A Pack of Tales Ch. 09byNaokoSmith©
Copyright (c) 2013 Naoko Smith
Many thanks to Bramblethorn for the continued editing, and diolch yn fawr! to Beatnic_jazzman's family for the help with the Welsh.
Please leave comments and feedback for me so I know what works and what doesn't as I write up the rest of this story.
This series will include two kinds of chapters: story chapters, called '(story)' in the blurb and sex scenes, called '(scene)' in the blurb. The sex scenes will be diverse. You can choose to read them all or, if e.g. hetero sex isn't your thing, to skip some and only read the story chapters and e.g. lesbian sex scenes. (You can identify which scenes are what kind of sex from the tags, the category the chapter is uploaded into and description at the start of the scene.)
All characters in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
A Pack of Tales Ch. 9 – Red
Red collected the gravy-dredged plates from the table with a clatter that was drowned out in a wave of beery laughter. One of the men put his hand on hers as she reached for his plate.
"I've not finished," he grunted.
Her neck bristled against her collar at the touch of his hand. She said: "Sorry," and pulled her hand quickly away.
His head tilted up to her with a glistening drunken glint of eyeball. "Not seen you before," he said.
"I just started," Red answered, backing away with the plates in her hands.
"No need to rush off," one of the other men stood up behind her, blocking her off. "Same again, lads? How about you, darlin'?" He leered at Red. He was swaying.
They had been here since mid-morning, reminiscing about the days when this would have been a working lunch – six rounds and all. They were all well beyond a reasonable condition.
The door to the carpark swung open and Red took advantage of the distraction to scuttle sideways with her pile of plates. She looked round at the door and saw, to her surprise, Col walk in to the dingy pub dining area.
Col's head had shot immediately forward and his shoulders hunched. He sniffed the reek of stale alcohol and microwaved meat meals with a scowl.
Red smiled, coming up to him with the plates still in her hands. He relaxed and said: "Came by to give you a ride home. I'll have a half while you finish up." He went over to the bar, perched on a stool and darted a suspicious keen glance around the room.
The group of drunken men were by now the only other occupants, sprawled in their chairs like flotsam the tide had left behind. Col examined them sourly out of the corner of his eye. He noted too the scuzzy dirt ground into the carpet and a light stink ineffectively overlaid with air freshener. He flicked a cardboard beer mat about in his fingers, increasingly unimpressed by how long he was having to wait for what a close inspection of the taps suggested was going to be an exceptionally indifferent beer.
He watched Red come back out of the kitchen. She had done her best with the ill-fitting skirt she had bought and a plain white shirt buttoned up to cover her collar. She looked as if she had made an effort which would always be undermined by the lumpy shapes of her body, but the men whose plates she was clearing were not choosy about female flesh even when they were sober.
"Give us a cwtsch," one of them suggested with a leer when she had to lean over him to pick up the remaining plate.
He had attempted to put an arm around her hips but his movement was suddenly restricted by Col's tight grip on his wrist. When he tried to pull his hand away, Col shoved him into the man he was sitting next to.
Red snapped into position beside Col with her lip lifted from her sharp teeth. The men were rising from their table in an ugly red-faced bunch. Col had raised his fists with an ominous tearing noise. The men seemed to realise that his muscles had shredded his shirt-sleeves open under his jacket. They looked at his stocky muscular frame and the yellowing eyes that burned like dull coals with rage. One of Col's hands was bunched in a fist but the other was loose in a claw, it was evident that Col was a dirty fighter if he was roused.
At last the landlord had appeared. He was at Col's elbow, fluttering anxiously: "No trouble, I hope, guys?" Red could almost hear him thinking that the men had not yet paid their bill.
"What the foock is this?!" Col spat sideways at him. "Foocking middle of the day and you let them maul one of your workers around, do you?"
The landlord looked at Red. She said: "He didn't see it, Col. It's the first time."
"That's foocking likely, a dump like this," Col snarled. "Happens all the time, doesn't it, but you thought she was desperate for work and would put up with it."
'I am desperate for work,' Red thought. She knew Col had lost her the job.
"Get your coat," Col snapped at her. "Give her the week's wages," he said to the landlord.
The landlord opened his mouth as if he were thinking of protesting. He looked at Col's clenched jaw and went grumbling to the bar. Col stepped softly backwards as if away from a stink of rotten fish, relaxing his bunched muscles. The men sat slowly down.
As she got into the front seat of Col's immaculate sports car, clutching a handful of notes, Red couldn't help the tear that slid down her cheek. They hadn't even made her prepare the food. She had been hoping to get some experience pulling pints and then to try for a job in a better place.
Col sat without turning the ignition key, glaring at the steep slopes of the old slag heaps around them.
"I'll give you a foocking job," he said at last.
"You can't," Red answered, managing to keep herself from crying with an effort. "You haven't got enough work for the others and you've got Bry-, Bry-, you've got other things to think of."
Col turned his yellowish eyes dully glowing with anger and suffering on her. His mouth twisted. He said: "Would you work in an office?"
Red wondered if he meant the place he used to work in, where Bryony was still employed. Perhaps if Bryony was going on maternity leave they needed someone? She was surprised that he would consider letting her go and work alongside Bryony, but delighted of course. They none of them liked indoors work but she said: "Yes."
Col got out of the car. She saw him take his mobile out, stare at it momentarily as he was in the habit of doing, and make a call. He stood square and boxy in the gravelly carpark of the dingy pub, his shoulders thrusting forward, the phone pressed to his ear as he talked. Then he came back and drove off without saying anything.
Red hadn't been in Col's car before. Col drove beautifully. It was like a balletic skill, his driving; like music, like football played by Barcelona F.C.. He went at an even speed, taking corners as smoothly as the curve of a breast, his hand on the gearstick feather-light, caressing the gears into changing. Manic Preacher was playing on his sound system but his attention was focussed on the road. Red was cocooned in her seatbelt and his driving. Her appreciation of Col was objective, yet she could understand why Max loved to catch a ride with him. The Alpha male carrying you with supreme skill in his dream machine to the tunes of House music. It was spell-binding. Down the long curving stretches wrapped about the roundabouts of the deserted Valleys roads Col handled the red sports car with exquisite skill until, to Red's surprise, he parked up in the city centre.
He jerked his head impatiently at a huge square block of government offices. She followed him through the glass doors to sign in at a tall reception desk and be checked through the metal detector gateway of security.
She stood by Col in the big lobby where people were greeting other people, looking nervously to the armchairs at the side, and at the palatial staircase which swept down from the back of the hall.
Max came strolling down the stairs like Cinderella at the ball, still talking into his iPhone while his lip lifted from his teeth in acknowledgement of Col and Red. He wore a navy blue fine wool suit that fitted him so perfectly it had to have been tailored especially for him. His blue eyes staring at them were as cool as the ice cubes floating in a martini. He had one hand casually in the pocket of his trousers while the other still held his iPhone in place.
"You and Toby can handle it," he was saying as he came up to them. He stood beside them listening to the phone. The serene expression of infinite patience sketched on his sharp fine features boded ill for someone. "The speech was vetted days ago," he said. "Something has come up. Tell the Minister I'll see her first thing in the morning." He cut the phone off without waiting for a reply and put it in the breast pocket of his jacket.
He favoured Red with a long slow raking once-over that took in her badly made skirt, shapeless jumper, army surplus camouflage jacket and Doc Marten boots.
"You seriously expect me to get that thing a job here?" he said.
Col lifted his head and glowered up at Max. It was the first time Red had realised that Max was taller than Col.
"She can use computers and talk Welsh," Col said, as if this was all that mattered.
Max pursed his lips, giving Red another offensive once-over.
"Only if I'm allowed to dress it," he said.
"Sure," Col said quickly. "You bring her home then." He was already impatiently jingling his car keys in his pocket.
"Oh it won't take long," Max answered in his bored supercilious drawl. "There's only one brand for you, cariad." Red looked up at him, his teeth lifted from his lip in the grin. "Jaegar," he said, "but," he went on, "I suppose we'll have to sort out the hair too."
"I'm not a Barbie doll!" Red said indignantly.
Col turned and bent his dully glowing gaze on her. "Shurrup and do what Max tells you," he snarled. "You want a job don't you? Max can keep an eye on you here. Nobody'll touch you if you're with him."
"Personally I always preferred Ken," Max put in, as if they couldn't have guessed. "He used to have such fun with Action Man. My God!" His blue eye lit up with an excited gleam. He reached out and picked Red's arm up by the sleeve to inspect her jacket with appalled incredulity. He gave an exaggerated sigh. "The things I do for you," he said to Col.
"Shurrup, you poof," Col said angrily, but he spoke softly in this place where Max trod the corridors of power weaving his silken webs.
When Red went back to meet up with Max again three days later she felt like a different animal.
Max had taken her to just the one clothes shop. He told off bored shop assistants to fetch armfuls of clothes off the racks and sat on a plush chair messaging on his iPhone. Initially, Red felt gawky and embarrassed. The prices of the clothes were jaw-droppingly, distressingly enormous but when she whined about this, Max became angry. Max angry was even more alarming than Red had imagined, and after all he was paying, so she resigned herself to her fate. She told off the dumb assistants to fetch her different sizes and they began to spend less time gossiping and more time telling her how much everything suited her.
Max sat messaging and saying, "Yes, yes, that one makes you look like a sheep, no, yes," without apparently looking up from his iPhone.
He took her to a salon which was closing for the night. A tall slender young man ushering out the women stylists murmured seductively: "Anything for my Prince."
Red sniggered and Max grinned and said: "Shut up and don't tell Col or I won't buy you any shoes." He looked out of the big glass front window. There was nobody passing the salon so he gave the man's buttock a firm caress and said: "I want a Princess Di, darling, not some bloody thousand pound a night hooker." He sat down on the chair by Red's and inspected his own reflection lovingly in the mirror.
Red came back up to the high reception desk of the government offices, trying not to grip her toes inelegantly in the unaccustomed heeled court shoes she was wearing.
She had scored a minor victory over the shoes. Max fell at first sight for a pair of three inch stilettos but Red said she was a werewolf, not bloody Catwoman, and Max laughed and let her have a more sensible pair – although he insisted on some heel. Red had noticed him fondling the stilettos as he replaced them, but she figured he could pop back and buy them for himself. Or perhaps she and Rob could save up and get them for him, size didn't matter, he only wanted to suck on them.
Somewhat to Red's surprise, the receptionists seated behind the high desk treated her with eager deference even before she had given Max's name. She cast a quick glance down at the brown tweed coat she was wearing. Under it she had a green felt skirt suit. A soft silk blouse was buttoned high up her neck to hide her red leather collar. She put up a nervous finger towards the top button then fiddled with one of the gold hoop earrings Max had lent her instead. Max didn't have pierced ears. Red chose not to ask where he wore the pretty twisted rope earrings. She just cleaned them very carefully before putting them on.
When she had passed through the metal detector, she stood awkwardly near the desk looking at the stairs. After five minutes, she drifted over to some armchairs at the side where people were waiting and chatting. She felt too nervous to pick up a paper. She just sat, wondering why Max was taking so long.
Eventually he came strolling down the stairs, talking to a plump man whom he seemed to have met by chance as he came to fetch Red. He looked quickly about the entrance hall. She stood up and walked towards him, trying not to grip her toes in the court shoes.
"Cariad," Max said in a husky soft murmur. She had got used to it. They all missed Bryony but Max in particular liked having Red to talk Welsh with. However she was surprised by the warmth of his tone and nearly kneed him in the balls when he took her arm and pulled her to him to press his thin lips briefly on her mouth.
"P'nawn da, Max," she said, blushing and bristling against her collar. She managed to suppress that instinctive impulse to punch him.
"Oh Peter," Max said casually to the man he had been talking to, "this is my ... my friend," he showed an uncharacteristic hesitation as he said it. Red supposed he could hardly say 'pack sister' to some stray human. Then Max put his arm around her and then he pretended to be embarrassed and let her go. "Red's just come to drop off her CV," he said, "but you will have lunch with me, won't you, cariad?" He said it in an anxious tone, as if she might say, "Rwy'n llawer rhy brysur, bachgen drwg." (I'm far too busy, you bad boy.)
His blue eyes were sparkling with hilarity. He had to turn his head from the plump man to hide his silent laughter.
Peter looked from Max, apparently suffering a wholly uncharacteristic fit of embarrassment, to Red. He looked at her shyly blushing face turned towards Max. She had unbuttoned her coat and he noted the fine quality of the green felt skirt suit, the soft silk blouse which flattered the natural curving shapes of her sturdy figure. Her hazel eyes turned up towards Max were like hillside pools. Strawberry blonde hair cut in an appealingly short boyish style lapwinged her cheekbones. She brought a breath of freshness, like a breeze from the hills, into the still air of the corridors of power.
"Are you from North?" he enquired. "Are you a Welsh speaker too?"
Max turned his head back, silently laughing. "Of course she is," he said. "Can you imagine what my mother would say if I brought home anyone who wasn't? Come along, cariad, I'll show you where to leave your CV and then we can grab a quick sandwich for you."
"I can drop your CV off," Peter said suddenly. "I'm going that way. In fact ... would you mind if I took a copy of it? I've got a vacancy for a Welsh speaker."
"Have you really?" Max's drawl had the perfect pitch of surprise in it. "That's very kind of you, Peter. I am so grateful for the extra few minutes with Red just now. Not that ... not really told anyone." He flashed a grin like a diamond ring.
Red handed over the envelope containing the CV which Max had written and printed out for her. She found her hand had been collected in Max's arm. Without even having said a word to Peter she was walking the corridors on Max's arm to a cafeteria. She was aware of people looking surreptitiously at them as they passed. Max nodded to one or two of them.
It was weird. It was weird how excited people became at the charade Max was putting on. Max loved it, he pretended to fuss round her like some gallant old man with his wife. "Now you know you don't like mustard, cariad," he said. (None of them did, it got up their noses and made them sneeze.) "Have the ham, that's plain." Red could tell that he could barely keep himself from rolling all over the floor laughing.
She liked it in a way but in another way it was horrible. It made her realise that Max and she had become close. It felt like a betrayal of the pack loyalty that was between them, to pose as this travesty of marital desire.
They looked like the pattern of the perfect couple: Max in his fine wool navy blue suit and herself in the green skirt suit, eating sandwiches together at a small table. Max leaned over to brush a crumb from her mouth, smiling with proprietary pride. Red knew he was only thinking how nicely he had turned her out. She murmured to him in apparent intimacy when what she was actually saying was: "Cadwa dy ffycin lygaid o fy sgidiau." (Get your fucking eyes off my shoes.) Max was that bit older than her, they were like a couple out of a black and white movie: The 39 Steps or Rebecca, they were just as make-believe.
When she went for the interview two weeks later, Peter phoned her up while she was on her way home to give her the job. Max was driving her back to the farmhouse in his black two-seater, grinning like a dog. He had earlier shown Red a twitterfeed: #Clecsllwyd BBW's girlfriend came in today!!! / I saw too. Classy looker. / Frigid bitch, you mean. / Like him then. Red thought that people so unimaginative that they called Max "Big Bad Wolf" deserved him to manage them, although it was nice that people saw her as a classy looker. She wondered at it, that some cheap badly fitting clothes could make men think they had the right to grab at you while a suit that made you look beautiful persuaded them to keep their distance. Was it because Max had marked her as his own? She had rapidly come to realise that in the corridors of power, Max ruled.
But the weird feeling of being like Max's girlfriend dropped completely away when Red walked into the sitting-room behind him and Col said:
"Angharad. It's time you told us. What made you change."