In this town, lived a baker’s boy who played the violin as if it were an extension of his soul. With the sweet strains of his violin and his roguish good looks, he captured Julia’s heart. At the annual hops harvest festival, he gladly helped Julia fill her basket. Since the hops plants were close together and very tall, they made a perfect screen to duck behind. (Keep in mind that the scene in the following excerpt takes place in the 1930s – when courting moved forward at a slower pace than it does nowadays.)
Excerpt from Julia’s Violinist:
The rows of hop plants towered above them. Julia waited for Michael to snag the vines using a long pole with a hook. Then she carefully picked the prickly hop cones and let them drop into a large basket that stood nearby. Picking hops for the famous Saaz beer was an annual social event; a way to spend a few days on a working picnic while earning an extra bit of money.
“Oh-h-h-h, phooey!” Julia shook her hands. “Those darned hop lice. I hate the way they squish in my hands.”
“But you’re wearing gloves.”
“Still, they managed to get inside.”
Michael took her gloves off, brushed her hands free of lice, and then kept her hands in his. “You’re very brave.”
“What do you mean?”
“Most girls would have given up on the job rather than risk handfuls of squashed bugs.” He pulled her through the tall thick row of hop plants, out of sight of the rest of the pickers. “What’s this in your hair?”
“What?” Julia reached for her hair, but Michael took her hand and put it down by her side and behind her back. Still holding that hand, he pulled her closer. Her heart pounded. She inhaled his lemony aftershave. It was so manly and intoxicating, although being so close to him made her feel self-conscious and insecure. He was so handsome. Was she pretty enough for him? What if she had the wrong idea? Maybe he really was looking for one of those crawly things in her hair. She didn’t want bugs in her hair.
“Let me have a look. I think it might be one of those hop crawlers. I’ll get it if it’s there.” He inspected the top of her head. She felt hot all over as he touched her hair. Tingles raced up and down her body. She stood perfectly still, not even breathing for a moment.
“Do you see it? Can you get it off?” she said into his chest.
“Hmm … just a minute … I think it might be on the other side.” He laid his cheek on her head and then turned to nibble her ear.
“Michael!” The tickle that rushed from her ear to the pit of her stomach surprised her. She tried to pull away, but Michael’s grip tightened.
“No! Wait! I’ve almost got it. I have to check the other side once more.” He touched her hair so carefully, fingers lingering. She basked in the sensuality of it.
“And, I think you’re all clear.” He kissed her.
Julia opened her mouth to speak only to feel Michael’s tongue probe inside. Another flush of heat washed over her body. Should she give in or pull away? Her knees felt weak and she let down the barriers to enjoy the kiss.
Voices. Her eyes widened. Was someone watching them? She pulled away.
“Where did those two lovebirds go?” It was Heidi. Why did she have to show up now of all times?
Then Julia recognized Jan’s voice. “I have a feeling Michael is reaping his harvest behind that row of hops.” A moment later she heard Heidi’s squeal of delight, giggling, and the sound of kissing and moaning. They were certainly enjoying themselves. Julia wished she could let herself relax like that, but she felt unsure of how far to let Michael go and whether she would be able to stop him or herself.
“We’d better get back to work,” Julia said as she straightened her sweater. “Thanks for checking my hair.” She looked down at the ground and smiled.
Michael shook his head. “Julia, if only you would submit. Isn’t that what women are supposed to do?”
She laughed. “Submit?” That word wasn’t in her dictionary. At least not in her current edition. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Michael?” She gave him a peck on the cheek and slipped back into the rows to continue picking.
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