tagRomanceDifficult to Reach Ch. 07

Difficult to Reach Ch. 07

bySarahFennel©

Just as Daniel had predicted, Fen woke up the following morning, literally aching from head to toe. Parts of her body that she hadn't previously realised she even owned were screaming in agony. Just getting out of bed and drawing back the curtains took a ridiculous amount of effort and elicited even more pain. Once again, Fen was unsurprised to see snow, but amazed at the thickness with which it had fallen overnight. Other than the two pathways she had salted yesterday where the snow was less deep, the scene was exactly the same as the previous morning except the snow levels were now even higher. Her car had all but disappeared and the road was invisible once more. Fen clambered painfully back into bed and Merlin jumped up next to her for a cuddle. There was precious little else of use which she could achieve at that moment and a little lie in, following her hard work yesterday, seemed enormously well deserved.

Fen was woken some time later by the sound of a tractor engine. Merlin barked in excited recognition as Fen, adrenaline pumping through her body, crawled stiffly out of bed and carefully peeked through the window. Daniel was clearing the road of snow. Such a thankless task, but one which did enable the community to at least see each other, even if they couldn't leave the village. Olly had apparently tried to drive up the hill in the tractor yesterday, but to no avail. In the course of his efforts, the tractor had broken down and required several hours of repair, hence his absence from the majority of the sheep rescue mission. As a village, they were now officially stranded. Although if Fen had to be marooned with a group of people, she could think of a much worse set to be stuck with, with a couple of notable exceptions.

After a long soak in a hot bath, followed by breakfast, Fen did her best to take Merlin for a walk. Unfortunately, all that they seemed able to achieve was a short slide up the section of road that Daniel had managed to clear. It was impossible to walk along the footpaths or bridleways now, which were indistinguishable from the surrounding hedges, ditches and fields anyway. As she was towelling Merlin off, Duncan knocked at the door.

'Hello my lovely!' smiled Duncan, brushing snowflakes from his hair and kicking off his boots in the hallway.

'Do I detect an attempt at a Welsh accent,' teased Fen. 'Are you practicing for later life?' Duncan chuckled, following her into the kitchen.

'Perhaps. I hear on the grapevine that you have become the village equivalent of Doctor Doolittle.'

'Ha ha,' said Fen sarcastically. 'Just doing my bit to help out.'

'Just doing your bit to help out the sexiest bloke that mere mortals like you and I have ever set eyes on?' said Duncan. 'That was good of you!'

'I hadn't noticed,' blushed Fen.

'Bollocks!' retorted Duncan. 'You'd have to be blind for that to be true.'

'I'm not interested in anything like that,' muttered Fen.

'Then you're daft as well as blind, my poor, hapless friend. Next, you'll be telling me that you'd turn him down if he came onto you, and your misfortune would be complete.' Just the thought of Daniel coming onto her made an electric current pass through Fen's body, which all seemed to travel directly to her blushing face.

'I am not looking for anything like that and anyway, he's dating your sister, isn't he?

'Ha!' cried out Duncan. 'She wishes!'

'Well, Daniel is certainly not interested in me, so it's neither here nor there,' replied Fen confidently. Duncan gave Fen a look that suggested he was far from convinced. 'Now,' she said, very professionally changing the subject. 'Tea, coffee or a bucket of cold water to temper your amorous desires until the rugby comes on the telly later?'

***********************

Duncan and Fen spent a happy couple of hours giggling and teasing each other, whilst drinking tea and making good progress down a packet of digestive biscuits. Once Duncan had left, her cottage felt awfully quiet, so Fen and Merlin slipped and slid their way round to see Mary. Mary was on fine form, delighted to be able to watch the wild birds feeding in her garden.

'Did you know the phones are down, dear?' asked Mary. Fen shook her head.

'Yes, went down last night apparently. They won't be back up until this snow has cleared, I shouldn't wonder.'

'There's no mobile signal here either, is there?'

'No, dear. That does make us a bit cut off, doesn't it? But I'm sure we'll muddle through. This weather can't carry on indefinitely, can it?' said Mary optimistically.

'Shop!' called a voice, as the front door opened. The sound sent a swarm of butterflies whizzing around Fen's stomach.

'Daniel, how lovely,' called Mary. 'Come in, dear. Kettle's on!'

'Hi Mary,' said Daniel, stooping to kiss her. 'And Fen.' Striding confidently around the table, Daniel dropped a kiss on Fen's cheek too. 'Three teas?' Fortunately, because he'd turned away to make tea, Daniel missed Fen blushing and subconsciously holding her cheek where his lips had touched her moments earlier. Mary, however, did not.

'You can't have a cup of tea, can you? So, you'll just have to have a Rich Tea biscuit, my beautiful boy!' said Daniel, ruffling Merlin's head. 'That reminds me. Photos,' said Daniel, dropping a handful of printed photos from Fen's camera on the table.

'Oh, I love this one!' exclaimed Mary, shuffling through the pack and holding up a picture of Merlin vigorously digging, his head submerged by snow. Fen giggled.

'Glad you're pleased,' smiled Daniel, selecting three mugs.

'You seem very upbeat today, dear,' observed Mary. 'Especially given our circumstances. I was just telling Fen that the phone lines are out.'

'Yeah. The road's a no-go too. Nothing's going to reach us now until this snow clears. Even the tractor isn't making any impact up the hill.'

'I was listening to the radio this morning. They said this weather could stay with us for several weeks.'

'Yep. I know,' said Daniel, raking his fingers through his hair. 'We're going to need to get the village together. Discuss how we're going to deal with this.'

'How do you mean, dear?'

'Well, we'll need to live on what assets we have here in the village, won't we. That means surviving on what we have in terms of food, drink, fuel, medical supplies, animal food, veterinary supplies. We'll need to pool our resources.'

'That sounds eminently sensible, dear.'

'So, I suggest we have a village meeting. In the pub. 7 o'clock this evening. You two will be there, won't you?' Fen and Mary nodded in agreement.

'What about Joan?' asked Fen. 'Are you including her?'

'Not sure she'll be interested in joining us, Fen,' replied Daniel.

'But we have to at least give her the opportunity? I'll go round and tell her.'

'Fen, I'm really not sure that's a good idea. I thought I'd explained. She's really not a very nice piece of work,' warned Mary.

'I'll be fine. I'll see you both at 7. Come on Merlin!'

***********************

Fen set out in the direction of Joan's driveway, but she'd barely crossed the river, when Daniel's tractor had caught up with her.

'I can't let you go and see Joan on your own, Fen. Come on, jump in. Merlin can run behind us.' Fen turned to argue but then, seeing the steely determination on Daniel's face, thought better of it and hopped up in to the warm cab of the tractor. It was much more luxurious that she had anticipated, with a jump seat for her to perch on, a radio and an extremely good heater. Unfortunately, the jump seat forced Fen to sit very close to Daniel, their bodies bumping together as the tractor cruised along. She tried to ignore the fact that her thigh was rubbing against Daniel's. To try and calm herself, Fen inhaled a deep breath and inadvertently caught a delicious scent of him; tangy, lemon, expensive.

Much like the cockpit of an aeroplane, the cab was also filled with lots of lights, dials, levers and switches, which Fen thought better than to enquire about. She had no idea agricultural machinery could be so complicated or modern. The tractor travelled quickly down the cleared section of the road to Joan's driveway. It was then a much slower process to navigate down Joan's long drive, which was fortunately marked with high hedges, the tops of which remained visible above the snowline. Merlin trotted happily in their wake, glad to be getting at least some form of a walk.

On the radio 'Million Love Songs' blared out, followed by the news, reminding people not to travel and issuing emergency telephone numbers.

'Hmph! Emergency telephone numbers aren't much good if you don't have a bloody phone line,' grumbled Daniel. It's just as well Olly, Tim and I have walkie-talkies to keep in touch. We'd be completely stymied otherwise. Well, here's Joan's house,' he announced as they eventually pulled up outside a large but relatively characterless house. 'Are you sure about this?' Fen nodded and jumped down from the cab, thigh-deep into the surrounding snow. However, before she had waded many steps towards the house, a scream filled the air. Fen's eyes swung towards the cause of the hysteria to see a grey-haired woman in her seventies hanging out of one of the upstairs windows.

'Who on earth do you think you are? Get off my land immediately!'

'Hello,' said Fen timidly. 'I'm Fen. I've just moved into the village.'

'I don't care, if you're the Queen of England, Missy! Get the hell off my land and take that flea-ridden creature with you,' Joan added, pointing towards Merlin, who was keeping an unusually low profile behind the tractor, his tail clamped firmly between his back legs.

'Umm. We just wanted to let you know there's a meeting in the village pub at seven tonight. You're invited. So, we can plan how...' Fen trailed off, under Joan's angry stare.

'I'm obviously not making myself clear, girlie. Therefore, I'll be back in one minute with my twelve bore. Maybe that will be clear enough for you? And that mangy creature of yours will be getting the first shot!' Joan turned around and disappeared back into her house. Astounded, Fen, turned on her heel, struggled through the snow to grab Merlin and then ran as fast as she could, following the tractor tyre prints, back up Joan's drive. Daniel eventually caught up with her, slumped on the roadside. Fen was clutching Merlin's sturdy frame and sobbing into his thick fur. Switching off the tractor, he jumped down from the cab and pulled Fen into his arms.

'It's ok. Everything's ok,' murmured Daniel soothingly, stroking Fen's shoulder.

'She said...she said,' stuttered Fen. '...hurt Merlin...'

'Come on. Let's get you two home,' said Daniel, pulling Fen to her feet. With his arm around her shoulders, head down, she followed him obediently.

'What about your tractor?' hiccupped Fen.

'I don't think anyone's going to steal it, do you? And they won't get far if they try. Come on my boy,' he added gently to a timid-looking Merlin.

Back in Fen's cottage, Daniel guided Fen gently to the sofa and tucked a blanket carefully around her. He then set about lighting the fire, drying Merlin and putting the kettle on. All the time, Fen didn't move and when Daniel eventually passed Fen a cup of steaming tea, she looked so shell-shocked that he sat down beside her and put his arm around her shoulders.

'I can't believe she could be so horrible!' sobbed Fen, still shaking. 'What did Merlin ever do to her?'

'I don't know why she's like she is. I just don't know,' replied Daniel, surprised at Fen's extreme reaction. Fen took a sip of tea.

'You make much better tea than Duncan,' muttered Fen. 'Poor boy!' she hiccupped, stroking Merlin's head.

'He looks happy enough now, though' said Daniel. 'And when we were in the kitchen, he tricked me into giving him seven digestive biscuits.' Fen gave Daniel a watery smile and went back to sipping her tea. They sat there for several minutes, just watching the flames lick around the coal and logs on the fire. Daniel was surprised when Fen put down her cup, leaned her head against his chest and laid her arm across him for a hug. He felt extremely comfortable and pulled her closer to him. For the first time in so many years, longer than he cared to remember, he felt happy and content. Daniel had almost forgotten how this felt. He stroked her hair and heard Fen gently sigh.

Fen was just starting to relax when she was disturbed by Daniel hastily manoeuvring himself up from the sofa. Through hazy eyes, she watched him shrug on his coat and make a hasty exit towards the door. Fen looked up at him, not understanding his inexplicable rush to escape her.

'I'm sorry,' Daniel began, a slight flush noticeable on his neck and cheeks.

'What's wrong?' asked a worried Fen.

'Um. It's just.... I'm not sure how to put this.'

'What did I do? What is it?'

'Fen. I have to go. I'm really sorry,' said Daniel, holding tightly onto the doorframe.

'What is it?' repeated a worried Fen, her eyes dropping to look at her lap. After a pause, Daniel continued in a low voice.

'I'm sorry. I've got to go. I'll see you in the pub later. OK?' Confused, Fen nodded, as Daniel walked out of her cottage, once again leaving her with more questions than answers.

*********************

Thank you so much for your voting feedback, comments and emails which I am very happy to receive.

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by Anonymous

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by SarahFennel06/23/18

Brilliant comments :-)

Thanks for your brilliant comments. The entire story is available on Amazon (and Kindle Unlimited) if you search for Sarah Fennel. So pleased you are enjoying it :-)

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by Anonymous05/15/18

Love love love!

Loving this story and the interplay between your two lead characters :-)

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by Anonymous05/06/18

Great story!

Thanks for the tip - I've read the entire story on Amazon.

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by SarahFennel04/30/18

Thanks MackBob

Thanks very much MackBob. I appreciate your comments and rest assured, things get more difficult to reach before they get better :-) The story is available on Amazon (as part of Kindle Unlimited) inmore...

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by MackBob04/30/18

VERY difficult to reach!

Nice story, keep it going!

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