HONEYSUCKLE AND PROVOLONE

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. 

NAR ©2019

https://fivedotoh.com/2022/09/28/fowc-with-fandango-market

INEFFABLE

Piano music drifted up to her as she leisurely strolled the aisles of the exclusive Manhattan department store .. not the unremarkable, annoying background Muzak one usually hears in waiting rooms and elevators. No, this was definitely different. 

Being a devotee of the piano, she was convinced no one else in the world could possibly love its sound more than she. Enchanted, she felt compelled to find the source of the music. 

As she approached the escalator, the volume increased minutely. Gliding down, gently floating closer and closer, she realized “this is LIVE music”.

Arriving at the store’s café level, she stood still, tilting her head slightly in the direction of the beckoning music. Sensing an invisible hand on the small of her back, she swayed slightly as the unmistakable melody of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” trickled above the polite chatter of the ladies who lunch. 

 “Someone is definitely playing the piano” she thought, quickly adding “Oh, please, don’t let it be one of those self-playing digital pianos.” 

Now the music was clearly audible and she followed the winding hallway from the escalator into the center of the café area. Suddenly standing before her in all its glory was a glimmering ebony Steinway baby grand. The lid was open, revealing the hammers and strings, but concealing the pianist .. if there even was one. 

As if on cue, she heard a silky rich voice as smooth as Maker’s Mark Bourbon singing and she imagined Harry Connick or Frank Sinatra. “Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you.” As she made her way around the curves of the Steinway, the illusive piano man came into view. She kept her eyes downcast, afraid to look, and just listened as this sorcerer cast his spell on her. 

Slowly she raised her head to surreptitiously glance at the singer. He wasn’t the handsome, debonair Harry or Frank .. actually, he looked more like Woody Allen .. but when he caught her eye everything fell away and all that mattered was the here and now. She approached him tentatively, her hand gliding along the piano, eyes still locked with his. 

Ruefully she thought to herself “Why do I always fall in love with musicians? I would follow this man anywhere.” The feelings deep within her heart, her body, her soul were ineffable ..  impossible to comprehend. She sat beside him on the piano bench, their legs touching. 

Please”, she whispered in his ear. “Don’t ever stop playing!” 

NAR © 2018

FOWC with Fandango: Embrace

CHANCE ENCOUNTER

Waves of glorious flaxen hair rippled down her back, swaying and bouncing with every high-heeled, leggy stride she took.

Never one to shy away from attention, especially that of the male population, she confidently waltzed down Fifth Avenue toward Saks, stunning in red Manolo’s and a parchment white dress. 

Admiring looks didn’t intimidate her; quite the contrary. They titillated her, challenged her to be more daring and quite a bit risqué. It was all a game and she loved to play.

As she strolled the avenue, stopping to look in this window or that one, she noticed the reflection of a man leaning drowsily against a parked car. Accustomed to men looking her way, she thought nothing of it at first but found herself glancing at the reflection once again. Sliding her Ray Bans a little down her nose, she gave this mystery man’s image a furtive peek. Intriguing. 

Repositioning her glasses, she continued window shopping, collecting all the longing glances cast her way and storing them in her bag like so many colorful Easter eggs. Every so often she’d linger at a quaint little shop or gallery, acutely aware of her mystery man shadowing her along the way. Now this is getting interesting. Slowly she removed her shades and gave his reflection a long look. 

Why not? Slipping her sunglasses on, she turned around to a vision that caught her breath … from head to toe the epitome of elegance and charm. Black hair, tanned skin, charcoal grey pinstripe suit, crisp white shirt, black and silver Art Deco tie and Italian shoes … not black but the exact color of his suit. Nice touch; the paragon of haute couture.

She smiled. He smiled. She turned slowly, giving him ample time to fall into place beside her.

She continued walking, no longer followed by a mysterious shadow but side-by-side with an intriguing companion. Together they would take the road wherever it led them. 

NAR © 2017

 Reposted for Fandango’s http://fivedotoh.com/2022/12/21/fowc-with-fandango-paragon/