Another shaky laugh.
“So… Where does this leave us?” she wondered.
“Funny you should ask.” Reaching out a hand, he reeled her up and into his arms. “I think it’s time for us to get to know each other better and find out.”
“Yeah.” He lowered his head, taking his time moving in for a kiss. “I’m thinking we can get something to eat, and then maybe—”
A sound like a muffled screech startled them, and they looked around in time to see the bedroom door fly open and bang the wall with a thud.
Gloria looked like a trillion bucks in the hot-red dress, except that her face was twisted up with either anger or pain as she marched in and stopped dead when she saw Tony.
“Great.” Her voice cracking, she hit him with a glower so dangerous it could probably cause the sun to cool. “It’s you.”
“Gloria,” he murmured. “Always a pleasure.”
“What brings you here?” Gloria, who always acted like she owned the place, even if she was standing in the middle of the White House, put her hands on her hips and hiked up her chin until even Talia wanted to take a swing at her. “Have you come to finish breaking my sister’s heart?”
“Ah, Gloria.” Talia stepped between the two of them before someone threw a punch. “What’s wrong? I thought you were leaving for your date.”
Gloria choked on something that was either an ugly laugh or a sob. “No, you didn’t. You knew he’d stand me up again.” Holding up her phone, which evidently had a text on it, Gloria waved it in Talia’s face. “Well, now’s your chance to rub my face in it. His wife invited friends over for dinner, so he can’t get away. What a surprise.”
“Ah…” Tony’s eyes were now the size of bowling balls. Backing up a step or two and showing every sign of wanting to sprint from the room, he jerked his thumb toward the kitchen. “Why don’t I wait in the—”
Gloria turned on him. “Oh, no, you don’t. I’ve got something to say to you.”
Oh, hell, no. The last thing she needed was her sister venting all her anger and heartbreak on Tony. True, he’d survived war and torture, but that was nothing compared to Gloria when she let loose with her nasty temper.
“Gloria,” Talia spat.
Tony silenced her with a raised hand. “It’s okay. I’m anxious to hear whatever Gloria has to say to me.”
“I really doubt that,” Talia muttered.
They ignored her.
“Go ahead,” Tony told Gloria. “I’m listening.”
Gloria’s lips peeled back in a feral smile. “If you make my sister cry,” she said sweetly, “I’m going to cut your balls off with my gardening shears.”
Wow. Glo really had a way with people, didn’t she?
Tony didn’t seem to mind. Unsmiling, he held Gloria’s gaze. “Understood.”
Gloria, who’d clearly been gunning for a fight, had not gotten her wish, and her face crumpled accordingly. To her credit, though, she recovered quickly and stiffened her spine. “Good.”
Well, it was great that the two most important people in her life had reached an accord of some sort, but Talia was worried about Gloria. Tears were collecting in her eyes, and she looked so forlorn that Talia really didn’t want her to be alone tonight.
Talia opened her mouth, but Tony, bless his heart, beat her to the punch. “Hey, ah, Gloria. If you’re not going to, you know, rip my tongue out or anything, why don’t you have dinner with us? We’re about to—”
This unexpected kindness seemed to take Gloria by surprise. She made another of those choked sounds, and this time there was no question—it was a sob. Gloria stifled it, slapping her hand over her mouth. Talia and Tony exchanged worried looks. After a couple of seconds, Gloria pulled it together enough to drop her hand and flash a smile that was watery but genuine.
“No, thanks,” she said. “You two enjoy your date, okay?”
With that, she scurried out of the apartment and down the hallway, but not before they heard the muffled sound of her wail.
“I’ll be right back.”