An unexpected invitation

An unexpected invitation

A Story by Haim Kadman

Chapter 25 of the thriller "An Irretrievable Step".


Chapter twenty five

'Good morning papa,' Biance Conti greeted her father while he was sitting at the dinning room having breakfast and reading the morning paper.

Good morning Bianca what is it now, do you need money?'

'No thanks papa, I hope I may introduce a friend of mine at lunch time tomorrow.'

'And who's she?' Luigi Conti asked her putting the folded paper on the table.

'It's a male friend papa that studies with me in the summer course.' She hastened to explain to him in detail her request.

'Does he live in Florence and do we happen to know his family?'

'No papa he's an American.' She answered clearing her throat with embarrassment, regretting already to have asked him.

'We have guests at lunch tomorrow, is he a Presbyterian or a Protestant, or is he a son of Italian emigrants?'

I don't know papa but he visits the Duomo every Sunday.'

'What's his full name?'

'His name is Raymond Magdi.

'He's a foreigner a Copt I believe; do you have any serious intentions towards him?'

'No papa it's a gesture of good will for his kindness…'

'Alright bring him along.' He said and let her kiss his cheek before she parted.

Beatrice Conti his wife and Bianca's mother rushed to her husband table from the kitchen and asked him angrily 'Why didn't you reject her silly request, didn't we have enough with her short affair with that French tourist four months ago?'

'An affair she exchanged a few words with him and showed him around. Let her bring him along it may make the Orsini family change their mind and fix the date of announcing Fabio's engagement with our Bianca.'

On Friday before the course last weekend in mid lesson in the dark room Bianca sneaked a piece of paper into Ray's left hand. He read it in the next break, holding it spread inside one of his copybooks. It was an invitation to have lunch at her home on Saturday at one pm. The small note included an address, and the minimum he had to know, like 'lunch', 'my home', 'Saturday 13.00' and her signature.

What a break, what a strike of good luck…?!? He thought amused with a hint of disappointment. So she wants to introduce me 'her savior' to her parents, it's nothing more than a gesture of expressing her thanks. But it's an exceptional chance for it will be my first time to sit next to a dining table in an Italian home, learn their manners have the feel of it. That's how I've to refer to it and not busy my mind with illusions.

He knew that it was not going to be a pleasant pastime, despite being beside Bianca all along the meal and her obvious support; but while she hardly bothered to find out who he really is, her parents and relatives would wish to know a few more things about him…

Bianca's home address was 72 Viale Padova next to the entrance of the public park of Parco Ducale. When Ray was near her parents' home, Bianca arrived from the path leading to the public park smiling.

'Well I went out for a walk,' she noted but corrected herself right away. 'I thought I'd better take you up to the "lions' den", you can't imagine the interrogation I'd to pass yesterday, and what's waiting for you up there… They're very curious and you won't believe it, they thought that I'm planning an engagement announcement.' She added laughing excitedly.

I've never believed that I can be that lucky, even if it's a fleeting thought.' He answered smiling happily.

They entered the building side by side and went over to the old cage type elevator Just before the elevator reached the ground floor, she let him hug her and kiss both her cheeks.

He was in euphoria it was the first ever time that he held her in his arms. But he kept probing his mind thinking excitedly on the exceptional option that she just brought up indirectly.

If I'll marry her and we'll land in Alexandria Egypt as a married couple or in any other enemy country that they'll decide to send us, it would be a much safer start. But Bianca is too smart I won't be able to hide anything from her, and my next meeting with Joe is in Rome…

They reached the third floor and left the elevator. Bianca opened up the unlocked main door and entered right after him, but she hastened to lead him to the living room where he was expected.

They were all gathered in the living room, her parents, her two aunts and an uncle that were invited, Bianca's two young brothers and sister. Ray was introduced by Bianca and he muttered the greeting he was expected to say and shook hands with her parents and the rest of her relatives.

During the meal things were quite calm, they asked and he told them that he was born in Phoenix Arizona and his parents moved to San Francisco when he was three years old.

'They were not church goers and my dad wanted to be a true American and that's why we moved to California, while I've in these three months visited the Duomo every weekend.' He added and realized that they liked his answer, particularly his mentioning the Duomo.

When they all left the dining table and moved to have coffee in the living room, they had some more questions.

He did not wait till they'll ask him how he makes his living, and some more complicated personal details; and he decided without hesitation to tell them in a few sentences his life story.

'When I was studying law in the USF the San Francisco University, dad was busy with real estate business mom was bored and that's how things started to deteriorate, it led to dad's traffic accident from which he didn't recover, He wrote a will leaving everything in his possession to me and my brother; my brother took over the business and I decided to leave the U.S. I landed in Rome and I came over here and took that course to learn the customs and traditions of this country.'

'How did your mother take it?' Bianca's father asked him intrigued.

'She moved with her well to do Californian to Los Angeles, a certain O'leary. She doesn't miss us much.'

A short unpleasant silence fell, but the fact Ray did not mention his supposedly Californian mother till he was asked to, must have convinced them that his story was a true one.

They were so shocked by what I've told them that they forgot all about the differences between their faith and mine, and it saved me a lot of trouble. What they will conclude out of it doesn't not bother me, I don't believe that Bianca thinks of marrying me; and even if I had such thoughts of sharing my life with her, it's too complicated but I'll ask Joe what he thinks of such a possibility.

With the lunch over Ray stood up and thanked his hosts effusively by shaking warmly Bianca's parents and all her relatives; he praised their kind hospitality, and the excellent food of course. He was escorted up to the door by her parents, while Bianca accompanied him down to the ground floor and building's entrance..

'What are your plans next Friday at the end of the course?' She asked him with a pale worried face.

'It's my last night in my rented room; I'm travelling to Rome on Saturday morning.'

'Can't you stay on during the weekend and travel on Monday? We'll be glad to host you, the entire floor is ours.'

'It won't be a burden, I mean your parents?'

'Oh not at all you left a very good impression on them.' She answered him with a happy smile.

He embraced her gently and kissed her lips. She was not ready for his daring move, she must have thought that he'll kiss her cheek, but she didn't resist and kissed him hesitantly back. It lasted a few seconds till she detached herself from his arms, and muttered a quick 'see you' while she rushed to the staircase and climbed the stairs running up to the third floor.

I don't need anyone's advise or opinion he thought while walking aimlessly in the streets on his way to the town's center. Although he was extremely attracted to her he knew that he should not involve her in his turbulent life.

I hope my daring move will make her change her mind, and I'll be on way to Rome on Saturday morning.

With these conclusions made he decided to pay a visit to the Galeria dei Offici, which he has not had the time to visit yet, and spend the evening on a bench in the Duomo, to think things over; while on Sunday he'll tour the city on foot with his camera, and practice what he has been studying these last three months.

@ Haim Kadman 2017 - all rights reserved.

© 2020 Haim Kadman

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Added on November 30, 2020
Last Updated on November 30, 2020
Tags: suspense, intelligence, espionage, invitation, lunch, hospitality, love


Haim Kadman
Haim Kadman

Petach-Tikva, Israel

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