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Table for One by Ava Hayden

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In “Table for One” Nick works as a waiter at Fortissimo, an upscale restaurant in a major Canadian city. Waiting tables is almost a rite of passage in North America, and I did my share.

My first job waiting tables was at a pizza restaurant. Competition for money-making shifts was keen; the one shift no one wanted to work was Sunday lunch. When the nearby churches let out, we’d be flooded with congregants intent on the inexpensive noon buffet. While their children ran riot and trashed the place, the adults demanded refills peremptorily, and they didn’t tip. Seriously. Did. Not. Tip. Give me a team of beer-swilling baseball players any day. Once a man demonstrating some star play he’d made in that evening’s game collided with a pitcher of draft I was delivering with predictable results. For the rest of the evening, he screamed in mock terror when I passed by—but his team tipped as much as the rest of my tables put together.

The Fortissimo staff is almost a family, like the coworkers who worked alongside me. We were all in our early twenties, in university or just working, and giddy with the freedom of being independent. After the pizza restaurant closed on Saturday night, we’d head over to a local gay bar and meet up with a gang of friends—gay, lesbian, bi, straight—even a few undeclared. There we’d dance nonstop until the place closed and they threw us out. This was before email, Facebook, and cell phones, so the bar was more than just a great dance venue—it was also a place for gossip and news and introductions and freedom.

We had a love-hate relationship with holidays. Yes, you could make a lot of money, but it didn’t come easy. On Valentine’s Day, Nick is pulling a double shift. He carries out his duties without revealing his opinion on public drama to his customers (he hates it). Still, no matter how professional you may be, having to wait on an ex-lover with whom you have some seriously dramatic history is a challenge any day—let alone Valentine’s Day—and thereby hangs a tale of a table for one.




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?

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Review by Janice Birnie

Short and sweet.

Table for One is a short story set in an upscale restaurant during Valentine’s Day dinner. It’s a quick read that you can finish with a glass of wine, and a cheese and fruit platter, and feel like you’re sitting in the restaurant watching as events unfold.

Nick DiGiacommo is completing his college degree by day and working as a waiter, at exclusive Alberta restaurant Fortissimo, at night. Nick despises splashy PDA’s, particularly the kind likely to occur on the one day of the year where grand gestures and public proposals seem to abound. Working on Valentine’s Day is bad enough, but when his ex walks in the door, and is seated in Nick’s section, his night goes from bad to worse.

Mark Mishimoto is head chef and part owner of Yoshihiro, one of the trendiest restaurants in the city, and Nick’s ex. Watching Mark head to a table for two, in Nick’s section in Fortissimo, on this night of all nights, almost brings Nick undone. Why would his ex torture him like this? Didn’t he do enough damage when he flew out to Japan nine months ago, with no explanation, and no further contact?

As a winter storm descends, and all the dinners and most of the staff beat a hasty retreat, Nick finds himself stuck in the restaurant with an increasingly friendly Mark. When getting back to his apartment becomes impossible, and all alternate options disappear, Nick is forced to accept Mark’s offer of a spare bed. Finding out why Mark disappeared and, more importantly, why he came back on this day of all days, finally provides Nick with the answers he’s sought for so long. Whether or not there is any future for these two young men, however, remains to be seen.

Table for One is an original take on a Valentine’s Day tale. There are no grand proposals of marriage or hearts and flowers for these MC’s. There is, however, a lovely little story of two slightly flawed men who can, and do, make mistakes, but who are also capable of understanding and forgiveness. Maybe. A very enjoyable read.



Ava Hayden lives and writes in western 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.

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