Lying on top of the covers facing one another, hands explored curves and soft skin while lips sought out sensitive areas on necks, ears, and faces. The sound of light moans and heavy breathing filled the room. Patsy's hand slid fluidly down the curve of Delia's side, striking cotton. She mindlessly played with the fabric.

"You'll need to take those off me sooner or later," Delia whispered breathlessly into Patsy's ear.

Patsy's breathing quickened and she hooked a finger into the waistband. She trailed kisses down Delia's jawline, neck, chest, and stomach; all the while pulling the only material left on Delia down her thighs. Delia was trying to assist—lifting her hips and parting her thighs ever so slightly. Patsy managed to get the garment to Delia's knees before Delia kicked them off and onto the floor.

Completely naked and unashamed, Delia smiled. "Your turn," she said, interrupting Patsy's concentration as she took in her girlfriend.

"Right," Patsy gulped rather hard. There was no doubt in her mind she wanted this—wanted Delia; but still, she hated feeling vulnerable and this was the most vulnerable she'd allowed herself to be in twenty years.

Patsy stood and removed her panties, kicking them carelessly aside. The firelight cast the most beautiful shadows across her skin and Delia was awestruck as she admired her form.

Delia got onto her knees atop the bed. She wanted Patsy now; she was done waiting. "Come here," Delia demanded.

"Can we get under the covers?" Patsy asked. Delia simply smiled and threw the covers back and crawled underneath.

Morning broke over the countryside and rays of sun began to filter in through curtains of the cabin windows. Delia and Patsy lay asleep, naked bodies entwined. This was exactly how Delia said she wanted to wake up. Patsy was the first to stir and she was so careful not to wake Delia. But Delia felt even the slightest movement and wrapped herself tighter around Patsy. "No," she said without opening her eyes. "You can't get up. We can never get up. This is heaven." She was mumbling into Patsy's skin.

"I'm cold," Patsy said. She kissed Delia on top of her head, which was resting on her bare chest. "I want to get the fire going."

"Alright," Delia said, without opening her eyes. Her warm breath drifted down Patsy's chest as she spoke. She wrapped herself tighter around Patsy and pulled her in closer.

"That means I have to get up," Patsy said. Delia could hear her smile in her tone.

"Fine," Delia said, finally loosening her grip with one arm but still not opening her eyes. "Jus' don't take too long." Delia's words were slurred in her still sleepy state.

Patsy untangled herself from Delia and hopped out of bed. She had to open up her suitcase and dig her dressing gown out as they had not unpacked a single thing last night. Delia finally opened her eyes and watched as Patsy threw pants and shirts and underthings aside in search of the elusive dressing gown. She didn't want to miss a moment of this. Finally triumphant in her search, Patsy wrapped the garment around herself and moved over to the fireplace. Delia continued to watch as the redhead started tinder, stacked logs, and managed a blazing fire within a few minutes.

Patsy hurried back into bed. She scrambled under the covers and snuggled into Delia for warmth.

"You have to take that off," Delia demanded, tugging at Patsy's dressing gown, her words less slurred than before and finally looking into Patsy's eyes.

"But I'm freezing," Patsy whined, looking back into deep blues.

"Nurse, you know as well as I do that body to body contact is the best way to warm up. Skin on skin." Delia smiled a devilish grin that Patsy knew well; but was usually displayed when there wasn't anything she could do about it.

"You're very cheeky, Delia Busby," Patsy flirted. "You know that?"

"And you are very beautiful, Patience Mount," Delia said, her tone sincere. "The most beautiful woman I have ever known, inside and out." She pulled Patsy close and kissed her slowly and tenderly. She began to remove the dressing gown and let her hands move all over Patsy's body. "I just don't want to miss a moment of this," Delia said between soft kisses.

"I'm not going anywhere," Patsy assured her.

"Pats," Delia said, rather seriously. She pulled back to allow space between them.

"Yes, Deels?"

"You don't have to tell me anything. I'm not trying to prompt you to talk about it. But I want you to know that anything that is a part of you, is beautiful."

Patsy's smile vanished. She cast her eyes down, as if in shame. She knew Delia was talking about her scars. She must have seen them when she was scrambling for her dressing gown. "The guards were fond of striking children across their backs and buttocks and legs with cane for even the most minor offense," Patsy started. "Some were downright cruel and often did it for sport; taking bets on how many strikes it would take to make the child cry. I learned early on to do as I was told and always obey the guards. As a result, I didn't get caned like most other children.

"After my mother and sister died I was sure I was an orphan. They kept the men separate from the women and children, so I had no idea if my father was alive or dead. One day I just cracked. I felt I had nothing left to lose so I began to resist. I actually wanted to die.

"That's when the worst of it happened. One day, while in line for the only food we would get for the day, I was told to move; I stayed put. Cane fell across my back, but I didn't flinch. I was told again to move; I stayed put. Again a cane was brought down on me, not once but twice. Then again. Still, I didn't flinch. A second guard came to investigate and got in on it. When I refused the order a third time my legs were swept from under me and I was kicked and beaten and left to die in the dirt.

"A nurse happened upon me, or maybe she was on rounds, and took me to the medical tent for treatment—an unheard of act of kindness for a disobedient child. She had cared for my mother and sister and knew they just died from typhoid. And she knew I must have given up. To this day I do not know why she cared.

"When I finally regained consciousness in the medical tent I remember is her saying, 'If you want to die, do it tonight and don't waste my time. If you're alive in the morning I will treat you.' I don't know why she chose me—the poor little orphan girl—but she did. She took me under her wing.

"She told the guards she needed an assistant and that I could do the job because my mother had been a nurse and I had been taught things. That, of course, was a lie. But, she saved me that day. Not just with the medical treatment, but how she treated me. She is the reason I wanted to become a nurse. Granted I wasn't doing anything more than washing bandages and cleaning up. But that was where I learned that I wanted to help people. Even the ones who had given up."

The room was silent save for the crackling fire.

"Oh Pats." Delia laid a reassuring hand on Patsy's shoulder.

"Don't feel sorry for me, Delia," Patsy said, tossing her chin up slightly. "Feeling sorry for myself is what almost got me killed that day and I'm ever so glad I didn't die. I vowed to never feel sorry for myself ever again. Nor anyone else for that matter. There's simply nothing for it. And I've never told anyone that story. And I've never shown anyone those scars. I've always been so careful to hide them. Longline bras and high-waisted panties are this girl's best friend." She let out a breath she felt she'd been holding forever. "But I didn't think twice about covering them just now. I only put on the dressing gown because I was cold."

"I love you, Patience Mount," Delia said and closed the gap between them.

Patsy brought in enough firewood to get them through the day while Delia made breakfast—which was now more like lunch. She set several pots of water on to boil and readied even more. They agreed that there was no need in heating this much water for two baths when one would suit them both just fine.