Ira's in the kitchen, putting up the remnants of our dinner. I'm supposed to be picking up in the den, but I'm distracted by her. She's so happy and comfortable in the kitchen, I can't help but love watching her cook. She's not cooking now though, we're getting ready for bed, and I just love bedtime. I'm getting ahead of myself… I absentmindedly toss pillows on to the bed in the other room, kick some dirty clothes closer to the hamper, put some books and magazines on the shelf, and things look much better. That's the beauty and travesty about living in a small cabin, it can get messy very quickly but also cleaned very quickly.

I look over at the bed, and it beckons me. She's still in the kitchen, wiping up the counter now.

"Iraaaa… come heeerree!" I whine.

"I'm almost done, chill yo-self". I love when she breaks out the New Orleans slang. I need her in bed, now. I take off my jeans and throw them at her. She picks them up and makes her way over too me, and I pitch my shirt at her and hit her right in the face with it. She pounces on me for punishment. She likes to pretend she can hold me down. I play along for a little bit, and then flip her easily over onto her back and she squeals. She grabs the back of my head and pulls me in for a kiss.

We snuggle for a few minutes, and she starts to massage the knots out of my stiff muscles. I groan with relief…she's really good at that. Riding the hay loader and pitching hay all day long has done a serious number on my neck and shoulders. We switch places, and I start rubbing out her tight spots. I start at her shoulders and neck and work my way down her spine. She makes soft little coos and whimpers…god, I love making her feel good. I love hearing her vocalize her pleasure.

I softly run my hands across her body, noticing with admiration her growing muscles. Farm work has really started to show on her upper arms and thighs. She exercised casually before, but now that she's been helping me on the farm, she's gotten hooked on the heavy workout involved. I loved her body when I met her, and didn't think I could love it more, but watching her belly flatten and her arms and legs tighten just fills me with pride.

"Baby…you're getting BUFFED. Your muscles here are really getting some definition." I run my finger along her triceps brachii. She giggles.

"Come on! I'm nowhere near buffed. I'm just getting more exercise now. I'm still scrawny compared to you."

"Now you're making me sound like one of those roided-out female body builders. I'm not that big, am I?"

"No, no no. you aren't scary, you're perfect. Perfectly sexy. You have muscles and you all slim and feminine and amazing in a dress." She turns around and kisses my cheek, and I blush a little bit.

Thoroughly relaxed and satisfied after our routine massages, we flop down on our backs, shoulder to shoulder.

"Have you been able to talk to your mom lately?" I can't see her face but I feel her body tense and shrink. I immediately regret bringing it up.

Her mom recently went to rehab for alcoholism. This is a really good thing, but it's been really rough on Ira. It's bringing up a lot of bad memories, and she's been having nightmares lately. Ira's mother started being abusive to her in high school, first verbally and occasionally physically. The words are what really hurt her though. She would call her names and bully her, and it really did a number on her confidence. She's called her stupid, pathetic, worthless, biggest-mistake-of-her-life, piece of shit, and all sorts of belittling things like that. Since getting out of that house, she's gained confidence and started feeling good about herself again, but I feel like she's regressed since her mom went to rehab.

"She didn't call tonight…yesterday she did though. I talked to her for five minutes. They only give her a few minutes a night… she sounded fine I guess. She used her fake happy voice she reserves for company. She didn't acknowledge that anything was wrong at all. She sounded like she was calling from the beach or something."

I know how bad she needs an apology. I really hope she gets one, because she deserves a lifetime of them.

"I'm scared that none of this is going to sink in. That she's only there because she was forced to go…She's going to put up a wall, and refuse to listen to anything they tell her. I know that's what's happening now."

"Well, she's in the best place she can be right now. I know it's hard to imagine her changing, but I think that she'll at least get something out of it. From what you've told me about her I think she's going to need some time there before she really starts to get it." She sighs.

"I guess so…I'm having a hard time even understanding that she's there. All those years of trying to get her help, and being shot down. My whole family treated me like I was the one with the problem whenever I tried to convince someone she needed help… 'Just because she drinks doesn't make her an alcoholic, Ira… Sure she drinks but she doesn't have a problem, for God's sake'. Yeah well you weren't the one dragging her from the kitchen floor into her bedroom in the morning, so my little sister didn't have to see that while she ate her Cheerios in the morning before I brought her to school!" She starts quivering.

She goes on for a few more minutes, and I listen patiently. The things Ira's been through are unbelievable. Listening to these stories, seeing her pain, what she's done to her… it makes me so mad. I do my best to stay calm and supportive, and suppress my growls. I don't want to make her any more upset.

"I'm s-sorry…I didn't mean t-t-to rant…I'll stop." Her bottom lip is shaking and I can feel her holding back tears.

"Babygirl…it's ok. It's ok…You can rant to me all you want." I give her a soft kiss on the cheek.

"I…I need to calm down. I can't go to sleep like this…"

"I'll make you some tea. Take some deep breaths, I'll be right back." I start to get up, but she doesn't want to let go of me. I wrap my arms around her and hold her for a few moments. I notice she's still shaking and tears well up in her eyes.

"Do you want me to make you tea?" She nods. I try to get up again, and this time she lets me. She stands up with me and grabs my hand as I start walking towards the kitchen. It melts my heart.

It's little things like this she does that makes me realize how much I love to take care of her. Nothing brings me more satisfaction than taking care of my sweet babygirl, giving her some comfort and making her life a little better.

"Baby, maybe you should lie down and try to relax. I'll make it for you just how you like it."

"I want to come with you…I just want to be touching you right now." I am struck by the honesty of that statement. Not many people would be able to admit something like that, for fear of being clingy or something. I don't consider her clingy, she just needs comfort. She's going through some really rough things right now, and I feel honored to be there for her.

Her wanting to hold my hand to the kitchen made my chest overflow with affection. I grabbed her and picked her up, bridal style. She jolted at first with surprise, and grabbed me tight like she was scared I would drop her. Then she smiled a little through her tears. I gave her forehead a kiss and started walking to the kitchen.

In the kitchen, I turned her around and she wrapped her legs and one arm around me. She rested her head on my shoulder, and her other hand held on to one of my breasts. Her warm tears collect on my shoulder and trickle down my bare back. I support her from her behind with one hand, and use the other to put some water on to boil. I take a candle from the shelf, light it from the stove burner, and take it with us out onto the porch.

Tonight the sky is clear, and the moon is just a sliver. The stars shine brightly, unhindered by moon or city lights. I sit us down in the rocking chair and hold her in my lap, gently rocking back and forth, back and forth. She sits in my lap and leans against me, with her head next to mine, looking up at the sky. I'm glad that the cabin is half a mile from the main farmhouse, and faces away from it. I'm wearing nothing but boxer briefs, and Ira's wearing just panties and a tank top.

"Shooting star!" Ira exclaims with glee, pointing to where it disappeared. I missed it. I was scanning over the familiar landscape, barely visible in the night but I know every corner. I can see the outline of the the chicken coop, the seedling greenhouses, and in the distance, the dairy barn. The pasture for the goats and cows rolls out wide and beautiful directly before us, with the old hazel tree that makes the milk so rich… I'm daydreaming that this isn't a farm I just work on, that this is ours…

"In New Orleans, some nights I could see some stars. Like, maybe fifteen of them on a good night. This is one of the things I've missed the most since moving…I can't wait to come back." She turns around and straddles me again, kisses me, and nuzzles into my neck.

"I can't wait for you to come back home baby. You need to finish up your schoolin' though. And I can't wait to go to New Orleans with you." She grew up in Vermont until her parents split up, and her mother took her to Louisiana. Now she's in college in New Orleans, and only has one semester left. I've worked out an agreement with the farm, and moving to New Orleans with her for her last semester. They can use the cabin for storage until I'm ready to come back in the spring.

"You just come on back before that, if you need to." they told me. They are a little skeptical about our plan, but nonetheless agreed to let Ira move in with me in the spring and hire her, too. Those people are like a second family to me.

I hear the kettle whistle, and pick her back up and go in, straddling me again. There are jars and jars of various dried herbs and honey from the farm. I put chamomile flowers, lemon balm, and peppermint in the cloth teabag and in a mug along with a gob of honey. Pouring the boiling water over it fills the small house with fragrant steam, and I can feel her smile on my shoulder. The tea is set to steep and I walk her back over to the bed. I got honey all over my fingers trying to maneuver the jar with one hand, so I stick them into Ira's mouth. We sit for awhile, her in my lap and me holding her close, sucking on my fingers.

"Baby?" she looks up at me. "You feeling a little better now?" she nods. I lay her down gently and start kissing her neck. "Mhhh…Lark. Keep doing that." I start to use little teeth, and move up to nibbling her ear. She starts to whimper and it fills me with hunger for her, my hands running all over her body. I want to rip off her clothes and just pin her down and dominate her, but I know that would be too much for her right now. I need to be gentle. I slide her out of her top, and lay her down.

I trail kisses down her belly while brushing her body lightly with my fingertips. She shivers with anticipation as I slide off her panties. God, she's so beautiful… The sight of her, naked in my bed in the candle light, staring deep into my eyes with so much trust, so much love…I can't believe how lucky I am to have her in my life. It's just unreal.

I don't want to overwhelm her, but I can see that she's aroused, that she wants me. I slowly run my hands across her body, trail my fingertips across her belly. Goosebumps spread over her and she opens her legs to me. Trailing my fingertips along her legs, paying special attention to her inner thighs makes her shutter and whimper. Her legs open wider.

"Lark…I love you."

I answer her by kissing her deeply, one hand in her wavy brown hair, the other between her legs. I rub her with the pad of my thumb, in little circles, making her moan softly.

"I love you Ira. I love you so much…You're my sweetheart, my sweet babygirl."

Kisses trail across her chest and down her belly now. I make love to her soft and gentle, caressing her with my lips and tongue. I love doing this to her so much…I have no idea how much time passes. Her body tells me when she's close. Her moans get louder, longer, more urgent, and her breath heavier. Her toes curl up and her fist pulls my hair. I insert my fingers into her and continue working her with my mouth. Her legs start shaking.

"Come on baby…come on…" Her back arches and she cries out in earnest.

"Good girl…Good girl! That's it baby…"

Ohh…god…Lark!" I love it how she cries out my name when she comes. Her climax is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I hope when I'm dying, the last thing I see is her back arching, toes curling, body bucking, eyes squeezing shut and then her whole body relaxing, melting, and her looking into my eyes with love, breathing heavy.

I give her a few more affectionate laps of my tongue, and crawl up next to her and kiss her panting mouth. I love it when we kiss each other with the taste of our womanhood fresh on our lips. It just adds a deeper level of intimacy. I can tell she enjoys the way she tastes on my tongue, because she hungrily sucking it into her mouth, with soft little noises of approval. Eventually, she pulls away from the embrace.

"Is it tea time, love?"

"Of course, babygirl. I almost forgot." We sit up and I reach over for her tea, pull the teabag out, and give it a quick stir. It cooled down considerably, but it's still warm.

"I can heat it up for you."

"No, that's ok, I like it like this." She drinks deeply, inhaling and exhaling slowly with pleasure.

"Mmm…this is perfect Lark. You're amazing. Not just this, for everything. For taking such good care of me…thank you." She leans on me and I hug her tight.

"Of course baby. Thank you for allowing me to take care of you. Nothing makes me happier than being there for you."

We share the rest of the tea, and start to settle down.

"I'll return the favor in the morning before you have to go to work. Would you like that, love?" I

"Baby, you don't have to wake up at 4:00 just for me."

"Just for you? I would do anything just for you. I know how much you enjoy some good lovin' before work. d waking up when you have to isn't that bad."

I smile. I know she'll probably go back to sleep afterward until about 8:00, ride her bike over to the library or her dad's and do her online classwork, then meet me at the farmhouse when we break for lunch and cook everyone something great. When she's done with her class, she'll help me with the evening milking and harvest. We'll shut the chickens in to roost, go back to the cabin for dinner, and do it all over again…

I drift off to sleep with her in my arms, in my head, and hope she feels as at peace with the world as I do.