Trent walked over to the row of pictures on the wall. Most of them were of Lee and the dark-haired man he remembered from the mayor’s picture. In every one of them the pair were smiling. Real smiles, not a pose-for-the-camera smile but as if just being together was such a joy they couldn’t help but glow.
“That’s my Tony,” Lee said in a soft voice.
Trent turned to look at the small blond and saw that Lee’s attention was focused on the photo.
“He was a good looking man,” Trent said.
He was rewarded with a brilliant smile. “Yes he was, but not everyone understood that his real beauty was on the inside. They were always so dazzled by how handsome he was that they never got to know the real Tony.”
Trent hadn’t planned on spending their date talking about Lee’s dead husband but it was interesting to learn more about the man that still held the grip of the beautiful blond’s heart even after two years in the grave.
“What was the real Tony like?” Trent asked, keeping his voice gentle not wanting to break the moment.
“Tony was Italian. He liked to laugh.” Lee stroked Tony’s cheek on the photo. “You always knew where you stood with him because he’d tell you. There was no sulking, or silent treatment. If someone did something to hurt or anger him he would say so, resolve it and all would be forgiven. However, if someone did something to hurt or anger me he would carry that grudge to the grave. Some of them he did.”
“Sounds like a great guy.” Trent heart ached a little over the devotion in Lee’s eyes. “I’m sure he’d want you to be happy.”
Lee brushed a tear off his cheek. “Yeah, he’d like you. He told me once that if he died before me, he wanted me to find someone strong to take care of me and if I didn’t he’d haunt me for the rest of my life.” Lee gave a little sniff. “I sometimes think I feel him near me. It gives me comfort.”
Unable to resist the sorrow in the smaller man’s eyes, Trent wrapped Lee in his arms. Lee burst into tears and sobbed inconsolably against Trent’s shirt.
How long could one person mourn before it ate him away inside?
Trent stroked the shining blond head, then placed a kiss on top and gave Lee a little hug. “I’m sure if he could he’d be watching over you right now.” Trent said.
Holding the crying man, Trent’s eyed the pristine living area. It had a cozy cottage feel that made a visitor right at home. He caught his reflection in the glass and had to smile. They looked good together ‑ the slim blond, and the large dark-haired man. It wasn’t until he glanced at the other pictures and reflections that he saw him. Tall, slim and wearing a brown leather jacket, the dark-haired Italian from the picture smiled back at him.
Trent jerked back.
“I thought I saw something.” No way was he going to tell the heart-broken man that he saw his dead husband.
Lee wiped his face with the palms of his hands. “I feel so stupid. I didn’t bring you over here to depress us both.”
Trent took Lee’s hands in his own. “I want you to feel free to talk about Antonio and anything else you want. Is dinner ready or did you want to go out to eat?”
“No. Oh no.” Lee said. “I worked all afternoon on my lasagna. It’s the one thing I know how to make.” He gave an embarrassed shrug. “Antonio used to do all the cooking.”
Of course he did. Trent thought bitterly. Antonio was apparently the perfect man no wonder Lee missed him so much. Hell, Trent sort of missed the guy and they’d never met.
“Why don’t you sit here and listen to some music. I’ll go check on my lasagna.”
“Okay.” It had been a long time since anyone wanted to pamper him so Trent let Lee fuss over him a bit.
“I’ll be right back.”
Trent nodded then wandered over to Lee’s stereo.
“It has a record player!” He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen one of those. There were still those kitschy old-fashioned places that sold records but Trent didn’t shop in those places. He’d long ago given up on disks and now had everything on his tiny MP3 player. After a long perusal he chose some Spanish guitar music. He slid the record onto the player then searched for a way to turn it on.
“Good choice.” A deep voice said behind him.
Trent spun around at the sound of the man’s voice that definitely didn’t sound like Lee’s sweet tenor.
“Sweet mother of god.” Trent stared at the ghost, his heart pattering in his chest as if he’d just run a marathon. Antonio floated three feet away, watching Trent with an amused expression on his handsome face.