First date, Mary's POV.
|First Date: Mary's POV II|
Mary pulled her hairbrush through the unruly curls falling to her shoulders, a frown wrinkling her chin. It looks awful, she thought. And I really wanted to look nice tonight. She pulled a silk scarf around her neck to add color to her white dress, and frowned again.
She stepped lightly as she walked down the stairs, hoping to avoid her father. But just as she gripped the doorknob she heard him call her name.
"Mary?" His eyes took her in. "Are you going out?"
She turned and said, "Yes, dad. I'm meeting a friend."
"And where exactly are you going; and with whom?"
She hated lying to her father, but she knew he wouldn't understand. "I'm not sure what we'll be doing," she said truthfully, and then lied, "We might take in a movie or something."
Before Mr. Stover could ask his daughter any more questions his wife's whisky-slurred voice drifted down from upstairs. "Will you just let Mary go out and enjoy herself?" The words were followed by a thump, like something-or someone- had fallen to the floor.
Mr. Stover's gaze moved quickly toward the sound. He took a deep breath, let it out slowly. "Okay, just don't be too late. I want you home by eleven."
Mary placed a perfunctory kiss on his cheek and watched him walk slowly up the stairs. She hurried out into the early-summer air.
Mary walked up the three porch steps leading to Tony's front door and rang the doorbell. Her breath caught when Tony opened the door and stood in a rectangle of light, the sound of laughter spilling out from behind him. His creased dress slacks fit his slender body to perfection. The open collar of his starched white shirt revealed a small, gold cross hanging from a chain. His dark, curly hair reflected the overhead light. He should dress like that more often, Mary thought. She gave him an approving smile and said, "You look great."
"Hi, Mary," Tony said as his eyes took her in.
A silence fell between them, both lost in their own private thoughts. Tony's eyes traveled over her blond curls, then moved down over the white summer dress that revealed the smooth, pale skin of her shoulders. His gaze stopped at her white half-heel shoes and returned to her eyes. Tony blinked and said, "Come on in." He reached out and took her hand, leading her into the house.
"I'm not late, am I?" Mary asked, trying to speak over the riot of conversation, laughter and activity inside the house.
"No, you're right on time." His eyes moved over her body again. "You look nice," he said when his eyes fell on hers.
Their bodies pressed against each other as they weaved their way through the crowded living room. Mary's stomach tightened as she felt Tony's taut body against hers, felt the warmth emanating from him, the light fragrance of lemon. Mary gasped lightly as a shiver rose up her spine.
He led her into the kitchen where steam rose from pots sitting above circles of blue flames on the stove. A handsome, slightly plump woman stirred something that smelled like warm, fresh tomatoes. She turned to Tony and smiled.
Mary sniffed the air and asked, "What is that?"
"It's a mixture of warm garlic, roasted peppers, and tomato sauce. My mother's been cooking all day."
"It smells delicious."
Tony's mother joined the couple, wiping her hands on her apron. "So, is this the pretty girl you told me about?" She looked at Mary. "Mary, isn't it?" Her smile widened as she looked at Tony, a sparkle in her dark brown eyes.
"Yes, mom, this is Mary." He turned to Mary. "This is my mom, Mrs. Tonali."
Gina rolled her eyes and said, "Mrs. Tonali?" She took Mary's hand in hers. "Please, call me Gina."
"Nice to meet you...Gina."
Gina gave Tony a sideways glance. "I've heard a lot about you, Mary."
Mary felt her ears warm at the compliment. "Good things I hope."
"Yes, all good things." As she walked away she looked at her son and said, "She's pretty."
Tony grabbed two bottles of coke from the refrigerator and offered one to Mary. He smiled and leaned against the kitchen counter, his legs crossed at the ankles.
"Thank you," she said as she accepted the offered bottle, its condensation cooling her sweaty palm. She took a sip of the cold liquid, hoping it would cool her off.
Tony's mother asked for help, and Mary watched Tony pick up a large, heavy-looking pot from the stove, its steam trailing behind him as he carried it to the sink and dumped it into a colander. Mary felt warmth rising in her cheeks as she watched Tony's body, all long limbs and solid angles, his muscles straining against his shirt sleeves. I wonder how it would feel to have his strong arms wrapped around me. He moves with such masculine grace. She pressed the cold soda bottle against her forehead.
Mary hadn't stopped thinking about tonight since he had asked her out. It was cute the way he got so tongue-tied and flustered when he tried to ask for a date,she smiled, but I was beginning to think I would have to ask him out.
She sipped her coke without taking her eyes from Tony, his back flexing tightly against his shirt. It wouldn't be proper for a girl to ask a boy out, but I would have. He's so cute, she took a deep breath, and so strong. She pressed the coke bottle to her cheek, trying to cool her heated skin.
She watched Tony working across the room, and thought about the first time she saw him. He looked so grown up in those tight jeans rolled up at the ankle, a blue and white plaid shirt missing a top button, and black work boots. I don't even remember what I was wearing that day, she thought. But he looks even better now.
It didn't take long for her to realize that Tony was so unlike the boys her father wanted her to date, the sons of his friends, all of them so self-absorbed. Tony seemed at ease with himself, confident but not conceited. She looked into the living room and smiled, and his family is truly happy.
She thought back to that Saturday night when she walked past Tony's house and heard the laughter floating out through the open windows, shadows crossing the windows as people danced to loud music. Not at all like her house, always so dark and quiet—except when her parents quarreled.
Seated around a huge, round table, everyone began scooping mounds of food onto their plates, the room vibrating with conversation and laughter. Tony sat next to her, explaining what each platter held. Under the table, Mary let her leg press against Tony's. He has the warmest body... Tony nearly dropped a serving spoon as he put a large helping of lasagna onto Mary's plate.
Mary offered to help Tony's mother with the dishes after dinner but Gina would not hear of it. "You are our guest," she said as she shooed Mary from the kitchen. "Tony, what's the matter with you. Take your girl outside, sit together in the swing." She gave her son a wink and said, "I like her." Mary felt her face warm.
They sat together just outside of the circle of light falling from the bare overhead light bulb, Mary letting her leg lightly press against Tony's, by accident, of course. She let out a long sigh and settled her head against Tony's shoulder. Taking his hand in hers she said, "Can I ask you something?"
"You introduced me to so many people tonight. But you didn't tell them that I'm your girlfriend. "Why not?"
"I don't know. Are you my girlfriend?" he asked.
"We're on a date, aren't we?" She turned to Tony and smiled.
"I'm not so sure this could be called a date. I mean, here we are at my house; almost my entire family is here. There's no privacy, I can't even kiss you."
"Do you want to kiss me?" Please? Mary gazed around the porch. Say yes.
"Are you kidding?" he asked. "Someone could walk out here and see me kissing you. It would be embarrassing."
Mary's gaze lowered, her voice tightened, "Kissing me would be embarrassing?" She let go of Tony's hand and moved her leg away from his.
"No, that's not how I meant it." He reached for her hand but she moved it away. "I'm sorry. I don't think, I mean, I wouldn't want someone to see me..."
Biting her lower lip, Mary stood and smoothed her dress with her hands. "I should be going anyway. I have to be home by eleven."
"Mary, please..." Tony stood, "Let me walk you home."
"No, I'll be fine, " Mary said as she gazed past Tony's shoulder. She stepped off the porch and turned to Tony. "Will you thank your mother, for me? For tonight?"
Disappointment sagged Tony's shoulders. "Sure, I'll tell her." He watched Mary walk away, disappearing into the darkness.
Shoulders slumped, her chin nearly touching her chest, Mary trudged home. Fear gripped her as the sound of footsteps behind her grew louder. Too afraid to look back, she quickened her pace, and so did the following footsteps. She was nearly home when she felt a hand grip her shoulder.
"Mary, please, let me explain."
"You scared me half to death, Tony!" Mary saw the sadness in Tony's eyes, the forlorn look sagging his face. She shrugged her shoulder from under his hand and turned, but Tony sidestepped her and stood in front of her, stopping her from moving away.
"Let me explain, or at least apologize."
"You don't need to explain. I'm just not pretty enough for you to want to kiss me." When their eyes met, Mary felt her stomach fill with butterflies, she felt her knees grow cold, tears beaded in her eyes, her voice softened. "It's okay. I understand."
Tony stood silently, his brown eyes moving over her face, settling on her glistening eyes. "No, you don't understand," he said. "I like you a lot—so much that I get stupid when I look at you."
He reached out and brushed a curl off her forehead, then let his hand move slowly down her face. He placed his warm palm against her cheek, his thumb followed the curve of her lips. Mary stared up at him.
Tony leaned in and let his lips brush hers, softly, as gentle as a breath. He pulled back, waited for an angry response, maybe even a slap. When none came he leaned in again. As their lips met, Mary reached around his neck, crossed her wrists, pulling Tony to her.
Mary felt the tug of silk against her neck as Tony grasped her scarf and gently pulled her toward him. Pressed together gently, their lips warmed, Mary fought the urge to press tighter against Tony. She wanted to feel his taut body, his warmth, against hers. She didn't know where these feelings came from, but she didn't want them to stop. Ever.
The couple didn't notice the sound of a screen door slapping its frame, but Mary pulled away and gasped at the sound of her father calling her name.
"Mary?" he shouted from the lit porch. "Is that you, Mary?" After a brief hesitation during which she hoped her father had not seen Tony, he shouted again, this time anger filled his voice. "Who is that boy there? Mary, you come here this instant!"
Mary stepped away from Tony, her eyes still locked on his. She could still smell him, that musky fragrance, a smell like no other boy she had ever been near. She reached out and took Tony's hand and said, "I'm sorry, Tony. I have to go."
Tony looked past her shoulder and saw her father coming down the porch steps. "I understand, Mary." He reached out and gently stroked his fingers along her soft cheek. "I want to see you again."
Before Mary could finish speaking, her father called out again, this time more insistent. "This instant, young lady!"
Mary backed away from Tony, their hands slowly separating and falling to their sides with a thud. "I'm coming, dad," she said over her shoulder. She turned to Tony. "I had a nice time."
Mary turned and walked away. As Tony turned he heard Mary's father, his voice low, but unmistakably angry. "What do you think you're doing?"