From the Sky - Part XIII

"This is what I came to talk about," the woman said as she slipped into her shoes. "This incessant quest to win my favor: it demeans both of you. If this is how you will behave at this picnic …oh why did I bother?" She turned to leave, by chance just as another taxi was pulling into the lot.

"Wait!" Ernesto cried.

The woman turned back.

"We will be gentlemen at the picnic," Ernesto pledged.

"Absolutely!" agreed Gio.

"I don't know that I can believe you."

The brothers turned to face each other. Ernesto held out his hand. Gio grasped it and they shook, their eyes fixed on each other. They turned and Gio said: "We will be on our best behavior."

"Perfect gentlemen," Ernesto added.

"You have our word," Gio affirmed, nodding.

She looked at them for several long moments, considering. The room fell silent. Rae and Sal watched, mesmerized, listening to the soft ticking of the old flour-encrusted clock high up on the wall behind the counter.

"I am holding you to your word," she said at last, and the brothers sighed. "Not because I am sure I believe you, but because I am quite fond of Miss Zia. I will come to this picnic to please her. But I warn you once only: do not break your word to me."

She turned and left the bakery. The brothers followed her outside, standing in front of the bakery's doors as Rae flipped the 'OPEN' sign to 'CLOSED' and turned off the neon signs in the window. The brothers watched in silence, forced smiles on their faces, waving as she entered the taxi. The taxi sped away from the bakery just moments before a tow truck from Caruso's passed by on the way to Lake Tarentella.

"And there she goes, brother," sighed Gio.

"Yes."

"Do we know who she is yet?"

"She is 'the woman Miss Zia is painting'," Ernesto replied.

"Zia should paint her in a wedding dress," said Gio.

"With me waiting for her at the altar," Ernesto added.

"Of course, brother of course," Gio said, nodding. "I need a best man. Second best, actually."

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