City of Illusions

City of Illusions
By Author: Judith Works


Laura impulsively applies for a job in glorious Rome
without telling her husband, Jake. She wants to leave gray Seattle and make her
dreams of a more exciting life and a rejuvenated marriage come true. When the
offer unexpectedly arrives she talks Jake into the adventure. After all, she is
nearing 30 and Jake crossed that threshold only a few years earlier. Life might
pass them by if they don’t take the chance.

But she and Jake soon learn la dolce vita is far more complicated than they imagined when they
are catapulted into a world full of intrigue, deceit, and infidelity lurking
behind the sunny piazzas and crumbling ruins.

Their lives spin out of control when naïve Jake, cast
adrift as the trailing spouse, is sucked into a gang of antiquity thieves. Laura
is left to find her own way the city of yearning, of echoes, of illusions. What
will she do? Preserve her marriage at all costs or search elsewhere for the key
to the happiness she desires?

In this woman’s fiction set in the romantic city of
Rome, author Judith Works tells the classic tale of the Old World colliding
with the New but with a modern twist.

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“Let’s go to the Trevi Fountain. A couple of weeks ago I downloaded that old movie called Three Coins in the Fountain, with all those thin women wearing clothes from the 1950s with pointy bras and the men calling them girls.”

“Like Madonna used to wear.” He surprised her with a quick hug, saying, “You’re my girl. And better looking too.”

“Thanks. Love you.” Laura stopped in the middle of the street to put her arms around him like lovers do, but when passing tourists bumped against them they parted to join the flow of sunburnt humanity hurrying along a street lined with forbidding Renaissance palazzi, the massive buildings built of dark stone. Chinese and Africans hawked junky plastic toys and fake Fendi handbags to the passing crowds, exhausted guides waved their folded umbrellas in an attempt to keep their flocks in order, and smartly-dressed police watched with bored expressions. At the far end of one street Laura could hear the noise of rushing water over the murmurings from tourists.

The theatrical fountain lived up to the claims in their guidebook, with Neptune riding in his chariot drawn by two seahorses guided by tritons amid cascading waters. Tourists shoved each other out of the way as they threw two coins over their shoulders and into the basin – one to return to Rome and one for a favorable answer to another wish. Laura cast in a dime she found in the bottom of her backpack, wishing for a happy life in Rome. She couldn’t find a second to make another wish. Anyway, it was too soon to think of one.

She glanced up at the building supporting the fountain. An elderly woman, as motionless as one of the statues, leaned down from a window to watch the crowds below, her elbows resting on the sill. What does she see? Does she see me? Does she care about any of us? Uneasy at the woman’s fixed stare, Laura squeezed back through the crowds to find Jake who had remained at the back of the piazza.

By now footsore and hungry, they began their walk back to the pensione. They came to a small shop with a sign advertising pizza al taglio.

Jake said, “What about this place? I don’t know what taglio means but it does say pizza.” An aroma of oregano, basil, and cheese wafted out the door, pulling them in to see large rectangular trays of pizza, so hot they were still bubbling. They each ordered a large square, Jake’s with onions and sausage, Laura’s with tomato and basil. They ate while standing in front of the shop like living advertisements.

“Awesome,” she said between bites. She wiped the dripping cheese off her face with a tissue.

Jake became animated. “No kidding. When we get back home let’s see if we can find a place like it. Maybe we could open one near the U – bet we would do well.”

“That might be fun. But now we have a whole year to enjoy ourselves. And eat all this great food.”

“Yeah. I hope everything goes okay.”

“I’m sure we’ll be fine. Other people do this sort of thing all the time.”

“I don’t know “other” people.” He curled two fingers on each hand to make quotation marks.

Jake’s doubts were momentarily contagious. What if it wasn’t fine? Then what would she do?

About the Author:

Judith Works


Ran away to the Circus (Maximus) in mid-life. In reality I worked for the United Nations in Rome for four years as a legal advisor to the director of human resources. When the contract was up my husband and I reluctantly returned to the US. But we pined for the land of pasta, vino, art, and sunny piazzas. Then the gods smiled and offered a chance to return to Rome. Six more years in the Eternal City passed much too quickly.

Now back in the US, I volunteer for arts and literary organizations when not traveling to Italy and other places on my list. And whenever I am in Rome I toss coins into the Trevi Fountain to ensure yet another return to enjoy la dolce vita.

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Please keep an eye out for Judith’s upcoming release of her memoir of living in Rome called ‘Coins in the Fountain’.

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