Love is a Garlic Knot

Hello, readers! Lucky me, I get to post my romantic short story the day before Valentine’s Day!

We at The Violet Femmes really appreciate our readers. To show our love, we are awarding a very special prize this month to one lucky reader – a bouquet of flowers and a box of Valentine chocolates.  To be entered to win, all you have to do is comment on our blog. So please share with us (if you can without blowing a surprise)…what are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year?

And now, here is my personal gift to you…a short story about a second chance at love.

Hugs,

Jaye 

***

Love is a Garlic Knot

“I think he’s going to pop the question!”

“That’s wonderful!” Anna replied, trying to inject some enthusiasm into her reply. She wrapped another skein of Brandi’s hair around the curling iron and rolled it tight.

“Ouch!” Brandi yelped.

“Sorry.” Anna released the curl and rested the iron on the countertop.

Brandi went back into full swing, blabbing on about how her wonderful boyfriend, soon to be fiancé, was taking her out for a really expensive Valentine’s Day dinner. After which he was sure to give her an even more expensive engagement ring. At least two carats. Did she mention, Ricardo was rich?

In the twenty-seven years since Anna had become a hairdresser, she had heard all sorts of things from her clients. Weddings, funerals, babies, who was an alcoholic, who had just gotten out of jail. She was the best kind of therapist. She listened without judgment, kept her mouth shut, and her clients left feeling and looking great. Seriously, she should write a book.

She gave the Brandi/Ricardo relationship two months, tops. Then Brandi would move on to her next rich boyfriend…was it number five, or six? Brandi got bored.

Anna would settle for a “Hi, you look nice today.”  Or even an interested gleam in the eye. Since her divorce ten years ago, and for five years before that, her love life had taken an extended vacation. In fact, at this point, it had probably moved away.

She put the finishing touches on Brandi’s updo, and sent her off to pay. Anna retrieved the broom from the back hallway and started sweeping up the hair on the floor. They were short-staffed today. The trainee had called in sick…she probably had a big date tonight, too. Anna didn’t begrudge her some fun. She had nowhere else to be, anyway, so she might as well stay late. It beat going home alone.

At nearly fifty, her three kids away at college, the walls of Anna’s empty nest were closing in. She missed the constant flow of teenagers that made her home feel alive. The peace and quiet she had reveled in when Alison, her youngest, had gone off to college had grown old rather quickly.

She rested her hands on her chair and examined herself in the mirror. She had tried to keep up her appearance, regular dying covering the gray that had started to invade her chestnut hair. She was blessed with good skin, and she didn’t look her age, despite the crows’ feet and laugh lines. Her eyelids might be beginning to sag, but her hazel eyes were still as striking as ever. She wished she had the guts to go looking for love, but the idea of hanging out at the local divorcé pick-up joint turned her cold. The closest she got to trolling for men was watching “Cougar Town”.

“Anna, can you lock up today?” Meredith, the shop owner, asked. “I’m meeting Bob for dinner.”

Wow. It seemed everyone had someplace to go except her. She suddenly felt tired. “Sure. No problem.”

Meredith peered at her, her brow furrowing. “You okay?”

“Fine. Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” Shut up.

“Hey, do you want to come out with us?” Meredith offered lamely.

Like being a third wheel was all she dreamed of.  It was nice of Meredith to offer, but she’d take a pass. “No, I’m good. Have a drink for me.”

Who was she kidding? An extra large bottle of Pinot Grigio and her beer mug from Germany were waiting at home in her fridge.

“Have a good night, Anna.”

“You too!” Anna pasted a smile on her face as she shooed Meredith out the door.  “Ta ta!” Anna turned the key in the lock, and drew down the blinds on the front windows of the salon.

Shoulders slumping, she picked up the phone and called Palazzo, the pizzeria three doors down in the strip mall. She placed a pick-up order for a calzone…might as well pile on the cheese to go with her wine…and some garlic knots.

Anna finished sweeping the floor. Then she closed out the register, placing all but the starting money in a deposit bag to drop off at the bank on her way home.   As she went to retrieve her coat from the back closet, there was a knock on the glass door of the shop.

It was Carmine, from the pizza place. A first generation Italian-American, he had taken over when his father retired. He was ten years younger than Anna, handsome and charming, flirtatious without being offensive. His sexy accent, along with the best pie in town, was probably what had a lot of women, including Anna, coming back to Palazzo for more. It also helped that he habitually put a little extra treat in the bag with her order…a zeppole, or some garlic knots. The girls in the salon called him “The Italian Stallion”, like Stallone.

Smiling, he held up a large brown shopping bag with the shop’s logo on it. Anna unlocked the door and let him in, leaving the key in the lock. “You didn’t have to bring it down, C. I was just coming to pick it up.”

“It’s no problem,” Carmine replied. “Besides, I thought you might like some company. Mama’s watching the store. You got a table?”

Somewhat dazed, Anna motioned in the direction of the nail tech’s station. Carmine put the bag on a chair, and pulled out a checked plastic tablecloth.

He carefully laid out the tablecloth, his back to her. He reached into the bag, and drew out two plates, silverware, napkins, and two glasses. Then he took out a bottle of red wine. The smell of seafood, olives, garlic and herbs began to overtake that of peroxide.

 Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!

“R-really, Carmine, I appreciate it, but you…I mean, um…that is…I have to meet someone,” Anna lied, as panic set in.

He smoothed the tablecloth and turned, his espresso eyes warm and kind as they met hers. He came to her, still standing by the door, and took her chin in his hand. His mouth quirked up at the corners.

As his eyes searched hers, Anna’s mouth went dry. She felt herself lean into his hand. Wow. Carmine. Really? It was the stuff of her fantasies, but she hadn’t thought it went both ways.

“Do you really have somewhere to go?” he asked softly. He still wore his white chef’s jacket, and he smelled of pepperoni and Acqua di Gio. This close, she could make out each individual hair of his five o’clock shadow. Her heart picked up speed, and a muscle under her eye began to twitch.

“No,” she admitted, sighing.

“Good,” Carmine said. He reached over and re-locked the door. Then, he laid his lips on her cheek, where it quivered, and pulled back. Anna’s eyelids moved to half-mast. Suddenly, his full lips were on hers, soft, tentative. Her hands, which she had shoved into her pockets to keep from shaking, made their way to his shoulders.

Carmine deepened the kiss, the rasp of his beard at odds with the softness of his mouth. Anna trembled. The kiss was exciting, and Carmine made her feel desirable, in a way she hadn’t felt in far too long. It was like coming home, and she wondered how she had wandered so far.

He broke away, and rested his forehead against hers. His hands drifted up her arms, to take hers and hold them to his chest.  “Anna, bellissima. I am tired of waiting for you,” he said.

“What do you mean?” she asked, leaning back just a little, but maintaining this contact she so craved.

“For twelve years, I have been running my father’s store. I have watched you come in, flirted, tried to get your attention. I couldn’t wait any more.”

He had been waiting? For her? “I had no idea,” Anna said.

“How could you not?” he asked.

“You could have anyone, any young, single, beautiful girl with no baggage. Why would I ever think you would want a middle-aged divorcee?”

“Because you are more beautiful than any young girl I know.”

She wondered if she should be flattered, or take offense at that.

“No, no, that is not what I mean!” he hurried to correct himself. “It’s because, not only are you beautiful, you are kind, sympathetic, unselfish. Like my mama.”

She raised an eyebrow.

“Argh!” he groaned, breaking away. “I am making a mess of this. You are so not like mama! I could never think of you as my mama!” He slammed his hand against table top, and the silverware clinked.

“Carmine?”

He turned to her. “Yes?” he asked miserably.

“Could you please just shut up and kiss me again?” Anna asked, smiling.

“Absolutely,” he said, and gathered her to him.

And just like that, the ride of Anna’s life began, the Italian Stallion by her side.

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30 Comments

  1. Jenn Wehner

     /  February 13, 2012

    What a great story! Perfect for Valentines week!!

    Reply
  2. Jenn

     /  February 13, 2012

    What a great story! Perfext for Valentines Week…. thank you!

    Reply
    • Jaye Marie Rome

       /  February 13, 2012

      Thanks, Jenn, and thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a good day!

      Reply
  3. Love it, Jaye! I also have a giant bottle of pinot grigio in my fridge at home. 🙂

    I love it when passion suddenly sparks between two people who’ve known each other for years. Nicely done!

    Reply
  4. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  February 13, 2012

    Thanks, Joanna! Yup…pinot grigio, the go-to wine for everyday consumption, lol!

    Reply
  5. Lynne Malloy

     /  February 13, 2012

    Nice story! but it made me hungry…hee hee

    Reply
  6. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  February 13, 2012

    Funny, Lynne! Thanks for stopping by. Villa is calling my name, too, maybe we should ride our bikes there!

    Reply
  7. Lynn Coleman

     /  February 13, 2012

    I love the fact that love does happen at any age in life. It gives hope that your prince can really come knocking at your door. Can’t wait to read the rest of the story !!

    Reply
  8. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  February 13, 2012

    Thanks, Lynn. I also love the fact that love can endure…like my great uncle and great aunt, who were together until she passed away at 97…he passed away only a few months later…at 103!

    The longer story…well, that is a novel that is waiting to be written!

    Reply
  9. Jennifer Sampson

     /  February 13, 2012

    Great story. I love how flustered he got at the end. So cute, and realistic!

    Reply
  10. Thanks, Jen! I think it makes him really lovable…like, he’s not as suave as he appears to be. You know, that it’s all an act, or at least, it is around her.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    Reply
  11. Jaye, I have my phone in hand and am ready to order a . . . pizza! And who doesn’t like a man who loves his mama? Happy Valentine’s to you! Michele

    Reply
  12. Great story, Jaye! I like the mature character and Italian hottie. I now have a hankering for garlic knots. Guess I’ll have to settle for a glass of Malbec. Thanks by the way. It was great! Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

    Reply
  13. pat estavanik

     /  February 13, 2012

    Excellent story…of course anything with Pizza makes me happy.

    Reply
  14. hieubietusa

     /  February 14, 2012

    Thank you Janet…first the characters are real…and almost my age group(almost).
    Next…Carmine…full lips…passionate kisses…I think I’m related to this guy.
    Serious…your dialogue was no nonsense and on the money. People at this stage spare unnecessary words…real talk is presented.
    Great set-up…I knew the smell of olive oil and red sauce laced with garlic would surround the story with a romantic mood.
    In the beginning…Re: Brandi…”was it 5 0r 6?” and later when things get rolling…her eyes…”half-mast” I think both are showing up in one of my tales…
    Final…I get lost with such a simple and mature presentation of the beginning of a love affair. I usually need something tragic to happen before or after…sometimes during…but I really like it.
    I think it was the atmosphere you created in the shop and of course the “love nest” know as the pizza place.
    This was good.
    Jealous Joe

    Reply
    • Aww, thanks, Joe. See, you’re a master at the tragic…like Road Home…but, despite my outward (protective?) cynicism, I tend to see things through rose-colored glasses.

      Glad you liked my little story. 🙂

      Jaye

      Reply
  15. Lori

     /  February 14, 2012

    Jaye,

    I loved this. You make it look easy. 🙂 you used the sense in a short passage perfectly. Thanks for sharing.
    Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Lori! And thanks for continuing to follow us! Did you receive your package?

      Jaye

      Reply
      • Lori

         /  February 14, 2012

        received and eaten. too good. Thank you so much. 🙂 And of course I’d continue following, it’s a great blog.

  16. Nicole Doran

     /  February 14, 2012

    Janet,
    Great story. Now I know what to order for dinner tonight! I laughed out loud when the guy flubbed with his compliments…just like his momma..funny.
    I want to read more.
    Happy Valentines Day. Well done.
    Nicole

    Reply
  17. Thanks, Nicole! Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!

    Jaye

    Reply
  18. Awesome–LOVED it!

    Happy Valentines Day!!!

    Reply
    • Jaye Marie Rome

       /  February 14, 2012

      Thanks, Tony! Glad you dropped by! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Hedy.

      Jaye

      Reply
  19. Carin Marinan

     /  February 14, 2012

    Loved it Janet!! Carmine is such a gentleman! Looking forward to reading more
    of your work!!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Xo
    Carin

    Reply
  20. Jenna Blue

     /  February 15, 2012

    Jaye (still loving that!)–I’m in awe of how you and Michele both got so much detail and heart into such a short space. Well done! I love that he finally took matters into his own hands even tho’ she had no idea!
    Jenna Blue

    Reply
  21. Thanks, Jenna! 🙂

    Gotta love a pro-active man who knows what he wants, right? Even if he bumbles around a little bit while going after it.

    Jaye

    Reply

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