Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 10
“Have a good time,” Aunt Joy said smiling.
“We will,” I responded and Orane closed the door behind us.
The cool evening breeze greeted us as we stepped off the front porch. Orane took a light hold of my arm just above my elbow. He opened the car door and made certain that my hem was tucked in before closing it. As I settled comfortably in the passenger seat, I could not help but think that I was on a beautiful journey.
“Are you okay?” Orane asked gently as we pulled away from the gate. “You seemed far away.”
“I’m wonderful. Thanks so much for taking me to dinner.”
“You are welcome. I wanted us to spend quality time together.”
“I am just happy to be with you.”
He chuckled softly. “Do I sense a stirring of love?”
“Yes sir, that’s the sound of love.”
He gazed into my eyes, seeming to forget the road completely for a moment. Whatever he saw there must have encouraged him. “Great!” he said heartily.
Half an hour later, we exited the car in the parking lot of Celebrate Now Restaurant and Lounge.
“You will like it here. They offer the best Jamaican dishes,” Orane mentioned.
“I’m doing all Jamaican food right now.”
“I know,” he chuckled, offering his arm as we walked to the entrance. Music was playing softly in the background as we entered the reception area.
“Good evening! Welcome to Celebrate Now Restaurant and Lounge,” said a smiling female receptionist. “Do you have a reservation?”
“Thank you! Yes, under the name Conway, Orane Conway.”
“Yes sir! One moment please.” The receptionist motioned for the waitress to escort us to our table.
We passed other guests, some already seated with their meals and others nursing cocktails. I could see why Orane thought that I would like this restaurant. It had a rustic, Victorian look with a lush garden. We were escorted to an air-conditioned room with private booths that had full view of a magnificent waterfall surrounded by an exotic array of orchids. Dimly lit chandeliers hung from the wood beam ceiling to create an intimate setting.
Orane seated me before sitting.
“I am Becky,” the waitress said. “I will be back in a moment to take your orders.”
“Thank you Becky,” Orane responded cordially.
“Honey, I love the ambience and decor. Great choice!”
“Thanks Babes!” He smiled at me. “Hope you will like the food.”
“You know I will.” I returned his smile before glancing over the menu. “I already know what I am having.”
“You are good. What are you having?”
“Cream of broccoli soup followed by stewed beef, herbed rice and steamed cabbage. I will have fruit punch and let me see…perhaps bread pudding for dessert.”
Orane chuckled. “I will have to roll you out of here also.”
“Do what you have to.” I laughed softly. “I am a very healthy eater.”
A smiling Becky returned. “Are you ready to order?”
“Yes. Babes please go ahead.”
Becky took my order. “And what will you have sir?”
“Cream of pumpkin soup, jerked chicken, herbed rice and steamed cabbage and carrots. I will have sweet potato pudding for dessert.”
“Great!” said Becky. “Will you be having anything to drink?”
“Babes, what did you select for your drink?”
“Fruit punch,” I replied.
“Yes, make that two please.”
“If that’s all, I will be back in a moment with your soups.”
“Thanks, Becky,” I responded and she nodded and left.
I flashed Orane a smile before asking, “Can we take pictures near the waterfall after dinner?” Suddenly, he lost his hearing. “Orane Conway, I know you heard me.”
He winced. “Not again.”
“Pretty please.” I pouted playfully. “I need pictures.”
He let out a defeated sigh. “Okay, we can.”
“Thank you Honey, you put the L in love.”
He winced playfully. “Did you say that I put the hell in love?”
“Ah, let me think…never.” I laughed, squeezing his hand before placing the large yellow napkin on my lap.
I stared at the beautiful cascading waterfall thinking how far we’ve come. This is a sweet home coming. “I imagine this place is even more beautiful in the day light when its natural beauty can be observed,” I remarked.
“Yes it is. It’s quite a hot spot for lunch and dinner,” Orane said as Becky placed our soups on the table.
I smiled at her. “Thank you, Becky.”
“You are welcome,” she responded before leaving.
Orane blessed our meal.
“This looks good,” I remarked, stirring my soup.
“Oh yes, this is good too.” I savored the delicious taste of the soup.
“Glad you like it. Are you having a great time?” he asked, gazing at me.
I smiled at him. “Honey, I could not ask for more.”
“I could,” he said, looking at me mischievously.
“I bet you could.” I giggled softly, buttering my roll then taking a bite.
“I love you,” he said quietly.
I reached for his hand across the table and gazed into his eyes. “I love you too.”
He chuckled softly as I hastily released his hand and began to eat my soup.
“Annalisa!” His tone caused me to look at him. “Don’t be afraid of our chemistry. It’s a great thing.” He smiled and looked deep into my eyes.
A bout of shyness overtook me. “I’m working on it,” I responded softly.
“So am I,” he said reassuringly. “I am glad you chose me.”
“Chose!” I laughed softly. “I fell in love!”
“Right!” He was not convinced. “You know love is a decision.”
A slight smile parted my lips as I looked at him. “Yes, it is. An act of the mind before it becomes an act of the heart.”
He swallowed spoons of soup then gazed intently at me. “Haven’t you forgotten something?”
I blushed. “Oh yes, there is the eee-motional component.”
“Glad you remembered that!”
We both laughed recalling my last reaction.
“Here comes our main course,” I said enthusiastically. “I know you don’t mind me having extra meat on my bones.”
“Do your thing!” he drawled.
“Thanks Becky,” I said as she placed our dinner on the table.
“Would you like wine?” Orane asked, signaling for Becky to wait.
“No thanks. I am barely going to make it to dessert.”
“Thank you Becky,” Orane said, and she promptly left. “I thought you would have a non-alcoholic chardonnay or your old favorite. What’s the name of the wine you gave me when I visited?”
“You are unforgiving.” I grinned at him. “I had a moment there. Bringing up my past is so not cool.” I lifted a fork full of food to my mouth. “Would you like me with more weight on?”
He looked puzzled and his eyes asked what had brought this on. I refused to back down and waited for a response.
“I don’t think you can gain a lot of weight. Your bone structure will not allow it,” he said thoughtfully. He chuckled as I pouted. “But that’s not the question. Yes, I will love you, no matter your size.”
“Ahhhh, that is so nice.” I winked at him before sipping some of my fruit punch.
“Babes,” he said quietly. “My loving you is not about your physical appearance, fine as you are. I am in love with your spirit.”
A bright smile lit my face. “Thank you. I feel loved.”
“You are loved.” He looked at me tenderly. “I am so glad that you are here.”
My heart skipped a beat as I smiled at him. “Me too!”
Warmth radiated from his eyes. “You are my reminder that I cannot ask G
Adrenalin surged through my body and my heart fluttered continuously. “Yes,” I replied without hesitation.
Orane jumped to his feet and hugged me tightly. His lips were warm on my cheek. I hugged him back, twice as tight, elated and giddy at the same time. I have found the one my heart loves.
We ate dessert basking in a state of euphoria and enjoyed our finest dining experience ever. After Orane paid the bill, we took pictures by the waterfall, laughing and making faces as the water sprinkled us. My hair was ruffled by the cool December breeze and Orane reached out and moved the strands behind my ears. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder as we made our way to the parking lot.
“Do I hear music?” I smiled, emotionally stirred by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s beautiful romantic ballad “My Endless Love” as it filled the airwaves.
“You’re good,” Orane teased.
“Yes, totally gifted,” I giggled.
“Let’s dance,” he said, taking me in his arms. He seemed to have come alive with the vision of our marriage in sight. I rested my head on his shoulder and wrapped my hands around his waist. We moved slowly to the rhythm.
“I love you,” he whispered above my head.
“I love you too,” I said, burrowing into his neck.
The song ended but he tightened his hold. I could feel his heart beating; it was as rapid as my own. Tenderly, I pulled slightly out of his arms and touched the side of his face, my thumb stoked his cheek. A smile tugged at the corners of his lips and a hidden fire blazed in his dark brown eyes.
“You are beautiful,” he whispered huskily, smoothing my hair as a cool breeze whipped around us.
My lips curved in a smile and I sighed happily, gazing at the healthy glow of his dark brown complexion under the moonlight. “Thank you,” I responded breathlessly. “You are an amazing person.”
“Thanks, Babes.” His smile widened and he gently ran one of his hands down my arm, sending delicious shivers up my spine. Longing coursed through my veins and my heart hammered within my chest. I shuddered, wanting him to kiss me passionately … and take me to new heights.
“Are you cold?” he asked.
“No,” I murmured as he pulled me closer and kissed my cheek.
“Hmmm!” He groaned softly. “I am going to take us home before we get ourselves in trouble.”
“Okay,” I whispered, “if we must.” I wanted to stay cradled in his arms forever.
Orane draped his arm around my shoulder as we walked to the car. Happy emotions enveloped me as I considered our lifetime of togetherness. His love touched me to the core of my heart.
I fastened my seatbelt and pushed the seat back, thinking about our whirlwind relationship.
“Are you okay?” Orane asked as we pulled away.
I nodded, still giddy with love.
“Yes, you are,” he chuckled softly.
“Thank you Honey. I had a great time.”
“Glad you did. So did I.”
He looked so happy.
I am in love with a great guy!
Back at the house, we hugged and said goodnight, delirious from an evening that will be cherished forever. As I prepared for bed, I thought about the events that had unfolded earlier. Will you marry me? His words replayed in my mind, over and over again. The look on his face when he said it was etched in my memory forever. I clapped my hands and danced around before throwing myself on the bed, giggling as I rolled from side to side then stared at the ceiling.
I’m getting married.
Our wedding day…A mild and sunny Saturday in spring!
Or perhaps summer!
Happiness filled my soul.
Sleep came much later after I placed a quick call to Maydine. In the end, I was not the only one screaming, she was ‘off the chain’.
CHAPTER 14: PRECIOUS
The sun was just starting to rise and its rays cast a golden hue on trees by my window. A few sunbeams made interesting patterns on the wall, providing incandescent light across my bedroom. In a flash, the realization of what had occurred the night before hit me, and I broke into a wide grin followed by an avalanche of giggles. I felt so happy, undeniably happy.
I dedicated the day to the Lord, showered, curled my hair then dressed in dark blue jeans, a leopard print wrap blouse and dark brown sandals. I applied light make up and made my way to breakfast. I could hear an inaudible conversation amidst laughter as I entered the living room where Aunt Joy, Aunt Bee and Uncle Ernest were having a vibrant discussion.
“Good morning!” I greeted them with a smile.
“Good morning!” they responded joyfully.
“Did you sleep well?” Aunt Joy asked.
“Yes, I did. Thank you!” I looked around for Orane.
“Orane is not up,” Aunt Bee said. “Would you like to eat now?”
“I will have tea until he’s up.”
“I am up. Good morning all,” Orane said pleasantly as he entered the room.
“Good Morning, Orane!” we responded.
“Everybody doing okay?” Orane asked.
Murmurs of yes and okay rang out.
Orane smiled unashamedly at me and I blushed as he hugged my waist. “I have good news,” he announced exuberantly and everyone turned to face him. “Last night, I proposed and Annalisa accepted.”
Spontaneous applause and cheers of joy rang out as everyone hugged and congratulated us.
“We will keep you posted on our wedding date,” Orane informed them in the joyful atmosphere.
Deep and abiding love welled up in my heart as I watched Orane. He smiled lovingly at me before stating in a deep dramatic voice, “On behalf of my wife and…”
Laughter broke out before he could finish and I grinned from ear to ear.
“I am practicing for our big day,” he said smiling.
“Nephew, you are a piece of work,” Uncle Ernest said, slapping Orane’s back.
“That’s my son,” Aunt Joy said, still laughing.
“I have entertained you enough for one day,” Orane said, amidst laughter. “Time for breakfast.”
With that, he took my hand and led me to the breakfast nook, with Aunt Bee in tow, still snickering.
“Thank you for breakfast, Aunt Bee,” Orane said smiling. “This looks like your handy work.”
“What gave me away?” Aunt Bee asked lightheartedly.
“Let me see!” Orane smiled at her. “Is it this wonderful spread of boiled ackee with salt fish and roasted breadfruit? Breakfast is looking good!”
“Thank you!” Aunt Bee responded happily.
“I bet it tastes good too,” I remarked.
“I hope you will enjoy it,” Aunt Bee said proudly. “Do you need anything else?”
“I’m good. Thank you,” I responded.
“Thanks Aunt Bee. I’m good too,” Orane said. “We appreciate you!”
Aunt Bee smiled. “You are welcome. I will be on the front porch if you need anything.”
“Okay!” Orane said, and we sat down and ate heartily.
After breakfast, Orane took me on a short tour of the neighborhood and I met a few of his relatives and friends who welcomed me with opened arms. Everyone cheered excitedly when Orane introduced me as his future wife. They shouted congratulatory words and some of the men slapped his back, saying, “You’re the man.”
I smiled bravely as I listened to their words of encouragement.
When we returned home, Orane chatted with Uncle Ernest on the front porch while the ladies showed me the lush garden at the front of the house.
“Who has the green thumb?” I asked.
“Guilty!” Aunt Bee said, throwing her hands in the air.
“Aunt Bee is really good at gardening,” Aunt Joy confirmed.
“The garden is beautiful,” I remarked, glancing at the variety of roses.
“Let me confess right now, I don’t have a green thumb,” I said bashfully. “Not at all!”
“You cannot be good at everything Annalisa,” Aunt Joy teased.
“Ahhh!” I grinned at them. “Nevertheless, I love flowers, especially roses.”
“So romantic,” Aunt Joy said, playfully touching my shoulder.
“Aunt Joy!” I eyed her, giggling softly, “You’re a naughty lady.”
She giggled right back, grabbing on to Aunt Bee for support.
“Can I get pictures of you ladies?” I asked.
“Noooo!” they hollered in unison.
“Please!” I gave them my pretty please look.
It worked! I took my camera out of my purse. “Let the model in you emerge,” I encouraged them.
The ladies giggled like teenagers as I asked them to strike various poses in the garden.
Half an hour later, Aunt Joy and I sat on a bench in the garden looking at the pictures on the camera.
“Anna, I am so glad that we met! God bless you.”
I smiled at her. “It is nice to finally meet you too Aunt Joy.”
“I don’t have a daughter so you are a wonderful addition to the family.”
“Thanks Aunt Joy. That’s a beautiful thing to say.” I gently hugged her shoulders. “I appreciate you.”
She smiled reassuringly. “Orane will make you a wonderful husband.”
“Thanks for saying that. I love him. He is very caring and giving.”
“Very! He takes care of all my needs, medications and all. He’s on time and joyful about it.”
“He considers it a joy to provide for you.”
Aunt Joy smiled contentedly. “I thank God for him.”
I reached out and touched her hand. “Me too.”
As we digested this, Orane’s voice rang out nearby. “Annalisa.”
“Excuse me Aunt Joy,” I said, moving towards the sound of his voice. “Yes Orane!”
He was still sitting on the front porch with Uncle Ernest.
“Are you ready?” he asked. “We have to go.”
“Yes. Ready when you are!”
“Let me get my car keys.”
“Aunt Joy,” I called out, “we will talk later. I am hitting the streets with Orane.”