La Cage Victoriana
(Story of the Fourth Cage)

Renee was tired but not sleepy. A condition she thought of as "happy tired". Philippe, however, had fallen asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow. He wasn't just tired, he was exhausted. As much as he enjoyed the book signings and appearances that were part of introducing his latest mystery novel, it was always a tiring experience. He had been home in Provence only a few days before they made their trip here to San Francisco. Renee had been able to sleep during the 14 hour flight, but Philippe was restless. The plot and characters of his next novel were already "pushing at him". He had spent a good deal of time writing during the flight. The soft rhythmic click of the keys on his travel computer were soothing to Renee, quickly putting her to sleep.

So now, even though the hour was late, she wasn't able to fall asleep. She slipped quietly out of bed, put on a robe and settled into one of the comfortable chairs by the bay window. From this vantage point she could see through the trees and far off in the distance, tiny points of light, that she knew must be the Golden Gate Bridge. The familiar swirling fog outside the window was pleasantly comforting. It had been four years since she had lived and worked in San Francisco, but the city would always be one of her favorites. A year ago, when Suzanne, Renee's former colleague and her new husband Paul, had asked her to "brainstorm" with them about the possibility of transforming a gardener's cottage into a "pied-a-terre", (a small second house) she jumped at the chance.

After their marriage, Paul and Suzanne had moved from their San Francisco apartments to a townhouse in Marin County, north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Shortly after their move, Henry, Paul's widowed father, decided it was time to give up the San Francisco Victorian home in which he was born, where he had brought his young wife, and where Paul had grown-up. Also at the same time, Paul was adding partners to his growing architectural firm. They had outgrown their downtown office space and Henry suggested that they might consider turning the big Victorian house into an architects' office. The area where the house was located had already been zoned for light commercial development. The wonderful old Victorian homes in the neighborhood were still beautiful but too large for most young families or couples. Many of these homes had now become offices or bed and breakfast inns. Paul liked his father's idea as did his partners.

As the remodeling of the main house progressed, Suzanne had an idea for the little gardener's cottage that stood in the back yard. Actually it was not so little. It had two floors, a work area on the lower floor and a bedroom above. It had been built in the same Italianate architectural style as the main house, with tall narrow windows outlined with handsome vertical columns. When Suzanne saw the little two story cottage, she immediately thought of Aunt Sophie's little Bridal Chateau and of Renee's new studio in Provence.

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