Tattoo of Love Ch. 05byvirgofemme©
*Thank you all for your continued support, and I hope you enjoy the chapter.*
As her classic VW bug puttered into the parking lot, Julia caught sight of a parking space next to a Hummer and smoothly pulled into it. Grabbing the basket off of the passenger seat, Julia got out of the car and locked the door behind her. As she reached the door of the software company, Julia pulled it open and entered. Smooth jazz played from the speakers which were built into the ceiling, and a waterfall sign located on the wall behind the reception desk identified the company as Cumberland Software.
As Julia approached the desk, a woman with a stylish boycut and doe shaped eyes glanced up at her.
"How can I help you?" she pleasantly asked.
Holding the basket up for her to see, Julia responded, "I'm here from Mimi's Bakery and I have a lunch delivery for a Mr. Thompson."
"Oh yes, he's been expecting you." Gesturing her hand toward a set of glass doors she said, "Just head through those doors and make a right, then walk all the way down until you reach the very last cubicle. That's where Mr. Robertson will be sitting."
As Julia entered the office, she was surrounded by a maze of cubicles. Telephones rang and fax machines screeched, filling the air with its annoying sound. As she passed by various office workers, she began to feel a sense of relief that she was only here as a visitor.
Before she'd landed the job working in the bakery with Mimi, she'd suffered through three years working as an office drone for a data entry company. It had been boring work, and allowed her no chance to be creative at all, so it was the type of job which she knew she was destined to escape. Thankfully she'd been able to successfully do it, because now that she was back in this environment, she realized how stifled she'd been.
Coming upon the last cubicle, Julia poked her head inside and offered a greeting to the person inside.
"Delivery from Mimi's Bakery," she called out in a friendly voice.
As the customer swiveled in his chair to make eye contact with her, his face lit up with a smile.
Suddenly recognizing his features she replied, "Oh hi Colin. It's nice to see you again."
"Yeah, it's good to see you too. How have you been?" Placing a finger against his glasses, he pushed them up on the bridge of his nose.
"I've been good, thanks." Placing the basket of food upon the table, Julia began to unload it, placing a Styrofoam container and a bottle of juice on his desk. Retrieving a mini loaf of zucchini bread wrapped in plastic, Julia set it next to his container of food.
"So just to verify, you ordered a turkey club on foccacia bread, a bottle of passion fruit juice, and a mini loaf of zucchini bread." Handing him a receipt, she allowed him a minute to look it over.
Colin gave the paper a quick glance and then grabbed his wallet from the desk and pulled out some bills. As he reached into his pocket for change, Julia's eyes landed upon a Wolverine action figure which was located on a shelf next to his computer. She also noticed he had a small poster which featured many of the Marvel characters.
"So you're a Marvel fan, huh?"
Handing her the bills and a few coins he responded, "Yeah, I am. Marvel characters are my all-time favorites."
"So what's your favorite comic book?" She inquired.
"You mean I can only pick one?" Shaking his head he continued, "Impossible, I can't do it."
"You know a comic book convention is coming to town in a few weeks, right?"
"Yep, and i'll definitely be attending."
"Cool, well maybe I'll run into you there."
"You're into comic books?"
"Yep, I've been collecting them since I was a kid. I have a whole trunk full at home."
"Nice. So I've gotta ask, DC or Marvel? Which do you prefer?"
"I like them both, but I've always had a special place in my heart for DC comics."
Nodding his head in appreciation Colin said, "Well I've gotta say it's cool meeting a chick who's into comics. They're a rare occurrence in this town."
Offering him a smile, Julia grabbed the empty basket from off of the desk. "Yeah, well I guess I'd better head back to the bakery. It was nice talking to you, though."
A look of disappointed crossed his face as he said, "Oh, right. Guess I'd better let you go, then. Well take care and maybe I'll see you around some time."
"Yeah, maybe. Enjoy your lunch, and have a nice day."
"You too, Julia. Later."
"See ya," she called over her shoulder.
Once Julia was back in the lobby she headed for the doors and exited, walking back towards her yellow Volkswagon. Then she got inside and drove away.
* * * *
"See ya, Mimi," Julia called out as she untied her apron and grabbed her purse from beneath the counter.
As she slung it over her shoulder she offered a wave and Mimi returned it with one of her own.
"Later, Julia. Have a good evening."
After grabbing a pastry box from off the counter she headed outside, keys jangling in her hands as she approached her car. Once she was inside she set the pink pastry box on the seat next to her and then fired up the car. As she drove along the familiar route that she always took home, Julia caught sight of the large mural which adorned the side of the vintage theatre. The words 'Brisbane Theatre' were painted in a large vintage script, and there was a film strip beneath it which featured the faces of various old movie stars, such as Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe.
She passed by the mural nearly every day, but suddenly she was looking at it with new eyes. As she looked at the artwork it immediately triggered the memory of her walk home with Nolan the previous night, and she recalled their flirtatious interaction with the rubber ball they'd been kicking around. A little smile passed her lips as she thought about their interaction together, and how good it'd felt to be around him. She'd almost felt like a kid again, and she liked how his presence had coaxed that playful side of her personality out.
As she came to a stop at the intersection, she suddenly felt a draw to head back in the opposite direction, so once the light turned green she made a sharp u-turn and retraced her path.
She could feel a change happening inside of her; a feeling of longing and a need to be held, kissed and caressed. There was only one pair of hands which could give her the feeling she so desired, and as she thought of his bare flesh pressed against hers, she felt a jolt of sexual desire rip through her. The memory of his touch alone caused her skin to prickle in response and as she recalled the sight of his toned body, she felt an urgent heat rise between her legs.
Giving the steering wheel a turn to the right, Julia drove onto Nolan's street and was rewarded with the sight of lush foliage. Lined with oak and maple trees, the street was filled with the yellow and gold colors of fall.
She only had to drive halfway down the street before she caught sight of his house, and as she pulled up to the curb she put the car in park and got out, carrying the pastry box in her hands. As she walked toward the house she noticed there were two pathways-one which curved around the side and led towards a gate, and another which led directly to the front door.
The path which led through the gate was the way she'd taken last time, but since that led directly to his studio she decided against it and headed for the front door. They were on more intimate terms now, so she'd feel weird about entering through any other way except the front entryway.
Her shoes crunched against the carpet of leaves which covered the steps to his porch, and as she reached the front door she pushed her finger against the bell.
As the sound of footsteps approached the door she felt her heart speed up in anticipation, but as the door pulled open her excitement was quickly extinguished. Standing in front of her was a woman who shared similar features to Nolan, and judging by her age Julia realized that it had to be his mother.
"Yes, can I help you?" The lady's voice was tinged with a light accent, and her eyes roved curiously over Julia, undoubtedly wondering what the purpose of her visit was.
One of the main features which stood out to Julia was the woman's hair. Worn in a long black braid slung over her shoulder, it had a coarse texture to it which added to its thickness.
"Hi, i'm here to see Nolan. Is he home?"
"Nope. He went to run an errand."
The woman's eyes roved intently over Julia's face, moving from eyes to hair and then across the rest of her features.
Feeling uneasy beneath her gaze Julia responded, "Oh, okay. Well do you know when he'll be back?"
"Nope." Her voice came out sounding flat.
Sensing that her presence was unwelcome Julia said, "Okay, no problem. Guess i'll just come back later."
She turned and began to walk down the steps but the sound of the woman's voice suddenly halted her.
"Why don't you come inside and wait? He shouldn't be gone for very much longer."
With a glance over her shoulder Julia responded, "No, that's okay. I can always come back another time. It's no big deal."
"I insist," she firmly replied. The look in her eyes conveyed that the only option was for Julia to accept.
Turning to face her, Julia headed towards the door and followed the woman inside. As she entered the living room Julia noticed that the strong scent of food permeated the air. The smell of coconut, onion, and various other spices mingled together and invaded her nostrils, causing her mouth to water.
Waving her hand toward the couch the woman said, "Please sit."
Sinking down onto the cushy pillows, Julia removed her purse from her shoulder and set it beside her.
"Would you like something to drink?"
"Yes, a glass of water would be nice."
"Only water? There's juice and soda too."
Curving her lips into a smile Julia responded, "No thanks, water is fine."
As the woman passed beneath the archway and went into the kitchen, Julia watched her pull open the fridge and retrieve a pitcher of water. With only an island dividing the kitchen from the living room, Julia was free to watch the other woman with inquisitive eyes.
Standing at medium height, the woman had a sturdily built body which was clad in a dress covered in a pattern of yellow and green flowers. Her skin tone was of a light brown color, and she had a way about her which commanded respect.
After filling a glass with water the woman came back into the living room and sat it upon a coaster. Then she took a seat in an armchair which was located a few feet away from the couch.
Crossing her legs at the ankles, she settled comfortably into the chair and gave Julia a pleasant little smile. "I guess you already realized it, but i'm Nolan's mother. My name is Aveolela."
"It's nice to meet you. I'm Julia." She offered a friendly smile.
"Nice to meet you as well. So you're Nolan's girlfriend." It came out as more of a statement, rather than a question.
"Yes I am."
"How long have you two been together?"
"Not very long. We met each other a week and a half ago."
"I see. So how did you two meet?"
"At the tattoo shop where he works."
Clasping her hand upon her lap Aveolela questioned, "So, what do you think of my son so far?"
Feeling put on the spot, Julia was silent for a few moments and then she began to speak. "I think he's sweet, and he's a really nice guy. He's thoughtful, caring...," her voice trailed off as she tried to think of other words she could use to describe him.
She knew how she felt about him, but putting those emotions into words wasn't the easiest thing to do with Aveolela's eyes trained intently upon her.
"So do you think he's a good match for you?"
"Yeah, I do. We get along really well."
"That's good. I want Nolan to be with someone who will make him happy."
"Yes, well finding someone you can be happy with is pretty important, isn't it?"
Offering only a small nod in response, she watched Julia with a thoughtful gaze.
"So what do you do for a living?"
"I'm a baker."
Aveolela's lips widened into a smile. "So that means you can cook. That's good, because Nolan loves to eat."
With the scent of food still filling the air, Julia saw an opportunity to divert the attention from herself and redirect it towards food.
"Speaking of food, whatever you're cooking smells really delicious. What is it?"
Glancing toward the kitchen Alveolela said, "Oh, I forgot! I have something in the stove that needs to be checked on. Excuse me."
Rushing into the kitchen, she slipped her hand into an oven mitt and pulled open the stove door. Then she slid out a pan and set it on top of the burners. After closing the stove she took the oven mitt off and checked the contents of a large pot which was bubbling on the range. Giving the knob a gentle turn, she reduced the flame and then headed back into the living room.
As she settled back into the armchair Julia asked, "What are you cooking?"
"Some traditional Samoan food. The bread I just took from the oven is called pani popo, and i'm also cooking some palusami."
Smiling at Julia's pronunciation of it Aveolela responded, "It's corned beef with coconut milk, onions and taro leaves, which is a plant that comes from Samoa."
"It smells wonderful. How long does it take to make it?"
"The taro leaves require a bit of preparation, but the dish itself isn't all that difficult."
"Well I'm sure Nolan will be happy to come home and have the house smelling so nice."
Giving her a smile Aveolela asked, "Have you eaten Samoan food before?"
"No, but I've always wanted to."
"The palusami won't be finished for a few hours, but you're welcome to try the pani popo. I think you'll really enjoy it."
"That'd be great, i'd love to."
Rising up from the armchair, Nolan's mother motioned for Julia to follow her. As they entered the kitchen Aveolela grabbed a shallow bowl from the cabinet and put one of the buns into it. Then she grabbed a spoon and dipped it into a container. As she withdrew the utensil, Julia watched her drizzle the liquid over the bread, covering it in thick, creamy sauce. The sight of it alone caused Julia's stomach to loudly rumble, and she suddenly realized it'd been nearly seven hours since she'd last eaten.
"You're hungry, huh?" Alveolela said as she set the bowl down on the table.
Julia gave her a smile. "Yeah, I guess my stomach is letting me know it needs to be filled."
Grabbing a kettle from counter she asked, "How about some tea? It's always best if you have a hot drink to go along with it."
"Sure." Tearing off a piece of the bread, Julia dipped it into the cream on the bottom of the bowl.
As it entered her mouth, Julia's tastebuds were greeted with the wonderful flavor of sweet coconut and warm bread, and she immediately knew that she'd discovered another favorite in the long list of foods that she just couldn't live without.
Not wanting to seem greedy, she tried her best to savor the delicious bun, but he attempts proved largely unsuccessful. With each bite that she took, she found herself craving more of the delicious creation.
After filling the kettle with water, Aveolela plugged it in and grabbed two cups from the cabinet.
"Would you like chamomile or green tea?"
"Chamomile, please," answered Julia around a mouthful of bread.
While waiting for the tea to boil, Nolan's mother went over to the stove and bent down to look inside. Then she checked the pot which was on the stove. As she lifted the top up, steam billowed around her face and the scent of bananas came out with it. Grabbing a wooden spoon, she began to stir the contents.
Curious about what was inside Julia asked, "What's in the pot?"
"Suafa'i-bananas with tapioca and coconut milk."
"Mmm, smells heavenly."
With a smile upon her lips Aveolela said, "This was Nolan's favorite as a boy. To this day he still prefers it over every other dessert."
"Well I don't know what it tastes like, but judging from the smell I can see why he enjoys it so much." Smearing the last piece of bread with coconut sauce, Julia popped it into her mouth.
As the electric kettle began to hiss, Alveolela put bags of tea into the cups and filled them with hot water. Then she walked over to the table and set a cup in front of Julia, then placed one down on the table in front of the chair where she would sit. After grabbing a bottle of honey from the counter and two spoons she sat down, taking a seat directly across from Julia.
Grabbing the honey from the table, Julia squirted some of it into her cup and mixed it in. As they sipped their tea, her eyes wandered towards the clock which hung on the wall over the refrigerator.
She didn't know where Nolan was, but she hoped that he would show up soon. His mother was very nice, but this one on one interaction they were having was quite nerve wracking. She could feel the other woman's eyes planted firmly upon her, watching her with that same curious gaze she'd had ever since Julia had first arrived. Feeling uneasy about maintaining direct eye contact for too long, she allowed her eyes to rove around the interior of the kitchen.
There wasn't anything all that interesting surrounding her, but the tense silence which pervaded the atmosphere caused her to feel very awkward. She tried to think of something to say, but it seemed as if her mind had suddenly been emptied of all thoughts. Feeling lame, Julia cleared her throat and snuck another glance at the clock.
"Not to worry, Nolan should be back soon." Aveolela's lips curled into an amused smile.
Embarrassed to have been caught sneaking a peek, she felt her cheeks instantly grow hot. "It's not that I'm bored. I'm just a little eager to see him, is all." She took a gulp of her tea and then added, "I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to be rude."
"No, it's fine. You and Nolan are still in the early stages of your relationship, so it's understandable that meeting me so soon is making you nervous."
They sipped their tea in silence for a few more moments and then Alveolela once again spoke.
"Nolan is a wonderful man. He's loyal, honest and hardworking."
Sensing she was going to say more, Julia nodded her head and remained silent.
"He attracts lots of attention from women, and he's dated many different types of girls." She took a sip of her tea and then set the cup back down. "Sometimes he brings them home to meet me, and sometimes he doesn't, but all of the ones that I've met so far have not been right for him at all."
Looking Julia square in the eyes, she continued. "I know my son, and it doesn't take long for me to tell if the woman he's currently with will be right for him. In fact, I can tell within the first few minutes of meeting them if the relationship will work out or not. I read people very well, and I can always spot the ones who just don't fit."
Now certain that this woman didn't like her, Julia felt a pang of disappointment sweep throughout her.
"I'm not trying to intimidate you Julia, it's just that Nolan is my first born, so I hope you can understand me being protective over him."
Nodding her head she replied, "Of course, that's completely understandable."
"His happiness means everything to me. I just want to make sure that he doesn't get hurt. So I hope you don't take offense to this little talk we're having."
"I'm not offended by it, but if you don't want me to be with your son then you can just come out and say it. It won't hurt my feelings." The truth was contrary to her statement, but she didn't want to appear overly emotional.
Setting her cup of tea down, Alveolela brushed a stray hair away from her forehead and said, "I don't dislike you, Julia. I'm pleased that you and Nolan are together."