He walked into the restaurant and went over to the bar to have a drink while he waited for Camilla. He really wasn’t in the mood to be here. When she called him that morning to remind him, he wished he had called for a rain check. If he had, he would be on his way home.
He would spend the evening, nursing a drink or trying to forget through mindless entertainment. Maybe take a soak in the jacuzzi or go for a swim or a jog. Anything but being here and having to spend another evening with Camilla when he would rather be with Leticia.
Leticia. It had been months now since he last saw her. He missed her like crazy. His place felt cold, empty and lonely without her. Many times, he imagined and longed for her to be lying in bed beside him. He couldn’t stop thinking about and remembering the nights they spent under the sheets making passionate love.
Frustrated, he would toss and turn and eventually get out of the bed and pace like a caged animal about the room. Many times he was tempted to call or visit her but pride prevented him. He couldn’t go crawling back to her now. She wouldn’t have anything to do with him now. Why should she? He was engaged, for Pete’s sake. He had a choice to make and he chose ambition over love. Leticia was through with him and who could blame her? He hadn’t been honest with her. She had to find out through someone else that he was engaged.
And Camilla had no clue as to why he was really marrying her. No one knew. They all thought he cared for her and that they made a very attractive couple. Camilla was madly in love with him and was beside herself with excitement when he proposed one night over a candlelight dinner in the gazebo on her family’s estate. What got him through it was his reason for marrying her which was acquiring her father’s company. The only way was through marriage. He had learned from a friend that since Cedric Harding didn’t have a son he would hand control of the company over to his son-in-law when he retired at the end of the year.
He found a way to do business with Harding who took an immediate liking to him, invited him home for dinner and introduced him to his wife, Elsie and their only child, Camilla. Camilla was smitten with him from the get go and he courted her. Several months later, he decided to pop the question. And now he was closer to getting what he wanted. Yet, it brought him no pleasure or satisfaction. In fact, it was the exact opposite. He was miserable and wretched. His fingers gripped the glass and he took another gulp, wincing at the taste. He hated the taste of alcohol but tonight, he needed it.
People were filling into the restaurant. It was a bustling, family run establishment. He had come here a couple of times before and knew the owners. They were Italian like him but they were from the South (Naples) while he was from the North (Milan). Since leaving Milan, he hadn’t been back although he still had family there. He just never found the time. Camilla was hoping to go there for their honeymoon. Honeymoon. Marriage. The thought of spending the rest of his life with a woman he didn’t love depressed him and he was tempted to have another drink but he couldn’t because he was driving.
He finished his drink and put the glass down. Sliding off the stool, he decide that he would go outside to get some fresh air because the place was suddenly feeling stuffy. As he was about to walk past the patio area to get to the front entrance, he stiffened when his eyes fell on Leticia. She was sitting at one of the tables. Her back was turned to him as he went through the doors. A waiter was talking to her.
He stood there for a few minutes just staring at her. What was she doing here? Was she waiting for someone? Jealousy, like red, hot lava, raged inside him. Glancing at his watch, he saw that he had enough time to go over and talk to her. He waited impatiently for the waiter to leave.
“Would you like to order dessert?” the young man asked Leticia.
“No, thank you. May I have another glass of water?”
“Sure.” He excused himself and left.
Leticia glanced over her shoulder, thinking that she should have asked him to add some ice to the water when she saw Patrizio standing there. Her heart lurched and then began to race. It had been months since she last saw him and unable to help herself, she couldn’t tear her gaze away from him.
He looked gorgeous and very polished in the expensive black suit. She remembered when they first met, she had thought he was a model. He certainly had the looks. What was he doing there? Was he alone? Probably not. A man like him never dined alone.
She watched as he approached her. He moved around the table so that he was standing behind the chair opposite to her. His hands rested on top of it as he towered over her. A few women at nearby tables were ogling him but he was completely oblivious. He only had eyes for Leticia.
His eyes traveled slowly and deliberately over her. She looked ravishing in the black halter top. His fingers itched to caress her smooth dark skin and he longed to press hungry kisses against her neck, shoulders and back. He shifted as his trousers stretched tightly and uncomfortably across his hips as he grew hard. “Hello, Leticia.”
“Hello, Patrizio.” She was the only one beside his family, friends and other Italians who called him by his Italian name. Everyone else called him Patrick.
“What are you doing here?”
“The same reason you are.”
“You’re meeting someone for dinner?”
“Why is that any of your concern?”
“Leticia–” His cell rang and muttering under his breath, he whipped it out of his breast pocket and grimaced when he saw that it was Camilla calling him. “Hello. Yes, I’m here. I’ll be with you in a few minutes.” He ended the call and shoved the cell back into his pocket, his eyes narrowing on Leticia’s face. “Who’s the man you’re meeting, Leticia? How long have you been seeing him?”
“If you must know, I’m not meeting a man, Patrizio.”
“But, you said–“
“I said that I was here for the same reason you are and you assumed that I was meeting someone. Well, you’re wrong. I’m having dinner alone.”
Relief washed over him. “You’re having dinner alone.”
“Yes. But, you’re not.”
“Whom are you having dinner with? No, don’t tell me. Let me guess. Your fiancée.”
“Well, why don’t you go and have dinner with her and leave me alone?”
“Please go away, Patrizio.” She lowered her head and stared at the half-empty glass in front of her. She wanted him gone because she was getting choked up. Seeing him was sheer torture.
He lingered for a few minutes and then, he walked away. When the waiter returned, Leticia thanked him for the water and asked for the bill.