Read an Excerpt
Fiona was knackered after another long day at work. She was hungry, it was late and she didn’t want to cook. Her decision made, she walked past her car towards the red, white and green of Roberto’s restaurant sign. The beautiful summer’s evening and the mellow sunlight made even the urban sprawl of Manchester’s city centre seem beautiful and romantic. The hint of pink heralding good weather for the next day brought out the deep rouge of the red bricked buildings that she passed and drew dark swirling patterns on the tarmac below her feet.
From the moment she walked into the restaurant she was enveloped by the warmth of exuberant cooking. She could smell it, almost taste it on the air and could hear the gentle click and clunk of pans being shaken on the hob. She was instantly comforted.
“Ah, mia bella, would you like a table?” a loud voice called and was followed by a striding man. He was round, curly-haired and red-faced. His smile stretched the length of his impressive moustache. Roberto was larger than life and Fiona adored him.
“Ah, Fiona. I have just the perfect table for you, follow me.”
She followed him past tables of laughing, joking people to one in the corner, near the kitchen. He placed an open menu in front of her as she sat down.
“What would you like to drink tonight?”
“Just a glass of water, please Roberto.”
“No vino? That is criminal on a Friday night.”
“I’ve had a long day and I have to drive home. Water will really hit the spot, thank you.”
“Ah, a wise lady, a wise lady indeed. My mama would have loved you.”
“Why, thank you.” Fiona chuckled.
He always managed to make her smile. She was completely charmed by the effervescent man and the homely interior of the restaurant. There were postcards on the walls, sweet tourist ornaments on shelves and a lovely higgledy-piggledy arrangement to the tables. It was like visiting a favourite family member. She felt comfortable dining there.
“It is busy here tonight, mia bella, but I will have Carlo look after you. He is a good lad.”