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Authors: D.M. Hamblin

Tags: #General Fiction

Once Broken (8 page)

BOOK: Once Broken
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“I did. Of course, I realized that more likely you’d be engaged or otherwise taken, since I assumed you’d still be in college. But yes, my exact thought was ‘she’s probably married with kids by now.’ Then, a few weeks ago, I was out with friends and overheard a young woman sitting next to me talking about The Stockyard. My ears perked up. I asked her if she knew you. Her name was Sarah?”

“Oh, funny she didn’t mention running into you. So continue.” Jackie was engrossed in the conversation, her elbow on the bar and chin on the palm of her hand.

“Well, she said yes she knew you, and told me that you still worked there. I asked if she knew if you were seeing anyone, engaged or anything. She said she knew you weren’t engaged and thought you weren’t seeing anyone. I told her I’d been thinking of you and she encouraged me to get in touch. So I did. Weird, huh?”

Jackie raised eyebrows. “Weirder, than you know. I had a similar experience except I didn’t run into anyone you know. I even had that same exact thought; you must be married with kids by now. Wow.”

“Really, the same exact thought? Maybe we’re telepathic?”

“May be.”

Within minutes she fell under his spell once more. They chatted, laughed, and flirted the evening away. Tony told Jackie about his job and that he was saving money while living with his parents. Jackie told him about college, her waitress job, and plans following graduation.

After last call, the couple headed for the parking lot, still engrossed in conversation. The March air was too cold to stand outside saying good night, so they sat in Jackie’s new 1974 Chevy Caprice convertible. Tony moved toward the middle of the seat and put his arm around her shoulders.

“After all this time, here we are again.”

“Yeah, I’m having flashbacks. Hey, do you still have your boat?”

“Sure do. That was a great night, wasn’t it?”

“Outstanding!”

After an ardent kiss, the couple said good night with Tony promising to call tomorrow.

“If you’re gonna call, you’ll need my new phone number. I have my own phone line now. She jotted her phone number on a scrap of paper and handed it to him.

On the ride home, she lectured herself. Don’t start planning tomorrow with this guy. You know how it goes. Maybe he’ll call, maybe he won’t. Enjoy it for what it was, a pleasant evening with an old flame.

*

She was amazed to hear Tony’s voice on the phone before noon the next day.

“Hey, I saw you last night and you’re calling me this morning? Did I take off with your wallet?” Jackie chuckled at her own joke.

“Ah, funny.” Tony laughed too. “Well, if you agreed to meet me, I hoped it’d be the beginning of a new chapter for us. I want to be exclusive, if that’s okay with you?”

“Really?” Jackie was skeptical. “Hmm, I’ve learned recently that I run into trouble by assuming too much. So, to make sure my expectations are in line with yours, what
exactly
does exclusive mean to you?”

“Exclusive means that we’ll see each other every weekend; at least, every Saturday night. I’ll call you every day to share our daily happenings. In fact, we could start now. Are you free tonight or am I being too presumptuous?”

She paused to gather her thoughts. “Tonight I’m going out to dinner with my brother Vic and his wife Karen. Then we’re hitting a party at the Sons of Italy. A neighborhood friend’s band is playing. Tara and Ellen will be there and some other friends. You can join us if you’d like.”

“I’d like that very much. What time should I pick you up?”

They set a time and chatted a little longer. Jackie hung up the phone in utter amazement.
Wow. Tara and Ellen will never believe this! I can’t believe it!
She called them informing them that Tony would be with her at the Sons of Italy. Then she ransacked her closet for something sexy to wear.

*

The doorbell rang. Her heart leaped. Taking a quick glance in the mirror, Jackie tugged her long straight hair, checked her lipstick, and then opened the door. Tony looked handsome in his bell-bottom jeans, blue-and-white striped shirt, and brown leather jacket. Scanning her from head to toe, with a slight shake of his head, he said “Those jeans are hot.” She grabbed her black Winlit leather coat, which Tony held for her to put on. “Is your Mom here? I’d like to say hello.”

“No, this is her bowling night. Paul’s out too.”

With that knowledge, he swept her into his arms, leaned her against the wall, and kissed her long and passionately. She was breathless. “That’s a prelude,” he said.

“Oh my.” Her imagination matched her racing heart.

*

Dinner with Vic and Karen was enjoyable. As it turned out, the two men knew some of the same people and had a lot in common—not the least of which was an avid love of Boston sports teams. They ruled the dinner conversation and became immediate friends.

Following dinner, the couples set off for the Sons of Italy dance. Introducing Tony to her friends, including Tara’s and Ellen’s dates, was easy. Jackie’s world was transformed into a place where she no longer danced alone. She realized that for the first time in her life, she felt included. Finally, she wasn’t the third wheel, or the fifth wheel. It felt great.

As the band played “Lady,” by Styx, Tony grabbed Jackie’s hand and led her to the dance floor. Jackie felt his warm breath on her neck and his hard body against her as they danced.

“I can’t believe they played “Lady,” Tony told her on the way home. That song always reminded me of you.” He took her hand and held it tightly. “This was a great night. Thanks for letting me tag along.”

“It
was
a wonderful night.”

They were parked in front of her house. Tony turned the headlights off, raised the volume slightly on the radio as Earth Wind & Fire sang “That’s the Way of the World,” and took Jackie in his arms. His kisses were deep and forceful; his hands stroked her clothed body. Jackie pulled away and readjusted her clothing. “I had a wonderful time. But it’s time to go in.”

Tony smiled. “Okay, I’ll let you go for now. I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”

Later, thinking over the evening, Jackie was stunned by this new Tony. She slept soundly, dreaming of making love to her new boyfriend.

*

Jackie anticipated Tony’s nightly phone calls. Promptly at ten o’clock, Tony greeted her with “Hi, beautiful!”

“Hi, handsome.”

“What are you wearing?”

“Nothing, actually,” she lied.

Tony moaned. “I wish I were there. Oh, the things I’d do to you.”

Sprawled on her bed in her flannel pajamas, she sighed. “I wish you were too.”

Before she knew it, she couldn’t imagine going to bed without saying good night to Tony.

*

The following weekend, Jackie suggested they go to Lanai Island, a local Chinese restaurant with live music in the lounge. She was a fan of their Polynesian drinks and excellent egg rolls.

Tony ordered a scorpion bowl for two. “Have you ever had a scorpion bowl?”

“No, actually. This should be fun.”

“Yup. So, what’s your favorite Chinese food?”

“Egg rolls, absolutely. I usually order a pupu platter with no chicken fingers. Too much batter for me. If you like them, though, by all means.” She gestured her approval. “If not, we can substitute something else like extra pork strips, wings? Whatever you prefer. I’m happy with egg rolls, sweet sauce, and hot mustard. They’re almost as delicious as you,” she blurted, and felt herself blush.

“Ah, what a compliment. You’re pretty tasty yourself.” They sat closer in the booth and shared a respectable but provocative kiss.

“Who needs food?” Jackie muttered. The waiter appeared with the scorpion bowl, complete with fiery volcano. Straightening up, she took a sip from the long straw. “Whew! This thing is deadly. Are you trying to take advantage of me, Mr. Salvucci?”

Tony didn’t hear her.

So who’s that?” Jackie asked, noticing Tony was focused on a woman across the aisle.

“Oh, sorry. That’s Marcia.”

“Who’s Marcia?”

“A woman I dated years ago. In fact, I was dating her when I met you at Patty’s. We dated for a couple of years. I haven’t seen her in … oh, about seven years, I guess,” he explained as he returned a wave to the tall, busty woman. Before Jackie knew it, Marcia was standing at their table. Jackie was stunned by her beauty. Marcia was slender with straight blond hair, deep-blue eyes, perfect features, and the most dazzling smile Jackie had ever seen.

“Hi Tony!” Marcia bent down to kiss Tony’s cheek. “You’re still as handsome as ever.”

“Hey,” Tony said. “It’s been a while.”

Jackie lit a cigarette and observed the two chatting for a few minutes. Tony introduced Jackie as his girlfriend.

“Nice to meet you, Jackie. You’ve got quite a catch here. I hope you know that.” Marcia winked at Tony. “Well handsome, it was great seeing you. I hope we run into each other again sometime before the next, what, seven years?” Tony looked uncomfortable.

After Marcia was out of listening range, Jackie asked, “Should I be jealous?”

“Oh no, sweetheart. Absolutely not. I was surprised to see her, that’s all. I’d heard she moved to North Carolina. We had a good couple of years but that was a long time ago.”

“Why did you break up?”

He locked eyes with Jackie. “Well, I had met a beautiful young waitress at a donut shop. I became obsessed with her. Since I was more fascinated by that amazing waitress than I was with Marcia, I figured I must have been with the wrong woman. So I broke up with her. But when I finally got up the nerve to ask that enticing waitress for a date, the donut shop was closed. I was left to wonder what had happened to that beautiful girl until I ran into her in a nightclub one fortunate night.”

“Fantastic recovery.” Jackie laughed. “Now the truth?”

“Honestly.” Tony crossed his heart, then took her hand in his. “Jackie, I was fascinated by you since that first day you called me out of line to hand me those muffins and coffee. That’s why I started coming in for breakfast—so you’d wait on me. I’ll never forget the day I planned to ask you out. A big orange sign on the door said: ‘Closed. Thank you for your patronage.’ I was so disappointed. I didn’t know your last name and had no way to find you. Then when I met you again, I screwed up. You’re easy to be with and laugh with, and it scared the hell out of me. Even though it’s easy, it’s intense. Know what I mean?”

“Actually, I do.”

“Well, thank God I came to my senses before it was too late.” He looked tenderly into her brown eyes. “As I get to know you better, I’m more fascinated by you than I thought I could be. And this is just the beginning.”

It was a good thing that the restaurant was dark and they had a booth with high seat backs. She moved to his side. Their kiss was extended, hard, and spicy.

The waiter interrupted with the delivery of their pupu platter.

Clearing his throat as Jackie smoothed her shirt, Tony took a sip of the scorpion bowl. “So Jackie, my parents have heard a lot about you, you know, and my mother wants you to come for dinner next Saturday night. Want to?”

“Sure! I’d love to meet them.”

The good night canoodling commenced as soon as Tony parked the car in front of Jackie’s house, stopping before the danger zone. “Sleep well,” Tony said. “I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”

*

The following Sunday, Tony answered the door and led Jackie into the foyer. Taking her coat and the pastry box in her hand, he placed them on the bench and swept her into his arms for a passionate hello kiss. “I’ve missed you.”

“I missed you too,” Jackie said. When Tony released her, she picked up the pastry box. “I brought cannoli for dessert. Any good Italian loves them.”

“Yup, and we do. Thanks.” Taking the box and her hand, he led her to the living room. “Jackie, this is my mother, Anna.” Anna rose from her recliner to greet Jackie with open arms, giving her a light hug and a kiss on each cheek. “It’s so nice to finally meet you, dear! We’ve heard so much about you. You’re as pretty as Tony said.”

“Oh thank you.” Jackie blushed. “It’s nice to meet you too.”

Tony turned to his father. “And, this is my dad, Louie.” Louie held out his hand to shake Jackie’s. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jackie. Like Anna, said, we’ve heard a lot about you. I see what my son sees in you. Come, sit, make yourself comfortable. Dinner won’t be ready for about a half hour. Anna, why don’t you get the appetizer? I’ll get cocktails. We have a full bar, so Jackie, what’s your pleasure?”

Your son
. She glanced at Tony. “Hmm, I’ll try something different. A whisky sour?”

“Great choice. Son, want one too?”

“Sure, Dad.”

Sitting beside Tony on the sofa, Jackie nestled in with Tony’s arm around her shoulders. She was still reeling from the hello kiss.

Louie returned with a tray of drinks—three whiskey sours and a glass of red wine for Anna. Anna came in with a plate of melon-wrapped prosciutto. Conversation flowed. Over appetizers and dinner, Jackie learned Anna and Louie’s history—how and where they met, how long they’d been married, how they came to buy their home, and how much they loved to entertain. “No, you tell it,” Anna said to Louie. “No, you tell it better,” Louie said.

Louie and Anna got to know Jackie, asking her about her family, college, and work.

Later, while Jackie helped Anna clear the dishes and clean the kitchen, Anna shared stories of Tony’s youth. Jackie expected Anna to take out the naked baby pictures any minute, and was grateful that she didn’t. Louie and Anna’s warmth and hospitality made Jackie feel as if she’d known them always.

*

In Monday night’s phone call, Jackie commented on their visit to Tony’s house. “It was nice to meet your parents on Sunday. They’re so welcoming and warm. I felt like I’d known them forever.”

“They felt the same way about you. So, I met your mother briefly on one of our first dates. But when do I really get to meet her?”

“Oh, well, she’s heard a lot about you, too.” Jackie snickered. “But most of it hasn’t been good. Gotta warn you, she doesn’t like you much.”

“Fair enough. So, don’t I get a chance to turn on my irresistible charm and win her over?”

BOOK: Once Broken
9.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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