They had left London at around 9.30 AM. Ann was enjoying being with Anne on Bertha. She never imagined she could have so much fun on a motorcycle like Bertha They rode in silence to Dover. Anne rode Bertha so well. Ann loved the way she leaned Bertha into the corners. She hugged Anne tighter when Anne did that. As they rode Ann wonder again how her future had been transformed so much on that one night.
She remembered not wanting to go to the pub and how Catherine and Delia had coaxed into a nice skirt and shirt. How they had dragged her out into the taxi that Catherine had called for. She also remembered how alone she felt when they abandoned her for their friends who appeared out of the blue. She remembered Delia saying. ‘I didn’t know you were coming tonight.’ Ann remembered sitting alone at the bar. She had wanted to go home but couldn’t find a reason to leave.
Then the town bikie had asked if she had wanted her to buy her a drink. Of course, she knew who she was. Ann had had a crush on the bikie for so long she had forgotten a time before Anne Lister. In fact if you asked her there wasn’t a time before Anne Lister. She knew that night when they met there wouldn’t be a time after Anne Lister.
She hadn’t realise Anne had pulled over to the side of the road and switched off Bertha. ‘Are you all right, Ann? You nearly toppled off back there.’ Anne said. ‘You need to be more aware of what’s happening. Motorcycles are a death trap at the worst of times and at the best, well, they are still dangerous.’
‘Sorry! I was reminiscing about the night we met and how you gave up smoking just for me. How you cared for me after my cousins left me alone after their friends had shown up when they told me they wouldn’t be there.’
‘Ann Walker, i would give up anything for you. You are the sweetest person I know. You changed my life completely that night and i will never forget it as long as I live. Now, let’s get to Dover and stay alert please. I can’t control Bertha and hold you up at the same time.’
‘I will concentrate harder but sometimes it is impossible when I have my arms around you.’ Ann said as she smiled. Yet, with Anne she knew she had to be aware for her surroundings. ‘Well, let’s get going or we will miss the boat and our honeymoon too.’
They rode the rest of the way to Dover in relative silence. Ann tries to keep her mind from wandering by singing her favourite song, symphony.. Anne doesn’t know it and she cannot hear her because Ann had purposely turned off her mic. Ann feels it is an anthem to their life.
They arrived in Dover and report to the check in counter. ‘Is there a chance we could get a ferry to Calais today?’
‘Yes, i am certain we can sort something out for you.’
‘Great. When and how much?’ Ann asked. She is itching to get to the continent soon so they can really begin their honeymoon. ‘In about an hour and it will cost you 250 pounds with your motorcycle and trailer There is a cafe in town if you’re hungry. They ferry starts loading in about twenty minutes. Okay!!’ Anne reached into her pocket for her wallet to pay but she wasn’t fast enough. Ann had already laid her credit card on the counter. ‘Blast. I’ll get you next time, Miss Walker.’
‘Oh, you will, will you? Hey, you have to get up early to catch me off guard.’ Ann smiled. They parked behind a line up of cars and waited. Bertha’s trailer seemed to be weathering the trip well. ‘I didn’t tell you but this is the first outing for Bertha’s trailer.’
‘Well, she and I are holding up well then. Aren’t we?’ Anne smiled. She knew what Ann meant. This was her first long trip on the back of a motorcycle. Ann smiled. Anne could see she was enjoying herself. As they stood there Ann could see Anne’s hands were twitching. ‘What’s wrong, Dearest?’ Ann said sincerely. Anne had to be honest. She knew if she wasn’t and Ann found out she wouldn’t be happy with her.
‘Oh, Ann, I have to confess. I have been nervous about our wedding and this trip.’ Ann looked at Anne with grave concern. ‘You haven’t been. You have. Haven’t you?’ Anne nodded. ‘Why, Anne? Why? You could have told me and i could have allayed your fears then this wouldn’t be happening. Come here.’ Ann pulled Anne into a tight hug. ‘My big tough bikie isn’t so tough after all, is she?’
Ann had to admit she felt so vulnerable admitting to her fears especially fears that involved other women. Only Ann wasn’t just any woman. She was someone who Anne was married to. Who had promised no matter what to be there for her in ways no one else ever had. She had never thought she would quit smoking for anyone. It was a pleasure she enjoyed. Only when Ann told her she was allergic to second hand smoke she quit. It wasn’t easy but she knew she could do it and since she had quit her food tasted better. She could breathe easier and she felt she had more energy. Yet, just this one time she had reverted back to her old habit and she felt guilty every time she sneaked off for a puff. It did calm her nerves. Only when she saw Ann she had to find a reason not to get close to her.
‘So, that’s why there were times when you didn’t want to be near me before we got married. I thought I had done something to upset you. Anne Lister, take a deep breath for me, relax. We are here on our honeymoon. We will be boarding this ferry in a few minutes on our way on the best adventure of our lives. You don’t need to smoke because well, you don’t. Do you?’
‘No!’ Anne says. ‘I don’t but when i get stressed I bloody well do what I shouldn’t. Don’t I?’
‘Is that all it is just stress. It isn’t a need in your very being to smoke. Isn’t it?’
‘I don’t know, Adney. I really don’t know. Sometimes, I wonder if i will ever get it out of my system. It’s hard to stop doing something that you have done for so long. Don’t worry. I didn’t bring any with me.’ Anne said looking at Ann. She wondered if Ann would trust her or want to check her bags for proof that she is telling the truth. Ann smiled. ‘I trust you but I wish you had told me sooner. I may not have been able to do anything for you but i would be here to listen to you.’ Anne smiled. Her hands wrapped around Ann to stop them from shaking her desire for a smoke gone.
Then they were called to board the ferry. It was only a 90 minute trip over to Calais. They would be there in time to find somewhere to stay for the night and check out the town. As they climbed off Bertha Anne made sure she had locked her steering and the trailer lid was locked they made their way up to the deck. The view over the English Channel was amazing as the ferry headed towards the European coastline. Ann snuggled into Anne. They still had their leathers on and were holding onto their helmets. ‘Let’s go for a stroll around the deck. I am sure the view on the other side is just as amazing. What do you think, Ann?’ Ann nodded. They strolled around to the other side of the ferry and stood at the rail again looking out to sea.
‘I never thought this would be my life. Yet, here I am with Anne fucking Lister on our honeymoon.’
‘Hey, watch your mouth there, missy.’ Anne said as she laughed loudly. I am aware of my reputation but that isn’t me. Is it? I think you know me better than anyone else does now, Miss Walker. Yes, I know you love it when I fuck you. I wish I could do that now.’
‘Settle petal. You’ll get to do that soon. Won’t you?’
‘I hope so, Adney. We will be in Calais before you know it. I think we need to find somewhere to stay for a night unless you want to go straight to Paris.’
‘That would depend on how far away Paris was from Calais.’ Anne did a Google search to find out how far it was. She told Ann and they decided since it was only going to take them three and a quarter hours to get there they would go straight to Paris when the ferry dock. That would save them time. And they would get one extra night in Paris. There was so much of Paris that Anne wanted to show Anne. She had been there a couple of times in the past and there were times when it felt like the first time. Anne wondered if Ann would feel the same way about her favourite city.
Ann smiled as they climbed onto Bertha just after the ferry docked in Calais.. Ann wrapped her arms around Anne waist and off they sped into the afternoon on their way to the city of lovers. Well, that’s what Ann had heard it was called. Sometimes she wondered if that was fact or fantasy. Sometimes it was hard to tell truth from fiction.
When they arrived in Paris Anne rode past the Eiffel Tower. It was one place Ann wanted to go was to the top. She had heard the view from the top was amazing. She read online that you could see most of Paris and it was a 360 degree view. Anne rode them to their B&B. It was quaint and small but all they need. It was basically just for somewhere to sleep. Anne could see Ann was sleepy and suggested she lie down in bed for a few minutes. Ann did. Anne lay down beside her. The bedroom was located in a loft above the kitchen
There were stairs to climb up to the bedroom. Ann seemed slightly nervous with the help of Anne was able to navigate the stairs. Ann had grabbed the handrail but it felt shaky so she was reluctant to trust it.
It was only a matter of minutes until Anne heard Ann’s snores. She stood up and walked into the kitchen to see if there was anything to eat. She was surprised to find a couple of frozen dinners in the fridge and a complementary bottle of wine. It wasn’t what Anne had in mind for their first meal in Paris.
Anne did a Google search to find out where the nearest restaurant was that delivered meals. Anne was having trouble finding a restaurant that delivered meals which was close to where they were staying. Anne decided that the frozen dinners would have to do for tonight. She didn’t know if Ann would be happy with that.
When Ann appeared in the kitchen Anne was seated at the dinner table with her phone in her hand still searching for somewhere to eat. She looked up as Ann reached her and wrapped her arms around her. ‘Why the deep frown Dearest?’ Ann said as she softly kissed Anne in her head. ‘I want to surprise you with a nice French dinner tonight. So, I did a search on restaurants in the area that delivered. I couldn’t find any. We have two frozen dinners which look very British and a bottle of plonk.’
‘What do you mean by plonk?’ Ann asked looked quizzically at Anne. ‘Cheap wine, Adney. Well, that’s what it looks like to me.’
‘I think we should open it up and see.’ Ann said as she went searching for a corkscrew. She found one. It was in the cutlery drawer. Anne found glasses in the cupboard above the cutlery drawer. She opened the wine and poured a small amount into one glass. Ann took a sip and smiled. It was a delicious white wine but probably not meant to go with their free frozen dinners. Anne pulled the frozen dinners from the freezer. They were British meals, one was corn beef and cabbage, the other one was bangers and mash. ‘How are we going to heat them up?’ Ann asked when she couldn’t see a microwave anywhere. Then Anne looked down. There it was in the small island. Ann was surprised. They tossed a coin to see who would have the corn beef and cabbage. Ann won which meant Anne was left to eat bangers and mash. She didn’t mind them but would have preferred something better.’
‘Would you like to share with me? I can have some of your meal and you can have some of mine. How does that sound.’
‘That sounds good to me, Adney.’ Ann found two plates and shared the meals between them. She was so happy just to be in Paris with her wife. They ate in comfortable silence. Anne wondering what the next few days would be like then she remembered their bags were still in the trailer.
After they finished eating Ann washed the dishes while Anne went out to get their bags. She had Bertha parked where no one could see her. She had locked the steering and covered Bertha with a small tarp she had in one of the saddlebags. When she walked back inside the B&B Ann had turned on the television. She was watching a show in French. She didn’t understand one word of what they were saying. Anne wondered if it had English subtitles. It did but it was hard to watch the action and read the subtitles.
‘Ann, do you want to go to bed now?’ Anne said as she watched as Ann’s eyelids drooped. ‘Yes, I would like to go to bed now.’
They brushed their teeth in the tiniest bathroom they had ever been in but it served its purpose. There was a small vanity, with the toilet opposite it and a medium size shower at the end. They made their way to the bedroom. Ann was feeling more confident with the handrail. She had used it to come down to find Anne early. There was a small cupboard underneath the stairs which Anne and Ann missed until Ann saw it.
‘Well, open it, Ann.’ Anne said as she watched Ann open the cupboard. There was a washing machine and dryer inside. ‘Well, we will be able to do our laundry before we leave in a week’s time.’ Anne said. Ann looked puzzled. ‘I thought we were staying here longer than a week.’
‘We might but that will depend on whether we want to go to Italy or not. I thought you wanted to see the Louvre especially the Mona Lisa.’
‘Yes, I do but we have just arrived here and you are talking about leaving.’ Anne looked at Ann. She could see Ann was happy they were there and knew Ann wanted to see as much of Paris as Anne was willing to show her. They went to bed.