Leaving the town behind, they drove on towards the castle. Cate could see it clearly, sitting stoically in the distance. It grew larger and larger as they approached. Cate also saw the rolling lawns with their perfect landscaping surrounding the castle.
As they pulled in the drive, Cate couldn’t believe this was her life. Mr. Smythe drove on toward the house as Cate gaped from the backseat. Riley, sensing Cate’s excitement, was darting from window to window to peer out, wagging his tail and eyeing Cate as if to confirm that his reaction was appropriate.
As they approached the castle, Cate could see a few people standing near the front entrance. “Ah, good,” Mr. Smythe said, eyeing them, “I asked the staff to meet us, they’ve timed it well.”
“Probably got the warning call from the village,” Gayle joked.
“Staff?” Cate mumbled to herself, her brow furrowing.
She said it a bit too loudly as Mr. Smythe overheard her and replied, “Yes, Charlie and Emily Fraser. Mr. Fraser oversees most of the handiwork, landscaping and the external landscaping company, Mrs. Fraser provides light cooking and house cleaning. A hired company does most of the other house cleaning. Finally, Jack Reid, the estate manager, a new addition who will also take over most of the handiwork and landscaping from Mr. Fraser soon. Lady MacKenzie hired him just before passing away.”
Cate was impressed. She hadn’t given much thought to the upkeep of the castle, it was good to know someone else had.
Mr. Smythe interrupted her thoughts. “Can I assume that you will keep the staff on?” he questioned.
“Ah, yes assuming they would like to stay on.”
“I think they very much would, Cate,” Gayle answered. “I think they may have been on edge that the new owner would do a clean sweep and bring in her own people. They will be relieved to find out that you are keeping them on.”
“Oh, yes, no, I mean to say, I’d never do that to anyone!”
As the conversation came to a close, Mr. Smythe eased the car parallel to the front entrance. The youngest of the three staff, Jack, approached the car to open doors and begin unloading luggage. Cate scooped Riley into her arms and stepped out of the car. Kissing him on the top of his head, she looked up at the castle and said, “We’re home, Riley, we’re home.”