Courting Miss Greene Ch. 01byJuneSummers©
From the corner of her eye, little Ginny noticed the two boys by the fence down the forest trail. She preferred to avoid them, but this was the only path she could take without getting lost. Ginny kept her gaze down, pretending not to hear, and stepped a little faster.
The boy who had spoken before walked up to block her path. He folded his arms across his chest. "Where d'ya think yer going, twig?"
Ginny glanced up at him. "To my granny."
The boy frowned while he peered down at her. "What's that on yer face, twig?"
"The twig doesn't wash'r face!" the other boy said with a sneer.
Ginny pouted. "They're called 'freckles!'" she protested.
"Freckle-face! Freckle-face!" the boys taunted while they pushed Ginny from one to the other and back again.
When one of them failed to catch her, Ginny fell on her hands and knees. "Leave me alone!" she cried with tears in her eyes.
"Oh, we will!" one of the boys said. "After we wash those freckles from yer face... in the pond!"
The boys laughed while they grabbed Ginny by the arms and dragged her towards the water. The little girl screamed and struggled, but she was no match for them.
"Let's see if the twig'll float!" one of the boys suggested.
"No, I can't swim yet! Please, no!" pleaded Ginny while the other boy reached down to grab her feet. Ginny closed her eyes and screamed for dear life. She expected to be hoisted into the air, but instead she fell to the ground when all of a sudden her arms were released.
An older boy had arrived at the scene. With a lot of pulling and shoving he fought off the two boys who had been harassing Ginny. After the bullies had fled, the older boy extended his hand to Ginny. His dark brown hair was all ruffled up, but his smile was kind. Ginny's tender heart pounded when he helped her to her feet. "You alright?" he asked.
"Yes, thank you," she answered in a small voice. Ginny glanced up at him and he gazed down at her, still holding her hand. Ginny wished he could stay with her forever.
"Ethan! Come back here!" a man bellowed from a distance. "At once, I say!"
Ginny let out a wistful sigh while she watched the boy dash off. "Ethan..."
"Live each day like it's your last."
Ethan Clark contemplated the sentence. It had been his grandfather's motto. Now it was an inscription on the old man's tombstone. Ethan was sure his grandfather would have wanted it. Yet something disturbed him when he recalled one of their last conversations. Ethan used to entertain the old man on his sickbed by talking about his carefree bachelor's life: the drinking games with his friends, the various mishaps at playing cards, his adventures with women... many different women. One time the old man had asked Ethan whether that was all he ever wanted. Ethan had answered he could not wish for more. His grandfather had only nodded his head, looking somewhat sad. It gnawed at Ethan, but he could not tell why.
The journey from his grandfather's house in Millstow back to Ethan's home in Windfarn took three days by carriage. The departure from his daily routine as well as the change of scenery offered him ample time to reflect on his life. Things had settled down in the last few years. Ethan had been seeing Celia Wilson, the most beautiful girl in town. She suited his physical needs well enough, but the thought of spending the rest of his life with Celia did not appeal to Ethan at all.
When they arrived in Windfarn, Ethan left his parents in their residence by the river to return to his own house across town. It was not that late yet. Perhaps he should visit the tavern for a drink and a chat. It would be good to let people know he was back in town. His friends would be there.
Celia would be there.
Ethan stopped in his tracks. He had returned from Millstow without bringing her a present. Celia would be furious! Ethan was not in the mood for another fight. It would be better to go home and deal with Celia later. He could say he had been tired from the journey.
While he traversed the square, Ethan noticed two women approaching. "Ol' Granny Frye," he greeted the older woman, managing to sound upbeat. "I hope all's well with you, ma'am."
She was not related to Ethan, but all the townspeople called her "Ol' Granny" because Mrs. Frye was the oldest woman in Windfarn. "It's nice to see you again, young Mr. Clark," she answered with a kind smile.
"Miss Greene," said Ethan, turning to the younger woman. "Ginny," he corrected himself.
"I'm so sorry about your grandfather, Ethan," she replied in a soft voice.
Ethan was moved by her thoughtfulness. He knew Ginny from his schooldays, but they had never been very close. Yet somehow she had sensed his mood. "Thank you, Ginny," he replied with a little smile. "That's very sweet of you."
All of a sudden the wind tugged at the shawl Ol' Granny wore around her shoulders. While she sought to fasten it, some groceries fell from the basket she was carrying on her arm. "Oh, my!" the old woman exclaimed.
Ginny bent down at once to retrieve the items.
"Please allow me," said Ethan. He reached for the same apple as Ginny, but she caught it first and Ethan's hand ended up around hers.
"Oh!" They both gasped and froze.
Ginny's wide open eyes gazed back into his while shallow breaths escaped through her slightly parted lips. Her long hair billowed in the wind, brushing her face every now and then. Ethan moved towards her. "Ginny..." he whispered. She blushed and looked down. Ethan followed her gaze and looked down as well. He was still holding on to Ginny's hand. For some reason Ethan did not want to let go. Something about this young woman mesmerized him.
All of a sudden Ginny pulled her hand away from Ethan's. "I'll be needing my hand back," she said. "Goodbye!" She promptly left, dragging Ol' Granny along with her.
"Erm, bye!" stammered Ethan. He stood dumbfounded at the sudden change in Ginny's attitude. Why would she flee from him like that? Ginny had always been a shy girl, but she was a young woman now. Surely he had done nothing inappropriate to scare her off like that. Ethan wanted to hold Ginny's hand again. He wanted to do more if she would let him...
"What in the world did you do that for, child?" Ol' Granny asked Ginny when they had gained some distance. "Oh, that look young Mr. Clark gave you! Even poor, lil' me could feel the heat risin' in these old bones! What a shame you didn't give him a chance."
"Hush, Granny," said Ginny. "Don't you know he's with Celia?"
"Ha! They're not married, are they?" the old woman replied. "Oh, he's such a fine figure of a man: tall, dark and handsome! And those piercing eyes... Don't deny you were attracted to him, dearie. At least you could let him make you a woman. No one would blame you, child."
"Granny, please!" cried Ginny while her face turned red. She cast a quick glance over her shoulder, worried somebody might have heard. Her heart jumped when she saw Ethan still standing where she had left him. Her eyes met his again in spite of the distance. Ginny gasped and turned back her head. She needed to get away from here!
Ginny struggled with her feelings. Even if Ol' Granny was right about Ethan being drawn to her, it would never amount to anything. Celia was considered the most beautiful girl in town. How could "freckle-face Ginny" possibly compete with her? Or with any of the other girls? Ginny did not dare try.
Her heart ached as if clenched by a fist.
Ginny had been secretly in love with Ethan ever since he saved her from being tossed into the pond. She had been so excited to see him again in school a few years later, but Ethan did not recognize her. Or worse, he did not remember her at all. It had crushed her young heart to discover that moment by the pond had not meant to him what it had meant to her. She spent many a night crying bitter tears on her pillow. How could he hold her hand and smile at her that way if he felt nothing?
Believing Ethan would never return her affections, Ginny had locked away her feelings somewhere deep inside her heart. She never told anyone about her little secret. Ginny would take it with her to the grave.
The next morning Ethan found himself lingering outside Celia's house. She had not answered his knock on the door. Perhaps she had not heard. Or she was too busy. Ethan did not think much of it. Celia kept her door unlocked and he could let himself in at any time. He only tarried because he was not particularly eager to see her. When he finally opened the door, he knew at once something was wrong. A duet of groans and moans sounded from the kitchen.
Celia with another man!
At first Ethan got upset. How could she discard him and betray him like this? Then again, Ethan had wanted to break up with Celia for some time now. He could use the situation to his advantage.
He made his way to the kitchen and found Celia lying back on the table with her skirts hunched up. Between her spread thighs, a young man furiously pounded away at her with his trousers down to his knees. It was his friend Andrew! Ethan did not want to care about it, but the double betrayal still got to him. For a moment he wanted to yank Andrew off of Celia and punch him. But that would be a knee-jerk reaction and it did not suit his purpose. Instead, Ethan decided to wait until they were done.
It did not take long before Celia began to yelp in a higher pitch. She propped herself up on her elbows and opened her eyes to find Ethan standing in the kitchen doorway. "Aah! Ethaaaaan!!!" she screamed, slapping Andrew while she came.
Andrew assumed she was in the throes of passion and continued pounding. Ethan frowned. It was an awkward situation. After a few more thrusts and with a low grunt, Andrew came as well.
A wry grin crept across Ethan's face when he observed his friend did not pull out in time. "Are you trying to knock up my girl, buddy?" he asked.
Still dazed, Andrew stumbled away from Celia. "Ethan! You're back! Erm... It's not what you think!" he stammered while he pulled up his pants.
Ethan sighed. "Enlighten me, please." When his friend failed to reply, he turned to Celia. "Anyone?"
The young woman climbed off the table and straightened her skirts. She glanced at Andrew, but found no inspiration. "It... just happened!" she tried to explain.
Ethan palmed his face. "You were cheating on me, Celia. With my best friend no less. I say we call it quits. For real this time."
Celia could not believe her ears. "Just like that? You're not even going to try to win me back? You're not going to ask me why or how?"
"No, I think we're done here," answered Ethan.
A dangerous glint appeared in Celia's eyes. "You're impossible!" she cried. "What do I have to do to provoke you into any kind of passion?"
"Yes, passion! Commitment, attention, consideration... you name it!" fumed Celia. "You come over to my house, do your thing and steal away like a thief in the night. Maybe I'd like to wake up in your arms in the morning. We could spend a day out together or with my friends. You know I have plenty of appropriate attire for any occasion... except for funerals. You know I hate those. Black is really too harsh on me... Ha! I bet you even forgot to bring me back a present. You always do! It's like you don't really want to be with me. As if you don't want to be seen with me... even though... I am..." Her voice trailed off while she adjusted her blond curls.
"The most beautiful girl in town," guessed Ethan.
"Why, yes!" she answered, looking rather pleased.
"Look, here's the deal," said Ethan. "I admit I've been a lousy boyfriend and I apologize for that, but we've had this argument before. Many times. I'm not some clay figure you can mold into the shape you want. If I don't make you happy, you should let me go. I want you to know I won't be coming to your house again."
Celia opened her mouth to say something, but shut it again while she considered Ethan's words.
"As for you," said Ethan, turning to Andrew. "What's up with you, man?"
"Well, you slept with Vera after you and Celia had a fight last year."
Ethan raised his eyebrows. "And exactly how does that upset you?"
Andrew looked offended. "Oh, come on! You know very well Vera is one of my girls!"
Ethan rolled his eyes. "Whatever!" he snapped. "So you slept with Celia to get back at me. That means we're even now. See you around!"
Ethan stormed out. His heart pounded while he strode down the cobblestone streets. He could not help but feel angry. Ethan had never asked Celia to be his girl. She was the one who kept clinging on to him, but she slept with Andrew behind his back! Now Andrew would probably consider Celia one of his girls as well. It gave Ethan a headache. He was tired of playing these games. He did not want to be like Andrew nor did he want a girl like Celia. He needed to reinvent himself. He needed someone in his life he could trust, someone he could genuinely connect with.
Ethan turned a corner. All of a sudden he stopped and stared. A strange, warm feeling melted away the anger in Ethan's heart when he recognized the young woman leaving the bookshop. "Ginny..."
Ginny's mind drifted off while she wandered through the meadow. In spite of her better judgment, she could not stop thinking about her little encounter with Ethan the other day. She tried to recollect how his hand had felt on hers: so warm, calloused and masculine. What would his touch feel like on other parts of her body? Other, more private, parts? Ginny blushed at the thought and shivered.
The young woman sat down for a little experiment: she closed her eyes, placed a hand on one of her breasts and gave herself a little squeeze. It did not satisfy her curiosity. Ginny tugged at her sleeves, baring her shoulders. Her breath deepened while she moved on to whatever bare skin she could reach. She sighed in disappointment with her efforts. Her own fingers were cold. They felt nothing like Ethan's. How she longed for him!
"Ethan..." she whispered. Calling out his name sent shivers down her spine. Ginny could almost sense his presence. It seemed as if she could summon the object of her affection through the sheer force of her will. Her hand slowly progressed further down. She gasped for breath when her fingers reached a nipple. Lost in the moment, Ginny failed to notice the rustling in the tall grass. She gave herself an almost painful pinch. "Oh, Ethan!" she cried.
Her eyes flew open. "Ethan!" Ginny stared in disbelief at the young man in front of her. How long had he been standing there? How much had he seen? Ginny did not dare to think about it. She trembled, embarrassed and ashamed. If only she could make herself invisible. Or disappear entirely!
Ethan grinned at the young woman. He could not believe his luck. Ginny fantasized about him! She certainly could not have meant old Ethan Hicks, the toothless fisherman who lived down by the river. Any doubts Ethan had about Ginny's feelings toward him were now completely gone.
His blood rushed while he considered the situation. There were plenty of moves Ethan could make: moves that would suit his needs as well as hers. He could offer her a helping hand. They would start out nice and slow: a touch here, a kiss there. One thing would lead to another. He could take her all the way. He would seduce her if she got nervous.
She did look very nervous.
Actually, Ethan realized, Ginny looked terrified: her fists clenched the fabric at her heaving chest while she stared hard at the ground, shaking like a leaf.
Ethan frowned at himself. No, he should not take advantage of her like that. Not an innocent girl like Ginny. She would only feel more ashamed of herself if he did. She might even come to resent him afterward. He would not risk that.
Ethan cursed inwardly. He needed to steady himself. Stilling his breath, he banished the thoughts that were racing through his mind and willed down the bloodstream between his legs. He was not some immature lad, desperate to grab any opportunity for release. In spite of that, Ethan could not help but feel disappointed. He had not been with a woman since he left for Millstow. However, this was not about him. This was about Ginny.
The silence was deafening. Ethan needed to say something to clear the air. He noticed a bundle of flowers in Ginny's lap. "A bouquet for your boudoir?" he guessed.
Ginny sighed with relief. She felt grateful Ethan had avoided further embarrassment. She managed to pull herself together and answered, "Actually, no. These are herbs for Granny's joints. It's very important for her to stay mobile."
"Ah, I see! You do a lot to help out that old lady, don't you?" asked Ethan. "Instead of dolling yourself up for hours like the other girls do, preening in front of the mirror or changing outfits five times a day. I never hear any gossips from you or see you flirt with anybody. I must admit you... intrigue me, Ginny."
Ginny's heart pounded while Ethan spoke. He had been paying attention to her! The look in Ethan's eyes made Ginny blush. He was so close to her. Ginny thought she could feel the heat radiating off of his body. It was too good to be true. She did not dare give in. "Well, I guess I'm just different, that's all," she said with a nervous, little smile. "I have to go now. Bye!" Ginny quickly gathered her things and ran for it. Her long hair was tossed to and fro with her every movement.
Ethan stared after her in disbelief. Ginny had fled from him... again! She would have given a leper more attention. It crushed him. Perhaps she would have stayed longer if he had not embarrassed her like that. Ethan had only intended a playful surprise when he snuck up on Ginny. He had not expected to find the young woman touching herself. Who would have? There was a childlike innocence about her, even though she was only two or three years younger than him.
Now he had seen her sensual side, Ethan mused he would someday show Ginny what bedrooms were for. A wide grin appeared on his face when he thought about it.
Ginny ran as fast as she could. She did not stop to catch her breath until she reached Ol' Granny's house and burst into the door. "Granny!" she called out. "I'll leave your herbs on the table, alright?"
"Is that you, Ginny?" Ol' Granny shuffled out of the kitchen. "What's the big rush, child?"
Ginny leaned against the door, choking back tears.
Ol' Granny placed her hands on the girl's shoulders. "Why are you so upset, dearie? You're trembling all over! Come in and have a seat." The old woman urged Ginny onto a chair and stroked her arms. "You know you can tell Ol' Granny anything."
Ginny struggled to catch her breath. "It was Ethan!" she blurted out.
"That toothless, old crook?" asked Granny. "What did he do to you?"
Ginny looked up in confusion. "No, not Mr. Hicks. Ethan Clark! Out in the meadow!" She promptly burst into tears.
Ol' Granny fell silent. She pressed Ginny's head to her plump bosom and rocked her like a child. "Oh, come now, dearie. It only hurts the first time. You'll see."
Ginny's eyes widened in shock. "No, it wasn't that!" she cried.
The old woman blinked at her. "Well, what then?" she asked. "Did he force himself on you? Or was he too rough?"
Ginny shook her head. "No! Ethan never touched me. He heard me call out his name while I touched myself."
Ol' Granny sighed with relief. "Why would you worry about that, dearie? I'm sure young Mr. Clark must have enjoyed that." She chuckled for a moment. "And did he also touch himself?"
Ginny frowned. "I don't think so, but my eyes were closed."
"Well, did he say anything?" asked Ol' Granny.
Ginny could barely recall the conversation. "He said I... intrigued him."