Evvie awoke to a sharp pain pounding in her temple just before dawn as a soft gray light began to penetrate the interior of her bedroom. Aidan continued to snore mildly into her ear as she blinked away the remnants of sleep. His arm was draped lazily over her and on most days she loved the warmth and reassurance of sleeping in his arms. It was their private cozy cocoon that protected her against the bitter cold of the outside world. This morning however, her desire to not disturb him made it a trap. Her head pounded behind her eyes with a dull pain that made her groan audibly. Aidan continued to snore uninterrupted beside her. The slight stink of his morning breath reached her nose and her stomach rolled sickeningly. She had to get up now.
She did her best to slide out from underneath his arm without disturbing him but as she rolled off of the double wide mattress the rigid metal springs squeaked and the bed bounced. As she shuffled quickly to the dark oaken washstand she could hear Aidan roll over and groan in the bed. She was able to get her mouth over the large cream ceramic wash basin just as her abs heaved evicting the sickly yellow mucus from her stomach. She gagged painfully in silence followed by an audible panting before her stomach muscles tightened once more. By the time her body was satisfied that her stomach was well and truly empty, the dull head ache had turned into a sever throbbing that punched the back of her eyes and thudded in her ears. Using an abandoned wash cloth she wiped her mouth clean as she hung over the bowl unwilling to make the effort to move even if it was to a more comfortable position.
Without opening his eyes or moving from the bed, Aidan lazily said in a thick gruffy voice, “You alright?”
Her legs under her began to shake and she twisted and slid down the front of the wash stand to crouch dejectedly on the floor. “I’m dying, I’m never drinking again.” Her eyes were closed and she leaned her head back against the cabinetry at her back. The silk of her blush colored short nightgown felt good against her skin and she concentrated on that fact in an attempt to distract herself from the pain in her head and abs.
A deep chuckle emanated from the bed causing her to open her eyes to glower at her husband. He had pulled himself up to lounge his back against the stunted rough wooden head board. The long locks of chestnut hair on the top of his head stuck out at all angles from his face. His lower lip glistened where he had just sucked on it and while he was not smiling his eyes twinkled with mirth. He had his arms draped casually over the bare skin of his stomach and the simple white quilt on their bed covered his legs to his waist. In response to her glare his eyebrows shot upwards with a smirk on his lips. “Hey, listen babe. I’m sorry you’re in pain, but liquor is our profession now.”
All she could do was sigh in response and close her eyes against the growing light in the room. The bedroom they shared was a simple square room of average size. A red brick fireplace protruded from the wall in the corner of the room on the other side of the bed and lay dormant during the sultry summer months. A thick layer of soot lined the interior of the fireplace which was desperately in need of a cleaning. A small closet stood next to the fireplace, the door to which constantly stood ajar. A simple oaken chest of drawers sat in the corner on the other side of the bed accompanied by the wash stand that she now crouched in front of. A low wooden headboard rimmed the head of the bed which was painted a faded white. The walls of the room were covered in newspaper which served as impromptu wallpaper. The black and white faces of stylish men and women stared out of the walls accompanied by the attention grabbing headlines that now represented fading memories of the past. The wooden floorboards were sanded smooth by years of feet and they creaked when walked on. White lace drapes hung over the two windows in the room which was able to partially obscure the contents of the room without keeping out the sunlight.
Evvie heard the mattress squeak as Aidan dismounted the bed to stoop next to her. She felt a warm hand graze the top of her face and slide down her cheek. It was a soft gesture that did not aggravate her pounding headache. Aidan’s voice was almost a whisper as he said, “I’ll get you some more water and get the coffee going. Take your time.” She gave him a small smile trying her best to not move any other part of her body. Aidan stood and she risked opening her eyes to look up at him. He stood over her for a second looking down at her in nothing but his striped underclothes before moving off to the closet to retrieve his dark blue bathrobe. He gave her a tight smile as he put on the clothing and walked out of the door.
As the door closed behind him she pushed her fingers into her hair and worked to control a slow rhythmic pace to her breathing. She stilled every muscle in her body and worked on willing her headache to subside. Today was going to be very important and she couldn’t let this hangover get in the way of that. The stills had been fermenting nicely and she would have to prepare for tonight. Tonight she was going to be making over 50 gallons of moonshine by the light of the full moon and the whooshing sound of her fires. Moonshining ran in her family and even though she was a girl she had learned the family recipe from her father. Moonshining was the only trade that her family had and her father had gone to jail multiple times for it. The illegal profession was profitable enough that they were able to save money for the lean times when he would assuredly return to prison, but each time he returned to the family house he could not resist returning to his old profession as well. He told her once that it took a special kind of person to tame the white lighting and like a good woman he could not help but to return to her. The last time he was arrested she could remember rushing to the kitchen with her mother and smashing the mason jars of moonshine into the fireplace to burn the evidence. It was too little, too late and they had taken her father away in shackles. Later that year, her father caught the death of chill from the cold recesses of a stone jail cell and died. Her mother followed him soon after, leaving her, only 17, to care for her 14 year old little brother, Charlie.
It did not take her long to take up the family business, but unlike her father she kept her fires small and hidden and only made enough to support her brother and herself in the house that she had inherited from her parents in the northern wilderness of the Cumberland Plateau. Beyond moonshine, Evvie was also an experienced jammer and she used the apple trees, blackberry bushes, and raspberry bushes that dotted her land to make a fine selection of jams and jellies. She sold both her jams and moonshine back to a family friend who sold her the mason jars to put them all in along with other groceries. It was through her family friend that she had met Aidan. While she was a moonshiner, Aidan was a bootlegger. It had turned out that Aidan was the one that distributed her moonshine around to the basement speakeasies and jazz halls that littered Kentucky. He had introduced her to the jazz lifestyle and she began to get drunk on more than just illegal liquor. Their romance had progressed so quickly and naturally without incident or fanfare that looking back on the events they seemed to resemble a few lines written in a much larger story.
As Evvie lingered on this thought, it struck her as odd and her heart thudded a bit louder in her head. Romance stories centered on falling in love. This was the exciting portion of the story, the aspect that people focused on. She knew that she felt a passionate love for Aidan. She would die for him, and yet when she thought about the beginning of their relationship, it seemed so… flat; matter of fact.
She couldn’t help but follow the train of thought even as her headache throbbed harder behind her eyes. She looked through her collection of memories trying to locate that moment. When had she realized that she loved Aidan? When was the first time that she had truly felt the heady feeling that she felt now with him? When was the first time he had made her tremble breathless in his arms? As she flipped through the pictures in her mind the aching throb pulsed in her head and she unconsciously shifted from memory to memory in time with it. Like the beat of some painfully recollected song, it kept time behind her eyes. She was now to her earliest memories of meeting him and still the relentless beat did not slacken. As she flipped past her very first memory of Aidan the throb became almost too much causing her sight to whiten behind her eyes. The pain was excruciating and she gasped as it threatened to overwhelm her, but just as quickly as the pain had come it dissipated and left her with a memory that she didn’t remember.
The morning breeze seemed to have abandoned her and left her in a steam pot as the afternoon sun boiled away the humidity in the air. The fabric of her dress was scratchy and she felt the moisture drip off of her and soak into the fabric where it could. The drums seemed to thump through her very soul. A score of people lay out in a pool of sweat before her rocking in time with the music. The rhythm was the only thing guiding their movements which were wild and uncoordinated. The women and men danced close together, grinding against each other’s dark semi-naked bodies. The sight was intensely arousing, and desire knotted her stomach and dripped down her leg.
There was someone near to her. Someone she had just met and yet she knew him more intimately than anyone she had ever known. His hand was sliding down her arm and she felt the closeness of him at her back. The drum beats were so loud and seemed to push her back into him and she grabbed at his thigh. She was swaying with him hypnotized by the beating of the music. It pounded in her eyes and head and chest. He turned her around and she looked into his hazel eyes. She knew those eyes. They never changed. His rough hands cupped her face and her breath came thick and fast with anticipation. She heard herself say, “This is inappropriate”
Worry creased his eyes and he said, “Do you want me to stop?”
Her heart was thudding so hard and the drums were so loud. She felt his hands on her cheek. It seemed that there were rules she was supposed to follow, but in this moment they did not matter. She was compelled to stay with him and she wanted nothing more than to remain in his hands forever. “Absolutely not…”
Evvie’s eyes shot open and she immediately slumped completely onto the smooth wooden floorboards and the debilitating pain shot through her body. She felt suddenly very dizzy and the world seemed to go out of focus. As the wooden ceiling went out of focus she closed her eyes against the spinning feeling. Her eyes were only closed for the briefest of moments but when she opened them again, Aidan’s face was the only thing that she could see. Sweat dripped from his face and his features was twisted with worry. Her body seemed to ache and the remnants of a headache still clung to the periphery of her consciousness. She licked her dry lips and attempted to clear her raw dry throat.
Aidan’s obviously worried voice penetrated her world, saying, “Evvie! Say something! Are you ok?”
She groaned in response and he immediately pulled her into his chest. Her cheek made contact with the smooth skin of his chest and it seemed to ground her. His chest moved with a nervous frantic chuckle and her confusion compelled her to ask through her dry voice, “What happened?”
“I came back and you were lying on the floor shaking uncontrollably. Your eyes had rolled back in your head and you would not respond to my voice… Don’t you ever scare me like that again.” She heard the fearful edge in his voice and she brought a hand up to caress his face.
She still felt weak, yet her headache seemed to be dissipating and clarity was returning to her including her new memory. It must have been something she dreamed the previous night that had just come back to her. Yet at the same time, it felt so… authentic. There was sharpness to memories that most dreams lacked in her opinion. This seemed like more memory than dream, yet how could it be. She had been in a place with a bunch of half-naked dancing negros and a man that looked like Aidan yet couldn’t possibly be him. The impossibility of it made her stuff it to the back of her head and after she swallowed against the dryness in her throat she said, “Aidan, I’m so thirsty I think I’m ready for that coffee.”
Obviously trying to get his own heart rate and breathing under control he gave a short amused snort. He then lifted her in his arms and began to walk out the room. Surprised that he was carrying her she said in a startled voice, “What are you doing?”
“Taking care of you of course. I have half a mind to call the doctor out here.” He said concern still lining his words.
She gave him a stubborn snort, “I’m fine, it’s just this blasted hangover, but I’m feeling much better. I just need to get some coffee in me. Put me down.”
“Now don’t be stubborn. I can carry you the 10 feet to the coffee easily enough. If you argue with me I will call the doctor.” he said with a lop-sided grin his dimples standing out on one of his scruffy unshaven cheeks. Her head and body hurt too much to argue with him so she just rested against him as they exited the room into the covered dog trot that ran the length of the house. The house that she had inherited from her mother was a simple mountain home. The house stood up a couple of feet from the ground on stacks of flagstone. An open breezeway that her mother referred to as a dog trot ran through the middle of the house ending in porches that ran perpendicular to the inner hallway. On one side of the dog trot there was a large kitchen and dining area with a large chimney. The other side of the house was divided into two rooms that shared a chimney in the inner corners. She and Aidan occupied the larger of the two rooms while her brother occupied the other.
Aidan kicked the door closed behind him but required her help to open the door to the kitchen/living area. He sat her down at the table and immediately retrieved the coffee which he poured into a tin mug. Beside the cup, he produced a tiny bowl of sugar, a glass bottle of milk, and a small tin flask. She eyed the flask, struggling with herself. Hair of the dog would help her recover quicker. She finally reached out and grasped the flask and twisted it open pouring the expensive Kentucky whiskey into her coffee. She also sweetened the coffee with sugar and milk before bringing the cup to her lips. The warm liquid warmed her throat and stomach and she couldn’t help a contented moan. Aidan joined her at the table sweetening his own coffee but declining to add the whiskey.
Aidan had been busy this morning. The cast iron stove had been filled and lit with thin slivers of wood taken from the stack near the chimney. He had used it to brew the coffee which now was placed on the table between them. He had been out to the springhouse and retrieved eggs, milk, blackberry jam and dried sausage and set them on the one kitchen counter that ran the entire length of one side of the room. The springhouse was a small building constructed over a natural spring located not far from the main house. Shelves and hooks within the small dark building housed all of their perishable foods. Evvie knew many people who were now beginning to buy electric refrigerators, but their little house was too far out into the wilderness to receive any electricity. Due to their illicit activities it was a concession they were willing to make.
As the caffeine and alcohol worked their way into her bloodstream she began to feel awake and the last lingering traces of pain fell away from her leaving a fuzzy warm feeling in its place. She and Aidan sat in silence as they sipped at their coffee. As she swallowed the last dregs of her first cup she stood up her bare feet scrapping across the worn floorboards. She stood behind Aidan and put her arms around him hugging him from behind. The silence was comfortable between them and she buried her face into the crook of his neck as he brought a hand up to stroke her arm. She closed her eyes and remembered the dream for a moment, remembering the feeling of her heart beating loudly in her chest and his hand on her arm just like now. Letting the memory grip her she felt desire swell inside her and she began to suck on his ear, which forced a surprised gasp from Aidan’s lips. She felt him tense under her and she swiveled to sit sideways in his lap as his hands gripped at her hips possessively. She could feel his immediate response to her touch but instead of kissing him deeply as he expected she cupped his scruffy cheeks in her hands and looked into his eyes. His downcast hazel eyes never changed.
Feeling her hesitate he overlaid one of his hands on hers and cocked his head to the side inquisitively. “Are you ok?”
She hesitated as she looked deeper into his eyes; those whirling blue-green eyes that never changed. “I…”
The door to the kitchen swung open before she could find the right words to say and they both turned their heads to watch her still sleepy brother, Charlie enter the room. He was a tall and lanky young man with Evvie’s nearly black hair and golden brown almond shaped eyes. Where Evvie’s nose was soft and delicate he had a sharp angular nose. He had a strong angular jaw line that looked odd on his very youthful features, but Evvie knew that as he matured it would become one of his most attractive ones. Although blemishes were smudged along his forehead and nose, his cheeks and chin were smooth and lacked any form of facial hair even though he never once went to the barber for a shave. He was wearing a blue robe like Aidan and shuffled into the kitchen seemingly still half asleep.
Aidan gave his brother-in-law a friendly smile and said, “Good Morning Charlie. I was beginning to worry that you were never going to wake up.”
Charlie looked up with a tight lipped grin but it quickly turned into a grimace, “Ah come on sis. Put some clothes on will ya?”
She looked down at herself, suddenly embarrassed. The silken blush nightdress she was wearing hung from thin straps on her shoulders and barely covered her knees. The top and bottom were lined with intricate lace and her nipples stood out in the thin fabric. Between her fainting spell and Aidan carrying her into the kitchen she had forgotten to put on her floral robe. Detangling her arms from Aidan she crossed her arms over her chest in an attempt to cover herself. Aidan pushed her to stand and with a kiss to her cheek he said, “I’ll go get your robe, if you get started on breakfast.”
Standing and turning her back on her little brother who began to make himself a cup of coffee she wondered over to the counter and began pulling out the necessary equipment for breakfast. She had begun to scramble some eggs when Aidan returned to the room. Walking up behind her, he held out the robe and she slipped her arms into the sleeves. She tied them as he bent to kiss her neck. As she continued to make breakfast, he spoke into her neck, “Are you nervous about tonight”
A slight smile ghosted across her lips that did not reach her eyes, “A little, I’ve never made a batch this big. A lot of money has gone into it. I hope I haven’t botched it in any way.”
He suckled on her neck slightly. Her earlier episode was seemingly forgotten, and his mood was excited and expectant. “I’m not worried. You’ll do a great job.” His hands gripped her hips and he nibbled on the back of her neck below her hair line. It sent a shiver up her back and she unconsciously bit on her lower lip with her front teeth and closed her eyes, her hands momentarily stilled in their task. She swiveled around to face him and put her arms around his neck and once again looked up into his eyes. He grinned at her and cocked his eyebrow at her playfully, but she became serious as she looked into his eyes. She felt an ominous feeling settle over her like a blanket, but she was unable to put the feelings into words so instead she said dumbly, “I hope you’re right.”ns 18.104.22.168da2