If you missed Part I of the story, click here to read and then comeback!
I could hear the final hours of that small Italian town winding down. I watched through the window of my hotel room as visitors retreated one by one to their homes for the night. I think a part of me was hoping I’d see him from afar and know too he was there anticipating what the morning light would bring. I lost hope once the streets grew quiet. It was a small town. Certainly, I would’ve seen him by now. Wouldn’t I? Perhaps not. Perhaps he too was lying in bed waiting only for the right time. I tried not to think about it too much as I read through the pages of my novel. My eyes were heavy by the time the last chapter came to an end, but as I lie there hearing only the sounds of the waves around me, I was unable to succumb to sleep. Too much circled in my mind as the minutes drew closer.
There was no telling what the last 10 years of his life had been like. He could’ve traveled anywhere. When we met, he was just as lost as I was. It was the accent that first drew me in. He was older and a long way from home. His worldly experience and independence captivated me. I remember throwing my head back laughing at all the stories that he told. I never wanted them to be over, but when they were, he would walk me back to the cottage where I was staying.
It was exactly 12 nights, never spending one of them apart, that he first kissed me. His blue eyes stared into mine as he leaned in. Then just as I closed my eyes his lips touched mine. My heart was bursting as I felt his fingers touch my skin. It was everything I had pictured in the nights leading up to it. I missed those lips. After all this time I yearned for them now as I did that first night. Somewhere between thinking about that first kiss and our last I had drifted off to sleep only to wake when the morning light came peeking through the window.
The time had come. I took a few heavy breaths in the mirror before I opened the door. Step by step I headed down the hill. A few stairs before I reached the end I stopped and adjusted the seams of my lavender dress. I could see the café from where I was. Our table was empty. I looked at my watch. There was only a few more minutes. I was so close. I waited until the minute hand lay right on the 12, wondering if he would be on time the way he always had been.
The minute hand passed, and our table sat empty. I was still frozen only a few stairs away. I looked around, but he was nowhere in sight. Perhaps he was waiting as I was, not to be first. I pulled myself together enough to move. I slid into my chair greeted almost immediately by the waiter. He handed me a menu, but I didn’t have to look.
“Two vanilla lattes, please.”
He nodded disappearing for a bit before setting two clear glass mugs in front of me. I took a sip from mine before glancing around. I’d know those eyes from anywhere, but they were nowhere. I checked my watch again. 15 minutes had now passed. I must’ve been a fool. Thinking that after all of this time the flame of young love still burned.
The waiter had returned twice to my table after that. I drank my latte as slow as I could, but I was down to only one last sip. The other glass sat full. I could feel the judgement cast upon me each time the waiter came to check in, but I couldn’t get myself to take that one final sip. I asked for the check, reached down to my purse and ruffled through for the last of the cash I had left. I felt the table wobble as I gathered together what I needed. Then I leaned back up and there he was. Sitting in his chair right across from me. His hair was lighter, but his eyes were still the same greyish blue.
“Hello Caroline,” he said in that same deep accent.
He had come for me and just like that the butterflies had awoken. His hand slid to my side of the table and without hesitation I grabbed on. This time I wouldn’t let go. 10 years may have passed, but I knew on day one that there was no love greater than the one that began on the beaches of Italy at this very table, surrounded by the heat of summer and two vanilla lattes.