“Look, Josh, somebody’s bought the cottage, and somebody’s living in it!” she blurted out, a sob in her voice.She had often thought fondly of the place, but Josh had never mentioned it. Now, it seemed that it belonged to someone else.Her eyes welled up with disappointment. Although she hadn’t dared to hope that the cottage could be theirs, it had been a hazy dream that she had permitted herself now and then.As Josh came round and lifted her out of the passenger seat, she could scarcely see him through a sudden blur of tears.
“Come with me,” he said, tenderly wiping away her tears with his handkerchief. He drew her up the path and in at the unlocked door. Kirsty stepped into a little cottage filled with colour and warmth.“This is our house,” was all he said, slipping his arm around her waist and drawing her into the front room where a fire burned brightly in the grate.
There were armchairs on either side of the hearth, a matching plush couch, table and chairs by the window complete with fringed chenille tablecloth and bowl of fruit. Lamps, bright rugs and throws glowed in the firelight. Above the mantel was hung an Abbeylands portrait of Kirsty.“The lady of the house,” Josh murmured, following her gaze.Unable to speak, she turned into his embrace and cried tears of sheer happiness. Together, they sank down on the sofa and sat there entwined for a long time beforeJosh began his explanation of what had been his “grand plan”.“I had to find something to occuppy me when you racketed off to Paris, you see!” He laughed. “And I had a little money left to me by my mother. So I bought this house but then you came back, much more quickly than I expected! So I’ve had to make excuses to you and come over here at weekends, just to see that the workmen were getting things in order.”By this time, Kirsty had recovered some of her composure.“It’s our house our very own house, Josh? We’ll live here?”“Yes. This will be our home, Kirsty. And, until our wedding, it will be our special place. On Saturdays, Father says I can use the car, so we can get the cottage plenished and all ready for us until we are married.”His quizzical glance made her laugh.“It won’t be long now, Josh.”He kissed her again.“And we’ll let the cottage get used to us with all these visits.”The afternoon seemed to pass in a flash. They had their picnic by the fire and then explored the little orchard at the back of the cottage.The light was fading when they set out at last for their journey back to Glasgow. Once, when Josh spoke to Kirsty, she didn’t answer. A quick glance showed that she had fallen asleep, still smiling. Driving through the dusk, Josh smiled, too, thinking of a fast-approaching wedding day, of a cosy cottage, of his Kirsty’s face alight with sheer happiness.