Indentured Love-# 11
They were soon on their way. The three wagons were loaded high with all the supplies. John was concerned about the dark clouds that were appearing from the west and he hoped that they would be able to travel with out the threat of a storm. He and the men had covered everything with canvas tarp's. The wagons were slow this time and he knew that it would take much longer to return. He did not like to be away from his land for what MoJo and several of his men had informed him, they thought that they had seen some one prowling around near the east field. He did not want to alarm anyone but the first one that came to mind was---Tobin.
As before Anna rode atop with John and they carried on their conversations as before but each time being careful to not let it be to noticeable, they pried a little deeper. It was the moments when the wagon would hit a rock or rut in the road and it would throw them against each other and after awhile she wondered why there were so many rocks as she hadn't remembered this on the way there.
John would look at her and softly say, "sorry." Sometimes their eyes would lock longer than was natural for the simple "sorry."
It was late when the first rain drops starting falling. John had the men pull over to the side of the road. "Come on Anna, hurry." He reached up and lifted her down from the seat. He then pulled her quickly to the back of the wagon and lifted her back up on the back while pulling a canvas tarp up and over her head. "Stay put, while I tend to the team."
Before she could reply he was off and she could hear him talking to the team to calm them for a loud clap of thunder was heard and the wind began to gust hard. She could see the other men doing the same thing. Keeping the teams from bolting was their main concern. Finally the wind calmed and the thunder and lighting subsided but the rain came down in a steady pattern.
She sat huddled under the canvas and was startled when he raised one corner. "Are you dry under there?" he asked.
"Yes, but look at you. You must be soaked to the skin." she said as she squinted out at him and seen that his shirt was clinging to his body like a glove.
"I guess I am but I don't want to put on the only dry shirt that I brought along yet. I'll just slip under the wagon and maybe this rain will let up soon."
"No John, please you are going to be sick. Take off that wet shirt and there is room here under this tarp for the both of us until the rain stops." She was moving over to make more room for him when he slid up under the tarp.
"Thanks, I didn't realize how much colder it had gotten until I took off that shirt." He said with a low raspy voice.
They sat there huddled under the tarp and knowing that one of them should say---something? Sitting there so close, it was impossible to not see and smell his manly scent. It was raw and intimate seeing him exposed that way. His shoulders were wide and powerful, his arms heavily muscled. She wanted to reach out and touch him, then brought herself up short at the thought. She closed her eyes for a moment and chided her self for the thoughts that were going through her mind.
He felt chilled. Rubbing his arms he tried to make the blood circulate and warm him some. Yet he knew that there was a fire inside him that could not be controlled by the chill of the weather.
"Here this might help," she said as she removed her shawl and placed it over his shoulders.
"No, now that's not necessary," he said with chattering teeth.
She then moved up against him. "Here stay close to me until you are warmer."
He started to protest again but seen the look that those dark eyes emitted. Well, maybe he would for a few moments---until the rain subsided. He took a deep breath and inhaled the fragrance from the shawl---that smelled of vanilla. They both tried to stare straight ahead but the warmth of their body's touching---her bare arms pressed against his muscled side was sending messages that were not in either ones control. She turned slightly and stared at the firm line of his lips and instead of seeing the man that she was indentured to---she only saw the sensuous lips of the one man she longed to kiss. She lifted her gaze to his and found him staring down at her with a flaming intensity that made steam rise from the damp canvas covering.
He told himself that he needed to taste her sweet flavor to see if the vanilla penetrated deeper within. He heard her gasp at the first touch of his mouth on hers, and she stiffened slightly as if to resist him, then he heard a soft moan.
The moment was pure ecstasy. The steady pelting of the rain all faded away to oblivion. There was only the two of them wrapped in each other's arms. It was a need that was nothing less than perfection.
Finally John gave himself a mental shake and they broke apart to stare at each other in confusion. He quickly slipped from under the canvas covering and only then did they each notice that the rain had completely vanished and rays of sunlight streaked the evening sky.
She could see that he was talking to the men in the other wagons and then he returned. "I think that it would be best if we wait until the morning to leave because the roads are to wet to travel on now. We will spend the night here. I will get a fire going so you can prepare some coffee," he said rather gruffly. He didn't look directly at her as he spoke and she only took quick glances.
Soon she had some ham and biscuits heated to serve with the hot coffee and of course there was an apple for each. The men sat around the fire until late and she curled up on her mat in the back of the wagon. Sleep did not come quickly or easy that evening for she was still thinking of that kiss and without thought touched her finger to her lips.
John laid there looking up again at the bottom of the wagon and cursing himself for not being in control. This woman was in servitude to him and this conduct was what his neighbors accepted as their rights of ownership but he had swore that he would never take advantage of someone in those circumstances. Yet, he had done just that. Was this just a physical need? At the moment there were only wooden planks between the two of them but would that be enough the next time?
She awoke to the smell of coffee and she would see John handing the men some of the left over biscuits and fruit. She scurried out from under the canvas and was about to join them when John trust a cup of coffee in her hands. "Here, drink this and I wrapped a biscuit up for you to eat on the way," he said rather harshly. She watched as he put out the fire. When she returned from the woods to attend to her self needs, he was already climbing up on the wagon and motioned for her to climb in back of the wagon where he had placed her mat at the far end. Yes, of course this was an awkward situation for both of them. It should not have happened and she was grateful that John had taken control. It was something that they both regretted and there was no sense in trying to explain or rationalize it at this time or place.
When they arrived home they were met by MoJo. She could see the concern look on his face as he stood by the wagon and talked to John in a low tone. She could not hear what they were saying but felt that something was wrong. Quickly she hopped down from the wagon and went into the kitchen looking for Meg. She found her in the little back room with Hope and Tee-Bow and they were huddled in a corner. Meg was softly telling them that no one was going to hurt them and that it was all right to come out into the kitchen,
"Meg, what is wrong, what has happened?"
"Oh Anna, I am so glad to see ye and I was praying that Mr.John would come soon. That horrid Mr. Tobin and that Abigail woman were here and he said that they were going to take back their slaves---Hope and Tee-Bow. I hid them in the root cellar and MoJo and I refused to let them come in. That Mr. Tobin said he would whip us but Mrs. Abigail stopped him and she said that they would be back."
"Meg, please come back into the kitchen and sit for a moment and I will fix us some tea. Hope and the boy will be alright now that John is here and I am sure that he will not let anything happen to them."
Before they had finished their tea, John entered the kitchen. He walked right pass them and went into the little room that Hope and Tee-Bow now stayed. It was quite some time before he returned.
"Meg, I'm sorry that this incident with Abigail and Tobin occurred while I was away. Now I don't want either of you to be concerned about them taking Tee-Bow and Hope away, for I have taken care of that with papers of ownership that now states that I own them. Although I am sure that Abigail and Tobin will return for another try---but this time I will be here to settle the matter."
"Oh, thank ye, Mr. John." Meg said.
"There is one other thing that we need to do and that is to keep them close to us for I do not trust Tobin and he will try and find a way to get to them. We need to make sure that they are either with you Meg, or with Anna at all times."
"Now Anna, I don't know about you but I am looking forward to one of Meg's special lamb suppers." This was the first time they had felt at ease with each other since---that searing kiss under the canvas.
They both were startled by a ringing of a bell near the kitchen door. "Oh yes, MoJo is hanging a bell here by the door and if for---any reason you need us when we are not close by, all you have to do is ring it and we will come running."
She knew that John was expecting more trouble and this was just one more precaution that he was setting in place.
"Oh, Mr John that ti's a grand idea and if that Mr. Tobin comes back I will ring it loud," she said as she waved a wooden spoon in the air.
John laughed and then winked at Anna. "Meg I think you could probably whip him with that spoon." Soon they were all laughing and the laughter brought Tee-Bow to the door to see what was happening. It didn't take long before he was sitting up at the table with a big slice of buttered bread.
He turned to Anna and his face became serious. "Anna if you are not to tired from the journey I would like you to come to the stable with me and see if you can in your---way calm Storm some. MoJo says he has been quiet agitated the last two days---more than usual. It might be that you have not been here and visited him with an apple. He had been allowing MoJo to get nearer to him lately but the last few days he has now rejected his offers."
"Oh yes of course," she said as she reached for her shawl and headed turned to the door.
"Wait, I want to go with you. I will try and stay back where he can't see me." He said as he held the door open for her.
When they reached the stable she slowly walked out the back door and stood there while she watched the stallion racing around the perimeters of the fence. Then he would stop abruptly at the far end and stare out into the tree area, and then he would repeat this action again. She strain to see if she could see what he might be seeing or thought he seen but could see nothing.
John stood back inside the stable and watched through the crack in the boards. He too wondered what the stallion was alerted to.
Softly at first she called the stallion by name. It took several attempts before he turned his full attention too her. Slowly he walked back towards her and whinnied softly as he stuck his long neck over the top rail. She talked softly to him telling him how sorry that she was for not visiting him as she had before and that tomorrow night she would try and come to have their ride as she too missed it very much. She then reached into her pocket and offered him his apple. He had no hesitation in taking it. As he munched on it she rubbed his head and ears.
John stood there in his dark corner of the stable and watched and this time she was close enough for him to hear what she had said to the animal. He also noticed that MoJo had been standing near and watching this same scene.
Slowly she walked back into the stable and the big stallion kept his eyes focused on her until she was well in side of the stable. Then he raced back to the end of the fence and turned his attention back to the edge of the trees. Now he seemed to be a lot calmer but yet very alert.
"Anna what do you make of his behavior?" John asked as they made their way back to the house.
"John, there is something that is troubling him and the way he was looking it must have been something that came from the woods along the edge of the field."
"Yes, I agree and later I will go there and take a look around because maybe it is a wild animal."
"No, I don't think it is an animal," she said in almost a whisper. There was a pause as neither spoke their thoughts.
John reached out and placed his hand on her arm. She stopped and looked up at him. "Anna I think it could be a man---for that seems to be what he fears the most and I need to know your opinion on this."
She took a deep breath before she answered him and looked back to the tree line. "Yes, I think that you are right and think that some where---some one used a whip on him. There is a slight mark on his left flank that resembles this type of lashing. It is an old scar but in his mind it is fresh."
"Do you think that is the reason that he will not let me near him?"
She looked back and into his dark eyes and seen his great concern. "Yes, I do."
He took a deep breath and reached for her hand. "Anna, I---I have a confession to make. You see I know that you have been astride Storm and I have watched you handle the big stallion around the fenced area and he seems to be perfectly comfortable with only you."
"Oh I," she stammered and tried to pull her hand from his. She felt her face flush for this meant that he had seen her ride Storm in her summer gown. She also knew that he saw her ride bare back. She swallowed and raised her chin up high---before she spoke.
"Yes, I have been riding him at night when I could not sleep. I know that I should have asked you first---but I didn't and he needs to be ridden and not in just the small confines of that fence." There she had said it and she was glad, for now it was out in the open.
He had difficulty trying to swallow the smile that wanted to surface as he looked down at this woman. She had spirit just like the stallion and he admired that very much.
"Anna I want you to ride Storm and I have a idea that might work, that is if you are willing to try it?"
"Oh please, I will try anything."
He led her over to a log by the creek, still holding her soft hand in his before he spoke. "Anna, you know the ride we take in the morning, well why not ride Storm? If you could teach him to ride along with me and one of the mares. Do you think he would tolerate that?"
She thought about what he had just said for a long moment. "Yes, but I would have to get him use to it slowly. First I think that if we start out by you riding along on the outside of his fence for a few times to see how he takes to it and then we could maybe go from there. There is one problem---I don't think he is going to allow me to put a saddle of any kind on him, so I will need to ride him---bare back---if you don't mind?"
Again he hid the grin that wanted desperately to surface. His voice was raspy and he turned to look away. "I thank that you are right and you should ride him bare back as that is what he is use to."
"John, when do you want to start this routine?" She was eager and very pleased to be able to be near the stallion as she had grown to love---it was the man next to her that was still holding her hand that she was not so sure of.
To Be Continured: