An enlightening descent.
Peter retrieved her pack from where it had fallen, and as he climbed, he carefully picked up everything that had spilled out of it.
He was sure on his feet and had powerful legs. He’d need them to carry her as he’d told her he would, to get her to the road.
She was no lightweight, and they would have difficulty getting up that first very steep slope with its loose rocks.
There was an expensive digital camera sitting on the edge at the top of the gully along with her binoculars.
Fortunately, she’d had a fast-enough response to put them down behind her as she had slipped and fallen, and neither had been damaged that he could see, with their lens-covers still on them.
He left them with his own pack, and came back down to her to give her a light, waterproof jacket that he'd taken out of it.
He explained how they would climb out of here, and then head down to the road. She would be on his back and holding tightly over his shoulders, but he would not be holding her on that first very steep climb. He would lean forward and scramble in an undignified manner on all fours, until he got to the top, with her holding onto him as closely and as tightly as she could, keeping her weight forward, and high on his back.
“I’ll carry you down to the river after that, and let you bathe your ankle in that cold water while I go for help, but we’ll leave these packs up here and I’ll come back for them later. If there’s anything you need now, you should get it.”
“I should take my camera with me in case it rains, or someone else comes by.”
The camera meant a lot to her; a gift from her father. She had also taken a telephoto shot of Peter, several of them, at a distance.
She knew what the problem with her breasts was now; she was close to starting her period. Damn! The sooner she got home, the better, and before it became obvious. She couldn’t do anything about it here, and have him watch her do that, struggling to insert a tampon as he watched her, even though she had what she needed in her pack.
He put a bottle of water into his jacket pocket for her.
She would need that when he left her sitting in the sun by the river.
He helped her to her feet, to stand on her one good foot on that rock and then backed into her, feeling her arms go over his shoulders as he held her legs; hitched her higher onto his back, and then he began to scramble up the slope.
Once they began the second part; their descent off the plateau, with her carrying her boot and her camera, Peter picked his way slowly down the slope, piggy-backing her down to the road and the adjacent river.
They rested often on their way down as he sank back slowly onto the grass-covered slope, or a rock, letting her down as he recovered his breath, but he really hadn’t needed to rest. He was more interested in her, and helping her to talk and open up to him. He needed to know more about her.
Each time they stopped, he turned, kneeling between her legs, hands on either side of her, as he moved above her, shielding her from the sun, poised over her, catching his breath as he looked down into her face and her eyes. He could look at her all day and never see enough of her. He shouldn’t stand up from her, or she would notice that he was becoming aroused again, but he daren’t get too close to her either, for the same reason.
She had her knees bent and her legs wide apart as he did that (he was between them so she had no choice), sensing what he was feeling; his excitement for her, the way he was looking at her. She reached up and wiped over his brow, taking off the perspiration that easily broke out upon him, but then she weighed as much as he did; all but twenty or thirty pounds.
He’d had to pick his way down the steep slope with care, choosing to zig-zag across the steeper parts of the slope to avoid slipping on the grass and falling with her.
The single mile from the gully to the river became much longer because of that.
She was no longer afraid when he did that, resting close above her in a suggestive way each time, looking into her eyes, kneeling between her legs with them apart, as no moral woman, careful of her reputation, would ever choose to do, but in this case she had no choice.
She knew that he was helping her, even if there were other possibilities churning around in his mind as well as her own, wondering when he might kiss her. He had that look on his face. She found that she would not have minded.
She had other concerns, hoping that she would not start her period properly until she got home, not wanting him to see that about her, staining her shorts, or she would disgust him and kill whatever was happening between them that so excited them both.
It amazed her that she did not panic or fight him away as she had earlier, feeling him against her when he got too close, but she was dressed now. He had not taken advantage of her when she had been at her most vulnerable, back there, with only her panties covering her, but not covering her very effectively, so he wouldn’t do it now.
More than once, he got even closer to her as though he was about to kiss her in his forgetfulness as to where they were and who she was, and the difficult position they were both in.
Once, he did kiss her on her knee where there was an obvious scrape. It was unconsciously done and kindly meant.
He may have done something comparable for his younger sister, kissing her scrapes when she had been hurt climbing trees with him, watching him pee from the very top and laughing with him. She could imagine him doing that.
They still did not know much about each other, despite learning how much they had in common; being about the same age, both at the same university, and both with an awakening sense of other things that they shared and had in common, but she hadn’t formulated what those commonalities were, just yet.
The one thing she did know, was that she was no longer afraid of him, and would never fear him again.
She decided that she could, and should, trust him. He had done nothing but help her, even at her most vulnerable.
She offered him some of that water to replace what he was losing by perspiring.
“Thank you.” He smiled down at her. He had a nice smile. Everything about him was nice.
She watched as he sat up from her and tilted the bottle, drinking deeply, knowing that they would soon be at her home. His Adams Apple; that uniquely male item, another one—she shocked herself being able to think of that 'other'—bobbed with each swallow.
As he sat up from her, drinking, she could see dark hair in the top of his shorts where his shirt had opened up, and that his zip was already relaxing and moving down from the exertion of carrying her.
He offered her the bottle of water now.
She drank as he studied her in turn, observing everything about her; her breasts tight against her shirt, pushing the buttons apart; her face, especially her eyes. She blushed when she saw how he was looking at her.
She was no longer scared of him. That was a relief, but he should still be very careful.
When she’d had enough to drink, he put the bottle back into the jacket pocket. They could go on again when he was ready.
“I hope I am not too heavy for you, Peter?”
She was concerned for him now, where he had been the one concerned for her before, and she was able to use his name for the first time.
He smiled, happy to see that she was relaxing with him at last.
“You are not heavy at all. I could carry you all day if I had to.”
He could, too.
She knew that what he said, was one of those little deceptions that lovers often told each other.
Lovers? Where had that thought come from? Though it had been growing in her brain slowly.
She had encountered so few men, and she knew little about them. Botany, was more the purview of women in her year, with there being no men in that discipline.
Why did she think of him, and lover, in the same thought, even though no word of what their actual, developing feelings were, had been exchanged?
It was far too soon for that, and surely it was far too early to know. This was just her, daydreaming as girls did; a dangerous pastime at a vulnerable moment. Women tended to grab at these little straws, seeing a future husband in many young men, but rarely for longer than a few seconds. Usually only long enough to see behind that misleading and deceptive façade.
She had seen all men up to then, as being more of a threat to her than anything else for her future comfort.
She had never felt like this before, but she understood it.
She forced herself to be rational, rather than emotional.
He had helped her. She was grateful for it. It was that simple; 'a', then 'b', and there was nothing more to it than that. Except it was much more than gratitude that she felt. She would wrestle with it later when she was alone and could go over it all in her mind without forgetting a single moment of it or a word he had spoken to persuade her; or what he had said about his sisters.
He had been nervous seeing to her, never sure how she would rebel or respond! The sudden truth of that thought—him being nervous with her—surprised her.
Why had he been nervous? She was the one that had been vulnerable and threatened. But she was having to adjust her thinking about that too. He had been determined to help her, and had overridden her various objections, but there had been moments when he had been unsure and, she now knew, had even been nervous seeing to her. At those times, he had felt as vulnerable as she'd felt.
These feelings were new for her, never having been in this predicament before, or being so close to someone her own age; male, or in such a charged situation, as well as one in which he had undressed her and seen everything about her. She should have worn heavier panties.
Oh, the embarrassment! Even if only for a short while.
She had changed. She was in control of herself, and—she began to realize—was in control of him too, but in a way she did not entirely understand. It was an empowering feeling, or would be, when she learned more about it.
He turned and sat down between her legs, facing away from her.
She pulled herself up onto his back, holding onto him again, taking a firm grip around his neck, holding tightly to him with her hands pushed into his open shirt, holding onto him, feeling the muscles moving in his chest as he clambered to his feet for the next stage of the descent.
His thoughts were difficult. He would like them to swap, with him on her back, so that he could push his hands into her shirt, and hold her the same way, upon her uncovered breasts.
It would be nice if this were never to end.