“Listen, have you reached? ‘Cos I’m going to be an hour late”, he said on the phone followed by the usual Sorry and other similar clichés.
So, she was all decked up at the entrance of the restaurant where they were to meet and had an hour to kill. She looked classy and elegant in her knee length dark grey flowing dress. Her lips painted in the most provocative shade of red betrayed the sobriety her dress conveyed. She wore her usual platinum chain with a pearl pendant and a similarly designed bracelet for the sake of jewelry.
Her dark brown eyes looked denser with her eyebrows knitted together in a frown as she put her phone back in the bag.
R E S T O R A N T E A N T I C O M A R T I N I
She looked at the sign of the restaurant she would be in shortly. One of the most prestigious restaurants of Venice that had witnessed many a famous men dine in its halls or walk in its courtyard or enjoy the view of Venice on its terrace. She tied her hair in a high pony and sat on the stairs of La Fenice (“The Phoenix”) Opera House standing in all its opulence beside the restaurant.
It was a pleasant evening with a cool breeze blowing. The city was at the peak of its tourist season and the whole of San Marco was full of activity. There were young couples holding hands, walking at leisure and natives passing a casual evening at the piano bar of the restaurant or just walking around, laughing, youngsters cracking jokes at each other.
She sat on the stairs – leaning forward, resting one elbow on her knees, her head in turn resting on her palm. She was enjoying the scene playing in front of her, thinking of nothing in particular, playing with her locks, her bracelet, checking the time, humming a song.
There was a tap on her shoulder. She turned to find a young boy, just out of his teens perhaps, sitting on the stairs behind her, leaning towards her smiling.
“Buona sera bella signora”, said he, smiling genially.
“Buona sera, non parlo italiano”, she replied in broken, unpracticed Italian.
“Are you alone here? Would you like some company?” continued the boy in flawless English.
“I am waiting for someone”
“So am I, and we could pass the time together” he said, still smiling.
The girl frowned a bit, but it was not her turf, this city or country. So she shrugged and looked ahead, thinking it was only a matter of time.
A few minutes passed in awkward silence and finally the boy spoke again.
“Okay, truth be told. I find you attractive. And my friends standing there dared me to go talk to you.” He said pointing to a group of boys standing at a distance looking at them, laughing.
“And I thought it was not a bad idea. I would have come to you even if they had not bet on it. So, how should we begin our introductions? A little about me first. I am studying Bachelor’s in English Literature from Rome. My family is here, so visiting them. What about you? Americano?” he grinned, saying the last word in a native sing-tone.
“Yes” she replied with a tight smile, not wanting to speak anymore.
“Mmm hmm… And? I am really interested to know you” said the boy leaning forward, almost in a whisper.
“And who knows me better…” she said standing up and reaching out for the man who had just showed up at the stairs of Opera House entrance, a smile of relief on her face “…than my husband”.
“Oh, I am sorry, I had no idea. No wedding ring in your hand. But anyway, I’m out of here” said the boy and left from the scene.
“Sorry I’m late”, said the man embracing her, his eyes following the boy who had started to leave. As the boy joined his gang, the man continued, “and I know as your husband, I should have been there to protect you”.
“Oh don’t flatter yourself. I just wanted to see the effect.” She said, smiling devilishly, her hands running on the smooth fabric of his tuxedo.
“So, any activity in the last one hour?” asked the man, still looking at the bunch of teenagers. They were still discussing them, looking in their direction, laughing, making fun of the kid who had been here.
“Not much. Roberto is still inside. Those two men in casuals on the terrace of the restaurant are his body guards. The Chinese girl standing near the fountain is his lookout girl. The kid who just approached me is the leader of his new recruits and the group of guys he’s standing with are newbies in the gang. And that concludes his troupe. I guess, since it is a public place, he decided to travel light”
“And, they know we’re coming”, concluded the man.
“Oh yes. We were not exactly hiding anyway. And since I am alive and talking, they mean business.” She finished the rest for him.
“I came in 15 minutes early. I was too anxious to leave you here by yourself”, he said looking at her.
“Duh… Can we go now Mr. Casanova?” she said laughing.
“Yeah, yeah. And pray remind me to ask you again why we decided to ruin such a romantic place for the rest of our lives to seal a smuggling deal? I mean, there were so many places… There was Mexico, and Vegas and good old Sicily in the neighborhood. But we come here… This is a divine strategic plan if you ask me. We come to Venice… and you label me your husband… and I saw something in your eyes when you said that… it was a moment, and we shared something…now don’t you shy away from me…”, and his monologue continued as they walked towards the restaurant.
The girl at the fountain spoke in her Bluetooth, the gang of boys standing at a distance flexed their muscles, their demeanor completely transformed, and the eyes of the bodyguards followed the two figures approaching the restaurant, not leaving them for a second.