Following the directions, Ally found herself driving along a quiet back road, winding up the largest hill in the area.
She found the turnoff and followed the curve of the hill around to a white and slate tile farmhouse that, while clearly improved and extended, kept its original charm and she found it hard to tell where the new part of the house began.
Parking, she walked to the front door and knocked. She tried not to fidget in the brief moment before Chris opened the door, she had no reason to be so nervous, she was being silly.
The door opened and Chris’ grin drew an answering one from her.
“Admirably punctual, I’m impressed. I was going to give you at least 20 minutes’ grace for getting lost.”
“That would have been too embarrassing, your directions were very clear.”
She handed him a bottle of wine as he waved her indoors and toward the back of the house.
Coming through the open doorway into the kitchen, Ally stopped and stared. This was where the new extension clearly came into being, open and airy, the combined kitchen and living area begged to be enjoyed on a lazy Sunday, especially on a clear summer’s day such as this, when the glass doors taking up the whole of the far wall could be pulled to one side and the room merged seamlessly with a broad patio, moving on to a moss lawn and all of it designed to make the most of a glorious view across the whole of the surrounding country.
Chris came to stand just behind her and bent closer to her ear, “I take it you approve.”
“It’s breathtaking, whoever designed this is a genius.”
“I wouldn’t go that far but I am proud of it.”
“You did this? I’m sorry, that came out as rude but, wow, I just don’t know where to start.”
“Well, you see I’m a little like you,” He crossed the kitchen to pull down a couple of glasses and opened the wine, “I have my country identity and a big city alter ego I try and keep very separate from this part of the world.”
“The carpentry is a hobby, one I love, and its a good complement in a lot of ways to my official day job as an architect. I made a bit of a name for myself fairly early thanks to some very good mentors and have the luxury of being able to largely pick and choose my jobs. I use one of those virtual assistant services to keep all my admin in order, and generally manage to stay out of city offices.”
Ally narrowed her eyes at him, “I’m starting to put some pieces together. You’re C.J. Whittaker aren’t you.”
Chris blushed and looked at the two wine glasses in his hands before rather awkwardly pushing one towards her, “Yeah, and it was bad.”
“Bad how? People always wanting things from you, wanting to ride on your fame? No privacy?”
“No, I understand, my parents are famous, it gets so you can’t breathe.”
“Did not see that one coming. Did you want to share war stories or put a lid on it for another time?”
“This view is too lovely to waste on ancient history, let’s just enjoy the here and now.”
They clinked glasses and stood in brief, comfortable silence, absorbing the sight of the golden afternoon sun painting the trees, hills and hollows with its lustre.