Just a little short story. I hope you enjoy! :)
I don't own the characters.
Her hair was up in a ponytail, loose pieces were blowing in the slight breeze, she tucked them behind her ear. The sweat on her brow trickled down the side of her face; she wiped it with her forearm and sighed. Her plaid shirt was tucked into her loose and torn blue jeans, the sleeves rolled up a quarter of the way. The top three buttons undone, showing the white tank top underneath.
I admired her from behind as she slowly climbed up the ladder. She steadied herself as she took a few nails out of the small pouch on her tool belt and placed them between her teeth. Quickly and fluently, she hammered the nails into the wooden beam. She climbed down the ladder, moved it a few steps to the side and repeated the process.
I sat there on the porch swing, rocking slightly, pretending to read.
She knew I was watching her; I'd been doing it for the past month. It had been the third time in a week that I had called her. I was running out of things to have her fix.
"Alright, all fixed. I'll come back in the morning to re-paint it," she said as she wiped her brow again. I helped her carry the ladder back to her truck even though she insisted she didn't need help. She returned to the porch to grab her tool box, and before she could say goodbye I did something I had been meaning to do for weeks.
"Would you like a glass of lemonade, or tea, I could make some iced-tea?" I wasn't normally nervous around her, but the thought of actually sitting down and having a conversation with her, the first since the day we had met, was exciting, but scary at the same time. It was obvious I was attracted to her, a little too attracted for my liking. I was leaving in a week, after all.
"I would love a glass of lemonade, thank you." She smiled and her nose crinkled. I couldn't help, but stare. This woman was unlike anyone I had ever met. She was quiet, but when she did speak she always had something witty and interesting to say. She was mysterious and she was beautiful, but she didn't know it, or she did, but she wasn't comfortable with it. She was all alone up on the mountain, and she seemed perfectly okay with that.
She set her tool box down and removed her tool belt before following me into the house. Luckily the air conditioner was working; she had just fixed it over the weekend when the temperature crept up into the mid 90's.
"Make yourself comfortable. I'll go get that lemonade."
I walked quickly into the kitchen, needing a moment to collect myself. It was getting harder and harder every time she was in close proximity to me. The cold water was a relief as I leaned over the sink and splashed some in my face. The heat was unbearable, but the woman in the other room was the reason for the sudden fire that just consumed my body.
After taking a considerable amount of time in the kitchen I finally made my way back to her. I froze in my tracks and momentarily contemplated walking, no, running back into the kitchen. She was facing the other way, her flannel shirt was lying on the back of the sofa, and there she stood in just her white tank top with her arms up as she re-adjusted her ponytail. The bottom of the tank slid up just enough to show the skin on her lower back and I was thankful that she was facing the other direction because I could not stop raking my eyes over the curves of her backside.
"Sorry it took so long," I said, finally finding my voice. I was never nervous, or shy around a woman, but Ashley brought out the awkward, teenage girl in me. I shook my head at myself.
"It's okay," she replied with a smile as she turned around. I looked down as I set the tray on the table, needing to look anywhere, but at her.
We both sat and I handed her a glass, our fingers just barely touching, but you couldn't tell by the way I reacted.
"Are you okay, Spencer?" She asked.
"Yeah, I… I'm fine."
I could see her smile behind the glass as she took a sip. Oh yes, she knew how I watched her, how I admired her perfect body, how I had been finding every reason to get her to come to the cabin. She knew. Of course, she said nothing. I wasn't sure if it was because she was shy and didn't quite know how to respond to my little infatuation, or because she wasn't interested. Either way, she knew.
"So, how much longer do you plan on staying up here?" She asked before taking another sip of her lemonade.
"I haven't decided," I lied. Yes, I had planned on leaving at the end of the week, but I wasn't sure I would be able to. I had become accustomed to the quietness, the feeling of complete peace, no contact from the outside world, no expectations, and no responsibilities. Just me, the mountain… and Ashley.
"You like it up here, huh?"
"I do. It's so serene, so many amazing views." Like the woman sitting in front of me.
"Do you mind if I ask why you came here?"
"I don't mind that you asked, but I don't plan on answering." I set my glass down and leaned back.
"I didn't think you would," she said. Her eyes boring into mine.
"It's not really that big of a deal. I would just rather not talk about it at the moment."
"I can respect that."
"So how long have you been up here?" I asked her.
"So you like it up here, huh?"
"I do. It's so serene, so many amazing views," she said with a playful smile. I returned it.
"Would you ever consider leaving, going back to the city?" I asked her. I felt the need to learn everything I could about her, if she would let me.
"I don't know. This is my home right now and I love it here." She stood up and walked over window. "The world is a much better place here. You see the beauty in everything because there is nothing around to tell you different. Up here… it's just you and the ground and the sky."
She turned around and the look on her face was almost a sad one.
"Do you know what I mean?" She asked.
"I've only been here for a month and I know exactly what you mean, Ashley."
She seemed to be satisfied with my answer. She sat back down and lifted her glass of lemonade to her lips. I watched her closely wondering what was really going on in that head of hers.
"And you never get lonely?" I asked when she stayed silent.
"Nah, there's almost always someone staying in one of the cabins, though I don't usually socialize with them. This is the most I've talked to a renter."
"Most people that come up here don't want to be bothered."
"No, I guess not." I, too, came up here to be left alone. I never expected to want anyone's company.
"Well, I should get going. I've got some things to take care of." She stood up and grabbed her shirt. I inwardly pouted.
"Thank you for the lemonade," she said sweetly as she walked towards the door.
I was disappointed that she had to leave. I faked a smile when she looked back at me before she walked down the steps.
A few hours later, I was surprised by a knock on the door. There was only one other person besides me up on the mountain, so I smiled from ear to ear, and then ran into the bathroom to fix my 'I just woke up from a nap' hair.
"Hey," I said, completely failing at trying to not sound excited.
"Hi. I was just wondering if you wanted to take a walk with me and Hershey."
She moved to the side to show the chocolate lab sitting behind her.
"That sounds…lovely. Just give me a minute."
She smiled and nodded. "I'll just wait out here."
Once again, I had to collect myself. I was in the bathroom and talking to myself in the mirror.
"Lovely? Really, Spencer?" I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "It's just a walk. Get it together. Geez!"
I opened my door, finally ready, to such an adorable sight. Ashley sat on a log that was in front of the porch. Hershey had his back into her front with his head tilted back, licking her cheek, as she scratched the inside of his neck. The most adorable part was the way she was talking to him. I smiled to myself. Seeing this side of her made my attraction grow.
"So where are we walking to?" I asked as we started down a dirt path.
"You'll see," was all she said.
We walked for about 45 minutes. Conversation was light. Mostly I just took in the beauty I was enveloped in…and the woman walking slightly in front of me.
She wore her usual torn blue jeans, a white t-shirt and her messy hair was down, but held in a ponytail and covered with a weathered, brown cowboy hat. She looked extraordinary for someone who looked like they were trying to look plain. Maybe it was just me, but she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
I was beginning to tire. I hadn't had much exercise since I arrived at the cabin.
"It's not too much further," she said, no doubt noticing my panting. Even Hershey wasn't panting like I was. I had a feeling the two of them did this a lot. The path we were on was narrow, 5 feet wide, maybe. One wrong move to the left and you would fall off the side of the mountain. The drop wasn't long, but with the trees and rocks, you'd most likely be dead. I gulped as I looked over the side.
"Maybe I should have told you…don't look down." She giggled.
"If I knew you were bringing me out here to kill me, I would've stayed at the cabin."
She laughed and it was the cutest laugh I think I had ever heard.
"I'm not trying to kill you, Spencer. Trust me, the risk is worth it."
We reached a small hill and I could hear the unmistakable sound of water falling.
"It's just over this hill. Come on." She held out her hand and I took it. Hershey took off in another direction, but Ashley didn't look worried.
Finally up on top of the hill, I brushed my legs off and looked around. My eyes opened wide when I saw the water fall. It was about 30 feet high, clear water falling onto a small platform before pouring into the pool underneath. Ivy and moss covered the mountain on both sides. The pool was rather large and had a small opening at the tip where the water ran into a narrow, rock filled, river.
"Another amazing view for you to enjoy," Ashley said from behind me…close behind me. I shivered, maybe from her closeness, maybe from the sight of the most beautiful waterfall I'd ever seen in person, maybe from both.
"Wow!" Was the only word I could form.
She held her hand out again and I slid mine into it, letting her pull me towards the water fall. She sat down on the edge of the pool, took off her boots and socks, rolled her pant legs up and put her feet in the water.
I followed suit and she reached into her bag and pulled out a few bottled waters. It was so peaceful; I closed my eyes and leaned back on my arms.
My eyes couldn't have been shut for more than a minute when I heard something running towards us and opened my eyes just before we were both splashed. Hershey came out of nowhere, jumped into the pool and started swimming around like he owned the place.
Ashley laughed again at my surprise.
"Where did he come from?"
"There's another way here, a longer way. I don't why, but sometimes he likes the longer way."
"Looks like he enjoys it here."
"He loves the water. He only swims for a short while and then he'll find a rock to sunbathe on."
"The water does looking refreshing. You think he'll mind if I join him?" I asked. I stood up and pulled my shirt off over my head and pulled my shorts down my legs. I looked over at Ashley and couldn't help but smirk. Her mouth was wide open.
"You should come in, too," I said as I leaned down, put my finger under her chin and shut her mouth for her.
Before she could answer I jumped into the water. As hot as I was, the water felt ice cold. I made my way up to the surface. Ashley sat there in the same spot, smiling at me.
"Cold, huh?" She asked.
"Just a little. Aren't you coming in?"
"Aww, you're not afraid of a little cold water, are you?" I teased.
"No," she replied quietly.
"Then come on in."
She didn't say anything; she just looked off to the waterfall. This wasn't the first time Ashley had avoided a question or ignored a request. She had been up on the mountain by herself for years and I wondered if that was the reason for her being so quiet. She wasn't used to having to socialize.
I swam up to her and leaned my arms onto the edge.
"You don't want to swim with me?"
She looked down at me and gave me a small smile.
"I do, actually."
"Then what's the problem?"
"There isn't usually anyone here with me, except for Hershey."
"I'm the first person you have brought here?"
"Yes, like I said, I don't usually talk to the renters."
"Okay, but you talk to me and you brought me here, so come in here with me."
She took a deep breath.
"What's wrong, Ashley?"
"Can you… look the other way?" She asked quietly.
"So I can undress, please."
"Ohhhh. Um… sure."
I turned around, still holding on to the edge.
"I would have never thought of you as being shy. Quiet, but not shy."
"There's a lot you don't know about me."
I heard her drop into the water so I turned around.
"We should change that," I said. We were close, so close I could feel her breath on my face.
I was about to try something very bold when I was once again splashed with water. Hershey was now out of the water, right next to us, shaking off.
Ashley swam off towards the waterfall and I looked over at Hershey. "I don't know if I should thank you, or be mad at you. What do you think?"
He responded by licking my face. "Hmmm. A mystery just like your momma."
We stayed at the waterfall for a good couple hours, swimming around, jumping off the rocks, playing with Hershey. As I was throwing a tennis ball into the water for the chocolate lab, I noticed that Ashley disappeared. Moments later I found her. She was standing underneath the waterfall. Her hair was down, as she ran her fingers through it. The water fell down all around her and cascaded down her body. She was wearing light pink underwear and a black bra. All I could think of was how much I wished I were standing behind her, holding her, kissing her neck, running my hands over her wet skin. I could not look away. I don't know how long I was staring when she finally caught me. She gave me a look, not a mad look, but not a happy look either, and then she dove into the water. I let go of the breath I was holding as Hershey dropped the wet ball into my lap. When I found her again, she was pulling her shirt over her head. I hoped I hadn't made her uncomfortable.
The sun was starting to go down and Ashley was worried about getting back to the cabin before it was fully dark. I dried off and dressed as quick as possible. I noticed her staring this time and when I looked up she turned around.
"It's okay, Ashley. I'm not shy, not in the least." I giggled.
She didn't say anything. I sighed to myself.
As we headed down the path, the sun was behind the trees.
"I lost track of time. We should have left at least a half hour ago."
"Do you think we'll make it back in time?"
"Yeah, we just have to hurry."
"You wouldn't happen to have a flashlight in the backpack, would ya?"
"Of course, I have everything in this thing. You have to be prepared when in the mountains."
"Any food in there?"
"Yes, a few granola bars, but you can't have one. They're only for emergencies."
"I'm starving. I can't wait," I whined.
"How about I cook you dinner when we get back?" She asked without looking at me.
"Okay, I can wait." I didn't miss the smile that quickly formed on her mouth.
We were about half way back, just enough light for us to still be able to see without a flashlight. I was getting tired and started to lag behind.
"We have to hurry, Spencer. Do you need me to carry you?"
"Could you carry me?"
"I guess if I had to."
"What is that? There's something coming this way." I saw a figure coming at us, but I couldn't tell what it was. It looked like it was running.
"I think that's… a bear. Stand off to the side and he'll just run past us."
"A bear? Seriously?!"
"There are only black bears up here. It'll leave us alone if we leave it alone. Come away from the edge and stand next to me."
As it got closer I got nervous. I took a few steps back, one too many.
"Spencer?!" Ashley shouted. It sounded like she was a million miles away.
"Spencer, where are you?"
Everything happened so fast.
I slipped off of the path and was holding on to the side of the mountain by a tree root. My left foot was just barely resting on a rock that was sticking out. It was still light enough to see, but it wouldn't be for long. I don't know how I managed to grab the root, both sides of the root were inside the mountain, but it was slowly coming out of the dirt and I prayed that it didn't have an end to it.
"Ashley?!" I cried out in panic.
I looked down. Oh shit. Why did I look down?
"I'm right here, just hold on," Ashley said calmly. I looked up at her and I'm sure she saw the sheer fear in my eyes.
"I'm gonna fall! Ashley, help me, please help me!"
"Hold on… as tight as you can. I have to get something out of my bag. Just hold on. I'm not going anywhere."
I heard her rummaging through her bag and then a few clicks.
She hung her head over the edge.
"You're going to be okay, I promise, just look at me, don't look down."
I looked up into the dark brown eyes and as beautiful as they were, it didn't matter. I was hanging off the side of a mountain and every thought in my head was that I was going to fall. My hands felt like they were slipping and if it weren't for the rock that my foot was on, I probably would have already fallen.
"Spencer, look at me. You have to stop moving. Be still. The more you move, the more that root moves. I'm going to pull you up, but you have to calm down, okay?"
"Okay, but please hurry. Oh God! I'm not ready to die." I closed my eyes and thought of all the things left undone and unsaid. "There are so many things I still want to do. I wanna be number one the New York Times Best Seller list, I wanna get married, and have kids. Oh God… Ashley!"
I opened my eyes and looked back up at her, a look of sadness in her eyes. "And… I really wanna kiss you." I laughed at my horrible timing. "Please, Ashley, don't let me fall."
"You're not going to fall. Just look at me, okay."
She's not going to let me fall, she's going to pull me up, I kept repeating in my head over and over.
"That's right, look at me. Calm down and stay still, I'm going to get the rope."
She left, but was back in seconds. Leaning over the edge, with a small flashlight between her teeth, she lowered a rope. It had a loop at the end and she ordered me to let my left hand go and put it through the loop so that it was underneath my arm and then slowly do the same with the right. I was so scared, my body shaking, my heart racing, but I knew I had to do it and I trusted Ashley. I had to trust her; it was just me and her on this mountain.
"Spencer, I know you're scared, but you have to trust me. One at a time, put your arms through the loop. I'll pull you up, okay?"
"No, I'm too heavy. I don't want to pull you down." I started freaking out again. How could she pull me up, she was smaller than me?
"Spencer, you won't pull me down. I'm attached to a harness and the rope and I are both tied to a tree. You just have to trust me. I know you barely know me, but I'm here with you right now, and I'm not going to let you fall."
"Please don't let me fall, Ashley." I cried out.
"I won't, I promise." Her voice was calm and reassuring.
I tightened my grip on the root with my left hand and slowly released my right. My foot pressed onto the rock below and I was thankful that it held me. I slid my arm through the loop and once it was in and my hand was gripping the top of the loop, I let my left hand go and did the same thing.
"Okay, they're through. Pull me up!" I yelled to Ashley.
"Just keep your arms tight and your elbows down. And do not let go until I tell you to!"
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The rope tightened and I started moving up slowly. It seemed like an eternity when I finally reached the top. I couldn't see her, but she put her arms underneath mine and pulled me over. I landed on top of her and in the moon light I could just barely see those eyes.
"Thank you," I whispered before lying down on her chest and hugging her tightly.
"It's okay. You're okay now," she whispered back.
It took a while to get back to the cabin. It was dark and Ashley was being extra careful. She didn't let go of my hand the entire way and I wouldn't let her if she tried. Hershey didn't leave my side either, even when we finally arrived at her cabin. I sat down on the couch as Ashley dug into her bag for a first-aid kit. When I slipped, I hit my head against the mountain. I had a rather large scrape on my forehead and my arms and legs had a few scrapes, as well.
After she had tended to all of my injuries, she brought me a glass of clear liquid. I thought it was water until I took a sip. It was vodka.
She laughed. "I thought you might need a drink."
I helped her cook dinner, against her wishes, of course. I didn't want to be away from her. I was still a bit shaky. While she was at the sink, cleaning the potatoes, I noticed that she had a scrape on the back of her arm. I grabbed some paper towel and moved behind her. After wetting the paper towel, I pressed it to her scrape. I don't know if it was from the closeness of the two of us, or the sting of the scrape, but she jumped. Her back pressed into my front and I closed my eyes and took in her scent and how good she felt in my arms.
"Your arm…it's bleeding," I said to her.
"I didn't even realize."
I had just been through the scariest thing in my entire life. The woman who saved me was in my arms. Every ounce of my being told me not to let this moment go. I had to do something.
I leaned in and pressed my lips to her neck leaving small pecks and slowly dragging my mouth up to her ear and cheek. She turned around slowly and I leaned into to kiss her, but she pulled away.
"I can't," she said quietly.
"I…I'm sorry." I didn't know what to say. At that moment, I thought she wanted the same thing.
"Spencer, I do…want this, but…"
"I already like you more than I should, and you're leaving."
"I can stay longer. I don't need to leave anytime soon."
"I can't. I want to, though. Trust me, I want to."
"Okay… but can I stay here tonight? I don't want to be alone, not after what happened." I didn't understand why she couldn't be with me. Just another mystery when it came to her. I didn't want to leave though, I couldn't. I needed to, at the least, be near her.
"I wasn't about to let you." She lifted her hand to my cheek, her thumb caressing my skin. I closed my eyes to the simple touch, a feeling of warmth and safety washing over me.
"I was scared, too, Spencer?" She whispered. I felt her move closer and then her lips touched my other cheek. My eyes finally opened to find her inches away. Her eyes were dark and she looked down at my lips before she closed them and leaned in. It was a soft kiss, just like I imagined our first one would be. It was slow and it was amazing and my heart was beating so fast I could feel it throughout my entire body. When she pulled away, I sighed.
"That's all I can give you, Spencer," she said.
Her hand was still on my cheek and I pulled it to my lips and kissed the top of it. I didn't know a lot about her. She had her secrets, as did I. She had her reasons, no doubt, for being up on this mountain…as did I. No, I didn't know a lot about Ashley, but she showed me what kind of person she was when I was hanging off of the mountain, fearing for my life.
The two words had more than one meaning.
She nodded and then went back to cleaning the potatoes.
Dinner was incredible. Steak, corn, sliced and seasoned red-skinned potatoes. Ashley was a great cook. That didn't surprise me. She had been living up on the mountain for 3 years and there wasn't a restaurant around for miles.
After cleaning up the dishes, we sat, had a few beers and watched a movie. When I started to doze off she stood up, held out her hand and pulled me into her room. Even though I wanted more from her, just being in her arms was enough… for now.
"Ashley," I whispered.
"I wanna know you. I wanna know who you were before the mountain."
She didn't answer. I let it go. We had an eventful day and we were both tired.
Her arm was resting on my hip and I grabbed her hand and pulled her closer.
I wanted to know everything about Ashley Davies, the mysterious woman living on a mountain, practically alone. I wanted to know everything about the woman who could fix an air conditioner and make an amazing meal. I wanted to know everything about the shy woman who loved her dog and saved my life. I wanted to know everything about the woman holding me… the woman I was falling in love with.
(Back stories in the next chapter)