NOTE: Ghost Town-ing is a series of stories that follow Pat and Sherry (Fast Break) as they explore some of the places Jesse and Jennifer (the Sweetwater Saga) visited. Although these stories are connected, each episode stands by itself and you do not have to wait for the entire series to be completed. Nor is it necessary for you to read the Sweetwater Saga series and Fast Break to understand these stories but it is highly recommended.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
PART ONE – THE JOURNAL
by Mickey Minner
Sherry's eyes fluttered opened. The first sensation to register in her waking brain was the pleasantly warm body pressed against her own and the arms holding her. She stretched leisurely, rolling over to face her lover. "I love waking up with you," she smiled.
"Likewise," Pat smiled back, leaning forward to plant a kiss on Sherry's lips.
"Hmm," Sherry sighed, her tongue licking at the trace of her lover the kiss left behind.
Pat pulled Sherry closer, slowly nibbling her way from her chin to her ear. "You taste very nice," she murmured, taking a nip here and placing a kiss there. Her hands roamed the body she held, "you feel very good too."
Sherry felt a hand sliding down her back, the fingers barely brushing against her skin but leaving a trail of fire in their wake. She moaned when the hand paused to cup and knead her buttocks, squeezing the firm tissue as a leg slipped between her knees and inched upward. "Pat," she moaned.
Pat sucked a sensitive earlobe between her teeth, biting down gently.
"Pat," Sherry moaned again, her body screaming out demands for her lover's touch. She rolled onto her back, pulling Pat with her. "I need you… inside."
Her mouth busy attacking the ear it had latched onto, Pat pulled her hand out from under Sherry. She cupped a mound of silky hair, pressing her fingers against the heated flesh beneath the curls. Sliding her fingers downward, she spread Sherry's nether lips to uncover the bundle of nerves hidden inside. With the tip of her middle finger, she lightly touched the throbbing clit.
"More," Sherry groaned, rolling her hips up to meet Pat's hand, her legs spreading wide.
Pat applied a little more pressure to the clit before pulling her finger away to circle the nerve bundle in a series of slow rotations.
"Please," Sherry moaned. "Inside."
Pat raked her teeth over the earlobe in her mouth, distracting Sherry as she slid her fingers into the slick wetness of her lover. Her tongue poked out to trace the curves of Sherry's ear. "I love you," she spoke directly into her lover's ear an instant before plunging her fingers into Sherry's overheated and throbbing cavity.
Sherry's screams and her fingers digging into Pat's back as her orgasm exploded was all Pat needed for her own body to release.
"Have I mentioned how much I love waking up with you?" Sherry smiled when her breathing slowed enough for her to speak.
"Every morning," Pat answered in a muffled voice. Her face remained pressed against Sherry's breast where it had come to rest after her spent body collapsed. A tongue snaking out of her mouth to lick the nipple positioned next to her lips.
"I love you," Sherry slipped her fingers into Pat's hair, lightly scratching the scalp.
"Love you too, sweetheart," Pat said around the nipple she was enjoying.
"Stop that," Sherry warned when she felt a hand gliding up her leg. "If you make me come one more time, I swear my heart is going to stop beating."
"Thought you liked it," Pat rolled an eye up to look at her lover.
"I do," Sherry smirked, clamping her legs together. "But after last night and this morning, I need time to recoup. I swear, Pat, I have never reacted to anyone's touch the way I do yours. Now, please get off of me."
"That's mutual," Pat mumbled, resuming her appreciation of Sherry's breast.
"Pat, you need to get off me," Sherry nudged her lover's shoulder.
"Don't want to," Pat smacked the hand away.
"Really, baby," Sherry nudged harder. "You need to get off of me."
Hearing the desperation in her lover's voice, Pat rolled onto the mattress. "What's wrong?" she asked, concerned she had somehow hurt Sherry during the latest round of lovemaking.
"I have to use the bathroom," Sherry said. Throwing her legs over the side of the bed, she scampered the few steps across the bedroom to the sound of Pat's laughter. "It's not funny, lover," she growled playfully.
"Sure it is," Pat laughed, limping into the bathroom. She reached inside the shower stall, turning the faucets on. "You know, you're very sexy when you run around naked, all the right parts jiggle."
"They do, do they?" Sherry asked, watching Pat squeeze toothpaste onto her toothbrush.
Pat nodded, looking at Sherry in the mirror behind the basin.
"You're not so bad yourself," Sherry said, her eyes roaming up and down her lover's body, "in the ‘good to at while naked' category."
"I'm not uh?" Pat asked, her mouth foaming with toothpaste.
"Nope," Sherry joined Pat, picking up her own toothbrush.
"So anything special you want to do today?" Pat asked after rinsing out her mouth. "Since you've already eliminated my preferred activity," she smirked.
"Yes," Sherry bumped Pat with her hip. "You promised we could walk around downtown."
Since moving in with her lover a week before, Sherry had talked Pat into becoming her personal tour guide. She knew so little about the town she now called home that she wanted to see as much of Missoula and the surrounding area as they could squeeze in before their basketball duties again dominated their days.
"Okay," Pat agreed, stepping into the shower and adjusting the water's temperature. "Anything special you're looking for?" she asked knowing the selection of stores in the downtown area were quite eclectic running the gambit from antique to modern and offering everything from clothing and footwear to kayaks and mountain climbing equipment.
"No," Sherry stepped into the shower, pulling the door shut behind her. The cubicle had not been designed to be used by two people at the same time but the women didn't let that bother them.
"That's the old Northern Pacific Depot," Pat pointed to the brick building at the north end of Higgins Ave. "This section of town used to be full hotels for train passengers and brothels for railroad workers and business travelers. Now the buildings are home to shops, restaurants, cheap apartments and antique/thrift shops. Like this one." She pulled open the door of a three story brick building, Atlantic Hotel still visible in several variations painted on its side.
Sherry walked inside pulling off her sun glasses.
A square formed by glass display cases occupied the center of the store just inside the door, the cases overflowing with jewelry, watches, rings, pocket knives, and other small items. An older woman sitting on a wooden bar stool inside the square kept a close eye on the women as they began to investigate the store's offerings.
The store's gloomy interior, looking as if it had not been touched for the past hundred years, was crammed full of the castoffs of generations of Missoula residents. Knick-knacks, jamming the front window and shelves along the walls shared space with old blenders, incomplete sets of chipped dishes, well-use cowboy boots, vases, glassware and photographs of people whose names were long forgotten.
Sherry followed Pat to the back half of the store where worn pieces of furniture and racks of second-hand clothing vied for space on the floor, walls and even hanging from the ceiling. She was drawn to a far corner where stacks of old books were piled high on a rickety table. Carefully, she ran her hand down one stack, reading the faded lettering on the exposed spines. Seeing nothing of interest, she scanned another mountain of titles. She was just about to turn away from the books when something caught her attention.
Partially sticking out from the middle of one of the piles was a book of an unusual size. Sherry could just make out the bottom of a letter J embossed on volume's leather cover. Gingerly, she eased the book out from the pile and was surprised to find a pair of J's adorning the obviously handmade leather cover.
"What have you found?" Pat asked, stepping between a pair of un-matching floor lamps to join her lover.
"It appears to be some sort of journal," Sherry said as she glanced at the first few pages of the book.
"A journal? Whose?"
"I don't know," Sherry murmured, continuing to gently turn the delicate pages.
"Well I don't see anything in here worth spending even a few dollars on," Pat brushed her hands together to rid them of the dust they had collected during the past several minutes when she had examined a battered bookcase. "Are you ready to leave?"
"I'm going to buy this first," Sherry closed the journal.
"That's some nice work," Pat said, admiring the cover. "If nothing else, that's worth a few bucks."
"Come on," Sherry headed for the front of the store. "I want to get this out into some good light. I can barely make out any of the writing in here."
Pat followed her lover.
The women paid the price requested for the journal without even bothering to try to haggle it lower.
"Lunch?" Pat asked as they walked the three blocks back to the parking garage where they had left her pickup.
"Do we have anything at home?" Sherry asked, not wanting to waste any time in getting her newly found treasure where she could unravel its mysteries.
"Peanut butter," Pat frowned, trying to visualize the contents of the sparsely stocked cupboards in their kitchen. "And some jelly, I think. We really should go to the market."
"Tomorrow." Sherry wrapped her arm around Pat's. "Let's stop for take out on the way. I want to see what secrets this," she held up the journal, "holds."
"Alright," Pat smiled. "Burgers? Chinese? What?"
"Burgers are fine."
"Burgers, it is."
"Pat," Sherry said pulling a pair of plates out of the drying rack on the kitchen counter. "We really need to do something about your lack of furniture and basic living essentials."
"What do you mean?" Pat asked, looking around the kitchen and breakfast nook.
Pat had purchased the house after becoming head coach of the Missoula Cougars. At the time, she had owned only a few pieces of furniture and had never found it necessary to add to them since moving in.
"Lover," Sherry snickered, "you own two plates, two forks, two spoons, two steak knives, two coffee cups, two glasses, one medium size mixing bowl and a water pitcher. Did I miss anything?"
"Salt and pepper shakers," Pat groused, placing the bags of hamburgers and French fries on the counter next to the plates Sherry had retrieved.
"Both empty. Your furniture consists of one bed, a couple of dressers, a bean bag chair and a card table with only three matching chairs. That's not much in a three bedroom house."
"Works for me," Pat shrugged. She emptied the contents of the bags, putting equal amounts of food on each plate.
"What about company?" Sherry asked, carrying the glasses and water pitcher to the card table. "Where do they sit when you have people over?"
"What company?" Pat grumbled, carrying the plates to the table. She had given up on entertaining after becoming head coach.
Sherry smiled sadly at the woman she expected to spend the rest of her life with. She knew how much it hurt when the coach's old friends only wanted to talk about basketball and the Cougars. But before she could say any words of comfort, the doorbell rang.
"Who could that be?" Pat turned to look at the front door.
"Maybe if you went over and opened it you might find out," Sherry smirked, pulling free a few French fries and tossing them into her mouth.
"Smart ass," Pat muttered walking out of the kitchen.
"Hey," Pete grinned when the door opened to reveal her coach looking questioning out from the other side. "Nice digs," she said walking into the house without waiting for an invitation. "When you planning to move in," Pete laughed at the almost bare living room.
"Hi, Pete," Sherry called out from the kitchen.
"Hey, rookie," Pete headed in the direction of Sherry's voice. "I'm not interrupting anything am I?"
"Yes," Pat grumbled, shutting the door.
"No," Sherry grinned when her teammate walked into the kitchen. "We just got home. We've got burgers if you're hungry. Sit down."
"Thanks for the offer," Pete whiffed at the air. "Those smell… greasy," she rubbed her nose.
"Greasier the better," Pat strode past her guest taking a seat at the table. Picking up a burger she took a huge bite, moaning in pleasure while she chewed.
"Stop that," Sherry swatted Pat on the arm. "She's going to think you have no manners."
"Too late for that, rookie," Pete laughed.
Pat used her foot to push the third folding chair out from the table. "Sit," she told Pete.
"Sorry," Pete shook her head. "I really wish I could, I've missed you guys. But I've got to get home. I promised Mike I'd make his favorite for dinner."
"How is Mike?" Sherry asked of the woman's husband.
"So what brings you over here?"
"I, um," Pete hesitated. "I wasn't sure you two were paying much attention to the news. And… well…"
Pat stood up, walking to the end of the counter she picked through the envelopes and magazines she had removed from the mailbox when she and Sherry had returned home. "You talking about this?" she asked, tossing a well-known sports magazine on the table.
"Yeah," Pete frowned. "I thought I should warn you if you hadn't already seen it."
Sherry picked up the magazine. "Damn," she grunted reading a banner splashed across the top of the cover.
MISSOULA COUGARS ADD COACH'S LOVER TO STAFF
"That sure didn't take long," she muttered opening the magazine to read the accompanying article. "Let's see if they at least spelled my name right."
Pat sat back down to resume eating her lunch.
"Doesn't that bother you?" Pete asked at the lack of reaction the two women exhibited.
"Yes," Pat said. "But there isn't anything we can do about it. We knew it would happen. Now it has."
"At least, it doesn't say we were having an affair during the season," Sherry said relieved at the absence in writing of the widespread assumption that, if true, would have ended both their careers.
"Doesn't matter," Pat poured water into the glasses. "That's what everybody thinks. Guess we should have just gone ahead and done it," she muttered.
"No, baby," Sherry reached out, clasping her lover's hand with her own. "You have too much integrity to have done that. People can think what they want, we know the truth."
Pat looked into Sherry's eyes. It had taken all the willpower she possessed not to take the woman as a lover during the season but she was glad she hadn't. Now, no matter what anyone else thought, said or wrote, they could go forward with their life together knowing they had done the right thing under some rather difficult circumstances. "I love you," Pat whispered.
"I love you too," Sherry smiled.
"I guess I could have saved myself a trip," Pete said, picking a French fry off Pat's plate. "I'll let myself out," she turned away from the table.
"No," Pat called after the player, standing to follow her. "I'm glad you care enough to have come by," she said honestly. "Maybe when I can talk Sherry into buying some furniture, you and Mike will come over for dinner. Ow," she cried as a French fry smacked into the back of her head.
"You're lucky it wasn't a plate," Sherry yelled. "But we don't have any of those to spare."
"I suggest you don't do that again," Pat glared back at her lover.
"I'll see you two later," Pete laughed, running for the door when a barrage of French fries flew out of the kitchen.
"Listen to this," Sherry told Pat. The women were lying on the floor of the living room using the bean bag chair for a backrest. "I was born in Bannack, Montana Territory in 1878. My mother died giving life to me and my father gave me away a couple of days later. I never knew their names. But even with this inauspicious beginning to my life, I was raised in a loving home by two of the best mothers anyone could ever hope for."
"Yes," Sherry confirmed before continuing. "My mothers' backgrounds were as diverse as two people could be but despite their differing upbringings they shared a love of life, of each other and of their family that could not be dimmed no matter the obstacles they were forced to overcome. I write this memoir in their honor. May their love, courage and determination never be forgotten."
"This should be interesting," Pat squirmed into a more comfortable position. She was lying between Sherry's legs, her head resting on her lover's stomach.
"Comfy?" Sherry smirked as Pat adjusted and readjusted her position.
"Yes," Pat rolled her eyes up to smile at Sherry. "You may continue."
"Brat," Sherry laughed, looking for her place on the page.
"Momma, Jennifer Stancey Kensington Branson, was born on the eastern seaboard into a prominent family that owned and operated a shipping company. Mommy, Jesse Marie Branson, was born in eastern Montana on my grandparents' cattle ranch. They met in the town of Sweetwater, fell in love and the rest, as the saying goes is history. Or should be. My name is Charley Branson and this is my mothers' story."
Jennifer continued to read until the fading daylight became so dim she could no longer see the words on the journal's pages.
"Wow," Pat said, pushing herself off the floor. "That's an amazing story. I never even thought about there being lesbians before now. I mean, I knew there were but I just never thought what their lives must have been like. And the situations they had to overcome to stay together, they must have been two very strong women."
"I would think that any women living on their own back then must have been very strong," Sherry agreed. She climbed to her feet then carried the journal to the kitchen counter. "I can't wait to read the rest of it."
"Me either," Pat rubbed her stomach. "But right now, I need food. Come on, I'll take you to dinner."
"That's a deal," Sherry wrapped her arms around her lover. "Just give me a couple of minutes."
"Pat, do you think the places described in the journal are still around?" Sherry asked, stirring cream into a cup of coffee.
"A lot of them are," Pat answered, looking out the window of the restaurant at the ducks swimming in the Rattlesnake Creek below them. "Let's see," she turned back to look at her lover. "Bannack is a state park now and easy to get to. Garnet, Coloma, Granite, Elk Horn are all ghost towns but easily accessible in the summer. Philipsburg, Deer Lodge, Bozeman, Virginia City are still active cities like Missoula."
"What about Sweetwater?"
"That's tougher," Pat sipped coffee. "By what Charley describes, Sweetwater should be someplace in the Bitterroot but I've never heard of it. In fact, I've never heard of a Sweetwater on this side of the Rockies. My best guess is that it was located in one of the side valleys and has been lost to history like a lot of small towns from that time period."
"Do you think we could visit some of those other places?"
"Sure," Pat grinned. "I like exploring ghost towns. And with the descriptions in the journal to match, it'll be fun to see if we can find any of the same places Jesse and Jennifer were."
"When can we go?" Sherry asked, excitedly.
Pat looked out the window again. The creek was partially covered in ice and snow hid the banks. "We can go to Philipsburg and Deer Lodge now," she said. "They're on main highways. But some of the others, like Bannack and Granite, we'll have to wait until the snow melts and they reopen the roads. To get to them we have to travel on the original wagon roads and they're not usually open or passable this time of year.
"Which one is closest?" Sherry asked. "Of the ones we can go see now."
"We need food in the house. Remember? Bare cupboards."
"Day after then."
"Need dishes and…," Pat thought for a moment. "How did you put it? ‘Basic living essentials'."
"Alright," Sherry frowned. "In two days."
"Need furniture," Pat smirked.
"Three days," Sherry glared at her lover. "But that's my last offer."
"Deal," Pat grinned. "Course, I would have agreed to going tomorrow," she snickered.
"You are in so much trouble," Sherry growled, throwing a balled up napkin at her lover.
To be continued in the next episode of Ghost Town-ing – Sweetwater Valley??
To view photographs of the places Pat and Sherry visit
in these stories, go to http://www.mickeyminner.com/projects.html
The stories posted on my site have pictures incorporated into the body of the story.
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