“This bed is so comfortable.” Allie said with a yawn before stretching her arms over her head.
“Hmmm…yeah…go back to sleep.” Bea mumbled as Allie wrapped her arms around her. “It's…too…early…” Bea grumbled between kisses.
“It's never too early.” Allie replied as she pulled back slightly letting her head sink back into the pillow. “Soooo…what are we going to do today?”
“Sleep!” Bea said as she closed her eyes again only to find herself being pinned to the mattress as Allie rolled her onto her back.
“Even comfier than the bed.” Allie giggled.
“Okay, I give in…I'm awake. What's so important that we need to be awake so early?” Bea asked seriously. She had hoped that Allie would want to sleep late and give her chance to organise the last of her new surprises for her. David had been more than helpful when she'd managed to sneak out of their room while Allie was in the shower the night before. Now she was going to have to find some way of sneaking away for a few minutes.
“Firstly, come shower with me.” Allie looked her dead in the eye.
“Breakfast…I need to refuel before I drag you around the shops, then I'm all yours to do with as you please.”
“Nope.” Bea giggled. “Shopping will have to wait, I have plans for today.”
“But…” Allie began to argue.
Bea raised her eyebrows, her meaning wasn't completely lost on her these days but Bea had no intention of them staying in their room half the day. Her new surprises were more conducive to that but she really needed a few minutes to make sure she hadn't overlooked any small detail. “Fine…get off me then!” Bea huffed.
“Too comfortable.” Allie mumbled sleepily.
Bea rolled her eyes. “Either get off me or you're sleeping in the van tonight.” She smiled to herself as an idea drifted across her mind. “With no sleeping bag.” She added.
Allie grumbled but moved and then slid out of bed and disappeared into the bathroom. “I'll be waiting for you in the shower.” She called out before turning on the water.
“Yeah…be there in a minute.” Bea grabbed her phone and quickly checked what she'd booked hoping she hadn't missed any details. Smiling to herself she slipped out of bed, one thing down just one more to go and everything was organised. “Hey, why did I pay for a room with a bath tub if your using the shower?” Bea sudden called out.
“Huh?” Allie appeared at the door. “I though you said we were staying here tonight as well?”
“Well it's first thing in the morning, a shower wakes me up…relaxing are what bath tubs were invented for, besides depending on what you're up to I may or may not have other plans for it.” She chuckled as she turned back into the bathroom.
“Oh god…” Bea fell backwards against the mattress. “What have I created?” She knew Allie would always find a way to get her own back one way or another. She shrugged before grabbing her phone and making one or two alterations to the booking she'd already made. Traveling when it was still out of season always had a small advantage, changing small details was so much easier. Checking one last email that was from David she smiled, mission accomplished she thought as she snook out of their room for a couple of minutes, all she needed to do was confirm her card details and they were all set. David was waiting for her thankfully so she wasn't really missed when she finally slipped into the shower with Allie.
As they had a chilly wander around the courtyard garden that being as it was still only spring only contained potted evergreen topiaries. Bea decided to inform Allie in the summer it would be filled with roses, hollyhocks and foxgloves as they decided to go in for breakfast. “It would be like a real slice of British garden heaven here.” Bea smiled.
“Why are there all these maps on the walls anyway?” Allie asked as they walked through to the kitchen area.
“David has an interest in them, he told me he has loads more stashed away in the office. You telling me you're interested in maps now?” Bea looked a little surprised.
“No…” Allie laughed. “I think it's safe to say maps would be more your thing. As you pointed out I still get them the wrong way up. And I really don't need a map to find my way around your sexy self.” She chuckled.
Bea groaned as they walked into the large but cosy kitchen area that contained a long table with benches sat at either side. David and Andrea were already preparing breakfast for the only other guests who were staying there. It was different from anywhere either of them had ever stayed before, not finding themselves in a stuffy dining room with a wall between them and the kitchen was a novelty.
“This is different.” Allie said to no one in particular as they sat down.
“We think it works well.” Andrea told her before asking what they would like.
“Not to be blowing my own trumpet.” David laughed. “But I can highly recommend the eggs and ham.”
“Sounds good to me.” Bea said after she took a sip of the coffee Andrea had just poured her.
“Yeah, I'll have that. Can I be really cheeky and have toast as well?” Allie asked.
“Because like every morning she's starving.” Bea grinned at her. “You're lucky we don't have the kids with us otherwise you'd never keep up. Our daughter eats just as much, you wouldn't think it were possible for a five year old to keep up with this one.”
Allie glanced away for a moment, blinking a tear away. It wasn't often that she thought of Debbie and Shane as actually being hers as well, much less them being her son and daughter. Whenever Bea referred to them as being theirs it always made her tear up. Bea reached across the table and took her hand knowing instantly what had just crossed her mind. Allie had told her what it felt like forever ago now, she'd never thought she'd ever have kids, adopted or otherwise. Bea smiled at her as she looked back.
“Sorry.” Allie mumbled as Bea shook her head slowly.
“No need to be, I understand really I do.” She did, she'd never thought she'd ever have any more than Debbie because she'd been so convinced that relationships were never going to be her thing. Her only experience before she met Allie had left her completely closed to to even the thought of being with anyone else. Of course she knew that not everyone was like him but she'd seen herself as so damaged by him that no one else would ever get that close again.
Bea was in heaven actually having real coffee again. Most places they'd eaten in only ever had instant. she'd never quite worked out why that was but outside of the large cities it always seemed to be the case.
“I really don't know how you can be so hungry after just sleeping.” Bea chuckled as she sat back watching Allie polish off more home baked bread with stewed apricots and blackberries.
“First stop then…the Eade Gallery.” Allie laughed as they walked along the main street with its gorgeous character buildings and historic markers telling the tales of past locals lining the footpath.
Bea smiled but decided against saying anything, Allie knew her too well. She had intended to leave it as one of the last places they visited. Allie preferred shopping she'd always known that but Bea didn't want to waste the whole morning browsing through the shops. The gallery though had something for everyone, even Allie was bound to find something that interested her. The original paintings would always interest Bea most but she'd look at the sculptures, ceramics and photographs that were on display. Allie found the small display of jewellery fascinating but was more amused by being guided through the gallery by Mollie the owners dog. Everything was well presented and Bea spent a little longer than she had intended to looking at the guest artists work before they moved onto the photographs that all looked world class to her. The local scenery looked breathtaking and was definitely inspiring.
“We should buy that.” Allie announced when she wandered away from Bea and back to a watercolour of the Clyde bridge that had caught her eye when she'd first seen it. “It would be a great reminder of our time here.” She added. “Forget it…I don't think the van would be the best place to keep something this good.”
“Do you like it?” Bea asked as she stopped behind her.
“Then buy it, it would be a great reminder. I guess it'll also remind us to come back, with the kids of course.”
Now Allie was sure Bea must have been serious about getting rid of the van. She couldn't see how she was going to do it, she was also sure that the only car hire place she'd seen back in Alexandra didn't have anything like it. It had been clear from the minute they'd set off from Christchurch that Bea hadn't really had any destination in mind. They kept drifting from one place to another, sleeping in the van and the odd bed and breakfast. From where they were now Allie doubted that there would be anywhere else to spend the night once they drove up into the mountains. She liked the painting though, she had to trust Bea after all she hadn't let her down yet. Arranging to collect the painting the next morning they moved on to the museums. In the Blyth Street museum they wandered through the Māori and Victorian exhibits at a relaxed pace stopping along the way to have a peek at the old council chambers that had been preserved. Family histories, photographs and relics of the early gold mining times were interestingly displayed but Bea was bored with gold mining exhibits. They soon wandered over to the fully restored Clyde railway station to look at the railway artefacts.
“Shall we?” Bea pointed to the nearby briar herb museum complex. “Or would you rather stop for lunch?”
Allie shook her head. Bea had told her about that particular museum and she wanted to look around the old factory. The blacksmith exhibit caught her attention a short time later.
“We'd get around much faster in one of those.” Allie chuckled as she pointed to one of the old horse drawn vehicles as they passed by on their way to the stables and harness room.
Bea laughed. “Trust me I doubt it would be a comfortable ride. And I told you already I've already made other transport arrangements.”
Allie just rolled her eyes. It seemed more or less that now they were actually taking this road trip Bea had made more plans. Why she hadn't planned this part of their trip better Allie wasn't even going to bother asking. She was hungry and starting to feel a little cranky.
“Come on.” Bea grabbed Allies hand and tugged on it. “I'll take you to the post office.”
“Damn it, Bea. I know I love sightseeing an all but fuck you're taking it to a whole new level now.” Allie snapped as Bea just stared at her. “It's been hours since breakfast…I'm starving.”
“Allie.” Bea said softly. “The post office is a cafe…I mean it used to be the town post office. Never mind, just come with me.”
Allie felt immediately guilty for her outburst. It felt suffocating, it sat heavy in her chest because she'd just yelled at Bea. Why had she done that? She'd never once raised her voice to either Bea or the kids. Feeling hungry was no excuse for allowing her stomach to rule her mouth. If she'd just taken a second Bea would have told her that they were going to a cafe and not another restored building that served as a reminder of the past. She had wondered why a town so small needed three different museums. As they crossed the street in silence the incessant throb in Allies heart told her she needed to apologise for being so callous. Allie tugged on Beas hand when they got to the other side of the street, stopping her in her tracks. Bea turned to look back at tear filled glossy sapphire blue eyes as she untangled her fingers from Allies and stepped closer. Bringing her hands up to cup Allies face she brushed her slowly escaping tears away with her thumbs.
“Hey, Alliecat. It doesn't matter. Please don't cry, you didn't hurt my feelings. I should have been a little more clear about where we were going.” The sincerity in Beas voice brought more tears to her eyes and she tried to blink them away unsuccessfully as Bea wrapped her arms around her shoulders and pulled her close. “You know you're never going to be able to eat if you keep this up don't you?”
Allie nodded her head against Beas shoulder before she lifted her head. “Sorry…I…”
“Why are you apologising? We all get grumpy when we're hungry, you and Deb just happen to be always hungry.” Bea laughed.
“I don't know why I snapped at you like that. I can go through a whole shift at the hospital when we're really busy and not eat a crumb without biting anyone's head off.” Allie said, her vouch thick with remorse.
“Yeah, and then you come home and demolish a whole pizza. I usually know when you haven't eaten all day, I just have to check the cookie jar.”
Allie groaned, she'd forgotten how often she couldn't be bothered to eat anything that even remotely resembled healthy food when she was on an afternoon shift. When she ran through an afternoon shift on nothing but caffeine and good intentions the only thing she wanted when she arrived home was something quick to eat. Even when Bea had left her dinner and all she needed to do was warm it up she'd not always eat it.
“Hey maybe we should really consider getting a puppy for the kids.” She smiled as she grabbed Beas hand again as they entered the post office cafe.
“Hmmmm.” Bea hummed thoughtfully. “Yeah, then when we argue I really could tell you your dinners in the dog.” She said with a laugh.
“Well I was kinda thinking that I could hide the evidence of what I hadn't eaten.”
Once they were inside Allie was quite surprised by how cosy the old stone building actually felt. The place being almost empty meant they were able to get a table close by the fire after they'd finished admiring the old post office memorabilia. Sitting beside the fire that Bea said was original it really did feel as though they had stepped back in time.
“Are you warm enough?” Bea asked as the waiter who brought them their menus quickly disappeared to get the bottle of locally produced wine Bea knew she really wanted.
Allie nodded as she watched the flames curl and sway, flickering this way and that and crackling as they burnt the dry wood.
“It's a shame it's not warmer or we could have sat outside in the garden.” Bea told a dreamy looking Allie who was still gazing at the fire. “In the summer you're surrounded by the fragrance of lavender and roses. It's just as good to be sitting here by an open fire with you though.”
“Fish and chips.” Allie laughed when she finally returned her attention to the menu she'd been given.
“Is that just an observation or what you actually want to eat?” Bea smiled. The question was pointless and she knew it.
“Babe, the vans missing.” Allie blurted out sounding both panicked and a little shaky.
“Yeah? What do you see in its place?” Bea looked back at her expression giving absolutely nothing away.
“Y…you were parked right there.” Allie pointed to the spot where in place of the beaten up van was a black BMW X3 SUV. “Where? I mean how?”
“I told you I had plans. David helped me out, his brother works at the car rental place at the airport in Queenstown. Dads got friends all over the South Island, one just happens to live in Queenstown and is driving up to Christchurch with his wife to visit their son in a couple of days so I asked for a favour. The vans gone, now you can travel in comfort. Oh…we'll go shopping in the morning, I think we didn't bring nearly enough with us.”
“Wait! We can't sleep in there.” Allie looked puzzled as she watched Bea starting to walk away towards David who was waiting with the keys in his hand.
“Don't worry about that either, I told you I have plans.” Bea took the keys from David and thanked him. “Stop worrying. Plans remember, like the ones I have for the rest of the day now get in.”
Bea pulled the SUV into the car park at Clyde Dam smiling to herself. It had been her and Debbie the van would have been fine because Debbie would have loved it. Sometimes she still managed to forget that it wasn't just her and Debbie. Allie wasn't a fan of the outdoors at the best of times unless it was the beach then she had a hard time moving her. She knew she hadn't thought it through properly anyway, the further they went up into the mountains the more she'd struggle to keep the van moving. It really didn't have enough power to tackle some of the steeper climbs.
“Just a quick stop, you don't want to spend too long here really and we're going to do something else afterwards.” Bea smiled, Allie certainly seemed a lot more comfortable as she sat back in the passenger seat.
The views around the dam from the car park were stunning. Rocky brown hills surrounded the man made lake and the water colour were amazing. Under the blue sunlit sky the view was quite wondrous. The whole area Bea decided to tell Allie was once part of river that was surrounded by orchards. The concrete dam was an impressive, but slightly imposing, structure that used the power of the Clutha River.
“What are doing here?” Allie looked puzzled they'd only driven a short distance from the dam.
“I thought maybe you'd enjoy an afternoon cruise down the Clutha river.”
Allie looked a little worried when she saw the jet boat that they were heading for. A jet boat and river cruise just didn't seem to fit together.
“It doesn't do stunts. That's more something you'd see in Queenstown. They really are fast jet boat rides, a lot of fun as well.” Bea chuckled. “We'll travel some distance down the river so we can see some of the riverside tracks that were left during the gold rush. You can't see them from anywhere else but on the river. Lawrence is a great guide, he has a more extensive knowledge of the history around her than I do. I think he's probably forgotten more than I've ever known.”
They were greeted at the boat ramp by Lawrence and after a quick safety briefing all they had to do was sit back and relax. It would be like a journey back in time Bea told Allie who seemed nervous about being on a boat. As soon as they were seated Allie became fidgety and her breathing uneasy as Bea wrapped her arm around her shoulders.
“Say so now if you really don't want to do this, once we get going you're stuck with me.” Bea said quietly.
“No, no…I'll be fine. Ive just never been on a boat before. I can swim though so I guess I'll be alright if I fall overboard.” Allie giggled nervously.
“You won't fall overboard. I would never let that happen.”
The journey down the river was like venturing back in time as they traveled through the spectacular scenery of the Roxburgh Gorge. Lawrence told them all about the fascinating history of their surroundings. Bea had never been able to take the trip before and was already enjoying being able to explore the isolated places the river had to offer, it was even more enjoyable with Allie by her side. Allie seemed to relax a little more the further they traveled as Lawrence spun his well polished tales of years gone by. Even though they both already had a little knowledge of when gold had first been discovered he brought the history to life.
“Here we are, Doctors Point gold mine.” Lawrence announced before jumping out and securing the boat.
Doctors Point was one the most isolated places along the river, the only way it could be reached was by boat. Getting off the boat they were able to take a good look around the historical remnants of the old gold miners homes. Everything had been excellently preserved, the further they walked the easier it became to pick out the tiny huts the European and Chinese gold miners had once lived in. From a distance they were almost invisible in the huge schist rock formations. They both acquired a greater appreciation for the hardships the miners endured while living in such horrendous conditions. Lawrence pointed out other building remains including the old general store before showing them some of the dark tunnels that they managed to have a quick look inside. They spent a little longer looking around when Lawrence left them reminding them to join him for coffee. When they returned to the boat Lawrence served them coffee and home made blueberry muffins.
When they returned to Clyde it was almost time for dinner so Bea suggested that they go to Olivers restaurant again. Allie agreed without any hesitation, the boat trip back had given her time to plan a surprise of her own. It would be easy to make it work since Bea hadn't actually paid for a meal while they'd been there. A few minutes spent in the bathroom were all she'd needed to make arrangements of her own.
Allie passed on desert. “Are you feeling alright?” Bea asked her, her voice thick with concern. It wasn't often Allie decided against having a desert. She’d said the cheesecake she'd eaten the evening before was ‘simply to die for,’ Bea had expected her to order it again.
“Just a headache.” Allie smiled weakly trying to make her little white lie as convincing as possible. “I think I'll go back to our room and have a shower. You stay, babe. Have desert I'll be fine honestly.”
Bea nodded, they had had a busy day. Allie rarely had a headache but Bea knew she was still a little angry at herself for snapping at her at lunch time. “I think I'll have a slice of cheesecake and then I'll be right with you.” Bea smiled.
This time it was Allies turn to nod as she got to her feet. She almost ran all the way back to their room once she was out of the restaurant only stopping to have a quick word with David.
When Bea finally stepped back into their their darkened room she didn't want to flick the light on incase Allie was already asleep. Her eyes never got a chance to become accustomed to the darkness before she felt Allie step closer and back her against the wall. As the moon hit Allies face from outside Bea almost thought she saw what she could only describe to herself as a predatory glint in her eyes.
“What are you doing?” Bea asked in a whisper, any louder and she she didn't trust her voice right then.
“I wanted to do something for you since you've been so good to me.”
“I, um, I haven't done anything.” Bea answered as her eyes widened a little. Booking them into somewhere comfortable and getting rid of the van were for her benefit just as much as Allies. It was what she should have thought of long before they arrived.
“No?” Allie asked.
“I…I….Mmmmm…” Bea felt as though she were fast losing her ability to think let alone speak as Allie traced her fingertips down her cheek. It was the barest grazing of her fingertips across her skin. She swallowed, hard, as Allies fingers drifted back up into her hairline and became tangled in her hair. Allies fingers combed through her hair before tucking loose strands behind her ear. Allie lent in and breathed against Beas ear before her tongue slid along the edge.
“Allie.” Bea whimpered as Allie pushed her body firmly against hers. Their lips were mere centimetres apart but Allie made sure hers stayed just out of reach as Bea tried to chase them. The softness of Allies breasts and the soft press of her hips did nothing to help Bea try and process what Allie might actually be up to. All she could feel was her body pressed tightly against hers and the warmth radiating from it. Strange Bea thought because right in that moment she felt so searingly hot that it shouldn't have been possible to detect how warm Allie felt. Bea shivered slightly as she thought that Allie couldn't have just planned anything on the spur of the moment.
“Are you cold, Bea?” The honeyed timbre of Allies voice made Beas stomach flutter. Her eyes had become accustomed to the half light of their room and she watched Allie pull away a little and her eyes gaze back at her. She felt her face flush as her brain tried and failed to articulate what she wanted to say. Her thoughts seemed to have become as lost to her as her words right then and she just shook her head mutely.
“You seem a little cold to me, or are you coming down with something? You feel hot but you're shivering.” Allie continued softly as she watched with a knowing look as Beas chest rose and fell a little more rapidly.
“No…no…I'm warm…I…uhh…” Bea felt her cheeks grow a little hotter as her voice faded out again. She hadn't quite had this response to Allie for a long time. She hadn't felt this dumbstruck or shy in months.
Allie smiled wickedly back at her as she skated her fingers across Beas shoulders, pushing her jacket back before taking pity on her and helping her out of it. Throwing it over in the direction of one of the chairs Allie leaned in a little again, achingly slowly, she lowered her mouth to the small expanse of skin she could see of Beas chest. Resisting the temptation to open one then another of the buttons on her shirt. Bea felt the goosebumps rise on her skin as she felt the soft, teasing puffs of Allies breaths.
“My poor baby.” Allie said softly into Beas chest, her words seemed to drip with promise. “Am I making my baby suffer too much?” Allie dipped her head a little lower, kissing one then the other of Beas erect nipples through the fabric that they both thought was getting in the way.
The feel of Allies lips was almost explosive. “Oh fuck!” Bea groaned as her eyes closed a little.
“Shhhh.” Allie whispered. “I have plans for you.” She continued as bolts of arousal shot through Bea as she watched Allie kissing her breasts over her shirt. She bit her lip, desperate to say something but waiting to see what Allie would do next.
Allie lifted her head and looked back into Beas eyes. “Hmmm. Now I had something else I wanted to do.” She said as she took Beas hands in hers and started walking backwards pulling her towards the bed. “But right now I need you to wait here for a few minutes.” She turned them around and walked Bea backwards until the back of her legs hit the bed. “Sit here and wait for me.” Allie instructed as Bea complied without a word. “I'll be right back.”