Waving Mrs Rightmore off, more convinced than ever she’d made a great decision in moving to this village, she turned to her front door and turned the key in the lock.

Even though she’d been in and out of it numerous times over the past few weeks, visiting it, negotiating the contract and finally moving furniture and other necessities in, this was the first time she was truly ‘coming home’ and it felt like that step over the threshold was a momentous one.

Step taken, she laughed at herself a little, pulled the suitcase in behind her, then closed the door behind her and simply stood.

The front door opened directly into a large front living room, shielded from interested passers-by by a generous front garden. Mrs Rightmore had clearly done a little more than just pick her up from the station, the coffee table sported a bowl of roses of assorted colours, all clearly home nurtured and scenting the whole space with calm and joy.

Ally left the case by the door and wandered through the door into the kitchen and started poking through the cupboards. Milk and butter in the fridge, along with home made jam, some sliced meats and cheese and a bottle of wine. Fresh-baked bread, bakery, not supermarket, on the table, along with a couple of delicious-looking slices. Her first home meal was going to be a good one.

She gathered together the crockery and so forth, and put together a simple variation on a ploughman’s lunch, worked beautifully for dinner and made a mental note to start expanding on her deliberately minimal collection of dinnerware and suchlike, as the basics she’d bought to be going on with were not nearly special enough for food supplied with care and affection.

But not tonight.Tonight was about simple, homey routines, and settling into her escape. She switched her phone off after texting Cesca to let her know all was way better than well, finished her meal and cleaned up, then retrieved her bag and headed for the stairs.

Her room looked out over the back garden, and down across fields to the large hill dominating the countryside. Bed freshly made, the unpacking could be done tomorrow. Tonight she just pulled out her toothbrush and paste, and pyjamas, got ready for bed and snuggled under the new covers.

She had a week off from work to give herself time to settle in, the next day was full of possibilities and she fell asleep halfway through increasingly grandiose plans.

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