At thirty-three, Bill Fitzgerald, acclaimed American television foreign correspondent, is war-weary and exhausted after a long stint in Bosnia. In late November of 1995, he travels to Venice to meet Francis Xavier Peterson, an old friend and a war correspondent for Time magazine, for some much-needed rest and relaxation. While at the bar of the Gritti Palace Hotel on the Grand Canal with Frankie, Bill is struck by the dark beauty of a young woman seated alone at the other side of the bar. Unhappily married to show business lawyer Peter Smart, Vanessa Stewart is a twenty-seven-year-old glass designer from New York who is in town to visit the glass-blowing works in Murano. The three travelers decide that as Americans in Venice, they should celebrate Thanksgiving dinner together. That evening - full of warmth and camaraderie - begins an illicit though fateful love affair. Bill, a widower, has a six-year-old daughter named Helena, who is being raised by his mother, Drucilla Fitzgerald in Manhattan. When it is time to leave Venice, Bill plans a rendezvous with Vanessa - they will meet in New York in December for a Christmas lunch with his daughter and mother. After an idyllic time spent together, they are both completely committed and madly in love. With impediments preventing their relationship from continuing freely, they can only hope for a taste of joy with each other - a series of planned rendezvous. But on the third of these meetings, one of them does not appear.