Angie carefully replaced the telephone on its cradle, drowning out the last few heavily accented words of her mother before turning to meet Peggy’s amused smirk. “Six bedrooms,” she muttered under her breath, the phrase having slipped over her lips at least a dozen times during her phone call, though it still held an underlying sense of awe. “I might just sleep in a different room every night until I figure out which one is my favorite.” It was clear that her head was still spinning in a thousand different directions, and knowing Angie as well as Peggy did, she knew that the waitress was still attempting to come to grips with the idea that she’d have to pay no rent, which meant that she could cut down on her hours at the diner, which meant that she could go on more auditions -
“Angie, I can practically hear the gears beneath those curls of yours still spinning,” Peggy teased from across the room, still carefully watching her best friend attempt to process their new living arrangement. “Get yourself settled into one of the rooms, and we’ll work it all out from there.” Uncrossing her arms, she reached for her coat, sliding her arms into the sleeves with practiced ease that Angie knew she would never possess. “Now, I need to run out for a moment because of a rather time sensitive errand, but I imagine your excitement has you ravenous. Mr. Jarvis, as I hear it, has made sure the kitchen is fully stocked, but I don’t much feel like cooking, so I’ll bring back dinner from that pizza place you love so much in Brooklyn.” Her casual monologue kept Angie’s attention away from the slight tremor in Peggy’s fingers as she mentally prepared herself for an overdue trip to bring Steve home.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that, English. You’ve done enough, really – “
“I insist,” she countered immediately, grabbing her clutch and turning toward the front door to escape any possible questions about her errand, feeling far too exhausted to concoct a believable lie. “I’ll be back within the hour.”
“Double pepperoni!’ Angie shouted from the living room, the look of unmitigated awe crossing over her features when her voice echoed back at her, filling the vast, rather unoccupied space, “and don’t forget the Italian sausage!”
Peggy shook her head, laughing quietly to herself as she stepped through the doorway, making sure to secure each lock behind her before walking away. She would never forgive herself if Dottie inflicted the same pain upon Angie that had been exacted on Colleen; she’d spent far too long muddling through the ocean of grief Steve’s passing had drowned her in, and she staunchly refused to allow another wave to engulf her when she’d only just begun treading water again. The desire to protect her roommate only grew when Angie had grabbed her hand at the end of the night, pleading with her in a small voice to try out each bedroom with her. “I don’t like sleeping alone in new places, and this house is so big it gives me the heebie-jeebies.”