by Catherine Maiorisi
Calliope DeAndre and Dana Wittman are two very different women with two very different lives—each going through recent heartache and life-changing events.
Now the two find themselves on what should have been two separate romantic Italy tours. Each alone instead of part of a couple.
When Callie wants to leave the tour, Dana convinces her to stay. As days turn into weeks, their friendship and feelings grow. But guilt rages in Callie and Dana doesn’t trust love.
The two must overcome their separate pasts in order to find their future together.
FROM THE AUTHOR
"Italy calls to me. My grandparents all emigrated from there in the early 1900s and I grew up in New Jersey’s version of Italian-American culture, socializing mainly with extended family, eating Italian-American food, hearing several Italian dialects (similar to but different than Italian) spoken around me. But I didn’t give Italy much thought until the mid-sixties when I spent two weeks there as part of a six-month trip to Europe. And then I fell in love.
Over the years since then, I ‘ve travelled in Italy many times, most with my wife Sherry. The latest, three weeks in Southern Italy in the spring of 2018 to celebrate my eightieth birthday. If the pandemic lockdown hadn’t happened in 2020, we would have made another trip to realize a dream of mine, to live in Southern Italy for three months.
But the pandemic lockdown did happen. And the pandemic devastated Italy. Trapped in the house, watching Covid’s devastation of Italy on the news, I dreamed about returning to the Italy I love when it was safe again.
Then, in early 2022, the six thousand words I’d written in 2018 about a romance that takes place in Italy, called out to me. If I couldn’t travel to Italy, I would go there in my imagination and experience it through my characters.
Writing Love Among the Ruins brought back many wonderful memories of the places Callie and Dana visit on their month-long luxury tour. And I hope the story brings the characters and Italy alive for readers."
Kaye C. - …This is a gentle, slow burn romance between two mature and successful people. … a lovely travel romance and if you love Italy the location is an added bonus.
Claire E. - Really enjoyed this book, the author writes excellent lesbian crime books, but this was a more traditional romance book with some complexity. …I really enjoyed the depth of the main characters and also the minor characters who all had distinct personalities and issues they were also escaping from. I also enjoyed the meta story of a writer writing a romance book set in Italy and the way that we got the full extent of her research, it was like we were on this trip too.
Betty H. - Love Among the Ruins by Catherine Maiorisi is a beautiful love story that those of you who love to travel will adore.
Patricia B. - An enjoyable read. This is a slow burn romance between two successful mature adults. There was some complexity, but it all worked out in the end. The characters were written well, and I loved the relationship between Callie and Dana which was so sweet and giving. I loved all the places they toured and learned even more about the history of some of these well-known sights. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and family and I look forward to what's next from this author.
At the crack of dawn, as she had every single day for the last eighteen years, Callie DeAndre opened her eyes to the glorious chorus of birds singing outside her window. Some days her heart soared hearing the birds’ songs. Other days the chorus was painful. Did the birds feel the way she did? Did they also wait, expect, hope, for Abby to walk in the house, bringing life and love and happiness with her? Or was she the only one? She yawned, stretched, and then it hit her. Today was the one-year anniversary of Abby’s death. She covered her face with her arm, but it didn’t stop the tears leaking from her eyes. Or the birds from singing.
The toilet in the guest bathroom flushed. Callie groaned. Creature of habit that Angela was, she always woke with the dawn too. Right on schedule. Tap, tap. Her door opened. “Good morning, Callie. Coffee will be ready in a few minutes.” Angela walked away humming. On days like today when Callie wanted to curl up and forget it all, Angela’s chirpy morning attitude was annoying. Nevertheless, she appreciated having her in her life and in her house. If it hadn’t been for Angela, and Erin and Bonnie, two college friends, urging her to get out of bed, shower, dress, eat, and relate to them, she might have slipped into the blackness that beckoned.
She dried her tears on the sheet. Knowing Angela would harass her until she was up and dressed, she got out of bed to start the first day of her second year without Abby. Another lonely, painful day longing for something she could never have. Oblivious, the cheerful chorus of birdsong continued in the background.
She walked into the kitchen and sat at the table. Angela handed her a cup of coffee.
“Thanks.” At least Angela got that Callie needed time to wake up so she was blessedly silent as she prepared their breakfast.
Callie had no appetite to speak of, but she’d learned to eat a little at meals to keep her friends from worrying. She took a couple of bites of the fried egg and nibbled on the slice of toast Angela placed in front of her, then pushed her plate away. “Thanks for breakfast.” She carried her dish to the sink.
Angela eyed the partially eaten breakfast Callie scraped into the garbage but didn’t comment.
“Put yours in the sink too, Angela. I’ll clean up so you can get to work.”
“Thanks.” As she turned from the sink, her cell rang. “Angela Fortuna,” she said, in her business voice.
Assuming it was someone from Angela’s financial services firm calling, Callie put their breakfast dishes and silverware in the dishwasher and reached for the frying pan.
“Callie, it’s for you.”
She froze. “You know I don’t want to talk to anyone.” She made no attempt to hide her anger.
“It’s Sarah.” Angela held the phone out. “She said you’ve been ignoring her emails and she must talk to you.”
Callie shook her head.
“Stop being so damned selfish.”
Callie was shocked. Angela never got mad at her.
“She’s your friend and you’ve pushed her away along with everyone else. But she’s kept Danville House Books off your back for more than a year, and now your actions are jeopardizing her livelihood. And yours.”
What could be so bad that her agent was in trouble? She backed away, but Angela followed. “You owe her, Callie. It won’t kill you to talk to her.”
She scowled at Angela, then took the phone. She bit her lip. “Hello.”
At least Sarah hadn’t heard her churlish refusal.
She put the phone on speaker. “Hi, Sarah.”
“Callie. I’m so sorry to pressure you.” Sarah sounded tentative. “I’ve missed you.” Callie felt guilty for causing the sadness she heard in her voice.
“Don’t apologize, Callie. It’s a statement of fact, not an attempt to guilt-trip you.” Strong and direct. That was the Sarah she knew and why she loved her as a friend and as her agent.
Despite the fact that it had been a year since they last spoke, she felt the same warmth and connection with Sarah that she’d had from their very first phone call seventeen years ago.
“How is Ben? I never thanked him for what he did at the cemetery.”
She’d been dazed at the funeral home and even more out of it in the church, and by the time they got to the cemetery she was totally disoriented. Propped up by Angela at the gravesite, she stared at the coffin perched on a fake green carpet over the hole she knew they would lower Abby into. Then her gaze fell on the pile of dirt nearby, and she imagined the thump, thump, thump of dirt being shoveled on top of Abby. Suddenly she couldn’t breathe. She woke in Angela’s arms on the ground, surrounded by her friends. At a nod from Angela, Sarah’s husband, Ben, picked her up and carried her to the limousine.
“He doesn’t need to be thanked. But he misses you.” Sarah hesitated. “And Abby, his favorite birding partner.”
She couldn’t talk about Abby. “How are the kids?” The three, a college junior, a high school senior, and a sixth grader, had been close to her and Abby.
“They miss you. Natalie asks about you every time she calls. Laurie came out to us a couple of months ago, and she wants to talk to you about being a lesbian. And Devon doesn’t quite understand why he can’t call Abby with questions about dinosaurs.”
Tears threatened. She felt a pang of regret. A year in their young lives gone.
Unsure what to say, she remained silent. They listened to each other breathe on the phone for a few seconds before Sarah spoke.
“A couple of weeks before Abby died, she asked me to make sure Danville House Books didn’t pressure you to produce. She wanted to be sure you would have time to mourn and heal. And I’ve managed to do that. Finishing the romance you put aside when Abby started to decline appeased them for a while, but a couple of months ago they started pushing me for a delivery date on the romance in Italy book. It’s already on the schedule for next year and they have big plans for it, including a huge publicity campaign starting months before it’s released. We’re contractually obligated, Callie. And they might let the date slip a bit, but they won’t let you off the hook.”
“Could I write something else?” Her gaze skipped from Angela to the frying pan on the stove to the carton of eggs and the loaf of bread on the counter. “How about, um, the story of a recluse who hires a chef and finds love in her own house? We could call it Love on the Menu.”
Sarah laughed. “Not a bad idea. But they want what you proposed, a romance set in Italy. If you don’t deliver, both our reputations will take a hit.”
“You know I can’t write about a place I haven’t been. And you know I’ve barely left the house since Abby’s funeral. What you don’t know is that even going out to the backyard will, more often than not, trigger an anxiety attack. So how the hell am I supposed to fly to Italy, where I don’t speak the language, then negotiate multiple unfamiliar cities while dealing with strangers and crowds? Abby and I were meant to do this trip together. I can’t do it alone.”
Sarah sighed. “I’ve kept in touch with Angela so I do know. I hope you know I wouldn’t be asking you to do this if I thought I could delay them any longer. I’ll take the hit with you if you absolutely can’t do it. But will you at least give it some thought?”
She already knew she couldn’t do it. Why lie? She looked up. Angela was sitting across from her, nodding. “All right. I’ll think about it.”
That seemed to satisfy Sarah, so they made a plan to speak again in a few days and hung up.
She handed the phone to Angela. “I don’t want to talk about it now.” She quickly scrubbed the frying pan, put the eggs, bread, and butter away, and then went to her office. She was pissed. Angela knew Abby was supposed to go to Italy with her so they could discover the romance of Italy together and she could write the book. Surely Angela didn’t believe she could suddenly stroll out the door by herself, sit in a congested airport, fly in a crowded airplane to a country where she knew no one and didn’t speak the language, stay at hotels, go to restaurants, and visit romantic places surrounded by crowds of strangers? She’d been working twice a week with her therapist, Maggie, for months and had made some progress. She was able to go out to her backyard with Maggie now, sometimes without having an attack, able to take drives with Maggie, and, though she’d had an attack each time, able to sit with Maggie in a small café and have coffee, twice. But she still couldn’t leave the house on her own.
She closed her office door and cried. For Abby, for the wonderful life they’d planned, for the trip to Italy they would never take, and because she was afraid. Afraid she was forgetting Abby’s voice, her strong, beautiful face, her smile, and her confident manner. Perhaps Maggie was right when she said that, subconsciously, Callie equated leaving the house with leaving Abby behind, starting her life without her.
She spent the day looking at pictures and videos of birthdays, vacations, and special events like Abby’s PhD party, the launch party for Callie’s first published book, and their wedding. As the light faded, she heard Angela in the kitchen, probably preparing the lasagna she had requested. It was Abby’s favorite. She must have dozed off because when she opened her eyes in the semidark room she was in Abby’s arms. Realizing it was a dream, that Abby was gone, and she was alone, she curled in a ball and sobbed.
The door opened and Angela was framed in the light from the hall. She turned on the lamp next to Callie, wrapped her in her arms, and held her as she cried. When the tears stopped and Callie pulled away, Angela handed her a tissue, then used one to wipe her own eyes. She took Callie’s hands in hers.
“I know you’re hurting, honey. Losing Abby was and is a tremendous loss. But she’s dead and you’re alive. I’m not saying you shouldn’t or can’t continue to mourn. That takes as long as it takes. But it’s time for you to start living again.”
“I know.” Callie wasn’t surprised to receive the gentle encouragement. Angela, Erin, and Bonnie had been more than patient with her. “A year is a long time and I appreciate all you’ve done for me, Angela, but I think you should get back to your life. I’ll be all right by myself.”
“Oh, honey, it’s not me who needs to get back to her life. It’s you. It’s time. You can’t wander around this house like a ghost for the rest of your life. I think Abby would be appalled if she could see you now. Have you looked in the mirror lately?”
Yes. In fact, she had accidently caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror this morning. She’d panicked at having a stranger in the bathroom with her, then quickly looked away when she realized it was her reflection. Her once shiny and luxurious blond hair was lackluster and limp. The racoon-like dark circles around her dull blue eyes, the too-large pajamas hanging off her always-slender frame, her protruding clavicle bones and dry dull skin brought to mind pictures she’d seen of starved and abused women. Lifeless was the word that fit.
“I don’t know how to live without her, Angela.”
Angela tightened her hold on Callie’s hands. “You’re one of the strongest, most determined women I’ve ever met, Callie. I have no doubt you can reclaim your life and go back to being the magnificent person you’ve become in the years we’ve been friends. But you have to want to live, despite the pain. You have to be willing to walk out the door despite the anxiety attacks. And you have to be willing to go on, despite being alone. You know Abby would never want you to give up on life because of her. And yet, that’s what you’ve done.”
The tears came again. She’d cried enough to refill the Great Salt Lake. No wonder she looked like a desiccated apple.
Angela had said her piece. Now she would give Callie the space to think about it. She was right, of course. Not only had Callie lost Abby, she’d also lost the desire to create and the desire to live. She was merely existing.
Angela stood. “I’m going to finish prepping dinner. Come talk to me.”
“I need a few minutes to pull myself together.” Avoiding the mirror, she washed her tear-stained face and dabbed cold water on her swollen eyes. It was true. Abby had encouraged her many times in the last weeks before she lost the ability to speak, to take the trip to Italy they’d planned. Could she go alone?
She tried to imagine walking out the door to the taxi. And remembered instead the first time she tried to leave the house after the funeral to go to Maggie’s office for her therapy appointment. She’d stepped out onto the porch and suddenly she couldn’t breathe. Gasping for air, dizzy, she started sweating. Her heart galloped, her hands and arms tingled, she lost control of her bladder and started to black out. She was having a heart attack. She was going to die right there in front of her house. Strong arms caught her as she was going down. Angela. She vaguely heard her on the phone with Maggie, then Angela was rubbing her arms, telling her to look at her, to look at the blue sky, the green grass, the leaves on the tree, telling her that she was safe. When she finally could breathe, she realized she was in Angela’s arms on the floor of the porch. She was safe, but embarrassed. She blinked. It was a memory.
“I’m coming, Angela.” Callie wiped her tears and went into the bathroom to wash her face again.
In the kitchen, Callie eyed the open door to the backyard.
“Go ahead, go outside.”
Callie didn’t like to be told what to do. “Why?”
“Because it’s time, Callie. You can’t just give into the fear. You have to keep pushing against it. At least try again.”
“No.” Callie knew she sounded harsh. Angela was her best friend, she reminded herself. Not her enemy. And this year had taken a toll on her too. Could she do what Angela suggested, walk out the door knowing she might have an anxiety attack? Could she face the fear head-on? It was safer to stay inside but she’d gone into her yard with Maggie several times recently and she didn’t always have an attack. Angela would be there if she went outside now. Maybe she could do it. “Okay, I’ll try.”
Callie moved to the doorway and stared into the darkness. She jumped when Angela snapped on the outside lights.
“I’m right here, Callie. You’ll be safe.”
Callie swallowed. This was her backyard. Nothing to fear. She could do it. She stepped onto the patio. The cool air felt good. Heart racing, she took another step into the night. Her gaze fell on the firepit Abby loved. Suddenly she was sweating, shaking, and gasping for air. Angela dragged her into the house, held her and talked her down from the anxiety attack.
“I’m sorry for pushing you, Callie.”
“You push because you want the best for me.” She stepped out of Angela’s embrace. “You know, I really thought I was going to die during that first attack last year. But the recent ones in the backyard have felt less intense. So maybe there’s hope.”
Angela smiled. “I’ve believed in you since that day in fourth grade when you got between me and that nasty boy who was bullying me. I have no doubt that you’ll get past this.” She kissed Callie’s forehead. “I need to get back to prepping dinner.”
Happy that Angela was leaving her to her own thoughts, Callie slumped in her chair while Angela made a salad and prepared garlic bread for dinner. Angela looked up at the sound of the front door opening and closing. “Hopefully that was Bonnie and Erin coming in, not thieves. I’m going to put the lasagna in the oven, then let’s go visit with them while we wait for dinner to be ready.”
Callie took a deep breath and followed Angela to the living room. Without Angela, her oldest friend, and Bonnie and Erin, her closest friends from college, she wouldn’t have made it through this last year. The newcomers greeted her with hugs, and though she was sure they could see her exhaustion, neither commented on it. Spotting the bottle of Abby’s favorite sauvignon blanc and the four glasses on the coffee table in front of the sofa, Callie filled with rage.
“This isn’t a celebration. Don’t you get it. She’s gone. Dead. Never to return.” She knew she was being irrational and ungrateful. They’d all lost a close friend, yet they’d been there for her while she mourned for the last year. Embarrassed by her outburst, she gazed at her hands in her lap.
Angela’s calm voice broke the tense silence. “I’m sorry, Callie, but I do want to celebrate Abby, to share how important she was to me and to remember the many ways she helped me.” She picked up a glass of the wine.
Bonnie and Erin raised their glasses. Callie hesitated, then did the same.
Angela continued, “She may not be here physically, but she is here, in my heart, in all of our hearts, and in the hearts of the many people who loved her and will never forget her.”
Erin lifted her glass. “To Abby, who not only showed me how to love and live by example but also helped me and Bonnie acknowledge that our love for each other was more than friendship. There’s not a day when I don’t ask myself, what would Abby do?”
Bonnie wiped her eyes and lifted her glass. “Abby helped me become who I am and who I wanted to be. I’ll always love her, but she was adamant that I, that we all, needed to move on with our lives. She was so loving and giving that even as she faced death, she thought about us. We were truly blessed to have her in our lives.”
The three turned to Callie. She wasn’t sure she could speak, but then the words flowed.
“She’s not in my heart because she took it with her along with my soul. I’m an empty shell without her, useless. If it wasn’t for the incessant singing of those damned birds and you three I think I might have killed myself. I was so lucky to have her in my life. I loved her so much. How can I go on without her?”
After another round of hugs and tears, Angela placed a page from the travel section of the New York Times in front of her. “We think this is how, Callie.”
Callie read the description of the “Romantic Italy” group tour, thirty-one days that seemed tailor-made for her. Not only did it include all the places she and Abby planned to visit, it also included others they hadn’t considered, and the amount of time in each place was pretty close to the times in the itinerary she’d outlined in the book proposal.
It was expensive, but the large advance she received when she signed the contract would more than cover the cost. It would be a small group, only twelve. She shuddered. Although the tour promised lots of time on her own, she’d still be trapped in a bus with eleven people, eleven strangers who would want to know all about her, why she was on a romantic tour alone, and what she thought about the places they were seeing. It was impossible. Other than her conversation with Sarah today and a weekly conversation with her mom, she hadn’t spoken to anyone but Angela, Erin, Bonnie, and her therapist, Maggie, for a year.
As she started to put the paper down, the highlighted passages caught her eye. The travel agency would take care of everything. She wouldn’t have to think about getting from place to place or worry about luggage or where to eat or where to stay. Could she do it? The memory of the fear, the embarrassment, and the exhaustion she felt the only time she’d tried to walk out the front door, hit her again. No way could she chance that with eleven strangers. Or even one.
She scowled at Angela. “I presume this morning wasn’t the first time Sarah talked to you about the Italy book.”
“No, it wasn’t. We’ve talked about it often over the last few months as Danville House has increased the pressure, but I put her, and them, off. I think you’re ready now.”
Callie tossed the ad on the table. “Not only can I not write a romance without Abby, I also don’t do groups. You know that.” She glared at them. “And even if I was willing to try a tour, who am I kidding? Travel alone to Italy for a month? I can’t even walk out the door without being incapacitated by an anxiety attack.”
A bell rang in the kitchen. Angela stood. “I’ll get the lasagna but I need a volunteer to carry the salad and wine to the dining room table.” She met Callie’s eyes. “Let’s enjoy dinner and discuss the trip after we eat.”
The lasagna. It was delicious, but she had no appetite. So she did what she always did, ate a few bites and pushed the rest around on her dish, hoping no one would notice. She was blessed to have three caring friends with her. Blessed that they had all loved Abby and she had loved them. She relaxed and let their gentle conversation, laughter, and affection warm her and ease her loneliness. Abby was there in all of them. She’d lied earlier. Abby was in her heart, would always be in her heart. She would never forget her. That was the good news and the bad because remembering her was painful.
They moved back into the living room for dessert. Angela sipped her coffee and watched Callie over the rim of her cup. “Abby wanted to take this trip with you, but she made it clear that if she couldn’t she wanted you to do it without her. She hoped that if you went to new places and met new people you might find someone and be happy again. Who knows what could happen if you do this tour?”
In the months leading up to her death, Abby had tried to help Callie deal with it. “You’re too young to be a widow,” she’d said, stroking her face. “I hope you’ll never forget me, but I don’t want you to mourn more than six months. I love you so much, Callie, and I want you to find someone who makes you happy. Promise?”
“How am I supposed to do this alone, Angela? She made me promise to find someone else, but she didn’t tell me how to stop loving and missing her. And you saw less than an hour ago what happens the minute I step outside.”
“And you told me less than an hour ago that the attacks were less intense now. You can’t hide forever.” Angela stood. “I’ll be right back. I have something for you.” She returned a few minutes later with an envelope. “Abby left this for you.”
Callie stared at the envelope, then looked at the other two women. It was clear they knew about the letter.
Her hands were shaking as she took the envelope. Abby had written on it in her bold script “For Callie if she’s still mourning me after a year.” She smiled through her tears. “Abby always was a sucker for the romantic gesture.” She carefully tore the envelope, wanting to preserve all of this last gift.
My Dearest Callie,
I hope getting a letter from the dead doesn’t freak you out too much but if Angela has given you this letter, it’s a year later and you’re still not living your life and that calls for drastic measures.
You are the love of my life, my soul mate, and I know you feel the same. We both thought and hoped we would have many more joyful years than the twenty we were granted. I probably should say nineteen and a half since the last six months haven’t held much joy. But they have held much love and having you there with me every step of the way has made it easier to bear the physical pain of the cancer and the emotional pain of losing you, of knowing I was leaving you to find your way without me. It’s good that I’m the one dying because I don’t think I could exist without you. We both know that you are so much stronger than I am, so much more capable of going on alone. I know it doesn’t feel that way but it’s the truth and if you let yourself, you’ll see I’m right – aren’t I always, my love?
I’m sorry to leave you, but I’ll be eternally grateful that we found each other, that I loved you, and that you loved me with all your heart. I meant what I said. I don’t want you to ever forget me, but I don’t want you to live your life with only the memories, no matter how happy and loving those memories are.
Please, dearest Callie, do it for me. Go out into the world and live. Take that trip to Italy. Be happy, find someone to love, celebrate life. It’s what I want for you. It’s what I would want for myself if I’d lost you.
But think of me as you travel through life. When you feel the warmth of the sun or the gentle kiss of rain, when you smell new mown grass or the fragrance of flowers, when you see the sparkle of new fallen snow or experience a beautiful sunrise or sunset, when you hear the rustle of leaves or the wildness of the wind. And, wherever you are, think of me when you see birds, hear the gentle flapping of their wings and their excited songs because you know, my love, if it’s possible I will come back as a bird and watch over you.
Shakespeare was wrong. Parting is not such sweet sorrow. It sucks. But part we must. I must die and you must live. So get your sweet ass out there.
All my love forever, Abby
She broke down again. And her friends embraced and held her until her sobs subsided. Erin, a social worker, pushed the hair off Callie’s face and spoke frankly as always.
“She’s gone, Callie. Spending the rest of your life in this house won’t change that. Take this trip to Italy. It’s perfect for you in so many ways.”
“If I leave here, she’ll truly be gone. Besides, what about the panic attacks?”
Bonnie, a nurse and yoga instructor, supported Erin. “You’ve been meditating, right? I know you didn’t like the way the anxiety medication made you feel, but maybe you could start taking it again. Between the two you should be able to manage on the tour.”
“No medication. Even when I’m not anxious, it makes me feel miserable so I’m not sure I’d be able to absorb the atmosphere I need to write the book.”
“But it might help you get back on the path to life and to writing,” Angela said. “Abby would want you to try. I believe that was the point of her letter.”
Writing was her life. She’d never not delivered, so she’d have to write the book. But if she hadn’t experienced the romantic atmosphere herself, the book wouldn’t have the authenticity, the real feeling for the setting that her readers had come to expect. She needed to go to Italy, wanted to go. If the half hour drive from Montclair to Newark Airport seemed overwhelming, though, how in the world could she fly to Italy and then spend a month confined with eleven strangers? Would she have to talk about Abby? About herself? Could she protect the privacy she’d fought so hard for?
Callie’s eyes fell on the letter lying on the table and the last sentence jumped out at her. “So get your sweet ass out there.” She could see the mischievous glint in Abby’s eyes and the smirk that surely would have been there when she wrote that sentence, knowing she would recall the many times in their life together she’d followed a pep talk with those very words.
Abby was her muse and her sounding board. Her love for her, the sexual passion they shared, had inspired her romantic imagination. Could she write a romance about two unlikely people who fall in love on a tour of the romantic sights in Italy without Abby? She doubted it. But Abby would insist she at least try.
She took a deep breath. “You know they book these ads way in advance. The tour starts May first, just sixteen days from today, and it’s probably sold out by now.” Callie held her hand up to forestall any more efforts to convince her. “But I’ll try to book it tomorrow.”
Hoping she was right, that the tour was sold out, she called the next morning. As luck would have it, they’d had a cancellation less than an hour earlier. With Abby’s last words, “Get your sweet ass out there,” echoing in her head, she took a deep breath and booked the trip.
Then, after a good cry, she sent a group text to Angela, Erin, Bonnie, Sarah, her mom, and her therapist, Maggie. Yikes. I’m going to Italy in two weeks!!!
Comforted by their loving responses, she meditated to push back the hovering anxiety attack.