*note* Things are heating up in this chapter! ❤
Several weeks passed. Lydia needed time alone to process everything. That night on the rooftop made her realize what she was feeling these last couple of months, but it also made her even more confused. She knew she wasn’t ready to see Jasmine soon, not when she couldn’t act normal around her.
The Singhs’ had ordered at least three times since the luncheon, which made her aunt really happy. Her aunt had left two weeks prior for the hinterlands with several fellow farmers in town for her delivery, which made her and Hannah in charge of the property until she returned. Depending on whom they were delivering to, she would be gone for at least a month.
Lydia feigned exhaustion, saying that she couldn’t deliver to the Singhs’. Of how her back, her shoulders, ached from doing so. While she loved the Singh family, she couldn’t risk running into Jasmine and let herself act weird around her. Especially after the hand incident and dream.
She pretended to be burned-out in front of Hannah, who of course didn’t buy into it. Hannah demanded to know why she wasn’t going to the Singhs,’ why she wasn’t brave enough to face Jasmine.
“I just need time,” Lydia had responded feebly, unable to say exactly how she just wanted to take time away from the Singhs’, Jasmine, the entire town.
Hannah had softened up, realizing that Lydia wasn’t ready yet.
“Fine,” she sighed. “But you can’t be lazy here. We still have a business to uphold, Jasmine or not.”
They had agreed that they would exchange work, with Hannah doing the deliveries and Lydia gleaning potatoes. That way, she didn’t have to run the risk of seeing her.
It’d been a while since Lydia had last gleaned, but she found returning to it quite smoothly. In fact, it was almost therapeutic to venture out onto their property, a former potato farm, to dig and search for spuds. Despite the sun beating down on her all day and the at times back-breaking work, she felt at peace in the wide-open golden field, with little to no one to interact with. Besides, she felt she did a better job bringing more potatoes home, partly due to physical strength, and partly that Hannah often got distracted while gleaning, whether to play with a sparrow that landed in the field or to chat for hours with a farmer passing by.
The weeks went by idly, without seeing anyone but Hannah around. They would spend the evenings after work eating dinner and playing card games. Being mischievous, Hannah even managed to find a leftover bottle of her aunt’s gin, and they would have a drink on the porch while watching the town light up at night. Lydia would see the lights flicker, sometimes blur as the evening wore on. Or perhaps it was the gin talking.
Everything seemed to be going well, with Lydia tending to the potatoes and enjoying the quiet life with her cousin. She felt less anxious and calmer—even the odd dreams disappeared. Still though, she still at times couldn’t help but let her mind wander off to Jasmine, and she also wondered how the Singhs’ were doing.
Hannah was out doing her deliveries one afternoon in early November while Lydia was out finding potatoes. Weather was getting colder, and soon enough the farm field would freeze over and make it hard to glean in the winter months. Winter was when she, along with her aunt and Hannah, would turn to distilling the potatoes, namely to make strong spirits to be sold in the local pubs in town. In fact, they made a considerable profit from selling the liquor, even more than when they sold potatoes.
Until then, Lydia was still looking for the last of the surviving potatoes of the season. The weather was notably chilly that day, with the wind blowing in all directions, making trudging in the loose earth more challenging than usual. Her sack was partly-full, although by no means as much as back in September.
A silhouette was coming towards her. Lydia looked up, squinting a bit to make out the outline of a small figure, possibly female, with dark hair and a nicely-pleated dress…
It was Jasmine.
Lydia stood still, blinking her eyes. What was she doing here?
The servant girl approached her, and Lydia saw that she looked a bit different from the last time she saw her nearly a month ago. Perhaps she looked a bit more tired than usual, but her face didn’t look as chipper as she normally was.
A moment’s silence.
“Are you working?” Jasmine asked hesitantly, seeing Lydia in her work clothes and sack.
Lydia shrugged, unsure.
“There aren’t many potatoes left. I’m almost done.”
“Could we talk?”
“At your house?”
Lydia’s house was just a kilometer away, which would be closer than to the Singhs’ otherwise. With a “sure, of course,” they set off for her aunt’s property.
“How’s life?” Jasmine asked, trying to break the silence as they made their way over.
She shrugged again.
“It’s been all right. How about yours?”
“Okay, too. Master has been wondering where you’ve been. Same with Timmy and Sammy.”
She stayed quiet, feeling bad that she worried them for disappearing for a while.
“…and me, as well.”
Lydia felt the emotions resurge, no longer feeling calm and collected as she’d done in the past few weeks. What was it about this girl that made her feel so unbelievably nervous?
They reached the homestead. Lydia opened the door and let her in first.
“Did you want something to drink?” she asked as she set the potato sack on the kitchen counter and washed her dirty, chapped hands.
“Just some water, please.” Jasmine replied. Lydia couldn’t help but notice that the servant girl was fidgeting, which made her even more uncomfortable.
Lydia poured water into a glass and handed it to her. Jasmine thanked her and took a sip before settling it on the counter next to the sack of potatoes.
“So…did you want to talk about something?” Lydia asked slowly, uncertain what they were going to discuss.
“Yes, I do. Well, I—we—have been wondering where you’ve been. It’s been about three weeks, and we were just curious why. Timmy and Sammy really miss you.”
Lydia tried to meet her gaze as she spoke, but couldn’t quite to bring herself to do it. One look at those large, brown eyes, and she didn’t know what would happen. She ended up looking at the tiled floor.
“Um, well…things got busy here. My aunt left a couple weeks ago to the hinterlands, and Hannah and I had to take care of the house. And the business, of course…”
“Yes, but we were also wondering why you haven’t been delivering to us. Hannah’s great, but we were used to seeing you.”
Her mouth twitched.
“Well, uh, I was getting burnt out from deliveries. It was making me tired, so I needed to take a break…”
“But you’re still working out in the fields. Isn’t that even more tiring?”
Lydia stopped, unable to respond.
Jasmine looked at her intently, taking a step forward.
“Please, tell me what’s really going on. I want to know…”
She caught a whiff of her fragrance, the slightest hint of floral soap. She turned away, trying not to let the smell, wonderful as it was, get to her.
“Lydia, please. Look at me.” Her voice was quiet, almost pleading.
Reluctantly, she turned her head towards her. The servant girl’s forehead was creased, eyebrows knitted together, her eyes shining with sympathy and confusion.
“Do you not like me?”
She shook her head vigorously.
“No, no. It’s not that. It’s…it’s that…”
She took a deep, ragged breath.
“…do you love Ben?”
Jasmine stepped back slightly, confused.
“Why do you ask…?”
“Do you love him?!” She repeated, perhaps a bit too harshly. She slammed her hands on the countertop, startling the servant girl. She was shaking, and she needed the prop herself to avoid shaking more. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound harsh…”
“Yes, I do.”
Lydia’s face burned.
“…but I love you more.”
Her body froze, surprised at what she’d just said. But she refused to meet her eyes.
Jasmine stepped forward again.
“I don’t know what’s exactly going on, but I’ve always wanted to believe that it was because of my attraction to you. Since you came to the Singhs’ to deliver potatoes, I’ve wondered about you, and why you always looked so sad. I thought maybe getting to know you would help me figure out how to cheer you up. And I realized, as time went on, I liked you. How you were pensive and so carefree, especially with the twins. I thought about you a lot, more than I ever thought about Ben. I love him, but I’ve come to realize that he was more of a brother than a lover. And with you, I’m not so sure, if we’re friends or something else, maybe both…”
Lydia listened to her, astonished. Jasmine wasn’t her usual, composed self, but rather pouring words out, slightly unsure of herself.
Jasmine stopped, and looked up at her.
“Do you like me?” she asked softly.
She felt her face get hotter, her heart beating rapidly, as if about to jump out of her chest.
“Yeah, I do,” she mumbled shakenly. She was still trembling, but now a sense of relief washed over her; she could finally admit to Jasmine how she really felt about her.
The servant girl stepped in closer—Lydia could feel her body heat close to hers. Jasmine took her left hand, her thumb rubbing gently over the palm as she looked reflectively at her.
“Um–,” Lydia started, feeling even more nervous but also a newfound sense of pleasure. It was merely her hand with hers, but she found that something she’d never experienced before. “Um…”
Jasmine’s other hand reached up to cup her cheek. Her small, slender fingers stroke the side of her jawline, each stroke sending a tingle down her spine.
“Is this okay?” she murmured. Lydia swallowed and forced herself to meet her eyes. She nodded.
“Is this what you want?” Her jaw tightened anxiously, but she nodded again. She did want this.
Slowly, the servant girl’s hand guided her face towards hers. Lydia was unsure of what was happening until she felt her mouth against hers, soft and full. She inhaled sharply, catching the whiff of her floral scent, and her mind, her body, were no longer in control of themselves.
She pulled away first, perhaps too suddenly. Exhaling, she looked at Jasmine again, whose large eyes were full of love and warmth. Without thinking, she leaned in and took her mouth, feeling the same sensation overwhelm her body.
Jasmine’s hands moved to clasp themselves around her neck. Lydia felt her small breasts press against hers as her own hands clumsily settled on the servant girl’s narrow hips, before encircling the small of her back, drawing her closer. The feelings that she’d tried so hard to hold back came flooding out, and she did not want them to stop.
Lydia leaned in a bit too much, causing Jasmine to back up against the countertop to stabilize herself. Her small hands glided to her chest, and she grasped the seams of her work clothes to pull her in further. Lydia rested her hands on the countertop, leaning in more, wanting to taste her, her lips, her body, all of her…
…to be continued…
— The Finicky Cynic
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