It was not a dream.
Sheila’s heart lifted; relieved to see him in the distance coming back on the bike. Her heart was beating unusually loudly and fast for her. He excited her, just as she had so obviously excited him in a startling way.
It had not been a dream, but where would it go from here? Would he leave her when he got her home?
She hoped not. Not too soon. They had only just met, and she would need his help in other ways; with the calves, certainly, and the hens too. She would try to persuade him to stay and help her.
She wouldn't fasten her shirt.
Surely this was not her; plotting to hold a man closer to her, and her so vulnerable?
She was not sociable, or comfortable with others, especially men, yet she began to feel more relaxed with him than she had ever been with anyone else, any man, since her father had died.
She watched him as he came closer, snapping other photographs of his progress and of him before he noticed what she was doing. She needed a record of him to remember him by, except she knew she would never be able to forget him; or him, her.
He was not even out of breath when he got to her.
“I’m later than I said, but not by much.” She hadn’t really noticed, being happy just to see him in the distance. Her open shirt was forgotten.
“I found the bike, but it needed air in the tires, some cleaning up, and a little oil here and there.”
He looked her over.
“Now you. How do you feel now?” He knelt beside her, touching her on her arm. Her shirt was still undone and was open wider now, exposing everything about her breasts; inviting him to touch, but that would be a dangerous assumption.
“How’s the ankle?”
She was happy to see his concern. “Cold, after being in the river water. I alternated between the river and that basin, as you suggested.”
She swung her leg out of the water so that he could examine her ankle as she leaned back, supporting herself with her arms behind her, conscious that her breasts pushed out even more provocatively, even impudently against her shirt, moving it aside with its buttons still undone, drifting wider apart as the breeze caught it, inviting him in, and also conscious that he noticed everything.
She didn’t mind so much now, where she had before, and wouldn’t change anything as she would once have been anxious to do, and not so long ago either.
He stripped off her sock and took a look at her ankle, holding it gently as he rested it on his own bent leg, very close to that other, still-proud item of his, feeling how puffy her ankle was.
Seeing her shirt open like that must have brought him along to be like this, the way he was when he was close to her.
“It’s hard to tell so soon, but the swelling might be going down. It doesn’t look any worse than it was when I left you.”
He replaced her sock.
“Now, you could ride your bike back while I get the packs, but then you might have difficulty maneuvering when you get home, so I’ll suggest another way.”
She waited for him to tell her, but wasn’t about to object to anything he decided upon.
“There is a sturdy, pannier-support on the back of the bike that holds even my weight. You can sit on that, on a cushion I brought for you; hang onto me; my belt or with your arms around me, and you can let me get you back home. It won’t take any more than a few minutes, and we’ll go only slowly."
She put his jacket back on.
He helped her to her feet, stooped to let her climb onto his back, and piggy-backed her as before, to the road and the bike.
He steadied her and the bike as she straddled the pannier rack, which had been built for farm and market visits when her aunt had been alive, and then, hanging onto him with her hands clutching at his belt, and her feet held off the ground, he returned with her to her home.
He didn’t need to pedal, with it being a long, down-hill glide, with the wind against her, opening her shirt to flutter behind her.
He helped her off the bike to stand against him, balanced on one foot as he stood the bike against the conservatory wall then, without saying anything, picked her up and carried her into the house, as a groom might carry his bride, open shirt and all. He ached to kiss her on her breasts.
There was a certain symbolism in that. Lover, and then bride! Her thinking had progressed. But he wasn't kissing her as eagerly or in as focused a way as a groom would be doing.
Not kissing her at all.
Give him time.
They both had the same thought, but neither of them said what they were thinking.
He carried her through to the kitchen and sat her on one of the chairs there, as he took off her other boot and both socks, then compared both of her ankles as he sat in front of her on the floor. The injured one did not look significantly bigger than the other, so even the half-hour in the cold water of the river must have done it some good. He tried to ignore the rest of what he could see, knowing that she must know what he could see.
“I should have a bath, Peter, while you go back and get our packs. You could use the bike for that too, but first I’ll need your help to get upstairs to the bathroom and, if you don’t mind, I’ll get you to sort some clothes out for me while the bathwater is running. I’ll tell you where things are.”
That would be a really good start.
He’d bring in a pair of crutches that he’d seen in the shed when he'd gone after the bike.
“Where is the bathroom?”
“Upstairs, between the two back bedrooms. It was put in about ten years ago when the downstairs got a face lift. I don’t think I should put any weight on this foot for a while.”
He took off his boots and then turned to look at her.
“I can piggyback you again, or I can carry you. It’s only a short distance, but I’d rather have your weight in front of me than behind me, going up stairs.” She smiled, knowing how that would go, with her breasts in his face.
“You can carry me in front of you.” That way, her breasts would definitely be in his face, especially if her shirt was pulled apart.
She rose to her feet, standing on one foot again as he stooped, wrapped his arm around her at the top of her legs and picked her up as she pushed her arms around his neck with him snuggling into her again where her breasts were; very conscious of them and of the shirt, parting from them there, and with his face nudging into softly-yielding flesh, with no fabric in the way.
He headed for the steep stairs, taking them one step at a time, and holding onto the bannister with his spare hand, unable to see anything, but not caring, with his face buried between her breasts and no shirt between him and them.
“The bathroom is directly ahead of us. My bedroom is the one on the left. But bathroom first, please.” She was well-aware of how she was getting through to him.
He started the bath-water running for her as she watched him, and directed him where to find the towels.
“Now my bedroom, please.”
He carried her there, too, avoiding bumping her head on the low door frames—people were so much smaller then—and sat her on her bed as she told him what was in her closet that she would need; a bathrobe, and where her more intimate under-things were, in her drawers, carrying them and her, back to the bathroom.
She did not intend to wear a bra, and her fresh panties were just as insubstantial as the ones she’d been wearing, that she calmly stripped off in front of him dropping them into the laundry hamper. She still had her long shirt hiding her from him.
“I think I can see to myself now.”
She was inviting him to leave.
“I can get myself into the bath. I’ll have time while you are away.” She scattered bath salts into the water and dropped other things in there that men never bothered with.
He paused, ready to ask if she was sure—excited with what had happened already and not sure if she would tolerate him helping her undress, the little that was left—but thought better of it and retreated downstairs.
Rather than struggle to put his boots back on again, he borrowed a pair of Wellingtons, about his size, from the back door and slid his feet into them after emptying them first, just-in-case… old habits… but his sisters weren’t here to play that trick on him. They almost fitted him. He’d get those crutches he’d seen and get them up to her before he left, and before she got into her bath.
He had been away only a couple of minutes, but she was already completely undressed, freezing in place, her hands rising to cover herself again when she heard him on the stairs, but then letting them fall away from her again.
“Sorry.” He blushed, seeing her standing there with her back to him, and a vision that still took his breath away, causing him to hesitate and to rethink what he was about to say; pulling his mind back on track. Except he could see everything in the mirror.
He stumbled with his words. “I… I remembered seeing these crutches in the garden shed and thought you might be able to use them to get around when you get out of the bath.”
She did not turn as he hoped she would.
He could see absolutely everything in the mirror. She had her eyes closed and her breasts were not covered, on full display. All of her was.
She sounded too calm. “Thank you, Peter. Just leave them by the chair.”
He retreated quickly, almost falling down the stairs.
He made enough noise getting his boots on so that she would know exactly where he was in the house, and when he left.
As he left, he heard the taps being turned off, and imagined her climbing into her soapy bath.
Perhaps she needed his help to do that? But he daren’t go back to ask, or just to do.
The thought, and the imagery conjured up by that thought began to drive him mad. He wanted to go back upstairs and help her anyway, but he knew that he shouldn’t.
He didn’t want to leave, to recover their packs, but knew that he must, or he’d scare her again with his intensity.
He needed a bath too after being in that pond with her, but he’d have to wait until he got back to the Inn. She wouldn’t want him climbing in with her; hot, sweaty, and as horny as he certainly was.