If I could give one bit of advice to anyone who'd listen, it'd be this - never have an affair with your boss. Sure, it starts off well; full of lustful looks and passionate kissing behind closed doors at any hint of privacy, but it never lasts. First of all, the boredom kicks in and you know that something has to change. You become tired of leaving his flat at two in the morning after a fumble between the sheets, fed up of being nothing more than an ignorant junior in public. He says you can be open soon, the time has to be right see - for the other colleagues not to be put out. Then all of a sudden there's an ex-wife crawling out of the woodwork for a reconciliation and you're being shoved to the back of the wardrobe 'for the sake of the children'. Um, what children?

And then you end up in the middle of nowhere in Devon with a cow sticking its head in through your passenger door window, licking the inside of your windscreen and trying to reach the lemon scented air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror. So unless you have some sort of odd fetish for that kind of thing, take my advice. Believe me; it'll save you a lot of bother.

The heifer stares at me with baleful brown eyes and then rubs her head along the inside of the door, parrying to an itch. I've never had a fear of cows before, but there's something terrifying about trying to push one's head out of your tiny toyota. I'm sure she could crush the entire thing with her hind quarters whilst barely trying. One of the many other cows packed in front of the car lifts her tail in an agonisingly ominous way and I groan at the sound of fresh manure hitting the hot metal of the bonnet, resting my head on the steering wheel.

I'm despairing as the smell enters on a warm mid springs' breeze, until a rapping on my rear windscreen makes me jump. I twist around to find a grinning man's face underneath a peaked cap. "I think we've got a townie here, skipper."

There's the sound of slapping skin on skin and the intruding cow backs away, ambling to the side of the row with a surprised bellow. Another cheery face takes his place at my window, smirking. "Sergeant Bommersheim, at your service, Ma'am," he says, putting on a cockney accent. I can feel an embarrassed blush seep its way across my cheeks. It's just like me to be stopped by the police having been in the county not even a day.

"Who says I'm a townie?" I ask, as coolly as I can manage. Despite living in London for the past eleven years, I'd grown up in the rural Devon country side, only leaving at the age of eighteen for university. My accent betrays me, however; my parents were never for allowing me and my siblings to pick up any more that a little of the lilt of the west country.

Stepping back from the window, he tucks into hands into the front of his bullet vest and rocks on his heels. "Well, any local wouldn't be stuck behind a herd of cattle, that's why." He's awfully handsome - with tousled blonde hair and warm, dark eyes, and he definitely knows it. His careless attitude only makes me more infuriated at my situation.

"Short of running them over, there's not really much else I can do, is there?"

A voice pipes up from behind the car where the first officer is still stood. "Have you tried sounding your horn? Cows are thick, they'll just move to more grass."

"But it might scare them and cause them to charge."

The sergeant laughs, a tuneful one, and leans into my car to press his hand firmly on the middle of the steering wheel. He gives three long blasts of the horn and a couple of cows simply turn to look at us, the rest just trotting a short distance further up the road.

"Just follow them doing that, they'll make their way back home. I think the hole in the fence is just a bit further up, this herd often gets out - old Farmer Aberwyth just isn't up to maintenance any more." He is speaking with a normal voice now, his own accent broadening to the typical localism.

I nod, embarrassed, and thank them. To my relief, the police car continues along the main road, by which I mean the only road in ten miles that allows two cars to pass each other, as I turn down a bumpy track, signposted with 'Welcome to Coltye Downs'. I never thought I'd return to the small village where I grew up on the Devonshire coast, but yet here I am, with all my world possessions in the back of my car.. And in the moving lorry that set off from my old London flat a couple of hours before I did. They must have arrived long ago, not caught up with troublesome cows and obscenely good-looking policemen.

I only vaguely remember my way up to Windy Hollow's Farmhouse and am very relieved when I pull into a cobbled courtyard and find the moving van parked up against a short, stone workman's cottage. I'm less happy however, when a tall, willowy figure steps out of the low front door and waves at me.

Kate – my sister. Or the devil incarnate, depending on what way you want to look at it and what mood she is in at the time. She beams and hugs me as I climb out of my car, an awkward gesture on my behalf, and speaks in her upper-class accent she's tried to master over the years, losing her twang far more quickly than me. "I've made the removal men a cup of tea, they claimed it wasn't their job to lay the furniture out inside but I insisted, and they should be finished quite soon. There wasn't an awful lot of it – are you sure you've brought everything with you?!"

Before I can tell her that not much actually fits in a London flat, she's moved off and down into the coolness of the little house. "You could have told me you were moving into Fitz' place and I'd have advised you not to – he's the worst possible neighbour anybody could have! There are all these funny stories about him, I'm not very sure if you'll be safe."

In that moment I'm determined to love the little cottage, no matter how low the ceilings are and how it smells slightly of damp. Anything to annoy Kate. It's more cramped than in the photos I'd seen online, but there's only one of me and I'm a very small someone that doesn't need a great deal of space. Don't get me wrong, I love my sister, but it's difficult growing up with someone with legs like an Amazonian, perfect chestnut brown hair and is oh so more sophisticated being eight years older. Especially when she goes on to marry a lawyer and pops out two long legged and glossy haired children.

I follow her to the tiny galley kitchen, which has low beams and a lovely enamel farmhouse sink. "- Just left the key in an envelope taped to the front door - really, what a safety hazard! I mean, crime around here is minimal, but still. Anyone could have walked straight in!"

"Oh, we talked it all through over email," I tell her, moving to look out of the window were two portly middle-aged with with overhanging guts are drinking their mugs of tea in the overgrown back garden. "He said he was working today and couldn't meet me as I arrived. It's no big deal."

Her mouth thins like a disapproving mother's. "It's all a bit of a sham really. None of your electrics are working - I had to boil the water for the kettle on the stove, thank goodness it's gas. I hope you don't stay here for long, there's much nicer flats to rent in the main part of the village, or even the town."

"It's cheap rent," I muse as I inspect the cupboards and drawers. There's a couple of stiff hinges and a split runner, but nothing I can't fix up myself. "And it's a whole house at that - there's nothing wrong with it."

"You won't be saying that after a month, not with Fitz living fifty metres away." She lowers her voice conspiratorially. Despite her air of elegance and sophistication she likes to give off, if there's one thing my sister likes to do, it's gossip. "Peter's pally with a few officers down at the police station. You should hear the things they say about this place - noise complaints, reports of threats of being shot, there's even a rumour that a woman tried to press assault charges. He was never charged with it, of course," she says, going on hurriedly. "But stories like that don't appear out of nowhere. It's disgusting, I think, but most of the farmers don't care. They say he's a decent man and keep on giving him custom, unfortunately for the rest of us villagers who have to put up with him. And then there are those daft woman go just go to him because they think he's oh so gorgeous in that arrogant kind of way and they have nothing better to do with their time."

Kate abruptly ends her rant and before I can question her any more about the landlord who I've only ever spoken to over email, she goes out of the back door to yell some more at the poor workmen. I just let her; at least she's making me get my money's worth. Having a bossy sister does sometimes have its perks.

With Kate's whip-like voice commanding them, she gets the men to arrange my furniture in the cottage in a reasonably neat way and I manage to hand them a rather large tip as they leave. I'll just have to make to with baked beans as meals for the foreseeable future. Kate leaves in a flurry of kisses and expensive perfume and then all of a sudden I'm left alone in a rapidly darkening house in the middle of nowhere with no electricity.

I realise the fault is probably due to it being switched off at the mains and start hunting for the fuse box. The cottage consists of a living room, the galley kitchen, a hallway, one bedroom and a bathroom in which you could probably be on the toilet whilst having a shower at the same time. Despite that, it's larger than my old flat and takes me over thirty minutes to deduce I cannot find the fuse box anywhere. Glancing out of the living room window, I see that the farmhouse at the other end of the courtyard is in darkness as well. Pulling on a jacket, I step outside, deciding I may as well explore my surroundings even if I don't have a torch.

The motion sensor light of the stable block flickers on as I approach and I'm relieved to find that at least there's some form of electricity on the property. A horse sticks his head out of the nearest stable to me, snorting as he does so. It's been a long time since I was around horses - you don't tend to find them in the centre of a concrete city, but I step forwards to pet him anyway; there's no point in delaying the return to country life.

The bay gelding flattens his ears and snakes his head towards my arm. I smartly step back, startled, as a low voice speaks behind me.

"You ought to be careful, or he'll have your hand off."

I turn to face a tall man, his face shadowed by the peak of his flat cap. He has a hunting rifle under one arm and something slung over his other shoulder. There is what I initially think of as a small pony at his side, but I rather quickly realise is a large, shaggy grey dog. I think back to how Kate warned me earlier.

"Do you always sneak up on unsuspecting women at night?"

A sly, crooked smirk spreads across his face, his teeth glinting white in the dark. "Only when they're nosying around my stables."

I hold my hand out to him. "I presume you're Logan, then. I'm your new lodger."

He ignores my outstretched arm. "Everybody calls me Fitz," he says in his deep, liquid voice. I decline to tell him my sister already informed me of this fact as he continues. "And my lodger is called Percy, a man."

Not for the first time in my life, I am a victim of gender misidentification. I shake my head and attempt to bear a friendly smile. "Percie Hyde - that's me. Short for Persephone I'm afraid. Not a problem is it?

His eyes narrow, though his shoulders relax downwards. "A surprise is all," he shortly replies.

There's a silence before I point to the stable, where the horse has slunk to the back of his stall, rolling the whites of his eyes. "And that bad tempered thing is yours?"

"No, I'm looking after him for a friend. If he were mine, I'd have shot him between the eyes the first time he tried to take a chuck out of my thigh." His blunt comment startles me and I'm speechless. However, his expression softens and he gestures towards the dog now nosing at a feed bucket by a stable door. "If you want something to pet though, Arthur loves a fuss."

At the sound of his name, the dog wags his tail and lopes over to me, promptly sticking his nose into my crotch. Fitz raises an eyebrow and gives me a wry look once more as I struggle to push the insistent Arthur away. "He doesn't often do that; you must have quite an effect on him."

I scowl at him and he gives me a brooding gaze for a second longer before clicking his tongue, the dog obediently bounding to sit at his side. He pants, leaning into his master's leg. Fitz places the unidentified object over his shoulder on the ground to stroke him and the glassy eyes of two rabbits strung up by their hind legs stare at me. I'm not unaccustomed to dead animals, my parents went through a phase of raising chickens for meat when I was a kid, but there's something highly uncomfortable about being alone with an unknown man in the middle of the night with shot game at his feet. It's like something out of one of those safety adverts that tell you never to go anywhere by yourself past nine o'clock.

He seems to sense my unease because he looks up at me, frowning. "Do they bother you? The rabbits? It's a country thing - they run rampant if you don't keep them under control."

I've already been accused of being a townie too many times today, so I shake my head as vehemently as I can manage without seeming as if I'm having some sort of fit. "You're looking at the Coltye Downs under eighteen pheasant shooting champion here.. Albeit from over a decade ago."

"Well, in that case, would you like to join me for dinner then? I make game pie like nobody's business. We can discuss your living arrangements in more depth."

His sudden friendly attitude takes me so by surprise that I find myself declining whilst my stomach moans in protest. "Another time perhaps; I should be having an early night - I have a work induction day in the morning. I just came out to go up to the farmhouse, to see if you could tell me where the fuse box is. All the power's out in the cottage."

"Oh, it's under the stairs," he gruffly replies and I immediately worry that I've offended him. "It's locked and I only have the one key. I was meant to be around earlier but there was a problem with an escaped herd of cattle on the west entry to the village. One of the heifers got herself tangled in barbed wire so badly it brought her to the ground."

I have a sudden fear that my new landlord is the local knacker and I awkwardly not. "Did you shoot her as well?"

Fitz gives me a peculiar look, frowning. "No, I stitched her up and gave her a dose of antibiotics.. Vets don't kill just for the fun of it, you know. We're sort of meant to prevent unwarranted death."

Oh, a vet. That makes a lot more sense.. As well as immediately making him seem less threatening. Vets can't be bad people - they tend to little lambs and puppies. The rabbits continue to stare at me - and are concerned for the spread of myxomatosis, that's all. My lack of answers don't seem to perturb him which is a relief. "The air has a chill to it tonight," he says instead. "It'll take awhile for the cottage to heat up to an acceptable temperature. All it is is dinner - you don't even have to talk to me too much, if you don't want."

I find myself agreeing before really thinking about it; I've never been a fan of an under heated house, and Fitz gives me what I guess is a strained but rare smile. I silently follow him across the courtyard to the cottage entrance, unlocking the door and letting him in. Arthur disappears up the path to the farmhouse, and he thankfully leaves the rabbits and gun in the porch, fumbling around with a chain of keys, eventually finding the correct one in the dark. As he stumbles around in the small cupboard, looking for the fuse box, I shiver, my breath furling in smoky plumes in the air. He's right about the cold night - the weather has rapidly deteriorated from just a few hours ago.

There's a thump - and a bad swear word - then light floods the tiny living room. Fitz ducks out of the tiny door, and straightens up, his head just brushing the ceiling. I finally have an opportunity to study him in the soft glow let out by the wall lamps. He has a sharp, defined jaw and a long, straight nose, his dark wavy hair curling as it meets the upturned collar of his waxed jacket. His eyes, a pale blue, are clear and observing in a disconcerting way and I know, in that exact moment, I've met someone not to be provoked.