They packed her things quickly, because it was a little awkward to be staying at her aunt’s and his cousin’s house as a married couple. She said especially heartfelt good byes to her aunt and uncle feeling strongly it would be a very long time before she saw them again. As they left Crofton, she pondered all that her time in that house had meant. She felt completely liberated of all Pseumish influences in her life. She no longer felt guilty for looking in the mirror, wearing short skirts, pants, or flattering clothes in general. She left the fear of her former in-laws and their alleged desire for revenge. She did miss her parents, but she knew in her heart that her mother was happy for her and her freedom. She had a new life now. She was on a new page. She would never again be the woman she was when she arrived at Crofton. A few tears fell to her lap as she processed the roller coaster of emotion. James looked worried, but she told him, “Don’t worry, I’m fine. I’m just going down memory lane a bit before I throw away the map to get there.” He smiled and then clenched the wheel as they were entering London traffic. They went to James’ flat and started to pack his things there. She couldn’t believe how tiny it was. “How many square feet is this?” she asked. “Oh, I have no idea. Not enough, that’s for sure,” he said as he laughed. “Well, I guess it’s good we are moving,” she replied. A truck came late in the afternoon. It was black with no decals or names. Anna assumed she was not to ask about it, but James told her, “They will take our things to a shipping container and bring them to us when we find a house. Save out a suitcase to travel with.” She looked through her clothes and picked out what she wanted to have with her. It was so nice having beautiful clothes with variety and not just having to pick out which plaid shirt to wear. “Ready?” he asked her. She suddenly had so many questions, but thought it best to ask just one, “James, what about the marriage license?” “Oh, that’s already been taken care of,” he replied. She wondered if you could get a license with just the groom in this country, but then she couldn’t imagine when he would have gotten it done because he had been with her since the wedding. They loaded the car and drove for around half an hour. James pulled into a small parking lot. The lot didn’t seem to service any business around it and there were very few cars there. “What are we doing?” she asked. “You’ll see,” was the only response she got. James took everything out of the car and then dropped the keys into the trunk and closed it. In less than a minute, an unassuming taxi pulled into the lot. The driver pulled next to their things. He and James loaded the cab and they got in. Before driving out of the lot, the driver turned and handed James a large envelope. James opened it and began looking through the papers inside. “Ah, there is your marriage license, my love,” he said, handing her one of the papers. She looked over the document. “How….” She couldn’t think what to say. “Darling, our papers cannot be public record, these are all done by the agency,” he said. He handed her the rest of the papers. She shuffled through them and saw there were passports, residency documentation for Italy, and other British papers for Anna. She was shocked and sat in silence on the trip to the airport. She was realizing she really knew nothing about his job and what their life was going to be like in Italy. She focused on the papers again and looked at her name, Anna Grant. Seeing that made her smile and bolstered her strength to face the future without so much fear. She handed him the papers and he stashed them in his backpack. She smiled at him, trying to convey her acceptance of the situation. He smiled in return and relaxed his brow. “I love you so much, Mrs. Grant,” he said. “I love you, too.”
They boarded a plane bound for Milan. She was wondering why they weren’t just flying straight to Trieste. Once they were situated in their seat, James turned and whispered in her ear, “I can’t leave a paper trail that we’ve gone to Trieste. We will catch a bus once we get to Milan.” “Oh, I see,” she said. This spy business was so complicated. She thought it was probably much simpler for James before he decided to take a wife along. The flight was not long and they were in Milan before she had time for a good nap. James took his wife by the hand and they headed for the baggage claim. She was glad she only had one suitcase since they would be traveling by bus. As she began to listen to the environment around her, she was happy she had bought a good program for learning Italian. “It’s a beautiful language,” she thought. When they reached the street outside the airport, James hailed a cab. As soon as they were seated in the cab, Anna realized that James could speak fluent Italian. “Of course he does!” They went to a hotel and settled into a nice room. “We will stay here for a couple of days,” James said. “Oh, nice! Can we do some touristy things?” she asked. She knew she probably sounded like a crazy, sheltered person; which, she was. “Sure, whatever you like. There is a lot to see here,” he replied without a condescending tone. “I thought you might want to do some shopping, too. This is a fashion capitol, you know.” She was so excited! Shopping in Milan; that was not something she thought she would be doing a year ago. She could go see the original Last Supper painting and Castello Sforzesco. The adventurous side of her was going crazy and the rational side of her was reeling her in. “James, we can do what you want, too,” she said. James had one thing on his mind that evening. He picked her up and carried her to the queen size bed with luxurious linens in their room. She giggled and welcomed his affection. They skipped dinner and spent the whole evening giving pleasure to each other. The next morning, they had a nice Italian breakfast of coffee and pastries. “I need to meet with some people while we are here, but there is a woman coming to take you shopping. She will pose as your stylist and translate for you,” he told her once they had done a little sightseeing. “Okay, just so we can do a replay of last night, this evening,” she said. She winked at him and smiled. She could tell that he liked that idea as well. “I’ll meet you back at the hotel at 5:00. Oh, here is your stylist,” he said and introduced Anna to a beautiful Italian woman. “We are going to have fun today,” the woman said. “I know where you can get great bargains for the best things.” Anna liked bargains and thought, “She probably thinks I am in great need of the style she is about to offer.” They did have fun and Anna bought another suitcase to hold her purchases despite her former thoughts about one suitcase and the bus. When she was nearly finished packing her new things, James came into the room. “Wow, you did quite well today!” He said. They kept their evening plans and enjoyed each other until very late. She did not ask him about his contacts that day and was resigned that she would probably never know what he had done. The next day, they did leisurely sightseeing and ate more than they had on the other days. Anna was so happy.
The following day they went to the bus station. James purchased their tickets with cash and wore a cap and glasses through the station. The drive to Trieste was absolutely incredible. Anna’s eyes were glued to the gorgeous scenery beyond her window. Once in Trieste, they found an inauspicious hotel and checked in. “Tomorrow, we will meet with a realtor to find our new home,” James said. Anna thought that night about her other first home. It was an ugly reminder of all that had happened in Platzville. The house in Knoxville had been so plain; plain like the people in Platzville. She fell asleep dreaming about beautiful Italian architecture. The realtor took them to several modern apartments. Anna was growing bored with them and asked, “Do you have something old, with more character?” The realtor’s eyes lit up and he said, “I have just the place to show you.” They drove for some time and came to a very quiet, old neighborhood. The building where they stopped had three homes in it. The middle one was for sale. The front was a dark stone façade. Downstairs was a garage and extra apartment and upstairs was the main house. They went through the door and Anna immediately began to fall in love with this house. They climbed the stairs and saw that the top floor was a large square with an atrium roof in the center. Sunlight seemed to stay in the middle of the house, under the atrium, and at the front of the house where the windows were. The rest of the space had a dimness that was comfortable. There were three bedrooms, a large living area, and a kitchen upstairs. The whole floor was gorgeous old wood planks. James looked at Anna’s face and knew she loved it. “I think we have a winner,” he told the realtor. They started the paperwork right away and had possession in less than a month. Tired of living out of a suitcase, Anna was very ready to live in her own home. The agency shipped the rest of their things and then Anna took inventory to see what they needed to set up housekeeping. She became very familiar with the shops in Trieste and furnished her home in the rustic French country style she had always wanted. Her favorite piece was an overstuffed chaise that she placed in the shadows of the living room. She put lots of brightly colored pillows and soft throws on the chaise. “I will get lots of writing done here,” she thought admiring her work. She loved the little kitchen, too. She painted all the cabinets butter yellow and had wood block countertops installed. She sewed beautiful curtains for the whole house. Wispy white for the kitchen, heavy velvet drapes for the living room, and light weight privacy curtains for the bedrooms. It was her first experience of decorating a house to her liking and she felt deep satisfaction when it was done.
James was in and out with a few short missions, but was still able to help Anna set up the house. “This would be a nice house for children,” she said one day. James got a very serious look on his face. He turned and took her hand, “Anna, I love you so, but I don’t think we should have children at this point in our lives.” Anna nodded and tried to swallow the knot forming in her throat. She didn’t want to tell him that she had not been on any sort of birth control since they had been married. She thought perhaps she couldn’t get pregnant, so it didn’t matter. Still, she longed for a baby to fill that aching void in her heart. Anna was curious about the neighbors around them; thinking that having friends might help her feel better. The house on their left was inhabited by an elderly couple, Amedeo and Emiliana. They were so sweet and Emiliana wanted to bring food over every day after they made acquaintance. Anna was thrilled to have them to help her practice Italian. They were kind and patient teachers. The house on the other side was owned by a couple from Rome who used it very rarely for vacations. After 4 months, James started going on longer missions. First, he was away for two weeks and then two months. When he would come home, Anna was desperate for his attention. She would make their home as romantic a place as possible. He was home for two weeks and then told her, “I’ll be gone longer this time. I’m so sorry it’s this way.” Amadeo and Emiliana thought it was horrible for James to leave his new wife like he did and for so long. She went down to their house often to practice Italian and visit with them. After he left, she found a movie rental store that carried American movies. She rented all of the James Bond films they had and conducted a Bond marathon. She was horrified. Her husband was claiming to have a similar job; and yet, this man was constantly in serious danger, killing people, and with a new woman at every whim. “I truly hope his job is not like this,” she thought. When he was gone for nearly a month, Anna began to feel sick. She had serious nausea for several days before she realized what was going on. She walked to the closest pharmacy and bought a pregnancy test. Part of her hoped she was just sick, because she couldn’t bear the pain of losing another baby. However, when she was back home and had conducted the test, it was positive. “He is going to be so upset,” she conjectured. She was distraught when she thought about not being able to tell anyone about the baby. It would give away their location. Several days later she did tell Amadeo and Emiliana. They took her under their wings and helped her to find a prenatal care clinic. She was reluctant to go, thinking that she would probably lose the baby anyway. She ate well and took walks with her neighbors and her morning sickness passed in a few weeks. She was still thin and didn’t show that she was pregnant. She felt ugly. She would lie on her chaise and think about the Bond women James was with who were making him happy. She imagined him having to seduce women for information. Her mind went wild with fantasies of his busy nights with the subjects of his inquisitions. She finally told herself, “You’ve got to get out and do something else.” She decided to explore all of Trieste. The more she saw of the city, the more she loved it. “I will stay here the rest of my life,” she thought.
After four months James came home and she decided not to tell him she was pregnant. He was different this time. He was very serious and distant. She was afraid he would want her to be intimate with him a lot and that would hurt her pregnancy, but he didn’t. His eyes were shifty and he kept running outside to talk on the phone. Her Bond woman fantasies seemed plausible with the way he was acting. She didn’t want to believe those things, but she didn’t like who he was this time. Little did she know that he had been charged with intel gathering among dangerous groups in the Middle East. Every day his life was in danger and he was tasked with staying focused to stay alive. They really had nothing to talk about since he couldn’t talk about his work or where he had been. She figured he knew all about Trieste and wouldn’t be interested in her rambling on about her exploring. After trying to spend time with him and being mostly uncomfortable, she would go down and visit the neighbors. When he had been home only six days, he left again telling her, “I don’t know when I’ll be back.”
One morning several days after he had gone, she suddenly comprehended that she had not lost her baby. She was a week past the time when she had lost her first baby. She scheduled regular checkups at the clinic. The baby seemed healthy and Anna was thankful. She began to show and all the Italian women would come and touch her belly and say kind words. She enjoyed shopping for maternity clothes. When she found out the baby was a girl, she started shopping for the baby. Cautiously at first, because she still wasn’t sure she would go full term with this baby. As the weeks passed, she became increasingly attached to the little girl growing inside of her. She picked one of the bedrooms in her home for the baby’s room; even though the baby would be in her room for several months. “Is it wrong for me to hope that James doesn’t come home before the baby comes?” she quizzed herself. She was worried that he would be angry if he came home and she was obviously pregnant and hadn’t told him. Happiness occupied every part of her heart, though. She couldn’t wait for the baby to come and be with her. This little person wouldn’t leave her after just a few months. One of Anna’s favorite shops was owned by a woman named Amalia. Anna absolutely loved that name and decided to name her baby Amalia Kate.
She was happy to be in Italy, but missed her family and being able to tell them what was happening. She would write them very vague letters.
“Hello Mom, Hope you and dad are doing well. It’s warming up here in Europe. There is a lot to see in the spring. We are doing great. Almost finished with book two. Will send you a copy after it prints. Love you!! Anna”
Her mother grew tired of these broad stroke letters and wished Anna would use some of her writing talent on her letters. Anna was frustrated for having to write them. She could not tell her own mother she was going to be a grandma. She couldn’t tell her that she had learned Italian, could navigate Trieste, had found all the good markets, and loved her new home. She was aware that the agency was monitoring her emails; or she would have been tempted to just tell her mother everything. “Blasted James Bond!” she said as she sent another email devoid of any real information. Beth had called her once and Anna had to lie and say that they hadn’t settled on a place yet. She told her aunt they were constantly moving around. “You never know where we’ll be,” she said. That statement was true; for her family would never know where she was.
this book is copyrighted. This is an actual picture of the water by Trieste. Borrowed this from a friend who lives there!