Billy turned off the oven and plopped into his brown overstuffed chair across from the television. He rested his black designer sneakers along the side of his oak cocktail table. Today he made the biggest decision of his life. Thank God, Alexandra gave him a chance to explain.
He hadn’t planned on exposing the trouble he had gotten himself into over the years. It was a thing of the past, and that’s where he wanted to keep it. But when Ralphie came knocking on his door, his past had come back to haunt him, once again.
With all the banks in New York City, it would figure he picked the one that Ralphie’s daughter worked at. This time, she was married. He remembered when he first borrowed the money, Ralphie wanted him to take out his daughter. If he had done that, Ralphie would have seen it as an investment into his daughter’s future. The trouble was, Billy never liked her. He could never forget Alexandra. She was his first and only love. How many times was he going to pay for this mistake?
Reaching into his pocket, he took out a small red velvet box. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, he wanted to make sure he had the perfect gift for Alexandra, even if he decided not to give it to her. Losing her again, would be one of the biggest mistakes of his life. Telling her the truth about Ralphie saved their relationship. But was it enough? Ralphie threatened to tell Alexandra about his arrest and time he spent in jail. Now that he told her, there really was no reason to worry about Ralphie.
Billy stood and put the box into the drawer in his bedroom before going into the kitchen. He had promised Alexandra earlier he was going to make her a dinner of samplers that he’d like to have at the café.
Secretly, Billy had started to compose a menu when they first started discussing it. The menu was more important than the actual building. Any building could be spruced up, but the food, it had to be perfect. People wanted quality, yet they want to watch their fat and calorie intact. He would make certain everything remained tasty and healthy without turning into a health food place.
Checking the clock, he had to work fast. He had told Alexandra to come for dinner at seven. Earlier, he had prepared all the food. He opened the oven and took out the homemade whole wheat and semolina loafs, one of his specialties. A blueberry tart sat in the refrigerator, along with raspberry and blueberry scones covered in a navy blue napkin in a wicker basket on the counter.
The whole evening was planned. He had purchased a set of navy blue square dishes earlier, ones that he wanted to use at the café along with a navy blue tablecloth and matching napkins.
Billy prepared a quick salad with baby arugula, spinach and romaine lettuce. Then added tomatoes, sliced black olives, fresh mushrooms and red onion and his special seasoning mixture. A light balsamic vinaigrette complimented the salad. Putting the salad into the refrigerator, he sliced fresh mozzarella and tomato and placed it on a navy blue rectangular dish. He also made mini veggie burgers, broccoli rabe and farfalle macaroni with a light garlic and oil. The last thing he made were mini stuffed artichoke.
Everything was ready when Alexandra arrived. A bottle of merlot chilled in a crystal ice bucket. Alexandra loved her wine chilled, not liking ice cubes diluting it. Billy placed a small navy blue bowl on the table with seasoned oil, complimented by his very own variety of spices to give the oil just the right taste to dip the bread in.
Just as Billy placed the ice bucket on the table, Alexandra arrived. To his surprised, she stood at the door holding the matching serving platter with large serving bowl sitting on top wrapped in cellophane, matching the set of dishes he had bought.
Alexandra handed him the platter and greeted him with a kiss.
“How did you know?” he pointed to the gifts.
“I stopped in the store earlier and your neighbor Cathy waited on me. She told me you were in earlier to pick up a place setting for four, so I thought I would compliment it with the accessories.”
“You shouldn’t have.” Billy placed the gift down on the cocktail table.
“My mom always told me when you are invited to someone’s house for dinner you should always bring wine and cake. I knew you already had both, so this is the next best thing.”
“What else did Cathy tell you?”
“That I have a surprise dinner in store for me tonight.” Alexandra placed her pocketbook on the table and unbuttoned her coat.
“I wanted everything to be perfect tonight.” He brushed her hair off her face. “And you’ve already made it that.”
“I should buy you more platters.” Alexandra wrapped her arms around his neck. “If I knew that dishes were the key, I would’ve bought them for you a long time ago.”
They shared a tender kiss before Billy led her into the dining room. He also worked just as hard on preparing the room as he did the food. Earlier, he had bought red roses and white lilies, which sat in a spiral vase in the center of the table.
“Everything smells great. What can I do to help you?” Alexandra released her arms from around his neck and took a step back.
“Nothing. Tonight you are my guest. To me, this is the start of our lives together.” Billy didn’t take his eyes off her. “I want you to sit and relax. Chef Billy is at your service. I’ll be back with your first course.”
Billy walked into the kitchen, placed his tall chef hat on and prepared their salad dishes. Before bringing them into the dining room, he added chopped pecans and fresh cranberry’s to add the final flavor.
With a dish in each hand he returned into the dining room. He placed her dish down in front of her. As he was ready to sit, he looked at Alexandra who had removed her coat and sat dressed in a black lace dress.
“Wow. When did you get the dress?” His eyes scanned her from head to toe. Alexandra looked absolutely gorgeous. He wasn’t use to her being all dressed up.
Alexandra stood up and twirled on a stiletto black boots. “I bought it at Linda Lingerie Boutique after I got the dishes. “ Pointing at him, “I love the hat. It’s kind of a turn on,” she said, her voice low and seductive.
Billy reached his hands out and Alexandra slipped hers into his.
“How hungry are you?” he asked pulling her body against his.
“As hungry as you.”
There are still plenty more tales to read by a group of talented authors at: Tuesday Tales.