Orchard Flower (Version Charlie)

by Lubrican

Chapters : Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-16 Available On

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Chapter Two

One of the things I learned, being on the farm was how valuable the friendship of a dog can be. Buster was always there to greet me when I stepped out of the bunkhouse. He was always glad to see me any time of the day, no matter what I smelled like. And he was happy in an obvious way about the attention I gave him. He was glad I was in his life, and I was glad he had come into mine. Of course if given a choice to get attention from me or Jill, he'd go to Jill in a heartbeat, but I didn't mind. I had to admit I'd like her petting me too.

That would be worth staying alive for, even if it made me feel faintly perverted.

To be honest there was another thing worth staying alive for. That was Lynne's cooking.

Actually, eating was the high point of each day all week long. Lynne could cook, and she cooked what the pundits call "comfort food." I could have gotten three dollars apiece for her hot rolls back in Chicago. And her pies? I could eat an entire pie at one sitting, even if I had to use a broomstick to cram it down my throat. I would have been entirely happy looking like Jabba the Hutt if I had been able to eat her pies all day long.

Except that I worked so hard I COULD have eaten a pie a day and never gained a fricking ounce.

Jill always rode out with me, telling me where to drive the four-wheel-drive truck to do the next job. Then, when it was time for lunch, she'd drive the truck back to the house, get food, and bring it back out to where I was still working. If we needed anything, she'd go back and get it. I worked. That's all I did.

Except for when we got to break for lunch. Even Lynne's cold comfort food was delicious. And in the evening, after I'd stopped shivering from the ice cold water in the bunkhouse shower, I'd go up to the farmhouse where there would be beef and mashed potatoes, with green beans, or black-eyed peas, or corn, and fresh baked hot rolls and butter. And pie for dessert.

Actually, the work wasn't so bad either, all things considered. It got my mind off of cheating almost-spouses and jocks with cocks that probably hang halfway to their knees, and who drive BMWs instead of a six-year-old Chevy. And there was something that stirred my heart when I looked down a stretch of fence and saw nothing but shiny barbs on tight wire, stapled to posts that, if not perfectly perpendicular to the ground, at least all tilted the same direction at the same angle.

And then it was Saturday, and Randy called to tell Lynne my car was ready. I found out about it when she rode out on one of her horses, to bring us lunch. It was roast beef sandwiches and potato salad and celery sticks with peanut butter spread on them. She had a jug of tea too. She spread it out on the tailgate of the truck and ate with us.

"You should probably wrap things up after lunch and come on in," she said. "We need to get you to town before he closes for the day."

"Yeah," I said, suddenly wondering what I was going to do that night. I had been working for my room and board, so I hadn't spent anything. Suddenly my dark and dusty room, and that cold water in the bunkhouse shower didn't seem all that much to put up with, considering it was free and I got to eat like I was eating right then.

"I don't want you to go!" wailed Jill.

"Stop that!" barked her mother. "Bob has his own life to get on with."

"Not really," I said, without even thinking about it first. It just came gushing out of my mouth.

"Why can't he stay?" whined Jill. "He's actually pretty good at doing stuff."

"Jill, we can't afford to pay him, and this isn't the kind of job he's looking for anyway," said Lynne.

"Well, maybe," I blurted.

Which is how coincidence led me to extend my stay at the Simmons horse ranch and apple orchard for a month ... and then another month, during which I found out what harvesting apples was like, and then two more months, at which point I had to ask for some more blankets. I was used to the cold showers by now, but I liked to sleep warm.

Lynne looked at me over the rim of her coffee cup. It was late, and Jill had been sent to bed.

"How long are you going to stay?" she asked, suddenly.

"Is that your way of saying I need to move on?"

We'd gotten to know each other pretty well in the almost six months I'd been there. There was little formality between us any longer. I had settled into what now felt like a reasonable existence. I liked Lynne a lot. I adored Jill. I had a place to stay and the best food I'd ever eaten. I watched a little TV with them some nights, but mostly I read books in the bunkhouse. I had gotten special dispensation from Janet Biggs, the town librarian, to exceed the five-book limit because we only went to the library once a month, and I could usually go through ten books a month easily if they were any good.

"Of course not," she said. "I'm just wondering how much longer you're going to enjoy this cave man routine you're in."

"Cave man?" I could feel my eyebrows rise.

"Bob, no man I ever met enjoyed sleeping in an old bunkhouse by himself, taking cold showers, and working his ass off every day for nothing." She looked almost irritated.

I thought about it. She was right. Before I had gotten there, if somebody would have described it all and said "Want to do that for six months?" I'd have laughed and suggested they were crazy to even ask.

"I guess I feel like I'm actually doing something worthwhile," I said, realizing that was exactly how I felt.

She thought about that for a half minute. "Well ... you ARE doing something worthwhile," she said slowly. "You're making Jill's and my lives a lot easier. I just don't see what you're getting out of it." She frowned. "At first I thought you were angling for sex ..." She obviously hadn't meant to say that out loud, and her hand came to slap over her mouth.

I blinked. "Sex?"

Her cheeks got pink. "At first, when you wanted to stay ... I thought you were trying to wiggle your way close to me ... that you had some kind of nefarious plan."

I laughed. I laughed out loud. The first thing that popped into my head was that any man who attempted to pull something over on Lynne Simmons was looking for trouble. She was a smart, tough woman. I'd been there long enough by now to know she could work me into the ground. I'd thought more than once that it wasn't fair that she was having to scrape along, because she deserved to be a LOT better off than she was, both financially and in the comfort department.

She looked like I'd slapped her and I realized she had interpreted my laughter as an indication of what I thought of her as a woman ... a sexual being ... that I was rejecting her outright.

"It's not what you think!" I said, holding up a hand. "You're a babe. But you're also a man-eater, and I knew better than to ..."

Her face got dark red. You know how sometimes they say that thunderclouds come onto someone's face? It was like that. I knew I had made things worse.

"Wait!" I gasped. "Let me explain!"

"You've explained enough, thank you," she said darkly. It's bedtime." Hank Thompson is coming over tomorrow to bale our hay and it's going to take all day to get it put up." She stood up.

"Lynne," I moaned. "Don't be mad. I just said it wrong."

"Yes, you did," she agreed.

Then she turned and stomped out of the room.

The next morning I was sitting at the table when Jill came in. She was dressed and ready to go to work too. Lynne had said she had to move things from the washer to the dryer. The griddle was heating for waffles.

"What did you do?" asked Jill, as she poured herself a glass of orange juice.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Yesterday Mom said she was going to tell you you could sleep in the spare bedroom from now on. But when I got up to go to the bathroom the bedroom was empty and the light was still on in the bunkhouse. You obviously stayed out there last night. Nobody in his right mind would do that if he could stay in here. Ergo, you did something to make her mad. So what did you do?"

She was a smart girl, just like her mother.

"I'm in my right mind!" I said, sounding wounded.

"Yeah, right," she said.

We had gotten to be even better friends than Lynne and I. I now preferred Jill's company over that of anybody I could remember back in Chicago. Lynne's too, for that matter.

"I just said I wasn't trying to hit on her," I said, "and she took it the wrong way." I frowned. "She said I could stay in here?"

"She asked me if I thought it was a good idea," said Jill, sitting down. She shrugged. "I told her I didn't know why you ever stayed in the bunkhouse at all."

"Well," I said, "back then I was a strange man, and she was smart enough to keep me at arm's length."

"You're still a strange man," she said, deadpan.

Long story short, I did get invited to live in the house with the women. Now I know what you're thinking. Single guy, living in house with a woman and her blossoming daughter. Well, get your mind out of the gutter, because it wasn't like that at all.

Oh sure, I noticed them as females. Lynne had a long flannel nightgown that she wore that first winter. It had been around a while, though, and it wasn't loose, so I got to see plenty in terms of her shape. And Jill wore actual footy pajamas, made out of some kind of stretchy yellow and white striped material. She had just turned fourteen, and she was all girl under that stretchy material. It clung to her right between her legs where ... well ... not to be indelicate about it but it was very clear she was no male. She looked vaguely like some kind of modern art tigress.

But even though I noticed them as women, I didn't have thoughts and fantasies about them. Not really. Since then I've talked to several old geezers who thoroughly enjoy looking at women and who WISH their dicks would get hard, but they know their days of rutting like a bull are over, so they just kind of have happy, horny thoughts about what it was like back in the day, and how much fun it would be to make this or that young thing squeal ... if you could ... which you can't ... so, oh well.

I wasn't old. I could still get a rock-hard boner ... and did. And I beat it into submission pretty much every day too. But not because I was thinking about Lynne and Jill. They were more like my sisters or roommates or something. They just weren't on that page of the program, you know?

I still tortured myself over Tiffany, imagining her spreading her long, slim, tanned thighs for Bubba the running back. She was actually chapter two in a book that I wasn't all that excited about being a character in. It was complicated, and nobody around me would have understood why I felt like I did about it, because how I felt wasn't how most people would feel. It's not like I got off on thinking about her with him. But she couldn't handle having feelings for both of us, even though I was convinced her feelings for him were just physical. I guess I kept trying to win her back in my mind or something. I was a sad case back then.

Anyway, that first winter was amazingly happy. I studied up on things mechanical and made friends with the blacksmith in town. He gave me advice and taught me how to do a few procedures and I started checking over the tractor, which was an old John Deere 40/20. The battery was stone dead, but when I charged that back up it still wouldn't crank. I found a bunch of corrosion where the ground wire attached to the frame and then the engine would turn over, but not start. I went through the lists one by one and by the time March rolled around nobody was more surprised than I was when the stack belched black smoke and the thing started clattering along. It smoothed out and ran pretty good. I felt like I had just built the pyramids of Egypt or something.

Of course I had no idea how to drive the thing. Jill climbed up, leaned back and stretched out her left foot pushing the clutch, popped it in gear, moved the throttle lever and away she went. She'd been able to drive it when she was ten. I know I was grinning like an idiot.

My newfound mechanical skills did not, as it turned out, transfer to the pickup. When the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree I had no clue. Randy had a thing that could talk to the computer and he blithely informed us that five hundred dollars would fix it up just fine. He kept looking at me like I was some kind of monster. It might have been because Jill, wanting a piece of gum, just got in my pocket for it instead of asking. He thought I had a thing going with Jill, or her mother, and I think it still stung him a little that he'd gotten shut down.

That was when I found out what kind of straits Lynne was in financially. When Paul died, there was some insurance money, but it hadn't lasted all that long and she was running things on a shoestring. She'd put a bunch of money into a college fund for Jill, and had managed not to touch it since then. Now, though, she had to get into that for the money to fix the truck.

I didn't think that was fair. Jill was a smart girl, and would do well in college. She deserved to go. So I hung out my shingle as a CPA again and started doing taxes for people because it was that time of year. I put the money back into Jill's college fund. It's amazing that you can walk into a bank and, if you know somebody's name, you can put money in their account. You can't take any out, but anybody in the world can make a deposit.

Of course Lynne said I didn't have to do that, but she had taken me in when I was in need, and had let me stay, and fed me and all that, so I just thought I should contribute something towards my upkeep.

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