He noticed her straight away.
A sparrow in black.
With watchful eyes.
Among a minefield of pots and pans.
He took up the challenge to make sure she'd notice him.
Notice him she did.
Cook like an Italian?
That, he could.
He could precisely dice an onion.
He impressed her.
He made an excellent puttanesca sauce.
Maybe there was some Italian in him?
She bestowed him with a warm smile that lit up her face.
He liked this class.
Good Lord, Italian aunts were loud. And lamenting.
He stayed within earshot and ungallantly listened in.
She was alternately reminded that she needed to be a respectable widow and scolded for not having remarried.
She couldn't win either way.
He pitied the life she had to lead, what hurt must lie behind the calm exterior.
He wanted to make her happy.
He stopped by the restaurant for a coffee.
The tips of her fingers tingled as she gave him his cup.
She liked him. He was an exemplary pupil.
Noting the background flurry, he asked her what was new.
She told him about her cousin's wedding.
He pretended he hadn't known.
Do you know what you will wear?
She drew back, startled that he should ask such an unmasculine question.
My best dress.
Is it black? He dared to ask.
She couldn't believe his audacity.
She told him that a respectable widow wears black for two years.
He couldn't fault that.
He had gained a taste for this strong dark Italian coffee.
The classes had long finished, but he'd kept visiting the restaurant.
The wedding was drawing near and she still didn't know what she would wear.
Her best dress was black. But what else did she have?
He told her that red would look good on her.
She shushed him, not wanting anyone else to hear.
He grinned and teased her only out of earshot.
They drew closer over the coffee pot.
Would she be attending the wedding with a friend?
She was surprised that he thought she could invite a friend. It was family only. Unless…
She acknowledged that the reception was unmonitored. Anyone could drop in.
And do they have to be approved by your family first?
It would be best.
He questioned her autonomy.
She admitted that she didn't have much. Respectability accounted for everything.
He let it go.
The day was perfect for a wedding.
He hoped that she was wearing red.
It had been nearly two years.
She looked like a hibiscus, blooming in the sunlight.
She hoped he would be there.
Wondered all through the service as she obediently sat there and watched another couple's dream be fulfilled.
He was there.
They locked eyes and bided their time.
She was able to slip away as the guests mingled and the wine overflowed.
She had to be back soon.
He took up ten minutes of her time.
Those rough fingers, so delicately caressing her face.
Those lips, often set into a habitual scowl were soft and warm.
That kiss tingled up her spine and warmed her soul.
He promised her more. Much more.
She wondered what it would be like to melt under his touch.
The dancing was a whirl, a heady rush that whistled through her body.
She slipped out when it was winding down, at nearly midnight.
He was waiting for her.
She smelt of jasmine and citrus.
There was no going back.
On his cheap cotton sheets, they moaned and writhed as they unleashed their pent-up pleasure.
Stroking off clothes, fingers fucking, tongues ravishing.
Indulging in conquering the barren wasteland of their desires, unfulfilled no more.
Dawn peeked in on them curled around with each other on a rumpled bed.
She couldn't remember a time when she'd woken up nestled in a chest.
He couldn't remember when he had last woken up with a woman in his arms.
Sleepy smiles awaken in the golden light.
It had been fun.
She thought she might like to see him again.
Quite a few times.
And so they did. Again and again and again.