Pairings/Characters: Johnny/Billie, Madame Elva
Fandom: Public Enemies
Genres: Challenge, Romance
Warnings: Sappiness! I’ve been feeling depressed lately and decided to write some good, old-fashioned sap. :)
Summary: Johnny treats his girl to a special evening out.
Date Of Completion: January 14, 2010
Date Of Posting: January 17, 2010
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1015
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Written for my 2010 Guns_Fedoras Public Enemies Fic/Art Valentine’s Day Challenge. Option 1: Traditional.
“Johnny, what’s all this?”
“All for you, darlin’.”
The sign that bore the legend, Madame Elva’s Romanian Tearoom, was painted in lilac, the letters in a deep purple and bordered in the same color. The tearoom itself was located in a brick building close enough to downtown Chicago to get lunchtime business from the office workers and businessmen who worked in the buildings, old-fashioned and new. Red velvet curtains were drawn back, allowing the patrons to see outside, but the restaurant was dark so that it was difficult to see inside.
Johnny lifted the gleaming brass knocker on the solid oak door centered with a small decorative pane of glass, narrow and just big enough for someone inside to look out, like a speakeasy from the Roaring Twenties days not so long ago.
A slot under the glass was pulled back and a voice asked, “Yes?”
“Anna sent us,” Johnny drawled.
The slot was shut and the door opened, allowing an amused Billie and Johnny to enter, the doorman smiling at the staged paen to the old days.
Adjusting her eyes to the dimness, she saw the small tables draped in elaborate tablecloths and smelled light, delicate spices. Candles in glass bowls flickered at occupied tables, the murmur of conversation quiet as a violinist played discreetly in the background.
A waitress with short, raven-black hair in a yellow satin dress fringed in black approached and smiled, her gold hoop earrings dangling. “Come this way, please,” she said with a faint accent. She seated them at a corner table, Johnny pulling out Billie’s chair. The waitress left them large lilac-colored menus with black tassels. It matched the tablecloth.
Billie smiled at her lover. “Where did you find this place?”
“Anna put me wise to this place. She says it’s authentic Romanian food. I wanted to do something special for my lady.”
Billie smiled happily. She was one lucky woman to have such a wonderful man for a boyfriend.
They ordered wine to go with their entrees, Billie choosing mamaliga (Romanian-style polenta) with stuffed green peppers, Johnny the ciorba de pui (spring chicken soup) followed by peste marinat (marinated fish). While they waited for their entrees, they sampled cozanaci cu nuca (walnut sweet breads). The bread was sprinkled with ground walnuts mixed with sugar, a sweet treat.
The tearoom’s dim interior was perfect for Johnny, hiding that famous face.
Billie didn’t mind the hide-outs and safehouses and all the rest of it, but it was nice to go out on a real date when she could with her handsome man.
Johnny reached into his suit jacket (she really liked him in the dark-blue suit) and produced a red, heart-shaped box.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, doll.”
Billie took the box and opened the lid, exclaiming, “Oh, Johnny, I love chocolate!”
Johnny laughed. “Never met a lady yet who didn’t.”
“Are you saying I’m not special?” Billie took out a piece of dark chocolate and bit into it. Lemon cream. Mmm.
“Oh, darlin’, you’re very special,” Johnny slid his hand across the table and grasped Billie’s and squeezed. Billie smiled and slid the box across the table, Johnny chuckling as he picked out a chocolate.
“Strawberry cream. Not bad.” His amber eyes sparkled.
Their meals came and Billie enjoyed every bite. She sighed happily.
“Glad to see you’re having a good time, darlin’.”
“Oh, Johnny, what a special night!”
“Nothing’s too good for my girl.”
“I love you, Johnny.”
His face lit up and he suddenly looked shy, which made him even more endearing.
“Enjoying your dinner?”
The accented voice turned their heads around to see an imposing older woman in a dark-red dress, a colorful shawl draped over her shoulders. Her frosted blond hair was short and set in soft waves, her violet eyes stunning. She held out her hand, gold and silver bracelets jangling. Johnny took it and they shook.
“Very much so. You must be Madame Elva.”
“Wonderful place you’ve got here.”
“Yes, it’s beautiful,” Billie added.
“Thank you. Does the food live up to standards?”
“Oh, yes. Never had Romanian food before,” Johnny said. “I like it a lot.”
Billie nodded in agreement.
“Excellent. Always nice to see young couple out enjoying good meal, especially tonight.”
Billie and Johnny smiled at each other, and Madame Elva moved on to the next table.
After their entrée dishes were cleared away, they ordered dessert and Johnny produced another box, smaller this time but long and narrow.
“Oh, Johnny!” Billie gasped. Her brown eyes were huge as she gazed down on the diamond necklace nestled in black velvet. “This must have cost you a fortune! Oh, my.”
“No expense spared for my honey.”
Billie laughed. “My shining knight.” Tears prickled her eyes. “No one has ever…I mean…you’re so generous…I don’t deserve this…”
Johnny grasped her hand again. “Never say that. You deserve every good thing, Precious. You are what makes all this worth it.”
Billie felt a lump in her throat. “Even in my three-dollar red dress?”
“Red is for Valentine’s Day, right? ‘Sides, I got a fondness for that dress.”
“Ah, yes, because I was wearing it when we first met.”
Johnny smiled sweetly. He turned and made a gesture and the violinist sauntered over.
Billie smiled as their waitress brought their desserts of Tarte Tatin, a delicious apple pastry, and torte poveste, known as fairytale layered cake, the name of which delighted Billie no end and got a smirk from Johnny.
They strolled down the street after dinner, the night sky filled with stars. It was cold, but that was to be expected in February. Snow was banked on the sidewalks, the footing treacherous in places, but Johnny had a firm grip on Billie’s arm as they walked.
They stopped at a flower vendor’s cart, the elderly Italian gentleman smiling as Johnny bought a single red rose. Billie deeply breathed in its scent.
“Thank you, J…darling.”
“You’re welcome, sweetheart.”
As they walked down the quiet Chicago street, Billie reflected that it was the best Valentine’s night of her life.