"You need to relax," Fitz' voice tells me, in his lovely, deep dulcet tone. "Let your legs go loose, soften into the rhythm."

Usually, I think, any girl would be delighted to hear that from a man, let alone a man like Fitz with his big shoulders and immensely attractive, brooding glare.

"Try and not snatch so much with your hands, he won't like it."

That is, of course, unless you're on the back of their flighty gelding, over a metre and a half off the ground. I scowl at him and bring Monroe to an easy halt. "It's hard, you know. It's been over a decade since I last rode."

"It's like riding a bike, you never forget your instincts of what to do. He'll collect himself fine if you let him - just lower your hands, and bring your thighs down.. Here." He takes one of my legs in his awfully large hands and slides it back in the saddle. A very small and neglected part of me deep inside swoons at his touch whilst a much larger part, which is angry at the other, wants to tell him not to touch me. I keep myself from snapping at him - he's only trying to help after all and he's being kind by simply giving me a ride in the first place.

He steps back and sends Monroe forward with a click of his tongue. "You better do as I say or I'll take your stirrups and reins and stick you on the lunge. If you try and crab up without them to rely on, you'll be on the floor with a sandy arse before you know it."

I stick my tongue out at him and he laughs as I send the horse into a smooth trot. Concentrating hard on what Fitz has told me to do, I'm delighted when Monroe rounds his neck down after a couple of circuits and pushes forward with his back legs. He's a lovely horse - eager to please, so unlike the cheeky little pony from my childhood that used to alternate between bucking his rider off and trying to eat the wooden school fence.

"That's much better," Fitz reports, from his place in the centre of the ring. "Ready for a canter now? Just remember to sit back!"

Before I can protest otherwise, he flicks a lunging whip behind Monroe, who breaks into an even canter. It takes what feels like every muscle in my body to stop myself from sliding out of the saddle and I'm relieved when Fitz calls out a "Whoa" minute or so later and the horse comes to a gradual stop with a minuscule rein squeeze from me. I give him a pat on the neck as Fitz strides over in those dishy riding boots of his.

He feeds Monroe a mint and grins up at me. "There's a cross country course over by Torrington. Shall I book you in for next week?"

I don't bother to reply and weakly swing my leg over the back of the saddle and slide down to stand, somewhat unsteady, on the ground. "I think I need to go have a sit-down," I say to him, startled, as he moves to my side and wraps an arm around my waist, pulling me to him.

I'm not entirely sure what he means by it, and I don't know whether to be repulsed or pleased. I look over my shoulder to follow Fitz' gaze and spot Sebastian walking down the track alongside the stables. I turn back to Fitz and his smirk, frowning. "You're a cheeky shit, you know that, right?"

He lowers his face so that our noses are just touching. He smells of hay and leather and I can't help but inhale the wonderful scent. "If I'm going to allow him come up here to see you, you've got to let me make some fun out of it."

Fitz laughs as I take hold of his arm and push it away. Unbuckling my borrowed helmet, I thrust it into his chest. "I'll see you later then."

He feigns a look of horror as I step away. "What about untacking and washing down your horse? This isn't some poncy riding school you know - I'm not a stable hand!"

"Oh, I'm so sorry Lord Fitzgerald," I say, giving him a mock-bow. His face slackens as he realises what I called him and remains speechless as I walk away, deciding it's fair for him to look after Monroe in exchange for his earlier nerve.

Sebastian greets me with a smile of a thousand watts and a kiss on the cheek. "What are you doing here," I ask him, unable to hold back a little annoyance. "I thought we had agreed on six thirty. It can't be much past five."

I look up to find him glaring over my head at Fitz. I've had enough of their macho posturing over the past few weeks and turn away to walk back to my cottage. It's almost a full minute until Sebastian catches up with me, just as I'm putting my key in the front door.

"I'm sorry," he says, almost breathlessly; he must have sprinted all the way from the stables. "I clocked off early and just couldn't wait to see you."

It's something that should make any woman feel special but I can't help but think that it sounds rehearsed and that he more likely wanted to check up on Fitz and I after I had told him of my afternoon riding plans. "I need to have a shower and get dressed," I tell him. "I won't be ready for over an hour."

"That's okay - I'll just wait down here," he says in his usual mollifying way and I wonder why I find it so annoying as I climb the stairs. After three 'dates', consisting of two dinners and a trip to the cinema, Sebastian came up with the not so terribly bright idea of having a double date. With my sister and her husband, Peter. Don't get me wrong, Peter is perfectly nice but he's just excruciatingly bland. He once spent a whole half hour telling me about the process of sun drying tea leaves. All things considered however, I can't imagine Kate being married to anyone above a two on the thrill-seeker scale. As far back as I can remember, she's always been hell-bent on trying to be as normal and mundane as possible. She took our parent's lifestyle choices a lot harder than Leo or I did.

Kate has chosen a predictably posh and expensive restaurant just outside of Barnstaple and I take as long as humanely possible getting ready; washing my hair and taking twenty minutes to decide what to wear whilst sitting on my bed, painting my toenails. I always aim to be late when meeting Kate - partly to wind her up and partly to minimise that awful pre-ordering food time where you tend to eat the complementary bread sticks to avoid conversation and end up feeling horribly bloated. I decide to not feel guilty about leaving Sebastian downstairs waiting; it is his fault for arriving over an hour early to pick me up.

I eventually descend downstairs to find him sitting on my ancient and cracked chesterfield sofa, reading a musty old Reader's Digest book that's been probably been sitting on the living room shelf for the last few decades. Sebastian stands up, placing the book down on the sofa arm, and smiles at me with his beautiful boyish grin. "You look nice."

I thaw a little and thank him as he comes towards me to give me a brief kiss on the lips. I lean into him, relieved to smell no trace of anything slightly Dominic.

"Shall we be off?" He says, after a moment that is probably too long.

I look wistfully up at him, my eyes following his sharp jawline with its smattering of stubble. "We couldn't stay here, could we? Watch a film and get a takeaway or something?"

He chuckles, the sound rumbling in his chest next to my ear. "Oh, I know better than to cross your sister, Percie, and I think cancelling on her twenty minutes before dinner definitely counts as that."

I jokingly pout and then turn to find my shows in the small pile next to the front. Sebastian appears by my side and I pull them on and takes my hand as he wrenches open the front door. He's the perfect gentleman; always holding doors open and taking my arm. I can't help but be wooed by it all - it doesn't seem to hurt that he has shoulders easily broad enough to sling me over.

Despite my insistence that Sebastian should slow down even when doing ten miles under the limit, I'm thoroughly disappointed when we swing into the carpark of the Dovescote Inn twenty minutes late and I can't spot Kate or Peter's car parked anywhere. I try and persuade Sebastian to sit in the car for awhile - 'really, they haven't arrived yet!', and yet I find myself being dragged to the entrance with the argument of them arriving in a taxi not being an unreasonable idea.

We're seated at a reserved table by a snooty looking waiter and offered complementary bruschetta, not even the bog standard bread sticks as I'd thought. I nibble on the end of one, sadly finding it delicious, as Sebastian smirks at me.

"What?" I mumble, my mouth full with cheesy heaven.

"You're beautiful, Percie," he says softly and I jump as he places a heavy hand on my knee. I'm subconsciously about to chastise him, we're in public after all and such behaviour isn't acceptable, when I realise that I'm actually not with Dominic. Affection is a perfectly normal thing to show in front of other people, within reason of course.

I swallow and let myself smile back at him. I'm just about to reply when a couple bustle over to our table and the moment is broken.

"Sorry we're late," Peter says, as he takes Kate's jacket off her shoulders and pulls her chair out. "Lizzie was having a tantrum that we wouldn't let her go out tonight."

"Honestly," Kate says as she sits down. "The cheek she gave us! 'You never let me do anything! You just want to control my life,' blah blah, the usual teenage angst stuff."

Sebastian laughs as due and Kate turns to give him a cat-like smile. "It's nice that you've managed to persuade Percie to date you, Sebastian. We were beginning to wonder if she was a lesbian."

I know Kate is making a rare joke, but she says it in such a serious way that I almost choke on my water.

Sebastian gives me a puzzled smile. "Didn't you date that doctor for a bit, back in London?"

I'd briefly skimmed over telling him about my time with Dominic, labelling it as a fling as Dominic would have liked, rather than the year and a half long relationship that I had thought it was. Nothing serious - nothing that had led to a following year of non-permanent locum jobs and a struggle to find a reason to carry on living.

I snap out of the past and force a smile onto my face. "Oh, very briefly. Not long enough for Kate to get wind of it, fortunately."

We manage to get most of the way through dinner without many mishaps or Peter droning on about office politics and have just ordered dessert when a tinkly tune sounds from the direction of Kate's handbag. She reaches under the table and pulls her phone out.

"Sorry, it's the babysitter, I better take this," Kate says, standing up and breezing her way out of the noisy restaurant.

I look over at Peter and raise an eyebrow. "You still have a babysitter? Lizzie is sixteen next week."

He shrugs and avoids looking me in the eye. "It's more for Ollie - just to keep an eye on things."

Ollie is eleven and maintains an immaculate bedroom. He hates sports and getting dirty - preferring choir club over football unlike most pre-teen boys. I can't think of any child less needing of a babysitter. Ollie was born with responsibility and poise; he didn't cry for an entire week when he was born. Kate was positively sure something was wrong, until Lizzie pinched him and he cried for an hour straight.

Peter glances at my raised eyebrow and irritably says "Oh for God's sake Percie, you know what Kate is like. If Lizzie leaves a single muddy footprint outside of the back door, she creates. As if she'd leave them alone with the new gas range. She'd worry about a fingerprint on one of the dials, let alone them blowing the entire house up."

To say I'm taken aback at Peter's outburst is an understatement. I don't think I've ever heard him say a word against Kate - he knows better than to do so. As I'm wondering in amazement at the possibility of a dispute in marital harmony, Kate storms back to the table. She looks furious - even more so than that time two Christmases ago when I got more than a little drunk Very-Soon-Post-Dominic and spilled mulled wine all down the back of her cream sofa. I had thought that I was going to be disowned out of the family, only being saved by Leo throwing salt on the stain and blotting at it for the next half an hour as I threw up in the downstairs toilet.

Kate doesn't say anything, and instead grabs her wine glass with white knuckles, chucking her head back and tipping the rest into her mouth. I stare agog, absolutely delighted at seeing Kate with anything less than utmost control. "Lizzie," she begins, stopping and shaking her head with a sour look on her face. "We have to leave now."

Peter obediently stands up, taking out his wallet and digging out a wad of twenties. Sebastian simply does his duty and looks concerned "Is she okay?"

"Okay?" Kate huffs. "If she's okay now, she won't be when I get home. Marie, that's the sitter, went upstairs to check on her only to find a boy in her room! A boy!"

She looks scandalised, as if it isn't perfectly normal for teenage girls to be interested in boys and sneak them into their rooms. But then, I suppose, Kate herself wasn't interested remotely into the opposite sex until she met Peter the Lawyer at university and settled down fast. Really, getting married at twenty-one is far too early.

Peter places the notes down on the table with an apologetic expression."That should cover the bill - so sorry to cut things short. See you soon, okay?"

He ushers Kate towards the exit before she can cause too much of a scene and Sebastian turns to me with an amused expression. "Shotgun Peter's dessert."

Peter's cash covers the entire bill and then some, and I'm rather pleased at a free three course meal, or a double dessert in Sebastian's case. The sun is just dipping behind the hills as we pull up into Fitz' courtyard twenty minutes later, stopping just short of a expensive-looking red convertible parked up against the back of stable block.

I've never seen it before and can't help wonder who it belongs to as I climb out of Sebastian's Ford. I don't have to wait a long time to find out however, because as Sebastian hurries around his car bonnet to me, Fitz' front door swings open and a tall, leggy brunette steps out into the dying light. Both Sebastian and I stare, transfixed, as she makes a move to kiss Fitz on the cheek and then seems to think better of it, instead striding off down the cobbled pathway towards us.

I catch Fitz' eye for a moment over Sebastian's shoulder and he stares coolly back at me before shutting the door with a force that seems much more than necessary. Miss Legs ignores us as if we haven't just witnessed the aftermath of their little liaison and climbs into the little sports car and zooms off up the track with a bloom of unhealthy green smoke.

"Well," Sebastian says, breaking the silence. "I'm glad to see that Coltye Downs has its indiscretions just like any other place."

His words make me smile as we turn to walk down the path to my cottage. Sebastian kisses me goodbye on my doorstep - a gentle, soft kiss that suggests leading to nothing more and I appreciate it. I think for a second about inviting him in, only a second, and then he steps back and I realise how happy I am with taking things slow - no pressure or rash decisions and certainly no slinking away in flashy red cars.


AN: Ahh! It's been so long - I'm sorry. Please do leave a review though!

hunter005 - I think I've said before it may be awhile before we find out why Fitz dislikes Sebastian so much! I know how it's going to be told, so that's something at least?! Hmm, Fertzie, it's petter that Pitz, that's for sure!

Becsdj - Thank you for taking the time to read and review. I'm thankful for any thoughts!

Cassadaga - Thanks for letting me know those mistakes - I'm terrible at spotting things myself, so I always appreciate them being pointed out so I can change them!

Akiyume - I hope you've enjoyed this chapter as much as the last -I do try and make it a little humorous, because what's the fun in being so serious all the time?

Carmel March - Haha, I like Arthur too - a nice innocent character, eh? I'm so glad of your feedback as ever!

OhKai - Ooh, a Team Sebastian! Don't think he's not hot though - I'm sure he wouldn't be happy to hear that!

toffeema - Thank you for your kind words - I hope you continue to enjoy the story, even if I don't update very often! D:

Guest - Well, here's a fifth for you to read!

Fawn - I'm glad you've enjoyed the story so far!

alchem - Oh, Doc Martin 3 I do have a soft spot for all things west country, I'll admit!

afanoffanfic - Oh, the peril of cologne choice.. We'll have to see! I like taking things slow, that way we get to know the characters and they do with each other!

Guest - Ah, who doesn't love Fitz it seems? Grumpy assholes are so endearing!

Guest - Ok, it's been another month and I'm sorry. Hopefully the next update will be a lot quicker!