Before I Fall

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VII

He felt it.

The stares Luca was receiving in the ice-cream parlour left the hairs on his neck standing. Never had the customers seen the heavily tattooed man with a woman on his arm. Sure, it wasn’t a small town that Luca lived in, but word got around fast. Especially if the town’s most mysterious and brooding man had finally settled down. Unbeknownst to Ambra, the entire store was staring at her in wonder.

Who was the young beauty latched onto the brooding male next to her?

Fingers snapped in front of Luca’s face. “Hellooooooo? Luca, you there?”

“Yes, yes, sorry love what flavours did you decide on?”

“I’ve decided on one scoop of mint chocolate chip and one of coffee,” Ambra described with an excited smile on her face. “The man is waiting for you to choose now.”

Looking up from the bouncing ball of joy next to him, Luca found that the server was indeed waiting on his order. After ordering a plain vanilla cone like a normal person, Luca turned to Ambra with a playful look of disgust on his face.

“Seriously? Out of all the choices you had?”

Ambra pouted as she listened to her new best-friend trash talk her favourite ice-cream flavours. With a slight stomp of her foot, she turned around and went to sit down in a booth at the back of the store. Shocked, Luca quickly went to follow her but was stopped by the server calling him back to get their ice-cream. Picking up the cup and cone, Luca speed-walked to where Ambra was looking out of the window. On his way to her, Luca walked past an old man who was chuckling and shaking his head whilst looking at him. Thinking it was an old pervert, Luca grumbled under his breath and reached the booth.

“Love, you okay?”

“Hmph,” Ambra’s pout deepened as she grabbed her cup from Luca’s outstretched hands.

Luca sighed before sitting beside Ambra and running his over his face. “Love, I’m sorry did it really mean that much to you? I didn’t realize something like an ice-cream flavour would upset you...”

Luca began apologizing profusely and failed to notice the small grin had painted itself on Ambra’s face. It wasn’t until he heard a light giggle from beside him did he stop to look at her. Ambra’s cheeks had turned a rosy red and her hazel eyes glittered in the dim lighting of the shop. Realizing he had fallen into the young woman’s trap, he playfully glared at her.

“Oh, you little minx,” he growled whilst ticking her sides.

“Haha, n-no Luca s-stop I’m sorry p-please. I’m gonna p-pee myself!!” Ambra’s giggling caused many customers in the shop to look at the laughing couple in amazement. Were their eyes deceiving them? Seeing the town’s big bad boss man with a woman in his arm was enough for their souls for one day but giggling? The people in the shop weren’t sure if they were hallucinating.

Luca finally stopped after Ambra’s giggling turned into pleading and quickly got up to use the bathroom. Luca began eating his cone and saw the old man from earlier staring at him from the corner of his eye. Noticing the tattooed male staring back at him, the old man quickly looked down at his half-eaten ice-cream sundae. Both individuals went back to eating their respective desserts however, Luca could still feel the old man’s stare burning into the side of his head. Sighing, he stopped licking his delicious ice-cream and turned to look at the man.

“What’s the problem? Huh? I don’t appreciate you staring at me while I’m trying to eat in peace. What, have you never seen a grown tattooed man eat a fucking vanilla cone before?”

The old man’s eyes widened before he began stumbling over his words. “N-no sir I do apologize, I-I have no problem with you eating there. My name’s Henry s-sir. I was actually reminded of my wife whilst staring at the young woman you were with and how you two arguing and laughing. You see, she used the love the window booth you guys are sitting in right now. It gave her the perfect view of the flower shop across the street,” Henry’s eyes that shone bright whilst telling the story suddenly became dull. “She died last week of cancer. It’s a cruel bitch, cancer that is. Everyone’s told me to sit home and mourn, but I can’t do that. My Mary would want me here today and enjoying something we’ve kept going for seventy years. It was actually going to be our 70th anniversary today. We always came here and this is the sundae she’d pick and we’d share it,” he pointed to the half-eaten colourful dessert in front of him. “I’m only eating half of it, I’m leaving the other half for her. She’s not here, I know, but I’d like to think she is.”

Luca hadn’t ever lost anyone he cared about, so he could only hope that is apology would suffice. “I’m sorry you had to go through that, Henry truly I am. Why are you telling me this may I ask?”

“I want you to treasure the young woman you’re with today. There’s something about you two. There aren’t many people who remind me of my wife and I, but there’s just something there between you two.”

Luca’s eyes widened before he began, “Oh no, she’s a friend. We’re not togeth—”

“Son, keep her close,” Henry interrupted him without caring for Luca’s shaking head and continued speaking. “It’s love, I’m telling you.”

Luca couldn’t contain the scoff that erupted from inside his chest. “Thanks Henry, but I don’t believe in love and I told you, we’re just friends.”

Henry and Luca both noticed Ambra’s figure moving towards them. “You will the more time you spend together, just you wait and mark my words,” Henry winked before going back to eat his half of the sundae.

“Luca, can we walk in the park whilst eating? Look how sunny it is today pleaseee, please, please, ple—” Ambra was interrupted by a spoonful of ice-cream being shoved into her mouth.

“Calm down and yes, we can love,” Luca couldn’t stop the chuckles coming out of his mouth as he grabbed Ambra’s hand and his cone in the other.

He held the door open for a bouncing Ambra, but before leaving he caught the eye of a smiling Henry. Shaking his head at the old man’s antics, Luca walked out of the store and followed his Ambra to the park.

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