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Checking Lissie is asleep, I pull a dressing gown around me and tiptoe down the stairs

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Checking Lissie is asleep, I pull a dressing gown around me and tiptoe down the stairs. It's so dark that I can barely see my hand in front of my face. The moon is my only guiding light. My legs tremble at my recklessness. I'm breaking so many rules that I don't know which consequence to fear more.

As soon as I crack open the French door, the wind nips at my bare legs. I take a deep breath and listen out for noise. If anyone catches me now, still in the kitchen, I'll be able to talk my way out of it. Once I reach the summer house, there won't be any excuses. Hearing nothing, I close the door and skirt around the side of the house.

My eyes are unaccustomed to the darkness, especially when clouds cover the wan moon, and I stumble across a sea of black lawn, legs unsteady. It's only as I turn past large fir trees that I see the faintest flickers of light.

I knock twice before I hear his voice. Pushing the wooden door open, its cool slats burn beneath my fingers and my hands shake. Light from two flickering storm candles illuminate the space. The sofa and armchairs are pushed back against the walls of the summerhouse, leaving an open area on the floor. Finch has removed the sunbeds and summer detritus that I carelessly threw in late last August, and my heart leaps at his thoughtfulness. Tartan rugs cover the sofa and floor, creating a sea of checks, and large, plush cushions - stolen from the study - provide seating on the wooden slats.

Feeling suddenly shy, I close the door behind me and smile. Finch shoots up from the sofa and rushes towards me, pulling me into a deep kiss. His hands wind around me and melt away any fears.

'It ain't too dark, is it?' he asks quietly, looking around at the low lighting. 'I was gonna bring more candles, but I thought burning down the shed might give us away.'

'It's perfect,' I say, winding my arms around his neck and pulling him back for another deep kiss.

Taking me by the hand, Finch leads me to the sofa. 'Want a drink to warm you up?' he offers, bringing out a familiar flask. His hands shake as he pours out two steaming mugs of coffee, and I wondered how long he's been waiting.

I sip it hesitantly, expecting the harsh burn of whisky. 'I'm surprised you haven't offered to make it Tennessean.'

'Well, I did think about it,' he says, looking abashed. 'But, I don't want to get you drunk.' He strokes my cold cheek and draws me into a gentle kiss. 'That wouldn't be right.' The warmth of his care wraps me up. 'After all,' he says, 'I've not had two seconds alone with you since last week. I want to remember every moment of tonight.'

Something in the nervous shake of his hands gives me courage. Knowing he's as scared as I am, spurs me on.

'I have a second present for you,' I say.

In the dancing candlelight, his eyes glint. I stand up slowly, setting down my coffee cup on a small, wicker table. Taking two steps back, ensuring he can see every part of me, I remove my shoes. His dimples deepen at this, and he shuffles on the sofa.

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