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Heat ripples and rises from the ground in shimmering sheets of haze. The air is stifling in its stillness, the sky a washed out expanse of pale blue that looks as hard and dry as the land I stand on. I am standing on the side of my new dam. Or at least it will be if it ever rains again. The work is nearly finished and the dam will be the largest and deepest on the property, and is big enough to call a lake. The one that will supply the stables and yards with water.
I swipe sweat off my face before I bend back to help finish setting up the pump and lines. I work alongside the men until the heat gets too much and I call for a break, we have been working since first light at 4am. The men don’t grumble about delays as we troop to what little shade there is. Talk is of the drought we’ve been suffering through and of the storms and rain that have been predicted for later in the week and that the dam will be all ready to catch whatever water manages to make it into the catchment area.
The far away grumble of a large motor reaches us through the still air and we turn to look in the direction it is coming from. A plume of dust tracks the progress of the 4X4 as it comes closer and I bite back a groan when I recognise the engine notes of my brother’s truck and I KNOW that he won’t be alone.
Against my will my body goes on alert, my nipples bead and moisture floods my sex. I close my eyes and breath deep as I struggle to get my emotions and reaction under control. His best friend seems to have become glued to his side whenever he comes for a visit these days. A friend that I’d rather not have to deal with. A friend that I’ve always had a thing for. Even when I was too young and the age gap a bit too much. There had been an overwhelming attraction that had scared the daylights out of my, untried, teenaged self until I was old enough to understand the attraction.
A friend that, after realising that the attraction was mutual, had stopped coming home with my brother and had moved to another city then stayed away for 6 very long years. A friend who several months ago had come back to town and had let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I am his.
His intensity and presence had been impressive when he was a young man. Now he was a man in his prime and power rolled off him like the heat rising from the ground. Intense. Driven. Overwhelmingly Alpha male. Now,6 years later, I recognise a man who is a threat to my hard won peace of mind. And my own reactions to him make what I’d felt as a teen look like a molehill next to a volcano that is rumbling and threatening to erupt.
I watch the cloud of dust bypass the house and barrel towards us. I give the men their orders for the rest of the day and walk towards my own truck. I can use the excuse of my brother taking over so I can escape to the house under the guise of putting a meal on for the team. I climb into the driver’s seat and move out, meeting my brother halfway between the house and the dam site. We pull up next to each other and have a quick catch up on the work and what needs to be done before the rains come. All the while his friend’s eyes are glued to my face, I may be fooling my brother but I’m not fooling Dane.
Dane knows precisely why I’m heading back to the house and his look lets me know that my avoidance won’t work forever. His lips twitching when he rakes his gaze downwards lets me know that my body has betrayed me as well. I know that I have to learn how to deal with Dane and my reaction to him, because Dane is about to become my closest neighbour.
Owning neighbouring properties had been a dream for me and my brother for years. Then this property was put up for sale and a month later the one next to it was posted for sale as well. We hadn’t been able to resist buying both parcels, one for each of us, and combining the two into the horse stud and training facilities that we have dreamed about for most of our lives.
We have had both properties for nearly a year now. Then a few weeks ago the property on the other side of mine had gone up for sale. We had talked about putting in a bid for it ourselves but had to admit that our start up was stretched enough already with the work we had underway and planned. Then before I knew anything about it Dane snapped it up and I was now trying to come to terms with having him for a neighbour once the sale is finalised. My brother, of course, is rapt with having his best friend so close to hand and all I can think is thank god Dane’s house is out of sight of mine and not close enough to walk to.
Wrenching myself back to the present I slow the truck so I’m not stirring up too much dust as I pull up near the house. I climb down and make my way to the laundry and strip out of my filthy clothes then head to the bathroom for a very quick shower. Turning the water on and off to save as much of the precious liquid as possible, stopping only long enough along the way to turn the aircon on. If I had to cook in this heat then I wasn’t going to cook myself in the process.
Feeling cleaner and starting to feel the çıtır escort air cool off I headed into the kitchen to dig out the makings for the braised stew I’d planned for tonight. Despite the heat a hearty meal was a necessity after a hard day of heavy work and part of the deal for the workers is room and board while they are here. I prepare lunch and dinner and my brother provides the beds and breakfast. It gave me a good cut off the quoted price of the work so I don’t mind and I quite enjoy cooking when my efforts are appreciated and starving men do appreciate it.
I flicked my cd player on and set Loreena Mckennitt to play. I hauled my biggest, cauldron sized, pot onto the oven and added a splash of water and oil to the bottom. Lined up the carrots, capsicums, button mushrooms and onions and started cubing the meat before tossing them in seasoned flour. Then started braising the steak in batches with the onions while I chopped up the carrots and capsicums and building the layers of meat, veggies and whole mushrooms until the meat was all used and topped off with the last of the veggies.
I put the lid on the pot and made the thick gravy with the scrapings off the bottom of the frying pan. Tomato paste, herbs, flour and red wine, mixing until I was happy with the flavour then emptying it into the pot and giving it a stir before replacing the lid and turning the heat up a bit. All the while I fell into the music that swelled and flowed around me, The Lady of Shalott flowed into Dante’s Prayer and I closed my eyes and drifted to the song, singing along: “Then the mountain rose before me, By the deep well of desire, From the fountain of forgiveness, Beyond the ice and fire… Cast your eyes on the ocean, Cast your soul to the sea, When the dark night seems endless, Please remember me….”
“I never forgot you. Not for one instant.” My eyes flew open and I spun around, my heart pounding and lodged in my throat as the deep voice rolled over the top of the song. Dane stood in the doorway to the hall, filling the opening and swamping the room with his presence. His shoulder propped against the frame, one foot crossed in front of the other and thumbs tucked into the belt around his lean hips.
Dane looked as though he’d been standing there for a while and my answer to him was an acerbic, “Well you fooled me! But what I really want to know is why you bothered coming back after all this time, why now?” Dane straightened up and prowled towards me, pressing the stop button on the cd player as he went past it. I dumped the fry pan onto the bench and backed away from him, I didn’t want him that close to me. I came to a stop when I backed into short bar at the end and started to step sideways between the centre island and the bench but he lunged forward and grabbed my arm, hauling me up short and pulling me against him.
“I didn’t have a choice, I had to leave. You know that!” Dane ground out as he racked his free hand through his hair. “If I had stayed I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself, I had no control around you and you were too young and I was too old for you!” His voice dropped to a whisper, “If I had done what I so desperately wanted to do, what I nearly did do, then I would have deserved to have been drawn and quartered. But I couldn’t stay away any longer. You aren’t too young any more and the age difference isn’t so marked now.” I shuddered as his hands moved up and down my arms, bites of electric shock following in their wake. Sparking the need inside me that had never gone away.
Memories of the night he was talking about had played out in my mind time and time again over the years. My imagination supplying many different endings to the one that had actually happened.
“I wasn’t too young, I was nearly 18!” I sputter out the old argument and knew what his reply would be… that he was 8 years older and should have had more control than to give in to the fire that had flared between us. That still did flare between us. Only now I was the one pulling away.
Dane’d hurt me back then, I’d been half naked, under him. Bared to him and begging for relief from the needs that tore at me and if my brother, calling for him, hadn’t interrupted us then he would have taken me and the outcome would have been very different. As it was he’d jerked back as if he’d been scalded, callously told me to straighten myself up and taken off. Leaving me with a burning, ache deep inside that wouldn’t abate. By morning he was gone, no note, no goodbye, no explanation. I heard the laundry door bang and my brother called out as he kicked his boots off.
I sneered as I said, “Saved by the bell… Again.” Dane swore a blue streak as he moved to sit at the island.
I move to the sink and cleaned up the things I’d used when putting the Braise together while my brother tells us there are clouds building on the horizon. Then says that the dam only needs some finishing touches that will be done this afternoon. I raided the fridge for sandwich fillings as I reply to that bit of news. They must have worked escort demetevler double time to finish getting the pipes laid that quickly. That means only cosmetic work to tidy it all up is left to do. I make a huge pile of sandwiches and ensure the urn is full before telling my brother to call the men in for lunch. Dane heads out and I hear the horn of his truck blare out three long blasts.
His gaze is intense as Dane watches me pull out mugs and line them up next to the urn with the coffee, tea, milk and sugar but he doesn’t talk. I feel as though he is weighing me up and I fidget at the thought of him finding me wanting. I cover my restlessness by hustling to the fridge and pulling out the big glass jug of fruit infused water and filling it to the brim with ice before setting it on the table with the glasses.
I hear the rumble of a 4X4 turning into the yard as I set plates on the table and turn to give the stew a stir as the men troop into the kitchen. Filling the room with the noisy chatter of hope for the clouds to come across and drop their precious bundles of water over the parched earth. Dorothea MacKellar was dead right in her poem “My Country” describing our Australia as a land of drought and flooding rain, we seem to either have one or the other here. But rain means life on the land and without it livestock die and farmers go broke, a hard life but one that we love and struggle to keep.
The men plough their way through the sandwiches and hurry back out to the dam, wanting to get as much done as possible and all their equipment packed up, just in case. My brother and Dane go with them. I walk outside with them to see the clouds for myself but I will stay in the house seeing my brother will be out at the dam. Avoidance, yes… but I also have things to do in and around the house and I use the cleaning to distract my mind from a certain male who is far too sexy for my peace of mind.
Between tasks I check on the stew and give it a stir then get busy finishing off the mounds of rising dough I’d set aside that morning. I love making bread, kneading the dough is always soothing. I’ve made enough dough for 4 loaves of bread and a couple of dozen rolls. I separate the dough for the bread and place the pans into the oven and set the rest of the dough aside for another rising. I will put the rolls on so they will still be hot when dinner is served up. The afternoon slips by as I catch up with all the things that I’d been ignoring while I worked out at the dam. One thing about this heat, one load of washing is dry by the time I go out to hang out the next load. Recycling the water from each load, cleanest things first, clothes I’ve worn into town followed by sheets & towels, last of all the grotty clothes I’ve been wearing to work outside in. As I take the last load off the line I watch the clouds creeping closer and a far off rumble of thunder echos in the distance. I cross my fingers that it isn’t a dry storm. In fact I don’t care about getting a storm at all, I just want it to rain.
Hoisting up the basket of washing I head back to the house and hear the rumble of the trucks coming back, they are early so they must have finished. Now I couldn’t wait to see the dam brim full of water. In time I will add a large covered shed with picnic tables out there with a bbq and plant some shade trees around it as well. I’d already had the men put in a little dock and would get a small rowboat, useless I know but I wanted one. I’d even looked at stocking the dam with some fish, but it needed to be full of water first. I dumped the basket into my bedroom and headed back to the kitchen.
The men were finished early but the stew was ready and in 20 mins the rolls would be too. I turned the heat on under the pots of potatoes and greens. The loaves of bread were cooling on racks and I shoved the trays of rolls into the oven and set the timer before setting the table. I heard the laundry door open and the rowdy laughter of the men as they scrubbed up before tromping through the house. I’d established on the first day that dirty boots were to be left outside and hands and faces scrubbed before sitting down. I didn’t mind about sweaty bodies or clothes, they couldn’t be helped, but clean hands and faces could be.
They started coming into the kitchen and I saw my brother pass through into the bar before coming back out with icy cold stubbies. They all guzzled cold water before taking appreciative swigs of the cold beer. They were full of talk of the rain that looked promising and wanting to know if there was any other work around the properties that we wanted done.
I’d already decided on using them for any further work I wanted done, they were damned good workers and what they did was quality, with attention to the details. A lot of work ahead for them, we wanted miles and miles of post and rail fencing to be done and I wanted a cross country course built as well as a jumping ring and a covered arena. But getting more fencing done would be first. As well as planting about 20 acres of lucerne escort dikmen as soon as we had some rain.
I dished the stew into serving bowls and set them out on the table, along with the bowls of veggies I’d prepared and pats of butter and conversation fell away as they all started heaping up their plates. Then grabbing for the steaming rolls when I added them to the haul. I grabbed a beer for myself and sat down to join them. Quiet reigned while they assuaged the worst of their hunger, but I was always aware of a pair of eyes that rarely left me and had me fighting the need to squirm in my seat.
I seemed to be constantly cursing my wayward body and its reaction to the man who had managed to sit next to me and kept brushing his leg against mine. The constant struggle in our mostly silent war was wearing me down and the magnetic attraction was only getting stronger with every look and touch. It felt like I’d been fighting my entire life. Well I had been for a damned good part of it. I stifled my sigh of relief when the meal was finished and the men all trooped out to go to my brother’s place. Dane had to leave too because he’d arrived in my brother’s truck and didn’t have his own car with him. For which I was grateful.
After the men had left I went to the stable yards and checked on the horses as I topped up their water and measured out their feed. Spending some time with each of them, specially the newer mares. The sky outside was dark and the scent of rain floated on the air. I drew in deep breaths of the promised moisture and prayed for more than just a few drops as I made my way back to the house. I finished dealing with the dinner things and curled up with a book in my favourite chair. Reading while I listened to the radio and the local news and talk back.
The quiet of the evening was shattered with a sound like a freight train bearing down on me. RAIN!!! Real rain was coming. I raced out the back and felt the first stirrings of a cool wind as I watched the dark line move towards me. Excitement gripped me and I raced for my truck and headed for the dam. I knew that we’d get enough rain to at least fill the tanks. I wanted to see if any of it made it to the dam. The rain reached me when I was halfway there and it was coming down in a waterfall. I slowed down and crept along until my headlights hit the mound of dirt that hadn’t been moved yet. With the windows cracked open under the weather strips I could hear water starting to run downhill.
I turned the engine off and grabbed my torch out of the glove box before diving out the door and doing a happy dance in the mud and rain, uncaring of the mess I was getting into. I made my way to the rim and pointed my torch down the slope and could see the run off slowly making its way down to the bottom as it pushed through and over the hard packed earth. It would take a great deal of rain to fill this dam but if this was the start of a true wet season then we would have a great deal of rain in the coming months.
Laughing with happiness I slogged back to the truck and hauled myself in, stuffing an old towel under me as I sat down, shoved my hair back off my face and started back to the house. “Oh, NO!” I groaned aloud when I swung into the yard and saw the truck parked there and my headlights haloed the figure leaning against one of the posts. I swallowed hard as I parked under the carport at the side of the feed shed and rolled down the well sheltered window on my side to allow the cabin to dry out. I dragged the soaked towel with me as I slid out then squared my shoulders as I took my time walking to the house.
Ignoring Dane as I stalked into the laundry and kept my back to him as I started stripping off my saturated clothes. Throwing them into the washing machine, along with the wet and muddy towel. No need to skimp on water tonight. I grabbed a clean towel out of the linen cupboard and wrapped it around me before easing out of my underwear and adding them to the wash. I started heading to the shower, feeling a bit uneasy because Dane hadn’t spoken yet and I was expecting a lecture at the very least. But I kept ignoring him and headed into the shower, I could afford to have a long thorough scrub with full running water for the first time in months.
I sighed with pleasure as I stepped under the warm spray and reached for the shampoo. Then nearly jumped out of my skin when strong fingers closed over mine and took the bottle from me. I hadn’t heard him come in behind me. His other hand came down on my shoulder and kept me in place as his voice rumbled in my ear to stand still. My body obeyed his command as my mind froze and then scrambled in turns but I couldn’t move when his strong fingers began massaging the shampoo into my hair and scalp.
Dane finished one wash and rinsed the suds out before repeating the process a second time. My body flushed with heat and need, unable to hide the evidence of my arousal as my nipples beaded painfully tight and moisture coated my sex. Dane finished with my hair and plucked the body wash off the shelf. I shuddered as his hands worked their way over my shoulders and down my back. Down over my rear and I felt him kneel as his fingers kneaded into my legs. Brushing between but not touching me where I so desperately wanted him to and down to my feet, picking them up and carefully cleansing away the clinging dirt.
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