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You saved me

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Chapter 1

Anne was quietly eating her lunch in her favourite park. It was a bright sunny spring day. She had been busy at her medical practice all morning and was enjoying the hour respite from the noise and jumble of patients and office staff. When she heard a thud then a scream. Someone had taken a fall.

She rose to investigate.and saw a young blond on her back. There were people mingling around her. She wondered why mishaps always brought around the myriad of sticky beaks. I guess there’s nothing like a good fall to brighten a day.

Of course, being a doctor she stepped into see if she could help out. It was then that she noticed the young blond gasping to breath.

‘More away please. Give the young lady some room. Can’t you see you’re crowding her.’ Anne said loudly and with force. As people moved away she could see the young blond more clearly.

It wasn’t the first time they had met. Her mind wandered for a moment back to when Ann Walker’s parents had passed away only months apart. She could still see Ann now as she was back then. Back then she didn’t think Ann was much of a catch.

Now, when she looked at Ann she could still see her freckles which dotted her face and down her neck but this Ann Walker was very pretty. ‘Come on, Lister, get you shit together. She needs help.’ Anne admonished herself quietly.

‘Ann Walker as I live and breath. Can I help you up?’ She checked her over. ‘There seems to be no broken bones. There maybe a little bruising from the fall.’

‘Yes, please.’ Ann replied, just a little more excited that she wanted to be. She couldn’t believe her luck. The one person who she had a teenage crush on was her helping her after she took a tumble.

Anne helped her over to where she was sitting. The crowd had dispersed after Anne had told them to move away. So, it was only Anne and Ann sitting quietly together while Ann rested. Then she spoke.

‘I never thought it would take me falling over for you to come rescue me. I am so grateful that you shooed everyone away. I was starting to feel claustrophobic and on the verge of a panic attack. But there you were to save me. Thank you so much.’

‘You’re welcome but I don’t always save damsels in distress only pretty ones.’

‘Dr Lister, are you trying to make me blush?’

‘I do think it has worked.’ Ann felt her cheeks redden. She had never had anyone flirt with her the way Dr Lister was flirting with her right now. She was enjoying it immensely.

‘I know we have just met but…’ Anne went quite for a beat and allowed her eyes to look anywhere except at Ann. She was afraid it was too soon but she

did want to get to know more about Miss Walker.

‘Well, what do you want to ask me, Anne?’ Ann was thinking just ask I am sure I will say yes no matter what your request.

‘How would you like to join me for dinner tonight? I have to return to work in,’ she looks at her watch.’fifteen minutes. I finish at around six barring any other mishaps.’

Ann smiled ‘Yes, I would love to get to know the great Dr Lister a bit more.’

Anne smiled and it was so wide it nearly engulfed her face.’Great, can we meet here at six fifteen. That will give me time to close up and fix whatever needs fixing. You know hair and clothes. Can I have your number just in case I need to cancel because an emergency has come up?’

‘Okay!!’ Ann said sheepishly. She was hoping she would see Anne tonight. They exchanged numbers and both walked away with a spring in their steps, albeit in different directions.

Ann raced home to find something a bit racy to wear. She want to let Anne know she was interested in her without needing to say so. She found the prefect dress. It was short but not too short. Her favourite, well, Anne’s favourite colour, black. She had tried on three or was it four different dresses before she spied this one.

She applied a little makeup. She didn’t want to seem needy and wanting. She had heard subtlety was the way to someone’s heart.

She collected her phone and bag. She hadn’t heard from Dr Lister. So she was hoping their date was still on. She walked back to where they had met. Ann had only been wait moments when Dr Lister appear looking as though she had just stepped out of a movie. Her dark brown hair was neatly tied back and her clothes looked fresh. She seemed to be wearing something different. Ann thought maybe she had gone home but that seemed impossible since it was just 6.15pm. This woman was a great time keeper.

‘You are on time, Dr Lister.’

‘I am always on time and please call me, Anne. I am not at work now.’

‘Okay, Anne.’

‘Do you have a favourite place you would like to eat, Ann?’

‘Not really. I don’t eat out much. It’s just me, myself and I. Sometimes we are very dull company.’

‘Let me be the judge of that. I have a fav restaurant I go to often. Will that be okay? It’s only a short ten minute walk from here.’

‘That sounds fine but is it your walking speed or mine. I remember you walking around Halifax as if you had turbo charged shoes on..’

Anne smirked.’Yes, I guess I need to slow down a bit but I don’t like to waste time. I think walking wastes too much time.’

‘Have you thought about riding a bicycle to where you need to go?’

‘Not really. Anyway, I will slow down for you but it will take a little longer to get there. Approximately 13.5 minutes. Is that okay?’

‘Hell yes, as long as you don’t mind.’

‘Not in the least. When I have a pretty girl with me time doesn’t matter and I have a pretty young girl with me.’

''Hey, enough of the young girl.’ Ann said seriously.’I may look young but I will be 30 next 20th of May.’

‘Sorry, I stand corrected, young lady. You suddenly make me feel like an old maid.’

‘Old maid? How old are you, Dr Lister?’

‘I will be 42 next 3rd of April. I hardly know you and here we are exchanging birth dates. While I would never do that until I have known someone for a long time. It feels so right with you.’

‘Let’s eat. I am famished.’ Ann said as she grabbed Anne’s hand and coaxed her to lead her to the restaurant.

They had been chatting for so long they didn’t notice the time. The sun was fast setting when they reached the restaurant. Ann was worried that she would be walking home in the dark. Dr Lister could see the worried look on her face.

‘What’s up? You don’t seem your bright self’

‘’I don’t like walking home in the dark. We spent so much time chatting I didn’t realise it was getting late.’

‘Don’t stress, Ann. If you would like me to I will walk you home.’ Anne said.

‘Thank you, Dr Lister. I like your bedside manner.’ Oops. She didn’t mean to say that and blushed quite freely. She put her hand over her mouth as if she didn’t want her thoughts to drain out her mouth. Too late to think about that.

Dr Lister smiled. ‘Yes, I do have good bedside manners. I will show you one day if you like.’

They asked for a seat in a quieter part of the restaurant. Anne knew Ann didn’t like crowds after this afternoon’s events.

They sat quietly reading the menu. The server had brought them water. Anne ordered a bottle of wine. Anne made a suggestion and Ann thought it sounded delicious. ‘It seems as though you come here often.’ Ann said.

‘I certainly do and their chicken carbonara is to die for.’

‘If you recommend it I will try it.’ Ann said. So, when their server returned they ordered their meals and Anne requested a bottle of their best red.

They chatted while waiting for their meals. Anne hadn’t realised how much Ann remembered from the first time they met. To Anne it was just a courtesy call. They were neighbours and had been for a long time.

‘Ann, why did you move to London? I thought the crowds would have deterred you from this noisy place.’

‘I needed to get away from my overbearing family. They seem to think they know what I want without needing to ask for my opinion. Anyone would think that my life was theirs to organise.’

‘That isn’t fun.’

‘No, Dr Lister, it isn’t. They seem to think I need a husband. They would bring to family dinners ever eligible bachelor within a ten kilometre radius and even when I said I wasn’t interesting in men or marry one they still insisted I would change my mind when I met the right one. I am still waiting for the penny to drop.’

‘So, they haven’t found the right one. Or you’re just not interested.’ Anne said coyly. Then their meals arrived. They continued their conversation.

‘I’m more interested in a woman.’ Ann said so quietly Anne barely heard her.

‘Did you say you like girls?’ Anne asked. Ann nodded. ‘Then you are in good company. You see I love and only love the fairer sex. I plan to have a wife.’

‘You do?’ Ann squealed with delight.’That’s nice. I hadn’t thought about marriage until now. I guess I hadn’t thought about it much.’

‘What do you mean? Until now.’

‘Oops!! That wasn’t how it was supposed to come out.’

‘Why? You are doing fine. I think you are the prettiest lady I have met lately.’

‘Dr Lister, you are making me blush again. You do know I have had a crush on you for a long time and to meet you today. Well, that just made my day.’

‘Yes, you did mention that after you fell over. I never asked you what happened.’

‘Just my clumsy feet got tangled together. I wasn’t watching where I was going and lucky me, hahaha. I found a small hole in the ground and down I went.’

‘Was it you that screamed?’

‘No, it was some crazy fool lady who was walking so close to me I thought she was a stalker.’

‘Oh dear. What happened to her.’

‘She took off once you told everyone to stop crowding me. I was grateful you came along when you did. I didn’t thank you. So, thanks.’

‘You’re welcome, Ann. Like I said I only save pretty ladies.’ Anne said. ‘Where do you work?’

‘I don’t. After my parents died my brother, John was left the family properties. Then he married and went on his honeymoon to Naples.’

‘Yes, I have heard it is lovely there. Did he take photos? Would you show me if he did?’ Ann cringed. Anne didn’t know John and his bride drowned in Naples in a boating accident. Ann was suddenly very somber. Anne could see she was on the verge of crying.

‘Anne, my brother and his wife drowned in Naples on their honeymoon. So there are no photos. As there is no John and Emma, his beautiful bride. So, Elizabeth, my older sister and I inherited Crow Nest and the surrounding homes there.’

‘Goodness. Sorry about your lose. So, what do you do most days.’

‘I paint and binge watch my favourite shows.’

‘You paint. Have you had your work displayed in an art gallery? Anne was surprised that Ann could paint and did.

‘No, I haven’t had any of my paints on display in an art gallery. I am not sure if anyone would like them.’

‘Ann Walker, I need to see your paintings. I have a friend who owns an art gallery and is interesting in showing work of new artists. She’s an old flame of mine. I am sure she would love to see some of your work.’

‘Are you sure? You haven’t seen it yet.’

‘I would love to check them out when I walk you home. Can I?’ Anne pleaded. She wanted to see Ann’s paintings.

‘If you insist.’

‘That I do, Ann. I insist.’

‘Their server brought the bill and after a tussle Anne paid for it with Ann promising to pay for their next meal together if they did have another date. Anne smiled. She knew Ann Walker wouldn’t win that battle.

They strode out into the cool evening.

‘Which way is your place?’ Ann pointed in the general direction. Anne grabbed her hand and they walked away from the restaurant to Ann’s home.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

 

They walked in companionable silence to Ann’s home. Ann was wondering what Anne would think of her when Anne saw her paintings. Ann began to feel unsure about showing Anne what she had done. It seemed hard to imagine someone like Dr Lister would be interested in Art of any kind. Anne knew Tib was looking for a new artist to display her paintings at her gallery.Then they stopped. Ann didn’t know why. Anne pulled her up just as she was about to cross a busy street.

‘Ann, Ann, you seem miles away. You near got yourself killed. What were you thinking about?’ Anne said to her with a serious look on her face.

‘Oh nothing.’ Ann thought, if you knew you wouldn’t want to be here with me.

‘Where do you live from here, Ann?’ Ann realised where they were and pointed to her home. ‘Just across the street. I can walk by myself from here if you don’t want to come any further.’ Ann said timidly. Her paintings were in full view as she walked in through the door. She didn’t think Anne would like what she saw.

‘Are you avoiding showing me your paintings, Miss Walker?’ Anne said as sternly as she could without laughing. She could see Ann was nervous about showing them to her.

‘Well. I really don’t think you would like them. They aren’t anything special just something I have done when I am bored.’

‘Let me be the judge of that .I am sure they are really good.’ Anne said as she took Ann’s hand and walked with her across the street and into her home. When Ann had opened the door Anne could see them in the dim light.

‘Turn on a light so I can see them better, Ann.’ Ann hesitantly turned on the light. Anne’s eyes lit up as she gazed over Ann’s paintings. She couldn’t believe what she saw. She was amazed. ‘Ann, they are good. They are better than good. They are beautiful. Have you ever sold any?’

‘No, I have never put any up for sale.’ Ann said. She never had imagined selling her paintings. She didn’t think they were worth much.

‘I think we should get my friend, Isabella Norcliffe to check these out. I am sure she will like them. She’s the one who owns the gallery.’

‘Would you do that for me, Anne?’ Ann said full of excitement. She never had anyone praise her paintings before. Her family didn’t know she painted apart from her sister, Elizabeth. Who often told her she was good but she thought she said that because Ann was her sister.

‘I can do that now, I owe Tib a phone call.’

‘Who’s Tib?’ Ann said surprised.

‘That’s my nickname for Isabella.’

‘Okay!!’ Anne reached in her jacket pocket and pulled out her phone. She found Tib’s number in her address book and called her.

‘Evening, Anne and what do I own the pleasure of hearing from you since you rarely call me.’

‘Now, do be like that, Tib. I am here with a budding artist. She hasn’t shown her paintings before. I was wondering if you would like to check them out. They are good even if she tells you they’re not.’ Ann smirked. She was beginning to feel seen. Anne had taken her out for dinner. Now, they were here standing in the foyer of her home. Anne was talking to a gallery own on the phone who wanted to check out her paintings.

‘When can I check out her paintings? I could do it now. I was just leaving to go home. Where does she live?’ Tib said.

‘Hold on. I will ask her if it is okay to come now.’

‘What does she want to do?’

‘Ann, she wants to come now if it’s okay with you. She was just on her way home.’

’If it isn’t out of her way.’

‘Nah!’ Ann heard Tib scream over the phone. Anne gave Tib Ann’s address and they waited. Tib arrived half an hour later. Ann wondered where Tib’s gallery was. She knew it had to be somewhere close.

‘Thank you for coming at such short notice, Miss Norcliffe.’ Ann said.

‘First let’s cut out the formalities. My friends call me Tib and since you are with my oldest and dearest friend you should call me Tib too.’

‘Thanks, Tib.’

‘What do you think, Tib? Anne asked as she eyed her friend cautiously. She was hoping they were as good as she thought they were.

‘I would love to have these ones in a show next month. I like them all but these four stand out to be the best.’ She said as she pointed to the four Ann had painted of her favourite places. Her home in Halifax. A scene of the town from her favourite spot near new bank and close to Shibden Hall and two portraits, one of herself and another of her Aunt Ann. ‘Can you do two more paintings for me before then? I am sure they will sell fast.’

‘You think so. They are just me splashing paint around when I am bored.’

‘Dear girl, you need to get bored more often. They are exquisite and beautiful. They will sell.’ Tib said.

‘I will do my best for you.’ Ann said and Anne smiled. She could see Ann could become a famous artist and was hoping she would be there for her.

‘I will go for now. Here is my card.’ Tib handed her card to Ann.’Call me when you have completed two more paintings. Okay!! I am sure Anne here wants you to succeed.’

‘Anne and I only met today. I don’t know if she wants to hang around with me.’ Anne looked at her with sadness in her eyes and said. ‘Why do you have such a poor opinion of yourself? I want to see you again and again and again. Until I don’t know when.’ Maybe when one or both of us takes our last breathe.

‘I’m off. See you soon, Ann and keep in touch more often, Anne. I suppose you will now.’

‘Take care. I will let you know when I have completed the paintings.’ Ann said. When the door closed Ann looked at Anne. ‘Do you really want to see me again? She said so softly Anne had trouble hearing her.

‘Could you say that louder please. I didn’t hear you.’

‘Do you really want to see me again. Really want to see me.’ Ann said as loud as she could. She didn’t care who heard her.

‘Yes, you silly duffer. I want to see you again and again. I know you think I am a flirt but when I find someone I like I want to be with them often.’

‘Why did you say I would think you are a flirt?’ Ann asked.

‘Because that’s the rumours that fly around about me.’

‘What rumours? I haven’t heard them. Well, not until you just mentioned them.; Anne was wondering now why she did that. Would Ann really want to be with her. She didn’t know.

‘Would you like to meet me for lunch tomorrow?’ Anne said quietly. She was just as shy as Ann if she was unsure of herself.

‘Of course, I would. I really do enjoy your company, Anne.’

‘As I enjoy yours. So, we will meet in the same place. If it is raining which it seems as though it might be. Here is my card. The address of my practice is on the back. Come there. We can decide what to do then.’

‘Okay!! What time will we met up?’ Ann asked.

‘Around noon If that’s okay with you. I will be there about ten past or you could meet me at my practice.’ Anne said. ‘I am fine whatever you decide.’

‘How about I meant you at your practice?’

‘Excellent. See you tomorrow.’

‘Take care walking home.’ Ann said as Anne left. Ann didn’t know Anne’s home was at her practice. She lived in the apartment upstairs. It was good enough for her for now. After all she was living with her partner who was rarely there..

Ann arrived at Dr Lister’s practice just before noon the next day. She couldn’t see her anywhere. The young woman behind the desk eyed her suspiciously. She had never seen Ann there before. ‘Can I help you?’ Miss Grimes, the receptionist asked.’ Are you here to see Dr Lister or Dr Foster?’

‘I have a lunch date with Dr Lister. She told me to meet her here at noon. I know I am a bit early. Is it okay if I wait here?’ Then Anne stepped out of her office.’Hi Ann, come this way. I am hungry. Are you hungry?’

‘Yes, where are we eating? I bought chicken sandwiches and a garden salad.’

‘Upstairs in my apartment which I share with my partner, Gemma Foster.’

‘Yes, your receptionist mentioned her name.’

‘Oh did she?’ Anne said. ‘Watch out for that one she’s a bit of a flirt.’

‘That’s a bit rich coming from you, Dr Lister. I hear you are a super flirt.’ Ann said as Anne blushed.

Chapter Text

‘Let’s go upstairs and eat. I hope you don’t mind the mess. I was a bit late waking so I couldn’t clean up the breakfast dishes before morning patients began coming in.’

When Anne opened the door Ann couldn’t understand what Anne was talking about. It looked so much cleaner than her home. She had canvases everywhere in different stages of completion. She would work on one for a while then start another sometimes never getting back to the first one deeming it a work in progress.

‘Would you like a drink, coffee, tea or lemonade?’

‘Coffee please, white with two sugars and cream.’ Ann said.

‘I thought you were sweet enough already.’ Anne said and Ann blushed.

‘Oh dear Your cheeks are bright red. Sorry!! I didn’t mean to embarrass you.’

‘That’s okay! No one has complimented me like that. Thank you, Anne.’ Ann said as she hid her face. She was finally being told by someone that she was pretty. No one had done that. The men whom her tribe had brought around for her to meet had only been interested in her money. They didn’t even look at her and when she said she wasn’t interested they would continue to try to get her attention via email or Facebook messenger. She didn’t know how they get her email address. Maybe someone in her tribe gave it to them. She never answered them. So after a period of time they gave up. Anne pulled her from her memory. ‘Hey Ann, I have someone here I would like you to meet. This is Gemma Foster. The flirt I was telling you about.’

‘Hi, Dr Foster. Please to met you.’

‘And I am please to met you. Anne mentioned you were coming for lunch today. I didn’t expect you to be so cute and call me Gemma.’

‘Cut it out, madam flirt. She’s mine.’ Anne said.

‘Hey, we will see about that one.’ Gemma said. ‘Are you free tonight?’

‘No, Anne’s right. I am hers.’ Ann said.

‘Hey, that’s the faster you have lured a woman. What did you say to her?’

‘This young lady has had a crush on me since she was 18 or 19. Which is it, Ann?’

‘Since my parents passed away. Anne here came to their funeral. She was the only bright spot in the day.’ Ann said. ‘I was only a month from my 18th birthday. That was 11 years ago.’

‘So, you’re 29 now. Right.’ Gemma said. ‘And you’re how old, Lister? 41.’

‘Yeah, I am. What’s age got to do with it?’ Anne said looking at Gemma furiously. Sometimes that woman didn’t know when to keep her trap shut.

‘I think we will do fine. Thanks for the concern but I think I am a little bit in love with Anne.’ Probably a lot in love with Anne, Ann thought.

‘Anyway, enjoy your lunch. I just came up to tell you the results for Miss Jones’ tests have come back. I put them on your desk.’ Gemma said

‘Thanks. I will check them out after lunch.’Gemma left. Anne made Ann her drink and the sat down at the round table in the dining room. ‘Were you serious about what you said just now. That you’re a little bit in love with me. Or was it just to put her off flirting with you.’

‘I was following your lead. You said I was yours but I am a little bit in love with you. Not just a little bit a whole lot in love with you.’ Anne nearly choked on her drink when Ann said that. ‘You don’t know me that well. Do you?’

I know you well enough to know that you’re the one I want to be with. Maybe for always.’

‘Ann, I normally don’t date but you captured my attention when you fell down yesterday and I couldn’t resist taking you out for dinner last night. I love your paintings. I would love to buy the painting of you to hang in my bedroom.’

‘It’s yours and I mean what I say. I love you, Anne. I know it seems to soon to be saying those words but that’s how I feel about you.’ Anne blushed. They ate in silence. Anne mulling over in her head what Ann had just revealed. She couldn’t believe her partner would flirt with Ann so openly but she was cute and adorable. ‘I need sometime to think about this. I hope you don’t mind, Ann. It’s the first time in a long time that someone has professed they love me.’

‘I can wait if there is hope.’ Ann said.

‘Oh there is always hope.’ Anne said. ‘Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?’

‘Yes, I would. Where are we going to eat?’

‘Here, Ann.’

‘What about Gemma? Won’t she be here?’ Ann asked looking at Anne with concern.’She doesn’t seem like someone who likes being a third wheel.’

‘She isn’t but she will be with her on again off again girlfriend. I doubt if I will see her until tomorrow morning.’

‘Okay!!! Then it’s a date.’ Ann said and Anne cringed as she said that.

‘I need to get back to work. Let yourself out. I will see you at around six. Is that okay, Ann?’

‘Yes, get going before your patients get their knickers knotted up.’ Ann cleared away the dirty dishes and loaded them into the dishwasher. She wiped down the counter and tucked the chairs under the table. As she left she wondered what would happen tonight. They had two unofficial dates already. Shouldn’t they be uhauling by now.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

 

Ann arrived just before six. She had been to the bottle shop and bought two bottles of wine, a fine red and a delicious white. Well, that’s what the store owner told her. She had also packed her pjs and clean underwear in her bag just in case she should stay overnight. She was hoping that would happen. Only she didn’t want to assume anything with Anne. Anne hadn’t had any good relationships in the past. Well, not women who would stick around to see how far they could go. She heard most of her past girlfriends had dumped her to marry a man.

Ann sat in the waiting room for Anne to finish with her last patient. She follow him out of her office and saw Ann. ‘I have some paper work to finish up. Go upstairs and make yourself at home. I will be there in a few. You can watch tv if you want to . The remote is on the coffee table.’

‘Thanks. I will do that.’ Ann walked upstairs and let herself in. She could hear the shower going. Gemma must be taking a shower. She made herself comfortable on the sofa, grabbed the remote and turned on the tv.

‘Have you finished up, Anne?’ Gemma yelled out as she turned off the shower.

‘No, its Ann Walker. Anne and I are having dinner together here. She told me you were going out with your girlfriend.’

‘Oh did she.’ Gemma said. ‘She’s not my girlfriend just someone who is good for a fuck when I am hot and horny.’

‘Good grief, Gemma. I don’t think Ann wants to know about your sex life.’

‘Oh dear. Miss prude is back.’ Gemma said. ‘Well, I’m off. I hope you have a good night with Anne, Ann Walker. See you in the morning Anne.’ Gemma said as she walked out the door.

‘See you tomorrow, Gemma.’ When Anne heard the door to the practice close she sat down. Ann could see she was bothered by something.

‘What’s up. Anne?’

‘Nothing.’ Anne said with an unintended huff.

‘There must be something wrong. You look as though you have been hit by a truck and left for dead.’

‘It’s just Gemma. She thinks I am a prude because I don’t have a girlfriend. She doesn’t know about my past and I don’t intend to tell her because I know she would tell all and sundry about it.’ Anne said.

‘You can trust me to keep it a secret but I don’t want to know unless you are willing to tell me.’ Ann said slowly. She was hoping Anne would open up to her one day but not today.

‘I know I can trust you because you have a very trusting face and you have told me things you have never told anyone else.’ Ann looked at Anne puzzled.

‘How did you know that, Anne?’

‘i think it was the way you said it. I am sure we can talk later but for now let’s order in some dinner.’ Anne said. ‘What would you like?’

‘And here I was thinking you were going to cook me a meal.’

‘Me, ask my sister. I can’t cook to save my life. I can boil water dry. I nearly burnt a hole in the saucepan. It was lucky that my aunt caught it in time. I could have burnt the house down.’

‘Oh dear. If I had known that I would have bought some food and made something for you. Next time. There will be a next time. Won’t there?’

‘Yes, there will be a next time. Let’s have Teriyaki. There’s a place just around the corner that will deliver. I will call them now.’

.’That sounds great.’ Anne called the Japanese restaurant and order two teriyaki chickens with a side order of pot stickers. She paid with her credit card. Ann wasn’t happy about that. She would pay next time. They talked about their day. What Ann had done when she left after lunch. Anne could only tell her that she had had a good afternoon. It was unethical to talk about her patients. That didn’t concern Ann.

Their meals arrived fifteen minutes later. ‘Is it okay if I turn on the telly while we eat?’ Anne asked.

‘Yes, go ahead. I don’t mind.’ Ann watched as Anne found the channel she wanted to watch. The news was on. Ann listened with interest as the news reporter talked about the state of the country and how the new prime minister was doing her best to improve life for everyone. There was a bulletin about the next pride event being held in London. ‘Would you like to go?’ Anne asked her. She didn’t know. She wasn’t out to many people and she didn’t want to be exposed so soon after meeting Anne.

‘I will have to think about it.’ Ann said shyly.

‘Ah, not out to your tribe.’

‘Well, yes and no. The important ones know and the others well, one day they will find out.’

‘Well, at least you;ll think about it.’

‘Good lord.’ Ann screamed when the next bulletin was shown. She couldn’t believe her eyes or ears. Was this that fool who tried to get her to marry him after he verbally assaulted her in front of the congregation of the church she once upon a time attended.

‘What’s the matter, Ann?’

‘It’s him. He’s here in London.’ Ann pointed to the tv.’He, fucking Ainsworth made my life miserable when he was minister at our church in Halifax.’

‘I don’t remember him. Which church?’

‘The Pres on High Street.’ Ann said. She nearly choked on her words. I hope he isn’t here looking for me.’

‘i am sure he has forgotten about you.’

I don’t think so, Anne cause I kneed him in the balls and he spent several weeks in hospital.’

‘Oh good grief. Here I was thinking you were meek and mild. You are a power house. A force to be reckoned with. Aren’t you?’

‘Only when someone pisses me off. He always seem to do that. I finally had enough and told him to leave me alone. I had had enough of his verbal abuse. He said it once too often so I left him have it. He was constantly telling me that I being gay was going against God.’

‘Goodness me. I don’t think I want to meet you in a dark alley.’ Anne said in faux shock.

‘Anne, I would never hurt you because you would never hurt me.’

They finished their meal and cleaned up. ‘I see someone cleaned up our dishes after lunch and I know it wasn’t Gemma. She’s not that energetic. I always have to nag her to do anything.’

‘Okay. I didn’t want to leave a mess for later.’

‘Thanks, Ann. We can watch a movie or I can show you my bedroom. Which would you like to do?’

‘I don’t know, Anne.’ Ann said. ‘Of course, I brought my pjs and clean underwear in case you asked me to stay tonight. Is that what you are doing?’

‘Yes. I was hoping that’s what you would like to do.’

‘Three dates and you are seducing me and I am loving every minute.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

 

Anne lead Ann up to her bedroom. It was small but cosy. She had an en suite bathroom and closet. She asked Ann if she wanted to shower. Ann did. So, Anne gave her space. Ann showered while Anne dressed for bed. She grabbed her journal and climbed into bed.

She was writing vigorously when Ann appeared next to her. ‘You keep a journal. I didn’t think people did that now.’

‘Oh it was something an ancestor of mine did. She recorded in so much detail about her life. Her diaries are in the Calderdale Museum. We can check them out one day. Her name was Anne Lister.’ Anne said as she placed her journal and pen on her bedside drawers.

‘Are you named after her, Anne?’

‘No, I am named after my Aunt Anne.’

‘That’s interesting. I am named after my Aunt Ann too.’ Ann said as she climbed into Anne’s bed. She was hoping one day it would be her bed too. Only she wasn’t sure she wanted to live here with Gemma. Anne climbed in beside her. Ann had tingles going up and down her spine when Anne began massaging her body. She had never imagined someone’s touch would make her feel this way.

She reached over to touch Anne and could feel the electricity between them. Anne seemed to have ignited a spark that would never burn out no matter what happened. Ann felt she had found her safe place. She felt at home here. Yet, she couldn’t find the words to tell Anne how she felt. Then Anne leaned over her. She wrapped her hands around Ann’s face and pulled her in for their first kiss. She felt her heart fill with joy. She didn’t know it was possible to feel so deeply about someone until Anne came into her life. She had saved her in so many ways. Anne was the best medicine anyone could have prescribed to her.

They kissed and kissed and with each kiss Ann felt that she was becoming more the person she was meant to be. Then Anne stopped. She looked at Ann with sad eyes.

‘What is the matter, Anne?’

‘I want to go further only I am not sure if I could let you into my heart right now. It has been hurt too many times in the past. Part of me wants to say hell with that happened that is the past. Only part of me says no, don’t push yourself so hard. You do remember what happened last time you let someone in.’

‘Anne, I am opening up more than I ever have done. I feel so much a part of your life already. I consider this to be forever if you are prepared to take this risk. I am too.’

‘I want to do this with you. Can you bear with me then maybe we will have something good. What I want to do now is make sweet love to you. Can I do that?’ Anne looked at Ann tenderly as she spoke those words. She would be crushed if Ann said no.

‘Yes,’ Ann said. I would like that. Please go slowly because I have never had sex with anyone.’

‘You are telling me you are a virgin.’ Anne said looking puzzled. She never imagined she would be with someone who hadn’t been intimate with another.

‘Yes and I am ready for you now.’ Ann said smiling. She could feel her body tensing slightly but she opened herself up to the opportunity to be closer to someone than she had ever been in her life.

It was impossible to say what happened next. Anne was ready but she could see Ann was tentatively bothered and she didn’t know why.

‘I think we need to talk for a while. There is so much I need to tell you about me and so much I want to know about you. Sometimes, I feel as though we have know each other for a life time. Then I realise I don’t really know you that well,, Anne. I want to know more about how you got where you are today?’

‘Can I tell you something before I begin to tell you about me?’

‘Yes, Anne. Please do.’

‘People tend to talk about me as though I am less than human. I am a freak of nature. I remember once long ago when I was mistake for a man. Tell me. Do I look like a man in this photo?’ Anne reached over and pulled the photo out of the top drawer of her nightstand. ‘ Well, be honest. Do I?’ Anne showed Ann the photo. It was of a very young Anne Lister. Ann flipped it over. It was dated 25 years ago. She was standing next to a very cute and petite brunette who was smiling broadly.

‘Anne, you look like any teenage girl with her girlfriend. Who is that next to you?’ Ann asked quizzically.

‘That. Oh, that’s Mariana Belcombe. We were engaged to be married then she broke it off when she married Charles bloody Lawton.’

‘Hey, look at it like this. She did you a favour. If she hadn’t left you and married him. I wouldn’t be here with you as I am now. Would I?’ Ann smiled. She had always played out this scenario in her head and the reality is way better than the fantasy ever was.

‘That is so true. I wouldn’t be a doctor because she thought it was beneath me to go into medicine. I have always been interested in the human body. Especially the brain. I have always wondered how I could be so different from everyone else around me.’

‘Anne, I think we are all different. We all have different thoughts and ideas. We all love differently. Don’t we? We all reveal who we are inside in a different way. I love you, Anne for you.’ Anne blushed she could feel tears rolling down her cheeks. Then she felt a small, soft hand wipe them away. ‘It doesn’t matter what you do in your life. It only matters that you do what you enjoy the most. Happiness does rely on how much you earn or how you earn it. It relies on how much you are accepted for who you are and you are worth the risk. I will take it now if you are prepared to grab it and run with it. I am!!’

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

 

‘Are you sure this is what you want to do? I am not always the best person you could be with. I can be a right prick when I want to be. I can destroy your soul if you let me.’ Anne said with trepidation.. She had to be honest with Ann. She knew if she broke Ann’s heart it would never mend. She wanted her to see that she could be horrid to the person she loved.

‘Anne Lister, no one is perfect. No one person can be everything to another. They only need to be everything for themselves. Otherwise their life wouldn’t be worth living. I want you for you. I want to see your horrid side so I can truly appreciate your loving side. I want to see all of you always.’ Ann said. She was feeling bold and brave. She had never imagined she could do this with anyone else but with Anne Lister it felt so right. So good.

‘Is this what you want, really what you want, Ann?’ Anne asked tentatively. She wasn’t sure Ann’s answer would be what she wanted to hear.

‘Yes, always yes, Anne. I have loved you for so long I was never able to let another one into my heart. I want to make this for always. Do you?’

‘Yes, Ann Walker, yes. I do.’ Anne said with tears in her eyes. Ann wiped them away with her soft hand. Anne grabbed it gently and kissed it softly.

‘Now, what do we do?’ Ann said.

‘I don’t know about you but I want you to fuck me.’

‘Goodness, Dr Lister. We do have a potty mouth.’ Ann said as she grinned sheepishly.’I was thinking the same thing. Shall we?’

‘Always!’

‘Won’t you be too tired to work tomorrow.’ Ann said with a worried look on her face.

‘Ah here’s the thing. I don’t start until 11. So I should be fine.’ She leaned in and kissed Ann passionately. Ann responded in kind. It felt so good to feel Anne’s lips against hers. She felt so comfortable in Anne’s embrace. Anne kissed Ann’s lips, her neck, down her breasts onto her belly until she found her clit. It was swollen. Anne placed her lips around Ann’s clit and sucked it gently. She pushed one finger then two inside Ann’s centre. It felt so good. She heard Ann moaning and groaning. Her body was thrashing wildly. She pushed her hips up to meet Anne’s hand.

‘Anne, go faster please.’ Anne did. She kept pushing and pulling her fingers in and out of Ann’s centre. She came up next to Ann and kissed her again. Ann had never felt to full. Anne inserted a third finger inside Ann. They both moaned together. Anne could feel Ann’s walls tightening around her fingers. She knew she was about to come. ‘Anne, I am going to…….’Then she did. Her body shook violently. She screamed out Anne’s name over and over. Anne held her through her orgasm. When they kissed again it was with such softness. Ann never thought this could be her life but it was. When Ann found her way back to Anne she was smiling. ‘Now, what do we do, Anne?’ Ann asked with a smile on her face but concern in her eyes. ‘I don’t know if you want to move in here with me but then you have to deal with Gemma.’ Anne said.’I don’t think you want that. Do you?’

‘Not really. If we are going to make something of this we need to have a place of our own. I don’t know if you would want to move in with me. I own my apartment. So I could sell it and we could move into something closer and something a bit bigger because I will need a room to paint and you, well, you might want a home office. What do you think?’

‘I honestly don’t know. Let’s sit on it for a while. Hey, You might change your mind and might decide you don’t want to be with me.’

‘Anne Lister, that’s never going to happen but you are right. I will put my place on the market and see if it sells. I can always buy another place no matter what happens because I have wanted to for some time now.’ Ann said her eyes brimming with tears. She wondered if Anne was giving her a way out because she was unsure of her own feelings for Ann. Then Ann looked over at Anne. She had tears rolling down her cheeks.

;Why are you crying?’ Ann asked as she wiped tears from Anne’s face. ‘I do want to be with you but as I said before it’s hard for me to follow through. I have had my heart hurt by so many. I don’t know if I should take this risk again. Tell me you are being honest with me, please.’

‘Dr Lister, I will never be anything other than honest with you. I will do my best to never hurt you. I will always love you and want to be with you. Why would I be here if I didn’t want that.’ Ann looked at her with trusting eyes. She felt so sure about this. ‘Anne, are you with me?’

‘Yes, I am. Can we begin again?’

‘From where?’

‘Anywhere. Or you could fuck me now please.’ Ann leaned in and kissed Anne passionately. When they parted Anne’s lips were red and swollen. Ann still couldn’t believe she was with Anne. Now, Anne wanted Ann to fuck her. She kissed Anne’s lips again and again. Then trailed kisses down her body. She found her nipples and sucked them until they were hard and erect. She trailed more kisses down her body to find Anne’s clit. It was very swollen and throbbing Ann wrapped her lips around it and sucked it gently. She ghosted her fingers over Anne’s centre. She wasn’t sure if Anne would allow her to enter. ‘Please fill me with your fingers. I need you inside me.’

Ann did as she was asked. She pushed one then two fingers inside Anne’s centre. She could feel Anne’s body thrashing beneath her. Ann pushed her fingers in and out faster and faster because Anne asked her.

Ann kept sucking on her clit. She stopped and climbed up Anne’s body to kiss her lips again. She pushed her fingers in and pulled them out faster and faster. She rubbed Anne’s clit with her thumb. Anne’s body kept thrashing. Anne was calling out her name over and over. Then she came over Ann’s hand. Ann pulled it out and licked her fingers slowly and with a smile on her face. They laid back in Anne’s bed.

They snuggled into each other and slept more peacefully than either ever had in a long time. Anne wondered again if Ann would be her forever life partner. Anne only ever wanted a wife. Someone she could share her evening hour with. She might have that someone in Ann Walker. That's what Anne was hoping would happen. Would it?

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

 

The next morning Ann was up early making breakfast for Anne. She found what she needed after searching through the cupboards. She had taken a shower and dressed. She was glad she had brought an extra t-shirt and knickers. Ann returned to Anne’s bedroom carrying a tray with two plates of eggs and bacon, two cups of streaming hot coffee and four slices of toast. Anne couldn’t believe how lucky she was to have a girlfriend who wanted to take care of her. They sat in bed and ate greedily.

‘Ann, where did you find all this?’

‘I opened a few cupboards and the fridge. I found what I thought you would like to eat. I know you have to work later. So I made you a hearty breakfast to get you through the day.’

‘Thank you, Ann. It was delicious. I need to get up now and shower ready for work. I don’t know if you have any plans for the day or you would like to stay here. We could have lunch together. I won’t be having lunch until about two. If that’s okay with you.’

‘Yes, I would like to do that. I am happy here. Will I see Gemma today?’ Ann asked with concern on her face. She didn’t trust Gemma. She didn’t know what she was like.

‘I doubt it.’ Anne said. ‘She does her job, showers then leaves and only stays here when she and her girlfriend are fighting which is usually once a month.’

‘Okay!! That must be when her cousin is visiting.’

‘Cousin?’ Anne said looking at Ann dumbfounded.’What’s that?’

‘Come on, Anne. You don’t get your monthlys.’

‘Oh that. Yes, but I don’t get grumpy. Yet, that could be the reason they fight. Couldn’t it?’

‘It certainly could. I can be a bit crotchety on the second day after that I am fine. You will certainly want to steer clear of me. I am just warning you. Okay!!’

I guess you have never had sex while you’re on your period.’

‘Of course not. Why?’

‘It does help. I have lots of times. They don’t last as long and the pain isn’t as severe.’

‘WOW!!! That’s something to think about.’ Ann said. ‘I think you had better go shower. ‘ Before I drag you back into this bed, Ann thought. Then added ‘You have to start work in an hour.’ Anne got out of bed and showered. She dressed, kissed Ann and went downstairs to begin her work day. Ann stayed in the apartment. She watched a movie and played games on her phone. She checked out the apartment. It was a bit cramped for two people. She didn’t know how they would do with three here. Even when Gemma wasn’t around her gear was.

Ann called her local real estate agent. She told her she wanted her to do an appraisal on her apartment. She wanted to sell it and purchase something close to the practice of Lister & Foster. She was wondering if there was anything she could look at soon.

‘I have one only one street over from that practice. It’s a two bedroom two bathroom with a big kitchen and dining room combo. I think you would like it. Will you have someone living with you?’

‘I don’t know at the moment. Our relationship has just started. So, I don’t know if she would want to move in with me.’

‘Which member of the practice are you with?’

‘Why?’ Ann asked. She was more curious than she imagined.

‘I was with Anne Lister more moons ago than I care to remember. What I know of her is that she is loyal. It didn’t work out with Anne and me because I am not like that.’

‘I’m with Anne. What I have seen of Gemma I don’t like her that much. She seems to be a big flirt.’

‘Don’t worry about her. When you get to know her she’s okay. She was in a marriage that went pear shaped after she realised her husband was cheating on her. Now, she says she bats for both teams.’

‘So, she is bi.’

‘Yes and I am jack the ripper. She’s gay only she won’t admit it.’

‘Okay and who are you.’

‘Sorry, I am Vere Cameron. Ask Anne about me. I can check out your place tomorrow morning if you like then we can go from there. We can look at the other place if you want to tomorrow too.’ Vere said. ‘Is that okay?’

‘Yes, that is fine. I will let you know tomorrow if it will be just me moving in or Anne and me.’

‘What’s your name?’

‘Ann Walker.’

‘Little Annie Walker. The young girl who had a crush on Anne Lister all those years ago.’ Ann blushed.

‘How did you know about that?’

‘Anne told me. She told me she went to your parents’ funeral and that you were sad but she thought she cheered you up just by being there. Anyway, see you tomorrow at your place. Send me the address in a text message. Bye.’

‘Bye’ Ann disconnected the call just as Anne walked through the door for lunch.

‘Hello Anne, How has your day been so far?’

Hello Ann, not too bad. What about your day?’

‘Good. Can we talk while we eat?’ Anne looked at Ann. She was wondering why she wanted to talk during Anne’s lunch break.

‘i called the local real estate agent. Apparently she knows you. She told me there’s a home one street over from this practice. I told her I wanted to sell. So she is looking at my place then we are going to check the other place out.’

‘Who’s the real estate agent?’

‘Vere Cameron.’ Anne looked at her and smiled. ‘Vere will set you on the right path. Okay!!’

‘She told me you and her were together.’ Anne cringed. She didn’t want to think about that.

‘Yes, we were for about a year. Then she married Donald Cameron.’

‘Like I said before if she didn’t reject you we wouldn’t be together now. Would we.’ Anne knew Ann was right but it still hurt thinking about what happened. Ann could see Anne was upset. She walked over to her, wrapped her arms around her and gave her a tight hug.

‘Would you like me to come with you?’ Anne asked. ‘I don’t work tomorrow neither does Gemma. We have a locum come in for the day once a fortnight. She is semi retired and still loves doctoring.’

‘I would love that. I told her we would met her around noon at my place. Is that okay?’ Ann said as she remembered to send Vere her address. ‘I need to tidy up a bit. Would you mind helping me?’

‘Yes. I will help you. It will give me something to do. I usually watch tv all day and Gemma doesn’t like that even when she isn’t here.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

 

They ate lunch and chatted about the next day. Anne was enjoying spending time with Ann. She wondered why Ann was thinking about selling her home and buying so close to the practice. She asked Ann.

‘i just thought I would be closer to you then you could visit me or I could visit you. No pressure.’

‘What do you mean no pressure?’ Anne said looking at Ann surprised she wouldn’t come out and tell her the real reason. ‘I know why. You want me to move in with you.’ Ann blushed. Anne had figured it out.

‘Okay I will fess up. I do but it’s up to you, Anne. I don’t want to force you to do something you’re not ready to do.’

‘I would love to do that but not right now.’ Ann looked upset. She could feel tears welling in her eyes.

‘Why not?’

‘I have plans to open up another practice on the other side of town. It has a two room attached flat and it is way bigger than this one. Only I need someone to help with the expenses because this will be a sole venture. Gemma says she can’t afford to do that.’ Anne said. ‘Or….’

‘Or what, Anne?’

‘I could sell my share of this practice and move back home to Halifax. I want to be close to my aunt and father. They aren’t getting any younger. My aunt has trouble getting around. She needs someone to be there full time. Marian can’t be expected to do that on her own,’

‘Okay. I know you own Shibden Hall. Who has been looking after it while you are here.’

‘I go up once a month to tend to some of the projects that I am working on.’

‘Okay!! What about Tib’s promise to show my paintings in her gallery.’

‘Sorted. She has a gallery in York not far from Halifax. I am sure she wouldn’t mind showing them there.’ Ann sighed. She never thought she would move back to Halifax but it looked like she could be.

‘Do you still want me to come with you tomorrow, Ann?’

‘Yes please. We can show Vere my place then go from there. I can sell and move back into Crow Nest, my family home.’ Anne was shocked. She thought Ann would want to move into Shibden Hall with her.’Anne, are you okay?’

‘I just thought you would move into Shibden with me.’

‘Really. Is that what you want me to do?’ Ann said with a smile on her face.

‘Yes, it is what I would like you to do if you can put up with my shabby little family.’

‘If they can put up with me.’ Ann grinned. ‘I would love to live with you at Shibden.’ Ann said. ‘Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I have to sell my place and you need to sell your half of this practice. Hey, we might have enough money then so you only need to work part time. If that is what you want to do.’

Anne had always wondered if it was time to retire even though she was only 42. She was getting fed up with the constantly battle to help others. The death of patients she couldn’t help and missing her family. That hurt the most. She had always thought she would be fine working until she was 60 but she could die tomorrow. Then she wouldn’t have done what she really wanted to do. That was travel around Europe. See the world before she was too old.

‘Anne, are you okay?’ Ann asked as she looked at Anne with concern.

‘I was just thinking about our future. How it would be great if we could travel to Europe and maybe see the world. Would you like to do that?’

‘i certainly would.’

‘Would you really? I always love to travel.I have been to Paris a few times but haven’t been able to stay very long, work commitments and the like.’

‘I have never travel to Europe or anywhere else. I was always afraid to go traveling just in case.’ Anne looked at Ann and wondered why she wouldn’t travel.

‘Why?’

‘My brother and his wife died on their honeymoon.I think I have told you that. They were in Italy doing the grand tour. Well, that’s what they did in the early 18th and 19th centuries as far as I know. Only he took his wife with him.’

‘What happened?’

‘They were skiing when soft snow broke away from the mountain and caused an avalanche. They were caught up in the mountain of snow. It came at them so fast they probably didn’t know what was happening until it was too late. Oh, I would guess they would feel the rumbling then nothing.’

‘Ann, I am so sorry for your loss.It must have been hard.’

‘Thank you, Anne. It was a few years ago now but it is still impossible to imagine that I will never seen them again.’

‘I know that feeling. I lost my brother when I was 24, The pain will never go away. I have just learned how to deal with it. I am so grateful that my journal helps me do that.’

‘You keep a journal. How is it possible you find time to write as well as work. I didn’t think anyone could do that.’

‘Don’t you keep a journal of your works at least a catalogue? Anne asked thinking she would certainly do that. If she was a painter she would certainly keep track of what she had painted and who she had sold paintings to.

‘Oh, I would recognise my work anywhere but I do keep track of what I have painted and in any case wouldn’t you only do that when you sold one.’

‘I guess that’s right.’ Anne said. ‘I need to return to work‘

’Okay, Dearest.’ Anne smiled when Ann said that. The afternoon whizzed by. She had just felt like she walked down the stairs after lunch when she was strolling back up them. Ann was there to greet her by the door. Anne leaned in and gave her a kiss.

‘I could handle this kind of greeting everyday all day if that was possible.’

I would grant you this wish everyday all day if I could.’ They both smiled. Anne reached her arm around Ann’s waist and held her tight. ‘You do realise, Miss Walker, that I have fallen for you much faster than I ever imagined I would.’

‘Is that a bad thing?’ Ann said with a worried look on her face.

‘No, Ann. It isn’t a bad thing, It’s just scaring me. I never thought this would happen to me now.’ Anne said. She could feel tears rolling down her face and a small soft hand reaching up to wipe them away.

‘Dearest, I feel the same way. I have loved you for so long but I have never spoken those words to anyone until now. So, this is all new to me too.’

‘Have you never had anyone to talk to?’

‘No, my tribe have always told me I should marry a man. He will take care of me and do for me. Yeah, and he will get all my money.’ Ann said sarcastically.

Let’s eat out tonight.’ Anne said. All this talk about money was making her nervous. She was hoping to get a decent price for her share of the practice or else she would have to stay here. She didn’t want to do that. Or else they would have to sell the practice. Then what would Gemma do? She had to tell Gemma what she was planning to do when she saw her next.

It was after ten when they returned home. Gemma was there. Ann didn’t want to see her. So she made an excuse that she needed to shower and then she would go to bed.  When she disappeared into Anne’s bedroom Anne was left to tell Gemma what she was planning to do.

‘Why is she still here? I thought she was just one of your overnight flings.’ Gemma said with poison in her voice.

‘Well, as you can see she isn’t. I am glad I met her. She’s just right for me.’

‘And I wasn’t. Was I?’ They didn’t know Ann was listening in to their conversation. She had planned to shower but when she heard them arguing she decided against it.

‘We weren’t as compatible as Ann and I are, Gemma but we are still good friend. Aren’t we?’ Anne said so quietly that Anne wondered if she heard it.

‘Well, that’s debatable. Isn’t it? The only thing we have in common now is this bloody practice. Sometimes I wish there was a way out. I have been looking for a new practice to move to but haven’t had a chance to tell you.’

‘Well, here’s the thing. I have decided to sell my half of the practice if you are interested. You would have collateral or you could find someone to buy me out.’ Anne said.

‘Is this because of Ann Walker? She really does seem to have had an effect on your life.’ Gemma said. She was beginning to feel a little jealous. She didn’t know why she was over Anne. Anne was only a business partner. She wouldn’t sleep with her again but even she would admit she was jealous.

‘No, I have been thinking about selling for a while now. Ann has just given me the courage to move forward and do that. I want to return to Halifax to be closer to my family. Marian, my aunt and my father. They need me now more than ever.’ Anne said with so much emotion she could feel tears welling in her eyes. Only she blinked to hide them.

‘And Ann will move there with you?’’

‘She is from Halifax. She wants to move with me into Shibden Hall.’ Anne said. ‘So are you interested in buying me out?’

‘Let me see my accountant.I will let you know in two days.’ Ann rose from where she was sitting to finally take her shower. Once Anne heard the shower going she walked into the bedroom and stripped off to join Ann.

‘Ann, I thought you would be out of the shower by now.’

‘I hope you don’t mind. I was listening to what you and Gemma were talking about. I didn’t know she was your girlfriend.’

‘Only fleeting. We were only together long enough to get the practice up and running. Once we were working together and living as lovers together the relationship fell apart. That’s why she spends so much time away from the apartment.’

‘Okay!!’ They showered together for a long while. Once the water began to chill they turned off the water, dressed and went to bed. They had so much to do tomorrow before Vere arrived at Ann’s apartment. So, they rolled over and slept.

Chapter Text

Anne and Ann arrived at Ann’s home just before nine. They had planned to store Ann’s paintings at Anne’s place. Only there were so many Ann decide to display some of them on the walls. They dusted and scrubbed every surface until it sparkled. Ann vacuumed the carpet and Anne cleaned the bathroom it was a job Ann didn’t enjoy that much. She promised Anne she would take her out to a movie and dinner once Vere had been to assess it and tell Ann how much it was worth.

Ann wanted it to sell faster but the housing market seemed to be at a slump at the moment. Anne could see she was unsure of what would happen. ‘Let’s wait and see what Vere says. She might already have someone who is interested. She may not. If it doesn’t sell we can always stay here.’

‘But you want to go back to Shibden to be with your family and Scotland is a bit closer in Halifax that what it is here.’

‘Who lives in Scotland?’ Anne asked with a puzzled look on her face.

‘My sister, Elizabeth.’ Ann said. ‘She married George Sutherland and moved there. They have three children now. So I don’t see her that often. Only when I visit which is probably once a year.’

‘We can certainly change that when we move back to Halifax. We could try. Couldn’t we?’ Their conversation was brought to a stall when they heard a knock at the door. It had to be Vere arriving on time to check Ann’s home.

I will answer the door, Ann. I haven’t seen Vere in a long time.’ She didn’t expect to see a man looking back at her. She could see he was a minister. He was wearing a dog collar. ‘And who might you be?’ He said with venom in his voice.

‘I was wondering the same thing, Who the hell are you?’ Anne asked with as much venom.

‘i am Reverend Thomas Ainsworth. I am Ann Walker’s betrothed.’ Not if I have anything to do with it, Anne thought.’Is Ann home? I want to see her.’

‘No, she is out.’ She was hoping Ann wouldn’t appear in the foyer. She had left Ann seated on the sofa. Ann was waiting for Vere and Anne to walk back in but when she heard Ainsworth’s voice and what he said to Anne, she had to put things right. She stood behind Anne for protection. Anne could feel her body next to hers. Then she spoke.

‘You are not my betrothed. It anyone is it is this lady you are speaking to.’

‘How could that be? You are not a lesbian.’ Ainsworth said.

How very little you know about me and yet you think I am yours. I suppose my aunt gave you my address. Well, you can tell her and the rest of the tribe. Its on the market and I am moving.’

‘Where to?’ He asked her and hoped she would tell him.

‘Yeah, that would be right up your alley. I tell you where I am moving to so you can bloody well stalk me.’ Ann said. ‘Actually we are moving to Timbuktu.’ Vere appeared as they were trying to get Ainsworth to leave.

‘Look, buster if, you don’t leave in the next five minutes I will call the cops. I have a partner who is a police officer. He will arrest you for trespassing.’

‘Oh will he.’

‘Yes, he knows Anne very well.’ She didn’t say which Anne. He was confused but left. ‘What was all that about?’ Vere said.

‘Oh, he tried to tell me Ann here was his betrothed. Only Ann has other ideas. She told him we were moving to Timbuktu. As if we know where the hell that is.’

‘I heard it is somewhere between here and there.’ Vere said with a chuckle.’Now, let me see what you have Ann and I can tell you about the other place.’

‘About that. I have had a change in plans. Well, we have. Anne and I are moving back to Halifax as soon as she sells her half of the practice and I sell this place.’ Ann said.

‘Okay!! So this is a permanent move?’

‘Yes. It will be once it happens.’

Vere did an assessment of Ann’s home and said she might have a couple of interested parties. They want to live in London but not too close to the city but close enough that they could walk or bike into the city. Are there any bus services around here’

‘Yes, there are two services that will take you into the city.’ Ann said ‘But I have never used them. So , I don’t know what the timetable is or where the stop. I just know I have seen them.’

Good. Is there a school nearby?’

‘Yes,’ they both said. ‘A primary school and a high school.’

‘Good, good. I will let you know how I go. Can I take some photos/’

‘Yes, go ahead. I am sure it will sell faster that way.’

‘Yes, it will.’ Vere said and she walked around taking snap shots of each room without revealing what Ann had hanging on some of the walls.’

‘I should have moved them.’ Ann said. ‘Only I have no where else to put them for now.’ Ann said. ‘I am contemplating selling them.’

‘Hey, if you do let me know because I would love to display one in my home. I am sure Donald would like that one there.’ It was a forest scene done from a photo Ann found online. She had altered it slightly to make it her own. ‘He loves to explore the forest. He loves the sounds of life around him without the sounds of humans.’

‘Good. Then it is yours when you sell my home.’ Vere smiled. ‘Is Donald really a police officer.’ Ann asked.

‘Nah, I just say that when people piss me off. It works as it did today. Only if they met Donald they would think he was a police officer because he is tall and muscular like many police officers. Don’t mess with my man.’ They all laughed.

‘Do you think it will sell quickly? I want be out soon.’ Ann said.

‘I am sure it will sell quickly. In fact I am certain I have someone who would be interested right now. Can I call them?’ Ann looked Anne at and wondered what she was thinking. As if Anne could read her mind she said.’It’s up to you, Ann. I know you want to move to back to Halifax with me.’

‘Call them. I think it would be a good idea. How much do you think it is worth?’

‘It is in good condition. So there will be no projects. They may want to paint but that’s not going to cost them much. It’s close to schools and bus stops, a doctor’s practice and shops.’ Ann nodded, ‘I would say around 300,000 to 350,000 pounds. How does that sound?’ Vere said.

‘Sounds good to me. I think we could live on that for quite sometime. Couldn’t we, dearest?’

‘Yes.’ Anne said blushing. ‘She never imagined anyone would want to share their life with her. Vere called the prospective buyer and they called around to look at it. They were so impressed they made Ann an offer of 325,000 on the spot. She couldn’t believe her luck.

When Vere left Ann called Tib to tell her what was happening and that she might not have time to complete those paintings in time for the showing. Tib was surprised they were moving back to Halifax and living together at Shibden. Yet, she knew what Anne was like. She loved pretty girls and Tib couldn’t deny that Ann was a very pretty girl. Well, young lady.

‘That’s okay.’ Tib said. ‘when you get around to completing your paintings let me know. I guess Anne told you I have a gallery in York. We can put them on display there. That’s if that is what you want to do.’

‘I will do my best to get them done soon. I am moving in with Anne in the next week or so. I have sold my home which is why I may not have time to paint.’

‘Congratulations on the sale. How long was it on the market?’

‘Less than 24 hours, probably only an hour.’ Ann said with a big grin on her face. She was sure she was doing the right thing, Although she could see Anne was looking at her in a way that made her wonder if Anne was ready for her to move in. ‘I will talk to you later, Tib. Someone needs me right now.’

‘Yeah, Miss Walker, you better go to her if she is pouting.’

‘Big time, Tib. Take care. Bye.’

‘Bye.’ Tib said. Ann disconnected the call.

‘Hey, Dr Lister..What is ailing you today? You have a severe frown on your face.’

‘’Ann, do you really want to do this? We have only know each other for a short time.’

‘Yes, I do want to do this because I have been in love with you for so long.’ Ann said.’So, fucking smile, will you?’ Anne’s smile enveloped her face so much it seemed to disappear.’Thank you, now would you help me with this suitcase. My clothes should go first. What do you think? Should I get a storage unit until everything is settled and we are moving? Have you called your aunt to tell her we are moving back to Shibden?’

‘No!! not quite yet but I can do now if you want me to.’

‘I think she would need to know you are bringing someone home to live with you. Isn’t Shibden your father’s property?’

‘No, I own Shibden. My uncle made me sole heir. My father cannot handle money.’

‘So, you own Shibden. Oh wow.’ Ann said. ‘So, I am literally moving into your home. YOUR home.’

‘Yes, I think you are a bit excited. Are you?’ Ann blushed. She was excited about moving into Shibden. More excited now she knew Anne owned it.

Anne called her aunt. They chatted for a while. Then Anne gave her the good news. ‘Aunt, I am selling my half of the practice and moving back home.’ Ann could her Anne’s aunt cheering loudly. ‘I am bringing a friend with me.’ That’s when Ann snatched the phone from Anne. ‘Hi, Miss Lister, Ann Walker here. She is bringing me home to live with her.’

‘Miss Walker, I never thought I would hear your voice again. I heard you had move to London. No one said why. I can only guess.’

‘Your guess is probably the right one. But your niece had enticed me to move back with her.I think she was missing her family and her home.’

Ann gave Anne her phone back. ‘Aunt, is that okay? We may get married one day. I am not sure yet.’ Ann smiled at her.’But it could be on the cards.’

‘It would be great to see you settled with someone. Isn’t she many years younger than you, Anne?’

‘I don’t think our age matters. She loves me and I know I love her so much.’ Anne said and Ann blushed again. ‘I need to go my girlfriend needs to be hugged. I will let you know when we are moving back up there. Bye.’

‘Bye.’ Anne disconnected the call and pocketed her phone. ‘What now?’

Chapter Text

Anne spent the next week organising her finances to calculate how much her half of the practice would be worth. She wasn’t sure if she was selling it to Gemma or someone outside the practice. She had asked Gemma if she wanted to buy her out but hadn’t been given an answer as yet. Gemma wasn’t sure if she could afford it. She always thought her and Anne would be in business together until they retired. Anne thought that too. Only when their relationship fell apart Anne had spent months thinking about selling her half but had decided she had nowhere else to go. So she hung around.

Now, Anne had Ann in her life and she wanted to spend as much time with her as she could. So, she decided it was time to sell, work part time or retire. Yes, she was only 42 but anything could happen that might end her life. She had saved Ann from being run over only a couple of days ago. Of course, she saved Ann from nosy people when she had fallen over the day they first met.

Ann was beginning to imagine what life would be like with Anne. They had only met again a few days again and here they were talking about a future in their home town. Ann never imagined she would want to move back there but to live at Shibden Hall with Anne Lister had always been a dream of hers. Now, it was going to be her reality. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She was beginning to feel overwhelmed by everything.

‘Ann, are you okay? What’s going through your head right now?’

‘I was about to ask you the same thing. What are you thinking about?’ Ann said as she eyed Anne curiously. This still felt like a dream and she had to pinch herself constantly to remind herself it wasn’t. ‘I was just thinking about how far we have come in such a short time.’ Anne said realising after the fact that in reality it had been a long time for Ann.

‘I was just wondering when you will realise I am just a boring person and you will want done with me.’ Ann said.

‘Ann Walker, why do you have such a poor opinion of yourself?’ Anne said a little more gruffly than she wanted. Ann balked at Anne’s words. It felt as though Anne was criticizing her but she didn’t say. Then she could feel tears welling up in the corners of her eyes. She tried to blink them away but found it impossible. All she could do was let them go. She cried big sobs and tears rolled down her face. She was trembling. She had to sit down before she fainted. ‘Ann, are you okay?’ Anne asked her again. ‘Is what we are doing too much? Am I pushing you too hard?’

‘Anne Lister, you could never push me too hard. I want this. It’s just what you said. It made me realise that I do have a poor opinion of myself and it hurts when I realise that.’

‘Ann, all you need to do is have some courage. Listen to what you say to yourself. Always aim to say some positive, affirming words to yourself. That helps boost your confidence.’ Anne said. ‘I do it all the time. Of course, there will be times when it is hard. I have had those times.’

‘Have you? I never thought you would feel that way.’ Ann said looking puzzled. ‘Anne, are you all right?’

‘Miss Walker, I am always all right.’

‘Yeah, right!!’

They had been standing in the middle of Ann’s lounge room chatting. It was getting dark outside. ‘Are you going to come to my place or stay here tonight?’

‘I don’t know. There’s so much I need to do now I have sold my home.’ Ann said. ‘ I would love to go with you to your place only Gemma might be there. Do you need to start early in the morning, Anne?’

‘Ann Walker, I want you to come with me. I need your body in bed beside mine plus I have ulterior motives.’ Ann eyed Anne and smiled. She knew what she was thinking because she was thinking the same thing. ‘Shall we go then? I have been wanting to do some exploring all day.’

What do you mean by that, Miss Walker?’ Anne said with puppy dog eyes.

‘Don’t you act all innocent on me, Miss Lister. I can see the devil in your eyes and the way you licked your lips when you said that. Come on, admit it you want to go exploring too. Don’t you?’

‘Come on then, let’s go exploring together. I can hardly wait to study the terrain.’

‘Terrain!! Is that what by body is to you?’ Ann said with a well intended huff.

‘Not at all, Miss Walker. Hey, you were the one who started this.’ Ann blushed she knew she was guilty but she couldn’t stop her mouth when that train of thought emerged. Where it came from she didn’t really know?

Ann turned out the lights. Anne lead her outside and Ann locked the door. They walked quietly back to Anne’s practice. Ann was over thinking again this time about how Anne’s family would see her as timid and weak rather than the way Anne seems to see her. They reach Anne’s practice. Anne unlocks the door and they sneak in quietly.They climb the stairs into the apartment. Anne stands alone for a moment and realises she will be moving out soon. Everything is so quiet. There doesn’t seem to be anybody there. Anne flicks on a light. She removes her coat and encourages Ann to take her coat off. She does so. Then Anne hangs them on the coat hooks just inside the door. They seem to be alone until Anne hears Gemma call her name. ‘Anne, are you alone? We need to talk.’

‘No, I am not alone and whatever you need to say to me Ann won’t tell a soul.’

‘okay!! I guess this does concern her. I have been to the bank to see if I can get a loan to buy your share of the practice. It seems to be possible but to offset the cost I need someone to come into the practice with me.’

‘Okay!’ Anne said looking rather surprised. ‘Do you have someone in mind or are you going to advertise the position? I am sure they will let you advertise in the Lancet. I don’t know.’

‘I will have to check that out. I have drawn up an advert to put into the Mirror on Saturday and to run it for three days in a row. They have a buy two get one free on offer right now.’ Ann was listening with interest. All this could happen in a flash but she was very wary of how Anne would cope without her work. She didn’t think Anne was the type to sit about and do nothing. While she could fill he days in by painting and sketching she didn’t know what Anne would do.

‘How are you going to keep busy when you’re not working?’

‘Ann Walker, there is so much that needs to be done on the estate that I will be busy for a long time. I could find a full time job then I would be really busy.’ I hope not, Ann thought. I want you around a bit more than what you would be if you were working full time and you don’t need to do that, Miss Lister.

Ann was pulled from her thoughts when Anne pulled her by the hand into her bedroom. Anne closed the door and locked it. She gently pushed Ann up against the door. She could see the lust in Ann’s eyes before she leaned in and passionately kissed her. When they parted a few minutes later their lips were red and swollen. Their hearts were racing. Anne looked at Ann. She was smiling so broadly that Ann thought her smile had swallowed her face.

‘Shall we?’ Anne said as she pointed to her bed.

‘Yes please.’Ann couldn’t get undressed fast enough. She was all thumbs and struggling to get her jeans undo. ‘Let me assist you, Ann.’ Anne said as she reached over and proceeded to do what Ann seemed to be having trouble doing. In her defence it was her teenage crush who was undressing her.

Anne laid her on her bed. Ann was naked and Anne could see very wet. She laid next to Ann wondering if it was fine to touch her. Ann turned her head to look at Anne. Anne could see there was lust in Ann’s eyes. She leaned up on one elbow and planted a kiss on Ann’s cheek.Ann reached over and caressed Anne’s lips. She wanted Anne to kiss her.

It was impossible for Anne to resist. She leaned over and cupped Ann’s face with her hands and passionately kissed her. They remained lip locked for a few minutes. When they parted their lips were red and swollen. Their smiles were so big they seemed to swallow their faces.

Anne traces kisses down Ann’s body until she found her clit. She stroked it gently with her tongue and inserted two fingers into her centre. Ann whimpered softly as Anne makes circles on her clit with her tongue and gently pushed and pulled her fingers in and out of Ann’s centre. Ann’s body thrashes wildly. Ann moaned and groaned. ‘Anne, please go faster.’ Anne complied. She rubbed Ann’s clit with her thumb. Her fingers dove in and out of Ann’s centre faster and faster. Ann called out her name over and over. Anne feels she is about to orgasm. ‘I’m going to…..’

‘Come.’ Anne said completing her sentence. Then Ann did. Her body shock wildly. Anne wrapped her arm around her until she was relax. She gently extracted her fingers from Ann’s centre brought them up to her mouth and licked them clean while Ann watched.

Ann reached over and grabbed Anne’s fingers. She placed them in her mouth and tasted her liquid amber. She could understand why Anne was smiling delightfully. Ann thought her juices tasted so good.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

 

Without missing a beat Ann pushed Anne gently onto her bed, leaned over and kissed her passionately again. She could feel Anne smile through their kiss. She had dreamed of doing this when she was a teenager. Her crush on Anne was so intense and so real to her. The reality was so much better than the fantasy. Here she was stretched out over Anne Lister kissing her and her hands were toying with her clit.

Ann couldn’t think of anything better to celebrate than to make love to the woman she loved. Ann wanted to taste Anne. She trailed kisses down Anne’s breasts giving each attention. She sucked Anne’s nipples until they were hard and erect. Then she traced more kisses over Anne’s belly and towards her clit. She inserted two fingers into Anne’s centre slowly. She wasn’t sure if Anne would like that. Anne moaned at the feel of Ann inside her. Ann raised her head. She could feel Anne squirming beneath her. Anne moaned loudly.’Take me, taste me. I am yours.’ Ann licked her lips to moisten them then she grazed her tongue over Anne’s clit. Ann pushed her fingers in and out of Anne’s centre as she licked and sucked Anne’s clit. It’s a moment she will probably remember forever. This first time going down on Anne this way.

Anne’s body thrashed wildly. ‘Ann! Don’t stop. Ann! Ann!! Ann, I am about to come undone. Ann!!! Faster please. Faster.’ Ann complies. She can feel Anne’s wall crushing her fingers. She sucked Anne’s clit with vigor. Then Anne let out one low long moan and came..

Ann pulls her fingers out of Anne’s centre slowly. She licked them and let Anne taste herself. She smiled. They tenderly kissed. Anne wrapped her arms around Ann. ‘Ann, that was sooo good. How did I make you feel?’ Anne wanted not only to see but to hear how Ann felt. ‘That was delightful, dearest.’

‘Dearest.’ Anne said looking rather puzzled.

‘Yes, that is my name for you. It’s sweet. Don’t you think?’ Ann said wondering whether Anne would say no or yes.

‘It is.’ Anne said.’I think we should  get some sleep now. We have so much to do over the next few weeks.’  Anne snuggled into Ann and they sleep soundly and woke to a screeching alarm. Anne reached over and flicked it off. They lay together for a beat. Anne lumbers out of bed to the bathroom. Ann jumps out of bed and reaches the bathroom just as Anne is about to open the door. Anne let Ann go in first.

‘Would you like to shower with me now?’ Anne asked tentatively. ‘I have an hour and a half before I need to start work.’ Ann looks at her suspiciously. She is beginning to know the signs. Anne’s eyes are wide and dark with desire. She can’t resist Anne when she is like that. Ann reaches into the shower and turns on the water. ‘As long as you don’t regret sharing a shower with me later.’ Ann said cautiously.

‘I doubt if that will happen. You seem to know what I want already.’ Anne said with a smile on her face. Anne grabs Ann’s hand and they walk into the shower. The warm water makes them feel good. Anne grabs the soap and washer. She spreads a liberal among of soap onto the washer and starts washing Ann’s body. She leans over and kisses her lips tenderly. Anne throws the washer down onto the shower floor then wraps her arms around Ann as the water washes the soap from Ann’s body. Anne places her hand between Ann’s thighs. Ann smiles and nods. Anne can feel how ready she is when she moves her hand up between Ann’s legs. Anne circles her clit with her thumb and drives two fingers into Ann’s centre. Its warm and wet. Ann moans softly. Anne cannot believe how wet she is after last night Anne thought she wouldn’t be so ready again.

Anne circles Ann’s clit slowly to begin with then she feels Ann’s body thrash. ‘Go faster please, Anne.’ Anne complied. Anne can feel Ann’s walls tightening around her fingers. She pushed them in and out faster and faster. Ann screamed out her name. Then she comes hard and fast over Anne’s hand. Anne wrapped her arms around Ann while Ann comes slowly back to her. They kiss again so tenderly.

Ann washes Anne’s body. She can feel her tense up. ‘What is the matter, dearest?’ Ann says looking at Anne shyly. ‘Do you want me to fuck you?’

‘No, I am doing fine. I was just wondering how long it will be before our bubble bursts, before you realise I am not who you think I am.’

‘Anne Lister. You don’t need to be more than who you are. You don’t need to apologise because you get angry or hurt or upset. I do understand that I might piss you off. Tell,me when I do that.’

‘Okay!’ Anne says as she reaches for the towels. They get out of the shower and dry themselves off. Anne dresses for work and Ann decides to watch tv for awhile. She has a favourite reality show she watches. She binge watches for a few hours. Anne appears for lunch. She finds Ann tucked up on the couch with a blanket around her sleeping. ‘Miss Walker, are you there?’ Anne whispers in Ann’s ear. ‘Miss Walker, what have you been doing this morning?’ Ann opens her eyes to see dark ones looking back at her. Anne looks more handsome than ever with her scrubs on and her stethoscope around her neck. ‘Binge watching Love Island. I laid down and as you see I fell asleep.’

‘Love Island. Isn’t that a trashy reality show.’

‘Yeah, but it is better than Keeping up with the Kardashians.’

‘Yeah, but it is still trashy reality tv.’

‘I know mind numbing trash but hey, what else is there to watch during the day? Corrie!. You don’t watch that do you?’ Ann asks.

‘No, not since Karen Mcdonald left the show. I thought she added spice to the show.’

‘She did. Didn’t she. Do you like Dr Foster? I thought she was a bit crazy but I think I would react the way she did when she found out her husband was cheating on her.’

‘Didn’t she find another phone in the boot of their car?’ Anne asked.

‘She did. That’s when she really fell apart. Hey, did you watch Scott and Bailey?’

‘Yeah, do you like Suranne Jones?’

‘Why do you say that?’ Ann asked Anne innocently.

‘Because you seem to be asking me whether I have watched shows she is in.’

‘Yes, I suppose I do. I think she is cute. What about GJ?’

‘What you mean that show about Anne Lister? Not me of course, another Anne Lister.’ Anne said. She wondered about it. She didn’t seem to have time to watch it.

‘I think you would like it. She’s out there and a whirlwind like you.’ Ann said.’let’s eat lunch. What would you like today?’

‘How about scrambled eggs on toast?’ Anne said.

‘That sounds good to me.’ Anne prepares lunch and they eat in easy quiet. Ann wonders what their life will be like when they are living together at Shibden. She wonders if her family will visit them and pull her away from Anne with their insults and comments. Telling her that she shouldn’t be with someone like Anne LIster. She should marry a man and be happy with that.

She hopes that won’t happen. Ann wants to be with Anne but she isn’t sure she can be strong enough to ignore their comments when Anne isn’t around.

‘Are you okay, Ann.’ Anne said with a concerned look on her face.

‘Well, not really. I was just wondering what I will do if my family visit Shibden and try to get me to move out and marry a man.. I just don’t feel strong enough to deal with their innuendos unless you are there, dearest.’

‘I think we will need to deal with that if or when it happens. Just stop over thinking for now and eat your lunch before it gets cold.’

‘Yes, mummy.’ Ann said then she laughs loudly.

‘Madam mother at your service. Do you need a drink?’

‘A hot chocolate would be nice, mummy.’ Ann said.

‘Enough now. I will make you a drink then I need to return to work. Oh we can watch GJ tonight if you would like.’

‘Okay!!’ Ann said.

Anne makes Ann her hot chocolate then returns to work. The afternoon zooms by and she finishes up her day with her last patient. Then someone who she hasn’t seen for a long time shows up. ‘Hi, Dr Lister.’ the woman says with a sheepish grin on her face. Anne shuddered when she heard the woman’s voice.’I thought you would be pleased to see me, Freddy.’

‘No! You were the last person I expected to see right now.’ Anne said.’I have company upstairs. A girlfriend. We are moving back to Halifax to live in Shibden Hall together.’ Mariana looks at Anne surprised.

‘So, You have moved on, Freddy. Is she as good as me in bed?’

‘Oh you are a really nosy parker, aren’t you?’ Anne said as she heard a knock on the door.’Come in.’ Ann walked in and looked at Anne then at the other woman. She could feel the tension in the air. She went behind Anne’s desk and stood next to her. ‘This is my girlfriend, Ann Walker. This is Mariana Lawton who was just leaving.’ Mariana stands there for a beat then goes to leave. ‘I will see you when you get fed up with this one.’ Mary said.

‘That’s not likely to happen now or ever. This one is for keeps.’ Ann smiled as Mariana left Anne’s office and exited out of the building.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

 

They settled on the sofa to watch GJ but Ann wanted to know about Mariana Lawton how she could just barge in the way she did and expect Anne to bow to her needs. ‘What is it with that Lawton woman. .it seemed to me that she wanted you to go somewhere with her. I don’t know. She gave me the evil eye when I walked into your office then stood next to you.’ Ann said. ‘I am amazed I am still standing.’

‘What do you mean still standing?’

Didn’t you see the daggers she was giving me?. It was like I had stepped on her toes and she was pissed..’

‘Well, she can be pissed all she likes. I am not her plaything anymore. That lasted long enough.’ Anne said. Then she proceed to tell Ann all about her and Mariana. How they met. How Tib introduced them when she was with Tib and how badly she hurt Tib in the process. She told her about Mariana marrying for money and status. How she dragged her along with tidbits of love and time together. How the sex was the only thing in the end that kept them together and how after years of wanting to tell Mariana it was all over she finally plucked up the courage to do that.

‘Anne, why was she here today?’

‘She probably had an argument with Charles, her husband. She usually comes to me when that happens. She’s only wanting some sympathy. Only as you saw she didn’t get what she wanted.’

‘I hope she doesn’t show her face around here again or at Shibden.’ Ann said. She had a sad look on her face. She wondered if Anne could resist her. She is rather pretty.

‘She won’t come back here now she knows you are here and she won’t show her face at Shibden because Marian gave her a not so very nice piece of her mind.’ Anne said. ‘She told Mary what a bitch she was for stringing me along. It’s not often that Marian defends me but I was so glad she did on that day.’

‘I am too. So, this means that we won’t see her in Halifax.’ Ann said gingerly.

‘I don’t know. She has family in York. So, she might come to Halifax to see if I am in town. Who knows what she wants from me now after I told her it is over.’

‘Anne, what are you going to do if she does show up in Halifax and she sees you?’ Ann asked her. She could see from Anne’s look when Mariana was there that this was never going to be easy for Anne. Of course, when Anne goes into Halifax when they are living there she would like Ann to be with her. She is afraid she will fall under Mariana’s spell.

‘I wouldn’t mind if you would like to come to town with me  every time I go into town when we move to Halifax. I am afraid Mariana will do her best to get me back into her clutches. Ann, I don’t want that but she has lured me back before.’

‘I can do that, Anne. But sometimes you need to be brave. Have some courage, Anne. I am sure you can do this. She needs to know you aren’t free to go with her.’ Can I do that? Anne wondered. Is it possible that what I feel for Ann will help me?

They had planned to watch GJ only it was getting rather late. So, they decided against that and went to bed. Ann spooned her back into Anne’s front. They talked for a bit longer about Mariana. How Anne had proposed to her and she had said yes. Then she married Charles Lawton because he had wealth and status which Anne didn’t have back then. She was a medical student working her way through medical school. It was so hard on Anne that all she did was work, study and sleep. She wouldn’t allow her mind to imagined what their life could have been like. When she graduated Mariana appeared saying she had left Charles.

Anne didn’t want to think that this was possible. Mariana would be hers. Only when Mariana’s phone buzzed in her pocket Anne knew it was Charles. She could tell by the look on Mariana’s face. He had sent her a text message and asked her to return home. They had had an argument and he was feeling guilty for what he said.

‘What a bitch?’ Ann said after Anne had told her that.’How does she live with herself?’

‘Who knows. Never again will she dupe me.’ Anne said. ‘Let’s sleep.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

 

The next morning Ann woke with Anne’s right arm still wrapped around her waist. It seemed that they hadn’t moved during the night. Ann tried to free herself from Anne’s arm but whatever she tried Anne seemed to curl her arm tighter around Ann. Finally she gave up. She wanted to let Anne sleep but she had to pee and the longer she left it the harder it would be to get to the toilet without having an accident. ‘Anne, Anne wake up. I need to use the necessary. Come on, Anne. I’m busting to go.’

‘Anne released her and she got up so fast her head started to spin. She couldn’t remember that happening in a long while. She gained her composure and was comfortable back in bed with Anne five minutes later.

‘Did you make it? Or do you need to borrow a pair of my boxers?’

‘I think they are a little wet but I should be fine to go home.’ Ann said then wondered if Anne was working today. She realised it was Saturday.

‘Anne, are you working today?’ Ann asked looking at Anne and wondering how it is that she could look so well put together even when she woke in the morning.

‘Yes, but only until noon. We don’t get many patients on Saturday morning so I often close early. If there are any late comings I leave a number on the door to call if it is an emergency. I don’t go far. I am usually reading or watching tv. Of course, that could be different today.’

‘It could be. What would you like to do? I will need to go home and get a change of clothes. I need to shower too.’

‘Hey, grab a t-shirt and a pair of my boxers. Shower here while I am working then we can go to your place if you wish or go somewhere for lunch. We should enjoy London while we are here. Shouldn’t we?’

‘Yes, we should. Even though we are moving back to Halifax we should visit London often. Shouldn’t we?’

‘I guess so. Only I think there will be enough there to keep us occupied.’ Anne said with a wink.’Now, I need to get ready for work and you need to organise breakfast. I want pancakes with a copious amount of syrup. If you don’t mind.’

‘Miss Bossy boots, what did you do with my lovable Anne Lister?’ Ann said with a smile. ‘Yes, I will do that for you, dearest.’

Anne showered while Ann made breakfast for them. She had the coffee pot peculating and a stack of pancakes ready to be eaten when Anne appear in the kitchen. She looked as ravishing as ever. Ann smiled. She knew why she was there with Anne. She didn’t desire to be anywhere else. They ate in comfortable silence. Anne kissed Ann’s forehead then went downstairs to work. ‘I won’t be long.’ She said as she left. Ann showered and found a t-shirt of Anne’s to wear that matched her skirt. She also found a pair of boxers. As she put them on she wondered what her tribe would think if they could see her now. When she was dressed she felt so comfortable in Anne’s boxers she wonder if she should buy herself a few pairs. She didn’t know.

She sat down on the couch and binged watched Scott and Bailey for a while. It wasn’t long before she heard the door open and Anne emerge looking as radiant as she did when she left. She rose from the couch and walked over to Anne. Anne leaned into her and they kissed.

‘I see you found my favourite grunge t-shirt. It does suit you.. What about the boxers? Are you wearing a pair?’ Ann lifted her skirt to show Anne. ‘My training boxers.’

‘Why call them that?’ Ann asked innocently.

‘Well, they do have trains on them. Are they comfortable?’

‘Yes, I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they are. I didn’t think I would like them but I do. I plan to buy a few pairs for myself. What do you think?’

‘Miss Walker, I have a zillion pairs. So, you don’t need to bother while you’re in the testing them out stage.’ Anne said.’We can shop for some pairs for you later. Okay!!’

‘I’m hungry. Are you hungry? We should go somewhere to eat. Is that okay?’

‘Yes and yes.’ Ann said. ‘Anywhere you want to take me. I am sure I will love the food.’

Anne took Ann to another restaurant she frequented when she didn’t feel like cooking. It was an Italian restaurant only four blocks from where her practice was located. Anne ordered what she imagined Ann would like to eat. They had chicken carbonara and a bottle of their best white wine.  

They discussed moving to Halifax. It seemed to be happening faster than they imagined was possible.. Ann was still unsure whether she was doing the right thing. Yes, she wanted to move in with Anne but she wasn’t sure what her tribe would do when they found out she was there. She was also fearful of Mariana Lawton. Would she come and try to claim Anne and lure her into her clutches again?

They were simply enjoying their free time together for now. As if reading Ann’s mind. ‘We shouldn’t worry about Mariana so much, Ann. I am sure I won’t see her again.’ Anne said while she looked at Ann and wondered what would happen if Mariana did turn up. ‘I don’t want to lose you, Anne, now that we are together. I don’t trust her conniving ways. I heard she can twist you around her pinky. Is that true?’

‘She was able to do that in the past but not now, Ann. I am not the Anne Lister who can be fooled by her.’ Anne said. Ann was thinking, I hope not. Only she was sure Mariana would try her hardest to get Anne back. Anne was right Mariana had only married Charles for his money and his position in society. She didn’t love him but was tied to him for always. Yet, she still wanted a piece of Anne and Ann was going to make sure she never got that.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

They spent the next week seeing each other only when Ann had time. Ann was busy packing their belongings to have them shipped to Shibden Hall. It was impossible for Ann to decide what she wanted to keep and what she needed to sell, give away or trash. She had so much stuff and she knew Shibden was grand but she knew four other people would be living there and space was at a premium.She had tried to talk to Anne about it. All Anne said was don’t stress. We will find somewhere to store it. So bring whatever you want
So, that was what Ann did. There were boxes and boxes and boxes of her gear on covering nearly every available floor space. She found it impossible to do much else except sleep and watch tv.
All the furniture in both places .was being left either for Gemma or the new owners of Ann’s apartment with the exception of Ann’s tv. They hadn’t decided where they would put that at Shibden.
When Anne visited her she was stunned. She couldn’t believe that Ann had her life packed up and ready to move. What shocked her was the number of boxes. She hadn’t thought there would be this many.
When Ann explained to Anne what each box held she was stunned. Ann had so many paintings and brushes and so much paint. Then Anne remembered she had the chaumiere where Ann could store all her art gear and where she could paint without being disturbed by others. Of course, Anne had an ulterior motif in getting Ann into the chaumiere and she had planned to surprise Ann after they moved into Shibden.
Gemma had been able to find someone to take Anne’s place at the practice. She was also able to secure a loan to pay Anne for her half of the practice. Now, all Anne needed to do was pack her life into boxes and ship it back to Shibden.
A few days later Anne and Ann had a removalist collect their possessions and take them to Shibden. Anne had told him they would have him follow them and show him where to go and where to put everything when they arrived there. He also told the removalist she would have someone to help him unload. Anne called her aunt to say they would be on their way soon. They had spent their last night in London at the restaurant Anne took Ann to the first time they went out together. Then they slept in the apartment above the practice. Gemma’s replacement for Anne had her own place. So, Gemma had the apartment to herself. So, she could invite any prospective girlfriends home. Even her present fuck buddy. As Gemma said she isn’t her girlfriend.
The journey back to Shibden seemed to take forever. They had stopped a couple of times so the removalist could fill up with petrol and they could get something to eat. They were so excited about returning to live at Shibden they hadn’t eaten breakfast. Ann was still worried about her tribe interfering in her life but Anne had reassured her that wouldn’t happen.
They had left London early in the morning so when they arrived at Shibden there would be enough daylight hours for the removalist to unpack their gear.
She would get Booth to help. She remembered how strong he was.
She wanted to take Ann’s art and craft gear to the chaumiere. It was a small summer hut that had one small bedroom, a kitchenette and three piece bathroom. So they could spend a night down there when they wanted time away from the family Especially from Marian who seemed to put her nose where it wasn’t needed. Only Anne knew Ann and Marian were already friends. While it bothered her. She knew Ann would have someone to keep her company when she wasn’t there.
As they traveled home Anne and Ann talked about what they would do. Anne had plans to renovate Shibden and now she could do that. Ann insisted she help pay for the expenses now she had sold her apartment. Anne said she would be fine. Ann insisted she help because Shibden would be her home too. They could lease Crow Nest.
Ann called home when they were getting close to Halifax to let Aunt Anne know they would be there soon. ‘Aunt we are ten minutes for Halifax. So, we should be arriving at Shibden in around..’ She looked at Anne who mouthed twenty minutes.’twenty minutes. The removalist van is fo. So, could you ask John to meet us when we arrive there as we need him to help unpack. The removalist needs to be back in London tomorrow because he has another job to do.’
‘I can do that. We will look for you then. Bye.’ Aunt Anne said. She was so excited that Anne was moving back home and bringing Ann Walker to live with her.
As they approached Shibden they could see Aunt Anne and Marian waiting to greet them. Joe Booth was standing in the background. He was always the virtue of discretion. Anne had always been happy with the work he did for her. He had a cottage on the estate where he lived with his three daughters. Their mother had passed away giving birth to their youngest child. He seemed happy with his lot in life and he loved that he lived on the estate so he always had someone who would be there for his daughters when he was working and they weren’t at school.
As the removalist van and Anne’s car came to a halt Ann leaped out of the car and raced up to Aunt Anne. Ann gave her a hug and smiled sweetly. She had never imagined she would be living at Shibden and now she was. She did wonder for how long. Then she let it go because she knew however long it was she would enjoy it while she could.
She removed herself from Aunt Anne’s embrace so Anne could hug her aunt and gave Marian a warm hug. She was happy to see her girlfriend’s little sister and she imagined what fun they would have while Anne was doing whatever Anne did when she was at Shibden. ‘I’m glad you are here, Marian’ Ann whispered in Marian’s ear.’I hope we become close friends while I am living here with your sister.’
‘What do you mean while you are living here with Anne? You are the first woman she has brought here to live with her and I can assure you that you will be the last. I can see how much you mean to her. She did save you when you fell. Don’t she? She told me what happened after that.’
‘I was hoping I would be moving in for life but I often wonder if she will get sick of me because I am dull and uninteresting.’
‘That’s not the conversations I have had with Anne lately. She talks about you as if you are a queen. She has never talk to me about past girlfriends and I feel privileged to have you here. So does she.’
‘What’s all the chatter about, ladies?’ Anne said. Ann looked at Anne and blushed. Marian said. ‘Just thinking about what we are going to do while you are doing whatever you are going to do.’
‘Okay.’ Anne said eyeing them suspiciously. She thought she had heard Ann say she may only be here for a short time. She wondered why she said that.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

 

They helped unload what they could carry. Anne loaded Ann’s art supplies into her car. Ann wondered what she was up to but dare not ask. She expected Anne would tell her sooner or later. Ann’s paintings were stored in their bedroom and closet for the time being. Anne wanted Ann to display some of them around Shibden. Ann thought that Anne’s family wouldn’t like them as much as Anne did but when Anne showed her aunt and Marian they were in awe of her skills as an artist. They found the same four Tib wanted to show in her gallery in London and wondered if they could put them on display in the sitting room. Ann blushed. She told them about the gallery showing so they chose another four.

‘They are all good, Ann. I didn’t know you were so gifted.’ Marian said. Aunt Anne nodded in agreement. They placed the four they picked out on Anne’s bed. Anne thought it wise to take them downstairs one at a time. They were too precious to damage.  Once the paintings were in the sitting room Ann and Anne leaned them against the walls where they wanted to hang them. It was getting late. So they would leave that until tomorrow.

‘Ann, I have something I want to show.you. Will you come with me now, please?’ Anne said. ‘It’s a little hut on the edge of the estate.’

‘Yes, you know I will go anywhere with you at any time during the day.’ Anne smiled ‘I might take you up on that one day but not today.’ They drove down to the chaumiere in comfortable silence. Ann wondered where Anne was taking her. Anne was wondered what Ann would think of the chaumiere. Would she want to leave her art supplies there and paint there? Would she be thinking as Anne was right now?’  Ann’s eyes lit up as she spied the chaumiere. She had never seen such a sweet place in her life. Anne stopped the car and switched off the engine. They jumped out together. Anne raced around to Ann. She wrapped her hands around her face and pecked her on the cheek. ‘What do you think, Ann? Do you like it?’

‘I adore it, Anne. I think it is cute.’ Ann said as they walked to the door. Anne reached in for her key and opened it up. She had Booth start a fire so the room would be warm when they arrived there. It was quite warm. Anne sat on the floor and added another log to the fire. She hoped they would be there for the rest of the afternoon. ‘I thought you would like to store your paints, brushes, canvasses and easel in here then you can come down whenever you wanted to and paint. Of course, you don’t have to do that . You can always find a space up at the hall to paint.’

‘I love it, Anne. Can we unload my gear now? Then we can do something more to your liking and mine too.’

‘And what would that be, Miss Walker? What do you think I want to do?’

‘Anne, don’t make me say it.’

‘Ann Walker, I want you to say it. I need you to say it. I would love for you to say it.’

‘I think you want to fu….fuck me. There I said it and I want to fuck you. Now, let’s empty our car then we can have fun.’ Ann said with a look of uncertainty. She thought that was what Anne wanted to do. Then Anne smiled. It was what Anne had in mind.

They unloaded Ann’s art supplies and set up her easel near one of the windows. Anne wondered when Ann would come down here to paint and wondered would she have fun but for now Anne was ready for them to have fun together. Anne’s life had been like a rocky road to nowhere for so long she never imagined that anyone would want to live with her at Shibden. Although she had never asked anyone to move in with her because she felt rejection was the last thing she could take. Yet, with Ann she found she was brave enough and strong enough to take a rejection because she knew she could always try again and again. She could see Ann’s love for her in her eyes. Yet, when she asked Ann the first time she said yes.

When they had finished unloading Ann’s art supplies they sat on the couch. It was in front of the fire which was down to only a few burning embers. Anne wondered if she should add a few sticks to the fire to get it burning again. She looked at Ann and realised she didn’t need to do that. She could see Ann was warm enough and after they had fun she would be warmer.

‘Anne inched closer to Ann who seemed to be thinking about something. Anne leaned in a tentatively placed her hands around Ann’s face. Then she pulled her in for a passionate kiss. Ann was surprised at first then kissed back furiously. After a few minutes they parted. Their lips were red and swollen. Their eyes were dark and wanting. Anne reached out with her hands and gestured to take off Ann’s t-shirt. Ann raised her arms and Anne shimmied it off. Then Ann turned around. Anne undid Ann’s bra and removed it. Ann turned back around to face Anne. ‘You are so exquisitely beautiful Do you mind standing for me so I can take of your jeans?’ Ann stood for Anne. Anne undid her button then her zipper. Anne had her jeans and knickers around her ankles before Ann knew what was happening. Anne encouraged Ann to pick up her feet one at a time. Anne removed Ann’s jeans and knickers and place them on the pile she had started with Ann’s bra and t-shirt.

Anne’s eyes ran over Ann’s naked body. She smiled wickedly. She had never seem someone as beautiful as Ann in her life and now Ann was naked she was felt her clit throb. ‘Hey, let’s go into the bedroom. These a double bed in there which I know to be more comfortable than this couch.’

‘Anne, have you ever brought anyone else here?’ Ann asked hoping Anne would say no. ‘Only you, Ann. Why would I want to bring anyone else to my most favourite spot on my, sorry, our estate?’

‘Our estate, Anne.’ Ann looked surprised that Anne referred to Shibden as their estate. ‘Yes, if you are putting money into renovations it will be half yours.’ Ann smiled. She was so happy in that moment. Anne guided her into the bedroom and laid her gently on the bed. Then climbed on top of her. Anne cupped Ann’s face with her hands and kissed her passionately. She could feel Ann squirming below her. She was moaning into Anne’s mouth. They parted. ‘Anne, I need you inside me. I want you to fuck me. To show me how hard I can come. Dearest, I want to feel your lips on my clit. I want you to lick it and suck it until I explode into a withering mess.’

‘Dirty girl, Miss Walker..’ Anne spluttered. Yet, she complied with Ann’s wishes. Anne traced kisses down Ann’s body. She licked and sucked on her nipples until they were hard. Anne could feel Ann’s hips thrusting upwards. Anne continued on and found Ann’s clit wanting her attention. She dove in between Ann’s legs. Ann’s scent was intoxicating. Anne licked and sucked on Ann’s clit. She could hear her moaning and groaning. She could feel Ann pushing her clit closer to Anne’s face. It was heavenly for Anne. Anne had never felt so alive as she did in that moment. Anne dove two then three fingers inside Ann. She was so wet and so ready to come. Anne stroked her clit with her tongue while she pushed and pulled her fingers in and out of Anne’s centre.

Ann could feel her gut tightening like a spring that would bounce back when it was very tight. ‘Anne, I am about to…..’ Was all she could say then she came with such force it made her head spin. It was a while before Ann was back. Anne held her until Ann spoke. ‘Anne, that was heavenly. How are you so skillful with you hands.’ Anne smiled. ‘Lots of practice, Ann. I think we need to practice more often.’ Ann nodded. That was all she could do. She could feel her eyes drooping. When Anne looked up Ann was sleeping. She unhooked herself from Ann. Then she found a book and sat on the couch to read while Ann slept.

When Ann woke Anne was still reading. The fire had long gone out. Ann looked around the room and spied her girlfriend. She looked so relaxed. Then there was a knock on the door. Ann hurriedly close the bedroom door so she could dress. Anne answered the door. It was Marian.

‘What do you want now?’ Anne asked.

‘We were just wondering what we should do for dinner. I don’t feel like making Cordingley cook on her day off and I don’t feel like cooking. Would you like to eat out.’ Anne smiled at Marian. She had already eaten out. Eaten Ann Walker out. Then Ann appeared. She was dressed and ready to go. ‘Come on!!’ Ann said. ‘We can go to the local pub for dinner. I will pay.’

‘Thank you, Ann. That would be lovely.’ Marian said.’How long will you be.’

‘Give us twenty minutes. I just want to show Ann something.’

‘Okay!!’ Marian walked back to Shibden. When she was out of sight Ann leaned over and kissed Anne passionately. ‘I think I owe you one, Miss Lister. I will pay you later tonight.’

‘Sounds good to me. Let’s get going before Marian returns.’ They jumped into Anne’s car and drove back to the hall. Anne parked in the garage beside her brother’s Jeep. ‘Whose car is that?’ Ann asked.

‘It was Sam’s. I drive it when I am home but now we are living here I intend to drive it more often.’ Anne said with a sad look on her face. She wished Sam was here to meet Ann. He would adore her. Only he drown in Ireland so long ago Anne had forgotten what his voice sounded like but she could never forget his looks.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

 

They strolled inside the hall hand in hand. Marian looked at them and could see they were content. Aunt Anne and father were waiting in the sitting room. ‘So, we are ready to go?’ Father said.

‘As ready as we will ever be. I guess.’ Anne said as she walked over to her aunt to help her out to the car  Marian locked up the hall and they all climbed into Sam’s Jeep. It was Anne’s idea to take it.

They talked on the way to the pub. Aunt Anne seemed concerned that neither Anne nor Ann had a job. ‘Aunt, I have more money than what I will spend in this lifetime. My sister, Elizabeth and I inherited Crow Nest and all the surrounding land. Our brother was meant to inherit it but he and his wife died on their honeymoon in Naples. They drown when the tour boat they were on sank.’

‘I am so sorry to hear that, Miss Walker.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘It must have been hard on you to lose your parents then your brother.’

‘It’s been nearly a decade since he passed. But when I do think of him I feel sad. Yet, he had found someone who loved him and accepted him and they died together. I would like that. I don’t think I could live without Anne here.’ Anne felt tears roll down her face. She was glad she was driving. Ann could see them and leaned over to wipe the tears from her cheek. She whispered, ‘You will be fine. I am doing better now than I was after he passed away.’

Anne swallowed her fears and smiled at Ann. She could see tears in her eyes but couldn’t wipe them away. Ann felt blessed that they were together.

‘W.hat do you plan to do now, Anne? Father asked. They both answered together. ‘Work on renovations around the hall.’

‘Goodness.’ Father replied. ‘What are going to do now with three Annes in the house?’

‘You could call me big Anne and Ann little Anne and you could call aunt sister.’ Anne said. ‘How does that sounds. And when we want you, aunt. We’ll call you aunt.’ Which to Anne was the obvious conclusion. Wasn’t it?

‘Well, that makes sense but does Ann here.’ father pointed to Ann. ‘want to be called little Ann.’

‘I don’t mind if he helps distinguish us from each other. Sometimes I will answer to almost anything but don’t call me later for dinner.’ Ann said. That made everyone laugh loudly.

They arrived at the pub. It seemed quiet but it was a week night. Anne was so glad to be home. She was wondering how Gemma was doing. She had promised her and Ann would visit her soon. She pushed that thought out of her mind as they walked together into the pub. They chose a booth in the corner. It seemed quiet enough. Anne and Ann sat on one side. Aunt and father on the other. Marian grabbed a chair from another table and seated herself at the end.

Anne ordered drinks for everyone. She paid for them. The waitress came over and took their order. They all order fish and chips. It was much easier than trying to decide. Ann smiled at Anne. She couldn’t believe she was her in a pub in Halifax with Anne and her family. She imagined it would take sometime for that to sink in. Anne smiled at her.as she leaned in and said.’What are you thinking about, Miss Walker?’

‘Just how much I am glad we met when we did and that I am here in Halifax with you and your family. Thanks for this afternoon’s little delight.’ Ann whispered back.

‘Oh dear , Adney, there’s lots more to come.’ Ann smiled.

‘And what would you two be nattering about?’ Marian asked.

‘Nothing.’ they said unison. ‘Just life.’

‘Good. Can we go to the ice cream shop when we have finished our meal. I would love a cone for dessert.’ Aunt Anne said.

‘Me too.’ Ann squealed. When they had finished eating and paid for the meal walked to the ice cream shop. It was just across the road from the pub. Anne was surprised at the variety of ice cream flavours available to them. Anne had rocky road. Ann chose peppermint and cookies and cream. Father didn’t get one. Marian had death by chocolate and Aunt Anne had a strawberry sorbet.

They sat outside enjoying the moment. The sun set was lovely. Ann took a few photos with her phone. It gave her an idea for another painting which she hoped to start painting in the next few days. Only before then Anne and Ann had so much to talk about. Anne didn’t know if she was going to find a job or not.

She had heard that there was only five full time doctors in Halifax. She could apply for a job later but for now she wanted to enjoy her time with Ann as much as she could. They smiled at each other. Marian thought it was so good that her sister was in love again and it was their neighbour, Ann Walker whom Marian knew had had a crush on her sister since she was a teenager.

Ann would walk past Shibden just to see if Anne was home. When Anne was there Ann would run and hide so Anne wouldn’t see her. Now, they were together.

‘Are you ready to go home, Anne?’ Marian asked. She could see father was itching to get home. He wanted to watch the news. Then Marian’s favourite reality show was on. ‘Why are you in such a hurry, Marian?’

‘Father wants to watch the news. Then Love Island is on.’

‘You watch Love Island, Marian?’ Ann said as she looked at Anne out of the corner of her eye. ‘Yes, it’s my favourite reality tv show. Why?’

‘You have someone to watch it with then.’ Anne said with a scowl on her face.

‘Now, don’t be like that. It’s only one once a week and only for an hour, Anne. You have me for the other 167 hours of the week.’

‘Oh we are smart today.’ Anne said then smiled because Ann was right. Ann was hers twenty four seven for always.

‘Let’s go home,’ Anne said. She and Ann helped their aunt back to Sam’s Jeep. Anne let everyone alight in front of the hall and parked the Jeep in the garage. She loved driving her brother’s Jeep. She missed him more than she ever imagined she would.

When she walked inside Ann and Marian were in the kitchen making drinks for everyone. Father was watching the news and Aunt Anne was sitting in her rocking chair knitting baby booties to give to the local hospital. They gave every new mum a pair for their newborns.

Anne snuck into the kitchen to tell Ann she was going upstairs to her library to find a good book to read if Ann was going to watch Love Island with Marian.

Anne went out the kitchen door before Ann had a chance to talk to her. She chased after her leaving Marian to deal with the drinks. ‘Anne Lister, wait for me.’ Ann said panting as she reached Anne who had stopped at the bottom of the stairs. ‘What’s up, Ann?’ Anne said surprised Ann followed her. Then Ann leaned in and kissed her passionately on the lips. Anne was shocked. ‘I am going to miss you, dearest. Can you pick a book that you would like to read to me in bed.’ Ann said. Anne looked surprised. She didn’t imagine she would have a girlfriend who would want her to read to. ‘I will. You have better get going. Marian is calling. Love Island will be on in a few minutes.’ Anne walked up to her library and Ann went back into the kitchen to help Marian carry the drinks into the sitting room where Aunt Anne and father were sleeping.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

 

Anne sat in her library wondering which book she would like to read to Ann. She wondered what Ann was interested in. She liked reality tv if only for the reasons that watching it didn’t require her to think. She wondered what else Ann liked. She didn’t really know her that well but she thought a love story would help. It was then that she spied Emma. She reached in and grabbed her well worn copy. She practically knew it by heart. A rich spoilt young lady who engaged in match making and who was mistress of her father’s house. She wondered if that would be okay after what Ann had been through with the loss of her parents then her brother. She would like Emma.

Ann and Marian were sitting together on the couch giggling at Love Island and poking fun in the people there when Anne walked in on them. ‘I found Emma, Ann. Would you like me to read that.’She said only for Ann to hear. ‘I could get another story by the same lady.’

‘No, Emma will be fine. I will be up soon. This is nearly over. Aunt and father will probably want to watch something else when they wake.’

‘No, Ann. They usually sleep after the news is over then they go to bed and sleep.’ Marian said. ‘I honestly think they often seem to sleep their life away. I hope I’m not like that when I am there age. I’m going to bed to read for a while.’ Marian stood up and took their cups into the kitchen. Anne reached down and grabbed Ann’s hand and gently helped her off the couch. ‘Goodnight, Marian.’ They both called. They strode upstairs to their bedroom. ‘Now, here’s the thing, Miss Walker, I prefer to sleep on the left side of the bed.’

‘Well, that’s good because I prefer to sleep on the right. Why have we not had this conversation before this, Anne.’ Ann said looking bemused.

‘It hadn’t been important until we were here and going to sleep in my bed.’ Anne said. ‘Do you like the book I chose to read to you?’

‘Yes, shall we get into bed so you can begin to read it to me. I would like that.’

They changed into their pyjamas. Anne only wore a t-shirt and her knickers. Ann wore a nightgown. They climbed into bed. Anne rested her glasses on her nose and opened Emma to the first page. She waited while Ann snuggled in beside. Her. Then she began reading. ‘Emma Woodhouse, handsome,clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition, seem to unite some of the blessings of existence, and had lived nearly twenty-one years on the world with very little to vex or distress her.’ Fortunately or unfortunately for Anne that is as far as she could read before she heard Ann snoring sweetly next to her. She laid the book and her glasses on her bedside drawers, slid down beside Ann and went to sleep.

The next morning Ann woke with the sun streaming through the window. Anne was already awake. She looked sad. Ann wondered what she had done or said to upset her. ‘What’s wrong, dearest?’

‘I had only read the first sentence in Emma and you were softly snoring beside me. Why did you do that? Was my voice annoying you or didn’t you like the story at all.’

‘Anne!! I was neither. I love Emma and your voice is so sweet. It lulled me to sleep. I’m sorry if you thought otherwise.’

‘Are you saying that to make me happy or is it what you want me to hear.’

‘Anne Lister, never doubt me please. It is what I want you to hear. I love you, Anne. Let’s get ready. What are your plans for today?’

‘I had nothing much plan for today. I thought we would go for a walk around Shibden. I want to show you the changes I plan to make now I have some money to do that. ‘ Ann looked at her sternly.

‘Don’t you mean now we have money to do that?’ Oops, Anne thought but she smiled. ‘Yes, Ann. That’s what I meant to say. Let’s dress and go down for breakfast.’

‘Great idea,’ Ann said as her stomach rumbled. It made both of them laugh loudly. They sat with Marian, father and Aunt Anne. They ate breakfast in relative quiet. All that could be hear was the munching of cereal and the slurping of tea. Ann smiled. This was what it would always be like. She was living in Shibden with Anne, her girlfriend but in that moment Ann was hoping one day Anne would be more than her girlfriend. Was that going happen?

Anne’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She didn’t look to see who the caller was. She answered. ‘Hi, Freddy. I hear you are at Shibden.’ Anne thought that news travels fast. Then she wondered who told her.’Can I see you today?’ Anne scrunched up her nose as if she had smelt something foul. Ann looked at her concerned. Anne put her hand over the phone and told Ann who it was.

‘What the hell does that bitch want this time?’ Everyone looked at Ann. They were shocked by her language but understood that she didn’t like Mariana either. ‘She wants to see me.’ Anne said.’What should I say?’

‘You tell the bitch you are otherwise occupied with someone. I think she knows who with and I think I know who told her, Miss Jealous pants.’

‘Freddy, are you still there? Are we going to meet up today?’ Mariana said loudly.

‘No way!!’ Ann said before Anne had a chance answer. ‘Who told you she was at Shibden?’ Ann already knew Gemma had told her. How annoying they should have told Gemma not to mention where they were.

‘Freddy, come I haven’t seen you in months now. I need you.’

‘You lost your chance to be with me when you married Charles.You didn’t seem to care then. So, why do you care now?’

‘Freddy….’ That’s all Mariana could say then Anne disconnected the call. ‘I hope she doesn’t come visiting today. Although, I think she might. What should we do?’ Anne looked at everyone for an answer. ‘We’ll deal with it when it happens. Okay!!’ Ann said with more courage than she thought she had.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

 

They had began their stroll around Shibden after breakfast. Anne was telling Ann what she planned to do to improve the property and make it more like a parkland that a farm. She wanted to add a larger library. The one she used now also double as her home office. So there were books stacked everywhere. Her office desk was crammed into the corner. On it sat some of her medical books, many copies of the Lancet and her outdated laptop which she rarely turned on. She had laid her journals in there for reference. Although she never re read any of them. They latest one was on her nightstand next to her bed. She also thought a bigger library would mean she could buy more books.

They had sat down on a bench at the rear of the house when they heard a car approaching. They weren’t expecting visitors. So, it had both of them puzzled as to who it could have been.

They listened carefully as Cordingley answered the door. ‘Mrs Lawton to see Miss Lister. Is she in?’

‘No, she went for a walk around Shibden with Miss Walker then I think they had planned to go into town.’

‘I will wait until she returns.’ Mariana said as she barged her way inside. She walked to the sitting room where Aunt Anne and father were watching a football match on tv. Well, father was watching it. Aunt Anne was knitting booties.’ She sat down on the couch and watched tv. ‘What are you doing here?’ Father said angrily. He didn’t want to see her. He knew she was only her to see his elder daughter and Anne didn’t want her around.

After Anne and Ann heard what Cordingley said they sneaked over to the chaumiere and planned to stay there all day if they had to. Anne remember they had some chocolate hidden in her secret hiding place. Anne opened the door when they arrived there. She wondered if Ann was hungry. They had been walking for nearly two hours around Shibden. They often stopped to  chat about what Anne was planning to do.

They walked in. Ann sat on the couch and Anne decided if they were going to be there for a while she would like a fire. She also decided to call her aunt to find out what was happening at the house. Aunt Anne had her phone next to her and answer on the second ring. ‘Hello, who’s this.’ Aunt said she knew it was Anne but didn’t want Mariana to know. ‘Aunt, just answer yes or no. Is she still there. We heard her voice when Cordingley answered the door.’

‘Yes.’

‘Is she waiting to see me?’

‘Yes.’

‘Should we disappear for a day?’

‘That would be a great idea.’

‘Do you think she wants to hurt, Ann?’

‘Possibly.’ Mariana looked at Aunt Anne wondering who she was talking to. ‘Sorry, I have to go. I will talk to you later, Geraldine. Thanks for calling.’ Aunt Anne disconnected the call. Mariana eyed her suspiciously. ‘Who’s Geraldine?’

‘A long lost friend. We haven’t seen each other for a long time.’

Ann asked Anne the same question. ‘Why’s she calling you? Geraldine.’

‘Mariana is there and she wants her to think it was someone else other than me.’ Anne said. ‘Aunt suggests we stay away until at least tomorrow.’

‘What are we going to do until then?’ Ann asked.

‘Aunt Anne just says to stay away. We could get Marian to bring some food down or we could order in.’ Anne said. She didn’t really want to bring Marian into the troubles but Marian was already in the mix.

‘What are you doing in our home, Mrs Lawton?’ Marian said as she walked into the sitting room.’You don’t need to see Anne and she doesn’t want to see you. I think she told you that when you called her this morning and interrupted her while she was eating breakfast. So, would you mind leaving because we don’t want you hear.’

‘What are you going to do? Call the cops and have me arrested for trespassing.’

‘Now, that’s a brilliant idea. Why don’t I just do that now?’ Aunt Anne said. She had had enough of Mrs Lawton over the years. Mariana didn’t move. So, Aunt called the police station. ‘We have an unwanted visitor here at Shibden. Would you come out and arrest her for trespassing on private property?’

‘We will be there in ten minutes. Which is how long it took Mariana to realise they were coming. She stood up and took her leave. She had just stepped outside and was climbing into her car when the constable appeared. ‘I am assuming you are the unwanted visitor. I am glad you decided to leave because I wouldn’t want your husband to have to come and bail you out of jail. Mrs Lawton. How would you explain that to him?’

‘How I explain this to anyone is none of your business.’

‘Oh, you are so wrong there. You see Charles and I are good friends. I might let it slip that you were at Shibden pestering Anne Lister. What would he say to that?’ Mariana looked at him with disgust on her face.

‘How could you be friends with my husband? You are merely a police man and he is a man of importance.’

‘He has been friends with my family for years. He was in business with my father long before you married him.’ Mariana slammed the car door and drove off. Marian was hoping that was the last they would see of her but she doubted it. She called Anne.’Hi Anne, Mariana’s gone. We had to call the police to get her off the property. Stay where you are. I will deliver something for you and Ann to eat. You must be hungry.’

‘How do you know where we are? I didn’t tell anyone where we were going.’

‘I watched you from my bedroom window. I could see you were heading to your favourite place. What would you like?’

‘Anything. We are famished. We have been eating chocolate but we don’t want to eat too much in case it makes us sick.’ Marian walked to the chaumiere with sandwiches she had Cordingley make for them. She had hope Mariana didn’t just drive somewhere and hide then follow her. It was a risk she had to take but she could feel eyes watching her. So, she walked away from the chaumiere. She was sure Mariana didn’t know about it. She called Anne. ‘I think the bitch is still here. I can feel someone’s eyes on me. I think it could be her.’ Marian said.

‘Just bring us the food. I think Ann and I can deal with her.’ Anne said. She was hoping they could do that. She disconnected her call with Marian and called the constable and told him Mariana hadn’t left Shibden. He told her he was friends with Charles and to keep her busy until he called Charles and told Charles what his wife was up to.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

 

Marian allowed Mariana to follow her to the chaumiere where Anne and Ann were waiting for her. They both knew this wasn’t going to be much fun but they had to do it. Marian knocked on the door and walked it. Both Anne and Ann grabbed a sandwich and were munching when Mariana barged in. She was livid that Anne was here and didn’t tell her.

‘What is all this about? Are you hiding from me now, Freddy?’

‘Who’s Freddy.’ Ann asked innocently.

‘It’s a stupid nickname she gave me because she always wanted me to be a man.’ Anne said angrily. Ann massaged her back to calm her down and to remind her that she was there with her.

‘I just thought you would be alone and we could spend sometime together.’ Mariana said as she looked between Anne and Ann who were standing close together with an arm around each other.’But it is obvious you are here with Little Miss Walker.’

‘And why does that concern you, Mary?’ Anne said as she pulled Ann in closer to her. Marian was watching this interaction between Anne and Mariana and also watching Anne and Ann. Marian could see Ann was about to explode. She was hoping she would and put Mariana in her place.

Ann freed herself from Anne and walked over to Mariana who was standing in the door way. ‘What the hell do you think you are going to gain from trying to split us up, Mrs Lawton? If you would do us a big favour and leave I would be so grateful. I am with Anne now and she told me she is the happiest she has even been. I often wonder why she put up with you for a long as she did when you constantly told her she was less than who you thought she should be.’ Ann said.

‘She’s only with you because I haven’t been around. She wants me. I can see it in her eyes.’ Anne looked at Mariana. She couldn’t see anything in her eyes that had been there years ago. All Anne could see was the green eyed monster. ‘You don’t want to be with me, Mary. You are just jealous that Ann and I are together. Ann is right. You need to leave before I allow her to do something we will both regret.’

‘What could she do that would hurt me?’

‘Trust me, Mrs Lawton. I have a black belt in karate.’ Ann said. Then they heard a car approaching. ‘Who’s that?’ Mariana asked as the car stopped in front of the chaumiere Mariana’s face turned a bright shade of red.. It was her husband. Anne had given him directions to the chaumiere. When he stepped out of his car he looked at his wife. ‘What the hell are you up to Mariana? Trying to get Anne back into your clutches as is your way with her.’ Charles said. ‘If, you insist on chasing after someone who clearly doesn’t want or need you then I am going to cut you off without a penny. Of course, if you come home with me now I will reconsider my actions.’ It seemed Mariana was in a spot. If she kept trying to move in on Ann Walker to get Anne Lister back she would be poor but if she went with Charles she would be rich but unhappy. She really had only herself to blame. If she had married Anne when Anne asked her to she wouldn’t be in this pickle. Would she?

Mariana left but didn’t leave without the last word. ‘she will get fed up with you, Miss Walker. Then she will come running back to me.’

‘That won’t happen, Mary because I am in love with Miss Walker and she loves me which is more than I can say for you. I was only your plaything,’

‘Fuck off, bitch. We don’t want to see you here ever again.’ Ann said and both Marian and Anne looked at her and smiled. They had wanted to say that to Mariana but never had the courage to. Ann certainly did. She could feel adrenalin pumping through her body. Then she sat down. Mariana went with Charles. He had brought a friend to take her car home. Anne looked over. Ann was weeping. She couldn’t believe what she just did. Her body was shaking so much. Anne sat next to her and Marian sat on the other side. They hugged Ann and told her she was their shero of the day. She sobbed in their arms. ‘Ann, what you did just now was a miracle. I don’t think anyone has addressed Mariana like that. I wish I had left her when she married Charles.It would have saved me lots of heartache and disappointment.’

‘Dearest, we are together now and I will never do to you what she did to you. Let’s go home.’ They all stood together. Marian left them to walk home together. She had lots to think about. It seemed that Ann Walker was the best person for her sister and that made Marian smile. She was sure her and Ann would get along fine but she wasn’t sure if Anne would stick to her promise. That was hard to imagine. Anne Lister with Ann Walker and not Mariana Lawton. Well, Mariana and Anne had been together for so long that Marian couldn’t remember a time before Mariana but she was hopeful there would be a time after Mariana.

Anne and Ann walked back to the hall. Ann was deep in thought about what she had just done. She didn’t know where she found the courage to do what she did but she imagined Anne was responsible. She looked at her girlfriend and smiled. Anne smiled back. ‘What are you thinking, Miss Walker?’

‘I was just wondering how I found courage when I needed it. I was think that you gave me the courage to face her and tell her you were with me.’

‘I don’t think that’s how it is. I think you were just fed up with the way she was trying to split us up and told her so. You knew long before I did that you and I would be together. Isn’t that why you fell down in the park. You saw me and wanted to get my attention and that was the only way you could see to do that.’

‘Anne, how did you know that?’ Ann asked timidly. She could feel that this could break them if Anne gave the answer she thought she would. ‘Because you were smiling when I approached you and cleared the on lookers. I know you were in a little bit of pain but you thought that was the price you had to pay to get me closer to you and for me to see you.’ Anne said. ‘Don’t worry. If you hadn’t been there that day I wouldn’t be where I am now. My practice was becoming a burden and I wanted out. You gave me a reason to get out.’

‘You’re welcome but I still don’t understand how you figured it out.’

‘Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter. Nothing else matters now that we are together. I am happier with you than I have ever been in my life.’ When they arrived back at the hall they told Aunt Anne what happened. How Ann had stood up to Mariana and told her who Anne was with her. Aunt Anne hugged Ann she could see she had been crying. Her heart melted at the sight of Anne and Ann with their arms around each other. She couldn’t have imagined this scenario years ago. Mariana seemed to always be at Anne for the way she dressed and the way she acted. It didn’t seem to bother Ann Walker She accepted Anne for who she was and the way she dressed. Aunt Anne was proud of them both but wondered if Mariana would try again to split Anne and Ann up. As if reading her mind Marian said. ‘They are a team and most teams are hard to tear apart.’

‘Thank you, Marian. That is exactly what Ann and I are. A team.’

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

 

‘So, what are your plans for the future now you are here with Miss Walker?’ father asked as he walked into the sitting room where everyone was seated.

‘I would like to do some renovations to Shibden. I want to build a bigger library.’

‘Which means you will buy more books?’ Aunt asked.

‘I presume I will.’ Anne said as she eyed Ann.’After that I don’t know. I don’t really want to work full time. But in the future I would like a part time job. I don’t want to lose my ability to practice medicine.’

‘Good. I have heard that you are a good doctor.’

‘Thank you, father.’ Anne said shyly. She had never imagined she would get so much praise from her father. The man who wanted her to stay in Halifax and be responsible for Shibden after she inherited it from her uncle. Only she had other plans. She wanted to be a doctor, to own her own practice. She had done that and now she was back home. Her life had come full circle. ‘What about you, Miss Walker? What do you want to do with your life?’ Marian asked. She thought the words would be better coming from her than her father. He tend to be a bit gruff. ‘I paint. As you can see from the paintings I have hung around the sitting room. Anne’s friend, Tib said she wants to show them in her gallery. Of course, you must know by now how rich I am but I don’t like talking about money. Its just something I often feel I have way too much of.’

‘What about you and Ann?’ father asked looking at Anne.

‘What about Ann and I?’ Anne said looking directly at Ann and hoping he wasn’t going to say the m word.

‘Are you going to…you know…pop the question?’ Aunt Anne asked. Ann blushed because that was something she was hoping Anne would do. Only she could wait for now. She could see Anne had thought about asking her but was too afraid of rejection. Ann leaned over and whispered in her ear. ‘If you asked me to marry you I wouldn’t say no.’ Anne’s eyes bulged. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She made an excuse for her and Ann to leave the room.

They walked silently up to their bedroom. Anne closed the door and pushed Ann up against it. ‘Were you serious when you said what you just whispered in my ear?’

‘I am more serious now than I have ever been with anyone, not that anyone has ever asked me to marry them.’ Ann said. ‘You do remember i have never had a girlfriend. You are my first and last. I only want to be with you.’

‘Ann, will you…..?’ Anne couldn’t say it. .she was so worked up from everything that had happened. She had to brace herself for the answer even though she thought Ann would say yes. ‘Will I what, Anne?’

‘Will you marry me? Will you make this a more permanent union…’ Anne pointed between then.’than what it is already?’

‘Yes, a million times yes.’ Ann said. Anne couldn’t stop the tears that were falling down her cheeks. Ann pulled her in close and held her until she stopped sobbing. Then there was a knock on the door. ‘Anne and Ann dinner is served if you two love birds are hungry.’ Marian said.

‘We will be down in a moment. Thanks for telling us, Marian.’ Ann said. She smiled she was bursting to tell everyone. Anne wasn’t sure if that was a good idea. She didn’t know how her father and her aunt would react. Would they think it would be like when she proposed to Mariana and went into hiding when Mariana left her to marry Charles. Although she knew Ann Walker wouldn’t do that to her. She was smiling when her and Ann sat down at the dinner table. Everyone was waiting for them. Cordingley had brought the food to the table. ‘Anne and I have some good news. That we would like to tell you before everyone starts eating.’ Ann said not sure if this was the best time to do it. ‘Well, out with it, Ann. I can see you are itching to tell us. Marian said. Marian thought she already knew what Ann was going to say but she waited like everyone else.

‘Anne and I are getting married.’

‘When, congratulations.’ They said in unison.’Where?’ Marian asked. She hadn’t thought they would want to get married in Halifax.

‘We haven’t decided when but I think I would like to get married here at Shibden. What do you think, Ann?’

‘Anywhere as long as you are there, dearest.’

‘Then we are getting married here. When would you like to say I do to me, Ann Walker?’

‘ASAP, dearest.’ Ann said and she hadn’t smile so broadly as she did that day. The season was fixed. They would marry early spring and would have a reception that would be the best. Anne wanted to do some renovations to Shibden before Ann and she said I do. Could that be pulled off during the colder months. She didn’t know but she would do her best to make their wedding day the best ever. Anne wanted to make it the best for her bride who was blushing so much her face was beetroot red.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

 

‘How much are you prepared to contribute to the renovations of our home?’ Anne asked Ann who sat for a moment and pondered on the question. She was wondering if this was a trick question but didn’t know. No matter what she offered she felt Anne would either be insulted or offended.’I don’t know, Anne. I hadn’t given it much thought. I could pay for all the renovations but I am sure you would be offended if I did that. Or I could just give you half.’

‘I don’t want you to pay for all the renovations, Ann so half would be good.’ Anne said. ‘I have drawn up a rough idea of what I would like. I want the library to be completed and some landscaping down before our wedding day. What do you think?’

‘That sounds good to me. What will the completed library look like.’ Anne hands her the sketch she had done.’So, you would like it to be a tower next to the main house. I like it.’

‘Yes, that is the plan. I only hope the builders can pull it off for us before our wedding day. Of course, we could focus on the landscaping and the library could be done later.’

‘Do you have a sketch of the landscaping you would like done?’ Ann asked with sadness in her voice.

‘No, Ann. I was going to include you in that decision making. I haven’t a clue what kind of plants I would like in our garden. Of course, I would like a veggie garden but that can’t be started until spring.’

‘Oh!’ Ann said. She wasn’t expecting Anne would want her input. They were seated in Anne’s office. Anne suggested they go for a walk around the grounds again this time to look more closely where there was some shade, where they imagined there was full shade and where there was full sunlight.

This process was going to take a while They would need to check each spot at different times of the day. Ann had wondered if it would be wiser to get an expert it. Someone who knew what they were doing. Only that would cost. Yet, she was prepared to be responsible for that.

‘Anne, we could get in a professional landscaper. They could help us. I know that would cost but I will be responsible for that.’ Ann said as she looked at Anne shyly. She didn’t know how Anne would react. ‘That would be a great idea, Ann. Do you know anyone in the landscaping business?’

I did once but that was a long time ago. They came over to Crow Nest. They did a wonderful job landscaping the front yard and they put in a veggie garden and fruit orchard for me.’

‘Would it be possible that you still have a receipt from them at Crow Nest somewhere?’ Anne asked with hope in her voice.

‘Yes, I/m sure I could have. Let’s go over and take a look. Shall we walk or drive.’ Anne said as she looked towards the heavens. Black clouds were beginning to roll across the sky. ‘Let’s drive. We can take my brother’s Jeep. It’s always been my favourite car. He would allow me to drive it when he was away fighting some unknown enemy.’ A tear rolled down Anne’s cheek. Ann leaned in and wiped it away. Then kissed her softly. ‘I know how that feels, Anne. I miss my brother, John. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.’

They strolled over to the garage and were in Sam’s Jeep and on their way over to Crow Nest.

James greeted them when they rang the door bell. ‘I have always wanted to do that but never been brave enough.’ Ann said as she eyed Anne and wait for James.’you have never had to because you lived here.’ Anne said her face beaming with a smile. ‘Miss Walker, Miss Lister. What do you need?’

‘James. Do you remember when we had to the landscaping done about three years ago?’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘Did we keep the invoices?’

‘I think they are in your father’s old office in the filing cabinet nearest to his desk under l for landscaping.’ James chuckled. He followed them to the office. He was able to locate it faster because he was the one who would file everything for her father when he was alive. The landscaping firm was Hemingway & Sowden. A husband and wife team Ann remembered she was rather cute and he was well, the most handsome man she had ever met. They were very much in love and loved working together.

Ann called the number in the invoice to see if they were still in business.

‘Hemingway & Sowden landscaping  Hemingway speaking. How can I help you?’

‘This is John Walker’s daughter, Ann. You did some work on our property, Crow Nest some three years since. I was wondering if you are interested in another project this time at Shibden Hall.’

‘Yes, I know that property. It belongs to Anne Lister. Right?’

‘Yes, Anne and I are getting married In early spring and we would like you to landscape the grounds so it is pretty when we get married.’

‘Congrats from both me and Sowden. When would you like us to come check it out for you?’

‘Whenever you are free.’ Ann said with a wide smile on her face. ‘What’s your first name. I don’t like using last names of people it sounds demeaning.’

‘Then my name is Rachel. Thomas is my partner’s name.We can be there at ten tomorrow morning. Is that okay?’

‘Okay, Rachel. Ten tomorrow morning. See you then.’ Ann disconnected the call and passed the message to Anne who was just as excited. They thanked James for helping then and told him he was invited to their wedding. He told them it would be an honour to be there. ‘Is anyone giving you away, Miss Walker?’ Neither Anne nor Ann had thought of that.’No!! Would you like to James.’

I would be happy to do that for you, Miss Walker.’

‘Thank you, James. We will let you know when it will be as we get closer to the date.’

They left Crow Nest. They arrived back at home a few minutes later. Anne wanted to show Ann the other renovations she wanted to tackle not right now but maybe after they were married. Ann could see Anne was desperate to change things up. The kitchen needed new cupboards and new appliances.. Ann was wondering if they were going to do that wouldn’t it be a good idea to maintain the integrity of the old home. After all it was six hundred years old and Anne couldn’t remember when they kitchen had been renovated.

They walked up to Anne’s office. Anne had the sketches of the kitchen on her desk. She showed Ann who it would seem had her own ideas on what it should look like but she looked at Anne’s ideas.

‘Don’t you wish to keep the integrity and age of the hall? I heard it is six hundred years old this year.’

‘Yes, but we must keep up with progress.’

‘I know this, Anne, but we can use products that have an older world appearance with a new world technology. Can’t we?’

‘Yes, I am sure we could do that. What about the cupboards doors, the counter tops and the island? What should we use there?’

‘How about butcher block? I am guess they would have had wooden counters back then.’

‘Yes, we could do that and have doors with glass inserts. They would look old world. Wouldn’t they?’ Anne said not sure of what it would look like.

‘Okay! We can check them out and take it from there. Okay,Anne.’

‘Okay, Ann. We can do that. When?’ Anne said she wanted to get it done soon.

‘After Rachel and Thomas have been to give us ideas on the landscaping.’

‘Good. Let’s do that.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 22

 

Thomas seemed to be the one who knew which plant went where. He had said that colour didn’t need to come from flowers. It was possible to have plants that only had leaves of varying shades and colours to make any area look colourful. Anne wanted some flowers but she liked the idea that leaves could be as colourful.

Rachel & Thomas gave Anne and Ann an outline of what they would like to do to improve the beauty of the grounds around Shibden. They even suggested creating a hothouse for plants that could only grow in warmer climates. Ann wondered if Anne really wanted to do that but she seemed interested.

Rachel suggested they wait for another monthor two before they would beginning adding colour to Shibden. But she did say they could begin clearing out the undergrowth and weeds then they could begin preparing the soil. When that was completed they would come over once a fortnight to check on the progress of the plants and replace any that died with others at no extra cost.

‘What would all this cost? Anne asked them.

‘We can only give you a rough estimate for now. We would need to go back to the nursery and do a proper calculation for you. That might take a couple of days. It depends on how busy we are and whether we get called out to do more assessments for other prospective customers.’

‘What’s the rough estimate? Ann asked.

‘Somewhere between five and seven thousands pounds.’ Rachel said. Anne was in shock. She thought it would be expensive because she wanted mature plants but she never thought it would be that much. ‘Okay! Do you calculations and get back to us. We will let you know then what we want to do.’ Ann said.

Rachel and Thomas left. Ann tried to reason with Anne but it didn’t seem to work. She tried to explain that they wouldn’t be the only ones doing the landscaping for them and more mature a plant the more it cost. ‘Come on, Anne. I will pay for this if you don’t want to. Look at it as my wedding present for you. How does that sound?’ Anne would have said yes but she wanted to wait until they had done the calculations.’

‘Thanks. For the offer but. I think we can wait and decide then when the final cost is given to us.’

‘Okay!! I think we can do that.’ Then she looked at Anne. She seemed miles away.’Are you okay? Is something troubling you?’

‘I don’t know. It could be just me but I feel I have seen those two somewhere else.’ Anne said. ‘They look familiar or is it their names.’

‘You might have seen their advertising on telly in the past. Who knows? They are popular. We were lucky to have them come out so soon.’ Ann said looking at Anne wondering now if she ever watched tv.

‘Yes, I guess so. Only I don’t watch that much tv as you probably already guessed.’

Two days later they called Anne. Their estimate was closer to the mark than what Anne expected. Yet, it was exactly what they wanted to do. Rachel said the biggest cost was the water fountain Anne wanted in the centre of the front yard. It would be lovely in the summer. Somewhere they could sit and feel the cool water spray their bodies.

‘We estimated between five and seven thousand. With the water fountain that you said you would like it will be six thousand five hundred pounds.’ Rachel said. ‘You can pay it in one lump sum or over a period of twelve months with an interest rate of three percent.’

‘We will talk it over and let you know it a day or so.’ Anne said. She was wondering now if this had been a good idea. Then Ann looked at her and said. ‘We’re not alive are we if, we are not taking the odds risk now and again.’ Ann was right. She called them back. Rachel was surprised they were so quick off the mark.

‘When can you start?’ Anne asked her.

‘In about two weeks but that will depend on the weather and the availability of our workers. Some of them are busy on other projects at the moment.’

‘That will be fine. Just call us and let us know when you want to start. We will make sure we are available. We are going to pay you half when you start and the rest when you are finished. Is that okay?’

‘Yes, that will be great. I was going to suggest that if you offered to pay us in full before we started. We want you to be happy with the finished product before you pay us the full amount.’

‘Okay, we have a deal but before you go haven’t we met before!’ Anne said.

‘I’m not sure but you did look familiar. Only I don’t remember where or when.’

‘Okay! One of us is likely to remember. Aren’t we?’

‘Yes, Miss Lister, We are.’ Anne disconnected the call and looked at Ann. Do you still want to gift me the landscaping as a wedding present?’

‘I guess so.’ Ann said softly. ‘That’s if that is what you would like.’

‘I think so. But I insist I pay for the new library when its built.’

‘Sorry. I can’t agree to that. I was hoping I could help with that too. Anne, I am so rich if I did what you wanted done here I would still have more than what I need. Okay!!’

‘Ann, I don’t want to rely on you for our financial needs. I want this to be a partnership not one person leaning on the other for help financially. Okay!!’

‘It’s not like that, dearest. I will be living here too and there is so much you want to do.’ Anne couldn’t argue with logic. So, she let it ride.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23

 

Hemingway and Sowden and their crew of one man and two other women arrived at 8AM on Monday exactly a fortnight later. Rachel introduced her crew.

‘This is our team that will be working here for the next few days. As I said we can only clear out weeds and undergrowth and prepare the soil.’

‘Who are they? Ann asked.

’Sorry, I forgot to introduce them. This is my second, Amelia and Sophie, the youngest member of our team. And the man over there is Sam. He will do most of the digging when it comes to putting the plants in.’

‘What do you do, Rachel?’

‘I do as much as I can. Thomas and I are the ones who check out the gardens of our prospective customers and do the estimates. But we are often able to help out.’Rachel said.’We usually find time to do that.’

They all worked diligently.By the end of the week everything was beginning to take shape. Anne had ordered some outdoor furniture. It was nearly half price during the winter months. She had it stored in the barn until spring. Ann had paid for half the cost of the landscaping online.

When the landscapers left Anne surveyed the results. It was a bit barren but that was to be expected. They had laid ground cover and they water fountain looked a treat in the middle of the front yard. Anne was impressed with the work they had done so far.

Anne made sure they knew she was pleased with their work so far. So, she ordered a basket of treats from the local bakery and had them delivered. Rachel wasn’t expecting such a surprise. She called Anne to thank her.

‘No, Rachel, it is I that should be thanking you. I am pleased with the work you have done so fat. It’s a pity you don’t do contract work. I want someone to remodel our kitchen. Its a right mess and a tight squeeze.’

‘Goodness, why didn’t you say something. I have a very dear friend who would love to remodel your kitchen for you. I can get him to call you when he is free.’

‘Thank you. What’s his name.’

‘Rachel. She was thanking us for the treats we sent her and she is calling a friend of hers who is a contractor. She will call him and call us back if he can help us.’ As if Rachel was reading their minds she called back five minutes later. ‘John and George are free tomorrow to come check out your kitchen. They are good at what they do and hard working.’

‘Thanks, Rachel. Can I have their number so I can call them.’

‘Sorry, it is 225 126 4796.’

‘Thanks again. See you when you come over to plant the scrubs and flowers and trees.’

‘You’re welcome.’ Anne disconnected the call then called john.

‘Booth and Booth. We fix what is broken or worn out, John speaking.’

‘Hi Mr Booth, Anne Lister speaking. Rachel told you about me and my kitchen. It needs a remodel. We want to remodel it with modern appliances that have old world appearance and charm. Can you do that?’

‘Yes, but they might be a bit more than what you are willing to pay.’

‘That’s okay. My soon to be wife says we can afford it.. When can you check it out.’

‘George and I can come over tomorrow and take a look if that’s all right with you Miss Lister.’

‘Goodness, let’s get rid of the formalities. The name’s Anne. Okay!!’

‘Okay. Mis…Anne. My brother and I will be there at ten tomorrow. Is that okay?’

‘Yes, perfect. Then we can thrash out a deal.’

‘Yes, bye!’

‘Goodbye.’ Anne disconnected the call. She had been chatting on the phone for so long she didn’t realise that Ann wasn’t standing next to her. Ann was seated on the couch with her sketch book in her lap. She had a pencil in her right hand and a serious look on her face.

‘What are you doing, Ann?’ Anne asked quizzically.

‘Trying to get your proportions right. I am not sure if I have made your hands too large.’

‘Ann.’ Anne looked over Ann’s shoulder at the sketch.’They look right to me. Is that how you see me because it isn’t how I see myself,’ Anne said as she looked closer at the sketch.’Am I so soft and gently to you.’

‘Oh yes, and so much more, dearest.’

‘I only see what others tell me. Mariana had always told me I was too butch, too manly. I had too many harsh surfaces and she couldn’t cope with that. She wouldn’t want to be with me when we went out in public. She would race ahead to walk at least a yard in front of me. I feel as though I was always less than what she wanted in a partner.’ Anne said with tears rolling down her cheeks. Ann cupped her face and wiped the tears away. ‘Anne Lister, when we walk out together I will gladly walk beside you and if you like I will hold your hand just to show you I am not ashamed to be with you.’ Anne smiled. She still found it had to believe that here was someone who loved her more than she thought she deserved to be

‘Anne, are you all right?’ She waited expecting Anne to say what she had probably hear so many times in the past when they had met. Only this time Anne sighed. It was the deepest sigh Ann had ever heard. She wonder what thoughts were going through the mind of the person she loved so dearly. ‘Ann, you will have to forgive me if I say something that hurts you. I feel as though I am walking this planet alone. I can’t seem to get someone to stay with me no matter what I do they always seem to leave. Sometimes, it is because they aren’t like that. As in the case of Vere Cameron. You have yet to meet her. Or in the case of Mariana Lawton who you have already met. Then you come along. You take my hand when I help you. You also take my heart and heal it. I never imagined someone would do that for me. You have healed me from the inside and I feel good. Yet, I often wonder if this will be for life. Is it possible you would want to be with me for always, Ann?’

‘Anne Lister, nothing in life is a certain. Only death and taxes. Only heartache and pain, love and understanding. Acceptance. All we have is now. Yesterday is just a dim reminder that we have been here longer than this moment. Tomorrow is a dream we will never get to see. So, while we are here in what seems to be this never ending moment I will be with you and you will be with me in whatever capacity we can be. I can only offer you myself now. Do you want more than that?’

‘No, Ann. You are giving me what you can for now. I will take it and give you what I can for now. I love you, Ann.’

‘I love you, dearest.’

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 24

 

John & George Booth came the next day to inspect their kitchen. Cordingley was present because she would be the one working in there. Anne wanted to make it better for her. She knew that Cordingley didn’t like the kitchen as it was and was hoping her ideas would help with the overall design.

John had called to ensure that Anne & Ann would be there to show the brothers what they wanted done. John & George arrived at ten..Anne & Ann  told them they wanted to use the space they already had. Anne didn’t want to tear down any walls. She didn’t like open concept in a house that was six hundred years old. She did want to give Cordingley more counter space. What she had now wasn’t working.

Anne wondered if they could build an island which was mobile but could be locked in place when it was in use. John thought about this and wondered if it would get in the way. Yet, he would do his best to make it work.

‘We could build the island so that it could be used as a table when you eat meals in the kitchen or we could build it so it would slide easily into the pantry after use.’ John said.

‘I would like to see the plan before you decided what you are going to do, Miss Lister.’ Cordingley said.

‘That will happen, Cordingley. How long will it take you to draw up the plans. John?’

‘We need to take measurements. You said you want to use the space you have already. Right?’

‘Yes.’Ann said. ‘Anne doesn’t want to change the floor plan of the house.’ Anne smiled. Ann seemed to know how she felt about her home. John and George took down the measurements and took some photos of the present layout. They could see where they could make improvements. A few inches here and there wouldn’t be much but it could possible make the kitchen feel so much bigger and make working in the kitchen more enjoyable.

As john & George left John told Anne they would have the plans ready for the to look at next week. Anne & Ann were pleased it would be so soon. April was still a few months away but they didn’t want a last minute rush. They were going to be nervous enough with their impending wedding. They didn’t want to have to rush builders or landscapers to be finished by the wedding day.

They had decided to marry in April but they didn’t know what date. It didn’t need to be a weekend. But if it was a week day then their guest list would be smaller than if they were to marry on the weekend.

Anne would have liked to marry on Easter Sunday but didn’t know when it was. She didn’t a search on her phone and found that Easter Sunday fell the day after her birthday. She wasn’t sure if that’s what Ann would like to do.

‘Ann could we marry on Easter Sunday?’

‘When is it this year?’ Ann said. She looked at Anne who seemed to go quiet. She couldn’t understand why. Let me look.’ Ann did a search on her phone.’Easter Sunday, 2021. Goodness it’s 4th of April. The day after your birthday. You cheeky woman. You would get two celebrations in a row.’

‘Is that okay?’

‘Any day will be fine just as long as you remember to turn up. Okay!!’ Ann said.’I wold marry you tomorrow if I could.’

Isn’t that when we are getting married? Tomorrow.’ Anne said with a silly grin on her face.

‘We are a barrel of laughs today. Aren’t we?’ Ann said. ‘You are so funny when you are happy, dearest.’

‘And you are the one person who has made me so happy. I can hardly wait until we say I do. But of course, I can wait because we have so much we need to do.’

‘That is so true. Now, what do you want to wear on the day? I was wondering if we skip the usual wedding attire and come up with something that reflects who we are as individuals and a couple. What do you think? I know how much you like wearing black.’

‘I don’t know. I would like to wear a morning suit. You know top hat and tails but not in black.’

‘What if you wear royal blue and I will wear a cream or white dress with a short train, about five foot long. I think that would be long enough. Not like Lady Diana. The train on her wedding dress was ridiculously long. I thought someone was going to trip over it when I saw it on tv.’

‘You watched their wedding.’

‘No, silly. I saw it in a documentary about the royal family a few years back. I’m not that old, dearest.’

‘How old are you?’

‘I will be thirty this birthday.’

‘That means I am a dozen years older than you. Do you think I am too old for you?’ Ann rolled her eyes. She already knew how old Anne was but it wasn’t ever an issue. So, she never mentioned it. ‘Anne, I already know how old you are because my family kept reminding me that you are too old for me. Only I have never seen you as too old. You are full of life and energy. Sometimes, I wonder how I will ever be able to keep up with you..

‘Thank you. There are days when I feel worthless in the eyes of others.’

‘Stop thinking like that. You are enough. You are good for me.’

While Anne believed what Ann was saying it would take her a long time before she actually would accept. Yet, on those occasions when she thought she was less for Ann, Ann would always tell her she was the best.

Chapter Text

Chapter 25

The following week John & George brought the plans over for Anne & Ann to inspect. They could see the brothers had spent many hours pondering on the design. They wanted the kitchen to reflect the age of the hall and they wanted it to be as modern as possible without creating a space that was out of place in a home which was six hundred years old.

Anne was impressed at how they could hide modern appliances like a refrigerator to make the kitchen look at it would have when it was first occupied. Anne & Ann had decided to search antique shops for a dining room table and chairs. They wanted to put stools near the island. Only it didn’t seem to be large enough. John told them he could make it slightly larger but then it wouldn’t fit in the pantry. Anne couldn’t see how that would be a problem. She wondered if they could make it a permanent fixture with at least four stools or chairs.for extra seating when they had guests or for breakfast.

They could always create a peninsula which would give them more counter space and possibly more seating. What did the brothers think? Joe said it would be better to have a peninsula than an island. Then Cordingley would have more room to move around.

‘Good.’ Anne said.’Let’s make it a peninsula. I can see it working in our kitchen. What do you think, Elizabeth?’

‘Whatever you think, ma’am? But I can see it would be better with a peninsula, more counter space plus more room to move. You do plan to put the new stove where the old one is, in the old fireplace.’

‘Yes, that will reflect the age of the hall.’ John said.

‘What’s the cost of all this work and when can you start?’

‘This kitchen with all the fixtures and fittings comes to around fifteen thousand pounds. You need to remember we need to source all the appliances from speciality stores. They are usually one offs. We can start whenever you are ready but you will be without a kitchen for at least two weeks.

‘Looks like, Cordingley gets a break from cooking and we will be eating takeaway for two weeks. I wonder if everyone will like that.’ Anne said.

‘We need to ask them.’ As she said that Aunt Anne and Marian appeared.

‘How long will it take to remodel our kitchen.’ Aunt Anne asked.

‘Two weeks, aunt.’ Ann said. ‘So, we will be eating takeaway or we could stay at Crow Nest for two weeks. What do you think, dearest?’

‘I think you have just come up with a solution to our problem. What do you think, Cordingley”’ Elizabeth was hoping to have a week free to do whatever she wanted. Now, that seemed to be gone. ‘I guess that will be fine but won’t I be intruding on someone’s territory.’

‘Elizabeth, I was only joking. I think the cook at Crow Nest will be enough. Take the time to visit family. I am sure you will enjoy your break.’ Anne said. Ann had been watching the interaction between Anne and Elizabeth. Anne often seemed more relaxed around Cordingley than she was around anyone else except her aunt who she seemed to be able to tell everything to. She wondered if it would be that way with her and Anne. Then, she remembered it felt that way already. ‘Ann, are you all right? You seemed to be miles away. What are you thinking about?’

‘Nothing, Anne. I was just thinking. It’s not illegal, Is it?’

‘No, it isn’t but you did have a frown on your face. So, what is bothering you? Tell me please.’

‘I will later when it’s just us, dearest.’ Anne had to accept that answer. They had decided to move into Crow Nest for two weeks when the brothers and their crew came to tear out the old kitchen and install the new one. Anne was hoping there would be no problems that couldn’t be fixed immediately.

She couldn’t believe this was happening. The garden first which was still in need of plants. That would happen in a few weeks. Now, the kitchen. Anne was excited by what was happening.

John and George arrived with their crew two weeks later. Everyone had moved to Crow Nest. So, the hall was quiet except for the sound of the wind in the trees and the rustling of leaves being blown across the ground. Ann & Anne sat patiently waiting in Sam’s Jeep. Anne was wishing Sam could be here to see this change happen. Ann wished she was still at Crow Nest in bed. It was a bit too early and frightfully too chilly for her even though she had four layers of clothes on, two pairs of gloves, A fur lined beanie with ear muffles. So, she barely heard what Anne said when she said they could unlock the door and let the workmen in because they had arrived. ‘We won’t be doing this everyday will we?’ Ann asked. ‘I want to sleep in tomorrow morning.’

‘No, Ann. This is only happening today.. I will give John a key so he can let himself in. Although I will probably visit everyday to check the progress of work. Of course, you can come with me if you wish.’

‘I might do. I wonder what Cordingley is doing today? If she was her she’d have breakfast ready for us to eat.’

‘Ann, why are you thinking about Elizabeth?’ Anne asked looking at Ann quizzically. They were seated in the kitchen waiting to give John the spare key to Shibden.

‘I am missing her presence already and it’s only been twenty four hours since she left us. She’s like a mother figure to me. Someone I can talk to when I have something bothering me.’ Ann said looking at Anne worried she would think she wasn’t enough. ‘You have me, Ann and aunt.’ Anne said with a tingle of sadness in her voice. ‘Yes, I know but sometimes you’re not around when I need you and aunt is sleeping. So, I let her sleep.’

‘Okay! As long as they are the only reasons. I wouldn’t want to think I am your last thought.’

‘You’re always my first thought. I hope she is having fun whatever she is doing.’

‘I hope so too.’ Anne said and John walked over to the table and sat down.’Okay, John. Here’s a spare key to Shibden. It’s to the backdoor. Easier access to the kitchen. We will visit often to check on the progress.’

‘Thanks, Anne. I have ordered a skip bin to throw the waste into. We aim to keep the mess to a minimum. We are going to seal up the doors to the rest of the hall so there will be minimal mess to deal with when we are done.’

‘Thanks, John. We will leave you to it. Let me know if you strike trouble. I will endeavour to be available most of the time.’

‘Okay, Anne. See you later.’ Anne & Ann walked back to Sam’s Jeep and drove back over to Crow Nest. Well, that’s where they intended to go but Anne seemed to have other ideas. There was a secret place she often visited when she was younger. She would go there to relax, to mull over her troubles with Mariana and to decide whether she would stay with her or leave her. She had never taken anyone there until now

Chapter Text

Chapter 26

 

She had decided to take Ann there the night before when they were snuggled in bed after some very heated love making. Anne could still feel her heart racing in time with Ann’s. She hadn’t given much thought to her secret place for a long time. Well, not until that moment when Ann sighed so sweetly.

‘That was so lovely.’ Ann said. ‘I wish we had somewhere we could go, you could fuck me harder and I could scream out your name over and over without worrying about what others would think.’ Anne was brought back into the present when Ann asked her, ‘Where are we going, dearest?’

‘Well, you wanted to go somewhere I could fuck you hard and fast. Where you could scream out my name over and over and no one, I mean no one would hear you. That’s where we are heading right now.’

‘Anne Lister, you are so full of surprises. Do you have any more?’ Ann looked over at Anne as she seemed to have reached in the back seat and grabbed a black box of a certain size and shape. Ann smiles. She couldn’t wait until they got there. ‘How far?’

‘On the other side of this hill. We will be there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.’

‘Oh you are funn….’ Ann couldn’t finish her sentence. .Anne had brought the Jeep to a standstill and turned the engine off. Ann was wide eyed. She found it hard to take the place in. It was so beautiful yet, so rugged. They climbed out of the Jeep. Anne had thought of everything, She brought out a blanket which she laid out on the ground and a picnic basket for later. ‘How long do you plan for us to spend her, dearest?’

‘As long as you wish.’ Then Anne leaned it, grasping Ann’s face with both her hands and kissing her so passionately.’Are you sure no one can see us.’ Ann said through the kiss. ‘Not a single soul knows this place exists bar me.’

‘Anne Lister, someone most know it is here. Well, you couldn’t miss it if you looked hard enough.’ Ann said looking bemused.

‘Ann Walker, this is on Shibden land. So, no one knows it is here bar me and my Uncle James who brought me here when I was a kid.’ They locked lips because Ann was tired of chatter and want Anne to fuck her into oblivion. She knew she could do that. ‘Anne, you will need to put the harness for the strap on on.’ Anne smiled. .’Already done.’Ann reached down and could feel the dildo between Anne’s legs. Oh it felt so good. She wanted Anne to push it inside her before she exploded. ‘How long have you had this, Anne?’ Ann asked tentatively.She was hoping Anne hadn’t used it to fuck anyone else. ‘About a month now. I had to buy it when I saw it in the sex shop window. So, we are breaking it in.’

‘Great! I was hoping you hadn’t had sex with anyone else using this.’ Ann said.

‘That’s a bit gross. Isn’t it?’

‘Yeah, it sure is.’ Ann said not wanting to share any parts of Anne with anyone, even something that wasn’t really a part of Anne. They kissed again. This time Anne laid Ann on her back on the blanket. She looked down at her and smile.  Then undid the buttons on her jacket and jeans. Ann had taken off her hat and ear muffs. It was warmer now than when they first arrived at Shibden. Anne sat Ann up to remove her jacket and t-shirt. She undid Ann’s bra. Ann let the straps slide down her arms and removed it. Anne laid her back down then removed her jeans and ruined knickers. She undid her own jeans and shucked the down along with her boxer briefs.Her cock stood at attention as she tighten the strap. It felt so good to be the one who was fulfilling Ann Walker’s   She placed her hand between Ann’s legs. She was wondering if she needed to use lubricant. She didn’t. Ann was so wet it was dripping down her legs.

Anne inserted two fingers into Ann’s centre. She could feel her walls pulsating. She inserted a third. She wanted to see if Miss Walker’s centre could take her cock. She massaged her clit with her thumb, pulled out her fingers and sat over Ann’s centre aligning her cock with Ann’s centre than gently pushed it in. Anne & Ann moaned deeply. Ann had never felt so full in her life. She never felt so ready to come. ‘Anne, could you just fuck me?’ Anne smiled she had been staring at the beauty lying underneath her. ‘Someone’s getting bossy.’

‘’Well, someone needs to or else nothing will happen and I will explode into a million shards.’

‘And no doubt make me bleed to death. Miss Walker, we are impatient. Aren’t we?’

‘No, dearest. Just getting hot and bothered. So, can we get on with now?’

‘Oh….yes, I suppose I can.’ Anne did. She pushed her cock into Ann’s centre. She inserted it slowly and carefully. She didn’t want to hurt Ann but Ann had other ideas. ‘Go in further and go faster please, Anne.’ How could anyone ignore that plea. Ann could feel her centre heating up. Her hips were thrusting in time with Anne’s movements. As Ann went faster Ann moaned and groaned louder. She call out. ‘Anne, Anne. Yes right there. Yes, oh yes. That feels so good.’

‘Ann touch yourself now.’ Ann reached down with a shaky hand to find her clit. She stroked it a couple of times as Anne pushed inside her. Then she came with an almighty scream. She shook violently. Anne gently pulled her cock out of Ann’s centre then leaned on her and held her until her body rested. She threw the blanket over Ann’s bare body. Anne could see Ann was chilled. Then Anne laid beside her and hugged her.

They gently kissed. ‘That was sooo fucking good, Anne. Thank you, dearest. You have made my day.’

‘You’re welcome, Miss Walker. Now get dressed I think you might need sometime to eat after exerting all that energy. Ann dressed. ‘Wouldn’t you like me to fuck you now.’ she said as.Anne reached into the esky she had brought and pulled out a bottle of water for Ann.’Here, drink this. You need hydrating after losing that amount of fluid.’ Anne said. ‘No, I am fine, Ann. We can deal with me later. I just wanted to bring you up here from some sighting. Do you like what you see? I know I did.’ Ann blushed.

‘You’re cheeky, Miss Lister but I love it. Yes, I love what I see.’ Ann said as she looked at Anne.

‘I love you too, Ann.’ Anne said with a smile on her face. Then she leaned over and gave Ann another passionate kiss. They ate quietly. Ann wondered if Ann would bring her up here again so she could sketch the view she was staring at. She found it impossible to think of anything else than painting Anne Lister at one with nature but she didn’t want to ask Anne in case she would embarrass her. ‘What are you think, Ann?’ Ann blushed.’Ah, it must be something you want to do with me but are too afraid to ask. Isn’t it? I’m right, aren’t I?’

‘Yes!! ‘Ann said. ‘I’d like to come back up here with you, bring my sketch book and sketch you then paint you. I think the landscape here would make a beautiful backdrop. What do you think, Anne?’

‘You would do that for me.’ I would do anything for you, Ann thought. ‘Yes, dearest!!’

‘WOW!! I never thought anyone would want to do that for me, Ann.’

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 27

 

The renovations in the kitchen moved along relatively quickly on the first couple of days. It wasn’t until John’s crew were ready to remove the old stove when they come across worn floor boards in front of it. John called Anne. ‘Anne, we have found look floor boards in front of the old stove. We were in the process of removing it when I stepped on a floor board and my foot nearly went through it.’

‘I think Ann & I will drive over and check it out. We will be there in a few minutes.’ Anne hung up the phone and went searching for Ann. She was in her studio painting. ‘We need to go over to Shibden. John nearly put his foot through the floor boards in the kitchen near the stove. I think I need to call Cordingley and ask her why she didn’t tell me about this problem. So, will you drive?’ Ann looked at Anne and nodded. They climbed in the Jeep. Anne called Cordingley to find out what was going on. ‘Hi ma’am.. what’s up?’

‘Thanks, ma’am. Let me know when you want me to come back.’

‘Where are you?’

‘In York staying with a dear friend who I haven’t seen for a while. She is treating me like royalty.’

‘Don’t get use to it.’ Anne said with a grin.

‘We have a problem in the kitchen.’

‘You mean the floor boards in front of the stove. I had been meaning to tell you about that but I always forgot until I stepped on them and you weren’t home so I could tell you. Sorry!’ Elizabeth said worried she would be fired from her job.’Are you going to fire me now.’

‘I don’t think so, Cordingley. One little mistake doesn’t mean you’re gone. Anyway, who would I get to make plum pudding for me at Christmas if you weren’t there.’ Elizabeth sighed with relief. She wasn’t always on the end of Anne’s anger but when she was she didn’t like it.

 

‘Not likely, ma’am. See you soon.’

‘Bye.’ Anne said and disconnected the call as Ann drove on the Shibden estate. Ann parked the car near the front entrance. They climbed out and walked around to the back entrance. John was waiting for them when they walked in. ‘Here it is ma’am.’ John said as he showed Anne and Ann.’We need to find out what is causing the floor to bow like that. It could be the joist or there might not be sufficient footings. I will get George or one of the other workers to go under the house to have a look. I am sure it won’t be too hard to fix’

‘Okay!!!’ Ann said. ‘Will you let us know how much it will cost as soon as you know what needs to be done?’

‘I will!’ John said.

‘Is there anything else we need to deal with while I am here?’

‘No. I did get a call from Rachel. She was wondering how I was getting on and wanted me to tell you she has your plants at the nursery if you want to go over and check them out. She says they look good.’

Thanks, John. Ann. Would you like to go there now?’ Anne asked as she looked at Ann who looked as though she was itching to get back to her painting.’Didn’t I disturb you?’

‘No, Anne. I would love to come with you. This time you can drive. Okay!! You do know where to go?’

‘Where’s Hemingway & Sowden nursery located, John?’

‘It’s on the corner of Main & Smith. You can’t miss it. Tall green fence and there are plants everywhere  now and more during the planting season..’

‘Okay!!’ Anne drove Ann & herself to the nursery. When they arrived there they were greeted by Rachel. She had been sorting through plants that had just arrived. ‘Hi.’ Anne said as Ann & she jumped out of the Jeep. ‘Hi.’ Rachel said. ‘Did you find the place easily?’

‘Yes, thank you. John gave us good directions. How long before you can make our garden beautiful.’ Ann said. Anne smiled because Ann said our garden.

‘When the ground is warm enough for the plants so they won’t get stressed out too easily. I guess about two, maybe, three weeks from now.’

Thanks, that will give them a chance to acclimatize before our big day.’

‘When’s that?’ Rachel asked wondering if they would invite her. As if Anne was reading her mind she said. ‘4th of April. The day after my birthday. You & Thomas are invited.’

Thank you for the invite. Wild horses couldn’t keep us away.’ Rachel said. ‘Your birthday is 3rd of April. Mine isn’t until 27th of June. I can wait until it’s here. When is your birthday, Miss Walker.’

‘Ann, please!. 20th of May. Hey, how old will you be this year, Rachel.’

‘Too bloody old, forty three.’

‘Goodness you’re only a few months younger than me.’ Anne said. ‘Now, were are these plants you want to show us?’

‘I have them over here. I thought you would like to see them, Anne & Ann. Then you can let me know if they are what you want in your garden.’ Ann was already checking them out. ‘What do you think, Ann?’ Rachel asked her.

‘I think they look lovely but I would like my wife’s opinion too after all she will be living there too.’

‘Are these plants all native to this area?’ Anne asked.

‘Yes, Anne. I chose these ones because they will look lovely on your wedding day.’ Ann was watching Anne as Rachel spoke. She could see Anne was a bit unsure about what to do. ‘Dearest, they will be great in our garden. I know you wanted some leafy plants but I am sure that lots of colour will brighten our day.’

‘What do we have here, Rachel?’ Anne asked.

‘Creeping buttercup, Tufted vetch, flowering rush, that’s my favourite, it is so small and so sweet, Wild thyme, Lady’s bedstraw. That’s all we have in flowering plants so far. We can talk about the others later. Okay!’

‘Good.’ Anne said.’baring any more hiccups John should be done in about two weeks. Then if you want you can come and take a look.’

‘I think we will be happy with what you have chosen and I think we would be happy if you happened to chose some more plants for our garden,’ Ann said. She didn’t want to have to go through the task of choosing more plants and she could see Rachel was experienced enough to know what was best for their garden. ‘Thanks for you confidence in me. I hope I don’t disappoint you.’

‘’That’s not likely to happen. I have read reviews about you online and they are all positive.’

‘Thanks. We rarely check out the comments because we are afraid they might be too negative. We always try to stay positive. We all need to do that in life.’

‘Okay! We will see you soon.’ Anne & Ann drove back to Crow Nest.

Chapter Text

Chapter 28

 

When they arrived at Crow Nest there was a messaged from John on Anne’s phone. She had forgot in the rush to go to  Shibden Anne had left her phone behind. Anne called John. He answered on the second ring. ‘Hi, Anne.’

‘Hi, John, I just got your message. What did you find?

‘All’s well. It seems that one of the piers had toppled over all we need to do is stand it back up and put a support base underneath it. It means we will need to jack up the house in that area to do the job properly but it’s not going to swallow our contingency.’ John said. He could feel perspiration pouring down is body but now that he told Anne what the problem was he thought he was worrying for nowt.

‘Thanks, John. Can you see any more problems happening?’ Anne said hoping there wouldn’t be but realising there could be. ‘Not right now as long as everything is delivered on time we should be finished on time.’

‘Great.’ Anne said as she looked at Ann who had a big smile on her face. They could get married and have their wedding reception prepared at Shibden.. Cordingley was going to be busy. Anne had said she could hire others to help her. There would be two choices for the wedding reception, the first would be roast lamb with rosemary, roast potatoes and roast pumpkin or roast chicken with bread stuffing, roast potatoes and roast pumpkin, dessert would be again a choice of two, plum pudding or chocolate self saucing pudding. They were only going to have a minimum number of guests at the reception but had planned to have finger food for those attending their nuptials but not invited to their reception. In lieu of gifts they asked those attending to give a small donation to a worthy cause.  They didn’t want or need gifts because they had all they needed. Was it possible that if they found themselves homeless they’d still be happy together?

One month later Rachel and Thomas arrived with the collection of plants to put into the already prepared soil. Cordingley was standing in the new kitchen. She couldn’t believe it. There was enough space for prep work and enough space for at least three maybe at a squeeze four people to move around without bumping into each other. Although, Cordingley was having trouble finding all the appliances. She asked John where they were. ‘ Well, you can see the stove. It looks like an antique but is very modern. The refrigerator is hidden behind these doors.’ He walks over and shows her.the fridge has two doors, on one side a freezer and on the other side a fridge. Cordingley smiles.’That will help when Miss Lister and Miss Walker get married. We have plenty of room for treats and whatever else she wants me and my helpers to cook. It’s going to be great.’ Cordingley says.’Where’s the microwave?’ John shows her. Like the fridge it is hidden.’Mis..Anne wanted to keep the aesthetic of the building in place. So, we hid most of the modern appliances. The microwave and dishwasher are here. The microwave is like a drawer. It slides out, so there is no need to bend down to put food into it. See.’ He said as he showed Cordingley how to operate it. ‘The buttons are here. I put the instruction booklet and all other instruction booklets in the top drawer over there if you need help using anything just call me.’

‘Okay!!! You have been invited to their wedding. Right?’ Cordingley said.

‘I think so. It would be nice to be here to celebrate with Anne and Ann.’ then Anne and Ann walked into their new kitchen.’Smashing job, John.’ Ann said.

‘Thanks, ma’am. It were hard work but we got it done and just a couple of days over.’

‘Thanks, John. Call me Ann, please. Did Anne here invite you to our wedding?’

‘I’m not sure, Ann.’

‘Of course, you are invited. Bring George with you and Joe.’ Anne said. ‘Let’s make it a merry day. What do you think of your new kitchen, Elizabeth?’

‘I think its going to be great. John here has told me where everything is and where the instructions to operate everything are.’

‘Good. Good!!’

‘Let’s go, Anne. I want to check out the garden again. I think it looks great and it feels serene now the fountain is working.’

‘Hold on a minute. Come here, Ann. I want to show you something.’ Anne said as she walked Ann out of the kitchen and into the sitting room. They were alone. Everyone was moving back into Shibden later today. She pulled Ann in, looked at her then smashed her lips against Ann’s for a searing kiss.’What did you want to show me, Anne?’ She said as she pulled away from Anne’s grip.

‘I can’t remember now. I don’t think it was that important.’

‘Anne Lister, you only brought me in her to kiss me. You monster. I love you, dearest.’

‘I love you, Ann. Let’s wait until everyone arrives then we can show them around the garden and the new kitchen.’ Just as Anne finished telling Ann that a car door opened near the front door. ‘Anne and Ann, are you here?’

‘We’re in the sitting room, aunt. Come in, I think the door is unlocked.’

Aunt Anne walked in followed by Marian and Jeremy. They looked as though they were glad to be back home again. ‘Can we see what has been done while we have been shacking up at Crow Nest.’ Marian said sarcastically.

‘Yes, but let’s wait until Aunt Anne and father are ready.’ Anne said. ‘Would you like a drink and something to eat?’

‘Yes please.’

‘Tea or coffee?’ Ann asked. Cordingley has baked some biscuits in the new oven for everyone to taste test.’

‘Great. Tea for me please.’ Aunt said. Then everyone else yelled. ‘Coffee please.’ As they drank and ate Anne told them what had been done. She was elated at how everything looked so good but how they had kept the aesthetic of the hall. Ann was just happy that it was done. Now, they could get married. She still couldn’t believe she was marrying Anne Lister.

Anne looked over at her and smiled. Yes, this was a dream come true. If, she hadn’t been walking through the park that day they would never have met. It was fate that brought her there. She was on her way to ride the bus into the city but had a change of heart and decided to go for a walk. That was when she found the park. As she was walking through the park she looked over and there she was. How could she not remember what Anne Lister looked like and how she held herself. That was when she saw the dip in the ground and walked towards it. She didn’t imagine she would get injured too much. So, she walked right into and fell.

Of course, she had to yell. Whoever was in the park had decided it was their duty to help her. She waited and waited for Anne to respond and when she did her strong voice boomed out. ‘More away please. Give the young lady some room. Can’t you see you’re crowding her.’ Ann couldn’t help smiling and as the crowd drifted away Anne leaned down to help her up.

‘Earth to Ann. Come in, Ann. Where are you, Adney?’

‘Adney?’ Ann said. As she was pulled from her memory.

‘It’s my nickname for you, Ann. Now, what were you thinking about?’ Ann didn’t think it was the right place to say. So, she stayed quiet. Anne looked at her. ‘Would you like to go for a walk then we can talk?’ Anne said loud enough only for Ann to hear. Ann nodded and Anne found an excuse for them to go outside. ‘We’ll be back in a moment. Rachel told me the plants need watering at least once a day. I thought Ann and I would do that now.’

They walked out the back door and into the afternoon sun. As soon as they were far enough away from the house so no one would hear. ‘Now, can you tell me what you were thinking about, Adney?’

‘Dearest, I was remembering that day in the park when I fell.’

‘Yeah, when you fell over accidentally on purpose.’ Ann looked at her puzzled.

‘How did you know I did that?’

‘Because you made sure you fell so as to do the least amount of damage.’

‘Okay!!! Let’s sit down for a while and I will tell you, dearest.’ They sat down on the grass and Ann proceeded to tell Anne what she was thinking about. When she was finished Anne leaned over and kissed her on the forehead.

‘Ann Walker, if you hadn’t walked through the park that day I would still be working in London at a job that was getting more mundane and depressing each day. Thank you.’ When she looked at Ann tears were rolling down her face. She pulled her into a hug. They stayed like that until Aunt Anne came out to see what they were doing.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 29

 

‘Hey girls. I thought you were watering the plants. What are you doing out here?’ Aunt Anne asked.

‘Just talking. Ann wanted to tell me something. It was too private to share with everyone.’ Anne said. She could see the look in her aunt’s eyes.

‘And you can’t tell me. Why not?’ Ann squirmed a bit. Anne could feel her moving. Then Anne said. ‘Can we at least tell my, sorry our aunt, Ann?’

‘Yes!!’ Ann said so softly only Anne heard. The stood from where they were seated and walked up to Aunt Anne. ‘Let’s go somewhere so you can sit down and we can tell you in private. My office be okay.’ Anne said. They walked through the hall and up the stairs. When they reached Anne’s office Aunt Anne sat and Ann told her everything she told Anne. This time Anne was crying. She didn’t know why. Maybe it was because Ann was telling Aunt Anne.

Aunt Anne couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Ann purposely fell down so Anne would hear her and see her. ‘You, young lady, need to remember this for always. You, Anne Lister, have someone who has loved you for so long she has forgotten when she didn’t. So, you need to take care of her.’ Then she open her arms both Anne and Ann walked over to her and they hugged.’Now, who is watering those plants?’ Aunt Anne said.

‘Rachel and Thomas have hooked up a timer system. They are automatically watered twice a day early in the morning and late at night.’ Anne said. ‘We can show you now if you would like to see them.’

‘I would like that, If, you have time and want to show me.’

‘We have loads of time for our favourite aunt.’ Ann said. ‘So, let’s go.’ They sneaked back down the stairs and out the front door. As they walked around the garden Anne and Ann wondered if she didn’t seem the happiness she had been in a long time. They smiled as they strolled around the garden, In places it was too dark to see what was planted. Aunt Anne loved the fountain. ‘It sounds so inviting. I just want to sit near it all day and read or knit. That would be better than any drug.’

‘Well, that’s great to hear. I hope you intend to make good use of it’s soothing sounds often, Aunt.’ Anne said.

‘I hope so too,’ Ann said. ‘Because I intend to spend lots of time sitting near the fountain and sketching. The garden is beautiful. Rachel said it will be more beautiful when Anne and I get married in a few weeks time.’

‘Ah, the big day. I guess neither of you imagined you would be where you are now getting married.,’

‘No.’ They said unison.

‘I imagine we would both be still in London. Me at my practice and Ann painting and sketching. Both living very lonely lives. That chance meeting in the park changed everything.’

‘Some things are meant to be whether you plan it that way or not. You two were meant to meet and you did. Are you truly happy now you aren’t practicing medicine, Anne?’ Ann looked at Anne. She was hoping she hadn’t pushed Anne to do something she didn’t really want to do. ‘I feel I am, aunt. I did enjoy my job but there were times when it was too much to handle. Especially when a patient passed away or I had a hypochondriac moan about their no existing aches and pains.’ Anne said. ‘Yes, I am happy to be home and there is so much I want to do to the Estate and I can write that novel I have been wanting to write for years.’

‘Anne Lister, you didn’t tell me you wanted to write a novel.’

‘Miss Walker, it has been a dream of mine for a long time. I might even pen my auto biography if I have time.’

‘If, you have time.’ Ann said.

‘Come on, girls. Let’s get back inside. It’s time for supper. I am thirsty and hungry again.’ They wanted back through the garden the way they came. Anne eyed her aunt. She looked pleased with what Anne had got done. Her aunt had lived at Shibden all her life. She would tell Anne stories of her childhood. How her and Jeremy would play in the barn and pretend they were camping out. Then sleep in the hayloft. Anne would always smile and wonder if her aunt and uncle would ever allow her to do that.

Her mother had always tried to tame the tomboy in her. She had forced her to do things that didn’t feel right and when she couldn’t she sent Anne away to the Manor School in York. That was where Anne sent her aunt a letter asking if she could live with he aunt and uncle for always. She didn’t expect the answer she got and she was over the moon. She would visit during school holidays and moved there after she got expelled from school. She did get to go camping out in the barn with her brother, Sam. Her brother, the one sibling she had been close to. She & Marian had a good relationship now since Ann was in her life because she and Marian both enjoyed Ann’s company and of course, Ann was going to be her wife.

‘Anne Lister, here’s your drink. I made you a cup of coffee just the way you like it.’ Ann said. Anne couldn’t remember walking back into the hall or telling Ann she wanted a drink but here it was and a piece of chocolate cake to go with it.

‘Thank you, Adney. You are so sweet.’

‘Where were you, dearest?’

‘Just reminiscing about my life here at Shibden. I will have to tell you about it some day.’

‘Not today. You can drink your coffee then we are going to bed. It has been a very long day. Hasn’t it?’ They finished supper and cleaned up. Then walked up the stairs to their bedroom.

As they lay in bed snuggled together Anne began to tell Ann what she was thinking about. How her Aunt Anne and her Uncle James let her move into Shibden and be her truest self. How her uncle left Shibden in his will to her and how she appreciated everything they did for you. ‘You slept in the barn in the hayloft with your brother. How old were you, dearest?’ Anne had to think for a beat. ‘I honest don’t remember but it was a year or two before father sent him off to join the military. I wish he hadn’t done that.’

‘Anne, can we go out and sleep in the hayloft? I think that would be fun.’ Ann smiled at Anne. How could she refuse a request such as that. ‘I don’t know, Adney. I feel I am getting too old for childhood pranks.’ Anne said.’But if you insist we can try but not tonight. I am too tried and we still have a wedding to prepare for. Don’t we?’

‘We certainly do, dearest?’

Chapter Text

Chapter 30

 

The following morning Anne and Ann went into Halifax with Marian whom Anne asked to be her attendant and Catherine whom Ann had asked to be her attendant. When Anne parked the car Anne and Marian went to the suit hire store. Catherine and Ann went to the wedding dress hire store.

Marian followed Anne into the store. She had no idea what Anne would wear. She was so use to see her sister in black but of late she had added a touch of colour. ‘Marian, no telling Ann what I will be wearing. I want her to be surprised. I would like it if you would wear something similar. Can you do that for me, please?’

‘I don’t want to wear a dress because it would feel odd if I did. Plus, I really would like to wear something similar to what you wear. I still find it hard to believe that you are marrying Ann Walker. The girl who has had a crush on you forever.’

‘How did you know that?’

‘Sister, you would need to be blind and deaf not to see the way she has been swooning over you over the years. Every time she visited all she ever talked about was you. Now, let’s do this shit and get you back to your wife.’

In the wedding dress hire store Catherine helped Ann find the best wedding dress that wasn’t too weddingy and one she could wear later if she wished because even though it was a wedding hire store the attended said they could buy what they chose. Catherine chose a sea blue dress which matched Ann’s. The dresses they chose had to be altered. The shop owner told them to come back in a couple of days to collect them. ‘You are going to look simply gorgeous on your wedding day, Annie. I am so proud that you asked me to be your attendant. Thank you!’

‘You’re the only one who I would ask to do this for me. Thanks!!' Ann said. ‘Now, let’s go find my wife and her sister.’ Anne and Marian were waiting for them outside the suit hire store. ‘What do you want to do now, dearest?’

‘Let’s get something to eat. I am hungry, Are you hungry?’ Marian said before Anne had a chance to speak. Anne gave her a death stare but Marian ignored her. ‘I think there’s a cafe just around the corner.’

‘You think. Now, that’s strange.’ Anne said sarcastically.’I thought you knew where every shop was in Halifax. Don’t you come here often?’

‘Dearest, come on, Marian was just being nice and offering to take us there.’

‘Okay, We can do that.’ Ann put her hand in Anne’s. They walked together. While Marian and Catherine walked behind them. 'Is she always like that with you, Marian?’ Catherine asked. ‘Delia and I are always fighting. It annoys me. I would love to have a better relationship with her. Only she doesn’t seem to want that.’

‘Anne and I have our moments. Most of the time we aren’t even together. She has lived in London for the past few years. She would only visit Shibden for a weekend probably once a month. So, us living together has brought out the bitch in both of us. I am sure it will get better. She seems to be a different person now she is with Ann. Your cousin is so sweet and adorable..’

‘I know! What she has been through in her life has made her who she is now.’

‘What has she been through?’ Marian asked.

‘You need to be there when she finally opens up to Anne. I am not sure if she has told her yet. She probably hasn’t because she would think Anne would think she was weak and useless.’

‘It must be horrible then. I consider Ann Walker as my sister rather than a sister in law. She is family. She has been for a long time. She would visit us when she lived at Crow Nest. Most of the time it was to see if Anne was home but even when Anne wasn’t she would stay and chat with us for an hour or two.’ They stopped as they reached the cafe. Ann looked at Marian and wondered if it was important that she knew about her mental health. They would be living together now for always. She hoped. She leaned over and whispered a thank you into her cousin’s ear. Then said. ‘You have opened a door which I am bravely able to walk through. You are a gem, Cath.’ Catherine blushed. They found a booth in the corner of the cafe out of the way of prying eyes and ears. They ordered their drinks and lunch. Anne looked at Ann with concern. She wondered what Ann was thinking. She could feel a shift in her mood as if what Ann was about to say would have a great impact on their lives not for just now but for always.

‘Ann, Adney, are you okay?’ Anne said. ‘You look as though you need to say something but feel it would be a burden on everyone here if you did.’ Ann didn’t know how Anne seem to know something was bothering her. She took a deep breath and looked at Catherine for support. They sat opposite each other in the booth. So, Catherine move to sit next to Ann. It was a bit squashy but Catherine knew Ann needed her in that moment. ‘I have something I need to tell you. I heard Catherine tell you something about me, Marian.’ Ann said as she looked at Marian. Then she looked at Anne.’Dearest, I am not sure if I have told you this or not. I don’t remember.’ She took another deep breath and spoke. ‘I have had mental health issues for quite a while now. I Know this might be hard for you to accept and hope you will listen to me. It started when I was sexually assaulted by a man whom both Catherine and I thought was a good person. I won’t give names because I know someone sitting here would want to deal with him.’ Anne looked innocently at Ann.’You don’t mean me. Do you?’ Anne said.

‘Of course not, dearest. Anyway, I had a hard time doing anything or going anywhere. Catherine here saved me heaps of times.She was the one who encouraged me to go out the night we met, dearest.’

‘How are you coping now?’ Anne asked.

‘I am doing great because I am here with you. You have given me the strength to do what I am doing. Yes, I am on medication. That helps too.’ Then she turned to Marian. ‘Marian, I am so delighted to be a part of your family. I never imagined I would have a sister in law who would want to be my sister. Thank you so much. I am sure we will have fun together.’ Anne rolled her eyes. She knew that would mean more Love Island. Oh well, if that is the price she must pay she can afford it.

Their drinks and food were served. They ate in silence. Ann looking over at Anne wondering after her big reveal would she want to stay with her. Ann was about to speak when Anne said. ‘Adney, you are the sweetest person I know and I am so happy and proud to call you my wife. In two weeks time that will be for real. Thank you for saying yes when I asked you.’ Ann had tears streaming down her face. Anne leaned over and wiped them away with her thumb.’Adney, you are the love of my life for always.’

‘And you are the love of my life for always, dearest.’

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 31

 

Ann had revealed so much about herself to Anne and Marian. She had Catherine there to support her. It seemed as though Catherine was the only family member who knew why Ann had a mental health issue. As they ate their meal Anne was wondering if Ann would ever tell her who sexually assaulted her. She looked over at Ann who looked as though her world would come crashing down around her any minute and there was nothing she could do. ‘Adney, are you still having trouble believing me when I say we will be together for always.’

‘Sometimes, the same tune plays in my head. Here I am with Dr Anne Lister, the woman who could have anyone she wants. I often wonder how I get to be so lucky, dearest.’ Anne gave her a serious look. ‘Are you for real. Ann Walker, I pinch myself daily to make sure I am not dreaming. That I really am going to marry the most beautiful woman in the world. Yet, I too, wonder if, I am good enough. We both know we will do great together. That is all we can do, Adney.’ Anne said. ‘I love you and always will.’

‘But I have this past that you know so little about.’ Ann said shyly looking down at her feet to avoid looking at Anne. ‘Ann, we all have a past we aren’t really proud of. I could tell you stories about my past that would make your hair curl. Then again, I think it is curly enough already. Don’t you? And I have told you a bit about my past. You do remember what I told you about Mariana Lawton.’ I only hope she doesn’t spoil our wedding day, Anne ponders. What would happen if she did that? As if reading her mind Ann said.’Anne Lister, Mariana Lawton won’t spoil our day. I know you want to be with me and I certainly want to be with you, dearest.’

‘How did you know what I was thinking, Adney?’

‘Oh just the way you were looking into space. Don’t worry. If, she turns up I am sure we can deal with her. Okay!!’

They had seemed to be waiting for this day to come around but here it was. Anne and Ann were getting married. Of course, etiquette rules say that it is bad luck to see your betrothed on your wedding day. So, Catherine decided it was a good idea that she and Ann dress for the wedding at Crow Nest. Well, it seemed a good idea at the time. Elizabeth and her family were down from Scotland for the big event. They were staying at Crow Nest which meant that there were three children running around and bothering Ann while she was trying to get ready. Elizabeth seemed to be so busy. Catherine was helping but there was only so much she could do for Ann. Her hair and make up were done and all she had to do with get dressed. Then, Elizabeth’s eldest child, Mary appeared at her door. ‘Aunt Ann, can I ask you something?’

‘What is it, Mary?’ Ann asked with a hint of frustration in her voice.

‘So…sorry to bother you, aunt. I will ask you later.’ Mary said with a ting of disappointment in her voice. Ann looked at her and realised what she had said. ‘I’m sorry, Mary. What did you want to ask me?’

‘Is it true that you are a lesbian?’ Ann looked shocked. She imagined Mary wouldn’t know what a lesbian was. ‘Do you know what a lesbian is, Mary?’

‘Dad says it’s unnatural and goes against God. When I asked him why he said that he wouldn’t tell me. That’s why I am asking you because he seems to think you are one.’ Ann swallowed. She called for her sister to come. ‘ What’s up. Ann?’ Ann repeated what Mary had said. Elizabeth was stunned she had thought the children were in bed when George and she had had that talk. ‘Well, she really needs to know the truth despite what her father thinks. I guess he doesn’t want you to influence his kids in that way.’

‘Elizabeth, we both know I can’t make anyone gay not even if I tried.’ Then she looked at Mary.’Yes darling, you’re Aunt Ann is a lesbian that’s why she is marrying Aunt Lister.’

‘If I like girls, does that mean I am gay too.’

‘No!! Your mum likes girls too but she isn’t gay.’ Ann said. Elizabeth smiled because for a month or three she imagined she could fall in love and marry a woman. It was only a phase as her mother had told her and it was over when she met George. He was strikingly handsome and clever. She was remembering when she met George. They had met at a family gathering. He was friends with William Priestley. William introduced them. They chatted non stop until he had to leave on urgent business after he got a call on his phone. They planned to meet again and as they say the rest is history. ‘Mum!’ Mary said as she pulled Elizabeth from her daydream. ‘Are we going to get ready?’

‘Yes Mary, Let’s go. Then your aunt can finish getting dressed.’ as they walked from Ann’s bedroom Mary said. ‘You look pretty, Aunt Ann. I am glad we are her to celebrate this day with you.’ All Ann could do was smile. Her niece often came out with the best one liners and that was perfect. It boosted Ann’s ego and made her realise that no matter what anyone thought she was marrying for love. Then time seemed to stand still. She could hear Catherine calling her but couldn’t hear what she was saying.

Then she realised she was laying on her bed. Her dress still in her hand. She blushed slightly. ‘Ann, are you okay? I heard a crash and found you on the floor. Here, have a drink of water and something to eat. I am sure you will feel better then.’ She did as Catherine told her. Catherine had made her a peanut butter sandwich. She ate greedily. Then she remembered she was in such a rush to get to Crow Nest and get ready she had forgotten to eat. ‘Do you feel better now, Ann? Your wife would like you conscious when you two consummate your marriage tonight. Okay!!!’

Ann blushed again. She really didn’t need to be reminded about tonight so early in the day. They still had to get through the ceremony and the reception and she was sure Anne would make sure she ate enough then. ‘Ann, are you ready to leave?’ Elizabeth calls from downstairs. ‘I think we need to get going if you are going to be on time for your wedding

‘Doesn’t she know it isn’t good manners to be on time for your wedding. A few minutes late won’t hurt anyone. It will keep Lister on her toes, too.’

‘I don’t want to do that, Catherine. She is always punctual for everything,’

‘Well, that woman needs to chill a bit more. Now, where were we? Oh that’s right putting in your shoes.’ Catherine says as if speaking out loud to herself. Ann raised her left and then her right foot as Catherine put on her shoes. They were going to see each other in their wedding outfits. ‘Come on, Aunt Ann. We need to go. I want to walk up the aisle behind you.’ Sackville said. He was carrying their rings in a pouch in his pocket. He taped it with his hand when Ann asked if he had it. Only Ann’s ring was in there. He had to asked Marian for Aunt Lister’s wedding ring.

Catherine rode with Elizabeth and her family to Shibden. Ann was chauffeured to Shibden by James who was also giving her away. He had been looking forward to do that for weeks.

When they arrived at the hall. Sackville raced inside to collect Anne’s wedding ring. He pulled out the pouch in his pocket and Anne slipped her ring inside it. He pulled the strings to close the pouch and put it back in his pocket.

Anne walked out where the guests were waiting for the ceremony to begin. She had been wondering all morning whether Ann would change her mind and call the whole thing off. It was possible that Ann would have got cold feet. Only as she stood there with Marian and looked at Donald Cameron their celebrant He smiled. ‘You’re doing fine, Anne. It will be all over before you know it. You do look handsome today and Miss Marian too.’

‘Thanks for you vote of confidence, Don. I am shaking so much. I can’t believe this is finally happening.’ Marian reached over and wrapped her arms around her sister in a gently loving hug. When they separated Ann was standing at the end of the aisle.

Chapter Text

Chapter 32

 

WOW was all Anne could think. She couldn’t speak because her voice seemed to have vanished when she open her mouth to say what she was thinking. Ann was wearing a beautiful wedding gown. It was a white trumpet mermaid tulle applique V-neck sleeveless sweep/brush train wedding dress. The train wasn’t very long and Ann looked gorgeous. Anne couldn’t believe her luck.

When Ann looked at her soon to be wife she smiled. Anne was dressed in a blue three piece morning suit with tails and a top hat.Ann had never seen such a  woman as handsome as Anne was. She smiled at her and Anne smiled back.  Her sister, Marian was wearing something similar. Catherine smiled at Marian. Catherine was wearing a purple chiffon with spaghetti straps and a v-line keyhole centre back detail with a pleated A-line skirt. Marian had trouble focusing on the ceremony as Ann walked down the aisle towards her wife. James was a very proud man. Ann linked her arm over his. He was wearing a black suit for the occasion. He was pinching himself that morning wondering if this was really happening. Now, he was walking Ann down the aisle. They smiled.

Then she spied her. Mariana Lawton was there. It seemed as though someone had invited her. Ann was wondering who. She would ask Anne when they were together. She kept smiling but she didn’t want Mariana to see how nervous she was.

When she reached Anne she leaned over and took her hand to pull her close. Then she whispered in her ear. ‘Did you know Mrs Lawton was here?’

‘No, Adney. I wonder who invited her. Then she saw who she was sitting next to. Bloody hell, Tib invited her as her guest.’

‘Let’s focus on our day, dearest. I am sure if she bothers either of us we can deal with her together.’

‘What do you think of the archway I had Rachel and Thomas put in?’

‘I love it, dearest and all the flowers. They look beautiful but they pale to insignificance to your handsome face.’

‘Adney, you look so lovely today. Thanks for coming.’ Ann laughed.

Donald leaned in. ‘When the CWA meeting is over can we get on with this ceremony.’ Both Anne and Ann blushed. ‘Sorry, Donald. We have a problem. Third row back third person from the aisle.’ Anne whispered to Donald.

‘Okay. Let me deal with her later.’ He clapped his hands to quieten the guests.

‘We are here today to join in holy matrimony Anne Lister and Ann Walker.’ Both Anne and Ann knew what he was going to say. ‘Can we skip the next bit?’ They whispered. They knew Mariana was going to object. So, they turned around and eyeballed her together. ‘Unfortunately we can’t but I do have back up to stop her.’ They both turned again and could see Vere was sitting directly behind Mariana. ‘If anyone has any objection as to why they shouldn’t be married speak up now or forever hold your peace.’ Both Anne and Ann expect Mariana to say I object. Only she didn’t. Vere had warned her not to because if she did there would be not very nice consequences. Well, Vere knew Charles. They were friends from when Vere was a rookie real estate agent and Charles was her mentor. Ann could feel Sackville move next to her. He was smiling. So, happy to be a part of the ceremony. His mother had told him to stand still but he couldn’t. He was rocking on the balls of his feet. He looked nervous. Ann grabbed his hand and massaged the back of it with her thumb. That seemed to calm him down. She let go and grabbed Anne’s hands into hers. ‘Do you have vows you would like to say?’ Donald said.

‘Yes!! We wrote our vows together.’ Anne said.

‘Would you like to start, Anne?’ Donald said.

‘Ann wants to go first.’

‘Okay!!’

‘Anne Lister, when I saw you in the park that day. I couldn’t believe my eyes. You were on your lunch break. I had planned into going into the centre of London but changed my mind.’ She had read this so often she didn’t need her notes to remind her what to say,’I saw a divot in the ground and fel into itl.You saved me from the crowd that was gathering around me and have been saving me since then. I am so proud that we are becoming a family. I love you, dearest. I’m in love with you. I always have been. Today begins the best part of my life. I am with you for always.’ Anne had tears running down her face when Ann finished. Ann leaned over and wiped them off her cheek with her thumb. Anne too a deep breath then said her vows.

‘Ann Walker, when I heard you scream out. I didn’t know it was you until I walked over and cleared the crowd. I smiled because I did remember you. I never thought we would meet again. I was so happy when we did. You saved me from a life of misery. All I had was my job and an empty space in my heart that was waiting for someone like you to come along and fill it up. You are everything I ever dreamed my future wife would be. You light up my days with your smile. I feel I can relax more when we are together. When you wrap your arms around me I am in heaven. I love you, Adney. I always will.’

‘Rings please, young man.’ Donald said as he put his hand out for Sackville to put the pouch into it. Sackville felt so proud of himself. Anne and Ann chose the rings they were giving each other. Neither had seen what the other had chosen. Donald reached in and pulled out the first one. ‘Ah!’ Anne said.’This is the one I chose for Ann.’ Anne reached for Ann’s left hand and as she placed the ring on it she said. ‘With this ring I thee wed. With my body I worship you. With my heart I love you for always.’ It was Ann’s turn to cry. Anne wiped her tears.away. Then Ann reached into the pouch and pulled out the remaining ring. She grabbed Anne’s left hand and as she placed the ring on her finger she said. ‘With this right I thee wed. With my body I worship you. With my heart I love you for always.’ Their rings were similar. Ann’s rings was 24ct gold with a band of small diamonds in the centre. Anne’s ring was 24ct gold too only hers was plain with her initials carved in script on the outside. They both smiled.

‘Now, I pronounce you wife and wife. You may kiss the bride. Then Donald looked down. They were already kissing and kissing. Donald coughed.’I am sure we all know how much you love each other.’ Ann blushed. For a moment she had forgotten where they were.Anne just smiled. Then a small table and chair were brought out so Anne and Ann could sign their marriage licence. Ann went first. She was so nervous. Anne took her left hand to calm her. Then Anne signed it. They were married. They stood together. Donald grabbed their hands and said. ‘I would like you to cheer for Mrs and Mrs Walker Lister. Everyone cheered. Anne and Ann kissed again. Sackville said. ‘Yuck.’ it was a bit too mushy for him.

Their MC, Steph Belcombe said. ‘Drinks and snacks are being served in the garden. While Anne and Ann have photos taken with their families. Please make your way there and enjoy.’ Anne and Ann together with Marian, Catherine, father, Anne’s Aunt Anne and Ann’s Aunt Ann walked to the main entrance of the hall to have photos taken. Then out to the garden. Anne and Ann couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. They were wrapped in their ow world for a brief moment. They never imagined they could be so happy.

Chapter Text

Chapter 33

When the photographer was satisfied with all the photos she had taken they made their way to the garden where the festivities were just beginning to warm up. They were offered a glass of wine each which they took. A table had been set for them near the water fountain which they had asked Booth to turn off. He had obliged. Steph sat in a table close by. He was ready to give a speech. Ann couldn’t see Mariana anywhere. There was a chance she had left but then she spied Tib seated at the corner table. Mariana was sitting next to her. They seemed to be chatting. Mariana smiled. That made Ann nervous. Anne looked over at her. ‘What’s up?’ She said following to where she could see Ann was looking. ‘Oh, I see. I wonder why Tib brought her along as her guest.’

‘Who knows. Mariana could have bribed Tib to bring her along as her guest. I thought Tib liked that we were together. She seemed keen enough to put my paintings in her gallery.’ Ann said.

‘Some people are hard to understand, Ann.’ Then Tib stood up. She was coming in their direction. She seemed upset about something but they didn’t know what.was wrong. When she reached their table she walked around to stand next to Ann and gave her a hug. Then whispered in her ear, ‘Mariana is here to cause trouble. She told me if I didn’t bring her she would’ve cause a scene.’ Tib said. Then she leaned over and conveyed the same message to Anne.’So, what are we going to do? We can’t send her away because she hasn’t done anything wrong, yet.’ Anne said.

‘Oh, she has. She tried to stand up and say there was a reason why she objected to you two getting married only Vere was sitting behind her and stopped her. So, be careful.’

‘We will. Thanks for the warning.’ Ann said.

‘I suppose I had better get back to the lion’s den before she bites my arse off.’ Tib returned to her seat. When she sat back down Mariana asked her why she went up to Anne and Ann.’They are good friends and I didn’t want them to think I brought you here of my own freewill.when we both know I didn’t.’

‘Yeah, you told them that. Hey, I could say you asked me to bring you here. I wonder who they would believe.’

‘Don’t mess with me. They will believe me before they believe you, Mariana.’

‘Whatever! I came to get my woman back and nothing or no one is going to stop me. I don’t care if they are married. Anne is mine and no one else’s.’

‘Good luck with that one. You might think Miss Walker is a push over but I wouldn’t mess with her. She can be feisty when she wants to be.’ Oh can she thought Mariana. Well, see about that one.

The meal orders for the guests were delivered. Anne and Ann decided to get one of each of roast lamb with rosemary, roast potatoes and roast pumpkin and roast chicken with bread stuffing, roast potatoes and roast pumpkin. So, they could share their meals. They decided to have one dessert between them. That would be plum pudding with ice cream.

When everyone had eaten. Steph had everyone charge their glasses to toast the happy couple. Mariana gave them a look that would make anyone who saw her cringe. Thankfully Anne and Ann didn’t notice but Tib did. ‘If the wind changes your face will stay like that’

‘I would love to congratulate the happy couple on this their special day. I know they will do great things together. I am sure all of us here would like to wish them all the best.’ Steph said.

‘Not me. I plan to butt in when they are dancing.’ Mariana said.

‘Not if I stop you, bitch.’ Tib said as she looked at Anne who was about to make a speech. ‘Thank you for attending today. I am so happy to be with the only woman who accepts me as I am. Who doesn’t find fault in me even though I know I have many.’ Ann blushed. ‘Who loves me as no one ever has.’

‘I loved you, too, Anne Lister.’ Mariana bellowed or tried to. Tib had put her hand over Mariana’s mouth to shut her up and got bitten for her efforts.

‘Thank you, Adney for being the person who has done everything possible to help make this day amazing.’ Anne said. ‘I don’t know how I lived without you for so long. A toast to my bride, Ann Walker Lister. Hip hip.’

‘Hooray.’ The guests cheered. Ann blushed. ‘Hip Hip.’

‘Hooray.’

‘Hip Hip.’

Hooray,’ The guests cheered for one last time. Anne leaned down and gave Ann a kiss. They hugged.. Then Catherine gave a short speech. ‘I would like to thank my cousin, Ann for asking me to be her attendant. I feel privileged to be here on this her special day. She has had a crush on Anne Lister for so long I don’t remember when she didn’t. Now, her dream has come true. Anne Lister, you look after my cousin please. She is so sweet and kind and good. Congratulations, Anne and Ann. Your future together is bright.’ Everyone cheered except Mariana who seemed to be walking closer and closer to the main table. Cordingley approached the table.’Miss Lister, would you like to cut the cake?’

‘Cake, I didn’t know we ordered one.’

‘You didn’t I made it especially for you and Ann.’ Cordingley said.

‘Yes please. Bring it out.’ Cordingley brought the cake out with the help of Joe. He was smiling broadly. They set the cake down in front of Anne and Ann. Their photographer was there and snapped up a couple of photos as they cut through the cake with the knife Cordingley had provided.

Joe and Elizabeth returned the cake to the kitchen where it would be sliced into pieces for everyone. Cordingley had only made a one tier cake but Anne and Ann were so happy she had done that. They hadn’t thought about getting a wedding cake.

The DJ had arrived earlier to set up his gear. Now, he was ready to start playing music. ‘This is for the happy couple. Let’s encourage them to get up and dance.’

‘Come on, Anne. I chose this song for us.’ I only want to be with you..As the song began playing Ann began singing. Anne melted into Ann’s arms as she sang and they danced. When the song ended Anne signaled to the DJ.It was her turn to sing to Ann. She had chosen The time of my life. The DJ played the song and as they danced Anne sang. It was sweet music to Ann’s ears. She didn’t know her wife could sing. ‘When were you going to tell me you could sing?’ Ann asked her.

‘Oh, today.’ Anne grinned. ‘Well now’ Then she continued singing.

When the song finished Anne and Ann took a breath. They had been dancing and singing. Anne and Ann sat for a moment. Tib brought them over a glass of water each and warned them about Mariana. She was heading in their direction. Anne and Ann drank then they stood up and returned to the dance floor. Tib stopped Mariana but Mariana pushed past her to reach Anne and Ann. She tried to cut in on their dance but couldn’t. Ann looked her in the eye and said.’If, you don’t leave us alone we will have someone call the police and have you taken off the property. Mariana stormed off. She could see Ann meant business. No one cuts in and tries to separate them. Anne smiled at Ann. She didn’t know how brave Ann was. ‘How did you get to be so confident, Adney?’

‘I have you. You give me the strength to be confident. When I am with you I could take on the world.’

‘Well, you told Mariana a think or three. Let’s dance.’ They did. When they looked over Marian was dancing with Catherine and they were smiling. Ann couldn’t believe her cousin was dancing with her sister in law. What was this all about? She was curious. ‘Anne, how is it that your sister and my cousin seem to have eyes only for each other? How long has that been going on?’

‘I have no idea but let’s just allow them to enjoy their dance. We can ask them later.’

‘Okay!! Anne Walker Lister, I love you so much. I could dance like this all night but I do recall you saying something about a surprise.’

‘Me!! Surprise. I don’t remember that.’ Anne said with faux shock. ‘I don’t know where you got that idea. Maybe it’s something you dreamed up.’

‘Very funny, Lister!’ Ann said. ‘When are we leaving?’

‘Soon, Adney. Very soon. Like now. We need to say goodbye to everyone and thank them for coming.’ Anne and Ann left the dance floor. They knew the party would go on for a few hours longer but they were desperate to get down and naughty together. Anne had the DJ stop the music and she spoke to their guests again. ‘Thank you for coming and wishing us the best for our future life together. We really appreciate that and we love you all even those who don’t think we are good for each other.’ Anne looked at Mariana as she said that. The DJ resumed playing the music. Anne and Ann found Aunt Anne. They gave her a hug and told her they would be back in the morning to pack for their honeymoon. As they walked over to the Chaumiere Ann whispered in Anne’s ear. ‘You did save me that day and you are still saving me from the world, dearest.