Admitting the truth
The next day poured rain and made it impossible to sell any papes. I stayed in the lodging house all morning, entertaining the younger newsies with stories and my mouth organ. Kloppman came up about mid-morning and told a few stories from his youth. When the rain finally slowed after lunch, I made my escape and headed outside. Stopping to buy a few papes to sell, I wandered around Manhattan for a few hours before finding myself outside Ally's door. I stood outside without knocking, wondering if I should go in. A black-and-white cat rubbed against my legs and I reached down to pet him.
"Wat do youse think Ise should do, cat?" I asked, picking him up. "Should Ise tell her and maybe mess everything up? Or do youse think she'd like me back?" He meowed, looking up at me with wide green eyes that reminded me of Ally. "Sure, don't bother telling me wat Ise should do. Just ask for food, why's don'tja? Ise ain't givin youse food till youse give me an answer. Wat do Ise do?" He purred and waved his tail. For some reason he reminded me of a Jeffery. I had no idea where that name came from, but I thought it suited him. "So Jeffery, wat do Ise do? Go in and tell her or not?" Jeffery meowed and jumped out of my arms. "Thanks for da help! Dat wasn't very useful!"
"What wasn't useful? Who were you talking to?" Maggie's voice scared me and I let out a scream. Unfortunately for me it sounded like a girl and several people erupted into laughter. I peered around Maggie to see all of her siblings, including Tajo, plus Spot and Ally all standing on the stairs. I tried to glare at them, but even I had to admit it sounded funny, me looking like I was talking to myself and screaming like a girl. I slowly smiled, letting out a chuckle at myself.
"What brings you here today Race?" Maggie asked when the laughter subsided.
"Ise was just out sellin papes and found myself here."
"We were just on our way to walk Tajo and Spot back to Brooklyn. Would you care to join us?"
I decided to go with them. I watched as Spot and Ally walked in front of the group with Ariana in between them holding both their hands. As they walked, they would swing Ariana in the air and laugh at her squeals each time. I couldn't help noticing how good Spot and Ally looked together. A pang of jealousy shot through me. I sighed, tired of feeling that way every time I saw them together. I made up my mind right then and there that Rooster was right and I should tell Ally before Spot took her. Before I could make a move though, Boyden and Darien came up and challenged me to a sword fight with them.
I watched Ally as we walked back to Brooklyn. She looked very relaxed and happy, swinging Ariana in the air as we walked. The little girl loved Ally as another big sister, and I could tell Ally thought of Ariana as a younger sister. Caelyn skipped over to us and grabbed Allegra's free hand. They started singing a song together as we walked and I could see how much Ally had been accepted into the family.
"Wat are youse thinkin?" Tajo's voice murmured in my ear.
"Your sisters look up ta Allegra," I murmured back. He nodded.
"She's good wit them. Ise don't know wat Maggie would do witout her help."
"I don't know either. That girl really is an angel from Heaven," Maggie said as she joined us. Boyden and Darien ran past us, being chased by Race. "Be careful boys!"
"Hey Maggie, wat do youse think of Race and Ally?" I asked suddenly.
"What do you mean?"
"Ise mean…" I paused. What exactly had I meant? "Ise was wonderin…dat is…are dey…?"
"I think they are both wonderful people, if that's what you mean." She pierced me with a look and I got the feeling she understood what I meant but was waiting for me to figure it out.
"Dey're in love, aren't dey?"
Maggie nodded slowly, as if it would make it hurt less. "Yes, I think they are very much in love. They have trouble admitting it, but yes. They love each other."
"Wat are youse gonna do 'bout it?" Tajo shared a look with me.
"Ise ain't sure yet." I was a bit torn. As much as it pained me, I could tell Allegra cared about Race a lot and I knew I should back off. But on the other hand, I liked her and wasn't sure I wanted to give up without a fight. "If dey really are in love, Ise don't want ta mess wit dat. But Ise also don't want ta give up witout at least tryin." The brother and sister nodded but didn't say anything. We kept walking in silence, reaching the Brooklyn Lodging House before breaking it.
"Well, I'll be praying you reach a decision soon," Maggie told me. I nodded and thanked her before walking inside. I stopped short when I reached the bunkroom. Sitting on my bunk was the last person I expected to see.
I was glad when we reached the Brooklyn Lodging house. After Spot went inside, I pulled Ally aside and asked if we could talk. She looked at Ariana and Caelyn, who were still holding her hands.
"Girls, can you please walk with Maggie for a few moments? Uncle Tony and I need to have a talk." They pouted, but Ally didn't give in. She shooed them off and sent Boyden and Darien on their way, telling them to play a game as they waited for us to finish talking. She turned to me and put a hand on my shoulder. "Is something the matter?"
"What?" I was startled, until I realized I must have had a serious expression on my face. "No! Nothing's wrong. I just needed to tell you something."
"Is something wrong with Castel?"
"No, it's about us."
"What about us?"
I gathered my thoughts before I spoke. I wanted this to come out right the first time, instead of bumbling my way through and ending up in a fight. I didn't have a good track record of winning fights with her. I took a breath and began. "I know you like Spot and I understand if you want to be his girl. But I can't let another day go by without telling that I love you."
"If you don't love me, that's fine. But I can't watch you with Spot, so please just tell me if you would rather be with Spot."
"What?" I stopped and looked at her face. She looked slightly amused for some reason.
"I don't like Spot."
"No. Well, I did at first. But I talked with Maggie last night and she helped me realize that Spot isn't the boy I care for."
"What are you saying?" I asked, holding my breath. Could it mean that she liked me as much as I liked her?
She looked at me from under her lashes, talking in a whisper. "Te amo."
I couldn't believe what I heard for a minute. "Tu mi ami?"
"Te amo," I whispered back as I pulled her into my arms and kissed her for all I was worth.
Tu mi ami means you love me in Italian.