Way to Go
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When Dan Carney had first stepped out onto the hotel patio at 9 am the heat of the sun had hit him like a wall of fire. Scrambling his six foot frame into his van had been like squeezing into an oven. Now that he was on the road with the windows wide open allowing the rush of warm air give some measure of relief, he reckoned that it had to be the hottest day ever. He pulled the peak of his baseball cap lower to counter the glare of the sun.
Not for the first time he wished he could afford a van with air conditioning. But he had to admit that his art work was not yet earning him enough to take such extravagant steps.
Dan was twenty six years old, and since leaving university he had been making just enough money from his art to keep the wolf from the door. That door was fixed on a tight little downstairs flat in a city which was a long way from where he was at present.
Most of his earnings came from doing carbon sketches of people. He could do caricatures if requested it, but mostly factual representation that, if he rendered them slightly flattering, usually ensured a better fee. Yes, a few successes with portraits in oils, which he was good at, had helped his bank balance, but he did not yet have the contacts or the stability to build on that.
He would admit to an equal expertise in landscapes, oils or water colours. This meant that his little flat was often uninhabited now. He was always on the move, chasing that illusive masterpiece. He maintained a dream of one day having his own studio, where people would come to view and buy his landscapes or to request a sitting for something more personal. But right at this moment all his art equipment, finished paintings, pads, paints, blank canvases and easels, were stored haphazardly in the back of this van
Hitting the main road east that the hotel manager had indicated, Dan sighed, as he recognised the fulfilment of his dream might be many years away. This near nomadic life he was leading had already cost him a two year hectic and hot relationship with Vanessa. She had been keen to show Dan how generous her voluptuous body could be in bed. Without ever commenting about it, Dan had sensed her motives very early in the relationship. It was her mistaken belief that attaching herself to this, then twenty three year old artist might one day repay her sensuous attention. Dan was the first to admit he had learned much from her profound sensuality.
It had taken her a year to learn that it wasn’t easy to be good in bed with somebody who was rarely there. So six months earlier, Dan had returned to his flat from one of his trips to find Vanessa, and her whole wardrobe gone. A note, written on the back of an envelope, merely stated, ‘Bye, bye, loser!’
Dan’s regrets had been short-lived. Yes, he had looked forward to coming back to the flat to experience the avid attention she gave to his penis, hard or soft. But her frequent moaning and griping during those later weeks he did not miss at all. Now, she was gone, and near forgotten. Too active, he hadn’t even tried to replace her.
On this particular day he was heading for the Arrowhead Falls, one of the features of the Ascow River, which he had noticed in a magazine photograph. The falls and various aspects of the river life intrigued him, and he hoped to do some justice to it in water colours or even oils.
This road he was on passed through ever changing countryside, mostly flat with occasional hump backs of hills. Open farmland, a mix of cereal, crops and cattle, shone in the bright sunlight. There was the occasional farmhouse set well back from the road. At one point, about two miles out of town he saw on a hill partly shaded by trees, a large white fronted house, which, he thought seemed slightly out of place in the general lay of the land.
Dan groped beneath his seat, and uttered a loud curse. Dammit, he’d left his water bottle back at the hotel. Intense heat had his shirt sticking to his back, and he could have done with a drink. He could just imagine himself having to slurp in some dubious stream to keep his thirst quenched.
He noticed a cross roads up ahead. Was this the one the manager had advised him to turn left at? Without giving it too much consideration he turned the wheel left. Apart from a few rise and falls the landscape remained very similar, farms, hills, and some woodland.
Driving two or three miles along this road there had been no sign of a river, let alone a falls, and he was beginning to wonder if he had taken the wrong turn. Then up ahead was a farm house, the first that had been close to the road, set just a hundred yards back. Maybe the farmer could give him some directions.
When he was level with the house he pulled the van up onto the verge, under a patch of convenient sheltering trees. He hauled himself out, and stood for a moment, stretching his legs and easing the shirt that clung to him. A wide gate blocked the drive up to the house, and Dan clicked it open, stepped inside and closed it behind him, having noticed a pig and several güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri hens loose beyond what looked like a small garden in front of the house.
As he took the first few paces towards the house, a woman appeared out of the front door, holding a glass of something. She was about to sit down by a table on the porch when she noticed Dan’s approach. She put her glass down, and stepped to the edge of the porch.
For some crazy reason, Dan had not expected a woman. From this distance he could not tell much about her. Her figure looked fairly neat in a yellow summer dress, and the way she stood suggested that she was not an aged old crone. Conversing with younger women always made him slightly uneasy, in spite of what he’d experienced with Vanessa.
Cassandra Masters, known to everyone as Cassie, wasn’t expecting anyone as she watched the tallish man coming down the drive. Presumably the blue van out on the road belonged to him. Seeing a strange man approach always produced that initial frisson of concern, mainly because it was so rare. Ever since Gordon, her husband, had been killed two years earlier she had run the small farm.
Gordon had been the first and only man she had ever slept with. After succumbing that first time, she had found that she was pregnant, as a consequence, and under pressure from parents, they had married when she was twenty years old. The birth of her son, Vince, had brought some joy into her life, as, very early on, she knew the marriage had been a mistake.
Gordon owned the farm, and filled the role of farmer very well. The role of husband was a different story. His demands on Cassie were that she helped with the farm, kept the house tidy, cooked his meals, and, when he was in the mood, parted her thighs for him to relieve his physical tension. One of those cold couplings had resulted in a second pregnancy, and the blessing of her daughter, Angela, who was now eight years old. Cassie could not recall anytime when words of love had spilled from his mouth.
Both children were away at summer camp until the weekend, and she missed them terribly. Watching this stranger approach had her feeling that at least here was a break in routine.
As he strode nearer, she was taken by the easy movement of his body, a sway, a rolling walk that she found quite fetching, but didn’t know why. She saw the damp patches under his armpits, and the way his checked shirt was glued to his broad chest by sweat. He took a kerchief from a pocket removed his baseball cap, and mopped at his brow. A crop of short, black hair curled out in all directions, and a smile creased his face, as their eyes met.
Something jumped inside her, and she was strangely glad that, because of the heat of midmorning, she had changed out of her working jeans and boots into her thin summer dress. She didn’t even question why she was bothered about not having brushed her hair or applied any lipstick. She rarely wore lipstick.
His walk, his hair, the smile on his open face, all combined to scramble her thinking. When he spoke his voice had a deep brown quality that so fit in with the rest of his persona, as he smiled again, and said, “I’m sorry to trouble you, but I’m not sure if I’ve taken a wrong turning. I’m supposed to be finding the Ascow River, and particularly the Arrowhead Falls.”
Cassie’s breath had seized up in her throat. Somewhere inside her brain had developed the realisation that something was about to change. As she stood looking down at him from the porch, taking in the pure masculinity of him, noticing the deep brown eyes, the way his light blue jeans pulled tightly across his thighs, she struggled to formulate an answer.
“Th-the n-next turn off would have been better. But there isn’t that much in it. Just a mile down this road there’s a right turn along a narrower lane, and that bends directly to the falls.” Having spoken she was even more breathless, as the stranger’s head nodded, and he half turned away, before turning back to look up at her. God, were his eyes on the front of her dress?
“Might I trouble you-” he began.
Cassie would never know what prompted her next move. This was a complete stranger. He could be anything, but nothing else seemed to matter except to make him the offer, “You look awfully hot out there. Come and sit under the porch. Would you like a cold lemon drink? I was just about to have one.” Vaguely she waved a hand at her glass on the table.
For a moment he appeared to hesitate, a serious look on his face. Then he said, as he took the two steps up to the porch, “That’s very kind of you,”
Standing on level ground he seemed to tower over her. Looking up into those deep eyes, Cassie could smell the sweat on him mingled with something unfamiliar, but not unpleasant. She was wrestling with twin impulses, one to step back and the other to move closer to him. “Please, sit,” she mumbled, before scuttling into the kitchen for his drink.
Just a little confused, Dan eased himself into a chair. güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri Whoever said distance lends enchantment was totally misguided. His early impression of this lady changed as each step along the drive brought him closer to her. Definitely not an old crone, and in that yellow dress her figure was a few points ahead of just ‘fairly neat’. As he neared the woman standing on the porch, a wayward breeze stole in from the heated atmosphere and pressed the yellow dress against her thighs emphasising the point where they met.
As he gave her his warmest smile in an attempt to reassure her of his innocent intentions, his eyes took in the way her hair tumbled wildly around her face. Hair that was somewhere between brown and blonde, a tawny colour, that happened to be his favourite.
That hair framed a face that was just lovely. No make up, the bluest of eyes, which regarded him with some concern he felt, and a mouth that was full lipped and looked so kissable. Dan tried to think of any woman he’d known who could look so good without make-up.
After she had kindly given him directions, he had turned away, then looked back intending to ask for a drink of water. As he began to speak he couldn’t help noticing that her nipples pushed out against the thin material of the dress. Did that signify that she didn’t need a bra?
When she made the offer for him to sit, he was sure his heart had pushed in an extra beat, as, for the first time, he’d wondered where her husband might be. Dan had noticed the ring on her finger. Standing on the porch close to her, he had thought she had swayed for a moment. A good rich aroma of the earth and something floral, not perfume, came from her.
As she came back holding out the glass of iced lemon, he couldn’t help noticing that her hair was less mussed than it had been. Dan felt flattered. “This is very kind of you,” he told her, as she settled down in the chair on the other side of the table. Dan took a quick thirsty gulp at the contents of the glass. It tasted so refreshingly quenching that he had to congratulate her, adding, “I’ll enjoy this and not delay you any further.”
Cassie felt a twinge of regret that he would leave. Yet common sense told her it was inevitable. To hell with common sense, as she looked directly at him and said, “I don’t get much company.” She needed to know much more about him, and asked, “Why do you want to see the falls?”
“I’m an artist. I want to paint them and the general river area.”
An artist? Cassie tried to cover up her surprise somehow she did not equate his stolid masculinity with an artist. Still it was intriguing. “Might I have seen any of your work?”
He gave a rather bitter chuckle, “Only if you looked in the back of my van.” And then, as though he wanted to change the subject he asked, “Is your husband out working the fields?”
Cassie looked from that strong face, out to where one of the pigs was trying to nose his way past the wire mesh into the vegetable garden. What to say? Let him know she was alone and defenceless in this house? But her insides had already told her how she felt about this stranger. Besides, telling him would delay his departure
“My husband was killed two years ago,” she said in as matter of fact voice as she could muster.
The stranger’s face showed instant sympathy and concern, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realise—”
“How could you? “
“How did it happen?”
“He was helping a neighbour, and drove a tractor along a dip in one edge of a field. The tractor toppled throwing Gordon out but it rolled on top of him. They said it was instantaneous.” Cassie was surprised how easy it was to talk about it now. She was almost tempted to tell this compelling stranger how her personal grief had been short lived.
Brown eyes were fixed on her face, “Have you managed the farm alone?”
Cassie had to look away from the intensity of his gaze. “The farmers around here all help each other,” she told him, “but I’m lucky enough to have a couple, Anna and Barry Naylor, in their late forties, good honest farm hands, who live in the small shack we have just over the hillock behind the house there.”
She looked back at him, into his eyes, so deep, so genuine, and wondered how old he might be. Younger than her thirty years, was her immediate thought, yet there was a worldliness about him that made his age difficult to read.
He glanced at his watch and said, “It’s been really pleasant, but I really must get on.”
As he stood up, Dan knew he had to keep up his resolve to move. Staying here with this lovely lady had so much appeal, so much so that he found himself trying to make pointless conversation.
“I saw a big white house on a hill just out of town. It looked so out of place”
For a moment he thought she looked just a little annoyed that he would move the conversation to something meaningless. “But she did answer, “Oh, the Cunningham place. Great grandfather made a fortune in timber, but descendants have become güvenilir bahis şirketleri general entrepreneurs, fingers in many pies, very rich, very boring.”
Looking down at her, at the subtle curves showing at the split neckline of her dress, had him quivering inside. On a sudden mad impulse he said, “Are you able to come with me to show me the way?”
For a moment , he was sure her eyes had lit up, but just as quickly her face fell as she said, “That might have been good, but I have two friends calling for coffee this afternoon.”
Dan nodded, hoping his disappointment didn’t show. If her reason was genuine, fair enough, or maybe she was just uncertain of him.
“Will you be going back tomorrow?” she asked.
Was this a door opening? “Oh, yes,” he said positively, “I’ll only be doing a preliminary inspection of things today. Maybe make a sketch or two, ready to make a start tomorrow.”
His invitation for her to show him the way had set her heart pounding. Did he really want to be with her beyond this brief meeting? By the same token she wondered what she was getting so excited about. Why was he affecting her this way?
Nevertheless Carrie had cursed the fact that Dianne and Claire were coming around today of all days. Desperately she had wondered if she could phone them, but no ready or believable excuse would come to mind. Yet his request deserved something more than a blind refusal, didn’t it? Are you going to take that big step, Carrie Masters?
There he stood, looking down at her, and maybe, down the front of her dress, and she didn’t care. Take the step, you fool. Coming to her feet, she asked, “Would you allow me to come with you tomorrow?” And just to divert her motives she added, “I’ve never watched an artist working before. If you wouldn’t mind?”
His answer came back faster than she’d dared hope, “I don’t mind at all.” he said, as he moved to the edge of the porch. “Nine o’clock too early?”
The fluttering in her chest would not go away, and she said, “I’ll be at the gate.” A moment’s pause, then to add extra garnish to the prospect , “Could I ask your name?”
His laugh warmed her insides even more, “That would be useful. I’m Dan. Dan Carney.
“My name is Cassandra, most of my friends call me Cassie”
His smile was as effective as his laugh had been when he said, “I hope I will fit into that category.”
She tried to keep her voice calm as she replied, “Yes, I think that will be all right. But only if you let me bring the refreshments we’ll need tomorrow.”
“That’ll be good. Till then,” he said, and the look he gave her was so intense, so full of something she could not read, it brought a rush of blood to her face.
She watched his tall figure stroll down the drive with that enthralling rolling style, and she noticed how small and firm his buttocks looked under the tightness of his jeans. Another first. Had she ever noticed a man’s buttocks before? Oh, tomorrow was too far away.
Opening the door of his van, Dan took a last glance back at the figure in the yellow dress. A small, distant figure, but her image filled his mind. Face, hair, the body hinted at under her dress, her gentle voice, her kindness, all remained with him as he drove away.
Getting his thoughts back on his work, and the directions she had given him, was not easy. He did find the lane on his right, and followed its curve, until through the van window he heard the sound of splashing water. Parking the van on a patch of ground which had clearly been used for that purpose many times, he picked up his A4 pad, a couple of pencils, and tracked the sound.
Cassie Masters, no, concentrate on work. There was initial disappointment as he came to the falls. Not as high as he’d expected, seven metres maybe, but there was no large flow. Four separate streams poured into the river below, each flow scattered thinly as they struck jutting rocks. The photograph he had seen suggested a torrent. It certainly wasn’t that.
Dan spent some time deciding where he would pitch his easel on the following day. He sat and made two quick sketches of the scene, before viewing the river above and beyond the falls seeking other worthwhile landscapes. Hot and hungry, he returned to his hotel, to bathe, eat, consider the sketches he had made, and allow his thoughts to return to the prospect of seeing Cassie Masters again.
Cassie prepared to retire that night after having spent much of the afternoon trying to concentrate on what her friends had to say, while her mind continually drifted to that six foot image called Dan Carney. As she removed her clothes, she did something that she could not recall having done for many years. She stood in front of the mirror and viewed her naked body critically. Her breasts had acquired little droop, her belly maybe had a slight swell, but was acceptably level, and her thighs remained strong.
She could be quite pleased with what she saw, but still could not reconcile herself to why she should be viewing herself in this way. There was only one obvious reason, and that was Dan Carney, but what was she expecting? She had been a sensuous person, in her late teens, but Gordon had cooled most of that. All she knew, from chats and gossip with Dianne and Claire, both married, was that she had been missing something in her married life.
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