The princess gone rogue. It was the perfect story, a unique opportunity. For the first time in his life, the cards were in Joe Bradley's hands, and Princess Ann (or Anya, as she was calling herself) didn't suspect a thing.
Irving had just left to develop the pictures of their afternoon so far, and promised to meet them at the dance that night.
"So, what would you like to do now?" Joe asked, hoping it wasn't anything too expensive. Irving had lent him some money, but he didn't want to spend all of it too quickly.
"I think I just want to window shop," Anya answered, a dreamy smile on her face. "Just stroll around the streets without a purpose."
"That's fine by me," Joe said, offering his arm to her. She hesitated, but after a thought, slipped her arm through his.
"How long have you been in Italy?" she asked as they paused in front of a boutique.
"A few years," said Joe, "I'm from New York, originally."
"Strange how you ended up here in Rome," Anya said thoughtfully.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you're in the fertilizer business," she began, "So I find it odd that you're in Rome."
"Oh!" He'd forgotten about that. "I'm here for some, uh, research. It's taken longer than expected, so I can't go back until it's finished."
"I see," Anya said, turning towards him. "Life isn't always what one likes, is it?"
Joe smiled. "No, it's not. So, how about you? How did you get here?"
She looked away. "I'm here... for a school trip. We're going all around Europe, and Rome is the last stop."
"Have you had fun?"
Anya shook her head. "Not really, it's been most boring. I have to stick to a schedule, and I'm not allowed to do what I really want to do."
"Like window shop and tour?"
"Exactly! I'm never allowed any fun."
"So why don't you talk to your parents or teachers about this?"
"They wouldn't allow it," Anya sighed. "I have to do what they want, when they want, and smile the whole time." She stopped. "You know, I've never really told anyone about this before."
"Really?" Joe was surprised.
"Yes," she answered. "And the strange thing is, Mr. Bradley, is that I've only just met you, and yet I feel like I can tell you anything in the world."
A guilty feeling settled in his stomach. Joe watched her walk ahead, peering into the shops. She was so alive and full of life, he couldn't imagine her being restricted into a confined schedule. It was a crime, really. And it was also a crime to be lying to her. He had to do it, he wanted to leave Italy, get back to New York, but there was something about this princess that made him want to change his mind.