Bristol airport, eight days later, and Anna and Sam’s flight landed bang on time. They collected their bags from the carousel and went to find Paul, who saw them coming through the arrivals gate and unfolded himself from his position lounging against a pillar.
“Excellent. I’d recommend marriage just for the honeymoon,” Anna giggled. “Lots of sex and sun. I’d always sort of looked down on the Canaries. But inland Grand Canaria is lovely, and the house we rented is gorgeous. Sam’s folks loved the area, and he went there often as a child. He has lots of friends on the island. So we were sociable in the evenings and solitary during the day. It was fun. It was therapeutic. We had the best time.”
By this time they were in the short stay car park and Paul was opening the tailgate of a brand-new bright red Range Rover Evoque.
“You been treating yourself?” Anna asked.
“Nope. Your new husband has been treating you. It’s yours.”
“What? Sam! You bugger.’
“Do you like it?”
“I reckon. Gimme the keys Paul. If it’s mine I get to drive.”
He obliged and she got into the driver’s seat.
“Oh. It’s very close to the other Range Rover controls-wise. Good. I can manage.”
The drive home was fairly quiet, as Anna was concentrating on her new car, and Sam was just content to watch her. Paul lounged in the back seat enjoying Anna’s almost childlike amazement in her new toy and Sam’s obvious delight in her happiness.
Back at the old rectory, as soon as Sam and Anna got out of the car, Danny opened the front door and Bonnie flew out. She hurled herself at Anna making pleased little noises in her throat. Anna sat down plump on the floor and threw her arms around the wriggling furry body.
“Did you miss your mum, Bonnie?”
Bonnie pushed Anna flat onto her back, and stood on her chest, licking and wagging.
Sam dropped into a crouch beside them and fondled Bonnie’s ears.
“We’re home now, Bon Bon.”
Bonnie got off Anna’s chest and threw herself at Sam. He caught her and stood up with his arms full of happy dog.
“Silly girl,” he said lovingly.
“Come on Anna. Get up off the cold floor,” Danny laughed. “Come inside. Coffee machine is on.”
Paul hauled their bags out of the car, grabbed the keys and locked up.
“In,” he said firmly. “We have news.”
Anna and Sam followed obediently, Sam still carrying Bonnie, who had her chin on his shoulder and was looking blissfully happy. In the kitchen, he put her down carefully and she trotted around wagging her tail.
“To look at her now, you would think she had been properly miserable without you,” Danny said ruefully.
“Instead of properly spoilt,” Anna grinned. “I bet she slept on your bed…”
Danny actually hung his head, and Paul laughed.
“Told you she was taking you for a ride, Dan.”
Then he turned a laughing face to Sam and Anna.
“Messed up our sex life good and proper. Wouldn’t let him touch me…”
Anna laughed appreciatively.
“She don’t do that to us. Though we do get dirty looks. And she only sleeps on the bed in the camper.”
“You know she has our number, so what did you expect…” Paul laughed. “But sit. We are big with news.’
Sam manned the coffee machine and Paul opened some very expensive biscuits.
“The home made ones are all gone.”
When they were seated at the table Danny opened his mouth, then shut it again.
“Out with it bro.”
“Two things. First, and most important, we’re getting married. ASAP. Second, we have our new appointment. It’s back to DC, but this time I’m to be minister with special responsibility for liaison with the African American and Native American communities. It’s a heck of a step up the ladder. So…”
Anna got up and kissed them both, while Sam wrung their hands joyfully.
“So indeed,” Anna grinned. “When exactly is ASAP?”
“That depends on you and Sam.”
“Because we’d like to be married from here. There are very few people we want around us. You two are most of them. But.”
“Okay. So why the but. Why would we not want that?” Sam asked in genuine puzzlement.
“You really don’t see it, do you? It might not be good policy to have a gay wedding at your house, Doctor Henderson.”
“Oh fuck that. And it’s Mister Henderson, if we’re being silly.”
Anna grasped Sam’s hand and squeezed.
“So. That’s you told. Do you want a party here afterwards?”
“Not a party, but if we get a morning wedding, lunch for a dozen and a bit. If that’s not being cheeky. And we get to pay for stuff.”
Sam laughed at Danny’s flushed face.
“No sweat. Anna will have a whale of a time cooking and organising, and we’ll all just do as we are told. How much time do we have before you go back to the States?”
“Ages,” Paul said with a smile. “The appointment doesn’t start till the first of February. We kept our condo as we had an inkling we would be going back to DC, so there’s no house hunting involved. Means we don’t need to leave until mid-January. We do have to take a bolt to London. We need to see about re-letting the flat, and Danny has to go bow politely to some very senior mandarins. That’s next week. Other than that we are as free as birds.”