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Honeymoon

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Chapter 1

 

When they arrived at the chaumiere Anne unlocked and opened the door. She lead Ann inside. They were still in their wedding outfits so Anne encouraged her to change into something more comfortable while Anne lit the fire. It was a bit chilly in the chaumiere by the time they reached it. Ann had found one of Anne’s AC/DC t-shirts. She had half a dozen and a pair of Anne’s tracky dacks. She looked so comfortable after wearing her wedding gown for hours.

Anne changed from her suit. They had hung their clothes on a coat hanger then on hooks near the main entrance to take up to Shibden tomorrow morning before they left to go on their honeymoon.

Ann was seated on the sofa. So, Anne sat next to her. She put her arm around Ann’s back and pulled her in for a passionate kiss. ‘Well, Mrs Ann Walker Lister, how does it feel to be married to this old thing.’

‘What old thing, Mrs Anne Walker Lister?’ Ann said seriously.

‘Me, of course,’

‘Miss Lister, you aren’t old. Haven’t you heard that you’re only as old as the person you feel?’

‘What do you mean only as old as the person you feel?’ Anne said in mock shock.

‘Would you like a demonstration, dearest?’

‘I certainly would.’ Ann rose and took Anne’s hand. She walked her into the bedroom. ‘Why are we here, Adney?’

‘Just take off your clothes and lay on the bed.’ Anne wondered what Ann was up to be she complied and was soon naked. Ann did the same. She laid on top of Anne. She reached around and cupped the back of Anne’s head with her left hand while her right hand cupped her left breast. She squeezed it gently and massaged her nipple until it was hard. She could feel Anne squirming beneath her. ‘Ann, please don’t tease me.’ Ann couldn’t help herself. She continued to naughtily tease Anne. Her wife’s hips were rising off their bed. Anne wanted more. ‘Ann, come on. This isn’t much fun when you won’t touch me.’

‘Mrs Walker Lister, you need to be patient. Isn’t that what you always tell me?’ Anne was stunned. Her own words were coming back to bite her. Yet, Ann could see she was desperate. So, she traced circles on her stomach all the way down to her clit.

Anne was so wet that Ann’s fingers slid over her centre. Ann massaged her centre before entering with three fingers. Anne moaned so loudly Ann thought everyone would hear what they were doing. What she was doing to Anne. She ran circles around Anne’s clit, tighter and tighter circles until she began massaging Anne’s clit with her tongue. She breathed in Anne’s scent. Anne was thrusting her hips up to meet Ann’s tongue. Then Ann stopped for a moment to watch Anne who seemed to realise her hips were only hitting air. ‘Ann, are you trying to kill me? Please, Ann. I was so close.’ Ann resumed her ministrations. Her face was glistening with Anne’s arousal..

Ann could feel Anne tensing under her. She knew Anne was about to come. Then with one last thrust and as Anne screamed out her name Anne came. Ann held her until her body stilled and she was back. ‘Hi there, dearest. Did you enjoy that?’ Ann said with a broad smile on her face.

‘i certainly did, Adney. Do you have any more surprises for me?’

‘I don’t know. You might have to wait and see. Now, if you don’t mind I would like you to fuck me until I cannot say your name or think straight.’

‘You know you can’t think straight, Adney. You’re gay!’

‘Oh very funny, Mrs Walker Lister, very funny. How many more pearls of wisdom do you have on you to impart today?’ Ann said with a smirk on her face.

‘Give me time and I will think of one. Until then just lay back and I will treat you to something special.’ Ann did as Anne asked. She laid back. Anne’s eyes widened when her wife laid down on their bed in the chaumiere. She was the most gorgeous woman she had ever met. ‘Oh, Adney, you are so beautiful.’

Ann smiled and said. ‘I bet you say that to all the women you bring here.’ Ann already knew she was the only one Anne had brought to the chaumiere. ‘Ann Walker Lister, you know you’re the only one I have brought here.’

‘I know, dearest. So please just fuck me. I feel as though I am going to exploded if you don’t.’

‘Be patient.’ Goodness Anne thought. There I go again. Telling Ann to be patient when I wouldn’t. Anne reached down and kissed Ann passionately. Then she traced kisses down her neck and collar bones, down her sternum sucking gently on both her nipples. Ann was moaning and groaning loudly. Calling out her name and asking her to get on with it.

Anne had no intentions of hurrying. She was quite happy to watch her wife squirm below her. ‘Dearest, come on. I am all heated up and I want you to fuck me.’ Anne kept going at the same pace. She had no need to go faster. She was really enjoying watching Ann squirm beneath her.

Anne finally relented and moved down to Ann’s clit which was swollen and ready for her. She touched her tongue against it ever so slightly. Ann moaned again so loudly. ‘More please, more of that.’ Anne couldn’t resist. She did it again and again and each time Ann moaned loudly. Then Anne inserted three fingers in Ann’s centre. While she licked Ann’s clit with her tongue her fingers went in and out of Ann’s centre. ‘Faster please, dearest.’ Anne complied she could feel Ann’s walls tightening around her fingers. She went faster and faster until Ann screamed out her name for one last time then she came over Anne’s face. Anne crawled up next to her and held her until the shuddering ceased and Ann was back in he body.

Ann licked Anne’s face. She wanted to taste her own arousal and she thought she tasted good. So did Anne when she put her fingers into her own mouth. They hugged for quite sometime. Then Ann asked, ‘Are we sleeping here tonight?’

‘We are. I thought you already knew that.’ Anne said surprised.

‘I did. I was just making sure. I didn’t’ want to look foolish and assume one thing when we were doing something else.’ Then Anne’s phone buzzed. She looked to see who was calling. It was Aunt Anne. ‘I had better answer this it could be important.’

‘Hi, Geraldine. It’s Anne Lister here. I was just wondering where you were. I have someone here who I am sure you would like to meet.’

‘If she is using that name again that means Mariana is still trying to get to you, Anne.’ Ann said.

‘We are in the chaumiere and she knows where it is. Just answer yes or no to the next question.’

‘Okay!!!’ Aunt Anne said.

‘Has she been there long?’

‘No.’

‘Have you tried to send her a way again by calling the police again.’

‘Yes!’

‘So, she stayed.’

‘Yes! What do you want to do?’

‘Put your phone on speaker so everyone can hear what we say to her. I will be on speaker phone here too. Ann is riled up and I am sure she will say something to Mariana that will make her leave for good. At least I hope so.’ Aunt and Anne put their phones on speaker and Ann went full commando on her. ‘If you don’t get out of our lives and leave us alone you will regret it. I know people in high places who can make your life so fucking miserable. I just wish you would go away and leave Anne and me alone. Can’t you just fucking do that, Mary Lawton?’

Mariana was shocked that Ann would speak to her like that. Anne’s family weren’t expecting meek and mild Ann Walker to explode when pushed beyond her limits. She could only take so much of this woman who continued to try and split them apart. ‘Oh, little Miss Walker, are you threatening me? I, too, have friends in high places. I can make your life miserable and I know when Anne gets fed up with you she will want me back.’ Ann looked at Anne when Mariana spoke those words. Anne cupped Ann’s face with her hands. ‘Adney, whatever she tries to do, darling, don’t let her poison you against me against us. I love you, Adney. I know she thinks you are just another plaything to me like I am to her. Yet, I married to you and not her.’

‘I trust you, dearest. I will always trust you to keep your promise you made to me today.’

‘Sorry, bitch. You lost that one. Now, go home to your husband and leave my family and me alone.’ Mariana stood up and yelled. Good fucking luck, bitches. I hope you are happy together.’

‘Very much so. Aren’t we, Adney?’

‘Yes, very much so, dearest.’ Then they heard the front door to Shibden slam shut. They hoped this would be the last they would see of Mariana Lawton.

‘Thanks, Little Ann. I think she has gone for good this time.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Now, sleep well and I will see you in the morning for breakfast before you leave to go on your honeymoon.’

‘Okay!!See you in the morning, Aunt. Love you. Bye.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

 

Anne woke the next morning in the chaumiere. Ann was snuggled up next to her sleeping peaceful. She had worn her wife out. She was going to allow Ann to sleep for a while longer only when she moved to get up Ann’s eyes slowly opened. ‘Where are you going, dearest?’ Ann said with a raspy voice.

‘Nowhere!! Why?’

‘I want you to stay here for a while with me. I need your body next to mine so I can sleep for a while longer. Is that okay?’

‘It would be if, we hadn’t promised Aunt we would have breakfast with her this morning. I am sure she will call us soon.’

‘Can we wait until she calls us, dearest? We only need to dress. We can shower after breakfast. Can’t we?’

‘I guess so..’ they snuggled together for an hour before their aunt called. Ann answered. ‘Yes, we will be there soon. We just need to dress, Aunt.’

‘Okay, I will wondering where you and Anne were. Did you sleep well last night?’

‘Yes, thank you. See you soon. Bye!!’

‘Bye!!’ Aunt disconnected the call. ‘They’ll be here in a few. So, you can start cooking breakfast, Cordingley.’ Aunt Anne said loudly.

‘Yes, Ma’am. Will eggs, bacon and toast be fine?’

‘Yes, thank you.’

Anne and Ann were back at the hall just as Cordingley was bringing their breakfast into the dining room. Aunt Anne and Marian were seated at the table. Father was on his way downstairs. ‘How was your first night as a married couple?’ Father said with a smile on his face. ‘As good as we both expected it to be, father.’ Ann said smiling sheepishly. Anne looked at her and wondering if she knew what her father was hinting at.’Oh I got his message loud and clear. I think he just wanted to know if we are doing okay after what Mariana tried to do again.’ Ann said..

‘Oh okay!!’ Anne sat in her usual place. Ann sat next to her. They greeted everyone with smiles on their faces. Marian couldn’t believe this was her sister. ‘What have you done with Anne Lister? This one isn’t my sister. She’s always in a bad mood.’

‘Marian, it is a great day to be alive. I have never felt so alive in my life as I do now.’ Anne said. ‘Ann, here is the reason for the season of good vibes.’

‘Okay!’ was all Marian could say. She smiled at Ann. It seemed Miss Walker or should we say Mrs Ann Walker Lister has learned how to calm her sister.

‘Now, where are you going on your honeymoon?’ Aunt Anne asked. She had thought they had told her but she couldn’t remember.

‘We are going down under for a month. We may stay longer if they will have us. There is so much we want to see and do.’

‘Okay!! You do have passports and visa!’ Marian asked.

‘Yes, Marian. They were organised a few weeks ago when Ann suggested we go there. I was unsure but she convinced me that it was a good idea. Now, after all that has happened with Mariana I am glad we are going.’ Anne handed her aunt their itinerary. ‘We will land in Sydney early on their Wednesday morning. Then we are staying there for four days to acclimatize to their weather. It will be Autumn there but still quite warm. So, I have been told.’

‘While we are there we are going to do the bridge walk. That will be interesting because I am a little afraid of highest. Anne has promised me I will do fine.’ Ann said. ‘Then we are going to check out the Sydney Opera House. I hear they have a cinema there. So, we might go see a movie or we might not.’

‘Where are you staying?’ Marian asked quizzically.

‘In a B&B on Pitt Street. It’s the best way to save money and I have heard the rooms are clean and neat.’ Anne said.

‘And it is in the city centre so we will be able to go for walks.’ Ann said.

‘That sounds like fun.’ Father said. ‘Where are you going after Sydney?’

‘Melbourne for four days then to Tasmania for two weeks maybe more. We will cross Bass Strait on the ferry. We will need to book our tickets when we arrive in Sydney.’

‘Why two weeks or more in Tasmania?’ Marian asked. ‘I have been told it is only a small island state.’

‘Yes, it is only a small state but there is so much to see. I want to see the convict settlements at Port Arthur and Maria Island. Then go to Cradle Mountain.’ Ann said.

‘Ann has a penfriend down there I only just found out about when she asked if we could go there. So, we are going to meet her and have lunch or dinner with her.’

‘How long have you been writing to her, Ann? I actually thought pen pals were a thing of the past.’

‘Well, when she says pen pal she should really say email pal. They email each other at least once a week. They have sent photos and talked a few times on the phone.’ Anne said.

‘We have been email pals for about two years.’ Ann said.

‘Are you jealous, Anne?’ Marian asked.

‘No, she is old enough to be Ann’s mother.’ Anne said. ‘They are email pals. Nothing more.’

‘Are you going to Queensland to Australia zoo. You do remember Steve Irwin? Don’t you?’

‘Yes, we are going to Queensland. It’s all in our itinerary, Marian. Just read it.’ Anne said.’Then we are off to Uluru and Alice Springs.’

‘What is Uluru?’ Marian asked quizzically. She hadn’t heard that name before.

‘It’s what the Aborigines call Ayers Rock. They say the rock changes colour during sunrise and sunset.’ Ann said.

‘Well, that should be interesting. Don’t forget to take plenty of photos to show us when you return home.’ father said.

‘If, they return home.’ Marian said.

‘We are coming home. I would miss Shibden too much to move away from England, Marian.’ Anne said.

‘When are you leaving?’ Aunt Anne asked. She knew it was soon but she couldn’t remember.

‘Our flight leaves Heathrow at 11 AM tomorrow.. So, we need to get the train to London this afternoon. We are staying at a hotel close to the airport.’

‘Are you packed already?’ Marian asked.

‘Yes, we have most of our gear packed. We have to pack just a few more things. We are going to do that after breakfast. We are taking one suitcase and two carry on bags.’

‘Okay!’ everyone said in unison. They all seemed sad that Anne and Ann would be away for a month but Anne and Ann were too excited to notice.

‘Anne and Ann finished eating breakfast. They were busy finishing packing when they heard a knock on the door. ‘Come in.’ Ann said. It was Aunt Anne. She wanted to talk to them for a few minutes. ‘You do realise we will worry about you while you are way.’

‘Aunt, we do realise you will worry about us while we are away. So, we plan to call you after we have gone through customs and are at our B&B. Okay!! That of course, will depend on what time it is here. We are nine hours behind Sydney. So, she looked at her watch. It is 10AM here. It is 7PM there, same day.’

‘Okay!! But promise me you will be careful. I have heard there are lots of dangerous spiders and snakes in Australia.’ Ann looked at Anne in shock. She  had forgotten to check out whether there would be dangerous snakes and spiders where they were going. ‘I think we will be fine, Aunt.’ Anne said. ‘We aren’t going into the bush.’

‘Good.’ Aunt Anne said.  Aunt Anne left them to finish packing. Anne smiled at Ann. She could see she was worried about something. ‘What is bothering you. Adney?’ Anne asked as she walked over to Ann and wrapped her arms around her.’I am unsure if I will travel well on the way over.’

‘You will be fine and if you do feel queasy I have something for you to take. Okay!! It’s suppose to help with motion sickness but I don’t think you will have a problem because with good luck and good weather there won’t be any turbulence.’

‘Can you be sure of that, dearest?’ Ann said looking at Anne with sad eyes.

‘No! I cannot be sure of that but we can hope. Can’t we?’

‘Yes!’ Ann said. Now, wearing a broad smile on her face.

‘Come on. Let’s get going. Marian has promised to take us to the train station. Our train leaves in an hour.’ Everyone was waiting at the front door to say take care and goodbye. Marian had the boot to her car opened and ready for Anne and Ann to load their suitcase in. They had packed a minimum amount of clothes. So, they knew they would be doing laundry once every four or five days. They gave Aunt and father hugs. Father whispered in Ann’s ear that everything would be fine. ‘At least you won’t get a visit from Mariana in Australia. That’s a positive. Isn’t it?’

‘It sure is, father. I will miss you.’ Ann said.

‘As I will miss you. Make sure she stays out of trouble.’

‘I will. See you when we return in a month’s time.’ They had to leave now because it was getting late and they would miss their train and they could see Aunt Anne leave to go inside. She was crying so much. She had Ann crying.’Come on, Adney. She will be fine. We will call her when we get to Sydney. Okay!!’

‘Okay!’

They jumped into Marian’s car and she was going to drive them to the train station. But just before they left Ann suggested Marian take them all the way to London. ‘Go back inside and get some clean underwear, Marian. We would like you to come to London with us.’ Ann said. ‘We will compensate you for the petrol. We had booked two rooms just in case you said yes to taking us all the way to London.’

‘I think we can do that.’ Marian said before she raced inside and up the stairs to her bedroom to grab what she needed. As she walked past her aunt and father Aunt Anne asked. ‘Where are you going, Marian?’

‘I’m taking Anne and Ann to London. I will be back home sometime tomorrow. There’s leftover in the fridge for you and Father.’

‘Okay!’ Aunt and Father said. ‘See you tomorrow.’

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

 

Marian drove them to London. It would take them three hours and 28 minutes to reach London and depending on traffic about half an hour to reach the hotel they were staying at. Anne could see Marian wanted to ask them questions. Anne was seated in the passengers seat. Ann was seated in the back.

‘Are you sure you are going to return home at the end of your honeymoon? I hear that Australia is a great place to live.’ Marian said with a concerned look on her face. ‘You know Aunt Anne will miss both of you if you move down under.’

‘We both know that, Marian.’ Anne said.’We will return home. I want to stay here while Aunt Anne and father are still living.’ Ann had tears welling in her eyes. She fear death. It terrified her but she knew that they would die one day. ‘We will miss you too, Marian.’ Ann said.

‘Please call Aunt as you said you would!’ Marian said.

‘We will call as often as we can.’ Ann said. ‘What would you like us to bring back for you?’

‘Something uniquely Australian. That would be great. Something that whenever I look at it I am reminded of you two. Okay!!!’ Anne smiled. She knew what to give Marian.

Ann listened as Anne and Marian were chatting. Then Ann remembered she’d had a call from Catherine. She was moving back to Halifax to be closer to her family. She had been fed up with London life for quite sometime.

Anne and Ann suggested she help Marian out at Shibden while they were away. They had already told Aunt Anne and father their plan. They had forgot to tell Marian. Ann didn’t know how she would react. ‘Marian, sister dear.’ Ann said. Marian wondered why Ann was speaking to her so sweetly. ‘My cousin, Catherine. You know, the one who was my attendant at Anne and my wedding. Well, she told us she wanted to move back to Halifax. We asked her to help you around Shibden while we are away. She said yes. So, she is going to stay at Shibden. I hope you don’t mind.’ Ann said.

‘Great news. Isn’t it, Marian. I am glad you will have someone to talk to while we are away. And I am sure you and Catherine will get along great together. I was watching you eyeing her at our wedding.’

’Okay! That’s great news. I hope she doesn’t mind my taste in music.’ Marian said. I hope she doesn’t because she will have to put up with it for a while. Anne thought. As Marian pulled up outside the hotel she asked. ‘Where are we going to eat?’

‘There’s a restaurant downstairs just off the lobby. I have heard the food is amazing.’ Ann said. ‘We invited a friend to eat with us. Okay!!!’

‘Who?’ Marian asked surprised that they were trying to match make again.

‘No one in particular. Okay!!! Just a good friend. You may or may not know her.’ It never occurred to Marian that the person they invited was the person they had been talking about. Marian didn’t know Catherine lived in London. She had returned to London just after Anne and Ann left the reception to go to the chauniere.

‘Or I may know her very well.’ Marian said. ‘Come on, Ann. Don’t be so secretive. I know you are match making.’

‘Who me?’ Ann said innocently. ‘Why would I do that with my favourite sister in law?’

‘I don’t know. Maybe you think I am lonely. I am sometimes but I do have Shibden to take care and Aunt and father to tend to.’

Yeah, right. Good one, Marian. We are there now to help you. So, you will have more time for you when we return. Okay!!’

‘Okay!!’ Marian wasn’t really interested in meeting someone right now but she could see Ann and Anne were only doing what they thought was best for her. They had checked into their rooms and freshened up after their trip. An hour later they were seated in the lobby when Ann’s surprise guest appeared. She walked over and wrapped her arms around Ann. ‘Annie, it is so good to see you. This city life isn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be. So, I have put your old place back on the market and I am moving back home. I only hope I can sell it as fast as you did, Ann.’ Marian looked surprised. She had wondered why Ann was able to sell her apartment so quickly. Her cousin, Catherine had bought it.

‘Marian, how good is it to see you?’ Catherine walked over to Marian and as Marian stood Catherine pulled her into a strong embrace. ‘I wonder if you would like company on the way home.’

‘You’re going home tomorrow? Marian asked.

‘Yes, it has all been organised. I am staying at Shibden until Anne and Ann return. Well, you need someone to help take care of the estate and I need somewhere to live until I can find my own place.’ Marian was flabbergasted. She didn’t know what to say. She had always liked Catherine the most but she had never mentioned she lived in London when she was at Anne and Ann’s wedding. This was a big surprise for Marian.

‘Take her home. You two can be happy together just like Anne and I are.’ Ann said. ‘We will bring you something back to show you how grateful we are to have you in our lives, Marian.’ Anne said.

‘Thank you, sister. I will keep you to that.’

‘Okay!!’ Ann said. ‘Now, let’s go and eat. I am famished.’ They walked from the hotel lobby to the restaurant. Catherine was excited about living at Shibden while Anne and Ann were in Australia on their honeymoon. .Marian could see how cute Ann’s cousin was and while she wasn’t sure if she wanted a long term relationship with anyone she was interested enough to explore a possibility that she and Catherine could be a couple.

When they finished eating dinner they all decided to go for a walk. Anne and Ann wrapped their arms around each other as they walked. Marian would have liked to have done that with Catherine only she wasn’t sure how she felt about being seen with her arms wrapped around another woman even though no one in London knew who she was.

Catherine walked closer to her than she wished. Yet, every time she moved away Catherine moved closer. Anne and Ann had stopped for a moment. When they turned around Marian cheeks were red and she looked very flustered. ‘What’s up, Marian?’ Anne asked as she eyed her sister cautiously.

‘Nothing!’

‘Oh come on, Marian.’ Ann said. ‘You look at little frustrated.’

‘I am not!’ Marian said.’I am fine.’

‘You do know what that means.’ Catherine said.’Effed off, insecure, nervous and exhausted.’

‘Yeah!! Well, I am fine.’

‘So, we are admitting there is something wrong.’

‘There’s nothing wrong. I just like my own space and would prefer if others would realise that.’ Marian said looking sternly at Catherine who was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Ann could see she was on the verge of crying. So, she walked over to Catherine and gave her a hug. Then she whispered in her ear.’You like Marian. Don’t you? And she is doing her best to avoid you. Isn’t she?’

‘Yes on both counts.’ Catherine whispered back. ‘I wish she would just chill for a bit. I only want to hold her hand. I don’t want a full blown relationship.I know she is uncertain about love.’

‘Well, tell her that. We will leave you two alone. We will wait over there.’ Ann said as she pointed to the nearest pub.

‘What was that all about?’ Anne said as Ann pulled her away from her sister and Catherine. ‘My cousin loves your sister and wants just to be friends with her for now but she also wants to hold her hand.’

‘Friends don’t hold hands. Do they?’

‘Not normally but Catherine isn’t ‘normal’. She often will ask to hold my hand just to feel she is connected to someone and Marian is rejecting her.’

‘Is that why she was crying?’

‘Yes!’

‘i hope they sort it out because Catherine and Marian will be living together for at least a month.’ Anne and Ann walked into the pub as Marian and Catherine stood on the other side of the road talking.

‘Marian, please listen to me. I am not trying to force you to do something you don’t want. I like like you. If you know what I mean. I want to hold your hand because it gives me comfort to know someone is close by.’

‘Catherine, I’m not sure I want to do this. I don’t know my own heart. I want to be with someone but I am not sure if I am ready.’ Marian said. She was feeling trapped and uncomfortable. Catherine reached out to grab her hand. ‘Come on. Maz. You can do this.’ Marian reached out with her hand. She felt unsure if this was the right thing to do but she wanted to give it a go. Their hands link and Marian smiled. It did feel good to hold someone’s hand without any strings attached. Yet, she felt so close to Catherine already and it was scaring her so much.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

 

Marian and Catherine drove Anne and Ann to the airport. Ann had checked seven thousand times to make sure she had her passport and ticket with her. They had to be at the airport two hours before their flight left. So they skipped breakfast. Marian and Catherine had said they would buy something to eat on the way home. Anne knew they would be served a meal about an hour or so into the flight. Ann didn’t think she could eat much. She felt as though she was on the verge of an anxiety attack.

They watched Marian and Catherine drive away as they walked through into the check in. The line was longer than Ann thought it wouldn’t be as it was only 5.45AM but people seem to be everywhere. When they approached the desk they handed over their passports. Anne told Ann to keep her ticket unless the person behind the counter asked for it.

They passed their suitcase through and it was one kilogram over weight but the person served them let it go. They weren’t sure how they would go coming back because they had promised everyone they would buy them something.

‘I guess we can deal with it when the time comes.’ Anne said. ‘Let’s go to our departure terminal.’ Anne said as the person behind the counter circled their seat allocation and terminal. ‘We can get something to eat before we get there.’

‘That sounds good to me. How long before our plane leaves?’

‘About 95 minutes. Are you worried about anything?’

‘Not at the moment and not while you are here with me, dearest. I wonder how Marian and Catherine are getting along. Marian seemed unsure about Catherine’s motives.’

As Marian and Catherine drove back to Halifax they talked about what they were expecting from each other. Marian hadn’t been able to talk about her feelings with anyone. She always shut up shop when she was asked how she felt. She knew it was the only way to keep her emotions under control. Yet, Catherine could see through her. She knew there was a chance if she said the right things Marian would open up to her. It was the only chance she had to have someone special in her life.

‘Marian, I don’t know how you feel about me but I know I love you. I know I could make a life with you because you are a kind and caring person. I know we could be good for each other never mind what the neighbours think. They aren’t important. Are they?’

‘Catherine, I would be honour to be your girlfriend but can we take it slowly. I need time to take all this in. I am not sure if I could be with you for always.’

‘Marian, I will be patient and wait. I want you in my life for always but I do understand that this might not be what you want.’ She said as tears pooled in the corner of her eyes. Marian could see that. She pulled over to the side of the road and gave Catherine a hug. ‘You see I am hurting you already. Aren’t? Catherine didn’t say anything. She was crying so much and it broke Marian’s heart to see her like this. ‘Can I just say this. I think you are the prettiest girl I have ever met and I do like you, Catherine. So, let’s go from there to see what providence throws at us. Okay!!’

‘Okay.’ Catherine said as she wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her t-shirt. ‘I wonder what Anne and Ann are doing right now?’

Anne and Ann were waiting to board their flight. The plane had been delayed half an hour because of a technical hiccup. But now they were in line waiting to board for the first part of their flight. They had one stop over in Singapore which was only to refuel then they were off again.

Anne had told Ann a very funny story as the plane rose into the sky and by the time the plane leveled off Ann was laughing so much the people around her wanted in on the joke.

‘Have you joined the mile high club?’ Anne whispered in Ann’s ear. Ann giggled. ‘What is the mile high club?’

‘Oh, its hard to explain but I can show you if you life. Let’s wait until we have had something to eat first. I am sure the cabin crew will come around with food soon.’ Anne was right. About an hour into the flight they were eating. While the food wasn’t what Ann would have liked it was okay. ‘Ann are you okay?’

‘Yeah, I am feel great but this food isn’t that tasty.’

‘Yeah, its a bit like hospital food but it is better than nothing. Of course, you could have some chocolate if you eat all that.’

‘Chocolate!! How can we get chocolate at 35,000 feet up?’ Ann said with a puzzled look on her face.’Ah, I have ways and means. Just eat up and you will find out.’ Ann ate all her food. Well, she forced herself to eat all her food. Anne knew she had to eat because it would be a few hours before they would eat again. ‘So, where’s the chocolate?’

‘Hold on while I reach up and grab it.’ Anne stood in the aisle and grabbed her carry on bag. She unzipped it and pulled out a Mars bars. She handed it to Ann. ‘When did you buy this? I have been with you all the time.’

‘I got it a few days ago. I thought I might need a bribe to get you to eat all your food.’ Ann looked frustrated. ‘Now, what’s wrong?’

‘Don’t treat me like a five year old?’

‘I am not I just know how you tend to eat very little and it will be hours before we eat again.’

‘Okay!!’ Ann said then took a bite of her Mars bars and smiled sheepishly at her wife. When she finished eating she prompt fell into a deep sleep. Anne was a bit bemused by the whole thing. She couldn’t sleep on flights no matter how long or short they were. She constantly battled with jet lag but she did love visiting new places. They were certainly going where neither of them had been and they were looking forward to a month of adventures.

Anne decided to close her eyes for a few minutes. Hours later she woke to the food trolley begin ferried along the aisle and a member of the cabin crew asking what she would like to eat. She looked at her watch and couldn’t believe it. This was the first time she had slept for any length of time on a flight.

‘We have two meals today Which would you like?’ The one that tastes less like plastic Anne thought. As if reading her mind Ann bumped Her arm against her ribs and she unintentionally squeal.’Are you all right, Miss?’

‘Mrs Lister and I am always all right.’

‘We have corn beef and cabbage or tuna mornay. Dessert is plum pudding or custard.’

‘We will have corn beef and plum pudding thanks.’ Ann said.

‘How do you know what I want.’ Anne said quizzically.

‘Well, you don’t like tuna mornay and cold custard.’

‘Okay!!!’ Their meals were served. This time the meals tasted a little better. Or was it that it didn’t matter because they were so hungry. Neither Anne nor Ann knew. Yet, after they had finished eating they wash it down with a hot coffee and a Mars bar. Ann wondered how many she had stash away in her bag. That could be why Anne had to pay for her overweight carry on. Ann thought. Then she smiled because Anne thought of everything even her chocolate fix. Ann had heard they sell Mars bars in Australia but wasn’t sure.

Anne never got a chance to show Ann what the mile high club was. She seemed to sleep for most of the trip. Even after their stopover to refuel in Singapore. They were served breakfast about an hour before the plane touchdown in Sydney. Ann woke bleary eyed. Anne was expecting Ann to want to go to the Maze backpackers and sleep but after they ate she suddenly found a second wind. She was looking forward to exploring the sights and sounds of Sydney. ‘I think we should go to the backpackers. Off load our luggage and then go for a walk and find somewhere to sit and lap up the views of Sydney. What do you think, dearest?’

‘I think we can do that. I think we will put our valuables in a locker just in case ‘Yes, I don’t want to lose you.’

‘Oh very funny, Mrs Walker Lister. Do you have any other pearls of wisdom to share with me today.’

‘No!!!’

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

 

They rode the bus to the Maze Backpackers on Pitt Street.it was going to cost Anne $253 for the four nights they would be there. The bus ride from the airport was free because they were staying there more than two nights. They had booked a double room because they were on their honeymoon and wanted to have fun.  Anne smiled at Ann. Who had never felt so happy in her life as she was in this moment. When they arrived Anne grabbed their suitcase. They strolled into the building. Inside there were people chatting loudly and someone behind the counter offered to serve them.

‘Name please?’.

’ Walker Lister, Anne and Ann.’ The man behind the counter looked surprised. ‘You both have the same name?’

‘Yes! There is one difference though. Hers is with an E, mine is without.’ Ann said.

‘Okay! Since you are going to be here for four days we have free hotdogs on Monday night. if you are interested and you can met others who are staying here.’ Then he realised they wouldn’t be here then. ‘Sorry, I just realised you won’t be here next Monday. If you like it here I hope you can return. Then you can enjoy a free hot dog.’

‘Okay!!’

‘How do you reply when someone wants to talk to you?’

‘I’m little Ann, she’s big Anne. Okay!!’

‘Makes sense. Enjoy your stay and it will be an extra five dollars for the locker if you want one.’

‘Yes, please.’ they paid and collected their keys. They had a room to themselves. Anne had planned it that way. She didn’t want anyone ogling her wife while she was in her pjs. They could have fun too. They walked to their room and off load their suitcase. It sure did feel heavy. Ann was wondering what Anne had packed because Ann had only packed clothes. When she opened up to look there were forty Mars bars on top with three books and her journal plus walking shoes for both her and Anne. ‘What are these for, Anne?’

‘Just in case we want to go hiking. I heard there are plenty of great places to do that.’ Anne said with a worried look on her face.

‘Hey, don’t sweat the small stuff. Of course, I want to go hiking with you. Didn’t we come here to have fun?’ Ann said smiling as she grabbed her wife around the waist and kissed her softly on the cheek. ‘I think we should call home to let everyone know we arrived safe and sound. Is that okay with you. Then we can go for a walk. Okay!!!’ Anne said.  She grabbed her phone and called her Aunt who must have been sitting on her phone because she answered it after the first ring. ‘Hello big Anne.’ She said with a smile on her face.’I guess this means you are in Sydney. What’s the time there?’

‘Hi Aunt. We sure are. We had a good trip. I slept most of the way over and it is noon her on Wednesday. We are at the backpackers in our room. The room is sparse but it will be comfortable. We have a room to ourselves.’

‘Good, good. How is little Ann?’

‘She is doing great. She did worry a bit on the takeoff and landing but otherwise like me she slept most of the journey. It’s so good to be on terra firma.’ Anne said. ‘Did Marian and Catherine get home in one piece?’

‘Yes, and they haven’t been able to keep their hands off each other.’

‘What?’ Ann said loudly so Aunt Anne could hear.

‘Tell Ann they are in love and chasing each other all over the estate. Unfortunately, not much work is getting done.’

‘Oh, that’s okay, Aunt. We will do that when we return.’

‘You are coming back?’

‘Now, why wouldn’t we?’ Anne said quizzically.

‘I have heard Australia is a lovely country full of very friendly people and you might decide to move there.’

‘Not today.’ Ann said as she snatched the phone from her wife. ‘How are you, Aunt?’

‘I am doing fine, little Ann. What’s the weather like there?’

‘Warm.’

‘It’s Autumn, isn’t it?’ Aunt asked.

‘Yes, but it is still warm much warmer than Halifax in Autumn.’

‘Anyway, we had better get going.’ Anne said as she snatched her phone back from her wife. ‘Before my wife’s stomach jumps out of her body and eats me.’

‘Very funny.’ Ann said. They said goodbye to Aunt Anne and Anne disconnected the call. ‘Let’s put our valuables in the locker now we have paid for it. Our cameras and phones. I don’t want to talk to anyone at the moment. I just want to be with you. Okay!!!’

‘Okay!! Great idea, Sherlock!’

‘Sherlock. Where did that come from?’

‘I don’t know.’ Ann said. They had deposited their valuables in the locker and walked back outside into the mild Sydney Autumn weather after they asked where Maccers was.

They walked down George Street. Ann was wondering why people were staring at them. Then she looked down to see they had their hands linked. It seemed so natural that Ann didn’t realise they were doing that. Anne smiled at her. ‘It’s fine, Adney. They are only looking at us because even though Australia is very liberal in its thinking. They had a plebiscite to vote on same sex marriage and we won. They rarely seen two women or two men holding hands. Don’t worry they won’t do anything. This is Sydney,’

‘Good!! Yet, I would prefer if people didn’t gawk at me.’

They walked to Maccers and order their meal. Once they collected their meals they found a seat and ate greedily. Neither Anne nor Ann realised how hungry they were. ‘Well, what are we going to do now? Anne said.

‘Let’s go for a walk down to the Opera House. I noticed that there is a cinema down there. I would love to go see a movie or we could just sit and enjoy the view of the Harbour. I have heard it is lovely.’

‘Okay!!’ Anne said. ‘Lead the way since you know where you are going.’

‘I think there should be a map somewhere which will point us in the right direction. Or we could ask someone.’

‘i can see the coat hanger.’

‘What?’

‘The coat hanger. Isn’t that what they call the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Maybe we should head in that direction.’

‘Okay!!’ Ann said.’I’m with you!’

They walked down towards the bridge. It was late afternoon by the time they arrived there. So, they decided to forgo a movie for today. They climbed the stairs and found a cool place to sit. Ann was exhausted when they sat. Anne thought she would fall asleep in her arms. Only the excitement was too much for Ann. She stayed awake. They took a few phones from where they were seated. It seem strange to think that if they were home it would be an early spring morning and the sun would be tracking across the southern sky not the northern sky as it did here.

‘What do you think of Sydney, Adney?’

‘I think it is a beautiful city and we are here for four sleeps.’

‘Good.’ Anne said.’Let’s head back to the backpackers to shower and go somewhere for dinner. They must know of a good restaurant in the area..’

‘I hope so cause I am hungry again.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

 

They walked back to the backpackers. Ann felt so comfortable holding Anne’s hand even though there were lots of people looking at them. There were also many on lookers smiling when they looked at them. Ann never imagined her life would be like this. She had moved to London to get away from her tribe. There she had met Anne Lister and moved back to Halifax with her. Then Anne asked her to marry her after she whispered. If, you asked me to marry me I wouldn’t say no.

All that seemed a life time ago now. It felt as though they had been together for more years than what they had. It had only be such a short time. Now they were on their honeymoon in Australia. They had already visited the Opera House and looked upon the coat hanger. What an amazing sight that was. As Ann reminisced about their shared moment Anne looked at her. Ann looked as though she was alone thinking deeply about something. It wasn’t until she nearly hit a pole and Anne grabbed her gently to pull her from her thoughts. ‘Hi, I’m glad you’re back. Where were you?’

‘Here with you.’ Ann tried to deny she was thinking about their shared history.

‘No you weren’t. You nearly collided with that pole. If, I hadn’t pulled you close to me you would have. Ann, is something bother you. Tell me please. I want to know.’ Anne said with only concern written on her face.

‘Dearest, I am feeling great. So, happy to be here with you. I was just remembering how far we have come in such a short time. I never thought seeing you again when I moved to London.’

‘You must have known I lived there, Adney. I thought everyone knew what I did because it was common gossip in the town.’ Anne said with faux shock.

‘Anne Lister, you should know by now that I never listen to gossip about you. The last I heard was you were going to move to Paris after you finished your studies.’

‘Well, that is partially true. I was in love with a widow. She was an English woman who had moved with her daughter to live in Paris after her husband passed away.’

‘Dearest, I don’t remember you telling me about her. What was her name? How did you meet her?’

‘Maria Barlow. I went to Paris to study for a year under George Cuvier. He taught me so much about the human body especially about the brain. Can you imagine that we all have this one lump of stuff like the rest of our corporeal beings. This one lump of stuff which allows us to think, to analyse, to write and draw, paint, to experience life, to fall in love.’

‘How long were you together?’ Ann asked. She could see Anne had a soft spot for Maria.

‘Only a short time I think it was about a year only I knew she wouldn’t be my perfect partner. Well, someone who would accept me as I am. Then you came along and did.’

‘Yeah, I think I remember you previously mentioning that.’ So, you do want to be with me, Anne Lister, Ann thought. ‘Now, where are we eating out tonight?’

‘The guy at the front desk said there were a few restaurants around the area but he couldn’t really recommend any because they were all good. He just said walk as if you are going towards the bridge and you will find something you will like.’

‘Sounds good to me. I love walking with you, dearest. I think I will get my phone out of the locker and see what is available.’ Ann grabbedhe locker key off Anne and went to the locker for her phone. She also thought it might be a good idea to call her sister. They hadn’t spoken in ages.

‘There’s a pasta place on Angel Place. Would you like to go there?’

‘Can do. Now, to find the directions.’ Ann did so and they were on their way after showering and putting on something lovely. Anne wore a blue knee length dress with her red flats. Anne seemed to have had room to pack a black suit with a red tie. Well, she did want to match what Ann was wearing.

As they strolled to the restaurant Ann read the directions. They were amazed they didn’t get lost. They managed to fine the restaurant. It was in a quiet street off George Street. It was called Rapazzi Wine and Pasta and it was quaint to Anne’s way of thinking.

They were shown to their seats. As they waited to be served Ann called her sister even though it was getting late at home she thought she better. So, when no one answered she left a message. ‘Hi, Liz, it’s just me with Anne Lister down under. I thought I would call you to say hi and see how you were doing. I hope life is treating you well. Take care and I will talk with you soon. Love you, Bye.’ Ann disconnected the call. ‘I forgot how many hours there are between here and home. I think Elizabeth is busy doing housework and didn’t hear her phone. ‘Then Ann’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She answered it on the second ring.

‘Hi Liz. How are you?’ Ann said tentatively.

‘Hi to you too. And when were you going to tell me you and Anne were down under?’

‘Sorry, with everything that has happened to me in the past few weeks it totally slipped my mind.’

‘Anyway, how are you?’

‘Married and loving life for the first time in a long time.’

‘Married? To whom? Anne Lister. The woman you had been swooning over for so long. That cad.’

‘Come on. LIz. You don’t even know the real Anne Lister. You only know what the gossips say about her and most of that isn’t true.’

‘Are you happy, Ann?’ Elizabeth asked with concern. She only ever wanted her little sister to be loved and happy.

‘I am!!’ She looked over at her wife who was mirroring her smile.’Can I put you on speaker phone?’

‘Yes, do!!’

;Hi, Elizabeth.’ Anne said tentatively. She was wondering what Ann’s sister would say to her.

‘Hi, Anne. It seems you have my sister wrapped around your little finger.’

‘Actually, Liz. I think she has me wrapped around her little finger.’ Liz wasn’t listening to what Anne said she didn’t seem interested. Her only concern was Ann’s well being. ‘How did you cajole her into marrying you?’

‘Are you listening me, Elizabeth? I have spent my life chasing women who were only after one thing, a good time and then when the right man came along, one who was rich and had connections in high places they left me. Can you really imagine how that feels? Then Ann comes along. She turned my world upside down. She has accepted me and has always wanted to be with me, Anne Lister, the cad, as you called me and I never cajoled her into marrying me. I just asked and she said yes.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘I would ask her again tomorrow because I know she would always say yes.’ Anne said.

‘Is that correct, Ann?’

‘Yes, it is correct. Liz, I love Anne Lister with all my being. I have never met anyone like her. She seems so brave and so strong but she is so vulnerable. Only she rarely shows her emotions to anyone. You were there. Or did I just imagine that’ Ann said as she looked over at her wife who was trying to not cry but couldn’t stem the flow of tears rolling down her face.

‘Yes, I guess I was. I just didn’t imagine it would last. I thought it was just a silly game Anne was playing with you. ‘Yet, you seem to be happy. Sorry, for questioning your decision when I was part of it.’

‘That’s okay. We need to go now. Our server is here to take our meal order. We will talk again later. Take care.’

‘Okay. But don’t leave it so long between calls, Ann. Love you. Bye.’

‘Bye.’ Ann disconnected the call and pulled Anne into a tight hug. You are all those things and more, dearest. I love you. I’m in love with you. I always have been.’ Ann said.

They ordered their meal and ate. They talked about what they were going to do the next day. Anne thought it might be a good idea to go to the Queen Victoria Building. She had heard there were many shops located there. She wanted to see if she could find something Australian to send to her Aunt. Of course, she didn’t know what but Anne was sure she would find something. Ann wanted to send a gift to Marian and Catherine but she wasn’t sure if they were a couple. ‘We should call them sometime tomorrow when they are awake to find out.’ Ann said and Anne nodded her head in agreement. They had had a full day. So, they walked back to their room and got ready for bed. Anne was wondering how tired Ann was and Ann was wondering how tired Anne was. They had asked for a room for a couple and were given a room with a double bed that looked out onto a building next door. So, they didn’t have any view to look out onto.and even though it was Autumn it was still quite warm.So, Anne opened the window. They climbed into bed. Ann snuggled into Anne and they fell asleep within minutes. What a day they had had.  

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

 

The next morning they woke early as Anne usually did and in all the time they had been living together Ann always did her best to sleep in past sunrise. She wasn’t a morning person and when she had to rise early it took Anne all her cajoling to get Ann out of bed but today was different. Anne was sure it was where they were. Ann was awake and sitting in one of the two chairs that were in the room scrolling through her phone. ‘What time isn’t it, Adney?’ Anne asked sleepy. ‘22 minutes past seven.’

‘Why are you up so early?’ Anne asked then proceeded to roll over and go back to sleep.

‘Anne Lister, we have so much to do and see. There are so many different attractions in Sydney and I want to see at least half of them. We have no time to waste sleeping. Come on, let’s get on with it.’

‘What have you done with my Ann Walker Lister. She was here last night when we went to sleep Where is she now?’

‘Wanting to see the sights of Sydney, dearest.’ Ann said cheekily.’We need to get a move along we only have three days and a few hours left.’

‘Goodness, me. Okay! Give me five minutes to wake up. Then we need to shower and dress.’

While Maccers wasn’t their best breakfast option they hadn’t gone to the supermarket to buy milk and cereal and even though there was a kitchen at the backpackers they thought it best not to cook or eat in there. So, at the beginning of their second day in Sydney they were seated in Maccers eating breakfast and watching others do the same.

It was a mild Autumn morning in Sydney. .They had yet to decide what they were going to do. Their day cold be filled with everything and nothing. It was theirs to do what they wanted with.

It was still early morning when they escaped the crowd at Maccers. They thought a movie would be a good idea. So, they strolled to the cinema. It was close to Maccers. There was a movie they would love to see and it was going to be screening in an hour. Anne looked at her watch to see how much time they really had. ‘What’s the time now, dearest?’

‘It is 27 minutes past nine. The movie starts at 10.30. what do you want to do until then?’

‘Let’s just check out the sights of Sydney and not that sexy woman you were ogling just then.’

‘Mrs Ann Walker Lister, are  you accusing me of lusting after her when it is obvious to everyone I am only lusting after you.’ Anne said with a smirk on her face. ‘Well, prove it, Lister?’ Ann said wondering what Anne would do.

‘I will but that means we will need to go back to our room.’ And before Ann could say anything Anne grabbed her hand and was leading her back to the backpackers where they were staying. ‘Anne, slow down. I cannot keep up with you.’ Ann was practically running to keep up with Anne. She could feel her heart racing and her breath. Well, she wondered if she was breathing at all. Anne slowed to a near crawl, well, that’s how Anne viewed her new pace, as she grabbed the door handle and open it. They walked in at a normal pace which Ann found crazy. She could feel her clit throbbing between her legs as they climbed the stairs and then at a quicker pace rushed to their room. Anne quickly unlocked the door. She pulled Ann in and closed it.

Then Ann found her back up against the door. How did that happen? Anne had undo the button and zip of her jeans and they were pooled around her ankles. ‘What have you done to me, Lister?’ Ann said. She had barely got the words out and Anne’s lips were crashing against hers. All she could do was respond to Anne’s passionate kisses and Anne’s fingers massaging her clit. Her legs began to tremble as Anne pulled her onto their bed. Anne’s eyes had never left hers so she wondered if Anne had surveyed the area before she moved her. They had only stayed there one night. So, she didn’t think Anne had memorized where everything was located so quickly.

But she should also remember Anne was adapt to checking a room out before she entered it just in case there was someone there she didn’t like and then she had a quick exit. Ann had learned this trick of Anne’s when they were at places where Anne felt uncomfortable. Anne leaned down to take Ann’s lips again just before Ann was going to scream out her name. What Anne couldn’t predict Ann would do next could be written on a stamp.

Then she felt Anne insert three fingers into her centre. Anne pumped her hard and fast. Ann’s hips lifted off the bed as Anne pumped her. ‘Dearest, I am about to….’ Then she went silent. Anne looked at her. Her body stretched and she came undone over Anne’s hand. Anne held her until the shuddering subsided and her body stilled. She slowly pulled her fingers out of Ann and licked them clean. ‘You taste so good. I want more of that. Please!’

‘You can have more when I have ravished you, Anne.’ Ann could see she was trying to stay calm and relaxed but it wasn’t working. Anne watched her hand reached down to touch her clit. She wasn’t given a chance to touch herself because Ann grasped her wrist in her hand and told her.’No, dearest. Only I do that.’

It was then that Anne realised what was happening. She wrapped her arm around Ann’s neck and pulled her close as Ann reached down with her hand and ghosted her fingers over Anne’s centre. She wanted to tease her but didn’t think it was a good idea. She could feel Anne’s hips rising to meet her fingers. So, she inserted three fingers slowly and gently inside Anne. She wasn’t sure if Anne really wanted her to do that. Then she felt Anne smile against her cheek and it was on. Ann pushed her fingers inside Anne while rubbing her clit with her thumb. Anne was so wet that Ann’s fingers seem to glide over her clit as her fingers thrust in and out of Anne’s centre. How was it that this woman who she was fucking so beautifully could make her feel so wet again?

Then Ann remembered they were going to see a movie. ‘Just there, Adney. Yes. Oh fuck that feels so good. Yes fuck yes. I am about to come.’She kept up the pace until Anne came crashing around her fingers. Anne yelled out her name. Her body shuddered. Ann held her until she returned to her body. ‘WOW!!! that was wonderful, Amazing. Can we go again?’

‘No, dearest. Get dressed we are going to the movies.’ Ann said with authority.

‘We are?’ Anne said whining. ‘Can’t it wait?’

‘The world can’t always wait for us, dearest. Let’s get a move on.’ They dressed and raced to the cinema. The movie they had wanted to see had already started. Ann didn’t feel like walking in now. She thought it was rather rude. Anne was disappointed because they had raced all the way only notice the time when they were about to buy their tickets. ‘Fuck.’

‘You’re right about that. I could have fucked you again but here we are at the cinema exhausted because we had run all the way. Darn! What do we do now? I was so looking forward to see Rava and the lost dragon.’ Ann said. Anne could see the sadness in her eyes. ‘We can watch it again in an hour and a half.. If you want to.’

‘Yes, but we aren’t going back to the backpackers to fuck again. Or else we will miss it again. Let’s get something to eat all the extra curricula activity has made me hungry. How about Maccers again?’ Ann said.

‘Haven’t we already had one serving too many of Maccers already?’

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

 

As it was they hadn’t. As they ate in Maccers Ann told her what she would like to do when they return to Shibden. She was missing home so much but having so much fun with Anne. ‘What are you thinking about, Mrs Walker Lister?’ Anne said with a sultry voice.

‘Home. Yet, I am enjoying being here with you, dearest. The weather is perfect and the scenery is amazing.’ Ann said as she eyed Anne up and down across the table. ‘You’re ready to go again. Aren’t you?’

‘Now, why would you say that, dearest?’

‘No reason except for the way your eyes are tracing every line and curve of my body. Stop it or I will have to take you here then what would happen?’

‘We would be thrown in jail for indecent conduct.’

‘No, there would be that many onlookers wanting a free show.’ Ann blushed. She never thought Anne would like a show when she was fucking her wife but then again Anne Lister did like attention. She actually lapped it up.

‘No way!! Don’t you even think about it.’ Ann said quietly and with a slight hint of frustration and anger in her voice. ‘Well, we had better get going. The movie starts in twenty minutes.’

They arrived at the cinema five minutes later and bought their tickets. They bought a drink and walked into the theatre. It was only them and another couple who were seated close to the front. Anne and Ann sat in the last row in the middle. Anne put their drink in the cup holder between them and proceed to watch the trailers for upcoming movies. Anne seemed bored. Ann looked at her she could see lust in her eyes. ‘Anne Walker Lister, not here and certainly not while the lights are still on, bitch.’

‘Did you just call me a bitch?’ Anne asked mocking the way Ann said it.

‘Yes, I sure did. Why are you so fucking horny right now?’

‘Well, we never did finish what we started. Did we?’ Anne said.

‘I hope we never finish what we started.’ Ann said smiling broadly at her wife.’How will we ever be finished.’

‘Shush the movie is about to start.’ Anne said as she reached over, removed their drink and took a sip.’

;Hey, slow down I want some of that too. You know.’ Anne handed their drink to Ann while they watched the movie Anne could feel Ann’s hand on her jeans. It was making her more frustrated than she had been. ‘Quit it, Ann or you will be sorry.’

‘Quit what, dearest?’ Ann said with sultry tones. Anne reached down and pulled Ann’s hand up and sat it in her lap. It wasn’t the most intelligent thing she had done because no sooner had she let go that she felt Ann’s fingers rubbing against the seam of her jeans which was rubbing against her clit. She had to cover her mouth to quite the moans that were escaping her lips. ‘Ann, will you not do that here.’

‘Do what?’ Ann said innocently. She smiled to herself. Anne was getting so worked up that she would have to leave and shag her in the loos or else her wife would explode where she sits. Ann moved her hand away. She clasped her hands in her lap so Anne could watch the movie. After all they had paid  to watch it but Ann found she couldn’t keep her hands still. She tried twiddling her thumbs. That annoyed Anne. She put them in her pockets. That worked for a few minutes until she couldn’t resist Anne’s leg and had to trace a line up it with her finger.’Ann Walker Lister, stop!!’ Anne said with a frown on her face. She was enjoying the movie. ‘Stop what?’ Ann said.

‘You know what, Adney.’

‘I have tried everything to keep my hands off you but it isn’t working.’

‘You’re not trying hard enough.’ Anne said quietly because by then the other people in the theatre were looking their way and hushing them.

Ann was finally able to calm herself until the movie was over. They walked out of the cinema into the bright sunshine. It was mid afternoon now. Ann was wondering if they could catch a ferry to Luna Park. She was wondering if it was open now. They walked from the cinema down to where the ferries were. Anne has checked Google maps on her phone for their location. It was a long hike to the ferries so they decided against it and walked down to the Opera House again. Anne loved the view and Ann thought they could duck into the ladies. She was on the verge of exploding if Anne didn’t touch her within the next half an hour.

Ann had got her wish. As they smoothed out the wrinkles in their clothes and washed their hands Ann smiled. Her life had been a roller coaster of emotions until Anne came into her life again. Even time they made love. Every time Anne fucked her one more open wound was stitched back into place. She was beginning to feel whole again.

As they strode out of the loos Anne noticed that the ferries weren’t as far away as they thought. They only wanted to go for a ride around the harbour. They didn’t get that far because Ann saw the Museum of Contemporary Art and wanted to check it out. Anne thought it was probably closed but she walked with Ann over to the main entrance. Yes, it was closed but would be open again tomorrow. ‘Do you want to check it out then, Adney?’

‘I don’t know. Let me think about it.’ Ann said. She was thinking that they had seen enough of Sydney and wanted to leave soon. ‘Can we cut our visit here short by a day and leave tomorrow afternoon. Then we can spend an extra day in Tasmania when we get there.’

‘Don’t we have two weeks set aside for the Tasmanian part of our trip.’

“Yeah!! We do.’

‘Okay!! I will see if we can change our flight to Melbourne. If not we will have to stay here for two more days. Is that okay?’ Anne said looking at Ann. She could see she wanted to move on. ‘Adney, we can ride the bus across the Harbour bridge and I thought we were going to do the bridge climb. We could do that tomorrow, darling.’

‘Oh, I had forgotten about that. Yes, we could do the bridge climb.’ They knew it would need to be calm and of course, sunny so they could see the view of Sydney from the top. ‘I think we need to book. I will find the number and do that.’ Ann said.

‘Isn’t it an expensive joy walk, Adney?’

‘Anne Walker Lister, let me worry about the expense. We are here to enjoy ourselves and have a good time. Aren’t we?’

‘Yes, we are, Adney.’ Anne said as Ann found the number and made the call.

‘Hello, Sydney Harbour Bridge climb. How can I help you?’

‘I’m calling to enquire as to when the next bridge climb is.’

‘Not for a few days. The weatherman predicts it will be too windy tomorrow and Saturday. How long are you in Sydney for?’

‘Until Saturday morning. Then we are going to Melbourne for four days. Then to Tasmania for a week or two.’

‘How are you traveling to Melbourne?’

‘By air. Our flight leaves at 3PM on Saturday afternoon.’

‘Well, weather permitting we have a bridge climb at 9AM. Is that all right?’

‘Yes, it sounds good to me. How much?’

‘’$198 Australian. Is that okay? We kit you out with everything you need and the guide is the best in the business. Okay!!!’

‘Sounds good to me. We are on our honeymoon. It’s our first time down under’

‘Where are you from?’ As if he didn’t know from the accent.

‘Timbuktu. Have you ever been there?’

‘Can’t say I have. See you, Saturday morning. Be here half an hour before the climb so you can prepare for the climb.’

‘Okay! Bye.’: Then Anne disconnected the call. She was laughing so hard she nearly peed herself. ‘Why did he ask where we were from when it is blatantly obvious. What a moron!’ Anne said.

‘Oh well, there’s at least one born everyday. Isn’t there, dearest?’

There bridge climb was amazing. The view up and down the harbour breathtaking. Anne’s arms around her on the way up and back down made her feel so comfortable, so relax that she could do it again. But not today! As they rode the bus back to the airport Ann was beginning to feel alive. This honeymoon had been good so far. Now, they were going to Melbourne for another four days.

Anne smiled at her as they collected their boarding passes and waited. It would be a short flight. Their boarding passes said one hour and 35 minutes. When they were called to board Ann grabbed Anne’s hand. She felt more secure like that even though those people around her glared. She smiled. She knew they wouldn’t say anything or else they would incur Anne’s anger. Ann didn’t want that.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

 

‘Dearest, I want to go out to Highpoint shopping centre. I hear there are some good shops out there.’

‘How do we get there?’ Anne asked. She didn’t feel like walking.

‘It’s too far to work, dearest. We need to take the bus. It will only take 24 minutes to get there by bus.’ ‘Okay! Which bus?’

‘It says line 952, It will cost $4 and take approximate 35 minutes. Is that okay?’ Ann said she was feeling about apprehensive about this trip because Anne didn’t seem interested.’I thought you said only 24 minutes.’ Anne said as they found the bus and climbed aboard. It was about to leave.

‘What do you think of our trip down under so far?’ Ann asked Anne. ‘It’s been wonderful. Australians are very friendly and have given us directions when we seemed to be lost.’

‘Yeah, when we were in Sydney and couldn’t find our way to Maccers.’

‘I wish they hadn’t. I do love a good burger but Adney they tasted like cardboard.’

‘And you still ate them, dearest.’ Anne didn’t comment. The bus came to a halt outside the shopping centre and they stepped off it. Ann looking at Anne like she was the perfect person and wonderful wife. ‘You have brought me out of my comfort zone and I am so grateful for that. You have allowed me to see places I never imagined and now we are going shopping for a gift for everyone we left behind.’.Ann said. How adorable Anne thought. ‘And what would you like to get Marian?’ Anne said sincerely. She did want to get her sister something she would like but however hard they tried they couldn’t find anything suitable.

They had bought father and aunt books on Australia. There was an Angus and Robertson there. They would look for something when they went to Tasmania in three days. Anne thought that was their best option. Maybe a Tasmanian devil or a quoll stuff toy. Anne thought she would like that.

It wasn’t long before they were back at their hotel. Ann took a nap while Anne thought of another place they could visit which didn’t involve taking buses or spending too much money. Anne was bored so she read up on the area and thought a walk near the Yarra River would be great. She went to Google maps to see how far it was from the hotel to the river.

When she found out she went to see if Ann was awake. ‘Adney, let’s go for a walk down to the Yarra. It’s only ten minutes from here.’ Ann looked puzzled. ;What’s the Yarra, dearest?’

It’s the river that flows through Melbourne. Do you want to do that?’

‘Yes, give me a minute to tidy up and I will be with you.’ Ann straightened her dress and grabbed a coat. It was getting late in the day and a bit chilly. It was Autumn in Australia and spring back home in England. She wondered what their family were doing. Ann didn’t expect her phone to buzz in her pocket. It was Aunt Anne. It must be early morning there so she was wondering why Aunt Anne was calling them. ‘Hi Aunt.’ Ann said. ‘How are you?’

‘Fine, fine. How are you, Ann?’

‘We are on our way down to the river. It’s late afternoon here. So it must be early morning  there.’ Ann said. ‘I’m going to put you on speaker phone. Is that okay?’

‘Yes, Ann.’ They sat and chatted for quite sometime until Anne and Ann realised how long they had been chatting with their Aunt. They told her they would call her later. Aunt Anne had only wanted to chat with them that was the only reason she called but Ann was glad she did.

She had been wanting to call Aunt Anne for a day or two now but they had been so busy and day time was the best time to call home.

Anne closed and locked the door to their room and they walked hand in hand the ten minutes to the river. It was amazing. The view of Melbourne. Ann  would take some photos to show everyone when they returned home. She had taken quite a few photos of Sydney while they were there.

When they were about to leave the hotel Anne’s stomach began to rumble. So , was Ann’s. ‘Do you want to eat, Adney?’

‘Yes please. Where?’

‘What about this place, Pure South Korean? I googled it because I thought you were getting hungry’ Anne said as they walked out of the hotel into the sunshine. ‘Yes, that sounds great.’ Ann said as they strolled down the street towards the waling bridge that would take them to the restaurant..

The Autumn sun was amazing. They strolled slowly towards the restaurant. Ann was beginning to relax and feel at ease with her wife. ‘Married to Anne Lister.’ Ann said. ‘I never imagined this was possible.’

‘Well, Ann Walker, it is possible. You are my wife and I am still finding it hard to believe.’ Anne said as they walked across a bridge over the Yarra River. ‘It’s peaceful here even though we are in the middle of a city.’

It’s lovely! I do miss living in London but I love home now I am with you. Yet, this is an amazing place. Do you think you could live here, Anne?’ Anne pondered Ann’s question for a moment. ‘No, I think I would miss the quiet and serenity that is Shibden. Yes, I know what you are thinking. It is shabby and my family are there.’

‘I wasn’t thinking that at all, Dearest. I was thinking how much I love your sorry our home. And living with you, well, it is wonderful.’ Anne smiled she had never imagined that someone would love Shibden as much as she did. Mariana never wanted to live there. She only visited when she needed somewhere to stay while traveling and it was only ever for one night. Then she had always left before lunch.

They arrived at the restaurant hand in hand neither of them realising they had linked hands sometime during their walk. Anne had called and made reservations when they had decided this was the place they wanted to eat. ‘Do you have a reservation for dinner?’

‘Yes.’ Ann said cheerfully.

‘Name please, Ma’am.’

‘Walker Lister.’

‘Is it a table for two?’

‘Yes!’ They said in unison as they were shown to their table. ‘Your serve will be with you in a moment. Thank you for choosing our restaurant for your dinner.’

They sat looking out towards the river. Ann was still wondering if this was real. When Anne cut into her thoughts and as if reading her mind said. ‘Oh, this is so real, Ann. We are here together and together we will stay for always.’

Thank you, dearest. I often wonder if someone is with me for my money or for me. I know you are with me and I always feel you see me.’ Anne blushed. Ann always knew how she felt about her. Anne often found it hard to express herself in ways others found acceptable. Ann knew her and loved her. She was always aware of how Anne felt and that’s what made Ann Anne’s near to perfect wife. ‘I am with you, Adney and only you.’

‘I know that, dearest.’ Ann said trying to ensure she sounded happy. ‘I don’t believe you, Miss Walker. What’s bothering you?’ Ann tried to form her words so Anne wouldn’t think she didn’t believe her. ‘I don’t know. I know we are married but anything can happen that will change how you feel about me.’

‘Adney, I don’t want to be anywhere else. I am glad you tripped and fell that day. I know this must feel strange. The person I am now is because you came into my life. The way you see me and want me. I love you, Miss Ann Walker and hope we will be together for life.’ Ann smiled. Their server came over and took their order Ann ordered a Margherita pizza. Anne decided to try the Braided Tasmanian Cressy Lamb Shoulder. She hadn’t had lamb in a long time. They would decide if they wanted dessert later or go to Wendy’s and get some ice cream there.  They sat in comfortable silence while waiting for their meal, looking at each other and smiling so much their faces began to ache.

They ordered a wine to go with their meals. It was great to be there. Anne thought her Aunt would love being there with them. Then she realised that wasn’t possible. The distance to fly here and her Aunt’s age. Oh, she could fly her first class but Anne couldn’t afford that. ‘Anne, what are you thinking?’ Ann said tentatively. She always wondered what her wife was thinking when she frowned so often. ‘I was wondering if we could bring Aunt Anne here for a month. Then I remembered how far it is and how she wouldn’t be comfortable in economy. I was wondering if she would come if we bought her first class tickets. Then I remembered I can’t afford them.’ Ann smiled. Then their meals were served. Ann offered Anne a slice of her pizza. Anne offered Ann a taster of her lamb. ‘I think we will need to come here again one day. The food is delicious. Isn’t it, Ann?’

‘It certainly is.’ Of course, there was too much pizza for Ann to eat and too much lamb. So, they got a doggie bag and took the remainder of their meals home.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

 

‘Dearest, I want to go out to Highpoint shopping centre. I hear there are some good shops out there.’

‘How do we get there?’ Anne asked. She didn’t feel like walking.

‘It’s too far to work, dearest. We need to take the bus. It will only take 24 minutes to get there by bus.’ The Highpoint Shopping centre is in Maribynong a suburb in western Melbourne.

‘Okay! Which bus?’

‘It says line 952, It will cost $4 and take approximate 35 minutes. Is that okay?’ Ann said she was feeling about apprehensive about this trip because Anne didn’t seem interested.’I thought you said only 24 minutes.’ Anne said as they found the bus and climbed aboard. It was about to leave.

‘What do you think of our trip down under so far?’ Ann asked Anne. ‘It’s been wonderful. Australians are very friendly and have given us directions when we seemed to be lost.’

‘Yeah, when we were in Sydney and couldn’t find our way to Maccers.’

‘I wish they hadn’t. I do love a good burger but Adney they tasted like cardboard.’

‘And you still ate them, dearest.’ Anne didn’t comment. The bus came to a halt outside the shopping centre and they stepped off it. Ann looking at Anne like she was the perfect person and wonderful wife. ‘You have brought me out of my comfort zone and I am so grateful for that. You have allowed me to see places I never imagined and now we are going shopping for a gift for everyone we left behind.’.Ann said. How adorable Anne thought. ‘And what would you like to get Marian?’ Anne said sincerely. She did want to get her sister something she would like but however hard they tried they couldn’t find anything suitable.

They had bought father and aunt books on Australia. There was an Angus and Robertson there. They would look for something when they went to Tasmania in three days. Anne thought that was their best option. Maybe a Tasmanian devil or a quoll stuff toy. Anne thought she would like that.

It wasn’t long before they were back at their hotel. Ann took a nap while Anne thought of another place they could visit which didn’t involve taking buses or spending too much money. Anne was bored so she read up on the area and thought a walk near the Yarra River would be great. She went to Google maps to see how far it was from the hotel to the river.

When she found out she went to see if Ann was awake. ‘Adney, let’s go for a walk down to the Yarra. It’s only ten minutes from here.’ Ann looked puzzled. ;What’s the Yarra, dearest?’

It’s the river that flows through Melbourne. Do you want to do that?’

‘Yes, give me a minute to tidy up and I will be with you.’ Ann straightened her dress and grabbed a coat. It was getting late in the day and a bit chilly. It was Autumn in Australia and spring back home in England. She wondered what their family were doing. Ann didn’t expect her phone to buzz in her pocket. It was Aunt Anne. It must be early morning there so she was wondering why Aunt Anne was calling them. ‘Hi Aunt.’ Ann said. ‘How are you?’

‘Fine, fine. How are you, Ann?’

‘We are on our way down to the river. It’s late afternoon here. So it must be early morning  there.’ Ann said. ‘I’m going to put you on speaker phone. Is that okay?’

‘Yes, Ann.’ They sat and chatted for quite sometime until Anne and Ann realised how long they had been chatting with their Aunt. They told her they would call her later. Aunt Anne had only wanted to chat with them that was the only reason she called but Ann was glad she did.

She had been wanting to call Aunt Anne for a day or two now but they had been so busy and day time was the best time to call home.

Anne closed and locked the door to their room and they walked hand in hand the ten minutes to the river. It was amazing. The view of Melbourne. Ann  would take some photos to show everyone when they returned home. She had taken quite a few photos of Sydney while they were there.

When they were about to leave the hotel Anne’s stomach began to rumble. So , was Ann’s. ‘Do you want to eat, Adney?’

‘Yes please. Where?’

‘What about this place, Pure South Korean? I googled it because I thought you were getting hungry’ Anne said as they walked out of the hotel into the sunshine. ‘Yes, that sounds great.’ Ann said as they strolled down the street towards the waling bridge that would take them to the restaurant..

The Autumn sun was amazing. They strolled slowly towards the restaurant. Ann was beginning to relax and feel at ease with her wife. ‘Married to Anne Lister.’ Ann said. ‘I never imagined this was possible.’

‘Well, Ann Walker, it is possible. You are my wife and I am still finding it hard to believe.’ Anne said as they walked across a bridge over the Yarra River. ‘It’s peaceful here even though we are in the middle of a city.’

It’s lovely! I do miss living in London but I love home now I am with you. Yet, this is an amazing place. Do you think you could live here, Anne?’ Anne pondered Ann’s question for a moment. ‘No, I think I would miss the quiet and serenity that is Shibden. Yes, I know what you are thinking. It is shabby and my family are there.’

‘I wasn’t thinking that at all, Dearest. I was thinking how much I love your sorry our home. And living with you, well, it is wonderful.’ Anne smiled she had never imagined that someone would love Shibden as much as she did. Mariana never wanted to live there. She only visited when she needed somewhere to stay while traveling and it was only ever for one night. Then she had always left before lunch.

They arrived at the restaurant hand in hand neither of them realising they had linked hands sometime during their walk. Anne had called and made reservations when they had decided this was the place they wanted to eat. ‘Do you have a reservation for dinner?’

‘Yes.’ Ann said cheerfully.

‘Name please, Ma’am.’

‘Walker Lister.’

‘Is it a table for two?’

‘Yes!’ They said in unison as they were shown to their table. ‘Your serve will be with you in a moment. Thank you for choosing our restaurant for your dinner.’

They sat looking out towards the river. Ann was still wondering if this was real. When Anne cut into her thoughts and as if reading her mind said. ‘Oh, this is so real, Ann. We are here together and together we will stay for always.’

Thank you, dearest. I often wonder if someone is with me for my money or for me. I know you are with me and I always feel you see me.’ Anne blushed. Ann always knew how she felt about her. Anne often found it hard to express herself in ways others found acceptable. Ann knew her and loved her. She was always aware of how Anne felt and that’s what made Ann Anne’s near to perfect wife. ‘I am with you, Adney and only you.’

‘I know that, dearest.’ Ann said trying to ensure she sounded happy. ‘I don’t believe you, Miss Walker. What’s bothering you?’ Ann tried to form her words so Anne wouldn’t think she didn’t believe her. ‘I don’t know. I know we are married but anything can happen that will change how you feel about me.’

‘Adney, I don’t want to be anywhere else. I am glad you tripped and fell that day. I know this must feel strange. The person I am now is because you came into my life. The way you see me and want me. I love you, Miss Ann Walker and hope we will be together for life.’ Ann smiled. Their server came over and took their order Ann ordered a Margherita pizza. Anne decided to try the Braided Tasmanian Cressy Lamb Shoulder. She hadn’t had lamb in a long time. They would decide if they wanted dessert later or go to Wendy’s and get some ice cream there.  They sat in comfortable silence while waiting for their meal, looking at each other and smiling so much their faces began to ache.

They ordered a wine to go with their meals. It was great to be there. Anne thought her Aunt would love being there with them. Then she realised that wasn’t possible. The distance to fly here and her Aunt’s age. Oh, she could fly her first class but Anne couldn’t afford that. ‘Anne, what are you thinking?’ Ann said tentatively. She always wondered what her wife was thinking when she frowned so often. ‘I was wondering if we could bring Aunt Anne here for a month. Then I remembered how far it is and how she wouldn’t be comfortable in economy. I was wondering if she would come if we bought her first class tickets. Then I remembered I can’t afford them.’ Ann smiled. Then their meals were served. Ann offered Anne a slice of her pizza. Anne offered Ann a taster of her lamb. ‘I think we will need to come here again one day. The food is delicious. Isn’t it, Ann?’

‘It certainly is.’ Of course, there was too much pizza for Ann to eat and too much lamb. So, they got a doggie bag and took the remainder of their meals home.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

 

Anne and Ann had had a great time in Melbourne but they were ready to visit the sights in Tasmania. Ann’s pen pal, well, email pal had told wrote to them about. They boarded the Spirit of Tasmania in the early evening two days after they had eaten at Pure South Korean restaurant. Ann could still taste the food. ‘That restaurant food was good. We should go back there when we return from Tasmania.’ Ann said as she looked at her wife who just nodded. Anne thought this was going to be the best part of their trip. Now, she was wondering why they didn’t leave the best for last. They still plammed to go to Austrilia zoo in Beerwah, Queensland.  Yet, they were on the Spirit and heading towards Tasmania. The Spirit would be leaving Melbourne at 9PM and they would arrive in Devonport early in the morning. Anne had organised a rental car from Hertz for the two weeks they would be in Tasmania.

They had been told that the crossing was often a very rough. So, they had prepared for any rough weather by taking motion sickness tablets. Anne thought that would help. Ann wasn’t sure and even though Bass Strait was reasonably calm she began to feel queasy. ‘Anne, I think I am going to be sick.’ Ann said as the Spirit began its journey from Melbourne to Devonport. They had decided to sleep in the lounge because that would make their trip cheaper. They were given blankets and pillows as this was an overnight trip. They would be arriving in Devonport at around six tomorrow morning.

Ann didn’t think she would be able to sleep. She could feel the rocking of the ship and thought the trip there would be horrid. Yet, the movement of the ship seemed to lull her to sleep. Anne laid beside her and thought she was the luckiest woman alive. She was with her wife on their honeymoon on the other side of the world. Then she thought to call her Aunt at around 1 AM. It would be 4PM there. ‘Hi Anne.’ Her Aunt squealed with delight to hear her niece’s voice. ‘Hi Aunt. Ann and I are on the Spirit of Tasmania on our way to Tasmania. It’s one in the morning. Ann is sleeping I can’t because I am too excited. So, I thought I would call you. Have you had dinner yet?’

‘Not for another hour. Are you enjoying your trip?’

‘Yes, it has been great fun. So far.’

‘Tell me what you have done.’

‘We did the bridge climb. The view of Sydney from the top was amazing. Yes, we got photos. I will send you a couple on messenger. Okay!! We had Korean.food in Melbourne. It was delicious. We are going back there when we return to Melbourne in two weeks time. We walked around both Sydney and Melbourne. Their money is strange. It’s plastic and different colours. I hope to bring some back with us. We will meet Ann’s email pal in a couple of days time. I think she wants to show us the sights of her home state.’

‘Sounds like fun. How did Ann go on the flight over?’

‘She did better than I thought she would. She was unsure because she has never been in a plane before or on a ferry forn matter. How are Marian and father?’

‘They are doing okay. Just missing you and Ann like me. I hope you have a good time in Tasmania. I will talk to you again real soon. Love you, Anne. Bye.’

‘Love you, Aunt. Bye!’ Anne disconnected the call just as Ann woke. ‘You called home without telling me. I wanted to talk to Aunt Anne too.’

‘Sorry, Adney. We can call her tomorrow so you can chat with you. Okay!’

‘Okay!’

The Spirit of Tasmania docked at its East Devonporrt terminal just after 6AM the next day. It was dark outside and quite chilly. So, Anne decided to see if they could collect their hire car. When she did that she realised it was going to be expensive. She wondered if there was a cheaper rental company. Anne did a quick search but didn’t find anything cheaper. They didn’t find a cheaper car rental. So, they paid for the two weeks and collected the care. .

Anne suggested they call Ann’s email pal to see if she was home. ‘It’s a bit early in the morning to be calling someone. Don’t you think?’ Ann said. ‘We could wait to later.’ Anne had to agree with her. They loaded the rental with their gear and drove into Devonport to fine somewhere for breakfast. Ann was hungry.

There were two places opened in the city centre, Maccers and Banjos. Anne suggested they try Banjos. She thought they’d had enough Maccers for a while. Anne drove across the Victoria bridge which went over the Mersey River.  Then Anne drove along Formby Road to Best Street where she found somewhere to park. They didn’t need to feed the parking meter until around 9AM. That wasn’t for another hour or so. Anne didn’t thing they would be much longer. Although, she could see that Ann was interested in going for a walk around town to do some shopping. She thought she might find something for one of the family members here. She wasn’t sure. They walked along the Devonport shopping mall until they found Banjos. It was quiet since it was just after 8AM. Anne bought four sausage rolls and coffee. Ann bought three egg and bacon pies and a hot chocolate. They sat in the corner of the store and ate. Ann was smiling so brightly. She was looking forward to meeting her email pal. ‘Do you know what she looks like?’ Anne asked. ‘No, but I do know she lives about an hour from here and has three children.’

‘Motherhood, what a delight!’ Anne said.’I’m not sure if I want to give birth. I don’t think it would suit me.’ Ann had wanted to be a mum but Anne did have a point. Being a parent was hard work. Well, that’s what Elizabeth had told her several times but she also said she wouldn’t have her life any other way.

‘Do you want to call her?’ Anne asked. Ann seemed hesitant to call her. They had only spoken on the phone once and that was only for a few minutes. She seemed like a lovely person but she wasn’t sure if she would want to be interrupted. It was a school day and she knew her email pal home schooled her kids. ‘I can’t call her because she home schools her kids and is probably busy teaching them right now.’ Anne looked at Ann she could see she wasn’t sure about meeting her. ‘Why don’t you send her an email and tell her where we are?’ Ann did that. They had finished breakfast and were walking back to their car when her phone ding to tell her she had an email.

Ann retrieved her phone from her pocket and read the email. ‘She is going to Burnie today to see her grandfather. He lives alone since her grandmother passed away a few years ago. She going to stay overnight and will be back home sometime tomorrow. If I send her my phone number she will call me.’

‘Do you know her phone number. Ann?’ Anne asked. She imagined that is one of the first things she would get.’No! I didn’t think to ask for her number but it didn’t seem possible that we would be here now. ‘ Ann said.’I thought we would remain email pals and never meet.’

‘Well, it seems as though you will finally meet her. Does it scare you a bit?’

‘Yes, Anne. I have never had an friend who lived a different life to mine. Especially, motherhood. Yes, I know Elizabeth has children. They are family. I know them. I don’t know her that much and I don’t know her kids.’

‘I think you will do fine, Ann. Don’t sweat the small stuff. She probably feels the same way about meeting you. Send her your phone number.’ Ann did. ‘Did you tell her about us?’ Anne said feeling flustered because she imagined that Ann wouldn’t tell anyone she didn’t know she was married to a woman. ‘Well, I said I was bringing my friend with me. Sorry, I just feel so uncomfortable telling others that we are married.’ Ann said sheepishly. She knew how her wife felt about her inability to be open about who she was but it was hard for her because of her anxieties. ‘Ann, you should tell her about us. She might surprise you and be very happy for you, Adney.’

‘Yeah, but she might also boot us out and never want to talk to me again.’ Ann said. She was sure she would do that. They didn’t talk much about sexuality and gender in their emails. Ann had told her she was an artist. She told Ann she was an author. ‘What’s her name? You do know that much about her. Don’t you?’ Anne said wondering what Ann and her email pal had talked about.. ‘Ann, What’s her name? Can you tell me?’ Anne asked her for the second time. ‘Her name is….’

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

 

Ann didn’t get a chance to finish her sentence when her phone buzzed in her hand. It was her email pal. ‘Hi!’ Ann said. ‘How are you?’

‘Hi! I’m doing okay. Put me on speaker phone and I will do the same. I want to chat with your friend.’

‘I will.’ Ann turned on her speaker phone.’Here’s the thing. My friend isn’t really my friend. She’s well, she’s my wife.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me that, Ann?’

‘Her wife here. I’m Anne, too. She probably didn’t tell you because she is afraid that you would reject her. What’s your name? My wife seems to have forgotten.’

‘Okay!! Yes, she told me that much. How do you know who they are talking to when you’re together.’

‘I am called little Ann and she is big Anne. As you know her name is spelt with an E and mine isn’t.’ Ann said.

‘I should mention I have a mum who is gay. So, this isn’t anything new to me. She lives overseas now but plans to visit soon. I hope.’

‘My name is Matildaand I am a mum to three kids.’

‘I see. Hi Matilda.’ Anne said. ‘When can we meet up? Ann said you were going to Burnie today to see your grandfather.’

‘Yes, that’s happening. We are in Deloraine right now buying something to take for lunch. Where are you?’

‘In the mall in Devonport.’ Ann said. ‘we had breakfast at Banjos. We can wait here if you want to meet us.’

‘I would love to do that. Where are you staying while you are in Tassie?’

‘We decided we would sort that out when we got here. I think it’s best that way then we don’t need to be somewhere on a certain date.’ Anne said.

‘So, you’re hoping you find somewhere to stay tonight.’ Matilda said. She was wondering if the studio was clean enough and they could stay there. She didn’t mention it. She would show them later. ‘Hey, mum, they could stay at our place. Couldn’t they?’ Came a small voice. ‘We are back in my car now and heading to Devonport. It would be great to meet you even for only a few minutes. My Pop is expecting us for lunch. Could we do that?’

‘Certainly. Who was that who spoke just then?’ Ann asked.

‘Oh, that’s just the six year old in the family. She is loud and very boisterous, Yet, when she first meets you she is shy and hangs off me.’

‘Well, we will wait in the mall. Just say I wonder where Anne and Ann are and we will see you soon. Bye!’

‘Bye!’ Matilda disconnected the call and drove to Devonport. ‘I thought we were going to see Pop!’ Isabel said as she watched the familiar scenery fly by.’We are. We are just going into Devonport to meet my email pal who has come all the way from Halifax in England. She is on her honeymoon with her wife.’

‘Just like grandma.’

‘Yes, just like grandma.’

‘I wish she was here to meet your friend, mum.’

‘i think she would be wishing that too when I tell her.’ As Heather drove to Devonport she wondered what Ann and Anne looked like and how they would act around her three terrors.

Ann was fidgeting with the hem of her skirt while she waited. Anne could see that this would be a big moment for her. Ann didn’t have that many friends Anne thought. Well, she hadn’t met any only her cousin, Catherine, whom she found very amiable. Anne had grown very fond of Catherine when she had learned what Catherine had done for Ann over the years. It had been no surprise to Anne that Catherine moved to London just to buy Ann’s apartment off her. She had said it was the least she could do for Ann and she wanted a changed of scenery. She said she was growing tried of Halifax and her tribe of relations. Anne wasn’t surprised when Catherine put the apartment on the market again and moved back to Halifax. The night life in London was fine if that was all you wanted. Halifax might not have the night life but it did have the beautiful country side.

Then she heard the sound of a group yelling out their name.’I wonder where Ann and Anne are..’ Anne and Ann stood. They walked in the direction of the voices. They could see four people walking towards them. The tallest was a boy about 14 years old. He looked like his mum who was holding the hand of the youngest child. It was hard to imagined a more pleasant sight. Ann’s eye went straight to her email pal. They had never met. She thought Heather was so lovely.

They embraced each other for a beat and when Ann pulled back she could see a hint of jealousy in Anne’s eyes. ‘I would like to introduce you to my wife, Anne Lister of Shibden Hall in Halifax. She tends to get a bit cranky if I forget about her.’ Anne nudged her in the ribs and Ann laughed. ‘Okay!! I feel that way too when my husband forgets I am with him. Yet, he hasn’t done that yet. He always has his arms around me when we are together.’ Anne slung her arm around Ann to reminder her she was there.’And who do we have here?’

‘Peter, my 14 year old who is into computers and music. His sisters, Bridget who is 13. She loves drama and is learning Indonesian at school. This here is the baby of the family. I am homeschooling her for now.  This is Isabel. She is six years old and keeps me busy.’

‘How old are you? If, that’s not a question you want to answer, don’t bother.’ Ann said. ‘Don’t worry, I will be 40 in June. Mum wanted to be here for my birthday but due to lack of dollars won’t be able to make it.’

‘Yeah, talking about money. Your Aussie money is different.’

‘Yeah, they created plastic money because they said it would last longer than paper but it still tears as much as paper money.’

‘We can sit here and chat for a while. If, you like that. As I said I promised Pop I would be there for lunch. He doesn’t get many visitors and it’s been a while since we were there.’ Heather said as she found somewhere to sit which was in the sun. It was cooler in Tasmania than what it had been in Sydney and Melbourne. They sat Ann snuggled into Anne. She was feeling cold as she didn’t have a coat and was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

They talked for about half an hour until Matilda and her kids had to leave. It was 10.45 and had promised her They left. Anne and Ann decided to find somewhere to stay tonight. Matilda and her kids would be staying in Burnie tonight. They had promised to meet up again tomorrow. This time in Deloraine at the train park. Anne and Ann were given directions as to where it was. They searched for and found a cheap hotel in Formby Road called the Alexander Hotel for for $71 a night. ‘How long are we going to stay here for, Anne?’

‘I have no idea. It’s too expensive to stay any longer than a couple of days.’

‘I was hoping we could find a cheaper place to stay. Could we do that?’

‘Yes, I guess so. What do you want to do now, Adney?’

‘We could go to the movies. There’s one close to where we are staying. Or we could stay at the hotel and watch a movie or…..’

‘Tell me, Adney. Are you sleepy?’ Anne asked.

‘No, I thought you were since you didn’t seem to get much sleep on the Spirit.’

'No, I didn’t but I had a lovely chat with Aunt Anne. She was happy to hear from me.’

‘That’s great, Anne. What would you like to do now?’

‘I have an idea. I think there is a lighthouse around here somewhere. We could go and check it out.’

‘Okay!’ Anne did a Google search

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

 

They drove out to the Devonport Bluff. Anne parked the car and they sat admiring the view. ‘What’s the name of the sea out there?’ Anne asked. She hadn’t bothered to find out what it was called earlier. Anne did another Google search. ‘It’s called Bass Strait. It says here it’s named after explorer George Bass who along with Matthew Flinders circumnavigated Tasmania to prove it was an island.’

‘You never miss out on a chance to learn. Do you, Anne?’

‘Yes, I love to learn something new. They circumnavigated Tasmania which was called Van Diemen’s Land at the time.’

‘Do you have any other pieces of interesting information to impart on this poor, dense soul?’ Ann said. Anne wondered why Ann had a poor opinion of herself. She was intelligent and had in the short time they had been together taught her things so didn’t know.

They sat quietly enjoying the view. The water was calm. ‘Anne, what did you think of Matilda’s kids? The youngest is full of energy. I guess she keeps her mum busy.’

‘She probably does. Motherhood. I guess it takes someone special to be a mother. I’m not sure if that would be my gig.’ Ann frowned. They had touched on the subject as yet because they had only been together for a short while. Ann didn’t think it was a good idea to bring up the subject now.’What’s with the long frown, Ann?’ Ann stayed silent. Anne wondered what was bothering her wife. She thought she may have overstepped the mark. ‘Have I said something wrong, Ann? Tell me. I need to know. It is eating me up to think that I may have overstepped the mark.’

‘No! It’s nothing. I am fine.’ Ann said more angrily than she expect. ‘Okay!!’ Anne said as she turned her face to look away from Ann. She didn’t want Ann to see her tears. ‘Are you okay, dearest?’

‘Yes, I’m okay.’ Anne said with tears rolling down her cheeks. ‘Look at me please, Anne.’ Anne couldn’t. She didn’t want Ann to know she had hurt her. ‘Anne, are you crying? Please, look at me. We can talk about it now if you want to.’ Anne turned her head to look at her wife. Ann wiped the tears from her face with her thumb then a tissue she pulled from her pocket.’Hey, where did you get that?’

‘I always have one just in case of an emergency. Now, can we talk?’

‘Yes, I want to know why you were upset before. Was it because I said I’m not sure if I want to be a mum? It’s a lot of responsibility taking care of another person from the time they are born until they leave home and it isn’t a cheap experience.’

‘Yes, I was a bit disappointed but I do understand what you are saying. It is something that shouldn’t be done without lots of consideration. Yet, I would like to be a mum but it has to be a joint decision, dearest because you will be a parent too. Okay!!’

‘Let’s wait and see how we feel about Matilda’s kids before we make a definite decision. Is that okay with you, Adney?’

‘Okay. I wasn’t going to say let’s get pregnant today. That’s not possible and I wouldn’t want you to do something you aren’t comfortable with.’

‘Thank you, Adney.’ Then Ann’s phone buzzed in her pocket. It was Matilda. She answered it. ‘Hi, how are you?’

‘Hi, good thanks. I told my Pop about you. He wants to meet you. Burnie is about 45 minutes west from Devonport. I will text you his address. You can put it in your navigation app on your phone. Would you like to do that?’

‘Yes, if he doesn’t mind. We are getting bored. We at the Devonport Bluff.’

‘Okay, just follow the road to the highway then drive west. You should see a sign that say’s Burnie. It’s about 46 ks away.’

‘46 ks’ Ann spluttered.

‘Sorry, 46 kilometres. You do use metric measurement in good old England.’

‘Yes, we do.. See you soon.’ Ann disconnected the call as Anne made her way back to the highway over the overpass and heading west. They reached the eastern end of Burnie about 25 minutes later. Ann thought the bay looked pretty. ‘Anne, what is this bay called. Do you know?’ Ann knew that was a silly question to ask. She thought Anne would have found out when she was searching about the name of the strait.’It’s called Emu Bay. From What I found out about Burnie. It was discovered by Henry Hellyer who explored this area in the early 1800’s.’ Burnie was first settled in 1827.Ann knew Anne loved to learn about places. She was sure Anne would be sure to give her more insight into the area soon.

‘Ann, there are plenty of cool restaurants here in Burnie. Would you like to eat first before we go visit Matilda’s grandfather. Or do you want to go there first.’ Ann looked at her wife. She was expecting Anne to decided. She had just met Matilda. She didn’t know how she would go meeting her grandfather.’Call her. She would be there now.’ Ann called Matilda who answered on the first ring. ‘Hi Matilda, it’s Ann. Is it okay to visit now?’

‘Yes, I bought some food so if you’re hungry you can have some of mine unless you have allergies.’

‘No, but shouldn’t we bring some food too.’ Anne said. Ann had put Matilda on speaker phone. It was easier that way. Then Anne could answer if Ann didn’t know what to say. ‘Ah, that’s okay. I am sure you will buy us a meal while you are here.’ Matilda said. She knew Ann wouldn’t sponge off her. She had learn that much from what she had read in her emails. ‘Okay! Can you give us directions again.’ Ann said.

‘I can come & meet you. Where are you right now?’

‘Just passed what looked like a sports ground. Well, there was seating there.’

‘Ah Wivenhoe showground which is silly because it isn’t the showground anymore. Stop there. I will be there in ten minutes. What are you driving?’

‘A blue Kia Rio.’ They both sad.

‘Okay!!’

Anne pulled off the road and parked the car. She smiled again. She loved meeting people and Tasmanians seemed to be very people. Well, the ones she had met. This would be something to tell her family when they returned home. Anne planned to get a photo of Matilda’s family to show their family back in England.

They waited patiently for Matilda to arrive. Ten minutes later she was there. She signaled tem to follow her. The trip from Wivenhoe to where Matilda’s grandfather lived, according to Anne was interesting. They crossed the Emu River. ‘Why is it called the Emu River?’ Ann asked.

‘I think it is because the Emu is a native bird. It can’t fly but is a fast runner.’

‘Are there any in Tasmania?’ Ann asked. If, there were maybe they would see one. ‘I don’t know, Adney.’

‘This is where the local paper production factory was.’  Anne said as the passed a building with what seemed like covers over the windows. ‘Why did they close it down and where are the buildings?’

‘I'm not sure why they closed it down. They were pulled down a few years ago after the land was sold.’

‘Why would they do that, Anne?’

‘Who knows? Some people do some silly things. Don’t they. ‘There,’ Anne pointed as they stopped at the traffic lights. ‘Is the local hardware store. Only from what I have read there is one in every city in the state.’

‘Are there any other hardware stores here in Tasmania.’

‘I don’t know. Boy, you are inquisitive.’ Anne said. Ann smiled. ‘Boy, you know lots about Burnie.’

‘Reading, Adney, it helps.’ Anne pointed out where the hospital was as they drove up and over the overpass. She also pointed out Oakleigh Park where the War Memorial stood years ago. ‘Where is it now, Anne?’

‘As far as I know it is in Burnie Park. We will go there while we are here.’

‘You have been reading a lot about Burnie. When did you do that?’

‘When I knew we were coming to Australia for our honeymoon, Adney. I know you would want to know about Tasmania. So, I read up on that.’ Anne said as she stopped the car behind Matilda’s in Her grandfather’s driveway. The house was modest, Ann thought from what Matilda had told her about her grandfather. The kids were standing at the front door waiting to greet them. ‘Hi kids.’ Anne said. ‘Where’s your Pop?’

‘Here.’ Came a voice from behind them. ‘Come in. Would you like a drink?’

‘I’m okay.’ Ann said. Anne looked at her. She knew her wife didn’t want to be fussed over.’She’ll have a cup of tea and same for me please.’ Anne said. ‘Adney, he did offer. Where are the cups?’

‘Second door. You can’t miss them. Matilda, grabbed the fruit cake. I am sure these lovely ladies would like some.’

‘It’s the best because Pop made it.’

‘You make fruit cake. Goodness! You are one in a million. I don’t know of many men who would do that.’ Anne said.

‘If, you have a few hours. I can give you a family history lesson.’

‘I am sure Anne would like that but not today. Thanks..’ Ann said. ‘She is our history and everything else buff. She has already told me a bit of history about Burnie.’ Anne blushed. She didn’t want to look too cocky in front of everyone. Especially people she didn’t know.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

                                                                             

‘What did she tell you about?’ Matilda said as she looked over at Ann. ’About the paper mill. The hospital and where it is now.’ Ann said. ‘I think she rambles on a bit but I do love her. The kids sat in awe as they listened to Anne tell them about how old Shibden Hall is and what it means to her. They were excited. ‘Mum, can we go there?’ They said in unison.

‘You save all the money you earn and maybe one day we will go there.’

‘That’s going to take forever. Doesn’t it cost heaps to go overseas, Anne?’ Peter asked her as he looked in her direction. She seemed to know so much about Tasmania that he imagined she might be able to help him. ’Yes, it isn’t cheap but the experience outweighs the cost. Ask your grandma when you’re talking to her next. I am sure she will tell you that.’

‘Mum, can we call grandma?’

‘I don’t know. She might be busy.’ Then Anne did a search to find out how much it would cost to travel to England. As she scanned the prices she was surprised that it was going to cost more to go there. ‘It would seem the cost would be between $1500 and $2000. If, that is correct. You will need to save lots or get a part-time job.’

‘You could email grandma if you wish. I am sure your pop will let you use his laptop.’ Her grandfather nodded and Peter sat in his grandfather’s favourite chair and booted the laptop. He logged into his email and wrote her a message. It took only ten minutes for the reply to come through. ‘She must have been sitting at her computer.’ Ann said gleefully wondering what kind of relationship the two had. ‘Oh, she loves hearing from me. Only I’m too much like mum and don’t seem to find time to write to her.’

‘Okay!’ Anne said. ‘What does she say?’

‘That I would enjoy myself and I should save as much as I can. Only she reminded me I can’t go until I am 18 because then I won’t need anyone to sign papers to say it’s okay for me to get a passport.’

‘So, that’s about four years away.’

‘No, that’s only three. I will be 15 soon.’

‘Anyway, I think Ann and I should go. I think we have enjoyed your wonderful hospitality for long enough and we need to get back to our hotel in Devonport soon.’

‘Okay!’ Matilda said. ‘How long are you staying there?’

‘We have only booked for one night as we want to see the sights of Tassie in two weeks.’

‘You will be lucky to do that in two weeks. Are you only going to spend a short time in each place?’ Their grandfather said. ‘This state might seem small but there is so much to see and I don’t think you will want to miss any of it.’

‘Okay!’ Anne was hear saying as they drove away. Their trip back to the hotel was done in relative silence. They paid for their night and collected their key. Ann flopped on the bed as soon as she could. Anne dragged their luggage in and even though the hotel staff had offered to assist them she was determined to do it herself. So, when she flopped down next to her wife she thought Ann was going to scold her for being so pigheaded.

All Ann did was wrapped her arms around her and kiss her so sweetly. ’Hello, My big, strong wife who insists on doing all the hard work.’ She grabbed Anne’s hand and put it on her shorts. Anne smiled. Then rolled onto her right side to face her wife and without saying anything undid Ann’s shorts and gestured to Ann that she wanted to take them off. Ann lifted her hips and allowed Anne to remove them and her knickers.

Anne leaned in and circled Ann’s face with her hands. She pulled her in for a searing kiss which had Ann moaning softly and when they came up for air Anne looked into Ann’s blue orbs to see that they had darkened with want and desire. Anne could only smile again. This is what she had wanted to see. Her wife needed her touch to give her release. Ann moaned loudly in Anne’s ear. ‘I need you inside me now. Please, Anne, fuck me until I am a withering mess underneath you.’

Anne was willing to do anything to keep her wife smiling broadly as she was now. It was hard for her to go slow when her wife was so demanding. Yet, as she traced kisses over Ann’s soft, subtle skin she knew she wanted to take her time to enjoy all the pleasures Ann had to offer her.

She sucked gently on Ann’s nipples until they were hard and erect. Oh what a sight that was. Her wife’s petite breasts and hard nipples were a sight to stir anyone into service. Anne trailed kisses down to Ann’s centre. It was dripped wet with want. She kissed Ann’s clit then wrapped her lips around it. Ann was still moaning loudly. Her hips rising to meet every suck and nip Anne had of her clit. ‘Anne, I need you inside me. Stop teasing me. Anne.’

‘Me, teasing you. That is unlikely. I am savouring the beauty of your body. Can’t I do that?’

‘Anne Lister, no, I need you to fuck me now because if you don’t I will explode into one thousand pieces gone but not forgotten.’

‘Oh, is that how it is, Miss Walker. You are so impatient. I want your orgasm to be the best you have ever had and believe me when I am done with you it will be.’ Ann squirmed beneath her. She could feel her body’s desire slow for a beat. Then Anne resumed her ministrations and Ann’s body responded readily. What this woman couldn’t do to please her was not worth writing about. She had Ann mesmerised just with the way Anne was caressing her centre with her long dexterous fingers. Yet, she was still wanted Anne to go deep inside and then Ann felt Anne fill her with two or was it three. It could have been more. Anne rutted into her as her wanton desire for Anne grew.

Anne massaged her clit with her thumb and pushed her fingers inside Ann so easily. She was finely tuning Ann like a guitarist would tune a guitar to get the right amount of sound and pitch from it. Anne slowed down for a beat then removed her fingers. ‘Anne.’ Was all Ann squeaked. Anne had returned her lips to Ann’s clit. Ann’s moans became louder and her hips jutted to meet every suck and nip Anne placed on her clit. ‘I am so….’That’s all Ann had the strength to say then her orgasm took her over the edge into a blissfulness she hadn’t experienced in a long time. When she came up for air Anne was there smiling so brightly Ann thought her face was swallowed by it.

Then Ann noticed Anne’s left leg was jiggling ever so slightly. Anne’s face was contorting now. ‘Touch me, Ann. I need you inside me. Please don’t tease me.’

Ann laid Anne on their bed and proceed to remove her shorts and boxer briefs. She brushed Anne’s clit with her thumb to remind Anne who was in charge now. Anne wilted under her touch. Her strong fingers wrapped in Ann’s blond locks. Her body trembling with desire. Ann could see that she was the cause of all this desire which was now coursing through Anne’s body. She reached down and kissed Anne passionately. Anne moaned into the kiss. She could feel rather than see Anne’s desire. She trailed kisses down Anne’s sleekly toned body. It was her idea of heaven bringing Anne Lister to a climax. She found Anne’s clit and wrapped her lips around it. She sucked gently while Anne continued to moan above her. Ann could feel rather than hear her pleas because Anne had her legs wrapped around Ann’s head.

She traced Anne’s centre with two fingers then pushed them inside Anne while she continued to suck and nip on her clit. Anne’s hips were rutting in time with the push and pull of Ann’s fingers. Then without warning Anne screamed into her orgasm. She was over the edge and rejoicing in the bliss of her arousal. Ann removed her fingers from Anne’s centre and crawled up beside. Her as Anne became aware that she was there. Ann leaned into kiss her wife who finally found the energy to return the kiss. ‘You’re here again. Did you enjoy that?’ Ann asked.

‘I certain did.’ Anne said. ‘Are you hungry?’

‘No, I have just eaten.’ Ann replied with a smirk on her face. ‘I mean food, silly girl. Not me.’

‘Yes, I am. I think I have worked up an appetite. Where do you want to go to eat?’

‘I have no idea, Adney. Where would you like to eat?’

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

They finally decided to check out the local supermarket which they realised after a Google search was about ten minutes drive from their present location. They had a kitchenette in their room which had a microwave and bar fridge. They drove to the supermarket only to realise there were two supermarkets to choose from. ‘Let’s try Coles. It is closer to where we have parked the car and maybe we can go into Kmart first. I am desperate for something to read. Anne locked the car after they had stepped out of it and closed the doors. They walked briskly over to Kmart. Anne asked for directions to the book department and was told it was in the far corner of the store. Ann was forced to run to keep up with Anne.

When Anne spotted the books she slowed to a crawl. That was when Ann bumped into her nearly knocking Anne to the floor. ‘Sorry, dearest. I was trying to keep up with you. I had to run to do that.’

‘Oh, that’s okay. I should have asked the assistant if they had any books on Tasmania or Australia. Let’s see what we can find. Maybe we can leave them with Matilda’s kids when we leave. I am sure we will be over the weight limit with what we have to take back without including books in our luggage.’

‘That’s a good idea. Matilda is an avid book collector. I am sure you will find out when we visit her place.’

‘Is she married?’

‘Oh yes, happily married to a very handsome man. So, she told me. I think she dotes over him and he dotes her. This is her second marriage’

‘So, let me see if I have got this right. Her first two children are to her first husband and the youngest is her second husband’s child.’

‘Yes, that’s why there is such a big age gap. Six years and three months minus one day between the sisters.’

‘You have been around me far too long.’ Anne said the grinned sheepishly. Then she spied what she wanted, a book on Australia. She checked the publication date and smiled. It was published last year. So, she grabbed a copy and they walked to the checkout to pay for it. ‘Don’t you want a bag?’ The assistant said.

‘No thanks. I think it will be fine like this. I only need to put the docket in here.’ She pointed to the book. ’And show it when someone asks me to.’

‘Okay!!’

‘Good.’ They walk into Coles. ‘What would you like to eat for tea tonight, Adney?’ Anne asked as they found the freezer aisle. Ann spied pizzas and sausage rolls, pies and pasties, whatever they were. She wasn’t happy with those choices even though they would have been easy to prepare. So they walked around the supermarket until they found the pasta aisle. ‘This looks good. I wonder if we have pots and pans to prepare this food.’ Then Ann checked the cooking directions. ‘It says we can cook it in a microwave. Let’s buy a few and a bowl to cook it in. We can give the extra to Matilda. I am sure her kids would like them. We also need to buy milk and butter. Well, that’s what it says on the packet.’

‘Okay, Ann. Let’s do that.’

They arrived back at the hotel just before six. They were glad they bought bowl they could use in the microwave because there wasn’t a stove there to cook on. They prepared and cooked their meal and used the same bowl to eat out. Anne said. ‘Well. it does make less work for whoever does the dishes.’

‘They ate in relative silence and when they were finished Anne washed up the bowl and spoons they had bought. ‘What was that, Ann?’

‘Alfredo. I think I got three to take to Matilda’s later. It is a quick and easy meal to prepare either in the microwave or on the stove top.’ Anne nodded agreeing with Ann. It would look utterly rude if they turned up empty handed.

By the time evening come they were ready for sleep. They had had a full on day and fell into a deep sleep soon after they laid their heads on their pillows.

Anne woke the next morning wanting to go for a walk. They had to be out of the hotel by ten o’clock. It was only six thirty. Anne thought a quick jog around the block would help her. She hadn’t been for a run since they arrived in Australia.

Anne located her leggings, t-shirt and runners. She was just about to leave when Ann woke. ‘Anne, where are you? Come back to bed, please.’ Anne appeared in the door way. ‘I’m going for a short run. Is that okay?’

‘Yes, but don’t be too long. We have to be out of here by ten.’

‘It’s only 6.43, Adney. We have plenty of time. Don’t we?’

‘I guess we do. Can you grab something to eat from Banjos on your way back here, please?’ Ann asked with pleading eyes. ‘Yes, I can do that. See you soon.’ Anne said as she grabbed some money and her phone which she put in the pocket of her leggings. She opened then closed the door to their room.

Ann laid back in bed and must have fallen back to sleep because the next thing she heard was Anne unlocking the door and walking over to her. ‘Will this do for breakfast, Miss? They looked so delicious, Adney.’ Ann smiled as she sat up, reached over to bag Anne was carrying and reached in to grab something to eat. ‘You get egg and bacon pies.’ Ann said as she took a bite. ‘They are delicious. Did you get some for you?’

‘Miss Walker, I have enough for both of us.’ In her other hand she had two cups of coffee in a cup tray. She put them on the bedside table. They ate and drank in relative silence. Then Ann’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out and answered it. ‘Hi, who is this?’

‘It’s Peter. Mum was wondering if you are doing anything today. We would like to take you to the maze in Westbury. Then we could have a picnic lunch. Well, mum says we can buy sandwiches in Deloraine on our way there. Is that okay with you?’ Ann relayed the message to Anne who nodded. ’Yes, that would be great. Where would you like to meet us?’

‘Matilda here. Where is your hotel?’

‘On Formby Road, I think. It’s near Maccers and the river.’

‘We could meet at Maccers in half an hour. We are just about to leave Pop’s.’

‘Good. We will do that.’ Anne and Ann collected their gear and food and book which they had bought yesterday. They drove the relatively short distance to Maccers and waited for Matilda and her kids to arrive. They talked about where they were going. Anne remembered that she had been taken through a maze years ago by her family when she was a child. Ann had never been through a maze and was a little scared about getting lost and needing help to find her way out. Anne could see she was over thinking. Anne put her arm behind Ann’s neck and pulled her in for a tight hug. ‘You’ll be fine, Adney. Someone will be with you all the time. ME!!! Okay!!.

‘Okay!! I am sure we will have fun and the picnic afterwards sounds great. Smile because here they come.’ Matilda and her kids were walking across the car park just as Anne finished speaking they stood next to the hire car. ‘Hi!’ Matilda said. ‘Would you like to get something to eat before we go? We had breakfast at Pop’s so early this morning that the kids are already hungry again.’

‘Okay. We only had a couple of egg and bacon pies each for breakfast. So, we are still hungry. We were wondering what you wanted to do.’

‘Okay!! Why  does Ann look so worried, Anne?’

‘She’s a bit scared she will get lost in the maze. I tried to tell her she would be fine.’

‘Oh I think the kids will keep an eye on her. Okay!!’ Ann smiled. She had been thinking too hard and didn’t hear the conversation until Matilda said ‘Kids. ‘Let’s go eat.’

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

 

The kids seemed quiet as they walked through the car park and into Maccers. They ordered their meals and sat down to eat. Anne & Ann talked about where they planned to go for the rest of the Tasmanian part of their honeymoon. ‘Pop was right when he said two weeks isn’t enough time. When do you return home?’ Matilda said. Anne did the calculations in her head. They had spent four days in Sydney and three days in Melbourne. ‘Three weeks but we could extend that. We were going to spend the last week in Queensland. We had planned to go to Australia Zoo.’

‘Well, there is Wings Wildlife Park near Gunns Plains which isn’t far from here and then there is the Trowana Wildlife Park at Mole Creek near us. So there are a couple of places you could visit and I am sure the wildlife there wouldn’t be that much different to the wildlife at Australia Zoo.’

‘It seems to me that you are trying to sell your state to us to get us to stay longer.’ Ann said. Then she smiled. ‘If, that’s okay with you, Dearest. Yes, we would love to do that.’ She looked at Anne for a nod which she got. ‘Oh, I think the kids have something they want to ask you.’ Matilda said. ‘Come on, spit it out, kids. I don’t think they bite.’

‘No, we don’t eat kids for breakfast just lunch and dinner.’ Anne said they she smiled broadly. ’What do you want to ask us?’

Bridget became the spokesperson for the kids. ‘We were wondering if….we could go to the maze with you and Ann, Anne.’

‘What about your mum?’

‘That’s okay! I sure would life a bit of time to myself.’

‘As long as we don’t have any fights. I have a younger sister who I am constantly at war with.’ Anne said. ‘What do you think, Ann? Would you like to see what it’s like to have kids even if it is just for a couple of hours?’ Ann smiled she could see what Anne was getting at. Having the kids travel with them would help them decided if motherhood was really what they want.’

‘I will need to call Graeme and let him know what we are going to do.’

‘When are we going to meet this husband of yours?’

‘I don’t know, probably when you visit us.’ Matilda said and the kids nodded. They seemed to always agree with their mum. ‘Hi Babe, I’m with my email pal. The kids and I are taking them to the maze in Westbury. We should be home for tea. Okay!! See you soon.’

‘That was quick.’ Ann said.

'He didn’t answer. He’s probably busy outside and left his phone in the house. He will probably call when he finds the message I just left him.’ They piled into the cars. The kids went with Ann and Anne. Heather was travelling alone. The trip to Westbury took about 45 minutes. The kids asked Anne so many questions about Shibden and England. Ann hadn’t told them she also was the owner of an estate just like Anne but as Anne chatted on Ann never had a moment when she could mention it. Anne did. ‘Ann here owns an estate too. Why don’t you ask her about that? They did. She told them it was called Crow Nest. They asked why. Only she didn’t know. All she knew was that back in early days of mail delivery all estates were given a name so that whoever was instructed to deliver it knew where it was meant to go. Well, that was Ann’s theory and nothing was going to sway her.

They had stopped at Deloraine to get sandwiches for the local takeaway. Ann was surprised at the variety that was available. They bought six packs of sandwiches all with different fillings. They bought drinks. As they walked back to their cars Matilda spied Graeme walking from the post office. He had a package under his arm. She wondered what it was. ‘Graeme.’ She yelled. He looked around. When he saw Matilda he smiled. She introduced him to Anne and Ann. ‘This is my email pal from England and her wife. They are on their honeymoon travelling around Tasmania for two weeks maybe three. The kids are travelling with them to the maze.’

‘Hi, I hope those terrors aren’t mucking up on you.’

‘No, but they are asking lots of questions about England.’ Ann said wondering if that was the right answer to give. Anne looked at her. She knew her wife was unsure around people she didn’t know. ‘That’s great.’ Matilda and Graeme said.

‘That proves they like you.’ Matilda said. ‘When they ask questions they are just curious. I have always encouraged them to be curious about life.’

‘They sure are curious.’ Anne said. ‘I love it when kids ask questions. I love it more when I can give them an answer.’ Ann laughed. ‘That’s my wife. She loves showing off and bragging about how much she knows. She’s always got her head stuck in a book but she is the most interesting person I know.’ Ann said as she looked at her wife who was blushing. ‘I had better get going. I have things to do and people to see.’ Graeme said. ‘Will I see you later, Anne and Ann? Come for tea. I am sure we can find something to feed you.’

‘Thank you, I would like that. What about you, Ann?’

‘Yes. That would be great.’

‘Okay, see you later.’ Graeme said as he leaned into Matilda and kissed her.

He walked over to his ute, stepped inside and drove away. ‘He’s cute.’ Ann said. Matilda blushed. ‘He is. Isn’t he and he’s my partner. Aren’t I lucky?’

‘Yes, you are and so am I.’ Ann said looking across at her wife who smiled. ‘Well, let’s get to the maze.’ Peter said. ‘I want to show you how to get through it, Ann.’

‘Thanks. I would like that.’

They climbed back into their cars and drove to the maze. The kids continued asking questions and they continued to answer them. They arrived at the maze that Ann was so of scared until she saw it and realised it wasn’t so scary. She smiled. They paid and began their walk through the maze. They all walked together. Although, Isabel sped up ahead of them as if, she had been there before and knew where she was going. Ann was surprised that the kids were so active. Then she wondered if they had children would they be like that. Anne smiled at her and grabbed her hand and held it tight. ‘I think you would be a great mum, Adney.’

‘Adney,’ The kids squealed. Anne realised they had heard what she had said to Ann. ‘I’m the only one who can call her that. Okay!!’ the kids nodded and smiled. When they reached the middle there was a platform to climb to look out. They all climbed to the top. Anne held Ann’s hand as she pulled out her phone to get a group photo. They squeezed in together. Was it possible that they were here in Tasmania or was this just a dream? Ann had to pinch herself to know it if was real. Anne looked at her and wondered why she did that. ‘What’s wrong, Adney?’ Anne said to her as they climbed down from the platform. ‘I was just making sure this is all real.’

‘What is all real?’ Bridget asked.

‘Being here with Anne visiting my email pal and her sweet family.’ It was Matilda’s turn to blush. They continued their walk through the maze. It was great. As they walked the kids continued to ask questions. They strolled back to their cars and drove to Graeme and Matilda’s place.  

They were hoping that the food they had bought yesterday was still good. It hadn’t been too warm. They brought it inside and deposited it in Matilda’s fridge when they arrived at Matilda and Graeme’s home. It was nestled at the bottom of what Ann thought was a mountain. She would ask later what it was called. The kids took them for a walk around the property after they had eaten what Anne would describe as the best meal they had had since they arrived in Australia. The meal at the Korean restaurant in Melbourne didn’t compare to Matilda’s cooking.

They marvelled at the work the family had done to transform their property. It was wonderful. ‘I can see why you love living up here. It is so peaceful. Shibden is like that too. I don’t think I could move back to live in London again. It’s too noisy for me.’ Ann said.

‘Why did you move to London?’ Bridget asked Ann. ’Do you have a few hours to spare so I can tell you the whole story?’ Anne said before Ann had a chance to answer. ‘Not really!! How did you meet?’

‘Do you want to long or short version?’ Ann said.

‘I think the short version would be good enough. Let’s not get into too much detail.’ Peter said.

‘Okay!!’ Then Anne goes into detail about how they have known each other for years but had only found each other again just recently. ’She tripped into a dip  in the park near where I had my medical practice in London and I had to rescue her from sticky beaks. Of course, I recognised her immediately. Well, who could forget such a pretty face.’ Ann blushed as Anne spoke. ‘Did you break any bones?’

‘Good grief. No, she didn’t because she knew what she was doing, trying to catch my eye. It worked and we have been together since.’

‘How long is that?’

‘Nearly a year ago give or take a couple of weeks. I don’t know. She’s the one who is so precise with time.’ Ann said. ‘It hasn’t been that long. Has it, dearest?’

‘Not really. I guess we best get going. I have booked us into a hotel on Charles Street in Launceston. Thanks for the meal.’ Anne said. Both Matilda and Ann looked disappointed but Anne was right they had intruded on their kindness for too long already. ‘Will we see you again?’ Matilda asked. She was hoping for a yes. ’We will have to see what happens. That will depend on how busy we get. I want to see as much of Tasmania as possible. It’s already one of my favourite places in the world.’ Anne said.

‘Take care and drive safely.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

 

‘Why did you lie back there to Matilda?’ Ann asked. She was a bit angry with Anne. Matilda was her email pal and a part of her wanted to get to know her better but it was their honeymoon. ‘I didn’t lie. I just played with the truth, Ann.’ Anne said softly. ’I could see we were outstaying our welcome.’

‘How do you know that?’ Ann asked.

‘It’s just a feeling. Anyway, we should be able to find a hotel somewhere between her and Launceston to stay. If not, I guess we will sleep in the car.’

Sleep in the car. Are you fucking serious?’ Ann was really mad now. ‘Just stop for a minute.’ Anne pulls over to the side of the road. They are near Deloraine again. ‘Should we try the hotel near the train park where we were meant to meet them?’ Anne says as she remembers seeing it as they drove past on their way to the maze. ‘Yes, we can try there.’ They drove into Deloraine and enquire at the hotel. Yes, they have a room for the night. Anne pays for it and they collect what they need and go to bed. It was good for an emergency accommodation since they really didn’t anywhere to stay. Ann thought Matilda might have asked them to stay there.

It’s early the next morning when Ann was stirred from her sleep by her phone buzzing on the bedside table. She reaches out to answer it without looking to see who is calling. ‘Hello, did you find a place to sleep last night?’ Matilda asked.

‘Yeah, I thought you would see through her fib. She’s not very good at lying at the best of times.’ Anne stirs next to Ann. ’Who are you talking to, Adney?’

Matilda! She is just checking up on us.’

‘Well, she is a good friend to have. Isn’t she?’ Anne said as she slumped back on the bed. ‘Sorry about that. Anne woke and wanted to know who I was talking to.’ Ann leaned over and rubbed Anne’s back to remind her who she is really with. ’I need to go. Someone here needs me.’

‘Okay!!! Call me when you’re back in the area.’

‘i will, Bye!!’ Ann disconnects the call and rolls onto her side to face her wife. ‘Hey, put the green eyed monster away. She called me. Okay!!’

‘Sorry, Adney. She is pretty.’

‘Yeah, and she is straight and married. So, she is off the market for anyone. Didn’t you see the way they looked at each other?’

‘No, I was more focused on you all night.’ Ann smiled. She always knew Anne loved the way she looked. ‘Shall we get ready to go? I think we still have to sandwiches in the car that we bought yesterday but never got to eat.’

‘Will they still be okay?’

‘I don’t know,’ Ann said. They collected their gear and made their way back to the car. As they reach the car they saw Matilda drive past. She waved at them and continued on. ‘You do know she saw through your lie last night.’

‘Did she?’ Anne asked sheepishly. I thought she might have. Only I felt it was the truth when I said we had outstayed our welcome.’

‘Okay!! Let’s go. I want to see what else you have discovered for us to explore today/’

‘There’s a gorge in Launceston we can explore. You can take some photos and we can take the chairlift to the other side and walk around on over the swinging bridge. That sounds like fun. Doesn’t it?’

‘Yeah, I guess so.’ Ann said as she munches on the sandwiches they didn’t eat yesterday, a swinging bridge and a chairlift. She was sure she wouldn’t last. After a couple of wrong turns they were finally able to find their way to the gorge. Anne parks the car and pays for the parking. It is expensive but worth it. They walk down to the gate where there is a sign which tells a bit about the gorge. It’s called the Cataract Gorge. They stroll down to the chairlift and decided to take a ride across. The sign says it is the longest single span chairlift in the southern hemisphere. Oh dear, Ann thinks. What am I going to do now? They climb on board for their one way trip. Ann swallows and grabs Anne’s hand for comfort. It feels so good to be so close to her wife until she forgets where she is and looks down.

‘it is a bloody long drop to the ground. I wouldn’t want to fall.’ Anne jokingly says. ‘Don’t be glib, Anne.’ Then Anne realises it wasn’t the wisest thing to say,. Ann was still nervous. She wraps her arm around Ann. Ann relaxes instantly. She has always felt safe in Anne’s arms. They alight on the other side and stroll away in the direction of the swinging bridge. Ann takes a photo of it when she has can see all of it. ‘What a ride!’ Anne exclaims, ’I think I want to do that again.’ Ann doesn’t feel the same way. ’You’ll be on your own this time, Dearest. Once was enough for me.’

‘Okay!!’ it wasn’t too windy. So, the bridge didn’t sway as much as she imagined it would. When they had returned to where the chairlift was Ann’s stomach began to rumble. ‘I think someone is hungry. Are you?’

‘Yes, I am, Dearest. Can we find somewhere to eat?’

‘Yes. Did you get lots of photos? I am sure Aunt Anne would love to see them.’

‘Aunt Anne would. I think we need to call her later today. What do you think, Anne?’

‘Yes, that’s a good idea. I have so much I want to tell her.’

‘Well, don’t tell her everything then we won’t have anything to tell her when we return home. We are going back home, aren’t we?’

‘Yes!!’ Anne said hoping her voice didn’t give away what she really wanted to do. ‘Good because I am sure your Aunt would be lost without you. I know your father and sister are expecting us home in less than three weeks.’ Ann said as they walked back to the car.

Anne decided it was best not to talk about what she wanted to do. Well, not right now. She was starting to feel very fond of Tasmania and it’s beatify’ She drove them into the city. Launceston was nearly as big as Halifax. Well, it seemed that way. They drove into the centre of the city and as they passed Charcoal chicken Ann suggested they eat there. Anne parked the car and feed another meter. They would soon run out of change if they weren’t careful.

They walked into Charcoal Chicken and ordered. There were tables and chairs were they could sit and eat. Ann felt her phone buzz. It was a text message from Matilda wondering where they were. Ann replied, at Charcoal chicken eating lunch. She imagined Matilda knew where that was. Matilda replied. Okay and that was that. Ann wondered why Matilda had sent her a text message but she let it go.

When they had finished eating they feed the meter again and walked towards the mall. Anne wanted to find the local bookshop. She had read that there was a local one close by. They had been told it was called Petrarch’s. They both spy it as they walk through the mall and across the street. Anne was the first one inside the store. A young lady inside said hi. Anne says hi back. ‘Can I help you?’ She says as Ann walked in. ‘No, I’m just browsing.’ Anne says and finds her way to the history section. There are lots of books on Tasmania. Of course, there would be as this is a local bookshop not a multi-national bookshop which probably wouldn’t stock many local authors’ works. Ann browsed the poetry section. She was hoping to find a book of poetry that was written by a Tasmanian author. She was sure there would be a few.

They walked out to the shop an hour later with a book each. They had decided that even though there were plenty for them to buy they had to consider the weight of their luggage when they were choosing what they would buy. They wanted to take these two books home to show everyone. Anne bought a book about a famous Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly who was hanged on 11th of November 1880 and Ann bought a book of poetry by Margaret Scott. A Tasmanian poet who had passed away on 29th of August 2005 Ann liked it so much after reading the first poem.

They strolled back to the car and decided where they will go next. They needed to find somewhere to stay tonight.  They had to decided if, they were going to stay one night in towns along the route Anne wanted to take them or should they find somewhere they could stay and use it as their base. Then they could take day trips around the area. No matter what they did they had to be in Devonport in two weeks maybe three to get the ferry back to the mainland to fly home. Anne was still wondering if that was possible when her phone buzzed in her pocket.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

 

‘Hi Aunt. We were going to call you soon. How are you doing?’ Anne said.

‘Fine fine. Just watching too much tv, I guess.’

‘Why do you say that?’ Anne said surprised.

‘There was a bad accident in Australia. I am not sure if you have seen the news. I thought it might have been where you are.’

‘We haven’t had the chance to watch tv. We have been busy enjoying ourselves. How are father and Marian?’

‘Fine, fine,’

‘You sound concerned, Aunt. What is wrong?’ Ann said as Anne put her Aunt on speaker phone. ‘I’m still worried that you will stay there. Is it as beautiful as they say?’

‘Yes, Aunt, but Shibden is home and always will be. We are coming back in three weeks time. You do have our itinerary there with you. Don’t you?’

‘Yes!!’ Aunt Anne says.  She was hoping that Anne and Ann will return home soon. ‘Anyway, what’s the weather like there today? It’s was chilly this morning but isn’t too bad right now. It’s overcast but the app. on my phone says it might rain later.’

‘Where are you now?’ Aunt Anne asked. Marian had laid a map of Tasmania in front of her. She had bought it only a couple of days ago when her Aunt told her they would be in Tasmania. Marian was lucky that the local bookshop could get one sent to her and she had received it in the post this morning. ‘We have a map of Tasmania to locate where you are?’

‘We are in Launceston, Aunt. It’s nearly the middle of the north of the state.’

‘Found it!!’ Marian said.

‘Good.’ Anne said ‘What do you think?’ It was Marian who spoke up. ‘It looks good.’ Catherine nodded from behind her. ’Even Catherine likes it.’

‘Is my cousin still living with you, Marian?’ Ann said surprised that she would be still there. ’Hasn’t Aunt Anne told you?’ Marian frowned when she looked at her aunt. ‘I was going to tell them when they returned home.’

‘That’s a bit late. Isn’t it?’ Catherine yelled. ‘Anne, Your sister and I are getting engaged soon. We are going out today to get rings.’

‘You two are that serious. I didn’t know that bringing you together would do this,’ Anne said. ‘I only wanted Catherine to help you while we were away.’

‘You knew she liked me when we were in London. Come on. Anne. Be honest with me. You knew.’ Anne had to think. Their stay in London to catch their flight to Australia was only brief. Then she remembered what happened. How Catherine put her arm around Marian and she didn’t like it because it would open her up to ridicule from others. Now, Marian seemed okay with her sexuality. It seemed to Anne and Ann that they were happy together. ‘Is this what you want, Marian?’ Catherine looked at Marian and smiled. ’Yes, it is, Ann?’

‘That’s great news’ Ann and Anne said in unison.’ I think we had better go. We need to find somewhere to stay tonight. Launceston is a big place. So, there’s accommodation everywhere. Don’t worry about us, Aunt. We will be fine.’ Ann says. ‘Anne is taking care of us.’

‘My complex niece, she loves you so much, little Ann. Anyway, take care, girls. I will talk to you later. Bye.’

‘Bye.’ Anne disconnects the call. ‘That’s a surprise. Marian and Catherine are together.’ Ann smiled. Catherine told her months ago that she liked Marian. ‘How long have you know, Adney?’

‘It feels like forever.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ Anne said a little more angrily than she wanted to be. ‘Catherine asked me not to. I told her you would be angry.’

‘What did she say?’ Anne said more calmly this time. ’She said that you would find out soon enough and now we both now.’ Ann said sheepishly.

‘Yes, I guess we both know but my sister was all over Thomas Beech when he first started working at Shibden. She can’t be gay.’

‘She isn’t gay, silly. She’s bi. She has fallen in love with my cousin. I think it is a good thing. Don’t you?’

‘Yeah, let’s keep it in the family.’ Anne said sarcastically. ‘You don’t like it.’

‘’I’m not sure what I like right now. That my sister is bi or that she is with your cousin or that I am not the only one at Shibden who likes the ladies.’

‘Anne Lister, we are being a bit silly. You do know your aunt is gay. Don’t you?’

‘No, she isn’t.’

‘That’s not what she told me.’ Ann said softly. ‘What did you say?’

‘That’s not what she told me.’ Ann said a bit louder. Anne was astonished that Ann knew more about her family than she did.’ They didn’t think it was right to bother you, dearest. They told me because they didn’t think we would ever be in a relationship as we are now.’

‘Didn’t you tell them you were moving to London?’

‘Yes, I think I did. Aunt Anne might have forgotten and what was the chance we would ever meet. London is a big city.’ Ann said as Anne eyed her. ‘Well, we met and now your cousin is not only your cousin but your sister-in-law and mine too.’

‘I hadn’t thought about that. Oh well, she is happy and she is still my cousin no matter who she marries. Now, let’s find somewhere to stay.’

‘Okay!’ Anne said as she went into Google to do a search on hotels in Launceston. She found the Sandors on the Park. Anne clicked on the link and it took her to their webpage. The hotel had recently had a name change Anne thought the price was reasonable. It would cost $73 a night through tripadvisor.com. Anne tried to make a booking for tonight but it was full. ‘What now, Adney?’ Anne said. She was getting frustrated. ‘Calm down, Dearest.’ Ann said as she rubbed Anne’s back. That seemed to ground Anne. ‘Here’s one called the called the Mews Motel. We can book this one online too.’ They were able to book this motel for seven nights. They had decided to make Launceston their base and they could take a few day trips around the north of the island.

By the time they arrived at the motel all Ann wanted to do was sleep. They had had another full day. She wondered if they could take it easy tomorrow. Anne was all for that. She was feeling rather tired too. They dragged their luggage to their room. Anne and Ann changed into their pjs and climbed into bed. Anne reached for the book she bought at .Kmart to read to Ann. She had found an interesting piece about Tasmania in it. ‘Ann, it says here that Hobart is the second oldest city in the country after Sydney. It was settled by Europeans in 1803.’

‘Yeah, that’s interesting, Anne. Let’s get some sleep. You can read to me tomorrow, Dearest. I don’t want to go anywhere unless we really need to. Okay!!’ Anne nodded into Ann’s back. She had laid down and snuggled into her wife.

Ann woke as her phone buzzed on the bedside table. It was Matilda. She had found the food they had left and was hoping she would see them again. ‘We are making Launceston our home base for a week. Is there any place you would suggest we go while we are here?’ Matilda suggested the Cataract Gorge. Ann said they had already been there and told her about her experience on the chairlift. ‘There’s the monkey park. It’s on Brisbane Street. The main entrance is near the monkey enclosure on Tamar Street. The Royal Oak hotel is on the corner. of Brisbane and Tamar Streets.’

‘Is there anything else in Launceston worth seeing?’ Matilda couldn’t think of anything else she did suggest they go for a day trip to the coast. A town called Bridport. ‘Matilda said the beaches there are lovely and not to miss the burned out jetty. If you can’t find it a local will point you in the right direction. Well, that’s what she said.’

‘We could do that now. How long does it take to get there?’ Ann asked. Anne did a Google search. ‘We could go several ways. Which way would you like to go. We can go one way and come back another. I have a navigation app on my phone we could follow that.’ Anne said as she found the quickest way to Bridport. She showed Ann the different ways they could go. ‘This place looks interesting. Maybe we could go there and check it out. What’s it called?’ Ann asked. Anne clicked on the location. ‘It’s called Grindelwald. It’s a Swiss village. You can stay there or just eat a meal in the bistro there. What would you like to do, Ann?’ Anne asked. ‘You do realise going that way will take us longer to get to Bridport.’

‘That’s okay. Look, what’s that?’ Ann said pointing to another location. ‘I don’t know, Ann. Let’s check it out.’ Anne found out it was a former gold mining town. 'We could explore the gold mine.’

‘Could we?’ Ann asked as she looked to see how far it was from where they were.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

‘The directions search on Google maps says it will take us about one & a half hours to get to Bridport from our hotel. Do you still want to go that way, Adney?’

‘Yes, i want to take a walk through the mine.’

‘Well, we had better leave right now if we are going to be back at the hotel in time to get something for dinner.’

‘We could stop somewhere on the way back and eat. I am sure there is a takeaway somewhere on the road we will be travelling down.’ Ann said. ‘it would be great to see the lights of Launceston tonight. I am sure they would look beautiful. What do you think, Dearest?’

‘I don’t know. Let’s get going. I would like to see as much as possible today. Don’t forget your camera, Adney.’

Ann grabbed her camera. She hadn’t thought about taking it today. She thought her phone would be good enough but she didn’t want to fill the storage space on her phone up because she didn’t want to think someone would want to send her a message and she wouldn’t be able to read it.

‘What’s that over there?’ Ann said as she pointed towards a building which had a water wheel in front of it. ‘I don’t know, Adney. We can check it out tomorrow if you want to.’

‘Okay!!’ Anne didn’t want to cram too much into their day otherwise they might be too sleepy to do anything tomorrow. She wanted to get the most out of their trip to Tasmania. Ann smiled. She was having a great time. She was able to take a quick photo of the building and looked it up on her phone under historical sites to visit in Launceston. That’s where she imagined she would find it.

She thought she had found it. She had. ‘It’s called Penny Royal, Dearest.’

‘What is so significant about that?’

‘This isn’t the original site of the Penny Royal.’ Ann said. ‘It was originally built between Cressy and Ross by Andrew Gatenby who arrived in Tasmania then known as Van Diemen’s Land in 1823.’

‘Who moved it here, Adney?’

‘Give me a moment and I will tell you, my history buff.’ Ann said then she continued the tale. ‘A developer Roger Smith happened to find a pile of convict bricks (known because of their convict markings, thumb prints) on a property at Barton in Tasmania’s midlands.’

‘Is there more?’

‘Oh there’s heaps more. I just want to tell you the important bits, Dearest.’

Everything is important, Adney.’ Anne said with a hint of frustration in her voice’ Come on, Tell me the whole tale. So, Ann started from the beginning. Anne smiled. She always knew Adney would do anything for her. Well, she did marry Anne. Didn’t she? Then she travelled half way around the world with her to spend their honeymoon down under..

‘It says that the building fell into disrepair. Roger Smith found the site in Launceston which he thought was suitable and rebuilt it as a tourist attraction. From the looks of the photos, dearest we will have fun tomorrow.’

They continued their trip until they arrived at Sidmouth. There seemed to be only a service station, shop and post office which they found out was up for sale when they arrived there. Anne couldn’t imagine owning a business in a rural town. She didn’t think they would make much of a profit until the store owner told them that the business was on a favourite tourist route.

They bought more sandwiches and drinks. It was a mild 18 degrees Celsius when they arrived at Beaconsfield about twenty minutes later. Ann was itching to get inside the mine building. Only Anne was so hungry she wanted to eat. She hadn’t risk eating and driving. She didn’t know the area well enough to do that. 

They sat in the car and talked while they ate. Ann thought it was rude to eat while Anne drove. They are so thoughtful of each other. Aren’t they? The town of Beaconsfield was small. It boasted quite a few shops but the mine had been the main attraction that brought them there. They could have crossed the Batman Bridge and forgot about their diversion. Ann was glad they didn’t.

The workings of the mine were on view as they walked around the mine Ann wondered what it would be like to work there. She could imagine it wasn’t a very safe job to have. She had found a section which told the tale that the mine had collapsed on 25th of April (ANZAC Day) in 2006 of the seventeen men in the mine when it collapsed 14 were able to escape, one died and two were trapped in the mine for two weeks. They survived the ordeal. They were Todd Russell and Brant Webb. Ann read it aloud to Anne who was surprised they survived. They survival was televised on television daily and when they emerged from the rubble there were cheers all round.

‘WOW!! That is amazing. I cannot imagine being the families of the two men who were down there and the one who died. It must have been a sad day for them when his body was brought to the surface. ‘Does it say the name of the deceased miner?’ Anne said.

‘Yes, it was Larry Knight. He was only 44, Dearest, not much older than what you are now. Brant Webb was 37 and Todd Russell was 34.’

‘Let’s keep going. I think we have seen enough here and I have taken quite a few photos.’ Ann said as they stepped back out into the sunshine. They wandered back to their car and sat for a moment. Ann seemed a little breathless. Anne wondered why. She couldn’t imagine why such a young woman like Ann would be out of breath. ‘Are you okay, Adney?’ Anne asked with concern in her voice. ‘Yes, i am absolutely wonderful. Why do you ask?’

‘You just seem out of breath.’

‘It’s the speed you set. I often find it hard to keep up with you, Dearest.’

‘Why didn’t you say something? You do know I would slow down for you, Adney.’

‘I know I just didn’t want to spoil your mood.’ Ann said with a big grin. She was breathing better now and Anne was content with that. After a short rest they continued their trip to Bridport. As they approached the Batman Bridge Anne wondered if Ann would like to get a photo. Of course, she said yet. They couldn’t see any where they could stop until they had crossed over the bridge. There seemed to be a car park on the left. So, Anne drove in. The road took them beside the bridge and beneath it. Ann climbed out and angled her camera so she could get a photo of the bridge. ‘Was this named after Batman the comic book hero?’ Ann asked. She didn’t think it was but she had to ask.’

‘No silly. This bridge is named after John Batman, the founder of Melbourne. He was born and raised in the then British colony of New South Wales. He settled in Van Diemen’s Land.’

‘Well, you have done well, Dearest. Is there anything else I need to know just in case someone quizzes me later?’ Ann grinned sheepishly. ‘Yes, he hunted bushrangers and participated in the black war which was a period of violence between the white Europeans and the Aboriginals in Tasmania from 1820 to 1823.’

‘Ouch. I wonder why they did that.’

‘I don’t think it would have been for a good reason, Adney. Let’s keep going.’

They arrived at the junction to the East Tamar Highway and the road to the bridge. Anne wondered which way they needed to go. Ann checked on her phone. ‘We could go north.’ Ann pointed north, ’To a town called Georgetown which will be the way we could go to Bridport. There seems to be a couple of different roads to take. They all look interesting. What do you want to do, Dearest?’

‘Let’s check out Georgetown and take that road. It could be interesting. Who knows?’ They drove to where the turn off to Bridport was. Anne looked over at Ann. She was sleeping. Anne gently spoke her name. ‘Adney, darling.’

;’What do you want, Dearest?’

‘I think we should skip Georgetown and just go straight to Bridport. I think there must be a reason Matilda wanted us to go there! Call her and find out if I am right.’ Ann called Matilda. She answered on the first ring. ‘Hi Ann. Where are you?’

‘We are heading towards Bridport. Is there something there you think we should see?’

‘Yes, go up Main Street until you find the intersection to Bentley Street drive until you see the burnt out jetty. It’s only pylons now. It burnt out early last century, I think.’

‘Anything else you think we should see.’

‘The beaches and the two world class golf courses, Barnboogle Dunes gold links and Barnboogle Lost farms golf resort. That’s if you’re into golf. I’m not. How’s the trip been so far?’

‘Good.’ They said in unison. Ann always put Matilda on speaker phone when she talked to her so Anne could be a part of the conversation.

‘That’s great to hear. Where are you going tomorrow?’

‘We were thinking of checking out Penny Royal.’ Anne said.

‘That’s a great idea. Would you like us to join you? The kids want to spend more time with you and Ann. Is that okay? We could meet you at the mall at around 10.30 tomorrow. You do know where that is.’

‘Yes, that would be great.’ Matilda had her speaker phone on. Anne and Ann heard the kids scream in the background. ‘There’s also a museum we could go to it that’s okay.’

‘Yes, anything Tasmanian would be lovely and it will be nice to see you again. Bye!’ Ann disconnected the call. ‘That was short.’ Anne said.

‘I didn’t want to take up too much of Matilda’s time. She seems busy with the kids.’

‘Okay!!’ They drove along the Bridport Road to the turn off to Bridport. It was there they noticed a sign that said Scottsdale. ‘Good grief! I wonder what is worth seeing in Scottsdale. Matilda’s Pop was right. We will never see all of Tasmania in two weeks. We might need two months and then we might not see all we want to see. I guess if we like it we might need to return.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

 

They reached another junction. They proceeded west into the town of Bridport. They passed the first service station which seemed as though it had been closed down for years. They needed to fill up with petrol. So they kept driving. There should be an operating service station in a town this size. It was a small seaside hamlet. Then Ann spotted what they were looking for. Anne drove up to the bowsers and waited for someone to come out and fill up their tank. No one appeared. It was then Anne realised it was self serve.

She was just getting out of the car when a woman appeared. ‘Can I help you?’

‘I’m okay now. I didn’t realise it was self serve.’

‘Okay!! We only changed to self serve because dad said it wasn’t worth wasting the meagre profits on employing someone to pump petrol for him.’

‘Okay! Can you show me what to do?’

‘Yes, I’m Leanne. Who are you?’

‘This is Ann and I am Anne.’ Leanne smiled. ‘You’re joking right.’

‘No, that’s our names. She is my wife.’

‘Hey, I have an aunt like you. She lives overseas.’

‘Okay!’ Anne said but didn’t say any more. ‘How far is it to the burnt out jetty?’

‘It’s about half a mile up Bentley Street. You can’t miss it.’

‘Thanks. Where is the best place in town to get something to eat?’

‘There’s the cafe up the road. That sells good fish and chips. I doubt if the pizza shop is open yet. So, the cafe would be your best option.’

‘Thanks. This is only a day trip.’ They paid and drove up the street until they found the Bridport takeaway. Fish and chips seemed like the perfect meal to have in a seaside town. They ate in relative silence as they soaked in the view. It was so quiet even with the road just a few metres away. There didn’t seem to be that much traffic on the road even in the late afternoon.

Ann smiled at her wife. She was still pinching herself. She found it hard to believe they were here.. They realized they’d spent too much time sitting and relaxing at the takeaway. They need to be back in Launceston before dark. Anne suggested they leave soon if they wanted to see the burnt out jetty and take a stroll on the beach there.

Ann agreed with Anne. They walked back to the car and drove along Bentley Street until they found the jetty. Anne pulled into the car park. Ann took photos of the jetty. She wondered how it was burnt out. She thought Anne probably knew. They walked to the end of the boat ramp and looked out to sea. It was a quiet bay. There were a few hardly fishermen in their boats. They strolled along the beach and over the rocks for a few minutes. Anne could see Ann was starting to wilt. It had been a long, eventful day. They had seen more than what they imagine.

They took the Piper’s River Road into Launceston. Anne wondered if they should go into the Bay of Fires Winery. Anne wondered if they should pop in for a look. Ann was awake now. She had slept most of the way from Bridport. ‘Should we go into the winery, Adney?’ Anne asked. ‘They might have something we can get to take back for Aunt or father.’

‘Okay!!’ Ann said stifling a yawn. ‘It would be nice to stretch our legs too. Wouldn’t it?’

‘It certainly would.’ Anne said. She drove in and found somewhere to park their car and walked to the wine tasting area. Ann wasn’t a lover of wine neither was Anne. It was just interesting to see the product first hand. They were only there for a few minutes. Ann wanted to get back to the hotel. She could see Anne was flying at half mast. ‘Come on, Dearest. You need a rest before we decide what we are going to do for tea that’s if you are hungry.’

‘Okay, Adney.’ They arrived back at the hotel just after six. Anne lay on their bed and slept for an hour. She had driven most of the day and was exhausted. Ann picked up Margaret Scott’s poetry book Tricks of Memory and began reading it. She was interested in reading about Ned Kelly but that could wait until they were in bed tonight. She wanted Anne to read a chapter to her. She wondered why someone like Ned would become an outlaw. Anne woke after an hour’s rest. She was ready to go again. Ann couldn’t believe how quickly Anne could energise herself. ‘What do you want to do now, Adney? Are you hungry?’

It’s just after seven. Would you like to go see a movie? The local cinema is in Brisbane Street close to the mall.’ Anne said as she looked over at Ann who was still reading Margaret Scott’s book. ‘Adney, Are you listening to me?’

‘Yes Dearest. Let’s go to the movies. We can buy some popcorn and a drink. If we are hungry later we can get something to eat then.’

‘Good. Do you want me to see what is on at the cinema?’

“Yes please, Anne.’  Anne did a search on the cinema’s instragram page. ‘There’s a movie called The United States vs Billie Holiday on. Would you like to see that.’

‘Who is Billie Holiday?’

‘She was a jazz and swing singer.’

‘Let’s go. I think the next screening is in about half an hour. Come on Adney.’ Anne drove them to the nearest car park and they walked a few blocks to the cinema. Anne bought their tickets. Ann bought popcorn and two bottles of water. That’s all they wanted to drink. Anne thought it was a good idea they hydrate. They hadn’t drank much today and it seemed to be affecting their ability to think.

They sat in the back row. Ann looked at Anne. Her eyes were dark and wanting. They waited until the lights went down and the trailers for movies coming to the theatre soon were starting to play. Anne pushed up the armrest between them and Ann crawled into her lap. It was quiet except for the sounds coming from the cinema speakers. Ann crashed her lips against Anne’s. Anne was sitting in an uncomfortable position so they adjusted. Ann sat with her back facing the screen. She didn’t’ seem to be too concerned that she probably would miss half the movie. That she might not see any of the movie.

It had felt like weeks since they were intimate but it was only days. Ann had decided to wear a skirt. She had planned that Anne would fuck her in the cinema. It would be a wonderful way to end a wonderful day. She felt Anne lift her skirt up over her hips and put her hand on the waistband of her knickers. Ann moaned. The thought of what Anne was about to do was creating a pool of wetness between her legs. Anne reached down with her hand and felt it. ‘Is this all for me, Adney?’ Ann nodded. That’s all she could do.

Ann wanted to moan out loud but she couldn’t because Anne could predict when she would and she crashed their lips together. She had to do this today because she was certain that no one in the cinema that night would to hear a woman moaning in the back. There were only a dozen couples, a few singles and a group of ladies sitting up the front. Anne whispered to Ann, ‘keep it down, Adney. You don’t want to get us kicked out. Do you?’ Ann nodded. Ann could see she was nearly on the edge. She circled Ann’s clit with her fingers slowly, annoyingly slowly as far as Ann was concerned. The angle was awkward for Anne her arm started to ache. She was on the verge of quitting when Ann moved.

Anne inserted two fingers into Ann’s centre. She was so wet Anne could feel it drip down her arm. Anne continued to pump her fingers into Ann. Anne was sure she would come any second now and when she did Anne had to crash their lips together. Ann screamed into Anne’s mouth. It was a strange sensation for Anne. Then Ann’s body flopped against Anne who could feel her desire building up inside her. ‘Adney.’ Anne whispered. ‘I need you inside me.’

‘Give us a moment, Dearest. I need to get my breath back.’ Anne waited for a beat then she felt her wife’s hand dive under the waist band of her jeans and into her boxer briefs. Anne sighed. Was there no better feeling that Ann’s hand on her clit? Was there no better way to spend an evening than in the local cinema with her wife in her lap circling her clit with her fingers? It wasn’t long before Ann had to crash her lips against Anne’s to stop the people hearing what was going on behind them in the last row. Anne came with a shuddered and a moan into Ann’s mouth. It wasn’t until Ann relaxed that she realized the credits were rolling and the movie was over.

She pulled down her skirt and refastened Anne’s button on her jeans and pulled up the zip. They left the cinema and walked back to their car. Ann smiled. ‘We have had a good day today, Dearest.’

‘Yes, we have and there is so much I want to see. It will be good to see Matilda and her family again. Won’t it? I think you have grown very fond of her kids. Haven’t you, Adney?’

‘Yes. They are a bit boisterous but they are fun to be with.’ Anne said as they walked back into their hotel room. Ann wrapped her arms around Anne’s neck and kissed her passionately. Anne smiled into the kiss. ‘Are you sleepy, Adney?’

‘Yes.’ Ann said. ‘I want you to read to me, please.’ They were in bed after the brushed their teeth and put on their pjs. Ann snuggled into her wife as she read about Ned Kelly. It was all new and interesting to both of them. Ned Kelly was an outlaw who had become a hero in Australian folklore. Anne was intrigued by it. Ann was just happy to hear her wife’s low voice as she drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

The following day Anne and Ann made their way to the mall where they were going to be met by Matilda and her kids. They bought breakfast at Banjos near the mall then Ann called Matilda to see where she was. Ann told Matilda they were seated outside Banjos and would stay there. She assumed Matilda knew where Banjos was.

Matilda said they were driving through Westbury. Then she handed her phone to Peter who wanted to talk to Anne. He had a question he wanted to ask her. ‘Ann, mum says you and Anne and like grandma.’

‘Yeah, I guess we are.’ Ann said not sure where this conversation was heading. ‘Is it something you decided you were or something you are?’

‘It is something I am. I didn’t choose to be gay. This is who I am.’ Ann said

‘Do you mind if I put you on speaker phone Peter?’

‘No! I don’t mind. In fact I think mum would like you to do that.’

‘Anne here, Peter, you need to realize that only you know who you really are and who you want as a partner for life. It shouldn’t matter to anyone who you love because love is love. ‘

‘Thanks.’ Matilda yells from the driver’s seat.’

‘Bridget here Ann & Anne, how do you cope with people who think you shouldn’t be together?’

‘Ann here, Bridget. That is a hard one to answer because it depends on who they are and what they say to you. I have family who don’t like that I am married to Anne. They think she coerced me when Anne and I know she didn’t. I have loved Anne for so long I don’t remember when I didn’t love her.’

‘Thanks. I think they both know what they want from life. They often need their ego massage a bit sometimes.’ Matilda said wondering whether her kids would understand what they were talking about. ‘Mum, you give us all the confidence we need to do what we want with our lives.’ Isabel said with a smile. She was the cheeky one and her mum knew it. ‘She is only doing what she thinks is best and it seems she is doing a great job. Isn’t she?’ Anne said.

‘Oh yes. She is the best mum in the world and grandma is wonderful too. I wish she was here now.’ 

‘Don’t’ worry she will be here with you one day. Won’t she?’ Ann said trying to cheer Bridget up. Ann was hoping it worked.

‘Well, we are getting close to Launceston. I will park the car and we will walk to where you are. Okay!! See you in a few.’ Matilda disconnected the call. ‘Hey, kids do you have the gift we bought to give to Anne and Ann.’

‘Yes! And the card, I hope they don’t think we are wasting our money, mum but I like both Anne and Ann. I thought this would be a nice way to tell them.’ Bridget said.

They found Anne and Ann sitting peacefully. Anne had her arms around her wife very protectively. It was as if she was trying to keep her safe from an unknown source. Matilda smiled because she would know how Ann felt in that moment. That’s how Graeme wrapped his arms around her. Ann looked up and smiled. She stood up Anne had no choice but to let her go. She could see Ann wanted to greet them. Ann walked over to Matilda. She wrapped her arms around her. ‘Hi Matilda, how are you today?’

‘Good thanks. Graeme says hi. He wonders if you would like to stay with us for the rest of your time in Tassie.’

‘Anne here thought we had overstayed the other night.’

‘I thought you looked sleepy and wanted to go to bed.’ Anne said in her defense. ‘It was lovely to finally meet you, Anne. We might have looked tired but we can sleep in.’

‘Okay!! We will give it some thought. We have six more nights at the hotel.’ Ann was wondering if they could cancel. Make up some story that their long lost Aunt had died. Anne didn’t think that was a very nice thing to do.

‘The museum is opened now if you want to check it out. It’s free entry but they do ask you to make a donation. A gold coin would be fine.’ Matilda said. ‘We could go to the Planetarium but there is a charge and it isn’t open on Sundays or Mondays;’

‘How much do the tickets cost?’ Anne asked. She could hear her bank account whining.’ Ann looked at her. She knew what Anne was thinking. ‘Come on, Anne. We will probably only come here this once. Let’s enjoy it while we can.’

‘I just looked up the price. It’s eight dollars for adults. How many adults do we have here, none.’ They all laughed. ‘It’s five dollars for kids and $21 for a family.’

‘I wonder if we would get away with being classed as a family.’ Anne said. That made Ann and Matilda smile. ‘Let me check their webpage.’ Matilda found the ticket prices. ‘No, unfortunately it classes a family as two adults and two kids or one adult and three kids bad luck if you have more than three kids and your spouse is with you.’ Matilda said.

‘That’s you. I never think of things like that. I suppose because we don’t have three kids. Well, not yet.’ Anne said. Ann smiled. Anne said not yet. ‘Would you like to be a mum, Ann?’ Matilda said. ‘It can be hard work and sometimes it feel as though you’ve had your brains sucked out through….your uterus but I wouldn’t be without them now.’ Matilda said as she smiled at her three kids and they smiled back.

‘Come on! Let’s go to the museum.’ Anne said.

‘Where are you parked?’ Matilda asked as she wondered if Anne and Ann had parked where she parked. She had looked to see if she could find their car but missed it. She thought she might have been looking too hard. ‘It’s three cars up from where we are parked.’ Bridget said. ‘Let’s go!! Can we travel with you again, Anne and Ann.’

‘Well, as long as your mum doesn’t mind.’ Anne said then Isabel piped up. ‘I’m going with mum. .That means I can sit in the front seat.’

‘Front seat wars. I’ve had them with my sister. Since I am the oldest I always got to sit in the front seat.’ Anne said looking at her wife who frowned. ‘I’m the youngest. I never got a chance to sit in the front seat. That privilege was for my sister, Elizabeth. She’s two years older than me.’

‘How much younger is your sister, Anne?’ Matilda asked. Anne wondered if she had siblings. She wasn’t game enough to ask. ‘She’s seven years younger than me.’ Anne said. ‘Do you have brothers and sisters, Matilda?’

‘Yeah, but I don’t see them that much.’ Matilda said. Anne thought she looked sad then she smiled. Was it possible to have family you didn’t see that often? Then Matilda’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She reached in and pulled it out. ‘Hi Graeme what’s up?’ Can I put you on speaker phone?’

‘Yes!’ Graeme said. ‘How are you doing, Anne and Ann?’

‘Great thanks.’

‘That’s good.’ Graeme said wondering if Matilda had offered them a place to stay when they stay in Launceston had ended but he went ahead and asked them. ‘Has my wife offered you somewhere to stay when your stay in Launceston ends?’

‘No!’ Matilda blushed she had planned to ask them later today or maybe when their stay in Launceston was nearly over. Anne could see the kids smiling. They had wanted to ask Anne and Ann but didn’t think it was their place to do that.

‘I don’t know. What do you think Ann?’ Anne asked her wife.’ Adney would you like to do that?’ Ann smiled. Of course, she would. They could still take their day trips from Matilda’s place. Couldn’t they?

‘Looks like it’s a done deal then?’ Graeme said. I had better go. I have stuff I need to do today. See you later, Babe.’

‘Bye babe.’ Matilda disconnected the call and they walked to their cars.

True to her word Isabel climbed into the front seat of Matilda’s car. She didn’t get to ride in the front that often. Peter and Bridget climbed into the back seat of Anne & Ann’s hire car. They followed Matilda to the museum. Anne & Ann hadn’t had a chance to look around Launceston. Matilda realized this as she was driving to the museum. She would ask them later if they wanted to see the sights of Launceston.

Chapter Text

Chapter 22

They arrived at the museum a few minutes later. Peter and Bridget had been asking Anne and Ann lots of questions about England and Halifax. Anne told them she only lived at Shibden. She wasn’t born there but thanks to her aunt and uncle, sister and brother to her father she was given the chance to live there. She didn’t go into why that happened but she could see the kids were itching to know. Ann smiled. I am sure she will tell you one day, kids. Okay!!

They climbed out of their cars and walked to the museum. Anne and Ann thought it was an imposing building. Ann insisted on taking a selfie of everyone standing in front of it. They all stood close together. Anne held up her phone to take this one because she knew they couldn’t with a camera. Well, they hadn’t really tried.  

Anne and Ann put a donation in the box near the front of the museum as they walked in. They didn’t have any coins so Ann put in the smallest note. It was mauve in colour. Well, that’s what she thought. They spent the next two hours looking around. There was so much to see and do. The kids showed them the interactive centre. Ann loved the works reflecting on the resilience and beauty of Tasmania’s native wildlife. Anne was in awe of the history section. She thought she knew more than she actually did.

They had spent nearly three hours in the museum when Ann and Peter’s stomachs began to rumble loudly. Anne and Ann found Matilda and her daughters. They all decided it was time to get lunch. When Anne looked at her watch she couldn’t believe it was nearly 2PM. ‘No wonder you are hungry Adney. Where will we eat?’

‘I brought a snack for the kids and me. I added a little extra for you two. We can eat over there. It’s not much but it should tie us over until later. Okay!!’

‘Thanks. I’m doing fine. Ann here seems to always be hungry.’

They found a place to sit and eat. Anne sat behind her wife and wrapped her arms around Ann’s waist. Peter and Bridget wondered why, It was Bridget who seemed to ask more questions than her brother. “Why are you sitting behind Ann, Anne?’

‘This is the way we sleep at night. She likes to feel my body next to hers whenever we can be this close. You do remember that we haven’t been together for that long.’

‘I was only asking because mum And Graeme often sit like that when they are playing computer games. I always thought they were the only ones who did that.’

‘You are a very inquisitive child. I love that in kids. Ask as many questions as you want. We will do our best to answer them.’ Then she saw the look on everyone’s face. ‘I think your wife is blushing.’ Matilda said which made Ann blush more. ‘Don’t worry. There is nothing to be ashamed of, Ann. It’s lovely to see two people so much in love.’

‘Thank you.’ Ann said quietly. She didn’t know what else to say. It was a privilege snuggling in Anne’s arms the way they were. After they had finished eating the group made its way to the Penny Royal.

They followed Matilda. Peter was the only one with them this time. He sat in the back looking sad. ‘What’s up? Are you missing someone?’ Anne asked.

‘I guess so. These are all the places I would love to take Grandma.’

‘I suppose your grandma is special.’ Ann said looking at Peter wishing she was his grandma and could make him feel better. ‘She is great. Sometimes I wonder when I will get to see her again.’ Anne wondered why she moved so far from home. She knew she was with her partner but didn’t know anything more.

They piled out of the cars and walked to the entrance. It was an interesting place. ‘What’s over there?’ Anne asked pointing in the direction of a path.’

‘That takes you around to the gorge. I know you have been there already but I think it would be cheaper and we could show the kids the gorge. They have been there before but it would be somewhere we could sit and relax for a bit.’ Matilda said.

‘That sounds good to me.’ Ann said. ‘I am ready for a nap.’

‘Ann Walker, you shouldn’t be so tired.’ Anne said with a look of shook on her face. ‘Dearest, it’s trying to keep up with you that exhaust me.’

‘Well, you need to do what I said. Slow me down. I want to enjoy this trip as much as you do.’

‘If you are tired Ann we could just go to the park and sit while the kids have fun.’

‘No, I want to do this walk. Anne and I can spend tomorrow doing very little. Maybe watch a movie or even go to the park and sit in the sun.’

‘Okay. How long will it take.’ Anne asked. Matilda didn’t know. Anne checked the website to find out. The walk would take the group two to three hours. Anne knew Ann would want to take her time to get as many photos as possible. It was nearly three when they arrived there. So they really didn’t have much time before it would be dark. Then they would need to return to their cars.

‘Let’s go to the park. That is going to take too long and I think Ann would like to rest. We can do that gorge walk tomorrow. Your Pop was right two weeks isn’t enough time to see Tasmania.’

They climbed back into their cars and followed Matilda to the park. It wasn’t long before they arrived there. Then Anne realized they had no change for the parking meters. Ann saw Matilda feed hers and asked if she could spare them enough for an hour. She did.

They had parked near the main entrance. The kids seemed to know where they were going and raced ahead. Matilda chatted with Anne and Ann as they walked to the monkey enclosure. The monkeys were fun to watch. The kids dropped a couple of five cent coins into the water. Ann could see there were coins from different countries and wondered what the attraction was. Then she read the sign. ‘They are Japanese Macaques monkeys. It says here that they love the cold weather. They are often found in snow cover areas of their native Japan.’

‘That’s interesting, Dearest. What else does it say?’ Ann asked. She was trying to annoy her wife but Anne didn’t rise to the bait this time. ‘I think we should find somewhere to sit. It looks like the kids have deserted us. Oh, well, I am sure they will find us when they want something to eat.’ Matilda said.

They spied Peter, Bridget and Isabel on the park train. ‘I didn’t think they had brought their money with them since they had decided to save as much as they could to visit you soon in Halifax.’ Matilda said.

‘We have a surprise for them when we leave. I am sure they will like it. Only we won’t say anything until then.’

‘Okay!!’ Matilda looked at Anne and Ann quizzically. She wondered what they were up to. Only she didn’t ask even though curiosity was getting the better of her. ‘So where are you going tomorrow?’

‘Can you recommend somewhere?’

I thought you were resting tomorrow.’ Matilda said. ‘Well, we were until Ann remembered there is still so much we want to see. So, which direction do you think we should head?’

‘Just for a day trip I would go west to Entally House. It is near Hadspen. It’s a heritage listed home. It has been well preserved and is worth the visit. I am sure you will love it.’

They sat relaxing in the beautiful autumn sunshine. Ann fell asleep. Anne watched the kids run around. Well, Isabel. Peter and Bridget were sitting down looking at youtube videos on their phones Then it was time to leave Ann was sad that Matilda and her kids were going home. ‘Don’t worry Ann. We will visit them soon. I am sure they would like to see us again.’ Ann smiled but she wondered what it would be like when they finally did return home. She knew Aunt Anne was waiting there to see them. She smiled. Aunt Anne had become a favourite Aunt to Ann too..

They hugged and promised Matilda they would keep in touch. After all she was the one who could tell them where they should go next.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23

Anne and Ann took their time driving to Entally House. They wanted to make the most of the day. Ann smiled. She was beginning to really enjoy travelling with Anne. Her wife loved to travel and see different places. Ann took a photo of Entally House as they arrived there. It was Monday morning so they didn’t expect that there would be too many people there. There was only one car and a motorcycle in the car park. Anne smiled. ‘We nearly have this place to ourselves. I wonder if they let us roam or they take us on a tour.

The main door was closed. Anne opened it cautiously. There was no one around so they started looking through the rooms that were close. They walked around Entally House for about two hours. It was an old colonial home west of Launceston. Anne enjoyed looking at the antique furniture. Ann studied the paintings and various vases and ornaments which adorned the house. Ann took lots of photos especially the outside of Entally. She planned to do sketches and paintings of the places they had been to and the places they hadn’t yet visited.

When they had checked out most of Entally House they walked back outside.  It was getting close to lunchtime when Anne looked at her watch. ‘Are you hungry, Adney?’ Anne said as she looked over at her wife who was grinning broadly. ‘Yes, Dearest I am getting a bit hungry. Is there somewhere you would like to go to eat today, Anne?’

‘I don’t know right now. Let’s just drive back into Launceston and find somewhere.’

‘Okay! What did you think of the little church they had built there? I loved the stained glass windows in from of the pulpit.’

‘I wonder if you noticed the stained glass window that depicted Christ being crucified, Adney.’ Anne said.

‘I thought it was dramatic. Did you think that?’ Ann asked. ‘What else did you notice, Anne?’

‘There was a writing desk I would love in my study. I wonder if we can get one when we return home. Did you get a photo of it, Adney?’

‘I think so! Just let me check.’ Ann scrolled through the photos on her photo and found it. ‘Is this it?’

‘Yes.’ Anne said. ‘There were lots of family paintings and photos. I wonder if that is what Mary Reibey looked like. I think sometimes the sitter has the painter made changes to the painting to suit how they see themselves.’

‘Is that so?’ Ann said. ‘What did you think of the library?’

‘There were books in that library that I wish were in ours. Did you get a photo of the library? I think I might design ours to look a bit like that.’ Ann looked at Anne puzzled. She thought Anne had already decided what their library would look like. When they arrived back in Launceston they returned to the hotel and relax for an hour.

When they woke again Ann was really hungry. ‘I’m starving, Anne. Can we get some pies at Banjos?’ Ann said as her stomach rumbled. They laughed. Anne drove them back into town and as they ate in Banjos they wondered where they would go next. Anne did another search on her phone for somewhere historical to visit in Launceston.

‘There’s a place called Albert Hall. It’s near Launceston Park where we went to see the monkeys with Matilda and the kids yesterday. Would you like to check it out?’ Anne asked Ann. She was wondering if Ann was getting fed up with looking at old buildings. ‘Is there anything else we can do while we are here, Dearest?’ Then Anne noticed there was a ghost tour. It’s a 90 minute tour. It starts at The Royal Oak hotel at nightfall. It should be interesting.’

‘I’m not sure if I want to do that, Dearest.’ Ann said as she looked at her wife who seemed excited about the idea that they might see a ghost or three. ‘I’ll be with you. Can I book for two?’

‘Okay!!!’ Ann said tentatively. ‘Can we check out Albert Hall too?’ Ann said Unsure if her wife still wanted to go there. ‘Of course, we can.’ They finished their lunch. They returned to their car and drove around to Albert Hall. ‘We are doing lots of driving and not much walking, Ann. I think we should find somewhere to park the car and walk around town tomorrow.’

‘Okay!’ Ann said. ‘There seems to be lots of old buildings in Launceston.’

‘We can do that but look what I have just found. There’s a ghost tour at Port Arthur.’

‘Where’s Port Arthur?’ Ann asked quizzically. ‘Port Arthur is 97 kilometres or 60 miles southeast of Hobart on the Tasmanian Peninsula. Would you like to go there?’

‘How many days did we book at the hotel for? Ann asked. Anne said it was seven. They had been there for three nights so far that she could remember. “I wonder if they would let us cancel our booking. We could go on the ghost tour then leave.’

‘When are we going on the ghost tour?’ Ann asked as she looked at her wife. ‘Tonight, is that okay?’ Ann found it impossible to refuse her wife. She could see Anne was excited about the ghost tour but Ann knew Anne tends to get excited about many things especially being with her. ‘We need to go back to the hotel to see if we can cancel our room after tonight.’

They drove back to the hotel and asked to see the manager. Anne explained to her that they wondered if it was possible to cancel their booking after tonight. They would be leaving to go to Hobart in the morning. They only had two maybe three weeks in Tasmania and wanted to see as much of the state as possible. ‘Let me see. We usually don’t do this. Where are you from?’

‘ We are from Halifax, Yorkshire, England. We are on our honeymoon.’ Ann said putting on her biggest smile ever. It never pays to miss a moment to impress. ‘I guess if you want to we can arrange that but you will incur a small cancellation fee.’

‘How much?’ Anne asked hoping it wasn’t too much. They still had four nights to go. ‘One night.’

‘Yes, that will be fine we will be leaving at around 9.30 AM tomorrow.’ The manager arranged for the cancellation. Their bank account was credited with just over $120AU. They were happy that they were able to leave to go down to Port Arthur tomorrow. Anne decided they could do check out the towns between Launceston and Port Arthur tomorrow.

Anne had booked them in for a meal at the Royal Oak Hotel. Then they would be there for the ghost tour. The meal at the Royal was an Australian favourite and it would soon become Anne’s favourite. They had shepherd’s pie which some people call a potato pie and for dessert they had a banana split with chocolate topping.

It was Anne’s turned to pay she left the waiter a tip and a note. That meal was splendid. Thank you for your service tonight. They made their way to the pickup point for the ghost tour. Anne was buzzing so much she couldn’t stand still. She had to keep reminding Ann that everything would be fine. They would be able to enjoy this tour and wouldn’t probably see a ghost. Ann wasn’t so sure about that. Anne pulled her in close and pressed her lips against Ann’s. ‘You’ll be fine because I will be with you. I won’t let any ghost scare you, Adney.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 24

Anne was bouncing oh her feet. She was excited by the prospect that they might see a ghost. Was it possible that could happen? She had always thought there was a ghost living in Shibden but she had never mentioned it to anyone. She was afraid they would think she was crazy.

When she looked down at her wife she was cheerfully chatting on her phone. When did Ann pull her phone out of her pocket and make a call? Who was she talking to? Then Anne listened in. ‘That’s right, Matilda. She’s off in a world of her own. She is probably wondering who I am chatting to. Sometimes, I wonder if she thinks I’m only here for the beer.’ She heard Matilda laugh. ‘Are you still coming to stay with us soon?’ Anne assumed Ann had put Matilda on speaker phone. When she looked up and saw Anne looking into her blue eyes she blushed. ‘I just asked if you were still coming to stay. Ann said you were doing the ghost tour tonight.’ Matilda asked quietly. ‘Yes, we are and tomorrow we are going to Port Arthur via the east coast. I see there are a few small towns along the way we would like to see.’ Matilda smiled.

‘Are you going to do the ghost tour at Port Arthur?’

‘Yes, we plan to that will depend on the weather and we will stay somewhere near there over night. Then I think Adney here wants to spend the rest of our stay with you. Is that still okay?’ Matilda smiled then Ann heard the kids squeal with delight. ‘Great! I think I will put them to work cleaning out the studio. That’s where you will be sleeping.’ Ann looked at Anne. ‘Is that an art studio?’ Ann asked tentatively. ‘Yes, but it isn’t used as an art studio now. Graeme’s mum is an artist we have some of her work displayed in our home which was once their home.’ Ann smiled she was looking forward to seeing that.

The town clock stuck the hour. ‘I think we better go it’s nearly nightfall here. The ghost tour begins in a few minutes.’

‘Okay! See you Wednesday.’ Ann disconnected the call as she did the tour guide appeared and told them about Cyril the ghost in the cellar. He was the handyman at the hotel. He was in love with Lady Elizabeth. It’s a story of bitter jealous between a banker, a murdering master and a man who desperately searches for his lost love. The tour guide took them down to the cellar. Ann thought it was a bit creepy. Anne thought it was cool that there was a ghost in the pub. The tour guide explained where they were heading. Then they were walking down Tamar Street and along Cameron Street to a car park to their first location.

As they walked the guide told them that they would visit places along the way where there had been known ghost activity. He couldn’t promise they would see a ghost tonight. Yet, he said anything was possible. Anne wrapped her arm around Ann’s waist. Well, it did pay to be sure than her wife wouldn’t have an anxiety attack. Ann was wary of anything that went bump in the night.

They had viewed so much when the tour was over that Anne and Ann couldn’t remember the streets they had walked up or along but they did remember a few of the places. Of course, they remember the hotel and St Vincent & Sons funeral parlour. Car park. The Princess Theatre they remembered the tour guide said was haunted by three ghosts. There is a ghost, Mr. Oldaker who appears well dressed often bowing and removing his top hat or waving to the ladies.

There was also another hotel that was haunted. Anne tried to remember the name. Ann had been so worry that they would see a ghost that she forgot almost everything except the feel of her wife’s arm around her as they walked around Launceston. 

Anne did remember the old Launceston Roman Baths. There was reportedly a sighting of a ghost in a window on the side wall near the front entrance. She had hoped the ghosts would show themselves tonight. Ann was glad  they didn’t. By that point in the tour Ann was ready to go back to their hotel crawl between the sheets and snuggle into her wife’s arms and feel safe again. She wasn’t sure if she really wanted to do the Port Arthur ghost tour. She was about to tell Anne there was no way that would happen when Anne suggested they forgo the ghost tour and just check out Port Arthur during the daylight hours.

There were a few other locations they had visited but neither of them could remember what they were. When they returned to their room at the hotel they were very tired. Anne wondered if this trip had been good for Ann. She seemed to be enjoying herself but she seemed to be very tired most of the time. Ann had been watching her from a distance. She walked over to her wife and wrapped her arms around her. ‘Anne, are you okay?’ She said with concern in her voice. ‘I’m just wondering if you are regretting coming to Australia with me. You seem tired.’ Ann had to admit she was feeling tired but she was enjoying herself. ‘Yes, I am tired but I can rest when we are at Matilda’s. We can also have fun with the kids. Can’t we?’

Anne’s phone buzzed in her pocket. It was her sister. Marian. She answered it. Marian wanted to know if they were enjoying their trip. She had been thinking about them. Anne put her on speaker phone so she could talk to her and Ann. ‘We went on a ghost tour tonight, Marian.’ Ann said. ‘I don’t remember much about it because I was too scared. I thought we would have seen a ghost. Then I don’t know what I would have done.’ Marian was surprised Anne had taken Ann on a ghost tour. ‘Why did you take Ann on a ghost tour when you knew she would be scared, sister?’ Anne looked at Ann and mouthed. You wanted to go didn’t you? Ann nodded. ‘She wanted to go. She didn’t know it was going to be so dark and feel so spooky.’

‘Okay, Anne.’ Marian said. ‘Where are you going tomorrow?’

‘South down to Port Arthur you do remember the massacre that happened there on 28th April, 1996.’

‘Yes, I remember that. Thirty five people including two young girls and their mother were killed by one deranged nutter who is still in prison.’

‘We were going to go on the ghost tour but Adney doesn’t want to.’ Anne said. She seemed disappointed. Ann lowered her head. She didn’t want Anne to see she was crying but Anne saw the tears. ‘Hold on for a sec please, Marian.’

‘Okay!’ Anne wrapped her arms around her wife. ‘Are you okay, Ann?’ she looked at Ann. ‘I know you want to do the Port Arthur ghost tour. So, we can do it. Okay!!’

‘It looks like we are doing the ghost tour at Port Arthur,. Is Aunt there?’

‘Yes, I will put her on. I think she wants to ask you something.’ Marian turned on her speaker phone. ‘Hello, big Anne and little Ann how are you?’

‘Great.’ They both said. ‘We went on a ghost tour tonight. It was fun. Ann didn’t like it that much.’

‘Why?’

‘It was scary, Aunt.’ Ann said as she looked at her wife who seemed to have enjoyed it but couldn’t remember all the locations they had visited. ‘So, you’re still coming home soon.’

‘Yes, Aunt we are still coming home in just over two week’s time. We are spending the rest of our time here with Ann’s email pal. Ann wants to return home and I have so much I want to do around the estate.’

‘Good. Well, I will let you go. You must be sleepy. Take care and remember to call your old Aunt again soon.’

‘Okay!’ they both said. ‘Bye!’ Anne disconnected the call. They got ready for bed. Anne had promised Ann she would read to her about Ned Kelly. She grabbed her glasses and the book and began reading. Her soothing lyrical voice soon had Ann snoring next to her. Anne returned her glasses and book to the bedside table. She lay down and wrapped her arms around Ann. She was soon asleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 25

The following day would be their last day in Launceston. They packed their bags into their rental and drove into town for breakfast. They bought a half a dozen egg and bacon pies and two packets of sandwiches at Banjos to eat and two bottles of water to drink on the way. Ann seemed to be more alert today. ‘Did you sleep well last night, Adney?’ Anne asked as they made their way onto the southern outlet which would take them to Port Arthur. ‘Yes, I did. Thanks for making me feel safe all night. When I did wake I felt your arms around me. Thanks for that.’

Anne did a Google map search as Ann paid for their food. They had wanted to drive down the east coast and not through the midlands. Anne found what she thought would be where they could turn off the Midlands Highway and head east. They munched away on their egg and bacon pies as they drove from the centre of Launceston to their next destination.

They drove down the Midlands Highway until they reached Conara Junction which would take them along the Esk highway to St Marys. The trip would take about an hour. Anne had decided earlier they would take Elephant Pass Road to the Chain of Lagoons and then travel south to Bicheno. Ann seemed to be enjoying the trip. They arrived at Bicheno nearly three hours after they had left Launceston.

Anne looked over to see Ann was sleeping. She didn’t know when Ann had fallen asleep. She was so focused on her driving. The trip through Elephant Pass Road took time. It was narrow and windy. There was a moment when she felt they had driven over an elephant’s back. She wasn’t sure. It seemed that there was a moment when the road seemed to flatten out and widen slightly.

Anne parked the car and Ann woke. ‘Have I missed much, Dearest?’ Ann said as Anne wondered what they would do next. ‘Anne, what are you think?’ Ann said sincerely. ‘There’s the east coast Natureworld we could go back to and check out. That would put us a bit behind and it was still a long drive to Port Arthur.’

‘How about we keep driving until we find somewhere to stay overnight?’

‘That’s a good idea but you will need to call Matilda because she is expecting us there tomorrow.’ Ann called Matilda and explained that they didn’t know how long it would take to get from Launceston to Port Arthur via the Tasman Highway. Matilda said it was okay. Ann smiled. She wondered if there was anything they could get the kids. Matilda said, ‘just you and Anne. They are missing you so much right now.’ Ann smiled. She was hoping they could buy the kids something from Port Arthur, a t-shirt or a ball cap. They said their goodbyes and Ann disconnected the call.

‘It’s okay with Matilda. She says not to buy the kids anything but I think they would like a t-shirt or ball cap.’

‘That’s a good idea. Are you hungry, Adney?’ Anne said. They seemed to have eaten the sandwiches and pies before Ann went to sleep. ‘Yes, I am feeling a bit hungry. Look there’s a takeaway shop there. We can buy something and check out the blow hole.’ Ann said as she looked at Anne. They didn’t need to rush now. Anne bought two servings of fish and chips and two bottles of coke. She was thirsty for something other than water.

They had asked the assistant at the takeaway where the blow hole was. She pointed in the general direction and told them it was worth the effort to find it. After driving for a few minutes they were able to locate it. The sea was calm so they didn’t expect much of a blow of the blow hole. They sat quietly not speaking for fear of breaking the peace that was theirs to enjoy when Anne suggested since they weren’t in a hurry they could go for a stroll on the beach.

They climbed out of the car. Ann brought her camera in case the blow hole erupted. Then she would take a few photos. She imagined it would be something she would like to paint. They had been walking for twenty minutes when it got windy. They raced back to the blow hole because they knew that the waves would be lashing against the rocks which would cause the blow hole to erupt. Anne held Ann close to her as they watched the water spurt into the air. Ann took as many photos as she could until the chilly air had her wanting to retreat back to the car. Anne could feel her shivering. ‘Are you cold, Adney?’ Anne asked as they stood watching the waves roll onto the beach. ‘Yes, can we go back to the car and sit for a few minutes. I love watching the blow hole. It’s interesting how they water spurts up from it.’

‘Yes, it is, Ann.’ As they sat quietly in the car Anne wondered what the next town would be. She did a Google map search. ‘We could go into Coles Bay but that is taking us off into a different direction. Yet, it would be great. Then there are towns along the way.’ She said then in order they would drive through them. They are Apslawn, Cranbrook but they seem like farming towns. Then there’ Swansea. We might be able to stay there tonight if we can find a hotel or motel. What do you think?’ Anne asked as she looked at Ann who didn’t hear a word she said because she was sleeping.

Anne let her sleep for a while longer. It wasn’t as if they needed to be anywhere since they were going to Port Arthur until tomorrow. Ann was woken by her phone buzzing in her pocket. She answered in groggily. ‘Hi.’ She said not even looking to see who was calling her. ‘Hi.’ Bridget said. ‘Did I wake you, Ann?’

‘No, that’s okay I was just taking a small nap. What’s up?’

‘Mum was wondering where you are. She had a big favour to ask of you.’

‘Okay! Can I talk to her?’ Ann asked. Bridget handed the phone to her mum. ‘We are in Bicheno near the blow hole. I took some photos. It’s cool. Isn’t it?’

‘Yes! Pop was wondering if you could put some flowers on three graves in Swansea on your way through. He will send the money to me and I will reimburse you. Is that okay? You should be able to get some at Morris’s store. You can’t miss it.’

“How will we find the cemetery, Matilda?’

‘I will send you the directions but it is easy to find. After you get the flowers just follow the road around past the IGA supermarket. Don’t go straight ahead there. Drive until you come to the first intersection, there will be a white house on your left. Take a left there and go down about a couple of hundred metres until you come to a gate. The cemetery is a couple of minutes walk through there. Their graves are the first ones as you go through the gate on the left. Pop would be ever so grateful if you would do this for him.’ Matilda said. ‘I will also send you the directions to get there if you feel lost. Swansea is a huge place.’ Ann grinned. She got the joke. ‘I think we can do that for him. He seems a nice enough fella.’

‘Thanks. I am sending you the directions now. Okay!!’

‘Thanks I am sure we will find it.’ Ann disconnected the call then her phone buzzed again. ‘Hi again.’

‘Hi! Bridget wanted to ask you something.’ Matilda gave her phone to Bridget. ‘What’s up?’ Ann asked surprised that Bridget had more questions to ask her. ‘Peter and I were wondering if you would like to see Arthur’s lake while you are staying with us.. That was my Nan’s favourite fishing hole.’

‘Yes, that would be lovely. We could take a picnic lunch up there.’ Ann said.

‘Great. I will tell mum. Bye!’

‘Bye.’ Ann disconnected the call and told Anne what Bridget wanted. ‘Well, let’s hope it is a lovely day.’ Anne said. Ann was hoping it would be. There had to be a view worth painting there.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26

‘I was wondering if you would like to take a detour and go into Coles Bay. It doesn’t seem like a long drive.’ Anne checked Google maps for directions and time. ‘It’s only a 28 minute drive. Is that okay?’ Ann nodded. It would be 28 minutes for another nap. ‘Yes, Dearest we can do that.’

Anne drove out of Bicheno south towards the turn off to Coles Bay. Ann slept most of the way there. She parked the car on Freycinet Drive outside Three Peaks Holiday Resort. Ann didn’t wake until Anne opened the car door to get out and stretch her legs. Ann watched her wife. She looked tired. She had driven from Launceston to Coles Bay with only one stop when they ate lunch in Bicheno.

Anne was doing a Google search to find somewhere they could go in Coles Bay. ‘There’s the Freycinet National Park Visitors centre we can check out if you want to do that, Adney.’ Anne said as she looked over at her wife who had a worried look on her face. ‘Are you okay, Adney?’

‘You look tired, Dearest. Would you like to rest for a while? We can check out the visitors centre after you take a nap.’ Ann said climbing back into the car. Even though she had slept most of the way from Bicheno she was still tired. ‘Tasmania is bigger than what we thought it was.’ Isn’t it?’

‘It certainly is. I don’t think we will see as much as we would like to see.’ Anne said. She smiled as she opened the driver’s door and climbed in. ‘Do you think we should find somewhere to nap. I don’t think they want us sleeping here where everyone can see us. ‘We could go down to the boat ramp and sit there for an hour or so. Well, near the boat ramp. Would you like to do that Adney?’

‘Yes, please. That will give us time to relax and you can sleep.’ Yes, Anne thought I can sleep for awhile. They drove to the boat ramp. There was only one person going out fishing even though it was calmer there than when they were at Bicheno. ‘What’s the bay called, Dearest?’ Ann asked her wife. ‘It’s called Great Oyster Bay.’

‘Why?’

‘Just let me find out.’ Anne did another Google search on her phone. I think it is because there were lots of oysters in the bay years ago. I guess greed nearly wiped them out.’

‘Okay!! Now, just sleep.’ Ann said as she laid her seat back. Anne followed suit. They slept peacefully for nearly an hour until someone came over and tapped on the window. ‘Are you okay, Ladies?

‘Yes, thank you. We have travelled from Launceston down the Midlands Highway to Conara Junction and took the Esk Highway to St Marys and the Elephant Pass and Taman Highway to Bicheno then on to here.’ Anne said.

‘You have covered quite a big area today. No wonder you are sleepy. Where are you staying tonight?’

‘We hope to find a place to stay in Swansea. We have a friend who wants us to put flowers on some graves there.’

‘Okay!! I have a pamphlet in my car with places to stay in Swansea if you would like to check it out.’

‘Yes please.’

‘Here you go. I think the Swansea Motor Inn is the cheapest. I think it is around $76 a night. How long will you be staying there?’

‘One night. We are going to Port Arthur tomorrow for the Ghost tour the back to Deloraine the following day. We will be resting for a couple of days then a bit more sightseeing before we head to the mainland and back home.’

‘Ah you mean the north island. It’s what we Tasmanians call the mainland.’ Ann didn’t get the joke but Anne thought it was funny. Thanks for the help. What’s their number? I think I will call them now.’ Anne phoned the Swansea Motor Inn and asked if they had any rooms available for tonight. Yes, they had several. Anne booked a room for two with a queen size bed. She would pay when they arrived there later in the day.

‘Thanks for your help…’

‘James.’

‘Thanks James. We will be on our way now.’

‘You’re welcome. Have a nice day.’

They left Coles Bay and headed south towards Swansea. They passed through two hamlets on the way. They were Apslawn which had a winery called Devil’s Corner Cellar Door. They didn’t stop. Ann was tired and they wanted to get checked in at the hotel before dark. They drove for several kilometres before they passed through Cranbrook. They arrived in Swansea 44 minutes later. Ann had been sleeping and woke when Anne stopped the car outside the hotel. ‘You stay there, Andey. I will check us in. It looked like Morris’s store was open. So, when I have checked in we can buy the flowers to put on the graves.’ Anne said to her sleepy wife. They had had a big day.

When Anne had checked them in she came back for their bags and took them to their room. It was still sunny outside but chilly so Anne brought Ann’s jacket for her. They went to Morris’s store to buy some flowers. They told the lady at the checkout who they were for and she gave them a discount.

The directions Matilda gave them were easy to follow. They drove to the cemetery and put the flowers on the graves. ‘Ann, it’s sad when the graves of family members were in such a sad state.’ Anne said as she wondered if they could be repaired. ‘I guess the ground has shifted over the years. Who knows? The family might not be able to afford to get it fix.’ Ann took some photos with her phone as proof they had done what Matilda had asked them to do. Ann sent a message and a copy of the photos to Matilda. She got a thumb up from Matilda and a smiley face. ‘Where are we going to eat tonight, Dearest?’

I saw a Bark Mill Tavern & Bakery as I was driving into town. Would you like to check that out? We might be able to get something to eat there.’

‘Yes, I think that is a good idea.’ Anne drove back along the Tasman Highway north to the Bark Mill. They were early for dinner. So, Anne suggested they drive back to Jetty Road and take a short stroll on the beach. Ann wasn’t as willing as Anne had hoped she would be. ‘We could sit here and wait until it opens, Anne.’

‘We have nearly an hour to wait. We could go down to the jetty and walk along it.’ Anne said. She wanted to stretch her legs. It wasn’t too cold and the water looked inviting. Ann nodded. She couldn’t really say no to her wife. They drove back towards the centre of town and down Jetty Road.  Anne parked the car and they walked to the end of the jetty. Ann carried her camera so she could get photos of the other side of Great Oyster Bay. They sat for half an hour enjoying the view. ‘We were over there.’ Anne pointed to the eastern shore of the bay. ‘About two hours ago. Isn’t that amazing?’

‘Tasmania is bigger than what I thought it would be, Dearest. The map of Australia and Tasmania give anyone looking the impression that it’s a small island.’

‘It certainly does. There’s so much to see. I think we need to come back another time. I am sure Matilda and the kids would love to see us.”

‘That would be great. I’m getting hungry, Dearest. Can we go back to the Bark Mill and eat.’ They walked back to their car and drove to the Bark Mill. Ann didn’t know what to have and asked Anne to decide for her. They decided to buy two different meals and share them. ‘Have you decided what you would like to order?’ The waitress said. ‘I would like the steak and mushrooms with chips and salad. My wife will have the shepherd’s pie with chips. Is that okay, Adney?’ Anne said looking at her wife. Ann nodded. ‘Would you like something to drink while you wait for your order?’ The waitress asked.

‘I would like a Guinness for me and a coke for her thanks.’

‘I will bring them to you in a moment.’

‘Thanks.’ Ann said. They chatted until their meal arrived. Anne was still looking for something to buy Aunt and father. Ann had something for Marian only she wouldn’t tell Anne what it was.

‘Anne, do you think she would like a book about Australia?’ Anne looked at her wife then realized they had a book on Australia and didn’t need to buy another one. ‘What about the book I bought at Kmart? That would be okay. Wouldn’t it?’

‘Yes, Dearest!’ Their meals were delivered. They ate, sharing what they had. Ann liked the steak and mushroom and she knew Anne liked the shepherd’s pie.’

‘Would you like dessert tonight?’ The waitress asked them. Anne looked at Ann who shook her head. ‘No thanks.’ They paid the bill and left. They made their way back to the hotel. Ann was starting to fade. So she was in bed not long after they entered their room. Anne climbed into bed next to Ann and read for awhile. It wasn’t long before Anne sat the book on the bedside table. She turned out the light and snuggled up to her wife and fell into a deep sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 27

Tonight they would be going on another ghost tour this time in Port Arthur. They had to check out at ten but didn’t need to rush to get to Port Arthur. So, Anne decided they would take a stroll around Swansea. Ann wanted to visit the historical society if it was open. Then she wanted to go for a walk on the beach. Anne was hoping they would find some sea shells. Only she didn’t think they would be able to take them home. Ann just wanted to feel the sand between her toes even though it was a bit chilly to go bare foot in April in Tasmania.

They packed their bags and loaded them into the car. They had to get something for breakfast before they starved. As there was no Maccers in Swansea they had to find another alternative for breakfast. Anne suggested they go to Morris’s store. They might have something they could eat on the go. Ann wasn’t sure that was what she wanted to do. She would like to relax and eat. Then they both thought about last night’s meal and began heading back to the Bark Mill. Only to remember they only served lunch and dinner.

‘What now, Anne?’ Ann said. ’I’m starving. I want something to eat.’

We could buy a tub of ice cream and devour that. What do you think?’ Ann looked at Anne as if she had two heads. ‘You have to be joking. Ice cream on a day like today it’s not exactly hot. Isn’t it?’

‘I was just trying to lighten the mood, Adney.’ Anne said as she turned the car around and headed back into town. ‘There’s the primary school. I wonder where the high school is.’

‘In a town this size I don’t think there would be one, Anne.’ Ann said as Anne parked outside Morris’s store. ‘Hi ladies!’ The checkout lady yelled. ‘How can we help you today? Did you find the cemetery last night?’

‘We found the cemetery okay. It was rather easy with the directions we had been given. Do you have anything for breakfast that doesn’t require any preparation?’

‘I’m not sure. There are a couple of cafes you could visit. I recommend the Fire & Ice Café. It’s just down the road at 2 Franklin Street. They serve a rather good breakfast. Ann smiled at Anne. So, they thanked the shop assistant. ‘Shall we walk Adney?’ Anne said as they left the store. ‘Yes, it isn’t far and we could go to the Historical Society to see if it is opened then we can check it out later.

Anne and Ann walked up to the door of the Historical Society. The sign on the door said it would be open soon. ‘Let’s get something to eat and return here later’ Ann said. When they arrived at the Fire and Ice they ordered eggs and bacon for breakfast. While they ate Anne told Ann more about the history of the area. ‘The first families to move here the Meredith and Amos families and in 1828 the Cotton family settled on land south of the town on an estate called Kelvedon named after the town of the wife of the original owner of the property.’

“Is the original house still standing?’ Ann asked.

‘Yes, it is. If, what I have read is correct it was only meant to be a temporary home until they built something more permanent. That never happened.’

‘You have a wealth of knowledge, Dearest. How old is the property?’

‘I’m not really sure about that the family arrived in what was then called Hobart town in 1825. They came out from England with their friend Dr. George Fordyce Story who had become Assistant surgeon to the 16th regiment at Waterloo Point (now Swansea) they acquired land south of Swansea and named it.’

‘Where did you learn this information, Anne?’

‘From a book called Kettle on the Hob: A family in Van Diemen’s land.’ Anne said with pride. She loved studying history and did her best to learn about where they were going. ‘How did you know we would pass through Swansea on this trip?’

‘I didn’t. It was a short read. It’s less than one hundred pages long. I think I read it in an afternoon.’

‘Anne Lister, are you bragging again.’ Ann said with a grin. ‘Shall we go and check out the historical society now?’ Ann said. ‘Since you are so full of knowledge what was the historical society originally used as?’

‘Don’t quote me on this but I think it was originally used as a school.’ Anne didn’t want to seem to brag too much. She smiled at her wife as they walked back toward the historical society. The sun was shining and it was a lovely autumn day. Ann’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She reached and pulled it to answer it. ‘Hi Matilda, how are you?’ Ann said smiling. She had been looking for a reason to call her friend but couldn’t think of one. Anne guided Ann to sit down on a bench outside the historical society so they could chat with Matilda.

‘Can I put you on speaker phone, Matilda? I think Anne wants to chat with you too.’

‘Oaky!! I have put you on speaker phone here because the kids want to chat too. Isabel is missing you so much. I don’t know how she will be when you go home.’

‘Hi kids.’ Anne and Ann said together.

‘Hi Anne and Ann. Where are you?’ They asked.

‘Swansea. We were just about to go into the historical society when your mum called me.’ Ann said. ‘We were going to look in and find out a bit more about the area. Anne here is a history buff and had read up about the history of the area already.’

‘Had she? There are at least three books with information about the area in them. What did she read?’

‘A book she said was based on letters called Kettle on the Hob. Have you heard about it?’

‘Yes. What are you going to do today?’ Matilda asked. The kids wanted to know. They can hardly wait until you arrive here tomorrow.’

‘We are going for a stroll on the beach after we have checked out the historical society.’ Anne said. ‘Swansea is a small town. Have you ever been here?’

‘Yes, a long time ago. I am not sure if Peter & Bridget have been there but I know Isabel hasn’t.’ Matilda said. She could even remember where she stayed. ‘Peter, here.’ Although it was impossible not to realize who it was since his voice was so deep. ‘While you are here can we take a trip to Tasmazia and the village of lower Crackpot.’

‘I think we will be able to fit that into our busy schedule.’ Ann said sarcastically. She knew Peter didn’t get the joke but Matilda laughed. ‘We could also go to the Mole Creek caves. I have been told they are cool.’ Bridget said. She had wanted to visit them and hadn’t been taken there. ‘We could do that,’ Anne said as she looked over at her wife who wasn’t sure it was a good idea to go underground into dark and unknown places. ‘Can you assure Ann here that everything will be okay and we will exit as we went in?’

‘Don’t worry, Ann.’ They won’t let people go down into the cave if there any chance of something happening.’ Matilda said.  Ann smiled. ‘It seems like you have won her over, Matilda. She often finds it hard to be in confine spaces unless she knows there is a way out.’

‘She never told me that.’ Matilda said. Ann blushed She was a little embarrass about that. ‘Anyway, I had better let you go so you can go into the historical society. Enjoy the rest of your day. We will see you tomorrow sometime.’

‘Yes, probably mid afternoon. We are returning via the Midlands highway. So, it won’t take so long. Bye!’

‘Bye.’ Matilda and the kids yelled into the phone. Ann disconnected the call as they wandered into the historical society. It was a well kept property. Anne was interested in the history of the building as well as the history of the town and surrounding district. Ann just wanted to check out the art work on the walls and take a few photos to paint it when she returns home.

They had spent so much time in the historical society that they didn’t have time to go anywhere else. The beach walk would have to wait until another place and time. They made their way back over to the car. Anne drove south. They stopped at the local service station for petrol. Anne bought two bottles of water and four mars bars. She thought Ann would be thirsty and hungry long before they reached their next destination.

Chapter Text

Chapter 28

They drove out of town towards their next stop which was going to be Kelvedon Beach. They wanted to check out Kelvedon estate. That was until the noticed a two storey white house on the right hand side of the road. It looked as though it has been there for years. Anne stopped the car. Ann got out and took a photo. Matilda might be able to tell them who lived there and what the property was originally called. Ann was sure Matilda would know. They continued their trip down to Port Arthur.

Once Anne and Ann were on their road trip to Port Arthur Ann relaxed which made Anne smile it was wonderful being alone with the one person in this world who loved her so much. They stopped at Kelvedon Beach to take photos and to see if there were any seashells on the beach. They had heard a rumour that the beach was covered in shells decades ago. They imagined they would find a few. Anne was surprised when they didn’t as many seashells as she had thought they would find. Anne guessed that the tide and seashell collectors and dwindled the number of shells down.

Ann took a few photos and they walked on the beach for a while. It was lovely and so peaceful even though the highway was only a short distance from where they were standing. They strolled back to the car and drove further on until they reached Spiky Bridge. Anne parked the car and they got out. It was only a short walk to the famous tourist attraction that was the bridge. Ann took photos and Anne decided it would be a good idea to walk over it since they didn’t drive over it as they could see it was only wide enough for one lane traffic and probably hadn’t been used in a long time.

Ann took a photo of Anne on the bridge. It was to prove to everyone she had walked over Spiky Bridge. They drove further down the coast until they reached Triabunna. They wanted to take the ferry over to Maria Island. Matilda had suggested the trip only when they found out the sea needed to be less choppy than what it was and there had to be more people wanting to go over to the Island they decided to forgo the ferry ride and the sightseeing tour.

Anne could see Ann was content with that decision. She was starting to feel hungry. Anne suggested they go to the next town on their travels, which was Orford. It was only a few kilometres from where they were.

On arriving in Orford they located the local takeaway. They decided to eat at the Eastern Drive Café where they hoped they could sit for a while and enjoy the view. It was only a short drive from Triabunna. Ann smiled more than she had in a long time. Anne was in awe of how gorgeous her wife was. They ordered their meals and collected them .Anne and Ann strolled back to their car where they sat and ate their meals. Anne had bought a hamburger with the lot not realizing it would be so huge. Ann had fish and chips because she could. They decided on a chocolate milkshake with an extra scoop of ice cream.

After they had eaten Anne thought it was a good idea to go for a walk. Anne drove them across Prosser River until they located a car park nearest the beach. They walked of about half an hour until Ann said she wanted to rest. Ann sat on the sand while Anne showed her how to skip rocks on the water. Her Aunt had shown her how to do that when she was a kid.

Anne had forgotten they had taken that one trip to the beach. She couldn’t remember when they did that and where they went. As she started skipping rocks the memory of that time was coming back to her. Then she felt tears stream down her face. She wiped her eyes and before she could hide from Ann she felt Ann’s warm arms around her. ‘Are you okay, Dearest?’ Anne nodded as if that would convince Ann that everything was fine. ‘Ann e Lister you are lying to me. What’s wrong? I can see you are hurting. Is it from a memory or something I have done?’

They walked slowly back to the car and sat in the car for a few moments while Anne’s tears stopped flowing and she could tell Ann about their horrid trip to the seaside. ‘I remembered a time when we went to the seaside. All the family was there. I had forgotten about that until I started to show you how to skip a rock on the water. Aunt Anne taught me to do that. I think she learned from her father because they had gone to that same beach as kids.’ Ann nodded for Anne to keep going. ‘It was there that I realized I was different from everyone else. I had to tell someone that I knew I loved girls. I had always had a crush on this girl I went to school with but I knew she was straight. She had every boy in school swooning over her.’ Ann smiled she remembered being that girl. She would mention it to Anne later. ‘Well, I knew mum wouldn’t understand. So, I convinced Aunt Anne to go for a walk with me along the beach. That was when she showed me the trick to skipping rocks on the water. That’s when I told her I was gay. She was more supportive than I ever imagined she would be.’ Lucky you Ann thought. How did I end up with the wrong family? ‘She was the one who suggested I tell my parents. Well, that went down really well. Mother didn’t want to believe me. Father said I should wait this might just be a phase. Marian just laughed. She thought it was funny that her sister loved girls. I cried in my Aunt’s arms. I was glad I had someone on my side. I didn’t want anyone to tell Uncle James but father did.’

‘What did your uncle say?’ Ann asked quietly. ‘There wasn’t much he could say that hadn’t already been said. I was surprised when mother said I had to move out and Aunt Anne told me I could move into Shibden to live with them.’ Then Ann realized she was crying. She turned her head away from her wife and wiped her eyes before she thought Anne could see what was happening. ‘Why are you crying Ann?’ Ann didn’t answer her. So, Anne asked her again. ‘What’s wrong, Adney?’ Ann turned her head. ‘I am sad for the way you were treated but it also reminded me of the way I was treated when my family found out I was dating a girl.’

What happened, Ann?’ Anne asked sincerely. ‘I was forced into conversion therapy. It was run by the local church which mother and father were members of and where we went every Sunday.’

‘Yeah, I remember you saying. It was the Pres on High Street, right! Reverend Ainsworth was the minister, right!’ Ann nodded. ‘Did he take the conversion therapy sessions?’ Ann nodded again. ‘What did he do to try and convince you that being gay was unnatural?’ Anne said. ‘You are not broken so you don’t need fixing.’

‘Well, he told me I could change and for a beat I believed him. He said I could be cured of my gayness. I never imagined I would be the only one there. I don’t think my parents would have sent me if they knew that.’ Anne could see where this was heading. ‘He asked me all these crazy questions. I can only remember one. He asked me if I had been abused as a child. I knew I hadn’t but I hesitated and he used that in his favour.’

‘What happened when you still told him that you hadn’t been abused?’

‘He still wanted to believe I had been. I insisted I hadn’t. So, he dropped it. He could see his idea wasn’t getting anywhere. Then I started shaking. In that moment I realized that he would do anything to cure me of my gayness. That was when he tried to touch me. I wouldn’t let him. So, he would get a little violent. He pushed me down onto the floor. I screamed. He put his hand over my mouth. He was holding me down trying to undo the zip on his trousers. I took the chance and kneed him in the groin. Somehow I must have found enough strength to cause him so much pain he rolled off me. I was up and out of there before he could catch me. I never went back again even though my parents kicked me out of home. My sister was the only one who supported me. She helped me find somewhere to live.’

‘If they didn’t accept your sexuality how did you end up inheriting Crow Nest?’

‘That’s a long story. Maybe when we have more time I can tell you, Anne.’ Anne reached over and hugged her wife. I am so sorry you had to go through that. Did your parents finally accept you?’

‘Yes, they kind of accepted me and it was because of you that I finally found the courage to accept myself, Anne Lister. You were my beacon of hope in those dark days when I was so confused. Then I would see you and feel better then you moved away.’ Anne felt sad when Ann spoke those words then you moved away.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29

‘I think we need to leave now, Anne or we won’t get to Port Arthur in time for the ghost tour.’ Anne was surprised by Ann again. She didn’t think Ann wanted to go on the ghost tour. ‘I thought you just wanted to do a tour of Port Arthur and forget about the ghost tour.’

‘Anne, it might help me focus on something other than my horrid experience with Ainsworth and conversion therapy. Can we do that?’ Anne smiled. ‘Anything that will make my wife happy.’

Anne drove them down to the Tasman Highway until they reached Sorell. They had already been to Woolworths in Deloraine. So, they went there to buy something for dinner. They weren’t hungry because it hadn’t been that long since they had eaten. They decided on a cooked BBQ chicken and potato salad. They had only noticed there was a Woolworths store is Sorell when they driven past it looking for somewhere to stay for the night.

After they bought their dinner Anne did a Google search to find a cheap place to stay in the area. Somewhere close to Port Arthur. Anne found the Port Arthur Motor Inn for $97 a night it was the cheapest. She booked them a room for tonight. Ann smiled. They had dinner and somewhere to sleep.

They drove down to Port Arthur and had to ask for directions to the Motor Inn. When they reached it they realized there was a restaurant there. So, they really didn’t need to buy dinner. Ann wished they hadn’t. They checked into the motor inn and were shown to their room for the night.

There was a small kitchenette with a microwave and fridge. Ann put the food they had bought into the fridge for later. She felt like going for a walk. ‘Anne, let’s go see if there is any action happening around here.’ Anne quirked her eyebrows, action here she couldn’t see how that would be possible. The town didn’t seem like a town at all. She knew there were houses there because she remembered passing a few as they drove in. She wasn’t sure she wanted to live here after she learned about the history of the place.

They went for a walk as Anne told Ann about the history of Port Arthur. ’It had been a convict settlement from 1830 to 1877. After Port Arthur closed as a convict settlement its name was changed to Carnarvon.’

‘Do you know why the settlement’s name was change?’ Ann asked. She was curious because she didn’t understand why they would do that. ‘I don’t know. It seems strange to me unless the residents who bought up land and moved there were embarrassed by the settlement’s history. I think most Australians back then didn’t want to admit they had a convict in their family.’

‘Has that perception changed any since then?’

‘Yes, it seems to be a badge of honour to have convict ancestors. I wonder if Matilda has any.’

‘Do you want to call her to find out?’ Ann nodded as she pulled out her phone. It rang for a while then went to Matilda’s voice mail. Ann left a message then disconnected the call. She didn’t hear from Matilda until they were back on the motor inn. ‘Hi Matilda.’

‘Hi Ann. What’s up?’ Matilda asked. ‘We are at Port Arthur and were just curious to find out if you have any convict ancestors.’ Anne asked. ‘I think we have five. I have done some research on our family and found so much about our ancestors. It’s fun but very time consuming and can be very expensive too.’

‘Thanks! Anne and I were just curious.’ Ann said. ‘That’s okay!! That’s how I began my search to find out about my ancestors. Talk to you later.’ Matilda said as she disconnected the call. ‘What did Ann want to know?’ Bridget asked. ‘If we had convict ancestors I think there are five but now I think about it I am not sure if that’s correct.’ Matilda said. ‘I think I will check my records.’ Matilda went away to find out the information. When she returned the kids were watching a DVD. ‘Bridget, we have five convicts in our family.’

‘Who and what did they do to be sent here?’ Bridget said. Matilda read out the names. ‘WOW!!’ That was all Matilda’s kids could say. They found it hard to believe until Matilda showed them the information she had collected. ‘When will Anne and Ann be here?’ Isabel asked. ‘I guess late tomorrow night so you kids need to clean up the studio ready for them.’ Peter, Bridget and Isabel were on their feet and out the front door before Matilda had to say it a second time. Yes, she thought the kids adore them.

Back in Port Arthur

Anne and Ann returned to the motor inn. Ann prepared their meal. The chicken was cold. Anne had found a couple of plates and cutlery. They ate in companionable silence until Anne turned on the television. She wanted to watch the local news to see what the weather was going to be like tomorrow. ‘Dearest, why did you turn that on? Matilda told me they don’t own a tv. So, don’t get interested in any shows. They usually play games or watch DVDs or just sit and chat.’

‘Okay!! I just want to see what the weather will be like tomorrow.’

‘Isn’t the weather app on your phone good enough?’

‘Yes!’ Anne said. ‘Tomorrow will be sunny with a top of 15 degrees celcius with a low of 5. That’s Hobart. I wonder how cold Deloraine will be. At least we will be warm in the car. Won’t we?’ Anne said smiling at her wife. Anne knew she would be warm with Ann even if they were at the South Pole.

‘Well, it’s nearly time to go on the ghost tour. Are you ready, Adney?’ Anne said as she stood up and grabbed her coat. ‘Get your jacket it’s going to be a bit chilly.’ They walked from the motor inn to the historical site. It was just on sun set when they arrived at the pickup point. It was near the police station the Port Arthur historical site. ‘I was told the ghost tour takes 90 minutes.’ Anne said.

‘It’s the same length as the one we went on in Launceston. Isn’t it?’

‘That’s right, Adney. Did you bring your camera with you?’

‘Yes! I would never want you to miss a chance to get a photo of the presence of a ghost something to email home to tease Marian about. I know you.’ Anne smiled. Ann certainly did know her wife. ‘Are you okay, Adney?’

‘I am okay. I just want them to get this tour started so I can warm up.’

‘Cold?’ Anne wrapped her arms around Ann. She was shivering even with her jacket on. ‘Are you cold or just shivering because you don’t know what we will see or hear?’

‘I think it is a bit of both, Dearest.’

‘Come on. We will be fine just don’t faint on me. Okay!! I don’t think you would like me giving you mouth to mouth in front of 18 other people. Would you?’ Ann shook her head. That wouldn’t do. How embarrassing that would be.’ Anne laughed. ‘Don’t worry. I am sure you will be fine. Just breathe. Of course, there are likely to be ghosts here because over the course of the 47 years it was a convict settlement over 1000 people died.’

‘That’s a lot of deaths in such a short time.’

The tour guide appeared. ‘We all need to stick together.’ She held up a lantern. ‘This will be our only light for the evening’s tour. Remember to listen carefully for any movement that seems different. I should remind you that there were over 1000 people who died here while it was a convict settlement. So, there are bound to be a few ghosts. I haven’t seen one yet but I am hopeful one of these nights I will.’

‘I hope it isn’t tonight, Dearest.’ Anne smiled. She was hoping tonight was their lucky night. ‘Let’s begin. We will begin the tour in the Commandant’s residence just a ten minute walk along this road.’ The tour guide said as she pointed in the direction she wanted them to go. As they walked the tour guide told them what she was hoping they would see. Ann thought her heart had stopped beating for a moment. What if the chair moved? Anything was possible in a place like this. There were so many stories about Port Arthur’s convict history.

‘Ann Walker, quit over thinking. I can see the wheels turning inside that pretty little head of yours. So, quit it please and enjoy the tour.’ Anne said as she wrapped her arms tighter around her wife when they around at the step of the Commandant’s house. ‘I’m here with you so you will be fine, Adney.’

They walked up the steps to the front entrance of the Commandant’s house. Anne was surprised at how big the house was. She asked the tour guide a few questions. Anne was curious as to how many people lived in the house. The tour guide smiled at her. ‘You’re getting a little ahead of yourself. That information will be revealed to you soon.’ Ann smiled. She could see her wife wanted to know so much and was so impatient. She could never wait. ‘Don’t be so impatient, Dearest.’ You will find out soon enough all the information you want to know. Okay! I will take plenty of video footage as she talks about everything.’

‘Thanks, Adney. I hope you have enough battery power on your camera and enough space too.’ Ann reached into her pocket and pulled out and extra batteries and an extra san disk. ‘I think we should be fine.’ Ann said as she removed the san disk in her camera. ‘This one is nearly full. I will keep it for photos.’ And replaced it with the new one. ‘This one is for videos. It’s big enough to get some videos here in Port Arthur.’

‘You did get a video of the blow hole in Bicheno, Adney?’

‘Yes!’

Chapter Text

Chapter 30

They followed the tour guide into the Commandant’s house. The guide talks about the prospect of seeing a ghost or seeing something move that reveals a ghost is present. The party walking slowly up the hall way as they make their way to the room at the end. Anne and Ann peer in each room when the tour guide stops and throws a light into them. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. Ann pulls her camera out from the bag Anne has slung over her shoulder. She wants to get as much footage as she can.

She looks to see that she has enough battery power after she turns it on. ‘How many minutes will you be able to video, Adney?’

‘I guess about five minutes here. I hope that’s enough. She points her camera to the tour guide as she talks about the Commandant’s house. ‘The commandant was Port Arthur’s most senior official and his home had to reflect his status in the community. That is why the commandant’s house is so big. Of course, it wasn’t always this big. The building had been added to over the duration that Port Arthur was a convict settlement.’ The tour guide said.

Anne raised her hand. She was curious. ‘Yes.’

‘I just wondered how many men had held the position of commandant over the period that Port Arthur was a convict settlement.’

‘Five! Why do you ask?’

‘I was just curious. I don’t think it would be the easiest job to do.’

‘I guess not.’ The tour guide said. Then she went back to talking about the house. ‘After the convict settlement and the town’s name changed the house became a guest house in 1877 due to its location then the Carnarvon Hotel. 1879. The hotel was threatened but not significantly damaged by bushfires in 1895 and 1897.which collectively destroyed much of the Settlement.’*

As they walked closer to the end of the hall Ann began to feel a chill. She didn’t mention it to anyone because she thought they would say she was crazy. Anne felt her shiver beside her. ‘Are you okay, Adney?’ Anne whispered in her ear. ‘No, I felt a chill. I wonder if it was a ghost walking near me.’

‘Tell the tour guide.’ Anne said as she looked at her wife. ‘She will think I am crazy, Anne.’

‘No she won’t.’

‘Shush back there.’ The tour guide said. ‘We are listening for anything that shows us there is a ghost here.;’

‘There is.’ Ann said finally getting up the courage to speak. ‘I felt a chill a moment ago. I think a ghost walked by me.’

‘WOW!!’ The others in the group exclaimed. ‘You are a lucky one. I guess the ghost likes you.’ The tour guide said. They arrived at the last room. ‘In here is a chair that moves as if someone is sitting in it. I have never seen it moved.. Ann looked over as she was filming and it seemed to move. She stopped filming and checked it. She showed Anne. ‘Check this out. Does that chair move or was it just me.’ Anne walked over to the guide. ‘Check this out. Is that chair moving or is it just me?’

‘It does look like it moved a little. I wonder if it was the ghost your partner felt when she felt the chill.’ The tour guide said. ‘It’s great that she got it on video. Can you email it to me? Then I can share it with the other tour guides.’

‘We can do that soon. We are going to visit, Ann’s friend tomorrow. So if you give us your email address we can send it. Is that okay?’

‘Yes,’ The tour guide wrote her email address on a piece of paper and handed it to Anne. Then they continued the tour.

They walked past the guard tower Ann was still filming. She looked up. There seemed to be no activity there. They continued walking there was a building on the topside of the road which the tour guide failed to mention it. It was the penitentiary on the bottom side of the road that she talked about.

When they came to the end of the tour Ann had been able to record about an hour of footage. ‘Do you want me to send you all of my recording? I think there was movement in the model prison too.’

‘Yes, that would be great if you can send me that.’

‘Thanks. I am looking forward to seeing what you were able to get on video.’ The tour guide said. ‘Where are you from?’

‘Halifax, Yorkshire, England we are here on our honeymoon. Ann here has an email pen pal who lives up north near Deloraine. So we are going to spend the next few days with her.’

‘I hope you get to see more of Tassie while you are there.’

‘Her kids want to take us to the Mole Creek caves and to Tasmazia and the Village of lower Crackpot.’ Ann said. ‘You will like that. I went there when it first opened years ago now. You should get them to take you to the town of murals in Shefield. They are lovely and every year or so they added to them.’

‘Is there anywhere else you can suggest we go while we are there?’ Ann asked.

There is the Devonport Bluff lighthouse.’

‘We have already been there.’ Anne said. ‘we were there for nearly an hour. It was so peaceful there.’

‘Okay!! Anyway, I need to go for the next tour. Take care and enjoy your stay in this lovely state.’

‘We will. You take care too.’ Anne and Ann walked back to the motor inn, they had had a long day and seen quite a bit of Tasmania. Only now they knew it wasn’t possible to see all of Tasmania in three weeks. They would have to return again one day. Was that a possibility? Ann was so tired so changed into her pjs, crawled between the sheets and was asleep moments later Anne read for a while until she couldn’t keep her eyes open. She laid next to Ann fell into a deep sleep.

They woke next morning their legs tangled around each other. Anne woke before Ann. She leaned over and gently kissed her on the cheek, Ann slowly opened her eyes. Her wife was looking down at her. She smiled still longing to feel Anne’s body weight on her. So, she wrapped her arms around Anne and pulled her into a deep hug. They kissed. Ann closed her eyes relishing in this blissful moment until Anne spoke. ‘’What do you want to do for breakfast, Adney? We have some leftovers from last night.’

‘I don’t fancy eating cold chicken for breakfast, Dearest. I’m not really that hungry. Let’s dress. Pack our gear and leave. Is that okay?’

‘Yes, that’s okay with me. I think we still have a couple of Mars bars in the car from yesterday that we didn’t eat.’

‘Chocolate for breakfast do you really think that is a good idea.’

‘Well, you get your dairy and your protein in one bar, I think.’

‘Good one, Anne Lister.’ They returned the keycards after they loaded their gear into the car. Anne was ready to get going. It was just after 8AM when they drove out of Port Arthur north towards their next destination. ‘Let’s get some breakfast at the next town, Dearest.’

‘Okay!’ As Anne drove north away from Port Arthur and she noticed a sign that read Tessellated Pavements. ‘Do you want to go down and check them out, Adney? We could get a photo to show everyone at home.’ Anne said as she drove into the car park. Ann just nodded. Anne had been doing all the driving so if she wanted to stop anywhere Ann was happy to go along with whatever Anne wanted to do.

It was a short walk down some steel steps to the pavements. ‘Do you know anything about the tessellated pavements, Dearest?’

‘No, it’s the first time I have seen anything like this and no I don’t think it is manmade.’

‘Okay!! How did you know I was going to ask you that question?’

‘I imagine it is what everyone thinks.’ Ann took a few photos. She had never seen anything like this. She loved what she saw. ‘I wonder if Matilda knows about the pavements. Should we ask her when we get there If we remember.’

‘I am sure we will remember, Adney.’ Anne said as they climbed back into the car and set off to their next stop. When they arrived in Sorell Anne found a Maccers. ‘We haven’t had this for a while. Is it okay?’

‘Anything will do for right now.’ Ann said as she heard her stomach rumble. ‘As you probably heard I am starving.’ Anne went through the drive through and ordered them egg and bacon mcmuffins and two cups of coffee. When they were on their way again they ate and drank in relative silence until they reached Midway Point.

Chapter Text

Chapter 31

‘What do they call the roadway leading to this town, Dearest?’ Ann asked as they stopped at the service station to fill up with petrol. Anne bought a large block of Cadbury’s dairy milk chocolate for her and one for Ann. Goodness me she thought. I think we will need to exercise a bit when we get to Matilda’s place. ‘I think it is a causeway. I am not totally sure. I don’t think I would like to drive across it during the winter months especially when it is very windy.’

‘I think they would probably close it on very windy days. I don’t know, Anne.’ Ann said and as drove them over the second half of the causeway. ‘I don’t know. More questions for Matilda. She probably won’t be able to answer that one.’ They drove on through Hobart and across the Tasman Bridge. ‘Did you know this bridge was struck by the ship the Lake Illawara on 5th of January, 1975.killing 12 people, seven were on the ship and five were in cars that fell into the Derwent River when the ship hit the bridge. That was the second disaster in less than two weeks.’

‘What was the other one, Smarty pants?’

‘You don’t need to be like that, missy. The other one was when cyclone Tracy hit Darwin and destroyed more than 70% of Darwin's buildings including 80% of houses in the city.’

‘You do know a lot. I suppose you read up about them. Didn’t you?’

‘No, my aunt told me just before we left. She remembered seeing them on the news. She hoped that nothing bad would happen while we are here. I told her we would be fine. She worries about us too much.’

‘Yes, she does. I think we need to call her later. What’s the time over there?’ Anne looked at her watch. It was nearly 10AM there. So, it would be too early to call. ‘It’s only 1AM there. So, I don’t think she would like it if we woke her now.’ Then Anne’s phone buzzed. She pulled it out of her pocket and passed it to Ann to answer. ‘Hi.’ Ann said tentatively. ‘Hi Ann! I guess Anne is driving.’

‘Yes what’s up! What’s more why are you still up? Isn’t it 1AM there?’

‘I’m missing you and Anne. How’s your honeymoon been so far?’

‘Good. Don’t tell Aunt but we just crossed the Derwent River on the Tasman Bridge.’ Then Aunt Anne spoke. ‘Little Ann I heard that.’

‘We are off the bridge now. Anne is looking for somewhere to park so we can chat. Why are you still up, Aunt?’ Ann put Aunt and Marian on speaker phone. ‘Hi Aunt yes, why are you still up?’

‘I am finding it hard to sleep while you are in Australia. Marian suggested we call you to see how you are getting on. I am glad I did.’ Aunt Anne said as she yawned. ‘I think your voices will help me sleep tonight.’

‘We could change our tickets and come home sooner but I am sure Matilda’s kids would be disappointed if we didn’t spend at least a week with them.’

‘No, I will be fine now.’ Aunt Anne said as she lay down on her bed. Anne heard a door close then Marian’s voice. ‘She was so worried about you and Ann, Anne that’s why I suggested I would call you and she could talk to you. I think she will sleep well now. Anyway, take care. I am sure we will call you again before you return home unless you call us first.’

‘Okay, Marian. Take care. Talk to you soon.’ They both said. Ann disconnected the call and handed Anne her phone which she pocketed.

They continued their journey north. It would take them two hours and 33 minutes to get to Deloraine. They decided to go there instead of going into Launceston since they had already visited Launceston. They would spend more time in Hobart on their next visit.

They had to leave the Midlands Highway to go in to Oatlands. Anne could see on the map that the highway had been diverted outside the towns. Anne drove into Oatlands. She drove them around and stopped when Ann wanted to take a photo of an historical building. It seemed the town had plenty only Anne couldn’t tell what their architectural style was. The one she liked the most was The Cornwall mill which had been renovated and had its windmill sails returned. It look splendid. She imagined Ann and her doing a search to find out what architectural design the historical buildings in towns they visited were when they returned home.

Home! Anne longed for the smell of Shibden. When they stopped to get something to drink Ann went into the store. Anne sat in the car and closed her eyes just for a moment she could hear her aunt’s voice and smell the Shibden air.

When Ann returned Anne was snoring. ‘Miss Lister, did you fall asleep on me just now? Gee, I was only gone for a few minutes.’

‘Ann Walker, I did no such thing. I was just resting my eyes.’

‘And snoring, Anne, you must be a magician. I know I can’t do that.’ Anne huffed. ‘So, what did you get?’

‘Two bottles of water and four mars bars. I thought you would like something to munch on. Is that okay?’ Anne smiled she regretted her angry outburst she knew Ann was only trying to lighten the mood. It was difficult driving on unknown roads. So, Anne drove a bit slower than the recommended speed which was 110 kilometres an hour or about 70 miles an hour. They would have impatient drivers honk at them as they sped past. It frustrated Anne no end but she didn’t think it would be a good idea to advertise they weren’t Tasmanians then they would probably be told to go back home.

Ann took a photo of the red bridge as Anne drove into Campbell Town. ‘Campbell town was established as a town in 1826. It was originally created as a garrison town in 1821. In the 2006 census the town had a population of 772.’ Anne said puffing out her chest. ‘Miss know it all again; Ann smiled. ‘When did you read about that?’

‘When you have been snoozing I don’t remember. I just find history interesting. Don’t you?’ Anne said with confidence. ‘I know, Dearest and I love hearing what you have learned, Well, it saves me read. Doesn’t it?’

‘Now, you’re just being lazy, Adney. Read, you might learn something.’ Ann grinned. ‘Why should I do that when I have my history buff here with me.’ Ann said grinning sheepishly. ‘Well, I task you then to tell me about Deloraine. You can do a Google search while I drive. I want to know as much as you can find about it before we get there.’ Anne said as she stepped out of the car. They had to return it soon or else incur late fees. Ann was wondering if Anne wanted to extend the hire on the car they had or just borrow one.

They strolled around Campbell town admiring the amazing historical buildings of the town. Ann took lots of photos. They stopped at the local takeaway to get something to eat. Ann bought a salad roll and Anne bought two meat pies. She hadn’t had them before and decided they looked too delicious to pass up. ‘Do you want dead horse on your pies?’ The assistant asked. ‘No I prefer my horses alive if you don’t mind.’

‘Sorry, I mean do you want tomato sauce on your pies. That’s what we Tasmanians call dead horse. It rhymes with sauce. Get it.’

‘Oh! I think I see what you mean.’ Ann bought two chocolate milkshakes. Ann had become addicted to them.

They found somewhere to sit and enjoy their meal. Then Ann’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out and answered without looking to see who was calling her. ‘Hi Ann. I just thought I would call to see what you want for tea tonight.’ Matilda said. ‘The kids want to cook something special for you.’

‘Hi Matilda that sounds cool I am sure that no matter what they cook we will like.’

‘We have two options. Bridget loves to cook tuna mornay but we have had that so often now and I am sure you would like something different. Peter would like to make spag bog, Spaghetti Bolognese.’

‘I guess we could try both meals and give them a score out of ten. What do you think?’ Anne said after Ann put her on speaker phone. ‘Yes, we could do that only I think they would fight for stove and kitchen space.’

‘Okay. Let’s go with Peter’s spag bog. I’m sure Bridget can make her tuna mornay another night.’

‘I am sure Bridget would be happy with that. I will let them know. Peter will be happy. He seems to enjoy cooking when I let him.’ Matilda said. ‘Where are you?’

‘In Campbell town. We are checking out the historical buildings. Ann is taking lots of photos.’ Ann said. ‘We have lots of questions we want to ask you.’

‘Okay! We will see you soon.’ Matilda said disconnecting the call. ‘Well, what do they want for tea tonight?’ Peter and Bridget asked. ‘Spag bog.’ Bridget walked away. She was disappointed they didn’t want her tuna mornay. ‘Hey, they said you can cook your meal another night.’ Matilda said. ‘Thanks mum. I will do that.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 32

Ann was so impressed with the architecture of Campbell Town. She took lots of photos and hoped Anne would help her put together a photo book on their trip. She thought that would be a project they could take on when they return home.

They continued their trip north along the Midlands Highway until they reached Perth where they had to use the necessary and fill up with petrol. Ann wondered if they should get something to take for tea tonight. She called Matilda again. Bridget answered. ‘Hi Ann, what’s up?’

‘Does your mum want us to bring something for dessert tonight?’ Ann asked.

‘Ice cream.’ They heard Isabel scream. ‘What flavor?’

‘Neapolitan.’ Bridget said. ‘it’s strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. Mum said get four litres that should last us until you leave. Okay!! And some chocolate topping you do know what that is.’

‘Yes, we do.’

‘Okay!! We will see you soon.’

An hour later they were at Woolies in Deloraine. They bought the ice cream and chocolate topping. Ann grabbed two blocks of chocolate to give Matilda because she knew she loved chocolate. Ann wondered how she was going to hide them from the kids. ‘Who is the chocolate for, Ann?’ Anne asked curiously. ‘It’s for Matilda. She loves chocolate.’

‘But she is like you. She has a small build.’

‘You would too if you had three kids to look after.’ Ann said. ‘Hey, have you thought any more about us having children?’

‘Not really. I thought we would wait until we returned home to decide. Okay?’

‘Okay!!’

They arrived at Matilda and Graeme’s home half an hour later. Anne parked the car and Ann collected the ice cream, topping and chocolate. The kids were nowhere to be seen. Anne knocked on the door and heard. ‘Come in. It’s unlocked.’ They walked in. The house was warm and inviting. Peter was standing at the stove when they walked into the kitchen. He was busy cooking tea. Bridget and Isabel were outside jumping on a trampoline. Matilda and Graeme were playing a game on their computer. It was a very homely scene and one Ann knew Anne and her would have when they returned home. Only their home would be filled with adults. Ann longed to be a mother.

She snuck the chocolate into Matilda’s hand after she put the ice cream in the freezer and the topping in the fridge. Matilda smiled. Ann was right she loved her chocolate. Matilda put it in her bedroom. The kids had never found it there yet but there was always a chance they would. ‘Let me show you where you will be sleeping tonight.‘ Matilda said. ‘Okay!!’ Anne and Ann said. They retraced their steps out through the front door and over to the studio. They would be sharing their space with an inverter. ‘We have solar panels on the roof. They help keep our power bill down which is great.’

‘I wonder if we should go solar at home. What do you think, Anne?’ Ann looked at her wife quizzically. ‘I don’t know, Adney. It would depend on what the outlay was and how much we would save.’ Anne walked back outside to retrieve their luggage. Ann and Matilda sat on the bed chatting. ‘How are you doing, Ann?’ Matilda asked. Ann had revealed her anxiety and panic attacks with Matilda. She felt she could be trusted to keep it to herself. ‘I am doing so much better than I have in the past. Anne is an amazing wife. She cares for me more than I ever imagined anyone would.’

‘Yes, I noticed how protective of you she is when you were here last. Only I don’t think I would like to piss her off. I am sure she has a large bark and a much larger bite.’

‘She does only she rarely shows me. I think she knows how I would react if she did. I love Anne and Anne loves me. That’s all that matter.’ Matilda smiled she knew that feeling. ‘Are you still on your medication?’ Matilda asked cautiously. ‘Yes, she is.’ Anne said and she walked back into the studio with their suitcase and bags. ‘Ann seems to be more relaxed since we came to Australia for our honeymoon. She did tell you about her ‘wonderful’ tribe.’ Anne did air commas as she said that. ‘Oh yes, she did. I can’t understand why family treats family members like that. You know mum is gay my brother was happy when she first came out now he’s so religious. He doesn’t speak to her. I don’t understand him.’

‘Why? Isn’t she the same person she was when he was a child? She would have looked after him when he was growing up. Wouldn’t she?’

‘Yeah! Mum always did her best for us. I don’t remember a time when she didn’t.’ Matilda said. She seemed to be missing her mum but wouldn’t say so.

‘Are you okay?’ Anne asked Matilda as she put their suitcase down and walked over to where Ann and Matilda were seated. ‘Yeah, I guess so. Sometimes I wonder when I will see mum. She seems to be happy living overseas.’

‘Have you ever asked her?’ Ann asked sincerely. ‘Not really.’ Matilda said. ‘I’m sure she would tell me.’

‘Sometimes even the people closest to you don’t tell you everything that’s going on in their lives. Do they?’ Anne said as she looked at Ann who looked at her wife shyly. ‘I know we need to talk more, Dearest.’ Bridget appeared at the door. ‘Peter told me to tell you that tea is ready.’

‘Okay!!’ They said. ‘We will be there soon.’

They ate tea telling the others about their trip so far. ‘Ann got video footage of the chair moving in the Commandant’s house in Port Arthur. The tour guide wants us to send it to her a copy. Can we use your laptop to do that?’

‘Sure.’ Matilda said. ‘Do you want to do it now before you forget? Well, not right now but when you have finished eating tea.’

‘Yes, please.’ Anne said. ‘Which reminds me Ann you said you would find out all you could about Deloraine?’ Anne said as she looked at her wife. ‘I did! Deloraine is named after a character from the poem Lady of the Last Minstral. It was written by Sir Walter Scott.’ Ann said as she read it from her phone. ‘The Deloraine post office was opened on 29th October, 1936.’

‘Can you tell us anything else about Deloraine, Ann?’ Peter asked. ‘It is situation on the Meander River and as of the 2011 census Deloraine’s population was 2,745.’

‘You have done a good job, Adney.’ Ann smiled. She was hoping Anne would say that. ‘I am glad you approve, Miss Lister.’ Ann said smugly. ‘That’s an interesting last name. What does it mean, Anne?’ Peter asked because he had never heard that surname before.

‘Lister or as it is often spelt L-Y-S-T-E-R is an occupational surname and may refer to a textile dyer from the Middle English word litster meaning to dye.’ Anne said as she read the meaning from her phone. She didn’t know that. She didn’t read the rest. ‘There seems to be more. Is there?’ Ann asked her wife. ‘Yes, but it is just repeating what I have already said.’ Anne said grumpily. ‘Well, you don’t need to get your knickers in a twist. Okay. Peter just asked because he was curious.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘Sorry Peter.’

‘That’s okay!’ Peter said. ‘Do you want to play a game of scrabble with Bridget and me? We won’t cheat.’ Anne looked at Ann. She looked tired but she smiled. They played scrabble for about an hour until Ann placed her last tile and won the game. Anne didn’t know her wife was so good at scrabble or was she just cheating. ‘Ann Walker, how did you win that game?’ Then Ann showed them her phone. She had been finding words on unscramble. ‘Where did you find that, Ann?’ Bridget asked curiously wondering if she could use it to win next time they played. ‘In the app store you do have an iphone. If not try Google play you might find it there.’

‘Well, I think it is time sleepy head and I went to bed. We expect breakfast to be delivered at 8AM with one hot coffee white with two sugars and one hot chocolate no sugar.’ Anne said with a smile on her face because she didn’t expect room service at all.

‘Do you like porridge?’ Bridget asked sincerely. ‘Ignore her she was only joking. Okay!!’ Ann said. ‘I would like two pieces of toast with a liberal coating of peanut butter. I think I can do that myself. Anyway, good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.’ They all laughed.

Anne and Ann gingerly made their way to the studio. They stood outside the door and looked up at the night sky. It was so beautiful and so peaceful. Then Anne’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She didn’t think her aunt would be calling her. When she looked to see who the caller was she ignored it. Ann grabbed it out of her hand and answered it. ‘Hi Anne.’ Mariana said. Hi yourself, why are you calling my wife on our honeymoon.’

‘What’s it got to do with you?’

‘Probably nothing as far as you’re concerned.’ Ann said loudly which destroyed their peaceful moment and had Matilda come outside to see what was going on. Ann was still on Anne’s phone. Anne had her arms wrapped around Ann. She looked stressed. ‘Who is Ann talking to?’ Matilda asked curiously. ‘Just my fucking ex.’ Anne said. ‘I didn’t want to take the call. So, Ann answered it.’

‘Won’t she be stressed tonight after yelling at someone over the phone?’ Matilda said ‘Exes can be hard to deal with and more so when there are children involved.’ Anne grabbed her phone from Ann who put her head on Matlida’s shoulder and wept. ‘Sssshe said some nasty things about me. I wish I hadn’t taken the cccall.’ Ann said as they listened to Anne tell Mariana to fuck off. Then she disconnected the call and turned her phone off. ‘We need to call Aunt Anne and tell her to call me on your phone. Is that okay. She seems to know when we are coming home and wants to hook up with me again.’

Matilda held Ann until Anne pocketed her phone and wrapped her arms around Ann. ‘Everything will be fine, Adney. I told her no more calling me or I will have her up on a charge of stalking. Then her husband will find out what she has been doing. I heard he was going to cut her off his will if she continued to chase after me.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 33

Anne and Ann woke to a knock at the door. ‘Breakfast is served. Can we come in?’ The kids yelled. ‘Well, the door isn’t locked so come in.’ Anne looked at her watch. ‘on time too. What sports you are for doing this for us?’ Ann reached into her wallet and pulled out three ten dollar notes and gave one to each of them. They smiled and went back inside to show Matilda who wondered if what she had heard about Ann Walker was true. Ann never mentioned why she didn’t work and Matilda had been too afraid to ask but she had read on the internet that the Walker family of Halifax were wealthy. So, she asked Ann when Anne and she came down to the house after they ate breakfast.

‘You can’t afford to give my kids that much money. They should give it back.’ Matilda said. ‘Please don’t make them do that. They made us breakfast this morning even though we said we were only joking and I am sure Peter would like to save up for a car one day. Plus, we aren’t your average tourist. Are we Anne?’

‘What she means is she isn’t your average tourist.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘She has plans to help you put your kids through university.’ Ann blushed. She had been thinking of ways she could bring this up without embarrassing her friend. ‘And even if they don’t go to university she wants to help them and you if you like. She won’t do it if you feel uncomfortable with her offer.’ It was Matilda’s turn to blush. ‘I could have been out to fleece you of every cent you have, Ann. I knew about your wealth only you never brought it up so I assumed you preferred to keep it that way.’ Matilda said. ‘I am so grateful that you want to help my kids but they have been taught to earn what they are given.’

‘Oh they will earn this. I am sure of that. I never went to university I was never encouraged. Anne did. I know it is hard work and they will always be reminded who helped them with their student fees etc. And I am sure you will be constantly reminding them that I paid their fees. Won’t you, Matilda?’

‘Yes. I will but it is expensive.’

‘I started a trust fund in their names when we first began chatting. I never thought I would meet you. I was so happy when Anne said we were coming to Australia for our honeymoon. Of course, I know Anne’s reason but that’s okay and to be here with you is great. I do this out of love not notoriety or praise. I hope one day to be a mum too. That may or may not happen. Who knows?’ When Ann stopped talking Matilda was sobbing. Ann wrapped her arms around Matilda and the kids joined in. Graeme walked into the house wondering why they were all huddled together. ‘What’s happening?’

‘Ann here is paying so we can send the kids to uni.’ Matilda said quietly. ‘What did you say? Do you say Ann is paying for our kids uni fees?’ Ann smiled and then preceded to tall Graeme the good news. He was gobsmacked. ‘What if they don’t go to uni.’

‘They can use it for a home or travel. Whatever they wish because it will be their money as it has been for the last two years.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘Isn’t that how long you and Ann have been chatting, Matty?’

‘Yes!’ Graeme had never met someone who would do so much for someone they had only chatting with on the internet. ‘It’s okay. She has plenty where that came from.’ Anne said with a big grin on her face. ‘So, Mariana was right you only married me because I am a rich bitch. Well, that’s what she said on the phone last night.’ Anne was hurt. She never married Ann for her money because she didn’t know about it. ‘Ann, you know I didn’t know about your wealth when we first met and it is yours to do whatever you want with. I love you, Adney. That’s why I married you.’ Ann sighed. She really did know that was the reason they married. She smiled.

‘What are you going to do today?’ Graeme asked curiously. ‘I thought we would rest for a day or two then go sightseeing. Peter wants to take us to Tasmazia and the village of Lower Crackpot and a cave in Mole Creek.’

‘That’s a good idea. You both looked exhausted last night. Fancy a trip to Tasmania and when we get home we need another holiday to recover from the first one,’ Graeme joked. They all smiled. ‘Well, I have a few jobs that need doing. So I’ll see you at lunch time.’ He said as he walked back outside.

They spent the next two days reading and relaxing. They offered to cook tea for everyone. Matilda said it wasn’t necessary. Ann insisted. They bought what they needed at Woolies and made a reasonably good version of beef and Yorkshire pudding everyone enjoyed it and Matilda asked for the recipe which Ann gave her.

On the third day they made plans to go to the Mole Creek caves since they were close by. Ann wasn’t sure if this was what she wanted to do. She didn’t like confined spaces especially dark ones. ‘I know what you’re thinking, Miss Walker. We are all going so if you feel unsure of where you are there will always be someone close by to give you lots of hugs. Okay!!’ Anne said. She didn’t mind who took on the job but was surprised when Peter offered. ‘I would love to give you some support while we are in the cave, Ann. When Anne isn’t near you which probably won’t be often by the look on her face.’

‘Okay kids who are you traveling with me or Anne and Ann?’ Matilda asked. Graeme had decided to go too. He had been through the caves but that was years ago. The three kids rode with Anne and Ann. Bridget had lots of questions to ask them. Anne didn’t realize how curious kids could be until they encountered these three. Peter and Isabel just listened. They weren’t that far from home when Bridget hit them with the first question. ‘How did you meet?’

‘Do you want to know how we met this time or the first time?’ Ann said sincerely. ‘Well, both times if that’s okay!’ Peter said and Ann began telling them how after the death of both her parents Anne visited her and her sister, Elizabeth. Anne and I took a walk in the gardens at Crow Nest. They are beautiful this time of the year. It’s Spring there now. I fell in love with Anne then and have loved her ever since. I was only 19 then.’ Anne continued with the story. ‘Then we met again I think it was this time last year. I don’t remember the date. It is all a blur now. I was sitting in the park eating lunch. I am a doctor. I had had a busy morning and had planned to rest for an hour. Then I heard a crash. Someone had fallen and everyone that was in the park that day had become a sticky beak.’

‘Poor lady who was it?’ Isabel asked. She didn’t seem to be as invested in the story as the others were until Anne mentioned the fall. ‘It was Ann only I didn’t know until I got closer to her after I told the onlookers to leave.’

‘She helped me up after she went into doctor mode to make sure I was fine. I remember her saying no broken bones.’

‘Yeah, I didn’t realize until later that she knew I was there and fell in a hole just to get my attention.’

‘Well, she got it didn’t she and then some.’ Peter said cheekily. ‘She certainly did. We went out for tea that evening and it wasn’t long before we moved back to Halifax. We were living in London when we met this time.’

‘Is London a great place? I would love to visit one day. Mum and dad went there before I was born.’ Peter said. ‘Oh, it’s okay if you like loud noises and busy streets and often nearly getting knocked down by people who are always in a hurry. It’s not my favourite place but if Anne wanted to move back there I would. I would live on the moon with her if she wanted to move there;’ Anne blushed. She knew Ann loved her but not the extent of that love. Now, she knew and it brought a smile to her face and lifted her heart on high.

Ann could see she was happy. They had followed Graeme and Matilda to the caves. They parked the car. The kids were the first ones out even before Anne had silenced the motor. Ann was about to open her door when Peter did. He held out his hand for her to take. Ann smiled. ‘Have you been watching English period dramas?’ She asked him. ‘No, Isn’t it polite to help a lady from her car and since I am looking after you today that is what I feel I should do.’ Ann blushed. He was only 15 years old and quite the gentleman. That made Ann realize how much she would like to be a mum. Then she heard Anne’s voice. ‘How many caves are there in the area?’

‘As far as I know there are three.’ Graeme said. ‘We are at the Marakoopa cave today. We could go to another one if you like.’

‘That would depend on how Ann copes with this one. Let’s not make any hard and fast rules. Yet, it seems as though she has someone taking care of her already.’ They all looked to see where Anne was pointing and saw Peter and Ann standing together. He was whispering in her ear. ‘What did he say to you, Ann?’ Matilda asked. ‘He was just telling me a joke. He asked me what do you call a fly with no wings?. Of course, I didn’t know.’

‘What do you call a fly with no wings, Peter?’ Peter smiled. ‘A walk because without wings they can’t fly.’

‘Peter!’ Matilda said. ‘That is gross. You don’t pull wings off flies to see if they will walk. Do you?’

‘No, mum I just thought it would make Ann smile and it did. Look at her.’ Anne had her arms wrapped around her wife who was laughing loudly even though she didn’t get the joke she thought it was funny.

It was $19 for the adults and $9.50 for the kids because they were all under 18 which Matilda said was good. They were old enough as it was without them getting any older. Ann paid for their tickets. Matilda offered to buy them lunch.

They did the underground rivers and glow worms tour. They could do the other tour. Yet, they were happy with what they had seen. Ann had brought her camera so she took photos of the glow worms when the tour guide turned out the lights and of course, she took photos of the stalagmites and stalactites. She had to remember which one did what because one reached up towards the ceiling of the cave and the other reached down to the floor of the cave. Anne thought they were lovely. They we only needed to wait half an hour and they could do the Great Cathedral and glow worms tour but Anne could see Ann had had enough. ‘Let’s go eat. How far is it to Tasmazia/’ Ann asked.

‘It isn’t that far but I think the kids want to spend most of the day there. So, they were wondering if you would like to go the day after tomorrow and spend tomorrow at home. I have some work I need to do and Peter wants you to help them dig up the potatoes we planned last year. They have been sitting in the ground waiting to be harvested. Ann smiled. “I guess we can watch them work.’ Anne grinned. ‘Yes, that would be a fun way to spend the day.’

‘We didn’t expect you to dig just hold open our bags so we can drop the potatoes into it.’ Bridget said. ‘It shouldn’t take long then we can sit on the porch and play scrabble. It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow.’ Anne checked her weather app but didn’t say anything when she noticed rain was predicted for the afternoon. So, she guessed they would be playing scrabble indoors again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 34

The following day they were greeted with rain on the roof when they woke. The kids delivered their breakfast under umbrellas. When they dressed to go down to the main house Matilda was standing near the fire. She had lit it when she got up and the room was warm and cozy.

The potatoes would be left in the ground until the rain but then the ground would be wet. Ann wondered how they would ever bag the potatoes when Peter spoke. ‘It’s more fun to dig them up after it’s been raining.’ Matilda frowned. ‘Then I have to do your washing. That’s not much fun.’

‘So you do their laundry.’ Ann said curious as to why they couldn’t do their own laundry. ‘Yes, but it does save on electricity and water.’

‘They do help you though. Don’t they?’ Anne asked. ‘We have some laundry we need to do before we run out of clothes. We have been using whatever is available, mostly launderettes. Can we wash our clothes now and hang them out to dry when it stops raining if it ever does stop?’ Ann asked tentatively. ‘Yes, that’s no problem. I don’t need to wash today.’ Isabel showed Ann how to use the washing machine. Then it stopped raining and. Anne hung it out on the clothes line to dry. Matilda said they could hang it around the heater if it wasn’t dry enough to fold and pack away.

They spent the afternoon helping the kids as they dug up the potatoes. The kids had dug up enough to fill two bags. They put the potato bags into the wheelbarrow and put them in the shed where they would remain dry for winter. After they had put the bags of potatoes away Ann and Anne took their dry clothes off the line, folded them and packed them away.

Ann was in her element there with the mountain behind them and forest round them. ‘What is that laughing we hear in the mornings?’ Anne asked quizzically. ‘It’s a kookaburra laughing. Gran says it is to warn other kookaburras to stay out of their territory. At least I think that’s what she said.’ Peter said.

‘Well, I think they sound adorable. Can we find it online to show my aunt when we return home.’ The kids looked sad. ‘Don’t worry we are coming back to see you soon.’ Ann said. ‘We have both enjoyed being here with you.’

‘So, when are you coming back?’ Isabel asked. ‘I think I would like you to be my aunts even though we have lots.’ Anne blushed. No one had asked her that. ‘I am flattered by your suggestion, Isabel. I still don’t mind if you just call me Anne.’ Anne said with a grin so wide it nearly swallowed her face. Ann wasn’t sure how to react. ‘I guess if we have children they will be your cousins.’

‘Cool!’ Bridget said. ‘We have baby care experience and will help you if you visit us with your baby.’ She said that as she pointed to Isabel. Ann smiled. She would love to do that if that was possible. She looked at Anne who had Isabel on her lap and was reading Green eggs and Ham to her. She could see Anne reading to their child. Was it possible that would happen? Anne smiled at her. ‘Miss Walker, what are you thinking now?’ Anne asked as she watched Isabel grab another book from their bookshelf. ‘I was just thinking how good you look with a child on your lap motherhood what a delight!’ Anne just smiled. Ann wasn’t the only one with a surprise for everyone. She had a surprise for Ann when they returned home.

Isabel brought her out of her musings when she said. ‘Would you read this to me please, Auntie Anne?’ Anne smiled then she thought of her aunt back home. ‘I will, Isabel. I need to make a phone call. Ann can I have your phone please?’ Ann reached into her pocket and passed her phone to Anne. ‘Why is she using your phone, aunt?’ Bridget asked.

‘She had an ex girlfriend call her a couple of nights ago. She doesn’t want to talk to her again. So, she turned her phone off and we are just using mine.’

‘Is her ex girlfriend that bad?’ Peter asked tentatively. ‘Oh, I think you need to ask Anne about Mariana. I don’t want to talk about her right now.’ They could hear Anne and Isabel chatting with Aunt Anne. ‘Yes, Auntie Anne has been reading to me. I love her and we have had fun while our aunts have been here with us.’ Anne put her aunt on speaker phone so they could all hear what she had to say. ‘That’s great, Isabel. Where is everybody?’ Aunt Anne asked. ‘We are here.’ They yelled. ‘Goodness how many are there with you, Anne.’

‘I am Matilda, the kids’ mum.’

I am Peter. I am 15 years old. I love music and computers.’

‘I am Bridget. I am 13. I love drama and dancing but I don’t dance as much as I have in the past.’

‘How old is Isabel?’ Aunt Anne asked.

‘I am seven years old. My mum is teaching me how to play scrabble.’

‘Have you won any games yet? Aunt Anne asked. ‘No, but I will win some soon.’

‘Did Ann tell you she loves playing backgammon and wins nearly every game she plays with Anne?’

‘Which Anne wins at backgammon?’ Peter asked quizzically both Ann and Anne were smiling when Aunt Anne said that because they knew the kids would be confused. ‘Sorry, little Ann wins most of the time. I think you can figure out which Ann(e) is which.’ Anne frowned. ‘I guess you know now. I heard that frown Anne Lister.’ Her aunt seemed to know her moods even when she couldn’t see her.

Peter asked Ann about her family. Matilda didn’t say anything to encourage him. She knew it wasn’t Ann’s favourite topic. So she said. ‘The tribe love me when I do what they want me to do.’

‘Why do they love you only when you do what they want you to do?’ Aunt Anne asked. ‘They like to control me and want to get access to my wealth, aunt. They didn’t approve of me marrying Anne so days before our wedding they tried to visit Shibden and take me home.’

‘Yes I remember Eliza and William’s visit. I am glad you are with Anne. You suit each other.’

If you need to call us from now on until we get home. Call us on my phone.’ Ann said. Because Mariana called Anne and wanted her back so Anne has switched her phone off. You do remember what she was like at our wedding. How she tried to dance with Anne but I wouldn’t let her.’

‘Yes, I don’t remember seeing it but I remember your cousin Catherine telling me about it. You were brave to stand up to Mrs. Lawton, Annie.’

‘Thanks, Aunt but I owe all my bravery to my wife. She was the one I was holding onto when I told her to leave us alone or we would call the cops.’

‘Yeah, she did leave in a hurry.’ Anne said. ‘I think everyone there enjoyed the party more after she left.’ Then Graeme appeared. ‘What’s happening here?’ He asked. ‘We are having a conference call with my aunt.’ Anne said. ‘She’s on speaker phone. Aunt Anne I would like to introduce you to Matilda’s partner, Graeme.’

‘Hi Graeme call me aunt because everyone else does.’ Graeme thought it was strange but he went along with it. ‘Hi Aunt Anne with so many Ann(e)s how often do you call one and they both come running?’

‘Often! I do it just to see who will get to me first.’ Anne and Ann frowned. ‘Well, there’s little Ann and big Anne and aunt so we don’t get confused.’ Graeme knew which was which when he said big Anne and Anne looked at him. ‘What’s for tea, kids?’

‘I was going to offer to take you all out for tea tonight since we only have a few more days here. They want to spend all day in Tasmazia and the village of lower Crackpot.’

‘Do you have lots of photos to show your dear old aunt when you get home?’

‘We do.’ They said in unison. ‘Okay!! Well, I had better let you go Marian and I are going into Halifax. She wants me with her when she picks out an engagement ring for Catherine. Take care and I will talk to you later. Bye!’ There was a chorus of goodbyes from everyone. Anne disconnected the call. ‘Did you know about Marian and Catherine getting engaged, Adney?’

‘No, I am as much in the dark as you are, Dearest.’

‘Who is Marian and who is Catherine?’ Graeme asked. ‘Catherine is my cousin and Marian is Anne’s baby sister.’

‘Okay! Let’s keep it in the family.’ Peter said sarcastically. ‘Yeah, my sister is bi not gay. She loves men too but she fell in a big way for Ann’s cousin, Catherine. I wasn’t happy to begin with but it is growing on me. My wife’s cousin is also my sister-in-law. Well, it looks like she will be. Anyway, where are we going for tea?’

‘The pub serves good meals and they have Guinness on tap. I heard you like that, Anne.’ Graeme said. ‘I need to shower then we can go.’

‘Yeah, do that. The water is still hot as it hasn’t been used much today.’ Matilda said. Ann held her hand out for her phone. She decided to phone Marian to see what was going on. ‘Hi Ann. What’s up?’

‘That’s what Anne and I would love to know. We talked to Aunt Anne and she let it slip that you were going shopping to buy an engagement ring for Catherine. Is that right?’ Marian squirmed a little. She didn’t know what to say. Ann sounded a bit grumpy. ‘Yes, you’re not mad at me because I didn’t tell you.’

‘No, but it would have been great if you had told us.’ Anne said. Ann had put Marian on speaker phone. ‘Sister dear I had only decided last night to buy the ring. She doesn’t know. I am going to propose to her tonight. So, you will probably get a call from her tomorrow. Okay!!’

‘Okay!! Talk to you later, Anne. Aunt is waiting to go. Bye.’ Ann disconnected the call. ‘That was my sister, Marian. She can be annoying sometimes but as they say blood is thicker than water and I love her so much.’

‘Do you have any other siblings?’ Matilda asked. ‘No! We both had a brother but sadly they died young.’ Anne said. Ann looked sad. She sat closer to Anne and put her head on her shoulder sobbing quietly. ‘Is Ann okay?’ Matilda asked tentatively. ‘She misses her brother, John. He was two years younger than her. They had fun when they were kids. So, she gets upset when we talk about him.’

‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.’

‘You weren’t to know that. She probably never mentioned it when you chatted with her. She will be okay. She just needs lots of hugs for now.’

‘You are very patient with Ann.’ Bridget said sincerely. ‘Yes, I am but it works both ways. She is patient with me too in ways I never imagined anyone would be.’

‘I’m ready to go. Is everyone else ready?’ Graeme asked as he walked out of the bathroom. Everyone nodded. They all grabbed their coats and drove to the pub. It was the one Anne and Ann stayed at on their second night in Tasmania.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 35

They arrived at the pub and parked their cars. Peter and Bridget had traveled with Anne and Ann. They had been asking Anne and Ann more questions about their life and why Anne quit her practice to move back to Halifax. Anne told them why. They found it hard to believe that someone would give up a good career to be with someone they loved. ‘Well, Ann is my life saver. She says I saved her life but she saved my life too.’

They ordered their meals. Everyone was quiet. They decided they only wanted a glass of water to drink until their meals arrived then Anne ordered a 20 oz Guinness and Ann wanted a small coke. The kids had a milkshake. Graeme had a coke and Matilda had a hot chocolate. They had ordered fish and chips to share. Matilda said they didn’t have to pay but Anne and Ann did. Well, Anne did this time.

The waiter brought their meal out on the biggest plate she could find. The fish was piled up in the middle. They ate in relative silence until Isabel said. ‘We could have done this at home.’

’Yes, we could have but this is more fun. Isn’t it?’ Isabel smiled. Anne could see she liked eating a shared meal with her family and her new Aunties. They had taken a short walk in Deloraine after they had finished their meal. They enjoyed the walk but the street lights were too bright to see the night sky. So they decided to go home. They were back at home not long after seven thirty.

They were back outside after they both had to use the necessary. Of course, the kids were curious as to why they called it that. They explained why and Peter laughed. ‘We need to call it that from now on because it is appropriate. Isn’t it?’

‘It sure is.’ Ann said. They were looking up at the stars. It was a clear night so they could see them. ‘Do you have a view like this at Shibden?’ Bridget asked curiously. ‘Yes, but the stars here seem brighter.’

‘’Is there lots of light pollution there now?’ Graeme asked. ‘I thought it there wouldn’t be. Isn’t Shibden a distance from Halifax?’ Anne pondered on the question. ‘Yes, it probably was centuries again. Not, now. Halifax has grown bigger since then.’ Ann looked at her. She had never seen a plan of Halifax from the 1800s but she never questioned Anne. Her wife was so knowledgeable. ‘Are we going to Tasmanzia tomorrow?’ Isabel asked. She was curious to walk through more mazes. She had fun when they went to the maze in Westbury. Ann remembered how she ran away from them as if she knew where to go. ‘Yes, we are going to Tasmazia tomorrow and the Village of Lower Crackpot.’ Matilda said. ‘That’s why we need to go to bed early tonight, like now, Isabel.’

‘Okay, mum.’ Isabel said. ‘I’m going now. Goodnight, everybody.’

‘I think we will head to bed. Adney is yawning.’ Anne said as she yawned loudly which made everyone else follow. They walked up to the studio. ‘Anne Lister, I know you aren’t sleepy. You just want me to go to bed so we can….’

‘That was the last thing on my mind, Adney.’

‘Yes, I guess it was. Wasn’t it? Up until then we were talking about what we would be doing tomorrow. Weren’t we?’ You’ve got me there Anne thought. ‘Come on. Put your pjs on and climb into bed. We need to get at least eight hours sleep. Matilda wants to leave as early as possible so we can see as much as possible. Okay!’ Ann squirmed beneath the covers. She didn’t mean to excite herself. Anne climbed in beside her and wrapped her arms around Ann..

Ann rolled over to face her. She looked into Anne’s eyes. She could see a faint glimmer of desire in them. They had left the curtains parted just a little. Ann smiled. It was then that she realized what Anne wanted. She leaned over and crashed their lips together. Anne moaned into her mouth. Ann snuck her hand down between them. She pushed Anne’s pj bottoms down and circled Ann’s clit with her fingers. She reached further back to Anne’s centre. Anne’s centre was so wet it dripped down Ann’s hand and onto the sheet underneath them. Ann lathered Anne’s clit with her own cum. She circled Ann’s clit slowly.

Anne’s hips rose sharply again and again in time with Ann’s ministrations. Ann pushed three fingers inside Anne’s centre and pummeled her over and over. Anne screamed out. ‘Ann, yes, Ann, right there, yes, that feeeels sooo good.’ Anne’s moaned and groaned as Ann pummeled into her. Then her body went taut. She came hard against Ann’s hand. Ann crawled up beside her. She wrapped her arms around Anne then kissed her lips softly when she opened her eyes. ‘Ann Walker, that was so beautiful and so intense.’

‘You are so beautiful, Dearest. I want to make you happy in all aspects of our life together.’

‘You certainly do that. I often wonder how I ever lived without you in my life.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘You did and I live without you too.’ Ann said quietly as if living without Anne was impossible to endure. She had loved Anne Lister for so long. Anne leaned over and caressed her face. ‘Are you okay?’ Anne asked shyly. ‘Yes, I am okay. I was just thinking about my past when I loved you and you rarely noticed me.’

‘You would be surprised how often I noticed you. I always thought you were too young for me. I could see that you were smitten by me. You blushed every time we spoke. I feel bad when I think about you then, little shy Annie Walker. Yet you have grown into a very beautiful woman who I love deeply.’ Ann blushed. She didn’t know Anne noticed her. Maybe it was when she hid her face. She didn’t know.

‘Adney, Are you really okay?’ Anne asked. You could see that Ann wasn’t sure what to say. She could see that Anne was concerned about her. ‘Adney, talk to me. You might not realize how much you mean to me. You are my world.’ Anne said as she had tears streaming down her face. Ann pressed her thumb gently to Anne’s face and wiped them away. ‘I do know what I mean to you. I just didn’t know you noticed me when you visited Crow Nest. I feel bad now.’

‘Don’t feel bad, Adney. I was too wrapped up in Mariana at the time that I only noticed you to flirt with you. Now, I notice you because I love you and you are my wife.’ Ann smiled. It was hard to understand why Anne stayed in a relationship with Mariana after she married Charles Lawton but Ann didn’t ask her wife. She must have loved Mariana in the past. ‘Anne, how did you meet Mariana?’ Ann asked sincerely. ‘Why do you ask, Adney?’ Anne said softly. She never knew how to answer this question without remembering the pain it caused Isabelle. She didn’t want to be reminded of the times Mariana didn’t want to know her when they were out in public. For all her bravado Anne was very vulnerable especially when it came to matters of the heart. ‘Why hadn’t you asked me this earlier Adney?’

‘I never thought about it until now.’ Ann said softly. ‘You don’t need to answer it if you don’t want to. I am fine with that.’

‘Ann, it is complicated. It’s something we can go back to when we return home if you wish. I just don’t want to spoil our honeymoon. You are enjoying yourself. Aren’t you?’

‘Yes, thank you for bringing me here to Tasmania and allowing me to spend time with Matilda. Dearest, you are so good to me.’

‘As you are to me, Adney.’ Anne said.’ I love you so much. We need to sleep now because we are going to have a big day tomorrow. Goodnight!’ Anne snuggled into her wife. ‘Goodnight, Dearest.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 36

‘Breakfast is served, Anne and Ann.’ Peter yelled out as Bridget opened the door and they walked in just giving Anne and Ann a moment to make themselves decent. ‘We have eggs and bacon, my specialty toast and vegemite and corn flakes with cold milk.’ Peter said as he sat all the food on the table. Anne and Ann hadn’t noticed it was there. Peter and Bridget left so they could dress. Bridget mentioned that Matilda was going to pack some snacks to eat during the day. Anne told Peter they would buy drinks for everyone. He smiled as he left. He had asked if he could travel with them again. They had said yes. He had more questions he wanted to ask them. Ann was worried he would ask questions they couldn’t possibly answer. Anne assured her that Matilda would have told him not to ask questions that were too personal. Yet, she knew this young man was inquisitive and very bright.

They drove into Deloraine to buy drinks from Woolies. Ann decided water was the best option they had. Fizzy cordial would only make the kids hyper. Anne bought some more Mars Bars. She seemed to have acquired a taste for them. Anne hid them in their camera bag before Peter saw them. They drove arriving at Sheffield 36 minutes later. Anne had been looking forward to studying the murals. She was struck by how many there were. Ann smiled at she took lots of photos. She knew Marian would love to see them especially in person. She didn’t know if that would happen.

As they walked around Sheffield Ann found The Emporium and wandered in. Inside she found an array of books. She perused the shelves to see if there was a book she thought Marian would like to read. Anne had followed her inside with Peter and Bridget. Isabel and Matilda had gone in search of the ice cream palour. She thought there was one there. Ann found a book she thought Anne would like. It was On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. She couldn’t find a book that Marian would like. Maybe she would just buy her some chocolate.

She paid for the book and walked back out into the sunshine. It was chilly so Ann wrapped her coat around her and walked briskly to where Matilda and Isabel were munching gleefully on an ice cream cone. ‘Isn’t it a bit too cold for that?’ Ann said feeling the chill more now as she watched them eat. ‘It’s never too cold for ice cream.’ Isabel said as she offered a bit to Ann who took a bit. ‘That’s delicious. What flavor is it?’

‘It’s death by chocolate.’ Matilda said. ‘Isabel saw it and wanted to taste it. The owner gave her a spoonful for free. Then she wanted more.’

‘So you bought her a cone.’ Ann said. ‘Hey, kids do you want a cone too?’

‘Yes, please.’ They yelled as they walked to where Ann, Matilda and Isabel were standing. ‘Well, let’s see what they have.’ Anne said as the wandered into the ice cream palour. Moments later they strolled back out with cones in hand licking gleefully. Bridget had death by chocolate. Isabel had given her a lick and she was won. Anne had black ice cream but she couldn’t remember what the flavor was. It was her colour. Ann had strawberry and vanilla. Peter decided to get choc chip after spending too long perusing what was available. He said there was so many to choose from but in the end he chose that one.

They returned to their cars and made their way to Tasmazia and the Village of Lower Crackpot. It was a first visit for all of them. Ann paid their entry fee. Isabel raced towards the maze. It seemed to be so much bigger than the one in Westbury. Ann thought she would get lost in there. She grabbed Anne’s hand and held on tight. Anne could feel the blood rushing to her fingertips. She whispered in Ann’s ear that she would be okay but Ann wouldn’t let go. ‘Ann, my fingers are turning white. Please ease off.’ Ann looked down. Anne’s fingers were turning white. She let go. ‘Sorry, Dearest. I didn’t know I had a hard grip on your hand.’ Anne smiled. ‘That’s okay. I could see you were afraid of something.’

It’s the maze. I am scared I will get lost in there, Dearest.’ Anne frowned at her. ‘That won’t happen because if you get lost I will get lost too.’ Ann smiled. ‘If that happens…..’

‘Ann Walker, get your mind above your belt please.’

‘Goodness, why would I be thinking that, Miss Lister? I didn’t go there. I was just going to say then someone would need to come find us. Wouldn’t they?’ Anne smiled. She could see the wheels were turning in Ann’s head. ‘Well, let’s go find Isabel before she gets lost.’ Matilda said as they wandered through the maze. Peter and Bridget had already gone looking for her.

Isabel seemed to have chosen The Great Maze to find her way into the centre and back out again. Ann cringed as they walked into the maze. She could hear the kids up ahead. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. She smiled because she was too. It had been too long since she had enjoyed herself so much. Then her phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out and answered it without looking to see who was calling. ‘I hope you’re happy.’ The caller said. It was a moment until Ann realized who it was. ‘Your aunt is in a host of miseries worried about you. She hasn’t heard from you in weeks. Where are you?’ Ann could feel tears welling in her eyes. She had let go of Anne’s hand and stopped. Anne had taken a few more steps before she realized Ann wasn’t beside her. She looked back. Ann was sobbing loudly. Matilda had stopped and was hugging her trying to find out what was wrong.

Then Anne was beside her. Ann handed her phone to Anne. It was Eliza still berating Ann for not calling her aunt. Anne put her hand over Ann’s phone. ‘How long has she been yelling at you, Ann?’ Ann shocked her head. She didn’t know. ‘About five minutes.’ Matilda said. ‘I think whoever is on the other end should be here with Ann right now and see the effect it is having on her.’ Matilda was furious. So was Anne. When the line went silent Anne exploded. ‘Is it possible that you could be a bit more considerate of Ann? We are on our honeymoon. She does realize that if anything bad had happened she would be the first person we would call and tell. How dare you berate my wife?’ Anne said. She looked at Ann whose tears had dried up. She wrapped her arms around Anne. ‘Where are you?’ Eliza asked sincerely. ‘As far away from Ann’s family as possible.’ Ann was cackling now. Anne disconnected the call and pocketed Ann’s phone. ‘Next time we come here I think we will buy a phone here and turn ours off, Ann. Then no one will bother us.’ Ann smiled. She hugged her wife and Matilda. ‘Let’s not let that spoil our day.’ Ann said.

They made their way through the maze. Matilda wondered where the kids were when Bridget appeared. ‘What happened?’ Bridget said. She could see Ann was close to Anne. ‘Are you okay, Aunt?’ She said looking at Ann. ‘I’m good now thanks to your aunt here. She’s my one woman rescue team.’ Bridget smiled. ‘We found the middle. Peter and Isabel are waiting there for us.’

They walked to the middle then made their way back out. ‘One down and four more to go.’ Isabel shrieked. ‘Aren’t you hungry?’ Anne asked. Isabel shook her head. ‘I guess she will get something to eat later. ‘Matilda said.

Anne retrieved their lunch from Matilda’s car. She left them to chat. It would be unlikely they would see each other again for quite some time. The kids wandered in and out of the mazes.

Anne, Ann and Matilda sat in the picnic area. They ate in companionable silence. Ann was admiring the view. Anne was taking a few photos in between snacking on her sandwiches that Matilda had packed for them. Ann sat closer to Anne. She had never imagined this woman would be the one she would be with. Anne smiled at her.

The kids eventually grew tired of the mazes. They sat down and ate their lunch their mum had packed for them. ‘Thanks mum. These sandwiches are good. Now what are we going to do?’ Isabel said. ‘We could check out the Village of Lower Crackpot while we are here. Would you like to do that?’ Ann said. She wanted to get some photos to take home to show everyone.’ Isabel nodded. Ann stood up and took her hand. They wandered off leaving Anne and Matilda to chat. Peter and Bridget were listening to music on their phones.

‘Ann told me her family was annoying. I just put it down to a misunderstanding. My family is like that. I couldn’t believe it when I heard that woman screaming at her. How does she deal with them?’

;’She often buckles to what they expect her to do. It took all her courage to marry me when she did. I guess you could say I am the least popular person in Halifax right now especially amongst her family. We do have one family member who likes me and will tell the others off. In fact I never thought about calling her.’ Anne said. ‘Thanks!’

‘What for?’ Matilda asked. ‘For helping Ann I am not always aware of what is happening around me. You are a good friend.’

‘You are good friends too. I will miss you both when you go back home.’ Then Ann and Isabel appeared. ‘We got some good photos. The buildings are cute.’ Ann said. ‘Is there anywhere else we can go?’ Ann asked.

‘There is Anvers, the chocolate factory, shop and café near Latrobe. We could go there and have a hot chocolate. They are soooo good.’ Matilda said. ‘Then we can go home. We should arrive home in time for tea. It’s going to take nearly two hours to get there. Is that okay?’

‘Yes, that is great. Who’s traveling with us this time?’ Ann said as she looked at the kids. ‘I am.’ They all screamed. ‘Lucky you mum. Peace for awhile.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 37

They were seated in the café two hours later. They had ordered six hot chocolates. Ann had bought two large boxes of truffles to take home. Matilda had mentioned they were cheaper there than what they were at the airport. So Ann decided to buy another large box as they were leaving. Their hot chocolates arrived each had a little white bag with them. ‘What is this?’ Anne asked. She peered inside more chocolate. ‘You get two every time you buy a hot chocolate. Anne pulled out a truffle. ‘They are what’s in the box Ann has bought.’ Anne dipped it into her hot chocolate and took a bite. She moaned. She didn’t mean to but it was so good. Ann took a bite of her free truffle. ‘I’m getting two more. We can share one later. Okay!!’

‘You don’t need to.’ Matilda said but Ann could see the grin on her face. She knew Matilda loved chocolate. The kids smiled they did too. They were definitely their mother’s children. Ann grinned.  She bought two more large boxes of truffles. They drove back to Deloraine. Matilda needed to go to Woolies to buy milk and bread. Anne decided to buy a BBQ chicken for dinner and a large container of potato salad. Everyone seemed to think that was a good idea. No cooking required which suited everyone.

Graeme was digging up one of the beds in their garden. The chooks were running around the yard. Isabel jumped out of the car as soon as Anne stopped. She was chasing the chooks around the yard. She caught one and brought it over to show Ann who was a little afraid to touch it. ‘It won’t bite.’ Isabel said. ‘Look. This is all you need to do.’ She stroked the chook in her arms. Then Ann found the courage to do that same. ‘WOW!! The feathers are so soft. I didn’t think they wouldn’t be that soft.’ Anne smiled at her. ‘I guess you want to get some chickens now.’ Ann nodded and smiled. ‘We could have eggs for breakfast every day. Wouldn’t that be cool?’

‘Yeah, as long as you are prepared to look after them, feed them and clean out the henhouse.’ Anne said. ‘We don’t need to build a henhouse. There’s one at Shibden already.’

‘We could get Elizabeth Cordingley to help us. She is a great person.’

‘Who is Elizabeth Cordingley?’ Matilda asked. ‘She is our maid. She cooks and cleans for us so we don’t need to.’ Ann said. ‘Lucky you.’ Bridget said. ‘We are the maids here.’ She said as she pointed to Peter and herself and Isabel. ‘Yeah right.’ Matilda said. ‘And it takes me forever to get you to do what I want you to do.’

‘Teenagers.’ Ann said. ‘We have all been there and done that. I would prefer to forget my teenage years.’

‘Why, Ann?’ Ann frowned and looked at Anne. ‘Oh, I see.’ Matilda said. Ann had told her about the teenage crush she had on Anne and how Anne didn’t seem to notice her only to flirt with her. ‘Adney, I know why you don’t like to remember your teenage years. I am the reason. Right.’  Anne sais sincerely. ‘Yes, but all that changes when you rescued me that day in the park.’

‘I see. Why is that, Miss Walker?’ Anne said. Ann had piqued her curiosity. ‘You heard me fall then you rescued me. You could have left me where I was and I would have felt silly and foolish. Only you didn’t and now we are here on our honeymoon, Dr. Lister.’ Ann said grinning broadly.  Anne kissed her on the cheek. ‘You didn’t need to fall over on purpose to talk to me. You could have come over and sat next to me. You know I don’t bite.’

‘Yeah, I know that now.’ Matilda was smiling as she listened to the story about how they met.. Even Matilda could see how a teenage Ann could be attracted to a formidable Anne Lister. ‘She’s a force of nature. Isn’t she?’ Matilda whispered in Ann’s ear. Anne was talking on Ann’s phone. Neither of them heard it buzzed. ‘Yes, Aunt we are doing great. Yes, I know I should have called you. Yes, we will be home in just over a week. Yes! Aunt wants to talk to you, Adney.’ Anne said as she passed Ann’s phone to her. ‘Hi Aunt how are you?’

‘I am feeling great just missing my youngest niece. How is Anne treating you?’

‘We are doing fantastic, Aunt. I have the best wife in the world. She is taking care of me more than you could imagine.’

‘I hope so. If she wasn’t I would pull her into gear when she gets home.’

‘Oh, you don’t need to do that. We have seen so much and done so much while we have been here in Tasmania. We will tell you all about it when we got home. Okay. I will hand you back to Anne.’

‘Yes Aunt .we have seen so much but there is so much more to see and we will be returning one day. That will be after they have visited us. Matilda and Ann want to spend more time together. Matilda has been a great host. Yes, we are leaving a small gift. Anyway, we had better go. Adney wants to take a nap. I am sleepy too. We have had a busy day today. I love you too, Aunt. Bye!!’ Anne disconnected the call. ‘Did she call you or did you call her? Ann asked. ‘I called her.’

‘’I guess she was surprised to hear from you then.’ Ann said. ‘Has Eliza called me lately?’

‘No, not since I told her to fuck off and leave us alone.’ Anne said half yelling. ‘Anne, you don’t need to yell. I’m just here.’ Ann said pulling Anne into comfort her. She could see Eliza had called more than once since Ann answered a call from her. ‘Has she called more than once?’ Anne nodded. ‘I don’t want to turn your phone off in case something happens at home and Marian needs to call us.’

‘You could always send her my number if you want. Then you can turn off Ann’s phone and no one would be able to call you only your aunt and sister.’ Matilda said. She could see that both Anne and Ann were getting annoyed with people calling them to make life hard for them.’

‘Okay!!’ Anne called her aunt and gave her Matilda’s phone number. She gave the phone to Marian and Anne relayed Matilda’s number to her. Marian wrote it down. Then they chatted for a few minutes. ‘Don’t call me on my phone or this one as they will both be turned off. Okay, Marian.’

‘Okay!! Why is that, Anne?’ Marian curiously asked. ‘Let’s just say we are both avoiding someone who can’t take no for an answer when we tell them to stop calling us.’ Marian knew who she was talking about in regards to Anne but had to ask who was annoying Ann. ‘It’s Eliza Priestley. She can’t keep her nose out of Ann’s business. She called and yelled at her over the phone for not calling her aunt.’ Anne said furiously. Marian let her go because she knew Anne wasn’t mad with her. ‘So, that’s why we have our phones switched off. If you see miss prim and proper tell her to fuck off from me.’ Marian smiled. She would certainly do that. ‘Anyway, only a week and we will be returning home.’

‘I will call you again before then because Aunt Anne will want to talk you to again. Okay!!’

‘Okay!! Talk to you later, Marian. Bye!!’ Anne disconnected the call and turned Ann’s phone off. ‘Now we should get some peace at least for the next week.’

‘I hope so.’ Ann said. ‘Where are the kids?’

‘They are outside helping Graeme stack some firewood he got yesterday. They were so willing to help when I mentioned I would pay them when they were finished.’ It wasn’t long until Peter appeared at the door. He smiled when he saw Anne and Ann chatting with his mum. ‘Are you done already?’ She asked. ‘Yes, Graeme is going out for another load. He wants me to go with him.’ Then Isabel and Bridget appeared. ‘He wants us to go to.’

‘Okay!! Now, what are we going to do ladies?’ Anne said. ‘I thought you told your Aunt we were going to take a nap.’

‘I did and we will when we go to bed.’

Chapter Text

                                                           Chapter 38      

‘There’s a coffee shop in Deloraine we could go for afternoon tea and chatter. While the kids are with Graeme we can talk more openly about their future. Is that okay?’ Matilda asked.

Ann and Matilda were seated outside the café half an hour later. Anne was inside ordering their hot chocolates and cupcakes. Matilda had been thinking about the offer Anne and Ann had made to her children. She never expected anyone to give them such a large amount of money. She was unsure whether to fully accept it or tell them it was too much.

Anne sat their drinks on the table and looked at Ann who was frowning. She eyed Matilda who seemed to be in a world of her own. ‘What’s up, Matilda? You see to be miles away.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘Your offer to pay for the kid’s university education I don’t know if I can accept that.’ Ann frowned again. ‘Why not?’ Anne asked. ‘Because…I don’t know. I’m usually fine accepting offers of help from others but this is you from you and Ann. You don’t know me that well.’

‘I think we know you well enough to do this for you. I want to do this for them.’ Ann said. ‘You could always give them incentives to earn it with good grades. What do you think?’

‘Yes, we could do that.’ Matilda said shyly. They drank and ate in companionable silence for a beat. ‘You do realize Miss Ann Walker here is very rich. Of course, you don’t because she never talks about her money. It bothers her to think that people are so brazen when they are so rich.’

‘No, she never mentioned that to me.’ Matilda said. ‘Why?’

‘I don’t like to look like a toffy nosed rich bitch when I am not.’ Ann said. ‘My dad started his business the year my sister was born. He wanted to leave us something so we didn’t need to rely on others for jobs and money. He never really benefitted from it like Liz and I do. There are times when I feel I don’t deserve it. That’s why I do my best to share it with those whom I think deserve it.’

‘And you think my kids and I deserve your generosity.’

‘I sure do. You have taken us into your home and fed us while we have been here.’ Anne said. ‘Is there anywhere else you would like to take us before we go home?’ Matilda had to think hard. She couldn’t think of anywhere so she did a Google search. There it was The White House in Westbury. She showed Anne and Ann the link she had clicked to. ‘We could go there tomorrow if you would like.’ Ann and Anne nodded.

Then her phone buzzed in her hand. ‘Hello babe, where are you?’ Graeme said. ‘We’re lounging around at the café in Deloraine. ‘Anne said after Matilda put them on speaker phone. ‘What would you like for tea tonight? Ann is buying so we can get you whatever you want.’ Anne said as she smiled at her wife. ‘Okay!!! I would like fish and chips and dim sims.’ Graeme said. ‘That’s a bit rich for my taste. I will see what I can do though.’ Ann said as she laughed heartily. She was feeling so good. ‘Do they kids want a spring roll?’

‘Yes!’ He said after he asked the kids. Anne drove them to the takeaway. Matilda ordered their food and Ann paid for it. She was feeling rather generous and gave Matilda the change from $100 just to show how much she trusted and liked her. ‘Spend it on whatever you wish.’ Ann said looking at Matilda. ‘Thanks. I have as few books I wish to buy and that will go towards them.’

‘Good!!’ Anne said. ‘Someone who thinks like me.’ Then she grinned.  Anne knew how much Matilda loved reading Ann had told her. ‘What genre of stories do you like reading?’

‘I read mainly fantasy fiction.‘  Matilda said smiling. Ann was smiling too. ‘Okay! What’s the big secret you two have that you haven’t told me?’ Anne asked. ‘Nothing.’ Ann said.

‘There is something I want you to for me, Anne.’ Matilda said as they unwrapped their food and spread it on the table. ‘What’s that?’ Anne asked quizzically. ‘I have a friend who likes to dabble in writing. She sent me a story I would like you to read after tea if that okay.’ Matilda said trying hard to hide her blush. Ann spied it. She hoped Anne didn’t. ‘Yeah, I can do that. What are you going to do after tea?’

‘I thought we would thrash the kids in a game of scrabble. We would play as a team. We should be able to come up with better words than they can.’

‘Good luck with that one.’ Anne said. After tea Matilda gave Anne the story to read. She had printed it out. Anne sat back and read while they played scrabble with Peter and Bridget. Graeme played Minecraft with Isabel. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves. Ann and Matilda were winning at Scrabble. Anne was reading. She would occasionally look at Matilda as if she was thinking about something. Then she sat the story down on the arm of the sofa. ‘That was good. Who really wrote it? And don’t say it was a friend. I have a feeling you know this author very well. Don’t you?’ Matilda smiled. Then Peter and Bridget played their last seven letters on a triple word score thus declaring them winners.

‘Would you like us to thrash you again?’ Peter said smiling. ‘As long as I can join in the fun and play with one of them?’ Ann fiend a headache and decided to sit this game out. So, it was Anne and Matilda against Peter and Bridget. They picked a tile each to see who would go first. The closest to A would go first. Anne picked a T, Bridget picked a G. Peter picked a U and Matilda picked an E so team Anne and Matilda went first. They had seven vows so they decided to swap them out. Peter and Bridget smiled. They made snake because they were had the first word and used the middle square on the board they scored 18 points. Anne grinned. They had played into Anne and Matilda’s hand. Anne made foreguts. They used all their tiles so they scored an extra 50 points with a total of 62 points.

‘You can’t do that. Can you?’ Peter said as he looked at his mum. ‘Yes, we can. I play scrabble go on my iphone and when I use all my tiles I get an extra 50 points.’ Peter and Bridget’s next word was deform on a double letter and double word score. They scored 30 more points. Anne and Matilda had the lead still and their next word was quash which gave them a score of 19. Ann yawned. She was sleepy and even though they had done nothing she wanted to go to bed. ‘Just one more word, Adney.’ Anne promised. ‘Okay!’ Peter and Bridget made three more words ko ed and ode for a score of 15 points. Anne smiled. Their last word was dative. They scored 12 points.

Ann felt bad about ending the scrabble game so soon. She wanted to go to bed. Peter packed the tiles and board away. He smiled. ‘We can play again another day. You do have a scrabble board at home.’

‘Yes.’ Anne said without thinking. She would need to buy scrabble when they returned home. Ann smiled. She knew they didn’t have it. She also knew they would need to practice before the kids visited or when they returned here to visit again because she knew the kids would practice and beat them.

As Anne and Ann snuggled into bed Anne asked the question which had been bugging her since she read the story Matilda asked her to read. ‘Is that really a story written by a friend, Ann?’

‘You will need to ask her. Okay!!’ Ann said. ‘She made me promise to keep quiet.’

‘So you not saying anything but you are telling me lots, Ann.’

‘Just ask her. I am sure she will tell you the truth. She’s never lied to me.’

‘Okay! Let’s get some sleep.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 39

Anne and Ann woke to a knock on the studio door. ‘Come in kids. We are decent. The door open Matilda was standing there in her pjs and dressing gown. She looked at them. I want to talk to you. Anne motioned her to sit on their bed. ‘What’s up?’ Anne asked. Ann could see there wasn’t anything wrong. ‘Oh there’s nothing wrong. Confession time I wrote the story you read last night, Anne.’

‘I enjoyed reading it. You are good. Do you always write fantasy fiction?’

‘No! Sometimes I write historical fiction. Mum writes poetry and she is going to write the story of her life.’

‘She would have a lot to tell them especially about her overseas relationship.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘I guess so. I never thought about that.’ Matilda said. ‘Mum didn’t come out until she was nearly 40.’

‘Okay! How did she cope with that?’ Anne asked quizzically.

‘She coped more than I imagine I would.’ Matilda said. ‘She has been in two long distance relationships.’

‘Who was the first one with?’ Ann asked. ‘Dad! They have both lived in Tasmania until mum moved overseas. They lived far enough apart to only be able to see each other on weekends.’

‘Interesting.’ Anne said. ‘Do you know how they met?’

‘No, I have no idea how they met.’ Matilda said looking sad when she realized that. ‘I suppose your mum will tell you one day if you ask her.’

Then Peter and Isabel appeared at the door with their breakfast. Today’s menu included two hot chocolates and toast with peanut butter for Ann. Anne wanted cereal. She had asked for a bowl of corn flakes and a banana. The kids wanted a tip. So, Anne said. ‘Always give to those less fortunate than you because you never know when you could be where they are and never take for granted what your parents have done for you.’ She smiled at them. They had asked for a tip and she gave them two for the price of one. ‘That wasn’t nice, Anne.’

‘They asked for a tip and they got two. What more do they want?’

‘I think they meant a money tip, Dearest.’ Anne laughed. ‘I know. They might get that later.’

‘Well, let’s get ready. We are still going to the White House in Westbury. Aren’t we?’ Ann asked. ‘I want to see it.’

‘Yes and if we think of anywhere else we can take you we will.’ Matilda said. They were dressed and ready to leave half an hour later. Peter and Isabel traveled with them. Ann had a feeling Isabel wanted to spend as much time as possible with her new aunts.

They arrived at the White House 20 minutes later. They had followed Matilda to the White House. Anne still couldn’t believe it was called the White House until she saw. It was painted white.

They walked around the White House holding hands. Ann took photos of the all the displays in the White House Museum. She especially loved the display of older cars dating from early last century and the toy cars. She imagined boys playing with them.

As they walked through different displays Ann continued to take photos. ‘Is this okay, Anne? I had planned to give everyone at home a slide show of our honeymoon. I am sure your aunt would like that.’

‘Yes, that’s a good idea. I wish I had thought of it too. How many photos have you taken?’ Anne asked tentatively as she looked at Ann. ‘I am not sure but I know I have lots.’ Good Anne thought. ‘I guess that means you will be spending the first day home editing them. Right?’

‘Yes, I don’t think they would want to look at every photo and video I have taken.’ Ann said. ‘But I would like to make a video of all the photos I have taken while we have been here. Is that okay?’

‘Of course, it is okay, Adney.’ Anne said as they stepped back outside. ‘What do you want to do now?’ Matilda asked as she looked at her phone for the time. ‘It’s only twenty two minutes past 12. Are you hungry?’ Ann’s stomach growled. ‘We could find get something to eat. I think there’s a takeaway close by.’

‘Okay!!’ Anne said as her stomach joined the chorus. They were seated at the takeaway waiting for their food to be cooked. ‘There’s a nice spot by the Meander River called the Egmont Reserve. It will probably take about fifteen minutes to get there. We could go there and relax for a while. Peter and Bridget didn’t seem to like that idea. ‘Teenagers, they always want to be on the go.’ Ann said. Peter frowned. ‘We were all teenagers once. For some of us those years are a distant memory. Anne poked Ann in the ribs. ‘Cheeky monkey!’

‘Now how did you know I was referring to you, Dearest?’ Ann said innocently. ‘I know you were. There’s 12 years between us.’ Anne said as she looked at Matilda. Food in hand they were back in their cars and on their way to Egmont Reserve.

When they arrived there the kids racing down to the river Matilda called them back to eat. ‘How do you keep track of them, Matilda?’ Anne asked. ‘They seem to have so much energy.’

‘They sure do. If I could only harness some of it I would be able to do more. Now, wouldn’t that be great?’

‘Yes, it sure would especially for us ‘old folk’.’ Anne said as she did air quotes. ‘You know I didn’t mean you were old, Dearest.’ Anne laughed. When they had finished eating the kids were back down at the edge of the river. ‘Now what are we going to do?’ Ann asked. ‘We could go to Pearn’s steam world in Westbury. It won’t take us long to get there. What do you think, Ann?’

‘Yes, we could do that.’ They both said. ‘Yeah, when someone says our name we both answer. Well, sometimes we do.’ Ann said.

‘Come on kids. We are going to Pearn’s steam world.’ Graeme said. Peter and Bridget raced back to the cars. Peter had Isabel on his back. He was giving her a piggy back ride. Bridget and Isabel rode with Matilda and Graeme. Peter rode with Anne and Ann.  ‘I guess you want to ask us more questions.’ Anne said as she drove them back into Westbury and to Pearn’s steam world. ‘No. You will be heading home in a few days time and I want to spend as much time as possible with you and Auntie Ann.’ Peter said.

They arrived at Pearn’s steam world to find it was closed for the day. ‘Now , what should we do?’ Ann said. ‘Would you like to go to Liffey Falls? They are close to home.’ Matilda said as Graeme pulled up beside Anne and Ann.  ‘Yes, that sounds like a good idea.’ Thirty four minutes later they were at the falls. They parked their cars and walked the distance from the car park to the falls. The Liffey Falls walk would take them 45 minutes. It was a grade 2 walk and suitable for most ages. Peter walked with Anne and Ann. Bridget and Isabel walked together with Graeme and Matilda walked ahead.

The waterfall wasn’t overly high but the splashing of the water onto the rocks gave a sense of serenity to the place. It was peaceful. They all found somewhere to sit and watch it for a moment. ‘Do you have waterfalls near your home, Aunt?’ Bridget asked. Anne had to think about this one. Only she couldn’t remember. So she did a Google search. ‘Yes, there seems to be a couple close to Shibden Hall. We could check them out if and when you visit us.’ Anne said. ‘That would be so cool.’ Peter said. ‘I know I can speak for everyone here when I say it has been great having you here with us mum talked about Aunt Ann often enough after they chatted.’ Ann blushed. She often wondered if she was just a distraction from Matilda’s everyday life. ‘Ann Walker don’t frown like that because when the wind changes you will stay like that.’ Ann smiled. Matilda could see Anne Lister had a positive effect on Ann’s life.

The group walked back to their cars. This time Anne and Ann were alone. Peter, Bridget and Isabel had decided to travel back home with Matilda and Graeme. Ann seemed quiet. ‘Are you all right, Adney?’ Anne asked sincerely. “Yes, I just wish we could spend more time here with Matilda and her family. Only we would still need to leave. Wouldn’t we?’

‘Yes! Aunt Anne wants to see us soon. She wants to view all the photos and videos you have taken while we have been away.’ Anne said. ‘Do you want some good news.’

‘What is that?’ Ann thought there couldn’t be any good news since they had to leave tomorrow to get the Spirit back to Melbourne then their flight to Sydney and home. ‘I have booked a flight from Launceston airport directly to Sydney so we could spend two more days here. No, Matilda doesn’t know. I was going to spring it on both of you tonight but when I saw how miserable you were I decided to tell you now.’ Ann smiled. It was the best news ever

Chapter Text

Chapter 40

Anne and Ann had decided to cook tea tonight since it was going to be their last night there. As they prepared the meal Ann couldn’t stop smiling. The kids didn’t know why. They thought she would be sad because tonight was the last night they would spend together. Even Matilda seemed a little sad.

As they ate Peter asked Ann why she was so cheerful while her and Anne were preparing tea. ‘I’m just so happy to be here.’ Ann said. ‘Yes, I am sad about leaving but I don’t want to think about that for now.’

‘You are still leaving in the morning?’ Graeme asked. ‘We were supposed to leave tomorrow morning but Anne surprised me. She booked a flight from Launceston airport. We have two more days here with you.’ Matilda and the kids smiled. Even though Anne and Ann were still leaving this was great news. ‘So, what do you want to do tomorrow and the next day, Aunts?’ Peter asked.

‘We need to go into Deloraine tomorrow. We have something we need to do after that. I don’t know. We might just go for a walk around Deloraine. Ann wants to get some photos of the historical buildings in the town.’ Anne said. Ann smiled. She knew why they were going into Deloraine. That part was going to be fun for her. ‘Would you like to watch a video tonight?’ Isabel asked as she looked at Ann and smiled. ‘What do you want to watch?’ Anne asked. Isabel smiled coyly. ‘I would like to watch Harry Potter.’

‘You would now. Would you?’ Ann said. ‘I think we can do that. What do you think, Dearest?’

‘Yes, Isabel. We can do that.’ Anne said as she watched Isabel raced to retrieve the DVD from the shelf. She raced back to Anne and handed her the DVD. It was the first one in the series of eight. ‘So, we are going to watch the Philosopher’s stone tonight and no others.’ Matilda asked. No one answered. Isabel was hoping they could watch two tonight and the rest before Anne and Ann left to go back home. They had two more days.

After the kids washed the dishes in record time which didn’t surprise Matilda. Ann had retrieved a box of truffles from the studio they settled into watch The Philosopher’s stone. Anne couldn’t remember watching it. Ann had seen it when it first opened in the cinema and she hadn’t watched it since. So she was looking forward to watching it with her wife and her friend’s family.

They snuggled on the sofa bed in the sunroom. Ann curled up in between Anne’s legs.. Matilda smiled she sat next to Anne and Ann. Ann shared the truffles with everyone while they watched the movie. It wasn’t long before Ann was snoring in Anne’s arms. Anne smiled. ‘Does she do that often?’ Matilda asked Anne. ‘I don’t know. This is probably the first time we have watched a video together.’ 

‘She is so cute. Isn’t she?’ Bridget said as she looked at sleeping Ann. ‘Should we wake her?’

‘As long as you promise me you won’t tease her. She’s very sensitive and gets very embarrassed.’ Bridget nodded then leaned in and kissed Ann on the cheek. She woke slowly. ‘Would you like a hot chocolate before you go to bed, Aunt?’ Peter asked Ann. ‘Yes that would be lovely.’ Ann said groggily. ‘When did I fall asleep?’

‘About half an hour into the movie, Adney.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘Sorry about ‘that. I must have been very tired.’

‘You must have been.’ Peter said as he handed Ann her hot chocolate. ’Thanks for the truffles they were delicious.’

‘You’re welcome. I think I have another three boxes to take home with us. I know Marian will love them. I’m not sure about Aunt. Then Matilda’s phone buzzed in her pocket. It was Aunt Anne. She handed her phone to Anne who answered it and put her Aunt on speakerphone so Aunt Anne could talk to everyone. ‘Hello everyone I assume Anne put me on speakerphone.

‘Hello Aunt Anne.’ Everyone said. How are you Aunt?’ Anne asked. ‘I am doing fine, Anne. When are you leaving there to come home?’

‘We are leaving here in three days time.’ Anne said as she eyed everyone in the room. ‘Only we don’t want to talk about that right now. Okay!’

‘Okay! I can understand that. What time is it there now?’ Aunt Anne asked. ‘It’s just after 9PM, Aunt. We were watching Harry Potter and the Philos0pher’s stone.’

‘Everyone else was, Aunt.’ Ann said. ‘I fell asleep after half an hour.’

‘That’s no good but you must have been tired.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘I guess I was. You would love it here. There isn’t much traffic and on a clear night the stars are lovely.’

‘You did take a few photos to show us, Ann?’

‘Yes, Aunt I have taken quite a few photos and a couple of videos of the night sky here. I need to edit what I have before I show you. Okay!!’ Ann said. ‘How are you, Aunt?’ Peter said. He had been making drinks for everyone when Anne asked her aunt. ‘I am doing fine, thanks Peter. How are you?’

‘I am doing great. It’s been fun having our aunts here.’ He said. ‘Aunts?’

‘Yes.’ Anne said.’ It seems we are family now. It was little Isabel who asked if she could call us aunt.’ Ann smiled. Of course, Elizabeth’s children were their nephew and nieces. That was great but to have a nephew and two nieces who lived in Tasmania. Ann thought that amazing. She smiled because she had a lovely surprise for them come tomorrow when they returned home from Deloraine.

‘Okay!’ Aunt Anne said. ‘I had better go Marian cooked lunch and is telling me it is ready.’

‘Okay Aunt.’ Everyone said. Anne disconnected the call and handed Matilda’s phone back to her. ‘I think Ann and I will go to bed. We have to go into Deloraine in the morning. Goodnight everyone.’

‘Goodnight, Anne and Ann.’ Matilda said. ‘Sleep well.’

Anne and Ann walked outside. The sky was clear. Ann looked up and pinned for home. She hadn’t felt this way while they had been on their honeymoon. She wondered what Elizabeth was doing then thought she should turn on her phone and see if she had called her. Anne was surprised Ann wanted to do that. She didn’t think it wise after the call she had received from Eliza Priestley but Anne agreed. If Elizabeth had called and Ann didn’t answer her phone she would be worried about her.

When Ann turned her phone on it pinged and pinged like Christmas bells on Christmas day. There were many unanswered messages and voice mails from Elizabeth. She listened to most of them. Then she called her sister. ‘Hi Ann. Why haven’t you been answering your phone?’ Ann squirmed but explained that Eliza had called and made her feel miserable. So, she turned her phone off just as Anne had turned her phone off because her ex had called her and wanted Anne. ‘So, we have been off the grid only Anne’s Aunt knows which number to call to talk to us.’

‘Okay!!’ Elizabeth said. They talked for a while until Ann started to yawn. Anne seemed suspicious of Ann’s yawn. She didn’t seem tried. They prepared to go to bed. As they lay side by side Anne wondered what their life would be like when they returned to Shibden Hall. ‘What’s wrong, Dearest?’ Ann asked as she turned around to face Anne. She could see the frown on her face. ‘What are you worrying about?’

‘What will happen between us when we returned to Shibden?’ Anne said tearfully. Ann pulled her into a tight hug. ‘What do you mean, Anne? We are married. We will start our married life together. Won’t we?’ Anne nodded. That was what she had wanted to hear but was unsure. ‘Why do you doubt that?’ Anne didn’t know and for now she felt Ann’s soothing words calmed her. They returned to their previous positions. Anne with her front against Ann’s back. Anne kissed her head and they slept. Anne and Ann both dreamed of the life they would have at Shibden when they returned.

Chapter Text

Chapter 41

Anne drove Ann into Deloraine the next morning just before the kids appeared with their breakfast. They left a note saying they would be back within the hour. The bank they entered was able to give them what they wanted. Ann couldn’t believe how easy it was. All she did was show her passport for identity purpose. Anne smiled. Matilda and the kids would be happy. She hoped.  Anne and Ann had talked about how much. Ann was going to give them enough so they could all visit England later in the year but Anne could see how Matilda and Graeme would feel about that and the kids needed to learn to save as Matilda was teaching them to. So, Ann only gave them a small deposit for their trip.

As they walked back to their car they saw Matilda park on the other side of the road. She yelled out. ‘What are you doing here, Matilda?’

I needed to get a letter in the post. I should have asked you but you had left before I had a chance.’ Ann looked sorrowful. ‘It’s okay. We are out of milk and bread so I am going to Woolies to get some. Do you want to follow me?’ Anne nodded. Matilda posted her letter and they went to Woolies. Ann was still smiling when they returned home.  

‘I have something I want to give you.’ Ann said as they sat around the kitchen table. ‘It’s not as much as I wanted to give you but Anne says if I did give you more you might be embarrassed.’ She handed an envelope to Matilda who felt it gently before opening it up to find a small stack of $100 notes. She blushed. ‘You didn’t need to do this. You have spent so much on us already and have helped prepare a future for our children.’ Matilda said as she wiped tears from her face. ‘I honestly can’t accept it. What about your sister’s children? She does have children.’ Matilda couldn’t remember if Ann had told her about her sister. ‘Yes, Elizabeth had three children but they will inherit her share of the Crow Nest estate.’ Matilda’s jaw dropped. How big was Ann’s estate? She had never talked about it was Matilda. Ann reached out and placed her hand on top of Matilda’s then she smiled. ‘It’s your deposit for your trip to England or whatever you want to do with it.’ Anne said. ‘And Ann won’t take no for an answer.’ Matilda smiled. ‘Thanks.’ She called the kids in. They smiled broadly when Matilda told them what Ann had given them. ‘And you will have somewhere to stay while you are visiting us.’

‘Where?’ Matilda asked. ‘With us at Shibden or at Crow Nest. It is unoccupied at present or will be when we return home. I am moving in to live with Anne and her family.’ As if I haven’t moved in already Ann thought. ‘There are a few things I want to take to Shibden.’

‘It will be a while before we can visit. None of the kids have passports but thanks I am sure we will visit one day soon.’ Ann smiled. ‘That would be great. We can visit the lake district.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘And maybe visit the blue house?’ Anne and Ann looked puzzled. As far as they knew there was no blue house in the lake district.’ Matilda smiled. ‘Family! I will tell you about it later when we are there.’

‘Okay!!’

They spent the next two days playing scrabble and badly losing. Ann thought she had a good word then realized she couldn’t use it. While Anne was good with words she found it impossible to find a word that would give her a decent score. Every time she thought she could use the triple word space one of the kids beat her to it.

They slowly packed their suitcases and carryon bags. Ann didn’t want to leave but she didn’t want to stay either. While she enjoyed Matilda’s company her home was with Anne at Shibden and like Anne she was itching to return. That didn’t mean leaving would be hard. It always was hard.

Their last night there Anne and Ann wandered around the land. They couldn’t believe how luck Matilda and Graeme were to have such a great place to raise their kids. ‘I wonder what they will do with the money we gave them, Dearest!’ Ann said. ‘Do you think they will come visit us one day?’

‘I am sure they will, Adney. Anything is possible. This blue house has me puzzled though. I wonder what Matilda means by blue house.’

‘I think she will tell us one day.’ Ann said as they strolled back inside. It was getting very chilly. So they were glad to feel the warmth of a fire blazing in the wood heater. Ann stood close to it after she had taken off her coat. Anne sat on the sofa. She was beginning to like the idea that one day they would be parents. Only she wouldn’t mention it again until they were home. Well, she might mention it on their flight back home. She wasn’t really sure.

‘Anne Lister, what are you thinking about?’ Ann asked as they sat and watched the kids prepare their last meal. ‘Nothing.’

‘You’re lying to me again. What are you thinking about, Dearest?’

‘I was just thinking about what we will do when we get home.’ Anne blushed. Ann saw the blush. ‘Now, you are really lying. I thought we had decided to move some of my gear into Shibden. Then talk to Elizabeth as to what we were going to do with Crow Nest.’ Anne shrugged. ‘Sorry, I forgot we had already had that talk.’

‘You’re lying again. Come on, What are you thinking about? Anne didn’t say anything but as her eyes wandered to where the kids were Ann could see what Anne was thinking. ‘So, you do want to be a mum after all.’

‘What makes you think I am thinking that?’ Anne said. ‘Just the way you are looking at Matilda’s children. I can see the glint in your eyes.’ Anne smiled. ‘I guess you know then. Okay!!’ Ann smiled. So, did the kids.

That night in bed Anne and Ann talked about their future. They were more open with each other than they thought they had been. ‘There is only one question I need to ask you, Dearest. Who is going to get pregnant?’ Anne smile. ‘I guess it will need to be you. I can’t imagine being a birth mum.’

‘Can’t you? I thought you would look great nine months pregnant and waddling around like a duck.’ Ann smiled. She was teasing but Anne bit. ‘No, Adney. It has to be you or not at all.’ Ann laughed. Then Anne realized she was joking. ‘You little pill. I think I need to get you back for that.’ Then Ann’s phone buzzed. She thought she had turned it off. ‘Hi Elizabeth.’ Anne said as she looked at Ann as if to say why is she calling us now. Ann shrugged her shoulders. ‘Hi Anne, is Ann there?’

‘Yes! I will give Ann her phone.’ Anne said as she passed Ann’s phone to her. ‘Hi Elizabeth what’s up?’

‘I was just wondering when you will be returning home.’

‘We will be leaving here noon tomorrow from Launceston airport. We…’ Ann told her when they would be landing and taking off at all the airports. ‘We arrive at Heathrow at around 8PM. I had forgotten. It could be later.’ Ann said. ‘Why?’

‘I was just wondering. What’s your flight number?’ Ann found their itinerary on her phone and sent it to Elizabeth in an email. ‘I have just sent our itinerary to you in an email. Okay!!’

‘Thanks. Talk to you soon, Ann.’ Ann disconnected the call. What did Elizabeth want? Anne asked. ‘She just wanted to know what time our plane lands at Heathrow. So I sent her our itinerary, Dearest. I hope you don’t mind.’

‘No! But I wonder why she wants to know when we get home.’

‘I have no idea. Let’s get some sleep. We have a long day tomorrow. We leave here at 9AM to get our first flight at noon and won’t be home until around 5AM here.’ Ouch Ann thought.