It’s almost two months later when Carisi decides he's ready to talk. He doesn’t come to the decision lightly though. It took weeks after their last conversation for him to even consider picking up the phone and when he first thought about it, he panicked. Every time he thought about letting her back into his life, he was met with so many emotions at once. There was the love that he still felt for her every day of his life and the anger he felt when he thought of the way that she hurt him. The emotion that was the strongest though, out of them all, was the feeling of guilt he felt every time he snuck a glance at the photo of them and the girls happy together. They’d taken it around Easter of the previous year and he couldn’t help the smile that would stretch across his lips when he thought back to those moments. The moments that they’d had together - as a family - before it all turned to dust right before his eyes.
Her voice interrupts his thoughts and he looks up to find her standing next to the booth he’s seated in, a warm smile in greeting on her lips. He’s not entirely sure how he’s supposed to greet her in their current situation. What would be too much? He finds he doesn’t care much, though. He rises from his seat and pulls her in for a hug. She only hesitates for a second before she hugs him back, her arms wrapping around his body and squeezing tightly. It’s been so long since they’ve been together like this and the feeling wraps around him as he relaxes into her arms.
“I’ve missed you,” he whispers softly into her ear and is pleased when he feels her smile against his neck.
“I’ve missed you too,” she whispers back.
Once they are both seated and their drinks and food have been ordered, they start in on the conversation. Amanda catches him up on things he missed with the girls and they laugh together about all the crazy antics Jesse has planned for the next time her Uncle Sonny comes over to play. She talks excitedly throughout their meal, about all of the things he’s missed while they’ve been apart but he can’t pay enough attention. He’s too focused on the way she carries herself tonight. The constant tucking of hair behind her ears, the nervous laughter anytime they breach a sore subject, and the way she constantly fiddles with the chain she wears around her — wait...that’s new.
She’s never worn that before. At least, not as far as he can remember.
“I don’t recognize that.” The words are out before he has a chance to realize he’s saying them out loud.
She gives him a curious look. “Sorry, what?”
Might as well, he thinks. “That chain around your neck, I don’t recognize it.”
She glances down at the jewelry worn around her neck, the end of it hidden inside the neckline of her dress, and drops her hand from where it’s been fiddling with the chain. She reaches for the glass of wine in front of her and avoids his eyes as she takes a drink.
He knows he shouldn’t push her about it and there’s just something about the way she’s avoiding the topic that makes him nervous to breach the subject any further.
Instead, feeling he may have struck a nerve, he reaches out and places a hand on top of the one she has resting on the table. “Hey, you don’t have to explain. It’s fine. I shouldn’t have pried.”
When she meets his eyes again, they are soft and his smile is understanding. She sets the wine glass back on the table. “No, it’s okay. You have a right to ask.”
His gaze follows her hands up to where they grab the chain and lift the end out of its hiding place. Hanging on the end of the necklace, the chain looped through the hole at the top, is a single key. It looks familiar to him but he can’t quite place it.
“It’s yours,” she says as if sensing his confusion.
Sonny’s eyes dart up to meet hers and then back down to the key.
He remembers now.
“Dominick, please just stop!” she shouts, struggling to be heard over the pouring rain.
He stops when he reaches his car and turns around to face her. She’s standing there, a few feet away, wearing nothing but an oversized T-shirt that she threw on to cover herself up before chasing after him. She’s drenched now, her body shivering from the cold wind and rain that surrounds them. It may be raining, but he’d be lying to himself if he said that he couldn’t see the tears streaming down her face. Much like the ones that he could feel on his own skin.
“Please...just come back inside. I’m sorry,” she pleads with him.
He’s soaked to the bone now and all he can think about is them. Walking into that apartment and seeing her there with that man. In their bed. The memory makes him nauseous and he turns to the side and vomits onto the pavement. Amanda tries to take a step closer, no doubt concerned for his well being, but he holds up a hand to stop her.
“Don’t,” he coughs out as he stands up straighter, “don’t come anywhere near me. Just...leave me alone, okay? Please.”
Not willing to wait for her response, Sonny toys with the ring of keys in his hand before prying the spare key to her apartment off the ring and throwing it on the ground at her feet. He thinks he can hear her heart breaking as he gets into his car and drives away. This time, he doesn’t look back.
He picks up the necklace off the table, the key resting in his palm. “You kept this? Why?”
Amanda nods. “I’ve been wearing it around my neck every day since that night. Since you never really moved in, it was kind of the only thing I had that was yours. I thought that uh, maybe one day I could give it back to you. If you wanted it back.”
He’s not sure how to feel. He wants to find comfort in the fact that some part of her knew he would always come back but another emotion clouds that one.
“Amanda, what happened to us, was horrible.” She looks away from him, her lip quivering. “I can’t imagine how hard it was on you. I will never be able to know how you felt. But it was hard on me too.”
She wipes away a tear. “I know that.”
“No, I don’t think you do. I was in such a dark place, Amanda. Darker than I’ve ever been in before and darker than I ever wanna be again. I wanted to die.”
She looks back at him now, her lips parted and eyes wide and full of pain. “Sonny—”
“Every single day after we lost our little girl, I wanted to die. I didn’t see any reason to go on living. But I never told you because I knew that you were suffering way more than I was. I knew that I had to hold myself together so you could fall apart just a little bit. If nothing else, I could give you that.”
When she reaches out with a napkin to wipe the tears off his cheeks, his eyes flutter closed, he leans into her touch and kisses the palm of her hand.
“Dominick, look at me please,” she whispers softly to him and when he opens his eyes, she’s smiling at him.
He pulls away from her but takes the hand that was on his face in his own. “Amanda, I know why you did what you did, okay? I understand now. I know I didn’t before but I do now.”
“I’m sorry. For everything that happened.” She wipes the tears from her face with her free hand and brushes back a few loose strands of hair that had fallen in front of her eyes. “For lying to you and cheating on you. For losing—” she struggles to speak through hiccuping cries “—for losing our baby. I’m so sorry.”
He’s up and around to her side in seconds, his arms wrapping around her and pulling her in close. He tucks her head into his neck and lets her cry onto his shoulder. They sit like that until the server comes by to check in on them and Sonny pulls away to retrieve his card from his wallet he tucked inside his jacket pocket.
He stays by her side for the rest of the evening, even after their table has been cleared and all the wine has been drunk. Even on their walk back to her place, he walks close with her hand held tightly in his.
“You coming up?” she asks when they finally arrive at the steps of her building with her keys already in hand.
Sonny looks up at the building and then back at his date now standing up on the steps, contemplating his next move. He hasn’t been back here since that night and he’s not quite sure if he’s even ready yet.
And then she’s taking his hand in hers again and smiling at him with that smile that makes his heart burst and he’s gone. He nods at her and she smiles brighter.
“Just to sleep. We could both use it.”
He nods again and lets her lead him inside and up the stairs, stopping when they reach her apartment. He stays silent while she unlocks the door and steps inside. He watches her walk farther into the apartment, taking a second to gather his thoughts before he takes a deep breath and follows her in, letting the door shut behind him.
Maybe this time they’ll be okay.