tagRomanceA Red Leaf & Ten Orchids Ch. 17

A Red Leaf & Ten Orchids Ch. 17


***I struggled with the category for this, but finally decided that if I kept it down to a little shy fumbling, it might fly. I really didn't want one chapter of a story in a different category - though if I feel like it later, I still might put something together for Sam and Siobhan, I dunno. If you're bothered by it, just skip ahead, ok?



Siobhan looked out through the expanse of glass in the converted old sun-room at the snowy countryside all around her as she stood with her arm around Sam and feeling the weight of the arm which now rested on her shoulders. She considered the past thirty-six hours and thought of it all as something of a minor miracle for the way that it had happened.

She'd gotten up in her little rented cottage in Yorkshire, taken a quick shower -- as though there were any other kind to take there, gotten dressed to travel, and scooped up the two suitcases and one carry-on bag which now amounted to her entire life as she made ready to leave her internship and life experiment behind her to go home.

That internship had been a resounding success, which she supposed that she could take away as a victory, but the experiment had been a dismal failure in the way that it pointed to the cause of the other reason that she'd gone there in the first place. Two years, she thought, two years in another place doing the things that she'd set out to do, but there was the other thing.

Other than the people which her work brought her into daily contact with, she'd met no one, pretty much, and it indicated that perhaps it hadn't been the experiment of trying to break out of the shell that she had been born into and grown up in so much as it pointed to the fact that it was her who was the failure. She'd tried and tried, but Siobhan had never mastered the ability to meet people and make friends to any degree, and she lived a very lonely existence for it.

Mastered? Hell, she'd never even been able to learn the basics, other than being polite and trying to look friendly. Two years there and she was still alone. Two years of living in the English countryside with excursions to London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Stockholm, Cologne, and yes, even to Paris once.

She'd tried to look on the bright side and thought to the few times when she'd actually gotten laid while she was there, but those were only three liaisons and not the relationships which she found herself pining to have even once in her life. Those had amounted to little more than pick-ups that she'd allowed and quick fucks, and not one of them had been even a little enjoyable unless you were the man.

Her body did appeal to the men who had bedded her, but she already knew that they wanted only that from her -- not that they were that great themselves. She was more than a little certain that with a dark room, a latex glove with lube smeared over it and a sound track of her pretending to moan playing as a loop, it would suffice for them while she'd get nothing more than deeper melancholy and darkening despair.

She remembered the time that she'd almost broken down and cried in her misery one afternoon while working at the clinic where she was interning at about the halfway point. A rather bellicose old landowner had brought in his foul-tempered looking English Mastiff, saying that he didn't imagine that anyone there would be able to get the beast's toenails clipped properly in any sort of short order, so he'd be back to pick up the monster later that afternoon.

"You can sedate him if you must," he'd said in the speech of the locals, "I'd rather that it weren't necessary, but 'e won't take kindly to the treatment -- 'e never has -- so good luck to yer, Miss."

Siobhan gave it a go and she did manage to get the nails clipped to an acceptable length, but in the course of that, she learned that Ajax was a horny thing, and all of the wrestling which was required -- and that was what it had been, if not nearly mortal combat at moments - gave him enough of a chance for his nose to determine that she was a female.

Some lamp lit dimly in his tiny brain and then it became more of a mating attempt on his part.

After that, he didn't give all that much of a damn about worrying over his nails; he was bent on shoving that drooling snout into her crotch and at one point, it looked as though he was trying to manage a lot more of a carnal indiscretion with her, but her fist driven into the top of his stone-hard head ( since nothing else was working) settled him back to looking murderous and he allowed his nails to be clipped at last. The whole thing had been supremely embarrassing to Siobhan in light of the fact that it had taken her and a male intern to get it done.

Well, not really. The male intern in question had been scared shitless of Ajax.

Harold was a thin and nervous-looking young man who'd grown up in the shadow of his mother's affluence and as men go, to Siobhan's mind at least, he lacked many of the things that set them apart from people of her gender, having little to no upper body strength or strength of any kind -- inside him or out.

He seemed to prefer the care and upkeep of canaries to anything larger than a Shi tsu and she wondered what he was doing there interning at a practice whose business was an even mix of semi-urban and agricultural. He spent most of his time during any shift with her flipping his hair out of his eyes and pouting over something.

As far as helping her, he'd been less than useless, being quite obviously in fear of a large, though muzzled canine and he did little more than watch and squirm uncomfortably when Siobhan had gotten fairly well pinned in a corner while old Ajax tried to mount her. She'd realized then that Harold didn't have a clue about handling large animals and before it went farther than her having to look at that pink thing bobbing the air before her and dragging over her skirt, she'd acted.

It had only happened because Harold was afraid and she'd mistakenly assumed that he was actually trying to hold the animal when really, it was all that he could do to lay his hands on the beast and keep them there in light and trembling contact.

"You were supposed to restrain him," she'd said, seething as she worked to cut the toenails, and it looked as though even the beast didn't have the stones to do more than lie there compliant in the face of her wrath by then. "When exactly were you going to do a thing to help me?"

One look at his face and she knew that he'd never had to do anything such as this. Being a girl off a farm, she'd learned long ago that you don't show a bullish animal like Ajax any fear. "You handle them with friendliness and firm kindness, most of all with certainty," she'd hissed angrily at Harold, "You don't stand there shaking on the other side of the room with a stiff little willy while he tries to rape me."

He'd looked at her with no answer whatsoever, which irritated Siobhan even more, so she'd tossed the conversational knife, being angry enough for it by then.

"Or were you waiting for a chance at seconds, Harold?" she'd snarled quietly in her anger, "Which one of us did you fancy, me or Ajax? My money's on him."

Harold's pouting mouth had fallen open then and as he turned beet red, he left hurriedly while she finished the job alone. Siobhan had to endure a sit-down with their superior and Harold for it afterward, since Harold had lodged a complaint.

Siobhan was mortified again, but she did something far out of character for her then and told the senior partner of the firm exactly what had happened, laying it out clearly that she'd managed to get it done without any aid from Harold at all. Siobhan knew that she was more often just a mouse in situations such as this -- but she'd come thousands of miles for this internship, and she was determined to do well, especially this far into it.

"I've been told by Harold that you struck the Mastiff which was here to have his nails clipped," Andrews said, "How do you respond?"

Siobhan nodded, "I weigh a hundred and twenty-three pounds," she'd said, electing to say it in the Imperial form for the larger numbers than if she'd gone with the metric, "Ajax weighs in at one hundred sixty-two since we'd just weighed him and he has four feet to my two. I was losing and Harold did nothing but stand there shaking with an erection in his pants despite my repeated requests and pleas for help.

Since it was plain that he was more engrossed in watching, I did what I had to."

"Which was?" the tall and lanky old vet asked.

"Doctor Andrews, I grew up on a farm with horses and cattle," Siobhan said, "I was in a corner -- a bad place to be. I could see that I wasn't going to get any help, so I drew an 'X' between his eyes and his ears in my head and I drove the dog hard with my fist. He went down like a bag of sand with his legs in all directions. After that, I grabbed his muzzle and I firmly rolled him onto his side, telling him that we -- meaning me -- were going to cut his nails then -- right there on the floor. Ajax was fine afterward, my hand still hurts, and I have a ruined skirt to show for all of Harold's help."

"I did not ... have an erection!" Harold hissed, "That didn't happen."

"Please don't make me request that we look at the security footage together," the old vet said dryly, "I've already seen it once. I have no desire to comb through it frame by frame in order to determine whether or not you were aroused." Harold shut up and sat with his thin arms crossed as he pouted.

"It doesn't sound to me as though you were in much if any fear yourself," the man said to Siobhan, "Why?"

"To a big boy like Ajax," she said, "it's about domination and taking your place -- or being put in it. You don't show fear then. And anyway, he was muzzled so it wasn't as though I was terrified. I had no intent to hurt him in any way. I just wanted to get his attention in a manner that he'd understand so that he would give up his attempts. The only thing was that firm words hadn't worked at all. So I put him in his place -- before things got ridiculous.

After clipping his nails, Ajax would do anything for me and wanted to follow me around being well-behaved as though he was my own dog. I even found that I liked him. Once we got our pecking order straight between us, I wouldn't have minded having him for a companion at all, since he talks to me about as much as any of the other interns here, but at least he likes me.

If Harold has a suggestion as to what he believes that I should have done while he stared at Ajax' erect penis, I'd love to hear it," she said. "Then I'd like to hear his reasons for not doing whatever he'd suggest himself in order to help me.

I'd also like to hear his apology to me, though I can see that I won't hear any of those things from him."

Andrews raised one finger at Harold in warning, "I have seen the video. I would advise you to remain silent at this point."

Harold did nothing but glower and of course, pout at that.

"I'll make a notation that Harold has shown himself to be somewhat less than able to deal with larger animals, and not for the first time," the old vet remarked, looking at Harold with a touch of disdain.

"There are larger creatures in the world which might require our care than even feisty Pomeranians and savage parakeets, Harold. You might wish to consider this in your future plans. You will accompany me tomorrow, by the way. We must try to determine if a prize draft mare is pregnant on behalf of the owner of the sire so that he can be paid. Your arms look to be long and thin enough for it when you reach in to feel, since that is the way that it is done.

It's also one of the reasons why I use interns for it, since they need to know this and it also provides an excellent opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff as it were, since the examination places the veterinarian's face about a handsbreadth away from the animal's anus."

Harold looked as though he was about to lose his lunch, but Andrews ignored what he saw. "And if she likes you," he grinned, "she'll contract firmly enough to make you feel your pulse in your fingertips. Another reason to recommend the use of interns," he smiled.

"And Miss Mac Domhnaill," he said, "well done and I am sorry about your skirt."

But when she'd found herself alone for a few minutes afterward, it came t her that what Ajax had in his mind was exactly what she'd settled for with any of the men that she'd met -- either there or at home -- minus the smiles and the attempts at being witty in a pub. Right then, Siobhan had almost started to cry. So much for romance. She almost broke down then, but she was looking at another few hours on duty and so she'd managed to hold it back.

She sighed afterward. At least Ajax had licked her hand.

The fallout from that episode had been two-fold. Siobhan didn't know why, but now most of the other interns seemed to think that she had an in with the senior doctor, and they had even less to do with her, if that were possible.

The other thing was that since that incident, Ajax loved her and caused more trouble when he was brought in to have his nails clipped or for a bath of just a checkup. He now associated going to the clinic with seeing Siobhan again and a dog his size and weight if he had a want to look everywhere for the one human that he looked forward to seeing, well there were interesting incidents.

Siobhan would be in the middle of something with another animal, and then she'd hear the frenzied attempts by another intern to exert control. The door would fly open then and Ajax would drag the intern in and stand ready to be fussed over by the only person who did that for him.

Even his owner was impressed, "You've got some way about yer, Miss, to make him want to see yer as much as he does. 'E tolerates me, yeah, and he does what I tell him, but I only 'ave ter say. 'Let's go, Ajax and get yer nails clipped' and e's away, pullin' me to car. I think I could save meself some petrol if I just hitched 'in up and let 'im go."

A monster like an English Mastiff is not a pretty dog to a lot of people, but since they'd gotten things straight between them, Siobhan liked Ajax and looked forward to his visits. It brought her the only relationship that she'd had there with anyone, and she found the old man to be as gruff as his dog at the outset, but a good person to know and to chat with when he came, since he was always very interested in Siobhan and where she'd come from.

The trip to London for the flight home had been little more than her sitting in a small bus with a few others whose terms had expired. The farther south they went, the more their numbers dwindled as some of them were dropped off. The others did little more than reinforce the way that she felt. Whenever she looked around, they were laughing and joking while she sat apart and alone.

Just like always.

It felt a lot worse after they'd all found their way in the Departures area. More of the same laughing and joking while she was mostly ignored. Thankfully her flight boarded first. A quick look back and she saw that nobody was looking at her as she stood up to walk to the gate where he flight would be boarding soon.

No one even noticed her at all.

The flight back was nothing -- so it fit right in with the rest of her life, she supposed -- one long nothing. Then there was the worry about being picked up and it looked for a moment like not even her ride had been bothered to come and get her. But then she saw Sam, running the length of the Arrivals hall to look for her and the rest of her day had been amazing.

She found that she loved being with Sam, no matter where they were to that point. The night before hadn't been too awkward, since they were each a little drunk and Siobhan was edging into exhaustion by then. But once in the bed with Sam against her, she'd been happy.

She wondered about that now -- on top of what her great-grandmother had said. She'd seen none of it in her lifetime, but she was aware that the two women had carried on a life-long love in this very room and elsewhere. It hadn't been a big deal to her family then, it had just been accepted that it was there and going on.

She looked up at Sam a little uncertainly, "I've never been with a girl, though with the history of my family, I'd be lying if I said that something like that has never crossed my mind. Have you ever --"

"One time," Sam smiled, "I never did find somebody in those coffee shops late at night -- well, nobody that I'd really want to get to know much, but I did meet this one girl once. I slept with her, too."

Siobhan blinked, "How was it?"

Sam chuckled, "As far as sex and fireworks," she grinned, "it was pretty boring. Though to be fair, that hadn't been the intent. We just slept together, and that part was fantastic. I'm not really sure that I'd even know what to do with another girl, but I think that I'd at least like to try it one time with that girl again -- if you think that you can stay awake."

Siobhan stared for a second and then she smiled, "Oh, you meant me. I liked it too, Sam. But I don't want to jump into bed and carry on -- sorry, but I'm pretty gun-shy these days, and this is all a little weird to me, and I'm saying that as an understatement. Yesterday morning -- where I was, anyway, I was feeling as lost and alone as I ever did; maybe even more so. I come here, meet you and everything is different -- just like that.

Today it's gone from that to real plans of a business starting faster than I'd ever think possible and the girl I met is going to be a partner in a bigger business than Mom and I ever talked about. Holy ..."

She looked outside then and Sam found herself admiring Siobhan for a moment.

"It feels weird to me too, Siobhan, but I do like you an awful lot. Maybe it's just coming out of me living like a hermit most of the time, I dunno, but I like just being around you. You're a little mysterious to me and I like that too."

Siobhan turned then and after a moment where she just stood looking at Sam, she put her arms around her and smiled, "Fine. I'll try to keep up the mystery if I can. Right now, since there's nobody here and before I lose my nerve, I just want to hug you for a minute. I think that's safe, right?"

Sam nodded and they just stood there in an embrace for a little while.


They decided on a walk then, down the road and around the corner to the old house, so that they could drive back in Sam's truck with their things, though they did stay long enough to sit with old Sile and have tea and she looked at them for a bit before she called her granddaughter over, "Call the senior's complex" she said, "I find that in the middle of all of this, I'm not in much of a hurry to go back. I'm beginning to feel as though I might be a little useful to the girls, so I'll just sleep in the room where Da and I used to sleep before he died."

Sylvia was delighted and they changed their plans for dinner on the spot.

After dinner and the clean-up, Cale and Sylvia left to go back to his home down the road and Sile sat with the girls in the room that she'd given them for a time just talking about their plans. She asked Siobhan if she was ready to guide things in the way of their family and Siobhan nodded a little uncomfortably since Sam was sitting right there, listening.

"Don't worry on my account," Sam grinned, "You guys talk about what you want to, it's all over my head, and hey, if it helps at all, just go for it. I can keep myself busy, now that I found the anvil and the hammers in the shed."

She fished in the breast pocket of her shirt for a moment and she came up with a scrap of paper which she held up with a chuckle, "I asked my Dad for a tape measure back as his place and while you guys were all talking in some language that he and I didn't get, I took measurements of that pot holder and everything to make mulled mead. If I find just a little band iron and a piece of hot-rolled steel, I'll be happy."

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