Trent was good to his word. Less than five minutes after she took to watching for him, he appeared, his 57 Chevy polished and gleaming. Cherry red with cream drop top and back panel, it had chrome that separated those smoothly. It was a thing of beauty.
She had been surprised when he got out and opened the car door for her. She had never been waited on. She was now smiling. She knew he was a keeper.
He looked over at her, as he drove, and smiled. “Where would you like to go to eat?”
She was suddenly self-conscious. “I-I don’t know. I am not familiar with too many places here.”
He nodded. “What kinds of food do you like?”
She was still unsure. “I-I don’t know. I was raised on Russian food, but I like just about anything.”
He chuckled. “How about Italian?”
She nodded. “Sure, I guess.”
He shook his head. “You don’t sound too sure of yourself. Do you like spaghetti or lasagna?”
She smiled. Those foods, she did know. “Oh, yes!”
He nodded. “Then, Italian it is.” He watched her fidget out of the corner of his eye for a while, then turned to face her again. “Look, you can relax. I don’t bite. My Mom taught me to respect a woman. I am not going to hurt you. Nor do I look at you as anything but a friend for right now. How things go is completely up to you, Natalia.
“If friends is all we remain, I am cool with that. If we become more, then so much the better. I don’t care that you have a child, or even who the father was. I am not judging you for anything, I just want to be your friend. Cool?”
She blushed. She was ashamed of herself. After all, he hadn’t tried anything. Hell. He hadn’t even touched her. He was a gentleman. She nodded. “We’re cool.”
He turned to her and smiled. “You’ll love Luigi’s. It’s quiet and a great place to eat. And the service is amazing.” He looked over at Matt, then back at her. “Do you have anything for him to eat? If not, I could stop and get some baby food or something.”
She smiled back at him. “Nah, I’ll just feed him some of mine. He’s used to it. I do that all the time when I’m at the shelter.”
He nodded. “I understand.”
He pulled the car up a drive and under an awning. A young boy in a red jacket met them. Trent put the car in park and went around to let her out, taking Matt temporarily so she could. he looked at the young man. “Park it relatively close. I want to make the nightly matinee at the drive-in by eight.”
The boy nodded, got into Trent’s car, then drove it away from the curb. She looked at him. “You allow others to drive your car?”
He smiled over at her. “He’s a valet. I have to allow him to park my car. It is the restaurant’s policy, and the reason he gets paid.” He gently took her arm. “Come. Let’s go inside.”
She slipped her arm through the space between his arm and his waist. Arm in arm, they entered the restaurant. They were met at the door by another man.
He smiled at them. “I am Mario, and I will be your host for this evening. Do you have a reservation?”
Trent smiled. “I will sit at my usual table, Mario. I did not happen to call this one in, sorry.”
Matteo, another host, saw him and immediately came over. “Ah, Maestro Trent! What can we do for you?”
Trent looked at Matteo. “Tell Mario, here, which is my usual table so he can take us to it.”
Matteo blinked, then looked at Mario. “I will handle this one. the Goodacres have a standing reservation, Mario. they don’t always call in. A table is always left open for them. Maestro Trent, here, often comes in alone to do his studies and we give him the best table. The same table.” He turned back to Trent and Natalia. “Right this way. Sorry for the delay. Mario is…new.”
Trent smiled. “It’s quite alright.”
They followed Matteo to the table. Trent pulled out the chair for Natalia and she sat down. He, then went to where he would be across from her and sat in his own chair. He looked up at Matteo. “You have a makeshift baby seat?”
Matteo nodded and disappeared. A few minutes later, he returned with a standard high chair. “My apologies. We don’t get many requests for this. It is usually hidden away so it is not in the way.” He sat it next to Natalia, who deposited little Matthew in the seat and replaced the tray.
She looked up at Matteo. “Thank you.”
He smiled. “You’re welcome.” He looked at Trent. “Is there any need for anything?”
Trent looked over at Nattie. “Soda?” She nodded, and he returned his attention to Matteo. Two sodas and some milk. ”
Matteo nodded, wrote it down on his order pad, then trotted off to get the drinks and the menus. Natalia looked over at him. “So you must come here quite a bit.”
He nodded. “I used to come in here all the time when I was still in high school to do my homework. It is quieter here than at home. But this is the first time they have seen me with anyone. I am usually alone, unless I am with mom or dad. Or both.”
She was confused. “What do you mean, quieter? Is there a lot of fighting at home?”
He chuckled. “Oh no. Nothing like that. What I mean is that I have brothers and sisters. Younger ones. They tend to be rather noisy and distracting.”
She blushed. “Oh.”
He grinned. I was in college last year, but took a year off to work a little and earn my tuition. I need to get back into college before spring in order to avoid being drafted. After all, there is a war going on.”
She nodded. Matteo returned with the sodas, milk and menus. He looked at the two of them. “Just let me know when you are ready.” Trent nodded and their host scurried off.
Trent turned his attention back to Natalia. “So where you from? And what brought you to our fair city?”
She looked up at him. “I am from Des Moines. I didn’t run away from home, if that is what you are thinking.”
He shook his head. “Nope. If you don’t want to tell me, you don’t have to. I do, however, think that it has something to do with that little guy over there. Good or bad, I am just glad you are here now. ”
She nodded. “Yes, he is part of the reason I am here, but not the total reason. I am trying to make my way to California so I can get work as an actress.”
He smiled. “A noble desire. I hope you can realize your goals. Then a relationship is not in your plans?”