“After all those months apart, I thought it’d be an awkward reunion, but I was wrong. Her first words to me, ‘my sweetheart’, set the tone. She was warm and friendly and full of fun. We had a seriously awesome time scooting round Venice. The Saturday was one of those Canaletto days when the blue waters of the lagoon gleam and the whole city is alive and sparking. We did St Mark’s Square, we did all sixty-two Tintorettos in the Scuola di San Rocco, the Lido and Murano, Rizzo’s famous statue of Eve in the Doge’s palace for which a Duke of Mantua once offered his weight in gold.”
“Then on our last evening, under the mist of a silver moon, we ate at a swell ristoranto and walked past the Rialto along the Strada Nova towards the labyrinth of medieval lanes, canals and archways that lead to the blind alleys of the Ghetto.
‘Goddam, isn’t it beautiful here?’ she said. ‘I really feel alive, Finn.’
‘Even on that first day in Olana, I wanted to kiss you,’ I replied stroking the fine down on the back of her neck.
‘Why didn’t you?’”
“‘Hold me closer,’ she said.
‘If I do, I won’t ever wanna let you go,’ I replied and snuggled up so she was enveloped in my arms, with her hair curling around my jacket.
‘I fear this is some sorta dream, that’s all. That I’ll wake up in the morning and it’ll all be gone. That it’s all a mirage.’”
“The next morning, she had to get back to the London to catch her flight back to the States and so took an early train to the airport. Her visit was over in a flash. I realized as I waved her off, tender as it was, that we still hadn’t really answered the most fundamental questions about our relationship. She was always so coy about what was going on in her life back home.”
“Venice in the winter is quite a different place to the straw-hatted heaven of summer. The bright young mistress loses her midsummer make-up. Most of the foreign tourists disappear; in fact there are very few foreigners at all apart from a few language students. What’s more, the weather had suddenly got colder; the languid waters of the lagoon gleamed more dimly, often morose and misty for days on end.”