Sweat trickled lazily down his back, itching his skin as he flexed his cramped, tight neck muscles, relishing the loud cracks as they loosened. Another few hours of digging left, he thought, throwing his hat on the dusty ground before pulling his shirt off and using it to wipe his forehead.
He heard the screen door slap shut and looked up to see her walking across the front porch, barefoot, wearing khaki shorts and a vest which had a dark V of sweat at the back. She had been in and out all morning, carrying laundry, sweeping the porch, scrubbing the windows. She carried herself with a weariness that came from hard physical labour. Her head turned in his direction and he swiftly dropped his gaze and bent to retrieve his hat, keeping his back turned until he heard the screen door again.
For the past week that he’d been working on the farm he’d watched her as she worked outside, as she tended to the hens and played with her dog. He loved her giggle, like wind chimes, the way her face lit up and eyes shone as she laughed when her chickens ran around in front of her, how she called them all different names and spoke to them as if they were her children. Not for the first time, he wondered why she had no man in her life, in her bed. A woman like her deserved to be loved, and loved well.
Hearing the screen door slam again, he concentrated on digging, not wanting to be caught looking at her again.
“Hey, thought you could use a cool drink. It’s like an oven out here.”
He turned to see her standing before him, hand outstretched, holding a glass of iced lemonade that was dripping with condensation, her dog at her heels, panting in the heat.
Taking it from her, feeling her cold wet fingers brush his, he replied, “Thank you Ma’am, much appreciated,” and lifted the glass to his lips. The cold, sweet liquid slid down his parched throat and he greedily swallowed it all in one take, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, gasping with relief.
She smiled as she said, “You look like I should’ve just brought out the whole jug!”, pulling her dark blonde bangs back from her glistening forehead. He saw tiny strands of hair sticking to her neck and longed to brush them away and lick the sweat from her skin.
Realising his eyes were glued to her throat, he cleared his throat and squinted up into the sky trying to think of something to say that wouldn’t make him look like a total idiot, “Thanks again Ma’am, but I guess I’d better get back to it.”
“It’s Elsa, Ma’am makes me feel old!” she giggled again and he noticed the flush on her cheeks, “Maybe you should come on in for some lunch in about an hour? I’ll fix up some sandwiches?” her eyebrows raised and she tilted her head slightly, her eyes skimming down his chest and back.
Not waiting for a response, she swiftly turned and walked back towards the farmhouse, calling to the dog to follow her. He watched her long shapely legs, her hips swinging as she moved across the field and wondered if he had imagined the bloom on her cheeks, the way her gaze lingered on his exposed torso, the spark of invitation in her eyes?
Was she only offering him lunch, or more?
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