My mom's voice flooded my ear the moment I had swiped the answer tab on my phone. Before I could even greet her, the peppy voice of one of my parents was already going almost non-stop. I had to retreat from the front of the house, where Robin was busy ripping up my porch with a crowbar, so I could try and focus on what was being said. Several times I tried to say something, but each time she would launch into something else. Question after question was fired off, before I couldn't take it anymore. "Mom! Let me answer!"
"Well if you called more than every five months, we wouldn't have to cram it in all at once!" She told me back, voice playful. "Now, start going, daughter of mine!"
"Where to start?" I looked around the bedroom and at all the pictures I had started putting on the walls. It was already getting cramped in the little room, and even my old apartment had more space.
"Have you met a nice young boy yet?"
"Mooooom." I put my hand over my face. "I told you, I'm not looking to start a family!"
"But you're getting older and-"
"I'm twenty-four!" I countered, shocked. "I'm not old!"
"But your biological clock is ticking and-" Groaning, I let my head thunk against the door frame quite a few times as she continued. "And grandchildren are always welcome-" She was still going. I let her get it out of her system before finally taking a breath and dropping the bomb.
"I'm not dating a guy."
"Well, don't worry, being single and ready to mingle is-"
"I didn't say I was single." I tried to begin. How do you even describe this? 'Hey Mom, I'm dating two girls? Yes, at the same time?' I looked at a Junimo that was trying it's best to climb up my blue jean overalls. 'Oh, and by the way, I can see magical little creatures, grow plants by willing it, and-oh yeah- did I mention I was a mage? Just the normal stuff.'
"Well, that's fine too! Adoption is always a nice way to..." She went silent a moment. "Hold on dear, your Dad wants to talk to you.
"Oh please no, I can't- hiiiiiiiiii Daddy!" I stomped my foot, making my friend almost fall. "No, no, I'm just fine! Yes, I'm keeping my place clean." I glanced over at a pizza box on the floor that might possibly be a week old now. Penny would scold me for sure for that one. "Yes, I'm totally being safe. You know me, boring old Kim. Nope, not with any guys!" I felt my cheeks color darkly as I recalled the night of the moonlight jellies. "Yes, I'm dating someone. I'll introduce you when you're here... Her name? Er...No, I'm not making this up! I'm dating! It's just... complicated... No, it's not a one sided relationship! It's... It's so good it's a three sided relationship!" I bit my lip, wondering if he'd take the hint. When he didn't, I let out a little sigh.
The next twenty minutes was spent catching them up as best I could over the phone. They were really looking forward to coming over for a while, and I set a date for three weeks from now. That should give me plenty of time to prepare, get my house fixed up, clean, and mentally brace myself for the looks when I introduced Both Leah and Abigail as my girlfriends.
"And oh yeah, we sold your car finally!" The words made me stop all at once, gripping my phone tighter.
"Someone finally bought it!? Why didn't you tell me sooner!?" I picked up the Junimo, who was already on my chest, and ran to the living room so I could check my laptop.
"Well, Honey, the check just cleared, it should be in your bank account now. Nice guy, paid for it all at once." My Dad was explaining to me. His words started to fade as I focused on my screen, tapping in my password and clicking several times. When my balance came up, I felt like screaming in victory. Everyone in Pelican town primarily used cash, save for a few, so I got out of the habit of checking my account.
"Daddy, I have to run... Yeah... Yeah, okay, sounds great! Three weeks from now, yeah. Mmhmm. You too. Tell Mommy I- yes I heard her. Okay...okay...okay, Daddy... Yes... Bye-bye." I clicked off my phone and looked at the screen in front of myself, eyes wide. "No way..."
At that moment, I heard my front door open and Robin came in with a small smile on her face. "Good news, the porch was built separate and was treated differently than the rest of your house. You just need to replace the wood outside and you'll be fine."
"Awesome!" I got to my feet, grinning at her. I was just about to try my luck at bartering with her when she beat me to the punch.
"I actually just so happen to have a surplus supply of building wood right now." She smiled and put a hand onto her hip. "I heard about the new area in the desert that was found, the one that supposedly has really good minerals in it. I had thought that a few companies might set up a temporary camp there so I jumped the gun and worked myself and my few helpers to the bone to get some wood ready... Turns out they had already struck up a contract with another company for the cheaper style tents and stuff. You know Joja."
"Oh yeah, all about the bottom line... Which I understand." She nodded in agreement. "So! How much did you get? Enough to already fix the porch?" My goals were already shot, and the money I had just received would have to be used up it seemed.
"Honestly? I have enough to fix your deck and even build you a spare room add on to your house!" She laughed at her joke but trailed off when I didn't join in on her. "Kim?"
"Could you add on to my house?" I asked instead, looked at her with wide eyes. "I mean like, for real, add things onto it? Doesn't that take a crew or something?"
Robin blinked at me a few times before crossing her arms. "I have a crew. Well, we're more like a wood working guild. We share tools, knowledge, and jobs. If I wanted to take on something on a larger scale, I would split the earnings with them. Helps us all in our down time, you know?" When I nodded, she raised an eyebrow at me. "Kim, adding onto your house is crazy expensive. I wouldn't be able to talk the guys into working for produce, even if that's something I would do."
We both knew our trades were in the best interest of both of us. I got guaranteed sells at regular intervals and it really didn't take much more time at all to water a crop for someone as it did to water the one literally right next to it. Weeding was very minimal on my farm, thanks to the magically infused soil and the Junimo. I also sold to her at the price she'd pay Pierre, so I got more money for my wares as well. Robin, on the other hand, got promised deliveries of fresh food for her whole family that she didn't have to take out of her budget, which meant more spending money for home. In all, she was my favorite person to trade with, and we kept it so openly fair between us that we didn't feel the need to wonder if we were getting a good deal or not. "How much?" My words left my mouth before I could talk myself out of it.
The reddish brown haired girl looked surprised a moment. "What do you want?"
"A master bedroom. Like a legit real one. A bathroom attached, really big, a shower stall and one of those really deep bath tubs. Made to match my house as best you can, and I guess at the end of the hallway, next to my current bedroom?" My house was pretty much a one bedroom place, with a bathroom that was in the hallway leading back to where I slept. I had a tiny guest room, but in all honesty it was more of a larger storage area than anything else. If I could get a new room, then my old one would be free for...
"Kim? You're blushing, you feeling okay?" Her words made me wave my hands out at her. "I mean you could buy yourself a truck for what it would cost. Don't you need one?"
I had thought about that, and honestly I straight up didn't have the time to make deliveries, not the guaranteed cash flow to pay a driver. In that stead, I decided to be a local pickup only farm, aside from the monthly farmer's market held in town. "I just sold my old car," I revealed with a proud smile. "Give me the best deal you can make without selling yourself short, and I'll take out my purse." The look on her face was priceless.
I found myself on the way to Leah's cabin when I was done talking with Robin. I felt incredibly proud of myself for the negotiations, and just the idea of adding onto my home made me ecstatic. Suddenly I felt like I was taking control of my life in a way that made me so very proud of myself. With this new addition, I would have more room for guests to come over, a proper place for sleeping, and a bath tub that I could soak my tired body in after a long day at work.
As my horse Okami reached Leah's little cabin, I caught sight of her in the kitchen. A small blush came over my cheeks as well, when I thought about how she would have a place to do things while staying over with me. No more being cramped around the small living room table, stressing over not getting paint or wood chips everywhere in the house. Instead, she could come over whenever she felt in the mood and I could maybe even watch her...
Shaking my head, I tried to clear the thoughts and focus on the present. I was just about to hop off Okami to visit, but the door opened to reveal a very pleased looking Leah. "Kim!" She jogged over to me and raised her hand in question. I took it and helped her jump up to get behind me. "Can you take me to town?"
"Certainly!" I agreed at once, guiding my horse to change course and start a gallop to the village. "What are we after?"
"Olive oil, I ran out. Need it to make my salad dressing." Her hands went around my waist to steady herself. I felt my muscles tense up at once, and from the slight giggle behind, could tell she did too. "Hey there," she teased into my ear. "Don't be nervous."
"I-I'm not." I stuttered, and blushed from it, glad she couldn't see my face. "Just... still not used to it."
"Hopefully we'll stay like that for a long time." She kissed my cheek. "I got little butterflies when I saw you riding up, honestly." Again I was amazed at how mature and calm she was about our relationship, being able to oh-so-casually make my stomach turn flips and my cheeks color. "I thought it was our destiny to go get my ingredients for the salad dressing of fate."
"You been reading Elliot's stuff again?"
"Yeah, he just finished another chapter. It's killing me to wait to see how it'll end. He's getting really close, I think. Oh! I haven't told you yet!"
"Told me?" I looked over my shoulder and blinked at her.
"I got a letter back! From the place I sent your picture off to!" The look on her face could only be described as 'sheer delight'. Her eyes were wide and excited, with a smile going ear to ear. "It was in the mail this morning. I tried calling you, but got your voice mail."
"My parents called me. I have some news for you as well. How about we go to your place, and tell each other one after another?" My idea seemed to please her, and we hopped off at the general store. I found myself almost willing her to speed up as she grabbed a few things and paid. Pierre was almost dazed today, and I knew Abigail must be with the Wizard again. She had gone from sun up to sun down every day since we last talked. She hadn't talked much in our group chat besides letting us know when she was eating, about to sleep, waking up, or walking home. I was a little worried for her, but knew she would let us know immediately if anything was going on.
After making our way back to Leah's house, I looked over the lake and towards the tower in the distance. It was still cloudy, giving it an almost foreboding feeling. I knew Abigail was training herself for her return to the guild, but part of me was still a bit worried. She was still so new to the whole adventurer thing, and soon would be getting jobs outside of town that would take her away for a few days at a time. She would go fight, come home and play video games, spend time with me, and then go fight some more. Part of me wondered if she could handle it, while another part knew she could. It was a weird feeling.
"What are you thinking about?" Leah asked me softly, following my gaze. "Abby?"
"...Yeah." I didn't feel bad for thinking about her while I was with Leah, but my stomach still didn't feel right. Was I worried? I never really thought about it before. Abigail was always the one to protect me. Now that I had admitted liking her, was that making me become more scared when she was in danger?
The first few droplets of rain started to come down, making us jump back to reality. I allowed her to hop down first and followed her before giving Okami a pat on the neck. "May want to get under Marnie's overhang if you want to, buddy." He tapped the ground with his hoof and turned to trot off to shelter. Upon entering the little cabin, I couldn't help but give a little shiver. "The wind really does cool your place down," I mused out, rubbing my arm.
"It's wonderful in the summer, but the wintertime is super cold." She moved over to a fireplace and started tossing a few smaller logs into it to light. "It's fall, and when it rains, the temperature drops like crazy... then tomorrow it'll be sweating all over again."
"Tell me about it." I watched the fire ignite and the warmth it provided immediately made me feel better. "So! Letter!" I clapped my hands in front of myself. "Show me!"
At once, the girl grabbed the envelope off of her table and pulled me over to herself. "Okay... Here goes..." Taking a breath, she opened it up and pulled the paper within. It was on very formal card stock with an embroidered heading, certainly a good sign. "Leah, we at the art institution of Stardew take our displays very seriously, which is why we were..." She looked up at me with wide, excited, eyes before going back down. "We were very delighted at your submission labeled Ivy! We believe each artist has the fire inside to create their inner dreams, which is why we believe that with more training and hard work that your next submission will meet all the criteria to be successfully..." Her words started to trail off, going softer and softer as she rushed to continue. "Successfully accepted into our most prestigious gallery. Until such a time, we encourage you to not give up on your dreams and to try again after a four month waiting period to increase your skill-" She stopped reading and fell to her knees before I had a chance to grab her.
I didn't know what to say at the moment. Her eyes were glazed, staring into the fire with no real expression on her face. The letter slipped from her grasp and slid across the floor silently as she sat there. Unsure of what to do, I decided to sit next to her, one hand reaching over to touch hers. This seemed to shake her from her trance and she blinked, a tear running down her cheek. "Leah..."
"Everything that I wanted to do was in that painting," She spoke gently, as if in shock. "Everything that I never got from Kel, everything that I did get from you, and the passion and love I put into it when I thought about what you had done for me. All of it was in each brush stroke, each..." I had to hug her then, almost crying myself. "I put everything I had into it, and now it's... I'll never see..." Her words finally broke and a hard gasp came next. I felt her arms wrap around me and be pulled close as she let out what had built up inside of her since the day she mailed it off. Hard sobs racked her tiny body, warm tears running down her cheeks and onto my neck.
I could only hug her as she cried, mumbled words mixed with half sentences lost on me as she struggled to come to terms with her reality. She was shaking almost violently, her voice changing from coughs, to gasps, to whining as she pulled on me closer. Finally, after what seemed like ages, she started to settle. Her breathing began to find a rhythm, and her frail figure quit squirming. "I can't say I understand," I finally began, making her turn ever so slightly to look at my neck from her place on my shoulder. "But I know what it meant to you. I'm sorry, Leah. We lost this battle." Pulling back just enough to look at her fully, I offered her a small smile of support. "But we'll win the war. We'll get you displayed. People will see you, and you'll live off your art with no worries about anything. And I'll be there every step of the way. Even when you fall down." As if to make my point, I helped her get back up to her feet and guide her over to the bed.
The sounds of rain were starting to pick up now, the wind making howling sounds as it blew past the little cottage we were currently in. The sky was dark now, making the mood seem even more fitting. Leah was starting to compose herself more and more as she accepted the results of the contest, wiping the tears from her eyes with the palm of her hands. "You're right. This isn't over. There are many more competitions, more mediums to work with, and more chances to get myself out there. I've been through too much to let this slow me down. I'll show them." Nodding to herself, she looked at me sitting beside her. "I just wish I didn't lose the painting of you."
"You have pictures of it," I reminded her softly. "I know it's not the same, but... You'll always have it."
"And you?" She asked as her fingers interlaced with mine.
I felt my cheeks warm at the sudden topic shift. "I have no plans to go anywhere."
"Then...Stay with me for a bit?" The girl reached up to my face, cupping my cheek with her palm. I nodded at her and swallowed as she encouraged me to move along with her to lay down onto the mattress. I found myself on my back, looking up at the ceiling, as she half laid on top of me. Her arm was draped over my middle, and a leg bent at the knee to lay on mine. "Just... hold me for a bit?" I did as requested, gently stroking her back as I closed my eyes. It didn't take long for her to fall asleep on me, worn out from her outburst. As I listened to her breathing and the sound of the rain lashing against the house, I also felt myself drift off to sleep.
I wasn't sure what time it was when I awoke to the sound of both mine and Leah's phone's making an alert noise. The jump scare broke my dreams instantly and I sat up, rubbing my eyes. "Awww..." I heard my girlfriend make a disappointed sound. She was sitting across from me, at her easel, with her sketchpad propped up onto it. I smiled apologetically at her, but knew my pose was ruined even if I were to lay back down.
"How long was I out?" I asked softly, moving to a sitting position with my feet on the floor. It was still raining and the sky was now a darker color to indicate either late afternoon or evening.
"Not too long, maybe an hour after I got up. I tend to take naps to give my mind a break after a few hours of work." I gave her a look that told her I clearly knew the difference between a normal person's 'few hours' and her 'I forgot to eat all day long because I was in the zone' time frame. "Anyway, I think that was Abby." We both reached for our phones and checked the group app at the same time.
Abigail: I'm about to head home, what are you two up to?"
Leah: In that rain? Won't you be soaked? I'm just drawing.
Kim: Did you bring an umbrella? I'm at Leah's house, just woke up from a nap.
Abigail: A nap? You?
I furrowed my brow as Leah giggled to herself.
Kim: I sleep plenty! I just needed a nap!
Abigail: What are you two doing over there that makes you need a nap?
Abigail: Can I swing by unannounced and cuddle too?
Leah: Sure! Just come on in, get out of that storm!
We both put down our phones as Abigail sent a smiley face. Leah stood from her drawing station and came over to me, showing the sketch she had been working on. Despite being cut off on it, it looked remarkable. I saw my sleeping face laying on my back, my head turned slightly on the pillow. My ponytail was sprawled all over the sheets, being exaggerated for artistic purposes. I could almost feel the fireplace warmth from the picture, as it honestly looked like the fireplace was the only light source. Actually, it was the only light source, as she had turned off everything else. "Could you draw in this light?" I asked, my voice suddenly going a little quieter as if I'd wake someone up.
"It wasn't bad." She replied in kind, smiling at me. "I wanted to see what you would look like in only firelight..." I swallowed thickly, suddenly feeling very intimate with her in this setting. She seemed to be feeling it too, as her face softened and her eyes met mine. "You look really pretty like this..."
"...You look beautiful." I had complimented her before, but this was the first time I heard my voice take on an almost husky tone with her. I wasn't sure if it was because I was still dazed from my nap, or still cuddly from laying with her, but here, right now, I wanted to touch her. Maybe even kiss her.
This time it was Leah who moved over me, my body laying back onto the bed and looking up at her with wide eyes. The darkness of the room was quickly illuminated as a log in the fire rolled, causing it to stoke the flames. I saw the highlights of her features, and an almost shadow like silhouette of her body, as she stayed above me on all fours. She was so petite from living off foraging and fishing, choosing not to eat meat and working through her mealtimes. Despite this, I could still see very feminine curves on her body. Her breasts were still full and very noticeable with her shirt hanging down. She wore a bra that could be either a dark navy blue or black in this light, and I felt the desire to find out its true color.
The light danced from the flames, the sound of crackling wood keeping the silence from being too strong. The mood was perfect, and we both looked at each other as if asking permission to progress our desires. She gave in first, pressing her body against mine and opening her mouth for a kiss. Her lips were warm and comforting, insisting but giving. I felt her weight on me next, pressing me into the bed by her small frame that suddenly had me at her mercy. I felt intoxicated, my breath catching as we looked at each other again. "We..." I panted out, hating my words. "Don't have time..."
"We have time," She whispered back. "We have all the time in the world." Her forehead rested on mine and I had to repress the urge to devour her in my arms. Just as I was about to give into the desire, I heard the door open.
"Man it sucks our there!" Abigail's voice came as she closed the door and moved around the corner. She stopped in her tracks when she saw us and for a moment fear came into my chest. Would it be okay? Would this upset her? Did this upset me? "Really?" She asked, putting a hand on her hip.
"It just kind of happened," Leah replied with a small laugh, grinning at her. "Anyway, do you need a towel?" She moved off of me and I suddenly felt as if the cold attacked my front all at once. "Oh you're not even wet? Lucky you!"
"I know, right?" Abigail's voice was still normal and I relaxed visibly. Closing my eyes, I looked up at the ceiling, silently wondering how long it would be before this was completely normal for us. "Actually, I learned something really neat today. I can emit heat around my body to prevent rain from hitting me. It forms a type of barrier around my body. I was feeling a bit drained from my training today so I didn't think I could keep it up for very long. I decided to run here and interrupt your fun." I felt the bed shift and opened my eyes, blushing hard as Abigail leaned over me to give me a kiss. "Mmmn, your chap stick tastes different," she mused flirtingly at me.
"Because it's mine," Leah snorted, making Abigail make a grossed out face.
"Anyway!" She hopped up and looked at us both. "What's going on?"
"About to eat, you hungry?" Leah flicked her light switches to bathe the room in a bright light that seemed to combat the storm raging outside. On her way around, she scooped up the disregarded letter and tossed it into the fire as well. "Oh!" She suddenly turned to me. "I'm sorry, I totally forgot, what was it that you wanted to tell me earlier?"
I sat up and smiled at them both. "I'm expanding my house!"
"No way!" Abigail said at once, looking at me with an impressed expression. "How in the world can you afford that?"
"When I left my apartment and came over here, I had my parents put my car up for sale for me in the city. It just sold a few days ago and I found out about it today when the money cleared. Robin was already fixing my patio and it was just a win-win situation for us. Although it took almost everything I just made, I think it's a great idea. I'm putting in a master bedroom and turning my old one into a guest room. I'll have plenty of room for either of you to come over and do your thing if you wanted to visit."
Abigail looked positively thrilled at this. "Awesome! I'd love to hang out after work if you wouldn't mind."
Leah smiled at the idea of it. "I think being in your house could add some added inspiration for some of my works, I wouldn't mind dropping by every so often to do that as well. Not counting just visiting, of course."
"Of course," I laughed in agreement. "Now I just need to let them do the work, which means a really crappy home life for a bit."
"How long?" Abigail pondered as she watched Leah fuss around in the kitchen.
"Maybe two weeks or so? Robin has the materials ready since she thought she was going to get a different job. The faster they get it done, the faster they can move onto another job so they're willing to start as soon as I confirm a date to start."
Leah looked back at me. "Want to stay here with me? You could just go home to your farm for work and then come back here at night?"
"Actually," Abigail held up a finger. "When I was training today, I heard more detail about that new cave found in the desert. The first area of it is cleared and pretty much open to the public since the land is still not claimed by anyone. I was wanting to go see some of the top tier adventurers in action, as well as possibly visit the town near it. I hear it's supposed to be really cool."
"The one with the casinos and stuff?" I pondered aloud. Even though none of us had money to gamble away, I had never been in one before. The idea of a mini vacation was really nice sounding, actually. "What's the weather for the upcoming days?"
"Rain every day pretty much," Leah answered at once. "I keep up with it for fishing."
"I'd be able to go," I realized. "A week won't put me too far behind, and I could use a little relaxing time. Plus I wouldn't be sleeping well anyway..."
"I wouldn't mind seeing the casinos," Leah admitted. "I think the fancy lights and complete different view from Pelican Town may give me a new spark of interest."
"Well then," Abigail grinned at us both, crossing her arms triumphantly. "Let's go on a vacation!"