For the past two weeks, Branson Mahoney had been trying to catch the person who had been destroying equipment, materials and causing her building project to come to a screeching halt. Now with the backers breathing down her neck and her employees ready to quit, she took it into her own hands and was now sitting in the dark waiting. With just the large heavy flashlight for protection and the dim light from the cloud-covered moon, she waited for what she had come to call the Phantom. Under a tree close to her last bulldozer that hadn't come under attack, she sat with her six-foot frame huddled behind the large oak tree. She had no idea what she would do if the phantom showed up; bludgeon the person with her flashlight, scream at the top of her lungs or go Warrior Princess on him. A slight grin came to her lips when she thought of catching the person who had done such a good job of stopping her from building the apartment complex. She had millions of dollars invested in the project and would make triple or more when it was completed. That is if she could get started, so far, all she was able to get done was the damaged equipment moved off site and more materials brought in. Feeling a cramp start to form in her calf, she stood up and then caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Moving around the tree, she searched the area until she caught a dark form creeping towards the trailer that she used for an on sight office.
Dressed in black cami clothing, combat boots, tactical vest and night hood, Callaway J. Kuhrt made her way towards the trailer to make sure that no one was sleeping inside. Over the past two weeks, she had watched from a distance and then come into the site under the cover of darkness. At first, she had spiked all the trees to slow down their progress of clearing the 40 acres of trees, and then she flattened all the tires on the equipment a few days later. No matter what she did, it wasn't slowing the destruction of the lush countryside that she loved. Then an idea came to her, she went armed with plastic containers filled with sugar and rice. Pouring the ingredients into the gas tanks and radiators brought everything to a screeching halt. She then used the one remaining forklift and filled the pits dug for the footers with all the lumber and other materials. She had one last thing to do and hoped that the company who was trying to bring the city into the Amish countryside would give up and go away.
She peeked into the window of the trailer and saw that it was empty, moving to the front; she stopped and looked towards the bulldozer she had left untouched. Her plan was to push the trailer into the pit with the other stuff and then let the bulldozer fall on top of the pile. Dropping low to the ground, she ran towards the bulldozer and started to crawl up into the cab.
Branson watched the dark form come running towards where she was hiding, she waited until the small body was halfway up the ladder to the cab when she sprung out of her hidden spot and grabbed them around the waist. She struggled with the person and was finally able to pull hard enough that they lost their grip on the steel ladder rungs. They fell backwards onto the hard packed dirt and gasped as all the air was forced out of their lungs. Arms and legs kicked and swung out for purchase on the other body, grunts of pain came and then the flurry of a smaller body sprinting away into the dark. Branson jumped to her feet and took chase; it ended quickly because of her longer legs. She threw a football tackle and both of them hit the ground again. She fought to pin the smaller body to the ground and once she was able to flip the person over, she dropped all of her weight on them. Using one hand, she grabbed a leather-covered hand and pinned it above the hood-covered head. Before she could grab the other, a jolt similar to lightning shot through her body and caused her to shudder and become paralyzed.
Callaway struggled to pull her tazer from her cargo pocket; she finally worked it past the flap, jammed it up into her opponent's ribs and pulled the trigger. What she had forgotten about was the metal buckles and snaps on her tactical vest. The current passed between the two of them and rendered them both paralyzed. She lay on her back with the full body weight of the other person on top of her. The only other time she had felt this bad was when she had accidentally touched a cattle fence while standing in the mud. Taking shallow breaths through her nose, she picked up the scent of a light musk and citrus shampoo. It was then that she realized that the body lying on top of her was a woman, a very big woman at that. If able, she would have laughed at her situation; she never thought she would have been caught let alone by another woman.
Branson started to feel some life come back to her body, at first it was a tingling feeling and then she was able to move her fingers and toes. The body under her also started to move more, she felt a slight struggle and then a ragged breath. "Get?off?can't?breathe." Shifting her body to the side, she reached up with one hand and pulled the hood from her captive. All that she could see was messy blonde hair and angry eyes looking up at her.
"Looks like I finally caught my phantom, where's that thing you used on me?" She grabbed both of the phantom's wrists and saw that her hands were empty. "You didn't expect to zap yourself along with me did you?"
"Go to Hell!" Callaway growled and then brought her knee up into Branson's groin. The minute Branson gasped and fell off her; she scrambled to her knees and tried to get away.
"You bitch!" She whimpered and grabbed a hold of an ankle to keep her phantom from escaping. "You're goin' ta jail as soon as I can stand up without throwing up."
"The Hell I am, you're going down." Callaway kicked out with her other foot and caught Branson in her throat and then stomach. When the larger woman released her ankle, she started to get up and leave. The gurgling noise stopped her in her tracks. "Ohh for Christ sakes now what did I do?" She went back over to the woman who was on her side and lifted her head up from the ground. Pulling her penlight from a pocket on her vest, she flipped it on and shined it down to the woman's throat. Holding the light between her teeth, she struck the side of the muscular neck with two fingers and watched her take a deep shuddering breath. "Now I'm outta here and don't try to follow me." Before she could get up, Branson threw up all over her thighs and arm before passing out. She threw her head back and closed her eyes. "What did I do to deserve this; I just knew I should have stayed home." Looking around her, she saw a truck hidden in the tree line. She searched the woman's pockets, pulled out her keys and then jogged over to the truck. "Now I'll go to jail for vandalism, assault and battery, destruction of private property and car theft." Climbing into the truck, she pulled it as close as she could to Branson and then climbed out. "The fates must hate my guts for doing this to me." After struggling with six foot of dead weight, she finally had Branson in her truck and on her way to her house. She had no idea what she was going to do once she got her there and hoped an idea would blossom soon.
Branson came to and noticed the air whistling through the open windows of her truck and the smell of cows, she rubbed her sore throat and tilted her head from where it was resting on the seat to see the profile of her phantom. "Are you kidnapping me?"
"Hardly," she glanced over at the dirt-smeared face and smirked. "I'm not into kidnapping or anything," She pulled up between tall wooden posts and through an open gate. "I couldn't leave you passed out on the ground out there, so I decided I'd bring you back to my lair and make you my slave."
"Well that's mighty nice of you, I always wanted to be shackled and say 'yes master." She looked down at her clothes and wrinkled her nose at the smell of vomit wafting up to her. "Now I know why the windows are all open and my mouth tastes like something died in it."
Callaway stopped the truck next to an old farmhouse and climbed out; she looked through the window and waved. "Come on in and get cleaned up, I gotta get out of these clothes before I throw up all over myself." She walked up the steps, opened the wooden screen door and stopped to wait for the tall woman to join her. "Come on, I don't bite and I have no ulterior motives here."
Branson rubbed her tired eyes, climbed out of her truck and followed Callaway into the farmhouse. She never expected for any of this to happen and could kick herself for being so stupid as to think that she could handle the phantom. "There's a bathroom down the hall there, there's a robe on the back of the door you can use if you want to take a shower."
Branson crossed her arms over her chest and looked down into green eyes. "Why are you doing this?"
"Because I feel bad for hurting you so bad and you really reek." She headed for the stairs on the other side of the foyer and stopped. "When you're done, follow the hallway down to the door on the right. It's the kitchen, I'll meet you there." She bounded up the wooden steps two at a time and went down the hallway to her bedroom. Stepping through the door, she started pulling her clothes off on her way to her bathroom. Dropping everything into a clothesbasket on the floor, she then turned the water on for the showerhead that hung above the claw-foot bathtub. Getting under the hot spray, she dropped her head and let it pound on her sore back muscles. She was a very active person, but rolling around in the dirt fighting off another person was not an everyday occurrence. Soaping up quickly and then rinsing, she turned the water off and grabbed her robe off the hook on the wall beside the bathtub. With her head still wet and water dripping down her tanned neck, she jogged down the steps and made her way to her large country kitchen. Her attacker was sitting in a high backed wooden kitchen chair with her face resting in her hands and her long dark hair hanging over her shoulders. "Do you feel better; can I make you some tea or coffee?" She stepped closer and placed a hand on a broad shoulder. "Let me see your throat, I wanna make sure I didn't hurt you too bad."
"What did you do to me after you kicked me, I remember you jabbing me with something?" She raised her head, looked up into light green eyes and froze. She had never seen eyes that color before and felt like she was falling.
"I released the pressure points that I hit when I kicked you?It's something?" Callaway felt the air rush out of her lungs with one look into crystal blue eyes, she felt like she was looking up into a clear sky and felt dizzy. "I'm really sorry?I don't know your name."
"Branson Mahoney and for the past two weeks, you've been my phantom menace."
Callaway stuck out her hand. "Callaway J/ Kuhrt or CK for short, how about some coffee?" Without waiting for an answer, she went over to the coffee maker and turned it on. "Do you take cream and sugar; I have fresh cream that I made this morning."
Branson looked over to her and raised a dark eyebrow. "You made the cream, how do you make cream and why were you destroying all my property at the work site?"
"The cream comes off the top of fresh milk and I don't want to see a bunch of spoiled city assholes ruining the countryside. They don't belong out here and neither do apartment buildings, condos or million dollar houses." She set a cup in front of Branson along with a pitcher of cream and a container of sugar. "This is Amish country, has been for over a hundred years. Their way of life will be ruined if the apartments are built. Now why were you out there lurking in the shadows?"
"I was trying to catch you, that's what I was doing. I had no idea that I'd get my ass kicked." She took a sip of her coffee and sighed as it soothed her sore throat. "Why are you so against having anything built out here, it will bring business out here into the boonies and raise property values."
CK leaned across the table and held crystal blue eyes in a glare. "We don't care about property values; we care about the unsoiled way of living, the peace and quiet and the open space. If any of us wanted to live in a cluster fuck, we'd move to the city."
Branson shook her head and looked down at her bruised knuckles. "You keep saying we, we as in who?"
"Me, the Amish the other farmers in this area and we don't want those apartments here!"
Branson jumped in her chair and looked into the deep red face of an angry CK. "That's just too bad, because I will build those apartments and you'll just have to deal from your jail cell," She finished her coffee and stood up. "Where's your phone, I need to make a call?"
"It's on the wall by the back door, hit two for the speed dial to the sheriff's office." She sat calmly while Branson went over to the phone.
"You don't seem upset that I'm calling the sheriff, why not?" She watched a smirk grace the tanned features of CK and felt the hair stand up on the back of her neck.
"Easy, my dad will laugh his ass off when you tell him what I've done."
"Ohh fuck me to tears." Branson mumbled to herself. "It won't stop me; I'll call the Arlington DA and have her press charges against you."
"A lot of good that will do, you're out of Arlington county." She got up from her chair and went to stand in front of Branson. "Damn you're taller than I thought, tell ya what, you let me show you what we'll be losing if you build and if you're not satisfied. I'll have my dad put me in jail and process the charges."
"You're kidding right?" Branson laughed and wiped the moisture from her eyes. "What can you show me that I haven't already seen while being out here on my building site?"
CK tapped her on her chest and whispered. "Life." She went over to a cooling rack and picked up a pie to put in the refrigerator. "The life of pureness, hard work and sweat, can you handle that?"
"CK, I can handle anything you dish out?well unless you kick me again." She went back over to the table and sat down. "When do we start, what do I have to do and for how long?"
"How about in two days time, that'll give you the time to go back to that dreaded city you like, get some clothes, postpone your building and pack enough for a week."
Branson rolled her eyes and chuckled. "You think you can change my mind in a week?"
CK smiled and nodded her head. "Yep I can, in one week I can show you what peace is."
Branson looked to the clock on the coffee maker and yawned. "I'll be back in two days to prove you wrong." She got up from the table and felt a hand take her upper arm.
"You're not going anywhere tonight, its eleven o'clock and you don't have any clothes to wear. You can sleep in one of my spare rooms and leave in the morning."
"I have spare clothes in my truck, I'll change out there."
"Are you deaf, I said you're not leaving? Now come on, I have five rooms to choose from."
"I'm not going to win tonight am I?"
CK gave her a bright smile and shook her head. "Nope, ya sure aren't. I'll wake you up before I go out to do my chores." CK took her upstairs and to the room that was next to hers, she flipped on the light and pointed to the large bed covered in a handmade quilt done in light blues and rose triangle pattern. "The bathrooms right across the hall and my room is next door."
"Do you live here all alone?"
"Yep, except for my farm animals. I like it this way, I really don't have time for social activities and I don't really miss what I've never had." She moved from the doorway and spoke over her shoulder. "Good night Branson."
"Night phantom, see you in the morning." She chuckled at CK's groan, turned off the light and moved over to pull the covers back on the large bed. She striped out of the soft terry clothe rob, tossed it on the old rocking chair near the long window and crawled into bed. The soft mattress hugged her tired and sore body and pulled her into slumber the minute she closed her eyes.
The sun was nowhere in sight when CK walked into Branson's room to wake her, she turned on the small tableside light and felt her jaw drop. The covers lay halfway on the floor and a long legged very naked Branson lay sprawled on her stomach across the bed. Her long raven black hair fanned out across her shoulder and pillow, she let her eyes linger and then trail down to stop at her feet and back up. Running a hand through her short blond hair, she wiped her sweaty palm on her pant leg before getting closer to a sleeping Branson. Leaning over the bed, she shook a strong shoulder and whispered to her. "Branson, time to get up." She tried again but louder when Branson didn't even move. "Branson!" A slight movement and then one eye blinked open and shut quickly.
"Uugghh, what's that mean? I'm going out to do chores; I'll be back in and have breakfast ready." Pulling the covers up over her, she turned the light off and left Branson to sleep. "Guess you're not a morning person."
Branson woke when she felt a hand shake her shoulder; she rolled onto her back and opened her eyes to see a strange ceiling above her. Turning her head, she looked to CK and jumped. "I didn't know where I was for a minute," She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and yawned. "What time is it?" She looked around the room and saw a small clock on the side table. "CK it's only six thirty in the morning."
"Hey I was nice and let you sleep an extra two hours, breakfast is waiting, so move it before it gets cold."
Pulling the covers to her neck, she sat up and moaned from the stiffness of her muscles. "Do you get up that early to wake the rooster or something; no sane people get up at four something in the morning?"
"I never said I was sane, I'll be down stairs, hurry up."
When Branson got downstairs, CK was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee in her hand and reading the newspaper.
"I didn't think the Amish read the newspaper nor had electricity."
CK looked up at her and grinned. "I never said I was Amish, I just live in the same area." She got up from the table and pointed to a cup on the counter. "Get some coffee and I'll get our breakfast." She filled the plates and then set them on the table; she watched the look of amazement come over Branson's face and raised an eyebrow. "What's wrong; please tell me that you eat eggs."
"Yeah I do, it's just that I've never seen them that color before." She touched the yolk with her fork and then up to CK. "It's kinda orange, what's wrong with it?"
"Nothing, that's what a fresh egg looks like, no funny stuff pumped into the chicken and laid this morning."
"Laid this morning from a real chicken, not out of a cardboard carton or anything?"
"Ohh have you got a lot to learn," She sat down at the table and started buttering buttermilk biscuits. "Every thing on your plate I either raised grew myself or made from scratch. I live off the land and for what ever I take, I replace by three." She finished the mouthful of food in her mouth and watched Branson poke at her food. "I didn't poison your food so eat."
"I wasn't worried about that, its the bacon, did you kill a pig?"
"No, I raised it and my neighbor John butchered it for me. He and his sons do all the butchering around here; they even make the sausage and hog cracklings."
After breakfast, CK handed Branson her freshly washed and dried clothes and went out into the garden to check on her vegetable plants. She planted extra every year for the rabbits and other animals that would invade during the night. She knew when she had checked the day before that she should have some squash and tomatoes ready to pick. Grabbing her basket, she walked down between the tilled rows and bending over every few feet to pick a vegetable. Branson stood in the kitchen doorway watching, a small lopsided grin came to her lips. The sight before her of a firm ass in faded Levis bending over every so often was enough to keep her spellbound. The Gods sure were kind when they made you. She stepped closer and cleared her throat. "I'm ready to head out of here; I'll be back in two days to start my lessons."
CK turned around and gave her a short nod. "Make sure you bring old clothes and good sturdy work boots," She grinned. "You'll need them."
"Don't worry, I'm not afraid of hard work, after all, I'm a construction worker."
"We'll see city slicker, we'll see." She gave her a wave and went back to picking vegetables after Branson walked around the back of the farmhouse and out to her truck.
Branson pulled her truck into the underground garage of her apartment building, it was one of the buildings that she had built and had made the deal that she would retain the top floor for her own residence when completed. She had lived there six years and was happy with her large flat, even though she didn't spend as much time there anymore. With building new buildings and condos all over the area, she found it too hard to drive for hour's everyday to sleep in her own bed. Most of her time was spent on site and then a few hours in a motel room at night. For the last ten years, she knew nothing else, so this week in the country would be like a vacation for her. When her personal elevator opened, she was inside her flat. It seemed so dark and dreary compared to CK's house, she remembered her large country kitchen with its sunny yellow cabinets and wide windows near the oak kitchen table. The bleached wooden floor with bright hand-made throw rugs near the door and white curtains hanging over the window above the double kitchen sink, felt warm and cheerful compared to her flat; everything she owned was dark and dreary. Everything was done in black leather and stainless steel, the only color were the white throw pillows on her black leather couch. "I live in a dungeon compared to CK's, I have such a bubbly personality and it shows in my décor!" Flipping the overhead track lighting on, she shed her clothes on her way to her bedroom. Turning the light on, she looked at her black iron bed and sighed. "I might as well sleep on a bed of nails," She tossed her clothes on the end of the bed and changed into worn out sweats and a t-shirt. "Shit, a few hours out in bum fuck Egypt and I'm wrecked."
She went back out in to her living room, dropped onto her couch and grabbed the phone from where it sat on the end table. Hitting speed dial, she called her site manager and waited for her to pick up.
"Hey Leo, we got a problem and I need you to call the crew and tell them that we won't be doing anything out in Lancaster PA for a week." She pulled the phone from her ear and winced.
"What the Hell is going on boss, we lose all our equipment and shit and now you want to take a week off?"
Branson could imagine her friends caramel colored eyes glinting like copper and the veins in her neck throbbing. "I caught the phantom last night and well?I struck up a deal with her."
"Did you say her, all that stuff got ruined by one woman?"
"Ohh you would not believe what she's capable of, she took me down with a few kicks. I ended up staying at her farmhouse last night because she just about killed me."
Leo laughed at her and dropped the phone in her glee. "So she felled the mighty Branson Mahoney, hard to believe there's someone bigger than you. Does she look like a WWF wrestler?"
"Haaa that would be easier on my ego, she's maybe five foot five and 120 pounds. Leo, the woman can cook, I mean real food!"
Leo ran her fingers through the dark bangs that hung in her eyes. "For Christ sakes Branflake, all food is real and you're the only one who can't boil water. So why are we stopping for a week?"
Branson leaned back on her couch and took a deep breathe. "This is going to sound insane but she wants to change my mind about building the apartment building. She's going to show me how peaceful the countryside is and what the people around there will be losing if we build."
"You're right, that is insane. Soo Branflake, you're going country for a week that can only mean one thing. She must be a hotty with a great ass."
Branson chuckled at her memory and rolled her eyes. "You have no idea Leo, tight faded Levis, short blonde hair and light green eyes."
"And you're the one who complains about the guys thinking with their little brains and you're doing the same thing."
"Not completely, if I win this bet, she goes to jail. If she wins, then we build somewhere else."
"You are soo gonna lose Branflake, she's got the cards already stacked against you. All she has to do is cook for you in nothing but an apron and the apartments are history!"
"Speaking from experience there Leo, I remember you falling over an I-beam when Lindsey waved a turkey sandwich at you."
"I wasn't looking at the sandwich, it was her hard nipples poking against her t-shirt you idiot." She sighed deeply and groaned at the memory. "Anyways, I'll call the crew and let them know to take the week off, you keep in contact. I'll send in the Marines if you need some overhauls and a pitchfork."
"Gee thanks Leo, love you too. I'll talk to you later; I gotta pack for my vacation." She hung up the phone and fell back on the couch. "I may just enjoy myself for the first time in years." A wicked grin came to her face when she thought of CK picking veggies in a thong and nothing else. "Enough of that, I better get packed and everything in order." She crawled from the couch and went into her bedroom to get started.
The rising sun found CK sitting on her three-legged stool in the barn. "Come on now Bert, I know you have more milk in there." CK squeezed the teats between her fingers and rested her forehead against her milk cow's side. A wide grin came to her face when she heard the sound of milk hitting the bottom of the bucket. "I knew you were holding out on me, how do you expect me to make butter to sell with no milk?" The sound of her cow chewing and the sound of her heart beating lulled her into another time.
"Grandpa my hands are too small, I can't squeeze 'em." A six year-old CK whined as she sat on the three-legged stool beside the huge milk cow. She tried again and became frustrated, looking for her grandpa; she ducked her head and suckled the cows teat. When her mouth was full, she spit the warm milk into the bucket.
"I gotta say Calli," Her grandpa said from over the cows back. "You'll always find an alternative way of doing things." He gave her a mischievous grin. "I won't tell your grandma, if ya won't tell her I still chew plug."
"Deal grandpa, can I play with the baby pigs afterward?"
"Yep, just be careful of their mama, ya know how she gets." He tousled her long blonde hair with his calloused fingers before going out of the barn.
Her dad had moved them back to his parent's farm after her mom died from complications giving birth. That is when she learned to live off the land. It just about killed her when her grandparents died just months apart when she was eighteen. Even after all the years that had gone by, tears still filled her eyes when she thought of her grandparents. Wiping her cheeks, she pulled the bucket from beneath Bert and released her to go back out into the pasture with the other cows. Taking the bucket up to the house, she placed it next to her butter churn and went into the kitchen to wash her hands. A bright smile came to her features when she thought of all the fun she was going to have once Branson came back. She would enjoy putting the tall woman through the wringer so to speak, it would be hard work for her but the ending results were what counted. She thought there was nothing better than to sit out on the porch after a hard days work with a glass of iced tea and the sound of crickets. The soft breeze heavy with the scent of fresh cut hay and old fashion lilacs in full bloom and relaxing with the gentle motion of the old porch swing. Shaking off her musings, she went back out on the porch and started to make fresh butter for the bake sale on Saturday. Along with the butter, she had a dozen Dutch apple pies, a dozen loaves of sour dough bread and cherry strudels to sell. The money that she made from the sales, she used for her one weakness, books. She read more books than most publishing house editors did, and that wasn't counting what she did read for the publishing company she free-lanced for.
Branson fidgeted at her glass toped kitchen table; she pushed around the microwave breakfast with her fork and sighed. Every few minutes, she looked up at her clock and saw that no time had passed. "You're acting like a teenager, it's not a prom date, Branflake." She tossed the cardboard carton into the trash compactor and put the fork in the dishwasher. "Just get in your truck and get on the road, CK's been up since before dawn and already worked more than you have." She rubbed the creases between her eyebrows and moaned. "You talk too much to yourself; you really need to get a life." She grabbed her keys and duffle bag from the floor and went to the elevator. On the ride down, she knew that she had the stupidest grin on her face and didn't care one bit. She would be spending a week in the country with the phantom menace and get home cooked meals.
Once she made it out of the city and was on the open roads, she cranked up her radio and listened to WFRE 99.9 out of Frederick Maryland. Not many knew that she preferred country music above all else, at work, she listened to what ever the guys had on the radio. Now, she could sing her heart out and not worry about the strange looks from her crew. An hour and a half later, she knew she was getting close to her destination, she could smell cows and other livestock on the air. She had heard countless times that it was a scent that grew on you and after a time you didn't notice it. She couldn't see where that was true, then again, the smell of buses and trucks was hardly noticed by her anymore. Driving past her construction site, she sighed and shook her head. "What are you doing Branflake; this is not a lesbian sea cruise." You don't even know if she's gay and if she's not, what happens if she finds out you are? "She could wack me and bury my ass out in a field somewhere!"
CK had just come out of the barn when she saw the dust settling at the end of the long driveway, she took off at a slow jog and rounded the house to see Branson getting out of her Chevy truck. She knew that there was one more day before she should have been there. A wide grin came across her lips when she saw the old Levis, sleeveless flannel shirt and well-worn work boots. The clothes fit her like a glove and brought out the strong musculature of her body. CK found her mouth watering at the expanse of tanned thickly muscled arms flexing with the weight of a duffle bag and tool belt. "Down CK, think of Bert's teats, slopping the pigs, your grandma's bloomers!" She whistled and grinned when Branson dropped her bag and spun on her heel to face her. "You're a day early, ya miss me or something?" You're a cocky little thing Callaway. Her little voice purred in her ear.
"Maybe or it could be your cooking." She grinned at the small nod that made blonde hair fall across a smooth tanned forehead.
"Then you're in luck, I was just going in to make lunch. How's BBQ pork sandwiches, coleslaw and fresh milk sound?"
"A lot better than the stale donuts and beer I usually have." She picked up her bag and followed CK around the back to the kitchen door. "Where can I put this stuff?" She lifted her bag and tool belt.
"You can use the same room as before or pick another, it's up to you."
"OK, I'll be back in a minute to help." She walked quickly from the kitchen and up the stairs to stow her gear. After dropping it near the bed, she went into the hallway and peeked into CK's room. What she saw brought a smile to her face, the walls were soft cream with pink border that matched the cream and white quilt on her queen sized bed. The furniture was all hand made and a light colored oak and stood out against the dark rose plush carpeting. On the far wall, she saw a large window seat with a thick stack of books sitting at on end. "I never took you for a pink feminine type woman." She jumped when she heard her name called and turned to bound down the stairs two at a time. "You bellowed for me?"
"Yeah, lunch is done." CK pointed to the plates with thick pieces of bread loaded down with BBQ pork and coleslaw, she placed a large glass of milk next to Branson's plate and then one by her own. "Bert gave me this milk this morning; it may taste different than you're used to."
Branson looked up from her plate with a cocked dark eyebrow. "Bert and why?"
"My cow and because it still has all the fats and nutrients in it, it's good for ya. You'll need the energy later."
"I will huh, and why is that?"
"Because I have over a thousand bales of hay to put up in the barn loft." The look on Branson's face was priceless, CK could swear that she just told her that she had contracted a fatal disease and would die in seconds.
Branson stood slumped over at the waist, sweat dripping off her chin to land on the bale of timothy hay at her feet. She had no idea how many bales of hay she had placed on the conveyor belt. It felt like a couple thousand and they had only been working for two hours.
CK yelled down from the loft window. "Are ya dying down there Slick?" Branson looked up and growled at her.
"You're trying to kill me aren't you, what's in these bales anyway, lead?"
"Nope, and those are baled light. You should see what the third cutting is like; those easily weigh about 130lbs." She came though the door and walked down the conveyor belt. "My tractor and bailer are almost 50 years old, the new ones the rich farmers use are called kick bailers or there's one that makes these great big round bales." She handed Branson a bottle of water and took a seat on one of the bales. "I can't afford something like that so I do with what I have." She shrugged her shoulders and watched Branson drain the bottle.
"What's something like that cost, ball park figure?"
"Probably as much as one of your bulldozers."
"Yeah that is a lot to come up with, how do the other farmers have that kind of money?"
"They raise produce and beef for companies or they go so far in to debt that the next ten generations will be paying the liens."
Branson took a seat on the bale across from her and nodded her head; she knew all to well how economics worked. The news was always filled with how the farmers were suffering and seeking government aide. "So what do you raise here and who do you sell it to?"
"I raise a few head of beef cattle, a few pigs, chickens and their food. I butcher one cow and pig for the winter, keep my steer and few cows for breeding and sell the others to the market. My chickens that can't produce eggs anymore, become supper."
"Do you make good money doing that, I mean is it enough to live on?"
CK laughed and wiped sweat from her face. "I do all right, but it's not the only thing I do. I'm a freelance editor for a publishing company in New York." She stood up and walked back up the conveyor belt and through the loft window. "Break times up Slick, after this wagon is empty we're done with the hay until morning."
"Huh? Ya mean there's more hay?" Her answer came by way of wicked grin. "This is no vacation; I should have gone to Bermuda and looked for that damn triangle!"
When the last bale of hay was pulled into the loft, Branson turned the belt off and walked up to the small door. She almost fell off the belt when she saw how the hay was stacked; it was neat and covered only a quarter of the large loft. "Holy shit, how did you get those bales all the way to the ceiling?"
"Magic Slick, pure magic. Let's go get cleaned up a bit and you can help me feed the animals."
"Do you ever stop working, you know to breathe?"
"Sure, when all the work is done." She stepped up to Branson and clapped her on her shoulder. "We're almost done and after supper I just close up the barn and sheds until morning, I can't have the fox coming in and stealing my chickens at night."
CK drove the tractor along the pasture fence while Branson tossed sections of hay off the wagon to the cows. When they stopped near a long trough, CK jumped down, hefted a hundred pound bag of grain over her shoulder, and walked to the edge of the trough. Using a knife, she cut the binders twine from the bag and started dumping the grain. "Will you grab another bag and start at the other end?"
"Sure, can't be that hard." Branson found out how hard it was with screaming muscles, the walk alone just about killed her. When she was finished, she saw that CK had already started dumping another bag. "Ohh happy me, there's only five more bags to go."
CK grinned at her and pointed to the area on the other side of the barn. "We still have the pigs to feed and that's four bags for them. The good thing is, after we shower, we get to cook supper."
Branson felt like laying on the ground and throwing a temper tantrum, she worked hard doing construction but that was eight hours a day and was no where near as tiring as farming. She had to give the small blonde credit along with other farmers, their life was hard. "Am I going to survive a week of this and where's the peace you're trying to convince me of?"
"Depends on how tough you are and you'll see the peace and quiet later."
After a meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and sour dough bread, Branson helped clear the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher. She was ready to fall down from exhaustion when CK handed her a glass of iced tea and pointed to the front porch. "Go have a seat on the swing and I'll run out and close up the barn and sheds."
"Are there any giant bugs out there that I'll have to fight off, 'cuz right now I haven't an ounce of energy."
CK snorted and shook her head. "Not that I know of but if there are and they take you, can I keep your truck?"
"Ohhh you are a laugh a minute, you can even adopt all the life forms living under the seat if ya want."
"I can always use the extra help." She jumped down the steps and jogged towards the barn before disappearing inside the dark hole that was the door.
"She has way too much energy," She groaned as she slowly sat down on the soft cushion of the swing. "Must be the real food she eats." Closing her eyes, she moved the swing slowly with her feet and felt her muscles relaxing. She was dozing off when she felt the swing sway a bit and opened an eye to see CK sitting next to her.
"Close you eyes, listen and tell me what you hear." Branson did as she was told, her eyebrows drew down over her nose in concentration and then opened a few minutes later.
"I don't hear anything."
"That's what peace is, now listen closer and tell me all the small sounds you hear."
"I hear crickets, a rustling noise and something I have no idea what it is." She looked towards where she heard the sound and saw the tall grass bending towards them. "Are their wild animals here?"
"Like what, lions and tigers and bears?"
"Haa! For all I know you could have the boogie man around here."
"Only my psychotic cat, she's out there in the grass hunting bugs." Just as she finished speaking, a large orange cat came loping out of the grass and ran up onto the porch with a cricket in her mouth. She made a chattering noise and dropped it at CK's feet. "Thanks Psycho, now if you would learn how to catch mice you'd be a big help."
An hour later after watching the sun set across the open field, CK got up and stood at the door. "I'm going to take a shower and watch TV in the living room."
"You have a TV and a living room?"
"Yeah, I know I've been a shitty host and didn't show you around. After your shower, it's the doorway right across from the kitchen door. I keep the door closed so that it stays cool in there." She went into the house and up the stairs to her bedroom. With her hair still wet from her shower, she sat on her comfortable pale blue couch with her feet up on the coffee table. She heard a shuffling noise and looked over her shoulder to see Branson coming through the door. "Have a seat and relax, I'm watching 'Women With Badges' before I go to bed."
Branson sat down on the couch and put her feet up on the coffee table; she looked over at Ck and raised an eyebrow. "You don't look like the type to watch stuff about cops."
"Well, it's the only way I get to see what the rest of the worlds like." She grinned and handed Branson a piece of strudel. "Go ahead and try it, I made some for the bake sale tomorrow and kept one aside for my sweet tooth."
"Bake sale, you mean you bake more than biscuits and bread?"
"Ohh yeah, on Saturdays, I go into the farmers market and sell my baked goods to city slickers like yourself." She grinned at the look Branson gave her. "They have no idea I'm not Amish, they think I belong to one of those progressive families."
"What time are you going into the market?" She bit into the strudel and moaned at the tart taste of the apples. "Better yet, I'll buy all your strudel right now! This is great stuff here."
"After we get the rest of the hay in the barn, there's only maybe 25 bales and they can go down below. You wanna come with me; I can introduce you to some of the families around here?"
Branson gave her a narrow eyed look before asking. "If it's not before you wake your rooster." She yawned and felt her jaw crack. "Geez I'm tired, I'm going to bed." She got up slowly and grabbed her lower back. "Do you have any aspirins; I think I need about two dozen."
"Sure do," She flipped the TV off and got up from the couch. "I have the giant economy size in my bathroom; I'm not as young as I used to be."
"Right what are you 25 or so; try walking around in a 38 year old body for a day."
"I do, every single day Slick." She smiled and went ahead of a whimpering Branson.
"Damn Greek and Irish genes I have aren't worth spit."
Branson was sound asleep in the truck on the way to the farmers market, she had gotten up with CK, helped her feed and then put the last of the hay in the barn before cleaning up and helping her put her baked items on the back seat of the truck. They couldn't have been on the road for five minutes before she started snoring. CK snorted and pulled her over onto the bench seat to save her from bouncing her head off the doorframe. 30 minutes later, she pulled up to the long outside tables of the market and parked her truck behind her usual table. Getting out of the truck, she waved to some of her neighbors before shaking Branson awake. "Come on Slick, we're here." She rubbed her face and looked across the seat at CK.
"Why am I so tired, I'm not like this at home?"
"Fresh air Slick and you're not used to getting up at 0430 in the morning. Don't worry, you'll get used to it."
"Yeah and by that time I'll be back in Arlington and not know what to do at that time of the morning." She sat up, stretched her arms over her head, and groaned. "Tell me something CK; do you always take in strange women?"
"Nope, you're my first." She shook her head. "Come on and help me get all this stuff out, the slickers should be swarming the place any time now."
With all her backed goods lined up on the table, she took Branson's larger hand in hers and pulled her towards her neighbors' table. She nodded her head at the children and walked up to a giant of a man with a long gray beard. "Abraham this is my friend Branson, she's visiting from Arlington." She stepped out of the way and watched Abraham look over Branson with interest.
"You're no farmer like little English there."
Branson felt a blush work up her cheeks and looked to a grinning CK. "No sir, I'm not but I'm learning." He shook her hand and grinned at her.
"You may not survive her teaching, may God give you immortal strength." He squeezed CK's shoulder, laughed at the look on Branson's face, and then looked back to CK. "We are having a barn raising on Tuesday, my eldest son has finished his house, now it's time for the barn. Will you come and help?"
"Sure, we'll be there bright and early. I'll talk to Sarah to see what I should bring for the feast."
"Good, we can use the extra hands. Now I must go see about trading for some new shoes for my horses." He tipped his hat to them and walked towards a group of men at another table.
"He's not what I expected." She said in a whisper.
"You watched the movie Witness too many times, come on I'll introduce you to his wife Sarah." They spoke for a few moments before people started walking around looking at all the goods for sale. CK was right when she called them city slickers; the people were dressed to the 9's and snobby. A few times, Branson had to hold her tongue when CK was questioned about her baked goods. She had never heard such stupid questions in her life, and didn't know why it mattered what kind of ingredients were used to make the pies and pastries. She knew all too well that most people ate too much greasy foods and a little real butter wasn't going to kill them any sooner. She launched off the tailgate of the truck where she had been sitting when a man a bit taller than CK with gray at the temples of his thinning blonde hair asked her if there were any worms in her apple pies. She was about to punch him when CK smiled and told him that she put in extra just for him.
"I know you like the extra protein Dad, so I threw in some weevils to spice it up."
He came around the table, picked her up and gave her a bear hug before putting her back down. "How's my baby?" He brushed her hair out of her eyes and then noticed Branson standing behind her. "Is business that bad that you need a body guard?"
"Branson this is my Dad, Teddy. Dad this is Branson Mahoney, she was building that apartment complex behind the farm." She grinned up at Branson and nudged her with her foot.
"Was, what do you mean was?" He looked down at his daughter with twinkling green eyes. "Ohh what have you done Callaway, you didn't do what you told me you had planed, did you?"
"If you mean sir, her taking out all my equipment, yes she did."
He looked up at Branson and shook his head. "And you didn't press charges against her that surprises me."
CK told her dad about the deal they had struck up for the week, all he could do was shake his head and laugh at her. She always was a deal maker, even from the first words she spoke. "You have no idea what you've gotten yourself into, my baby's a slave driver. Even the Amish say she works harder than they do."
"Believe me sir, I know and I've only been here for a day and a half. When the weeks done, I'll have to spend a month in an ICU unit."
CK jabbed her in the chest and growled. "You haven't seen anything yet Slick, wait until Tuesday when we help raise Young Abraham's barn."
"Ohh, I think I'll part ways before she gets into detail what barn raising means. Take care of her Calli and don't kill her like you did all the other ones." He laughed all the way back to his car and waved to a pale-faced Branson as he drove past.
"Tell me he was kidding." She sunk down onto the tailgate when CK winked at her and went back to the table to sell two pies to an older woman.
Branson walked behind CK through the chicken coop with her shirt cradling warm eggs, she always pictured chickens laying eggs in a contraption like the one they showed in cartoons. She looked down at her feet when she felt something pulling on her laces, shaking her leg brought more chickens over to her to attack her bootlaces. "Ohhh come on now, how can you untie something that I double knotted?" She shook her leg and hobbled away with them hanging onto her laces. "CK your birds are attacking me!"
"You're lucky I don't still have geese, now those bad boys can attack." She whistled and threw some cracked corn on the ground to draw the chickens away from Branson. "Just think of the stories you'll have ta tell Slick, all your employees will get a good laugh out of your week here."
Branson stepped over a fuzzy baby chick and raced to the coop door. "Ohh no they won't, I am not saying one word about being attacked by Longhorn Foghorn."
CK gave her a bright smile and walked past her. "How about baby pigs or the mama?" She picked up a woven basket and transferred the eggs from Branson's shirt. "I have to give the pigs their shots today, think you can hold them while I do it?"
Branson shrugged her shoulders. "Sure, how hard can it be?"
Covered in mud and anything else that she had fallen in, Branson chased a squealing piglet around the enclosure. As soon as she thought she had caught one, it escaped through her hands and was off on the run again. Huffing and puffing, she looked up to the top of the fence where CK was sitting. "Ya know you could help me."
"And miss all the fun, not in your life." She hopped down and opened a small door to the chute that went into the shed where the pigs stayed during bad weather. As soon as she opened it, all the pigs went running and left Branson standing with a dumbstruck look on her face.
"You played me; I can't believe you played me like that." She wiped her dirty hands on her Levis and stalked CK. "Aren't you supposed to be convincing me of all that this community will loose if and when I build those apartments?" She swept out a leg, hit CK behind her knees and dropped her into the mud. Before she was able to get up, Branson was hovering over her. "I think you're just a little nutcase that wanted to destroy things and get a slave out of the deal."
CK grinned and took in the heaving chest with the firm breasts straining against the thin material of the old Camel t-shirt. The sweat running in rivulets down a strong thick neck to soak into the collar of her shirt, glistening arm muscles tensing with each ragged breath. "And what a slave I have, can get attacked by a chicken in a heartbeat, her ass run ragged by a piglet and still enjoy the stress free life of a farmer."
"Stress free, where is this stress free?" She threw her hands up and looked up at the blue sky. "I work from before dawn to dusk and then I pass out and sleep like the dead." CK got up from the muddy ground and took Branson's hand.
"Yeah, but isn't it a peaceful sleep from an honest days work." She pulled her towards the gate and then led her out into one of the open fields before releasing her hand. "Look around you, Slick; it's all open and free, hundreds of birds flying around. Look up at the trees and see how the breeze gently lifts the leaves to the suns face and the whispering thank you in the rustle of its branches." She walked towards the trees and then down a small embankment to a gurgling creek before following it to a small clear pond. "Do you have this in the city?" She raised her arms out to the side and then pointed to where the sun broke through the canopy of leaves to shine upon a smooth flat rock at the waters edge. Pulling her shirt over her head, she dropped it near the rock, stepped out of her boots and then dropped her dirty Levis on the pile before diving into the cool water. She came up out of the water, shook her head and opened her eyes to see Branson looking down at her with dark blue eyes. What she saw there was a deep emotion that stirred her lonely soul. "Come on in Slick, the waters nice and cool."
"You might try and drowned me." She said at the same time she was removing her shirt. "Or let some big snake bit my ass and leave me to suffer from that." She kicked off her boots and unfastened her Levis to drop around her ankles leaving her in black silk boxers. "That would be one way to keep the apartments from being built, me disappearing in Amish country." She took two steps and dove over CK's head into the water, when she surfaced behind her, she whispered in her ear. "You're right, this does feel good." She dunked CK's head under the water and then swam away. For an hour, they played in the pond, dunking each other and splashing until they were exhausted and felt like prunes. With the sun high over the trees, the rock was toasty and a perfect place to dry off and rest. CK crawled up on the rock and patted the space next to her before lying back.
"I don't bite Slick; if I did I would have bit you after you dunked me the first time." She folded her arms behind her head and closed her eyes. "This is the life Slick, admit it, there's nothing like this in the city."
Branson rolled onto her side and looked at CK's profile; she had to admit one thing to herself. There was no one like CK in Arlington, of all the women that she had dated, none of them were able to get her to think on any level other than a sexual one. There was attraction to the small blonde but there was so much more as well, she had a brain and morals. She showed no interest in money and asked for nothing in return for her kindness, except an honest days work. Taking in her tanned features, the small lines at the corners of her eyes and the way her nose crinkled when she smiled the way she was doing now. "What are you doing Slick?"
"Thinking?you're right there's nothing like this in the city." She let her eyes roam down a tanned neck to rising breasts beneath a red sports bra, and then to a flat muscled stomach that was damp with moisture. "Have you ever lived in the city?to see what it has to offer?"
"Sure, when I was going to college." She turned her head and took in the high cheekbones and dark lashes that lowered slightly over ice blue eyes. "It's always noisy, alive, harsh in its bright lights and crowded with the different smells that linger in the air. My head would spin every time I had to go to a store or walk the streets to get to my apartment." Moving up onto an elbow, she looked directly into blue eyes and tried to read them. "At night I would go up to the roof and try to see the stars, all I saw were the other rooftops and lights from airplanes."
"You didn't stay to long did you?"
"Nope, I had to come back or go insane. This is where I belong Branson; I'm free here from everything. What do you see in the city, what kind of place do you live in?"
Branson closed her eyes and tried to picture what it was like where she traveled to get to her loft. What she saw was exactly the way CK had described it, it was the first time she actually paid attention to her surroundings and it was through someone else's eyes. "I never pay much attention when I'm going home, I don't spend too much time there. When I'm working at a site, I live out of hotels and motels. So going to my flat is kind of a blur to me." She sat up, pulled a blade of grass free, and twirled it in her long fingers. "My flat is kinda like something you would see in a design magazine, I don't really live there if you know what I mean."
"You mean impersonal, cold and distant then yep, I know what you mean. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?"
Branson thought for a moment but was unwilling to voice her choice; instead, she shrugged her shoulders and got up from the rock. "I never really thought about that, is it time to eat yet, I'm starving?"
CK nodded her head and got up from the rock; she pulled on her Levis and boots but just carried her t-shirt. "I'm thinking grilled steaks, baked potatoes and corn on the cob, sound good to you?"
A bright smile came to Branson's face that went all the way to her eyes. "Do we have any ice cream?"
"Only if you make it, I do have some fresh blueberries left over that we can put in it."
Branson looked up at a smirking CK and growled. "You're the one that asked if we had ice cream." She poured more ice into the bucket and squeezed Branson's shoulder. "You're almost done and once you taste it you'll know the work was well worth it." Branson continued to turn the crank on the old ice cream maker and grumbling under her breath. "Honest Slick, home made ice cream is like nothing you can buy in a store."
"It better send me into multiple orgasms for all this work."
CK gave her a crooked smile and winked. "It can if eaten right." She grinned at Branson's dropped jaw and went back into the kitchen to get bowls.
"Is she flirting with me?" She whispered under her breath and went back to churning the ice cream. "Hey, how do I know when it's done?"
"When your arm falls off," She placed the bowls on the small table beside the swing. "Is it hard to crank?"
"Yep, and I can't feel my arm anymore, so I think it's done." She pulled the top off and looked down into the creamy white ice cream with spots of blue dotting it. "I can smell the vanilla and blueberries; can we make strawberry next time?" She felt like a little kid getting a forbidden treat.
"Any flavor you can think of, we can make, here's the spoon." She held out the spoon and then the bowls for her to fill. "We can sit out here and eat, the house is still a little hot, I forgot to turn the window fans on."
"I'd prefer to sit out here, I like it at night?it's peaceful." She cast a shy look up at CK and grinned. "Yeah I just admitted that it's peaceful here."
Sitting pressed together at the thigh, they ate from the bowls until Branson grabbed the bucket and placed it on her lap. Using the large spoon, she scraped the sides and brought the heaping spoon to her mouth. Licking it gently, she cast a sideways glance at CK and wiggled her brows. "Want some?" She said in a deep throaty voice that brought a rush of color to CK's cheeks. "I'll share with ya." She moved the spoon over to CK and felt all her blood rush to southern areas when her tongue flicked out and licked at the ice cream. "Ohhh Gods was that bad." She moaned deeply.
"I can do worse ya know." CK stuck her hand in the bucket and smeared it all over Branson's face. "How's that for bad?" Branson wiped part of the ice cream from her eyes and saw that CK was half way across the yard and still running.
"She expects me to run on a full stomach?" She whined. "Damn what have you gotten yourself into this time, Branflake?" She put the bucket down and took off running to where she had last seen CK, before she was able to stop, a body flew from the top of the chicken coop, landed on her and pinned her to the ground. "That's cheating!"
"Never said I played fair." She jumped up, ran back towards the barn, and disappeared into the darkness.
"I can't believe we're playing hide and seek." Getting to her feet, she ran to the other door and snuck inside. She crept in the darkness and listened for any sound that would alert her to where CK was hiding. Easing around the end of one of the stalls, she jumped when she heard the constant clanging of a bell off in the distance. "CK what's that bell for?" She stood up and looked around for the string for the overhead lights.
"Ohh shit, that bell is not to call the cows in!" CK grabbed Branson by her hand and hustled her out the back door to the barn; she tilted her head to the side and tried to figure out in which direction the ringing was coming from. "It's the Jonas farm, come on we have to hurry!" She went back into the barn and pushed out a Yamaha dirt bike. "That's a signal for a fire; everyone within hearing distance goes to help." She straddled the bike, kicked it over and offered her hand to Branson.
"This is something I never expected of you." She crawled on the back and wrapped her arms around CK's waist. In a matter of minutes, they were able to see the fiery blaze off in the distance. It never occurred to her that there wouldn't be a fire station in the area to help with burning structures. An idea was starting to blossom in her mind as she hung onto CK for dear life. When they stopped at a safe distance, she was able to see dozens of people forming a bucket brigade from all the wells. Containers of all sizes passed from hand to hand until the last person threw the water on the burning barn. "What do we do?"
"We can join the bucket brigade or start soaking the other structures so they don't catch fire."
"Do they have a garden hose that we can hook up to a pump?"
CK was about to shake her head no when she saw the flashing red and blue lights heading up the long drive. "Dads here, he keeps hoses in the trunk of his cruiser!" She took off running towards where her dad parked and ran around to the now open trunk, she handed two large diameter hoses to Branson and took two for herself. "Dad we're gonna try to hit the back of the barn!"
"I'll get ones started at the front, more help is on the way, now go!" He gave them both a gentle shove and pulled more equipment from his cruiser. Both women ran around to the back of the barn and to a pump that was at the fence line. The Amish quickly helped them hook the hoses up and took turns pumping the water through. Branson took the hose from CK's hand and sprayed her down with the ice cold water then turned it on herself. Moving close to the wide barn door, she sprayed the flames starting at the top, moving from side to side, and working her way down. She looked to where CK and others came up beside her and started beating the flames on the outside of the barn with wet blankets and anything else they could find. Every few minutes, she sprayed them down with water to keep them from catching on fire or over heating. She looked up when she heard a loud groaning noise and down to where CK was soaking a blanket in the water trough. Dropping the hose, she ran and tackled CK just as part of the wood and roof at the peak came falling down. Rolling them over on the wet and muddy ground, she took them clear of the burning debris and let out a sigh of relief when the others put out the flames. They lay there catching their breaths and then heard the telltale sirens of fire trucks coming towards them. She got to her feet and pulled CK up in front of her, pushing back CK's wet and muddy hair from her forehead, she looked at her soot-covered face and felt relieved. Wrapping her arms around her, she pulled her to her chest and just held on. Never before had she been so afraid of losing someone, at first, her feelings shocked her and then warmed her insides. "Don't do that no more; I just lost ten years off my life span!" She yelled over the noise. Giving her one last squeeze, she released her to go back to fighting the fire.
An hour later, with the flames gone and the volunteer firefighters putting out the last of the hot embers, CK and Branson sat on the ground at the side of the farmhouse drinking cold water from water bottles that neighbors had supplied. Exhausted and filthy, they leaned against each other and watched people shake hands and then depart. "Where's your dad?"
"I think he's over with Elder Jonas, they'll come up with a time to get together to clear out the debris and then start a new barn." She leaned her head against Branson's shoulder and let her burning eyes drift closed.
Going with her impulse, Branson asked in a low whisper. "Will they take offense if I bring in a bulldozer to clear it out?"
"We can ask them and see what they say, it would make it easier." She leaned up and placed a soft kiss to Branson's cheek. "Thank you."
"You don't have to thank me for anything, let's go see Jonas so we can go home. I feel like a giant French fry and I really need to soak in a nice cold bathtub."
Dressed in silk boxers and a wife beater, dark hair still wet from her shower. Branson shuffled into the kitchen to get something to drink, no matter how much she drank, she still felt dehydrated. She flinched when she stretched out her arm to open the refrigerator and then felt a warm hand on her hip. "Sit down I'll get it, I have some stuff to put on your burns."
"I'm OK; it just feels like sunburn."
"Uuhh huh, and all the hair on your arms gets singed off while sunbathing?" She looked closely at her face and ran a fingertip across her dark eyebrows. "At least your eyebrows are intact, I saw a couple of the men without any and singed beards."
"I don't even want to think of what I would look like without eyebrows."
"I could always draw them back on with a magic marker; you could be the first female Groucho Marx."
"Nope, that's OK." She took the bottle of water and watched CK go out the back door of the kitchen. She couldn't help but grin when she found herself thinking of CK's firm ass flexing in the silk running shorts. "You're a great big dog, Branflake, Leo would be teasing you right now and you would deserve it."
"Deserve what?" CK asked as she came over with Aloe Vera clippings in her hand to where she was sitting
"What ever you do to me," she held out her arms and looked up into bloodshot green eyes, "is this gonna hurt because, I really hate pain?"
CK looked deeply into her eyes and shook her head. "I would never intentionally hurt you in anyway, you saved my life tonight. If you hadn't been there, I could have been killed or badly injured. Thank you."
"You don't have to thank me; I did what any friend would have done."
Tears filled CK's eyes; she shook her head and brought a hand up to cup Branson's cheek. "There were other people right there by me, it was you who risked your own life." Branson pulled her down onto her lap and held her closely. "Sorry, I get this way when I'm exhausted both emotionally and physically."
Branson held her tighter and rocked her gently. "It's OK." She ran her fingers through damp blonde hair until she heard her breathing become even and deep. Getting up from the chair, she carried CK up the stairs and to her bedroom. Laying her gently on the bed, she pulled the sheet over her and then turned the light out. "Night phantom." She placed a gentle kiss to her forehead and then went to her own room where she dropped into bed and fell asleep minutes later.
Branson was up at the crack of dawn despite only going to sleep a few hours earlier, she dressed and wandered into the kitchen. Rubbing her eyes, she looked at the coffee maker for all of two seconds before going over to it. Measuring out enough for a full pot, she filled it with water and set the timer before going out the kitchen door to the barn. She figured she could get some of the chores done before CK got up. She didn't know how things worked on the farm on a Sunday but knew that the animals had to be fed and taken care of first. Her first stop was to get grain for the pigs; she grabbed a wheelbarrow from near where all the grain was stacked in bags and filled it up. Pushing it through the back door of the barn, she snorted when all the pigs ran along the fence beside her. Stopping at their trough, she hefted each bag up and emptied them until they were all gone. Reversing her course, she filled the wheelbarrow with grain for the cows and then filled their trough before going to collect the eggs and feed the chickens. It was when she stepped up to the chicken coop door that she saw two huge horses coming in with the rest of the cows. She tilted her head to the side and shook her head, she knew a Clydesdale when she saw one. The other horse was the same size but didn't have the long hair around its ankles. Watching them go over and eat with the cows, she went into the chicken coop, poured out their feed in to their feeders, and then collected what eggs were in the nests.
The only thing she knew that CK did that she had no idea of how to do was milk Bert, shrugging her shoulders, she headed back into the barn and grabbed the two steel buckets from the sterilizer. She knew that Bert came in all on her own in the mornings, now it was just getting up the nerve to be so close to a huge animal.
CK rolled over and felt the stiffness in her muscles, rubbing her eyes of sleep; she looked over at her clock and groaned. It was already past six o'clock, she knew the animals would be ready to tear the barn down to get to their food. Swinging her legs over the edge of the bed, she stretched and rolled her head on her shoulders. Slipping her feet into her slippers, she then wondered how she had gotten to bed. A small grin came to her face when she thought of her tall housemate carrying her to bed. A slight blush covered her face when she remembered breaking down in front of the strong woman; she prided her self on being stoic and independent, now that image was gone. Going to her dresser, she pulled out a pair of old baggy painter's pants and socks. She would wake Branson once she was finished with her chores and then get breakfast for them. Jogging down the stairs, she ran down the hallway and out the back door to the yard. She stopped when she saw that the cows were eating and heard the pigs making noises from the other field. Thinking maybe one of her neighbors had been by to feed her animals in way of thanks for helping with the fire, she wasn't expecting to hear them singing in her barn. Slowly, she crept into the dim barn and stopped. She couldn't believe her eyes, there sat Branson on her three legged stool milking Bert. She moved further into the barn, leaned against one of the rails of the cow pen, and listened to Branson sing to her cow.
Right here waiting, staying strong
Come and Fall into me
You say you've turned it off
Hid your heart upon a shelf
Scared of what it might cost
To take it down for someone else
Cause loving her you lost
Too much of yourself
Baby can't you see...that she's not me
I need you to know you can fall into me
That my arms are wide open and will always be
Right here waiting, Staying strong
Come and fall into me
I'll follow any road
Anywhere to get to you
I'll open up my soul
If that's what you need me to do
But now baby it's your move
All you've got to do
Is believe in love, just believe in us
I need you to know you can fall into me
That my arms are wide open and will always be
Right here waiting, Staying strong
Come and fall into me
Just believe in love, just believe in us
I need you to know you can fall into me
That my arms are wide open and will always be
Right here waiting, Staying strong
Come and fall into me
Come and fall into me
Baby fall into me
"Good thing for you that Bert here doesn't take voice commands or you'd be in big trouble." CK walked up, leaned against Bert, and looked down at a blushing Branson.
Blue eyes took in the large animal and gulped. "You mean that you can train them like a dog?"
"Ohh sure, bet ya didn't know that all ya had to say was 'Bert gimme milk! And she would have filled up those two buckets all on her own."
Branson looked down to where her large fingers were wrapped gently around teats and back up to CK. "And you're full of shit too?I tried that already."
CK chuckled and sat down on her haunches beside Branson; she took in the concentrated look on her face and smiled. "So do you always sing to cows when you're playing with their teats?"
"I figured that if it worked for some of my dates, it should work on Bert here." She pointed to a full bucket of milk to the side. "She filled that one up while I sang the Dixie Chicks song, Goodbye Earl."
"Uuuhh huh and let me change the subject back a minute," she tilted her head so that she could see Branson's face better before she spoke. "These dates you have, what works better, your singing or the tit pulling?" She slapped Branson on her shoulder when she saw her face turn bright red and her eyes go wide. "You didn't have to feed everyone; I would have dragged my lazy ass out of bed sooner or later. But since you did, I'll go start breakfast."
Branson cleared her throat and spoke softly. "I set the timer on the coffee pot; it should be just about done."
"OK, as soon as you're done playing with Bert's tits, bring that bucket in." She picked up the full one and snickered all the way back to the house. What she was dying to mention to Branson but didn't, was that she noticed that she changed the him's to her's in the song.
"Well Bert, I guess I just screwed myself here, I just had to say that I play with tits now didn't I?" She dropped her head against the cow's side and continued to milk her.
CK turned the stereo on in the living loud enough that it was heard through out the entire house; the song that Branson had been singing was one of her favorites and was now in the CD player. Setting out six of the eggs that she found in the basket near the barn door, she beat them with fresh cream mixed in and then poured it into the large skillet. Cutting up cheddar cheese and adding bits of ham and green peppers, she let it cook while she started frying potatoes. She hadn't really thought about it until now, but she liked having Branson there with her. Since her father had moved to an apartment closer to the police station, she had been completely on her own. Most of the meals she cooked before were small ones, or she made a pot of soup to heat up when she got hungry. She looked out the window and smiled when she saw Branson coming towards the house; she froze and felt her breath hitch in her throat. Branson had stopped, put the bucket down and stretched her arms up over her head. Her t-shirt rose up her flat stomach to show off the rippling muscles and deep tan of her skin. The way her head tilted back showed the corded muscles of her neck and made CK's mouth go dry. "What do I have to do to get you to sing for me?" She slapped herself mentally and went back to fixing breakfast.
Branson placed the bucket on the counter and leaned over CK's shoulder to see what she was cooking. She grunted when CK pushed her hips back into her and pointed a finger to the hallway. "Go wash up, you smell like a cow."
"That's 'cuz she kept smooching on me, sick animal, licked my whole face!" She rubbed her face on the back of CK's shirt and then ran from the kitchen.
"Yeah well, at least someone likes you!" She shook her head and grinned. "I can't believe she did that." CK mumbled and then felt her face heat up from the tingles running through her body. With her back to the door, CK didn't notice Branson come back into the kitchen, she had everything on the table and was fixing their cups of coffee. "So I'm wondering how often do you play with big tits?" She smacked herself in the forehead when she heard Branson laugh. "I thought I was still alone?sorry."
"As often as I can get away with it." Branson looked up at her and gave her a crooked grin. "Believe me, it's not often?how did we get on the subject of me and tits anyways?"
"I think you started it out in the barn."
"I did didn't I," She looked up from under her lashes. "Does it bother you?ya know my lifestyle?"
"Why should it, just because I live out here with a bunch of Amish doesn't mean that I'm closed-minded." She placed Branson's coffee next to her plate and took her seat across from her. "So is there a girlfriend wondering where you are?"
"Ohh five or six that are missing me." She grinned right before filling her mouth with omelet.
"Only five or six, I figured someone who looks like you would have one for every night of the week."
She finished chewing and gave CK a raised eyebrow look. "What do you mean someone who looks like me?"
"What I mean is, you probably walk into a bar and have women falling at your feet."
"Thanks, I think. And to be honest, I don't go out at all. I found out early that when women find out who I am and how much money I have, nothing else matters. They think I'm a walking ATM machine." She shrugged her shoulders and went back to devouring her breakfast. "What about you, do you date or anything?"
"I have Bert to smooch on me, why do I need to date?"
"That's really sick ya know." She was hoping that she would get some insight into CK's life, maybe get an idea of whether she was family. "So what do we do today, oohh mighty slave driver?"
"After we get done eating, I'm gonna put some stuff on your arms before you have scars." She reached across, took Branson's left hand, and turned her arm over. "You have some second degree burns and if I hadn't been a total wreck last night, I would have taken care of them then."
"I've gotten worse welding beams and believe me, I have scars all over, and a few more won't matter."
"And I'm called stubborn! You will sit there and I'll put the aloe on your arms." Branson sighed and nodded her head in defeat.
"And after you torture me with that goop, what do we have to do?"
"Not a damn thing, I become a couch potato on Sundays or I read. If you're interested, I have a library upstairs. I'm waiting on some new books to get here, they should be here tomorrow."
"You don't read those sappy romances do you?"
She raised both eyebrows up into her bangs. "Do I look like a sappy person to you?" Shaking her head, she snorted. "Murder mysteries, Science fiction, Westerns, you name it but noooo sappy stuff."
"Nope. I saw your little satellite dish, so I'm a couch potato today, but maybe I'll take a look later. I like to read before I go to sleep, that is when I'm not in a partial coma before I hit the pillow."
With the TV volume low and some program that made absolutely no sense what's so ever, didn't matter to Branson who was sound asleep and snoring loud enough to distract CK from the book she was trying to read. She got up from her chair and looked for the remote only to find it clutched to Branson's chest like a stuffed animal. Not wanting to disturb her, she walked over to the TV and turned it off. "I was watching that ya know."
"That's some skill you have there, watching TV with your eyes closed, drooling and snoring right through it."
Blue eyes fluttered open to fall on CK who was standing with her hands on her hips. "It took years to perfect that certain skill, what time is it?"
"Time to change the channel, what ever that was you were supposedly watching sucked."
Dark eyebrows wiggled above twinkling blue eyes. "Literally or was it a shitty program?"
"Shitty is too loose a word, the Home Decorating channel is not something a normal person would watch. The host was soo flaming, I'm surprised the house didn't catch on fire."
"Ohhh?that bad huh, why didn't you just change it?"
"Because I wasn't about to play with your tits to get the remote," She pointed to where Branson still had the remote clutched to her chest. "You want my Teddy bear to cuddle?"
Branson looked down to her chest and grinned. "You can play with my tits any time you want, I don't mind a bit."
CK threw her head back and let out a loud laugh. "Ohh I'm sure you wouldn't mind," she dropped her head and looked from beneath her lashes. "Except you're not my type," She dropped her book on the coffee table and grinned evilly. "I'm going out to feed the critters and then get supper started."
Branson nodded her head, yawned and stretched her arms up over her head. "Not your type?but I'm every body's type! I'm good looking, rich, nice ass, filthy rich, and my teeth are all mine. What's not ta love?" She looked down at her chest and spoke to her breasts. "Maybe I should get you guys improved?ya know made bigger?say a few cup sizes or so?" She cupped her breasts and continued to talk to them without knowing that CK had come back and was now hovering over her shoulder watching and listening to her. "I got you guys pierced, what else can I do?"
"What other body parts do you talk to?"
Branson tilted her head back and looked up into amused green eyes; she felt her face heat up and knew that it wasn't from her position. "Uhhmm?how long you been there?"
"Ohh wouldn't you just love to know, how much bigger and what kind of hoops ya got in your nipples?" She laughed hysterically when Branson closed her eyes and sunk down into the cushions.
As they sat at the kitchen table, CK couldn't keep from laughing every time she looked over at Branson. "So are they gold or silver and is anything else pierced?"
"I'll never live it down will I?"
"You have to admit, I got ya good."
"You just wait; I'll catch you doing something just as stupid and keep reminding you all day long." She stuck her tongue out and went back to eating.
"Maybe. but you still didn't answer my question."
"Nunya and nunya, so there." She jumped when her cell phone vibrated against her hipbone. "I am so saved from you continuing this battering of my ego," She stuck her tongue out and flipped her phone open. "Mahoney."
"You're still alive, have ya been converted yet?"
"What do you mean converted and to what can I be converted to?"
"A farmer, you dumbass," Leo snorted at the growl that came through her phone. "So did ya get any yet?"
"My charms work on her about as good as they work on you, but her cow likes me." She wiggled her brows at CK. "What's up bonehead, your strap-on break and Lindsey throw you in the dog house again?"
"Hey that wasn't my fault, it was defective. Anyway, I just wanted to make sure you're still alive and let you know that all Hell broke loose around here."
"Yep I'm still alive a little crispy from playing to close to a barn fire and what happened that I know will piss me off?"
"The sprinklers went off in your apartment building and you can imagine the rest, do you want us to go over there and see what kind of damage was done?"
Branson dropped her forehead on the table and bounced it a few times before speaking. "When did this happen?"
"This morning some time, we just got home and heard the message on our machine."
"Son of a bitch, I'll drive back and take a look. I'll have to call the insurance company anyway and then meet the adjuster if there's a need to. I swear, Leo, someone hates me! Thanks and I'll let you know what I find when I get there." She waited for Leo to say goodbye before hanging up and then looked up at a concerned CK. "The sprinklers went off in my apartment, I need to take a look and see how bad it is." She got up from the table and went upstairs to change her clothes. When she came back down stairs, CK was waiting in the hallway with a brown paper bag in her hand and a thermos.
"Are you coming back?"
CK looked into saddened eyes and gave a small smile. "As soon as I get my apartment taken care of I'll come back," She squeezed CK's shoulder and then pulled her in for a gentle hug. "I'll be back, I always keep my word." She felt arms wrap around her waist and CK give her a small hug.
"Be careful, the deer appear out of nowhere." She took the duffle bag from Branson's hand and dropped it on the floor. "You don't need your dirty clothes. I'll wash them in the morning. Now go before it gets too late and more Bambi's take to the roads." She handed her the bag and Thermos and gave her a gentle push towards the front door.
"OK, I'll call you if I'm going to be more than a day. Hopefully it's not as bad as Leo thinks." She walked to the door and looked over her shoulder one last time before leaving.
CK sat on the edge of her bed and listened to the howling wind and the patter of ran hitting the windows, not long after Branson left, a thunderstorm hit. She hated thunderstorms when she was a kid and had never gotten over the fear of lightning that always came with them. Shivering slightly, she got up, closed the blinds on all her bedroom windows, and then crawled under her covers. She hoped that Branson was able to out run the storm and was not stuck driving in the driving ran, the roads were treacherous in the dark and the rain doubled it. Many people pulled over to the side to wait out the bad weather rather than take a chance and end up sliding off the road. She jumped when a loud clap of thunder shook the house, pulling the blankets up over her head; she hid like a huge chicken. "If Branson could see her Phantom now, she would never believe it." She pulled her pillow over her head when more thunder rocked the house.
With the wipers going full blast, Branson was still squinting through the windshield. The rain kept coming towards her no matter which direction she turned on the roads, tapping the brakes, she slowed and pulled off the road. Wiping the moisture that kept building up on the windows, she looked out when a bright flash of lightning flashed in front of her truck. "Sonofabitch!" She yelled when the entire inside of her truck lit up. "OK, I got the hint, I'm outta here!" She pulled the truck around and headed back to CK's, there was no way in Hell that she was going up against Mother Nature. "Everything can wait until tomorrow, no sense in getting killed over a wet apartment."
CK rolled over and threw the blankets back when she felt wetness against her back, reaching over to the bedside light, she flipped it on and looked to the ceiling. "Ohh just great, like I know how to fix a leaky roof." She crawled out of bed and ran down to the kitchen to get a bucket, when she got back, she watched for where the water landed and placed the bucket under it. "It's a good thing I have other beds to sleep in!" She said while jabbing a finger at the leak. "If I didn't know any better, I'd swear this was on purpose." Leaving the room, she went down the hallway and stopped outside of one of the other bedrooms before turning and going into Branson's. "Why use another bed so you have to change the sheets?go ahead and keep trying to convince yourself that's the reason you're in here." She crawled into the bed and pulled Branson's pillow to her face, taking a deep breath of the light scent of Pantene shampoo and the light woodsy scent of Branson's cologne; she closed her eyes and sighed. "Admit it Callaway, you miss her already after only an hour." Snuggling deeper into the pillow, she let sleep claim her under the safety of Branson's lingering scent.
With mud shin deep and rain beating her numb, Branson stumbled and slipped her way up the long driveway to the farmhouse. She had made it off the road and then got stuck in the mud of what at one time was CK's drive, wiping water from her eyes; she searched for the front porch light and headed towards it. "I should have just stayed until morning, you are so stupid sometimes Branflake." She lost her footing and went sliding in the mud and landed face first, going up onto her hands and knees, she shook her head and cursed. "This really sucks big time, I hope I don't scare the Hell outta CK if she's still up." Getting back to her feet, she made it to the front door after falling two more times. Opening it as quietly as she could, she slipped off her boots and made her way up the stairs to the bathroom. Undressing, she dropped her wet and muddy clothes in the bathtub and then turned the water on. Standing beneath the hot water, she felt her teeth stop chattering and tight muscles ease. When the water started to cool, she turned off the water and stepped out. Grabbing a towel, she quickly dried off and made her way to her bedroom. Without turning on the light, she eased into bed and rolled over to find a warm body hugging her pillow. A grin came to her face when she heard a soft moan; CK turned into her body and pressed her face against her neck. "Now this is comforting, unexpected but very comforting." She wrapped her arms around CK and drifted off into a deep sleep.
A short while later, a loud clap of thunder, a flash of lightning and then a loud cracking sound brought CK straight up in bed. Lost, she looked around and then jumped when warm hands pulled her back down into the soft bed and warm naked body. "It's OK, sleep baby." Branson still asleep mumbled close to her ear and held her tighter against her body.
Ohh this is so not right Callaway, you're in bed with a strange naked woman and? liking it. She tilted her head upward and gazed into Branson's relaxed face, she looked so much younger and softer in sleep. Slowly, she raised her fingertips to a high cheekbone and traced the sharp angles down to slightly parted lips. You are sooo wrong about this; you're loving every single second of it." Pressing her face back into the warmth of Branson's neck, she wrapped her arm over her ribcage and let the steady beat of a heart pull her into a deep sleep.
Branson blinked her eyes a few times and noticed the bright sunlight streaming through the window and then warmth covering her lower body. Looking down, she saw a tousled blonde head of hair lying on her stomach. Running her fingers through the silky hair, she closed her eyes and smiled. "I knew I wasn't dreaming last night." She opened her eyes and looked down when CK moved her head against her stomach and then lifted it. Green eyes blinked open and then widened when she saw the expanse of naked tanned flesh in front of her. Her eyes traveled up to see a blue nipple ring and then right into pale blue eyes.
"Oohh my God?you're still naked?and I'm?" She tried to get away from Branson and found herself pulled back down into the bed.
"Calm down CK, I don't bite and I've never taking liberties with anyone." She lifted CK's chin up so she could look into her eyes. "You stole my bed?"
"My beds wet," She took a deep calming breath. "The ceiling started leaking last night." She shrugged her shoulders and looked everywhere but at the breasts right in front of her. "Can you fix it for me?"
"Yeah if you get off of me and let me get dressed."
"Uhhmm?I'll go start feeding and then get breakfast ready." She scampered from the bed and looked over her shoulder at a stretching Branson, her face got hot and tingles raced to her center. "Aaahh?never mind." Branson chuckled when she ran into her own room and then heard the sound of her dresser drawers being pulled open.
"Guess ya have some effect on her Branflake, how much only she knows."
After feeding the animals, CK came out of the barn with the eggs and a bucket of milk. Bert had gotten a little shook up from the storm and didn't produce as much as she normally did, which didn't concern CK too much. She had plenty from the day before and wasn't planning on making any butter for another day. When she was closer to the house, she heard music blasting and then seen Branson on the roof over her bedroom. Shaking her head, she went into the kitchen and took care of the eggs and milk before starting breakfast for them. She was still trying to deal with the fact that she had woke up laying across Branson and was a bit embarrassed about it. "You're sleeping in a bed that can sleep six and you end up wrapped all around her body like she's a big Teddy bear. A warm, soft and very naked Teddy bear with blue nipple rings." A warm feeling settled in her stomach when she pictured Branson's firm breasts and her neon blue nipple rings glimmering in the sunlight. Her blush deepened when she thought of pulling on one of those rings with her teeth. "Stop thinking of attacking her and cook the damn eggs Callaway, she's here for a few more days and then she's gone from your life. Get over it." Sadness pierced her heart and brought tears to her eyes, she had never really had a friend and would miss Branson when she returned back to her own world.
Her attention was drawn to the ceiling; she could hear what sounded like running and then nothing. "What are you doing up there?" Moving the frying pans off the burners, she went out the door and looked up to where Branson was. "I just don't believe her." She shook her head and chuckled at the antics of her roof repairer, Branson had her CD player cranked up all the way and was dancing on the roof to Faith Hill's song, Free. The moves Branson was doing while pulling off old shingles had her blood boiling and heading due south in a wild run. Her hips swayed and thighs flexed from beneath her cut off Levis, her voice sang out louder and deeper than Faith's. CK thought she would fall over when Branson turned and started singing to her as she walked closer to the edge of the roof.
All I see is I don't need this
High strung tightrope walk
Ticking time bomb clock
Scratch my name off
Cut these chains
I'm free?kicking out of that prison
I am free, singing those words of wisdom
Let it be, nobody's gonna put the blues inside of me
CK stood hypnotized as Branson danced and sang to her from the very edge of the roof, sweat trickling down across her shoulders and arms to shine in the sunlight. Her bare midriff rippling with each movement of her hips and then CK's heart hit her feet at the last words of the song. Branson did a front flip off the roof and landed in a crouch before her. As another song started, she found her hand taken and her body pulled against Branson's. Warm breath washed across her ear as she sang the words to her.
What would you say if I said something strange
That made a difference in how you feel
What would you do If I did something outta the blue
That made the world a better place
She had danced with both men and women before but never did her body react the way it was doing with Branson. Her hands tingled where they were wrapped around the back of her neck; her nipples sent shock waves to her center from pressing against Branson's breasts. She felt dizzy from the soft musky scent of her skin and the warm breath in her ear. Any minute she thought she would pass out.
"And here I thought you were slaving away or dead," A familiar voice came from behind CK causing her body to stiffen. "And here you are out here dancing in the yard." CK turned her head and groaned at her dad's beaming smile.
"Hi dad, we were just?dancing." She unwrapped her hands from Branson's neck and stepped away. "Actually I came out to tell her that breakfast was ready and got side tracked."
Branson smiled and wiped sweat from her face. "I just couldn't help myself sir, let me get cleaned up before she lets me starve for the rest of the day." She jogged to the back door and disappeared.
"So I see that you two are getting along, how much damage did the storm cause here?"
"Yeah we are, she's?different," She glanced to the back door and felt heat raise to her cheeks. "Uuhhmm?not much, my roof took a beating and there's a few trees that got hit with lightning but that's about it."
"And Branson's truck stuck in the mud at the end of your driveway."
"Her trucks at the end of the driveway?" She turned and waved to her dad to follow. "Come have breakfast with us if you're not in a hurry."
"Where was she going in that storm?"
She explained about the sprinklers going off and flooding Branson's apartment but didn't know much about after she left. She wasn't about to tell her dad how she had woke up wrapped around the tall woman that morning, getting caught dancing with her was bad enough.
When they got into the kitchen, Branson was pouring three cups of coffee and still singing under her breath. She gave them a smirk and took a seat at the table that she had set. "I should have that leak fixed in about an hour, a nail came out and the water was running down in the hole. I've got some tar paper and shingles on my truck, which reminds me?"
"I'll get the tractor to pull you out while Calli finishes her chores; you really buried the back end."
"I'm just glad I made it back last night, I couldn't see two inches in front of me." She slapped her forehead and looked at CK with lowered eyes. "I forgot about my wet and muddy clothes in the bathtub, I took a few dives in the mud last night."
"I'll get them when I start the laundry," CK said and placed two plates on the table before getting her own. "What are you going to do about your apartment?"
"I'll call Leo and see if her and Lindsey will go over and check it out, they live about fifteen minutes away. And Leo knows who to call if the place is trashed."
Teddy watched them as they spoke, he had never seen his little girl so at ease with anyone but him before. What brought a smile to his weathered face were the shy glances she cast at the tall construction worker. It reminded him of the way he and her mother acted when they were dating. Certain ways that CK turned her head or a mannerism reminded him of her mother; it amazed him that even though she had never met her mother, she was so like her in small ways. What he saw now was someone who was a bit smitten, it warmed his heart that she might finally have found someone to love. He hoped that Branson didn't break her heart; he would pull the tall women aside and have a fatherly talk with her later.
Teddy walked beside Branson out to where her truck was stuck at the end of the driveway; she asked if she could try to get it out before he got the tractor. Her real reason was that she wanted to discuss some business with the older man. She cleared her throat and placed a hand on his upper arm to stop him. "Can I ask you a question about this area?" She proceeded when he gave her a slight nod. "The other night when the Jonas barn caught fire, the fire company showed up but the barn was already lost. How far away did they have to come from and who called them?"
He scratched his jaw and looked at her wide a small frown. "They're almost 40 minutes from here, most likely when one of the other farmers heard the bell and saw the flames, they called."
"Why isn't there a fire station closer to these people, I know they're Amish and live a different kind of life but that shouldn't be a reason for them to not have the services that others have."
"Everything boils down to money Branson; the fire stations are built using taxes. There just isn't enough of it to build another station this far out?or so I've been told." He walked over to her truck and dropped the tailgate to sit on. "It's been brought up in committee meetings a couple of times and they say it's just not in the budget."
She nodded her head and took a seat beside him. "OK, let's just say that a fire house is built, can the community come up with a skeleton crew of firemen to train volunteers?"
He turned his head and narrowed his eyes a bit before nodding. "We have volunteers around here; they run into the other station when needed. What are you getting at Branson?"
"I own that property where I was building the apartments, if I build a fire house, can you get the volunteers?"
A smile a mile wide came across his face; Teddy reached out and gripped her leg. "You build a fire house and you'll have more volunteers than you know what to do with. I know they can get a used fire truck and rescue vehicle from one of the other firehouses." He looked closely at her and just had to know why she was willing to do this? "Why Branson, you're not from around here, why do you care?"
She dropped her head and then tilted it back to star up at the sky. "All I've thought about after helping with that fire was what would happen if it took someone's life. What if a fire started here, how long before CK had the help she needed. I want to help everyone around here, maybe save a life or a farmer's chance of not having to sell off his property because his entire growing season was lost in a fire."
"Your hearts in the right place for once, but you better tell Calli or she'll be out there causing problems for you again." He chuckled and shook his head. "Does this mean that you're not pressing charges against her?"
"I couldn't press charges against her; I'd starve in a day or so without her cooking. Now I know that you have something to ask me, what is it?"
"You read minds or something?" He nodded his head and then cleared his voice. "You're right; I did want to talk to you about Calli. I noticed her sneaking peeks at you while we were eating; she likes you a lot even though she'll never admit it. I don't want to see my baby hurt, she's all I have." He looked into her clear blue eyes and tried to read them. "Her grandparents pretty much raised her to be a farmer; she'll never leave this land. She doesn't have any real friends so you can imagine what I thought when she told me about the deal you two have. Just don't break her heart. She lives a life of a loner but being lonely is completely different, I don't think she could handle that."
"I would never hurt her sir, you have my word on that and I never break my word." She took a deep breath and pressed on. "Do you know of my preference?" She grinned when he started laughing. "Guess so, does it bother you that I'm staying with CK?"
"Not in the least, I know she dated women when she went away to school, she got her heart broke and came home. She's dated very little in her life, if there's any interest on your part?"
"This should be interesting, between CK and me, we have basically no dating experience."
"You have got to be kidding me, with your looks?"
"Yeah, my looks and money had women falling at my feet. Unfortunately, they were not the dating kind."
CK looked out the front window and saw Branson and her dad sitting on the tailgate talking; she knew by his posture that this was a serious conversation. "OK dad what are you doing and why?" She opened the screen door and walked out in the front yard determined to save her friend from her father the matchmaker. After she had told him of her dating preferences when she came back home, he had taken it upon himself to try and find her a woman. She told him not to worry about her and to find himself one instead. As it turned out, he wasn't any luckier in that department with himself. "Dad what are you doing, I thought you were going to help her get her truck unstuck?" She stopped in front of them and planted her hands on her hips.
"We were just talking about politics," Teddy looked to his daughter and grinned. "We're done now; let's see if we can get your truck out." He jumped down and looked at the rear tires. "You should be able to rock it out of here."
"After that, I'm calling Leo and have her bring out a dump truck of gravel." She looked at a narrow eyed CK. "Don't argue with me, it's two against one." She looked to Teddy who nodded his head.
"And how much is this gravel gonna cost me?"
"Supper, I'm dying for meatloaf and mashed potatoes."
With her truck back up at the house, Branson was now hauling a bundle of shingles up onto the roof to replace the ones she had taken off. She dropped the bundle and started her CD player over, she couldn't work without music. With the bass pounding out of the small speakers, she danced around the roof under gawking green eyes. As she bent over to grab a shingle, she caught sight of blond hair and decided to put on a show for her. Squatting down over the area she was working on, she swayed her hips and sang along to J Lo.
CK gripped her chest and tried to breathe, she was not prepared for the sight of Branson's type of dancing. The slow dancing they had done earlier in the day almost killed her, the swaying and thrusting of hips was doing way worse. "I can't watch this?I have runins to clean?chickens to?chase, I'll go chase my chickens. That should take care of my raging hormones and screaming libido. If not, there's always the pond." She turned and ran full out towards the chicken coop, changed directions, hopped over the fence and ran towards the pond. Fully clothed, she jumped in and sat at the bottom until she needed air. Shooting to the top, she sputtered for air and then floated on her back. "I know she did that on purpose?wonder if she does that on the job?" A wide grin came to her face when she thought of all the men falling off ladders and roofs from watching Branson dance around. "Her workmen's comp insurance must be outrageous!" She floated around on her back watching the clouds float by until she heard Branson yelling for her. Swimming to the edge, she crawled out and sloshed her way back towards the house.
Branson came around the back of the barn and stopped dead in her tracks, the sight of a soaking wet grumbling CK had her laughing. "I pictured you as the skinny dipping kinda woman," she stepped closer and brushed the wet bangs out of green eyes. "Any thing else around here that needs fixin'?"
CK glanced up at her and groaned. How about the ache you put between my legs? "The hinges on the barn door are coming loose and there's a loose board on the chicken coop door."
"I'll get right on it, do you mind if I fix other things that I find broken?"
"Nope, go ahead and have at it, I'm going to change and then start cutting the front field." She sloshed off leaving a chuckling Branson watching after her.
Branson dropped her tool belt in the back of her truck and walked down the driveway to the field where she thought CK was cutting hay. She hopped up on the fence and sat down to take in the scenery. She couldn't believe how she enjoyed the peacefulness of the farm. With being from the city, she would always be anxious to go out to a movie or to eat when work was over. Since being on the farm, she hadn't even thought of it once. She looked forward to a quiet night watching TV with CK and then turning in to listen to the night sounds before falling asleep. What she loved was the fact of being able to open a window and have a fresh breeze blow across her as she slept. That was unheard of in a 20th floor apartment in a city that was foggy with pollution. She closed her eyes and listened to all the sounds around her and the different scents; she chuckled lightly at not smelling the animals anymore. She opened her eyes at the sound of chains jingling and was surprised to see CK and the two draft horses. She was sitting on an ancient piece of machinery pulled by the horses, the long sickle bar cutting down the tall timothy hay in rows. She never expected to see her farming in this manner; then again, it fit the small woman and her environment. She waited until CK came along the fence with the horses, jumped down behind them and jumped up on the back to hold onto the edge of the seat. Placing her chin on a muscular shoulder, she whispered in CK's ear.
"You are just full of surprises; I never thought that you'd use horses for farming."
"It's quiet and my ass doesn't go numb like on my old tractor, it's just me and the boys plodding along." She tilted her head back and looked sideways at Branson. "So Slick, did you get the doors fixed?"
"Yep, and I fixed the windows in the chicken coop, you can open them all the way now. And I fixed the gutter on the back of the house over the porch, and that loose step on the front stairs."
"You've been very busy Slick, what am I gonna do when you go back to Arlington?" She pulled the horses to a stop and looked down at the reins in her hand. "Sorry, I'm being selfish and making you my personal handyman."
Branson wrapped her arms around CK's shoulders and hugged her. "I have news for ya; I'll be around for quite a while. I was going to tell you during supper but now seems a good time, I'm still going to build on that property I own," She pressed her head to CK's when she felt her stiffen in her arms. "I'm gonna build a firehouse instead of the apartments, so you can take credit for changing my mind." She flinched when CK escaped out of her arms and jumped to the ground, what she wasn't expecting was CK pulling her to the ground and giving her a full body hug. "That's what me and your dad were talking about earlier." She mumbled and let out a gasp when CK squeezed her tighter. "So I guess it's OK with you?"
CK pulled back and looked at her with misty eyes. "It's more than OK; you have no idea how bad we need a firehouse out here." She hugged her again and kissed her cheek. "Thank you Branson."
"You're very welcome, I'm gonna go up to the house and cut up that tree next to the house that got smacked by lightning. Where do you want the wood?"
CK released her and stepped back a step. "There's a big wooden box right there by the tree, you can put the little stuff in there and I'll split the bigger stuff in time." She was still grinning like an idiot long after Branson went up to the house, she couldn't decide on whether it was because she would still be around or because of the firehouse. "Who cares, she'll be here for a while."
Branson leaned back in the kitchen chair, rubbed her stomach and groaned. CK had kept her promise and made meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn and muffins. After two helpings, there was no room for anything else. "I'm stuffed and I can't move," She pulled herself forward using the edge of the table and got up to help clean off the table. "Did you get the whole front field cut?"
CK turned from where she was at the dishwasher and nodded her head. "Tomorrow I'll take the rake out and flip it over; I'm guessing I'll have close to 1200 bales from that field alone. That hay will go in the barn and the stuff from the other two fields I'll sell at the market."
"How much do you get for a bale of hay?"
"Three bucks for heavy ones like I'll bail in a day or two; I'll take a wagon full with me and then call a few people from Pimlico race track. I sell a lot of hay to the horse trainers and breeders. They'll send out a semi truck and load it up to take back with them."
Branson did the calculations in her head and nodded. "So out of the two fields you should make about $7200.00, that's really good. What else do you grow here?"
CK leaned back against the sink counter and wiggled an eyebrow at her. "Didn't think a farmer could be rich huh?"
"I wasn't thinking that at all, I have no interest in money as you know. I was just curious if hay is all you sell, I know you have three silos but I don't know what's in them."
"Wheat, corn and oats. I have a mill in one of the sheds that I grind the grain up for the pigs and chickens."
"You're self sufficient out here aren't you," She stepped closer to CK and leaned into her side. "Just how much farm land do you have?" She asked in a whisper against CK's ear.
CK closed her eyes and felt a tremor rush through her body, just an innocent touch from Branson seemed to rock her foundation. In a voice, that was half whisper and half moan, she answered, "400 hundred acres."
Branson pulled back with a stunned look on her face, she was shocked that a lone person could run a farm of that size. "You farm 400 acres all by yourself, how?"
CK shrugged her shoulders and grinned a little. "Dad helps when he can and if the other farmer's aren't busy, then they help. My closest neighbor lets me use his combine when he's done with his fields."
"I know a lot of crops are ruined with too much rain," She took a seat at the table and looked directly into emerald green eyes. "If your neighbor is rushing to get his own crops in, what happens to yours?"
CK dropped her head and looked to her feet. "I loose them and if I don't have enough grain for winter, then the money I made from the hay and straw goes to buy grain. It's an endless cycle that every farmer goes through."
An idea came to Branson that she knew would piss CK off, the woman was proud and would not like what she was planning. As soon as she was able to make a few phone calls, she would set everything into motion. "When do you start bringing in your crops?"
"In another two or three weeks, why?"
"I wanna help; I can get Leo and Lindsey out here too. They need a break from the city and might just be converted like me." She squeezed CK's shoulder and left her standing with a dropped jaw. Checking the clock on the wall, she went up to her bedroom to start her plan in motion. She hoped that the places she would be calling would still be open and able to help her. Flipping her cell phone open and grabbing a pen and notebook from her duffle bag, she called information. An hour later, she had finished her ordering and called her bank to send an electronic check to cover the costs. Everything would be delivered to her work site in a week, which gave her enough time to figure a way to approach her proud friend. "She's gonna kill me for this, but it'll be worth every painful minute." With a grin plastered on her face, she headed for the bathroom for a long hot shower.
"She's up to something I just know it," CK sat down on the couch and turned the TV on. "She had a sneaky look on her face and asked way too many questions about farming and crops and then the conversion word." A small smile came to her face when she really thought about their conversations during the day. "Could I have converted her to being a farmer?" She leaned back into the cushions, relaxed and fell asleep thinking of what it would be like to have Branson living with her on a permanent basis. Her real dream was of something deeper than a mere friendship with the tall construction worker, how to go about it was a mystery to her.
Branson stopped in the doorway of the living room; her eyes lingered on the small body curled up on the couch. Her hands were clasped together under her chin and knees drawn up to her chest. Easing down onto the couch, she pulled the blanket from the back and covered her up. Changing the TV to something more interesting than the news, she stretched her legs out and placed her feet on the coffee table. Minutes later, her eyes drooped and closed in sleep.
Still half asleep, CK wiggled her toes against the warmth trying to figure out what it was. Opening one eye, she looked to the other end of the couch and saw a sleeping Branson. Flexing her toes, she watched Branson's dark brows drop over her straight nose. Moving her feet against her thigh, she pushed gently and snorted when a blue eye opened and looked down to her feet. "Toes, little tiny toes attacking me," She grabbed CK's toes and pulled on them. "Did we sleep here all night?" She rolled her head to the side and grinned at the rumpled little farmer. "You really look rough."
Her voice rough with sleep, CK pushed on a muscular thigh and rolled her eyes. "You ain't so pretty yourself, nice hair style there, Slick."
Branson ran her fingers through her hair and got them stuck in the tangles. "Do ya have any sheep shears; I'm ready to just shave my head."
"Don't even think about it," She pulled herself up and stiffly moved off the couch. "I'll be back in a minute?God I hurt all over." She rubbed her lower back and groaned all the way to the bathroom. After taking care of her needs and grabbing her brush, she came back into the living room to see Branson with a painful expression on her face. "What's wrong?"
"I don't have any legs, they're gone, I'm numb from the chest down."
"That could be a real problem, let me see if I can help." She picked up Branson's legs and placed them on the couch. Starting at her feet, she started massaging the cold appendages and grinned when Branson let out a howl. "Guess they're not too dead, do you feel the needles yet?"
"Needles?Hell?I feel?ice picks!" She thrashed on the couch and then stilled when small warm hands moved up to her calves. A low moan and then a whimper came from her parted lips. "That feels good; I could use a full body massage ya know."
"Dream on Slick, my skills cost way more than you can afford." She winked and then pressed her thumbs into the thick muscles of her thighs. She let out a deep laugh when blue eyes rolled upward and then closed. A lot more than you can afford Mahoney, it would cost you your heart. "OK Slick, now sit up so I can untangle that mop of yours." A few minutes later with Branson half asleep, she finished brushing and then braiding her long dark hair. "I'm going to take a quick shower and get started on the chores." She got up and shook her head at the whimpering noise coming from Branson.
"Ohh sure, get me all hot and bothered and then go play with your cows." She rolled off the couch and walked to the kitchen on wobbly legs. "She's a tease and run type, I can handle that with my own wicked ways." Starting the coffee, she went up to her bedroom to dress for the slow and agonizing seduction of CK.
The sound of the tractor pulled CK into her own world; she often became lost there while working the farm. An Earthquake couldn't bring her back at times until she was ready, so when Branson came jogging out to the fence line dressed in very short faded cutoffs, sports bra and work boots. She almost drove her tractor through the fence before she stopped it. She wants to kill me running around dressed like that!
I certainly have her attention now, wonder how long I can pull this off and keep my hands to myself? Branson thought to herself before she hopped the fence and jogged over to hand CK the thermos of coffee she had brought. "I thought ya might want some coffee since we overslept this morning." She walked back, jumped up onto the wagon, and started cutting the bailers twine from the hay.
"Thanks, I was going to come up and get some when I was finished out here." She opened the thermos, poured some of the dark brew into the cup, and then handed the thermos to Branson. "Here ya go, I'll share with ya." When they had drank some of the coffee, CK started the tractor up again and continued on their way down the fence line until all the hay was gone. She turned the tractor around and then felt the seat pull back a little and strong arms wrap around her waist. "You in the mood for waffles with strawberries on top?"
"Real strawberries and whipped cream?" Branson said close to her ear and felt her shiver.
"Anything you want, you got it." She couldn't believe she had just said that and groaned. "Well, almost anything, some things have to be won." I better shut my yap before I end up promising to have her first born. Warmness flooded her body at the thought of having Branson's baby, which she then found kind of stupid since they were just friends.
"Ya got a deal, I'll make the cream." She grinned wickedly to herself. I bet I've already accomplished creating a certain type of cream. Two women standing in the back yard looking around captured their attention; Branson hugged CK tighter and whispered in her ear. "Looks like I'll have to make a lot of cream, that's Leo and her wife Lindsey." CK stopped the tractor near the barn and felt the loss of warmth when Branson jumped down and ran over to her friends. Squirming in the tractors seat, she felt just how wet she had become from just having Branson close to her. "I would love to run off to the pond right now but that would really look weird to Slick's friends and let her know what she did to me." Jumping down from her tractor, she walked towards where they were standing. She couldn't help but see the deep blush coloring Branson's cheeks and wondered what the other women had said to her. Sticking her hand out to a woman close to her own size but with long curly blonde hair and hazel eyes, she introduced herself.
"Sorry CK," Branson mumbled. "That's Lindsey Burke you're shaking hands with and this bonehead here is my site manager Leo Burke. Guys, this is Callaway Kuhrt." She pointed towards the front of the house and started in that direction.
CK chuckled at the flustered Branson. "I'll call you when it's time for breakfast so you can start making the whipped cream. Why don't you guys come on inside, we can talk while I get breakfast made." She started walking towards the back door and stopped when Lindsey sent her wife scampering off after Branson.
"You do not want Leo around food being made; she gets into everything and will drive you nuts. I'll give you a hand if you want?"
"You mean she's like Slick and hovers around?" She held the kitchen door open for her and then went over to the refrigerator.
"Hovers, gets under foot and steals. By the way, you have a very nice place and I can't believe what you've done to Branson." She took the fresh vegetables from CK's hand and placed them on the cutting board. "I've never seen her so relaxed or that red in the face before."
CK stopped what she was doing and looked over to Lindsey. "Why was she so red?"
Lindsey chuckled and her hazel eyes flashed. "That would be Leo's doing, she asked Branson if she's gotten into the farmer's dell yet." She laughed deeper when CK's face turned pink right up to her ears. "You'll find out that my wife is crude, especially around Branson."
"The farmer's dell huh? To tell ya the truth, she's not even tried. Drive me to distraction and almost drop over from a heart attack but nothing else." She handed a frying pan to Lindsey and then grabbed a muffin pan. "What are they doing out there in the driveway?"
"We brought her some clothes from her apartment and two loads of gravel for your driveway. Her place is a wreck; the water damage alone will cause her insurance company to file for bankruptcy."
"So what happens to her place now, I have no idea how something like that is taken care of?"
Lindsey explained to her about the insurance claims, clean-up procedures and everything else that had to be done before Branson could move back in. She looked up from what she was doing to see a strange look on her face. "What's wrong CK?"
"I guess I never took into consideration that she could become homeless," She waved her hand in the air dismissing her thoughts. "I don't know what I'd do if that happened to me, I was ready to panic the other night when my ceiling started leaking."
Lindsey smiled and wiggled an eyebrow at her. "Did you get to see the dancing roofer?"
"Ohh God did I!" She clutched her chest and fell back against the sink. "She's a danger zone at a construction site isn't she?"
"Ohhh let me tell you some stories!"
Branson drove one of the dump trucks with Leo in the passenger seat; she started at the top and drove towards the road spreading a layer of gravel out behind her. She looked in her side view mirror and then over to a smirking Leo. "What?"
"You like her don't you?"
"Yeah and what would be the problem with that?"
"Ohh not a thing Branflake, ya looked kinda cute hanging on to her while on that tractor. Ya make a cute couple, beauty and the bonehead."
"We're not a couple, not like I'm not working on it though. It'll take some time, patience and a lot of cold showers for both of us."
"You sound real sure of yourself there stud, is she the reason for pissing off all your backers?"
"Partially, I watched a farmer loose his entire barn because the fire station is too far away. They all work hard to make a living and one little flame can take that all away."
"And what's the reason behind the huge ass order you made last night?" She grinned at Branson and chuckled when her face turned red. "The bank called Lindsey this morning to let her know about the draft, what's a huge hunk of change between friends huh?"
"She needs that stuff to be able to work her 400 acres of farmland."
Golden eyes grew in size; she shook her head and pushed her jaw shut. "400 acres and she doesn't have the right equipment, how does she do it?"
"She depends on the weather and her neighbors. This way; she won't have to worry about loosing her crops."
"I thought I'd never see the day. You've fallen in love with a farmer!"
Branson stopped the truck and dropped her head onto the steering wheel; she turned her head to see a smug look on Leo's face. "Ohh just shut-up Leo, it's not funny."
"Yeah it is, after how many days you've fallen for a little farmer. It's gotta be a new record, so what ya gonna do now, stud muffin?"
"Suffer while I tease the Hell outta her, lets get this done, I'm starving and I still have to make whipped cream for breakfast."
"You making something for breakfast, you're ruined for life!" She busted up laughing and then sobered when she saw her wife pointing a finger at her from the front yard. "I think it's time for your lesson in domestication."
After breakfast, Branson and Leo went up on the roof to inspect the three chimneys. Branson had noticed while on the roof that the cement was breaking free in some spots and would need fixed before winter. Using a screwdriver, she scraped the old cement loose and pointed to it. "Well, what do ya think, tear it all down and start over or what?"
Leo inspected the whole chimney and then used the screwdriver on another area. "I'd tear them all down and start over, there's some bricks on the bottom that are falling apart. We could have it done in two-three days at the most; I can bring the little cement mixer over from the site."
"OK, how about you run over and get it and I'll start tearing one of the chimneys down. And if you don't see me when you get back, look for a fresh grave in one of the fields."
"Ohh boy, this sounds like fun." She gave Branson a wicked grin. "Can I?"
"No you can't piss on my grave, you wait until I tell Lindsey what you said." She stuck her tongue out at her friend and started knocking away at the cement with a chisel and hammer.
"Should have figured you're on the Narc Squad, just wait, I have some stuff to tell your girlfriend, so there." She ran to the ladder and slid down to the ground.
Branson stopped working and watched Leo run over to CK and whisper something in her ear, she felt her face catch fire when green eyes lifted and held her in place. "I'm going to kill her when she gets back." Pretending that she had not a worry in the world, she went back to work.
CK looked to a grinning Leo. "She said I was a chicken and wouldn't have the guts to give her any tongue, huh?"
"That's what she said; I think she called you the frigid farmer or something." She shrugged her shoulders and smiled at Lindsey. "Well gotta go get the cement mixer." She ran off before either one of them could do anything.
CK walked towards the house with Lindsey following. "Well see about that, frigid farmer my ass!" She crawled up the ladder and strode over to where Branson was standing with her back to her. Grabbing her upper arm, she pulled her around and wrapped an arm around her neck. "I'll show you frigid." She growled before pulling Branson's lips down to hers. The kiss started out with a quick nip to a bottom lip that brought a low moan from Branson. Pressing closer, CK brushed their lips together, licked at a top lip and then brought them together in a deep consuming kiss that had Branson sinking to her knees. When they parted, Branson was on her knees, eyes closed and gasping for air. CK ran trembling fingers across her lips and tried to catch her breath. "I'm not?frigid." She walked on wobbly legs to the ladder and made it to the ground without falling on her ass. Lindsey wrapped an arm over her shoulders and pulled her into her side.
"I guess I should have told you earlier that Leo is an instigator and will lie to cause trouble."
CK looked into twinkling hazel eyes and groaned. "She set me up didn't she?"
"Ohh big time CK, she got both of you at one time."
"Slick's gonna kill me, she thinks that I think that she called me frigid."
"Branson knows differently, she was watching remember? Besides, now you two can go forward to something more." She gave her a gentle hug and laughed at the long groan that came from CK. "For your information, you had a bull ring through her nose days ago."
"Good, now I can run a chain from that to her nipple rings."
Leo placed the last brick on the chimney and stepped back to take in her work, she looked over her shoulder to see a smirking Branson looking back at her. "That's one down two to go, we do good work Branflake."
"We sure do, but one of us is ace in meddling." She crossed her arms over her chest, narrowed her eyes and growled. "So CK's frigid?"
"She is," Leo plastered an unconvincing look of innocence on her face. "I never figured her for being frigid?"
"Really, funny how when she came up here and attacked me she mentioned the word frigid." She stalked Leo until she had her friend up against the chimney. "You know she dropped me right to my knees?"
Leo's eyes grew in size and a lump lodged in her throat from the feral look she got. "She hit you?I didn't think she would do that?I mean?oohh shit!" She took off running to hide at one of the other chimneys. "I thought maybe she'd?" She ran around the chimney so that it was between her and Branson. "I wanted her to give you some tongue!" Branson faked left and then right, her move sent Leo on the run. Waiting until she ran out of anywhere to hide, she grabbed her from behind and pulled her into her body.
"She dropped me with one kiss," She hugged Leo and kissed her cheek. "Thanks buddy, I owe you." She let her go after another hug and chuckled all the way down the ladder.
A huge smile came to Leo's face; she ran to the edge of the roof and looked down at Branson. "Anything else I can do for ya, like maybe get her into your bed?" Her eyes grew wide when CK stepped into view and looked up at her. "I just lost my paddle didn't I?"
"That's one way of putting it; supper's ready and Lindsey said to get your meddling ass down from up there." She laughed when Leo looked around and then thumbed her chest. "You're the only one up there, Leo."
"Yeah right, I'll be right down after I get my tool belt." She scampered back to where she had laid it and let out a howl. "Branflake you're a dead woman!" She tried to shake the cement out of all the compartments, when nothing happened; she moped to the ladder and crawled down. "Guess it could be worse."
CK had insisted that Leo and Lindsey stay the night instead of driving all the way back to Arlington. She put them up in one of the bedrooms at the opposite end of the hallway after a remark from Branson to not blow the shingles off with their screams. All she could do at that moment was shake her head and ignore the blush that covered her cheeks. It had been a very long time since she had laughed so much or had people in her house. Going into her bedroom, she grabbed the stack of Branson's clothes and walked into her room to place them on the dresser. She turned when Branson came into the room with a towel wrapped around her neck and her hair still wet from her shower.
"I have one more load of laundry to fold and all your clothes will be done." She walked past Branson and looked over her shoulder. "Those two aren't going to keep us awake all night will they?"
Branson wiggled her brows and nodded her head. "Most likely, their libidos are always on hyper drive. Night Phantom, sleep tight." She walked over to her bed, dropped down on her stomach and chuckled into her pillow.
CK rolled onto her back and looked up at the ceiling, she had tried sleeping with her pillow clutched around her head to drown out the noises coming from down the hall but found breathing difficult. Getting out of bed, she went across the hall to the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face. With her head still hanging down over the sink, she looked to the side and into Branson's bedroom. In the dim light, she could see her lying there on her back with her hands pressed over her ears. A wicked grin came to her lips. "So you're not immune either, I know I can make your night worse." Drying her face, she went across the hall, stood beside Branson's bed and looked down into her stressed face. Placing one hand on the edge of the bed, she leaned over until their lips were a breath away. "Welcome to Hell." She whispered before bringing their lips together in a soft kiss. When she felt Branson respond, she deepened their kiss and crawled onto the bed to straddle her hips. Long fingers came up to tangle in her hair and scratch her scalp. Low moans rumbled between them, hands wandered under shirts and brushed against warm skin. When CK felt hands cup her breasts, she broke the kiss and panted. "Night Slick, pleasant dreams." She crawled off the bed and stumbled back to her bedroom on weak legs, dropping into her bed, she tried to take deep calming breaths. "That was really stupid Callaway; you threw your self into a living Hell right along with her."
Branson lay looking up at the ceiling and panting, her body was on fire and her center twitching. She could feel the wetness coating the insides of her thighs and soaking into her boxers. Crossing her ankles, she let out a gasp from the sensations her engorged clit sent to her center. "I can't believe you did this to me CK, come in here, molest me and then leave me in agony." She took a deep breath and felt her t-shirt brush against her nipples, whimpering, she brought her hands up and pressed her palms against them. "Cold shower?or go attack her?" She weighed each choice in her mind and gave up. Uncrossing her ankles and moving a hand down under her waistband, her hips thrust upward when fingers touched wetness. Running two fingers on either side of her throbbing clit, she stroked herself until she gasped out with release. Small shudders ran through her body until it calmed, she whimpered at the fullness still between her legs. "I hate you CK." She rolled to her side and fell asleep cupping her sex.
CK rolled from her bed and paced the floor in front of one of the windows that looked out over the pasture. She stopped and looked out and then moved closer to look up at the twinkling stars, she had always loved to lie out on the small roof of the deck and stare up at the stars above. "Come on, when I was little I always saw a shooting star to wish upon." She dropped her head and leaned against the window, a low moan escaped her lips when the window ledge touched her groin. She had ignored the throb between her legs until now. With a trembling hand, she pushed it down the front of her cotton shorts and let her head fall back when she felt liquid heat. Sliding her fingers through her wetness, she slipped two fingers inside herself and gasped. Pressing her hand tighter, she thrust her hips so that her clit pressed into the heel of her hand. Picturing in her mind that it was Branson's hand and fingers, she went over the edge with a shudder. Sinking to her knees, she continued to thrust against her hand until she brought herself to the edge and over again. Pulling her hand from between her legs, she looked at her wet fingers and moaned. "A lot of good that did, you made it worse you dummy." She sat on the floor with her forehead resting on the wall until she was able to stand. Dropping into her bed, she pulled her pillow to her chest and drifted off into sleep.
CK was finished feeding the hogs and her next chore was to milk her cow; she walked into the barn and stopped when she saw Branson sitting on the small stool beside Bert. Her wide back and shoulders relaxed, her forehead resting against the cows side brought a flurry of tingles to settle between CK's legs. "You're getting weirder by the minute Callaway; you get hot when she's doing nothing." Stopping beside Branson, she looked down and held back the laugh that was fighting to burst out. She leaned down on the other side of Bert and removed the full bucket of milk. Going to the other side, she pulled a sleeping Branson back against her body and pushed on Bert's rump. Never before had she known anyone to fall asleep while milking a cow, this was one more thing she could hold over her tall friend. Pressing her head back against her breast, she looked down at her calm face and felt her heart warm. Running the backs of her fingers down a cheek, she smiled when blue eyes fluttered open and looked at her. "Morning, sleep much last night?" Branson looked around and then groaned.
"Tell me that I didn't sleep with your cow."
"OK, but I'll tell ya this; she went outta here with a huge grin on her face." She gazed down into crystal blue eyes and felt her hunger surfacing, she lowered her head; and brought their lips together in a soft kiss. Branson moved so that she had CK sitting on her lap, straddling her thighs with her legs wrapped around her waist. The kiss turned to pure hunger and longing, tongues dueled and teeth nipped. Hands roamed to search out flesh to explore and to raise pulses. When the kiss broke, Branson nuzzled the side of CK's neck and sucked the warm skin between her lips. She moaned and tilted her head to the side to offer more room; she knew if they continued, she would climax in a matter of seconds. "Branson?stop?not here?not now." She whimpered when Branson pulled her lips away and hugged her tight. "It's too soon?I'm sorry." She wrapped her arms tighter around Branson and buried her face in her neck. "I want you so bad, but it's just too soon."
"It's OK, I understand," She kissed the side of her head and closed her eyes in agony. "We have lots of time, I'm not going anywhere." She stood up and lowered CK's feet to the barn floor. "What time is the barn raising, we don't wanna be late." She took a deep breath and closed her eyes tightly. "I need something to do to take my mind off a certain throbbing area." She dropped her head down so that their foreheads rested against each other.
"You and me both," CK whispered and heard Branson groan. "We should be over there by at least seven o'clock, are Leo and Lindsey going with us?"
"Yep, they owe big time for all that noise last night."
Close to fifty men either worked on the barn structure or off to the sides cutting wood and making wooden pegs, the women were setting covered dishes of every size on long tables close to the house. Making lemonade and filling large water pitchers with cold water from the well, the children too young to help, took water and lemonade to the adults who were working. CK and Lindsey were among the women helping with the drinks, handing off the last of the buckets, they looked to each other and grinned.
"Do ya think they're getting into trouble?" CK asked and looked towards the barn. "I haven't seen them in the last hour; I hope that they haven't caused any heart attacks where ever they are."
Lindsey wrapped an arm across her shoulders and snorted. "You're kidding right, those two could find trouble if they were locked in a glass room. Last I heard from the groaning hordes, they were making the trusses for the barn. I just hope they kept all their clothes on, we wouldn't want your Amish neighbors to put you in the stocks for having weird friends."
"Tell me they don't work on the sites half naked."
Lindsey threw her head back and barked out with laughter. "How do you think Branson got that all over tan, come on, maybe we can save some victims."
Taking CK's hand, she led her towards the backside of the huge framed-out barn, she had a general idea of where their trouble making partners were from all the snickering and pointing fingers from the children. They stopped and stared at the two women, Branson and Leo had striped down to their sports bras, and their tool belts hung low on the gyrating hips.
"Lindsey, I don't hear any music so what are they dancing to?"
"They have those tiny little MP3 players; they put 'em in the front pocket on their tool belts. Knowing those two and the way they're moving, they're listening to Latino music." She watched her wife and Branson, a hungry look stole over her eyes when Leo looked up and danced only for her.
CK swung her eyes over to where Branson was and pulled a shaky breath through her teeth, hooded pale blue eyes pierced her where she stood. She brought a trembling hand up to her brow, wiped the sweat away, and then clutched her chest. Branson's hips started out at a slow roll and gained speed; she lifted her arms above her head and flexed her stomach. "I think I'm having a heart attack. Lindsey." She jumped when she heard a loud clatter behind her; she turned her head and saw one of her neighbor's sons standing with his jaw hanging on his chest and his feet amongst a pile of lumber.
"Hey CK. who is that and would she go out with me?" He stepped beside her and looked to her and back to Branson. "If not her how about the other one, I could show them the time of their lives." He wiped the drool from his lips and started to walk towards Leo with an exaggerated strut to his step.
"I don't even think so, little boy!" Lindsey grabbed him by the back of his shirt and dragged him backwards. "Get your eyes off my wife or I'll gouge them out with a screw driver!"
"Hey wait a minute here, you can't do that and besides that's not normal. A threesome with two women is every guy's fantasy but without a man it's not normal." He shrugged loose and turned in the direction of Branson. "I'll just go talk to the tall one."
CK walked up behind him, put him in a chokehold and dropped him to his knees with a well-placed kick. "You just don't get it do you Ben, you have no chance with either one of those women over there." She growled in his ear and tightened her hold. "The tall one is mine and if you don't get out of here, I'll rip your dick off with a claw hammer." She released him and shoved him to the dirt. "Now get your ugly ass face out of here before I tell Elder Jonas about you peeping in his daughters windows!"
He jumped to his feet, gave her a glare and puffed out his chest. "I don't take orders from any woman let alone a freak, tell Jonas and it'll be your word against mine." He shoved past her and stopped to look over his shoulder. "Fucking dykes, you can forget about using our combine for your crops!" He stomped off cussing loud enough for every one close by to hear.
"How I would love to rip his head off and feed it to my pigs." CK mumbled and walked towards a smirking Branson and Leo. "You two are in serious trouble," She pointed a finger at Branson and stepped into her space. "I just about ripped apart that little shit and on top of that, he threatened to not let me use their combine!" Flames danced in her eyes and a vein throbbed in her temple.
"Don't worry about that shithead; we already roughed him up earlier for grabbing our asses." She reached out and pulled CK against her chest. "Is it time to eat yet, I'm starving?"
What CK saw in the lidded blue eyes was not a hunger for food; she gulped and shuddered against the strong body. "Is that all you want?" I can't believe you said that Callaway!
"Noooo but I don't think this is the place to explore that so I'll settle on food."
"Ohh come on you two and knock it off," Leo snorted when Branson gave her the raised eyebrow look. "I'm sexually frustrated just from watching you two."
"After that little show you two idiots put on, the whole male population is frustrated!" Lindsey pulled Leo's t-shirt over her head and unfastened her tool belt. "Let's go get something to eat and a bucket of ice to pour over their heads."
"Are we that bad?" CK asked in a low whisper.
Lindsey barked with laughter at her friends. "Like crystal, now come on before the Amish population throws a fit and we end up buried out in a field somewhere."
With the barn complete and the young ones finishing up the small details of picking up scraps of lumber and wooden pegs, the workers were saying their goodbyes and heading home. Abraham and his son came over to CK, shook her hand, and then looked for her friends.
"Little English, where are your friends?" Abraham looked around and back at her.
"Ohh they're around here somewhere, probably making sure that they have all their tools."
"They are really different than you, many of the young English farmers kept smacking their fingers with hammers because of them." He grinned at her and clapped her on her shoulder. "They kept them from looking at all the young Amish girls and making them think of a different life. I like them and tell them thank you for all their help today." He tipped his hat and walked with his son up to where their family was waiting.
"You are so lucky, Slick." She said to herself as she ran a hand through her hair and sighed.
Branson placed her chin on CK's shoulder and whispered hoarsely in her ear causing her to shiver. "Did you say I was gonna get lucky?"
"You wish that's what I said," She pulled the arms that wrapped around her waist tighter and leaned back in to her body. "You're not even getting close to me once we get home until you take a shower."
"Damn, and I thought I smelled manly, ya mean it doesn't turn you on?"
"You are a sick pup and no, it doesn't turn me on," she turned in her arms, looked up into smiling blue eyes and gave her a sexy smile. "Maybe you'll find out what does once you take a shower."
"If I dunk under one of the water pumps, will ya show me?"
CK shook her head, took her by her hand and pulled her to the truck. "Not a chance Slick, now where's Leo and Lindsey?"
"I think they were trying to steal some strudel before it was put away, Leo said there was lots of stuff left over there but she would kill for the cherry strudel." She shrugged her shoulders, leaned back against the truck and pulled CK to her side. "She's a pig when it comes to free food."
CK leaned back and looked up at Branson's profile; the sun had deepened her tan even more and left a slight redness to her cheeks and nose. Her eyes seemed to glow brighter and shine with intensity to burn. She wanted to feel those eyes all over her body and soon. Branson looked down and gave CK a sultry look. "What?"
"Ahh nothing?I was?just," she took a deep breath and blew it out through her teeth. "Where the Hell are they, I'll make them all the damn strudel they can eat for Gods sakes."
Branson gave her an evil grin, she knew she was getting to CK and was enjoying her impatience. "Let ya in on a little secret there CK, it's your strudel she's trying to steal."
CK smacked her in the stomach and growled. "Why didn't you tell them that?" She pushed Branson into the truck, crawled in behind her and hit the horn. A few minutes later, their missing friends came charging towards them with bags in their hands. They jumped over the quarter panel and sat down in the back of the truck. "I'm gonna beat them both senseless when we get home." CK growled as she started the truck and pulled down the long driveway.
Branson stepped out of the bathroom, her hair still wet and soaking her tank top, she looked down the hallway and saw a light at the bottom of CK's room. Taking a steadying breath, she walked towards her door and stopped. What are you going to do now Branflake; you haven't the foggiest idea of how to seduce her. Maybe she'll seduce you instead and make it easier. She reached for the doorknob and changed her mind, going back to her own bedroom; she walked in and dropped down onto her bed with a long drawn out sigh. "You're a chicken shit get over it." She dropped an arm over her eyes and succumbed to her exhaustion.
CK walked quietly down the hall, paused at the bedroom that Leo and Lindsey were using and then headed to the opposite end where hers and Branson's was. She stopped outside Branson's door and peeked in; a small smile came to her face when she saw long legs hanging off the edge of the bed. Stepping in, she walked over to the bed, picked Branson's legs up, and moved them into the bed. Looking at her slack face and the rise of her chest, she knew that she was dead to the world. Running a fingertip from ankle to the edge of her silk boxers, she grinned when a large hand tried to smack her hand away. Repeating the same move on the other leg, she held back a snort when Branson did the same thing. Getting bolder, she trailed a finger from her stomach all the way up between her breasts to stop at the edge of her collar and back down. The sight of her arching back and hardening nipples made her mouth water. Playing with fire will burn you to a crisp Callaway! But who cares, this is the only time I can get away with it and her not expect anything. Placing her hand on the swell of a breast, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the softness.
"Let go Bert, my tits, no milk." Branson mumbled in her sleep, grabbed CK's hand and rolled over with a loud snore.
"Bert, I can't believe you think Bert's playing with your tits." She struggled to pull her hand away and then saw blue eyes watching her.
"She's tried but you're much better at it." She pulled CK down into the bed with her and wrapped around her body before going back to sleep.
CK snuggled into her warm body and sighed deeply. "I'll let you get away with this for tonight." She whispered to both herself and Branson before falling asleep in the warm cocoon of Branson's strong arms.
Branson hugged both of her friends and watched them climb into the dump trucks and drive down the long driveway to the hardtop. She hated seeing them go but they were needed back in the city to get the plans for the firehouse done and to get the crew together. She knew that she would have to go back to sign paperwork for the building permit, not to mention smooth the ruffled feathers of her backers. It wasn't like she needed them for the funds they gave, she could do it all on her own if she wanted. However, it kept her in their good graces and made the egotistical idiots feel important. She sighed and walked back towards the house kicking small stones on her way, she had woke before CK and left her to sleep. The corners of her lips lifted in a smile, she could still feel the small body pressed close to her and the scent of CK's shampoo on her shirt. Picking up her pace, she jogged around the back of the house and jumped up the back steps. As soon as she stepped into the kitchen, she heard CK yelling for her. "What did I do this time?" She mumbled and ran into CK as she turned the corner into the hallway.
"Some guy named Jasper is on the phone for you." She handed Branson her cell phone and went past her into the kitchen, Branson waited for her to get far enough away before she raised the phone to her ear.
"This is Jasper from John Deere, all your equipment should be at the work site in the next hour."
"Thanks, I wasn't expecting it this soon."
"Well, we had a farmer back out on a deal at the last minute. It saved some time on waiting for the tractor to be shipped in. If you need anything else just give us a call and thank you."
"I'll be sure to do that and thanks Jasper." A huge grin came over her face; she rubbed her hands together and walked into the kitchen to find it empty. "You're gonna be so surprised when ya find out that all your chores are done, plus I know my surprise will floor ya." She jogged out the back door and seen CK coming out of the barn with her cat following behind. She stopped and tilted her head to the side when Branson came jogging up to her, grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the pasture.
"Come on I wanna go for a walk."
"A walk?are you nuts?" She stumbled behind Branson before she caught up and walked beside her. "Why are we walking in this direction, there's nothing this way except?nothing."
Branson wrapped an arm over her shoulders, pulled her against her body and kissed her temple. "Isn't this the way to my site?"
"Yeah and it'll take us a half hour to walk there, which I would love to know why we're walking there instead of driving."
"Because I wanna go for a walk and I need to get some stuff out of my office."
"But I have the front field to get baled, I hate being out there once it gets dark. My damn tractor is so slow it's pitiful and my baler keeps breaking down every 23 bales."
"As soon as we get back I'll help you, this will only take a minute I promise." They walked in silence until they came through the trees into Branson's work site; she stopped and looked around for the equipment that was to be delivered. She spotted something green on the other side of her trailer and pulled CK in that direction. Stopping at the edge of the trailer, she pulled a bandana from her pocket and covered CK's eyes.
"What in the Hell are you doing Slick?"
"Trust me CK, you'll love this."
"What are ya gonna tie me up out here and run off?"
Branson smacked her forehead. "Damn! Ya should have said you were kinky or something; I have lotsa rope in my truck."
"I'm not but you're gonna be in serious trouble if ya don't take this thing off my eyes."
"Humor me Calli, we're almost there." She walked them around the trailer and stopped in front of all the equipment. "OK, are ya ready to scream, yell and kick my ass?"
"I'm that way the second I wake up in the morning, now take this thing off!" Branson pulled the bandana off and stepped back from CK, she watched as her friend sunk to her knees. "Branson?"
"It's all yours Calli," She knelt behind her and rested her chin on her shoulder. "No more depending on your neighbors to get your crops in."
CK looked over her shoulder into twinkling blue eyes. "I can't accept that stuff Branson, it's not right?and it's too much money."
"Ohh yes you can," She got up and pulled CK to her feet. "You need this stuff to do your farming, now take a look at what I got ya." She pulled her towards the brand new 9650 STS Combine. "Did I do good, I asked Jasper what all you would need to bring in your crops." CK walked along the row of farm equipment and named each piece in a low voice.
"Ohh my God Branson," She pointed at the tractor and jumped up and down. "That's a Deere 8020 Series; no one around here has one of those!"
"You do CK, along with a new baler that has that thing that shots the suckers into the wagon. I got ya two grain carts that hold 1,075 bushels, how ever much that is." She scratched her head and grinned at the child like look on her friends face. CK sobered and turned back to Branson, she advanced on her and came into her personal space.
"What's this gonna cost me?"
Branson rolled her eyes and laughed. "Why do you always ask me that?"
"Because everything comes with a price, what's yours?"
"Uhhmm?can you make Jambalaya?"
CK dropped her head and ran her fingers through her hair before looking up from beneath her lashes. "You're a cheap date aren't you?"
"I'm usually called low maintenance but I'll accept cheap date, so can ya?"
"With chicken or sausage?"
"I'll love ya forever if I can have both."
CK finished baling the front field and sat near the barn in her new tractor; she ran her fingers over the console and ejected the Emerson Drive CD from the player. A wide smile came to her face as she took in the leather seats and leaned back to let the cool air from the air conditioner roll across her face. If someone had told her that her very own fairy Godmother would come into her life, she would have looked at them as if they were nuts. Turning the engine off, she opened the door and jumped down to see Branson leaning against the barn with her arms crossed over her chest.
"Do you like your new toys?"
CK walked slowly over to her and wrapped her arms around her neck. "I love my new toys; I just don't understand why you've done all this. That stuff cost more money than I'll ever see in three lifetimes."
"I was given a chance a long time ago to make something of myself; the deal was that when I made it big, I was to make that happen for other people. Leo and Lindsey are both high school dropouts that couldn't get jobs. Leo is the best site manager I've ever seen and Lindsey has a brain for numbers. She's the reason I have so much money, she's a whiz at the stock market."
"But I'll never make it big?I'm a farmer and that's all."
Branson placed a soft kiss on her lips and pressed their foreheads together. "You're way more than just a farmer and just seeing you smiling as you came down out of that tractor was big for me, I'm a simple person and the smallest things thrill the Hell outta me."
CK brought their lips together in a deep passion filled kiss and broke it when Branson started slipping to the ground. "Come on Slick, I'll thrill your taste buds with my Jambalaya."
"You're a cruel woman ta kiss me like that and then tempt my stomach with food."
Continued In Part 2