N is for Natalie
I teased you about this for far too long - but in my defense, it was t the alphabet's fault! 'B' and 'N' are just too damn far apart.
It's finally time to talk about Natalie, or Nat, as everyone calls her. A little refresher: Nat appears in the lifetime in 1960's Australia, and she spends her days driving around the country on her motorcycle. Yes, she does have the requisite leather jacket, attitude, and some seriously awesome - if also rather worn out and ratty - boots.
Nat is a true vagabond: she's in her 30's when we meet her, and since she was about 17 years old, she's spent her life on the road. When she runs out of money, she stops somewhere and picks up some work, but as soon as she has enough saved up, she's back on her bike again.
This is how she met Taylor, the other soul and of course love interest: she was near the sheep farm when her money ran out, and was lucky enough that it was shearing time, and that Taylor needed the help badly enough to not care that she had no experience. Taylor hired her on the spot, and the rest - well, the rest is the whole story. And yes, to find out more about Taylor, you are going to have to wait until 'T' day. Darn that alphabet...
If you haven't guessed by now, Nat is of course the Free Spirit soul. She loves the freedom of the road; it's the only place she's ever really felt at home. Late in the story, Taylor accuses her of running away, and it's true, she does run - but she has far too much haunting her in her past to stay too long in one place. If there's one thing Nat's learned, it's that no one can catch you if you just keep moving.
In fact, before she met Taylor, she never returned to the same place more than once. But now, no matter how many times she leaves, she keeps finding herself back at Taylor's farm, over and over and over again. If she's not careful, she might find that the road suddenly isn't enough for her anymore...
I'll let Taylor give you a little description of Nat. This is from the day they first meet, when Nat shows up on the farm, and Taylor is desperate for help (and all sheep farming stuff is utterly made up for now, so please forgive the blatant inaccuracies):
I was in the barn, trying to figure out how in bloody hell I was going to shear the sheep with no help, and I’ll say it now: I shouldn't have been around the sheep. Animals can tell when you’re off; they smell it and sense it on you, like oil or smoke. It’s one of the first rules of the farm and I’d known it since I was a kid, and I was busy breaking it anyway.At any rate, I was wrestling with a sheep when she appeared in the barn door. I wish I’d been doing something else, something stronger and calmer, but I wasn't; I had my arms wrapped around a crabby old ewe, trying to push her into the stall I’d rigged up, and she was crying out at the top of her voice and telling the whole bloody flock to run for the hills.“Need a hand?”I glanced at the door and saw a person, a real live able-bodied person, and nodded. I didn't have breath left for talking. The girl came over and helped me corral the stubborn ewe into the stall; I caught a glimpse of long hair and fair skin, and an old leather jacket, and that was about all I had time for. The ewe was bucking and kicking, panicking, and I knew she’d hurt herself if I didn't let her out soon. I got her sheared as fast as I could. She was so wild she barely felt it; she kept crying out, poor thing, and as soon as I was done I kicked open the stall door and let her go. She ran for the far wall, near the water, and stood there glaring at me.I turned away. She’d forgive me soon enough; more likely she’d forget before she could, and would let me handle her with the same irritated patience she always had. I let the ewe be, and took a good look at my helper.She was older than I’d first thought; there was a leanness to her freckled cheeks, and a few fine lines around her eyes, that told me she was well out of her teens and through her twenties, and stepping into her thirties. She was shorter than me, and slighter, dressed in a black motorcycle jacket and jeans so old and worn that they looked like they’d been painted on her body. Not because they were tight, but because they’d stopped trying to have their own shape, and conformed to hers instead.“Thanks,” I said.“Sure.” She smiled, a flash of white teeth and brown eyes, and for the first time, but definitely not the last, I felt like I'd been blinded. Like the sun flashing off of metal, bright and too hot, when you're not expecting it. “I’m Nat, short for Natalie,” she said. She held out her hand. Her skin was soft and her hand was small in mine.I’m not the kind of person to make bold statements. I like to keep things simple and straightforward, and I stay away from pretty language. So now I don’t know how to say what happened. I looked in her eyes, and...something happened. Something quick and bruising, like a high wind blowing or the sharp kick of a ewe’s hoof.“I’m Taylor,” I said. I dropped her hand like a hot stone.