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Thom Hiller is 27 (Kiera Carlson is 28)
He’s been very busy these past few months so he welcomes a long, cold winter.
Winter is a season of rest for a farmer like him. Because that’s what he is now. A farmer. A person who runs a farm and earns money from it. Not a lot of money, perhaps, but enough to get by and occasionally do something special. Growing up he never knew anything about the future – he didn’t make plans for a different life like Clara but he didn’t consider taking over the farm either.
The autumn offers a great harvest this year and he works all day outside. In the evenings he catches a movie or sits by his computer for a while before he’s exhausted and goes to bed only to repeat the same procedure the following day.
It’s a good thing he’s never been a very outgoing person because he sure doesn’t see a lot of people. When he isn’t working, he relaxes by going fishing or taking Bonzai for a walk.
In October, he lets his sister convince him to go out on a date with Kiera, a girl Clara’s boyfriend Kent knows. Thom isn’t particularly thrilled because he’s never been very into the girls his sister has tried to pair him up with in the past and he isn’t even looking for someone. Or well, maybe he is but he doesn’t really want to admit it. It just seems so…desperate.
Anyway, he agrees to take Kiera downtown to a fancy restaurant and for three or four hours, the date is a disaster. It’s uncomfortable and strange and he feels like everything he says comes out wrong and everything she says – which isn’t much to begin with – sounds rude and condescending.
She’s a research librarian at Barchester University library and from what she tells him he gathers that it’s a pretty fancy job and that she feels accomplished and proud of it. It makes him feel stupid for not having read a book since high school and when he tells her she doesn’t seem to know what to answer. He supposes she finds him dull.
Then he offers to drive her back to her place in Barchester and they end up taking a tour of his farm, which she seems to find extremely exotic and she asks a couple of questions about it, like she truly is curious. It sits right with him, somehow. Very few people are ever interested in what he does these days.
Kiera tells him he has a nice home and that she likes that he’s a farmer and Thom feels himself grin, foolishly and then, for some reason, everything seems so much simpler between them. Like something opens up.
He tells her she’s very pretty and that he’d like to see her again and Kiera blushes. She actually blushes and he think it might just be the cutest thing he’s ever seen.
They see a lot of each other after that date, which is something he could never have believed when they ordered food at that restaurant and he just kept checking the time every third minute.
Thom used to feel very depressed and dumped ever since his little thing with Cindy had ended up completely wrecked apart by her meeting someone she wanted to have kids with, apparently. He had thought they had something good going on, especially since she let him meet her kid and all and he had been so surprised when she just stopped calling one day. She didn’t even tell him it was over face to face. It had hurt. And he knows that’s part of the reason his sister wanted him to meet Kiera, because you can’t sit around and mope over someone who’s so very clearly moved on without you.
He’s extremely grateful for that, now.
By November that year he’s managed to earn enough money from the farm and his fishing – he sells trouts and salmon down at the market along with his crop – that he can renovate parts of his parents’ house. They had always talked about making changes to it, but something always came up and it was postponed. It feels good, like he’s honouring their memory, to do it now. He even gets some new furniture but he wants to keep the general look of the place the same as it has been for as long as he can remember.
Another big deal in his life is that Clara has moved out.
She had been very neurotic about it for a while, asking him over and over again if she was dumping the farm on him and if he wanted her to stay for a while longer, but then she couldn’t really wait to be gone.
Kent owns a house in the suburbs so Thom can’t blame her for preferring it over the boring old farm where she grew up. They’re not the same, she doesn’t appreciate the same things. She wants to write and she wants to have white rooms with clean furniture, just like the flats she rented in the city.
He tries to visit as often as possible.
She’s still freelancing for the newspaper and has a lot of free time in the middle of the day, unlike Kiera, so he often lets her make him lunch this winter. It’s nice, hanging out with her. They get on each other’s nerves much less now that they’re not living together and she doesn’t feel like she has to become a farmer.
And since he’s started dating Kiera she has stopped nagging about his love life as well, which is just a bonus. When she tells him that Kent has proposed to her and that they’re going to get married as soon as possible, Thom feels no sting of jealousy, just happiness.
* Thom and Kiera had 3 bolts and could not find a single thing to talk about when they first got together, LOL. 🙂 She’s really shy and he wasn’t allowed to joke or compliment her whatsoever.