‘Hello, Ann. It is so nice to see you again.’ Aunt Anne said.
‘I was only here a few hours ago, Aunt.’ Ann and Aunt Anne laughed. Then Anne realised it was Ann Walker she who her aunt was speaking to. ‘How often do you visit Shibden, Ann?’
‘Not as often as I would like to. I enjoy your family’s company. You are usually off somewhere with your latest girlfriend when I am here.’
‘Goodness me! Well, that needs to change. Right, aunt?’
‘Yes, that is so right. You do look well, Ann W.’
‘Thank you, Miss Lister. Now, where’s that cup of coffee you promised would wake me up.’ Ann said. ‘It seems as though I fell asleep on the back of Bertha.’
‘Goodness.’ Marian said. ‘That’s never happened before. No one is game enough to get on the back of Bertha with our Anne let alone fall asleep while riding on her. You must trust her a lot.’
‘You’re game.’ father said.
‘Oh, Ann.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Do call me aunt. Everyone else does.’
‘Okay, aunt.’ Ann said as Anne took her by the hand and lead her into the kitchen. ‘You, Miss Walker, should sit there while I make us all a cup of coffee.’ Anne said. ‘You seem to know my family already. Why didn’t you tell me?’
‘Ah, that was my surprise for you. I love your home. It’s so dark and mysterious just like you. Yet, so warm and cosy like you.’ Anne blushed. She couldn’t look at Ann without wondering what she would be like between the sheets. She seemed so quiet and demure but Anne wondered if this was the kitten and there was a ferrous lioness hidden deep inside waiting to be let free. She had often hoped she would find someone who would match her bedroom escapades. She wonder if she had found that someone in Miss Ann Walker. She was prepared to wait for as long as she needed to.
She was brought back to reality when she heard the coffee pot go silent. Ann must have put the coffee grounds and water into the pot and set it going. She couldn’t remember doing that. Ann was standing next to her. ‘Anne, where were you just now? Ann said. ‘What were you think about?’ Us, Ann thought. She didn’t know how right she was. ‘Nothing much.’ They poured the coffees. Anne put them on a tray with a few biscuits Cordingley had bought during the day and walked back into the sitting room. Aunt and father were snoozing but they soon woke. Marian gave Ann a sweet smile. She could understand why Ann trusted her sister. She loved her and Marian could see that.
‘Aunt, father. Drinks and bickies for everyone.’ They woke. ‘Ann, I forgot to ask you while we were on the hill chatting. Where do you work?’
‘I don’t.’ Ann said a little hesitantly.
‘How do you spend your days?’ Anne said.
‘I am an artist. I paint and sketch. I help out with Marian in the local soup kitchen. We eat out together once sometimes twice a week. I give to charities not that that is important to anyone but me.’
‘Ann Walker, how do you pay your bills and keep food on the table.’ Anne said surprised that Ann Walker didn’t work but Anne didn’t know Ann’s story because she wasn’t interested in anyone’s life but her own.
‘Here’s the thing. I inherited Crow Nest after my brother and his wife passed away on their honeymoon. Well, they were on their way to Australia when the plane they were in fell out of the sky. No one survived. It was the saddest day in our lives. My sister, Elizabeth and I inherited Crow Nest. After our parents passed John inherited Crow Nest and then when he died we did.’
‘Where is your sister now?’ Anne asked sincerely.
‘She lives in Scotland with her husband, George and three little ones.’
‘Oh, I think I remember her. She was a grade or three behind me at school. Right?’
‘Yes, I think so.. Although, I don’t remember you then because you are so much older than me.’ Aunt looked surprised that Ann knew how old her niece was. ‘How old are you, little Ann?’ Aunt asked.
‘29.’ Ann said so softly hardly anyone heard but Anne.
‘What did you say. Did you say 29?’ Marian asked as if only partly hearing her word.’
‘Our bikie here is 41. Does that bother you? Anne looked surprised that Marian was asking her a question like that considering they had just Anne and her today.
‘No, your friends should be across a spectrum of ages then you can learn so much about life.’
‘You are wise beyond years. I never had thought about it like that.’ Marian said. ‘You may think what you hear about my sister is true. Oh it is, she can be a rebel but she can also be a sweet person.’ Anne blushed. She didn’t’ know her sister saw both sides of her personality. ‘I know that, Marian. She told me what she is planning to do with the land around Shibden. I think it is a lovely idea.’
‘Did she tell you about our ancestor, Anne Lister and who she married.’ Marian said as she did air quotes.
‘No, she didn’t.’ Ann said and Anne blushed again. She didn’t know whether to tell her the story about her ancestor Anne Lister and Ann Walker. She wondered if that would drive Ann away because then she would want to know about them.
‘No, Marian, Let’s not get too mixed up with the past.’ Anne wanted a clean slate with this Ann Walker but as she had told Ann already she was a badass like her ancestor was and in truth her ancestor was a bit of a rebel too.
‘What is it about your ancestor’s past you don’t want me to know about, Anne?’ Ann looked at Anne wondering if she would tell her.
‘Maybe later, Ann.’ Anne said. ‘When we know each other a bit more.’ Ann wondered if she already knew what Anne was referring to but she kept her thoughts to herself. She didn’t want to spoil this new friendship. ‘Ann, are you ready to go home. That will mean you need to put on the leather gear again.’
‘Do I have to. Can’t I just stay here and sleep on the sofa?’
‘Won’t your family be worried about you, little Ann?’ Aunt asked.
‘No, I live alone. I have done for a long time.’ Ann said.’Didn’t I tell you that?’
‘No.’ They all said in unison. Even Anne was surprised.
‘You can stay here but you’re not sleeping on the sofa. I think we have a perfect good bed in the spare room you can sleep on. Do you need a nightie or pyjamas?’ Aunt Anne asked. Ann blushed. ‘A nightie would be fine. She could take it and just put it on when she came down for breakfast. Miss Ann Walker slept in her birthday suit most of the time.
Anne showed her into the guest bedroom. It was small and quaint but enough for just one night. ‘ Anne left Ann there wondering if she would be able to sleep. Anne had forgotten to show Ann were the bathroom was. Ann snuck her head out the door. ‘Anne, where’s the bathroom?’
‘It’s the first door on your right. Here, let me show you.’ Anne walked to the bathroom door and opened it. ‘Thanks, Anne,’ Ann said softly.’Goodnight.’ She walked to the bathroom as Anne walked back past the guest room and into her bedroom. Their bodies brushed and Ann felt the heat from Anne’s body surge through her body down to her core.
She didn’t know how she was going to sleep with Anne Lister so close. She had heard the stories about how Anne Lister would love ‘em and leave ‘em. Ann had a feeling that wasn’t the whole story. Ann could see Anne could be vulnerable and so sweet. She could understand why she wore so much armour. It was her shield to protect her heart. Her suit of black armour, Helmet, leather jacket and pants. She looked formidable in that and riding around town on Bertha.
Only Ann Walker could see how vulnerable Anne was when she looked into her eyes. When she showed her true self to someone which Ann imagined didn’t happen that often. She lay there waiting for sleep to take her into dreamland. Only the more she thought about Anne the less she felt she could sleep. She wondered what Anne was doing. She thought maybe she is writing in her journal if she ever wrote a journal. Anne didn’t say. She only talked about her ancestor who was also named Anne Lister and how kept a journal.
Ann pondered on the idea of starting a journal .It suddenly seemed important to keep a record of your life. Some things you think are worth remembering long past the day they happened. Only Ann wouldn’t know what to write about. Her life wasn’t that interesting. What did she do? Paint and give to charity, help out in the soup kitchen with Marian. Nothing very exciting. What did Anne do? She raised hell on her motorbike. She was improving her home and making the land a parkland so people could come and enjoy it as much as she did. She felt her heart weep with sadness. How was it that she, little Ann Walker was sleeping in Shibden. Then tomorrow she would go home and be forgotten.
How would she deal with life after Anne? Would she ever see her again? She didn’t know.
Then she heard a soft knock on the door. A soft voice, ‘Are you awake, Ann? I am having trouble sleeping. Can I come in.’ Ann stood up quickly grabbed the nightgown and slipped it on. She went to the door and opened it. There stood Anne with books in her hands. ‘I want to show you something. I didn’t want to before but now I feel it is necessary you know about Anne Lister because she married Ann Walker.’
‘What?’ Was all Ann could say as Anne came in. Anne’s eyes bulged as she saw how beautiful Ann looked in her Aunt’s nightgown even if it was a little large and sliding down her shoulders exposing her delicate clavicle. By the moonlight shining in the window she could see Ann’s exquisite curves and it made her wet gazing at her.