late afternoon rays shone through the curtains of Sarah
Sheehan's apartment bedroom. The air was thick with so much
humidity and heat that beads of condensation pooled around the bottom
of the half empty water glass sitting on the night table next to her
There had been a few summer afternoons like this, spent in each others arms. Tommy Donnelly would come over on a break from the bar, and just lay in the bed with her, sometimes not even speaking to one another. It was just what they did, enjoying each others company. But today was different. Today, tension hung like a solid mass above their heads. She could feel it even before as they were making love.
Quietly Sarah traced lines up and down his bare chest as he held her close to him in the bed. Sighing heavily he stared up at the ceiling, thoughts running through his head. He could feel the sweat still lingering on his brow from making love to her not long ago. Wiping the remaining sweat from his forehead, he sighed again, not being able to clear his head of the tormenting thought that crowded it. Sometimes Sarah wondered if he was still thinking about Jenny.
Jenny Reilly was once the love of Tommy's life, and Sarah knew it. Though they had never really been together, there had never been a lackluster moment between them. Tommy and Jenny had grown up together as childhood friends, and in their time, were inseparable. He had loved her with all his young heart could bear. There were even times when Sarah still wondered if it wasn't still true today. She was reminded of it every time she passed by Reilly's Diner & Coffee Shop where she worked, on the way to her apartment. And if it wasn't for Huey's funeral, and how Jenny broke his heart with another man, maybe Jenny would be next to him now. But that was almost half a year ago. Things were different now…
"Tommy," Sarah traced her finger down his stomach, and around each of his finely sculpted abdominal muscles. "Can I ask you something?" She looked up at him with her dark brown eyes. Her auburn hair was matted to her skin from the both the heat of the room and of their bodies next to one another under the sheets.
"Yeah, sure." He held her hand in his, resting his head on his other arm. Sarah hesitated before speaking.
"What happened today, when you went to see Nicky this morning?" Sarah paused, knowing she had just asked a loaded question. She knew just enough of their history to know that they weren't on very good terms at all. Tommy turned his head away from her and looked at the brightly back lit window.
"Tommy," she pleaded again, nuzzling her nose against his side.
"Sarah please, don't okay?" He took her hand in his and gave it a little squeeze, hoping she would drop the sensitive subject.
"Are you in trouble? I know what's going on between two. What does he want?" She sat up in the bed looking worriedly at Tommy who tore off the sheets and stood up out of the bed. Shaking his head, he walked naked into the bathroom, turning on the water for the shower. He ran it a little cooler than usual, hoping to counteract the heat of the day.
"Tommy!" Sarah wrapped the sheets around her and walked over to the washroom just as he was stepping in the shower. Seeing her in the doorway, he pulled the curtain shut. "Tommy!" She pulled them open again looking up at him as the cool water ran over his face and down his body. "What does he want?!"
"Sarah, please, just drop it, there is nothing going on, nothing, okay?" He yelled frustrated more at the situation he was in then at her. He immediately saw the hurt in her eyes, realizing what he had done. "Sarah, I'm sorry," he looked down at her standing outside the shower.
"I know, I know. But I don't want you to worry about it okay? I've got everything under control. Trust me, I wouldn't let anything happen to you." He placed a cool wet reassuring hand on her cheek. Water trailed down his arm and dripped from his elbow onto the floor mat. She sighed, trying to shake the feeling that he was keeping something big from her. "Why don't you come join me in here? It'll make you feel better." She looked up at him for a moment, somehow trying to see what he was hiding from her.
"Come on," he took her hand and she dropped the sheet from around her revealing herself again to him. He carefully helped her into the slippery tub and closed the shower curtain. Goosebumps covered her skin as the cold water washed over her, turning her auburn hair a dark brown. He stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, just glad to have someone close to him in that moment. He kissed her cheek as he ran the sudsy sponge up and down her arm.
"Tommy, I know you don't want me to get involved, and I understand that. I just want to know if you're in some kind of trouble. I just want to know if you're going to come home at night." She closed her eyes and turned her head resting it on his arm, the cool water falling on her chest.
"Sarah, don't worry, no matter what happens, I'll always come back for the ones I love." Tommy stopped short, realizing the words had come out without him even thinking about them. Sarah paused, letting the words sink in. He had never said it before. As she thought about it, the only person she had ever heard him say that to was his mother.
"Don't have to worry okay? Nothing's going to happen to me," he cut her off quickly. Taking the shower head down, he turned her around and rinsed the soap out of her dark hair and off the rest of her body. She remained quiet as he finished, shutting off the water and returning the showerhead back to its place. Stepping out of the tub, he wrapped one towel around his waist and then the other around Sarah as she followed him out of the tub. She stared up at him, holding the fluffy yellow towel to her body.
"It's gonna be alright," he kissed her lightly freckled forehead before leaving the washroom. She stood for a moment watching him towel dry his hair and grab clean clothes from his small duffel bag by the bedside. Sitting on the end of the bed he pulled his underwear on, followed by his dark denim jeans. "You working today?" He looked up at her as he zipped the fly of his pants.
"Yeah, I got the late shift tonight at the restaurant, Lisa's off sick so I have to fill in for her. I could use the money anyway." Sarah dried off her hair with a smaller towel before hanging it back on the door and leaving the washroom.
"What, are you tight for money?" Tommy stopped in the middle of buttoning his shirt to look up at Sarah who was putting her underwear and pants on across the room.
"No, no I just, I'm a little behind on the rent is all, but I'll have it all paid off by Tuesday," she dropped the large towel from around her and she put her bra and shirt on.
"If you need money..." Not that he really had any to give, but he would have found it for her anyway.
"No, it's okay. I'll have it all paid off by Tuesday, It's all right." She brushed her hair quickly in the mirror, and applied what little makeup she needed. Looking over at the clock next to her water glass, she cursed.
"It's five o'clock already, I have to get going. I have to go to school before I head to work tonight." Tommy had met Sarah at the School of Visual Arts just over on E 23rd St. at a show she had put together in one of the campus galleries. This, she remembered, was not too long after Huey's wake. She remembered how he had just opened up to her over a few beers at his family's pub, after her show had ended
"Shit, shit, shit." She grabbed her things up and put it in her backpack.
"You want me to get you from work in the morning? Maybe we can go for breakfast?" He stood up by the door as she dropped her things to the floor and threw a zip hoodie on.
"Uh, yeah sure," she gathered her things back up as Tommy opened the door for. Her.
"See ya," she awkwardly glanced at him, not sure of what else to say. His earlier words still rang in her ears.
"Bye," he watched as she left him with a quick kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you tonight." He called after her. He had the feeling his display of emotions earlier had made her a little uncomfortable. He stepped inside and closed the door, leaning his back against it. He sighed, resting his head against the door. He was going to have to deal with Nicky soon than later; he might as well take care of it now.
As Sarah made her way to the bus, she saw Jenny inside the diner where she worked. Sarah slowed her pace, watching Jenny as she argued with Jimmy, Tommy's older brother. Jimmy was flailing his arms around in what looked to be a heated conversation. Just as Jenny was about to respond, she turned her head to catch Sarah's eye outside the window as she was walking by. Jenny immediately stopped talking to Jimmy and walked behind the bar. Jimmy then turned to see Sarah just before she was out of view.