Too much going on.
Peter told Sheila how it had gone with Annie when he got back, and how it had worked out alright for both Annie and him.
He hadn’t been aware that Annie had called her, or what she’d said.
Sheila followed him into the kitchen on her crutches as he put a basket down on the table and went looking for plates and cutlery. It smelled good. She was hungry for once, now that she didn’t have to cook for herself.
He talked while he set the table.
“It actually worked out better for Annie and the Inn. They had three empty rooms out of the twelve they have, but needed four rooms when a large family wanted accommodation for a few days, so they got my room even as I left it.
“Annie lost one guest; me, but has seven more staying for dinner, and for a few more days. She didn’t charge me anything extra for dinner. I told her I was helping out here with calves and hens. She wanted to know why, so I had to tell her. She knows you well.”
Not as well as she thought she did.
“She does. She and Mom are good friends. She called me just after you’d left the Inn to come back here to check up on me and make sure I had not gone, cuckoo, and that it was my idea you stay, so whatever you told her triggered that.”
“I told her the truth; that I’d met someone who needed my help with some calves; the botany student she’d told me about and your work on the Fell. You, of course. I didn’t tell her anything else to make it difficult.” Like undressing her, or falling in love.
“And then the questions started. She was worried about you being hurt, and about me too, I suppose, but in a different way, considering all of the questions she asked me, and what she said about you being alone and vulnerable. She stressed the word, ‘vulnerable’.”
“She didn’t?” Sheila was shocked to hear that.
He looked at her and smiled.
“Not so directly, but her meaning was clear. She was concerned for you. I thought she might phone you after that.”
With Annie knowing so much, it meant that her mother also might learn about this if Annie felt the need to call her. She and Annie Robertson were good friends.
Ah well, nothing she could do about it, and at least she wouldn’t be alone now or as scared as she had been last night, and that meant everything to her.
She would phone Annie later, and thank her for the dinner, and let her know that she was still alive and even thriving, despite this domesticated hot male running around the place, and her only half dressed, and they could have a little talk about other things.
After they’d eaten, she phoned Annie and thanked her.
“Thank you for calling earlier to check on me, Annie. I’m still alive, and I’ll be alright. Thank you for the dinner. I didn’t know how much I needed that."
Annie had been ready for that return call, but knew that there were some questions she should not ask, though she wanted to.
“Your mother must have called by now. Did you tell her about this? She should know that you got hurt.”
“No. I didn’t tell her. Not yet. I didn’t get chance. She said a few words and then rang off before I could tell her anything. I don’t want to worry her or she might feel that she has to come back earlier than she planned. He’s only helping out for a while.”
The hell he was! Annie had seen that look in his eyes.
“He might only be here for a couple of days. I’ll be back on my feet by then.”
Annie chuckled as though she knew better. He'd have her flat on her back long before then.
“If you can believe that. Be careful, Sheila. Once a man gets his legs firmly under the table, they can be hard to get rid of.” Especially, once he'd got her legs apart.
Just as long as he didn’t get firmly into any other part of her personal property with another firm part, but that might not be a bad thing either, considering the way things had been going for her for the last two years. She and her mother were both too reclusive and cut off from life. They both needed men. A man.
Sheila thought she knew what Annie meant, but at least she hadn’t been more outspoken and direct than that; more-earthy, as Annie sometimes could be.
‘Once a man’s had a sniff of a woman there, in that hair, and has dipped himself into that deep, moist, and warm pleasure-pot and has nailed her a few times, he’ll never go, and you’ll never be able to let him go either.’
It all sounded so deliciously lewd to a fifteen-year old’s ears, overhearing that, even if she wasn’t sure what it meant at the time, though she could guess, when she heard that other, awkward four-letter word that had also been used. She knew what that meant, now.
“But never mind me. He’s a nice boy, but then aren’t they all? Even the bad ones.” Especially the bad ones.
“You’ll be back on your feet soon enough and he’ll be able to come back here if I have a room for him; if you can get rid of him by then. Just remember that men rarely, if ever, ask for permission to do anything. They tend to just, do it. They may ask for forgiveness later, except it’s usually too late for a girl by then.” She let that sink in.
“I’ll be over just before eight in the morning and pick up those eggs to check up on you. Don’t hesitate to call me tonight if you need to, if….
"Calves can be buggers to manage, and yours are getting big enough to butcher.” Boys could be buggers to manage too.
Sheila wasn’t fooled. Annie wasn’t talking about the calves, but about Peter, and implying that men were buggers to manage once they got a sniff of the barmaid's apron (a semi-polite way to put it). And Peter had got more than a sniff, but he hadn't dipped into her yet.
Thank god Annie hadn’t come back to the house with Peter, but as he’d told her, Annie had been busy looking after her new guests and getting them settled in.
Peter could hear only half of the conversation, but he smiled as though he knew all of it.
Annie was warning Sheila about him, but Sheila wasn’t listening.