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Ellie Carson was a fifty six year old woman who owned the neighborhood flower shop, or as she was fond of saying, the shop owned her. It was all she had to show for a lifetime devoted to a husband who had left her years ago, and she kept opening the door everyday out of habit pretty much because she had no place else to go.
Her health was good and the business, while not exactly thriving, was good enough to keep a roof over her head and the wolves away from the door. Outside of the shop, Ellie had no life. The friends she had made as part of a couple were long gone, scattering like people do when they have little in common anymore.
There were little moments in her day that made it worth getting up in the morning, and one of the most enjoyable of those were when she got her lunch delivered. Not because of the food, as good as it may have been, but because of Anthony, the energetic little fellow who delivered it from the deli down the street.
Chapter One: At the sound of the bell.
The jingle of the bells attached to the top of the door got Ellie Carson’s attention, and when she looked up and saw who it was, her face broke into the same wide smile that it always did when Anthony walked into the shop. While it would have been more profitable for it to have been a customer instead of Anthony, he was certainly the next best thing.
“Hello Mrs. Carson,” the little guy chirped cheerfully as he cruised into the flower shop with the small brown bag that held Ellie’s lunch.
“Anthony! Right on time as usual,” Ellie said, adding with a touch of sarcasm, “You just missed the rush.”
“Eh!” Anthony said. “Business is bad all around here. Guess we need a stimulus in this neighborhood too. Of course, every time I see you I get stimulated enough for the rest of the day.”
“I guess I get baloney even when I order a salad,” Ellie answered with a shake of her head.
It was a ritual that they would play out every day that Ellie ordered something from the deli Anthony’s family owned. He would come in and say the most outrageous things to her, flirting and kidding, and Ellie would act shocked or amused, depending on the comment. Boys being boys, sometimes Anthony got a little racy, but to Ellie, Anthony was so adorable that he could do no wrong.
Goodness knows that with business the way it was, she could use a little cheering up, and Anthony rarely failed in that regard, even when he was in the way or being a pain in the butt.
“Mrs. Carson, I’ve got to ask you a question,” Anthony said as he followed Ellie around the little store. “How can it be that in a flower shop, you smell nicer than anything else?”
“You used that line last week, Anthony,” Ellie reminded him. “I guess that means my flowers need help.”
“No, it’s you that needs something,” Anthony suggested. “You need a man like me around the place to help you out and keep reminding you how beautiful you are.”
“And what would your father do without you around?” Ellie countered.
“Same thing he’s gonna have to do in the fall when I go off to college,” Anthony said. “Besides, I love him and the deli, but not the way I love you. I think you and me, we should go out on a date! Let me take you out on the town.”
“I think that you can do a lot better than me,” Ellie laughed. “You sure can do a lot younger.”
“Girls my age are too silly,” Anthony said as he leaned over the counter. “I need a woman that’s more mature. Besides, I’m way too much man for any 18 year old girl around here.”
“You’re way too much alright,” Ellie said as she handed Anthony his money for the salad, and was actually a little sad when someone else came into the store.
This would always be Anthony’s cue to leave. Always brash and bold when they were alone, but respectful and business-like when there were others around, he seemed to know the right way to act when others were present. If he were only 40 years older, Ellie thought, sighing as she greeted the customer that had sent Anthony on his way.
Chapter Two: Dress code.
“I love it when it gets really warm out,” Anthony said as he delivered Ellie’s lunch the next day.
“You certainly don’t look like you’re enjoying it,” Ellie said. “You’re sweating like a racehorse.”
“Must be on account of me being Italian,” Anthony said, standing in front of the fan. “We’re very hot blooded, did you know that?”
“No, I didn’t realize that, but that explains a lot of things,” she replied with a smile.
“You could find out really easy, you know that Mrs. Carson?”
Anthony had such a bright white smile to go along with his youthful brashness that he could get away with a lot, Ellie thought as she glanced out at Anthony drying off in front of the squeaky fan. He had a Sal Mineo look about him that must drive the girls wild in school, and one time when she had mentioned that actor’s name and his resemblance to Anthony, she realized that she was giving away her age, because he didn’t have the slightest idea who she was talking about.
Although buca escort Anthony was short and slight, he had a way about him in the shop that made him seem taller than the 5’6″ or so that he was. Out on the street, when he would pass by the shop with his friends, he seemed to be the runt of the litter and although they were probably only kidding, he did seem to be the target of their barbs and kidding.
Ellie had heard Anthony one time being called by what seemed to be his nickname, Rigatoni, but after seeing his reaction to the name she certainly wasn’t going to use it herself. Maybe they kidded him because he was so small, but there might have been some jealousy involved too, because he looked so cute that the girls probably did find him irresistible.
Not only did Anthony have very handsome features, but his wavy black hair made him look very dashing to Ellie as well. Smooth olive toned skin and dimples didn’t hurt either, and he looked nice in shorts too, with slender yet muscular legs that were covered with thick black hair, a stark feature that offset his otherwise boyish looks.
“Don’t you want to know why?” Anthony asked, breaking her out of her trance, and she felt embarrassed that he had apparently said something to her while she was daydreaming.
“I’m sorry Anthony,” Ellie said. “What did you say?”
“I said that I loved it when it gets hot because you wear blouses like the one you have on,” Anthony said, pointing to the rather drab grey and purple shell she had on. “My favorite is the the white one with the pink stripes, but any of the ones you have without sleeves are really nice, because you have beautiful arms.”
“Is that so?” Ellie said with a sarcastic lilt in her voice.
“Really hot!” Anthony said, walking over to where Ellie was changing water in the bouquet buckets. “Your arms are soft looking, but when you lift something I can see the muscles rippling underneath, and that’s really sexy.”
“I hear that all the time,” Ellie said with a upraised eyebrow accompanying her laugh.
“I believe it,” Anthony said, moving along with Ellie down the row of buckets. “I love the freckles on the upper part of your arms, and that other blouse is cut so it shows more of your shoulders, and there’s more freckles there too.”
“Oh, there’s freckles galore.”
“That’s great to hear, but the only way I could be sure is if I got the chance to get a better look, like maybe some time when you and me – maybe we could go the beach for an afternoon and go swimming?”
“You’re a pip, Anthony.”
“Don’t know what that means, but I hope it’s good,” Anthony said as he leaned closer to her. “It’s neat the way the inside of your arms is so pale compared to the outsides. The skin looks so soft too. Even your underarms usually look smooth and creamy – like butter.”
“I have armpits like butter?” Ellie chuckled.
“Usually, except some days like today, when you have a little peach fuzz because you didn’t shave,” Anthony said.
“I had no idea I was being observed so closely,” Ellie said, feeling her face flush a bit as she moved behind the counter, hoping for once that a customer would interrupt.
“No, that’s sexy too,” Anthony said. “Even sexier, I think. It still looks soft too, and I wonder what it would feel like to touch you there.”
“Anthony, I know you’re kidding around, but this conversation is getting a little bit much.”
“I’m not kidding,” Anthony said. “I wish you would stop treating me like a kid. I’m a man, and I would love to prove it to you.”
“UPS!” the gruff voice bellowed at the same time the door jingled, and as the perpetually frenetic delivery guy flew in, he cast an eye at Anthony while dropping the box on the counter and scanning the bar code.
“Everything okay here?” the man in brown asked, noticing the way Ellie’s hand trembled as she signed for the parcel.
“No, we’re fine, thank you,” Ellie said, realizing that she probably looked as if she was being harassed or something, and gave him a reassuring smile in gratitude. “He’s fine. We’re fine. Thanks for asking.”
The UPS guy nodded, gave Anthony a cold look as he passed him, and flew out the door as fast as he had entered. Anthony lingered for a minute by the door, shuffling his feet and looking contrite.
“I’m sorry if I made you upset, or anything like that,” Anthony said in a much softer tone than he usually used.
“It’s nothing, Anthony,” Ellie assured him. “It’s just that sometimes you get a little carried away. My fault actually. I guess I like hearing some of the things you say when you’re teasing me.”
“I never lie to you,” Anthony said, noticing a couple of women at the door preparing to come in to the store. “Never once. Not about things that really matter, at least. Everything I ever said about you was the truth.”
Chapter Three: Dress to impress.
Ellie Carson was fully prepared to not order from the deli that next morning, or at least that was what she kept telling herself as she delayed calling alsancak escort in her order until the last minute.
“Who am I kidding?” Ellie said to the empty store.
Ellie wanted Anthony to come to the store today, just like she did every day. She loved the banter, and she loved the attention Anthony paid to her. Even loved the flirting, even if he was throwing the bull most of the time. It had been many years – hell, decades – since anybody had said anything remotely provocative to her, that she had forgotten what it was like to be flirted with.
Warren had long stopped flirting by the time they had divorced six years ago, and the eligible suitors hadn’t exactly been lining up at the door for her since then. Of course, it didn’t help that she made no effort to socialize herself, content to just open the shop every day and carry on as best she could.
Looking at her reflection, Ellie wondered where the years had gone. Once filled with so much hope and promise, Ellie’s life today was a big comedown from being the perky cheerleader of forty years past.
Nearly thirty years of marriage, the first half of theem great with an affectionate husband and an adorable child, followed by the most unimaginable tragedy that parents can endure. After that, as the conversations became briefer and less frequent and the affection became almost non-existent, they had drifted apart. Warren had affair after affair, and had finally decided that one of his flings was good enough to keep, so he left Ellie, and left her the store as a going away present.
“A fitting remembrance,” Ellie mumbled to herself as she dialed in her lunch order before unlocking the door and flipping the CLOSED sign around to OPEN.
For some reason, business was good that morning, so Ellie hardly noticed the time had flown by when Anthony arrived with her lunch. Ellie had seen him approach the door a little tentatively, but when he came inside and saw her, his face broke into the widest grin imaginable.
Anthony held the door open for the last customer and then strode up to the counter with his usual swagger. His t-shirt was drenched with sweat from the humidity of the day, but his eyes were on Ellie as he set her lunch order on the counter.
“Oh Anthony, you look like you’re dying,” Ellie said, going into the cabinet and getting a fresh hand towel for him to use.
“Hi, Mrs. Carson,” Anthony said, his eyes fixed on the white blouse with the pink stripes while he wiped his face with the towel. “It’s not all because of the temperature, you know.”
“Well, in that case, I’d better not wear this blouse anymore,” Ellie joked. “It’s a pain anyway.”
Noticing that her right bra shoulder strap was showing, Ellie reached up and slid it under the fabric, stifling a giggle when Anthony’s eyes bulged wide when she briefly raised her arm to make the adjustment.
“You shouldn’t wear a bra,” Anthony said suddenly.
“You mean I don’t need one?”
“NO!” Anthony almost shouted. “I mean, I love girls with small tits – I mean breasts. Most of my girlfriends have had little ones. Even smaller than yours I bet. I meant that you would look extra sexy without a bra.”
“Anthony, you’ll have to take my word for this, but bras were made for old women like me,” Ellie said as she took the wrap out of the bag. “There may not seem to be much there, but what’s there would be dragging on the counter without help.”
“I would like to see that,” Anthony said as he leaned toward the counter.
“Giving me one of these is no way to win my heart,” Ellie chided, removing the wrapped pickle from the bag and shaking it at Anthony, who made a face as she threw it in the garbage. “No pickles! I even loathe the smell of them.”
“Sorry. The old man should know better by now,” Anthony said apologetically. “So the weekend is almost here. How about we go to a movie or something?”
“Maybe we should go to the drive-in,” Ellie laughed.
“Okay!” Anthony said excitedly. “Uh – I don’t have a car though.”
“Neither do I,” Ellie said. “Oh well. It was a thought.”
“So a movie is good?” Anthony said hopefully, and when Ellie shook her head no, Anthony nodded.
“You mentioned a drive-in so nobody would see us together like at a theatre,” Anthony surmised. “You’re ashamed to be seen with me.”
“No, that’s not it at all,” Ellie replied, before catching herself. “Wait, that’s not true. Yes, I would be ashamed – for you. Can you imagine what we would look like together, even just to go to a movie?”
“Sure I do,” Anthony said. “Can’t you?”
“Of course I know what we would look like,” Ellie said. “We would look absurd, unless people mistook us for a grandmother taking her grandson to the movies.”
“I’m not a kid, I’m a man,” Anthony said defiantly.
“I know, you always tell me that.”
“That’s because you don’t take me seriously,” Anthony said. “I’ve been with lots of women. Ask around. All the ladies know about Anthony!”
“So that’s what this is all about?” Ellie asked. bornova escort “Walk me down the street so your friends can laugh at me?”
“I…” Anthony said, his voice breaking. “I would never do that to you.”
The door jingle was a merciful interruption, and Ellie noticed that Anthony stuck around while she took care of the customer, pretending to be looking at things as she rang up the order. Ellie watched him wipe his eyes with the back of his hand at one point, adding more to her confusion.
“Anthony, I’m sorry,” Ellie said after the customer had left and they were alone again. “It’s just that I don’t understand any of this. You’re always talking about how popular you are with the girls. Why in the world would you have any interest in me?”
“Because I think you’re the prettiest woman I’ve ever seen,” Anthony said. “All those other women are nothing compared to you.”
“That’s nice of you to say, honey, and I love the way you flirt with me and all, but let’s face it. I’m – do you know how old I am?”
“I don’t care. I don’t even want to know.”
“Fifty six, Anthony,” Ellie said. “That’s old. Too old by decades for an 18 year old boy – or man.”
“You don’t look 56, Mrs. Carson,” Anthony said. “But I don’t care if you’re 56 or 106. I like you, and I thought you liked me too.”
“I do, Anthony,” Ellie protested.
“I know you never order from the deli on Mondays, and I figured out that it was because that’s my day off,” Anthony explained. “Plus, I go past here all the time, even when I don’t have to, and I see the way you look when you’re here in the store by yourself, or even with customers. You’re nice to them, but not like you are to me. You seem to get happier when I show up.”
“That’s true, Anthony,” Ellie said, surprised that he had found out about her not ordering lunch on Mondays. “You always brighten up my day.”
“Then why won’t you go out with me?”
“Seriously? There’s no future in it for either of us. What are we going to do, get married? You have a wonderful future. Heading off to college with the whole world for you to conquer,” Ellie explained, her voice fading as she ended. “Me, I’m just an old lady in a flower shop.”
Ellie might have laughed at the scene if it was taking place in a Lifetime Channel movie, with the two of them getting dewy-eyed over the counter, and thankfully nobody came in the store to see it. Anthony wet his lips and moved his arm over the counter.
“Sorry. Always wanted to do that,” Anthony explained after he finished.
It was a simple and innocent gesture; Anthony’s hand reaching over and touching Ellie’s shoulder, and then letting his hand slide slowly down her slender arm, right to the wrist before letting it move back up to her shoulder before pulling his arm away and apologizing.
“It’s okay,” Ellie shrugged, the goose bumps that appeared on her arm mimicking the way chills ran through her body at the touch of the young man.
Anthony’s olive hued fingers were such a contrast against her pale white skin, and his touch was so delicate and tender that Ellie was almost sorry that his caress had ended. She had to brace herself on the counter while she lost her balance for a second, because she had been leaning toward him while he stroked her skin.
“See ya,” Anthony said softly, and turned to leave before Ellie’s voice stopped him in his tracks.
“If you would like,” Ellie said, having to clear her throat before finishing. “If you would like to have dinner with me, I’d like that. At my place. Tomorrow night.”
“Your place? Great!” Anthony said, spinning around so fast that he nearly lurched right into a potted plant. “Where do you live?”
“Here,” Ellie shrugged. “Upstairs.”
“That’s fantastic!” Anthony said, bouncing on the balls of his feet as if he was preparing to take off through the ceiling. “What time?”
“Seven?” Ellie asked, and Anthony nodded enthusiastically before spinning around to the door, and then hurrying back to the counter.
“Thank you,” Anthony said, reaching over and taking Ellie’s hand in his.
“Always wanted to do that too,” Anthony said after kissing the back of her hand, and with that skipped out the door, waving though the window at Ellie as he headed back to work.
Ellie returned the wave before picking up the moist hand towel from the counter. The scent of him got her attention, and as she raided the towel close to her face Ellie inhaled the aromatic blend of Anthony’s perspiration and testosterone, and it was not unpleasant. Not unpleasant at all.
Chapter Four: Before dinner.
Anthony was there knocking at the door about 10 minutes early, and Ellie was happy that she had gotten ready early, anticipating that. When she opened the door she had to bite her lip for fear she would either burst out laughing or crying.
“Hi, Mrs. Carson,” Anthony said. “This is for you.”
“Oh, you shouldn’t have done that,” Ellie said, shaking her head at the box of chocolates that Anthony seemed proud to give her, and with good reason because they were an expensive brand that she never would have splurged for herself.
“I would have gotten you flowers but then you would have known you were getting them,” Anthony explained. “And if I bought flowers from someplace else you would have gotten mad.”
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