While Anna was still in the middle of her book tour, something she would never expect was happening in Trieste. A tall, British man knocked on her door several times. He waited and then knocked again a little louder and rang the bell. Amedeo finally came outside and asked what he wanted. He recognized James and got a concerned look on his face. “You, and everyone else, have every right to be angry with me. I am only here to apologize and see if she will forgive me,” he said with tears in his eyes. Amedeo was a compassionate man and he invited James in, “Come, James, you can stay with us. Anna has gone to the US to do something with her books.” Emiliana heard the conversation and added, “She is signing the books!” They sat James down at their little kitchen table and urged him to tell them his whole story. He spoke for two hours straight. Emiliana sat in tears and Amedeo felt pity for this man. “You will stay with us until she comes home,” Amedeo repeated. James gladly agreed as he had nowhere else to go. He was in despair to beat all other despairs. Nothing could be worse than what he had already been through; or so he thought. He stayed nearly two weeks with Anna’s neighbors and was beginning to feel a little more at peace. He had no idea if Anna would even speak to him; much less let him in her house. Her letter to him had been a little confusing. She said she still loved the man he was at Crofton. He knew in his heart he was still the same man, but the rigors of his job had clouded that. “It’s worth a try, “ he thought to himself. “I hope Anna gets home soon, Emiliana’s cooking is going to make me fat,” he thought after polishing off a plate of her famous pasta al pomodoro. “Are you sure she is coming back to Italy?” he asked Amedeo. “Yes, of course, she will be home soon,” he answered.
The next day, late in the evening Anna arrived in Trieste. She and Gisella were exhausted and went to bed early. In the morning they felt a little better, though jet lag had bothered them a couple of times in the night. “Gisella, I need coffee. Do we have any?” she asked. “I will need to get some milk around the corner and then I can make your coffee, dear,” Gisella answered. She put on a shawl and grabbed her little basket. The little shop around the corner was run by a nosy, old woman. She wanted to hear all about Gisella’s trip to the US. She rolled her eyes and said, “I’m so sorry, I must tell you another time.” She bought the milk and hurried back to her house. They were both soon satiated with warm coffee and the buzz of caffeine. They sorted laundry the rest of the morning. Gisella tried to return the house to order from the tornado of chaos that had blown through the door the night before. Anna had paperwork to catch up on from being gone over a month. And so it was that when the door bell rang, they were both very busy. Gisella threw her load of laundry back into her basket and mumbled about who could possibly be coming to interrupt her work. She opened the door and stood for a moment trying to place this man’s face. Then she remembered; the small picture in Anna’s room. “Are you James?” she asked. “Yes,” he replied quietly. “I really need to speak with Anna.” She knew how angry Anna was with him, but at the same time she saw complete sincerity in his face. “Come!” she said. They went up the stairs and she pointed toward the sewing room where Anna had set up her office. James walked slowly to the door, an enormous knot forming in his throat. He knew he was just going to burst into tears when he saw her. Sure enough, he looked into the room and she was sitting at her desk. Her beautiful brown hair lying in waves down her back, her soft velour pants, and the way she was tapping her coffee mug, all did him in. He started to cry; which made her turn around abruptly. “James!” she whispered. He walked toward her and fell on his knees. It took all of his will power to quash the sobs that wanted to come out. “Anna, Anna, I need to talk to you. Please let me talk to you!” Anna could not deny him the opportunity when he was so contrite. “Okay,” she said. “I want to first say that I do not blame you at all for the divorce. What you did was right and what you told me in the letter was right. I love you, but I loved my job so much that I thought I could put you in my back pocket and have you as a talisman in my job. I realize that I cannot have both. It was not fair to you to picture you that way. You are an amazing person and I foolishly tried to put you in a very tiny box. I want to clarify a few things; just in case you wondered. I did not have any jobs with women, I did not sleep with any women, and I did not marry you just so I could sleep with you. A month ago, I resigned from the agency. I am a plain civilian now. I’ve found a job in internet security where I can work from home and never, ever have to travel. Anna, I will understand if you say no, but I want more than anything on earth to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you first forgive me, and second, marry me again?” he barely got his speech out before his tears began to flow again. Anna knew that in her heart there was an atom bomb’s worth of tears inside her. She chose to focus on her anger so as not to lose it in front of him. “James, while I appreciate you coming to talk to me; I really do, I need time to think about this. Can you give me one day to think?” He was encouraged by the fact that she only requested one day to think. That gave him a flicker of hope, but on the other hand, she might just need a day so she could tell him no. “Of course, take all the time you need. I’ve made you wait countless months for me. I’ve been staying with Amedeo for nearly two weeks. They’ve been so kind to me. So, whenever you are ready to talk to me, I’ll be there,” he said as he got himself off the floor and headed toward the stairs. After she heard the front door close, she suddenly felt the atom bomb start to crack open. She ran to her room and threw herself on her bed. She had never sobbed so much in all of her life. It felt as though her toes were crying. Gisella tried her best to be quiet and give Anna space. The baby woke and so she fed her formula and baby cereal to fill her tummy without bothering Anna. When Anna’s emotional tsunami had subsided, the sun was setting in the sky. She washed her face and then ate a bowl of soup that Gisella pushed forcefully at her. “What should I do, Gisella?” she asked. Gisella sat down beside her and said, “I think your heart already knows what to do, but I will say, I have never seen so much love in a man.” Anna broke a tiny smile and took a deep breath. She did not need a whole day. She didn’t need a few more hours. Her heart did know. She went back to her room and stood in front of her dresser. She slowly opened the wooden box and dug out her wedding ring. She called to Gisella, “I will be back in a few minutes. Have Amalia ready to meet her father.” Gisella let out a laugh and clapped her hands.
Anna stood in front of Amedeo’s house for a few moments taking deep breaths of the cool evening air. She finally gained courage and knocked on the door. Emiliana answered and Anna said simply, “James?” She nodded and led Anna to their small kitchen. James was seated at the table staring at a teacup. Anna cleared her throat and said, “James, I am ready to talk to you.” He looked up in shock, “Really?” She sat down beside him and said, “Hold out your hand.” He did what she asked and then she placed her wedding ring in his hand. “Does this mean…I mean are you saying….Um…..is this a yes?” he stammered. She nodded with tears in her eyes and a smile on her mouth. He pushed the ring on her finger and looked up into her face with joy. “James, I need to tell you one more thing.” He looked like a ghost had just entered the room, but he nodded that he was listening. “You are a father. You have a beautiful daughter named Amalia Kate. She is nine months old and she would love to meet you,” she said as she stood and held out her hand. James took her hand and started to nervously laugh. This was more good news than he had ever expected in one day. She led him to her house and then upstairs. Gisella was waiting with Amalia. She had her dressed in an adorable frilly dress fit for a princess. Amalia was in a happy mood and was immediately curious about the new person in her house. Anna took the baby in her arms and said, “Amalia, this is your daddy. Daddy, this is Amalia.” James took her from Anna and held her close. “Hello my precious one, it’s so nice to meet you!” Tears started to flow down his cheeks again and Amalia began to pat his face and laugh. “My God, you are beautiful and I have missed too much of your life already,” he said. “I think she likes you,” Anna said with a wink. “Oh, I don’t know if you met Gisella? She has lived with me since the baby was born. It will take me all night to tell you about that and my books.” “All night? I like the sound of that,” James said and then he flashed one of his handsome smiles.
James held Amalia until Gisella insisted on putting her to bed. He stipulated that he wanted to watch her go to sleep. Anna waited out on the chaise for him. When he came out of Amalia’s room, he had his hand on his chest. He sat down next to her and sighed. “My heart feels like it’s going to explode. I never knew you could absolutely fall in love with another human being in a matter of seconds. She is amazing, Anna, absolutely amazing. I’m completely smitten.” Anna replied, “I wasn’t sure that was how you would feel since you told me you didn’t want children.” He smacked himself on the forehead and said, “That was the job speaking and not me. I’m so sorry I said that. Well, I think you have some stories to tell me.” They went and sat on the sofa together. He held her tightly as she began to tell him everything he had missed in his absence. After she told him about the complications with the birth, he sat quietly for a while. “So you will never have more children?” he asked. “Not unless we adopt,” she replied. He did not look disappointed, but rather very sad. She thought that he looked so different from Roy at that moment. There was not a drop of blame in his eyes as he said, “I’m so sorry you had to go through that without me.” She then told him all about Carlo and his persistent attempts to win her over. He was greatly relieved that she had not given into the sneaky doctor. “I can’t wait for him to see us together!” he said proudly. She smiled and went on to tell him about her book success and the American tour. She told him about seeing her parents and that her mother would be coming to see them in the spring. “And I think that is pretty well all you missed,” she said. “No, my love, I missed so much more than that. I’ve missed your smile, your kisses, your gorgeousness, everyday for months and months. I was stupid to think I could live without you.” She thought about her James Bond marathon and laughed. He asked what was funny, so she told him about the movies and how they had terrified her. She believed him to be seducing other women as a normal everyday part of his job. “Oh no! I should have never told you about that! I forget how sheltered you were growing up. It’s really not like that at all; we just like to think we are cool like that. Life is not all car chases and women as those movies would have you believe. I wish I could tell you more about it, but you know I can’t,” he explained. Anna looked up at the clock and realized it was one a.m. and the extreme emotions of the day were catching up with her. They spent a good many minutes in saying ‘good night.’ Although each was exhausted, they had trouble sleeping for fear that they would wake up in the morning and it would have all been a dream.
The next morning, James went to Anna’s house at six a.m. Anna was still asleep, but Gisella was up, so she let him in. He went to Anna’s room and lay down on the bed next to her. He just watched her and waited for her to wake up. He wanted to touch her so badly, but didn’t want to disturb her rest. When she did finally wake up, she was pleasantly surprised to see him there. “How long have you been here?” she asked. “Not quite an hour,” he replied, glancing at the clock. She cuddled up next to him and thought of all the mornings she had missed snuggling James. “I do want to spend all day here, but we ought to go file for our marriage certificate this morning,” he said as he kissed her face. They were not sure what to expect at the town hall, since all of their documents had come through the agency. However, their application process went through smoothly and they would be permitted a civil ceremony in two weeks. Anna still had her wedding dress from their first ceremony and she had enough time to get it professionally dry cleaned. They were giddy like children those two weeks leading up to their second wedding. Anna didn’t even care what the ceremony was like; she just cared that she could be with James again. Together they played with Amalia, strolled the streets of Trieste, and annoyed Gisella with their public displays of affection. Every waking moment was spent together. Because of their history, they both had an urgency to cling to each other like fly tape. One day they were walking through the market and Anna spotted Carlo. “That’s him,” she said quietly. James swept her off her feet in a very dramatic and powerful kiss. Carlo did notice and stared for a moment. When Anna came up laughing and petting James’ face, Carlo ran away as swiftly as possible. They laughed long after he had disappeared from sight. Anna loved how much she laughed now that James was back. There were no dark corners in her heart; no spot of residue from regrets and pains. She felt completely happy. “I need to write my mother,” she said the day before her third, and final, wedding.
“Mom, So much has happened since my last email. I hope you are sitting down! James came back home and we are getting remarried! He was all repentant for his absence and neglect and I have forgiven him. We are so very happy. He adores Amalia. Who wouldn’t? Our ceremony is tomorrow. It’s just a civil ceremony. I still want you to come visit on the planned date. You will be visiting a much happier home. Amalia is growing so fast. Today she said “mama.” Not that it makes me happy or anything. Ha-ha. Anyway, can’t wait to see you! Love, Anna”
Her mother smiled all day after reading Anna’s letter. She even printed it off so she could run over to the sawmill and read it to her husband. He was thrilled at the news and said, “You know, maybe I could leave the sawmill for jest a week so I can go see my grandbaby.” Clara’s heart was pounding with joy. It took a grandchild to get this man out of Tennessee. She would have to start the process to get him a passport. Later, she wrote Anna what her father had said. Anna got up and started dancing around. She swooped up Amalia and said, “Your grandpa is actually going to come see you!” Amalia didn’t know what was going on, but she squealed with delight for her mother’s attention. She turned to James and asked, “Have you talked to Beth and Peter, yet?” “Actually, I went to see them first after I quit the agency. They were very hurt, too. It took a lot to work through all of that. Anyway, I told them I would call them after I had talked to you and if things worked out between us, they could come visit us here. I called them several days ago, and they are thrilled that we are getting back together,” he replied. “We have family!” Anna thought with glee.
The day arrived cool and breezy for the ceremony and Anna was glad they were going to be inside. Gisella dressed Amalia in a frilly dress that almost outshone the bride. Anna didn’t care, she wanted her daughter to know that she was so special; and part of the glue between her and James. Amedeo, Emiliana, and Gisella were their witnesses. Anna nearly cried thinking about how much of each of them meant to her. As the ceremony started, completely in Italian, Anna thought that it would all be very traditional. However, after James had recited the vows the officiator gave him, he grabbed her hands tighter. He said, “Anna, I swear to you that I will never, ever abandon you again. You and Amalia are the most important things to me now and I will spend the rest of my life building a strong family with you.” That was it. Tears started to flow down her cheeks and it was all she could do to recite her vows properly. The officiator just smiled and kept on reading the ceremony. When it was time for rings, James already had his on. He had never taken it off even though it was against the rules to wear a wedding ring in MI6. So Anna just held his hand as the man read her portion of the ring exchange. James was full of surprises and pulled out a brand new wedding set made of white gold with a large diamond surrounded by small diamonds in the engagement band and braided white gold for the wedding band. “To brand new beginnings,” he said and placed the rings on her finger. He later told her that he could not bring himself to give her the old ring set. He wanted the rings to represent starting over. He also wanted them to say that he was completely sincere and devoted to her this time. She thought that was the most romantic thing she had ever heard. After the ceremony, they went back to Anna’s house for a huge meal. Amalia slept through it all as the rest of them ate heartily, drank more heartily, and laughed the most. Anna was thinking this was the happiest wedding she had ever had. She also thought she was very glad this was her last. They wanted to wait to have a honeymoon until after Amalia was completely weaned.
Two weeks after the wedding, Anna got a call from Bob. “Anna, Bob here. I wanted to let you know that the movie deal is on. The book is going to the screen writers as we speak and then in a few months they will start casting. Probably next year they will ask you to come put your stamp of approval on the screen play, casting, and story line. Anyway, that’s all several months away. Um, it might be wise to hire a financial advisor, my dear. This is going to take you way over the top.” She thanked him for handling all of that for her and they ended the phone call. James was sitting next to her and was going crazy wondering what the call was about. “I’ve got a movie deal for book one! A trip to Los Angeles is in our future,” she said excitedly. “Good God, you are so amazing!” he said. He took advantage of the situation to plant a few kisses on her.
Amalia’s first birthday was celebrated similarly to the wedding reception and with the same cast of characters; except for two additions. Bill and Clara Nathan flew to Italy as they had promised. Bill could not get enough of his granddaughter and Clara fussed over her like she was a porcelain doll. Bill decided they would just have to come to Italy once a year to see her and of course, Anna. They were glad to at last meet Anna’s husband who was in, then out, then in again. They put their speculations about him aside and found that they both loved James. Amalia was given homemade things that were crafted with care from each giver. She was a child who didn’t need anything, but everyone wanted to give her special things to remember her first birthday when she was older. She seemed happy with it all and bestowed an enormous gift on James by saying, “daddy,” when he gave her some cake. He kissed his little girl and thought he could never stop smiling with her in his life.
The very next day, James and Anna flew to Crete. Bill and Clara were going to stay a few more days to spend time with Amalia. Anna tried the fish spa in Chania Town just for the fun of it. The garra rufa fish tickled her feet as they did their exfoliating jobs. James enjoyed the hike through Samaria Gorge National Park and was not even winded after the sixteen kilometer trek. Anna, however, found that she was out of shape and was gasping for air. She did enjoy the Botanical Park and seeing the exotic fruits and plants. They visited an archeological museum and a water park. James had intended to spend two weeks on their belated honeymoon, but when the first week was nearly over, they looked at each other and simultaneously said, “Let’s go home.” All they wanted was to be together at home, building their family. That was enough.
Once they were home again, they decided to remodel the downstairs apartment into an office for both of them. The sewing room became their spare bedroom for visits from family. Beth and Peter established the same tradition as Bill and Clara; they would come to Italy once a year. It felt so good to be able to host family and let them know exactly where they lived. Their desks were side by side in front of the large front windows. Amalia could toddle up to them and get attention from both of them at once. They settled into a happy routine. Anna wrote books and James worked his internet job. They both adored Gisella and hoped she would stay with them forever. Anna’s heart was full and she finally felt that life was as it should be.
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