A new day.
Peter was careful not to awaken Sheila the next morning.
He got out of bed without disturbing her, noting that her nightdress was up above her waist where he had left it; even above her breasts.
She was still not awake when he got back from the calves and collecting the eggs.
Sheila did not stir even with the noise of the shower after that, or the sounds of him dressing. She must have been very tired from the sudden emotional upheaval and awakening of last night, their kissing and the length of time they had talked, breathing each other’s air, sharing the same pillow and the same bed.
He looked down at her again as he finished drying his hair, and then climbed in behind her, holding her as he had before he’d left, holding her breasts, kissing her on her neck, even sliding his hand down into her panties and resting his hand upon that hair, waiting for a moment, then slowly exploring the lips of her vulva as he had wanted to do in the gully.
That woke her up. She turned into him with a deep sigh and snuggled up against him, all fear and reservation gone as she raised her head to be kissed, her breasts pushing into him and not covered by anything now, wanting him to feel her body up against his; wanting to feel his body against hers, but he was dressed, and he smelled of soap, and his hair was damp, so he’d already showered.
He pushed her nightdress up and over her head before he returned to her to touch her again.
“I did the calves and the hens, and I showered. If you like, I can take you into the bathroom and get you started on that too, and then I’ll make breakfast. But I’ll look at your ankle first.” As well as everything else she wanted to show him, or would let him see.
She sat up and swung her legs out of bed, revealing everything to him without thinking about it, not needing to cover herself, still half asleep as he knelt in front of her, picking up her foot and holding it as he felt gently around it, listening for what she might complain about.
“No swelling, no heat, no bruising, but don’t put any weight on it too soon. Take it easy today.”
She nodded. “Yes doctor. And what else would you prescribe for me?”
His eyes glinted and he smiled at her, deciding not to go there, picked her up and carried her into the shower to stand on the rubber mat in the bottom of the bath, kissing her, before he left, seeing her getting started on her panties.
“If you need my help to get out, or would like me to help you in any way, just call for me again.”
“I will, Peter.”
He was just as reluctant to leave her as before, but brought her crutches to her and drew the shower curtain.
“The water should still be warm straight out of the tap after my shower.”
She’d see to the rest for herself.
She showered and did her hair, able to take her time about it as she recalled what had happened last night to allow her to sleep so well, wondering how she could be so relaxed with what was happening to her, and even accepting that they would very soon make love, with all that that entailed, and begin a new life together. They were making great strides forward all of the time.
Her, learning about him more directly, would be next, if she had the courage.
So-what if it was moving fast?
For the first time in her life she was sure of what she wanted. They both knew how the other felt, and it had been love-at-first-sight with her just a few minutes behind him, needing only to get over her fear of him first.
After an uneventful and boring first twenty years of her pedestrian life—though she had not known that it was so empty and boring until now—her life had picked up again and was going where it needed to go, and if it took any major sacrifices to help it get there—such as losing her virginity, long overdue in going—she would not hesitate to make them.
Her virginity had already gone, even if only symbolically in her mind. It just needed a couple more days, at most, to be an actual physical fact, if it didn’t happen much sooner.
As much as that prospect of such intimacy scared her, still not sure how she would deal with that, she would meet it as it came at her.
A revolution was taking place and sweeping through the entire house and through her. A man had invaded it and imprinted his presence on it and upon her. He would invade her body next.
Her mother would understand. She would have to.
She could smell breakfast cooking. Peter must have seen the bacon and sausages in the small countertop fridge along with milk, and there were lots of eggs for an omelette or scrambled eggs.
She remembered that Annie had said something about being over to pick up all the eggs that morning. She would need to remind Peter, so that he would leave them in the sunporch in a cooler left there, out of the sun.
No doubt Annie would be coming over to check on her too.
The phone rang in the entryway while Peter was in the conservatory packing the eggs away for when Annie came over.
His eyes flashed to the clock on the wall. It was a few minutes before eight. That must be Sheila’s mother!
He should have awoken Sheila earlier. Damn! He daren’t answer it and give her mother a heart attack, hearing a man’s voice where she expected to hear only her daughter's voice. The questions would never end until her daughter came to the phone and explained everything.
He might have to go upstairs and get her out of the shower. That would be fun.
If Sheila didn’t answer it, then her mother would phone Annie, and then there’d be trouble. Her mother would worry, and might even break short her trip to return to rescue her daughter from whatever mothers always imagined was happening to their daughters.
Annie would be nothing but honest and would say too much.
It rang on, and on, interminably. There was nothing he could safely do about it. He could see the difficulties if he dared to answer that insistent demon.
On what must have been the tenth ring, he heard Sheila answer it. Her mother would not have stopped ringing until it was answered, even if it rang for five minutes. But how had Sheila got downstairs without his help?
Damn! And he’d meant to help her out of the shower and help her dress, and who might know what else they would have had time to do, with the progress they were making?
He laughed in nervous relief. And moved to pack his back-pack with what he would need on the Fell that day.
He’d caught the weather forecast earlier that morning. The weather for the next few days was not the best, with several days of sporadic light rain, but Wednesday and Thursday looked good, and today was starting out bright enough. He had no choice. The weather might become unsettled, but he was also running out of time.
However, he would not leave and head out onto the Fells until Sheila had eaten breakfast, and not unless he was sure she would be able to manage for herself until he got back.
He’d also have to make a lunch for himself now that he was not at the Inn. Annie had seen to that for him when he’d stayed there, and she always made him enough lunch to spread through the day. Three meals in one.
As he was about to return into the house to see how Sheila was managing, he saw Annie drive up to get the eggs and to go on to some of the other farms on her usual Tuesday-morning rounds, for fresh milk and meat, and to meet the fish truck from the coast where it offloaded for the train south.
He met Annie in the conservatory, lest Sheila appeared in only her panties and without a bra, or with nothing on at all if she’d rushed to get out of the shower as she may have done.
Annie would notice too much anyway.
He pulled the front door closed, hearing it complain, but it steadily drifted open again.
Annie greeted him cheerfully. “Good morning. I hope everyone slept well and got rested.”
“I think so.” A non-committal response that did not give anything away about them being together in just that one bed all night.
“I smell a proper breakfast for a change. When she looks after herself, she settles for cereal, and you shouldn’t let her neglect herself like that.”
“How’s her ankle?” She was looking into the house. She could hear Sheila talking to her mother and would wait to speak with Sheila and even her mother if she could, before she continued on her rounds.
“Not there yet, but improving. Still tender, so she won’t be walking on it.”
Sheila was likely to be a while on the phone if she told her mother anything about him, but at least she had answered it.
Annie peered along the hall around him, glimpsing a bare back, still glistening with water.
Naked! Sheila must have just climbed out of the shower!
She was too relaxed already, to be wandering the house as dishabille as that with Peter around her, unless they had already…? After just twelve hours together? No, even that would be too fast and not at all like Sheila. At least, not the Sheila she thought she knew. However, when a man came along, nothing was predictable anymore and the fireworks could fly at any time.
Annie remembered how that had changed her own life, but their fireworks had flown for more than a year before she and her boyfriend had got married and taken over the Inn from his parents.
What had these two got up to so soon with each other for Sheila to have booted that other, cautious and shy girl she had known, out of her life? Had university changed her so much, and in ways not even her mother knew about?
She resolved to come back later in the day and visit Sheila; find out what she could, and see how she had changed; or had been changed. Annie had a nose and an eye for such delicate, personal things.
“Never mind. She’s tied up with that call." And she'd soon be distracted even more when Peter discovered her like that. "Tell her I’ll come back and visit after I get lunch out of the way. I expect she has a few things to tell her mother.”
And how! But he hoped she said none of what she might feel like saying in her brash exuberance.
“I’ll let her know you were here.”
She passed him another basket. “I made you a lunch for today, and I'll bring something else over later. You’ll starve here. She never has enough in the house and barely eats enough to keep a flea alive when her mother is not here.”
He brightened up. “Thank you.” He had not expected that.
Annie picked up the cooler with the eggs, and departed before Sheila knew she was there and died of embarrassment to be seen as naked as she was.
Annie had her own thoughts about what she had seen as she drove away. She told herself that she should have come over last night, soon after Peter, to check on the pair of them and to make sure that Sheila was alright and to try to steer things from where they might go, except she’d been taken suddenly busy with her added guests, and Sheila had not wanted her to come over, telling her as much over the phone, though diplomatically.
Despite Sheila’s assurances, Annie had not been fooled, and her warnings had told Sheila as much. There was no fighting against that first, confusing feeling of developing love, and never knowing where to draw the line and where to stop. It looked like they hadn’t drawn any lines to be stopped.
Annie had also seen that eager tell-tale look on Peter’s face when he’d checked out of the Inn, intending to rush back to Sheila, almost tripping over himself trying not to appear eager to do so. He'd been in love even then.
Annie knew that whatever was going to happen between them, would happen as it would, and very soon, and there would be nothing she could do about it no matter how much she tried to insert herself into things. She and Peter were both adults, and old enough to make their own decisions about such things, though her mother wouldn't see it that way.
Sheila’s mother would have a shock waiting for her when she came back home and found her daughter smitten (even more than smitten! Skewered, very likely) by a man her mother knew nothing about, and them already in love and going at each other shamelessly, which they would be by the time her mother saw them together if they weren't doing that already. And they probably had!
With her mother not there to interfere in her affairs, as mothers always did, meaning well (so many crimes were committed with that excuse), Sheila had a chance to open up in her own way, as well as to be personally opened up in another way, and turn into a fully-blooming flower from being just an immature and shy bud. It wouldn't be a passing bee that would fertilize such a ready and eager blossom, but Peter, when he was able to get into her.