This week’s excerpt for Sweet Saturday Samples is from the beginning of Chapter 29 of Adicia’s story, “Allen and Lenore’s Romance.” After Chapter 26, “Rendezvous with Destiny,” this was my favorite chapter to write and the one I most looked forward to reaching. In my original plans for the book, when I was writing the discontinued first draft many years ago, Allen and Lenore were going to get together a lot sooner instead of waiting three years. But then I realized that would be pretty unrealistic, since not only has Lenore just run away from an abusive, degenerate father when she meets Allen and his sisters in 1962, but she’s also 15 to Allen’s 18. Three years is a pretty big age difference at that age. In waiting for Lenore to turn 18, I also thought it increased the tension between them and made the final payoff even sweeter, since they both had to wait so long.

***

“Would you like to go out to supper to celebrate your birthday?” Allen asks Lenore. “You deserve something really special to mark your eighteenth birthday after all you went through this year.”

“You mean tonight?” Lenore asks. “Isn’t Friday night usually a date night? People might assume we’re out on a date.”

“Today’s your birthday, isn’t it? We’ll have a nice supper out, and then I can give you your present when we get home. I can’t wait to show you what I got you.”

“What if that girl you like sees us out and gets jealous?”

“No other girl is going to steal me away from you. Stop worrying about whatever I told you about some other girl. Now how’d you like to go out to a Greek restaurant?”

“I don’t think I’ve had Greek food before.”

“Then why we don’t we go and try it out? I hear Greeks make excellent food. I’m sure you’ll have a great time.”

“Okay,” Lenore finally agrees, secretly thrilled she’ll be going out on something that looks like a date with Allen, even if they’ll only be going out as male-female roommates. “I guess I’m paying for my own meal.”

“I’ll pay for everything,” he smiles. “It’s not very chivalrous to take a girl out to eat and then make her pay for it. It’s my job to pay. Now why don’t you put on some fancy clothes while I put on that suit you got me, and we can be going.”

Lenore darts into her room to put on a green sundress, a lightweight dark green shawl, and yellow leather open-toed sandals. Allen puts on the dress shirt, dress pants, and dress shoes, leaving off the suit jacket since it’s too hot to wear it. He wishes he could offer Lenore his arm as they start down the hall to the elevator.

“I don’t look so bad without makeup, do I? For some reason I never got around to buying any with my money from when I was working.”

“You’re naturally beautiful. You’re not onea those girls who needs to put on a bunch of makeup to make herself look good. You should feel proud of having such nice skin and features without needing any extra help.”

Lenore blushes. “You really think I’m beautiful?”

“The most beautiful girl I know, both inside and out. I’m proud I’m going to be seen out and about with you.”

When they arrive at the restaurant, they’re given an outdoor table. Allen pulls her chair out for her and seems to spend most of his time looking into her eyes. Lenore tries her best to shrug it off as just a feeling of gratitude that she’s still alive after what happened to her, though she can’t help but feeling like she’s turning into a bowl of gelatin every time he looks at her. She wonders what it would feel like to be touched by him in a non-platonic way, and shivers with excitement at the thought of it.

For supper, Allen orders stuffed grape leaves and moussaka, and Lenore orders baked lamb and spanakopita. He won’t hear of her ordering anything that’s just a soup and salad just to save money and avoid overeating. Even after she’s regained her strength, health, and appetite, Allen is still terrified of Lenore having a relapse or becoming sick all over again. Only hearty, substantial foods will do for her in his eyes. He even insists she try several bites of the moussaka from his fork. For dessert, Allen orders karidopita, a cake made of crushed walnuts and soaked in syrup, and Lenore orders the closest thing on the menu to ice-cream, partially frozen Greek yogurt with honey mixed in and berries on top.

On the way home, Allen suddenly turns to her, his heart beating loudly enough for Lenore to hear it. “Do you mind if I hold your hand?”

“Sure,” Lenore says after thinking about it for a few seconds.

Allen reaches over for her hand and takes it gently in his, trying not to look at her for the rest of the walk home. Lenore doesn’t look over at him either, though her insides feel as though they’re on fire from the sparks of excitement coming from holding hands. She knows most girls her age probably think of hand-holding as baby stuff, but when you’ve never done it with someone special before, it feels electrically charged, marking a different kind of physical contact and maybe the start of a boy-girl relationship. But maybe Allen just wants to hold hands as friends and just never asked her before. Lenore knows not everyone who holds hands is doing it for romantic reasons.

When they’re back in the apartment, Lenore sits down on the davenport while Allen goes into his room to fetch her birthday presents. She still feels a tingling sensation in the hand he was holding. After what her father did to her, she never imagined she’d someday be longing for any man to touch her. Her whole body is aching to be touched by him again, even if it’s just hand-holding.

“Happy birthday, beautiful girl,” he says as he sets the gifts next to her. “You’ll get the rest of your gifts tomorrow when the girls come over.”

7 thoughts on “Sweet Saturday Samples

  1. Greek food… *sigh* I’m gonna have to find one close to my new house 🙂

    I love this sample and can’t wait until they reveal their feelings for each other.

    Like

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