My Saving Grace Pt. 03

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I want to thank everyone who reads my stories, but most of all I want to thank those who take the time to vote and comment. It is because of you that I continue writing. I hope you enjoy this next installment, and if the response to it is as strong as it has been with the last two, there will be more to come. Enjoy! – CM

*****

It’s been a month since that amazing moment Grace and I spent in the shower, exploring each other. We still had not made love, and there were several reasons for that. Firstly, of course, our parents had decided to remain at home through the holidays, even though Matt Segan and Lance Forster’s trials were complete. They’d decided it wouldn’t make any sense to get back on the road, only to turn around and come back home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I can understand their feelings on the matter, but it did complicate things for Grace and I. Of course, if we wanted to, we could’ve gotten a motel room and had all the privacy we wanted. We both decided not to, though. First of all, it would look a little odd if we both simultaneously announced we were ‘spending the night with friends.’

But perhaps more important than that was this: I didn’t want to do anything to cheapen the experience. To me, it would feel sleazy to take my precious Grace to some no-tell motel. I know what some of you are probably thinking. No, no one removed my balls, and I don’t find my evening movies on the Lifetime Channel!

This was not to say that we hadn’t managed to spend more time together – far from it! Every second we spent together was a chance to express to each other how we felt. Aside from that first, magical encounter in the shower, we had had two more very intense times exploring each others’ bodies. Both of them occurred at our special place (the creek). Of course, as the end of November approached, the outside temperature didn’t lend itself to such things.

I sighed, and shifted my rucksack where it was laying between my feet on the floorboards. We were all headed to my Grandparent’s house for Thanksgiving. They lived on a farm about an hour north of town. Grace and I had both loved visiting there as children, especially during the winter. We had an absolute blast sledding and skiing through the woods. Even now, we loved to walk around the huge property.

My Grandparents owned all that land, but even when my mother had been a child, they hadn’t worked it themselves; They leased it to other local farmers. No, the restaurant business was my Grandparents’ passion. They owned The Kindest Cut, easily the best steakhouse in the state (I admit I might be biased, but before you argue, you seriously need to try their Porterhouse!). These days, of course, they didn’t spend much time there personally, preferring to let the manager handle things.

I was stirred from my reverie when I felt a warm feminine hand stroke my leg. I smiled, and looked over at Grace. She smiled at me briefly before turning her attention back to the road. “Penny for your thoughts?”

I shrugged. “I’m not really thinking about much, baby.”

Gracie followed behind Dad’s Camero as he turned off the highway onto County Line Road, the final leg of the trip. She looked at me again, then. “Looking forward to seeing everyone again?”

I laughed this time. “Yes and no, Gracie. Yes and no,” I replied.

“I know what you mean, honey,” she said with a grimace.

Like any other extended family, we had relatives we were fond of, relatives we were indifferent to, and relatives we tried to avoid. Holidays brought all of them together into one place. Joy.

It was only fifteen more minutes before we reached the old farm. This was my favorite part of the trip. The driveway that led onto the property wasn’t marked in any way; if you didn’t know where it was, you could easily drive past it multiple times and never see it.

Taking the turn onto the driveway led us up a short, but steep hill, slowly revealing the beautiful old two-story farm house. It had been in one branch or another of my Mom’s side of the family for about a hundred years, and had been lovingly maintained. Each generation to live there added or changed something. My Grandparents had added a greenhouse where my Grandma cultivated roses, and her own herbs. They’d also restored and refitted the old barn behind the house.

Dad pulled his Camero under the carport while Gracie circled around to park her Jeep by the barn. As she took her keys from the ignition, I leaned into her and kissed her. She responded after a moment of surprise, and melted against me. I gently caressed her neck and shoulders as our tongues slid along one another.

“I love you so much, Gracie,” I whispered intensely, as the kiss ended.

“Oh Kevin,” she whispered back. “Kevin, I’ve never felt so adored in all my life! I love you too!” The interlude lasted only a few moments, but like all the others we shared, the intensity burned it into our memories. Finally, grinning, she patted my cheek. “Come on, maltepe escort sweetheart. Let’s go in.”

We stepped out of the Jeep and started heading towards the back door of the house. We were startled to hear Grandma’s voice coming from behind us. “Well hello you two!” she called. When we spun around, we could see her petite form stepping out of the greenhouse to the left of the barn. She wrapped her old blue cardigan tightly around her as she walked across the yard and embraced us tightly.

“Hi Grandma!” Gracie said, kissing her cheek.

“Hi, Grandma!” I said, doing the same.

“It’s good to see both of you!” she replied. “Let’s go in. It’s a little cool out here for old bones.”

As we entered the house, we were instantly greeted by the smells of food cooking. The strongest odor was the mouth-watering scent of the turkey being slow-roasted. Grandma sighed gratefully as she closed the door behind us and stepped into the warm kitchen. Grandpa and our parents were already there, sitting at the small kitchen table and drinking coffee. The six of us were alone, this early in the day. None of our other relatives would get there until much later, probably not until shortly before it was time to eat. That would spare them from having to help with anything.

Grandpa quickly rose and embraced Gracie, kissing the top of her head. He smiled and signed that he loved her (he’s been hard of hearing all my life, and comletely deaf for the last ten years) before coming over to hug me. This wasn’t unheard of, but it was rare. Grandpa wasn’t overly demonstrative with the male members of the family. He believed a firm, solid handshake could convey everything that needed to be conveyed.

I’m very proud of you, he signed to me, for the way you helped your sister. Your Mom and Dad have just finished telling me the story. Come and sit down! Would any of you like coffee? He asked, the three of us.

“Yes, please, Grandpa. Black,” I said, making sure to speak slowly so he could read my lips. He was pretty good at reading lips, so long as we made sure to speak slowly and not use words he wasn’t familiar with. Grandma and Gracie both declined the offer as they sat. Grandpa handed me a mug of the hot, strong brew he’d made, and I sat down next to Gracie. She grinned at me, feeling my thigh rubbing against hers under the table.

We sat and visited, and of course, Grandma was told the story of my “rescue” of my sweet Grace. I wished they wouldn’t make such a big deal out of it. I just did what I thought was right. Finally, the conversation wandered away from that and on to more comfortable subjects like college, the restaurant, etc.

Then suddenly it got uncomfortable again when Grandma asked about my love life. By this point, I was over the shock of learning about Kelly’s cheating. Grace’s love had gone a long way towards healing that pain as well. Neither of those facts made it a comfortable subject for me to discuss, though. Beneath the table I could feel Grace’s hand tenderly squeezing my thigh. Instantly I felt myself calming down. How was she able to do that?

“No Grandma, I’m not seeing anyone at the moment,” I said, patiently.

“Well why not? You’re certainly handsome enough. Have you decided to play for the other team now?”

“Grandma!” I shouted, shocked.

You know we would still love you, even if you were gay. I wouldn’t matter to us, Grandpa signed. Mom, Dad, and Grace were struggling to contain their laughter.

“That’s not very damn funny,” I muttered angrily.

“But you didn’t answer the question, dear,” Grandma said.

“No Grandma, I’m not gay. I’m still very much attracted to the female of the species, okay?” Although, I reflected to myself, it would probably be best not to reveal precisely which female I was attracted to. Grandma was still gazing speculatively at me, and it was clear that she didn’t want to let go of the topic. In spite of Gracie’s steadying hand, I found myself getting a little pissed off.

“Excuse me, I need to stretch my legs. It was a long drive,” I said, abruptly leaving the table. I took my coat off the peg and headed out the back door. Before I knew it, I had hiked out to the eastern border of the property.

This part of the land was as far from the cultivated parts as one could go and still be within the boundaries of the farm. It was heavily wooded, with a small pond that straddled the property line between the family farm and the neighbor’s farm. Grandpa liked to fish here in warmer weather (the pond was joined to the Eel River via a stream), and many was the time I had gone with him. Gracie came along on occasion, though she never did actually come to enjoy fishing. I think it was for the company more than anything else.

I strode over to the stand of willow trees at the pond’s edge, noting absently that it was frozen in the unseasonably cold temperatures we’d had so far this November. I knew why I was so out of sorts, and while my mecidiyeköy escort family’s teasing irritated me, it wasn’t the cause. It was a combination of things.

I was angry over the outcome of the trials of Grace’s bastard ex-boyfriend, Matt Segan, and his He-Man accomplice, Lance Forster. Matt, with his big mouth, had talked himself right into a cell for the next year or so. The idiot had started talking the instant the cops had shown up, and apparently didn’t stop for hours. I was glad he was going to jail, Lord knows he deserved it.

The downside though, was that Lance the Gorilla was far more intelligent than Matt was (yeah, I know, I didn’t see that one coming either). Other than telling the police his name and address, he didn’t say one word to anyone. Matt had plenty to say about Lance’s part in the whole sordid business, but that only went so far, as far as the prosecutor was concerned.

Lance had ended up with some pretty stiff fines for unlawful entry, intimidation, and a short list of other, less serious convictions. He didn’t spend any time in jail at all, really. Lance was by far the more dangerous of the two. First, because he was the brains of the pair (although his act of charging someone who was pointing a loaded carbine at him was NOT proof of a healthy intellect). Second, because he’d demonstrated a willingness to do violence.

And of course I was sexually frustrated as well. That didn’t help my mood. Part of that was my own doing; Gracie would probably be willing to move our physical explorations along at a faster pace if I were to ask. But I was determined to do right by her. I didn’t want there to be any question in her mind that I loved her. Yes, I lusted for her, but my feelings went so much deeper than that. Besides, I was in this for the long haul, and it was essential that she know that too.

I heard the sound of boots swishing through the thin dusting of snow well before Gracie stepped through the treeline. “I thought I might find you here,” she said as she stood next to me. “You alright, baby?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, honey,” I said, putting an arm around her and kissing the top of her head. “I know I’m acting kinda dumb; it’s nothing more than the usual teasing. I shouldn’t let it get to me.”

“Kevin, my love, you aren’t dumb. The waiting is torment for me too!” She gazed longingly into my eyes. “I want you inside me so badly that sometimes I can’t think of anything else. You don’t know how many nights in the past month I’ve wanted to sneak into your room and have my way with you!” She sighed and leaned into me again, staring off across the pond. “We keep telling each other that our parents won’t be home forever, but maybe it’s time we stopped waiting. Maybe we should go ahead a get a room for the night-“

“No, baby,” I said firmly. “We’ll make love to each other with Mom and Dad still in the house before we do that. Honey, you’re worth waiting for!”

“And you still say the sweetest, most loving things to me!”

“Well I can’t help it. I love you, you know.”

“Yes, I do know,” she whispered with quiet passion. “I’ve never felt so loved as I do when you hold me, when you kiss me, and when you touch me. And in turn, I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love you!”

“It’s you and me, Gracie. You and me, together, no matter what!”

“No matter what, Kevin!” she echoed firmly. There was fire in her eyes; there was no question she meant what she said!

Accepting that, I held her close as we gazed across the pond at the bank on the neighbor’s side. This pond wasn’t a good swimming hole (even in hot weather) unfortunately. The banks were steep and difficult to climb out of. In fact, the one and only time I’d tried it, Grace had to run get Grandpa beause I literally couldn’t climb out. The muddy bank just collapsed under my weight. He’d had to throw me a rope and use the winch on his ATV to lift me out. The lesson had never needed to be repeated after that: stay out of the pond.

Grace and I strolled leasurely around the pond, talking about us, about the trials, about anything we felt like. It was cathartic, but it also made me feel even closer to her. Grace’s sudden terrified scream caught me completely off guard. I spun around to face the spot where she’d just been standing and she was gone! Then I saw it lying on the ground: a small conical piece of plastic. The heel of one of her boots had snapped!

With growing horror I realized it had thrown her off balance and she’d fallen into the pond. I dropped to my knees on the bank, spreading my weight out to keep my stability. Grace’s form was easily visible against the white backdrop of the snow-covered ice. She wasn’t moving; she must have struck her head on the way down.

No sooner had I thought that, than she let out a soft moan and reached up to touch her head. Acting on natural instinct, Grace rolled over onto her side, cradling her head. The ice groaned beneath her, and there was a loud nişantaşı escort cracking sound.

“Gracie! Don’t move, baby! Hold still! I’m gonna get you, just hold still!” Moving quickly, I pulled my gloves off and then pulled off the paracord survival bracelet I wore. I just loved the way it looked, I never thought I would ever actually need it. Still working as fast as I could, I used my knife to slice the ends off the bracelet and unravelled it. This gave me close to 30 feet of 550 paracord to work with.

The truck of the willow tree was a skinnier than I liked, but it would do in a pinch, I thought, as I tied a loop around it’s base. Out on the ice, I heard Gracie stirring again. Please God, just give me another minute or two, I prayed desperately. I tied a stick around the other end to give the line some weight.

“Grace!” I yelled. “Gracie, honey, wake up! WAKE UP, DAMMIT!”

Her eyes slowly opened. “Ohh,” she moaned softly. “Kevin, what…” her voice trailed off. Her speech was slurred, and she looked like she might have lost conciousness again. Both were clear signs of a concussion, but that was the least of my worries at the moment. The pond varied between ten and fifteen feet in depth. Unseasonable cold or not, there was no way in hell it had frozen completely through. There was no question it would break, and soon. No, the question was whether or not I could get the love of my life to safety before it happened.

I gave the weighted end of the paracord a gentle underhand toss, and it skittered across the ice and snow to land near Grace’s head. Her eyes opened again.

“Gracie! Grab the stick, baby! Grab it and hold on tight! I’m going to pull you out!”

With agonizing slowness, her hand stretched and grabbed the stick I’d tied the cord around. This is going to work! I whispered to myself. And then, with a terrible groan, the ice fractured, spilling her into the freezing water below.

“NO!” I screamed as Gracie sank like a rock.

This was stupid and I knew it, but I’d rather die with her than live without her. I didn’t even hesitate. I stripped off my coat, boots, pants, and shirt. I knew that they would only drag me down like they had Grace. And worse, they’d offer no protection from the cold once they were wet, anyway. I dragged the line back out of the water, hurriedly tied it around my waist, and dove in.

It was the coldest I can ever remember being in my life! My skin, ironically, felt like it was burning as I dove under the surface. Thankfully, Gracie’s bright red winter parka stood out easily in the water-muddled daylight. I grabbed her and kicked for the surface with all my strength. Once there, though, I found it almost impossible to keep our heads above water. Her heavy down-filled coat had absorbed far too much water! I knew I had a severely limited amount of time to get her breathing again, but first we had to stay above water! The coat had to go.

I worked quickly, tearing off her coat and clothing as best I could. My hands were rapidly losing feeling. As soon as I had her down to her camisole and panties, I found I could support us. Mustering my strength, I pulled her with me to the bank and lifted her up. Using the line, I pulled myself out with agonizing slowness.

When I finally reached her side, I caught my first break, and it was a miracle. Gracie was breathing on her own! But, her lips and her skin were an unnatural color. Now the cold and wet were the enemy – for both of us. I hurried and tried to put on my trousers, but by now, my hands wouldn’t work well enough to do it. After wasting too many critical minutes trying, I gave up. I took my parka and wrapped it around my helpless sister as best I could. Then, I cut the line still tied around my waist (there was no way in hell I could untie the knot). I fumbled and dropped the knife. Oh well, it had served its purpose.

I stomped my numb feet into my boots and struggled to pick Gracie up. She wasn’t heavy, but it was an impossibly frustating task. My hands were two balls of icy agony, and just would not work for anything! At long last, I managed to get Grace into my arms. I stumbled clumsily down the trail towards the farmhouse. I had little to no coordination as my body functions struggled against hypothermia. I could only imagine how Grace was hanging on. It was just as well that she hadn’t woken up yet. At least she didn’t have to feel this.

After what seemed like years, the farmhouse came into view. I tried screaming as I stumbled towards it, but there was no use. I could hardly breathe, much less scream. At long, long last, I struggled my way to the door and ran into it with a thud. After a minute, it opened. With the very last ounce of my strength, I pushed Grace into my Father’s startled arms, and collapsed gratefully into oblivion.

###

The steady, indescribably irritating beep of a heart monitor told me where I was, before my eyes even opened. “Damn,” I whispered, as the pain in my head and extremities registered.

“Easy, son,” came my father’s voice.

I turned my head to the left, and could just make out his form in the darkness. A few seconds later, he turned on the nightlight. In it’s pale glow, I could see his face looked haggard. He leaned over my bed rail and embraced me as best he could.

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