The next days flew past. Anna and Sam walked miles with Bonnie, talked and laughed, confirmed the notion that they had the same likes and dislikes in almost everything, and made love at every available opportunity.
It was very late on Saturday night when Sam turned a serious face to his supine companion.
“I have to go home some time tomorrow, and I don’t want to. I don’t want to leave you. I don’t want to not see your face. I don’t want to not hear you laugh. I don’t want to not feel your skin next to me in bed. I feel like a bloody teenager in love.”
Anna lifted her head.
“Me too. I told myself I was going to be sensible about this. I told myself you might fancy me and you might like me but I shouldn’t let myself get carried away. I gave myself all sorts of lectures and then you came here, and it felt like a perfect fit.”
“So come home with me. Let’s see if the fit stays as perfect in the everyday world.”
“Is that what you want?”
“It’s a start. I want to really get to know you. And I want you to really get to know me. Then maybe we can make something together. Something lasting.”
“Sam! I’m forty years old.”
“And? I’m thirty-nine. You say you want to find out what life has to offer. Maybe I’m it. Maybe we’re it. We won’t know if we don’t try. I meant to take things slowly. Give you the chance to get used to the idea that I’m falling in love with you. But that would mean spending time without you and I think that might break my heart.”
Anna buried her face in his chest, and he could feel tears on his skin.
“Oh baby. Don’t cry. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
He cradled her against him and crooned gently. She sniffed unromantically and knuckled her eyes.
“I’m only crying because it’s so overwhelming. I’ve been laying here dreading you leaving. Sensible Anna has been lecturing herself inside my head, but all to no avail. If you want me to come with you I’ll come with all my heart. See. I think I’m falling in love with you too. It scares me, you know. I’ve never been in love before, and what I feel is so big.”
He kissed her very thoroughly.
“Isn’t it. There we were jogging along with our lives and we got hit by a fireball. Good job it got both of us. Sensible this ain’t. But I know we have to give it a go. Or regret for the rest of our lives.”
“I think we have to see where this goes. If we get our fingers burnt so be it. I’ll come home with you. As long as Bonnie is welcome.”
“Course she is. You two are a team.”
“We three are a team.”
After that there was no talking for quite a long time.
Morning came, and Anna and Sam took their coffee down to the stream, while Bonnie retired to the bushes before having her pre-breakfast paddle.
Sam looked quizzically at Anna.
“Not getting cold feet, I hope.”
“Most definitely not. I feel more positive about my life than I have for a very long time.”
“Good. Me too. Ever perhaps. We’ll give it our best shot. And, do you know what, I reckon we’ll make it…’
“I reckon we will.”
“We do. It may scare the snot out of me, but I wouldn’t sleep another night if I didn’t give it a go.”
“Yeah. I know what you mean about scared. Grown ups aren’t supposed to fall in love like falling off a cliff. However, that seems to be what we’ve done. Now we have to build from that.”
“We do. I want to make you a promise, Sam. I promise to love you, cherish you, be truthful to you, and to keep the faith.”
He raised her hand and kissed it.
“I promise the same to you. We’ll make it princess.”
Bonnie came over and indicated her approval by shaking water all over the pair of them. They laughed, and Anna patted her head.
Bonnie waved her tail enthusiastically. They strolled back to the camper and Anna passed Sam Bonnie’s dish.
“You feed Bonnie. I’ll do human breakfast.”
As they ate, Anna looked at Sam and grinned.
“So. Is there room to park this thing at yours, or do I have to find a storage facility?”
“Should be plenty of room to park. I’ve got a double-width drive and a double garage.”
“Okay. But if it’s awkward, you get to do the parking. I’m shit at it.”
“No sweat. But it should be easy. Straight drive.”
“Now. Getting there. I’m probably going to be driving slower than you. Do I need a map?”
“Shouldn’t. I’ll drive slow and we can stick together.”
“Together. That’s such a nice word.”
“Isn’t it just! I like it. Especially as applied to you and me. But get your atlas out and I’ll show you where.”
“Atlas is right behind you in the pocket on the back of your seat.”
He got it out.
“Right. Small town. Close enough to Cheltenham for work. My house is just off the main through road. It’s the old vicarage. I got it cheap because it needed a lot of work. Did most of it myself. Kept me busy after my ex-wife buggered off. Now it’ll be nice to share it with you.”
“Sounds lovely. My house is a modern box. I always wanted something with a bit more character, but there was no chance of me doing any more than painting and shortening curtains.”
“Is your house empty?”
“Nah. Let. Friends of mine. They want to buy it, but are renting while I make up my mind whether or not to sell. Funny enough, they are both doctors. But not as pretty as you.”
“I should hope not.” He grinned wickedly. “Not as pretty as you either, I bet.”
“I’m not pretty.”
“If I say you are pretty, you’d better believe it. I’m a connoisseur.”
“You’re a flatterer.”
“Am not. You are lovely. You just need to realise it.”
He smiled and took her hand.
“Stick with me kiddo, I’ll make you believe it.”
By nine, they were ready to move off, and Sam took the lead in the battered Audi with Anna and Bonnie following in the camper. The journey took them about two hours and by the time they arrived Anna was a bundle of nerves.
“Oh Bonnie” she said “am I doing the right thing?”
Bonnie laid her elegant nose on Anna’s knee and wagged her tail gently.
“You’re right, Bon-Bon, we can do this.’
Sam parked the Audi at the kerb and ran to open a pair of big, white gates. Anna drove slightly past then bravely engaged reverse. The gates and drive were wide, but she crept in carefully.
“Oh yeah,” she said to Bonnie, “it’s nice and wide and straight. I’m glad we’ve got the reversing camera though.”
She brought the camper to a halt about two feet from the garage doors and heaved a sigh of relief. Sam brought the Audi in and parked it nose to nose with the camper. He leapt out and came round to Anna’s door. She opened it and almost fell into his waiting arms.