Back at the yard, Grace fixed a bran mash for the colt and sent Harry home. She noticed that he drove off in the direction of ‘The Palomino’. She didn’t think that the fifty pounds that Mr. Tattenham had given him would last until morning. He’d be eating beans on toast for the rest of the week, as he always did. She wondered how a person could drink so much and live. She poured the mash into the colt’s manger and checked his water before turning out the light. Bats fluttered in the dusk and a nightjar called out from the poplars. She locked the tack room and stood for a moment, enjoying the silence. The horses were all at rest. Allonby slept with his head over the stable door and his white star gleamed softly. He jumped a little when the gates opened. Grace wondered if Harry had forgotten something and walked towards the cottage. She wanted to get out of her suit and lounge about in her Homer Simpson pyjama bottoms and old slapper tee shirt. It was time to pull up the drawbridge for the day and wonder what she was going to do with her useless weekend off.
“Grace.” He stood in the middle of the drive. The night breeze ruffled his hair.
She knew she wasn’t dreaming. She heard the slow tick of his car’s engine as it cooled and the scent of juniper and lemon drifted across the space between them. Grace stopped and looked at him, not sure what to say. She ached to touch him, to assure herself that he was real.
“Christopher?” She put her trembling hands into her pockets and waited.
“I’m sorry, so sorry.” His voice was husky, soft. He took a step towards her. “I’ve done nothing but try to think of what to say to you.”
“About what?” she asked. She felt numb and scared. Afraid of what he wanted to say.
“About us, about being scared. I couldn’t phone you, Grace. It sounds so stupid, but hearing your voice just makes me realize how much I miss you. It frightens me how much I miss you.”
To hear her own words and feelings echoed made her want to weep. She wanted to tumble into his arms. Instead, she swallowed and looked up at the night sky, the first stars winked against a backdrop of deep, velvety blue. “I know.” She said, finally. “If it’s any comfort, I feel the same.”
“Thank God,” he whispered. He crossed those few feet between them and held her. He sighed into her hair and Grace felt his heart pounding against her breast. “I thought I was going mad.”“No.” She kissed his throat and closed her eyes. She trembled as he kissed her. His hand curled around hers and she let him lead her into the house.