NELLIE'S QUEST - MISS LARILIAS LESSON PART 3
By Mavis Applewater
Disclaimers: There be sex in them thar' hills. This story as well as the two stories that led up to this one, hint read the first two or you won't know what the heck is going on, contain graphic descriptions of two consenting adult women in a loving sexual relationship. If for any reason real or imagined you are uncomfortable with this then do not read this story or anything else I have ever written. The story and its characters are mine and mine alone and may not be reproduced, posted or sold without my permission. If for any reason it is illegal for you to view this material then skedaddle and don't come back until it is no longer illegal for you to view my work.
A very special thank you goes out to my beta reader Mary.
As always this is for Heather
A very special thank you goes out to my beta reader Mary.
As always this is for Heather
Early September 1884
Nellie snuggled closer to the small campfire she had managed to start in the darkened woods. She blew into her clenched fists in a futile effort to warm her tiny hands. "I can do this," she muttered as she shivered from the cold night air. "I'll be with her soon." She reasoned as she shivered even harder. This time her body wasn't responding to the cold, but from the sudden jolt of fear that trickled through her.
"She must be in Massachusetts by now," the blonde grumbled nervously as her mind conjured up the image of her tall, dark lover whom she hadn't seen in almost two months. If only Nellie's mother hadn't interfered she would have been nestled in her lover's arms that night instead of freezing in front of the pitiful excuse for a campfire.
In her mind's eye she pictured her own naked body sprawled across Vivian's bed on the last night they spent together. It was in the wee hours just before the dawn kissed the sky. Their nights together grew longer with each visit; even though both women were well of aware of the danger of being caught. Each of them had become trapped in the spell that their love had woven.
Vivian was naked lying on her side facing her young blonde lover. Nellie could still recall the hushed whispers as they went over their plan one last time. If she shut her eyes tight enough she could still feel Vivian's blunt fingernails as they slowly traced the supple curve of Nellie's body. "Soon my love," Vivian vowed in a husky tone that never failed to make Nellie quiver with need. "Soon," the schoolteacher repeated before Nellie slipped from her the room to prevent their relationship from being revealed to prying eyes.
Nellie began her day feeling confident that their plan was set and soon they would begin their new life together. Vivian would leave town the next morning in full view of the townsfolk, and Nellie would slip away a few nights later.
Each of them knew that it might take up to a fortnight before Nellie could make her escape. They hated being separated even for such a short time. Yet, the both of them understood that it was the only way no one would suspect that Nellie run off to be with Vivian. If Nellie vanished the same night as Vivian some one in the dingy burg of Cedar Grove might actually put things together.
Vivian was reluctant to accept the plan at first. She was wary of her young lover traveling alone at night especially since the girl had never traveled as far as the next town. Nellie quieted her fears, reminding her that she had mapped out a route off the beaten and path and would disguise herself as a man. The blonde could still see her lover's concern that last night as each of them pretended to enjoy the going away party the townspeople had thrown for Vivian at the restaurant Nellie's parents owned.
For the shop girl the party had been an exercise in torture. She wasn't allowed to speak to Vivian since her mother had forbidden it months ago. Freddie clung by her side and whenever someone spoke to her all they wanted to know were details of her upcoming nuptials. Thankfully Freddie and her mother were more than willing to supply the details of the one event Nellie had silently vowed never to attend.
The only bright spot during the hideous party were the secret glances she and Vivian stole. That night after everyone had gone home and Nellie was convinced her parents had retired for the evening she snuck out of her room just as she had almost every night for the past year. Fate turned on her with a cruel blow when she discovered her mother standing in the hallway of the family quarters demanding to know where she was sneaking off.
Nellie never knew if her mother believed her quickly blurted out excuse of needing to relieve herself or not. Mrs. Winslow seemed to be far too focused on Nellie's manners and attitude regarding her wedding. To Nellie's credit she bit her tongue and allowed her mother to spew out her lengthy lecture. Dejected Nellie returned to her room knowing that her mother would not be settling down for the night and she would be unable to sneak over to the boarder's rooms and crawl into Vivian's awaiting embrace.
Nellie's mother detained her in the kitchen the following morning robbing her of the chance to wish her lover a safe journey. Nellie managed to swallow her pain knowing that Vivian was only taking the stagecoach as far as Rumford and then she would wait for her lover to join her at the Rumford Inn. The brunette promised to place a lit candle or lantern in the window so Nellie would know which room she was in and could sneak in under the cover of darkness.
Rumford did not offer much except that it was a busy crossroads where people came and went on the new railroad so quickly that no one really took notice of strangers. From there they could catch the first train heading East and be half way across the country before anyone realize which way Nellie had headed.
It was a simple plan with one fatal flaw, Mrs. Winslow. Nellie had one suitcase packed for her journey, which she had hidden under her bed. Her mother must have suspected something was going on with her troublesome daughter because the day before Nellie was to make her escape her mother searched her room. Her Mother was so enraged that she locked her youngest child in her room vowing only to release her on the day of her wedding.
Nellie had hoped that her father would come to her rescue but this seemed to be the one and only time he agreed with his overbearing wife. Nellie didn't let the set back break her spirit, since thankfully she had hidden the men's clothing, a revolver and money she had liberated from her father's mercantile beneath a floorboard in her room. She didn't feel any guilt or remorse about taking the items or the money.
The money she had skimmed from the till was the exact amount of the dowry her father had promised to pay the Cartwright family. After working in the family business for free since she could walk Nellie felt that she was far more entitled to the cash than Freddie's family. Her only problem was just how she was going to escape from her bedroom located on the third floor of the boarding house and away from the guest's rooms. She could only ponder what the wagging tongues of the town's busy bodies were saying about her sudden disappearance.
Only her parents, Jack, Melinda and Freddie knew that she was locked up in her bedroom. What none of them knew was that she was spending her time alone to construct a rope from her clothing and spare sheets. Making a binding that would be strong enough to support her weight was a painstaking task that took much to long.
Almost two months later, just a week shy of her wedding day, she had finally completed her task. On a moonless night she shimmied down the rope dressed in men's clothing. After she dropped a few feet to the ground below she spied Melinda watching her from the kitchen window. Her heart seized with fear until the cook simply winked and waved at her before drawing the curtains.
Nellie quietly scurried to the stable. She packed her meager belongings in a saddlebag, took one of her favorite horses, and galloped off into the night towards Rumford. She never glanced back as she left the only home she had ever known.
The following night she slipped into Rumford unnoticed by the few strangers that were wandering the dirt covered Main Street at the late hour. She knew that it was too much to hope that she would find a light burning in a window. Yet, she held onto a sliver of hope that Vivian had waited for her.
She circled the Inn three times tears filling her emerald orbs as she turned each corner looking in vain for a light in one of the windows. She sniffed as she wiped her nose on the sleeve of her dark cotton shirt. She held firm in the belief that Vivian had waited as long as she could before she had to start heading east. Nellie reassured herself with the knowledge that she knew where Vivian was heading, and once the petite blonde caught up with her lover, they would be together forever.
She threw the saddlebag containing her money and clothing over her shoulder. She slid the revolver into the waistband of her pants and walked the horse over to the stable. She woke up the caretaker. The sleepy man gaped at her as they came to an agreement regarding a fair price for her horse. She knew that man must have thought she was crazy dressed the way she was. Still he gave her money, took the horse, and gave her directions to the train station.
Nellie lurked in the shadows until the following morning when she could buy a ticket and board the first train heading east. She pulled the Stetson down over her face as she took her place on the wooden bench on the train. She held her saddlebag close as she carefully stayed as far away from the other passengers as possible.
She tapped the saddlebag nervously as she waited for the train to leave the station. She gasped as she peeked out the window and spied her father and Freddie standing on the platform talking to one of the baggage handlers. "Please," she blew out in a hushed tone as her heart pounded violently. She scrunched down in her seat when she saw her father looking in her direction. Thankfully the train whistle blew and the large black iron beast jerked into motion.
Nellie's palms were sweating as she silently willed the train to hurry along. She was uncertain if either Freddie or her father had seen her. She also couldn't be certain that no one in Rumford had noticed her and would share the information with her father and former beau. She would have to get off at the next stop and change direction in an effort to throw them off track. She hated adding more time to her journey, yet she knew that she had to be careful. If either of them found her they would drag her kicking and screaming back to Cedar Grove and the wedding chapel.
She couldn't sleep on the way to the next stop in Horse Creek. Nellie grumbled thinking that she was finally on her way and still wouldn't be across the county line by the end of the day.
In Horse Creek she lucked into getting the last seat on a stagecoach, which was heading towards Cheyenne. She bought her ticket for the Deadwood Stage praying that the infamous stage wouldn't be robbed that day as it had been so many times in the past. The journey was arduous to say the least. Normally Nellie would have been completely enthralled by the adventure she was embarking on. Knowing that the love of her life may have moved on and forgotten her was plaguing her every thought.
The journey took her to Bear Springs, Chugwater, Chug Springs, Eagle's Nest, Fort Laramie, Rawhide Buttes, Hat Creek, Cheyenne Crossing and finally up to Deadwood. With each passing mile Nellie felt confident that her family was not going to track her down.
By the time the small blonde finally arrived in Cheyenne County, Nebraska every muscle in her body ached. Thankfully she had finally arrived in a place where the Union Pacific Railroad stopped and she could start heading east. She tossed her precious saddlebag over her shoulder and sought out the general store.
She purchased a tablet of writing paper and composed a letter that could never express everything she needed to say. Those words would remain silent until she was face to face with the one who still held her heart. The words she did choose were careful and precise knowing that her letter could very likely fall into the wrong hands.
To Vivian Larilia
C/O The Fulton School for Young Women
From Cornelia Larilia
C/O General Delivery
September 13, 1884
My Dear Aunt Vivian,
You must be frantic with worry. Please accept my apology for missing our meeting. I was delayed when Mother took a turn for the worse. I will explain everything once I arrive in Massachusetts. As I pen this note I am preparing for my journey East. I will be leaving on the morning train. I eagerly look forward to reuniting with you. As you know the trip to Boston will be lengthy. I will contact you once I arrive. Again there is much to tell you.
Sincerely Your Loving Niece,
She used her given name and Vivian's last name just as they had planned to do once they arrived at Fulton. She said a silently prayer as she sealed the letter in an envelope and paid the clerk. 'Please understand' Her silent prayer continued as she walked out of the store and crossed the street to the small boarding house.
For the first time since her journey began, Nellie took a long hot bath and relaxed in a real bed. Sleep eluded her that night as she anxiously waited for morning. Before the sun had risen she was dressed in a simple cotton dress and hurrying down to the railway station. Her hands were trembling as she purchased her ticket and prepared to once again embark on her journey that would hopefully end when she was safely wrapped in her lover's arms.
Along the journey Nellie tried to enjoy her adventure. She was careful whom she chose to speak to. Her normally friendly nature in the past would lead her to chat on endlessly, but she wasn't back home in the safe confines of Cedar Grove any longer, and wisely, opted to be more selective.
When she would find some one to share a conversation with she stuck with the story she and Vivian had contrived. She was Cornelia and she was on her way to live with her only relative her Aunt who was a schoolteacher. She didn't miss the looks of pity the other passengers would cast upon her when she told them of her plans. 'If you only knew that I'm not off to lead the mundane life of spinster but finding my way to the embrace of the most amazing woman who ever walked the face of the earth,' She would often think smugly.
She never spoke with gentlemen who were traveling without their families. Yet, they still sought out the young blonde. She almost came to blows on more than one occasion, but thankfully, the nice men who worked on the train always intervened on her behalf.
The journey was very long and boring to say the least. Nellie had only her memories of Vivian to keep her company throughout most of the trip until they reached Colorado where she met the Fuller family. The Fullers were a lovely couple traveling with their two-year-old son. They were traveling all the way to Maine to visit Mrs. Fuller's mother.
Nellie eagerly offered to assist them with the care of their rambunctious child. "Did you enjoy growing up in Nebraska?" Mrs. Fuller inquired midway through their journey as her son Joshua slept in her lap.
"Oh, yes," Nellie lied having told everyone that she was from Nebraska. "I am looking forward to seeing my Aunt Vivian, she is a very special person. I still can not believe that a train can take you all the way across the country."
"The one good thing to come out of the war," Mr. Fuller said with a heavy sigh. "The tracks are finally connected. You've never been back East?"
"No sir," Nellie exclaimed eager to finally see her new home and her lover.
"Boston should be interesting for you," He chuckled. "I bet you'll be missing all that open space and quiet."
"I guess I'll find out," Nellie laughed. "I can't wait."
"We lived in Boston for a few years after the war," Mrs. Fuller explained. "All that noise and people was just too much for us. We joined a wagon train heading west, and when we reached Colorado we just knew it was where we belonged. I hope you find that someday."
"I know I will," Nellie reassured the older woman knowing that she had already found what she was seeking and it couldn't be found on any map. "I just hope that I can find a way to earn my keep," She added in a troubled tone. "I hear that there are a lot of factories that are always hiring."
"You'd do best to steer away from that life," Mr. Fuller cautioned her in a protective tone. "It will make you old before your time. Surely your Aunt knows of some respectable establishments."
"Aunt Vivian is very wise when it comes to these matters," Nellie reassured him as she said a silent prayer that Vivian would still welcome her after all of this time.
The Fuller's had taken the young girl under their wing warding off any and all prospective suitor's until the train finally chugged into Boston. "Be careful," Mrs. Fuller cautioned her as she hugged the small blonde.
"I will and enjoy your visit with your mother," Nellie smiled as she ruffled the squirming Joshua's dark hair.
"Don't forget you can take a train to Andover," Mr. Fuller informed her. "Just ask at the station they run pretty regular. But if you have to stay over night don't forget about Mrs. Beasley's Boarding House; you just need to hop onto the Back Bay Trolley."
"I have the directions you gave me," she reassured the kind man as she gathered up her saddlebag and with a wave to her new friends, departed the train.
The first thing Nellie noticed was all of the people hurrying about and the noise of the city. The hustle and bustle was a far cry from her quiet existence back in Cedar Grove. She looked around as people bumped into her without so much as a backward glance. She clung tightly to her saddlebag keeping the pocket close to her bosom as she tried to push her way through the crowd and to the ticket window.
"Good Day," She greeted the tired looking man with the neatly pressed black suit who was behind the bars at the ticket counter.
"Good Day to you Miss," He greeted her with a very odd accent.
"I need a one way ticket to Andover," She politely explained.
"Next one leaves at seven fifteen tomorrow morning," He explained.
"That will be fine," Nellie agreed.
"That will be seventy five cents," He informed her.
She blinked in surprise at the large sum as she pushed a bill under the window. He moved quickly preparing her ticket. "Thar' you go," He said as he slid the ticket and her change through the slot. "It will be departing from that track right over thar'."
She nodded as she looked over to where the man was pointing his gnarled finger. "I need to get to this address," She continued holding up the slip of paper Mr. Fuller had written Mrs. Beasley's address on.
"Yup," He said. "Just step outside the station the trolley for the Back Bay should be passing soon. Get off at the hospital it's about a block up the street across from the hospital.
She thanked the man and headed out of the busy station. The flurry of activity on the street took the young shop girl by surprise. She jumped when she heard the clanging of a bell. Her emerald eyes widened with amazement when she spied the large open wagon with people seated on benches. On the top of the strange carriage the words Back Bay were boldly printed. She raced over and much to her surprise managed to catch the trolley. She paid the fare and took the only open seat available.
The horse-drawn trolley chugged and swayed down the bustling streets of the city. Nellie was so caught up with watching she almost missed her stop. She got off at the large hospital. She checked the slip of paper and looked up and down the busy street. "Everything is so big here," She gasped in wonderment as she headed up the street. She got lost and wandered around the block for almost an hour until she finally stopped and asked for directions.
Her feet were swollen and her legs aching when she finally found the Charles Street address. She had wished that she were still dressed as a man knowing that her feet would be far more comfortable during her trek. She knocked on the front door of the brick building and waited for someone to respond.
A plump white haired woman answered the door. The woman stared down at the little blonde curiously as Nellie tried to regain her wits. "Mrs. Beasley?" She politely inquired.
"Yes," The woman greeted her cautiously.
"I was given your address by Mr. Adam Fuller and his wife," Nellie courteously explained. "They said that you might be able to provide me with lodgings for the evening."
"Oh my how are Adam and Lucy?" The woman gushed as she stepped aside-allowing Nellie to enter her home. "Come in child."
"They are well," Nellie answered as she gratefully stepped inside the foyer. "I met them on the train."
"Off to visit Lucy's Mama I suppose," Mrs. Beasley chuckled as she led Nellie further into the well kept home. "Their little one must be adorable. I was so happy to hear that after all these years they had finally been blessed. And shame on them for not stopping by. They did the right thing sending you here with all the shady places in this city not to mention the foreigners," Mrs. Beasley rattled on as Nellie quirked her eyebrows at the woman's comments. "Now how long will you be staying? Are you looking for work? I can give you a reference?"
"I only need a room for this evening," Nellie chuckled at the woman's excitement. "I am traveling up to Andover in the morning to join my Aunt. She is a teacher at the Fulton School. I will be looking for employment once I join her."
"Stay away from those factories," Mrs. Beasley cautioned her. "If you stay out of the North you should be fine. Fulton now that is a fine place. Here you are. It isn't much but should do you for the night. The bath is down the hall."
Nellie's eyes lit up at the sight of a comfortable bed and the mention of a bath. "Do you need to get in touch with your Aunt?" Mrs. Beasley inquired. "She must be worried."
"Yes, but how?" Nellie asked in confusion. Mr. Fuller had explained that Andover was at least twenty-one miles outside of Boston.
"Ring the school," Mrs. Beasley explained in a curious tone. "Ring?" Nellie asked as she set her saddlebag down.
"Yes," Mrs. Beasley explained in a slow careful tone. "I know that the school has a telephone."
"A telephone?" Nellie blurted out like a small child. "I'm sorry. I've heard of them, of course, I have just never seen one."
"My goodness child where in the god forsaken wilderness have you been living?" Mrs. Beasley gasped in a horrified tone as she led Nellie back downstairs and to the back parlor.
"Nebraska," Nellie lied in a dry tone.
"I just love my telephone," Mrs. Beasley chattered on as she led the girl over to a small wooden box that had a black cone sprouting out from the center and a crank on the side. "I still don't understand why everyone hasn't gotten one," She continued as she picked up an earpiece and pressed it closely to her ear while she turned the crank vigorously.
The plump woman pulled over a stool and plopped her large frame down. "Clara? Yes it is me who else?" The woman laughed as she shouted into the cone. "Fine, you know it still aches every time it rains."
Nellie shuffled nervously as she listened to Mrs. Beasley prattle on and on about her various aliments and what the neighbors were doing. She blew out a sigh of relief when Mrs. Beasley finally got to the part about needing to place a call to the Fulton School. "Yes in Andover," Mrs. Beasley groused. "One of my guests needs to let her Aunt know that she has arrived safely. What is your Aunt's name dear?"
"Vivian Larilia," Nellie quickly supplied.
"Vivian Larilia," Mrs. Beasley repeated into the strange contraption. "Tell her it is from her niece . . . "
"Cornelia," Nellie quickly supplied.
"Cornelia," Mrs. Beasley shouted. "No Cornelia. Cornelia!" The woman shouted once again. "Just tell her it is her niece. For pity sake how many relatives do you think she has traveling in from Nebraska? This is going to take a little while they will ring back," Mrs. Beasley explained as she hung up the telephone.
"Simply amazing," Nellie said as she stared at the wooden box.
"Well we need to get you fed while we wait for your Aunt to call," Mrs. Beasley explained.
Nellie nodded in agreement and returned upstairs to freshen up and retrieve the money so she could pay Mrs. Beasley for the room and the telephone call. After a light supper a strange ringing filled the small home. Nellie was startled as Mrs. Beasley rushed to the back parlor. Nellie dutifully followed the plump woman.
After Mrs. Beasley exchanged some pleasantries with the operator she handed Nellie the earpiece. "Just talk into here," She instructed the girl before walking away. It didn't escape the blonde's notice that Mrs. Beasley didn't travel very far.
"Hello?" Nellie said with a nervous excitement. "Hello?" She repeated when she didn't hear anything in response.
"Nellie?" Came the echoing response.
"Aunt Vivian is that you?" She answered the voice that sounded like it was coming from the bottom of a well.
"Yes," Came the cold response that still sounded like an echo. "Where are you?"
"Boston," Nellie blurted out excitedly. "I will be arriving in Andover in the morning."
"Why?" The echo coldly inquired.
"Excuse me?" Nellie choked as she felt her knees buckle.
"Go home," Vivian's voice echoed.
"I am," Nellie fumed.
"Go home," Vivian repeated.
Nellie's throat closed as she felt the tears welling up. "If you can't meet my train I understand," She dryly explained fighting against the pain as Mrs. Beasley looked on. "I will see you tomorrow."
She held her breath as she waited for Vivian to say something. All she heard was a faint clicking sound then a stranger's voice informing her that the other party had hung up. "No, I don't have any other calls," Nellie managed to choke out as she responded to the operator's inquiry. "Thank you," she added before she hung up.
"Thank you Mrs. Beasley," She said as she managed to conjure up a convincing smile. "That was simply amazing," She added as she motioned towards the telephone. "The folks back in Nebraska will never believe it."
"Welcome to the big city," Mrs. Beasley laughed.
"I think I need to take a bath and get some sleep," Nellie explained with a slight yawn. "After my trip I really need to clean out more than a few cob webs."
"I can only imagine," Mrs. Beasley smiled. "Good night Cornelia."
Nellie wasn't lying about needing a bath, but she knew in her heart she wouldn't be able to sleep that night. 'Why would Vivian send me away?' She silently sobbed as she tried to understand what had changed her lover's feelings in such a short time. Despite the comfortable bed she tossed and turned all night as Vivian's painful words replayed in her mind.
Somehow the small blonde managed to drag her tired body out of bed. She cleaned up, dressed and gathered her meager belongings. She joined Mrs. Beasley and some of the other boarders for a simple breakfast. Mrs. Beasley made some very unnerving inquiries during the meal. Nellie answered politely never revealing what had transpired between her and Vivian during their brief conversation.
Nellie's jaw clenched tighter each time Mrs. Beasley asked if she was certain that she should take the train that morning. 'Apparently the operator listens and shares what she hears,' Nellie mentally fumed at the way Mrs. Beasley had invaded her privacy. The blonde managed to contain her anger as she thanked Mrs. Beasley and departed for the train station.
Once again she boarded the trolley and traveled the bustling streets of Boston. She would have enjoyed the brief trolley ride if only her heart wasn't breaking. She held firm to her resolve that she and Vivian were meant to be together and once the schoolteacher saw her, everything would be all right.
By the time the train rolled into the station at Andover Nellie was not only sick to her stomach, but she had almost chewed a hole in the inside of her mouth. Basically the small blonde had worked herself into such a frenzy she was ready to explode. 'Please be waiting for me,' She thought fearfully as she hurried towards the exit on the train.
Her eyes drifted up and down the wooden platform searching desperately for any sign of her tall, dark lover as the conductor helped her step down onto the platform. 'Please Baby!' She screamed silently as she searched the crowd for some small glimmer of hope.
Nellie's heart was breaking as she watched the crowd thinning and still no sign of her lover. "Fine," the tiny blonde huffed as she clutched her saddlebag and stormed through the train station. "If she thinks I'm just going hop on a train and pretend nothing happened she has another thing coming," Nellie continue to ramble under her breath as she looked up and down the city street. Andover was a pretty picture with tree lined streets and neatly trimmed lawns. It wasn't the bustling metropolis Boston was but it was certainly more progressive than the dirt streets she had left behind. "I didn't climb out my bedroom window, steal a horse, travel across the country, end up smelling like an over worked mule just be sent back like some child." Her tirade was reaching full force when she suddenly stopped and looked up and down the street.
She had no idea, which way she should start walking. She fought against the urge to simply collapse onto the sidewalk and burst into tears. Instead she swallowed a few deep breaths and calmed down. She needed to make a decision. Bursting into the school and confronting Vivian would only get the brunette dismissed and not help Nellie win her hand.
"First things first, I need to find a place to live," She reasoned out loud as she began to stroll down the street. "Then I need to find a job."
She began to wander aimlessly through the town looking around for a boarding house that would be suitable. Her travels took her further away from the main streets, once again with aching feet and a crushed spirit. She dropped her saddlebag and leaned on a white picket fence. The sight just beyond the fence was a quaint little house that brought a smile to her lips. "Now that is kind of house I would love to share with Vivian," She said softly as a tall gray haired gentleman emerged from the front door. "Great now the owner is going to run me off. Another new experience."
"Good day," The man warmly greeted her with a smile and a tip of his hat. "Are you interested?"
"I beg your pardon?" Nellie choked out as the anger that was welling up inside of her tinted her cherub cheeks with blotches of red.
"The house?" He quickly amended his statement. "I don't recognize you and I thought perhaps you were here to see the house. Will your husband be arriving soon?"
"No I'm not . . .," Nellie's words drifted off as she met his gaze. "The house is for sale?"
"Yes," He explained in a curious manner. "Miss Gulch retired from Fulton and moved to Philadelphia to be with her sister. I had hoped that the new teacher would be interested. I thought that with her niece joining her it would better suit her needs rather than the dormitory. Sadly, she said she could only afford to rent it, and Miss Gulch prefers to simply sell it."
"Yes," Nellie breathlessly exclaimed as he stepped slightly away from her. "My apologies," She laughed as she glanced over at the quaint little house. She hooked her arm in his and guided the unsuspecting fellow back into the yard. "Aunt Vivian told me about this place. Vivian Larilia," She added as he gave her a questioning look. She was relieved as she saw the man visibly relax as they stepped up onto the wrap around porch and entered the house. "I am Cornelia and you are?"
"Forgive my manners Miss Larilia," He said as he removed his felt hat. "Sven Gustafson. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"The pleasure is all mine," Nellie offered in a charming tone. "Now down to business. How much is Miss Gulch seeking for this charming little abode."
"One thousand," He said with a brilliant smile.
"One thousand?" Nellie pondered knowing that with the money she had skimmed from her father she could easily afford the house. Yet spending all of those years working at the mercantile she had learned how to barter. The men who came and went would talk freely and Nellie learned much more about construction than a girl really should. Men had the silly notion that women either couldn't understand them when they talked about tools and building, or they were completely unaware of the fact that sound traveled.
"That would be a fair price if the roof wasn't in such poor condition. And, of course, despite the fresh coat of paint I see that many of the fixtures and doors need to be replaced." Another benefit of her up bringing at the family boarding house. Following Jack and her father around when she was bored gave her a lesson in the up keep of their home.
"Come now Mr. Gustafson," She chastised him. "I know you are a reasonable man and wouldn't dream of taking advantage of two women who are new to your community."
"I wouldn't dream of it," He conceded seeming to understand that this was not going to be the easy sale he had assumed it would be.
After a lengthy negotiation and a trip to Mr. Gustafson's office and a trip to the records office Nellie was the proud owner of the tiny little house. The small blonde was elated and terrified. She got the house at very good price, which still left her with a substantial amount of money. Still the house needed the repairs she had used as a bargaining chip against the eager realtor. Add in the taxes, furnishing her new empty home, the yearly up keep and her day to day living expenses Nellie could easily find herself in a very deep hole in a relatively short period of time.
She went directly to the bank once she had the deed in her hands. She opened an account in hers and Vivian's names. She deposited most of the rest of her money for safe keeping after Mr. Gustafson almost fell over when she paid him the full price for the house in cash. She wasn't concerned about Mr. Gustafson, but there was always the chance that he might mention it to someone else who would think that the blonde would make an easy mark.
The next stop was the general store where she picked up a few supplies to get her through the next few days. She also picked up all of the local gossip. She knew that she would since after years of lurking behind the counter at her family's store she learned it was the spot where most of the town would meet. The most important piece of information she acquired was that the Fulton School was just up the hill from her new home.
Vivian was just a short walk away from her front door. The only question she possessed was how to get Vivian to not only agree to knock on her front door but move into their new home. It could be difficult since Nellie was quite certain Vivian wasn't speaking to her. She brushed aside all thoughts of her present quandary as she proceeded to the lumber mill and ordered the materials she needed to repair the roof and fixtures.
She was exhausted by the time she entered Miss Grace's shop to pick out some material to make some new clothing. The dress she was wearing was more than a little dilapidated. Once inside the shop she furrowed her brow. The crease in her forehead grew deeper as she looked around having trouble finding what she needed.
She had heard that Lillian Grace was a very talented dressmaker from the women buzzing around the general store. She also heard that most of the women only shopped there when they had no choice. Looking around the shop and seeing the owner who was far too busy with stitching to assist her she now understood why the women in town didn't frequent the woman's shop.
"This is all wrong," Nellie blew out as she looked around.
"I beg your pardon," The bird-like woman who was stitching asked as she looked up from her project.
"My apologies," Nellie offered as she turned towards the irate looking woman. "But the shop is set up all wrong. You've made it difficult for your patrons to find what they need," Nellie explained as she moved some of the fabrics around and formed a small neat display on the table. "I can see that you are very talented," Nellie added as she brushed her fingers along the garment that was neatly folded on the stunned woman's lap. "You should let your potential customers see your work. A window display like the shops in Boston would be nice, plus around the shop as well," Nellie continued. "And the small sundries should be on the counter not behind it. And I've overstepped my bounds," Nellie winced once she realized what she had just said.
"Who are you?" The woman asked with a shy smile.
"Nellie," She offered as she held out her hand. She decided to drop her formal name before she was stuck with it forever. "My aunt and I just moved into town. She's a teacher at Fulton."
"I am Lillian Grace," The woman offered as she firmly shook Nellie's hand. "Are you a teacher as well?"
"No," Nellie laughed. "In fact I will be seeking employment. I just don't know what skills I have to offer."
"I'd say you have a talent," Lillian laughed. "I wish I could hire you but as you can see business isn't very good."
"It could be," Nellie theorized. "The problem is that you are an artist not a salesgirl. You need someone to handle the business and the customers. You already have a firm reputation but trying to run the shop takes away from your creations. I am willing to wager that if you hire the right person you would be the premiere dressmaker in the county."
"Sounds like I should hire you," Lillian responded thoughtfully.
"Well I do have the experience," Nellie explained as she brightened at the idea. "I grew up behind the counter at my father's mercantile. I know more about selling than a girl needs to."
"I wish I could afford to hire," Lillian said with disappointment. "So far everything you've told me would bring in twice the business I already have. But it still wouldn't be enough to pay you a decent wage."
Nellie thought about what the woman had just said. "What if I worked on commission?" Nellie volunteered. "You would only have to pay me a little bit of what I sell. That way I could fix up the shop and you would have time to make your wonderful creations."
"I'd be a fool not to say yes," Lillian readily agreed. "If you are half as good at selling to my clients as you are with me then I'll be rich. When can you start?"
Nellie accepted the offer and headed back to her new home with a bolt of cloth and an order for a new dress both at a large discount, plus Lillian threw in the name of a good handyman who could fix up Nellie's new little home.
Nellie felt good when she finally returned to her new home. She put away her few purchases and looked around her empty home. "I need to get some furniture," she noted as she curled up her lip.
"Among other things," the familiar sultry voice echoed from behind her.
Nellie's heart leapt as she spun around to find Vivian leaning in the front doorway. "Vivian," she gasped as she stared at the woman who had filled her every thought since the day they had met. Nellie could feel the electricity flowing between them as each of them stood there staring at the other. "Did you get my letter?" Nellie asked in a hushed tone.
Her heart was breaking as Vivian's eyes drifted to the floor and the schoolteacher closed the door as she stepped into the foyer. "Yesterday, just before you called," Vivian explained in a dejected tone.
"Stupid," Nellie admonished herself as she slapped her forehead. "I should have wired you. I didn't even think that my letter was probably traveling on the same train that I was. But Vivian if you got my letter then why did you tell me to go away?"
"I promised myself I wouldn't see you," Vivian muttered as she continued to gaze down at the floor.
"Why?" Nellie pleaded.
Vivian's gaze shot up and Nellie stepped back from the fiery gaze burning into her body. "Because I do not keep company with married women," Vivian hissed in anger.
"What are you talking about?" Nellie screamed as she stared at the tall schoolteacher with utter disbelief.
She could see the pain clearly written across Vivian's chiseled features. "I waited and waited until I had to leave Rumford," Vivian choked out as tears filled her eyes. "Before I left you never even said goodbye. Then when I arrived the Reverend sent me a copy of the Cedar Grove newspaper so I could still know what is going on back there."
"I still don't understand," Nellie pleaded as she took a shy step towards her lover.
"You wedding announcement was in there," Vivian sobbed as she buried her face in her hands.
"Vivian," Nellie called out to the sobbing woman as she closed the distance between them. Vivian jerked away. "Vivian listen to me, I didn't marry him. How could I marry him when it is you who holds the key to my heart?"
Vivian met her gaze as Nellie's hands rested on the taller woman's hips. The blonde now understood why Vivian told her to leave. She sat in her hotel room for weeks lighting a candle to signal a lover who never came. She arrived only to read that Nellie was to be married. Vivian had assumed that the blonde had changed her mind and given up on the love that they shared. "The night before you left and the morning afterward my mother intruded on my attempts to see you. Then not long after you left my mother found my suitcase," Nellie explained as she brushed the tears from Vivian's face. "After she confirmed that Freddie and I weren't eloping she locked me in my room. I was only allowed out to bathe. I even ate my meals in that room. No one saw me except for my mother and the occasional visit from Freddie. I climbed out the window and stole a horse the first chance I got. Unfortunately the first chance I got was two months too late."
"She locked you up?" Vivian gasped as she wrapped her arms around the smaller woman.
"Yes," Nellie confirmed as she sank into her lover's embrace. "I couldn't take the train from Rumford after I spotted my father and Freddie at the station. I took the stagecoach and picked up the rail in Nebraska. Which is where I am from in case anyone asks."
Vivian tilted the blonde's head up with her fingers. Nellie melted into the searing kiss her lover placed on her lips. Nellie moaned as her lover's tongue parted her lips and began to explore the warmth of her mouth. Unable to breathe, and feeling her knees buckle, the blonde forced herself to end the kiss. "How I missed that," she panted as she brushed her tingling lips with the tips of her fingers.
"I love you," Vivian choked out as she nestled the nape of the blonde's neck.
"And I love you my darling," Nellie said with deep sigh as she took a slight step back and took her lover by the hand. "Now tell me, what do you think of our new home?"
"I love this house," Vivian said with a smile. "I had wanted to rent it for us even when I thought you had abandoned me. How did you convince them to rent it?"
"I didn't," Nellie boldly explained as she picked up the comforter and pillows she had purchased that day.
"I don't understand?" Vivian stammered as Nellie reclaimed her hand and guided her up the staircase.
"I bought it," Nellie explained as the reached the top step.
"How?" Vivian asked in bewilderment as they fumbled through the dark hallway.
"The day you received the letter from Fulton I began taking money from the store," Nellie continued as she felt her lover stop.
"You stole from your father?" Vivian asked in disbelief.
"Yes," Nellie confessed as she turned to face her lover in the darkness. "And no, I only took what would have been my dowry. If I could marry you then the money would have been yours. Plus my family never paid me for the work I did. I understand that they raised me, fed me and clothed me but still I worked everyday since the time I could walk. The money is ours."
"I don't know," Vivian mumbled. "I suppose there is nothing we can do about it now."
"And my father got to keep the dowry money," Nellie reasoned. "I understand that on some level what I did was wrong. Yet, I also feel that you should be the one to get my dowry. The only problem is deciding who gets what bedroom?"
"You wish to sleep in separate rooms?" Vivian laughed as Nellie guided her into one of the empty bedrooms.
"Never," Nellie vowed as she released her lover's hand and spread the comforter out onto the floor. "I only want the outside world to think we have separate bedrooms. We wouldn't want to stir up any trouble now would we Auntie Vivian?"
"Promise never to call me that when we are alone," Vivian grimaced as she closed the small distance between them and captured Nellie's face in her hands.
"I promise," Nellie whispered as she felt Vivian's breath caressing her face.
With one kiss Nellie could feel the fire burning deep inside of her as she undid the ribbon that held her lover's hair captive. "Do you have any more surprises for me?" Vivian murmured as they sank down onto the comforter.
"I got a good price for the house," Nellie groaned as she felt her lover kissing her neck as the brunette's hands began to unfasten the buttons of her dress. "I opened a bank account, I added your name to the account, I got a job, ordered lumber to fix up the house, and hired a handyman to do the work."
Vivian halted her movements and stared down at her lover. "Good Lord Nellie you've only been in town a few hours," Vivian offered in admiration.
"I still have one task left to complete," Nellie explained as she ran her fingers along the front of her lover's white ruffled blouse.
Despite the darkness she could still see her lover's brilliant smile. Nellie's mind and body reeled as she realized this was the first time they could make love without fear of being discovered. Vivian captured her hands and slowly ran her tongue along the palms. Nellie whimpered softly as she felt her lover's body melting into her own.
Nellie laid back as her lover slowly undressed her. The brunette's hands caressed her skin as it was revealed to her smoky gaze. Nellie could feel her skin erupting as Vivian's touch glided along her naked flesh. "I missed you," Vivian whispered as she caressed the inside of the blonde's thigh.
"I love you so much Vivian," Nellie professed as she began to slowly remove her lover's clothing. "Nothing was going to keep us apart."
She could feel Vivian's fingers drifting along the supple curve of her body as Nellie removed the last of her lover's clothing. Each of them ran their fingers slowly along the other's naked body savoring the feel of their lover's skin reacting to their touch. Nellie heard her lover inhale sharply as the blonde's fingers lightly brushed across her nipples. Nellie smiled as she felt the bud hardening from her touch.
Nellie leaned into her lover's touch as she felt her lover massaging her scalp and tickling her neck. Nellie licked her lips and smiled mischievously as she felt their thighs brush against one another. Their kisses were filled with hunger as their bodies melded together. Nellie could feel Vivian's need painting her skin, as they pressed closer together.
They wrapped their legs around each other and their desire met, and slowly their bodies swayed gently. Her lover cupped her backside and guided the small blonde's hips to meet her sensual rhythm. As they reclined side by side their bodies became one. Nellie could feel the passion seeping from her body as she moved her body in perfect rhythm with her lover. The months of separation fueled on their desire as they rode against one another. Nellie's body shuddered as she felt Vivian's hands caressing her bottom, and up along her back as their kisses grew deeper.
Nellie felt her body taking control as she rocked harder against Vivian's thigh. The blonde broke away from the kiss and pressed her nipple against her lover's eager lips. The feel of Vivian suckling her breast drove the blonde deeper into the abyss as she clung to her lover filling her hands with the brunette's long, silky tresses.
Vivian's teeth teased her nipple as Nellie cried out with pleasure. Her lover was now beneath her. Nellie's body trembled as they filled one another. She could feel her lover inside of her as her own fingers explored the brunette's wetness.
Making love to Vivian was the one thing in Nellie's life that still amazed her. It was the way they moved in perfect rhythm each seeming to know just what the other wanted. No words were spoken as they glided in and out of one another. For the first time they allowed the cries to fill the night air as they plummeted over the edge of ecstasy.
"Oh my love," Nellie panted as Vivian's fingers continued to explore her womanhood. Nellie rode against her lover's touch as she filled her hands with her lover's breasts. Her hips rocked harder as she caressed her lover. She loved the feel of Vivian's body wriggling beneath her as she cried out her lover's name.
She didn't allow her body to still as she squirmed out of her lover's embrace and began to kiss her way down the brunette's long, inviting body. She tasted her lover's skin slowly before suckling her like a newborn. Vivian was pleading for release as Nellie teased her slowly. She licked away the sweat that was beading up between the valley of Vivian's breasts before tasting her way down the gasping woman's body.
She licked and tasted every inch of her lover's skin until she was nestled between her thighs and drinking in the musky aroma of Vivian's desire. The brunette raised her hips offering up the sweet nectar. Nellie couldn't refuse, she wished to drown in her lover's passion. She dipped her tongue into her lover's wetness and drank in her passion.
She held Vivian's body steady by cupping her firm backside. She captured her throbbing nub in her mouth and suckled it eagerly. She became lost in the nectar of her lover's passion as Vivian cried out. She took her lover deeper as the brunette's body thrust against her touch. Not until her lover begged her to stop did she release the woman and kiss her way back up her body.
Vivian wrapped her arms around her lover's body drawing her in for a lingering kiss. Nellie was certain that her heart would explode as she felt her lover's hands exploring her body. Soon the blonde's hands were mirroring her lover's actions. They clung to one another, gazing deeply into each other's eyes as they slowly stroked the other's throbbing nub.
Nellie felt as if they had become one person as their hearts beat in unison and their bodies trembled against the other's knowing touch. Nellie knew at that moment that the words she had told her lover the first night they had made love were true. Only death could keep her out of this woman's embrace. The rush of emotions tore through her body as her passion caressed Vivian's touch. Her lover smiled at her as she leaned over and kissed her tenderly. "We need our rest my love," Vivian informed her with a smile as she wrapped the comforter around the both of them.
"I know we both have to work tomorrow," Nellie yawned as the miles she had traveled to arrive at this moment finally caught up with her. "And we are going shopping."
"I hate shopping," Vivian grumbled.
"And I hate sleeping on the floor," Nellie teased as she rested her head on her lover's chest.
"Nellie," Vivian whispered as she ran her fingers through Nellie's long blonde hair.
"Hmm?" Nellie murmured as she listened to the steady beating of Vivian's heart.
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