I Love Her
Punching Racetrack didn't make me feel much better, although I did feel slightly less angry. I wasn't even sure why I was mad, other than the fact that I was under the impression that Allegra was kind of my girl. I aimlessly wandered around for a while before heading back to Brooklyn to sell some papes. I met Tajo at our usual place for selling papes and starting selling the headline.
"Wat's da matta?" he asked as we walked back to the lodging house that night.
"Allegra and Race kissed last night." I didn't mean to say anything, but it bubbled out of my mouth before I could stop it. "Ise thought she was my goirl. Ise got so mad when Ise hoird dat I punched Race in da nose."
Tajo looked serious. "Dat's not good. We's gotta get youse and Race together and have a talk wit Ally."
I nodded, hoping to sort things out before things got worse and a war broke out.
The next morning I left early with Tajo. We headed for Manhattan to look for Racetrack and Allegra, who we found in Central Park with Tajo's younger siblings. Race and the twins were running around having races with their kites and Allegra was helping Ariana fly a kite while Caelyn danced around them with her own kite. When we were spotted, everyone abandoned their kites and mobbed Tajo in a hug. Ally stayed back and gathered up the kites as Race walked over. He stayed a safe distance away from me and nodded. I winced at his two black eyes, sorry that I had done that.
"Ise sorry for wat Ise did. Ise didn't know youse was a couple," he told me.
"We ain't really a couple. Ise don't know wat we are."
"Dat's why we're here," Tajo added, giving hugs to everyone. He looked at the kids. "Can youse go back ta kite flyin? We's need ta have a grown-up talk now."
"Awwww." All four kids managed to speak in unison, which made us all smile.
"But Maggie told us we's gotta get Uncle Race and Auntie Ally ta kiss again." Boyden and Darien looked at Tajo with mutinous looks on their faces. "She told us we had a job ta do."
"Go!" Tajo pointed towards the pile of kites Ally had made. "Ise will have a talk wit Maggie tonight and tell her youse did your job and dat she has a big mouth." They didn't look happy but followed the girls, pouting. Ally came over, holding a basket in her hands. She pulled out a blanket and spread it on the ground. Sitting on it, she motioned for us to sit as well and started handing out food. Race took a big bite of his sandwich and started chewing, watching Allegra the whole time. I noticed for the first time how he looked at her-his whole face lit up and his expression softened. Everything about him seemed softer and more relaxed and that's when it hit me that Race loved her. I always had the feeling he liked Ally as more than a friend, but for the first time it struck me his feelings went deeper than that.
"Spot!"Something soft and squishy hit my face and pulled me back to the present. "Wat?" I picked up the sandwich Tajo threw at me, unwrapping it and taking a bite.
"Tell Race wat youse told me yesterday," Tajo said, taking a bite of his own sandwich.I quickly told him as Tajo explained it to Allegra.
"So Ise really am sorry," I finished. "Ise just wasn't thinkin straight."
Race still looked a bit angry, but I could understand why and didn't blame him. "Her and I ain't a couple either. Ise already told ya, Ise don't want ta see none of dat kissin and if youse hoirt her Ise'll hoirt you. Other den dat, Ise don't care if youse ask her ta be your goirl."
"Are youse sure bout that?"
He nodded, but I wasn't convinced. I started at him to see if he would change his mind, but he just nodded his head in her direction and walked back to the kids flying their kites.
Tajo explained to me how Race had gotten his black eyes. According to Spot, he had overheard Race telling Maggie him and I had kissed, which made Spot jealous. I shook my head, wondering if I could really be the cause of all this. Tajo just looked bemused, apparently not enjoying playing the role of translator.
"If you three don't settle this soon, I'm going to put you in a room and leave you to fight it out."
"I have a better idea. Tell them I won't be anyone's girl and that if they get into anymore fights because of me, I'm going to fight them."
Tajo laughed and patted my back. "That's the best idea I've heard yet. What do you suggest we do with my sister and your brother?"
"Get them in the same room and tell them to kiss already." I glanced up to see Maggie and Castel coming our way. "Or since they're here right now, maybe we could just push them together and see what happens." We shared a quiet laugh as they walked up.
"What happened to Racetrack's face?" Castel asked, not having heard about what happened. When he had his nose in a book, the world could end and he wouldn't notice.
"Are Antonio and Ally a couple yet?" Maggie reached into the basket for a sandwich. I grabbed it out of her hand before she could take a bite.
"What?" Castel asked, looking at her. "What do you mean?"
"You haven't noticed the way they look at each other?"
"I've been busy with school. I didn't know there was anything to watch."
They started talking about school and Tajo and I shook our heads. At this rate they would never kiss. Getting an idea, I leaned over to Tajo and whispered the plan in his ear. He grinned and nodded, grabbing a sandwich himself. We stood up and walked over to our siblings, waving the sandwiches in their faces. They immediately stopped talking and reached for the food.
"Hey!" Castel yelled as we pulled back."Give us the food!" Maggie tried to look threatening as she reached for the food, but it was comical because Tajo was so much taller than her and she was jumping up and down trying to reach it.
I dodged out of Castel's reach and waved the sandwich around. I laughed when Castel stood there with his hands on his hips and glared at me. "Come get it!" He ran over to me, but I ran over to Race and hid behind him, Castel not far behind me.
"What are you doing?" Race asked me. He passed his kite off to one of the twins and watched us.
"Na-Na, give me the food. I'm starving!"
"Kiss her already!" I dodged out of his reach again and ran behind Maggie, who was still jumping around Tajo. Castel didn't quite stop in time and ploughed straight into Maggie. They fell in a heap on the ground as I laughed. Maggie glared at me and stuck out her tongue. I stuck mine out at her and waved my sandwich.
"You little bugger!" Castel managed to get himself out from underneath Maggie and sat up. Maggie looked at him and brushed some dirt off his shoulder. "Your sister is a-"
He suddenly brushed his lips against Maggie's. Tajo and I cheered as Maggie looked startled for a moment before kissing him back. I hugged Tajo and he spun me in a circle. I smiled happily until I caught Race watching me. A sudden desire to run into his arms and kiss him shot through me. I turned away, remembering my words to Tajo that I wouldn't be anyone's girl.
I couldn't sleep that night because I kept thinking about Ally. Images kept running through my head of times Ally and I had spent together. Us holding hands at Nonna's; us making faces at each other the day we met at Medda's; the way she looked the night we kissed; her face as she struggled to learn the English words I taught her. Every time I closed my eyes, the show would start again and it always ended with us kissing. I sighed as I rolled onto my side again. A shadow on the wall made me sit up.
"Racetrack!" Rooster whispered, putting a hand over his heart. "You gave me a fright! I thought everyone was asleep."
"Thinking about Allegra?"
"Yep. Wait, what?"
Rooster sat on the floor next to my bunk. "I may not know you that well, but I do know my sister better than she does. And I can clearly see that she cares a great deal about you. It's all over her face. I can see it on yours too."
"Lei è la mia amica."
"She may be your friend, but you like her a bit more than a friend, si?"
I gave up trying to deny it. "Io sono innamorato di lei."
"We can see that."
I flopped backwards on my bunk and stared at the mattress above me. Kid Blink rolled on his back, an arm falling over the side. "I kissed her. The other night, I kissed her. We were fighting about her kissing Spot and she tried to leave but I stopped her. Next thing I knew we were kissing."
"So she knows you love her?"
"I don't know. We haven't really talked about that night. I brought her to my nonna's for breakfast yesterday and we almost kissed again, but we didn't talk about it."
Rooster gave me a disappointed look. "Don't break mi hermana's heart. Tell her you love her soon, before she goes crying to Spot and he takes advantage of that." With that, he stood up and climbed into his bunk. I lay awake a little bit longer before rolling on my stomach and finally falling asleep. When I did, I dreamed of telling Ally I loved her.
Lei è la mia amica.-She's my friend.
Io sono innamorato di lei.-I'm in love with her.