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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: La Bella Notte
By Teri Wilson


Mr. Growly Pants watches me dart from the closet to the mirror, his eyes glistening like two inky pools against his snow-white coat.

“I can’t decide what to wear!” I sigh in frustration and plop down on the bed next to my Maltese. In response to my angst, he lets out a tiny growl. Hence the name.

In spite of my frustration, I give Mr. Growly Pants a kiss on the head and return to my closet. What does a girl wear on a blind date anyway? I should probably just throw on a t-shirt with DESPERATE emblazoned across the front.

Lord, what have I gotten myself into? Why am I trying to fit into skinny date clothes when I could be sitting on the sofa in sweatpants watching a movie with Mr. Growly Pants?

I look at my dog staring at me, unblinkingly. His long hair spreads around him in soft waves. I envy his elegant beauty while I suck in my breath and attempt to button my skirt. One glimpse in the mirror tells me the result is far from perfect, but if I don’t leave right now I’ll be late meeting my date at the Italian restaurant we agreed on for dinner.

I stand on the cobblestone landing in front of Tony’s and pause, trying to get a glimpse of my mystery man. Dark clusters of purple grapes hang across the top of the window and obscure my view. I can’t see much through the grapey fringe.

Lord, please give me discernment tonight. Show me if I can trust this man. Please give me some kind of sign.

“Hi, I’m Barbara.”

“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Larry.” He rises like a gentleman when I approach the table.

“This restaurant is lovely, Larry.” Our candle in the center of the table sits in a wine bottle, with wax dripping dramatically down the sides.

“The food is wonderful. I’ve already taken the liberty of ordering the spaghetti and meatballs for us. That’s the specialty here.” He has a gentle smile and twinkling eyes.

Some women might be offended that he already placed our order, but I find it rather chivalrous. No one has ever ordered for me before, but I guess it could be a warning sign that he’s a controlling jerk. I give him the benefit of the doubt and the evening progresses quite nicely. Our conversation is sprinkled with laughter and I even learn that Larry is a Christian.

When our spaghetti arrives, the air in Tony’s is suddenly filled with violin music.

Oh this is the night, it's a beautiful night
And we call it bella notte

I half expect Larry to push a meatball toward me with his nose, but then realize I’ve obviously watched Lady and the Tramp one too many times.

Get a grip. Don’t get caught up in the romance of it all!

I need to go clear my head for a minute. “Excuse me, Larry.”

After a brief trip to the restroom, I return to find Larry deep in conversation with another man. Neither of them notices me approach the table.

“So, where is Peg tonight Larry?”

“She’s home by herself. I didn’t tell her I was having dinner with another woman.”

“The last thing you need on your hands is a crazed jealous female.”

“When I get home, I’ll just slip right in bed next to her and she’ll never be the wiser.”

Disgusting! “I can’t believe this! You’re married?”

Larry’s friend looks horrified and slinks away as I grab my purse and make a beeline for the front door and the hanging grapes.

“Barbara, wait!”

Larry catches up to me on the cobblestone landing. “Look!”

I turn to see him holding out his cell phone flipped open to reveal his screensaver; a photograph of an adorable dog with a silky white coat. She’s the spitting image of Mr. Growly Pants.

“You have a Maltese?”

“Her name is Peg.”

Wow, God. This is some sign. Impressive. I just wish I had waited for it before I made a complete fool of myself.

“Oh, Larry. I’m so sorry.” I hang my head in mortification and turn to leave.

“Please don’t go. It’s been such a lovely evening.”

He takes my hand and music swells from inside Tony’s. He holds the door open for me and we walk back to our table hand in hand.

Oh this is the night, and the heavens are right!
On this lovely bella notte!

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This article has been read 1204 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/26/07
Love it! A little conflict gives the story that lovely "punch" any romance needs.
Mo 04/26/07
Very nice. I really liked the humor in it, too!
Sherrie Jackson04/27/07
This is so sweet, just the right amount of humor, and it felt contemporary (using the cell phone picture). Really well done!
william price04/27/07
Growly? Grapey? I love adding to my vocabulary. LOL.
Creative and lively(sp?). Very well written (Super voice), tight with some humor, and oh yes, Romantic in a Pet Lovers kind of way. And Tony's happens to be my favorite Italian restaurante (Bonus Points:)
Constructive comment: I think a few red balloons, and a Rhino would have helped:)
God bless.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/28/07
Delightful romance!
Sally Hanan04/29/07
Very cute, and a brilliant name for a dog.
Rita Garcia04/30/07
"La Bella Notte" indeed! Did I pick up an up-coming romance in the future, Maltese meets Maltese! Great Story!
Jan Ackerson 04/30/07
One of my favorites of yours--you just can't go wrong with a story that starts with the words "Mr. Growly Pants." This was charming from first to last.
Bryan Coomes04/30/07
I really enjoyed this. Great romantically intriguing title and a engaging story. I loved the Lady and the Tramp reference (I got it before you said it..lol) and how you resolved the drama/tension. Great job!
Tabiatha Tallent04/30/07
I enjoyed this from beginning to end. Great job.
Dara Sorensen04/30/07
I liked it! It was very cute and original. I also liked the reference to Lady and the Tramp too!
Jess Godwin04/30/07
You snagged me with the opening words "Mr. Growly Pants" I laughed so hard my grandmother was like "What is going ON?"

Loved it, especially the reference to Lady and the Tramp.
Sara Harricharan 05/01/07
Awww! Cute! I'm glad the 'other woman' turned out to be a cute someone, possibly for Mr. Growly Pants, extremely creative name! ^_^
Esther Gellert05/01/07
What a relief that the 'other woman' is a dog. You really had me worried for a moment there.
Jacquelyn Horne05/02/07
Romance and conflict! Gets me every time. I love a good lovers' quarrel. Nice going.
Joanne Sher 05/02/07
Fun, sweet, and cute! Love the conflict!
Betty Castleberry05/02/07
Fufn, fun, fun! Again, I'm a sucker for a story with animals. This was adorable.
Loren T. Lowery05/02/07
Enjoyed reading the lighter side of romance. Very creative tieing in the animal world and the fantasy of Disney.
Julie Arduini05/02/07
This was good! I loved the drama, the romance, the dogs, and the food of course. I can't think of anything I'd change on this one, it was great!
william price05/02/07
Mr. Growly Pants???
Sorry just had to read it one more time before I go to sleep. Anytime I've needed a chuckle this week I've pulled up this story. I love coming up with great, memorable names in stories, but yours is the best. God bless.