Giovanni had saved her favourite table.
A Friday evening in Mid June, a cobbled street behind the Duomo di Milano and as the sun dropped away, the gothic spires took on their evening facade. Sofia was five minutes early and ordered two glasses of caburnio as she wouldn’t be waiting long. The heady smells of garlic and herbs hung in the air and each time the swing doors to the kitchens opened at the far end of the restaurant, she could hear Chef’s expectant voice punch the air with commands.
The onyx earrings Sofia had been presented with on their second date matched her black dress perfectly and the satin stockings felt good beneath her own fingers, and she was looking forward to her date’s hands running across them later. But there was a worry; their last conversation had been awkward and difficult. Sofia’s boss wanted her to move and open up an office in Rome.
Giovanni swept effortlessly up through the tables, missing nothing, topping up wine glasses, replacing empty water jugs. He ran one of the best venues in the city and tables were always booked weeks ahead, but she was a regular and Giovanni always accommodated his favourites.
The minutes ticked by.
She lit a cigarette.
The roses on the table teased of the possible romance ahead, yet her life was about to change forever, one way or the other. Sofia turned Giovanni away again when he enquired whether she would like some more olives. She sipped the second glass of wine and checked her phone but no message sat on her screen explaining about traffic or delays. She had tried hard to ignore the feeling that it had been too good to be true, but thinking retrospectively, maybe it just had been. Watching the people pass by in the street outside she noticed it had started to rain.
She toyed with the glass stem and accepted her fate.
Chiara was not coming.
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(Photo … from the Jack Vettriano 2018 calendar – June)