Wednesday, 25 June 2008
‘Are you sure that Fliss doesn’t mind me staying’
‘Frank will you stop worrying. I’ve told you a hundred times, Mum is only happy when she has a house full of people to fuss over.’
‘Well it’s very kind of her, especially with your sister and the children here as well.’
Ella smiled, it was lovely to see Frank so relaxed and happy. She was thrilled when Fliss had suggested that Frank might like to come back to villa with them after the conference had finished. This was just what he needed she thought, a couple of days walking in the sunshine, eating Mum’s home cooking and being surrounded by her lovely family.
‘What are you smiling at?’ Asked Frank
‘Nothing’ she laughed, ‘I’m just happy. Mum and I had a great holiday and I really enjoyed meeting up with you in Madrid for the conference and this is the icing on the cake, a weekend of being spoilt.’
‘I can understand now why you love coming over here so often. Your parents have a wonderful home and this scenery is gorgeous.’
‘Just wait ‘till we get down to the village you’ll love it. I don’t think it’s changed much in the past hundred years. The buildings are made from a beautiful red stone that seems to glow at sunset and I love all the fabulous smells you get walking around, fresh bread from the bakery, the herbs on the market stalls and of course the fabulous aroma of baked lamb from Maria’s, believe me Frank, Maria husband’s cooking is to die for.’
‘Aren’t you tempted to up sticks and live out here like Sophie has done?’
‘On days like this when the most taxing thing I have to do is stroll down to the market and buy the salad for dinner tonight, yes I’m tempted. But then when I’m back in my flat and getting my bag ready for work the next day I wonder how I could ever think of leaving my job. Does that make sense?’ Asked Ella
‘’Yes it makes perfect sense. You are a dedicated professional woman doing a job that is vital and if I may say, doing it really well. You are very highly thought of you know. Not only with the people you help but I’ve heard nothing but praise for you from your colleagues’
‘Oh stop it Frank, you’ll have me blushing. I’m just part of a small team with too much work and not enough resources but we try our best.’
Frank stopped walking and turned to hold Ella’s hand. ‘You do more than that Ella, you give the people you help hope and not many people can do that. Some of these men haven’t spoken to someone who cares like you do for years and in some cases never at all. Don’t underestimate the effect you have on some of these people.’
Ella looked down at her hands nestling in Frank’s. His long thin fingers were curled around hers, holding her with a tenderness that she hadn’t felt from a man in a very long time. She slowly curled her fingers to return Frank’s grasp and sighed deeply ‘I love my job Frank, you know that but there should be more for me than just work. It’s different for you, you have your faith and your parish duties but when I close the door when I get home of a night there’s only me, and I get lonely sometimes.’
Dropping Ella’s hands Frank reached across and ran a finger across Ella’s blushing cheek ‘I hadn’t realised Ella, you always seem so happy and in control.’
Ella laughed, ‘I’m sorry Frank, I am happy, most of the time, I don’t know what came over me I don’t usually get so maudlin.’
‘Don’t be silly, you’re not being maudlin, you’re just being honest. Does Fliss realise how you feel?’
‘Good heavens no, and you mustn’t tell her, she has enough problems of her without me adding to them. Come on Frank the day is too nice to spoil with all this nonsense, let’s get the shopping done and treat ourselves to lunch at Maria’s. I want you to sample some of Carlo’s cooking. You look like you need fattening up.’ And with a playful shove on the young priest’s back Ella ran off down the hill.
Ella was still giggling as she ran around the corner and nearly bumped into Paolo who was loading his tools into the back of his pick-up truck.
‘Ella, what a lovely surprise, I didn’t know that you were back. Did you have a good journey with Fliss?’
‘Oh Paolo it was fabulous, we had a wonderful time and as you can see I was very careful and didn’t get burnt.’
As Fr Frank came jogging around the corner then stopped suddenly when he saw the tall handsome stranger with his hand on Ella’s sun tanned arm.
‘Ola padre’ said Paolo hurriedly putting his hands in his pockets.
‘Paolo this is a friend of mine, Father Frank this is Paolo he has the farm next to the villa.
‘Ola Paolo, you are very lucky to live in such a beautiful place.’
‘Thank you Father, it’s hard work of course but I am very lucky to have such beautiful neighbours. Are you showing the Father our beautiful countryside?’ He said smiling at Ella’s blushes.
‘We’re off to the market then I promised the Father that I would take him to Maria’s for lunch.’
‘You will have a lovely meal Father. Maria has the finest restaurant in the village.’
‘Thank you yes Ella has been telling me how special the food is.’ Frank stammered.
As they walked off down the hill Ella’s mind was whirling. How could this be happening, one minute she was standing holding Frank’s hand, feeling her body tingle as his fingers softly gripped hers and when those gentle fingers touched her hot cheek she had to stop herself from kissing his sweet moist lips. This man is a priest, her head was shouting, he’s just being kind and sweet the way he is with everyone. But her heart, dear god her aching heart was longing to feel his lips on hers. Life would be so much easier if she could feel this way about Paolo. There would be no heartbreak she thought, only a passion that was an unspoken promise in his deep dark eyes.
Frank was silent as he walked next to Ella, his mind too was whirling with an emotion that he thought he would never have to confront. He prayed silently to God to help him resist what his heart was longing for. To hold this beautiful, perfect creature in his arms and breathing in the heady aroma of her warm sun kissed skin whisper to her how much he wanted her.