He was a hardworking farm boy.
She was an Italian supermodel.
He knew he would have just one chance to impress her, but Sasha Williams wasn't sure how yet.
Amalea-Lucia Sonetti. Just the thought of her name brought a wide grin to Sasha's face. He was running an errand in town when first encountered Amelea-Lucia. He was going over his mental list of what he needed to buy, when he accidentally bumped into the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. Sasha quickly apologized with the tip of his cap. He stood motionless as she smiled at him with understanding. Then he watched as she turned around and disappeared into to the crowd.
A few days later he was passing a news stand when something caught his eye. That same girl was featured on the front cover of a popular Italian fashion magazine. The blurb next to her picture boasted an article about the newest young supermodel, Amelea-Lucia Sonetti. Being a 19-year-old from central Califorinia, Sasha hardly considered himself anywhere near being in her league. So Sasha knew that whatever he did to impress her would have to be something...spettacolare - spectacular. Since then, he'd only catch glimpses of her around town and always hoped he'd get one more.
Presently, Sasha's mind left the world around him as thoughts entered a place where he and Amelea-Lucia were living in marital bliss. They were owners of small vineyard and lived a spacious two-story house in the Tuscan countryside by the sea. Their four kids - two boys and two girls - were playing together in the large backyard. Three lovable dogs were -
"Sasha!" His reverie was interrupted. A man was looking up at Sasha from a squatted position with one eyebrow raised.
"Mi dispiace, Signore Marinuzzi." Sasha apologized, "Let me help you with that." Sasha shook his head as if to remove the daydreaming thoughts from his head. Giuseppe Marinuzzi, a man in his late fifties, was the owner of the vineyard in Italy where Sasha was an apprentice. Signore grumbled something under his breath in Italian and Sasha winced slightly. Normally a young man who concentrated on his work, Sasha had to make sure his performance didn't suffer. A distant cousin of Sasha's mother, Signore offered Sasha an amazing opportunity to do a year-long apprenticeship at the Marinuzzi Tuscan vineyard. Sasha's dream was to run his own vineyard one day and was elated when Signore offered to apprentice under him after high school. Having taken Italian classes the last four years, Sasha knew his language skills would improve even more by living in Italy.
Now Sasha picked up the opposite end of a large wooden log. The men heaved the remaining log on the pile in the back of a pick-up truck and Sasha lifted the tailgate to lock it into place.
"Grazie," Giuseppe thanked him. He pulled out a handkerchief from the back pocket of his overalls and wiped the perspiration from his brow. Even though it was early evening, the summer Tuscan sun had yet to relinquish it's intensity. "Let us drive the wood up to the barn and you can be done for the day." Signore had
Sasha got into the driver's side of the well-used truck's cab while Signore went to the passenger side. They drove uphill from the vineyard to a large barn. In the rear-view mirror Sasha could see the Mediterranean Sea few miles from edge of the Marinuzzi vineyard.
"You go ahead up to the house. Per favore, tell Graziella I will be up for la cena soon. I want to check on something first here."
"Sì, Signore. A presto, see you soon at dinner."
Sasha made walked the short distance from the barn up to the house. While he was still several yards from the house, Sasha's nose picked up the smell of Signora's amazing cooking. He was glad he was hungry, because Signora loved to cook - and in great quantities! No matter the amount of food on his plate with food, Signora was convinced there was always room for more. Sasha was just glad that his work around the vineyard balanced out his daily Italian food intake. He noted the extra car parked in the gravel driveway. Signora's twin sister Gabriela is joining us for dinner, he thought with a smile. Each sister was quite witty on her own, but the both of them together... Let's just say you'd either want to kiss their rosy cheeks or duck under the table with embarrassment.
Zia Gabriela swung the front door open with a large grin on her face. Gabriela insisted he use zia, the Italian word for aunt. Her grin was bigger than usual with a hint of mischief. Very suspect.
"Buona sera, Sasha! Come stai?" Even though the question was directed towards him, Zia kept looking over her shoulder into the house.
"Abbastanza bene, grazie. Doing pretty good," he answered cautiously. "Come sta?"
Instead of answering, Zia grabbed his hand, planted a kiss on each of his cheeks and pulled him inside. She hastily guided him towards the living room. He opened his mouth to protest that he should clean up before he tracked dirt everywhere, when he stopped dead in his tracks. There in the living room sat the long-legged, tan-skinned, well-groomed Amalea-Lucia. Just like her part of her name - Lucia - she seemed to light up the whole room with her very presence. Sasha wished his own work clothes were more presentable. At least clean.
This is far from 'spectacular,' Sasha thought gravely. Nevertheless, he nodded and greeted Amelea. She didn't appear to be surprised to see him when returning the greeting. In fact, she looked somewhat amused and...perhaps pleased? Zia Gabriela's eyes bounced back and forth between the two, her face exuding excitement. Then seeing the puzzled look on Sasha's face, Zia preceded to explain Amalea's presence. Amalea was the granddaughter of her good friend and had kindly accepted the invitation to join them for dinner. She was there in her hometown for a few weeks before her doing some extensive traveling for work.
"Mi dispiace," Sasha quickly excused himself from the room before Zia could keep him there in his unkempt state any longer.
Fifteen minutes later, Sasha descended the stairs freshly showered and in a pair of clean jeans and a short-sleeved collared shirt. He walked towards the living room, but it was empty. As Sasha passed the dining room, he heard the laughter and animated talking of women coming from the kitchen. Through the large entrance of the kitchen, Sasha found the ladies with their backs to him, standing side-by-side at the wooden counter. Amalea was in the middle wearing one Signora's aprons, cutting up fresh tomatoes along with the sisters. Sasha stood at the entrance a few moments just to observe the donnas italianas enjoying each other's company. Signora sensed his presence and without turning around to face him she asked him to set the table. He said he would and finally relayed Signore's message. At the sound of his voice, Amalea glanced over her shoulder. Before turning back to her chopping, she gave Sasha a quick smile that almost melted his heart. It was amazing how such a small act could affect him so much. Sasha wondered how he was going to get through dinner in one piece.
He prayed silently to God for strength, protection for his heart and guidance as he set the table. Soon the bruschetta was on the table and everyone was seated. The seating arrangements, as directed by Signora and Zia Gabriela, "conveniently" placed Sasha and Amelea directly across from each other. Everyone held the hand of the next person and with bowed heads, Signore thanked God for His provisions and asked His blessing upon the food and the family.
The conversation started out normal. Topics centered around the accounts of the day, the weather, a new piece of equipment one of the neighbors just bought, and the like. Everyone asked about each other's day, but Signora and Zia Gabriela seemed to be itching to talk about something else. Signora suddenly turned to Sasha and started bragging about Amelea-Lucia's work as a model. How successful she'd become in such a short period of time. Then during the first course of ravioli di ricotta e spinaci, Zia Gabriela rambled on to Amalea about Sasha. What a help he's been to Signore with the vineyard and to Signora around the ho use. How much his Italian had improved since being there. Amalea smiled and nodded, looking across at Sasha every now and then. She didn't make any comments. Not that she could, with Zia's constant talking, accompanied by animated arm and hand movements.
In the midst of all this, Signore quietly ate his food, occasionally shaking his head at the conversation going on. He'd long learned that it would be no use in trying to persuade the ladies not to mettle. All Sasha could do is continue eating. He caught Amalea's eyes as he lifted his glass to his lips for a sip of the Marinuzzi family vino. Setting down the glass, he held her gaze for a long time.
Two years later...
Signora and Zia Gabriela were enjoying some tea at Marinuzzi kitchen table. In ran a little boy, followed by Sasha. Signora was about to ask him where his wife was, when Amalea-Lucia entered the kitchen. Both sisters smiled as they looked at Amalea-Lucia's growing belly.
"So how's life, Sasha?" Signora asked.
Reaching for his wife's hand and looking her in the eyes, he replied, "Spettacolare."