The place he was headed was a little further out-a Mrs. Arianna Amaranth interested in selling or at least getting best value on a smallish place referred to as a “farmette” in the paperwork. She and her husband had been on the property for over 20 years. Following GPS he pulled off of the state road and onto a similar, but windier, two lane. Some places slipping onto a local road out in the boonies could be dicey but not here-where the local area, though bucolic, was some of the most expensive real estate in the area.
He slowed as his GPS counted down the feet to his next left turn. When he saw a break in the tree line he pulled off onto a tightly packed gravel drive. “You have arrived”. But John wasn’t sure where. He could see nothing through the trees and followed the gravel slowly until he rounded a bend and there it was. Small converted barn-two story living area-he would bet on reclaimed wood throughout. Very nice. Flowers and gardens abounding filling in around meandering stone walls.
He pulled off the drive onto a small gravel parking area in front of a three car garage. Like the house the garage had been built of rough-hewn lumber and though it looked like it could have been there for decades, John figured it for a recent addition to the place. As he got out of the car, a woman appeared from behind the garage and followed the trail along a wall toward him. “Mrs. Amaranth?” he asked.
“Arianna, please”, she said approaching.
She was in her 40’s at least but her light olive skin was smooth, revealing nothing. Her black hair, pulled back in a loose pony tail was shot through with silvery streaks that could have been from the Salon but were not. She was of average height but a bit stocky and bottom heavy which made her appear shorter. She carried her weight lightly, telling him that it wasn’t a new addition. She had a strong grip when they shook hands and a bright smile. This was an attractive woman-all the more because she had an air of confidence about her.
Dressed for work in jeans, canvas shirt and rubber boots she certainly looked the part of a gentle-woman farmer. The jeans were not the jeans that he saw on woman and girls at the clubs at night-sprayed on to adhere to every bodily contour. These were work clothes giving her room to move around inside of them. Her scent was something earthy and fresh-maybe sage or clover-subtly mixed with a light whiff of hard won sweat.
There were apple trees out back in a small orchard as well as pears and too many to count variations of flowers placed deliberately about to look scattered. Her husband had headed to Phoenix on business last fall and had stayed. She traveled to and from a couple of times but life in the desert didn’t appeal to her after putting the last two decades into this wooded glen. While a long-distance marriage was never in their plans-here they were.
“I just thought it made sense to have this place correctly valued in case it becomes necessary to sell quickly. He’s not as young as he once was…”
“Who is?” said John pecking notes into his tablet as they walked along.
“You probably are….” She said. She was in front of him so he couldn’t gauge if there was anything in her eyes with that comment. Coming around the other side of the house he saw what looked to be an open shed against the apple trees.
“What do you have there? Old corn crib?”
“That’s the woodshed”, she said.
“That’s a place you try to avoid, I bet.” It was the kind of innocuous line he threw out a lot. Most times they weren’t heard or ignored or were so far off the rails that they floated off into space like the odd non sequiturs they were. Every once in a while though, the trout rises to the fly.
“You can try, but….” She shrugged “…sometimes…”
“Indeed-can we have a look?”
“Of course”, she said, leading the way easily. The shed was two walled-front and back-open at the ends to let air move through to keep the wood dry. Being summer, it was nearly empty. She opened the rough latch on the door and let it swing inward standing aside. The inside was dim, relying on the sunlight at the ends and from the large open window front and back.There was a rough wooden bench, a heavy stump that looked to be a platform for splitting kindling and a chest high rail partition that would separate wood piles when this place was full.
Turning away and moving back toward the door his eye caught something that he wouldn’t have seen coming right in from the light outside. But there, hanging from a nail beside the door was an old rattan carpet beater. At least he assumed it was old-it certainly appeared to be in good shape.
“Keep a lot of carpets in here?” he asked Arianna who had followed him inside.
“Not many”, she smiled. “I’m sorry, I forgot that was in here.”
“No need to apologize-it’s a nice piece.”
“I bought it at an estate sale a couple of years ago…thought it fit the building. Come on-it’s a woodshed. Even you alluded to its other….legendary use.” There was a sparkle to her tone.
“Sure, yes. It complements the place for sure.”
“I thought so”, she said settling it as they squinted back into the sunshine.
The walk back to his car felt more like a stroll than the business-like appraisal march when he had first arrived. Arianna would pick this flower or that-tell John what it was-have him smell it, or with the nasturtiums that climbed a trellis, invite him to pop one into his mouth to savor the peppery flower.
John was half listening but half thinking about the woodshed. Had she forgotten the carpet beater was in there? Did she remember and mean for him to see it? Was she watching him in there to see if he spotted it? Was he the trout rising to the fly? There was no doubt she was stalling…trying to decide how best to turn this meeting into a visit. But she hadn’t figured it out by the time they reached his car.
He was reaching for the door handle when she asked him, “Could you come back tomorrow?”
“I don’t think I’ll have the figures ready by then.”
“Mmmm-that’s OK. Can you come anyway?”
“I can be here at one”. Actually he could have been there anytime, but he wanted her to have most of the day to know he was coming.
“Not till one? OK, I’ll just have to find something to occupy my morning.”
“You could cut some switches. And trim the bark from them….”
She stepped closer to him, the corners of her mouth lifting slightly as her green eyes danced. She placed the index finger of her right hand into John’s chest and pressed lightly.
“Until tomorrow, then,” she said as she turned and walked back toward the house.
She turned and walked back toward the house.
The joke was on him, he thought as he drove the winding tree lined roads back to Arianna’s house the next day. His aim in making their appointment in the afternoon instead of morning was to give her time to anticipate-to let her imagination paint a picture of what his visit might bring. Instead it was he who had whiled the morning away unable to concentrate on anything in front of him-his mind pulled back to the dim woodshed surrounded by an apple orchard.
The day was warmer than the day before but cloudy. As he drove slowly up the gravel drive he saw that the shadows back in the trees were deeper. Darker. He parked in the same place and stepped out of the car as a warm breeze full of the scents of the flowers surrounding him mussed his hair. The rain that was not supposed to come until evening would surely be here sooner than that.
He stood beside his car expecting Arianna to come striding down one of the trails to meet him. As he scanned the property he noticed what looked to be a paper tacked to an ornamental fencepost at the end of the drive. It was a note. A single folded sheet of expensive, handmade paper with his name on the outside in beautiful flowing script that approached calligraphy. He opened the fold and read the message inside:
“I will meet you at the woodshed” signed “AA” in a beautiful flourish. The note carried a whiff of what he thought of as her scent-sage and flowers.
He trod the path beside the wall looking for signs of life and seeing none. He had opted for a more formal look today-black slacks and dark shirt instead of the business casual khakis and polo shirt of the day before. His anticipation grew knowing that she was here-waiting for him, maybe watching him.
The shadows lengthened behind the house in the trees that surrounded the woodshed. The door was open and the space beyond glowed with a flickering yellow light. He stepped inside and his eyes were drawn to a half dozen lanterns of differing sizes hanging from hooks or arranged on small tables that had not been there the day before. The light glowed yellow and the scented oil was intoxicating.
The dirt floor had been covered with a thick layer of carpets and to the left-beside the stack of wood was a pile of what appeared to be tick mattresses, comforters and pillows. Beside them was a tray which held an ice bucket and what looked to be a bottle of wine and two stemless glasses.
In front of him, just to the left of the chest-high wooden divider was the bare wooden bench piled with at least two dozen switches of varying lengths and thicknesses-all smoothly stripped of their bark. The lady had been busy.
“Is everything to your liking?” He hadn’t heard her come in.
She was barefoot wearing a simple black calf-length shift cut low enough in the front to reveal deep cleavage that wasn’t obvious through yesterday’s work shirt. Her hair glistened in waves that hung loosely around her face and onto her shoulders. There was a flush on her cheeks that deepened the olive glow of her skin and her smile was small, shy-a little timid perhaps.
“Everything is perfect.”
“Good.” She passed close to him and he caught the scent of her hair. “So rotten of you to make me wait all morning…”
“It looks like you put the time to good use.”
She was sorting through the switches on the bench. “Judicious pruning is the secret to any orchard.” She picked one from near the bottom. “Peach”, she announced, whipping it lightly through the air. She brought it over to John and pressed it into his hand. “I think you’ll find the assortment satisfactory.”
He reached out and placed his left hand on her hip-feeling the firm heaviness of the hidden body. She closed her eyes at his touch and let her head lounge backwards. She stepped away and reached up behind her hair to loosen the tie that held the shift in place. A slight role of her shoulders sent the light cotton material cascading to the floor.
His eyes were pulled to her full breasts which hung naturally but still pointed at him. He focused on the large brown nipples and bent slowly toward her, wanting to take one into his mouth. She pulled subtly away and covered his switch hand with hers.
“I’ve waited long enough wouldn’t you say?”
She turned away and slid the three steps to the wooden room divider that was about even with her breasts. Her bottom was a beautiful pear shape-wide and deep. He watched her grasp the rough wooden rail and step back-one step then two. She kept her legs together and stretched luxuriously, like a large jungle cat arching her back and pushing her bottom backward.
John moved beside her and ran his hand under her hair and across her shoulders. Then down her back then up again-teasing lower and lower to the small of her back then finally across the expanse of her bottom. He rubbed slowly and smoothly with his palm then crooked his fingers to give her the fingernails gently and completely across each cheek, from the top of her thighs up, then back down. He tried to slip his hand between her thighs but she resisted. She was breathing quicker now as he stepped back and whipped the peach switch through the air, testing it.
Her hands gripped the wooden rail. She allowed the anticipation that she had felt since yesterday flower into a sweet dread of what she was about to feel. It had been a long time since she had allowed herself to feel this way. A long time since what was about to happen, had.
She heard the switch whistle through the air and tensed. Nothing. He was testing. She waited again feeling the heat between her legs building. It had been such a long time. The switch touched her. He was measuring-she froze focusing her eyes on a spot on the rail. This time the whistling of the switch ended with a little sting on the right cheek. Then another quickly below it. Just a little sting.
She turned to look back over her shoulder at him; her hair obscuring her face. “You won’t break anything, you know…” she said huskily.
He stepped closely taking her face in his hand moving her hair to one side. He kissed her gently on the mouth. “Don’t worry beautiful lady. I know what you want.”
The next stroke dug into the right globe, immediately raising a welt that showed pink in the lantern light. It was followed by another lower and a third higher. With each impact Arianna grunted and on particularly strong strokes would rise on her toes. John paused and ran his hand over the rippling welts. She rose to his touch and this time when he tried to slip the flat of his hand between her legs she opened. Just a little. He patted the sweet spot at the top of her right thigh where the bottom begins then measured it with the wicked peach branch.
“You better hold on tight”- He saw her knuckles whiten as he let fly a hard stroke that buried itself in the soft flesh. She cried out loudly snapping her head back. The impact site sprouted a thick blueberry where he hadn’t quite broken the skin but had broken the peach. He took another off the pile.
As the searing cuts lashed across her heaving buttocks, Arianna squeezed her eyes shut to try to staunch the tears that fell from her lashes and down the bridge of her nose to darken the floor. The thought “be careful what you wish for” flashed through her mind only be drowned out by the crying need for this-the burning desire for the next stroke. It had been so long she had almost forgotten what the ordeal did for her. The heat between her legs-deep inside of her-glowed hotter than anything crossing her backside.
He broke a few more switches over the next twenty minutes as he crisscrossed Arianna’s flesh and thighs with stripes and welts. Her back glistened with sweat. As the switching went on her legs widened and her bottom bloomed open toward him. He took particular care that the switch did not cut anywhere between her cheeks.
When another switch split he paused and stepped close. Her body was radiating heat and leaned toward him. He placed his hand low along the inside of her damp thigh which was open to him.
“You have been punished, beautiful lady.”
She was breathless. “I have.”
“Now you should be rewarded.”
“Yes”, she gasped as his fingers slid up her thigh and slipped easily inside of her. The coughing yelp that she produced as he massaged her below was of an entirely different timbre than the sounds she had been making.
“Come”, he said, pulling on her shoulder and helping her to stand. Her face was deeply flushed and wet with tears and sweat. He moved to kiss her but too slowly as her lips leapt to his and locked tightly onto his mouth. Thus entwined they moved to the pile of bedding in the corner.