And so it began.
Anna and Sam started meeting, quietly and secretly, like star-crossed teenagers. At first it was a stolen afternoon, then an evening at a pub in the country, then a weekend in a cottage in Cornwall, and so on. They begun to like each other a great deal, but life had made both very careful, and they were taking things slowly. They talked incessantly, and Anna found out that Sam was coming out of a particularly vicious divorce, that he was a very dedicated doctor, that he was hugely prone to the giggles, and that he envied her for having a dog. In his turn, Sam discovered that Anna was a spinster of the parish of nowhere in particular because she and Bonnie were living a truly nomadic life, and that she hid a truly silly sense of humour under a cool exterior. He also noticed, with an inward laugh, that she wasn’t telling Patsy Cracksman about them.
In spite of this one incidence of reticence on Anna’s part, they spoke on the phone almost every day, and met whenever Sam’s work schedule allowed. Physically, though, they hadn’t progressed beyond a few kisses and cuddles and Anna began to wonder if they ever would.
Then, after months of gentle courtship, one Sunday lunchtime they were sitting in the garden of a very nice pub on the banks of the Thames.
“It’s our anniversary next week,” Sam said.
“Have you no romance in your soul, woman? It will be a year since you gave me your number.”
“Oh. I guess it will. Is that an anniversary?”
He smiled gently.
“Of course it is,” he said, “and I’d like us to celebrate.”
Then he took her hand and looked her straight between the eyes.
“That’s why I’ve got something, no two somethings, I need to ask you.”
“That sounds ominous.”
“Not necessarily. Or at least I hope not. But it could be important. I’m assuming the fact that I’m mixed race doesn’t bother you?”
“No. Never think about it, I just enjoy the wonderful colour of your skin.”
He smiled gratefully into her eyes.
“Now the really hard one. Do you want children?”
“Oh Sam. I did once. But it wasn’t ever going to happen.”
He looked puzzled and she ploughed along bravely. “I’m infertile.”
“Me too. That’s why my wife divorced me.”
“Oh. I’m sorry. I bet that hurt.”
“In some ways. In others the divorce was a bit of a relief. But I’ll tell you all about it some other time. What I need to know now is whether you would think about sleeping with me.”
She blushed rosily.
“To be perfectly honest with you, I find myself thinking about it at the most inopportune times.”
“Me too. Wanna celebrate our anniversary with some hot sex?”
“I think I’d like that a lot.”
“Want a trip somewhere romantic? Paris? Rome?”
“No. What I’d really like is for you, me and Bonnie to take off in the camper.”
“I’d like that too. I’ve got a full list this week, and I’m on call for most of the weekend, but then I have a week off. We could meet somewhere.”
“Well.There’s this pub with a camping field. It’s just off the Cotswolds tourism radar. Good food. Good walking. Friendly. I could book you a pitch.”
“I can get there on Sunday evening. I’ll book you in and see you there. I’ll email directions.”
“Bossy. But just this once…”
“Look, Anna, I’m not pushing you. I still won’t automatically expect anything but companionship. You know I fancy you, and I think that’s mutual, but I’m not a user.”
“Didn’t think you were. Wouldn’t have kept on seeing you if I thought that. No. I’m as curious as you to see where this goes.”
His laugh was lazy and sexy.
“Back at you. This could be all sorts of fun.”
“Oh indeed,” Anna heard herself almost purring and quickly pulled herself back to practicalities. “Sunday night. Will you have eaten?”
“I’ll pick up a burger or something on the way.”
“No you will not. Like lasagne?”
“Right then. That’s settled. I’ll have lasagne and good red wine waiting for you.”
“Oh woman. You certainly know how to make a tempting offer.”
“It’s a date then.”
“It is, now eat your nice lunch.”
He laughed. “Yes mommy.”
The rest of the afternoon went by happily, and when Sam walked Anna and Bonnie to the station to catch their train back to where the camper awaited them he kissed her hungrily.
“Until next Sunday,” he almost growled.
She put a hand to his cheek.
“Can’t come too soon for me. Take care of yourself.”
As the train pulled away she leaned out of the window, waving like a besotted teenager.