involved in a case--always well out of the line of fire, of course.

“Now, is that any way to treat an old pal?” Leo said, smiling.  “No, it’s not about a case, I promise.”  During the events in which they had met, Leo had come to realize that Rollie was a very smart guy.  As their friendship developed, he had learned even more how smart the Aussie was and that his brains and skills could be invaluable in catching perps.  Leo had discovered that Rollie had what the cop called “instincts” in regards to cases, an ability to figure out things that most other people couldn’t see.  With Leo’s experience and Rollie’s smarts and talents, they’d caught quite a few bad guys that might have gotten away.  The detective had even brought Rollie directly in on a few cases, strictly on the Q.T., of course.  The captain would have his head if he found out that Leo was bringing a civilian in on police cases.  Rollie had seemed to enjoy helping him.  Angie was a different matter.

Deciding to tease her a bit, Leo added, “However, now that you mention it, I am having problems with--”

“Leo,” Angie growled warningly.  Ever since Leo McCarthy came into Rollie’s life, it seemed like the Aussie was constantly helping him on this case or that case, often staying up all night, losing valuable sleep to help the man.  That had been bad enough, but, recently, Rollie had been getting a lot more actively involved in cases, sometimes actually being there when the bad guys were caught.  Angie was beginning to worry that, one day, Rollie would get too close to the action and get hurt--or worse.

The cop chuckled.  “Okay, okay.  I get the hint.”  He smiled at Rollie.  “I was here to tell you that I got two tickets to tonight’s hockey game.  One of them is yours, if you want it.”

“Thanks, Leo.  That would be fun, but I already have plans for tonight.  Maybe next time.”

“Your loss, Kid.  So, can a guy get a cup of coffee around here?”

Rollie waved his hand at the coffeemaker.  “Help yourself.”

Leo froze when he noticed a flash of gold on the hand Rollie had waved at the coffeemaker . . . his left hand.  He stepped forward and grabbed the hand, looking at it.  Sure enough, there was a wedding ring on it.  He fished Angie’s hand out from behind Rollie’s back and found a matching band there.

“You didn’t,” he said, stunned all over again.

“We did,” Angie responded.

“Married?”

“Yes, Leo, married.  Last Saturday.”

Leo stared at them.  “I don’t believe you did that.”

“You’d rather that we were just sleeping together?”

“Yes, I mean, no. . . .  Don’t you think you should have waited a while, gotten to know each other better first?”

“Leo, I’ve known Angie since she was eleven years old,” Rollie said.  “I think we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well in the last eight years, all except for the . . . intimate stuff, of course.”

“Yeah, but, still--”

“Leo, this decision was right for us.  That’s all there is to it.  End of discussion.”

The tone of Rollie’s voice told Leo that he’d better back off if he didn’t want to get thrown out.  He still thought that the two kids had made a mistake, but Rollie wasn’t going to listen.  Well, it was already done, so there was no use arguing about it.  He just hoped that they didn’t come to regret it.  He’d hate to see them lose their friendship because they’d rushed into marriage.

“Rol, are we still going over to my place?” Angie asked.

“Yes.”  Rollie turned to the cop.  “So, Leo.  How’d you like to help move Angie in here?  We’re not taking all of her furniture right now, just some smaller stuff, her personal items and her clothes.”

“Sure.  I’ve got nothing better to do.”

The three of them went over to Angie’s apartment.  They spent the next two hours boxing things up.  At lunchtime, Angie left to get them something to eat as the two men continued working.

“I still can’t get over it,” Leo said.  “You and Angie.”

Rollie looked at him.  “Is it really that hard to believe?”

“To be honest, yes, it is.  Angie was only fifteen when I first met you guys.  She was like your kid sister.”

“Yeah, she was back then.”

“So, what changed things?  When did it change?”

“What changed things is that she grew up, Leo.  She stopped being a girl and became a woman.  I began looking at her differently after she started college, though I wasn’t aware of how much my feelings were changing until two months ago.  Some things happened, and I realized that I was in love with her.”

“And Angie?”

“She’s been in love with me since she was eleven.  And, no, I didn’t know that before.  I had no clue that she had a crush on me back then, and I had no idea that her crush had developed into something more.”  There was a long pause.  “She was waiting for me, Leo.”

The cop stared at him.  “You mean she was. . . .”

“Yeah.”

Leo thought about that for a while.  Back when he was a teenager, most nineteen-year-old girls were still virgins, unless they were already married.  Nowadays, that wasn’t the case.  It was a little surprising to find out that Angie had actually been saving herself for Rollie.  He had to wonder how Rollie reacted when he found out.  Most guys would love the idea of having sex with a virgin, and a lot of them would be pretty smug when they found out that a girl had saved herself for them.

As if reading his mind, the Aussie said, “I was scared to death when she told me.  I didn’t want to hurt her.”

The young man’s statement didn’t surprise Leo at all.  It fit right in with what he knew about Rollie as a person.

“So, how come you didn’t wait until I got back before running off to get hitched,” he asked.

“Long story.”

The cop settled on a chair.  “I’m not going anywhere at the moment.”

With a sigh, Rollie also sat down and filled his friend in on the events that led up to his and Angie’s wedding, leaving out the intimate details.

“So, you were reluctant to sleep with her because she was a virgin and because she’s Manny’s daughter,” Leo said at the end.

“Yeah.  I kept thinking about Manny and what he’d have thought.  I know what he’d have thought.  He’d have wanted me to do the right thing.”

“Marry her.”

“Uh huh.”

Leo nodded.  Everything made more sense now.  He understood why they’d gotten married.  He still had misgivings about the sudden marriage, especially since Angie was so young, but he hoped that they’d beat the odds and have a long and happy life together.

“Well, I know it’s a bit late, but congratulations.”

Rollie smiled.  “Thanks, Leo.”

“You guys gonna have kids?”

“Yeah, but not until after Angie graduates.”

“That’s good.”

“I love her so much, Leo,” Rollie said quietly, after a moment of silence.  “She’s everything to me.  We have been so happy since we started dating.  It sometimes seems like a fairytale romance.”  He laughed.  “The night that Angie and I first revealed our feelings for each other, she told me that she used to have dreams when she was a kid about living happily ever after with me.  Of course, I know that, in the real world, there’s no such thing as ‘happily ever after’.  Nobody’s relationship is happy and perfect all the time.  But I gotta tell you.  There is no one on this planet who could make me happier than Angie does.”

Leo laid a hand on his friend’s shoulder.  “Well, I’m happy for you, Rollie, and I hope that you and Angie have a good life together.”

Once everything was boxed up, they all went back to the loft.  Leo helped Rollie and Angie carry the stuff upstairs.  Everything except for Angie’s clothes were put in the room that used to be her bedroom but was now a storage room.

“Well, I guess I’ll take off,” Leo said.  “You guys probably have a lot to do.”

“Thanks for your help, Leo,” Angie said.  She was glad that the detective seemed to be accepting things.  She’s have hated to see contention between him and Rollie over this.  She knew that Leo’s friendship was very important to her husband.

“Glad I could give a hand,” the cop responded.  He turned to the Aussie.  “Walk me out to my car, Rollie?”

“Sure.”

The two men went outside.

“Look, Rollie.  What I said earlier, when I first found out about the marriage.  I understand now why you guys got married, and I hope that everything will work out all right.  You guys deserve all the happiness you can get.”

“Thank you, Leo,” Rollie said, relieved.

Leo grinned and patted Rollie’s shoulder.  “See ya later, Pal.”

Rollie watched Leo drive away, then turned and went back into the loft.


The next few weeks passed quickly.  As promised, Angie did not totally put a halt to her school social life.  She got together with friends at school a few times and joined in on some study groups, though still not as often as she did before she and Rollie started dating.  She still preferred to spend her free time with Rollie.  All her friends now knew that she and Rollie were involved, which was something she had kept quiet about before, preferring to keep her relationship with him private.  Angie had gained particular pleasure in informing Roberta Simms of that fact, remembering how the girl had come onto Rollie that day in the mall all those weeks ago.  Needless to say, Roberta was green with envy.

Angie also attended two parties, Rollie going with her both times.  The first party had been quite interesting.  In Angie’s opinion, Rollie was by far the best looking guy there.  Unfortunately, that opinion was shared by several of the other girls as well.  The Aussie was hit on at least six times.  He politely turned down every one of them.  Finally, he sought Angie out and stuck to her like glue for the rest of the evening, hoping that would discourage the other women.

As Angie had suspected, Rollie was very popular with everyone, not just the women.  He entertained guys and girls alike with his experiences in the movie industry and special effects.  A great many of the movies he’d worked on were known by the people at the party, who asked him all kinds of questions about the stars and the effects.

“Wow, Angie.  He is so awesome,” a girl named Rachel said to Angie.  “You are so lucky.”

“Yes, I am.  Rollie is the best, in every way,” Angie replied fervently.

The second party was almost a repeat of the first since there were a lot of people there who weren’t at the last one.  This time, however, having learned his lesson, Rollie stayed near Angie most of the time.

Not one person at school ever suspected that Rollie and Angie were married, not even Diane.  Angie was even able to keep it a secret that she was now living full time at the loft, though she did have a few girls teasing her about never being home when they called her.  The teasing stopped when Rollie got her a cell phone and she started forwarding her calls to it.

At last, the final day of the spring term arrived.  There was going to be a big party that night, but Angie had no intention of going to that one.  She and Rollie had their own plans.  They were going on their honeymoon, three weeks in Hawaii.

Angie said goodbye to her friends, wishing them all a happy summer, then hurried home.  The rest of the day was spent packing and taking care of last minute arrangements.

Their flight left early the next morning.  Hours later, they stepped out of the airport into the bright Hawaiian sun, huge smiles spreading across the faces of the newlyweds.

In a word, the honeymoon was heavenly.  When Rollie and Angie weren’t in their room making love, they were out on the beach or exploring the beauty of the islands.  Everyone who met the young couple could clearly see how deeply in love they were.

The three weeks went by all too quickly, and it was soon time to go home.

Throughout the remainder of Angie’s summer vacation, she worked with Rollie on his movie projects.  Quite a few times she put to use the computer skills she was learning in school, coming up with ideas for computer generated special effects.  The directors and producers were thrilled with the things she did, wanting to know if and when she was going to start working with Rollie on a permanent basis.  This led Angie to do something that she thought was a good idea at the time.  With a big chunk of the money that she had in her savings account, money willed to her by her father, Angie bought a whole bunch of computer equipment and software.  Rollie was not at home when the equipment was delivered, Angie having deliberately sent him out on some errands.  When he got home, he was shocked to find the new additions to the loft.

“What’s all this?” he asked.

“This will enable me to do a whole lot more CGI,” Angie replied, “stuff that we can really use on movies.”

“What?  Angie, where did you get the money to buy all this?”

“Um, out of my savings account.”

Rollie shook his head emphatically.  “No way, Ange.  You need to take all this back.  You shouldn’t have done this.”

“Rollie, I wanted to.  You heard what everyone’s been saying.  They’re excited by the idea that they can get computer generated special effects from us and not have to pay a fortune for it.  This will be good for the business.”

“And when do you intend to actually do the work, Angie?  Are you going to quit school?”

“No, I figured that I could put some time in on the weekends and in the evening when I don’t have to study.”

“Angie, I am not going to have you run yourself ragged, going to school during the day, then coming home and putting in hours and hours on the computer for some movie project, trying to squeeze study time in between.”

“A lot of kids at school have jobs, Rollie,” Angie said, getting angry.  “If they can do it, why can’t I?”

“They work because they have to, Angie.  They have no choice.  This is not something you have to do.”

“Well, maybe it’s something I want to do!” Angie yelled.  “It made me feel really good when those directors and producers got excited about what I did.”

Rollie sighed.  “I’m sorry, Angie, but you can’t do this.  That money your father willed to you is supposed to pay for your education.  How much of it did you spend on this?”

“There’s enough left for school expenses,” Angie said sullenly.

“Angie, you should have talked to me about this first,” Rollie told her, trying to stay calm.  “This was a huge decision that both of us should have made.  Not only does it affect us personally, it also affects the company.  What’s going to happen if we promise a director some fancy CGI effect, then we can’t deliver it because you don’t have the time to work on it?”

“That’s it, isn’t it?!” Angie said, yelling again.  “You’re mad because I bought this, because I made a decision for your company.”

“Yes, it is, but not in the way you think!  This isn’t some stupid ego thing, Angie.  You know me better than that!  You spent money that you shouldn’t have for something we don’t need for the business right now.  Yes, it will be great when we can do the CGI stuff.  You know that I’m looking forward to having you join me in the business and bringing your skills into Tyler F/X, but not until after you graduate.  In just three more years you’ll be out of school, then something like this,” he waved at the computer equipment, “will be just what we want and need.  But not until then.”

Rollie looked at her closely.  “And what about us, Angie?  When are we going to have time for each other if you’re spending all your free time working on the computer?  I don’t want to lose that.  I won’t lose that.  I absolutely refuse to.”

Angie admitted to herself that she hadn’t thought about that.  She treasured the hours that she and Rollie had together when he wasn’t working and she wasn’t busy with schoolwork.  If she did what she had intended to, those hours would be spent on a computer . . . and no computer could give her the happiness that Rollie could.

Feeling like an idiot, Angie hung her head, tears stinging her eyes.  “I’m sorry,” she whispered.  “I was stupid.  I didn’t think.”

An instant later, she was in Rollie’s arms, her face pressed against his chest.

“It’s okay, Angel,” he murmured.  “I know you did it because you wanted to help me and the business.  I do appreciate that.”

They stood like that in silence for several minutes.  Rollie was the first to break it.

“Well, for our first fight, that wasn’t too bad,” he said.  “At least you didn’t throw anything at me.”

Angie snorted out a laugh.  “And you didn’t lose your temper.  I admire your self-control, Rol.”

“Thanks.”  He paused.  “Soooo . . . can we do the kissing and making up part now?”

With a big smile, Angie lifted her head and pulled Rollie’s lips down to hers.  Within seconds, they were devouring each other’s mouths.  With a groan, Rollie lifted Angie up, her legs wrapping around his waist.  He turned around and pressed her up against the nearest wall, not having the patience to even make it to the couch in the lounge.  They tore each other’s clothes off, a few buttons lost in their haste.  Naked at last, Rollie eagerly joined his body with Angie’s, glorying, as he always did, at the feeling of her heat surrounding him.  Angie threw her head back with a deep moan, her fingers digging into his shoulders.

With the ease of much practice, Rollie built the rapture inside Angie and himself to a white-hot inferno, the joy of being with the woman he loved intermixed with the ecstasy within his body, making it all the sweeter and more intense.  They reached their climax together, their cries twin echoes in the loft.

“Yep, I definitely like the kissing and making up part,” Rollie commented once he could speak again.

Angie grinned.  “Yeah, me too.  Maybe we should argue more often.”

With a laugh, Rollie moved away from the wall and, with Angie’s body still wrapped around his, went upstairs to do some more making up.

CHAPTER THREE

September came all too soon for the newlyweds.  The past three and a half months had been wonderful, giving them so much more time together.

When the first day of school arrived, Angie’s stomach was tied in a knot.  Today was the day that their secret would be revealed and everyone would find out that she and Rollie were married, had, in fact, been married for five months.  Angie was going to be leaving earlier than normal so that she could report her change in marital status to the school administrators.  She was a little concerned about their reaction when they learned that she was married during the spring term and had not reported it, but she was hoping that there wouldn’t be a big stink about it.

“Hey, you okay?” Rollie asked, wrapping his arms around her from behind as she stood before the bathroom mirror.

“I’m kind of nervous,” she admitted.  “But I’m also curious to see the reactions of all my friends.”

“I suspect that some of them will be catching flies after you tell them.”  He let his jaw drop, adopting an exaggerated expression of shock.

Angie laughed.  “Yeah, there probably will be some of those.  There will likely also be some of these.”  Angie’s face twisted into a mock expression of disapproval.  “Especially from Diane.”

“Well, don’t let Diane or anyone else upset you, Ange.  It doesn’t matter what they think.  You remember that song ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’?  Well, that’s our theme song.”

Starting with the second verse, Rollie began singing the song’s lyrics.

“I'm so glad I found you, I'm not gonna lose you.
Whatever it takes I will stay here with you.
Take it to the good times, see it through the bad times.
Whatever it takes is what I'm gonna do.

“Let them say we’re crazy.
What do they know?
Put your arms around me, baby.
Don’t ever let go.
 
“Let the world around us
Just fall apart.
Baby, we can make it if we’re heart to heart.”

Angie joined him, and they sang the chorus together.

“And we can build this dream together,
Stand this storm forever.
Nothing’s gonna stop us now.
 
“And if this world runs out of lovers,
We’ll still have each other.
Nothing’s gonna stop us,
Nothing’s gonna stop us now.”

The couple burst out laughing.  Angie’s nervousness was now gone, melted away by Rollie’s love.  She turned around and hugged him tightly.

“I love you so, so much,” she said.

“And I love you, more than any words can say.”

A short while later, Rollie and Angie were on their way.  Rollie had insisted on taking Angie to school and going with her to talk to Administration, saying that he wanted to lend her moral support.  She was grateful for his company.

“Why didn’t you inform us of your change in marital status when you got married, Ms. Ra . . . Mrs. Tyler?” the woman they were talking to asked after Angie’s ‘confession’, her face showing that look of disapproval that Angie had been expecting to see.  Only this woman’s disapproval wasn’t because of the marriage, but because Angie hadn’t reported it when she was supposed to.

Angie gave a sigh.  “It was a matter of pride.”

The woman’s brow knit in puzzlement.  “Pride?”

“Yes.  Back when Rollie proposed, there was a friend, a fellow student, who told me that it would never work out for me to be married and stay in school.  She said things that really made me mad, about Rollie and what he’d demand of me once we were married.  She was certain that my whole life at school would go down the toilet, even suggesting that Rollie would make me quit.  And, well, when I accepted Rollie’s proposal and we chose to get married right away, I decided that I wanted to show her and everyone else that she was wrong.  I figured that the best way to do that would be to keep the marriage a secret for a little while, keep on with school like I had been, then shock the heck out of all of them by telling them that we’d been married all this time.”

The tiniest of smiles curved the woman’s face.  “I see.  So today is the day you tell everyone ‘I told you so’, eh?”

“Basically.”

The woman’s smile grew.  “You remind me of myself, Mrs. Tyler.  I married my husband when I was a junior, despite the advice of several of my friends.  I finished college with honors, and my husband and I celebrated our twelfth anniversary a few months ago.”  The smile faded.  “All right, I’ll recommend that no action be taken against you, Angela.  But, in the future, you are to immediately report anything that is of consequence to this university.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Angie said.

Rollie and Angie left the office.

“Whew!  That was a lucky break,” Rollie said.

“Yeah, it sure was.”  Angie gave him a hug.  “Thanks for coming with me, Rol.  It made me feel better having you there.”

“My pleasure, Ange.”  Rollie lifted her left hand and gazed at the gold band adorning it.  “So, you won’t be taking this off this time.”

“Nope.  That ring is staying on my finger permanently.”  She smiled hugely.  “I am happy to report that I already have a tan line under there.”

Rollie grinned.  “Me too.  We probably got them in Hawaii.”

They shared a kiss.

“I need to get going,” Rollie said with a sigh.  “Gotta get over to the studio.”

“Yeah, I have to go too, first day of school and all.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to pick you up?”

“Nope, I’ve got it covered.”  Angie pulled something out of her backpack.

“Skates?” Rollie said, his eyebrows rising.  “Ange, I know you like to use those things, but isn’t it an awfully long way to skate from the campus to the loft?”

“It’ll be fine.  What with the traffic and all, I’d probably make it back faster on these than in a car.  Besides, it’ll help keep me in shape.”

Rollie pulled her close, his hands going up and down her back.  “I like your shape just the way it is.”

Angie smiled.  “Which is why I want to make sure I keep it that way.  I’ll be fine, Rol.”

Rollie smiled, too.  “Yeah, I’m sure you will.  If anything changes, though, just give me a call at the studio.”

“I don’t want to interrupt your work.  If I need to, I’ll bum a ride off someone at school.”

They shared another kiss, then went their separate ways.

As Angie headed out across the campus, she saw several familiar faces, but nobody stopped to talk to her, all of them in a hurry to get where they were going.  She was almost at her destination when she saw Diane.  Thinking that it would be best for Diane to be the first one to learn the news, Angie took a deep breath and headed over to her.

“Hey!  Angie!” the brunette greeted, giving Angie a hug.  “So, how did your summer go?”

“Great.  The best summer I’ve ever had.”

“Fantastic.”

“How about you?”

“Good.  Mitch and I had a huge fight and broke up for a couple of weeks, but we reconciled.”

“That’s good.  I mean, not that you fought and broke up for a while, but that you got back together.  I like Mitch.  Rollie and I had our first fight, but it only lasted a few minutes.”

Diane grinned.  “And did you make up afterwards?”

“Ohhhh, yeah.”

Diane laughed.  “The making up part can be fun, can’t it?”

“Uh huh.”  Angie’s smile faded.  “Diane, there’s something you need to know.”

“What?”  Diane’s eyes widened.  “Oh, Angie, please don’t tell me you got pregnant.”

“No!  That’s not it.”  Angie took another deep breath.  “Rollie and I are married.”

“What?!  Angie, I thought you were going to wait until after graduation.  You said you were.”

“No, I didn’t.  I said that we were going to wait to have children, not that we were going to wait to get married.”

Diane shook her head.  “I know you and Rollie love each other, Angie, but I still think this was a bad idea.  It’s really going to affect your life at school.”

Angie crossed her arms over her chest.  “And did you notice a big change in my school life before the summer break?”

“What?”

“Diane, Rollie and I have been married since April 4th.  We got married the Saturday after his accident.  It really scared me, and I didn’t want to wait.  During those last five and a half weeks of school, I was a married woman.”

Diane’s mouth dropped open.  “I . . . I had no idea.”

Angie gave a short nod.  “That’s because me being married to Rollie is not going to destroy my school life.  You know how you were so concerned about my social life, thinking that Rollie would demand all my time?  Well, guess what.  All those times that I got together with you and other friends, those study groups I joined in on, the parties I went to, I did those things at Rollie’s insistence.  I would have been perfectly happy to be home with him all those times, but Rollie insisted that he didn’t want me to miss out on any part of school life, including the social aspects of it.  The only reason why he was at those parties with me was because I insisted on that.  Just because you know of other cases where girls got married and it screwed things up at school for them doesn’t mean that’s going to happen to me.  Those women’s husbands weren’t Rollie, and those women weren’t me.”

Diane was silent for a long moment.  “I’m sorry, Angie,” she finally said.  “I guess I shouldn’t have made assumptions based on the experiences of other girls or on my own viewpoint.”

“No, you shouldn’t.  I just recently talked to a woman who successfully balanced college life and marriage.  It may not work out for some couples, but it does for others, and it will for me and Rollie.”

“Well, I hope you’re right, Angie.  I hope things keep going the way they did last spring.”

“They will.  I’m certain of it.”


Two months had passed since Angie told everyone that she and Rollie were married.  All her friends had been shocked to find out that she had been married since April.  While some of her friends had still believed, for various reasons, that she shouldn’t have gotten married, there were a larger number who supported her decision since they’d seen how nice a guy Rollie was and how happy he made Angie.

In the weeks that had passed since the announcement, several of the friends who had believed she made a mistake came around and admitted that things seemed to be working out all right.  The reason for that was that nothing changed for Angie in regards to her life at school from what it had been since she started dating Rollie.

She was now waiting for him to pick her up.  Today was her twentieth birthday, and Rollie was taking her for an early dinner and then to a concert that she had been wanting to go to.  He had surprised her that morning with a dozen roses and a box of her favorite chocolates, which reminded her of the Valentine’s Day when they took the next step in their relationship.

The tooting of a horn drew Angie’s attention to an approaching car.  She smiled when she saw that it was Rollie.

“Hey there, gorgeous.  Wanna lift?” he asked with a lecherous grin and a waggle of his eyebrows.

“Well, I don’t know,” Angie replied.  “I generally don’t accept rides from strange men.”

“I may be strange, but I’m harmless.”

“Hmm.  I don’t know about that.”

They both grinned, and Angie got in the car.  They headed straight to the restaurant, one of the nicer ones in town, though not so fancy that they felt out of place in casual clothing.

The dinner was lovely.  When she found out that it was Angie’s birthday, the waitress brought out a piece of cake with a single candle on top.  After making a wish, which was that she would spend the rest of her life with Rollie, Angie blew out the candle and ate the cake, sharing it with her husband.

After they left the restaurant, Rollie started patting his pockets, then searching through them.

“What’s wrong?” Angie asked.

“I can’t find the tickets.”

“What did you do, forget them at home?”

“I must have.  We’ll have to go back to the loft to get them.”

“Won’t we be late for the concert?”

“No, we’ll be all right.”

Once they got to the loft, Rollie told Angie that she’d better come in with him in case he couldn’t remember where he put the tickets.  As they stepped inside, he flipped on the lights.

“Surprise!” cried a couple dozen voices.

Stunned, Angie gaped at the crowd in the loft.  She turned to Rollie, who was grinning idiotically.

“Surprise, Ange,” he said.

Angie started laughing.  “Why, you sneak!  You really had me fooled.  So, the whole thing with the concert was just a ruse so that I wouldn’t suspect that you were planning this.”

“No, I do have tickets for the concert.  They’re just for tomorrow night, not tonight.”

Angie threw her arms around Rollie’s neck.  “Thank you.”

“Anything for my angel, Ange,” he murmured.

The party was a blast.  Everyone thought that the loft was totally cool, loving all the movie memorabilia that was there.  There were still quite a few things from the movies that Rollie and Manny had done together, and he and Angie found themselves talking about those days and how they had met.  Everyone was awed when they learned about how Rollie had been targeted by a man who kept trying to kill him and how Rollie had saved Angie’s life when a bomb exploded on the set they were working on.

When several couples started dancing, Rollie took Angie’s hand and led her over to the ‘dance floor’.  His eyes never straying from hers, Rollie pulled her into his arms and began to slowly dance with her.  After a while, Angie gave a contented sigh and laid her head on his chest.

It was pretty late by the time the guests left.  Diane was the last to leave.  She motioned for Angie to follow her out to the car.

“You know, I knew that Rollie loved you,” she said, “but it wasn’t until now that I really saw that for myself.  The way he looked at you while you were dancing.  It was like you were the most precious thing in the whole world to him.  How I would love to have a man look at me like that.  You are so very lucky, Angie.”

“I know.  And if you knew everything, you’d say I was even luckier.  There are days when I feeling like pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.  I’m not saying that Rollie and I never argue, but, when we do, we don’t let it go too far, we never say things to hurt each other’s feelings, and we never go to bed angry.”

“No sleeping on the couch for Rollie, huh?”

“Nope.”

“Well, I’m glad, Angie.  It’s clear that you’ve got a real winner in Rollie.”

“Absolutely.”

After saying goodbye to Diane, Angie went back inside.  She immediately went up to Rollie and gave him a long, tight hug.  “Thank you so much for this, Rol.  It was really nice.”

Rollie gave her a kiss on the tip of her nose.  “I’m glad that I could do it for you, Ange.”  He smiled.  “So, now that you’ve left your teenage years behind, do you feel any different?”

“Not really, though it is strange to think about the face that I’m now a twenty-something.”

Rollie’s smiled broadened into a grin.  “Yeah, well, think about what it’s going to be like for me when I become a thirty-something.  That’s not all that far away, you know.”

Angie examined his hair closely.  “Yep, I think I see the grey already.”

“Ha ha.”

Angie smiled.  Since that little talk they’d had a couple of days after they were married, Rollie hadn’t expressed or shown any concerns about the difference in their ages, so she knew that she could tease him without hurting his feelings or causing him to doubt himself.

“Actually, thinking of your birthday, this great party you threw me makes me feel kind of guilty that I didn’t do the same for you.”

Rollie tightened his arms around his wife.  “Hey, my birthday was perfect, exactly what I wanted.”  He smiled inwardly in remembrance of that day.  Angie had fixed him a great dinner, managing somehow to get hold of some emu meat for an Australian dish that he remembered his mother used to make.  They had then danced for hours.  But the best part was when Angie gave Rollie his present, which was her dressed up in the sexiest lingerie he had ever seen, complete with garter belts, fishnet stockings, and three-inch stiletto heels.  Rollie had derived great pleasure in slowly unwrapping that particular present.  They were so exhausted from the marathon lovemaking they made that night that they both slept through the alarm the next morning.

Rollie looked around at the mess left by the partygoers.  At least it wasn’t as messy as a lot of parties he had attended.  “I guess I should start cleaning up this mess.”  He moved to a table cluttered with beer and soda pop cans.  When he saw Angie start in on another pile of debris, he waved his finger at her.

“Ah, ah, ah, Ange.  No work for the birthday girl.”

“Rollie, if I don’t help, you’ll be up for the next hour.  Besides, I want my husband in our bed with me tonight, not down here cleaning house.”  Angie gave him a sultry smile.  “I have a big thank you in mind for him.”

Rollie immediately put down the trash he was carrying.  “Well, in that case, the cleaning up can wait till tomorrow.”  He then scooped his wife up into his arms and carried her upstairs.


Rollie and Angie’s first Thanksgiving as a couple was good, though rather quiet.  It was only the second Thanksgiving since Manny’s death, so the lack of his presence was deeply felt, but it was by far a better day than the previous Thanksgiving.

A few days later, on the twenty-ninth, Rollie and Angie took a journey to a cemetery and put flowers on the graves of all the mothers who had died young.  It was a tradition Rollie had started many years ago as a way to honor his mother, who died on that date.  Angie and Manny, once they found out about it, had joined Rollie in the annual practice and chose to start doing the same thing on the anniversary of Angie’s mother’s death.

The difference this time was that there were two bouquets of flowers instead of one.  The second one was placed upon Manny’s grave.  It had been his cemetery that Rollie and Angie had chosen this time.

After paying his respects to Manny, Rollie walked away a few yards to give Angie some privacy.  Since their wedding, neither he nor Angie had come to see Manny very often, and he knew that Angie had a lot to talk about with her father.

“Hey, Papa,” Angie said quietly.  “I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I came to see you.  My life has been really busy lately, what with school and all.  I want to tell you how Rollie and I are doing.  He is so wonderful, Papa.  I don’t think that any woman could have a better husband.  You remember when I told you that everyone thought that we’d made a mistake getting married so soon?  We’ll, most of those people know now that they were wrong.  They can tell how much we love each other.  Every time I look in Rollie’s eyes, I see it so clearly.  I wish you were here to see it, too.  I know that you would be proud of us for how we’re doing.  It’s been almost eight months now, and we’ve only had a few fights, most of them little ones.

“Rollie’s been so supportive of me.  He still keeps insisting that I go out with my friends, and go to study groups and parties.”  Angie laughed.  “Of course, I’m still dragging him to every party I go to.  It took a while for some of the women to get the message that he’s not interested in them, even after the marriage became public knowledge.”

Angie became totally serious again.  “Back when we were married, Rollie said that we could take our vows again on our first anniversary and have a real wedding, with a dress, and a cake, and all the trimmings.  Rollie reminded me about that a few days ago.  He still wants to do that.”  Tears filled her eyes.  “I so wish that you could be there when that happens, Papa.  I wish that you could see how happy I am.  But then, maybe you do.  I hope so.”

Angie wiped away the tears that had escaped.  “Well, I need to go now.  It’s starting to snow again.  I don’t think there’s any question about us having a white Christmas this year.  We’re really going to miss you at Christmas time.  I miss you every day, and I think that Rollie does, too.  But he’s doing really good with the business.  He’s making quite a name for himself.  But I doubt that surprises you any.  You always knew that he was brilliant and had a natural talent for F/X.  I’ll be looking forward to when I get out of school and can work with him full time.  We’re really going to kick butt then.”

Angie kissed the tips of her fingers and pressed them to the gravestone.  “Bye, bye, Papa.  I’ll come again soon.  I promise.”

Angie rose to her feet and made her way over to Rollie.  He immediately engulfed her in his arms.  She buried her face against his chest and let a few more tears fall.  After a long moment, he tilted her face up and kissed the tears away.  His eyes asked if she was okay, and hers answered that she was.

His arm around her shoulders, Rollie took her back to the car, and they made their way home through the falling snow.

 
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