Two in the Bush Ch. 02bystarscape©
Author's Note: As indicated by the title, this is a multi-part story; it will be easiest to follow by reading Part 1 first.
Again Ben woke before Julia the next morning. His mouth felt thick and dry and his head hurt. He stumbled to the bathroom to relieve himself and get a drink of water. That done, he refilled the glass and brought it to the bedside table for Julia when she woke.
He winced as he returned to the bed, suddenly remembering his actions from the night before. Shit, what have I done?
He jumped back up and decided to take a shower, clear his head. He wasn't sure what he could possibly say to her after the way he acted last night.
Ben pointed his face, eyes closed, straight into the stream as the hot water struck his skin and ran down his body. One thing he did always enjoy about his trips into town was taking long, hot showers. It was a rare luxury that he took advantage of whenever he came here.
He started at the sudden sound of Julia's voice.
"Ben, do you mind if I take a pee while you're in the shower? I promise I won't flush." She sounded cheerful.
"Of course not, go ahead." I wonder if she remembers last night, he thought.
After a moment he saw Julia's shadowed form through the vinyl shower curtain. "And thank you for the water; that was very sweet. Cottonmouth's a killer."
"You're welcome," he responded, hesitating to comment further on anything related to the night before. He hadn't sorted it out himself yet.
She slid a corner of the shower curtain back, her smiling face peeking in at him. "Need any help scrubbing your back, handsome?"
"Why, umm, sure," Ben replied, taken somewhat aback, opening the curtain.
Julia stepped into the tub behind him and, taking the washcloth, she rubbed it with the tiny bar of soap until she had a foamy lather.
"I'm famished," she chattered cheerily, massaging the soapy washcloth in circles along his neck and shoulders before working her way down his back. "That breakfast Gerald talked about last night sounds delicious. A lot of folks lose their appetite after a night of drinking but I always get the munchies. Seems to help me with the hangover, anyway."
Just as she reached his lower back, Ben turned around and faced her, looking at her with troubled eyes.
"Julia, do you remember anything about last night?" he asked cautiously.
"I remember a lot of things, some a little fuzzier than others," she grinned. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, after we got came up to the room."
"I remember having some pretty vigorous sex, if that's what you mean," she laughed. "I think the kink in my lower back got stretched out in the process. My back feels great now; thank you!"
Ben decided to get to the point. "I feel like I was way too rough with you last night, Julia, and I said things to you that I regret. I'm sorry; there's no excuse for what I did."
Julia started rubbing Ben's arms and chest with the washcloth as she listened; from the way his muscles had relaxed while she washed his back, she thought it would be comforting to him.
"Ben, I don't remember anything happening that I didn't like," she said slowly. "I admit, you were so forceful I was surprised at first. But it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Besides, you were so uninhibited and that really turned me on."
"I just don't want you to think I see you as a piece of property," he persisted, wanting to make sure he was clear, "because I don't. I admire you; you're a strong, independent woman and I would never..."
"I know you respect me, and I don't think you see me as a piece of property." Julia stopped washing his body and put her hands on his shoulders, holding his gaze. "Please don't trouble yourself about last night. Honestly."
Ben nodded, and she could see the tightness in his forehead and shoulders begin to relax. He smiled a little in relief, and took the washcloth she still held in one hand.
"Let me wash your back now," he said gratefully.
They had been in the shower so long that the water started to run cold, so they finished as quickly as they could. Ben dried Julia gently with a towel, and then she dried him.
They went back into the main room and started changing into their clean set of clothes in silence, both thinking. Julia spoke first. "If you want to know the truth, I liked it when you said I belonged to you," she confessed, her voice almost a whisper.
"You did?" he asked incredulously, his heart rising in his throat.
"Yes. I can't believe I didn't even know you two days ago, and I..." she paused, hesitating.
He waited for her to continue, stroking her jaw line gently with his finger in silent encouragement.
"I already feel like I've known you for a long time. I was perfectly happy at the cabin by myself, but now that I've met you..." Julia's voice faded, afraid she had already said too much.
Taking her chin lightly in his fingers, Ben lifted Julia's face toward his and kissed her gently. He then slid his hands up under her arms and drew her close. He held her tightly as he spoke into her ear. "I think between the two of us, we're resourceful enough to figure something out."
They kissed again, put on their shoes and, arms around each other's waist, went downstairs for breakfast.
The Fourth of July was coming in a little more than two weeks and after numerous invitations to attend the celebration, plied with promises of food, drink and merrymaking aplenty, the couple agreed to do their best to make a return trip in time for the occasion.
Since they intended to return so soon they stayed just for one day and purchased only a few supplies: the repair kit for Ben's canoe, some food, mostly dried, and fingerless gloves for Julia, to protect her hands from blisters while paddling. Emily, Gerald's wife and co-owner of the Moose Lodge, also sent them home with a cloth-covered basket heaped with biscuits, along with a small package of butter and a pint of raw honey.
As they walked together to the pier where Julia's canoe was moored, they encountered Alrek.
"My friends," he said, slapping Ben on the back and giving Julia an appreciative smile. "Leaving so soon? We've barely become acquainted with the lovely Julia, and already you're leaving. Afraid of a little competition?" he teased.
It was a little closer to the truth than Ben cared to admit, even if he was feeling much better about things since they talked this morning.
"Well, we're likely returning for the celebration on the Fourth, and there's a lot of things to tend to back home," Ben explained with a friendly smile.
"Well, make sure you do." Alrek then turned his attention to Julia. "I hope you'll be able to stay a little longer next time," he said softly, touching her shoulder, his unworldly blue eyes conveying his powerful attraction to her.
"We'll do our best," she promised, smiling widely. He was definitely one of the ones whose attention she most appreciated last night.
Alrek noticed Julia's cheeks flushing, and how her back arched as her body leaned almost imperceptibly toward him when he spoke to her. He enjoyed the way she reacted to him and knew that she found him attractive.
At the same time, when he first spotted Ben and Julia in the distance as they walked toward him, he had noticed their shared body language. Intimate, he thought. Well, Ben had nothing to worry about—they had been friends for too long—and he was happy for him. The man deserved a little happiness for a change. But he shouldn't be surprised by a little harmless flirting in any case, not with a woman like Julia at his side.
Ben wasn't surprised, either by Alrek's obvious flirtations or Julia's subtle but clear reaction to him. His old friend had a well-earned reputation for charming women; flirting came to him as naturally as breathing. And as for Julia, it seemed to him as though her body's response to Alrek was unconscious and natural.
To his own surprise and relief, Ben discovered he no longer felt threatened by their exchanges. He knew he himself had stolen Julia's heart, and he wasn't going to obsess over it.
"Well, before you head off," Alrek said, reaching into his shirt pocket and pulling out a hard-sided cigarette case, "let me give you a small token to welcome you to the area, Julia." He pulled out a hand-rolled cigarette and placed it in her palm. He handed a second one to Ben.
"There'll be more of that on the Fourth. Make sure you stop by my place—we'll be celebrating all weekend long—and if you need a place to lie your head, the door's always open."
Looking at the joint in her hand Julia smiled in delight. "Thanks Alrek, I'm sure we'll enjoy this immensely."
Ben, too, was pleased and slapped his friend on the shoulder. "Yeah, thanks buddy, look forward to seeing you again soon."
As they were riding with the current, the trip back home went swiftly, and rarely did Julia have to paddle for most of the journey.
When they arrived at Julia's cabin, Ben helped her carry her purchases inside and then they sat outside on the wooden chairs, discussing their immediate plans.
Both had gardens to attend to, and Ben wanted to do some small game hunting to put some fresh meat on the table. But they were also hesitant to part from one another, albeit temporarily. They hadn't been apart since they met forty-eight hours ago, and they both wished they could take care of their tasks without separating, but in the end they agreed that they would accomplish more if they got caught up with their work and then rejoined each other. After that, well, they could take it from there.
"I'm thinking tomorrow evening, say, seven o'clock. I should be able to get us a grouse or rabbit for our dinner," Ben said, reviewing their plans. "You sure you don't want me to meet you here? It's no trouble."
"Oh no," Julia assured him, "it'll take me no time at all in the canoe."
Silence settled between them, each reluctant to initiate the start of their separation. But at last they rose from their chairs and embraced, kissing. Their kiss became more urgent, their tongues pressing and sliding as both tried desperately to explore the other's mouth as if they would be torn asunder at any moment.
They reached under the other's shirt, clinging at each other, grasping flesh and stroking skin. Finally, frustrated by the interference with their caresses, they stripped off their shirts, dropping them on the ground. Their hands shook as they fumbled with the fastenings at the front of their pants, then, buttons undone, zippers unzipped, hands inside, fingers reaching, they almost fell to the ground when their legs got entangled.
They laughed at their near miss and Julia grabbed one of Ben's hands and pulled him inside to her bed, where they could finish undressing with less risk of hurting themselves.
As always, removing their shoes was the greatest hindrance, but finally, finally their feet were uncovered so their pants could be removed. Ben guided Julia so that she was on her hands and knees, bottom and feet at the end of the bed. He spread her legs before kneeling down on the floor and ran his tongue from her clit to her ass and back, pressing a little deeper with each pass until she screamed for him. Dipping his tongue between her lips he tasted her slippery secretions. He then turned his attention to her clitoris.
Julia groaned under his attentive tongue, marveling at his talent for meeting her body's needs. Already he was making her...
"Ohhh!" she cried out, overtaken by her orgasm. Ben's tongue remained still on her clit, waiting for the beats emanating from her pussy to fade.
Julia turned around, facing her lover, holding his head between her hands and kissing him deeply. She urged him up from his knees so that his waving cock was in front of her face and she drew him into her eager mouth.
She teased the head of his cock, rolling her tongue around it, enjoying the taste of the lubricating fluid leaking from the tip. She switched positions, sitting on the edge of the bed, feet on the floor, in order to give her freer use of her hands. With one hand she grasped his shaft firmly and with the other she grabbed his ass, feeling its muscular power.
Ben watched as his cock disappeared into his lover's mouth, groaning both at the sight and feel of her, and he lifted his hips involuntarily. He was extremely close to coming, but Julia felt it too and backed away a little.
"Oh baby, you make me so wild," he moaned, his fingers stroking her hair. She was bringing him to the brink again, but he wanted to come inside her pussy. So before it was too late, he gently pushed her face away from his cock and drew her up to him.
The pair stood, kissing, limbs intertwining and disengaging, fingers exploring, trying to stroke every inch of the other's skin. They slowly slipped onto the bed again, Ben lying down on his back, Julia on top of him. Spreading her legs, she parted her lips and impaled herself on his tight tool.
They groaned in unison as he sank into her depths and she paused, enjoying the feeling of him filling her. Then she began to rock, stroking him in and out of her pussy, leaning forward just enough so that his shaft came in contact with her clitoris with every stroke.
Ben lay back, arms limp at his side, eyes rolling into the back of his head at the sensation of her sliding against him, rubbing herself on him with determination as she milked his cock. Numbly at first he reached blindly for her breasts, massaging them in both hands, teasing her nipples till they grew hard as bits of stone.
He was able to focus his eyes now and became even more aroused at the sight of her, hair askew, skin flushed, mouth opened slightly, eyes nearly closed, moaning in ecstasy while she ground herself on his cock.
"Julia, look at me," Ben called in a weak voice. He was almost at the crest, and he wanted to look straight into her eyes when he came.
She looked up groggily at the sound of her name. Julia had been lost in a distant place, where there was only the pussy and the cock, and the feel of their friction. Her eyes tried to focus on the source of the voice.
"Julia, look at me, baby," Ben repeated, recognizing that she was coming out of a trancelike state. "Baby, I want to look in your eyes when we come."
"Yes, I'm gonna come, I'm coming," she cried confusedly.
Her brain was still trying to process thoughts in real time. She felt strong hands holding her face, which grounded her just enough to react to the echo of his words and she looked down into his hazel eyes, filled with lust and desire and...love...and...
The tidal wave took them both at once, their bodies thundering, pulsating, merged as a single organism. Julia screamed, "Oh my God!" as Ben groaned wordlessly from deep within his body, and then the exhausted woman collapsed on his chest, his cock still inside her.
Their simultaneous orgasm was incredibly powerful; they were completely overwhelmed. Both found it difficult to function, as if their brains had short-circuited when they were flooded with endorphins. Rather than struggle they lay still, conquered and twitching, waiting for recovery.
Julia eventually managed to slide herself off of Ben, snuggling next to him. He put a protective arm around her shoulders and they clung to each other in silence, still trying to recover from the shock of being merged so perfectly for a few brief moments only to be torn apart just as suddenly.
They lay this way, holding each other, for nearly fifteen minutes before Ben broke the silence. "I've never experienced anything quite like that before," he said quietly.
"Neither have I." Julia paused. "Ben, there was a moment when I...felt like we became one person. It was so real, it completely overpowered me."
He sat up and turned to her in amazement. "The same thing happened to me."
"In a way I felt..." she continued, struggling for the right word. Already she could feel the reality of that shared moment starting to drift away and her single, individual self, and with it her familiar, common perceptions, reemerging. "I don't know, anguish, almost, when that moment passed, like I was being torn apart."
"I understand completely," Ben agreed. He took a deep breath and laughed shakily. "To be honest, I'm still not feeling quite like myself, or at the least, the self I normally perceive as 'my self', if that makes any sense."
"It does," Julia laughed, "and I know what you mean. I'm having the same trouble."
They quieted again and continued to hold each other as they marveled at their shared perceptions of their experience.
Finally they stirred. "You know," Ben said thoughtfully, gazing out the window while he idly stroked Julia's hair, "if we worked on your garden together, we could get your chores done here in a few hours and still make it to my place before it gets too late. The plants in my garden won't be too happy, but it's only a few more hours, and I think they can handle it."
Julia sighed happily and replied with delight, "Well, let's not keep them waiting!" before jumping out of bed.
They were so satisfied with their modified arrangement that they lost no time. They thoroughly weeded Julia's garden and, hauling water from the river, deeply watered their roots. They re-placed the hardware cloth barrier over the area when they were finished to keep out the resident herbivores who might be passing through.
After they'd finished in the garden Julia washed her clothes. She had brought a little hand-cranked washer with her from Seattle. Putting her clothes into the basket, she added water and soap, sealed the lid, and cranked the handle for two or three minutes. Water pressure inside the washer forced the water and soap through the fabric, removing the dirt and oils with it.
Julia emptied the soapy water, added fresh water, and followed the same steps as before to rinse her clothes. Using her uncle's wringer to squeeze out most of the water she then hung the clothes on the line to dry. She had enough clean clothes to take with her, so it wouldn't be a problem leaving them hanging until she returned.
While Julia washed her clothes Ben split wood and added it to the already substantial pile. She had more than eight cords already, he estimated. She's fortunate that her uncle always cut significantly more wood each year than he ever used. Over time it built up so that eventually he had about a year's supply on hand at any given time.
At the time, Ben had thought it was a little overkill on Ray's part, how much time and energy he spent each summer gathering and chopping wood he barely used. The man never stayed the whole year, so it just seemed to him like the old guy was being a little obsessive. In retrospect, given what he knew about Julia's uncle now, Ben figured Ray must have found a certain comfort in performing this particular task. He could appreciate that; he himself found splitting wood to be oddly relaxing.
Now he had a special appreciation for his neighbor's obsession. As much as he deeply admired and respected Julia and was impressed with her considerable knowledge and skills, part of him still felt her a little bit reckless with her life, risking living in such a remote place alone without more direct experience in this climate. It'd be different if she lived in town. If she had access to other people he had absolutely no doubt she would thrive.
But out here, where there were no roads and no people, for miles... Off the grid, winters are true tests of survival, Ben thought. It could frequently be fifteen below zero out here, and sometimes even reached sixty below; people who underestimate what it takes to survive in an extreme climate die. Because out here, you can't pick up the phone if you get in trouble. Ben raised the axe above his head for leverage.