There were a lot of things that Angie had found herself getting used to over the last eight months. The phone lines in every room, the air conditioning and heating systems that she could turn on with the flip of a switch, hell, she could even get used to the sheer amount of space, but she wasn’t sure that she would ever get used to living a life where she got to go to Howard Stark’s New Year’s Eve party.
Everyone who was anyone was there and the guest list was supposed to be harder to get onto than the Academy Awards, but one of the perks of living with the woman who had saved Howard Stark’s ass from the fire on multiple occasions was a personal invitation from the host himself, and Angie still wasn’t convinced she wasn’t dreaming it all up.
Howard’s massive Fifth Avenue mansion wasn’t out of place among the opulence of the neighborhood, but it looked far too grand to exist in the same New York that Angie had grown up in. It was all gilt and marble with grand staircases and so many rooms that it was overwhelming just thinking about trying to keep them all straight. And some of the faces inside were just as grand. She heard the names of Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Kennedys, more than a couple of Roosevelts, and more being thrown around casually, and all around her were faces that she recognized from magazines and movie posters.
“Holy smokes, that’s Barbara Stanwyck!” she cried, grabbing Peggy’s arm so suddenly that Peggy’s champagne sloshed over the rim of her glass. “How does Howard Stark know Barbara Stanwyck?”
Peggy just shrugged and grabbed a napkin off the tray of a passing waiter to wipe the spilled champagne off her hand. “If I knew how Howard knew half of the people he does, I think I’d know far too much about him.”
“Oh my god, is that Katharine Hepburn?!”
Angie was too overwhelmed to do much more than gawk from a distance, and she stayed close to Peggy’s side and Peggy’s friends for most of the night. It felt as if she was watching her own life like a movie, and for the moment, she was more than content to just take it all in.
As the night wore on, the energy in the place seemed to change, and while a good portion of the crowd had started to congregate in the main ballroom to listen to the Times Square celebration on the radio, there were a number of pairs of people splitting off and disappearing to what she assumed were more private locations.
She swallowed hard and her hand twitched reflexively as she thought about pulling Peggy away. They had only been officially something for a few months and they had both been careful. They had to be; there were jobs to keep and reputations to uphold and Angie wasn’t complaining one bit as long as she and Peggy had the privacy of closed doors to keep them safe, but there was still a part of her that dreamed of a midnight kiss in the middle of a crowd.
But when she saw a blonde actress whose name she couldn’t quite remember slip up the stairs with another woman’s hand in hers out of the corner of her eye, she glanced over at Peggy.
“Think we could ever try something like that?” she asked, raising an eyebrow and nodding towards the staircase.
“Darling, I thought you’d never ask,” Peggy replied, much to Angie’s surprise. “I know just the place.” She looped her arm around Angie’s waist and guided towards the stairs and together they climbed higher and higher, leaving most of the noise and the music behind. They passed one landing and then another and another. The stairs grew narrow and Angie was sure that they were going to run out of floors soon.
But Peggy didn’t stop until they reached the very top of the stairs that lead to a plain metal door. Peggy pushed it open and they emerged onto the rooftop overlooking Central Park to one side and what seemed like the whole of the Upper East Side to the other.
There was a massive glass structure—a greenhouse, Angie realized quickly from the flowers blooming within—in the center, and all along the edges of the rooftop, there were planter pots and boxes with small trees and shrubs that had long since shed their leaves.
“Howard Stark never really struck me as much of a gardener,” Angie said.
“He’s not,” Peggy replied as she ran her hand along the top of the brick barrier. “But one of his recent conquests enjoyed it and he had it built for her.”
“It must be beautiful in the spring time.”
Angie threw back the last of the champagne in her glass and set the glass down on top of the ledge. It wasn’t particularly cold out, but a chill breeze passed over the rooftop and Angie pulled her wrap a little tighter around her shoulders.
She and Peggy both glanced up at the sky and for the first time, they noticed the snowflakes just starting to dance around them. The others on the rooftop seemed to have taken that as their cue to leave, but Angie hardly felt the chill at all. Peggy was still looking up at the night sky and the snowflakes settled feather-light on her hair and lips. Angie’s head felt fuzzy, like the little halos around the city lights below and all around them.
The scene couldn’t have been more perfect if it was a studio set, but if this were a movie, there was one more thing that would have to happen. Angie glanced around again just to make sure they were alone, as if anyone else was crazy enough to give up the warmth and atmosphere of the mansion to stand on a rooftop in the snow.
There was no one around. No one to see them or hear them or recognize them, and it wasn’t exactly a crowded ballroom, but Angie knew exactly how she wanted it to end.
They couldn’t see much of Times Square from the rooftop besides the lights, but they could hear it, and as it got closer to midnight, the energy in the air seemed to change. Excitement bubbled up in Angie like champagne and she could hear people downstairs yelling along to the countdown on the radio.
Peggy’s eyes met Angie’s.
A shiver ran down Angie’s spine, but it wasn’t from the cold.
Peggy lifted a hand to Angie’s cheek and brushed a stray curl behind her ear.
Angie wasn’t sure what it was, but there was something coming over her, spilling out of her and she knew what she was going to do.
Angie took a breath and held it as Peggy took a step closer. There was no longer any pretense of them not touching.
Happy New Year!
The cheering of millions of New Yorkers and tourists alike swelled in the background, but Angie could hardly hear it over the sound of her pulse drumming in her ears as she closed her eyes and leaned in, but her eyes flew open again when she found Peggy kissing her back, which could only mean one thing: Peggy had been planning on kissing her too.
Angie pulled back on instinct alone and Peggy started to stammer out something that sounded like an apology, but Angie just laughed.
Peggy frowned. “What’s so funny?”
“All of that,” Angie said incredulously. She laughed again, looked down at her feet and then back up at Peggy. “Nothing, English. Happy New Year.”
“Happy New Year, Angie,” Peggy said. “Shall we try that again?”
“Gladly,” Angie replied.
The city below and the night sky above was lit up with celebration, but as Angie met Peggy’s lips again, she couldn’t help but think that the cheers from the ballroom and the Times Square fireworks had nothing on this.