The reviews of Breaking Faith, under the 'My Books' tab, might explain why you should read the book, if you’re not already doing so.
Still along for the journey? Enjoy the ride.
I posted Chapter 1 on 13 January. Subsequent chapters have appeared each Friday, and will continue to be posted until all 50 have featured here. You can find those already posted via the archive; just search by chapter number. If you missed the start, you’ll find it here: http://stuartaken.blogspot.com/2012/01/read-free-my-novel-here.html
Read, enjoy, invite your friends along. I’m an author; I want people to read my writing, simple as that.
Sunday 5th September
Naturally, I was the donkey; leaving the girls unencumbered. Faith had relented and agreed to my camera, as she was carrying her own, on condition I didn’t point it in her direction without permission. And her leave was worth seeking.
She’d chosen white cotton hipster shorts that fitted close round the tops of her lovely thighs, with a plain white sleeveless tee shirt over her skin. Her small feet were clad in white ankle socks and the walking shoes Ma had bought for her birthday. She was very attractive.
Netta wore a bright yellow, cropped blouse, tied under her wonderful breasts, and a flared purple mini that was so short she couldn’t sit and remain decent. She had tan sandals on bare feet, sunglasses in her hair and she looked stunning.
I was in short, navy shorts and a sleeveless tee shirt tie-dyed in blue, with training shoes on my feet. The small backpack was full and I carried my camera and a couple of spare lenses.
We crossed the field behind the house down to the river and the stepping-stones. I sent Faith ahead and noted the stiffness in her movements, as if her entire body was taut with unexpressed emotion. This tension had inspired me to suggest the picnic. The knife attack had simply jerked me into action and brought Netta onto my side. I was deeply concerned about Faith’s state of mind and hoped the day might somehow start her healing process.
‘Wake up, Leigh. I’m waiting.’
I snapped back to the present and took some shots of Netta on the stepping-stones then asked her to turn. She spun on the spot and lost her balance. One leg plunged into the cool water and she screamed. Faith, on the far bank, laughed mirthlessly. I joined in once it was clear she was unhurt.
Knowing Netta could be touchy if she was made to look foolish, I quickly stepped along the uneven stones and helped her back onto the rock. Once on dry ground, I made a point of drying her leg with a towel from the backpack, stroking her skin from toes to the top of her thigh until her pout subsided.
‘No harm done.’
‘I’ve got a soggy foot.’
‘Makes a change from a soggy fanny.’
Netta and I both stared at Faith in amazement. She laughed derisively at our open mouths and we felt obliged to join her. There was potential for bad feeling in that little incident but we managed not to spoil the start to the day.
I led them from the riverbank to the point where we were to leave the public footpath, which followed the river for a mile or so upstream. An ancient five bar gate, secured with yards of faded orange baling twine, marked our point of departure.
‘We have to cross to the far corner of the field.’
‘It says “Beware of the bull”.’
‘Don’t worry, Ferguson’s doing his duty elsewhere. I checked with Les yesterday. We’re perfectly safe.’
They weren’t convinced, so I climbed the rickety gate first and jumped into the field. Faith came next and Netta followed reluctantly, her leap from the top of the gate lifting her skirt delightfully. Faith looked on with a resigned expression but said nothing. Netta scanned the horizon the whole time we were in the field but there was never a sign of the bull. I failed to let on that there never was; it was the farmer’s way of keeping people off his land.
At the wall, I help Netta over the well-built barrier. Faith crossed it like a mountain goat. I had climbed it often and knew it would be unhurt by our passage. On the far side, open moorland with grass and heather fighting patches of bracken replaced the rough pasture of the field. Here there were no walls to guide or impede us and few landmarks to point the way. But I was familiar with the route, having used it many times to take girls into a landscape where they could pose confident they would be unseen by eyes other than mine.
Faith stopped now and then to take close-ups of flowers, the landscape on this part of the route being mostly uninspiring. But, when we crested the hill and began our descent into the hidden valley where we would spend the day, she turned her camera on the wider view.
A great rocky scar frowned across the divide, topped by a wide limestone pavement. The whole valley slope under the scar was massed with trees and below, as we left the gentle shoulder of the slope and found the steeper drop, lay the flat bottom of the valley where the small beck snaked, glittering silver and gold in the sunlight. Ash and alder dotted the banks of the stream and, to our left, the floor narrowed into a lightly wooded area with rocky outcrops and the glistening thrill of falling water.
The meadows were unspoilt and full of colour even this late in the season, having been spared the destructive cropping of the sheep. No fence or wall in sight. It was landscape as it had been for centuries, unspoiled by the activity of modern man. Even the drought had left it unscathed, its colours undiminished by the heat of the sun.
Faith stopped at her first sight of it and breathed in the atmosphere of history and permanence and I knew I’d chosen well. She took her careful landscapes until Netta grew impatient and moved into her field of view.
‘If you must intrude into a natural landscape, at least be natural yourself.’
It wasn’t a thought I’d expected from Faith, though it did match my own. Netta needed no further encouragement to be entirely natural, leaving me to collect her things to add to my load. I watched as Faith continued to picture the landscape, with Netta adding scale and vitality to the rocks and grass and trees.
We reached my chosen spot and Netta was in the pool at the base of the small fall before I’d downed the backpack. Faith came to my aid, laying out towels to sit on whilst I found a small shaded pool to cool the white wine and opened the red to breathe. The overhead sun was as hot as it had been all summer and I glanced at Faith for an indication of her feelings.
‘Go on, then. That’s why we came, isn’t it?’
I stripped and dived into the water.
The pool under the fall was full of cold clear water that in winter would be brown and foaming with peat. Netta and I swam to wash off the sweat of the walk before joining Faith on the flat rocks under the sheer limestone scar. She watched us emerge from the water and her eyes surveyed me rather than her sister.
‘There’s no one here but us, you know.’
‘She’ll not take off her pants in front of you, Leigh. Doubt you’ll even get a glimpse of her top.’
Netta’s use of euphemism surprised me as much as Faith’s open frankness about bodily parts and functions shocked me with its directness.
‘If you mean I won’t expose my breasts and nipples, my pubic mound and vagina to Leigh’s gaze, say so. Or are you frightened of the words that describe what you display so eagerly?’
Netta tensed, all too ready to rise to the bait of Faith’s challenge. My hand, stroking the top of her thigh with promise, was enough to signal her to silence.
We ate; chicken legs roasted in Ma’s special savoury coating, thin cut cucumber sandwiches, fresh salad, cheese and fresh buttered crusty bread. The white wine was cool, the red mellow and the glasses had stood the journey undamaged. We slowly relaxed and soaked up silence and sunshine as we fed and drank.
Replete, Faith rolled the bottom of her tee shirt up to expose her belly and lay on her back with the pack under her head for a pillow. She closed her eyes and, after a while, her breathing suggested she was at ease even if not sleeping.
Netta was ready to be convinced she was asleep and quickly took me by the hand to the rocks at the far side of the pool. She persuaded me onto my back. The rock was hard against my skin but I soon forgot that, as well as the fact that we were on full view for Faith should she open her eyes. Our promise of the previous day was forgotten in mutual passion.
When we made our way back to the pool, I realized Faith was no longer lying asleep. At first, I feared she’d gone and I felt irritation rise at our selfish desertion on this day that was supposed to be for her. But her clothes lay folded on the rocks and suddenly she rose for air from the depths of the pool. I was in the water with her before Netta could react.
We swam idly at first, circling without touching. Netta quickly joined us and I spotted a sulk forming so suggested we play tag. We were tentative at first but freedom and wine under the sun soon combined to bring enthusiasm and childlike enjoyment to the game. We left and entered the water frequently to chase or escape.
I was chasing Faith and she barely escaped my touch as she dashed out of the water onto the rocks. I followed and caught her as she came up against the sheer cliff at the back of our sunbathing area. I stroked her back and she turned to face me. Before I could move, she grabbed my shoulders and pulled me close so that our bodies touched. I felt myself respond rapidly and unambiguously to the feel of her skin against mine and, though the physical response was unusual only in its rapidity, there was that something other, that magic in our contact that I’d felt before with Faith but with no other woman. I didn’t want to let her go.
We remained together for a moment without time and I grew conscious of the shape of her beneath my hands, the moulding of her soft palms to my eager flesh. I wanted her in a sense I’d never known with any other woman. And it was clear she felt the same about me.
‘What are you two up to? I’m getting cold waiting here.’
Whether it was me or Faith who let that strident interruption come between us, I felt our parting as a physical jolt. Despite the innocence of our contact, something that transcended mere sex had passed between us and I wanted more of it.
The magic was shattered in the instant of parting. Faith walked to her towel and lay down to dry under the sun, her body unashamedly exposed to me, legs uncrossed and breasts unconcealed by folded arms. She lay open and displayed for me alone. No clearer signal could she make of her intention and desire.
Netta scrambled from the pool and grabbed me possessively. If she detected any lack of response in my mechanical clasp, or the ebbing signs of my immediate response to Faith’s embrace, she didn’t refer to them. She persuaded me onto my towel and lay beside me on hers, between me and Faith.
I wanted to move but Netta would make a fuss and nothing must spoil the day. Instead, I rolled onto my front and raised my head on my hands to look across Netta’s body at Faith so I could relive, in my mind, that brief magical contact.
For the walk back in the early evening, Faith replaced her shorts and tee shirt but Netta remained in her skin. It amused me that I spent more time watching Faith than I did Netta as they walked ahead of me up the steep slope out of the valley. The pack was lighter with the wine and food inside us and I felt uplifted and filled with a strange optimism as I returned with them to Longhouse.
At the stepping-stones, Faith made a final attempt to persuade Netta to dress as we approached the public footpath but shrugged her indifference when ignored. I tried to persuade her in turn.
‘I like being naked. Who’s to complain at this time of the day? And who’d listen to them anyway?’
I followed the girls across and took a couple of shots, with Faith’s permission. Netta played the fool and fell headlong into the river this time. Faith laughed at her as she struggled to find a foothold in the strong current on the weed-covered stones. I eventually helped her out but she slipped as she struggled to gain secure ground and twisted her ankle quite badly. Without a word, Faith took the backpack from me so I could assist Netta the rest of the way home.
A young walker, alone and clearly very weary, passed us on the path. He stared open mouthed at Netta, and stood rooted to the ground as she passed within inches of him. I glanced back over my shoulder and he was staring still. Netta, revelling in the attention, pretended to ignore him.
At the stile, I had to help her, almost carrying her across the wall into the garden. I set her on the grass and she cockled over again on the injured ankle and fell to the ground. As I bent to help her up, she pulled me down on top of her. Even as I was protesting and watching Faith’s disapproving back, she was removing my shorts.
It was only as we returned to the house much later that I realized how much of an act it had been. She needed no help to walk over the grass.
‘I thought you’d turned your ankle?’
‘No. Turned your head, that’s all. Back to look at me, where it belongs.’
In the kitchen, Ma was preparing to leave, our evening meal ready for us. ‘Nice little exhibition. Never knew it was a spectator sport. Mind, there’s one as thinks it is and he’s been spying on you all day I’d say.’ She indicated the front of the house. I stepped into my shorts and dashed to the front in time to see Merv’s back disappearing down the lane.
‘He’s been watching us all day?’
‘Reckon so. He was behind you on the footpath after you set off and again as you came back.’
‘Pervy bastard. What’s he up to?’
‘Likes to see me naked, didn’t you know?’
‘Any man would like to see you naked, Netta, but few of them would follow you with a pair of binoculars. I’m going to have words with that pervert.’
‘Don’t fret on my behalf, Leigh. Any man can look at me as long and as often as he likes. I enjoy being looked at. I’m worth looking at, aren’t I?’
I nodded, less enthusiastically than was required. ‘Where’s Faith?’
Ma looked at me as if I was an idiot but said nothing.
I was suddenly sure Netta’s demonstration at the foot of my private stile had undone all the good the day had performed on Faith’s spirits. Netta was becoming a serious cause for concern and I was having doubts about how much longer I should put up with her behaviour in exchange for her superb sexual favours and her undoubted prowess before my lens.
The burst of magic I’d felt with Faith, whilst not exactly fading, had little power over my obsessive need for Netta. I wanted them both and foolishly imagined I could live my fantasies if I waited long enough.
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