Ann woke the next morning to find Anne’s side of their bed empty. She wondered where she was. She stood up and went searching for her. There was a hot cup of coffee on the kitchen table and toast that had just popped up from the toaster. So Anne must be close. Then she heard the toilet flush and water splashing in the hand basin. Anne appeared next to her moments later. “Good morning, Adney. Did you sleep well?’
‘Yes, I did. I was just wondering where you were. How are you this morning?’ Ann asked tentatively. She hoped after their chat last night Anne wouldn’t dwell on what happened between her and Maria any longer. Ann smiled. ‘You might want to get your toast and coffee before they get cold.’ Anne nodded. ‘What would you like to do today, Adney?’ Anne asked. ‘I would like to go to the Notre Dame Cathedral. I have always been interested in that.’
‘We could do that. Is there anywhere else you want to go while we are in Paris?’
‘I would like to take photos of the Arc de Triomphe. I am sure Aunt would like us to take a photo of it to show her.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘Yes, that’s a great idea. Would you like to go to Italy or return home to Halifax, Adney? It’s your call. I don’t mind.’
‘I think I would like to go home, Dearest.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘We have had a great time while we have been here. I am sure Aunt Anne would like to see us soon.’
‘Yes, I am sure she would. Let’s eat breakfast and enjoy our last day here. Okay!!’ Their ride to the cathedral took them 44 minutes. Ann loved being able to wrap her arms around Anne’s waist and lean her head on Anne’s shoulder. Ann loved the feel of Bertha between her legs. The rumble of the engine as the sped towards the cathedral she wasn’t sure what she would see when they arrived there. It seemed only moments since they had left the B&B when she felt Anne nudge her to climb off.
She stood next to Anne as they decided which entrance they were going to take. It seemed the cathedral had a few. Ann reached for her phone and took several photos from different angles. It seemed nearly impossible to get a photo of the whole building as much as Ann tried she couldn’t. She tried to take a video of the building. Only people kept wandering into her frame. She couldn’t blame them. They didn’t know what she was doing.
They spent the next couple of hours rambling slowly through the cathedral. Ann commented on the skylight which seemed to shower sunlight into what Ann thought was the main area. Anne loved the French Gothic architecture. She was so enraptured by it. They strolled back outside. The sun was shining brightly. ‘What do you wish to do now, Adney?’ Anne asked as she heard Ann’s stomach rumble. ‘It seems like I am hungry although it never occurred to me while we were inside.’
‘Where would you like to eat?’ Ann wasn’t sure. Yes, she was hungry but for what. She didn’t know until she spied a MacDonald’s across the way. ‘Let’s have a big mac.’ Ann said. Anne looked at her and smiled. ‘You’re that hungry?’ Anne asked. She wasn’t sure she wanted a big mac or any other MacDonald’s food. ‘Not really. I guess we could find somewhere better than MacDonald’s to eat.’ Anne nodded. ‘Let’s see if there is a restaurant close to the Arc de Triomphe, Adney.’ Ann nodded. They walked back to where Anne had parked Bertha.
As they rode towards the Arc de Triomphe Ann was still wondering how she got so lucky to be here in Paris with Anne Lister. How Anne seemed to love her as much as she loved Ann. Yet, there was still that feeling of doubt. She saw how much Anne seemed to love the kiss Maria placed on her lips that night. It was still worrying her that Anne would get fed up with her and leave her. She had told Anne it didn’t bother her and that she loved her still which had made Anne smile. She felt Anne before she heard her. Anne was stroking her face. They must have stopped. Anne was holding her close, wiping the tears from her cheek. She didn’t even know she was crying. Anne was soothing her, rubbing her back. ‘Adney, is everything okay? Why are you so upset?’ She tried to speak only her voice seemed sore. She couldn’t form words. ‘Adney, have I hurt you?’ Anne asked gently with concern. ‘Will you tell me why you are crying?’ Ann tried again to explain the thoughts that were invading her mind. Only when she went to speak all she did was cry. She sobbed so loudly that people around her were wondering if she was okay.
Anne must have realised why Ann was upset. Her shoulders drooped. She had lowered her head. Now, Anne was wondering why she let Maria kiss her. It seemed to have put a invisible wedge between Ann and her. She wondered if there was ever a chance they could be what they were before the kiss. She deeply regretted what she did only she knew she couldn’t reverse time. She had to deal with it and right now was the only chance she had to do that. Would Ann ever feel safe and sure with her again? She didn’t know.
‘I know why you are upset. I know what I did that night was unforgivable. I don’t know how I will ever make it up to you. I feel like a big bloody fool for allowing her to kiss me. I know you have forgiven me but I feel that the trust we have developed over the last few months is slowly fading. I don’t want this to be true, Adney. I can’t imagine my life without you.’ Anne said. She was sobbing now. Ann’s big tough bikie was sobbing so hard. It was Ann’s turn to comfort her wife. Ann felt in that moment that their roles had been reversed. ‘Anne Lister, I always imagined being with you. I never thought this would be my life. Only here we are together in Paris. I wonder if I am good enough for you. I wonder if you will always accept me if, you will always want to be with me.’ Anne frowned. ‘Why do you have such a poor opinion of yourself? Remember you are important too, Adney.’ Ann smiled. They hugged and kissed.
Anne pointed to a quaint little restaurant as they rode past it. ‘Should we go there to eat?’ She asked Ann as she stopped to turn around and go back. Ann nodded.
They were seated in a booth out of sight from others. Anne leaned into Ann and crashed their lips into a searing kiss. She was still feeling guilty about the kiss between Maria and herself. Ann smiled at her. It seemed all was forgiven. Anne wasn’t sure. She looked at Ann shyly. ‘Are we okay now, Adney?’
‘We have always been okay, Dearest.’ Ann said giving Anne a puzzled look. ‘Are you all right?’ Anne wondered if she should say something. Only she wasn’t sure what she should say. Ann reached over. She tenderly stroked Ann’s face. Anne’s heart broke. Was it possible that this beautiful blond was still here with her? Had accepted her with all her faults and wasn’t going to leave her when they returned home. She wondered how she got so lucky. Anne smiled through the tears that were leaking out of the corners of her eyes. Ann’s big tough bikie had been showing so much emotion lately that she wondered what was happening to her.
They ordered their meal and ate in companionable silence. Ann wondering what was bothering Anne. Anne too afraid to say so neither of them spoke for quite some time until Anne decided she couldn’t go on any longer. She had to know if Ann was still her wife or they were separating when they arrived home. Ann assured her that she was just as committed to Anne today as she was when they got married. Anne smiled. Then Ann said, ‘I hope I don’t see that sight again, Dearest.’ Anne knew what she meant and promised she would only kiss Ann unless it was her aunt.
They paid for their meal and made their way back to the B&B. It was there last night there and their last night in Europe as they cleaned their teeth ready their last night Anne wondered if they would return. Their honeymoon had been cut short by her silliness. She frowned. ‘Why the long frown Mrs Lister?’
‘I was wondering if we will ever come back to Europe again. There is so much I want to show you darling.’
‘I am sure we will return but you must promise me we won’t be visiting Maria’s sex shop.’ Ann said. Anne nodded. It was all she could do. If Ann Walker thought she was lucky to be with Anne Lister. Anne Lister thought she was lucky to be with Ann Walker.
‘Thank you, Adney. I am so grateful that you aren’t leaving me as soon as we return home.’
‘Anne Lister, I have made a commitment to you for life one little stuff up won’t change that. I just wish you had told me about Maria Barlow before we went to her apartment that night.’
‘I guess I hadn’t given it a thought. I had buried that part of my life for so long and then you came along. I suppose I haven’t had a chance to think about it. You know love does strange things to your mind, Ann. Well, mine.’ Ann tried to follow the trail of Anne’s conversation but seemed to have got lost somewhere along the way even though Anne hadn’t said much. Then she had swooped on her and crashed their lips together. Ann’s brain became muddled. Anne’s warm hand was on her thigh. ‘I think we should go to bed, Adney. We do have a big day tomorrow.’ Ann nodded.. Anne put out her hand for Ann to grasp. She led Ann up to their bedroom. Well, it had been their bedroom for the last week or was it longer. Their time there had flown by so fast.
They prepared to go to bed Anne in her boxers and t-shirt and Ann in her pjs. They had decided to do their laundry in the morning before they left. Anne had loaded the washing machine earlier. She was going to run it but didn’t want to disturb their peaceful moment. They curled up in bed. Anne telling her a tale about her and Maria Ann smiled. She really didn’t want Anne to forget her past. She just preferred if Anne would refrain from reliving it.
‘What are you thinking about right now, Adney?’ Anne asked sincerely. ‘I was just wondering if we will be able to go back to quiet Halifax after the noise of London then Paris.’
‘I don’t know but I am prepared to give it a go if you are. I know it will be strange for a while living at Shibden. I am sure you will get on famously with my family.’ I hope so, Ann thought as she pushed her back onto Anne’s front so they could spoon together.
‘The sunshine drifted through the window. Ann rolled over. Anne’s side of the bed was empty. Then she heard the dryer. Anne must have set the washing machine a while ago. Then Anne was there beside her. ‘The dryer is nearly done. I will pack our clothes and fetch Bertha after we have had breakfast. What would you like? We have toast, toast and toast.’
‘So, I can have whatever I want for breakfast as long as I have toast.’ Ann said smiling warmly. She got the joke. She remembered the one about Henry Ford and his Model T. He was quoted as saying you can have any colour as long as it is black. They smiled. After Ann dressed they ate their breakfast in companionable silence. Ann helped Anne finish packing their gear. They took their gear down to the underground car park and packed it as neatly as possible into Bertha’s trailer.
They returned the keys to the manager. Anne handed Ann her helmet when they returned to Bertha. While they rode back to Calais to get the ferry back to ‘sunny’ England Ann thought about their future at Shibden. They arrived at Calais three hours later. Ann was so happy to climb off Bertha. Her arms were so stiff and sore from holding onto Anne’s waist. Anne booked their ferry tickets. They had five hours before the ferry was on its way across the Channel. Anne suggested the get something to eat and relax until they had to load up and leave. Anne figured by the number of people already there that it would take about two hours to load up.
Ann spied a cafe. It was walking distance from the ferry terminal. Only Anne wanted to stay with Bertha. So, they didn’t bother. Ann reached into one of the saddle bags and pulled out two chocolate bars she had remembered were there. She handed one to Anne who smiled. They munched away for a few minutes. Ann watching Anne who seemed to be hungrier than what she imagined she was. Ann handed her another chocolate bar. ‘Where did they come from, Adney?’ Ann smiled at her. ‘You’d like to know but why should I tell you.’ Anne looked at her wondering how she was able to buy chocolate bars without Anne knowing. ‘My secret, Anne Lister and let’s leave it at that. Okay!’
Their trip across the channel seemed to take less time than the first time. When they were back on Bertha to take the first part of their journey home from Dover to London where they had planned to stay the night only Ann wanted to get home so did Anne. They stopped in London just to get something to eat then kept going. They arrived home in Halifax later that day. Anne parked Bertha in the barn. They decided to surprise everyone.
They sneaked up to the front door and rang the bell. Marian answered. Anne put her fingers to her lips. Marian yelled out that there was someone delivering a package for Aunt Anne and she needed to come and sign for it. Aunt Anne couldn’t remember ordering anything online. In fact she knew she never ordered anything online.
She just reached the front door when two familiar voices yelled ‘Surprise.’ She wrapped her arms around both Anne and Ann. ‘You’re home. Are you two my package?’ Ann smiled. It really was good to be home. She had never missed a place as much as she missed Shibden. She could see the grin on Anne’s face as they pulled away from Aunt Anne to look into her bright eyes. She was smiling so much they thought her face would split in two. To say Aunt Anne was pleased to see them would be an understatement of the millenium.