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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chapter 14 at ya

Hey friends! I just had to go ahead and post 14 since tomorrow promises to be tremendously busy. My girlies are going to wave palms for 3 services at church starting at 8!!! ug. Then our church is putting on the Living Last Supper of Leonardo Divinci and hubby is a disciple and oldest daughter is an usherette. So, that means we get to be at church nearly all day!! Love these things, but I love when they are over as well.


    When Amalia was nearly eight months old, Anna finished her third book, Darkness of Pseumish. This time she sent the flash drive by an insured, private courier. She called Bob several days later to make sure he had gotten it. “Yes! It looks great. I’ve only skimmed it a bit, you know. Listen, Anna, I’m glad you’ve called. I need to talk to you about something. I’ve been in contact with your American publisher and they think you should come and do book signings in several cities there. Like say, a ten city tour, or something like that. It would boost your reputation in the US and make your American publisher happy. What do you think?” She thought for a moment and then said, “That sounds fantastic! Will they choose the cities? I’m not sure how all that works.” Bob replied, “Yes, they will set it all up with important book stores in key cities and all you have to do is show up at the store at the right time.” “Ok, let me know when they have my schedule,” she said. They exchanged pleasantries and then hung up. She sat in silence for a long time. She had never thought that she would become a famous author doing a book signing tour. She was so excited! Gisella wanted to know what her publisher had said. When she told her she ended by saying, “I think we need to make a trip to Milan first. I want to make a good impression when I do my tour.” Two days later Bob called her back to give her the schedule. “All right, have you got a pen and paper? Well, never mind that, I can email you this schedule, but I just wanted to let you know I had it already.” “Gracious, that was fast!” she replied. He forwarded her the email while they were still chatting on the phone. “If you need anything else, let me know,” Bob said before hanging up. Anna looked over the list of cities and stores. Boston, Miami, Nashville, Austin, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Kansas City, Minneapolis, and Chicago were to be her destinations. She grimaced when she read Nashville on the list. She had no desire to set foot in Tennessee. But then again, perhaps her mom would drive to Nashville to see her and meet Amalia. Her tour would begin in a little over two weeks, so she had time for her Milan trip and any other preparations she wanted to make. Anna hired a car to take them to Milan and be her transport for her shopping trips. She didn’t want to mess with crowded buses or trains this time. She had so much fun buying smart looking outfits befitting a published author. She bought shoes and accessories as well. She also bought plenty of adorable outfits for Amalia, even though she didn’t really need them and she would always be at the hotel with Gisella. They raced back to Trieste to make sure Gisella and Amalia’s papers were in order for the trip. She had to make hotel reservations and transportation arrangements for each city they were to visit. She and Gisella spent several days packing the group of suitcases they would live out of for the next month. The day before their flight, Anna went to a hair salon. The hairdresser stood quietly behind Anna as she thought about what she wanted. Her long hair had never been cut other than a slight trim. She wanted a sophisticated look for her tour. “I think you can take off ten centimeters and layer it. Just make it beautiful!” she finally said. The hairdresser did her craft well and Anna walked out completely satisfied.  She had large wispy curls at the bottom of her hair and it all felt so much lighter. Gisella declared it a success when she saw her and said she was “bella, bella!”
    “Wish me luck!” she said to Gisella as she stood at the hotel door. They had landed in New York the day before and she was now on her way to her first signing. She noticed her old butterflies were back to doing their little dance. It actually made her smile because she knew she was embarking on a new chapter in her life. Her driver pulled in front of the large bookstore and she got out. She had to take in the feel of the environment around her for a moment before entering. She found a sales lady and said, “I’m Anna Nathan.” She used her maiden name on her books to avoid all the weirdness of her past. “Oh, oh, goodness. Right this way,” the lady told her. As she started to lead her to the back, Anna noticed a full length poster about today’s signing with a picture of her second book and a small picture of her. She was led to the back of the store where a large table was set up with a chair and a whole stack of Sharpies. “Now, we will cut off the line in an hour,” the woman said. Anna had no idea what she was talking about until they unlatched a cord at the end of a bookshelf and the hopeful customers began to line up at her table. She gazed open mouthed at the number of people here to see her and buy her book.  She gained control of herself and looked the first customer in the eye, “Thank you for coming! Who should I make this to?” Her hour was up before she knew it and there were still a lot of people. “I’m not in a hurry. I’ll sign some more if it’s okay with you,” she said to the nervous sales lady. They let her sign for another half hour and she was able to satisfy most of the waiting customers. “You have to be one of the nicest authors I’ve ever met,” the woman said as Anna was preparing to leave. They gave her the tally, she had signed over 200 books. Not bad for her first signing.  They spent two more days in New York and Anna wished she had saved some of her shopping for this city. Next on her tour was Boston. It was a very short flight. This was a much slower paced city and Anna enjoyed walking around its historic streets. The bookstore here was smaller, but had just as many eager customers waiting to meet her. Her American publisher happened to be in Boston, so she went to meet them the next day. She recognized one of the head editors from her signing the day before. Apparently, he had gone to get a sneak peek at their new author. She was happy with this establishment and thanked them for their interest in her. They arranged for her to have a photo shoot so that they would have pictures to put on her tour signs and books. That was a first for her, but she felt glamorous as the photographer snapped away hoping for one good picture out of a hundred. She rested for three days and then they flew to Miami. She began to notice what her publisher in England had told her; how the book was interesting to a “wide range of people.” In Miami, there were young and old, men and women waiting in line to have her sign their books. A young, classic nerd with black framed glasses and all came to her table. “Now, I’m just curious. Is Pseumish a Sci-fi place or not?” She could see he was completely serious, but she had a hard time holding her laugh. “Well, no, actually it’s more like a place of imagination; like Alice in Wonderland,” she answered. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and then stated, “You do know that Lewis Carroll was under the influence of opiates when he wrote that. Does that mean it’s a place of drug induced visions?” She couldn’t help laughing this time. “I can honestly tell you that no opiates were used in the creation of Pseumish.” She signed his book and was still giggling about that encounter several customers later. She signed books for two hours in Miami and her shoulders were so sore afterwards. She was happy to take advantage of her hotel’s masseuse. She was still incredulous to the fact that she had so many fans. 
    Her next stop was Nashville. She had two days until that appointment, so she called her mother. Her mother was glad she had called, but didn’t give any hope that she would come see her in Nashville. Anna became irritated, “Put Dad on the phone!” Her mother obliged. “You listen here, Daddy! I want you to put Mama in the truck and you two are going to come see me and your grandbaby on Saturday. Do you hear me? You can leave that horrible pit of depression for one day to see your own daughter.” He sighed loudly and then replied, “All right, I’ll bring her. Tell me where we have to go.” She emailed the directions to her mom and told them to come to her hotel in the morning so they could spend time with Amalia after she was gone for the book signing. She half expected them to back out, but early that Saturday morning, she got the call that they were in the lobby. She told them what room she was in and they came up. She cried and held them both for a long time when they entered her room. Finally she turned and picked up Amalia. “Mom, Daddy, this is Amalia. Meet your grandbaby,” Her mother threw out her arms and swept up the child in a tight embrace. “I am so happy to meet you, my precious granddaughter,” she said. “Don’t hog her!” her father said and he took a turn hugging her. Amalia seemed very happy with these new people. “Look here, sweetie, I’ve brought you a bear,” Anna’s mother said. It was a handmade patchwork bear sewn from different pink fabrics. “It’s adorable Mom,” Anna said and Amalia grabbed the bear and squeezed it. She let out a little laugh and her grandpa was completely wrapped around her little finger. Anna introduced them to Gisella and told them how much she had done for her. “Well, I know you’ve just gotten here, but I’ve got to go to the signing now. When I get back we can go out to eat some lunch. I’m sure you can find something to do here,” she said while smiling between her parents and the baby.
    Anna was greeted at the door of the large Nashville bookstore with a life size picture of her. It was the one they took in Boston. “Wow, now that is creepy,” she thought looking over her likeness. She would never have to introduce herself to a salesperson again; because they all knew exactly what she looked like. Sure enough, a man came walking swiftly up to her, “Ah, Miss Nathan, so good to see you. If you would please, follow me to the signing table.” She just smiled and followed him and his jaunty gate to the table. The line was enormous and there was a cheer when she came and sat down. Many of the staff had come to watch and there was a cameraman from a local news channel to document her signing. She put on her professional smile and went to work appeasing the mass of customers. In the back of her mind she still dreaded seeing anyone from Platzville, but she knew this was the last place on earth any of them would be caught dead. A professor type came up to her table and asked, “Can you tell me if Pseumish is based upon a place in real life, like an allegory or something?” She was thinking, “If people only knew who I was writing about…….” Instead she said, “Nope, just imagination.” This was mostly true since her stories had gone way beyond actual events in Platzville. She was so glad that these people didn’t know that Pseumish was inspired by back woods Tennessee, or they might not be here buying her book. She made it through the line of customers, the gawking staff, and the eager cameraman and headed back to the hotel. She was starving and ready to spend more time with her parents.
    They enjoyed a big lunch and she was happy to be able to treat her parents. “We ain’t seen nobody from Platzville since you left,” her father said. She hated when he talked like that, but it was his culture. Her father added, “You know that fella that shot Roy went to jail.” She figured he didn’t know what her mom told her in their emails. “Yes. How is the saw mill?” she asked. He told her it was the same as always. He missed the extra business from the Muller family, but that things were fine without them. She told them a little about Italy and how much she loved living there. The whole concept of living in a foreign country made her father uneasy, but he was genuinely happy that she had joy in her life now. “Well, Anna, I do hate to leave you and my grandbaby, but we’ve got to get on the road,” he said after they were finished eating. She loved that he had taken possession of her daughter as his own. “Daddy, you promise me you will at least let Mama come visit me in Italy. I would love it if you would come too, but I know that might be too difficult for you to manage. You have to promise me, though, that you will let her come. I’m going to buy the ticket. Promise me, Daddy!” she pled with him. He knit his brows together and then relaxed them, “You win, you and your mother can plan that trip. I couldn’t possibly come, you know.” She hugged him tight and thanked him. Her mother let a few tears of joy slip out. After many hugs and salutations, her parents left. She felt so glad that she had made them come to see her. She could now focus on the rest of her tour.
    Their next stop was Austin, Texas. She enjoyed the state where everything was big and laughed when the staff of the bookstore presented her with a plate of bbq from a famous smokehouse. She passed a rack of bumper stickers on her way to the table. One caught her eye that said, “Keep Austin Weird.” “What in the world does that mean?” she thought. She soon found out. The line before her consisted of every kind of person she could imagine. From dreadlocks to yuppie, she saw them all in the people waiting to meet her. A woman with green hair and two nose rings made her way to the table. Her clothes were all black and white and she had lots of makeup on. “Your books rock!” she said when she was in front of Anna. She could only smile and say, “Thank you so much. I appreciate you reading them.” Anna suddenly felt so sheltered even though she had lived across the ocean. “God loves everybody. God loves everybody…” she told herself over and over. She made it through the line and the staff asked her to sign her life sized picture for their store. She laughed while she signed her leg.
   They flew to Los Angeles during a rainstorm and the landing was a bit rough. Amalia didn’t cry at all and Anna was thankful. Their hotel was close to Rodeo Drive and Anna wanted to do some shopping when the rain stopped. However, it rained the rest of the day. So, they spent a quiet day in their hotel suite and she pulled out her laptop to work on ideas for book four. The next day she dressed up especially nice, it was L.A., and hired a car to take her to the store. It was really fancy. The manager escorted her upstairs and seated her in a plush swivel chair with a small side table. “This should be interesting.” As she made her way through the line of customers she thought, “I have never seen so many fake body parts in my life.” She wondered how the women could talk with their lips all pumped up. “Just get a bee sting, it’s cheaper,” she imagined herself saying. After the staff had turned away the end of the line, she noticed a man in a suit standing to the side waiting for her. She was a bit nervous when he approached her. “Hi, I’m Marshall Davies from Willow Studios. We’ve read your first book and think it would make a fantastic movie.” She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Let me give you my card and if you are interested, give me a call,” he said. He then politely shook her hand and left. She turned to the manager and asked, “Have you ever heard of him or Willow Studios?” “Oh yeah, they’ve made a bunch of popular movies,” he replied. “Okay, thanks,” she said and then went out to find her driver. “I need to talk to Bob,” she thought. She called him while they were driving back to her hotel. “Bob I need to ask you about something,” she said when he was put on the line. She told him about Marshall and the movie offer. “Let me find out more about it for you. You should not be speaking with those people directly. I’ll let you know if it’s a good deal or not.” She felt better now that the matter was in his hands and not hers.
    Seattle reminded Anna of Austin, only colder. It was beautiful and she and Gisella enjoyed the views of massive cruise ships docked so close to the city. Anna wished they had longer than three days in Seattle, but alas, she had a schedule to keep. They flew to Minneapolis next. She did the book signing at the Mall of America. They gave her one hour to sign books, but the line had no end. She felt like she was being a little impersonal in an attempt to get so many people through the line. About forty-five minutes into the signing a mother with her little girl came to the table. The girl was wearing a homemade costume of one of the characters in her book. That made her happy and gave her the strength to make it through the rest of the hour. She finished and then wandered around the mall for a while. She was missing Amalia and Gisella, so she bought them a couple of presents and then called her driver. Back at the hotel, they spent a quiet evening together. The next day she took Gisella and Amalia to the mall because she wanted them to see it. Amalia was in sensory overload and Gisella wasn’t far behind her. They walked through Lego Land, shopped and ate until they were ready for the quiet of the hotel again. “Two more stops, I can do this,” Anna thought as she soaked in a warm bath that night. Kansas City was next and then Chicago. They would fly home from there. Home. It was amazing how much Anna felt at home in Trieste. She had not felt at home in any of the cities she had visited so far. She guessed it was because she had found herself in Italy. Everywhere else just made her curious, but uncomfortable. “Ah, must be my parents DNA at war within me,” she thought as she slipped into her night gown.
    Kansas City had more normal mid-western people and she actually found the signing to be a bit boring. The customers looked more like they had to be there instead of wanted to be there. She tried her best to be upbeat and gregarious. It didn’t make much of a difference and she was super glad when the time was up. “This was not my idea,” she said to her life size portrait as she went out the door. Chicago was a little more exciting and she was glad that she would be able to leave on a happy note. The staff was very friendly and brought her drinks and munchies while she was signing. She went to her hotel and announced victoriously, “Gisella, we are done! We can go home! We will have plenty of time before the Mittelciok Chocolate Festival!” Gisella let out a sigh of gratitude. She was as ready to go home as Anna was. The next day they were boarding a plane that would start their journey back home. 
this book is copyrighted.

Friday, March 30, 2012

You win! Chapter 13

Tomorrow is going to be busy and so, I've decided to bestow chapter 13 on my dearest friends. Haha! I know, I'm silly!
We spent all afternoon searching for cheap craft supplies for constructing all manner of Barbie furniture and housing. Lord help me, my house is covered in cardboard, contact paper, scrapbook paper, glue, and tape!

    They flew back the next day. Gisella was very happy to be in her domain again. She ruled the roost in Anna’s house. Anna began writing her third book and Gisella took care of everything else. Anna dove fully into the world of Pseumish and did not come out for several days. Gisella found her staring blankly at the computer screen as she was pondering her character’s choice words. “Anna! You must get out and get some fresh air. Go to the market and get me some fresh apples and carrots.” Anna turned to Gisella and thought for a moment, “Yes, that would be a good idea. I need air.” She took a shower and pulled her hair up loosely. She dressed in comfortable clothes and left for the market, basket in hand. Anna reveled in the rows of fresh produce and the happy faces of the vendors. It was all so beautiful. She found some appetite enticing apples and asked for a kilo. The farmer gladly filled her basket with a kilo and a little extra “for the beautiful lady.” She moved on down the row to find some nice carrots. “This sure beats superstore produce,” she thought. As she was honing in on a stand with gorgeous carrots, she notice a familiar man walking up the same row. It was Dr. Marino. He was as handsome as ever and looked so incredibly attractive with his large basket and obvious knowledge of produce selection. Soon after she spotted him, he saw her. She turned and pretended not to see him while she began her transaction with the carrot vendor. “Anna, darling, how are you? When did you return from London?” Here he was full of questions again. “I am well. We had a good time,” she replied. He looked into her eyes and she felt she ought to tell him the truth. “Carlo, I got a divorce.”  She could plainly see that he was trying desperately not to look too excited. “I’m so sorry,” he said and then hugged her tightly. The vendor chuckled as Carlo was making faces of triumph behind her back. “I hope you don’t think I’m rude, but I really need to get these things home to my housekeeper,” she said when he finally released her. “Of course, please do what you must. I will come to see you soon,” he replied. He kissed her and turned to finish his own errands. The carrot vendor started raising his eyebrows and teasing her. She paid quickly and jogged home trying not to spill her apples and carrots. When she delivered her purchases to Gisella, she said, “Ah see there, the air did you good. You have good color now.” Anna blushed, “I don’t think it was the air. I ran into Carlo at the market and we will just say he was quite happy to see me.” Gisella winked and then took the basket from Anna. She went back to her computer, but was too distracted to be creative. She sat back in her chair and closed her eyes. “Why do his kisses feel so….so……sensual?” she thought. She had experienced a wide range of kisses from her two husbands, but nothing came close to Carlo’s loaded kisses. Her first husband seemed to kiss her out of obligation and her second as a stepping stone to other corporal pursuits. When Carlo kissed her though, the whole world got fuzzy. She shook herself hoping to forget the feeling of his perfect lips. Her internal wrestling was soon interrupted by a hungry baby. She took Amalia to the chaise and got comfortable. She turned on the tv and started to nurse her. The local news was comical to Anna. They were absolutely scraping the barrel for stories to present. Today they were pestering a man with four dogs. They were asking how he could possibly manage that many. Anna chuckled and changed the channel. She found an old Friends rerun in Italian. “This ought to be funny,” she thought. Amalia did not mess around with her meal and was completely finished before the second commercial break of the show. Anna turned off the tv, took her sleeping baby to her crib, and went back to her room. She turned the wedding ring on her finger several times and then took it off. She placed it in the bottom of her special wooden box and closed the lid. She rested her head on her tall dresser for a moment before heading back to her computer. She had never dreamed back in Clements that she would have experienced so much emotional conflict in her life time; much less just a couple of years. “Moving onward,” she said out loud. She sat down at her desk and began to read her last paragraph. She suddenly felt inspired again and started typing with purpose. Perhaps it was the thought about Clements motivating her again. Whatever it was, it worked. She finished the chapter she was working on and did two more that evening.
    The following day, she rose early and went for a jog. She had a little more jiggle since having Amalia and she wanted to expunge it from the record of her body. She came home feeling refreshed and then showered. Gisella had her coffee and granola ready when she came to the kitchen. “Thank you, dear, you know I can’t live without you,” she said. Gisella blushed and smiled. She acted busy to cover her embarrassment. Anna was still standing in the kitchen when the door bell rang. She looked at Gisella, “Who could that be?” Gisella ran to answer the door. When she returned she had Carlo in tow. She winked at Anna and then disappeared into her room. “How are you, beautiful?” he asked as he came close to her and began kissing her face. She suddenly had absolutely no voice. He put his arms around her and kissed her mouth. Her knees were starting to buckle when a voice inside her told her to get a hold of herself. She pushed him away lightly and said, “Would you like some coffee? Gisella has just made some. You can tell me about work and whatever.” He looked a bit perturbed at her obvious brush off, but he said he would take some coffee. They sat together on the sofa by the front window. Anna felt a little more comfortable sitting where there was lots of sunlight. Carlo drank his coffee and chatted about work and “whatever” as if to say he would be willing to play her game if it meant he would get a reward. After a while he set his cup on the side table and scooted over to her. “My darling, you must let me give you the affection that your body needs. You are no longer married and so now I am free to treat you like a queen,” he said with a soft and tempting voice. “I’m just not ready for that,” she said while glancing down. He seemed to catch her meaning and said, “It’s ok, I will go as slowly as you like.” She knew in her heart that he would not like how slowly she wanted to go. As in, she didn’t want him to sleep with her….ever. She knew this Italian prince did not have it in his DNA to be faithful to her and that was what she morally required. Besides, she still had James in her heart and did not want a rebound relationship. He was persistent and came week after week, taking his affections to the brink of his goal. She would always shut him down and chill the mood with explanations of needing to feed the baby, or some other chore. It was all she could do to resist him. Every touch and every kiss from him seem to go directly to her arousal nerves. She hadn’t felt this way before. After he left, she would have to go take a cold shower before she would feel normal again. The next week, she told Gisella in no uncertain terms that she was not to leave her alone with Carlo. “He wants more than I want to give him,” she said. Gisella understood and did her best, but when the baby required her attention, she left Anna defenseless. He was even more aggressive than usual. “Please, my love, I want you. You are just teasing me to make me wait so long,” he said. “Good things come to those who wait,” she said. She didn’t know why she said it, since she was never going to give him what he was craving. She knew that although she loved his attention and affection, she needed to break off their relationship. “Why is it men see me as a conquest? I guess they are not used to being told no,” she thought that night. The following day, she had some errands to run in town. She turned a corner to go to the office supply store when she saw Carlo. He was not alone. He had a young Italian woman in a full embrace and was kissing her passionately. As Anna watched, he even squeezed the woman’s backside as if he had been there many times. Anna pulled out her phone and took a picture. This was the perfect ammunition to make him stop coming to her house. Instead of feeling hurt, she felt satisfaction that she had called this player for what he was and had guarded herself. She finished her errands and went home. She showed Gisella the picture and told her about the young woman. “That beast! You are much prettier than her!” Gisella said indignantly. “It is okay, Gisella. I didn’t love him and I am better off without a man in my life right now,” she said. The next time he came to the house, Gisella let him in with a smile knowing that Anna was about to drop a huge bomb on him. He walked swiftly up to Anna and tried to kiss her mouth, but she turned and gave him her cheek. “Come, I have something I would like to show you,” she said with a cunning look on her face. She had blown up the picture of Carlo and his amore to an eight by ten size and printed it off. As she put the picture in front of him, his face turned an ashy gray. “Oh mio Dio!” he said.  He began to stumble and stammer and for once was speechless. “You have been sweet to come and visit me, but I would prefer that you not come here ever again,” she said very calmly. Gisella was watching from behind a door and was trying hard not to laugh out loud. Carlo simply nodded and waved as he backed himself down the stairs and out the door. Anna and Gisella then laughed heartily at his dumbfounded expression.
    From that day, Anna felt a freedom she hadn’t known before. She purposed in her heart not to pursue a relationship with a man and not to let them pursue her for a very long time. She was happy and had a perfect little family with Amalia and Gisella. She took every opportunity to enjoy her daughter and loved her more than life. Amalia was such a sweet baby and had Anna’s brown hair. One day as she and Gisella were taking Amalia for a walk with the stroller, Anna took a deep breath and said, “I am in love!” Gisella stopped and gave her a confused look. Anna laughed and said, “I am in love with Italy!” Gisella smiled and walked on. She was glad that Anna was finding happiness. 
this book is copyrighted.

Chapter 12 hello

Well, I'm posting early because I've got errands to run today. Cue sad music and an open mind for this one!!! I will spoil it and say, hang on for the next chapters!!


    One morning she was pondering Carlo’s attentions to her while she sipped her coffee. Gisella had learned to make it the way she liked it: half coffee, half milk, a scoop of chocolate powder, and a packet of stevia. It felt so very good to be wanted by Carlo, but she felt guilty because she ought to be feeling wanted by her husband. She couldn’t even remember what it felt like to be wrapped in James’ arms, or to kiss him passionately. She was forgetting the sound of his voice. He had been gone for over six months. She had to do something. She could not sit around and wait for him, not knowing if he was ever going to come home. She assumed the agency would let her know if something ever happened to him. They would have to spin some sort of plausible story about his demise. Then there were all of the thoughts about the Bond women. “Who is he waking up with today?” she wondered. A horrifying thought came to her. “What if he just married me so he could sleep with me? What if I’m just a conquest and he had to marry me to get the proverbial mark on his gun?” Their confrontation in Brighton had made him so angry. He didn’t like being denied her body over her morals. Had they ever had a real relationship? She heard Amalia whimper in the other room. That drew her thoughts to the time James said he didn’t want children. Would he be irate if he knew he had a daughter? She wondered if perhaps he knew about the baby and would not come home because of it. The thought of him being angry in front of her precious baby set her in protective mode. “The truth is, I don’t want him to come back,” she thought with regret. She began to formulate her next trip around a very depressing goal….divorce. She went to her room and pulled a little wooden box off her dresser. She began to rifle through the papers and trinkets it held. Near the bottom was a small card with a woman’s name and phone number. She also found the envelope with all of their documents. She put the card and envelope in her purse and went to talk to Gisella. “Do you have papers to travel? I want to go to London for a visit and I need you to come and help me with Amalia,” she said. Gisella answered that she did and would love a trip to London. Carlo came the week as she was preparing for her trip to London. He asked as many questions as a jealous boyfriend, “Where are you going? How long will you be gone? Why are you going to London? Are you sure you are ready to travel?” She sat him down and tried to calmly answer his questions. “I am going to London to handle some personal business. We will return in two or three weeks.” He thought that was just way too long. She hurried his visit along so she could continue to get things in order for her trip. She had to get an ID card for Amalia to travel with her. She bought Gisella some new clothes and travel gear for Amalia.
    Finally, they were all ready for the trip. They flew directly from Trieste to London this time. Anna did not care about spy protocol at this point. He had been gone so long that no one could connect him with Trieste anyway. Amalia did well on the flight and Anna thought that was a good sign that her daughter had been born with her travel bug. Anna checked into her favorite hotel in London where she had reserved a suite. Gisella and the baby shared a room and Anna had a large room with a desk and a huge tub. She knew she would need both the desk and the tub with what she was about to go through. The next morning, she found the small card and called the number. “Bertha Tulip. That is obviously a fake name. Who do they think they are fooling?” she thought as the phone on the other end rang. “Anna?” the voice on the other end said. “Yes, I need to talk to you,” Anna replied. The woman arranged for them to meet at an inconspicuous place that afternoon. She still had the morning to waste so she decided to go see her publisher. She had noticed that her bank account in London was growing quite substantial and she wanted to know what was going on. She nursed Amalia and then headed out to see Bob.
    Bob was thrilled to see her. A little more thrilled than usual, she was thinking. Once seated in his office, he explained the extent of their success. “Anna, Pseumish has become extremely popular. It reaches a wide range of people. We’ve sold thousands of copies of each book here in England. Last month, we contracted with a publisher in the US and they are going to distribute over there. There was a sizeable advance for signing with them and I think you’ll be happy with the returns from the increase in sales.” Anna was stunned, “I hadn’t really thought of my books going to America. You have been very good to me, Bob. Thank you.” They talked for awhile. He wanted to know if they could count on her for more books. “Of course, my head is still full of ideas for the Pseumish series,” she told him. He seemed satisfied and asked if they could go to lunch while she was in London. She was unsure of how this afternoon’s conversation would affect her schedule; so she told him she would give him a call. She left his office feeling confident that she could take care of Gisella, Amalia, and herself for a very long time. “Thank you, God,” she breathed as she hailed a cab.
     Back at the hotel, she nursed Amalia again and they ordered lunch in their room. She put on a pretty light blue dress and matching heels. She pulled her hair back in a clip on the back of her head and put on understated makeup. She grabbed her purse and went outside to get a cab. The cab ride seemed to take forever. She felt the envelope in her purse and realized she was extremely nervous. “Bertha” was waiting at a quiet outdoor cafĂ©. Anna sat across from her and mustered the nerve to begin. “I—I don’t know how to say this except to just be blunt. I want a divorce from James. He is always gone and I cannot handle being married, but living alone. I think abandonment is grounds for divorce; at least that is what you see on tv. I thought I would need to tell you first since all our documents come from the agency anyway. He’s been gone for nearly seven months. I assume you know we have a baby. I don’t know if you’ve told him or not, but I really don’t want him to know. He made it quite clear that he didn’t want children. And, I don’t want him to feel pressure to come home just because he is a father. It’s obvious he loves his job and I think he should be free to have that one love in his life. I’ve brought all our documents with me in case you need them.” She swallowed hard and took a sip of the coffee in front of her. It was way too sweet, but she had to do something to calm her nerves.  The woman answered in a very businesslike tone, “If you are sure, I will start on the paperwork today. As you have said, your papers are handled within the agency and you were right to talk to me first. We should have this resolved by the end of the week. You are a good woman, Anna. You have realized the importance of his job. I must ask you, though, not to speak of his occupation even after your divorce is finalized. I will call you when it is done.” She stood, shook Anna’s hand, and without taking the envelope of documents was gone before Anna could think about standing up. “Well, I guess that ball is rolling,” she thought.
    She decided they would enjoy London for the next several days. She wanted Gisella to enjoy herself and took her sightseeing and shopping. Anna had professional portraits made of Amalia. If anyone saw a picture of the baby alone, they would never know she was James Grant’s child.
         Back at the hotel, she wrestled with how much information to tell her family. She knew she could in no way allude to James’ job or location, but what about the baby or herself? She sat down at her computer and opened an email draft. She addressed it to her mother and then sat back and stared at the screen for few minutes. At length, she began typing,
Mom, I know I have been so vague with you the past year and a half. I’m so sorry. There are many things you deserve to know, but that I could not tell you. Let me start with this week and go backwards. I am getting a divorce. My husband has a job, which I can’t tell you about, that keeps him away from home almost constantly. Two months ago I gave birth to a beautiful daughter. My husband does not even know he has a child. So, you are a grandmother! Surprise! There were lots of complications with my birth and suffice it to say, I will never have any more children. Is this what happened to you? Is that why I’m an only child? Anyway, Amalia Kate and I live in Italy. I absolutely love it there. I have already published two books and am financially independent. I wish you could come see the baby and my lovely home. I know you would love them both. I would pay for you to fly there. I am in London right now getting the divorce paperwork done. Not fun. I have a nanny with me. She lives with us in Italy and I can’t do without her. Mom, I must ask you not to share any of this with Aunt Beth. Since her husband is related to my soon to be ex-husband, they cannot know anything about him. Please, don’t tell them anything. Give my love to Dad. Love, Anna.
   She figured it was safe to tell her that much in an email since she did not use James’ name. In minutes she received a reply from her mother.
“Dearest Anna, I am so very happy to hear from you. I am greatly disappointed that you must get a divorce. You know how they look on that around here. Oh well, I know you are doing what you feel is best. I am a grandmother! That makes me so happy. Yes, dear, I had problems with childbirth, too. So sorry you inherited that. Amalia is a beautiful name. I would love to come see you; if I could ever get your father to consent. You know how attached he is to this little part of Tennessee. I will keep quiet about your husband with Beth. She is constantly asking me if I’ve heard from you. I don’t guess your husband stays in touch. Well, I need to go make your father’s lunch. I love you dearest, and hope you will continue to write me. Love, Mom.”
Anna was crying when she finished her mother’s email. She missed her so much. The one person in the world who was a kindred spirit had been cut off from her by distance and obligation. She determined that at a later date she would call her dad and convince him to let her mom come visit.
   The next order of business was to write James a letter. She pushed aside her computer and got out some stationary and a pen. At first she wrote haltingly; then, the depth of her grief came flowing out onto the page.
 “Dear James, I do not know how to write this letter to you. I have such deep feelings of pain about our marriage and the deception I have been under. I don’t know if you are with a new woman every week as a part of your job. I thought I was married to you, not your job. I feel as though I was a victim of your lust; that you only married me because I wouldn’t have sex with you. I am so very hurt I cannot express it. I feel the only way for me to find peace is to divorce you. I am sorry. I loved you so deeply. The man who played with his cousin’s children and helped to wash dishes….I still love that man. I cannot wait at home for you anymore. I must go on with life. I am asking you with this letter; do not contest the divorce and do not come to my home in Trieste. I have been paying the mortgage for nearly a year; thus it is my home. I do not want to see you again. I wish you luck in your job and appreciate your dedication to it for the sake of your country. Sincerely, Anna”
She folded the letter carefully and put it in an envelope. She sighed and wondered again if she was doing the right thing. How could it be right to divorce him simply for being absent? She tried to assuage her guilt by convincing herself that she was doing it for England. However, her heart knew that wasn’t entirely true. She felt abandoned for the second time in her life. She couldn’t deal with the pain and anger of not knowing where James was or when, if ever, he was coming home.
    At the end of the week, Anna’s phone rang. It was “Bertha” on the line. “Anna, your divorce is complete. I just need to meet with you to sign some papers and give you some documents.” She set up another meeting at a park. Anna showed up at the designated time and searched with her eyes for the mysterious woman. She found her on a secluded park bench and sat down near her. “Here are the papers you need to sign,” the woman began directly, “this one is for the divorce and this one states that he will not have to pay you any alimony or child support; since you didn’t want him to know about the child. We have not told him that he has a daughter, just so you know. These others are saying that you have promised not to disclose James’ occupation or location.” Anna signed them all without hesitation. She then produced the documents of divorce and various other things for Anna. Anna took the tan envelope out of her purse. “Would you please get this to James? I’m assuming someone has to tell him about the divorce and get his signature? Anyway, I would appreciate it if you would give it to him.” The woman nodded and executed her swift getaway as she had done before. Anna sat on the park bench for awhile to contemplate her new freedom. She could travel. She could call people just to chat. She could write all hours of day or night. A smile grew on her face. Part of her still wished she’d had a normal marriage with James. She felt regret for going through with the divorce. She had loved him and still loved him, but she could not be attached to a ghost. She rose from her seat and walked to the edge of the park. It was time to go back to Italy. 
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