A shadow fell across the page as he stood in front of the window, contemplating the grey sky and the horses tugging at the grass a few yards away. His red jumper didn’t quite cover his underpants and even from this distance I could smell the smoke on him. “The stove was still lit” he said, as he turned and handed me a cup of tea “had to go outside to the storeroom to get some more wood though.”
I put my book down and took the cup, searching for goosebumps on his hairy legs. There weren’t any of course. This was, after all, the man who would rush up to the sheep barn in the middle of a night-time storm to shut the doors, clad in nothing but a dressing gown. The early morning temperatures of L’Auvergne obviously hadn’t dropped low enough to merit a pair of trousers either.
I sipped my tea and looked around the room. The cottage, a newly converted ‘buron’, had served for over a hundred years as a shelter for cows and the cheese makers who had made the famous Cantal and Salers cheeses. Now, heavy drapes hung over the bed and window, and the light wooden panelling on the walls complimented the ancient beams. It was tasteful, simple and distinctly masculine I thought, noticing the absence of any female hand in the décor.
To my huge relief it was also warm, although I tried to forget that electricity was not included in the price, and that the numbers on the meter downstairs in the laundry room were probably spinning like pictures on a fruit machine. Refusing to think about it I snuggled back down and picked up my book. I was on holiday and intended to make the most of it. My husband apparently had just had the same idea. With a gleam in his eye and the smell of cold soot preceding him, he climbed back into bed.