Caution: This Fantasy Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Magic, Fiction, Violent,
Desc: Fantasy Sex Story: Chapter 1 - John Salvatore was still recovering from the loss of his wife when six travelers came into his life, and forever changed it.
John Salvatore was standing in his bedroom, talking on the phone to his sister-in-law Lisa and looking out the window when it happened.
"The fifteenth?" he asked. "I think I can make that. I've been feeling a lot better lately, and..."
His voice cut off so abruptly that Lisa said "John! What's wrong?"
John swallowed hard, and said in a near-panic, "Lisa, either I've gone completely insane, or the SCA has discovered teleportation."
John had met Lisa at a Science Fiction convention, and they'd hit it off so well, she'd been almost apologetic when she told him she was gay. "But I've got a sister who would love to meet you," she'd said. And she'd been right. Beth had been eager to meet him, and she and John had hit it off even better than he and Lisa had. The great sex had been secondary to the intellectual kinship they'd felt.
Beth had been more interested in Tolkien and the 'High Fantasy' authors that followed in his footsteps than in the SF that John favored, and had been active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, which he considered rather silly, but those were minor differences compared to the love of knowledge and learning they'd shared. Beth had willingly admitted the differences between the actual Middle Ages and the playtime that she so enjoyed, and John had gone along cheerfully enough.
Lisa had been maid of honor at the wedding, which they'd held at one of the Society's dress balls, and the next five years of John's life had been beyond his wildest dreams. Then Beth had found the lump, and everything went downhill at an abysmal pace. It had been nearly a year, and neither John nor Lisa was quite the same.
Lisa's shocked silence finally gave way to a tentative question, "What do you mean?" she asked, as if she was afraid of the answer.
In tones that grew slowly calmer, John said, "I was looking out the window at the empty paddock, and a small band of horsemen and horses popped up out of nowhere. And I do mean nowhere. One second nothing, the next six mounted men, and three pack horses are standing in the ring, looking around as if they expect to be attacked. No aluminum dust in a spotlight, no shimmering cloud, no muss, no fuss. Just a simple jump-cut in reality."
Even as John's voice steadied, Lisa's grew shaky. "And what do you propose to do about it?" she asked in tones that showed she dreaded the answer she'd receive.
"Go down and talk to them, of course," John replied.
"I'll be right over. Don't do anything until I get there," Lisa said urgently, but it was too late. She heard the click of the receiver as John hung up, and she threw her own phone down as she rushed for her truck. It would only take five minutes to get over to John and Beth's house, but anything could happen in that much time.
John didn't bother picking up the pistol he kept handy for use on his walks in the hills. He didn't know how he knew, but he was certain that his visitors were neither peaceful, nor any threat to him. He'd never served in the military, but a lot of his friends had, and he knew a warrior when he saw one, even at a distance.
He approached slowly, hands visible but not spread, and smiled as he grew close enough to make out more details of his visitors. They were dressed in classic SCA fashion, with the oddly mixed garments typical of those whose idea of historical research was to look at what the folks at the nearest Renaissance Fair were wearing.
Three of the group were the tall, slender type and only the lack of pointed ears distinguished them from the elves of folklore. Two of the others looked like linebackers, with broad shoulders and quick eyes, watching constantly for the man with the ball. The last, who dismounted as John approached, was much older. Despite his age, he moved easily, and he raised his hand in greeting as John approached.
"Please forgive us our trespass," said the man, who wore a padded vest with an odd crest sewn into the middle of his chest. "We are travelers, on a difficult journey of great importance, and wish only to pass through your lands in peace."
John had reached the gate to the paddock, and flipped up the latch before pulling the gate open.
Nodding his head slightly to the man, John said, "Then don't let me delay you unduly. You may cross my lands in peace, but I fear that you will find others in the area much less open to strangers on horseback. And if the Sheriff finds you wandering around with swords and bows, he's likely to take offense."
One of the 'elves' spoke up, saying, "If we break no law, surely he will not hinder us?"
John realized suddenly that the 'man' who had spoken was actually a woman, as were the other two 'men' he'd thought of as elf-like. The way her hand rested on her sword suggested that she felt she could take care of any ill-mannered Sheriff if she had to.
Keeping his tone light, John told her, "I'm afraid that the local laws prohibit 'knives' beyond a certain length, and I'm sure the Sheriff would say your swords qualified as knives, and try to arrest you. I suspect you'd resist, fiercely, and that would be the end of any chance of passing unnoticed. If he was stupid about it, as I'm sure he would be, you'd be able to take him, but you wouldn't get far before the SWAT team settled in, and I doubt that your well-concealed armor is up to stopping an M-16 round."
Before either the leader or the lady warrior could speak further, one of the lookouts barked out a report in an unfamiliar language, and everyone tensed up, their hands moving to their weapons. John turned slowly in the direction the lookout had pointed, and saw Lisa's truck bouncing down the road that connected her half of the ranch to the one that Beth had inherited.
John spoke firmly, telling the leader, "There is no reason for alarm. That is my sister-in-law. I told her of your arrival, and the manner in which it was accomplished, and she informed me that she would be right over. Such arrivals happen only in fiction in this world, and she must fear that I have gone mad at last. It has been nearly a year since my late wife passed, and only lately has the burden of grief begun to lift from my mind."
All six members of the party touched their foreheads, lips, and chests, muttering as they did so, and the leader said, "Our sympathies for your loss, and our apologies for our reaction, and for attempting to conceal our nature. You say, 'this world, ' as if you know there are others, which I find surprising. We did not expect to be greeted at all, as we detected no use of magic in this world, and so we assumed it was uninhabited. To be greeted by one who is wise in the arts, but clearly does not practice them, is even more surprising."
The leader broke off as Lisa's truck skidded to a stop, and she jumped out and raced to the paddock, coming to a stop in front of John and the party's leader. Despite the fact that she'd driven from her house, instead of running, she was nearly out of breath.
John took advantage of her speechlessness, and spoke to the visitors. "You may call me John. My sister-in-law here is called Lisa. I do not know your ways, so you need not name your true names if that is against your custom."
Lisa was able to speak now, and said irritably, "I can speak for myself, brother-in-law." Turning to the man before them, she said, "OK, Gandalf, or whatever you call yourself, what are you doing on my brother's land, and how the hell did you get here without crossing mine?"
John and Beth's part of the ranch was up against the hills that surrounded the valley, with steep walls, far too steep to comfortably traverse on horseback, or on any vehicle. Lisa's land was much less sharply confined, and when John felt the need to hike, he had to start by crossing over to Lisa's side of the stream before he could do anything less than a class three climb.
"Gandalf's" eyes glazed for a moment, as if he was reading something only he could see, and a smile crossed his face. "Gandalf, is it? Fascinating. But it's fiction, not history? So you have no magic, but you dream of it. And your smiths are clever beyond belief, and can do much that we need magic for, and can even do things we have never dreamed of."
Lisa still looked irritated, but she couldn't resist asking, "What were you looking at? Some kind of invisible teleprompter?"
Again, Gandalf's eyes glazed, and then widened. His voice hoarse with surprise, he said, "Sight and sound across the countryside? Through the very air? Amazing."
John's memories of SF conventions included plenty of gaming, including the odd war game. Those memories, combined with a sudden memory of an L. Sprague DeCamp story Beth had introduced him to, led him to an 'aha' moment.
Smiling, he asked, "So your 'difficult journey' is a flanking maneuver against a strong opponent? Going to toss The One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom? Rescue the fair princess from durance vile? Assassinate the enemy's king? Beard the dragon in his lair?"
"Gandalf" looked startled, and his companions looked downright aghast. But none of them were fools, and almost immediately six poker faces denied him any confirmation as to which of his shots had hit home.
Lisa's tastes leaned towards the 'hard science' and space opera forms of SF, and she'd never read DeCamp, so she was slower on the uptake than John had been, but she was at least as bright as he was, and her eyes narrowed as she spoke. "So," she began, "you're from another universe, where magic works, and you're going to move around in this one to avoid a barrier back home. And you plan to return, so either magic works here, and we haven't figured it out, or you've got a way for a magician in your home universe to pull you back."
It was John's turn to browbeat their guests, and he picked a fresh angle of attack as he said, "I'm afraid you're woefully unprepared for the world you find yourselves in, even if you're experts at survival at home. You're going to need a native guide, which means you're going to have to convince me or someone like me to trust you and that your cause is worthy of assistance. And, you're going to have to figure out if you can trust me to help you, rather than betray you.
"I have to warn you that there are very very few people in this world that would believe your tale, and most of them are fools who are likely to fail you. They'll be honestly trying, understand, but they won't be any more able to get you through this than you are to do it yourselves."
Lisa glared at John and said, "Guides, not guide. You're not that much farther from being unable to be allowed to wander on your own than they are, and we'll need both big trailers to move all these horses, or whatever they are."
John blinked at that last comment, then looked more closely at the nearest mount, which happened to be the one ridden by the woman who'd asked about the Sheriff. Now that he looked closely, it didn't look like any horse he'd ever seen. The top of the head was wider, for one thing, and he jumped in surprise as he noticed the circles just in front of and below the ears, that looked for all the world like the antler scars of a deer.
Lisa was talking even as he stared, saying, "You're lucky your mounts dropped their antlers; we'd never have been able to avoid notice if they were still attached. As it is, we'll have to avoid real 'horse people' or we'll never get away with this."
John's eyes hardened as something occurred to him, and he said, "How hard will we need to hide? Are your enemies capable of making the same journey you are? Can they track you down if they do come here? Or are we merely avoiding notice by our own people?"
Lisa held up her hand, and said, "We're not going to settle this here. Let's get your mounts watered and fed, and we'll go into the house and thrash this out. Is it safe to assume you won't be attacked from home in the next little while?"
Still somewhat shocked, 'Gandalf' nodded, and said, "Only the strongest of our opponents is capable of what was done to send us here, and he dares not act alone. If he came, his empire would crumble behind him, and he has no one to send in his place. If he were in dire straits and trying to escape, he might try it, but now that we know how to do it, we can block any such attempt."
'Gandalf' looked at his fellows, and received reluctant nods from all of them, then said, "We will accept your offer. As you both point out, we are in a far stranger country than we expected, and are not nearly so well equipped to survive in it as we believed."
The rest of the party dismounted, and they led their mounts and pack horses into the barn. John had been hit hard by Beth's death, but he hadn't been so far gone that he hadn't been able to take care of his and Beth's horses, and he had plenty of hay and oats for his new nearly-equine guests. He had to rinse out the water troughs, but that only took a few moments, and soon all nine beasts were settled in.
John had an unused tack room with a hasp on it, so he had his guests put their saddles and packs in it, then closed it up, locked it, then showed 'Gandalf' how to unlock it before locking it back up and handing him the key.
John told him, "We don't get anyone out here that's not coming to see me, and they'd no more bother your things than fly to the moon, but there's no sense in letting anyone see anything odd if we can avoid it."
With Lisa leading the way, and John and 'Gandalf' following behind, they entered John's house and settled down in the living room, pausing on the porch to brush off the dust of Earth and whatever world they'd come from. Once his guests were seated, John went to the kitchen, returning with several pitchers and a set of glasses.
Pointing at one pitcher, John said, "This is called 'iced tea, ' and is a rather mild stimulant." Gesturing at the other, he continued, "And this yellow stuff is lemonade, which is a little sweet, and rather tart."
Most of the guests opted for the lemonade, but their leader decided to try the tea. "Very good," he said, then asked, "How do you keep it so cold?"
John smiled, "More of that clever smith-craft you spoke of. Just as evaporating water cools what is left behind, the refrigerator evaporates a liquid next to the food, cooling it, then compresses the resulting gas back to a liquid elsewhere, dumping the heat away from the cold box."
"Amazing" was the reply, before the leader took another long sip and sighed in pleasure, leaning back in his chair.
John sipped his own drink, a lemonade, before settling back and starting the negotiations.
"We need something to call you," he said, "but all my instincts say that it's best if your actual names are never spoken. Since 'Gandalf' is hardly inconspicuous, we'll call you 'Matthew.'" Gesturing to the two men, he continued, "If I was an idiot, that would make the two of you Mark and Luke to my John, but even if I was that stupid, Lisa isn't. So, instead you're Tom, and Andrew."
As if to head him off, Lisa spoke up, addressing the women. "I'm sure he's just being paranoid, but better paranoid than dead, so we'll play his little game. How do 'Sarah, ' 'Tina, ' and 'Connie' strike you? None of them translate into something unfortunate in your own language, do they?"
'Sarah, ' who'd been the only one other than 'Matthew' to speak so far, shook her head, and said, "No, none of those names is a problem. I rather like the name Sarah; it is similar to the name of my favorite flower." The others in the party all made sounds of agreement, accepting their new pseudonyms with good grace.
John finished his drink, and set his glass aside. "Now that that's settled, let's hit the high points of your problem. I assume that you need to move to a general area some distance from here, then pick a point that is 'out of the way' both in this world and in your home world. Is that accurate?"
Matthew nodded, and said, "Yes, quite correct. We actually have a considerable amount of flexibility, but the biggest problem is getting to our destination in time for the next transit. Our travel requires certain alignments to be in place, and the effect is that the gate opens and closes at irregular intervals. This opening lasts for another two weeks, then the gate closes for about a month, opening for a week before closing again for two months.
"We have nearly 1800 of your miles to travel, and barely seven weeks to do it in, which will tax our mounts severely. Our opponent will do a great deal of damage before we can get there, but there's nothing we can do but make our best effort. If we miss the opening, hundreds of thousands will die before the gates open again."
Lisa looked at John, who nodded, then asked "And if you get to your destination before the gates close this time? Will you be able to return immediately? And will that save lives?"
Matthew stared at her. Shaking his head, he said in disbelieving tones, "Eighteen hundred miles, in two weeks? We need live mounts at the end, you know. We have some considerable travel back in our home world after we return, and we can't do that on foot."
John replied for Lisa, "If we had enough drivers, we could do it in two days, driving straight through, assuming we can stay on the highways for most of the way, and we don't stop too often to eat. That's assuming your mounts don't mind the ride and don't need rest breaks. If I were transporting my own horses, I'd take at least a week. Figure a couple of days at this end to get ready, and one or two at the other to nail down a good departure point, and we can make it."
The woman who'd been given the name 'Tina' spoke up for the first time, "You say 'we'? Does that mean you intend to not only help us, but to join us on our journey? You would travel for a week at the word of strangers?" She clearly had trouble believing him. John wasn't sure, but there was something about the way she looked at Lisa, who was nodding in answer to her question, compared to the way she looked at him that made him wonder. But that was irrelevant, so he ignored it and merely answered the question.
"If you will accept my help, then yes, I will. And it's two weeks, one out, and one back, plus however many days it takes you to find your 'gate.' And anyone, even a stranger, who appears literally out of nowhere and speaks of hundreds of thousands of deaths has an unusually strong claim on my assistance."
John rose from his chair, and walked over to the bookshelf where he kept the coffee-table atlas. Carrying it to the table, he gestured Matthew to his side, and opened the book to the copy of the map of the Western United States that concentrated on the physical geography, rather than the political.
"Can you show me on this map approximately where you need to go?" he asked Matthew.
Matthew studied the map for a moment, then pointed to the approximate center of New Mexico. "Here," he said, "near the place marked 'Santa Fe.'"
John and Lisa exchanged glances, then Lisa spoke up. "I thought you said 1800 miles? It's barely fifty to Helena, and from there it's not much more than 1200 miles to Santa Fe. Call it twelve-fifty total."
Matthew shook his head, and said, "Yes, as the dragon flies, but the mountains between here and there are all but impassable. We'll have to circle around, at considerable cost in time. Even if we did try to climb them, our mounts could never maintain any kind of effort at that altitude."
John smiled, and asked, "But how much effort does it take a horse, or whatever it is you're riding, to stand still and let someone else do the work? And you've never seen what our highway engineers can do to a mountain that's in their way."
Lisa had walked over to John's computer while he and Matthew spoke, and had pulled up his trip planning program.
"The mapping program claims 17 hours driving, not counting gas, food, and potty breaks," Lisa told them. "If we plan an overnight rest stop near Cheyenne, we can make it down in two days without a lot of pain."
John nodded, "A bit aggressive, but I like it. So, figure three days browse for the livestock, four to be safe, and some trail rations for us, so we can keep driving through the daylight hours. Cooked meals will be tricky unless we rope someone in to pull a trailer; I think we can teach our guests enough about the local table manners to be able to eat in restaurants, but I don't like the exposure."
Lisa smiled, and said, "Granted that traveling with four hot chicks isn't a way to be inconspicuous, I don't think we have to worry about attracting too much attention, given the three hulking hunks that will be obviously standing guard over us."
The travelers all looked puzzled; apparently there were limits to their knowledge of English, or at least of American slang.
John smiled broadly for the first time in over a year, as he explained, "My ever-so-modest sister-in-law is pointing out that she, and you three ladies, qualify as very attractive by local standards. She tries to deflect comment about her immodesty by buttering me up, comparing my strength and attractiveness to that of your two male warriors."
Tina cocked an eyebrow, and asked, "'Male' warriors?" with an obvious emphasis on the first word.
John tilted his head slightly, and said, "I'm not sure what Connie's role is, but you and Sarah are clearly just as much warriors as Tom and Andrew are. Not quite the build for sword work, I'd say, so I'm guessing you're archers, or perhaps you're the scouting and infiltration team?"
Sarah's eyes widened, as Tina's narrowed. It was Tom who spoke, however, breaking his silence by saying, "They're both wicked with a rapier, but you're right that they'll never be good with a claymore. And they both move as silently as the elves of old when they want to."
John nodded, "I hope we don't end up needing any combat skills; there aren't any organized groups of bandits at large, and the individual ones tend to shy away from groups and public places, so as long as we're not stupid, we shouldn't need to worry while we're traveling. We may have a bit more trouble at the Santa Fe end if we need to find a specific place for you to make the jump back to your home world. I may need to get some local talent involved to avoid walking into a hot spot. But we'll worry about that when we're closer to the target."
Lisa spoke up, asking, "Are you hungry? It's about the tenth part of a day before sundown, and John and I usually have our evening meal soon. He's an excellent cook, but a good meal does take time to prepare. We can get started on those 'local table manners' lessons as well. Then after dinner, we'll start planning the trip in earnest."
Matthew collected votes from his people by eye, then nodded. "An excellent idea. We have trail rations, but they're not the most appetizing thing in the world, especially after the third week in a row eating them."
John threw together a quick stir-fry, light on the spices, after a brief discussion about the various cuisines his guests would encounter on their trip, and what their own tastes ran to. Everyone ate heartily, and complemented John on his skills. The mood was relaxed by the time the bowls were cleaned, and even Tina's initial distance from John seemed to have vanished.
After a quick lesson in automation (loading the dishwasher, then walking away from it), host, hostess, and guests returned to the living room and the planning for the journey they were about to undertake.
Lisa flipped through the address book she'd snagged from the other room, and announced that the ranch belonging to her good friend Michelle would make an excellent overnight camping stop on their journey. John smiled and nodded, "It will be good to see her again. Are you planning on dropping in unannounced? I'm sure she'll be glad to see us either way, even with the extra company."
Lisa was already flipping open her cell phone, and dialing the number from the book. She stuck her tongue out at John, then quickly pulled it back as her call went through.
"Michelle, dear, it's Lisa," she said into the phone, to the startled glances of the visitors. "I know it's short notice, but can John and I and a few friends borrow a corner of the back lot for an overnight camp-out? They've got some stock to deliver to Taos, and their regular transit company screwed them over, so John and I are going to help them out. We've got to nail down the delivery details, so I'm not sure which day it will be. All I can say is sometime in the next three to five days."
She listened quietly for a moment, then said, "No, I will not let you treat us to dinner. This is a business deal. If anything, we're treating you. We'll fight over the check on the return trip, if you like. I'll give you another call once the dates are nailed down."
Another brief pause, and she said, "OK, then, I'll talk to you soon. Thanks for the help. Yes, I'll tell him. Give Laura our love as well. Good-bye." She flipped the phone closed, and told John, "Michelle sends her love."
Connie was staring at the phone as she said, "What manner of magic is that? I couldn't detect a single spell, yet you clearly spoke to someone a great distance away. Are your spells that different from ours?"
Matthew shook his head, and said, "You were too busy looking for the sirnath that was not there to see the longson that was right in front of you. It was not magic at all, but a kind of tamed lightning, that carried Lisa's words to her distant friend. Their smiths are subtle indeed."
It was John and Lisa's turn to be puzzled by their visitors' slang expressions. After sharing a brief glance, they shrugged at each other, and returned to their planning.
John addressed the visiting ladies, saying, "The weather in the mountains being what it is, sweatshirts would be reasonable for you ladies, and even New Mexico won't be that hot this time of year. If you can stand the bagginess, you can use some of my sweatshirts, and I'll bet Lisa has some of Beth's old jeans stashed away that you can wear. Your boots aren't anything like current style, but that won't matter much as long as the rest of your outfit isn't outlandish."
Lisa took up the subject, addressing Mathew and the other two men. "As for you guys, we're going to have to go shopping. I can take measurements and pick some things up in town without drawing any attention to you. I don't suppose you've managed to magic up any local currency?"
Matthew shook his head, and said, "No, such things are rarely tried and never successful. We do have money, but I doubt it will trade here, except for its value as gold."
John tilted his head, and said, "Cashing out gold is going to be touchy without drawing attention, but I've got a friend in Helena that can help us out, I think. He'll have to ask questions, but he won't look too hard at the answers. You and I can handle that in the morning, then Lisa can do her shopping in the afternoon. I suspect we may have to buy large and tailor things down; your swordsmen are quite a bit broader in the shoulders than most men their height, at least in this country."
Lisa nodded, "Sounds good. I'll line up some extra oats and such for the trip down; their mounts seemed to like the taste fine. I think you and I should take a horse as well, in case we need to ride with our guests to the take-off point, so we'll need fodder for them both down and back."
John leaned back, and considered a moment before asking his next question. "How certain are you that you won't be followed?" he asked quietly. "We have no intention of broadcasting your presence, but can your path be traced? Can the one you fear learn of your plan, and seek you out?"
Their guests paled, and turned to Matthew, who said, "None but I knew the plan before we set out, and I told the rest of us only just before we jumped between worlds, within a shield that can not be penetrated. The enemy knows me, and if he sends out a seeking, he might be strong enough to detect me. Your instinct regarding names was fortunate; if my true name, or even my common one, has never ridden the winds of this world, it will be that much harder for his seeking to find me. Even if he does send a seeking, and it finds me, there is little he can do against us here."
John nodded, and changed the subject, describing his plan for transporting his guests and their mounts to Santa Fe, and the sights they'd no doubt see along the way. He and Lisa took turns describing the local customs and patterns of thought, hoping to avoid unpleasant incidents, especially if some red-neck idiot tried to 'pick up' one of the warriors.
It was Lisa who said, "Love between two women, and especially between two men, is not welcomed in this part of the country. It's a bit less extreme in the cities, but Tina and Sarah will need to hide their bond if we want to stay inconspicuous. You can be yourselves around Michelle and her wife, but in general, you'll have to keep a distance."
John was slightly surprised at that comment, but nodded in agreement, and the looks that Tina and Sarah gave each other proved that Lisa's guess had been correct.
Tina replied, "You are correct about us. Our bond began as a simple warrior's oath, such as the one that Tom and Andrew share, but I grew to love Sarah as well, and she learned to return that love. I suspect she would still accept the love of a man, if we were not a couple, but the question has never come up."
Lisa nodded, "I know what you mean. I had a girlfriend once with the same tastes; if we'd ever really jelled, she'd have given up men, but as it was, she played both sides. We grew apart eventually, and she ended up married to a man, and I was happy for her."
The conversation turned to other matters, and continued until Connie glanced out the window and exclaimed, "It's dark outside!"
John glanced at the clock, and said, "Yes, it still gets dark pretty early this time of year, especially this close to the mountains."
Tom smiled as he said, "We rarely spend time with wizards, and no one else is so casual in their use of lighting spells. Any inn, or home, or manor we'd be likely to be in would be candle-lit by now, and everyone would be preparing for bed."
John said, "Well, if you're all tired, we can figure out the sleeping arrangements. I've got three bedrooms here at the house, and Lisa's got two at her house, so if you're not afraid to split up, you can all have a nice comfy bed tonight, with no crowding or bed bugs to worry about.
Connie looked a bit nervous, avoiding John's and Lisa's eyes, but she didn't say anything. Andrew broke his silence to address Lisa, saying, "I judge by your previous comments that you find the company of men quite acceptable, as long as they realize their welcome does not extend to your bedchamber. On that basis, may I impose upon your hospitality this evening?"
Lisa's eyebrow rose slightly, but she simply said, "It would be a pleasure to provide shelter to such a well-mannered gentleman."
Andrew nodded, thanking her, and Tina spoke up next. "If perchance one of those rooms has a bed large enough for two, Sarah and I would be glad to share it."
John waved a hand, and said, "There's a room here with a bed large enough to comfortably hold two persons, even if they aren't fond of each other. I think you'll find it to your liking. I'm afraid you might find the beds at Lisa's house a bit too small, no matter how closely you like to cuddle up."
Tom glanced quickly at Connie, then said to Lisa, "I'm not nearly so eloquent as Andrew, but I know my place quite nicely. Would you mind if I took the other room at your house?"
When Lisa nodded, John turned to Connie and Matthew and said, "The bedroom the ladies will share is on the top floor, so we can put Connie in the other room up there, if she doesn't mind, while Matthew can use the other bedroom on the second floor. There's a bathroom in the master suite, and a separate full bath on the second floor, with a half-bath with a shower on the top floor that's shared by the two bedrooms."
Lisa said, "If you gentlemen will excuse us, I'm going to take the ladies upstairs and show them the finer points of the local plumbing process. I'm sure you've got something perfectly civilized back home, but our plumbing is quite nice as well."
As the ladies trooped off, John showed the men the downstairs bath, taking nearly thirty seconds to hit the high points. He left the three of them to settle priority, and returned to the living room. The three men finished their business quickly and returned to the living room one at a time. The four men had been talking for quite a while before the four women came back downstairs, chatting happily. Connie's nervousness was completely gone, and she no longer seemed to shy away from Lisa.
John and Lisa and their guests adjourned to the barn to feed and water their respective mounts, and John took advantage of a distraction to ask Lisa what she'd done to calm Connie down.
Lisa replied, "She's not homophobic, exactly, but she's not comfortable with female attention, and I was looking at her a bit too often for her peace of mind. Tina called her on it once we were beyond male hearing, and we soon had it settled."
John shook his head. "And the thought of how tasty she looks never entered your head," he teased.
Lisa smirked, and replied, "She's not really to my taste. If Tina wasn't married, though..."
They shifted their conversation smoothly to the subject of packing the trailers for the trip as they moved back towards their guests, and finished tending to the animals, both John's and his guests'. Once all the animals were properly settled down, Lisa took the men off in her truck, sticking her tongue out when John warned her to drive a bit more calmly on the way home than she'd done when she came over.
John and his remaining guests exchanged good-nights, and he went off to bed, where he slept soundly for the first time in many, many months.