Ben watched the road, he'd taken a side lane, a route that was all too familiar to him.
The sun was just about rising from behind the Tuscan hills before him, edging towards the vast open blue sky. He looked at the passenger in the seat beside him. A tendril of her hair swept across her face and her pale lips were slightly a jar and he could faintly hear her breathing. He was glad to be nearing his villa, he couldn't wait for his creature comforts, his armchair and the familiar sounds of the villa creaking, to Ugo, his Italian Segugio who he had with him since he was a puppy, but he was most glad to see the Tuscan hills and the now subdued fog. This was home and he couldn't wait to embrace it with open arms. His villa was in sight, perched on the rounded green mound surrounded idyllically by Cypress trees and green shrubbery. "Home at last," he said to himself, "Home at last."
Lenny prised her eyes open and she jolted back in the bed, as a pair of chocolate brown eyes stared back at her. It was a dog looking at her with such intensity, she hadn't expected it.
She smiled at it, "You scared me half to death there love... what are you doing, being my watch dog?" she laughed as she stroked it, "You are ever so beautiful aren't you? Yes, I think you know that... but I won't tell."
"Yes, she is," came the voice and Lenny looked up to see Ben grinning as he leaned against the door frame, he had changed, he was certainly refreshed and looking so at home. She steered her gaze back at the dog.
"Yes, she definitely is beautiful," Lenny said to fill in the silence, as she stroked the dog. She was nervous, which surprised her, she'd spent countless times with Ben before, how could she be feeling like this all of a sudden.
"Except she isn't a she, she's a he," Ben folded his arms.
Lenny looked up at him and pointed at the dog, who had now crawled into her lap, "She's a he... but you said..."
"I was talking about you," Ben interjected.
Lenny could feel herself go a deep shade of red, she told herself repeatedly to stop it but she felt herself go even darker.
"I think he quite likes his current spot, would you like me to bring up lunch to you?" Ben said, half turning towards the landing.
"No... no, I will take it in the kitchen, if that is okay?" Lenny said stammering.
"Certainly, if you want to follow me... or change, it's up to you," Ben said.
"I'll follow you and change later," she replied.
When she followed Benito down the stairs, her eyes soaked in the architecture of the villa... though the frame was cast in old fashion Tuscan Villa decor, the large glass panelled roof provided a lot of light and gave the area a lift, down below she could see a fire place and what looked like a comfy brown leather armchair and a corner couch of the same colour, an ornate mahogany coffee table in the middle. It was one large spacious room, split into various areas. The breakfast bar separated the area between the living room and the kitchen.
"This place is beautiful," Lenny said.
"I'm glad you like it," he smiled to himself, "What would you like to eat? I took the liberty of making you a bacon butty... typical English comfort food, right?"
"How thoughtful, no, that would be great," Leona beamed at him. He smiled back.
"Hey Ben, as we're here together... I just wanted to say... well, I just wanted to apologise for my behaviour towards you yesterday... I came across as a spoilt brat...." Lenny began.
Ben put his hand up, "You don't need to apologise... Lenny, let's just forget about it, okay?"
Lenny nodded, "Okay, sure... thanks... so, how long have you lived here?"
"I brought this when it was a lot smaller and over the years, made a few changes here and there... but more or less coming up to ten years," he replied.
"It's so beautiful, I just can't stop staring at it," Lenny said, diving into her Bacon Butty, "This is soooo good," she said with a mouthful of food.
He smiled, drinking an espresso, "How are you feeling?"
"Honestly, tired... I don't know what's come over me so suddenly... it's like I haven't had a proper rest in ages."
"It's been pretty crazy the last couple of days for you, with finding out the truth about your parents... it would drive anyone to feel stressed out. We'll rest out here for a couple of days and then take in some sight seeing later on this week," Ben said setting the espresso cup onto the table. He watched Lenny devour the Bacon Butty with such hunger, you'd think she hadn't eaten in days. Ugo, was watching her with brown steely eyes, he watched her feed bits of bacon to his dog and watched Ugo lick her fingers. As if, caught red handed, Lenny looked up, "Was I not supposed to be feeding your dog?"
He smiled, "Ugo's supposed to be on a special diet."
"Oh, I'm so sorry..." she said looking down at Ugo and ruffling his ears.
"You're probably going to be his new best friend, now that you've fed him something meaty. Do you fancy going for a walk just around the hills?" Ben said, "If you're feeling a bit tired, we can put off?"
"No, a walk sounds good. I've been cooped up for so long, I could do with a walk," Lenny smiled.
They walked for twenty minutes up and down the Tuscan Hills, he listened to her talking and it reminded him of the walks they'd taken in the Palace Gardens, which seemed like a long time ago. Even though she said she was tired, he could see the twinkle back in her eyes and the tone of excited pleasure in the way she spoke. It was so easy being with her this way, without obligation, without restraints.
She stopped walking and looked at him, "Why are you looking at me like that?"
He couldn't help himself, he tilted her chin up and leaned forward, clasping his lips onto hers. She tasted like honey and that drove him crazy. With the back drop of the Tuscan Hills and the sun over head, what more could he ask for? What more could she want?