‘Then I can ask you questions about Anne which might make her squirm.’ Ann said as they were shown to their booth. Maria sat opposite Anne and Ann. ‘How did you two meet?’ She asked looking at Ann. ‘How did you weasel your way into the heart of this tough bikie?’
‘That was easy. My cousins had coerced me into going to the pub with them because as they said I should get out more. When we got to the pub they deserted me because their friends were there. I sat at the bar alone until this big tough bikie came along and offered to buy me a drink. We got talking. About life she offered to take me home back to Crow Nest.’
‘Did she take you home?’
‘That would be the understatement of the century. She sure did take me home but not to Crow Nest.’
‘You sly fox you took little Miss Walker to Shibden?’
‘Yes, I did and nothing happened that first night.’ Maria looked at Anne. She kicked her under the table. Anne winched in pain. Ann gave Anne a look of surprise. ‘Are you okay, Dearest?’ She asked her wife. ‘Yes,’ Anne said as she massaged her calf. ‘Is that the truth, Miss Walker?’
‘Yes, although we didn’t get much sleep on that first night.’
‘So, what did you do?’ Maria asked cautiously. ‘She told me about her ancestor another Anne Lister who apparently loved another Ann Walker. We still haven’t decided if I am related to that Ann Walker. Anne here thinks I am.’
‘Well, you could be. It’s a possibility that someone in Ann Walker’s family had children.’ Maria said. Ann hadn’t thought about it like that. Not a direct descendant but a distant relative. She wondered how they would find out. ‘How long are you in Paris?’
‘A week or so we haven’t decided yet.’ Ann said. ‘We have a quaint B&B about half an hour from here.’
‘Well, that’s nice. Have you been to the top of the Tower yet?’
‘Yes! Anne took me up. I must say Paris is a lovely city from the height. Down here at ground level it is a bit noisy at times.’
‘Yes, cities can be like that. I love Paris because it allows me to own my own business. I love dealing with people whose minds are often slightly more warped than normal. Hey, who wants to be normal when you can be silly and crazy?’ Maria said smiling sheepishly. ‘No one I know.’ Anne said. She always liked to live her life outside the box. Outside the way others thought she should.
Their meals were delivered to their booth. They ate in relative silence. Ann looking between Anne and Maria she was wondering how they met. She was also wondering how she would ask them. She didn’t get a chance. Maria answered her unasked question. ‘I can see you are curious, Miss Walker. I guess you are wondering how Anne and I met. It’s simple. We crashed into each other probably similar to the way you and Anne met only it wasn’t pre planned. Was it Anne?’ Maria said as she eyed Anne curiously. ‘Yes, that is so true.’
‘Ours wasn’t pre planned either, Maria.’ Anne said about the way Ann and she met.
‘Where did you meet?’ Ann asked curiously. ‘You are interested then. Are you sure you want to know?’ Maria asked sincerely. ‘We met in a strip club. She was the opening act and I was bored. I had never been to a strip club until that night. I came across it quite by accident.’ Ann eyed Anne with uncertainty. She could imagine her bikie wife perusing such an establishment. ‘If, you say so Anne.’ Ann said puzzled. ‘I did. This was just my first visit to Paris.’
‘You were a stripper? Why?’ Ann asked looking at Maria. ‘A girl has to do what a girl has to do so her family have somewhere to live and a food on the table. I have a daughter. Her father left me for another woman when my daughter was in primary school. It was a struggle to keep a roof over our heads so that’s why I became a stripper.’
‘Why did you quit?’ Ann asked. ‘You are very curious, Miss Walker.’ Maria said. ‘You need to ask your wife.’ Ann looked at Anne for an answer, Anne stayed quiet for a beat until Ann stared her down. ‘Okay! We were in a relationship for about two years. I helped her out for a while until she got back on her feet.’
‘Okay! How long have you had your business, Maria?’ Ann asked. ‘About five years. I don’t think it would last much longer than that. ‘Anne could see the wheels turning in Ann’s head. She had a lot to take in. There were many things in this world that Ann had been sheltered from but she seemed prepared to accept Maria for who she was in the same way she had accepted Anne.
They sat chatting for quite some time. That was until the waiter came over and told them the restaurant would be closing and they needed to pay their bill. Ann promptly pulled out her credit card and handed it to the waiter. ‘Add a tip of 20 Euros to the bill. You have given us excellent service and fine food.’ Anne and Maria looked at her quizzically. I think I would love to return here again before we go to Italy, Dearest.’ Maria was stunned. Ann had spent big at her business. Now, she had paid for their meals. ‘You shouldn’t have done that, Miss Walker.’
‘Call me Ann please. I think we know enough about each other to be on friendly terms. Don’t you agree and it was a pleasure to buy your tea tonight. I can see you have done so much for so many. It’s your turn to be given a treat.’
‘How did you get to be so lucky Anne?’ Maria said as she looked at Anne. ‘I have no idea. She swooped into my life and into my heart. I know she is there for life.’ Anne said as she noticed tears of joy in Ann’s eyes. She leaned into Ann and gave her a quick peck on her cheek. ‘Ann, you are so adorable. Thank you for everything you do for me.’
‘Which isn’t as much as I would love to do, Is it?’ Maria smirked at them. ‘Are there any others in Halifax like you, Ann Walker? I would love to know.’
‘Ah, here’s the thing. When Ann was made the mould was so perfect. Unfortunately someone dropped it and it shattered. So no, Ann Walker is a one of a kind and I am proud to say she is my one of a kind.’ Maria smiled. ‘Oh well, you can’t blame a girl for trying, can you?’
Ann picked up her bag of goodies as they stood to leave. The waiter had returned with Ann’s credit card and a bag of goodies for them. Anne took the bag and looked it. ‘What is this for?’ She asked. ‘It’s just a little something for being such wonderful customers and promising to return soon.’ The waiter replied. ‘I hope you enjoy it but don’t let it get too cold.’ Ann was curious as to what it was. They strolled out into the evening. Bertha was parked against the kerb waiting for them. ‘Would you like to come in for a cup of coffee and chat for a bit longer?’ Maria said. ‘Where do you live?’ Ann asked. ‘Above my store.’ Ann smiled at Anne. Was it a good idea? She could see the smirk on Maria’s face. Was it possible that Anne was into whatever Maria had in mind? Yet, she could trust Anne. Couldn’t she?
Maria unlocked and opened the store door. They strolled in and Maria closed and locked it. They followed her to the second floor of the building. It was a small two bedroom apartment which was sparsely furnished. They hung their leather jackets in the foyer. Ann was hoping they wouldn’t be here long. She clung to Anne. Anne wrapped her arms around her wife. ‘Are you all right?’ Ann nodded. She was hoping her gut feelings were off tonight.
Yet, when she looked at Maria she knew it wasn’t. She held her wife’s hand as they walked through into the lounge room Anne smiled at Ann and Maria leaned in for a kiss. Ann turned her head. She wasn’t going to do this. There was no way Anne would kiss Maria. Yet, here she was holding on to Anne’s hand with their goodies bag in her other hand. While she watched Maria kiss her wife.
Ann had seen enough. She stormed out and hoped Anne would follow. Only Anne didn’t. She grabbed her jacket and kept walking. She was outside in the chill before Anne caught up to her. They didn’t say anything to each other on their ride back to the B&B. Ann could feel her anger coursing through her body. She was wondering what she had gotten herself into. She was married to someone now she felt she didn’t really know. Ann resolved herself to find out why Anne had let Maria kiss her in front of her.
Anne parked Bertha and they made their way inside. Ann was the first to shuck her gear. She stormed into the bathroom and locked the door. Anne had reached for the doorknob just seconds after Ann locked it. ‘Ann, let me in I can explain everything.’
‘I don’t doubt you can. Only why should you need to explain yourself. You were a willing participant and I was an onlooker wonder why my wife, my wife was kissing another woman with such gusto. Explain that to me. Will you, Anne Lister?’
‘I would like to only I don’t want to whole neighbourhood to know. Do you?’ Anne said sincerely. It seemed as though Ann was going to open the door as Anne heard Ann stand only to hear her sit on the toilet seat. ‘Ann please let me in.’ Anne pleaded. There was silence from the other side except for the toilet flushing and the tap running as Ann washed her hands. ‘I know you don’t want to stay in there all night.’ Still no comment from Ann. Anne wondered what she needed to do. She sat down. Her heart was heavy. Had she lost the only person who truly loved and accepted her for who she was?
She stood up and went to the nearest drawer. There she found a pen and a notepad. She wrote frantically for the next ten minutes. Then slipped the paper under the door she hoped Ann would read it.
Ann grabbed the paper as it slide under the door and read it.
‘To the one person who means everything to me.’ Ann could feel the tears welling in her eyes. ‘I want to apologise for my behaviour tonight. It was unnecessary. I should have reminded Maria that I am a married woman and my wife is here with me watching what you just did. Only I didn’t. I let her kiss me and I feel as though I have let our team down. Ann, if you will forgive me I would be honoured to try again with you. If not, I know you will find someone more deserving than this fucked up bikie. Who doesn’t know when she has something so good with you then does her worst to destroy it. I love you, Ann Walker. I’m in love with you. I always have been. Can you ever forgive me? Yours for always, Anne Lister.’
The door flew open and Ann wrapped her arms around her wife as she sobbed loudly. ‘Anne Lister, you know I cannot be mad with you after you pass a note like this under the door. I love you, Anne. So much more than you ever imagined.‘ Anne was crying tears of joy. She had thought she had fucked up so badly. Yet, here was Ann giving her a second chance. She hoped she wouldn’t make the same mistake again. ‘I love you, Adney. I don’t know how I let her kiss me as she did when you refused her advances. I should have known better. Only I didn’t. Now, I fear I will lose you just because of one stupid mistake but I wouldn’t blame you if you left me. I know Aunt Anne would be ashamed of me and would probably give me a servere scolding when I returned home without you. I would deserve it.’ Anne said as she sobbed loudly.
‘Anne Lister, you are the woman I have wanted to be with since I don’t remember when. While what you did tonight made me angry and hurt. I still believe we can have a great life together. You just need to remind yourself. That what we have is a two way street. I want you to remember that allowing someone to kiss you in front of your wife isn’t something you should do. I will never allow another woman to kiss me in front of you or behind your back. I can’t be loyal to you if I do that.’ Anne nodded. ‘Where is our bag of goodies?’
‘In the saddlebag on Bertha.’ Ann said as she lifted her eyes to Anne. ‘Only let’s leave them there for the moment. I don’t want to spoil this moment with tawdriness. I just want you to hold me, Dearest.’ Anne nodded. ‘Let’s go to bed. I think we need sleep and to rethink what we should do next.’