This post is part of the Valentine's Day Blog Tour, organized by the fabulous Jo Lynne Valerie.
If you landed here for the first time, it's possible that you came through the website of author Dawn Maria, who's also part of the tour. Please feel very welcome!
I hope you'll enjoy this little tale, or it's more like a scene instead? I'd love to hear your opinion on the comments. :)
Also, if you liked this story, you can read more by clicking on this link. But first you have a date on the blog tour's next stop: 's website. ;-)
Happy Valentine's Day!
A Venetian Embrace
The piazza was almost empty and Jordan was anxious. The cloudy day didn't help lifting her mood; besides, she hated the cold and the wind. She paced under gorgeous afrescos, barely noticing them, her mind focused on the sparse people out there in the open, strolling quietly in the gloomy morning.
Once again she checked her watch; still five to ten. I hope he's punctual this time. I hate waiting.
Frowning, she decided to take a seat. Maybe a cioccolata calda would do good to me.
This was her favorite Italian beverage after the wine, since the Italian version of the hot cocoa was thicker and richer than all equivalent beverages she had ever tried.
The scent of dark chocolate filled her nostrils, making the corner of her mouth twitch upwards. Looking up, she spotted Francesco through the cocoa fumes, her wry smile turning into a playful grin. He hadn't noticed her yet, so she seated back, watching him closely.
They had been internet buddies for a long time now. They'd find a way to meet in person as much as they could, he living in England, and she living in Canada. They were young, they were successful in their respective areas, both loved art and had many interests in common; and they were best internet buddies.
Francesco had recognized the hard looking, dark-red haired woman behind a steaming cup, long before she raised her eyes. He pretended not to notice her broadening smile when recognizing him, or her piercing gaze, waiting for him to trip, slip, or bump into someone.
And so he did; he purposely tripped on his own feet, but he miscalculated, losing balance beyond control and falling like a drunken clown, twisting in mid-air and landing with a loud thud like a dying bug, all four legs up.
The impact on his back took his breath away, so he remained there for a few moments, sprawled in the middle of Piazza San Pietro. As soon as his chest stopped aching, he sat right there on the floor, his back turned to Jordan.
Then he realized how weird had been his landing, how his stunt had become the real thing, and wanted to laugh. But that would blow his cover, so he grabbed his own face trying to hold himself, which resulted in him producing odd chocking sounds.
"Francesco!" cried Jordan.
He started when realizing that his friend was beside him, wearing and unprecedented worried look, kneeling down while scrutinizing his body in search for injuries. Normally, she'd wait until he reached her, so she'd have additional time to compose her tormenting piece, as she used to brag mockingly.
"Are you all right? This was a hard one," she said, automatically switching to the ranting radio, "I don't understand how a guy like you, who practices all kinds of weird sports, can be so clumsy. I was worried back there!"
He was shaking violently now, and unable to hold any longer burst out in a howling laughter. Jordan straightened her back, wide eyed. Suddenly they narrowed to a thin line, her lips firmly pressed together, all the while she stood up, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
"I thought you had hurt yourself, you asshole!"
The violence of her reaction smoothed his laugher into a soft yet uncontrollable chuckle. He frowned at the inability to stop, making a face that resembled a scoffing gargoyle.
Despite his best efforts, his snickering wouldn't stop. He looked rather pathetic with that hideous face, sitting in a childish position on the wet ground, looking up to furious green eyes.
Wow, those are beautiful eyes. How come I've never noticed her eyes before? Why am I thinking this? I can't stop laughing! But they're so intense!, and-- watered?
At the sight of her tears Francesco finally managed to control himself. Only then he noticed that her hands had moved up, covering her mouth and nose; her shoulders were tense and she looked quite flushed.
He frowned. Is she laughing at me? I mean, genuinely laughing at one of my stunts? No sarcasm, no pun, no nothing?
Gee, she looks like a girl, and a pretty one too.
His scowl triggered a rather girlie giggling -- another novelty -- which soon became a roaring laughter that provoked the returning of his own. She lost balance and had to sit down not to fall.
People started to notice.
Eventually it cooled down to a low chuckle, allowing them to breathe more easily, but whenever they looked at each other a double clamoring sound followed.
"I thought you..." she said, choking in the process.
"I know! Me too! You looked so..." he tried to speak while helping her catch her breath, but that was all he could manage.
She had stopped coughing but he kept striking her back mechanically, unaware that she was silent now. She caught his arm, and squeezing it looked hard into his gentle brown eyes, "Stop Francesco. I'm okay now."
That was the Jordan he knew, the strong controlled woman who's acid humor made his brain work better, and faster. He sobered up, but as soon as he opened his mouth to speak they momentarily lost control again and grinned at each other, holding their breaths to prevent another laughing fit. Eyes locked, they breathed deeply together, and both smiling, she helped him up.
For a long time they remained still, hands tying them into a new intimacy, unaware of the humming sound coming from above announcing the upcoming rain.
"You ok?" asked Jordan.
"Yeah, I slipped, but it wasn't as serious as it seems."
"You got me worried this time. It looked like you were crying from back there," she said, pointing to the coffee shop where she had been waiting for him.
"Ah, you were crying for me; I gather," he teased.
"I wasn't crying!" she objected, "I was trying not to laugh at you, for a change. But that was the funniest fall ever!"
She laughed briefly, in that particular way she did when taunting him. Francesco watched her, noticing that this laughter wasn't as rich as the one before; something was missing.
"So, did you have a good trip?" he asked, changing subject.
"Yeah, I'm loving Italy! How come you don't live here anymore?"
In reply, he grinned.
Puzzled by the lack of verbal response, she simply smiled back. There's something different about him today. Is it because he's back home? Nah, this can't be, but still...
They stared at each other for a while, and looked aside uncomfortably. Suddenly he caught her in one of his bear-hugs, "It's been a long time, no? I missed you girlie."
She made a theatrical woofing sound, and replied while smiling against his chest, "Hey, you know very well that I'm not the girlie type. Quit calling me that."
"Ok, ok," he agreed.
"Last year was tough. It's been what, two years since we don't meet in person?"
He hummed a yes, and the conversation died again, as well as their smiles. They stayed there, wet and dirty in a warm embrace, just breathing.
What's happening? They both thought, unaware of how their minds worked in unison.
They were flushed and confused. She fit too well in his chest shape; their breathing bounced from short and accelerated to long and slow, then back to short. It felt like summer instead of winter.
What's this that I'm feeling? Why are my legs bobbling? Jordan thought.
This is so good... I wonder if she's feeling the same?
I want to stay like this forever.
Francesco wanted to move his arms to a more comfortable position. He wanted to caress her back and kiss her mouth, but he was afraid of her reaction. Why is she so quiet?
As if hearing his thoughts, she started, breaking the embrace. They looked at each other in amazement, then cleared their throats dissolving the spell.
"Should we go?" he said a bit too cheerfully.
They left side by side, leaving the cold cocoa behind.
Note: The picture of Piazza San Marco up there was taken by yours truly. *wink* And there are more pics of Venice and its amazingly cool carnival here.
Edited to add: I'm following Dawn Maria's example and adding the link to all blog tour's participants. Will you pay them a visit? :)
>> Mariana N. Blaser (you're here!)
>> Author Heather Long (your next stop :)
>> Indie Times - Independent Talent Magazine