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Introduction:

Ben and Jean have recognized, accepted and indulged their love for each other. We pick up their story about two weeks after Ben arrived at Jean's. This chapter was long enough and does not contain any sexual encounters but is part of the storyline.
Chapter 7
The Cottage

It had been a couple of weeks since Ben arrived and once again he awoke with a start from another bad dream relating to events about his family. Breathing rather heavy he sat up and swung his feet off the bed to the floor. He bent over and ran through a deep breathing exercise to calm it and help clear his mind. He had dreamed like this five nights since coming here and wondered why. 'Guilt or anguish?' he thought to himself. He sat up from his bent over position and looked around noting the ultra-dim floor lighting was on.

Figuring Jean had gotten up, he saw her dimly silhouetted figure standing by the window looking out over the back yard and down at the pool. He thought that she might be thinking of their first time together that first night he arrived or maybe any of the several other times since. He smiled at his own recollections of their lovemaking as well as their outright fuck sessions in and out of the pool and every room in the house on any surface they could find suitable.

Ben stood and walked up behind her gently putting his hands on her shoulders giving a soft squeeze. She didn’t start or jump. She reached up and placed her right hand over his left one and squeezed back. She leaned back against him and a little sigh escaped past her lips. He enveloped her in his arms and without words just stood there looking through the window for several minutes just holding her.

Jean felt so safe and comfortable in his arms that she thought for a moment she could always feel this way. The thought he was still her nephew flashed by her mind’s eye again. She paid no mind to it any more. She felt so much peace and contentment with him that the social barrier meant nothing. At least it didn’t when he was near. Her thoughts wandered to her future and wondered how long he would be a part of it. Frowning to herself that she now had to consider other parts of her life and her age with him in it would be difficult. That fact that she now knew Ben loved her intimately and completely didn’t help the fact the outside world would resist to 'n'th degree or fail to prevent her from getting older. She didn’t know how to handle that with the fact that she herself was in love with him.

"Penny for your thoughts. Accounting for inflation." Ben said softly. She smiled and moved to turn around in his arms. He released her shoulders and came face to face with this most exquisite woman. Her eyes glimmered in the dim glow of the indirect lighting. Then he noticed a shiny streak form on her cheek below her left eye. It lengthened into a shimmering line that reached to the corner of her mouth while another began from her right. His face turned to a concerned look and she wouldn’t be able to avoid explaining the tears.

"What’s the tears for Hon?" he said softly. Her face turned to anguish as she buried her face into his chest and let loose the torrent. He just stood there holding her, giving her the time she needed to get it out of her system as her tears fell and ran down his skin. A minute or so later, she settled and tried to wipe the tears away with her hands. He guided her to the bed and sat her down on the edge. Turning, he reached for a tissue box and gave her a couple of sheets.

"Thank you." Jean said and sniffled. Ben patiently waited for her to finish calming before attempting to ask again what was bothering her so. When she felt sufficiently collected, she paused now to collect her thoughts. Ben had knelt down in front of her on the rug the bed sat on and placed his hands on her thighs just above her knee’s. He hoped the gesture was conveying understanding and concern and not sexual in nature. She looked into his eyes and saw not fear but felt genuine concern for her. She made a feeble attempt to smile and placed a hand on one of his.

"I appreciate the comfort. I think I have demons of my own I have to face." She admitted. Ben wasn’t quite sure how to interpret this information. She recognized the slight confusion in his expression. She nodded and smiled. "It's pretty early for breakfast but I don’t think either of us will be able to go back to sleep." She said. Ben nodded in agreement.

"So let’s eat anyway. It’s only 4:30." He said. She nodded, stood and took his hand to lift him up to follow her. Without a word, she led the way to the door holding his hand as he trailed behind. As they went through the hall, floor lights automatically illuminated the way. When they reached the rear stairs, they were bathed in the dim glow of theater-like lights guiding them down the steps to the kitchen. When Jean turned the corner into the kitchen, the light over the stove lit on low and the pendant lamps over the center island glowed then slowly brightened a little so as to not cause blindness.

"Still gets me on how much technology you have in this place considering how much you hated your computer." Ben mused out loud. Jean looked back and smiled.

"It wasn't easy to get the lights to work like this." she said in her warm southern drawl. "Once the technician taught me how to program them for night time use, it was a lot of trial and error to get the brightness and the automatic dimmer to work the way I wanted." She said. She reached the refrigerator and opened the door. The kitchen was suddenly flooded with harsh bright light and Ben squinted hard against it.

"Too bad the fridge doesn’t have the same feature." he said. Jean turned to look at him squinting and trying to look disgusted. She looked rather amusing instead and Ben chuckled shaking his head. She stuck her tongue out at him and turned back to the contents of the refrigerator for the ingredients to make an omelet with.

"Well Mr. Tech-Man," she started, "maybe you can find a way to make it work like that." She put the stuff on the counter then reached under a cabinet to retrieve a large 14" iron skillet.

"That's easy. All that needs to be done is to wire the lamp inside the fridge to the same circuit the pendants or other lights on the dimmer are connected to." Ben said with a bit of sarcasm.

Jean smirked. "Okay smartypants. You've got yourself a job!" She said putting her hands on her hips trying to look impatient. All Ben could do was smile at her and shake his head again in wonderment. Even trying to look annoyed she was beautiful.

"That'll be fine." He said. "All I ask for is a room, board and you." He said moving to her and placing his hands on her waist. He leaned in and kissed her warmly and she returned it. She pushed him away suddenly but not harshly and began to make the omelets.

"Anything you want to drink? Coffee, tea, me perhaps?" he said giving her a half smirk. She looked up and laughed a little.

"I bet you’ve always wanted to say that." She said.

"Never had the opportunity until now." He said.

She giggled at that. "Well, I'd like coffee with crum. I mean cream." she corrected herself shaking her head.

"Crum?" he puzzled. Understanding what she was going to say and what she was thinking hit him just then and he laughed. "I don’t think cum and coffee mix very well." He said as he filled the reservoir in the coffee maker.

"Hmmm." She mused then looked pointedly down at his crotch. "You taste good and I like coffee so…" she trailed off and smirked at him. She watched as his eyebrows shot upward in a picture-perfect surprised expression complete with open mouth. Just as he was about to drop his shorts, she stopped him with a wave of her hand.

"Still, I think I could use that later for something else like a strudel instead." She said.

He adjusted his shorts. "My, my. Aren’t we the creative kind of slut this morning." She licked her lips in an exaggerated way then smacked them and letting a satisfied "Ah!" slip past her lips. He wanted in the worst way to pinch her bottom through that silken night gown for being so erotically lewd but that hot cast iron pan kept him at bay. Breakfast went on with continued lewdness and acts of raunchy behavior.

________________
After eating he refilled their coffee cups and sat down. She had that distracted look about her again and so he asked her about it.

"I'm worried about us." She said.

"What about us worry's you exactly?" Ben asked, unsure of where she was heading.

"It's not us really." She replied. Now he was confused. Officially. He waited for her to continue. "I mean it has to do with us but not directly."

Ben was lost in the maze of female reason now and all he could do was wait her out. Eventually she got to her point when she noticed he wasn’t going to pursue her arguments.

"What I'm trying to say is that we are fine. It's everyone else that's the problem.” She finally said slightly exasperated. He still didn't respond. "Ben, you being here has been wonderful. You've been wonderful to me and treated me like a queen. I have never felt so loved, respected and satisfied in my life. Ever! But everyone else will talk."

Ben was beginning to see what she was trying to say without saying it. "So what you're really worried about is others finding out we're related and that will cause problems in the future for us." He said. She gave him a relieved look that he grasped the problem so completely and nodded.

"I don't know what to do. I don't want to move somewhere else and start over but I can't stay here if we're to be together." She said putting a hand to her temple. "I find I haven't been able to think very clearly since you arrived. My thoughts since that first night have focused on pleasure, fun and general naughtiness not to mention my insatiable lust you've no doubt become the willing victim of." She looked up to him sitting next to her searching his face and eyes for anything that might indicate some emotional distress.

He didn’t show any expression but concern. The compassion in his voice spoke volumes. "So you are in a quandary about our reputations and you want something done about it? Is that it?" he said.

“Well.” She paused trying to think then raised her hands palms up in resignation. “I guess I'm asking for the impossible aren't I?” she asked finally. Ben nodded his head slowly affirming her fear.

"How many of our relatives are still in the area?" Ben asked then took a sip of his coffee.

"None here in town but I have two cousins in Atlanta, two or three down in Columbus and one in Montgomery. The older members of the family moved to Virginia and Louisiana. I don't remember if I told any of my friends much about you over the years. Certainly not since that Christmas or when grandma passed away. Come to think of it, I don't have any pictures out in view of you since you were little." She was beginning to look hopeful.

Ben looked at the table thoughtfully for a minute. "Well, we can't fix the world right now and maybe things can turn over in our favor. I do recall however, you mentioned last week you've got to look in on the cabin down by the creek this weekend. What do you say we get a move on and think on this later?" He said. She looked brighter at the mention of the trip to the cabin.

"That's right! And I still owe you a tour of the house too!" She said then blushed as she thought a moment. "Well, on second thought," she paused and reached for his hand. "I think I’ve shown you every nook and closet of this place." He looked up and saw her blushing as she bit her bottom lip. Indeed they had seen every nook and closet. Vertically, horizontally, upside-down, sideways, jiggly and bouncy on nearly every surface and with all sorts of noises from grunts to screams of pleasure.

"I think we took the scenic route." He said grinning. "Besides, now we have a chance to break in the love shack." He said and winked at her. She looked down then dropped her head a little and looked up at him through her lashes and smiled a little wicked smile. He loved it when she did that. It made her look sexy and mischievous at the same time sometimes. This was one of those times.

"It'll be a hot one today honey. Let's get packed and enjoy the day there." He said and kissed her. Their lips meeting and massaging the other. She pulled back and her eyes sparkled. He stood and held out a hand to her. She took it and rose from her chair and headed for the rear stairs.

"Leave the dishes." She said over her shoulder. "It's Friday and Petra comes today to clean." He took a last gulp of coffee and followed her up the stairs to get ready.

"Does she know about me?" Ben asked.

"Yes, of course. She thinks you're my boyfriend." She said. Ben missed a step and stumbled but didn't fall. He looked up to see her beautiful hypnotic hips sway as her bottom did its little dance without so much as a look back at him.

Jean went into her bedroom while Ben to his. Both cleaned up and did their morning rituals with a quick shower and dressed. She dressed in khaki shorts a tank top and short sleeve safari-like shirt with grey socks with red trim and trail boots. Ben dressed in Cargo shorts a t-shirt and a tan short sleeve collared shirt with white socks and his favorite Wolverine boots.

Ben was finished packing first and carried his stuff to set on the floor next to the big sliding glass door just off the kitchen. While he waited for Jean, he poured himself a glass of juice to take his vitamins and meds with. Just as he was opening the bottle, Jean rounded the corner with some of her stuff into the kitchen. She stopped suddenly when she spotted the familiar orange color of a prescription bottle. Then she looked up at him with concern almost to the point of alarm.

"What's wrong? Why do you have that prescription bottle? Are you ill? Are you okay? Don't just stand there, tell me!" she said dropping her stuff and hurrying over to him as her voice rose in pitch. He wanted to answer but had to wait for her to stop asking questions. She put her hands on her hips and gave him that look she gave when in her criticizing mode.

Ben raised his index finger indicating he was about to explain an important point. "First, I'm borderline type two diabetic. Second, these are the meds I have to take to help me with it. No, I'm not ill. Yes, I'm okay." He said then looked at her for her reaction. She relaxed then hugged him tightly.

"I'm sorry. I saw the bottle and panicked. Forgive me?" she asked in her tiny voice and looked at him with those beautiful green eyes. He nodded as if hypnotized. He didn't think he could ever deny her anything when she looked at him that way. Her eyes were his Achilles heel. When she turned to the sink then, he felt the spell break and somewhat dazed and remembered he was about to take his meds.

That action completed, Jean and Ben headed out the back door and toward the barn. The sky was beginning to lighten up some as sunrise was about an hour away. The path wasn't very visible through the trees without a flashlight. Jean led the way and in a few minutes arrived at its door.

A whinny was heard from around the other side of the barn and a horse wandered into view.

"Hello Gypsy!" Jean greeted the animal with warmth and love. Ben reached over and let the horse sniff his hand then pulled the other out and gave her a half an apple. Gypsy took the apple and munched on it then nuzzled her nose at him for more when she finished. He gave her the other half from his other hand now and she took it without being greedy about it this time. She grunted and snorted a little. He reached up to pet her nose then her blaze and finally he was smoothing her neck with long gentle strokes of his hand.

Jean shook her head. "It still beats me how you two made friends so fast. She never gets friendly easily. She isn't friendly on most visits by strangers come to think of it."

"I gave her what she wanted and now we're friends. If she doesn't make friends, she must have been abused.” Ben said.

"Yeah. She's a rescue case. I couldn't let the hospital put her down just because she was onerous. She just needed love and attention and a field she could roam in all to herself." She said.

Ben looked at the animal. Gypsy's coat shined in the dim light. She looked taken care of and loved. "She seems happy here. Mind if I ask how much land you devoted to her?"

"About nine acres. Three quarter's pasture and the rest is wooded over there." She said pointing around the barn. "She likes the woods and prefers it to her stall. She can get to her stall anytime from the field but she never uses it. I usually find her in the woods. When it's time for a bath, she’ll come in the barn now but she doesn't like it much. I think that's where she had been mistreated in her old place." Jean explained. She turned to the small door in the side of the barn and went inside and Ben followed. Gypsy wandered over to the opening to her stall and looked in to see what the two were up to through the opening but didn’t enter. When the lights came on Gypsy turned and sauntered off.

Ben looked around after the lights came on and saw the inside of a barn. Inside was a garage, a built-in storage room and four stalls. Not a large barn but the garage held his interest the most. He walked up to a large all-terrain vehicle that looked more like an old dune racer than an ATV. It had a yellow tube frame and chassis with a raked back windshield in front and a spare tire and rack bolted at an angle behind the cockpit. The body panels were basically non-existent save for the doors, belly or floor pan, hood and roof. They were painted white with a large wedge shape painted flat black on the hood to control glare. The vehicle looked as if it was supposed to ride low like a race car but rode higher for ground clearance. Not quite as tall as his Jeep but with a wide stance like this, it would be a bit more difficult to roll over at most any speed.

He inspected the long-arm type front suspension and snapped his fingers realizing it must have been an old Baja racer! He imagined that maybe this one raced in a Baja 500 or even the 1000 in its prime. He looked under the front end and found the skid plates were missing and could see the steering gear and the meaty front differential mounted to the chassis with its solid steel drive axle shafts. It connected to the wheels via long axle shafts with double U-joints like the rear one on old Corvettes had. He tried to see where the drive shaft that transferred power from the transfer case but it was too dark see make out anything.

He stood up and opened the driver's door. The cockpit had all the gauges where they should be and a bank of toggle switches in the center of the dash panel. He assumed most were for the lights mounted all over it. He noticed the high-mounted ignition switch and looked at it curiously. It only had two positions. OFF and ON. Scratching his head Ben then looked at the rear of the vehicle. It was wider than his Jeep but the tires made it even more wide. He looked at the cover panel that covered the engine and thought it looked a bit odd. Just as he was about to lean down and look underneath it, Jean came over and hoisted two packs onto the roof rack and tied them down. He took his cue and did the same with his packs and duffle bag.

He was about to ask about the ATV when she turned around and went into the storage closet. He waited and a minute later she came out with two boxes of "410" shells and two shotguns. She tossed a box to him as he stared with surprise at her. She simply smiled.

"Here's yours. Know anything about guns?" she asked as she handed it over. He took it without hesitation and laying the box of shells down in the driver's seat, started looking it over.

"Hmmm. Mossberg 500 if I'm not mistaken. This one must be their classic model with a 24" barrel and a four shell mag. Nice." He said.

"I'm impressed. Here, take a look at mine." She said handing hers over. He handed her his shotgun back and she went over the passenger's side of the old racer.

"Hmmm. Newer design. The stock looks shorter. The barrel is shorter too but I don't recognize it. What make is it?" he asked looking over to her. She fitted his to a rack on the passenger side of the ATV and came back around to him.

"It's a Mossberg 500 also but it's their Bantam model. Synthetic stock and custom nineteen inch barrel I had a local shop work up for me to save weight and give me a wider spread. Makes it a little easier to hit a moving target. It's got a four plus one mag setup. Bugger weighs just shy of six pounds where the standard Bantam weighs six and a half." She said then added. "Yours weighs six and three quarter pounds and is already loaded by the way." She inserted cartridges into hers then fastened it to the rack on the driver's side. She put his box of shells in his large pack for safe keeping and came around the vehicle to fill the canteens.

"So we is goin' huntin' varments Missy?" Ben said in his best hill-billy accent. Jean looked at him with amusement. He grew up in Colorado and didn’t have a lick of southern upbringing even though he was born in Alabama.

"Shor thing Bubba. We's huntin' fer possum, 'coon and a rattler for dessert!" she chortled back. She grew up in the South and she sounded the part. He gave her a sour look.

"So what are we doing with the four-tens anyway?" he asked. Jean was filling two canteens at the pump-sink.

"Just for what I said. We might run into a rattler or a copperhead but the possum and raccoon's usually scurry off unless they're rabid." She said matter-of-factly. Ben thought about it for a moment and realized the old racer could really get around her land pretty quick as much land as she had and could get into places where the wildlife was more populous.

"So it's more for personal protection. I get it. Thanks for the warning." Ben said as he approached her. She looked over and smiled then handed him a full canteen.

"Keep this with you. There's a strap on the front edge of your seat. You can put it there." She said.

"Are we going on a short trip to the cabin or on an expedition?" he said chuckling. "Seems like a lot of stuff for an overnight stay."

Jean came up to the old racer with her canteen and started strapping it into a holder on the front face of the driver’s seat at the floor. "I was prepared to stay for a three day weekend!" she said looking at him slyly.

He got in the passenger's side and fastened the harness. She got in the driver's seat and did the same. She punched a button on her keychain and the garage door started rolling up. She inserted the key into the ignition and turned it to the ON position. When the door was fully open, he expected her to punch the starter button and fire up the engine. He was surprised that she simply eased it out of the barn's garage with only a low whine.

"Electric motor?" He said brows raised. "Wow! I've never seen an electric ATV this large but I've heard about them out in California.”

She smiled. "This one is a conversion. It's really an old Baja dune racer."

"Aha! I knew it!" he exclaimed. "Didn't the kits you used to be able to order have those old souped up VW bug engines like the Baja bugs had?" he asked. She nodded as they rolled out into the open air. Ben continued, "I remember those. But the suspension looks more at home out on the western terrain at speed instead of here in the hills. She looks too big to go trail riding."

"He." She said emphasizing the masculine then continued. "Yep. The gal I bought it from moved here from Arizona. She said she couldn't afford to keep it since the parts are a lot more expensive here and didn't want the hassle of shipping it back to anyone wanting it. I told her I wanted it for the 'awesome' factor!" she said growling the last. "I even got it street legal so I can drive it anywhere I want."

Jean pressed the button on the keychain again and the door started rolling down. She flipped on the lights and the area ahead of them seemed to ignite even with the lightening sky. Jean gunned it and they took off toward a narrow opening in the fence at the far end of the field at break-neck speed. When they reached the gate and stopped, she reached down and handed a key to Ben.

"Would you please do the honors?" she asked in her sweetest voice. He had a big grin on his face as her race across the field reminded him of his last ride in her old Porsche 914.

Ben undid his harness and climbed out to unlock and open the gate. Once Jean moved through the gate, he closed and locked it again then climbed back into vintage racer and buckled up. Jean headed into the woods at a brisk pace.

"So does 'he' have a name?" Ben asked as they practically ran silently through the woods. The only noise they made were the whine of the electric motor and the crunching of the forest floor debris. It was the strangest sensation.

"Yes. His name is Puma." She replied. He looked at her, then forward then back at her as a double-take. She looked at him and grinned, amused at his expressions.

"Okay. Why?" he said.

" 'Cause he's big, he's fast and goes anywhere I want him to nearly silent like a Puma. Truth be told, he scared the hell out the little kids at the day care when I drove by because he's so quiet. They would see the big cat paintwork on the panels and run screaming to their caregivers. I took the panther images off and repainted the panels so it wouldn't scare them. It would be a might easier to locate in the woods from the air." She said. "Just in case." She followed up.

"Makes sense I guess." He said.

He could make out the off road trail fairly easily now. She must have taken this route many times as the route seemed well marked. With all the turns she had made, his sense of direction was confused thoroughly. He tried to keep track but wasn't able to at all.

He made out the outline of a structure in the distance. They were approaching it rapidly then Jean came to a sliding halt in front of the building. A small dust cloud was kicked up and began to overtake the air space they were breathing. The lights were blazing against the side of the building and reflecting off the dust and dirt particles giving the impression the building was under attack by energy beams. Ben recognized it as a tobacco drying barn like the ones he'd seen throughout the Carolina's. He looked to her for her explanation.

“It’s a tobacco barn. They dried the leaves in there on beams after harvesting. A few windows and shutters controlled the heat and humidity during the drying process. Got damn hot in there from what I’ve read about them.” She explained. Another minute of looking at the building then she slowly drove past it. Ben grabbed the spot light hanging in a holder in front of him and switched it on pointing the beam at the barn. He could see it was about to collapse which was probably why she didn’t offer him a look inside. She accelerated a little bit and he switched off the spot light.

The trail led them to another building. This one was obviously an old log cabin. The roof had caved in and the walls were leaning to one side. Jean slowed so Ben could shine the spot on it to get a better look.

“Anybody’s place we know?” Ben asked. Jean shook her head.

“It might have been a relative’s but nobody is certain. I haven’t found any record of a house in this area. Early homesteaders would be spread out at random as land claims were made. For all we know our relatives kicked out the original occupants after purchasing it. Without land claims or deeds on file, it was quite easy to lose your home and land in those days.” Jean accelerated again and slowing occasionally to get a look at more structures on the way down to the cabin.

The ground leveled out quite a bit and they broke out of the woods into a clearing and sunshine. Jean reached over and shut off the lights then. The field looked like a meadow complete with flowers, prairie grasses and a little cabin on a creek in the distance. Jean took a hard left and followed the tree line around the field. He followed the trees and discovered they rounded back to the cabin. He watched the cabin as it grew larger and noticed it wasn't a cabin at all. It was a cottage. He was a little disappointed it wasn't a log cabin but then remembered that grandma called her little place up in western North Carolina a cabin as well. It was the same type of structure as this one.

Jean pulled up to the side of the cottage and switched the vehicle's electrical system to OFF. They unbuckled and got out of the Puma. Jean took an inspection look around the cottage. Ben wandered to the creek's edge and took in the beauty and peacefulness he could sense here. Jean came up behind him and took his right hand in hers.

"Beautiful isn't it?" She asked. Ben nodded in silence as he looked around. Then he noticed a large house on top of the hill across the creek. It seemed an intrusion on the view and it irritated him and frowned. Jean looked at him and noticed where he was looking.

"I feel the same way too. I wanted to build a bigger house here but I didn't want the neighbors looking down on me and my place all the time." She said. Ben nodded in agreement. "It would be picture perfect without that house."

"You're right. Guess you won't be able to build a fence to keep them from looking in I guess." He smirked. She harrumphed.

"Want to see the inside? Your Great-Grandfather had it built in 1955 and it's seen better days but it's still here and I still come to visit." She said. He looked and she motioned to the front door. She turned and led them to it.

Upon entering the 'little' cottage it had a large main room in front, a kitchen separated by a breakfast bar counter and two bedrooms with a bathroom on the other end. All in all the building probably measured twenty feet by forty feet and was built up on pylons to keep it off the damp ground. As she showed him the house, the oak wood flooring creaked but still felt solid. He liked oak floors and their character. Nobody could sneak up on you either.

After the short tour, she went outside the back door for a short bit and returned. While she was out he heard what he thought was water spitting then running. He discovered the bathroom sink faucet was on and shut it off. The toilet's tank and bowl filled after a moment of sputtering too. He came back to the kitchen and Jean was checking the kitchen faucet.

"I'm impressed." Ben said eyebrows raised. "Where's the electricity coming from?"

"It's underground from here to the trees over there." She pointed at the end wall of the kitchen to emphasize the direction. There was a power line that had been run along the creek when the house was built. Then the new high-tension towers were built to the north and a sub-station installed. This was the only place that was lived in on the creek and the power company allowed the family to keep the power line if they paid for the labor to tie in at the new junction. They did agree and the old power lines were taken down and rerouted to the new junction. There was just enough of the old line to make it so nobody had to pay for more cable. The line to the house is buried out here in the open space to keep from making the scenery look intruded upon. The poles and cables are visible if you go into the trees."

Ben thought a moment. "Do the power lines run across your neighbors property by chance?" he asked as he stepped back outside on the front porch. She followed.

Jean sighed. "Yes. They think they can just take the line out because it's on their property. One of the towers is on their property too and have been trying force the power company to either move the stuff or pay for the use of their land." She said. Her lips were pursed in a straight line when she paused and looked up at the house on the hill.

"I thought the power company owns an easement around the power lines?" Ben said.

"They do but these people are trying everything to get rid of the towers and my electric line. They've even tried to sue me for property rental of the land where the poles are sunk in the ground. The power company told me they can't sue me because it's their easement." She said angrily.

Ben realized then why she wouldn't live here. She was being treated as lower class just because.

"Have they tried to remove the line anyway?" he asked.

"Yes. Two years ago when they built the house, they started removing the poles and the power line. The cottage didn't have any power for months until the power company repaired the damage. It made coming here miserable that Summer. When I first noticed there wasn’t any power, I called the power company about it. I didn’t know the neighbors had started removing the line on their side. When the power company finally came out to check, they were shocked anyone would try to do that. No pun intended." She said. Ben just smiled at the relation. "Anyway, they got my power back and didn't charge me for it. They sued the neighbors for tampering and dismantlement of power company property. Since then, they’ve been real nasty with letters to the DA’s office, the Power Commission as well as the Chamber of Commerce, the Governor and the County Commissioner not to mention the few I received. They've got some nerve thinking they can just do whatever they want!" She said.

Suddenly she looked sad and turned to go back into the house. Just then a flash grabbed his attention. He looked up toward the house on the hill and caught another one. Ben stared up at the house and could just make out a figure standing there with binoculars looking down at him. He made two decisions at that moment. He executed the first by lifting his left hand and raising his middle finger at the figure. Then he turned and walked inside the cottage smiling that whoever was watching got the message clearly.
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