By the River. A new beginning.
They reached the road after another thirty minutes, and two more, memorable rests, each one longer than the one before; each one drawing them ever closer to each other.
She knew that she was not imagining what was changing between them.
Each time he put her down he came close above her and stayed there longer, looking down into her eyes, saying nothing as he recovered his breath and his wits. He was not only concerned for her, but there was much more happening between them than that.
She had strange feelings of her own about what was happening, leaving her in breathless anticipation. But of what?
She unconsciously reached up to touch his head when they rested, looking into each other’s eyes, inviting him to do something more. But he didn't detect how she was feeling, bending to his desires and needs.
Once down onto the road, he walked until it came closer to the river; close enough to get down to bare bed-rock, washed free of soil and vegetation by flood-water, and pocked by water-excavated hollows containing remnants of the previous flood, or rainwater.
This was the river they’d aimed for, with it running mostly near the road along this short stretch of it. The Caldew, was little more than a big stream until it rained hard and then it came up fast, but never did reach the road.
He left the road and carefully picked his way down to the river, cautious of slipping, but the rocks were dry. Once he found a place that he considered suitable, giving easy access to the water flow for her to bathe her foot, he carefully let go of her legs so that she could stand on her one good foot, supporting her, and then helped her sit down with his help, and then moved her closer to the edge to dangle her foot in the cold water.
She leaned back with her eyes closed and sighed in relief.
It felt good.
He looked her over, becoming disturbed again at what he could see of her. Everything about her sent his hormones into orbit.
She put her camera down beside her, well back from the water, and stripped off his jacket. The sun was hot enough that she did not need it now, but she might later. She could sit on it, for the moment.
He watched her do that, aware of the interesting changes he could see, that her stretching caused.
She was conscious of him watching her; conscious of everything he did and was attentive to, about her. She knew what he could see and how it disturbed him.
He knelt beside her and stroked the hair back from her face, touching her cheek as he looked into her eyes.
So much was happening between them and they each knew what it was but could not yet speak of it.
He was not physically close enough to her; never would be close enough, so he sat beside her, facing her, moving his leg over the top of her upper legs, and held her shoulders as she raised her head and looked into his face. He was conscious of her shirt opening up, with one or two buttons relaxing in the middle. He could have slid his hand into that opening and caressed the breast that he could clearly see there, inviting him to touch it, but knew how that would be received. She didn’t seem to know what he could see, so didn't change it.
Thank you, Lord.
Control yourself you idiot.
“I’m sorry I scared you earlier as I saw to you.”
She blushed to be reminded of that.
“I was more taken off guard and shocked, than scared. But I soon got over that.”
He sighed. “I’m sorry it was difficult for you at first, and I did chunter on... (she wouldn't know the meaning of that peculiar Indian word (Hindu or Urdu), so he changed it) ...chatter on about myself and my sisters, but I had to find some way to try and calm you down after my very stupid beginning. My sisters were not shy around me, and they used to go out of their way to shock me in any way they could.” Just as he'd intended to shock them, in equally provocative ways.
She chuckled, imagining that about them and him. She was no longer as shocked as she would have been.
They also hadn’t affected him one tenth as much as this woman did. But why would they? They were his sisters.
“I never had brothers or sisters to know any of that, or how siblings behaved with each other. There was just my mother and me, after Dad died, and we tended to shut out the outside world.”
He continued, liking this more-open exchange between them.
“My sisters taught me a lot without intending to, but that was always a two-way street. Boys are awkward devils with their sisters, and I used to try and shock them too, in ways that I shouldn’t have done. I think I shocked you too, when I stripped off, and you weren't sure... I'm sorry about that.”
“I was not so very badly shocked.” She lied, remembering seeing his testicles; that mouth-drying shadow on the rock, and that proud part of his poking out of his underwear when he'd stood up. She was aware that it was still proud. There would be no hiding that!
He smiled, grateful to hear that. “You are so very different, and nothing like my sisters. You are charmingly shy, which they never were, and… very beautiful.” He blushed when he said that. He'd told her that before, too, but there was no threat to it this time.
She didn’t mind hearing him tell her that, now that she realized that he really believed that and was not just stringing her along.
“Thank you.” She was blushing and smiling shyly at the same time.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment, feeling encouraged to say more.
“You are beautiful in every way. Everything about you (your breasts). Your face, eyes, expression (your breasts); your way of talking. (Especially your breasts). Your kind gentleness. My being close to you drives all other thoughts from my head.” He groaned and closed his eyes at his momentary, unwise folly of telling her too much with her sitting as she was; a breast, still easily visible and accessible, pleading to be touched and held.
He couldn't tell her that he'd fallen in love with her.
“…And you must think I am a complete idiot. I’m sorry. I’m letting my thoughts run away with me and I don’t want to scare you again.”
She accepted that. Everything he had done and said, had unnerved her back there, but not now.
What he’d said needed no response from her, and it had been honestly meant.
He recovered. “Will you be alright while I am gone?”
He was concerned for her. She liked the feeling of someone other than her mother being that way for her, and she especially liked the way he was looking at her.
Her shirt was open. He could touch her there, if he wanted to. She could see that he wanted to. He could barely keep his eyes off her breasts.
She reached up to touch his hand to thank him, opening her shirt even more as another button relaxed. “I think so. And you did not scare me by what you said this time. Thank you for the compliments, and for helping me.”
She should just take his hand and direct it onto her there... but then what?
“You have clean water in that bottle; the river to bathe your foot in, and my jacket to protect you from the sun. I doubt I shall be more than a half-hour. You said your home was not very far.” He waited for her to give him directions.
She nodded again, relaxing with her foot in the water and feeling the cold getting through to her already. Another button relaxed as she leaned back. Only one, to go.
“Do you need a doctor for this, or an ambulance?”
She laughed. “No. No doctor or anything else. Just my bike. That will make it easier to get me home. There is no way that an ambulance would come all the way out here unless it’s a real, life-threatening emergency. I don’t think a sprained ankle counts as one of those. I need to rest it, is all, get some ice on it. It’s only sprained, and I don’t think it’s that bad. The rest is just scratches, and bruises, apart from my torn shirt.” She put her finger into it at the shoulder. She could repair that. The last button opened. There was pitifully little of her, hidden now.
“There is no one at home, so you can walk in. The door is not locked. My mother is away from home for a few days on business, and you can’t get her where she is, and she’d only worry anyway."
She had no difficulty telling him that now.
She smiled up at him now. “I’ll get into a bath when I get home. That will help.”
She gave him directions to her home, waving her arms to point; opening her shirt from her, fully exposing one breast and soon, the other. She tried not to notice.
But he did.
He listened, mesmerized, except... except... and he repeated the directions back to her, unable to take his eyes off her. What she said was clear enough to him, and the house should be easy to find. Everything else about her was clearly shown too.
“I have a bicycle you can bring back for me. It’s in the garden shed at the end of the garden, but I don’t know what kind of condition it’s in, as I haven’t ridden it for more than a year. I can ride that with one foot, and it’s mostly down-hill back to the house from here anyway.”
He’d still go with her. She’d need help to get into the house and to get herself comfortable. He’d decide what to do when he got her home and was able to see how she could manage by herself before he went back for their packs, and then on to the Inn for the evening. He'd never sleep tonight.
He looked around to see where, and how he would be leaving her, seeing nothing he needed to worry about, but not wanting to leave her, with him feeling like this; his emotions up in the air and wanting to tell her everything about how he was feeling toward her, and how wonderful her breasts were, and please, may he touch them?
“You should be alright here. I will be able to see you from the road when I return, and I know exactly where you are.”
She liked this feeling of consideration for her, but he had been nothing other than concerned for her ever since he had encountered her.
“If you find the river-water too cold, there is a pool of water trapped in that basin beside you that will be warmer.” He had chosen this place with that in mind.
“Cold water will bring the swelling down, then when you get home and after the swelling has subsided, you can help it with warm water or a warm compress and bandages to get the circulation flowing again to help the healing process.”
Cold water was what he needed too.
He seemed to know about such injuries.
“You can sit here and alternate; river, then pool, but you should keep your sock on. It will hold the cold water close to you.”
He was holding her hand but gave the impression of being unconscious of what he was doing. He didn’t want to leave her, she could sense that about him, but he would have to.
“I’ll come back for you as soon as I can. From what you say I should be no more than about a half hour.” He looked at his watch. “If the sun gets too hot, cover your head with that jacket, and you can use your sock to damp yourself down.
“Are you sure you will be okay?”
“I would hate to leave you here, return and find that this was all a dream, a cruel figment of my imagination after meeting you as I did.”
Her heart was beating in a way she had never been conscious of before. She knew what he was saying and what it meant, but they’d said nothing about it to each other in words, just in looks and through gentle touches, and the way things were said. He could have moved her shirt fully open, and held her breasts. (Where the hell had that thought come from?).
She would not have minded. Except he might not have been able to leave her after that, until even more had happened between them, and before she began her period. She no longer cared.
He sighed. “I should go. Try not to judge me for all of my verbal gaffes and clumsiness while I am gone.”
He let go of her hand and retreated to the road, looking back anxiously a couple of times to see her watching him. He could still see her shirt even more open now. He wanted to go back, hold her breasts and kiss her all over, but knew that he shouldn't.
She understood everything he had said, seeing so much meaning in it.
He did not want to leave her, afraid that she would disappear. And he had wanted to slide his hand into her open shirt and caress her breast, as she'd also wanted him to do.
It was a nice feeling to have. She did not want him to leave her either. They had only just met, and she felt 'this' about him already?
She didn’t understand it; yet she did. They had grown very close together after what had happened between them over the last hour and more.
He hadn’t changed, but how would she know that, knowing so little about him? No. He hadn’t changed, but she had.
She was falling in love, needing to feel his touch before he left her, needing to sense his concern and to hear his words suggesting that he was caught up in the same magic of love, which is what it must be.
She blushed, ashamed to think how little she had trusted him at first, but those first few minutes had been difficult for her; scared stupid as she had been when he’d taken off her shirt and seen her breasts without that blasted bra.
After that first shock of him seeing her exposed as she had been, he had managed to deal with her carefully and cleverly, with just a few set-backs.
Then, him so nonchalantly telling her about his antics with sisters as he did; able to smile at her while her own feelings were screaming at her in confusion. That, had been a turning point for her.
There would be no going back now. That horse had bolted the barn. She was in love for the first time in her life. She ached to feel him touching her breasts. Soon.