Thursday, October 12, 2006
Romance, Venetian Style. . . Part 2
The ristorante was small, really just a mom and pop kind of place. It had small tables topped by snowy white linen and small, creamy candles burning in the center of each table.
It wasn’t really terribly dark in the ristorante, but the setting was captivatingly intimate, making each table seem secluded and private. There were only 10 tables that I counted, and about half of them were still empty since Italians normal dinner time was around 8:00 and it was only about 7:00 now.
We were seated at a table that had a low wall near it made of stone. It had plants sitting on top of the wall, real plants which were luxuriantly green. Even though the wall was only about 3 feet high, it made the area seem even cozier.
The proprietress introduced herself as Signora Di Luci. She seated us and asked if we would like some wine to start with. Adam ordered Pinot Grigio, a white wine and when it came it was crisp and delicious. The menu consisted of whatever they had decided to make that day Adam explained to me. He asked her what the special was today and she told him pasta e fagolini soup, baked chicken, grilled vegetables, gnoochi and poached pears for dessert.
“Um, sounds wonderful,” I told him. He nodded to her and she left our table, calling out to the kitchen what she needed.
While we waited for our soup to arrive, Adam told me a bit more about himself and I was eager to hear it.
“We moved quite a bit while I was growing up,” he explained. “My parents are both doctors and traveled extensively through Africa before joining up with other doctors in 1971 to be a part of Doctors without Borders. It was interesting, seeing so many places, but kind of lonely too. We never really stayed any one place long enough to become a part of a community.
“Do you have siblings?” I asked him.
“Yes, I have an older sister and a younger brother. My sister works with my parents now and my brother is a professor at William and Mary College in Virginia.”
“That’s a very prestigious school,” I remarked. “What does he teach?”
“European History, the period dealing with the Inquisition,” he told me. “A very gruesome period of time I think, but he is fascinated by it.” He leaned closer to me and his eyebrows lifted just a bit as he said in a confidential tone “I think he is just a little bit too fascinated by it personally!”
We both chuckled at that. Adam reached across the table and laid his hand on mine, softly stroking it. Things were quiet for a moment and we sat there and looked at one another. It was comfortable doing that. With some people even a moment of silence seems too much, but with Adam, it only increased our awareness of each other, our appreciation.
Signora Di Luci brought our soup then, steaming bowls with the fragrant aroma of rosemary rising from them. The soup had pasta and white cannelini beans cooked in a savory broth and herbs. We sipped on it cautiously because of the steam, but it was delicious.
Conversation continued on as he told me about his marriage. He had married relatively late, at 38. He said he just always seemed to be on the go and never took the time to look for a real relationship. Privately, I wasn’t surprised at that after seeing women’s reactions to him today. He probably had a different girl all the time.
As if reading my mind he said, “I didn’t really even date that much. When I did, a picture would invariably turn up in the gossip magazines with a headline that read ‘Adam Richland to marry Jane Doe’. That really does get pretty old, constantly seeing that. And if they weren’t saying I was getting married, they were saying that I dumped her, or was unfaithful,” he finished with a far off look in his eyes. “After awhile, it all seems pointless, you know?” he finished with a deep sigh and leaned back in his chair, just in time for Signora Di Luci to bring our grilled vegetables.
There were several types of mushrooms and greens, grilled in olive oil and they were very appealing to look at—the mixture of color and texture was a delight and they tasted even better than they looked. I’m not normally fond of greens when they’ve been cooked, because they tend to get mushy. But these were anything but mushy, still a bit crisp and almost peppery. Yummy!
“My ex-wife and I are still great friends,” he told me, pulling a piece of bread off the small loaf on the table. He popped the piece into his mouth and was thoughtful for a few moments while he chewed it. “We were great friends before we got married, and marriage seemed like the next logical step. But I’ve come to believe that marriage should never be based on logic!” he said with a derisive laugh.
I decided to indulge him a bit here and ask “What should marriage be based on then?”
He gave a casual shrug. “Love, common goals, similar outlooks, sex maybe... every marriage is different and what works for one couple probably won’t for another,” he said slowly.
“But aren’t common goals and similar outlooks logical?” I probed, and then munched on some of the bread myself.
He gave a short laugh and said, “Yes, I guess to some degree, but you shouldn’t base any relationship just on that, except well, maybe your lawyer or banker.”
“True,” I agreed. “But didn’t you love her?”
He sat there for a moment lost in thought and finally answered, “I did love her, but I wasn’t in love with her. She was a wonderful friend that I enjoyed spending time with, but that isn’t enough to hold a couple together. Our next mistake was having kids. Not that the boys are mistakes, but when your rationalization for having them is to save a relationship, it’s wrong. Wrong for you, your partner and the kids. So we have done the best thing for them, provided them with two very loving and caring parents who just happen to live in different places,” he finished. While he had been talking he had been absentmindedly tracing patterns on the table with his finger but then his hand again reached for mine. I gave it a gentle squeeze, glad that he had reached for me.
Signora Di Luci set our chicken and gnoochi in front of us. They smelled delectable. I cut into the chicken and took a bite. The skin was crispy and the meat was flavored with garlic and wine and was just plain succulent. The gnoochi were cooked in garlic butter and basil and brought a smile to Adam’s mouth with his first bite. “Mm, best gnoochi I have ever had, anywhere,” he declared.
I had to agree. I also thought briefly of the caloric cost of this meal, but I didn’t fret about it too much, it was just too good.
As we ate our meal, he continued to talk about his boys. Tristan was 6 and Geoffrey was 5. They lived primarily with his ex wife Tamara in Los Angeles where she is set designer for movies. Adam has a house there, as well as one in Tramsford, England, which is in Essex, near London. Not really a suburb he said, but only an hour away.
“I see the boys frequently,” he divulged, but not nearly often enough to suit him he added. “Tamara is very flexible and agreeable to visits, but sometimes with my filming schedule, it’s hard to spend as much time as I would like. My final day of filming here is tomorrow and I don’t have to be in Dallas for 3 weeks to start the studio filming. I plan to see the boys during that time,” he concluded.
I listened to him say this silently and swallowed hard, trying to focus my thoughts. This was wonderful for him to be able to see the boys. He is a caring father and will be good for all of them. And, I reminded myself, you are not going to allow yourself to have any expectations about this Sarah. But he said he is going to be in Dallas, which is only about 5 hours from Wichita. Something to think about...
For us both apparently. He chewed the chicken for a bit and was silent.
“Have you ever been on a movie set?” he asked me.
“Oh, tons of them. They make movies in Wichita all the time,” I told him with a snicker. Oh man, that’s right Sarah, show him your nasty, sarcastic side!
He cleared his throat and asked me “Would you like to come to the set tomorrow? I have 2 scenes left to shoot, it could be fun for you. I don’t know exactly how long it will take, it’s rather unpredictable, but I would enjoy having you there.” He seemed to rush through this almost nervously and I wondered why?
“Wouldn’t I just get in the way?” I smiled as I said that. “Me, on a movie set?” I started giggling then, an image of myself talking to all of these famous movie people rushing through my mind.
“How about I introduce you to Rachel Tomlinson?” he offered.
“Um, too blonde.”
“Ooh, too tall...”
“You are a rather difficult lass, aren’t you? How about Adam Richland?”
“Now you’re talking. I’ll go,” I declared. “You’re sure it’s alright?”
“Absolutely,” he told me, flashing his dimples.
Before we knew it the poached pears were sitting in front of us, warm and smelling of cinnamon. Adam had ordered a different wine to go with them, a Moscoto Dolce, which is a dessert wine and it was fruity and smooth. It went well with the pears and by the time we finished them, I felt like a roly poly woman. I told him he may have to roll me back to the train station.
“I’ll carry you back if need be,” he laughed.
That brought delicious thoughts to my mind, definitely naughty ones and while I didn’t blush, I’m sure I had 'wicked' tattooed on my forehead!
The look in his eyes told me he was thinking the same types of thoughts and that made me shiver.
We left the ristorante and headed back to the train station on a taxi boat. It was a pleasant ride under the moon and stars in that lovely Italian sky and soon we were at the train station and boarding the train for Vicenza.
The train again was fairly empty and we had the compartment all to ourselves. Adam turned the lights down low so it was not so bright. Not that it was dark, but it made it easier to look out the window at whatever we were passing. He put his arm around me and I snuggled into the crook of his arm, feeling warm and happy.
He leaned down and kissed me, long and unhurried. His lips felt wonderful, soft and they moved like magic over mine, sending shivers up and down my spine.
He moaned softly and I turned in my seat to wrap my arms around his neck. He scooped me up and sat me on his lap and truthfully, I never even worried that someone might walk in, I was so lost in that kiss. I opened my mouth to his exploring tongue and felt it gently rub against mine. I felt breathless and was aware of his body pressing against mine warmly. I could feel his desire for me and it took everything I had not to reach down and stroke him.
I finally wrenched my mouth away from his with a groan because good sense was quickly leaving me and I laid my head against his chest, breathing raggedly. We held each other tightly for the rest of the trip and I wondered what would happen when we got to the hotel.