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State Park: Day I
Tara stood up with a satisfied groan and a stretch. She and her co-worker Bill had been laying rip-rap along the trail since seven-thirty that morning. The temperature was in the low eighties and if the humidity kept increasing from day-to-day as it had been, tomorrow would be a scorcher. It was hard enough working in this heat, Tara wasn’t sure if tomorrow would be tolerable. The tractor which they were using to haul the rock from by the road and down the trail couldn’t be brought up the stair case just before this section of the hike. Even if it could the area they were on was not where you wanted to try and squeeze a tractor. It had a drop off over a railing down into the gorge on one side while the other side of the trail, where they were currently working, went up at a fifty percent incline. All this meant that she and Bill had to wheel-barrel the riprap up the steps. Tara didn’t mind it though. It felt good to be doing such physical labor during summer vacation. It made up for all of the strength she lost during the school year. College life wasn’t conducive to an in-shape body when the person hated going to the gym. And Tara disliked the gym just slightly more than she liked being in shape.
Clasping her hands in front of herself, she kept her elbows locked and raised them above her head and then eased them even further back, stretching her triceps, sides and stomach. As she did so, two young women rounded the corner of the trail coming from the top of the stairs. One of the things that Tara liked best while working on the main hiking trail was the contact with the hikers who passed them. She smiled in greeting to the two girls who looked to be around her own age as Bill stood up beside her.
The lead woman seemed to be the driver of the two. She had on a small back pack which most-likely contained water and a few snacks. Her dark hair was pulled back in a pony-tail and she was wearing the usual sporty shorts and tank-top. The one behind had short curly blonde hair with a petite face to go with her petite body, showed off by designer gene shorts and a half a tank that left her mid-drift exposed. Sweat was soaking her hair line and she appeared to be less than enjoying herself at the moment.
“Hey,” Tara and Bill greeted in good cheer and unison. Tara lowered her arms from her stretch as the two woman came abreast of them. To the blonde’s obvious relief, they stopped.
“Are you fixing from flooding?” the dark-haired girl asked in reference to the work that they were doing.
“Not yet,” Bill grinned. He was a middle-aged man, nice looking, and had a habit of flirting with anything female that came down the trail.
Tara interjected before he could make some corny ‘come-on’ line. “It’s more of a preventative measure,” she said gathering their tools and laying them in the now-empty wheelbarrow. “We’re trying to take care of a couple places that could be problems in the future.”
“It’s a beautiful park,” the dark-haired woman commented her gaze shifting from Tara’s face downward.
Feeling a twinge of uncertainty Tara turned to the blond woman. “Beautiful, yes, but not an easy hike, huh?”
Tara’s sympathy brought a smile and roll of blue eyes from the blond. “You’re telling me?” she asked. “We just climbed up two-hundred and thirty-three steps. I counted.”
Tara laughed. “Trying pulling a wheel-barrel up them next,” she said as Bill grinned beside her. “Then you won’t complain about the hike.”
Both girls laughed appreciatively and waved goodbye as they started on their way again.
Tara turned back to Bill. “You ready to go down for lunch?” she asked.
He nodded, but his eyes were on the two girls disappearing down the trail behind her.
“Honestly, Bill. One of these days we’re going to get a complaint about sexual harassment because of you.” Her voice was only half-joking.
“Those two didn’t even notice me,” he said looking back at Tara with laughter in his gray eyes. “They were checking you out.”
“Wha-?” she was stunned for a half a second. Then, “No they weren’t. Just because they looked at me doesn’t mean they were checking me out.”
“They were checking you out,” Bill said again his tone even more blunt. “When you were talking with that little blond chick, the other’s eyes didn’t leave your body. And when you had your back to them just now they were both looking back over their shoulders at you.” He pointed at her with a finger to emphasize his point and grinned.
Tara glanced down at said body. She was wearing the required uniform for a park maintenance worker. Steel-toed, leather boots peeked out from under thick genes that were belted at the waist over the shirt tucked into them. The shirt was a basic T, dark green, with the park logo were a right breast pocket would be. Her long light brown hair was pulled though the back of a tan baseball-cap with dark green bill, also portraying the parks logo. In her peripheral vision Demetevler Escort she could see some short wispy hairs escaping from the cap and curling in the humidity. To top it all off she was covered in dust and sweat. The genes were dark-brown where she’d been kneeling down on the wet earth and her shirt sported dark patches down her back and below her breasts where she’d sweated through. Her tanned hands were rough-looking with callous and dried out from handling the rock and gravel mixture.
Tara looked up at Bill with a ‘Do you see what I see?’ look that made him laugh. “If you don’t believe me, I’m not going to try and convince you otherwise. But my bet is that they’re a couple,” he said and proceeded to pick up the wheelbarrow’s handles. “Let’s get down for lunch. Perhaps Ben will join us and bring some Mr. Frosties again.”
Tara nearly groaned with pleasure at the thought. “Oh, I can only dream.”
The next day, as Tara had predicted, had increased temperature and humidity too high for the park head ranger, Ben, to allow them to work outside, not to mention be on the trails hauling riprap in wheelbarrows up two hundred plus steps. Left with orders to drink lots of water, stay indoors and keep cool as much as possible, the crew set to work in the shop. There were always odd-and-end projects that needed to be done, but were saved for days they couldn’t work outside because of heat or rain or thunder. If nothing else, cleaning was a never-ending chore in the shops and storage buildings.
“The lights for the shower building finally came in,” Greg, a part-time ranger held the box out to Tara. “You want to go put these in now?”
“May as well,” Tara agreed. The light out was in the women’s side, so she, being the only girl on the maintenance staff, was the obvious choice to take care of it during the hours the showers were open. “I’ll take the black Ranger,” Tara said snatching up the keys. “While I’m out anyone have any other errands for me to run?”
“Why don’t you check on Jill up at the office, while you’re at that end of the park,” Greg said. “I think she had to confiscate some firewood this morning. You could grab that.”
“Sounds good.” Tara picked up one of the radios and attached it to her belt before heading out the door and into the dead heat. “Just let me know if you think of anything else while I’m out.”
Ushered by the jibes of, “Just get moving, you lazy brat!” issuing from the closing door, Tara laughed and got into the small, black truck. The air conditioning felt like heaven. Already her shirt was soaked with sweat just from the little she’d been out this morning. The heat was still only in the mid-eighties, not an extreme temperature by any shot, but the humidity was at 80%, making the ‘felt’ temperature around 110 degrees. A killer of a day. Luckily, in northern Wisconsin, spells such as this rarely lasted longer than a week and only came once or twice throughout a summer.
Pulling into one of the seven parking spaces for the shower building, Tara had to force herself out of the small truck. The heat wave hit her like a physical blow.
“That’s life,” she muttered to herself and grabbing the box of bulbs went to the small water and maintenance room to retrieve a step ladder and tool box. The fixtures for the light casings took a special torque screwdriver with a divet in the end to accommodate a nipple on the head of the screws. This was supposed to discourage visitors from using a regular torque screwdriver and snatching the light bulbs. Stupid, Tara thought, who wants to steal the light bulbs that don’t fit any other fixture anyway? But that was the way of things.
Stepping out of the maintenance room she froze at the sound of a screech issuing from the woman’s shower. It was one that carried both surprise and a certain amount of terror. Thinking of the countless frogs, toads, and insects that were ‘rescued’ on a daily basis from the showers, Tara darted for the women’s door. Upon opening it with a push of her shoulder, she was still carrying the bulbs, toolbox, and step-ladder, she was met with a very startling sight. The dripping wet, and very naked, dark-haired girl from yesterday was crouched in the corner, her arms over her head and he knees drawn up to her chest.
“Goawaygoawaygoawaygoaway,” she was saying over and over closing her eyes tight. On the floor between her and the rest of the room a huge (well, huge for Wisconsin) spider was creeping sluggishly across the tile. It had a bulbous body the size of a marble and long arching legs making it appear double-again the size.
“Hey,” Tara said softly, setting down the stepladder, toolbox, and carton of light bulbs. “It’s not going to hurt you. The poor thing’s half-dazed from the humidity.”
Wide hazel eyes peeked through the stringy, dark, wet hair at Tara. “I’m k-kinda freaked out by sp-spiders,” she whispered.
Tara smiled reassuringly Otele gelen escort and crouched down on the other side of the languid spider from her. “He’s not venomous, and while I can usually sympathize since spiders have a tendency to skitter around at startling speeds, this one isn’t going anywhere fast.” To demonstrate, she laid her hand with the palm up on the floor in front of the wanna-be insect. Then, nudging it gently with her other hand, she coaxed it onto her palm where it sat as though exhausted from the effort. “See?” she asked. “Slow as a slug.”
“You’re crazy.” Though the other girl’s voice still trembled slightly it was no longer in a whisper.
Tara laughed. “Perhaps,” she agreed and stood up. “I’ll toss him outside. You can finish getting changed and such.”
When she came back in the woman was standing with her arms crossed over her chest, still naked, in front of one of the shower doors.
“Are you okay?” Tara asked, seriously worried for the other woman, though now that she was standing, Tara couldn’t help but notice with envy the slim form of a body that never put on weight and continually kept it’s long smooth muscles.
The naked woman looked over at her with a sheepish smile that made her look younger than before. “I’m afraid to open the stall door,” she admitted.
“I hate to break this to you,” Tara said walking forward, “but there are spiders and insects around every corner out here. It kinda goes with being in the woods.” She allowed a teasing smile to quirk her lips.
“But why do they have to be in the buildings?”
“You’re actually more likely to see them when you go into buildings. In the woods they’re usually out of sight. Ironic, huh?” Tara stepped around the woman and opened the door to the shower stall. She checked around the tiled interior where her trained eye caught a tell-tale blotch in a corner. With practiced motion she scared the tree-frog out of its hiding place and caught it mid leap. The sticky pads on the frog’s toes clung to her palm and she closed her fingers before it realized its jump had been interrupted.
“What was that?” the voice behind her was wary.
“Just a tree frog. Other than that you’re in the clear,” Tara promised.
“Tree frog?” The wariness had left her voice to be replaced by curiosity.
“You want to see it?” Tara asked offering out her fist.
A sheepish smile crossed mobile lips. “I kinda feel the need to redeem myself from the spider moment, so yeah.”
“It’ll probably jump. Unlike the spider, amphibians thrive on the humidity. I toss out a total of twelve frogs on average every time I clean the showers. Can’t figure out how they all get in.”
“I promise I won’t scream if it jumps,” she said reaching around Tara and taking her towel from the hook on the back of the door. There was enough room for her to do so without brushing up against Tara, so it had to be on porpoise that her breasts grazed against Tara’s bare arm. Tara froze.
Pulling back as though nothing had happened the girl wrapped the towel around herself and said, “Okay, I’m ready.”
Dismissing the incident as an accident or carelessness, Tara opened her hand, palm up, slowly. The blotchy brown and gray tree-frog obligingly crouched still. It was about the size of a quarter with its coloring looking like the bark of hardwood tree.”He’s adorable,” the woman’s voice sounded slightly surprised as she leaned closer.
“Look at his eyes. They’re my favorite.” Most of the tree frogs found in the area had large black eyes with gold flecks and a vertical pupil.
“Oh, my. You’re right! They’re beautiful,” the young woman said on a sigh.
The frog took that moment to decide it didn’t want to be scrutinized any longer and launched its self forward to the next vertical object. That thing just so happened to be the young woman. She jumped back with a startled yelp then froze; looking down at the wide eyes of the amphibian perched on her breast just above the towel.
Tara let out a laugh that came straight from her belly. “It must be male,” she said on a gasp between giggles that nearly had her doubled over.
“Can you just get it off of me?” the woman asked, her fingers clutching the towel. “I don’t appreciate him on me as much as when he was in your hand.”
“Of course.” Tara got a hold of herself and reached slowly forward, cupping her hand over the mischievous animal, her calloused fingers against the woman’s bare skin. Gently, she curled her fingers close giving the frog time to shift into the open space inside her fist. A sharp inhale pulled Tara’s gaze to the woman’s. Her eyes were wide, her lips were parted and her breathing had become faster.
Slowly drawing her fist and the animal back, Tara said, “Um, I’ll just go and put him outside.” Once she had escaped and deposited the ungrateful frog into the foliage, Tara leaned back against the trunk Balgat Escort of a tree catching her own breath. Her heart rate had responded to what had been in the woman’s eyes and Tara knew it hadn’t been fear that time. She still had to change the light bulb, so giving herself a shake to shed the remains of the feelings, she went back inside.
The door to the stall the woman was using was closed and Tara could hear the rustle of clothes being pulled on and hair being toweled dry. Relieved that she was out of sight, Tara pulled the stepladder up to the sinks, retrieved the “special” screwdriver, drew out the new bulb from the package and went up the ladder. It seemed that one of the requirements for maintenance work was to be a contortionist. There was never a strait forward way to do anything. In no time at all she was standing with one foot on the top rung of the ladder, the other knee braced against the wall. One hand held one end of the light fixture in place while her shoulder propped the end she was currently trying to start the screw into with her fingers. Once it was threaded strait she removed the blasted screwdriver from her back pocket (where she’d probably forget it by the time she was done) and snugged it in before daring to take her shoulder out from under the fixture that she had just replaced the bulb in.
Shifting her weight and propping the other end of the fixture up with her head, she dropped her arms to give them a break. Why they still had the heavy glass fixtures in here she’d never understand. Once feeling returned to her fingers, she continued to put in the last couple screws. Lost in the gymnastics of her job, Tara didn’t hear the woman exit the shower stall and then failed to notice her standing by, watching. When she finished and turned to tromp down the ladder, she nearly lost her balance with surprise.
The woman was dressed, but barely, in low riding kackey shorts and a dark-brown bikini top. She was standing with her arms crossed under her breasts speculatively and one hip cocked out. This time there was no doubt in Tara’s mind that Bill had been correct on the trail. She was looking at Tara with unmasked interest.
“You have clever fingers,” the other woman said. “And underneath that T-shirt, genes, and boots your figure is both very female and very strong.”
“Um, thanks,” Tara said and climbed down the ladder a little less gracefully then she usually managed.
“My name’s Maddie, by the way,” the woman held out her hand toward Tara.
Tara tucked the screwdriver back into her back pocket and grasped the other girl’s hand. Maddie’s hand while strong was smooth to the touch. She doesn’t keep the weight off by lifting weights, Tara thought, must be a runner. “Tara,” she said as they shook. “You were out on the trail yesterday with your friend.”
“Yes,” Maddie smiled, “that was Amber. She doesn’t like hiking all that much but she still thought the park was beautiful.” Her eyes ran up and down Tara again in a way that had said it wasn’t only the scenery that had caught their attention.
“You guys aren’t planning on hiking any of the other trails in this humidity are you?” Tara asked trying her best to ignore the suggestive look in the other woman’s eyes.
Maddie laughed releasing the tension that had been building. “I can’t get Amber to move from our air conditioned camper even for a shower. There’s no way I’ll get to drag her out on a trail today.”
“Well, at least one of you two has some sense,” Tara teased lightly. Goodness, am I flirting? she thought.
There was an awkward pause where Maddie smiled encouragingly and shifted her weight closer. Tara averted her eyes. “Well, I need to get back to work,” she finally said. “Enjoy the rest of your stay.”
“Oh, we will,” Maddie called to her retreating back.
Felling like she’d just barely escaped being jumped by a woman; Tara tossed the stuff haphazardly into the maintenance room, locked it behind her and slid into the truck. With the doors locked and the engine started she let out a breath of relief. Her heart was pounding and the image of Maddie standing there looking her over with blatant appreciation in next-to-no-clothes was stuck clearly in her head. How long was she watching me? Tara thought. The mention of clever fingers came back to her memory and she glanced down at her hands on the steering wheel. Clever, huh? And for the first time the thought of finding out just how clever her fingers were crossed her mind. “What the hell am I thinking?” she said out loud and throwing the truck into reverse she turned around and sped from the shower building faster than the speed limit that they were supposed to stick to allowed. It wasn’t until then that she noticed the uncomfortable bulge digging into her buttocks. Blasted screwdriver.
Maggie jerked open the door to the camper and hopped in, slamming the flimsy structure behind her. Amber was sprawled on the bed in the back in her underwear, the AC blowing directly on her bare skin.
Dumping her shower stuff unceremoniously onto the small couch Maggie launched herself on top of the other girl.
Amber shrieked in surprise. “You’re still wet!” she accused trying to fend off the other woman’s mouth and hands.
“You have no idea,” Maggie groaned against her neck.
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