Disclaimers: Nope, sorry, can't say there are any. All of the characters are mine. I take full responsibility for all of their actions. Hmm ... On second thought ... I've never seen them before in my life. They just followed me home one day ... really ...
Violence/Sex: No violence, I don't think. I guess that would depend on what you mean by "violence" ... I don't think there is any. You can decide for yourself. And sex? Umm ... I'll go on the safe side and say there will be. But don't go suing me for false advertisement if you can't find any. It really depends on what you mean by sex. As there are people in some cultures that show their affection by licking each other's eyeballs, it is possible that my definition of sex may be different than yours. Mine may involve cows in ballet slippers for instance ... wait, that doesn't sound right ...
Warning: This story involves an in-the closet actress, online relationships, Puerto Ricans, the Spanish language, Starbucks coffee, angels, boyfriends, sexual relationships between women .. and a ton of other random things that poured forth from my artistic loins. If none of the above things interest you, then you may not want to partake in this little tour of my demented psyche.
Dedication: to you and you and you you and you .. to people living with living with ... ::notices there are people watching:: Ahem. Sorry. Too much "RENT" for me. Strike that. There can never be too much RENT. Unless it's the kind you have to pay. But my point.. and I do have one .. is that this story is dedicated to you. Thank you for taking the time to delve into my madness. What a brave soul you are .. muahahaha <coughcough>
Special Thanks: To Amber, Cindy, Camilla, Christy, Amy, and Robin. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don't know what I'd do without you guys.
Write me: Cause I'd love to know what you think. I may be reached at email@example.com
"I hate Shakespeare," Kris muttered, pushing a strand of light brown hair behind her ears. The one strand she'd died blue was fading. Perhaps it was time to change colors. Red, maybe green.. "If he were alive, I would kill him myself."
"I'm sure that's illegal," Leigh told her, as the elevator came to a stop on the 12th floor. They started walking toward the apartment. "And anyway, I don't see why you're in such a lousy mood. I sold two of your paintings today. And most importantly, William is home."
Kris smiled as they reached their destination. "You're right. Today is a good day. I'm not going to let a stupid essay ruin that." She knocked loudly.
As the door opened, her smile widened.
William Serrano swept his step-sister into his arms and hugged her tightly. He kissed her cheek a few times before letting her go. "çLlego la fea!" he announced.
Kris slapped his arm. "I am not ugly," she argued.
William glanced at Leigh and winked. "No, no. Leigh no es fea. Pero tÏŸ" He received another slap from Kris.
Mrs. Milano came over a moment later, a smile lighting her face. Her brown eyes lit up at the sight of her daughter. "Kristina," she greeted, kissing her cheek.
"Hi, mami," Kris said.
"Leigh, welcome." Sari Milano turned to her step-son. "Stop speaking in Spanish in front of the guest. It's rude." To the girls, she said, "Carlos and Dimitri went to the store for some ice. They'll be back soon." She turned to lead them toward the living room. "Come, sit. I bring you something to drink."
Kris sat down as instructed and gazed around the apartment. It was small by anybody's standards. The living room barely fit the couch she was sitting on. But it was home. Paintings and framed pictures from Puerto Rico decorated the walls. Along with masks of vejigantes, from Carlos's native town of Loiza. Kris had never been to the island, but Carlos and William spoke of it all the time. They'd moved to New York shortly before Carlos and Kris's mother had married.
Once their mother had disappeared into the kitchen, Kris turned to her brother. "So, what's this big news you've got for us?" she whispered.
William's sunny disposition turned dark. "You'll find out a little later," he said, his distress obvious.
Kris was sure that whatever it was, it wouldn't be good.
Sensing the tension in the air, Leigh decided to speak. "So, William, what are you doing these days?"
He turned kind brown eyes on Leigh. "I'm trying to get into computer programming," he answered. "But it's hard to land a good paying job around here without a good education. And school is expensive."
Mrs. Milano returned with a tray, handing each a cup of orange juice. "Sorry, it's the only cold thing in the house until Carlos returns with the ice."
They each accepted the drinks and thanked her.
"How's the art business?" William asked Kris.
Kris brightened. "I sold a couple of things today," she answered. "It's a beautiful day so a lot of people were out."
"There is no money in the arts," her mother stated with a shake of her head. It hadn't been the first time she'd said so, but like all the other times, the comment fell on deaf ears.
"Well, Kris is really talented," Leigh responded. "You should see how people stop to look at her work." She smiled at her best friend. "She'll have her own gallery one of these days."
Kris smiled back at her, flattered.
Sari shook her head. "Well, I'm just glad Kris has Nathan to take care of her," she said, smiling at her daughter.
William cleared his throat. "Well, I'm pretty certain Kris is capable of taking care of herself," he said.
"Well of course she is," Sari agreed. "But every woman needs a man to take care of her in this world. And vice versa."
William dropped his gaze.
Kris appreciated everyone's efforts, but did they realize that she was sitting right there, thereby hindering the need to speak about her as though she weren't?
Before she had a chance to say anything, the door opened and Carlos Serrano entered, carrying a bag of ice over one shoulder and a few full bags in his left hand. Like William, he was tall with dark hair and eyes, and his naturally tanned skin burned even darker from long hours in the sun.
Dimitri, Kris's sixteen-year-old brother, entered behind his step-father. He carried a couple of bottles of Coca-Cola, meticulously balanced in one hand, while another bag of ice rested on his opposite shoulder. Dimitri looked a lot like Kris, though perhaps a bit more like his father than his mother. Puberty hadn't yet fixed his lanky form, so his stance was rather awkward, but he concealed it well within the outstretched boundaries of his over-sized clothes. A black bandana hid his brown hair from view.
William rose at once to help his father and brother.
"Pon el hielo en el freezer," Carlos instructed his son. He then noticed Kris and walked over to greet her. Dimitri and William disappeared into the kitchen to put everything away. "Bella," he said, leaning down to kiss his daughter's cheek.
Kris smiled. At least someone thought she was beautiful. "Hi dad," she said.
"Hello, Leigh," he said, kissing her cheek as well. "How's life selling coffee?"
"It's quite the marvel, Mr. S," she answered. "It takes a special kind of person to brew the stuff just right."
"I'm certain it does," Mr. Serrano replied, moving over to greet his wife. "Kris, how's school?"
"Did you finish that paper?" Mrs. Milano added.
Kris shifted in her seat. "Uh, almost," she replied, hoping she was a better liar than she was a writer. "Gotta love Shakespeare." Die, die, die Ÿ
To her relief, William and Dimitri returned to the living room, carrying chairs from the kitchen so they would have somewhere to sit.
Dimitri nodded at his sister. "Sup, sis."
Kris glanced over at him with a questioning brow. "Hey, Notorious Dork. What's with the wannabe ghetto clothes?"
He gave her a dirty look in reply.
She stuck her tongue out at him, unsure of what it was about siblings that made one's maturity levels drop.
Carlos turned to his son. "So, William, what's the big news, huh? You have us all here now."
William swallowed as the spotlight was cast on him. "UhhŸ"
"He probably got some chick pregnant," Dimitri commented.
"NoŸ" William said, looking down at his cup of juice.
"You're moving?" Kris guessed.
William shook his head.
Leigh jumped in. "Joining the army?"
"Getting married?" Dimitri asked.
"I'm gay," William said, glancing up.
The room fell deathly silent, as each member of the family absorbed the information. The cup fell from Sari Milano's hand, spilling the remainder of her juice across the ivory carpet. And like a flag dropping at the start of a race, there was an eruption of shouting.
Kris sank down in her couch, not yet able to muster up a response. WilliamŸ gay? How could that be? He was so Ÿ not gay-like. Granted, she couldn't remember ever seeing him hung up on a girl, but she'd only lived with him for a year. Now that he'd moved out, she had no idea what he was up to. Well, clearly.
For her part, Leigh appeared to be in a catatonic state. Kris attempted to bring Leigh back by waving her hand in front of her face but to no avail. Her best friend continued to stare into space with a distant expression.
Dimitri stormed out of the apartment, muttering something about being in the same room with a "maricÑn." Carlos was fuming and turning strange shades of red and purple, the likes of which Kris had never seen before. Her mother was half-crying, half-praying.
And William was sitting in the same place, not looking at anything. He didn't appear to be listening to his father's ranting about morality. William tightened his jaw, then rose to his feet, towering over his father. Without a word, he exited the apartment and slammed the door shut behind him.
"çMaldito sea!" Carlos cursed. He left the living room in a huff and disappeared down the hall. The slamming of the bedroom door echoed through the small apartment.
Sari stood also, straightening the length of her skirt. She excused herself and retreated down the hall as well.
Kris wondered what on earth had just happened to her family. Here one minute. Gone the next. She considered running after William. But what would she say if she caught up to him?
She sighed. So much for this being a good day.