Orchard Flower (version Alpha)

by Lubrican

Chapter : Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Chapter Two

Two years later they hit a financial snag. Lynne mentioned it in the same casual way she might have said that there were two weeks left before apples would blossom. We knew each other pretty well by then. In many ways I knew both Lynne and Jill better, and was closer to them than I had been to Vicky, and it bothered me sometimes. I had loved Vicky, and what I felt for both Lynne and Jill was very different than what I'd felt for Vicky, but the closeness we did have was something I hadn't had time to make with Vicky.

For that reason I was completely comfortable around either of them, while feeling tense and anxious at the same time.

Part of that was because both Lynne and her daughter were handsome women. At thirteen there was nothing gawky about Jill any more. Lynne was a well built woman, and her daughter had inherited those physical characteristics. Plenty of exercise and good food had brought Jill's physical maturity on early.

Both women had the same brown hair that looked blond sometimes. Both women had freckles scattered from one high cheekbone across the bridge of the nose to the other cheek. Both women had slim, but muscled legs leading to wide hips below a narrow waist that flowed into firm, healthy breasts that nicely filled whatever they were wearing.

Of course Lynne had looked like that all along. It was impossible for a man to miss, and that was part of what made me so stumble tongued around her in the beginning. She was sunburned and windblown and still managed to make me stare whenever I was around her.

What it amounted to was that I was finally able to appreciate a woman for BEING a woman, without feeling like I was cheating on Vicky.

So, when Lynne mentioned that they'd have to tighten their belts I didn't feel like I was prying to ask a few questions. It turned out that there had been a bunch of repairs needed that she hadn't told me about. The water heater had rusted out, and the annual inspection of the furnace had revealed a crack in the combustion chamber. Then the truck had to have tires. It all hit her about the same time and in the space of just a few months she'd had to spend over three thousand dollars. That meant she'd had to dip into the money from Paul's insurance that had been set aside for Jill's college education and she wasn't happy about that. That fund had sat there, gathering a little interest, but tuition kept going up and she was worried that it wasn't going to be enough when the time came.

"How much do you need?" I asked.

She shot me a look. "You know better than to think I'm asking you for money," she said darkly.

"True," I said calmly. "So how much do you need?"

"I'm not asking for a loan either," she said impatiently. "We'll just have to go without some things for a while until I can pay her college fund back. It won't kill us, Bob."

I thought about it. If anybody deserved to go to college it was Jill. I had lots of money and didn't ever use it. But there was Lynne's sense of decorum to deal with. Where the idea came from I don't know, but I was glad it popped into my mind.

"I've always wanted to be part owner in an apple orchard," I said. "Of course apple orchards aren't all that common around here. You wouldn't know of anybody who might be interested in selling shares of one ... would you?"

She gave me a level stare, but I saw appreciation in her eyes.

"You don't have to do that," she said softly.

"I know. I happen to have the money and I'm not using it for anything."

"We don't make a profit on the apples," she said slowly. "We break even for the most part, or at least I've always thought that. To be honest I don't even keep good records on where the money from the sales of apples goes."

"Maybe that will change some day," I said. "If there ever is a profit, I'll take my share. Until then, it's just an investment."

She hugged me, and those firm, warm, disturbing breasts pressed into my chest. I felt guilty when things stirred in my pants. That hadn't happened in a long time.

"I'll have to make you double the pies from now on," she said into my chest.

"I can live with that," I said into hair that smelled just wonderful.

She asked for five thousand as a buy-in. I told her to give me a few days and called Phil and asked him to do some research for me. He needed some information, which I got from Jill. It turned out Lynne's parents, whether they knew it or not, had done a lot more than plant a bunch of trees. They'd improved the value of the land a great deal. Based on the age of the trees, and the estimated output, that eighty acre orchard was easily worth half a million dollars. I went back to her with my checkbook in hand.

"I want to buy forty percent," I said as I sat down at the kitchen table.

"I don't know how much that is," she said, frowning.

"I do," I said. I wrote the check and handed it to her. She looked at it and blinked. It was a two, followed by five zeros and I watched her count those zeros twice. She looked at me and back at the check.

"This is too much," she said weakly.

"That's what my analyst says forty percent is worth," I said. "That's assuming output goes up a bit. You don't use pesticide or fertilize and according to Phil, that makes the apples eligible to be marketed as organically grown. He says you'll have to ship them further, but you'll be able to get more for them if you do."

"This is two hundred thousand dollars, Bob!" she panted.

"Forty percent," I said calmly.

"Do I have to have sex with you if I take this?" she asked weakly as she sat down.

My mouth dropped open and then snapped shut. My mind shot off in twelve directions at the same time. It was the last thing I'd expected her to say and I wasn't prepared to respond. I gulped and she must have heard it. She looked up at me and smiled weakly.

"I was kidding," she said. She looked back at the check and then back at me. "At least I think I was."

"No!!" I finally got out in a gasp. She blinked and I realized it had sounded awfully harsh. I tried to undo any damage, because the last thing I wanted to do was offend her. I should have just kept my mouth shut, because what came out was: "I mean I'd love to have sex with you, but it's not part of the deal."

I sat down then, and put my head in my hands. "That's not what I meant," I mumbled.

"Would you like some pie, Bob?" she asked.

I ventured a peek and saw she'd gotten up. The check was still lying on the table. She was opening a cupboard and getting down a plate. I saw the pie was key lime with meringue on it as she put a huge piece onto a plate. Then she opened the freezer and got out ice cream to go with it. When she served it to me she picked up the check and left the room.

I think she was just giving me time to collect myself, because she stayed gone long enough that when she came back in I was just cleaning up the plate. She took it and put it in the sink and sat down across from me.

"Forty percent," she said firmly. "It's a deal. That's enough that I can buy some new equipment to pick with. If we hire some seasonal help - high school kids most likely - we can pick double or triple what I've picked in the past. I always picked what I could get rid of and left the rest to go back to nature. I won't do that from now on. And if you have time, you'll have to help harvest. Deal?"

All I could think about was that she hadn't mentioned the sex. I didn't know whether to be happy or sad about that. I decided it was all for the best if we just forgot my gaffe, and nodded.

"Thank you, Bob," she said softly. Her eyes looked liquid and I was afraid she was going to cry or something. If she did that I knew I would too and I already felt pretty foolish, so I stood up.

"OK!" I said a little too loudly. "Just let me know what I need to do whenever I need to do it."

I turned to leave and, as I went out the back door, I heard her voice say "Deal!"

I was weeding my carrots a few hours later when Jill showed up on Prancer, her horse. She got off, pulled me up to stand, put her arms around my neck and kissed me right on the lips.

Twice in the same day the Simmons women had left me flummoxed.

"Thank you," she said after she stopped kissing me. About then I felt her firm warm breasts pressing against my chest, and my cock started moving in my pants again.

"You're welcome?" I said weakly.

Then she got back on the horse she rode in on, and left, so to speak.

A week later, I found a colt that was only two weeks old had been injured. It's leg had been torn open. It wasn't a valuable animal, but I was upset that any animal in my care had been hurt. I had a good relationship with the local vet and called him. He came out and pronounced that coyotes had done this thing.

"How do I get rid of them?" I asked.

"Poison," he said "though that will kill a lot more than the coyotes. You can hunt them, or hire people to hunt. Some folks will do it for fun, but sometimes they get a little out of control. My recommendation is to hunt them yourself. You know where your animals are, and which direction to shoot or not shoot and all that kind of thing."

I didn't even own a gun.

Naturally I called Lynne to find out what to do. Paul must have had coyote problems with the cattle, after all. Jill answered. Her mother had gone to town, but she said she'd be right over.

If you own guns, this will seem silly to you, but for those of you who don't own one, particularly if you never have, imagine yourself standing in the sporting goods section of your local WalMart, holding a rifle that feels like it weighs fifty pounds while you get a lecture about "varmint guns" from a sun-darkened thirteen year old girl wearing short shorts and a blouse that's tied off under her breasts.

"Weird" doesn't even come close to the feeling. Now add in holding ... almost fondling ... long, thin bullets that have a distinctly phallic appearance.

"You want something that shoots flat and hot," explained Jill, who had been shooting since she was six or seven. She showed me a bullet as if I could see how it would shoot. "That way you have both good knock-down power and the flat trajectory helps keep the bullet from going farther than you want it to."

I looked at the store clerk, who had his arms folded across his chest and was nodding. Why do your job when a teenage girl is going to do it for you? I might have glared at him. Holding a gun made me feel like I killed baby seals for sport. I pointed at another rifle behind him. It looked a lot smaller and easier to handle.

"What about that one?" I asked. He glanced at it, and then to Jill, pausing long enough to let her answer the question for him.

"That's a twenty-two," said Jill patiently. "You might be able to hit a coyote with one, but probably not, and even then it might not kill it. To get a good shot with that you'd have to get a lot closer, which is the hard part. I'm telling you, Bob, you want a two-twenty-three for this. With a scope, even a blind man could hit a coyote from three hundred yards, which is about as close as you can hope to come. They're not stupid, Bob. They know people are bad news."

I'd never felt like "bad news" before. It was a strange way to think of myself.

"So I just look through the scope thing and pull the trigger and the coyote dies?"

The man behind the counter rolled his eyes at Jill, who sighed. They seemed to be communicating without words.

"I'll teach you how to shoot," she said.

"So I guess I want this one," I said, holding the heavy rifle out to the man gingerly. "And a carton of bullets too I guess," I added. Jill translated for me.

"We'll take the Savage Lo Pro in the twenty-three inch barrel, with the one-to-seven rate of twist, and the Bushnell six-power scope with the firefly reticule. And we'll need five boxes of sixty-two grain ball for practice. Just one box of the fifty-five grain hollow point for when he's ready for the real deal."

"Got it," said the clerk. "Are you going to fill out the paperwork or is he?"

There is something just plain incongruous about a woman who buys a rifle and ammunition to shoot furry dog-like things and then, on the way home, flashes bare legs at the old man driving the truck as, with a foot pressed to the dashboard, she paints her toenails bright, playful red. Not for the first time did I realize there was a woman hiding in that teenaged body, and that Jill Simmons was a complicated female of the species. She hummed with the radio as she painted, making me wish I were twenty years younger. Then, while her toenails dried, she unpacked the rifle and attached the scope and carry strap. That made me glad I was too old to go nosing around this fresh-faced girl and get myself in trouble.

The rifle didn't weigh fifty pounds. With the scope, four rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber and the sling on it, it weighed in at a hair over ten pounds. It just felt like fifty pounds. And don't be impressed by my use of words like "rounds" and "chamber" and all that. It took me a week of Jill's tutoring to get the language down.

There was a dip in the land at one end of the tillable property, and she set up a target range in that. She started me off at a hundred yards, which I thought was ridiculous. I couldn't even throw a rock that far. How was I supposed to shoot something that seemed like it was a mile away? Then I looked through the scope and it looked ridiculously easy until I pulled the trigger the first time. I wasn't ready for either the noise or the kick.

She made me put on the headphones I'd forgotten to wear but the second time I closed my eyes as I pulled the trigger, anticipating the sharp crack and the stiff jolt to my shoulder. I missed the target completely.

She had me lying down in the beginning, which she called the prone position. I had to support my upper body on my elbows, with the carry strap ... sorry, I mean sling ... wrapped around my left forearm. It was kind of nifty in a way because I didn't actually need my right hand to do anything but pull the trigger. The way she had me holding the rifle made it stick right where it was supposed to.

The way she solved my flinching problem was to lie down on top of me.

She wasn't heavy, but she was all woman these days, and all that soft flesh on top of me caused some really hard flesh to develop underneath me. Her right hand came down to almost caress my right hand as she spoke into the earmuff, telling me what to do and what not to do and how to ease the trigger back, instead of jerking it. She made me shoot an entire box of ammo without aiming at all, just to get me used to the recoil and to let me learn to keep my eyes open.

About halfway through the next box I wanted to roll over and have her lie on top of me that way. It was very distracting, let me tell you. Which is why I started paying particular attention to the rifle. I needed the distraction. I paid attention to the feel of it in my hands, and how the bolt worked as I pulled and pushed on it, and how the round looked as it was brought up out of the magazine and into the chamber. I watched each tip slide into the dark hole of the chamber and thought of the sexual symbolism as I rammed the bolt forward, locking it down and caressing the trigger until there was an explosion that shook the body.

I was panting so hard by the end of the second box that she stopped me and gave me a five-minute lecture on breathing control. She slid off of me, lying on her side with one leg over mine, probably because it was just more comfortable for her that way.

It wasn't comfortable for me, though. I think it was the effort to try to stop thinking about having wild sweaty sex with this delicious young woman that finally brought all my attention to the task at hand. Trying to remember all the little parts of shooting correctly was taxing on the untrained mind anyway. I found that if I actually thought about not being stiff, and not gripping things too tightly, and having the right cheek-to-stock weld, and getting the right sight picture while taking three breaths before holding one to shoot on ... well if I thought of all those things in the right order two things happened. The first was that the bullet made nice little holes in the target right where they were supposed to. The second was that Jill stayed a virgin that much longer.

Not that I'd have actually fucked her. I mean we were close, but not in that way. And I was almost thirty years older than she was too. While I'd have loved to climb between those sweet young thighs, she'd have probably upchucked at the very idea. So not thinking about that was a good thing.

In short, trying not to think about what I wanted to do facilitated her teaching me how to get good at the task I wasn't all that hot about performing.

When I put ten rounds within the space a fifty-cent piece would cover, she said I was ready to learn to shoot sitting and standing.

I was going to miss lying there beside her.

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