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This is a long love story in three chapters but you’ll have to wait for the sex. If you want a plotless quick thrill, then there are plenty of those elsewhere on this site. Some characters from my earlier stories make an appearance in this tale (although it is not necessary to have read those stories, it might help to know the characters). Characters in sex scenes are eighteen years old or over. All characters are imaginary—any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental
Copyright © 2015 to the author.
We must have looked a pair of fools, standing there and gawping at each other. Then Dusty shook her head and turned to leave. “I’m sorry—this seems to have been a mistake.” She almost dashed towards her car.
I caught up with her while she was fumbling to get the key into the lock. “Wait, let’s talk. You’ve come all this way—don’t you even want to see the carpentry shop?”
“What’s the point? You won’t want me here.”
I took hold of her elbow, not hard but it seemed to affect Dusty. She flinched a little so I let go and rested a more gentle hand on her forearm. “Who said I won’t want you here? I didn’t say that,” I told her, “We’d better thrash this out now. It’s obvious that neither of us could have known who we were meeting. I was told to expect a Louise Duncan. I suppose you were told to see a Miss Roberts?”
“Before we go any further, there’s something I have to tell you,” I said, “I went back to Radclyffe’s several times hoping to see you and try to explain.”
She shook her head. “No need to explain. I know how unattractive I am.”
Unsympathetic of me, perhaps, but I found myself annoyed with such a defeatist attitude. “Where the hell did you get that nonsense from?” I demanded, my voice perhaps a little more harsh than it should have been. I saw Dusty flinch again at my tone and I softened it a lot. “Louise, or Dusty, whichever you prefer, you are not unattractive. You’re a very nice-looking girl. As I told you that night, my leaving like that was nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. I told you then it was personal and I couldn’t explain.
“You weren’t to know but Dot, my lover, had died a few months before. We’d been together a long time and I loved her so much and I was hurting. ‘As Time Goes By’ was her favourite song and when it came on the radio that night, it just broke me up. That’s why I ran out on you, and that’s why I kept going back to Radclyffe’s hoping to see you again so I could apologise. I’m apologising now and hope you can understand that it wasn’t your fault. Now, can we start this visit again?”
I held out a hand and Dusty slowly grasped it. We shook hands. “Thank you,” she said, “Before I came here, my father said he thought you were a widow.”
I smiled a little. “I suppose that’s as good a word as any. Come on and I’ll show you the workshop. Call me Fran, please. Do you prefer Louise or Dusty?”
“I’m Louise at home but I’m used to Dusty.”
There was quite a change as soon as we entered the shop. The shy girl suddenly became the total professional. She closely examined all the tools and tested some of the machinery, making little noises of approval as she did so. She transferred her attention to the unfinished works, picking up pieces and checking them over before turning to me and saying: “Your Dot was very good—better than very good. There’s some lovely work here although it all needs finishing off.”
“That’s why I kept everything as it is, hoping that somebody could complete them one day. Dusty, what say we give things between us a try? Say six months. If you’d like to finish off these pieces to start, I’m sure a lot of Dot’s former customers would snap them up and pass the word around. We’ll sell them at a reasonable price and the money will be yours. At the end of the six months, if you decide to stay and run this as a business we’ll work out a fair rent for the workshop and flat.”
Dusty thought for a moment then said: “I’d like that. Okay, let’s give it a go.”
As I took her up to see the flat, I asked: “Why ‘Dusty’?”
“It’s from senior school. I opted to go to woodwork classes, the only girl there. I’d got about eight years’ start on the boys and I was far better than any of them. So one of them nicknamed me Sawdust and that gradually turned to Dusty.”
Dusty moved in a few days later and apart from helping her to settle in the flat I left her to it. She knew her business and I wasn’t about to interfere. I saw little of her during the first week, although when I walked past the shop I could sometimes hear the lathe running or a saw being used. She obviously had the right work ethic for I noticed that sometimes she worked well into the evening. And then she came to me one day while I was working in the yard and said, in her shy way, “Come with me please, Fran, I’d like to show you something.”
The ‘something’ she wanted me to see turned canlı bahis out to be quite a few things, completed items of Dot’s furniture. Her work was excellent: my untrained eye couldn’t tell where Dot’s work had finished and Dusty’s began. I wanted to cry. “Thank you, Dusty, you’ve done Dot proud. She would have been so impressed by this.”
My prediction was right. The completed pieces were snapped up and Dusty continued to finish Dot’s work. When there was nothing left she started to produce items of her own. Now I could see a difference, for her original pieces had their own distinctive mark. They, too, sold well. At the end of the six months I asked Dusty if she wanted to stay and she said yes, that she loved being her own boss. I was pleased because although we didn’t see all that much of each other, I had started to grow fond of the girl. It was good just to know that there was someone around. But God, Dot, I still miss you so.
* * * * *
It wasn’t just the sex, although I missed that very much—after all, I was still a youngish woman and my needs had not diminished with Dot’s death. Meg, the Welsh woman, had helped me but that was a one-off. When I did have the urge, I had active fingers and my little vibrating friend to help me. I’d put Dot’s dildo away, though, because to me it was part of Dot and without her it was nothing more than a funny-shaped piece of latex. So as I said, it wasn’t just the sex. More than anything, it was the companionship. Although I was sleeping well, our great bed felt empty without Dot cuddled up against me during the night. I frequently hugged her pillows to my body as they still had the lingering scent of sandalwood clinging to them.
* * * * *
We had a very hard winter that year. For something like four or five years the winters had been comparatively mild, the worst of them having seen no more than heavy rain and occasional lashing hail-storms. But now the frosts started early and the temperature outside plummeted. The ground got harder to work until eventually I had to leave it fallow until warner weather arrived. I wasn’t too worried for over the years I had salted spare money away knowing that sometimes I would have to ride out a tough winter. I still had the egg business to fall back on and the only major chore was keeping the chicken runs cleaned out. They were safe enough because Dot had installed good insulation years before.
Christmas had come and gone and one morning early in January I woke up to the strange hush and the oddly clear light which often suggests overnight snowfall. I pulled back my curtains to look out of the window. It had snowed all right, with a vengeance. There must have been at least two feet or more out there. I know, in some countries that would be a light fall, but here it was a lot. And then I realized that it was freezing inside the bedroom. I touched a radiator and it was icy.
We have oil-fired central heating and I knew it couldn’t be the fuel supply because that had been topped up recently. It had to be the boiler and when I checked, it was. Completely dead. And one thing was for sure—nobody was going to get through to fix it until most of the snow had gone. Any clearance would be confined to the major roads and my place was a long way from the nearest of those. I wasn’t too worried as I had a good store of firewood for the range in the kitchen and the fireplace in the sitting room. The range has an old-fashioned back-boiler, too, so at least I’d have some hot water. I checked the lights and the power was still on—that was a blessing for there was plenty of food in my freezer so I could have hot meals.
I could have hot meals? What the hell was I thinking of. We is what I should be thinking. Dusty was not going to be comfortable in that little flat. I dressed in a hurry, grabbed a couple of things and went across to the carpentry shop. The snow was deep enough in places to spill into the top of my gumboots. It was uncomfortable but I had some longer ones in the cottage to use when necessary.
“I’ll be all right here,” Dusty told me when I got to her and explained the problem. She didn’t look all right and the flat was a damned sight colder than the cottage.
“No you won’t,” I told her, “You haven’t even got a fireplace here. And the shop will be too cold for you to work. You’re coming back to my place. I’ve brought Dot’s sheepskin coat and old gumboots for you, you’re almost as tall as she was so they should fit. We’ll treat this like a holiday, Dusty. All we have to do is clear a path to the chicken runs and see that they’re fed and watered. Then we can sit by the fire and tell each other ghost stories or something. I’ve got some great DVDs so you can pick out any films you’d like to see.”
The day went okay. We managed to find enough odd jobs to keep us busy and after supper I put on a selection of CDs. I lit a number of plain candles, turned off the lights and we sat by the fireside with a large quilt over our legs, bahis siteleri cosy and warm, until it was bedtime. That was when Dusty and I had a disagreement over the sleeping arrangements. “I’ll sleep here on the sofa,” she said.
“Take it from me, Dusty, I’ve slept on here myself and it wasn’t very comfortable. You’re taller than me so you’d be bent like a pretzel in the morning. We’ll share the bed.”
A look of fear flitted across Dusty’s face. I held up a hand to reassure her. “I’m not going to do anything. It’s a huge bed with plenty of room. I’ve still got Dot’s winter pyjamas and dressing-gown so you can use a set of those. And we’ll be a lot warmer sharing the bed.” I had to argue for about ten minutes but Dusty saw sense in the end. I wasn’t sure if she was afraid I’d molest her or if she was so used to putting herself down that she couldn’t break the habit. We climbed into bed on opposite sides and lay there with our backs to each other. We said ‘goodnight’. We slept.
I woke around six in the morning to an arm around my waist and the feel of a body pressed up against my back. I’d been having a lovely dream about Dot and our life here, and for no more than a couple of seconds I thought it was her and then I returned to reality, of course it couldn’t be Dot. Briefly, I wanted to weep but pulled myself together. It was Dusty, wasn’t it?
I eased myself round so that I didn’t disturb her. In sleep, all of the habitual worry seemed to have been erased from her face and she looked sweet and contented. Unable to resist, I bent over and kissed her lips very gently. She murmured and stirred but didn’t awaken so I left the bed as carefully as possible, leaving her to rest.
There had been fresh snow in the night. By the time Dusty got up, I had fires going in the grate and the range and was cooking breakfast. The first thing she said to me was: “Thank you for insisting about the bed. That was the best sleep I’ve had for a long time.”
We spent the day doing a few more essential chores and for our evening meal I dug a chilli with rice out of the freezer. When everything was cleared up, I invited Dusty to look through the DVD collection and pick any film she fancied. After a few minutes she said: “Here’s one I’ve heard a lot about. Can we watch it, please.” She held up the case. It was Casablanca. “Isn’t this the film where Bogart says—”
“No he doesn’t,” I interrupted, “That’s a myth. But yes, we can watch that.”
So we settled on the sofa, put Casablanca in the machine and watched it. Dusty surprised me by sitting very much closer to me than I would have expected. I hoped that perhaps she was starting to come out of her shell.
Eventually the film arrived at the scene where Ingrid Bergman was persuading Dooley Wilson to play ‘As Time Goes By’. As soon as the music started, Dusty snatched up the remote, hit the pause button and grabbed hold of my hand. “Oh God, Fran, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know that tune was from this film. Do you want me to turn it off?”
“Don’t be sorry, Dusty, I knew it was coming.” I squeezed her hand in reassurance. “It doesn’t upset me now. That night in your hotel, it was unexpected and hit me hard when I was still feeling raw. I’m really okay with it now. You’re enjoying the film, I’m enjoying the film. So let’s carry on enjoying it together.”
At last the story reached its end, with the villainous Nazi major dead and Bogart and Claude Rains as police captain Louis Renault walking into the night mist. Bogie had the final words: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
“What a lovely film,” said Dusty, “I did enjoy it.” Then she realised that she was still holding my hand. “I’m sorry, Fran.” She reddened and tried to pull away but I held onto her.
“Dusty, will you please stop apologising for everything. It’s been nice holding your hand.” I think I surprised the two of us then by lifting her hand and placing a very gentle kiss on it. Dusty looked startled, confused even, so I tried to lighten the moment with my very best Bogart imitation: “Louise, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
* * * * *
I think it was from that evening Dusty began to come out of herself a little. When I awoke the following morning, she was once more cuddled up to me, a look of contentment on her sleeping face. She said nothing about it later, not even one of her embarrassed apologies, and I guess that she was unaware. I didn’t mention it, not wanting to upset her. The film she picked for the evening was Gone With The Wind. But…
“Before we watch the film, Fran, can I talk to you about something?” Her voice was little more than a whisper and she didn’t meet my eyes.
“Of course. Anything you like.”
“That night in the hotel—you were right.” She reached out and hooked a couple of fingers in mine, toying nervously with them. “I was… I am a virgin. I’ve known I’m a lesbian for a long time but I didn’t know how bahis şirketleri to go about meeting someone. And I was frightened. I didn’t even know how to recognise another gay woman… still don’t…”
“Dusty, not all of us do,” I said to reassure her, “We haven’t all got gaydar and even for those who have, it isn’t exactly a precision science.”
“Anyway, I thought the best thing to do was come up to London and ask a taxi driver to take me to a lesbian bar. That’s how I ended up at Radclyffe’s.”
“And you were lucky.” I tried not to sound stern—now Dusty was talking I didn’t want her to clam up. “That wasn’t the cleverest way of looking for a partner. Radclyffe’s is a decent place, well run. You could have been taken to somewhere far worse where you’d have been an obvious target, even a victim, some place where they might all have been like that Belle woman, perhaps far worse.”
She hung her head. “I know that now… I was stupid…”
“Not stupid, love, but very naïve.” I thought of something else. “When we got to your hotel, Dusty, you seemed to believe I’d like it rough. What made you think that?”
“I went onto my father’s computer one evening, got the internet and called up a couple of lesbian films—they both showed it as being rough. Then I heard Dad coming so I deleted them.”
“And were they the only two films you saw?”
“Yes. I didn’t dare try again in case I got caught.”
“Poor Dusty, you really found the wrong films.” I reached out, stroked her hair gently. “There must be thousands of lesbian films on the internet and I bet a high proportion of them show sex as being loving and tender. Tell me, do your parents know you’re gay?”
Dusty shook her head. “I’m scared to tell them. You probably think badly of me but I’m a terrible coward, Fran. I’m scared of just about everything.”
“No, I don’t think badly of you.” Something, however, had made Dusty the way she was and sooner or later I’d have to find out what. Not this evening, though. It had been an effort for her to tell me what she had and I was not going to press her any further. “I’m glad you could talk to me, Dusty. Now, let’s watch the film and forget everything else for the moment.”
“Okay.” Dusty gave me a weak smile. “Thanks for listening to me. Fran, can I hold your hand again, please? It made me feel easier.”
“Of course you can, sweetie. It made me feel good too.” I took her hand in mine and drew her closer as we started to watch the drama of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. That night in bed, Dusty cuddled up to me before she went to sleep. It probably did both of us some good, giving me the companionship I’d missed so much and her the comfort she so obviously needed.
* * * * *
The snow lasted about a week before the thaw set in. It wasn’t the last snow of the winter but it was the worst and by the time other falls came around the boiler had been fixed and the central heating working. Dusty insisted on going back to her little flat and it was handy for her work. One thing did change though. I had come to enjoy her company and I think Dusty liked mine too, so from then on we would take our meals together most evenings and watch a film or listen to music.
Another thing I discovered about Dusty during the ensuing months was that despite her shyness she was a very good businesswoman as well as being a master carpenter. She told me, with some pressing, that while working for her father she had attended evening school in business studies and had gained distinctions throughout. So what the hell was wrong? She had so much to be proud of and yet she mostly refused to accept her own worth.
Roger Duncan phoned me several times to see how she was getting on. “I’m calling you, Fran, because Louise will only say ‘all right’ when I ask her.” I was able to reassure him that her business was thriving with full order books. “Too shy for her own good, my daughter,” he said, “Crazy—she only seemed to go that way from her mid-teens. Always a little shy before that but nowhere as near as bad.” I wanted to ask him if he knew what had turned Dusty but thought he might see that as interference.
I was growing more fond of Dusty as time went on yet was frustrated by the way she consistently denigrated herself.
It had to happen—eventually I cracked. The time arrived when I just boiled over, completely forgetting the promise I had made to myself to always be gentle with Dusty. As usual we had finished our meal and were watching a French film, Amelie, starring Audrey Tautou. I heard Dusty almost whisper something to herself.
“What did you say, Dusty?”
She looked at me, apprehensive, and her reply was little louder than her whisper. “I said I wished I was nice looking like her rather than what I am.”
I felt my chest tighten with annoyance. “And what are you, Dusty?”
“Plain, ordinary, unattractive…”
Exasperated, I grabbed her hand and practically dragged her into the bedroom, stopping in front of the large cheval mirror. “Have a good look, Dusty, and tell me what you see.”
She looked once and then cast her eyes down, a characteristic move. “Nothing really worth looking at.”
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