The restaurant I chose seemed to take Marilyn by surprise—there were pools of candlelight, Florentine frescoes and beautiful stonework.
“It’s like a romantic hideaway,” she whispered.
We were shown to a secluded table. I ordered a bottle of Antinori Tiganello Toscana 2007.
“An excellent choice,” the waiter smiled knowingly.
“You order wine first?” she asked when he was gone.
“That’ll keep him at bay for a while, so we can talk without being interrupted.”
“Very smooth,” she smirked.
“Why don’t you tell me your story first,” I suggested.
“Why—are you intrigued?”
Her eyes were huge and dark, and honestly, I couldn’t imagine being more intrigued by anyone.
“Of course, I’m intrigued—a beautiful girl who’s lost her identity? —It’s the makings of a Hollywood film.”
“I wish I found it that exciting—sometimes it’s terrifying, to tell the truth.”
I immediately regretted my flippant remark—she could see it in the pained look in my eyes.
She put her hand over mine and looked directly at me. “It’s all right—I know you didn’t mean to be insensitive.”
My hand felt like it was on fire—my whole body, for that matter. It was as if a pulse of electricity passed between us.
She felt it too and jerked her hand back so quickly the water glass beside her shook and water sloshed onto the crisp white tablecloth.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she exclaimed.
The waiter appeared at that moment with our wine and used a small white towel to quickly blot up the spill.
“It’s nothing Signorina—a few drops,” he consoled.
“Thank you, Ernesto,” I said, slipping him a twenty. He smiled and quietly retreated.
“Ernesto, eh? You must come here often.”
I colored. “Now and then.”
I had deliberately chosen this spot rather than Sassafraz, figuring if I bumped into Sam again, it’d be more likely in the Village than here.
Besides, this place had no bad mojo—I know it seemed fetishistic, but I didn’t want to take any chances on another chance encounter with Sam ruining my night.
“You said you weren’t a player,” she teased.
I sighed—I didn’t want to get into it—but here we were.
“I recently broke up with someone I had been seeing for a while—so I’m hardly a player.”
A look of compassion spread across her face. “I’m sorry, Scott.”
“As for Ernesto,” I continued, “a group of us used to come here a couple of times a year to celebrate occasions—so, I got to know him. But I haven’t been here in months—you can ask him if you like.”
She laughed, “That won’t be necessary—I believe you.”
“So, we were supposed to be talking about you, and here I am, talking about my pathetic love life.”
“At least you have one,” she whispered.
My heart melted for her. I wanted to take her hand and console her, but I didn’t want to have to bring back Ernesto to deal with the consequences.
“Maybe you do have a love life,” I said.
She chuckled bitterly. “If I do, it’s a secret one—secret even to me.”
You have no idea, I mused.
Of course I knew I’d be seeing her again that night in my dreams
© 2017 – 2018, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.