Millie's Western Adventure
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The stew was eaten. Bob, knowing the women would feel more comfortable bathing if he wasn't in the building, said he was going over to the saloon for a drink and to play a game or two of cards.
Millie tested the water in the tub, which was still steaming. Boots stood nearby, having announced that she was going to remain there to assist the bather in and out of the tub, and "deal with any trespassers." Millie was fairly sure nobody would molest them, but she didn't say anything. She'd been confident that visiting the privy at the train station would be uneventful too.
She winced as she removed the dress, stretching her wounds. "The only dress I own and it's filthy," she sighed, as she
looked at the dust-streaked material.
"I'd say wash it now, before you dirty up the water," said Boots.
"I hadn't thought of that," said Millie. "I wonder if I've ever done this before."
"Took a bath?" Boots sounded incredulous.
"No, I wonder if I've ever done laundry," said Millie. "I'm not sure how to proceed."
"You can remember when this here state got admitted to the Union, but you cain't remember if you ever warshed out clothes before?" Boots looked skeptical.
Millie looked upset. "I remember some things, and I don't remember others. I can't help that!"
Boots held up a hand. "Don't cry, now. It just seemed odd, that's all. Warshin' out yer clothes is easy. You just get it wet and wad it up and work the dirt out of the threads, and then squeeze it as dry as you can," said Boots, pragmatically.
Millie bent over the tub and worked at her task. Once she was finished, she turned and handed the wet dress to Boots, who was staring at her.
"What's wrong?" asked Millie.
"You're just mighty pretty," said Boots. "I guess I never got to see another woman in the altogether. It helps some."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, over the last few years, my teats have gotten all big and wobbly, an' I was afraid maybe there was somethin' wrong with 'em. But yours are big and wobbly too. Makes me feel better."
"Oh," said Millie. "I never thought about that, I suppose. Or at least I don't remember thinking about it."
"An' there's something about you that makes me want to look at you. I mean even all banged up like you are, you're
real pretty. I never wished I was pretty until I got a look at you like this."
"You're pretty," said Millie automatically.
Boots hacked and spit, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
"I ain't never been pretty, and I never will be."
"Nonsense," said Millie. "You dress like a man, and you act like one too, for the most part. Of course you don't feel feminine. I could help you do yourself up. I know you'd be pretty enough to turn men's heads."
"Oh, I turned a man's head once," said Boots. "He took a real lively interest in me. And when I got the chance I put him in the ground because of it."
Millie thought the girl was joshing her. She was also distracted by a memory that had flitted into her mind as she stirred the water in the tub with her fingers, in preparation of getting in. Instead of thinking about what Boots had just said, she shared her renewed memory.
"I just remembered something."
"What's that?" asked Boots.
"I remember having to have second water in the bathtub when I was little. I hated it."
"Somebody has to take a bath second," said Boots, again pragmatically.
"But it was always me," said Millie. "I never got to go first."
"I don't remember that part," sighed Millie. She looked at the young woman beside her. "We can share. The tub is big enough. You don't have to take second water, Boots."
The frontier woman stared at the young easterner. "You saying I should get in there ... with you? Both of us?
At the same time?"
"Why not? I remember hating second water so much. It's the only memory I have, and it's a bad one. I'd feel horrible making you take second water tonight."
"I don't really need a bath," said Boots. "Like I said, it's only been a month since I was thorough wet."
"Yes you do," said Millie firmly. "And you know it."
"But we'd be ... nekkid ... together."
"So? Who would know besides us? We're friends ... aren't we?"
"I don't know if we're that kind of friends or not," said Boots, sounding doubtful. In her memory, the only time two people bathed together was when one of them - her - was being assaulted by the other. Quite suddenly she realized that that wasn't the kind of life Millie had led. Millie had probably never been forced to lie under a man while he used her. She was aware that most women lived normal lives that were nothing like hers had been. But her former life had left its stamp on her and she couldn't change that.
She relaxed shoulders that had gotten tense.
"I don't suppose it would be the end of the world to share a bath," she said.
Millie grinned like some special treat had been given her. "Well hurry up, the water's cooling!"
Boots felt completely vulnerable as she stood, naked, in Doc's tiny living area, even though her pistol was lying within easy reach on the chair she'd pulled beside the tub. She glanced again at the curtain that covered the only window in the room. She knew it covered well, because she'd put it there herself.
"What in the world happened to you?" asked Millie, sounding shocked.
Boots knew Millie was seeing the scars Jasper had left on her. He had loved to inflict pain while he had sex. He'd loved to inflict pain when he was mad about something too.
"You fall off a horse a few times and land in sagebrush or cactus, and you'll look like this too," she said, darkly.
"I'm so sorry," said Millie. "That looks like it must have been very painful."
"It's all healed up now," said Boots. "Not worth talkin' about."
"All right. But I just think it's important for you to know that, aside from those scars, I think you're quite pretty,
Boots," said Millie. "And they don't show when you're dressed."
Boots looked at the other woman. Millie's breasts were round and looked heavy, with well-defined shockingly pink nipples set on tiny, but darker areolas. A thin waist below was set off by widening hips. Millie was shaped like a woman, no doubt. The only things that detracted from her beauty were the marks and scars of her injuries. Boots looked down at her own breasts, which looked a little larger than Millie's, to her mind. She didn't like looking at her breasts. Her own nipples reminded her of a man she had seen once, another trapper, who had eyes that looked in different directions. She never knew his name; only that Jasper knew him from before he had bought Boots. They had run into the man on the trail, and the men decided to camp together that night. The man had shown Jasper four or five gold nuggets he claimed to have
found somewhere to the west. When Jasper suggested to the man that if he gave Jasper one of the nuggets he could have
sex with Boots, the man had called Jasper a son of a bitch, and said he wouldn't camp with a pre-vert. It was a word Boots remembered, but didn't learn the meaning of for several years. She remembered it because, when the man turned to pack up his gear and leave, Jasper shot him in the back, and then took all the nuggets. Those odd eyes stared off in different directions even in death, and she never forgot it.
Of course she hadn't looked like this back then. Back then she'd hardly had any teats at all. And up until the last couple of years, she'd had to wear a belt at all times, lest her pants slide right down over her hips. Jasper hadn't minded that she'd looked like a boy. He hadn't been picky as to which hole he'd used either. And even though he was
gone, the things she'd experienced with him still affected her to this day.
Take for example the fact that while she'd hated it when Jasper touched her, some of the places she remembered hating him touching had started feeling mighty good when she touched them herself. One of those places was those nipples that looked off to the sides.
And the only person she'd ever seen naked before this was Jasper, something she had tried to forget. She couldn't ever remember wanting to see another person unclothed, so she was confused by the fact that seeing her friend naked...she liked looking at her! It made her feel like touching her nipples.
"Let's just take this bath and get it over with," grumbled Boots.
Millie, blissfully unaware of the emotional turmoil going on in her companion, went on. "It would be no trouble at all
getting a man interested in you, Boots." She lifted a leg over the edge of the tub and eased it into the hot water. "The trick is in knowing which man to get interested," she continued. She stopped and looked at Boots. "Now I wonder where that came from."
"All men would be interested in you," said Boots. "You're what men call a real looker."
"Well thank you," said Millie. She put the other leg in and started to sit down. She winced and Boots helped take some of her weight with a hand under her arm.
Once she was settled, Boots pulled the chair with her Colt on it closer and stepped into the other end of the tub. Her legs clashed with Millie's, and they both pulled their knees up to give the other more room. Both women were silent as they concentrated on the feel of soaking in hot water. It was the first time Boots had ever been in water that warm, and she was amazed at how it made her want to relax.
Eventually Millie asked, "So how did you come by the name Boots?"
Boots looked at what she considered to be a fine lady, sitting at the other end of the tub. Millie had named their relationship "friends" but if she actually knew who she was, she'd have nothing to do with Boots. For that reason Boots
moderated her answer.
"I was so proud of the first pair of boots I got that I wouldn't take them off. So folks sort of started calling me that."
"Oh." Millie sounded almost disappointed. "So what's your real name?"
"I just go by Boots," said the other woman.
"I know that," said Millie. "But nobody would name a little baby 'Boots.' I'm asking what your birth name is."
"Why do you care?"
"I don't know. I suppose because I can't remember my own. Suddenly my real name, whatever it is, feels precious to me."
"Millie's a fine name," said Boots.
"Yes it is, and so is Boots, but it's not your real name ... your precious name."
"I don't think about my real name any more," said the frontier woman. "It's a girly name."
"Of course it is. You're a girl!"
"Folks around here don't see me as a girl, and I don't reckon I want 'em to," said Boots.
"I won't tell anyone what your real name is," said Millie. "You and I both go by nicknames. That's fine. But until I find my real name, I'd like to at least know what yours is. I won't call you by it. I just want to know."
It was quiet for a few minutes longer. The only noise was that made by the water when one of them moved.
"It's Charlene," said Boots. "Charlene Hennesey."
"It's a beautiful name," sighed Millie.
Boots said nothing.
"Will you be my sister, Charlene?" asked Millie.
"I thought you said you wouldn't call me that," grumbled Boots, fighting the tears that were suddenly coming into her eyes.
"Just this once," said Millie. "Will you be my sister? I don't know if I have a sister or not, but if I did, I'd want her to be exactly like you."
Suddenly Boots was washing her face, paying special attention to her eyes.
When Bob returned to his surgery it was dark. He entered quietly. Once inside, he realized there was a lamp lit in his living quarters. He made some noise, to announce his arrival to the women. They'd had enough time to take two or three baths, but he didn't want to intrude. A little investigation revealed that Boots was gone. Millie lay in his bed, fast
asleep. He wondered why she hadn't gone back to her own house now that it was habitable, but he wasn't about to wake her up and make her do so. He looked at the one bare leg that had worked its way out from under the quilt that had been thrown over her. Her face, relaxed in sleep, was beautiful--pale white and framed by her raven black hair.
He resisted the temptation to pull the quilt down a bit, to see what, if anything, she had on as sleepwear. Instead, he examined the tub, still filled with water. He knew it was cold now. The surface was scabbed by a layer of dirt and oil. He knew it could be skimmed off with a rag, rendering the water usable for another bath, but he wasn't going to strip down and take a cold bath in this small room with his patient sleeping right next to the tub.
He returned to his office and bedded down on the horse blanket again.
The next morning Bob woke up and started his day as usual. While Millie's presence was a welcome break from the routine, he still had patients to see and things to do. Being the only doctor closer than Lincoln meant he had to do some traveling, to tend to the needs of people who couldn't come to him. While he'd been gone two days on such work, that had only covered one ranch. There were many other people to check in with.
Millie had made no sounds indicating she was awake, so he went on in to wake her and tell her he was going to be gone for a while. He didn't want her to wake to find him still gone and worry about where he was. Perhaps because she'd been covered the night before, he assumed she'd still be covered. In truth, he didn't really even think about that. He wasn't prepared, therefore, to find a naked woman in his bed who'd kicked off the covers during the night. He'd slept without a blanket himself because of the heat left over from the heating of the water.
He stared at the sleeping young woman, her hair tousled and her pink nipples seeming to peer at him as though they were bugged out eyes. Her pubic nest reminded him of how he'd touched her when he was trying to improve her blood pressure. His mouth was dry, and when he tried to swallow, it took two times to make it happen.
He was just thinking of retreating when her eyelids opened and blue eyes stared back at him. There was a split second as those eyes showed confusion, and then understanding. She gasped and reached for stray covers.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I came to tell you I'm starting my circuit today. I didn't mean to intrude on your privacy."
She looked at him. She hadn't covered everything. A lot of pale, white skin showed, and it was getting to him.
"I'm being silly. You've seen me before without clothes. You examined me and treated my wounds."
"I'll see if I can find something for you to wear while I'm on my rounds," he said. "Perhaps people might have clothing to pay me with."
She frowned, and then, uncharacteristically, laughed.
"I can just see you sewing up a wound and asking, 'Might you have a frock to pay me with? Something that would be a bit tight on me?' and people thinking you'd been out in the sun too long."
He was glad she wasn't upset that he'd seen her naked. It made him a little bolder than usual.
"Well, we wouldn't want that. And to be honest, I'd much prefer to see you like this than raise doubts as to my sanity."
"Why doctor, are you flirting with me?" she asked archly.
He came to his senses. She was beautiful, and his fantasies about her were delightful. But she was educated, and someone would come for her. It would be better if that person felt no need to punish one upstart frontier physician for less than proper behavior.
"It wouldn't be gentlemanly," he said.
"Oh, you're a gentleman," she said. "I can tell that, even if I don't know how. And I'm the one who should apologize, not you. I was so weak after that hot soak that I told Boots I wanted to lie down, just for a bit, to recover my strength. I didn't mean to stay all night. I must have fallen asleep, and Boots didn't wake me. And now you had to sleep somewhere else again."
"I found you sleeping and didn't wake you either," said Bob. "And if finding you in my bed is the worst thing that happens to me this month, then I'm in pretty good shape," he joked. "Now, I must go. I'll be gone for several days, but I expect Boots will be around frequently to see how you're doing. She hasn't had a woman to talk to for years, most likely. And she'll be a true and loyal friend, if you let her."
"She is my friend," said Millie firmly. "Last night we adopted each other as sisters. Please bring me something to wear. It doesn't matter what size it is, or what color. Anything I can patch up will be fine."
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