The Touch Ch. 31byGreenFingers©
WARNING TO READERS - This is a long, rambling, multi-part story and VERY British. The individual chapters will make more sense if read in sequence.
Sorry about the delays between releasing the last few chapters. The text for this story was written over a number of years and includes many small mini chapters and journal style handwritten entries which need to be sorted into chronological order, modernised and edited, before being released. Chapters 30-32 have taken even longer than usual as some sections had become totally misplaced.
Thank you to all readers who regularly vote, leave public comments and send feedback, these things are important as it is the only indication of reader approval that an online author gets.
Chapter 31: Experiences with Customer Relations
I was up, dressed and ready for work shortly after five-thirty on Friday. I wanted to make an early start at Caroline's house, I knew that she would still be in London and I was not going to be making enough noise to disturb her next door neighbours whose house was a good thirty yards away. I had decided to skip breakfast but had made myself an extra flask of coffee and would probably get something to eat later.
It had rained heavily again for a couple of hours during the night and the early morning was overcast with dark grey clouds scudding across the sky towards the channel. The forecast was for a mostly cool, dry day, with a cold north easterly wind and it definitely felt a lot less warm than it had on Thursday, I was glad that I had chosen trousers instead of shorts that morning and had tossed a sweatshirt onto the passenger seat of the van, I might need it later in the day.
Memories of Maggie's naked body and our moonlight nude swim together still haunted my thoughts so that even at that time of the morning I was drifting in and out of being half aroused by my own imagination. I had lusted after my aunt for so long that I just could not get past the memory of her soft breasts against the skin of my chest when she had playfully lunged against me in the pool, my erection trapped between us and how I had rabbited and uncontrollably ejaculated onto her naked belly. Now, in retrospect I recalled vividly that the tip of my rigid prick had been only an inch or two from her pussy.... If she had bounced just a faction higher........?
The most remarkable thing was that Maggie knew what had happened, how could she not? She had seemed totally comfortable with our being naked together, with our physical contact and swept aside my embarrassing wet horniness with one of her gracious smiles. The main thing was that we were tight again; my stupidity over the last couple of days had not damaged our relationship, in fact in some convoluted way it may even have brought us closer or moved our level of intimacy up a peg. I felt that we had moved completely away from being aunt and nephew to being very close and special friends, although I wished that it was more...much more.
I suddenly realised that I was turning the van into Caroline's driveway. My obsession with women and my continual state of near arousal was getting out of hand again; I really could not remember a single thing about the drive across the city from my house. Even at five-thirty in the morning there were commercial vehicles on the road, and I had crossed two busy major roads without noticing, it was downright dangerous. I got out of the van and poured myself a cup of coffee, lit a cigarette and sat on the garden wall to organise my thoughts.
In just the last few days I had shagged three different women. It had been like that since last autumn; I certainly wasn't complaining, in fact, I was beginning to feel like the luckiest man alive, they had all been lovely and they had all been willing partners. I was living in penis heaven.
Additionally; it was a fact that a ridiculously high number of the women that I encountered in my daily routines seemed to come on to me or hint at favours pending. Even Georgia Craven had made a couple of oblique remarks recently which I was not sure were jokes or not, and Maggie and I had become increasingly very affectionate and tactile. My sister's romantic crush was starting to be a serious concern and a few weeks ago I had become my mother's lover for God's sake.
At times since last September I felt it was as though I was irresistible to some women and could sexually arouse others with a touch. The first few months after my curious dynamic seduction of Alice I even had fantasies that my new found sexual prowess was caused by some mysterious external agency; some sort of weird motivator perhaps, which had made me able to influence the sexual desires of any woman that I choose. I had even experimented with looking for a special physical 'touch' which would turn a woman on or make her more amenable to seduction; at times I really believed that it worked.... I was not sure that I totally disbelieved that theory even now, but in reality it was more likely that I had just been lucky finding erogenous zones in my fumbling.
After being chatted up by a couple of girls, total strangers, in the pub one night Dennis had nudged me and said. "Pheromones, matey...that's your problem!" I still had no idea what Pheromones was, I had meant to look the word up in Gwen's medical dictionary but had never got around to it, if I did have it... was it infectious... and what did it have to do with women being attracted to me? The word seemed to ring a bell somewhere deep in my memory... something to do with frogs I thought!
Meanwhile I kept making an analogy to Ann Jellico's bitter sweet comedy play 'The Knack and How to Get It'; it had been made into a film back in the sixties with Ray Brooks as the irresistable lover, Tolen. I had seen both the play and the film a couple of years back at the revival theatre in Bath, and the Tolen character seemed to parallel my own ability to attract women, except that Tolen deliberately set out to seduce any girl that he encountered, with me it just seemed to happen, but in the end he couldn't explain why he was so attractive to women any more than I could.
I ground out the cigarette butt and buried it in the shingle with the toe of my boot. I had spent enough time day dreaming, and so took my gear from the van and unlocked the gate leading to the rear garden. Everything was as I had left it on Tuesday, the over night rain had moistened the ground which suited my purposes admirably, I much preferred to lay lawn turf onto damp soil, it encourgaged the grass roots to immediately start spreading downward seeking water. Most of the gardening tools that I would need had been stored in Caroline's little shed for days including the light weight roller, but I had brought a turf cutter and edge trimmers, and a small petrol driven strimmer.
Some gardeners simply put down turf in a patchwork but Maggie had taught me always to try and lay the rolls in straight columns, and down the longest length of the area to be covered if possible. My own favourite method was to use a 8' length of 1" x 4" timber as a straight edge and start at the centre of the garden and work outwards to both sides so that any turf that needed to be cut was at the extreme edges.
Laying this lawn was going to be a bit more complicated than some as not all the shapes for the flower beds had been finally approved by Caroline. She was not, in my opinion, a difficult customer but she wanted hands-on involvement with the designs, which I actually found refreshing in a client, but was a bit difficult to plan work on a day to day basis. The central lawn was an irregular shape flanked by curving flower beds and would be crossed by a stepping stone path of inset hexagonal flags, but the turf needed to go down if the project was to be completed on time, and so I decided that it was better to lay the turf a bit large and make cut outs later that try to infill around the difficult shapes. In the end the base designs for the garden had been mine and so any minor problems were self inflicted.
I started by unrolling a single strip of turf roughly centrally down the full length of the garden and then once I was content that the sections were straight moved on to laying the next strip on the left side. I needed to leave the other side of the garden until the erectors had been and put up the summer house as I didn't want anybody trampling across the turf for a couple of days. By the time that Waltons turned up with the sectioned summer house at eight-thirty I had completed laying out nearly all of the left hand side of the lawn and was glad to take a break, hauling the rolls of turf into place and then crawling on hands and knees to roll them out was back breaking labour.
Waltons were an old established firm whose garden buildings and furniture were top of the range and they always insisted on doing their own deliveries and erection work, but gave a 25 year guarentee on the product. I spent ten minutes with the foreman making sure that the order was correct and that he was clear about the exact requirement for the erection and hooking up to the electrical cables that Steve had put in. Caroline had choosen an eight foot traditional timber and glass summer house and had been very precise about exactly which way the door and tiny porch should face. There were four men in the team and they estimated that without any issues they should be finished in about three hours and so I decided to get out from under their feet and drive over to the garden centre for some breakfast.
Everything at the centre was running smoothly, we had a really good team who all knew their jobs and could be trusted to work unsupervised for the most part. Maggie and I would never, ever, have dreamed of trying to tell Jack how to manage his greenhouses and growing beds, that part of the business virtually ran itself under his experienced supervision. Emma ruled the office and sales team with a rod of iron but they all adored her.
Maggie and Emma had interviewed and taken on a friend of hers from college, a very butch girl named Tayler Pope, who was to help Emma in the office and answer the telephone and it was planned to have her trained by the time my sister and aunt went to France, which was a great weight off of my shoulders. She was due to start work on Monday.
I had initially thought she was a strange girl, she was twenty-two, seriously overweight with bright green, short cropped hair, and dressed like a punk, with quite a lot of pierced jewellery which she had agreed to leave off at work. She was apparently the star student on the business management course and fitted our requirements even if she was a bit odd. I had only met her once in the college canteen and to my surprise I really liked her; she had a similar warped sense of humour to my own and seemed a fun person. Emma could still be a bit temperamental over girls that I came in contact with and I strongly suspected that she had been keen to hire her partly because Tayler was overtly gay and proud of it.
On Friday morning Maggie usually spent time in the office with Emma going over the weekly accounts, and I found that there was already a stack of delivery notes and invoices on my desk to be initialled before payment. I went through them quickly and passed them back to Emma and then suggested that the three of us should go down to the restaurant for breakfast. I knew that Maggie seldom had more than a cup of coffee in the morning and Emma would not have bothered to make herself breakfast as I had already left for work.
"How long have you got, Jay?" Emma asked me as we left the office.
"Oh, I probably don't need to get back to Bishopsdown for a couple of hours."
"Why don't we use the time for the weekly team meeting?" She suggested to Maggie who nodded agreement, "I'll find Jack, Josie and Grace and we can all have breakfast together." My sister had changed from being a total slob to one of the most dynamically organised people I knew in just a few months.
Maggie and I commandeered one of the larger tables in the restaurant and asked Grace the catering manager to join us, whilst Emma fetched Jack and Josie. Whilst everybody enjoyed their coffees, teas or breakfasts we all briefly went over the key business events of the week. We normally tried to have one of these informal get-togethers weekly but we had all been so busy that we had not held one for a couple of weeks.
The catering side of the business was a real success story, the restaurant was busy from eight-thirty to five-thirty, six days a week and in less than two months was already starting to move into profit. Our liquor and music licence had been granted and Grace had received the first booking for a private evening function in the restaurant in June. She and Suzan also made the most superb celebration cakes, with lashings of fresh cream and fruit, both for the restaurant and to order which were proving to be another real winner.
Maggie and I went over our meeting with Basil and Maureen Day and let Josie know that Manor Farm would now be a regular supplier of mushrooms, asparagus, celery and some specialist vegetables to enhance our normal produce from Mark Dwight. The farm shop was becoming really popular and gaining a quality reputation so that customers were now coming from far afield to buy our produce; Josie had formally been made up to shop supervisor and now worked full time and dealt with all the ordering of supplies. Mark was enthusiastic to step up the supply of the general fruit and veg and was happy that we out sourced for any other produce he could not provide and we had started to stock high quality imported fruit, oranges, grapefruit, bananas and the like.
"So did you persuade old Basil to let us have his plant stock, then?" Jack asked.
"Yes, it's all agreed," Maggie told him, "Jamie and I also talked about buying his growing tunnels and cloches when he ceases trading in September and expanding our growing area onto the end of the back field..... if that meets with your approval, of course." Any expansion would mean extra work for the nursery team and needed Jack to be on board for it to succeed.
"Well I wouldn't have suggested takin' his stock if I didn't want it...." He said trying to scowl and hide his real pleasure at the idea. "and it will need to go somewhere now, won't it!"
"Great, we'll get together and sort out what needs to be done," I said, "There will have to be water and electricity laid on." The extra yield in home grown stock and seed would more than justify the cost.
"And we shall need to find you another experienced nurseryman to take some of the load." Maggie added. Jack had only one experienced nurseryman, Graham Young and a trainee, David Woodman on his permanent team, they were both working out very well but were at capacity already even with Kitty, Maggie and myself helping out to cover days off and holidays.
"Of course you will...I'm getting' too old to carry you lot on my own," Jack drawled grinning, "but you two 'ent bein' that bright this mornin' are you?" He watched our puzzled expressions for a couple of seconds, I could see the others smiling at his teasing. "I already decided who I want see...." He paused for dramatic effect, "Basil Day is goin' to have bugger-all to do in the autumn, he's a bloody good nurseryman, too good to put out to pasture... beside which he's a mate... we wuz at school together and served in the navy together during the war."
"Well if you are sure..." Maggie answered, and I nodded just following on, Jack was right about Basil's skills and he had certainly seemed too fit to want to retire, and I guessed that the money would come in handy if they had cash flow problems.
"Yes, I am... you two silly buggers should have spotted that opportunity for yersel's, I don't know how we'd manage if I wasn't here to do all yer thinkin' for yer. Just don't you go off talkin' to Basil about it just yet and pissin' him off... leave that to me and he'll come along, willin' and meek as a little lamb," he laughed. Jack was usually right about most things he chose to speak up on, he liked to play the country yokel but he was shrewd and he knew his trade inside out, Maggie and I were usually happy to defer to his judgement.
Jack was now in his middle sixties and Maggie and I had been dreading the prospect that he might want to retire soon, he bluntly refused to talk about the idea, but Maggie had spoken to his wife about it at the Gala Day. "You let him go on 'til he drops dead.." she had said. "He's happier at work than anywhere else and I don't want the grumpy old sod under my feet all day!"
"There is just one other thing..." Maggie added, looking at Emma, "...if you can make some time in Dennis's work schedule; I noticed last night that 'The Casa' could do with a coat of paint, and the pool side shower needs repairing," she squeezed my leg beneath the table and then kept her hand resting on my thigh. She didn't look at me but I could feel my face starting to blush and tried to cover it up with a feigned sneeze, screening my face with my handkerchief. "It would be nice if he could fit it in before the twins get home in a fortnight."
We split up and went back to work and Maggie walked back to the van with me and helped load up the planters that Caroline had picked out and Jack had now planted up with fuchsias, primulas and lobelia ready to be stood out on site, I had decided to take them now rather than drive back for them later.
"When Kitty gets back this afternoon with the pick-up will you ask one of the lads to load up and bring that lot out to me," I asked indicating about two dozen shrubs that I had picked out for Caroline's garden, Buddleias, Azaleas, Hydrangeas and some evergreen Euonymus and a dozen mid-sized holly bushes and trees.
"I'll do better than that," Maggie grinned. "I'll bring them over myself, I haven't got anything special on this afternoon and I would like to see how the job is progressing."
It was almost ten thirty by the time that I got back to Bishopsdown and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Walton's team had almost finished erecting the summer house and were just finishing off fitting the guttering and cleaning the glass. The pretty little building looked really good, Caroline had chosen a plain varnished teak finish with a green felt roof and sitting on the attractive sandstone colour flagging base it brought real character to the garden.
It took me about another two hours to clean up after the erectors and rake over the ground that had been trampled where it was necessary for them to walk and work and then unload the containers and place them out where I thought they looked most effective; Caroline could decide if she wanted them moved when she came down from town.
Maggie arrived at about two-forty five just as I was starting to roll out the third strip of turf on the summer house side of the garden. We had a walk around the garden so that she could have good look and then I fetched my flask and a couple of cups from the van and we sat on the steps of the timber decking patio and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a cigarette.
"The project is starting to look good," she complimented me. "If I stay and help you we can get the rest of the lawn finished this afternoon and Caroline should be really impressed when she sees the progress.... When is she coming down to Salisbury next?"
"To be honest, I'm not really sure," I replied. "I spoke to her on the telephone on Tuesday and she said that she was very busy with some business deal and may or may not be down at the week-end. She is starting to press me again to go up to London and look at the roof garden job, I guess I will need to try and fit that in next week some time." I added.
"You just be careful up in the big city at some horny woman's apartment," she chuckled slipping her arm through mine and hugging it tightly against the side of her breast. "I'm still not sure that I trust you around Miss Thunder-Thighs; she hasn't got a roof-top pool as well, has she?" I knew she was teasing me and guessed that I was going to have to put up with swimming pool jokes for some time.