Annie stared at the leaden sky as the scent of manure filled the air around her. “Goddamn cows,” she muttered, but she didn’t move. She couldn’t. Her gaze kept wandering to the mural on the side of the old, crumbling castle.
It was of her. Of them. Annie and Siobhan. The photo had been taken a few years ago after a gallery show featuring Siobhan’s work. The turnout had been dismal, the sales worse, and Siobhan was despondent. Seeking solace, Siobhan had slipped behind Annie and rested her forehead on Annie’s shoulder. Annie treasured the photo a friend took of that moment.
That night, Siobhan had the wild idea to move back to her homeland. Annie would have done anything to put a smile on Siobhan’s face again, so she agreed.
The problem with being in a relationship with a half-Irish artist was that her dreams were wild and huge, practicality falling by the wayside in favor of enthusiasm and zeal for adventure. Now Annie lay in a pasture covered in a shit as a cow nudged her hand with a damp nose as if wondering why she was lying there.
“Well, Angelica,” Annie said to the cow as she rolled out of the muck and onto soft green grass before standing, “I followed a beautiful woman to Ireland so she could find her inspiration again, let her talk me into becoming a caretaker for a farm that includes a fifteenth century castle, and now she’s in her studio painting while I take care of you.”
Angelica’s placid brown eyes looked up at Annie as she lowered her head to the ground and began to eat again. “And that’s all the thanks I get!” Annie shouted.
Stomping in Wellies on soft, rain-soaked ground was near-impossible, but Annie did her best as she returned to the farm house. As she approached, Siobhan burst out the door wearing nothing but a thick white sweater and green Wellies on her feet. “Did you see it? Do you love it?”
Annie blinked at her lover. “See what?”
Siobhan ‘s gaze turned crestfallen. “The mural.”
“Yeah. I was so busy staring at it I tripped and ended up flat on my back in a pile of cow shit.” Annie’s voice softened as she saw the glisten of tears in Siobhan’s eyes. “It is beautiful though. That’s my favorite picture of us.”
Siobhan’s voice was soft as she walked closer, gripping Annie’s thick, sensible work coat. “I wanted to thank you for following my wild dream to come here. It worked. I’ve been painting like mad. I found my muse again.”
Annie softened. “I’m glad. I do love you, you know. It’s just taking me a while to adjust.”
Siobhan pressed their foreheads together. “I love you, aghrá.”
She didn’t speak Irish often, but when she did it made Annie melt. Her fingertips brushed across Siobhan’s bare thighs, pebbled with goosebumps from the cool air. “Come inside, my love. We could both stand a hot bath.”
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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!