Life in the Country (Part Two)
Of course, all hell broke loose when I showed up back at the Ranch that morning. Not having returned the previous night, Brant had sent search parties out, and my mother was beside herself with worry.
I remember when she first saw me. “Katrina, where in the…oh my God, Kat baby, your hair!” I removed the hat, exposing my roughly shorn head to the room.
“What the hell!” Brant yelled. “Who did that to you?” He walked over examining the haphazard way in which my head was shorn. “Tell me this wasn’t Janny Right that did this to you.”
I held up my hand. “It was, Brant. Mother, I asked her to.” I lied, falsely admitting my captor’s innocence.
“What on earth possessed you, Katrina. You look like a shorn sheep.” Brant accused, running a hand over my bristled head.
“Well, that was kind of the point. I had stopped over at the Bailey Bridge Farm on one of my rides, and ran into Janny. She was really nice and all; even showed me how to shear a sheep.” I wasn’t lying about that. “I was so fascinated by it that I told her I wondered what it would be like, you know, to get sheared.”
Both my mother and Brant looked at me like I was crazy, so I thought I better continue, digging myself deeper into the lie. “We got to kidding around, and I just told her to go ahead and do it. That was that, she sheared me like a sheep.”
“But, Katrina, your beautiful hair.” My mother sighed.
“Listen, Kelly, it sounds like it was all on the up and up. If she wants short hair, well, now she’s got it.” Brant said to my mother. “Next time you’re not going to be home, young lady, you let your mother know. She was worried sick.”
In all honesty, I was glad that they were more upset over the fact that I hadn’t come home. That was about a week ago. Now I was dealing with the aftermath of a pretty uneven haircut.
At the time, I never even considered what it might look like after Janny sheared me with sheep clippers. I was just happy to get out of there in one piece. As I looked at myself in the mirror, I was frowning over the tufts of hair that stuck up above the rest. I had to get it straightened out, and the only person that could do that was Janny.
As Janny had asked, I started to distance myself from Alex. He wondered why, especially since he seemed even more interested in me with my new do. Finally, I had to level with him.
“Alex. Do you have something going with Janny Right?” I asked.
“Sort of. I mean, we dated and all, but I didn’t even think she might be jealous of you.” I sighed.
I had leveled with Alex about what had happened, under a threat of death if he ever told anyone. As it was, I was having to deal with my mother, who hated my hair, and the rest of the crew who just looked at me like I was crazy or something.
I just couldn’t possibly wait a whole month before returning to Janny Right. The next morning, I was going to do something about that.
I had tacked up my horse before sunrise, and was already riding by the time the long rays broke over the mountains behind me. I had taken to wearing a baseball cap lately, if only to cover the increasingly obvious tufts of longer hair that were scattered over my head.
By mid-morning, I crested the rise and the Bailey Bridge Farm lay spread out before me. The hillside behind it was dotted with white, sheep grazing in the fields, looked like so much popcorn thrown over the landscape.
I hadn’t reached the bottom of the long drive before I heard her voice, one that I couldn’t believe I had returned to willingly.
“Well, if it isn’t sheep girl.” She mused, walking up to the fence that divided the corral she was in, and the road. “Didn’t expect to see you for another two weeks. What’s wrong, couldn’t stay away?” She prodded.
“No, I couldn’t,” I admitted, freely.
“You don’t mean to tell me you’re back for another shearing?” Janny chortled.
I took off the baseball cap, revealing the uneven mess that was my hair. I rolled my eyes upward. “This is why I’m back.”
“Yeah, that does look a mite messy. Well, it was kinda dark in that barn.” She confessed. “Come on, I’ll straighten you out.”
I breathed a sigh of relief when she led me to the house rather than the barn. She had me sit in the same spot as before, only this time I hoped she didn’t whack me over the head.
She looked me over, tisking the rather shoddy job she had done. “Man, if I’d sheared a sheep like this, my Dadda would hung me up.” She sighed. “Well, there’s not much to do about than take it down tight. You ready for that?”
“Anything has to be better than this.” I asserted, pulling at the one long spot that had been driving me crazy that stood out right over my forehead.
I was pleased that she was actually using human clippers this time, at least I assumed they were. They didn’t make the god-awful whine that the sheep shears had anyway. Janny placed them at my forehead and without any warning ran them back to my crown. To be honest, it actually felt good.
“I do believe you’re enjoying this Kat. You were excited the last time too, weren’t you?” She questioned.
Embarrassed to admit something so odd, I simply nodded. Was it strange for a girl to be so turned on by something so decidedly unfemale as getting their hair shaved off? If so, I guess I was guilty of being strange. The more Janny cut, the more excited I got.
“Kat, you’re killing me, girl.” Janny changed positions so that her knee was between mine. “Head down, honey.” As she reached over to run the clippers up the back, she deliberately pressed her knee into the crotch of my jeans, and directly into my sex.
“Oh, God.” I moaned.
“Shush.” Janny hissed, looking around the house to make sure no one was watching. “You’ll get both of us in trouble.”
A few more strokes and clippers fell silent. Between the feel of the machine gliding over my scalp and Janny’s knee that was still pressed against my sex, I had almost had an orgasm.
“That’s pretty short. I can take it down even more if you want, but that’s all even now.” Janny handed me a mirror and I surveyed the even, but far shorter haircut she had given me. Everything was the same length all over, and that length was only about a quarter of an inch. My scalp was plainly visible now, white and exposed under the fine pelt of hair.
“I mean, how much shorter would you cut it, Janny?” I asked seriously, but only really wanting to feel the buzz of the clippers against my head.
“Oh, I could pretty much shave you bald, if that’s what you want, Kat.” She said. I could see something in her eyes that was hoping I would go farther. Who was I to disappoint?
“How about something in between?” I said, with a tremor in my voice.
“That might be something I’d have to take you in my room to do.” She admitted, dryly.
“Then I guess we better go.” I fawned, knowingly. My sex was soaking my panties, and I could feel the damp as I stood and followed Janny upstairs. Once in the safety of her room, and having locked the door to the hallway, Janny suddenly turned.
“I want you just like last time.” She whispered.
“You mean naked and tied?” I jostled.
“We can skip the tied-up part, I think, don’t you?” Janny gulped.
I slowly began removing my clothes until I stood at the side of her bed completely naked. As I pulled my panties away from my body a jeweled string of moisture stretched provocatively back to my lips.
“Jesus Christ, Kat.” Without warning, Janny had fallen to her knees and was slowly working her mouth down my belly, closer and closer to my drooling sex. “I want to touch you…there.” She said, timidly.
“Please. I want you to.” I begged, thrusting my pussy forward towards her mouth. I could see the turmoil she was experiencing, and knew, because I was having exactly the same feelings. Never in my life had I ever had feelings like I was having just then.
Janny pressed her lips against my sex, and I almost exploded right then and there. “Oh, fuck!” I gasped.
She pulled away suddenly, and seemed to try and clear her head. “We better stop.” Janny sighed, standing up and moving back towards the table, lifting the clippers and plugging them in. “Kneel for me, right here.” She gasped, still not in complete control.
The plastic guard that was on the clippers before was conspicuously missing, and I worried that she was just going to use them like that. My worries were confirmed when she flipped them on and brought them buzzing to the middle of my forehead. I bent my head forward, as if in submission to her as she laid me bare.
A few inches in front of me I could smell Janny’s sex, right through her jeans, and it was almost too much for me to handle. I knew that as soon as she was finished I would be on her, and I doubted that she would even want to stop me.
“You’re going to be so fucking hot like this, Kat.” She murmured, finally setting the clippers aside and shutting them off. “Do you want to see?”
Janny reached over and pulled open her closet door, a full-length mirror gracing the inner surface. The kneeling girl that I saw in the mirror was me, but without a trace of hair on her head. “You shaved me?” I asked, demurely.
“That’s how I want you.” Janny insisted, quietly, walking around to stand behind me in the mirror. The reflection, me naked and nearly bald, and Janny fully clothed and towering over me seemed so fitting, and so erotic. Her shoulder-length blonde hair laid in contrast to my own, and a reminder of my position.
“Then that is how I will remain, Janny,” I said, completely under her spell, as she spun me to face her. She brushed the scraps of bristles off my shoulders and breasts, gently, before joining me on the floor. “I’ve never been with a girl before,” I admitted.
“It’s Janine, by the way, Katrina. I’d like you to call me by my real name.” She insisted, gently.
“I’ve never been with a girl before, Janine.” I corrected.
“Neither have I.” She trembled. “I want to in the worst way, Kat, but we can’t right here. If my Dadda walked in on us, Christ he’d probably shoot us both.”
“Then we’ll have to be careful then. Go somewhere else.” I suggested.
“Here, get dressed, Kat.” She handed me my clothes and disappeared through the door. While I dressed, I heard the screen door slam downstairs, and I knew that she had run. I understood, but it made me sad. Never again would I be able to look at her the same way.
I slipped the baseball cap back on, looser now than it had been. Tightening the strap, I cinched it onto my head, and pushed through the door. Once on my horse, I looked for Janine but was sad to not see her. As I reached the crest of the rise, I looked back. Only then did I see her, standing with her arm up in a wave. I waved back, and then turned, breaking into a cantor to get away before I cried.
Of course, upon seeing me, my mother freaked out, again, and Brant just shook his head, wondering just what kind of crazy family he had taken on.
“So, is that it, Katrina.” My mother scolded. “You’re just going to shave your head from now on? Is this some kind of bizarre punishment for moving you out here?”
“No, Mother, I just like it like this. It’s easier.” I explained.
“Look. If she wants to wear her like that, what’s the harm in it. I can think of a lot of other shit she could be getting into, that would be a damn-sight worse than a crewcut.” Brant finally said, fed up with my mother’s caterwauling. “I mean she pulls it off pretty well. She looks… what is it they say?”
“Chic?” I ventured a guess. “Listen, both of you. I’m not doing this to be ‘chic’ or to rebel, or anything of the sort. I just like it better.” That seemed to end the discussion.
As much as my mother hated the look, and everybody else simply continued to look at me weird, they all seemed to finally accept that this was the new me.
I really wanted to see Janine, more than anything, and it sort of dominated my thoughts most of the time. Any feelings that I thought I had for boys seemed to evaporate, replaced by a deep yearning for her. I had never even seen her naked, but I could imagine how she might look. She would be muscular, and strong, but at the same time soft, and sensual.
I couldn’t help but fantasize about her, and I have to admit to satisfying myself more than a few times imagining things between the two of us.
One night, just after I had fallen asleep, I was awakened by what I thought was a tapping on my door. “Hello?” I sighed, sleepily. Then I realized that the tapping wasn’t the door, but the window. I looked out, to find Janine Right standing in the yard with a handful of gravel in her hand. I opened the sash and leaned my head out. “Janine?”
“Can you come out?” She asked, in a projected whisper.
I nodded, pushing the window open and sliding down, until my feet were a few feet from the ground. I was about to drop when I felt a pair of strong arms wrap around me and lower me the rest of the way.
“I’ve missed you, Janine Right.” I sighed, turning around and burying my face in her shoulder. I realized that I was only wearing an old t-shirt and panties, and that didn’t bother me at all. Janine pulled me in tight.
“I’ve missed you too, Katrina.” She whispered into my ear, her lips finding my stubbled head above my ear. “Your hair’s grown in a bit.” She noticed.
“I don’t like it,” I admitted, pulling her away from the house, and over towards a group of trees. They were the only big ones around for a ways, and huddled along the bank of a stream that meandered through the ranch.
“I thought you’d hate me for doing that to you.” She faltered, pulling me down onto a grassy knoll next to the brook.
“On the contrary, Janine. I want you to do it again, and again.” I confessed, running my hand over the disappointingly long bristles.
“That can be arranged, I think.” She chuckled. “Take all that off.” Her tone suddenly more forceful.
Without thinking, I quickly whipped off the shirt, and slipped my panties to my ankles. I meant to kick them back to me, but they ended up landing in the water.
“I’ll get ‘em.” Janine said, but I quickly pulled her back down.
“Let them go. I don’t need them when I’m with you.”
“I’ve got a surprise for you.” She grinned, reaching into the pocket of the Carhartt jacket she wore. “Bought these for just such an occasion.”
In the moonlight, I could see that it was a small set of clippers, smaller than the ones she used at the house, and much smaller than the sheep shears. I was surprised when they hummed to life in her hand.
“These are trimmers. They cut a lot closer than the ones I used before.” She warned.
“Good.” Was all I managed, kneeling before her as she slowly and methodically ran them over my head. In the moonlight, I could see tiny glints of blonde float away from my scalp as she worked. Every once in a while, she would rub her fingers over my scalp, and then begin clipping again.
When the trimmers finally went silent, Janine guided my hand to my scalp, testing my reaction. “What do you think?”
“I love it. No more rough sandpaper. It’s almost smooth.” I sighed. I leaned forward wanting to make contact with her, but she backed away. I watched, mesmerized as she slowly stripped out of her clothes. My imagination could not possibly have dreamed of anything close to what was revealed.
Instead of the chiseled frame and hardened muscles I had dreamt of, was the most voluptuous creature I had ever seen. Her breasts were full and round, her hips full and her arms and legs, smooth and lean. I was shocked by the contrast between imagination and reality.
“My God, you’re beautiful.” I gasped. She knelt with me on the grass, our bodies almost touching, so close that I could feel the heat radiating off of her. “Make love to me, Janine.” I sighed, almost in tears.
Suddenly, we could not get close enough to one another. Arms grasped, legs wrapped and mouths wandered in ecstasy as we explored the other. When at last her fingers slipped inside me, I literally cried out. I didn’t care if anyone heard me. It was beautiful, until it wasn’t, until I heard the telltale click of a rifle being cocked behind us.
“Janine Right, you get yourself dressed and get your ass back to your Daddy. You’re lucky I don’t shoot you where you stand.” Brant stood, the gun at his hip as I turned around.
“No, Brant. I love her.” I cried, but Janine had grabbed her clothes and waded across the creek, disappearing in the night.
“I should’ve figured there’d be something like this going on.” He grimaced. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, girl.” He lifted my shirt off the ground and threw it at me.
It wasn’t long after that, that things between Brant and my mother began to fall apart. I tried to imagine that it wasn’t me that caused it. But, my mother laid the blame squarely at my feet.
A couple of months later, we had moved back to Chicago, and all thoughts of Janine took a back seat to dealing with life in the city once again. My hair had grown out to a spiky crop, which seemed to fit right in with the hardened drew I started to pal around with.
From the word go, I had let it be known that I had no interest in boys. Despite their futile efforts to get into my pants. I reserved that for the few girls that seemed interested. Things for me were going from bad to worse.
On top of that, the money that my mother had taken away from the relationship with the rancher, wasn’t going to last forever, and she showed no interest in getting a job, or in me for that matter.
This went on for almost a year, until in a drunken rage, she kicked me out. On the street for the first time in my life, I became desperate. I was squatting in some of the seediest places, and getting wrapped up with the worst sort of people.
Eventually, I succumbed to the drugs and alcohol that were used so freely around me. My life was slowly fading into oblivion, and I was perfectly content to let it happen.
Every once in a while, I would think back on that night by the stream; that perfect night, Janine making love to me and feeling better than I had ever felt, or ever would again. Or so I thought.
It was a Saturday night, and I had really tied one on. I couldn’t be bothered trying to find my way back to the derelict tenement where I had been holed up for the past month. I found a convenient doorway and crawled inside. Winter wasn’t there yet, but it was cold anyway. The drugs and booze numbed me to it as I pulled the ratted-out trench coat around myself and huddled up next to the doors.
I could feel myself getting lighter, and the streetlights beginning to dim when a harsh scream woke me out of my stupor. At first, I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but they sure seemed pissed off. Somebody grabbed me, pulling me to my feet, but I just couldn’t stand. This must be it, I thought. I’m gonna die, right now. That was about all I remembered.
I had no idea how or why, but I woke up warm and in a comfortable bed, something I hadn’t enjoyed in months. Looking around me, I knew exactly where I was. I looked down, noticing a clear plastic tube disappearing into my arm. I reached over to pull it out.
“Don’t you touch that!” A sharp voice rang out, too loud for my delicate head at that moment. My eyes were still a bit too blurry to see who sat in the chair on the opposite side of the room. I laid my arm back at my side and closed my eyes again.
I wasn’t sure how much longer I slept, but I was still in the hospital when I finally did wake up. The figure in the chair seemed to be sleeping, a hat pulled down over their face. “Hey. What the hell am I doing here?” I shouted.
“You’re getting well.” A distinctly female voice returned. A hand reached up and lifted the hat away from their face, and I was almost overwhelmed by what I saw.
“Oh, my God.” Was all I managed.
“Hello, Katrina.” She said, standing and walking over to sit on the edge of the bed.
“Janine, oh my God!” I wept. I tried to reach up, but there was something wrapped around my wrists.
“They had to put you in restraints, Kat. The nurses were worried you were going to pull out your I.V.”
“How long have I been here?” I asked, still in shock.
“Almost a week, baby.” She said, the endearment only causing my tears to flow more freely.
“How did you find me? Why? I thought you’d hate me after Brant…”
“I could never hate you, Kat. You woke something in me, hell, I think we woke something in each other.” Janine admitted, caressing Kat’s cheek with the back of her fingers, wiping a tear away.
“How did you ever find me. My mother…”
“It wasn’t easy. You disappeared pretty effectively after your mother…”
“Kicked me out.” Kat finished. “The bitch kicked me out.”
“I know.” Janine sighed. “She was the first place I looked, but when I saw her, I knew that she’d have no clue where you were. So, I just started searching the streets.”
“For how long?” I asked, guiltily.
“Two months, on and off,” Janine admitted.
“Janine? Oh, my God.” I tried again to reach out to her, but again was reminded of my tethered state. Instead, Janine reached over and took Katrina’s hand in hers. “You saved my life, Janine.” I sighed.
“I don’t know about that. But, I think you would have had some frostbite if you’d spent the night in that doorway. It got down to thirty degrees that night.” Janine said, squeezing my hand with hers. “You just concentrate on getting well.”
“What happened, Janine. Did Brant cause trouble for you after…”
“It’s all taken care of, Kat. My Dadda passed about three months ago. I like to think learning the truth about his only daughter wasn’t the cause of it. I can’t help think it was.” Janine frowned, mournfully.
“I’m sorry about your dad, Janine.” I said, squeezing her hand.
“Anyway, seeing that it’s only me and a few hands at the ranch, I’ve got to head back there. Now that I know you’re safe.” She stood, and grabbed her hat from the chair.
“You’re leaving?” I asked.
“For now. I’ll come back and check on you. There’ll be rehab and the like for a while, Kat. I know you’ll be in good hands.”
“Rehab?” I asked, not sure what she was talking about.
“I don’t know if you’ve seen yourself, Kat, but when I found you, you were in really rough shape.” Janine pointed out. “You need to heal, Kat, inside and out.”
“Don’t leave me alone here, Janine.” I cried.
“You’re not alone, Katrina. I’ll only be a phone call away, when you’re ready.” Janine paused in the doorway to Kat’s room. “When you’re ready, Kat, you think about coming back to Montana.” And with that statement, Janine walked away.
She hadn’t told me that she was paying for all of my hospital and rehab stays, or that she had to basically stand on the heads of the rehab program to get them to take me. All of that was left unsaid.
So, for another three months, I struggled. Struggled with my weight, struggled with my addiction to drugs, and struggled with the loneliness that haunted me every night.
Janine and I had talked a few times on the phone, but it just wasn’t the same as being with each other. But the day finally came, when I was declared drug-free; officially a recovered addict. I would never shake that title, but as I held that one-hundred-day coin in the palm of my hand, I felt that I accomplished a great deal.
Standing in the bus station, I thought back on just how far I had fallen, and how many steps it had taken me to get my feet back on the ground. I looked down at the one-way ticket holding a small bag with a few items that had been donated by the good people so instrumental in my recovery.
Billings was the closest I could get to the isolation that surrounded Bailey Bridge Farm, as well as Brant’s sprawling ranch. I really hoped that I would never run into the man again. He had been the cause of so much pain in my life.
Despite numerous messages left on her voice mail, Janine hadn’t returned my calls, so she had no idea I was even out, much less on my way to her place. We’d spoken of my coming, but I think she was less convinced than I was that I would actually follow through with it. I think she thought I might slip back into old habits, returning to the streets of Chicago. On that score, she was greatly mistaken. I’d learned my lessons, about a great many things.
For Montana, Billings was a roaring metropolis, even though the entire place would fit into one borough on the south side of Chicago. It was almost midnight when I stepped off the bus, and there was no point in going anywhere until daybreak. Spring had begun in earnest, but the night was still frigid there.
I decided to spend the night in one of the less-than-comfortable chairs that were scattered about the bus terminal. I made my way to the restroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I’d looked worse, that’s for sure. My shoulder-length hair wasn’t the rat’s nest it had been when I first went to rehab.
Since being shaved, it had grown back a bit more curly, unruly even, and I struggled to get the dollar store brush through its length. I left the bathroom a bit more presentable than when I had entered and made my way to a small café that still looked open at the one of the place.
I had very little money, so I decided to make it nourishing; a day-old ham and cheese sandwich chased down with a carton of whole milk. At least my stomach wasn’t growling, something that had woken me up twice between Sheridan Wyoming and Billings.
I picked a chair that was sort of in the middle. There were darker corners, but with some of the characters wandering around, I thought it best to stay visible.
A piece of china shattering on the floor woke me. I wasn’t sure how long I’d been out, but the sun was up, and it was time to get moving. Trying to imagine some way of getting where I was going without sticking out my thumb, but with less than three dollars to my name, I was out of ideas.
I managed to catch a ride with a reasonably friendly trucker as far as Grass Range. I say reasonably, because he was beside himself over the risk I was taking hitchhiking in those parts. He said, if he wasn’t on the clock, he would have driven me all the way. As it was, I was only ten miles from Bailey Bridge Farm, but ten miles on foot was a long way.
I had managed to walk most of the way, my feet a bit sore from walking on the rough surface of the stone-covered road. Pavement was a luxury in Montana, or so I’d been told. In the distance, I saw the telltale cloud of dust that a vehicle would kick up, and I imagined Janine coming to a screeching halt, once she recognized me.
I was disappointed when the turquoise-colored Chevy slid by me, a couple of guys in the front seat. When it slammed on the brakes a few hundred feet down the road, the only thing I was feeling was fear. I was all alone on a deserted highway, and two guys just stopped.
I turned to watch as they spun around, and I prepared myself for the come-ons and the forward comments. The side window started going down and I was about to turn away.
“Is that you, Kat?” The young man called out.
As I turned, there was my old friend Alex, and one of the other hands that I barely knew. “Alex,” I said, softly.
“What the hell you are doing in these parts, girl?” Alex asked, opening the door to get out. He reached in and wrapped his arms around me, but I was hesitant to return the gesture. “Never thought I’d see you again.”
“Likewise.” I jabbed in a friendly way.
“You’re not heading to Brant’s place are you?” He asked.
“No, actually, I’m on my way to Bailey Bridge Farm,” I admitted.
“You didn’t come all this way for a haircut, did you?” Alex joked, “Cause Janine stopped doing that round about that time when you all left.”
“I thought you were looking a little shaggy.” I mused.
“That’s where we’re heading, actually. Everybody goes into Cut Briar for their haircuts now.” Alex sighed.
“You wouldn’t be able to give me a lift, by any chance, would you?” I asked hopefully.
“You kidding? Come on.” He held the door open, and I slid onto the bench seat between them. “I sure hope you’re here to cheer Janine up or something. Ever since her daddy passed on, she’s been in one hell of a state.”
“Well, I guess I’ll do the best I can.” So, we were at the Bailey Bridge Farm in no time at all, and I thanked Alex and the other hand for their hospitality, promising to stop by sometime. I watched as the pick-up disappeared into a cloud of dust that blew perpendicular to the road, across the prairie.
Finally, I turned and looked down the long driveway, that was guarded on both sides by post and rail fences as tall as I was. The place seemed eerily quiet, and I began to worry as I came up on the old farmhouse, not a soul was to be seen.
Walking up to the side door, I tested the handle and pushed inside when I found it unlocked. The place was clean, and certainly looked lived in.
“Janine?” I called out, dropping my bag on the sofa near the door. “Janine!” Louder the second time.
“Who’s there.” A voice called down from upstairs. “Go away now.” She followed, her voice hoarse and seemingly worn out.
“Janine, it’s me.” I rounded the bottom of the stairs, and stood facing up, Janine’s tall lean figure a silhouette against the window behind her.
“Kat?” She said, almost in disbelief. “Katrina!” Janine barreled down the staircase, almost crashing into me when she got to the bottom. “You came!” She bubbled, wrapping her arms tight around my middle. I squeezed her as tight as my arms could manage as we absorbed each other’s presence. “Got your messages, but when I called back, the place said you had checked out. I only hoped that you’d find your way back here.” Janine beamed.
“Where else would I go?” I asked. “I have to admit, I was a bit worried when I got here. It looks a bit deserted.”
“The boys are all down in Helena this weekend. I have to let them blow off steam every once in a while.” Janine explained. She held Kat at arm’s length, regarding her. “I still can’t believe that you’re actually here.”
Unable to prevent myself, I leaned in and gave Janine a kiss, our lips meeting before we fell together. “I’ve missed you,” I admitted.
“Oh, baby. I’ve missed you too.” Janine pulled me into the kitchen, pulling out a chair and taking one herself. “You look really good.”
“Thanks to you,” I admitted, shyly.
“Somebody spilled the beans, I guess, huh?” Janine commented.
“I knew all that didn’t come without a price tag, Janine. I had to know.” Reaching out, I took Janine’s hand in mine.
“You know, I just couldn’t imagine you going back to that life, Katrina.” Janine sighed. “It wasn’t even an option for me.”
“And yet you wondered whether I would find my way back to you?” I asked, haltingly.
“I didn’t help you with any expectations in mind,” Janine said, flatly. “But now that you’re here, I’d say my investment paid off very nicely indeed.”
“Oh, you would, would you?” I kidded. “I’ve kind of let this all go.” I tugged at my shoulder-length curls, which threatened to fall over them soon.
“It reminds me of the day I first met you, although I’m pretty sure your hair was a bit longer still, back then,” Janine remembered.
“Yeah, until you tied me up naked in your barn and sheared me like a sheep.” I said, feigning a pained expression on my face.
“As I recall, you loved every second of that,” Janine smirked. “I remember the scent of you, how strangely intoxicating that had been.” Janine stood and crossed to the refrigerator, pouring two glasses of lemonade and setting them back on the table. “To be honest with you, after all my bluster, I never gave poor Alex another thought.”
“Anyway, it’s yours for the taking, if that’s what you want.” I offered, combing my fingers through it, as if for the last time.
“I think I’ll live with it for a while. You’re beautiful with or without it, but I think you know that.” Janine mewled, her face down bashfully.
That night, our lovemaking was better than either of us could ever have imagined. We had the ranch to themselves, and there was no holding back for either of us. I was glad that there was no one around to hear my passionate cries, my ecstasy giving rise to more than a few vocal outbursts that would have had the farmhands running to check on us. It was the first time I could remember being with another woman and having it be more than just a tertiary quenching of my sexual appetite.
In a way, I was saddened by the idea that I had been so promiscuous during my time back in Chicago. I knew that Janine had saved herself for me, and wished that I could have done so as well. Had I known where my life would take me, I very well may have done just that.
As we lay next to one another, the afterglow of our lovemaking still pressing us into the bed, Janine was the first to speak.
“When I saw you at the foot of my stairs today, Katrina, it was as though every prayer that I had ever recited had been answered all at once. I knew how I felt about you, even as your stepfather chased me away that night, even as my Dadda, God rest his soul, beat me to within an inch of my life.” Janine rolled onto her side, facing me, caressing my face with her fingers. “I’m in love with you, Katrina.”
I was taken aback by Janine’s admission, holding my breath, but then allowing the words to slowly sink into my consciousness. “I’m pretty sure I’m in love with you too, Janine.” I sighed.
I woke early, something I had been forced to do at the rehab clinic, and looked over at my lover. Janine was beautiful when she slept, all the hardness in her face grew softer, more feminine, and with the blonde curls framing her face, she looked like a little girl.
I silently crept out of the bed and made my way downstairs. I wanted to give Janine something, feeling badly about not having been more definitive in my response to Janine’s declaration the night before. The sun was just cresting the horizon to the east as I made my way outside, and towards the barn.
I woke with a start, realizing that the bed was empty beside me. “Kat?” I called out, slipping out from under the covers. I threw on a shirt, and made my way down the stairs, expecting to find Kat sitting at my table sipping a cup of coffee. What I found was a house as empty as it had been before she had arrived. Before she had shined a light into my gloomy existence.
Panicked, I looked from room to room, finally coming to the realization that she was gone. Had I scared her off by telling her that I loved her? Something inside had told me to wait, but I just couldn’t. I stood in the middle of the kitchen and felt the tears start to well up in my eyes. In a desperate search, and one that I knew would only end in heartbreak, I quickly dressed and ran outside.
The yard was empty, save for a couple of stray sheep that seemed to have wandered out of the barn overnight. I herded them back towards the building, confused by the gate that was left open, but only slightly.
After seeing the two ewes safely inside, I pushed into the stalls, and was met by a sight more glorious than I could ever have imagined. There, in the center of the stalls, my Katrina knelt amongst the sheep, her naked skin a keen reminder of a morning so long ago, when I had taken something from her out of spite.
Now, it appeared she offered it to me freely. I almost was lightheaded from the relief of not only having found her, but having found her like this; so vulnerable and innocent.
On her hands and knees, she was much smaller than the sheep around her, and I imagined how much courage it had taken for her to do what she was doing. I knelt on one knee beside her. “Are you sure?” I whispered into her ear, still covered by her luscious hair.
She didn’t say a word, instead, her arousal spoke louder to me than any words. I ran my fingers between her legs, spreading the moisture that gathered there, and enjoying the heady scent of her as she awaited my decision.
Standing, I slowly took off my jeans and shirt, leaving me as naked as she was. I reached up and grasped the Premier 4000 that hung precipitously from the center beam of the barn and tested the readiness with a flick of the switch. The ominous clatter that had become second nature to me, startled my lovely girl, so I knelt down and caressed the fleece that so beautifully adorned her head.
She seemed to steel with my touch, and did not flinch when I again allowed the shears to wind up to their potential. I had to remind myself that this was not wool, not some fibrous mass to be combed and woven into cloth. No, this was the sacrifice of my lover, the offering that she was giving me freely and without question.
I flipped up the golden curls, revealing the nape of her neck. The shape and delicate nature of it made me want to stop so that I could caress it with my lips. I knew, however, that she expected, and desired something from me that would require an element of courage on my part. Just as she had stripped herself bare and crawled with the sheep, so I would need to treat her like one. This was what she expected, this was what she desired.
I pulled at the spring tensioner that resisted my being careful, and willed myself to slowly and carefully ease the monsters into her mane. Just as they had before, the sheep shears easily cut down to her scalp, her fine blonde strands offering little resistance to blades built for fleece far courser and robust.
She made the first sound that I had heard that morning, a moan of arousal escaping her lips as I made a second pass with the clippers. I tried not to recall how rough and forceful I had been during her first shearing. In contrast, this was a carefully choreographed ballet as I worked the blades of the Premiers around her delicate ears, being so very careful not to nick or cut. It had been a miracle that I had not cut her the first time, and I shuddered even thinking of it.
When at last I placed the clattering blades at her forehead and drew them back, Katrina launched herself off all fours, her arms reaching back to wrap behind my naked legs. Her hair fell between us, as I finished her off, and as our eyes met, I could see the love in them. How could I have ever doubted her?
The clippers fell silent, the only sound, the distant cooing of a dove weaving through the morning mist. Allowing the clippers to be drawn back to their perch, above our heads, I never allowed my eyes to leave hers.
“I love you Janine Right. I will always love you.” She sighed contentedly.
“And I love you,” I answered, softly. “I’ll be honest, I thought I scared you off,” I admitted, finally.
She turned to face me, our lips coming together wetly, sliding over the others until our tongues mingled for a moment, separating at last. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think…”
“Not to worry,” I assured her. “It made your surprise all the more wonderful.”
We looked down at the downy blonde curls that mingled with the dirt floor of the barn. Katrina giggled for a second, reaching up to feel her stubbled head. “It’s good to be rid of all that.” She admitted, blushing.
“As I said before, my love. You are beautiful with them, or without.” I ran both hands up to caress her face, my fingers finding the course bristles in front of and behind her ears. “But I think I prefer you like this.”
“Thank goodness for that, Janine Right, because I plan on staying this way.”
They shuffled through the hair that momentarily clung to their bare feet. It was of no more consequence now than the straw that pressed into the corners of the stalls. A slight breeze blew the lovely strands until they were lost forever. Naked, the young couple wandered arm in arm towards the old farmhouse, and disappeared within, the door slowly closing behind them.