As she lay in bed, Angelina kept puzzling over what had gone wrong. Rossi was hard to reach, harder than most men. She’d tried all of her seduction strategies on him and none worked. Men usually like it when you listened to them attentively while fixing their drinks expertly and plying them with food. They liked it when you dressed up for them. They liked it when you did extra little things for them like making them coffee with your own hands. But from the first moment he’d stepped inside the house, Rossi had given subtle hints that he wasn’t enjoying himself. It didn’t make sense. After all, if he hadn’t liked her company, why had he accepted her invitation?
It had been a mistake to put that popular song on and ask him to dance, because he clearly hadn’t wanted to. She should have been smart enough to notice that he wouldn’t like that kind of music, because when she’d left him alone, he’d played something quite different. What was it? Something by Bach. The sort of thing Grace would know.
Grace…Angelina couldn’t figure out what had happened, because Grace hadn’t done anything. She’d just sat there in that dreamy way of hers, showing no interest in him. So why was he so interested in her? It was true the child had looked very pretty in that old ivory lace gown that had belonged to Aunt Pauline. But that still didn’t explain it. It didn’t explain why Rossi was so attracted to someone who seemed so indifferent, especially when Angelina had marshaled her considerable arts of seduction and failed.
Angelina had never seen anything like it before. Her female acquaintances were like her; experienced in the ways of men, knowing when to press and when to yield. But Grace just stood there looking embarrassed while Rossi stared at her and Violet tactlessly went on about how old they were. Angelina was still smarting from that incident: Couldn’t Violet see how much it hurt to have a potential suitor clearly figuring out your age from the ages of your daughters?
The first real indications of Rossi’s feelings for Grace had been when he’d taken her hand and kissed it, making a gesture that was both odd and old-fashioned. But far from encouraging him, Grace had done her disappearing act, as she always did when in front of strangers, leaving Violet to do the talking.
You would think Rossi would be put off; instead he positioned himself opposite Grace so that he could look at her. Angelina remembered how Rossi’s face lit up when Violet mentioned that Grace played violin. He’d put his coffee cup down, and, addressing Grace, made his first declaration of love by telling her he was passionate about music.
But Grace didn’t seem to notice. She just sat there in her dreamy state. One of the things Angelina did not understand about her daughter was her complete lack of interest in men: She lived for her violin, and very little else, and this despite the fact that she aroused a considerable amount of male interest as she wandered around the streets of Georgetown.
It was only when Rossi offered to help her with her Brahms sonata that she came to life. Angelina couldn’t forget the dazzling smile that spread over his face when Grace sat up and actually looked at him. She couldn’t forget the expression in his eyes, how soft they became, when he looked at Grace. Men didn’t usually look at Angelina that way. They looked aroused, or bored, or amused, or cynical. But not tender. Angelina had never known a man look at her the way Rossi looked at Grace.
It was all so annoying, and painful, and puzzling. By the time the Brahms sonata came to an end, it was clear Mr. Rossi had fallen in love with her daughter! Angelina could hardly bear to think about it. What would happen if he returned and asked permission to be Grace’s suitor? Well, Angelina would not stand for it. Grace was only seventeen for God’s sake and it was the height of rudeness to abandon the mother for the daughter. If he did return, she would see to it that he was sent away again. And with that thought, Angelina fell asleep.
–Cynthia Haggard writes short stories, novels and poetry. During the day, she is a medical writer and editor who owns her own business. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. For more about her medical writing services, go to clarifyingconcepts. (c) 2008. All rights reserved.