Meatballs and Wine

Synopsis: A young photographer, Amber, sets off on a trek to Italy, where she meets and falls in love with a local tour guide who wows her with his talents for cooking, dancing, and most of all, music. Reluctant to leave, he vows to do his best to apply for a green card and follow her back into the states, knowing he is lost without her in his life.

~*~ CAST ~*~

Amber Joan Dulonprie:

Margaret May Dulonprie: (her 'mere')

Pierre Dulonprie: (her 'pere')

Giovanni Luca Caprelli:

Marianna Lucia Caprelli: (his 'mama')

Guiseppe Nico Caprelli: (his 'papa')

Lionel Anderson: (Amber's boss)

Helena Anderson: (Lionel's wife)

Curtis 'Curt' Anderson: (Lionel's son)

Bea Anderson: (Curtis' wife)

Emelia 'Emmy' Anderson: (their daughter)

Pope Benedict:

Scene 1—A Job That Never Dissapoints

(Morning in Paris. Amber awakens to an ordinary day and has already begun preparing herself for her next photo session. She checks her cell to see if her boss has given her any special assignments. Since Bastille Day is forthcoming, she has been given the privilidge to take photographs of the parade, fireworks and the iconic Tour Eiffel.)

Amber: (reading her cell text) Bastille day is just about upon us.

I want you and your discerning eyes to take all the photos you can of the parade, celebrations and fireworks from our lovely tower.

I know you shan't disappoint me. All my love, Lionel. (chuckling) The way he speaks to me, you'd think I was his wife.

(Amber prepares herself for the day by taking a shower, brushing her teeth, spritzing on a bit of cologne and changing her clothes. She takes one last look at herself in the mirror and gives herself a kiss before she leaves.)

Amber: (to her cat who is lazily sleeping on the table) See you later, Descartes !

(Decartes simply swishes his tail, acknowlidging the words Amber has said.)

(Amber gets into her car and starts making her way to the location where the large Bastille day parade will be held. She's wearing patriotic colors and stands outside the building like an excited child. As she patiently waits, a crowd begins forming and marchers, bands, floats and the like begin wending their way around a given path. La Marsellies plays in the background and she grins broadly, beaming with pride and profound love of France. The title 'Meatballs and Wine' appears in a later time-elapsed shot of Amber atop the Tower, taking photographs of fireworks. It comes out looking like a bursting pyrotechnic and dissipates into curly ques and sparks.)

Amber: (narrating) That night, I had been able to take some of the finest photographs of the French people I had seen in years. The economy had turned for the better, so this year, Bastille Day had certainly been something to celebrate. Yet, as usual, my favorite part of the festivities were the fireworks. No matter how many times I see them, they dazzle me. It baffles and confounds my mind just how the chemicals combine so perfectly to produce the right hue at the right time and the patterns possible from those ancient methods of frightening evil spirits and demons.

It's funny to think we use something that was intended for protection, violence and intimidation for celebration.

(getting a call on her cell) Hello ? Amber Dulonprie speaking.

Lionel: Good afternoon, Amber.

Amber: Hi, Lionel. What's going on ?

Lionel: I wanted to tell you how majestic your photos of this Bastille Day were. You knocked me out of my chair this time.

I have been thinking about something.

Amber: What's that ? (smiling widely) Come on, tell me ! The suspense is so thick I could eat it.

Lionel: (paternally and playfully) Patience, Amber. I'm thinking of sending you to Italy. I've gathered enough funds for you to go. From what I have heard, Pope Benedict will be conducting a national day of prayer and I'd like for you to catch a glimpse of him.

Amber: (a bit surprised) Seriously ? But there's so much security around him. How am I ever going to be able to get close enough to get a shot ?

Lionel: (confidently) You have never once failed and you're always very discreet. I know for a fact that you are the best photographer that Orchid has.

Amber: Thanks for the vote of confidence. (becoming excited) I can't believe this ! My childhood dreams are about to come true !

I can't wait to tell mama and papa. They'll be overjoyed.

Lionel: And proud, just like I am. Pack your bags, and get your passport ready. I have everything ready for your trip to Rome.

You'll be spending about a month there.

Amber: Why a month ? It would probably take me a good 3 to 4 days to snap some good photos of the Pope, city and people.

Lionel: (grand generous grin) I thought you could use a bit of a vacation. You're a hardworking woman, Amber.

Amber: (a bit stunned at first) Lionel, this is a bit much. Are you certain Orchid has the funds to carry this sort of thing to fruition ?

Lionel: Of course ! I don't see why not.

Amber: Thank you so much ! (encouraged) I won't let you down, Lionel.

Lionel: I'm certain you won't, my photography angel.

(She is seen skipping down the street singing 'Give a Little Bit' as the scene slowly fades.)

Scene 2—Keyed Up Nerves

(As Amber waits for her flight and walks aboard, she finds a window seat and watches Paris become smaller as the plane ascends. Fairly soon, she can see Rome down below and familiar songs such as 'O Sole Mio' and 'Funiculi, Funicula' amongst others.)

Amber: (thinking to herself) It still feels like a dream come true. I can't believe this is happening. I'm finally in marvelous Rome.

(Soon she is introduced to her tour guide, and as he walks forward the end theme to 'Gunslinger Girl' plays, since she is blindsided by sudden imfatuation)

Giovanni: Bon journo, tutti. Welcome to glorious Italy. I'm Giovanni Caprelli. I'll be your tour guide. You must be Amber.

Amber: (stammering) I...I...I...

Giovanni: (smiling) I understand. It's the magic of this place, it's beauty. I feel the same way every day.

Amber: Apparently I get a private tour today.

Giovanni: Seems like it, my dear. What brings you here anyway ?

Amber: I was asked by my supervisor to take photos of the Pope for the upcoming benediction he will be provided.

Giovanni: Oh, you mean Lionel. He told me you were coming.

Amber: (surprised) Did he ? Hmm. He really thought ahead.

Giovanni: He told me much of you. (smiles warmly and takes her hand into his)

Amber: (blushes hotly) That sly dog. (nervous laugh) So, Giovanni...

Giovanni: Just Gio will do nicely, my sweet.

Amber: (shyly again) Gio. How do you plan on getting me close enough to the Pope so as not to cause a national security breech ?

Giovanni: You will be close enough, lovely one. But first, I plan on showing you around my city before the beatification.

Is that permissible ?

Amber: (eagerly) Indeed it is. Gio, lead the way.

(Gio gets his scooter and they are off and about. 'Falcon' by Keiko Matsui plays in the background as Gio drives the streets of Rome showing off the archetecture and history the Roman Empire left behind. He even stops at a little pizza parlor al fresco.)

Amber: (curiously) Is this supposed to be our first date ?

(gasping) Isn't that taboo ? I didn't think you could date the customers.

Gio: Nothing in our code of conduct states anything about that.

I consider this a date, definitely. are you liking it so far ?

Amber: (being shy and witty, looking down at her shoes momentarily) You mean, the date ?

Gio: (laughing heartily) No, my dear ! Italy ! I'm sorry it had to be such a rapid tour.

Amber: (laughing along with him) Oh, no ! It was adventurous.

Perilous, but fun. I've never ridden on the back of a Vespa that fast before.

Gio: (chuckling) All Italians are like that. It's a mystery why we live as long as we do !

Amber: (catching her breath) Gio, I haven't laughed like this in years. You're such a gentleman.

Gio: I'm glad I can be so. Typically, I don't do private tours, but I would love to continue showing you around. (leans across the table and takes her hand) How long are you here ?

Amber: About a month. But now I am wishing it were longer.

Gio: (squeezes your hand) We have a saying. Providence has her way of working things out. Whatever you need, Amber, my beautiful, I'm your go-to guy.

Amber: (patting his hand in response, a little giddily) That's reassuring, Gio. Sadly, I have to go. It's getting a bit late.

Gio: Can I take you back to your hotel ? I'm sure it's not far from the agency.

Amber: (playfully) Are you certain you're not violating any rules doing this ?

Gio: I swear by St. Michael it isn't ! Come on, I'll take you there.

(She hops on his Vespa, holds on to him and he shuttles her home, presto. Once home, he takes her hands and smiles sweetly at her. As this occurs, the accordion theme from 'Hugo' plays in the background.)

Gio: I look forward to seeing you again, Ms. Amber.

Amber: Me too. You were a real treat, and the food was divine.

(Kisses his cheek)

Gio: Bonne notte, bella. (takes her hand and kisses it)

Amber: Indeed. (walking away with a skip in her step) Mon dieu ! Such a prince ! (as she skips away, the scene fades.)

Scene 3—Meeting Eye To Eye with The Pope

(Amber wakes up early in the morning, gets dressed and while she is brushing her teeth, her cell phone goes off, nearly giving her a heart attack.)

Amber: (catching her breath) Amber Dulonprie speaking.

Who is calling ?

Gio: It's me, honey ! I'm sorry I frightened you. Though, honestly, making you breathless was a treat.

Amber: (laughs) Do you have a large tour group today ? You know that the beatification is later on this afternoon.

Gio: Honestly, the tourism season has been slow due to the economy. It seems, my dear, I have become lucky once more to have you all to myself.

Amber: (giggling) I'll be there as soon as I can.

Gio: I can even get a private interview with the Pope, that is, if you want.

Amber: (gasp) No way, you're kidding me !

Gio: I would never joke about a man with such stature.

I have resources, Amber. I may be a tour guide, but I'm highly respected in Italy.

Amber: (astonished) Impressive. You didn't tell me this yesterday.

Gio: I didn't want to sound as if I was elevating myself above anyone else. Each of us modifies one another.

Amber: Gee, that's...really profound, Gio. Sacre bleu, look at the time ! If I keep rambling away, I'll never get ready. I'm keeping you from your work, too.

Gio: It's ok, Angel. I just wanted to hear your beatific voice again. But seeing you, ah, that will be even more heavenly.

I shall see you later, ma coer.

Amber: Ciao, Gio.

Gio: (flirtaciously) Ciao, bella.

(hands up the phone, and holds her hand upon her heart, scene fade, scene return to Rome and the Pope has just begun his emergence into the crowd in his pope-mobile. He then stops at the altar and heads to the podium. Amber and Gio are right next to them and she can't believe she is only inches away from him.)

Amber: Gio...this is unbelievable. I can't believe this is happening.

Gio: Believe it. Every time Benedict emerges, I can get this close or closer. People trust me. They know I am not a threat.

Amber: (taking photographs, and practically squealing giddily but keeping her composure, mouthing to him) Thank you so much.

Gio: (warmly mouthing in return) You are more than welcome. (A montage flashes by of her speaking to the Pope animatedly, and then being whisked away by Giovanni to Venice. 'Bohemian Concerto' plays in the background)

Scene 4—Venice By Moonlight

Amber: Where are we off to now ?

Gio: If I told you that, it wouldn't be a surprise, my dear.

Amber: I adore your spontenatiety.

Gio: As I do your wit and beauty. I just hope this doesn't cut too deeply into your curfew !

Amber: I'm an adult woman, Gio. I can make my own decisions, but it's so refreshing you would care about me so deeply.

Gio: (beaming incadescently) That's merely the tip of the iceberg.

(Brings her into Venice, showing off his own rowboat)

Gio: I rented this out for the night. Take in mind, this is the first time I've ever done something this...erm, impulsive.

Amber: I don't see it that way at all. This is dreadfully romantic.

Gio: (helping her into the boat) Glad you feel so. (beginning to row) (sings 'Ma Cherie Amore' to her)

Amber: (closing her eyes and relaxing)

Gio: (sets down next to her and rows manually) The moonlight on your skin is exquisite. (looking directly into her eyes and close enough to kiss her)

Amber: You look as if you are glowing. (leans forward to kiss him, and the two kiss for a while)

('Bella Notte' plays in the background. Amber looks at her watch, nearly freaking out.)

Amber: (covering mouth) Mon dieu ! It's so late !

Gio: (starts rowing) No worries, Amber. I'll get you back to the hotel in no time. Once more, it has been an evening to remember.

Amber: And I hope there will be more.

Gio: Me too, cara mia. (rowing her to shore, taking her to Vespa and racing her home)

Amber: (shaking off the adrenaline rush) I still can't get used to that rampant pace through the city.

Gio: (laughing) In a few more days I'm sure it'll become second nature.

Amber: (chuckling a bit) I was wondering something.

Gio: Go on, then.

Amber: I wish it wasn't like this, but when I return to France, maybe we could exchange emails and messenger screen names ?

I would rather we could see each other every day, as we have here. I feel a little selfish having you all to myself and no one else coming in for tours.

Gio: It's a slow season. (huge sly grin) Not that I am complaining. You have given me reason to sing again.

Amber: You are a gorgeous soul, Gio. (blushing) I think I am falling for you more every day.

Gio: Allow me to be so bold as to say I love you. If I don't say it now and were to die tonight, I would regret it forever.

Amber: (grasps him around the waist and kisses him) No regrets. Ever.

Gio: Not with you, Amber. Goodnight for now, and I will see you tomorrow.

(Scene fade)

Scene 5—Discussing the Future

Amber: (narrating) It was something akin to a fairy tale. I had never met someone so romantic, passionate and gentlemanly before. I had always believed that Italians were ruled by their lusts and objectified women. But after meeting Gio's parents, which was, obviously, nerve-wracking at first, I could see where he had learned his charm, grace, wit and morals. He was a rare find, and I was bound and determined to hold onto him, come what may. As far as the photos and the impromptu interview with the Pope were concerned, they were all stellar and I felt the hand of God was directing everything perfectly. That is until I realized I had to say my goodbyes. One last dinner with the Caprellis before I leave this sacred place and return to my magnificent Pari...Parting is such sweet sorrow.

(Scene open to Amber getting ready to see Gio again at his parent's house. She is dressed to the nines and he seems to be waiting for the right moment to ask an extremely important inquiry.)

Marianna: Welcome again, Amber. We can't tell you how good it is to see you again. Everytime you come to visit, Gio simply sparkles.

Gio: (a bit embarassed) Mama !

Mari: It's true, bambino. (kisses him)

Guiseppe: He has been planning something special for you all week. That's mainly the reason we invited you.

Gio: (frustrated) Papa ! You're going to ruin the surprise.

Guiseppe: Both of us have known all along.

Amber: (inquisitively) Known what, Guiseppe ? (enjoying her meal as she savors the company of her friends)

Gio: Amber, my beloved. We have known each other for month, and it may seem a bit fast, but...(fishes inside his pocket for the ring he has been saving up for) Amber Joan Dulonprie, will you be my wife ?

Amber: (tears of happiness well in her eyes, and she is dazzled, almost to the point of speechlessness) Yes ! Yes, of course I will !

(Gio puts the ring on her and she kisses him passionately)

Mari: This calls for a toast ! May the both of you have a long, happy, passionate life full of laughter and memories !

Guiseppe: I'll drink to that, Mari. (she fills his glass)

(The both of them drink to their health.)

Gui: (leaning over) So, when's the ceremony ?

(The lovers look at each other)

Gio: We...erm, haven't really planned that far in advance.

Mari: Guiseppe, don't rush them. I'm sure when they've figured out a date, they'll let us know.

Amber: I don't even know how we're going to have a wedding, let alone where it'll be held.

Gio: I'll think of a way for us to be together. (holds her hand in his) Don't you worry.

Amber: You always think of something.

Mari: That he does. He's extremely resourceful.

Amber: (awkwardly) This is going to be a shock to ma mere and ma pere, though...

Gio: (raised eyebrow) Don't tell me...You haven't even told them yet ?

Amber: With all the excitement, I just hadn't gotten around to it.

Gio: (laughs nervously but inhales and exhales deeply) This too, is only a test, which shall pass.

Guiseppe: I would sugguest you two both sleep on whatever's bogging you down for now.

Amber: Agreed. Mom and dad'll get to know Gio soon enough.

The rest as they say, shall fall into place.

Amber: (narrating over the commotion) At that point, I didn't know which direction was up or down. I felt beside myself, and a bit dizzy. Somehow, my faith and my friend kept me grounded. If anything, if this love story was going to have a happy ending, we would both work at it until it became so.

(Scene fade)

Scene 5—Recent Publications, and Announcements

('La Vie En Rose' is being played by a street performer on saxophone as lovers pass by, hand in hand. Lionel is in his office printing out copies of the recent magazine, which has been selling like hotcakes on the presses.)

Curtis: Is this Orchid's latest publishment ?

Lionel: That it is, Curtis my boy.

Curtis: And you have the last copy ?

Lionel: Yes. It was hard to keep a hold of. The public really enjoys Amber's eye for simple beauty.

Curtis: When are she and Giovanni marrying ?

Lionel: A year from now. From what I heard, he was able to apply at a local newspaper company. Have you heard of Le Temps ?

Curtis: Yes, sometimes we collaborate with them. (grinning) Are we invited to the wedding ?

Lionel: (chortling) Of course we are, Curt. The whole family is invited. It'll be held in April.

Curtis: Will I be meeting this mysterious Giovanni ?

Lionel: From what Amber tells me, we're all celebrating the recent launch of Orchid.

Curtis: How can we afford that ?

Lionel: We all pitched in. We'd better get dressed in something a bit more presentable, it's nearly time.

Curtis: (sighs) We'll be fashionably late as usual.

(Scene shift, at the restaurant. 'Je Suis Cest Fume' is being played by the local band and everyone is laughing, conversing and enjoying their time.)

Helena: I cannot believe Orchid has had its highest sales this month. Seems that people really enjoy patriotic photographs.

Maggie: I agree, Helena. I believe your husband's genius was what made the magazine soar.

Pierre: Here, here, Maggie my love ! I think we should all toast to that, and more importantly, to my darling daughter and her soon to be husband. You never told us what a delight he was !

Gio: (bashfully) The credit is due my mama and papa. I only pray I can make your spellbinding daughter happy for years to come.

Pierre: (hugging him) And make a grand papa someday too, eh ?

Gio: (turning red)

Amber: Pare, you're embarassing him.

Maggie: He means no harm, ma petite. You know he wouldn't say it unless it were the truth.

Pierre: (raises his glass) I'll drink to that ! A votre sante...

All together (save Gio's parents who were unable to attend):

A votre sante...

Bea: So, Gio...when are we going to meet your parents ?

Gio: As I was telling your husband, Curtis earlier, you are all invited to our wedding in April. Both Amber and I have put together funds to make it possible for them to attend the wedding here.

Emily: I've heard so much about your parents...

Gio: And I was hoping it would be permissible to have you as our flowergirl !

Bea: Em, did you hear that ?

Emily: I did ! I've never been a flowergirl...Lovely ! (girlish squeals and giggles) I can't wait. Why can't it be April now ?

(They all laugh)

Amber: (narrating) The jubilation of the moment seemed to linger even hours after celebrating. To see little Emily's expression was the highlight of the night, and I could envision her in her little flower girl dress, so delicate and serene. What I didn't know is that before I could turn around, April would be here, and people would be buzzing around me like worker bees, furiously primping and prepping me for my big day...

(Scene fade)

Scene 6—April in Paris

(the screen reads 'One Year Later', April in Paris plays symphonically and Amber is shown wearing a wedding gown, coming down the aisle. Gio becomes a bit teary eyed, and his father, a best man, nudges him in the side. The father welcomes everyone and has them read their vows, they kiss, and he takes her down the aisle. Since Lionel and Curtis are best men, another associate from Orchid takes photographs of them.)

(They practically leap down the aisle to Pachavelli's canon plays and the two get into a limosene and kiss. We see the limosene speed off into the sunset as others follow behind them.)

Amber: (narrating) Although the future isn't entirely certain, all I know is that life became even more spontaenous and enjoyable. Wherever I go with Gio, I know I'll be fine and all is well in the universe. This is all I need to know and it's truly, what matters most in life. That and the love I have continues to multiply.

(As they kiss again, the back of the car reads 'Just Married' and on the lisence plate it reads, 'The End' in cursive letters. 'Comme Un Rose De Larwes' plays as the credits roll as well as an instrumental/jazz version of 'That's Amore'.)