Bringing it all together.
As they closed the barn door behind them after getting the barn work done, as well as one other, overdue, intimate item out of the way in the top of the barn, they heard a vehicle, the four wheeler coming down through the woods. It was still some distance away.
They’d finished just in time. She checked that he was fastened away, and that his clothing was straight as he smiled at her and kissed her. He'd subside after a while.
At the same time, they saw a vehicle on the road from town, drive up and park by them. It had chains on all wheels, and had high ground clearance so it had had no difficulty beating up through that snow.
The day was turning out better than had been forecast, with the snow beginning to melt everywhere. Everything was turning out better than she'd expected.
The big SUV had followed the snow plough up from town, but that plough had turned at the edge of the property and gone back down.
An older woman got out. Babs was surprised to see her mother so soon.
“Mom, you’re early. I thought you weren’t flying in for another few days.”
“I decided not to wait.”
Mrs. Moranis looked the pair of them over. They were both still lightly dressed, and were over-heated. They'd been doing barn work… as well as something else from the looks of them both. They were flushed.
There was hay on them as though they’d got distracted with other things. It often happened when two like-minded people of the opposite sex did barn work together, and these two had been building up to this for ten years.
“Dad will soon be here too.” They could still hear him, but it was the noise of a chainsaw this time. He was removing a fallen tree off the track.
Bab’s mother looked over to Steve, waiting for an introduction so that she would find out… officially… who this young man was, with her daughter, though she already knew. They’d just done, naturally, what two young people in love who hadn’t seen each other for a long time, always wanted to do. The reckless devils!
She’d seen enough, as she’d driven up; the way Babs had moved in front of him as though to protect and guard him while holding his hand, but in reality, hiding something else about him. They’d just had a romp in the hay, in the top of the barn, on a horse blanket, and he was still aroused.
God, they’d got back into it soon enough. Babs had only been here a couple of days.
“Hello. Steve Gallagher I think. You must be the boy that she met at the lake, that devastating summer for my daughter, ten years ago.” She wouldn’t be any more specific than that, about them fucking each other.
How had she known that? What did she know of that time?
She didn’t give either of them a chance to say anything.
“I thought you’d be here to pick up where you left off with my daughter at that time, and you were.” They’d just got themselves dressed in time.
Babs was tightlipped, ready to take at her mother if she went too far. ‘Devastating’ and, ‘to pick up where you left off…’ implying too much.
She took advantage of them both being tongue-tied. She smiled and took his hand before he re-thought her approach. His hand was bruised. He’d injured it somewhere, and recently.
She looked him over. She’d only seen him at a distance before, and he’d been a spindly youth then, but he was a bronzed and muscled giant, now. Undoubtedly, he’d been blessed with that Gallagher allure, that all male Gallaghers supposedly had… in abundance, but she couldn’t ask him about that, and wouldn’t look. The Gallagher boys had all been shy and careful where local girls were concerned. They usually found their wives outside of the community. The local girls blabbed, and compared notes.
The rumors had circulated for a while about what that ‘allure’ really was, but the ones who might know, didn’t say, and the ones who talked about it, usually didn’t know.
But for her accidentally seeing some of those candid photographs they’d snapped of each other at the lake as they’d romped around naked together, she’d still have been guessing; but not after seeing those. He’d been well blessed indeed. Those photos and that part on him, had been something else a mother would never dare speak of to anyone. No wonder there’d been spotting on her bedding and underwear after being visited down there by that Behemoth.
She would have liked to have seen the look on her daughters face when she’d first seen that shocking weapon of his… in the flesh. She wondered how long it had taken them to become intimate after that scare… and how it had felt for her. It had ‘burned’, of course, going in, and would have left her sore for a long time, but the lake water would have helped. Something that size would take weeks, if not months to get used to.
It was another question she couldn’t ask.
Despite that opening broadside for them both, however, she was still smiling at him and holding his hand.
“Mom?” Babs had started to panic. Steve’s other hand was on her shoulder to stop her responding to any of that suggestive ribbing from her mother. But her mother hadn’t finished yet.
“Calm down, Babs. I’ve had ten years to think about it and what I’d say to him, and to you, when I finally met him.
“So, Steve…. Gallagher (again), I get to meet you at last.” She was able to pause and take a deep breath.
“You caused me a good deal of unrest for a while, and many sleepless nights. My daughter wasn’t going to tell me anything about who you were, or what you were obviously doing with each other at the lake, so I had to piece it together for myself… with help from your mother over the next few months as we compared notes, about our rebellious children.”
She took another deep breath. This hadn’t started out quite as she’d planned it. She backed off and tried again. “I’m sorry. That was not me.” She chuckled foolishly. “I should apologize for that uncalled-for approach as we first met. You were the best kept secret that my daughter ever had for so long, and it ate at me that she couldn’t confide in me.”
But how did a girl confess to her mother that she was letting a younger boy fuck her at every opportunity they could be alone together.
Steve felt her uncertainty. She was even trembling. He knew this wasn’t her, so he reached out to her and pulled her in, to be part of their little group, as Babs arms went around her mother, trying to understand.
Steve came into the conversation. “You got it pretty well right, ma’am. We were pretty careless and… in love.”
“I know. I often talked to your mother, Steve, once I’d learned that boy had been you.”
Thank god they were still in love. She’d better be careful what she said or asked, except she’d already said too much.
“D’you want to help me in with this luggage, please?”
She watched as Steve picked up her heaviest cases, after tucking smaller ones under his arms and headed to the house. They followed with other bags.
“How long will you be staying, Mom?” She had a lot of luggage, and there was more still in the back of the vehicle. “You don’t like winter.”
“I’ll be here until after the wedding, of course. And probably all winter, now that I know my daughter’s home and is going to be living and working here.”
“Who’s getting married? Anyone I know? I didn’t hear anything.”
Mrs. Moranis ignored the question.
“You can put them just inside the door, Steve. And thank you."
The chain saw had stopped working.
“What’s your father doing out in this?”
“He was up at the cabin.”
Bab’s ignored that inconvenient question, just as her mother had ignored hers.
“Have you had breakfast, Mom? Steve cooked a lot this morning.”
“I ate while they put the chains on my car and got it ready for me.”
She looked around the living room, seeing many things out of place, taking note of others. The bed settee had been used, and there were breakfast dishes on the hearth. They’d spent the night there, and had eaten too. Some screwed-up, compacted tissues from between a woman's legs (she knew about those) had missed landing in the fire where they’d been thrown. Steve was even then, clearing the dishes away.
She would have to learn to ignore a lot of things. Her daughter was a grown woman now.
She hadn’t been expected so soon or they’d have been better prepared. The wash had already been started. No doubt the incriminating bedding from last night was in that.
“But I wouldn’t mind a coffee.”
That fire had been burning all night, but the power had been out. She’d seen the line crews working down near town on her drive up here following the snow plough. There’d been a lot of trees brought down when it had turned to wet snow. She’d got the forecast after she’d landed.
“Who’s getting married, mom? Anyone I know?” It was only a small town.
“Yes, my dear. You are, of course. I saw you two as I drove up”… she had to be careful what she said here again… “and everything hit me like a ton of bricks what it meant."
She’d known what they’d just finished doing in the barn. They should have brushed more of that hay off each other, and taken more care getting dressed, to hide Steve's obvious condition.
"I knew some of what you’d been up to at the lake even as it was happening. I knew there was a boy in your life, but I didn’t know who he was, for such a long time. Or exactly how far it had gone between you, though I could guess from what I saw from time to time. A mother always needs to know that.” Or not.
“And then, after you went away to school, with me close by, in case….I saw the number of letters you posted each month when you spent any of the holidays with me, and they hadn’t been sent to your father. You also kept your journal well out of my way. Everything pointed to a boy, and you thinking yourself in love.”
Her daughter didn’t try to correct her. She had been in love.
She sighed. “I do wish you’d confided in me, but I expect, as with most young lovers, it hurtled away from you so fast and got out of hand, that you couldn’t, and by then you were trying to protect each other.”
Her mother had known too much.
“I would never have thought of Steve, except for something his mother said, years later. She and I used to talk a few times every year. We were both comparing notes about difficult children, and she said something about her son having gone up to the lake every day one summer, and how downcast he’d become once school began. He’d met a girl, but she couldn’t get a word out of him about that, but it meant everything to me. It answered most of my questions.
“That summer was the same one that had you bringing sand back home with you, in your clothes each day (those bits of clothing that made it home with you), along with other things. I knew where you’d been of course… at the lake… and I could guess what you’d been up to, by the way you started to wash out your own underwear and shorts to hide the evidence. Boys can be demanding buggers that way once they get a sniff….” She curtailed what she’d been about to say.
“Then one day you came back with a small bracelet I’d hung on that dock up there when your father I had had swum there, years earlier just after we’d married.”
Babs had forgotten about that small bead bracelet.
Mrs. Moranis blushed thinking of that time and could tell her daughter even more.
“That was also about the time you were conceived… probably up there too. I noticed you didn’t have your own necklace when you came back, though I see that Steve has that on his neck. You also still have that peculiar ring on your finger that suggested much more serious things. You still wear it, so that fire still burns.”
He’d had one too, as his mother had confided, but he wasn’t wearing it now.
“I knew all about bruised lips and boys, but you weren’t going to tell me anything. However, I did know that you hadn’t spent that night at the cabin, nor had you been photographing the Autumn colors as you’d said." They certainly hadn't.
“We were saved from any awkward developments from that, when this thing with the school blew up, and we had to put you in another school, but I was worried about that for a couple of months.”
Babs had been worried for a few weeks too until her period had started. They hadn’t taken any precautions, and they’d gone at it enough times.
“I could guess at the rest, and now, here you both are, looking just as if you’d never been apart for all of that time… and obviously in love.”
Maybe she'd said too much. “Was I far out in left field with my comment about expecting a marriage?
“No, Mom. We thought about the end of November. As soon as possible.”
Babs wouldn’t say anything about them having married… unofficially… ten years earlier and having re-affirmed it all again on that previous night, and again in the barn a few minutes earlier. At least, not yet.
“Good. I thought I might have jumped the gun. Mrs. Gallagher will be relieved too.”
“We’ll be going to see her tomorrow.”
She tried again, realising she’d asked a question that hadn’t been answered.
“Why did your father go to the cabin?”
“He went looking for me, yesterday afternoon.”
Mrs. Moranis raised an eyebrow to encourage her daughter to continue.
“I went out yesterday on the horse… after he’d… caused me to lose my temper, (the usual story) and I got caught out in the snow. When I hadn’t got back as soon as he expected, he went out to make sure I was alright. He’d assumed I’d gone to the cabin, but I hadn’t.
“He stayed at the cabin last night, but he phoned Steve, and found out that I was home and that I was safe.”
“Steve was already here?” It was obvious that he had been.
“Yes. He’d just come up from town before the snow began. I wish I'd known that. He often works up here, on changes to the house.” Her mother didn’t need to know that he’d found her out in the snow, or had undressed her in the bath, or anything else that had happened after that, but she’d know, of course.
“He couldn’t go back into town in that snow, so stayed and looked after the house until I got back and so that he could tell dad when and if I’d got home.”
He’d looked after much more than that. He’d looked after her too. She could fill in the gaps for herself easily enough from what wasn’t said and from the way they looked at each other, blushing.
“So. Later this month.
"We’d better get to work on it then."
They heard the four-wheeler roll by the house and park.
“Be careful what you tell your father. He didn’t know anything about you and Steve back then, at the lake. I didn’t want to worry him.”
They heard him stamp the snow off his feet before he came into the house and got rid of his boots and coat.
He saw the luggage and his wife.
He brightened up, seeing her and his daughter too. He walked up and gave them both a hug.
“Hello, love, you got in early.”
“I took an earlier flight.”
He paused. He’d never seen his daughter and Steve together before, but he knew that look they’d exchanged, and they were close, and holding hands. They seemed to belong together. He’d never seen them together before, but it all fell into place.
His wife would tell him everything later.
He didn’t need warming up… he’d been overdressed for that journey down. He was perspiring and his arms and legs were aching. He’d had to fight the four-wheeler all the way down the hill to keep it on the road and then that stint with the chain saw and the winch….
He hadn’t shaved and he looked tired. He can’t have slept much either. He’d shower later, but he’d eat first. He could smell it.
He ate as they watched him. He hadn’t eaten much the night before either, needing to sit out the storm and to get back to his daughter to try and make up for something that he’d had many hours to think about.
She’d had time to think about it too. She was the one who began.
“I’m sorry the way it went, Dad. I was wrong to say what I said to you, and it was stupid of me to rush out like that. It shook me up to learn that you’d gone out in that storm looking for me. I didn’t deserve it.”
“You’re my daughter. You did need me to check on you. You’d left me with a lot to think about and to analyze.”
“What I said was wrong, Dad. I was wrong about my brothers leaving because of… you. You didn’t drive them away.”
“I might as well have done. I didn’t make it easy for them to stay either. I expected too much of them, but they managed well enough for themselves once they did leave.
“It was that other thing you said that nagged at me. I’d asked you about settling down, now that you were back here. I began to see you and your mother living back here again as a family. I wasn’t traying to marry you off. You said as how I’d already screwed your life up by interfering in your own plans when you’d been almost fifteen, by sending you off to school.”
He sighed. “I had no choice in that. The school laid it on the line. I had to get you out of school, or they would have had to expel you. It was that damned Waterston Woman. I know that.
“But what plans did you have at that time? I didn’t understand that. I tried to ask your mother, but she didn’t know, except she began to think you might have met a boy, somewhere, that summer, and had believed yourself in love, but she didn’t tell me how she knew that. Still, women seem to have an instinct for seeing these things.” He pushed his empty plate away and drank at his coffee.
“You were upset enough, that we decided she should go with you when you did finally choose a school, and she kept me informed as much as she could. I spent as much of your holidays with you both as I could.”
He thought about what she’d said.
“What did you mean, that you’d found somebody at that time?”
“Just that, Dad. I’d already made my choice about that, when I was fourteen.”
His wife chimed in.
“You’d better listen to this, Chuck. We should have listened better, ten years ago too, but we didn’t."
Babs continued. “You thought that, as young as I was, I couldn’t possibly understand my own emotions.” He hadn’t heard her; hadn’t been listening. He’d made the same mistake with his boys.
“I thought you’d exiled me to school to get me out of the way and to make sure I didn’t make a mistake with my life over some boy and bring embarrassment down on you when I got pregnant.” And she would have got pregnant, that was sure.
He was gobsmacked. This was the first he was hearing of it. But he hadn’t done anything for the reason she’d suggested.
What boy? Pregnancy? What had they been doing? He didn’t know the first thing she was talking about.
This, was the first he’d heard of that or of any boy, or a romantic connection that was getting out of hand with her being as young as she’d been. He’d learned nothing about any such ‘choice of hers’, or that it had happened when she had been only fourteen.
“Who? I knew nothing.” It was his turn to ask, now. “You should have told me. I would have tried to understand.”
Bab took Steve's hand again. “I was devastated when you tore us apart before we were ready. I thought you might have learned about us… and what we were doing.”
He hadn’t known anything about it. What had they been doing? As if he’d needed to ask. Better not ask.
He didn’t say what any parent would have said at the time, that it couldn’t have gone anywhere with someone that young, even if she had been pregnant.
“You can tell me now. What happened?”
“Mom knows. I’d been out riding, and I met a boy at Square Lake. We swam that day, and for some days and weeks after that.”
She didn’t need to say any more. He understood.
“He was younger than me, but he was easy to talk with, not like other boys, and I saw him the day after that too, and then every day after that, up at the lake. We explored everywhere, we learned about each other that summer. We fell in love, Dad.”
His wife touched him on the arm and smiled at him. “Use your eyes, Chuck. Who d’you think?”
He remembered now, there had been a time when Babs had stayed out overnight at the cabin. Except she must have been with that boy. They’d stayed there together.
After that, she’d been like a bear with a sore head. He could do nothing right. That had been about the time everything had gone downhill for everyone.
“I wish I’d known. I would have tried to understand. So would your mother.”
“No matter. That’s history, Dad. I’m back now and I met him again. Last night when I rode back in that storm.” She’d say no more than that at this time, but he could see.
Steve stayed back out of it.
“So, what now?"
“They get married, Chuck, of course. Here. At the end of the month.”
“That soon?” He’d better not say any more.
“That soon, Chuck.”
They seemed ready to consider living here, and her brothers would even come home for the wedding. They’d be a family once more.
He’d think about what pitch he could make to them about the business, and how he needed them to take over from him…how to keep them here on their terms. He would let them take over the wood’s side of the business as he went back into beef cattle and improving the stock. He’d buy in more sheep and Llamas for his wife, too.
He stood up.
“I’ll go and have a shower.”
“I’ll come and help you, Chuck.” Mrs Moranis followed him to the stairs.
Steve and Babs looked at each other and smiled as they raised eyebrows and inclined their heads toward the outside of the house. They hadn’t totally finished with each other in the top of the barn either.
Finis. Please leave a review.
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