Carmelo Finds Love

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Carmelo Pagliani, a Neapolitan shipping magnate and billionaire owned palatial homes in Tuscany, Monaco and Beverly Hills.  He was never married but he enjoyed the company of beautiful, young and exotic women.  He didn’t have any children.  Life was as he wanted it.  No long-term commitments and no worries about alimony or child support.  He was a free agent who enjoyed the fruits of his hard work.

He came from a large family.  He was the fifth of five brothers and four sisters.  His parents owned a pizza shop which became popular because Sophia Loren visited it once.  The photo of her and his parents hung in a prominent place on the wall.  As a boy, he worshipped the actress and always went with his father to see her movies.  Many years later, he met her at a Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda show in Mexico City.  She was beautiful and charming.  A frame photo of them stood on the mantelpiece in his Tuscan home.

Carmelo was used to getting what he wanted, whether it was to do with business or women.  A couple years ago, he expanded his business to South America.  Last week, he met Dondrea, a stunning African American woman in St. Barts.  He was there alone and she was there with some friends.

The first time he saw her, he wanted to meet her immediately.  One evening before dinner, he approached her as she was stepping off the elevator on her way to the dining-room.  She was alone.  Her friends must have gone ahead.

“Good evening,” he said, holding out his hand.  “Carmelo Pagliani.”

She smiled and shook his hand.  “Dondrea Williams.”

“Is this your first time in St. Barts?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And how do you find it?”

“It has beautiful beaches.”

“Did you come here to celebrate New Year’s?”

“Yes.  It’s strange not being in New York on New Year’s Eve.”

“So, that’s where you’re from, New York?”

“Yes.  What about you?  Where are you from?”

“Naples but I live in Tuscany.  I too am here to celebrate New Year’s, something I’ve never done alone.”

“You didn’t bring a wife or a girlfriend?”

“I don’t have a wife or a girlfriend.”

She stared at him.  “I find that hard to believe.”

He smiled.  “It’s true.  I’m single.  What about you?”

“I’m single too.”

“Do you think your friends would mind if you had dinner with me instead?” older black woman

She shook her head.  “No, they wouldn’t.  I’ll just let them know.  Do you mind if I introduced you to them?”

“Not at all.”  He followed her into the dining-room and over to a table where five people were sitting.  They glanced up as they approached.

“Guys, I won’t be joining you for dinner this evening,” she informed them.  “This is Carmelo.  He invited me to have dinner with him.”

Her friends introduced themselves and shook his hand.  They exchanged in a lively conversation with him for several minutes before he and Dondrea excused themselves.

“You have very nice friends,” he commented as they sat at a table for two.

“Yes, I do,” she agreed.  “We’ve known each other for years.  They are like family.”

Dinner with her was a wonderful experience.  He enjoyed her company and their conversations.  He didn’t want the evening to end so he invited her to join him for an after dinner drink in the bar.  Afterwards, they went for a walk on the beach.  He escorted her back to her room.  Outside the door, he said, “Thank you for a lovely evening.”

She smiled.  “I enjoyed it too.”

“Will you have breakfast with me in the morning?”

She nodded.  “Yes, I will.”

“I’ll meet you in the lobby at seven-thirty.”

“Goodnight, Carmelo.”

“Goodnight, Dondrea.”

They had breakfast and then they went to the beach where they spent most of the day.  That evening and every evening after that they had dinner together.  And they had breakfast every morning.  During the day, they went on excursions, to other beaches and had lunch at the Shellona Restaurant which overlooked Shell Beach.  On her last evening, he took her for dinner at Casa Club.

When they returned hours later to her room, she invited him in.  He spent the night.  The following morning, they ordered breakfast and had it on her terrace.  Then, he went to his suite while she got ready to leave for the airport.   He was in the lobby waiting for her and he went with to the entrance.  An airport limo was waiting and so were her friends.  He said goodbye to them and while they got into the limo, she and he faced each other.  He took her hands in his.

“Thank you for seven incredible days,” he said quietly.  “I’ve been to St. Barts before but I’ve never enjoyed myself this much.”

“I enjoyed myself very much too.”

“We have each other’s number so we will be in touch.”

“Yes.  Goodbye, Carmelo.”

“Goodbye, Dondrea.”  He raised her hands to his lips.

Then, she was getting into the limo and he stood there watching as it pulled away.  After she left, the rest of his stay at the hotel was dull and he missed her terribly.  He was relieved to get back to Tuscany.

He sat in his study now, staring at the page of his address where her number was written.  Several weeks had passed and he hadn’t called her as yet.  His business had kept him busy and fear prevented him picking up the phone.  Fear of what?  Fear of commitment.  Marriage was something he had never seriously considered but now he was and it was because of Dondrea.

Dondrea was different from the other women he had been with.  Those had been mere dalliances. No feelings had been involved.  When he got bored with them, he ended the relationship.  It hadn’t been casual with Dondrea.  From the very beginning it had been serious for him.  And that’s what scared him.  He knew that he could easily fall in love with her and by the third time they were together, he knew he had.  He wondered if she felt the same way.  With all of his heart, he hoped so.

He picked up the receiver and dialed her number.  His heart skipped a beat when she answered.  “Hello, Dondrea.”

“Carmelo.”  She sounded happy to hear from him.  “How have you been?”

“Busy.  That’s why I didn’t call you before.  How are you?”

“I’m well, thanks.  I’m been reminiscing about St. Barts.”

“Me too.  Dondrea, how do you feel about spending the month of June in Tuscany with me?”

“I’d love to!” she exclaimed.

He smiled.  “Good.  You’ll love it, I promise.”

They talked for hours and then, they ended the call.  They telephoned each other every week.  Then, one day, he decided he would fly to New York and surprise her.  She was beside herself with excitement when he showed up at her apartment.  He spent three weeks with her and on the night before he left, when they were relaxing on the sofa after dinner, he reached for her hand.  “Ti amo,” he said quietly.  “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she replied.

“Enough to move to Tuscany?”

Her eyes widened.  “You want me to move to Tuscany?” she exclaimed.

“Yes.  I have a villa in San Gimignano.”

She thought about it for a moment.  “Yes.  I’ll move to San Gimignano.”

He smiled.  “Molto bene,” he murmured before he kissed her.

The following year, Dondrea left New York and moved into Carmelo’s villa in San Gimignano.  In May, with friends and family present, they tied the knot.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Surprise.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Sources:  St. Bart’s Restaurants; Destination Saint-Barths; St. Barts Travel Guide; Date Billionaire;

 

The Letter/Choices #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

As I stand here gazing at the calm waves, I think about my grandmother, Maude.  A lovely woman who was a nurse during the second World War.  She was twenty-three at the time.  I can still remember the sadness in her eyes when she spoke of the young soldiers who died.  There was one particular soldier whom she would never forget.  Every time she talked about him, her voice broke and tears sprang to her eyes.

“I will never forget that boy,” she said.  “He must have been about seventeen years old.  He had a boyish face.  I thought to myself, it’s a pity that someone so young was fighting in this terrible war.  He

“Nurse, could you write a letter to my mother and tell her that I’m in hospital?”

“I told him, ‘I’ll write it when I come back later.’  All he said was, ‘Okay'” and then I left.  When I returned later that evening, he was dead.”  It was at that point that she broke down.  “If I had known that he was going to die, I would have written the letter when he asked me.  If only I had stayed.  That boy never got to say goodbye to his mother because of me.”

For years, she has lived with this regret.  Even after she married my grandfather and they had four wonderful kids, she never seemed completely happy.  There was always a sadness in her countenance and it was years later when I found out the reason for it.  A young soldier whose name she didn’t know who had made a simple request of her because he knew he wasn’t going to make it through the night.  My grandmother thought that the letter could wait but she was wrong.  She made a choice that she had to live with.

Sometimes I think about that soldier whose single thought was of his mother.  I think of her.  As a mother, myself, I can’t imagine how I would feel if my son was away at war and I had no idea where he was–if he was hurt or even still alive.  Did that mother pray for her son–that he was still alive and would return home one day?  I can’t imagine how she must have felt when she found out that he had died in a hospital so many miles away from home.

When I leave here, I will go to the chapel and light three candles–one for my grandmother, one for the young soldier and one for his mother.  War is a terrible thing but I will always be eternally grateful to the brave soldiers, the unsung heroes like the young man, who gave their lives to win the war against the evil Nazi regime and for our freedom.

This story was inspired by a true account of a nurse stillld write it later.  When she returned to the hospital

Today is D-day.  Let us remember all those who sacrificed their lives and those who survived and the dedicated doctors and nurses who cared for the wounded.

 

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Choices at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Source:  Ranker;

Two Ships

Herieth-Paul2Ife saw him waiting for the elevator.  She tried not to make it obvious that she was watching him as she pushed the cart down the hallway.  She knew he was in no. 406, the Royal suite.  He was very handsome and a sharp dresser.  He must be rich, she thought.  This was a 5-star hotel he was staying in.

He was looking straight ahead and appeared to be in deep thought.  He didn’t notice her and when the elevator doors opened, he went inside.  After they closed behind him, she continued down the hallway to the different suites she still had to clean.  When she got to his, she looked around.  It was in impeccable order.  The bed looked like it hadn’t been slept in.  Out of all the suites on this floor, his was the one she didn’t mind cleaning.

As she got to work, she wondered how long he was staying in Kampala this time.  The last time it was for two weeks and the time before that, three.  He wasn’t the first Japanese businessman she had seen in the hotel or in Kampala.  More and more Japanese were flocking to the city to live, holiday or set up businesses.  Was he planning to live here or to set up a business?  What about his family?  Did he have a wife and children?  He looked young–in his mid to late thirties.

Well, it was none of her business.  A man like him would not be interested in her–a single mother working as a maid in a fancy hotel and living in a run-down neighborhood.  And they were from different cultures.  No, she would be better off finding and marrying a decent Ugandan man who wouldn’t mind being a step-father to her daughter.

Toshiro leaned against the tree, looking up at the hotel.  She was probably in his suite 62_ac32e335-d1d8-4e7c-bffa-e98b58858fd7now.  He knew that she was watching him as he waited for the elevator.  He could feel her eyes on him.  He appeared not to have noticed or acknowledged her but he had.   The temptation to look at her was very strong but he resisted.  She could be married for all he knew and he was in a relationship.

To be honest, he was staying at this hotel because of her.  The first time he saw her was last year when they passed each other in the hallway.   Their eyes met and held for a long time before she lowered hers.   Since then, he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her or wanting to see her again.  Perhaps, one of these days, he would say hello to her.  There was no harm in that, was there?

Just then a taxi pulled up in front of the hotel’s entrance.  He glanced at his watch.  It was time to go to the meeting.  Moving away from the tree, he hurried over to the taxi and climbed.   As it drove off, he glanced up at the fourth floor.  Hopefully, he would see her again tomorrow.

This is a prequel to Ife’s Toilet Crisis.

David/Rooted #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

This was the tree where David and I met after school.  He was the sweetest boy I ever knew and I always imagined that one day we would get married and have lots of children.  It never occurred to me that laws would soon be put in place to make relationships such as ours illegal.

As soon as school was let out, I ran to the tree and he would be waiting for me.  He was so tall and handsome with thick black hair and gentle brown eyes.  We would hold hands and kiss but that was as far as things went.  We would sit under the tree and talk for hours.  Parting from him was always hard.  I always willed the hours because I couldn’t wait to see him again.

Then one day, I showed up and for the first time he wasn’t there.  I waited for hours but he never came.  I was understandably frantic.  After several days went by and still no sign of him,  I decided to go by his father’s shop and was appalled to see the word, “Jude” painted across the window and the star of David.  The shop was empty.  I ran home and asked my father what had happened to David.  My father sat me down and explained to me that the Germans had moved the Jews to the Ghetto.  I learned that they were banned from from entering certain streets, squares, parks, woods and other public places.  That meant that David and I couldn’t meet by the tree anymore.  It was in the woods.  David couldn’t go to my brother’s school any more.

After my father finished telling me everything he knew, I went to my room where I cried and cried.  David who was forced to live like an animal because of deeply rooted hatred.  My world had become a dark and ugly place of intolerance and ignorance.  I wanted so desperately to see him but it was out of the question.  My father told me it was best to forget about David.  There was no future for us.  He was a Jew.

I knew that I would never forget David.  I loved him.  He was my first and only love.  And I never gave up hope that we would be together again–not even when I learned that the Jews had been deported to concentration camps.  No one was willing to take them in and for some Jews, going into hiding would break up their families and that was unthinkable, especially those who with children.

The years went by, the war raged on and I became a nurse.   My father died of a heart-attack a couple of days after his fiftieth wedding anniversary.  Only my mother and I were left.  My brother was killed years ago after he was arrested for being a part of a  resistance movement against the Nazi Regime.  My parents were devastated but I was proud of him for fighting against evil.  I only wish I had the guts to do something too.  Instead I prayed that David and his family would somehow survive and that when the war was over I would see him again.

Well, the war is over and I’m the only surviving member of my family.  My mother died from a stroke a month ago.  I buried her next to my father.

Tomorrow is my birthday but I have no one special to celebrate it with.  It’s a nice afternoon so I decided to go for a walk in the park.  I head straight for the tree.  A man stood there with his back to me.  He was wearing a hat and a trench coat.  Something about him looked familiar.  My heart began to beat faster.  I could feel the color drain from my cheeks.  “David?” My voice was barely above a whisper and yet he heard me.

He turned around slowly.  “Ingrid.” He removed his hat and stepped forward.

“David!” I cried again and then we were in each other’s arms, laughing, crying and kissing.  I don’t know how long we did that and I didn’t care. All I knew was that David, my David was alive.  He had survived the ghetto, the camp and the war.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Rooted at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Sources:  Holocaust EncyclopediaOxford AcademicHolocaust 

A Familiar Face

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After losing her fiance, Boris in a horrific car accident, Claire packed up and left Montreal and moved to Paris when her company opened a new office there.  It took a while but she soon settled into her new life and immersed herself in the Parisian culture.  On the weekends, she went sightseeing and to museums and art galleries.  It wasn’t long before she fell in love with the city.

One Saturday, she was standing in the Place de Furstemberg when she felt someone staring at her.  She glanced up from the guidebook and her eyes met those of a very fine looking black man.  He looked familiar.  She was sure that she had seen him somewhere before but couldn’t remember where.

As they continued to stare at each other, a slight smile tugged at his perfect looking mouth.  She felt her heart flutter.  That never happened to her before–not even with Boris.

A man with his looks couldn’t be unattached, could he?  Several women threw admiring glances his way as they walked by but he was oblivious to them. She was flattered and flustered at the same time.  Dressed in a yellow tee shirt and denim Capri pants and her hair pulled back in a ponytail, she didn’t think she looked all that but he was just staring at her as if she were the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.  She wasn’t sure what to do.  It feel a bit awkward just standing there locking eyes with a perfect stranger albeit a drop dead gorgeous one.  Part of her felt guilty for being attracted to another man but it had been three years since Boris died.   Boris, sweet guy that he was, would want her to move on with her life and be happy again.  Francois Angoston3

Okay, I getting ahead of myself, she thought.  For all I know this guy may be married and is looking for a summer fling.  Maybe I should just turn right around and walk away with my pride still intact.

Perhaps he had read her thoughts or her body language but the next thing she knew he was walking over to her.  She watched him get closer, trying to appear calm when she was anything but.  He had a graceful, unhurried walk and the denim jacket, white vest and jeans looked good on him.  It was then that she remembered where she had seen him before.  It was in a double page spread in the January issue of Vogue.   He was a model.  If anyone had told her that she would meet him in person…He was standing in front of her now and holding out his hand, he smiled.  “Laurent Baptiste.”

She shook his hand.  “Salomé Leblanc.  I saw your two page spread in Vogue.”

“Yes.  I’m in Paris for Fashion Week.”

“Are you from Martinique?”

“Yes.  Saint-Pierre.  Don’t tell me you’re from Martinique too.”

She laughed.  “As a matter of fact, I am.  I’m from Fort-de-France.”

“Are you here on holiday?”

“No.  I live here.  I moved here about five years ago.  I left Fort-de-France after I graduated from university and moved to Montreal, Canada.”

“Do you mind if we continued this conversation over lunch?”

“No, I don’t mind at all.  It isn’t every day that I bump into someone from Martinique.”

He smiled making her breath quicken.  “Let’s go.”

Over Roasted rack of lamb and Home made duck confit, they got to know each other better.  Before they parted company, she had an invitation to the Fashion Show he had mentioned earlier followed by dinner for two at Le Jules Verne restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

 

Source:  The Culture Trip

Role-Play

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My name is Ezra and I’m an Angolan woman married to Francisco, a Portuguese businessman.  We have been married for ten years.  We have two children, a boy named Bento and a girl named Mafalda.  We live in Luanda.  During the week, I’m at home alone because Rodrigo is at the office and the children are in school.  I’m a housewife and I love it.  I love taking care of my family.

From the time I was seven years old, I knew that I wanted to be a homemaker when I was older.  My mother, God bless her soul, was my inspiration.  I watched her work tirelessly and happily to take care of the home, my father, my siblings and me.  When I was old enough, I helped around the house.  She taught me how to cook and keep a clean house.  She told me that one day I would be a wife and it was best to start learning how to do things as early as possible.  Sadly, she didn’t live to see me get married or hold her grandchildren.  My father and my siblings were at my wedding.  They were happy for me and warmly welcomed Rodrigo into the family.  They weren’t upset that I married a European man instead of an African man.

Rodrigo and I met when I was working as a cook at a restaurant owned by a family friend.  He came in there one day to have lunch with a client.  After having my Fish Calulu, he wanted to meet me to personally compliment me on the dish.  Feeling a little self-conscious after being in the hot kitchen all morning and not having enough time to fix myself up, I went into the dining-room.  He stood up as I approached.  He was tall and very attractive in his expensive looking grey suit.  I was immediately attracted to him.  He smiled and said in Portuguese, “I wanted to personally tell how much I enjoyed the Fish Calulu.  It’s the best I’ve ever had.”

I smiled shyly.  “Thank you.”

His client had left so we were alone.  “My name is Rodrigo,” he said, extending his large hand.  I looked at it before placing my hand in it.  The long fingers closed over mine in a firm handshake.

“I’m Ezra.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ezra.  I wonder if you would like to have dinner with me tomorrow night?”

I gulped.  He was asking me out on a date.  I could hardly believe it.  It took a moment for me to say, “Yes.”

“Good.  I’ll meet you here at eight.  “Goodbye.”

“Goodbye.”  I watched him leave and then returned to the kitchen.

The following night we went for dinner at a popular Portuguese restaurant.  Afterwards, we went for a drive.  We saw each other regularly after that and the following year, we got married.  I quit my job at the restaurant after learning that I was pregnant with Bento.

Life with Rodrigo ideal.  Our sex life is amazing  and sometimes, we indulge in role play which add a little spice to the marriage.  Lately, I have been dressing up as a slave girl while he pretends to be my slave master.   But this is happening way too often.  He wants to do it for every lovemaking session.

Last night, he pulled my dress down about my waist and turned me around so that my bare back was to him and had me hug the bedpost.  He got the whip he had bought from one of those sex stores and started to use it on me.  It didn’t hurt but Rodrigo wanted me to pretend that it did.  When he was done, he dragged the dress off and threw me down on the bed.  I lay there while he ravaged me, staring up at the ceiling and wondering if this nightmare would ever end.  What had started out as harmless fun had become something I dreaded and desperately wanted to stop.  I wanted to be his wife and lover again not his slave.

I’m sitting here in the kitchen, staring out at the window.  I have made up my mind to tell Rodrigo that I’m not going to be his slave in the bedroom anymore.  And if he cares about me and our marriage, he will respect my wishes.  Worst case scenario, I will pack up and leave.  And of course, take Bento and Mafalda with me.

Hours later, I’m in the bedroom and Rodrigo walks after taking a long, hot shower.  He’s stark naked and by the looks of him, he’s in the mood.  I’m standing by the bed, wearing one of my nightgowns.  The slave girl garb was tossed in the garbage along with the whip.  I was very determined not to subject myself to that again.  Before he could say anything, I said, “Rodrigo, I’m Ezra, your wife, not your slave girl.  I don’t ever want to play that role again.  I didn’t mind doing it the first few times but you want to do it every time and it’s no longer fun for me.  It has become degrading.  I refuse to do it any more.”

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Rodrigo stared at me.  Silence filled the room and I found myself holding my breath as I waited for him to say something.  He came over to me and putting his hands on my shoulders, he said as his eyes met mine.  “Me desculpe, querida.  I’m sorry.  I should have realized that this particular type of role playing would affect you.  It was very insensitive of me.  Please forgive me.”

Relief washed over me like a tidal wave and I hugged him around the waist and buried my face in his chest.   He will never know how close I came to leaving him if he had not respected my wishes.

Role-play in marriages is healthy and exciting but make sure that both of you are having fun. Never indulge in role-play which will demean or devalue either of you.

The Photographer

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He watched her, camera ready to take pictures.  She didn’t seem to notice him as she stood there, alone, apart from the others, in her the black off the shoulder dress and wearing what looked like tassel earrings.  He knew because his ex-girlfriend used to wear them too.

He was supposed to be circulating around the room, snapping pictures but after spotting her, he was riveted to that spot.  He supposed he could go ahead and just take the pictures like he was hired to but he wanted her undivided attention. So, he waited.

She turned her head suddenly and saw him.  Their eyes met and held.  Then, he went over to her.  “Hi,” he said.  “I hope you don’t mind me taking your picture.”

“You’re the photographer,” she replied.

“Yes.  My name’s Gaston.”  He held out his hand.

“Kiana.”  She smiled as they shook hands.  “Pleased to meet you and the answer is no.”

His eyebrows rose quizzically.  “No?”

“You asked if I minded you taking my picture.  The answer is no, I don’t.”

He smiled.  “Good.”  He took several.  “Are you here alone?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  Are you married?”

For a moment he was startled then he saw her looking at the ring on his right hand.  “No, I’m not married.  This is my father’s ring.  I have been wearing it since he passed away a year ago.”

“I’m sorry,” she said.  “Were you close?”

“Yes, we were.  Are you cold?”

She nodded.  “A little.  It suddenly gotten a little drafty in here.”

He removed his jacket and draped it around her.  This close, she smelled wonderful.  “Here you go,” he said softly.  “This should keep you warm.”

She smiled up at him.  “Thank you.”

“Pardon me for asking but, do you have un petit copain–a boyfriend?”

“No.  What about you?  Do you have a girlfriend?

“No.  I’m a single man.  After this fête is over, would you go out for a drink with me?”

“Sure.”

Bon.  I hate to leave you, Kiana, but I must get back to doing what I was hired for.  I will see you later.”  He excused himself.

She watched him go and for the rest of the evening, she could think of nothing else but him and his incredible eyes.  As soon as the party was over, he was at her side.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, tassel. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

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