Anne was glad that they had decided to drive over to York tomorrow instead of going early on Saturday morning. The drive would only take about an hour but if she was going to the biggest societal wedding of the season with the most beautiful woman in Yorkshire, she refused to show up creased. It meant that they’d be away from Shibden but she was certain they would be back soon. As she climbed the stairs up to her room she realised how important to her it was that Ann wanted to be there.
She pushed open the door to see how Ann was coming along with her packing and her mouth dropped as she stepped into the room. She wasn’t quite sure what was going on but she knew it couldn’t possibly be anything good. Ann was sat on the floor in front of the bed with the contents of her bags looking like they had exploded all over her once neat and well ordered sanctum. There were multiple outfits spread out across the bed whilst the dresses hung from every conceivable surface - wardrobe doors, bookshelves, even the curtain rail. Anne wondered how she’d even managed to reach that high up.
She slowly started to back out when one of the floorboards betrayed her and announced her presence. Ann turned sharply and Anne immediately sank down to her side when she saw the look of utter despair on her face. She cupped her face tenderly, “Darling what’s wrong?”
Ann’s lip trembled as she looked up at her, “I haven’t got anything to wear to the wedding.” Anne sat back on her legs and scanned the room again. It looked like there was more than enough for her to wear to several weddings. She wrapped her arm around Ann’s shoulders and gave her a gentle squeeze, “All of these dresses are lovely, I’m sure there’s something-”
Ann huffed, “They’re fine for just Shibden!” The “just” struck Anne. She tried not to react negatively to it, Ann was obviously upset and lashing out. She had more than enough experience of dealing with these types of situations. Her jaw was set tight as she watched Ann throw her hands up and bring them to rest on top of her head. “Here I can be myself. With you, and the family. But out there…” Her voice grew small as her words trailed off as she lowered her hands. She looked down at her lap, her voice barely a whisper, “I don’t want people to look at us and think...what’s Anne Lister doing with her?”
“Darling.” Anne immediately drew her into her arms and held her close as she tried to soothe her. Once again Ann had shone a light on her own insecurities and doubts, as ever Ann thought that she was the one who wasn’t enough when Anne was starting to realise that the person she held in her arms meant everything to her. Ann buried her head in her chest as she ran her hand up and down her back, “I’m sure they’ll be asking how I managed to charm someone so young and beautiful into going with me, no matter what you’re wearing.” There was a small sound that could have been a laugh. “I’m hardly the object of teenage crushes anymore.”
Ann sat up, her eyes narrowed as she saw the playful glint in her eye, “No, you’re not,” she said defiantly. Anne started to frown before Ann quickly leaned forward and placed a chaste kiss on her lips, “You’re the stuff of 30-something crushes now.”
Anne lifted her chin, grinning smugly, “Is now when I should mention we’re supposed to go to drinks tomorrow night?”
“What? Anne!” she cried as she smacked her chest lightly.
“It’s just a small get together at a bar with some of the other guests. It won’t be too long since the wedding’s quite early. I thought we could go to dinner first.” The worry lines were starting to form again. Ann rested her forehead against Anne’s chest as she tried to come up with a solution.
They could skip the drinks, only since she’d accepted the invitation last minute she wanted to remove any awkwardness there might be at the wedding. She honestly didn’t see a problem with any of the dresses that were hung around the room but evidently Ann didn’t think they were suitable. She thought for a moment before pulling back slightly so that she could gauge Ann’s reaction to what she was about to suggest, “Why don’t we try and find something when we get into York tomorrow?”
“But all your plans-”
“They don’t matter darling.” She placed her hands on Ann’s shoulders, “York’s stood for centuries. It can wait till we’re back up here again.” She could see that Ann was thinking about it, “Besides, I think you may have been indulging me somewhat. I’m sure you’ve done all those things before.”
Ann turned her head up to face her, “But I want to do them with you.” Anne’s heart lurched at how Ann looked at her with total devotion. She was certain she could suggest anything and Ann would agree to it as long as she got to be with her. She placed a gentle kiss on her forehead, “We can do them next time.” She tilted her head down so that their foreheads were almost touching, “It’s more important to find you something you’re comfortable wearing.”
Ann sighed, she had a point, and she was incredibly grateful she was willing to change the plans she knew she’d been excited about. She turned and looked again at her dresses, maybe she could use one of these. She let out another exhausted sigh, none of them seemed to be enough if she wanted to show people that she was worthy of being on Anne Lister’s arm. “What are you wearing?”
“My suit. The black one,” Anne answered succinctly. She realised as soon as she said it that the description probably didn’t help but she was confident that she would look sufficiently handsome enough for Ann.
“To a wedding?” Ann’s face started to scrunch up, she knew she was loyal to her monochromatic wardrobe but she thought there might be a hint of colour since it was a wedding they were going to. “That really doesn’t help me.”
Anne stared at her, confused at her statement. “Did you want to borrow something of mine?” she asked hesitantly. Ann smacked the back of her hand against her stomach, “I don’t want us to clash.” Anne nodded, that made much more sense.
“It’s black darling, it goes with everything.”
Suddenly Ann threw her hands up and looked at her wide eyed, “Crow Nest!”
“Yes, what about it?” She made a note that the next wedding they attended she would give Ann as much notice as possible to plan her outfit.
“I still have clothes there. I’m sure I could find something!” Ann grabbed her hands and held them tightly, “Then we could still do everything in York tomorrow.” Anne looked at the eager smile on her face, she looked so thrilled that they wouldn’t have to change their plans and they could still do all the things she’d suggested they do, “Will you take me?”
Anne nodded, knowing that she would do anything for her, “Of course darling.” Ann let out a tiny squeak as she jumped up and wrapped her arms around Anne’s neck.
As they drove up the long driveway to Crow Nest Ann felt oddly excited at being there again. It was in part because she did still hold some very fond and happy memories of her family home, but also because she was eager to be there with Anne. She had visited once before, shortly after Ann’s parents had passed away, when she’d rather embarrassingly chased her down the Lightcliffe Road and invited her for tea.
She had mentioned it to Anne in the car and she assured her she did remember it; but she wasn’t able to recollect any of the details. It was to be expected of course, Anne’s life was full of much more exciting things back then. Tea with her neighbours was hardly likely to be a highlight of her memory reel. She’d only probably accepted the invitation because she knew they were grieving and wanted to spare her feelings. It didn’t matter, they were both making many more memories of Shibden and Lightcliffe now, ones that she was sure they would add to.
James had greeted them as they entered the grand house. Anne had been a little taken aback by the way Ann had hugged him. She supposed their relationship was different from the one she had with the staff at Shibden, even Cordingley. They were all much younger and similar in age. Since Ann lived by herself before moving to London she had probably spent most of her time with James and her housekeeper, Sarah. She had also left the management of the estate to them so she must trust them a great deal.
She had been shown into the living room before James and Ann went to catch up on what had been happening on the estate. She would have enjoyed learning how the estate was managed but she understood the need for privacy in business matters. As she waited for Ann to join her she took in the ornate surroundings. She had always been impressed by Crow Nest and that was certainly the intention of this room.
The large windows let in so much light that the room felt cavernous even though it was smaller than the receiving room at Shibden. She had noticed the detailed crown mouldings in the entrance hallway and how they continued throughout the rest of the house, or at least downstairs. The walls were covered in exquisitely decorated fabric wallpaper that she was certain hadn’t changed in the decades since she had last been in the room. There were several antiques on every surface that were beautiful but she thought must be a nightmare to dust. In the centre of the room were two camelback sofas that she also remembered from her last visit. They were still in terrific shape so either very few people had sat on them since or they had been reupholstered, both were a possibility. Yes, this room was designed to delight and intimidate guests in equal measure. It felt nothing like Ann at all.
She was considering where to sit when Ann finally appeared. She collapsed heavily into one of the camelbacks despite them not looking like the sort of sofa anyone sank into. “Lunch will be ready in ten,” she said as she patted the space next to her. Anne took the prompt and sat down, she felt it proper to sit upright even though they were the only ones in the room.
“This room hasn’t changed much since I was last here.”
Ann lent forward and took her hand into hers, “No I don’t suppose it has.”
“You didn’t want to redecorate?” It seemed curious that Ann had spent so much time here and hadn’t thought about making changes to suit her. Anne was always full of ideas that she wanted to implement at Shibden.
“You don’t like it?” There was a trace of hurt in her voice.
“It’s magnificent,” she assured. Ann lifted her eyebrows knowing there was more to follow. “It doesn’t feel very you.”
“It’s not.” She leaned back, resting her head on the back of the sofa. “This is the most uncomfortable sofa I’ve ever sat on.” Both she and Anne started to laugh, as Anne looked at her puzzled, “But it was my mother’s. She decorated this room. Everything in this room has her touch.” Anne understood then. She didn’t have many pleasant memories of her own mother, and what ones they had had been left in their home in Market Weighton. If she had she might have wanted to preserve them the way Ann had.
She had been the opposite way after Sam’s passing. It had been too painful a reminder to see so much of him at Shibden. That’s why she had put to the side anything to do with the stables and allowed them to fall into their current state. She had moved into Sam’s room and changed every piece of furniture, if she had been able to she probably would have pulled up every floorboard too. She needed no earthly reminder of him when she felt that every good part of who she was was because of his influence.
It must have been so difficult for Ann to have lived there with the ghost of so many happy memories paired with the loss of her parents and then her brother. She could appreciate how being there must have helped her still feel close to them, but also trapped at the same time. What other choice did she have? There was Scotland with her sister, in a home that wasn’t her own. One of her many relatives would certainly have made room for her and her fortune, but that would have been another sort of trap. Anne realised that no matter how lonely her existence had been, it was really the only one she had.
Anne turned, resting her arm on the back of the sofa as she started to twirl Ann’s golden locks with her fingers, “Where did you spend all your time then?” A large smile spread across Ann’s face as she got up, holding her arms outstretched, “I’ll show you!”
She should have known that the room Ann had chosen to spend the most time in at Crow Nest was the kitchen. They sat at the large oak dining table that dominated the spacious kitchen. Anne had taken her place next to Ann on the bench whilst James finished preparing the lunch that Sarah had left for them when Ann had called to tell them they’d be visiting. She only worked a few hours a day now that Ann no longer lived there, dividing her time between Crow Nest and helping at Stoney Royd who seemed to have a constant revolving door of staff. Neither of them could possibly think why that might be. They had offered to help but James insisted they remain in their seats.
The kitchen was modern but was still in keeping with the rest of the house with the dark tiles set against the bone coloured cabinets. Ann had explained that she’d had a mishap when she had learnt to cook that had required replacing a few appliances so she had decided to just completely redo the kitchen. Sarah had been employed shortly after that and had been Ann’s guiding hand as she experimented with different techniques and flavours that she’d picked up from Saturday morning television.
James carried all of the food over to the table in one trip without any assistance. It was a beautiful summer salad with homemade crab cakes made with crab just caught fresh off the Yorkshire coast. Ann immediately took her phone out to snap a picture as James and Anne shared a knowing smile. “That’s how I know I’ve done a good job of dressing the plate,” he joked in his Glaswegian accent as he took a seat. Anne hadn’t expected him to join them for lunch but the way Ann paid no attention told her that it was not an uncommon occurrence. She was glad to know that Ann had not eaten all her meals alone here.
As they enjoyed their food the conversation soon turned to the stables and the dozen horses that Ann still kept. It was clear that they were in contact regularly about them as she had known all about the new foals that had been born in her absence. She had already agreed with James that they would not be sold. Ann had the luxury of a large stable and estate on which to keep them. James had also hired a new stablehand to help him with the horses whilst he managed the rest of the estate. The more he spoke, Anne thought if she wasn’t so confident in John’s abilities then James would make a fine replacement. Both he and Ann would put up a strong fight too. It was comforting to know that the land that joined onto Shibden was so well looked after.
She caught the tail end of their conversation in which James was asking her if she intended to go for a ride whilst they were there. Ann bowed her head and started to move her food around the plate. She finally looked up, a pained expression on her face, “I don’t think we have time. I still have to see if I can find a dress for the weekend.”
James gave a comforting smile, “Not to worry, you can ride them when you’re up again.” Anne knew immediately how disappointed Ann must be feeling. The horses were the one part of Lightcliffe that she adored. When they had been trying to avoid her family she had seemed almost resigned to the idea that she wouldn’t get to spend any time with them. Now that was no longer a problem it appeared that she still wouldn’t.
“We could go for a ride tomorrow morning.” Both pairs of eyes were on Anne. “Before we leave for York, we could go.” She could see Ann considering the idea, “You’d have to wake up early of course.” James stifled a laugh at the suggestion and Anne found herself having to do so too.
She placed her fork down and took Ann’s hand, “I was thinking, if it was alright with James.” She turned and looked at him, he gave a short nod. He didn’t know what she was about to suggest but he had known Ann long enough that he could see how happy being with Anne made her. “We could stay here tonight, and then go back to Shibden after lunch, or before. Then drive to York just before tea. That way you’d have time.”
Ann thought about the suggestion. In theory it could be done. She already knew what she would need in York and it shouldn’t take her too long to pack, if she could find something suitable to wear upstairs of course. The idea of waking up early didn’t thrill her but it would be less early if they stayed. If it meant she got time to ride around Lightcliffe and Anne was the one to wake her, she was sure she could do it.
Then she thought once she got in the saddle she very rarely ever wanted to stop. Starting knowing that there was a schedule that her very punctual girlfriend would most likely want to keep to would mean she probably wouldn’t enjoy the time she had. It was no good, she would have to accept that she would have to wait until their next visit.
Anne could see the range of emotions go across Ann’s face as she considered the options, finally setting somewhere between disappointment and sadness, “It’s no good. I don’t want us to be rushing.” She sounded utterly dejected. “But-” Anne lowered her head slightly to meet her gaze, “I would like to stay here the night, if that’s alright.”
Anne gave her hand a gentle squeeze and nodded, “Of course darling.” There was a small smile, at least that was something. Anne thought for a moment, there must be something they could do. Her head shot up, “What about Sunday?”
“We have lunch with your family.” Ann knew how important it was for them to have Sunday lunch with them, it was why they were coming back from York instead of travelling back to London from there.
“Yes, but after that. I wanted to spend time around Shibden, we can do that from the back of a horse.” Anne found herself nodding until finally Ann’s eyes brightened and she started to nod too. Anne leant forward placing a firm kiss on her lips as she thought to herself that kissing Ann’s smile was perhaps her favourite kiss..
Ann pushed the door open as she pulled Anne along into her bedroom. She casually dropped her hand as she moved over to the large wardrobes that lined the wall on the other side of the room. Anne stood a moment in the doorway taking in their surroundings. She’d never been in this room before, she had no reason to of course. As with the rest of the house the bedroom was impressive. It was much larger than any of the bedrooms at Shibden, even her own, and it was incredibly bright thanks to the large windows on the opposite wall. It was on the eastern side of the house so the sunrise would hit the king size bed perfectly every morning as it rose over Lightcliffe.
As Ann rooted through her closet Anne looked more closely at the room. This room was much more Ann than most of downstairs had been. The intricate flowers on the paper that covered the walls to the thick carpet beneath her feet that she was sure kept the room warm during the harsh Yorkshire winters had her touch. The heavy wooden bed frame that dominated the room looked like an antique, as did much of the other furniture in the room. Anne wondered if this had been her teenage bedroom, what pictures had adorned these walls. A sly smile spread across her face as she pictured the young Ann Walker dreaming about that devastatingly handsome neighbour of hers.
She started to lower herself onto the bed when she heard Ann yell, “What are you doing?” She paused mid-squat, her bum frozen in the air as she slowly turned her head, “Sitting down?”
Ann glared at her as she pursed her lips, “Outside clothes.”
“Pardon?” She blinked disbelievingly.
Ann put down the pile of dresses she had in her arms onto the bed and folded her arms across her chest, “You’re in outside clothes.”
“Yes, because we came from outside.” Her words came out a little slower than usual as she tried to grasp what the problem was.
“You can’t sit on my bed.”
Anne straightened as she turned to face her, “It’s not like you’re going to sleep on top of the covers.” Ann’s face didn’t change. “We’ve been from Shibden, to the car, to here. My clothes were clean on this morning. You saw me take them from my wardrobe.”
“But you sat in your car. When was the last time you cleaned your car seat?” Anne tried to steady her breathing at the seeming incessant and unnecessary questions. “And even if it has been cleaned, you also sat downstairs.” Anne could feel her brows furrow even further, were they really having this conversation? She threw her hands up in the air, utterly flummoxed. “Well where should I sit then?”
“Either on the floor or in the chair.” The answer stated so obviously.
Anne glanced over to the dresser and the low-backed wooden chair that sat in front of it. She was sure it was fine, but judging from the pile of clothes on the bed they would be here a while, “That chair doesn’t look very comfortable.”
“It’s not,” she answered defiantly. “But it’s either there, the floor, or-”
“Or?” She wasn’t sure whether she wanted the answer to that question considering the tone their conversation had already taken. She saw a flicker of mischief cross Ann’s otherwise stern face, “You sit on the bed, in your boxers.”
Anne narrowed her eyes as she scrutinised her from across the bed, “Miss Walker, is this a ploy to get me to take my clothes off?”
Ann raised her chin, confidence exuding, “Pretty sure I could get you to take them off without too much trouble.”
At that Anne launched herself across the bed, clambering towards Ann as she screamed. Her mistake was trying to swat Anne away because her hands were immediately captured by Anne’s long limbs as she pulled her closer as she knelt on the bed. Ann made a fruitless attempt to escape as her arms were trapped by her side by Anne’s strong arms.
Ann tightened her jaw as she tried not to look at Anne as her smug smile beamed back at her. “You were saying darling?” Ann glowered at her as she slowly turned her head, she wanted to lean in and kiss her and wipe that infuriatingly pleased look off her face. She let out a loud huff as she slowly replied, “No outside clothes on my bed.”
Anne’s boisterous laugh erupted between them as in a show of strength devoid of any grace she lifted her up and flipped them both so they were lying on the bed, “Now both of us are on your bed in outside clothes. What are you going to do about it?”
Perhaps it was Ann’s breathy moan that she heard escape from her lips as they came to lay side by side, or the soft press of her body against hers, or the simmering of desire she saw reflected in her eyes, but Anne momentarily loosened her grip enough for Ann to gain the advantage. She used all of her strength to propel herself forward as she pushed Anne onto her back. She scrambled out of her grasp as she sat triumphantly atop Anne.
Ann realised she was straddling Anne when she felt her hips press upwards beneath her as she placed her hands on her hips. The point had been to wipe the smug smile off her face but as she looked down at her she seemed more pleased with herself than ever as she licked her lips and wiggled her eyebrows at her. Ann chuckled as she smacked her lightly across her chest, “You’re incorrigible.”
“Yes,” she answered with a rakish grin. It wasn’t often that she found herself in this position but as she raked her eyes slowly down Ann’s body she grew more appreciative of it, “I quite enjoy this view.” Her eyes settled on Ann’s breasts that seemed to be pushing against the fabric of her dress. Ann shook her head as she followed where her gaze fell, “Hmm, I can’t possibly think why.” Her words didn’t even appear to register, “Anne, my eyes are up here.” Anne hummed distractedly before finally tilting her head back up. “Did you say something darling?”
She leant forward placing a firm kiss on Anne’s lips as she thought to herself how utterly impossible she was. Anne’s hands immediately moved from her hips to the back of her head as she held her firmly in place as she deepened their kiss. Ann relished the low moans that were coming from beneath her as she started to grind her hips in time with the movement of their tongues. She felt one hand lessen its grip as it started to stroke her back before moving down to rest on her thigh. They were moving together now, their undulating hips causing a delicious friction between them.
As Anne’s hand caressed her thigh as it moved up underneath her dress Ann reached between them as she blindly undid Anne’s belt buckle. She smiled as she managed to unzip her trousers without having to once part their lips. She hooked her fingers into the two frontmost belt loops and gave them a firm tug making her intentions clear. Anne pulled back and saw the wicked glimmer in her eye.
She lifted her hips allowing Ann to shimmy her trousers lower. Anne’s arousal built steadily along with her anticipation as Ann left a trail of kisses along her muscular legs. She looked up at the ceiling as she felt one trouser leg being pulled off and then the other. Ann’s hands reached upwards, resting on her hips as she retraced her path upwards. “I wonder, Miss Walker-”
“Why are you wondering anything right now?” Ann asked as the tip of her nose nudged Anne’s core sending her hips upwards with a low groan. She lifted her head up slightly as she watched the mess of wavy blonde locks nuzzle against her groin. She licked her lips slowly as she felt her heart start to thump harder in her chest. “How many nights did you sleep in this bed dreaming about me?”
A tiny giggle emanated from Ann as her head tilted up at the question. She slowly stalked forward with a mischievous smirk on her face as she locked eyes with Anne, “Oh I did more than dream.” Anne shuddered as she felt Ann’s hands slide swiftly into her boxers. Her delicate fingers making unsubtle movements along her already swollen clit. Ann hovered above her as she started to stroke along her folds gathering the wetness that had already pooled inside her boxers.
Anne tilted her head upwards, wanting Ann’s lips on hers as she continued her maddening languorous movements between her legs. Ann was enjoying the sight of Anne Lister coming undone on her bed by her hand but she couldn’t deny the wanton look in the dark eyes looking up at her. She lowered her body to press against Anne’s as they kissed longingly. She pulled back as she felt the zipper on the side of her dress slide down followed by Anne’s palm on her back pressing her closer against her.
She moved her head lower as she kissed the underside of Anne’s strong jaw. Anne arched her neck as she felt Ann starting to suck along her pulse point till she felt her warm breath against her ear. “I used to lie here staring up at this ceiling, thinking of you,” she husked. “How it would feel to be pressed against you as our bodies lay here together.” She kissed the spot behind her ear that Anne knew drove her wild every time she did so, “Your lips on my skin.”
Ann moved her fingers upwards, “I’d close my eyes, picturing you as my hand travelled lower, that handsome smile that always made me breathless whenever I’d catch a glimpse of you.” She placed featherlight touches on the hard nub between Anne’s legs. “The sound of your throaty laugh that my ears would perk up at as soon as I heard it across a room.” She drew a solitary finger along Anne’s clit as she felt her shudder beneath her.
“Till I couldn’t stop myself anymore, I knew I needed you.” She started to draw circles around her clit, “I’d imagine my fingers were yours as you teased me as I writhed below you.” Anne started to grind her hips impatiently seeking more as Ann took her earlobe between her lips. She relished the moans as she started to suck. She started to increase the pressure as she drew tighter circles, “You whispering in my ear in that low sexy voice of yours how good I feel, as I lift my hips up.” At her words Anne’s own hips bucked upwards. “How wet I was making you as you strummed my clit,” Ann’s words mimicked their reality as Anne started to pant as her climax drew nearer and she could feel herself getting wetter.
“Keep talking,” Anne pleaded breathlessly. “I’m close. Fuck.” Ann moved more purposely between her legs, strumming her clit faster as Anne’s grip tightened around her. “You’d tell me how much you wanted to make me come, how you knew I’d dreamed about this moment, how long I’d been waiting for you to take me.” Anne’s hips were thrusting frantically against Ann’s fingers as her release drew closer.
Ann’s fingers were unrelenting, she wanted to completely unravel her. “You’d promise me that you were going to fuck me until I saw stars. With your fingers…” Anne moaned loudly as Ann pressed firmly against her. “Your tongue,” another loud groan as her fingers moved even faster. “Your cock.” She could feel that she was only a moment away, she pressed her lips against Anne’s ear as she whispered, “Till I was completely and irrevocably yours.” Anne’s hips shot up as she froze in midair as she came hard against Ann’s fingers as she pressed their bodies close together. Her fingers still stroking her as the ripples of Anne’s climax moved through her.
Anne collapsed breathless against the sheets. Ann placed a kiss against her lips as she pulled her hand out from between her legs. She looked at Anne, her eyes still closed as she continued to pant heavily, the wisps of hair clinging to her forehead damp with perspiration. She was everything and more than she had ever imagined in all those countless hours she had spent lost in her dreams of her. She opened her eyes as she pulled Ann in for a deep kiss.
When they parted Anne had a very self-satisfied grin on her face, Ann raised an eyebrow, “And why are you looking so pleased with yourself?”
The corner of her mouth rose into a smirk as she tugged the front of Ann’s dress, “Someone’s still wearing outside clothes in her bed.” Ann let out a tiny squeal as Anne quickly flipped them over and smiled mischievously, “We’re going to have to do something about that.”
Anne sat on the bed in her boxers and t-shirt watching Ann as she padded around her room in just her knickers and an oversized t-shirt. She had been sitting on her hands so she wouldn’t jump up and grab Ann as she walked past. She thought it was safe enough now to take a look at her watch. It was almost 9pm. She hadn’t realised it had gotten so late. Thankfully James had brought up a tray full of sandwiches for them which they had demolished entirely.
Two dresses and several breaks later it seemed they were finally done. The dresses Ann had finally chosen were hanging on the front of one of the large wardrobes as she began to put the others away. Anne was glad that she’d found something that she was comfortable in, not that she would have minded spending the day trying to find an outfit if it meant a repeat of the fashion show she’d spent most of the day watching. It would probably be unwise to have quite as many shag breaks as they had done in the safety of Ann’s bedroom.
Ann smiled as she walked past her and out into the hallway, “Back in a minute.” Anne considered getting dressed again as they seemed to be finished, but another thought came into her mind just as Ann returned wheeling in a suitcase much too large for just the two dresses she’d chosen. “Darling, we have the car. We can just put your dresses in the back. Trust me, there’s more than enough room back there to lay a dress down flat.” Anne gave her a quick wink. Ann shook her head, she was sure she didn’t want to know why she knew that, at least not at the current moment. Her dress selection had already been derailed several times once they’d gotten onto that train of thought.
“I’m going to pack a few more things so I can bring them back to London.” Anne nodded, it made sense to do that. They were no good to her up here. Also, if she had more clothes in London she might consider leaving some items at her flat. She still didn’t relish the idea of not waking up to her and hoped she’d be able to persuade her to regularly spend a few nights there each week, their schedules permitting. She was thinking about how to bring that subject up with her that she almost missed what Ann said next, “I don’t know if the bags I’ve got at Shibden are big enough for the trip to York.”
“Pardon darling?” She surely couldn’t have heard that right. The bag Ann had at Shibden was larger than any she had used to travel with in recent years, and that included a fortnight she’d spent travelling through South East Asia last year. “We’re going for two nights.” The steely glare Ann gave her made Anne shrink slightly against the covers. “Yes. I know,” Ann replied tersely. “But we’ve got drinks and a dinner, the wedding, nightwear, and regular clothes.” Anne wasn’t going to argue. “Plus toiletries!” She didn’t want to tell her that the hotel they were staying at would provide those.
“And the charger for your phone, and I’m presuming you’ll bring your laptop just in case you need to work, and your journal too.” Anne got up and walked over to her, wrapping her up in her arms as she saw her getting more frustrated. She was certain that the large suitcase had nothing to do with her items but she was grateful that she had considered Anne’s need for them. She felt Ann let out a huff against her chest as she kissed the top of her head, “Thank you darling.”
“I’d like to see how big your bag is.” Anne stifled a laugh, she could practically see Ann’s pout even though her head was still resting on her chest. “You’ve seen it, it’s that duffle that was under the chair.”
Ann pulled back sharply, “That’s it? That’s all you're bringing?”
“Well no, my suit holder too that was hanging on the back of the door.”
“What about the rest of your things?” Anne gave a small shrug as Ann leaned against the vanity table behind her. “And you’ve packed everything we need in it?”
“Yes, all my things are in it.” Anne stepped closer to her, lifting up her arms and placing them around her waist. As much as she loved wrapping Ann up in her arms she enjoyed Ann’s possessive embrace too. Ann looked up at her, her bottom lip between her teeth. Anne tilted her head curiously at her apparent shyness. “Yes dearest, but everything we need.” There was a long pause before Ann lowered her head and nodded towards Anne’s crotch. Her eyes widened immediately, “Oh. You want me to bring…” Ann gave a small nod.
Anne tried not to look too smug, “I’ll make sure to pack it as soon as we get back.” She turned to go back to the bed but felt Ann’s grip tighten around her waist. She stopped and looked back down at her. There was a small crease on her forehead though she couldn’t think why considering what she’d just asked her, surely there was nothing more to be bashful about, “Are you bringing it back to London or do you…have one?”
Anne reached up and caressed the side of her face. The contrast of this angel that sat before her asking whether she was bringing her strap back to London with her. Ann truly was perfect. She leant down, giving her a quick kiss, “I was planning on bringing it.” There was a contented nod, “It was actually my replacement. I ordered it when I was here last but it took too long to arrive and then I never needed it.”
“Oh.” Ann raised her eyebrows in surprise at Anne’s throw away comment. “So you haven't since Mariana?”
Anne paused, she hadn’t realised the implications of what she had just said. Ann knew about her reputation but they had not spoken about their previous relationships, or lack of, apart from Mariana of course. From the way they had spent most of their afternoon, and every moment they were alone over the last few days, it was obvious that they were both very happy, but she still worried about what Ann was thinking.
“No,” she answered hesitantly. “It was a bit of a um...dry spell.”
“Hmm.” It wasn’t the answer Anne had expected and she wasn’t quite sure what it meant. She placed two fingers beneath Ann’s chin and tilted her head upwards hoping for more of an answer. Ann’s bright blue eyes looked up at her, a teasing smile on her lips, “Not anymore.”
Anne tilted her head back as she laughed silently before looking back at her, the teasing smile now replaced by a huge grin, “You don’t have to look quite so pleased with yourself darling.”
“This must be what it feels like.”
Anne furrowed her brow, “What, what feels like?”
Ann bit her bottom lip as she stood up and wrapped her arms around her neck. She placed a firm kiss against her lips, “To be you.” She gave her a quick cheeky wink, “Darling.”