The sun rose the next morning, exposing a world that had gone unnoticed to Anne the night before. Emerging from the tent, she felt surprisingly refreshed.
Daniel had already awoken, she could tell because the fire was going and his blankets were neatly folded and placed at the foot of his bed. A pot of thick black coffee had been brewed and she poured a cup for herself.
Sitting down she surveyed the lay of the land, it seemed a world of organized chaos.
Cars parked on the property were filled to overflowing with supplies. Pots and pans, old mattresses, and blankets, cardboard, and even empty bottles that people couldn’t seem to part with for one reason or another. Everything she saw seemed worn out ten times over and dirty down to its core. Tents were pitched next to cars, which housed entire families of up to nine or ten. There were goats tied up to cars which were kept by the travelers for milk.
Anne Sylvia and Daniel joined the others, picking and prepping apples for shipment into the city. By mid afternoon the sun was high in the sky and the air is hot and heavy.
Sweat and dirt lay on Anne’s brow and mantle, and the moisture gathers dust. Her fine fingers and watchful eyes grazed the boughs as she picks. She was careful and treated each fruit as a delicate jewel. Setting each apple in the sack which she carries. Her movements are methodical and she seems calm as she works.
Although the day is hot and there is plenty of work to be done, she has grown accustomed to far more intense work and the picking is quite a vacation from her duties at home.
Daniel watches her as he carries crates from here to there. He is entranced by her peace as she works. He has been caught several times staring at her, not only by other workers, but by Anne herself. Maybe it was the heat but he didn’t seem to care. He imagined that she would be aghast by the sight of herself, but on the contrary, he found her quite lovely. Her hair was disheveled, windblown and falling around the curves of her face. Her lips slightly pursed with the focus on the task at hand. Skin tawny and glowing from sun, sweat and dirt. If there was one thing that stirred him the most it was her ease. He wanted to know what calmed her so, and kept staring, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mystery behind her peace, which made her so lovely.
Dan was busy working beneath his cap. Anne was glad to have the job she did. Seeing the boys lifting and loading the way they were reminded her of all the work that awaited her when she arrived home. But for now she would not think on that. Light work like this was something to be grateful for and she allowed herself to melt into the simplicity of the task at hand.
Still, Dan worked, not letting up. He must have been burning, she thought. His shirt was now fully saturated with perspiration. She lowered her eyes as she noticed his form beneath his clinging shirt. He removed his outer layer as if on cue with her thoughts. She could feel herself blushing as she allowed herself to glance at his frame. The motion of his body was evident to her now. He had a strong physique, which bowed and flexed as he worked. Her eyes followed the line from the width of his shoulders, tapering down to his to his waist and below. His black hair was completely unattended to and looked as though it would be soft to the touch. She thought she had caught his dark eyes peering up at her from underneath his heavy brow more than once. She liked his gaze when it met hers and once or twice she let a moment linger between the two of them before she gave a calm smile and looked away, as if forcing decency.
She liked watching him work. It seemed to suit his nature. His hands were strong and large with deep blue veins.
He was handsome and kind. Deep down she enjoyed his wit and the way he teased, it allowed her the opportunity do the same back to him and she enjoyed that.
She wondered what it would be like to be the wife of a man like Daniel. She imagined being driven mad by his taunting and teasing. Wonderful madness that would lead to things that made her blush as she imagined them while she worked.
She felt strange having him near, comforted almost. She could feel-see him moving around her, and watched him from her periphery.
It felt good to entertain these thoughts. She remembered the first night she saw him in the cellar of the conservatory. For a brief moment that night she had thought he was a handsome patron of the society; some rustic outdoorsman with an affinity for things that grew. What a perfect match that would have been! If only he were a botanist, she thought. But, he was not that. All his strength and good looks couldn’t change the fact that he was at best a swarthy, quick witted, passionate, bootlegger.