The next few days flew by for Jessie. She had gone to town again with John for more groceries. She brought a list this time. And John had given her money to purchase material for a new dress. She was excited about making the dress, but nervous about having to wear it to church to meet his parents. Yet, she was thrilled John had invited her to go. She also bought two pairs of blue jeans and a few shirts. She could hardly believe how expensive everything seemed to her.
She had settled into a routine now. Besides doing the housework and cooking, she was in charge of feeding the animals, except for the horses! It was not as bad as she thought it would be. Most of her nights were taken up with her sewing, the dress had to be ready by Sunday.
She chose a dark purple plain material. She was going to make the dress long and tailored with gold buttons down the front and a bow tie in the back.
John was very busy lately as well. He had finished Jessie’s bed frame. It sat in the room waiting for its mattress. It had come out very nicely. He also made a small bed table that matched. The room was beginning to come together now.
On Saturday night Jessie finally finished her dress. She was very happy with it but really wanted John’s opinion. She decided to go ask him to see her dress on.
She saw the lights on in the barn. John was brushing the horses.
“John, are you very busy?”
“Well, I guess it depends on why you want to know,” he teased.
“You see, I finished my dress for tomorrow, and I think it’s pretty good. But I thought maybe you could see it and say for sure. In case I need to change something.”
John admitted to himself that he was very curious.
That night Jessie put her dress on and walked downstairs to show him. He was nearly breathless. The dress showed the curves on her hips nicely and the outline of her breasts as well.
Jessie waited impatiently for his response.
“Jessie, it’s absolutely beautiful! You are very talented. Turn around.”
Jessie had the biggest grin on her face as she turned back again. John had never seen her so happy. Jessie went on for ten more minutes on how she came to decide on the color, the buttons, and all the other materials she had seen.
John just stood there half-listening and admiring her.
. . . . . . .
It was Sunday, the big day for Jessie. She was actually awake before John this morning. She lay in bed worrying about her day ahead. She had become more comfortable being next to John now. A few times she could feel his body close to hers, but she didn’t mind.
John rolled over surprised to see Jessie wide awake.
“Jessie, I’ve been thinking about today, and you should know what I’ve told my parents. I said we met in the city a while ago, while I was working at the University, and that I’d become good friends with your Aunt and you. I said that your Aunt had . . . had passed away . . .”
Jessie gasped, but did not say a word.
“I said your Aunt owned a Hotel and until the details were worked out with her estate you needed a place to stay . . . and a place to earn money in the meantime. It’s close to the truth Jessie. I hate to lie to my parents but I can’t tell them all the details, you understand don’t you?”
“I suppose. But did you really have to say that my Aunt died?”
“I’m sorry Jessie.”
He wondered if he should tell her the truth about Aunt Betsy right now. But then he did promise not to and what if she did find out, would she leave? No, he couldn’t tell her. He knew that he had upset Jessie and he didn’t want to spoil her mood. She was looking forward to this day and he knew she was nervous already.
“Jessie, why don’t you get ready . . . and you’d better watch out today. All of the single men and probably some of the married ones will be looking at you in that beautiful dress.”
Jessie became flushed. Yet, it did change her mood all right. John thought her dress looked so pretty that men would actually notice her! She was glad that he had noticed. She popped out of bed smiling back at John and went to her room to get ready.
As they got up into the wagon to leave, John said, “You know you really need to learn how to drive the wagon and horses.”
“In case of an emergency for one, and sometimes you’ll need to come to town without me. So slide over.”
“John, I don’t think I can! And I wouldn’t want to be embarrassed my first day going in to meet everyone. What if they saw me and I make a mistake or something?”
“Don’t worry, it’s not that hard, and I’m right here to help you. You can just ride half the way. When we get close to town, I’ll take over.”
Jessie heard that tone in John’s voice again. Just like when she didn’t want to ride the horse. And again, she knew she had no choice. So she slid over.
“Now just hold the reins tight, we can go slowly at first.”
John whistled and the horses were off. It was not quite as hard as she thought it would be. At least not here on the back roads. There were no other wagons to worry about, and the horses followed the trail as if they knew the way even if Jessie did not.
“You see, you can do it! Next we’ll work on riding the horses again!”
Jessie smiled brightly. She loved when John was pleased with her. He was becoming so important to her.
They were nearly at town, “Do you still want me to take over?” John asked.
“Yes, I think it would be best. But you were right, it wasn’t that hard after all.”
In front of the church everyone gathered around. John introduced Jessie to everyone, as his “friend.” Jessie like that.
John’s parents were very nice and seemed to make a real effort to make small talk with Jessie. His mother commented on how lovely her dress was. She thought Jessie had bought it in the city, and was very impressed when she explained she had made it herself.
The church service seemed to fly by. The preacher even formally introduced Jessie to everyone during the services. John helped Jessie with the Hymnal books, and she was glad for it. She had never attended church before. He always seemed to be watching out for her, and Jessie liked it.
Afterwards, John, Jessie, and his parents went out to lunch. Jessie hadn’t realized they’d be dining out at a restaurant. She never really ate anywhere else than the Hotel. Which did not count as a restaurant to her.
Overall, it was going very well, Jessie thought. She had been so nervous the night before thinking of every bad thing that could happen, and all for nothing. She was relaxed and enjoying herself.
John was happy as well. His parents seemed to like Jessie, especially his mother, who had been so doubtful about the whole situation when John had explained it to her.
John could hardly take his eyes off of Jessie throughout the day. He had thought of nothing else but her, since that day he saw her in the tub. And now she was becoming such a part of his everyday life. He found himself excited to come inside for dinner each night and excited to wake up next to her each morning. He still was not sure what to do about his feelings or desires for her yet.