The minute she walked into my little grocery store, I was blown away. She knocked my socks off. Even through the crack in the storage room door I was dazzled by this profusion of red hair the color of a bright autumn day, delicate skin with a smattering of freckles and captivating emerald eyes. I’ve got a weakness for gingers and I fell head over heels.
I’m Bruno Deluca – or Mr. Monotone compared to this rainbow butterfly who just floated into my market. I have the traditional Italian look – dark brown hair and eyes and a perpetual deep brown tan. But I have a sparkling smile and dimples “to die for”, as my Aunt Francesca always said.
This amber goddess stood in front of the meat and cheese display, a bewildered look on her face. Here’s my big chance. I bolted from the back room and positioning myself directly in her line of vision, I said “Welcome to Deluca’s. May I help you with something, miss?” [Smooth, right?]
She looked up and I flashed her the old ‘to die for’ smile. And she smiled back, blushing winsomely. My knees grew weak when she spoke, just a trace of a lilting Irish brogue.
“Everything looks so delicious! I don’t know what to order, even if could pronounce the names!” And when she laughed I swear I saw musical notes wafting through the air.
“No problem” I replied as I swiftly came around to her side, naming and describing all the meats and cheeses.
She smelled like honeysuckle. I smelled like provolone.
She still couldn’t make up her mind so I tried something radical. “How about I give you a few samples – on the house – if you promise to come back and buy something, even if it’s one slice of salami?”
She hesitated for a second, then laughingly said “You have a deal, Mr…..”
“Deluca. Bruno Deluca. And you are…..?”
She extended a delicate hand. “Rowan McCourt. Pleased to meet you, Bruno.”
“Rowan, eh? That’s a lovely name. What does it mean?”
Tentatively touching her hair she said “Little Red-haired One. And what does Bruno mean?”
I simply stated “Brown” and we both burst out laughing!
I packed up a nice selection and some Italian bread. “Here ya go, Rowan, and don’t forget…..”
“This is too much, Bruno! Thank you!”
“Go! Enjoy! See you soon.”
True to her word, Rowan returned two days later. “Bruno, everything was delicious! Now what shall I buy?” She browsed for a minute then said “That looks incredible! What is it?”
“That’s lasagna – already cooked. Just heat and enjoy. How much do you want?”
“Enough for a few portions” Rowan replied.
“Ah, leftovers. Good thinking” I said.
“Actually, Bruno, I was hoping you would join me for dinner tonight.”
“I’d love to” I whispered while inside I was screaming “Mama mia! I’d love to!”
“Wonderful! Here’s my address. And Bruno, can you bring some wine?” she asked.
I nodded mutely. Smiling, she said “Bruno, I’m very happy you’ll be joining me.” Taking the bag, she danced out the door.