Anthea really needed a break. The entrapment under the rubble had affected her far more than she let on to anyone. The excitement and surprise revelation over our engagement, although all happy were still stresses. Leaving her job and arranging her move to the apartment in the capital had not been all easy.
Then out of the blue, that insect Philip, naming her as a sexual contact. After what he had already done to her, I wondered if there was a way to speed up a re-posting for him away from our country.
When the whole episode over the clinic became public, I realised here was a chance to be a role model in an unusual way, so I turned what had been some embarrassing press into a showcase for sensible living.
Anthea was really in need of some time away, so I had my secretary book us into a hotel near her old home town. The estate buildings we had grown up in had mostly been demolished by the earthquake a few years previously. I wondered if her parents would sell us some of the land to build a country retreat to give us breathing space away from the capital.
She knew everyone there it seemed, and in no time had the security men settled in the same hotel, and horses booked for us to use as we both loved riding there. Her foot was not yet well enough for us to do a lot of walking while there.
We rode out to the estate and roamed around the ruins for a while. Then Anthea said “I have something to suggest, come let me show you”.
We rode for another 5 minutes, and then came to the highest ridge on the estate. The view was wonderful, across the forest to the mountains beyond. The area had a stream as one natural boundary, but was almost clear of trees. We used to camp here as youngsters sometimes.
We dismounted and I took out the blanket and lunchbox from my back pack. We settled to eat our sandwiches looking at that amazing view. We sat close, companionable in our silence for a while.
Then I said, “about that suggestion, don’t you think this is a little cold and exposed?” She replied, “I planned for heating and walls” and from her backpack she unfolded house plans, with indications for solar panels and other details that could make the house almost self-sustaining. It would be built into the hill, with windows facing that beautiful view.
Her parents had given her this part of the estate for her birthday after she was widowed and had returned to university. She and three friends from university had designed it as the perfect home, each bringing their technical expertise to the plan. They got the idea camping here one vacation.
Anthea looked up at me, with that expression I can’t resist. “You are the first person other than the designers to see this, do you think we could build it as our retreat when we need it, and for our retirement home?”
I think that was when I realised I never had to feel jealous of Philip. She hadn’t shared all her closest secrets with him.