I CAUTIOUSLY STEERED the unfamiliar car through the massive stone gateposts, creeping along and hugging the left side of the road, as the rental agent had advised. “Stay to the left and you’ll mebbe come to no harm,” he had said dubiously, with an assessing glance at my uncombed hair and drooping eyes.
Well, you’d look tired, too! I wanted to snap. You try skipping out of New York just one step ahead of the sheriff and flying economy in the middle seat of a Turkish Airlines flight!
But by now the fight had left me, and I felt myself shrinking in my seat as the car jerked unsteadily up the winding, tree-shaded, mile-long drive. Finally, Bradgate Hall loomed ahead, just as it was pictured online: a massive, mellowed stone country house. Green ivy climbed lazily up the ancient walls, and wildflowers dotted the meadow in front of the house. It was centuries old, lovely, and utterly intimidating to an exhausted, air- and carsick American.
Renting a cottage from an English milord would be restful and relaxing compared to the past weeks, ducking subpoenas and fleeing the country. Reminding myself that this would be my refuge, I stopped the car in the middle of the forecourt and approached the house.