WRITING EXTRAS

Dinner with Anton in Manhattan

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This is a deleted scene from LOVE and Candy.  Contain **spoilers**!  It takes place during winter break of Samantha's Sophomore Year.  She and her family go to Manhattan to meet Anton de' Medici for a fancy dinner.

 

Dinner with Anton in Manhattan

They met Anton at Three Rings on Madison Avenue.  He wasn't alone.  A dazzling woman sat next to him at the bar, wearing a deep-necked wrap-around cocktail dress with a sparkling broach fastened at her waist -- so tightly-bound as to impair digestion.  Clutching a red fur shawl, she unabashedly kissed Robert on both cheeks and was introduced as Ms. Palmero, Anton's assistant who had planned much of their trip to Italy.  They'd never gotten a chance to meet her in Florence, so Anton brought her as a surprise. 

Samantha would have preferred fruitcake, or a Poinsettia. 

Catherine, who had been beaming during the car ride from Connecticut, slumped her shoulders and lowered her chin in the presence of the beautiful young woman who spoke with a wispy southern Italian accent. 

Samantha followed her mom's rigid back as the maitre d' led them to their table.  Catherine took the innermost seat at the banquette, partially hidden from the rest of the party by a Christmas tree hanging upside down from the ceiling.  Ms. Palmero simpered as she eagerly situated herself between Anton and Robert in an armchair upholstered in polka-dotted rainbow fabric. 

Samantha thought of what her mom recently had told her about the times in New York when Robert and Anton had taken her out to fancy restaurants.  They would gang up on her and tease her, but also listened to her like they were truly interested.

"I guess it was those conversations over dinner," her mom had said, "the way they made me feel like the center of the universe … that's when I began to think I might be willing to go along with what they suggested, even though it went against everything I thought I knew about healthy relationships." 

 Catherine now looked dreary, a powder blue scarf still wrapped around her matching turtleneck sweater.  The ensemble was a Christmas gift like the reindeer sweater Samantha wore.  Noticing men at nearby tables checking out Ms. Palmero, Samantha cursed herself for not taking the time to dress for dinner like her sisters.

She studied her mom and decided that although she was clearly not as young-looking as Ms. Palmero, her light skin and gold hair looked pretty in blue.  Samantha was certain, however, that her mom wasn't feeling pretty.

Stephanie and Annabelle made up for Catherine and Samantha's lack of conversation.  In awe of Anton's guest, they eagerly asked her questions as she dropped hints about attending a fashion show in Milan with "VIP front-row seats." 

Samantha overheard her sisters whispering speculation about whether Ms. Palmero was Anton's girlfriend, and she couldn't help but wondered about this herself.  She expected to catch him putting his hand on her shoulder or something else that would confirm it, but she saw no touching at all, not even of hands.  Yet, there was something in his onyx eyes, as he watched Ms. Palmero and Stephanie talk about "small-town life" in Connecticut, that made Samantha feel nauseated.  Didn't he realize it was tactless to be anything but spayed and neutered around her? 

Satisfyingly, Robert showed no sign of being overcome by Anton's striking consort and spoke normally, asking questions about her extensive travels, which she seemed eager to talk about.  Samantha knew her mom was wondering if her dad was attracted to her.

After dinner, they crossed to Fifth Avenue to see the window displays, and then walked toward central park.  Samantha joined in as Annabelle cavorted with Robert, playing tag by tugging at the hood of his overcoat. 

When they reached the park and turned west, Anton left Ms. Palmero, who was immediately accosted by Stephanie and Annabelle, and drew near Catherine.  "Are you feeling well?" he asked her.

"Yes, I'm fine," she said, not sounding fine. 

"Then what's wrong?  You're so quiet."  His tone of voice softened with the second sentence.  Was that the voice he used to convince her to let him touch her?

Samantha inconspicuously drew closer to her mom, teeming with curiosity.

Catherine turned to look at Anton for a moment, then fixed her eyes ahead on the sidewalk.  "I didn't expect you to bring a date."  She didn't say this loud enough for Ms. Palmero to hear -- she was 10 paces behind with the younger girls.

"She's not a date," he insisted.  "Her mother worked for my father.  Her family has been in our service for three generations."

Catherine looked at him again, with a sadness in her eyes.  "I know you like to always be around women like her, but I didn't realize you needed to bring someone to a … family dinner."  Catherine paused to take an audible breath.

He shook his head with apparent consternation.  "I thought the girls would have things to talk to her about.  That's the only reason I invited her.  And as a matter of fact, I don't think she stands out around your family."

Catherine slowed her pace a step.  "I don't want the girls to think beauty is everything to you." 

Samantha looked to Robert to see if he was concerned.

"As usual, I'm at a loss," said Anton.  "I haven't the least idea what you mean by that."

"When Rob and I knew you, I remember you used to have lots of assistants back in Italy.  If that's how you want to live to … your whole life … I guess that's fine.  But I thought you'd be paying attention to Samantha today."

"I was not … I did not intend …."

Catherine turned her face away.  Robert caught up with her and put his arms around her waist, tucking his hands in the front pockets of her coat.  Samantha noticed Anton watching them as Robert whispered in her mom's ear for several minutes.   

Finally, Catherine returned her attention to Anton.  "Sorry.  Forget what I said about Ms. Palmero … I think Steph and Annabelle do have a lot to talk to her about.  They were so happy about their shopping spree in Italy."

Anton just stared at her face for several moments until she looked away.

Annabelle, who was walking with Ms. Palmero, shouted in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, "Guess what!  Samantha has a boyfriend.  He's a god!  All the girls at school are crazy about him.  His eyes are like Jude Law's and his hair is like Brad Pitt's in Legends of the Fall, only shorter."

Ms. Palmero grinned at Samantha, who, along with her parents, had stopped walking -- the last thing she wanted was a discussion of Delaney around Anton. 

"Is he the one you thought was trouble?" Anton asked, looking at Robert.

"He's still trouble for all I know – of course I haven't had a good chance to scrutinize him because he doesn't set foot in the house … just waits in his car for Sam."

"You shouldn't permit her to spend time with someone you don't approve," said Anton.

"She gets to choose who she spends her free time with," said Robert.

"Yes, but you ought to keep her away from men who aren't appropriate for her.  She's too young to know what's best."

Pain enveloping her chest, Samantha glared at Anton.  "Maybe they should keep tabs on who you date."  She made sure not to say the last sentence loud enough for Ms. Palmero to hear.

Robert controlled a smile as Anton gawked at Samantha.  She refused to meet his gaze and lowered her eyes angrily, her shoes making a clapping sound as she stepped onto the curb. 

The topic of conversation quickly changed to the new piano.

"It was an extra special Christmas gift for Gretchen and me," said Annabelle to Ms. Palmero.

 Samantha calmed down, realizing that neither Anton nor anyone else was going to say another word about Delaney.

With a voice of authority, Anton said sharply, "Samantha."

She turned to face him, her chin lifted, her eyes icy.

"How much time to you spend in the city?"  His voice sounded more lenient.

She just stared.

He waited.

"Not so much," she answered with a quirk of her lips.  "We come to dinner with my grandparents, and sometimes go to Broadway or Lincoln Center."

"Do you like the ballet?"

"Yeah.  Sure.  I saw Swan Lake last year."

Anton starting speaking to her about how Manhattan was inherently suited for commerce, until they reached the parking garage.  Out of Ms. Palmero's clutch came four suede pouches for Samantha and her sisters, each containing a necklace with a star pendant made of five diamond-shaped stones.    

They all said goodbye.  In the car, Annabelle and Stephanie were anxious to decide who got which color star:  yellow, blue, pink or light green.  Samantha insisted Gretchen get first pick -- yellow, her favorite color -- and offered to take whatever was left after the others choose. 

Maybe he should have gotten Mom a gift too?  No, that would have been awkward.

***

That night Samantha woke up around one in the morning, yearning to talk to her dad.  Tiptoeing into her parents' bathroom, she peaked into their room through the sliding door they sometimes left open. 

Her mom was sitting on the edge of the bed in a floral print bra with a gold background.  "Are you thinking about how attractive she was?"

"No, I can honestly say I'm only thinking about you right now."  Her dad was in his PJ bottoms, kneeling on the carpet in front of her mom with his hands on her legs. 

"You always want to have sex after we see him," said Catherine.

"I always want to have sex when we get to bed before midnight too … on weekends … when we stay over at your parents' … after we get home from a party … Does that mean something?"

Catherine looked at him absorbedly.

"I don't know, Cat, maybe there is something about seeing the two of you together … in the same room … again."

"He barely said a word to me the entire dinner."

"You can be intimidating in your own way.  You don't even realize it.  He's scared of your frowns."

She nodded, but without seeming to believe him.  Robert rested his head against her stomach, and Catherine added, "She loses her temper so quickly around him." 

"You two were tag teaming him -- he didn't have a chance."  Robert smiled.  "Unlike me, he has no frame of reference for dealing with a wife and daughter turning on him at once."

Samantha decided to interrupt, knowing she wouldn't get in trouble for spying if she made herself known, "Hey."

Her dad whipped his head around, taking both hands off Catherine, but his voice was even.  "What's up?"

"Are you guys talking about me?"

"We were wondering if you had a good time at dinner."

"Stephanie keeps saying I was rude."

"She doesn't understand the situation.  Don't worry, no one is disappointed with you, Sam.  Your mom and I -- and Anton -- appreciate what you're going through."  Sitting on the carpet, he leaned against Catherine's legs.  " And, by the way, both you and your mom were off about Ms. Palmero.  She's engaged to a man in Milan."

copyright 2013

 

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