I'll be seeing you
Romance in a vineyard on a stollen weekend
The Vineyard had closed for the weekend, and after transferring the newly fermented wine into barrels and testing pH levels for the day, I was ready for a glass. Though I’d never tell the owner of Pizzello Vineyards, founded in Portland, that I preferred the 2017 Merlot “Meet Cute” made with the sweetest plums and a hint of chocolate from California, I quickly went home to grab two bottles.
The owners had left me in charge this weekend, staying at their old house that sat just outside the edge of the property. The light shone on the yellow pannelings of the house, and I looked to the vineyard and grabbed two glasses, and took to the green hills of the property. I hated drinking alone, but at least I had a spare glass at hand if I needed it.
“Slow down you crazy child, you’re much too ambitious for a juvenile.” My phone played from my pocket, before being interrupted by the sound of a harmonica up ahead.
Had another employee stayed the weekend? Was I in danger? And what were they doing at a vineyard in the middle of the night?
I continued walking to find the mysterious player and found a man standing tall in a white shirt, covered with brown overalls and a pair of nice dress shoes leaning against the post. I paused the music, only to have him turn to face me pulling the harmonica from his lips. He stood about 6 foot, with shoulder length curly brown hair, and a pair of bright blue eyes. He and a beautiful smile with a gap between the two front teeth, and I couldn’t help but think something about him seemed surreal. Neither of us said anything for a moment before I finally broke the silence.
“What are you doing here?” I asked breaking from the strange trance, as he pushed off the lamppost to stand directly in front of me.
“Needed some room to think, but it seems like I was actually waiting for you.” He smirked looking back at me in a similar daze.
I suddenly became painfully aware of what I was wearing and quickly adjusted the lazy oversized white t-shirt I was wearing, completed with my pair of work jeans, and messy bun of the day.
“Waiting for me?” I laughed confused causing him to laugh, looking down at the dirt path between us.
“Well, I figured someone would catch me loitering but I didn’t think they’d bring me a glass.” he smiled cheekily motioning to the second glass in my hand.
“Well I- It wasn’t fo-” I jumbled trying not to meet his gaze as he dipped his head to find it, his blue eyes holding mine again. I laughed and put my wine glass down on a near tree stump before filling the second one and sitting down. We fell silent again, unsure how to break the silence, but letting the tension fill the air between us.
“This place looks the same.” He said after a moment the wind blowing the summer air between the two of us, our shoulders touching when he sat as we both drank the merlot, my tongue meeting a taste of raspberry I had overlooked before.
“You’ve been here before?” I asked his face close enough to see dirt and freckles on his face somehow adding to his charm.
“Well, how long has this place been around?” He asked. “Tell me if I mess this up but this was founded in ‘33? Doesn’t it seem plausible that there’s been an employee around before you?” He laughed as our voices filled the air laughing together.
“It’s only 2021, so I assume there’s been one or two.” I laughed despite his eyes immediately leaving mine to look forward.
“I’ll tell you what, I at least drank the vineyard's wine.” He teased bumping my shoulder. “Truth be told, I might not have if I had tasted this in my time.” He laughed standing up once again directly in front of me, now having the upperhand as he looked down at me, the moment feeling incredibly intimate.
After a moment he extended his hand. “Come on, it’s a beautiful night.” he smiled, as my stomach fluttered in excitement.
“Before I take a stranger's hand, I make it a point to know their name.” I smiled looking up at him, his smile returning my enthusiasm.
“I can’t refuse a beautiful woman..” he paused smiling. “Call me Georgie.” he said, shifting his arm to stretch behind his back letting the lamppost show his sculpted muscles through the sheer shirt.
“Well Georgie, I’m Emma.” I said intertwining our fingers when he offered it again as we walked ahead a smile on my lips.
“So, Emma what are your hobbies like in this ever changing world?” he asked as we walked through the summer night.
“Well right now I’m an employee of Pizzello Vineyard’s and I haven’t quite figured the rest out yet?” I said, dropping his hand to walk backwards in front of him.“Where did you learn to play the harmonica like that?”
“My grandfather played it. It was his only sense of freedom in World War II and it helps me feel close to him.” he paused sharing a moment of silence,a sadness settling in him that I could feel.
“I’m sorry..I’ve never lost someone like that.” I paused. “Though, my brother is currently stuck in Germany serving, and can’t come home.” I sighed.
“We have so much less time than we ever think with our loved ones…” he said, his eyes so intense I felt as if I was falling into them. I stepped backwards tripping over my heel bracing myself for the fall, but feeling Georgie’s arms instead. Our faces stood inches apart as I soaked in his warmth,a huge smile on his face before pulling me up. I thought about thanking him before my thought process was interrupted.
“I’ll race you to the barrell barn!” He said taking off towards the barn after raising his eyebrows mischievously.
“No fair!” I yelled after him before taking off.
We dashed down the hill, our laughs echoing through the countryside as I wondered if the wine bottled later this year would taste the chance of romance and loud laughter in a stolen night. I looked forward and realized I couldn’t see him anymore, had the wine made me that slow?
I reached the barn moments after to see Georgie pulling out a dusty record player I doubt anyone had seen in at least half a century, before crawling to the top awning and grabbing a record. He jumped the couple last steps and came towards me with a record in hand, the cover giving it away before the needle dropped to fill the barn.
“Billie Holiday? I don’t think I’ve met a man willing to play such “girly” music.” I smirked getting closer to the player. He pulled out the harmonica from his pocket and leaned against the barn door, the night scene behind him making everything look like a painting.
“In it’s time this was everyone’s music, you know. Stupid to assign a sound to a certain gender don’t you think?” He smiled before playing to the tune I recognized as “When you’re smiling.” Playing along with the words, the dim lights creating the perfect atmosphere for such a sweet night, he put his harmonica down and extended his hand once again.
“Are you inviting me to dance, Georgie?” I teased already taking his hand as he swung me around an involuntary laugh to come out of me as we bounced around. We both laughed when the other didn’t know quite what to do next, bumping heads a few times.
He eventually switched to the record’s other side and “I’ll be seeing you” played through the barn.His arms pulling me in, our bodies now very close as my hand rested on his chest, and his on my waist. I pulled back to look at him, a smile still on his face as I looked over the freckles splattered on his near perfect canvas.. He seemed so confident and sure of a moment that made me feel so nervous and giddy.
“What’re you thinking right now?” He asked my eyes never once leaving his as the crickets outside commented on what might have been the most romantic moment of my life. I rested my head on his chest, my hands linking behind his neck.
“Where did you come from Georgie?” I basically whispered as our dancing slowed to a stop, his hands moving to mine to unlink them from behind his neck.
“I was going to ask you the same thing.” he said his eyes sparkling as our fingers intertwined as he leaned forward. Our lips hovered close to each other, barely brushing at times as I felt him smile. “Can I kiss you, Emma?”
I answered by my lips meeting his eagerly, never pulling apart, never escalating to anything more than the perfect kiss. After pulling apart, his eyes still closed when I finally opened mine.
“I’ve kissed some girls in my time Emma, but nothing has ever felt like that.” He smiled, the record reaching the end as the familiar scratch of a finished record filled the barn. He left me to take the record off as I watched him put it back in its place,as I watched the sun come up. Was it morning already?
“I’m watching the owners house at the edge of the property...and if you’re up for it I’d like to invite you for a cup of coffee?” I asked the fear of rejection prickling my skin as he looked back at me.
“Only if you race me there!!” He smiled as I took off a great deal closer to the front of the barn than he was.
I ran the entire way, the morning air filling my lungs as I watched the sun rise on the vineyard before finally slowing to a stop in front of the house.
“Did you let me win?” I called out to what I could see was an empty vineyard, my eyes searching for a bob of brown hair. Had he gotten lost?
I moved to walk back before the landline rang from the inside stopping me. The owners would want to know how the night had gone, and I couldn’t miss it.
I dashed inside before putting my bag down and picking up in time for the fourth ring.
“Hello, Mrs. P?” I asked knowing she was the only one who still used a landline.
“Hello dear, how was your night?” She asked her sweet tone filling me with the warmth unique to the Pizzello’s.
“It was lovely! Thank you again for letting me work this weekend!” I smiled knowing I would tell her about her former employee when she came back into town.
“Oh dear, I was calling to apologize! Working on a weekend is a thing I haven’t done in 30 years!!” She chuckled. “I don’t know if Vincent told you why it was impossible for us to be there.” She said hushed into the line.
“You don’t need to explain anything Mrs. P.” I paused looking out the window hoping to see Georgie outside.
“But I’d like too… It helps me.We miss our son terribly, the day of his death being our hardest all year… Vincent doesn’t speak on it; though he certainly smiles at his picture near the door everyday.” She chuckles as a sense of sorrow fills me. “This place was passed on to us in ‘47 and he died spring of ‘52.”
I carried the landline to the door, looking at the photo before dropping the phone, my fingers tracing over the hint of freckles able to be seen in the photo. My phone beginning to play “I’ll be seeing you.” unprompted as tears pricked at my eyes.
I certainly hoped I would be.