Thank you so much for hosting me and my Valentine’s Day story Table for One today.
Oilton, Alberta, Canada, the setting for Table for One, is much like Calgary, where I live. The restaurant scenes are loosely based on my own experience of waiting tables in my early twenties. The places I worked were nowhere near as fancy as Fortissimo, where Nick works, and Yoshihiro, which Mark Mishimoto, Nick’s one-time lover, owns, but that doesn’t matter—whether you work in a diner or a AAA Five Diamond restaurant, sooner or later you find yourself having to be professional to a patron you’d just as soon avoid. If that patron is an ex and you parted not exactly on the best of terms, you’ve got angst squared. And if it happens to be Valentine’s Day? Angst cubed.
Valentine’s Day was a favorite holiday of mine until it stopped meaning cupcakes, punch, and a decorated shoebox full of Valentines—around grade four, in other words. After that it just seemed messy and complicated. At my tiny high school, a club I belonged to did an annual “Hearts-o-gram” delivery service as a fundraiser. For a quarter you could send a message in a small envelope with a candy heart glued on to anyone in the school (a primitive form of social media). It turned out that many of the deliveries were nasty jokes or rude messages, and we sold lots of additional hearts-o-grams on the spot to recipients burning for revenge.
And the public gestures on Valentine’s Day… I’m convinced that the world is divided into two types of people (besides the type of people who divide the world into two types of people and the type of people who don’t): people who think public proposals are so fabulous that they’re doing you a favor to deliver one to their beloved in front of you, innocent bystander, and people who would find appearing naked on national television less mortifying than receiving one.
I’m with Nick–I don’t like Valentine’s Day drama, but I have to admit that special things sometimes happen on that day, as they do for Nick and Mark. But if they don’t, well—there’s always cupcakes.
Blurb: Nick DiGiaccomo waits tables at Fortissimo, an exclusive restaurant in Oilton, Alberta. He loathes drama, particularly the kind that makes its appearance on Valentine’s Day.
This Valentine’s Day is especially bitter. Eight months ago Nick’s heart was broken when his lover walked away without a word over a misunderstanding. Too proud to call, Nick’s heard nothing from him since. But on this, the most romantic day of the year, he keeps his feelings well-hidden and his professional smile firmly in place.
That is, until he sees his ex-lover, Mark Mishimoto, at a table for two in his section—and his Valentine’s Day goes from bad to downright horrible.
To make matters worse, a winter storm descends, hours earlier than forecast. When the restaurant closes, Nick finds himself stuck downtown in the middle of a blizzard with no way to get home and nowhere to go. Mark lives conveniently close by, and he’s offering up his couch. Nick could use a place to lay his head—but is it worth risking his heart?
About the Author: Ava Hayden lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta, Canada but grew up in the southern United States. She comes from a family of storytellers and began creating her own at an early age. She’s still telling stories, but now she writes them down. She loves the prairie landscapes of Alberta, where part of her first story with Dreamspinner, “His Fallow Heart,” is set. She also enjoys going to the symphony, the setting for her novella, “The Timpanist and the Stage Hand,” which Dreamspinner will release on April 13, 2016.