Read A Little Slice of Heaven Online
Authors: Gina Ardito
Give me a day or two,” Joey said. “I’ll make a few phone calls.”
Forget it.” She waved a hand as if brushing away a gnat. “Frank would recognize anyone you set me up with.”
Well, then, who do you know Frank won’t see through?”
Scanning her bureau, she glanced over framed photographs of close friends. No one suitable smiled back. She didn’t exactly have a stable of men waiting. Except, of course, the ROMEOs.
And then her mind clicked on the image of a man with wide-set hazel eyes and a clipped New England accent. No. Ridiculous. She barely knew him, for God’s sake.
Come on, Gi,” Joey prompted. “Think. There’s gotta be someone.”
Maybe.” She bit a ragged cuticle on her thumb.
Our newest employee at
You hired somebody?”
Ow! She bit too close to the nail and winced, but not at the pain. Joey would want details about Kyle now. And she didn’t dare lie because Claudio would give
up faster than a parade of dancing teddy bears.
I’ll have to make sure he’s available first,” she said.
Who is he?”
Stick to the basics. Maybe he won’t ask the million dollar questions.
“His name’s Kyle. Kyle Hayden.”
Where’d you find him?”
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!
“Umm…” Squeezing one of the throw pillows, she mumbled, “I found him in the parking lot.”
A Little Slice of Heaven
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
A Little Slice of Heaven
2008 by Victoria Ardito
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0706
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Sweetheart Rose Edition, 2008
Print ISBN 1-60154-255-0
Published in the United States of America
Thanks to Nick and everyone at
Via Pizza, Pasta & More
in East Setauket, NY for asking me to write a romance about a pizzeria. Didn’t think I’d do it, did ya?
Trademarks Used In
A Little Slice of Heaven
Bergdorf Goodman: Neiman Marcus, Inc.
Cliff’s Notes: IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.
Dior: Christian Dior Couture
Donna Karan: The Donna Karan Co.
Dumpster: Dempster Dumpmaster Co.
Ferrari: Ferrari Maserati Group
Formica: The Diller Corp.
GQ: Advance Magazine Publishers, Inc.
King Kong: Universal Studios, Inc.
Kryptonite: DC Comics, Inc.
Louisville Slugger: Hillreich & Bradsby Co.
Nike: Nike, Inc.
NY Islanders: NY Islanders Hockey Club, L.P.
NY Yankees: NY Yankees Partnership
Pimp My…: Viacom International, Inc.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Viacom International, Inc.
Sub-Zero: Sub-Zero, Inc.
The Twilight Zone: CBS Broadcasting, Inc.
Tiffany’s: Tiffany and Co.
Tylenol: Tylenol Company
Waterford: Waterford Wedgwood, plc.
For Missy: family by blood, friend by choice. Thanks for always encouraging me, for reading and re-reading every single version, and most importantly, for all the laughter.
"It's so refreshing to find an author who has the ability to mix toe-curling romance with side-splitting humor -- and Ms. Ardito blends the two flawlessly. Her books are so fun, it's hard to put them down once you start reading!"
~Leslie Ann Dennis,
Reason to Believe
Delightfully entertaining! Gina Ardito’s A Little Slice of Heaven is full of humor and deep emotions with characters that are so well drawn that you want to spend the rest of your life with them. This is a must read for any romance reader!”
~Judith Leger, author of
The Witch Within
Kyle Hayden huddled near the rancid Dumpster, shielding a fistful of yellow mums from the wicked October wind. He'd raced a beagle with a bursting bladder to get these wretched flowers, had barely succeeded in pulling the blooms out of harm’s way before the dog baptized them. Pity the hem of his pants hadn’t shared the same fortune. Since he’d arrived in this Long Island resort town ten days ago, his clothing had suffered untold disgrace.
Jeez, how had he sunk so low so fast?
The Dumpster’s steel walls rattled at the howling gusts of a coming storm. Shivers racked him, and he yanked his thin jacket tighter to ward off the icy chill. He should have grabbed his shearling coat when he’d had the chance. Fat lot of good it did sitting in a closet in Manhattan, fifty miles away. So near and yet so far...
Closing his eyes, he envisioned where he'd be right now if things hadn't gone so horribly wrong. Before a crackling fire, a snifter of Napoleon brandy on the table beside him. Maybe a soft head lying in his lap. Not a woman—a retriever or spaniel, perhaps—someone loyal, someone who wouldn’t run away the moment life got a little rocky. The way Lana had.
Lana. Bitterness dripped into his veins like poisoned honey when he recalled her betrayal. Kyle fisted his hands tight enough to choke the life out of the mums, wishing he might choke his memories instead.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave
No. Don’t go there. He should get this over with. Loosening his grip on the bouquet, he fluffed the spiky petals, trying to make them look perky, but failing miserably. He stepped toward the pizzeria’s back door where muted light streamed through a tiny window, golden fingers beckoning shelter.
Stubborn pride precluded him from announcing his arrival. That, and the fact he’d never spoken to the lady. She seemed to sense his need to maintain distance. Thus, every night over the last week, she’d left a takeout meal on the bench at the edge of the parking lot before closing the restaurant.
He should move on. Staying here, subsisting on her charity, wouldn’t fulfill the terms of his agreement. He had to find a place to live—someplace other than the bridge he’d huddled under for the last nine nights. Harder still, he had to find a job. Not that he hadn’t tried on both fronts.
Who’d have thought a man with his education, with his background and impeccable social standing, would be turned down for every job he’d applied for? Of course, Rory and David had insisted he couldn’t use his connections to help him, making the task nigh on impossible. No one wanted to hire a man in his thirties with no references, no car, no phone, no residence. Still, he had to fight on. With all he’d already lost, he wasn’t ready to give up Aurora, too.
The screen door squealed, and then clacked, and he scrambled to return to the relative anonymity of the rusty Dumpster. Secure in his hiding place, he peered around the corner to watch her.
She stood near the door, as if trying to make up her mind where to go next. In her hands, she held the familiar aluminum foil dish. Her husky feminine voice hissed a series of what sounded like, “Pssst, pssst, pssst.”
What the hell was she up to? Some demented game of hide and seek?
I know you’re here,” she said in a sing-song tone. “Now, come on out.”
He shrank deeper into the shadows.
I’m not going to stand here all night waiting. If you want to come home with me, you’d better move your tail from behind that Dumpster right now.”
He stiffened. Move his tail? No one had ever dared speak to Kyle William Montgomery Hayden III in such an insolent manner. And falling on hard times was not a reason to permit rudeness now. Rising to his full six-foot-three-inch stance, he took two steps forward into the open.
The woman shrieked loud enough to shame emergency sirens. The dish fell to the asphalt, spilling out what appeared to be anchovy filets, and she fled back into the pizzeria.
Stunned, Kyle could only seek the inherent vapor trail such an abrupt departure should have left.
What the hell was that about?
Gianna Randazzo leaned against the locked door, her heart swimming in cold sweat.
Whatsa matter for you?” Claudio demanded. “That mean black dog outside again?”
While his raisin eyes glared with I-told-you-so smugness, Gianna gulped huge buckets of air to regain some semblance of calm. “I-It's not a dog. Or the injured cat I’ve been trying to catch. There's a man out there.”
The bum you leave food for, eh?” Inching closer, he bounced a finger at her nose. “You should listen when I talk-a to you. I told you he no go away if you feed him.”
I always leave his food on the bench by the bridge
closing,” she snapped. “I didn’t expect him to be in the parking lot tonight.”
I don’t know why you’re surprised,” Claudio retorted. “All the strays eventually find their way to the door. This one...he no different. What’d you make him tonight? Maybe the smell so good, he couldn’t wait.”
That dish was for Mr. Whiskers. You think I’d bring the poor man anchovy filets?” Gianna turned to peer out the window. Was the man still there? Yep. He stood beneath the grainy light of the street lamp, an oddly shaped item in his hands. “What's he holding?”
Claudio leaned over her shoulder. “You think he got a weapon? Here, wait.” He ambled to the ovens and wielded one of the long-handled pizza paddles like a samurai sword. “You call the cops. I make sure he no leave 'til they show up.”
Stop it.” She strained her eyes, watching as the man edged closer to her door. “I think…” Could it be? “I think…” Yes, she definitely saw leaves and stems. Maybe even yellow blossoms. “He's holding flowers.”
Halogen mist scattered over the petals. Yes, they were definitely flowers. And since he kept pointing to the blooms, and then to her, she surmised he intended them as some sort of gift.
Her heart melted, and she relaxed her fears. This man meant no harm, not with that pathetic little bouquet clutched in his fists. Her gaze moved to the wall near the ovens where a homemade sampler stitched in pink and green threads proclaimed, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
Her mother’s favorite adage and one she happened to have first-hand experience with at the moment. After all, if she hadn’t been able to come home to
, what would she have done when she quit Madison Elementary? Only her parents tipped the deck between her situation and whatever had befallen the man outside her door.
She had to help this poor soul. She and he were kindred spirits. Why didn’t Claudio understand that?
And because tonight he’d brought her flowers, he deserved a special meal. She pulled a round aluminum plate from the shelf behind the counter, filled it with cooked penne, tomato sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.
After she placed the pasta dish in the oven, she spied Claudio’s gnome-like face wrinkle in lines of disapproval.
What you doing now?”
With a wave of her hand, she gestured to the door. “Looks like I have an admirer.”
He slapped a palm on his forehead. “What are you,
? Don’t you go out there again.” He handed her the paddle. “Here. You take this. I call the cops.”
Without thinking she accepted the makeshift weapon. But when he headed toward the phone, she woke up. “No, wait.”
He turned, eyes narrowed. “What?”
She let the paddle’s edge hit the floor and leaned the handle against her hip. “You can’t call the police. He hasn’t done anything. Besides, since I pretty much encouraged his presence by feeding him every night, I doubt we’ll gain much sympathy from the county’s finest.”
The police will listen to me,” he said. “I no feed him. And I said you no should feed him, but since when do you listen to me, eh? You should show your godfather a little bit more respect,