tagNovels and NovellasThe Touch Ch. 22

The Touch Ch. 22


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.

The Touch Pt. 22 The Bed, The Bath and The Ballet

The week that followed proved Mum to be absolutely correct about the difficulties that we faced in our new relationship. She was working middle shift at the hospital and I was putting in a good fourteen hours each day, leaving home before seven in the morning and not getting back until after nine most nights, we hardly saw each other and our time alone together could be counted in minutes. That week we at least had our week-end in London to look forward to, but it brought home to me how difficult it was going to be to get quality time alone together and I began to finally understand the sort of issues that could easily arise in the future. It did not change my mind about the rightness of our relationship, not even by a little.

We had a massive amount of tasks to complete before the big re-launch of the garden centre in another ten days, and so Monday morning Maggie and I had a quick planning meeting to decide our priorities and how to best use our time. The weather was still quite good for March, it was mild and the rain was holding off and we were now getting day light from about six-fifteen in the morning until nearly six at night. We could floodlight the garden centre after dark to work on in the evening but we needed to fit the outside contract work into the daylight envelope.

Colin and Kitty were already scheduled to spend a couple of days at Craven Manor, and so Maggie and I teamed up to cover several of the other contracts. We spent most of the day on Monday finishing off the main work on the pond and patio for Mr. Lazlo, settling the rockery beds and putting in the larger shrubs and a number of small cypress trees, then completing the stone cascade feature and hooking up the pond end of the electrics for the pump. The electrician was due to come in the next day and connect the cable to the household power supply.

We hit Tuesday running, at 7.30 Maggie and I took the new pick-up to a job that she had started a couple of weeks previously to re-turf a customer's lawn. She had already been out and treated the old grass with a selective spray to sanitise the under soil of perennial weeds, Steve had delivered the rolls of turf to the client's house on Monday and so we were ready to start stripping off the old turf and laying the new. Even with our big petrol motor turf cutter it was heavy work and Maggie and I took turns cutting and rolling the turf or barrowing it back to the pick-up. By mid-morning we had stripped half of the old grass and the pick-up was nearly fully loaded and so I left Maggie starting to roll out the new turf and drove the waste back to the garden centre, and got a couple of the lads to unload it into the waste skips, whilst I refilled our flasks and checked in at the office.

There had been a call from the tree surgeons and so on the way back to Mr.Lazlo's house I detoured and called in to see Becca Hill. I had sent Steve and Dennis over with a chainsaw to cut up the fallen tree, tidy up the crater and remove the waste stuff, the previous week. Then I had arranged for the tree surgeons to go in and look at removing the other poplar tree which had become dangerous. Becca greeted me at the door, I kicked off my muddy boots as she drew me in. She looked really good and was smiling and pleased to see me, we kissed briefly in the hall as she closed the door behind me.

"My God Becca, you're starting to look younger and sexier every time I see you."

"Flattery will get you everywhere," she laughed and reached up to put her arms around my neck.

"You'll get dirty," I grinned, holding her away from my muddy clothes.

"You could take them off." She laid a hand softly and affectionately against my cheek, smiling, her eyes were warm and welcoming, deep pools of desire and promise. The jasmine and roses perfume of her shampoo filled my nostrils and was driving me wild.

In just three months this was a totally changed Becca, she seemed happier, more vibrant, full of self confidence and very alluring and totally sexy. I wondered if her angling obsessed husband and sons had noticed the change in her...I very much doubted that they had. I knew that not all families enjoyed the sort of closeness that we had as children; but although Josh was one of my oldest friends I had always thought that Leslie, his father, Josh and Tim, his brother treated their mother like a door mat; somebody to wash their clothes and prepare their meals.

"I really can't stay ... I'm in the middle of laying a new lawn for somebody, and I've got to get back." She looked disappointed and I felt awful. "I just dropped around to give you some good news!"

I reached up, took her hand and kissed the tips of her fingers. "The tree surgeons should be calling you today to arrange to take down the other tree, but the bonus is that he is willing to pay YOU to take away the wood from both trees. Poplar is a quite desirable timber, you know, and I asked him to pay you cash!"

"I never even thought about that." She said, smiling. "I'm glad you came round personally, it's good to see you if only for a few minutes."

I stepped back to where I had left my boots and noticed her easel and paint bag by the door. "Are you painting again?"

"Yes," she enthused, "I suddenly feel like capturing some wild and woolly landscapes, or some crashing waves and wind blown sea shores. I sometimes go off for a whole day with my paints and a picnic basket .... Will you come with some time .... I'd really love you to come with me?"

"Yeah, I'd like that too." I told her, "but I suspect that you wouldn't get a lot of painting done."

"I know!" she laughed.

By the time that I got back to Maggie she had got a good lot of the new turf laid and so I put some muscle behind the turf cutter and by one-thirty all the old grass was rolled up and stacked on the pick-up.

"I think we should get some lunch, there's a pub down the road, let's go and have something to eat and a pint." I suggested.

The pub served a quite decent steak and kidney pie with boiled potatoes and sprouts, and we sat in a corner with our meals and a couple of pints of best bitter. We were both ravenous and didn't really talk until we had finished eating.

"We need to make a day after Easter when all three of us, you, me and your mother can go up to London to meet with Uncle Arthur, to discuss how we move forward with the business," Maggie said. I knew that she had told Mum about her proposals some days ago. I think she had been waiting for Mum to legally sever connections with my father.

"If Mum becomes a director of the company, will she give up nursing and work with us at the centre?" The thought of spending all day working with both Maggie and Mum together, gave me a slight tingling in the balls, the idea of having both of them around me all the time was a real turn on, but it would increase the chances of Maggie discovering our secret by one hundred fold.

"Oh no," She smiled, "Not unless she wanted to, of course. Nursing is her chosen profession, the way that gardening is for you and I, it is what she has always wanted to do since we left school. It is just good business practice to have a casting vote on the board, she will get a director's retainer salary, and it will secure the business for the whole family."

"Yes, I can understand that."

"Besides," she added. "Gwen is my twin sister and twins should share everything."

My mind immediately flicked to my cousins saying the exact same thing that night that we shagged each other legless as a threesome before they left for France. The thought of having a relationship with not just Mum but Maggie as well was mind blowing; it made me horny just thinking about it, I really couldn't let my mind go there. Certainly not in a pub at lunchtime.

"Which reminds me," Maggie continued, laughing. "Taking your mother to the ballet on Saturday puts her one up over me... so where are you going to take ME next?"

I spluttered into my beer spraying foam over my face and we both laughed and were still laughing when we left the pub.

It was almost dark by the time that we had laid the last turf roll and loaded the turf cutter onto the pick-up but the job was basically completed. One of us would need to check it again in about a week and then come back after three weeks to top dress the lawn after the turf had settled.

We called into Mr.Lazlo's on the way back to the garden centre just to check that the electric pump was working correctly and that the customer was happy. We had two quite large jobs under our belts and were happy with our achievements.

Everybody was working extra hours even the catering staff, Grace had now taken on a kitchen assistant plus two counter staff and two waitresses. We would all be working late into the evenings most days until Easter and so Maggie arranged with Grace that hot meals would be available for the staff who wanted them after the restaurant closed to the public. It created a nice, almost domestic, atmosphere as we all usually sat down together about seven o'clock and were able to relax and talk freely about the events of the day like a large family. It was a rapidly expanding family as not only had we taken on the new restaurant staff but there were also two new full time women, Lisa and Brenda who would be working the gift and farm produce shops, and two sixth formers, Veronica and Greg, who would be working Saturdays and during the school holidays.

Our biggest problem at that time was the success of the business. The garden centre itself was very busy and Jack and his team were kept busy just keeping up with the demand for plugs and young plants, and we already had to double up on our normal orders for accessories such as pots, troughs and garden tools. The major drain on our resource, however, was the increase in outside gardening work which varied from small jobs like planting in a hedge, to some quite large design and landscaping projects there was at least one new job coming in every day which usually required either Maggie or I to go out to view the task and come up with an estimate of cost for the customer.

Emma was absolutely astounding all of us! She was not only managing the office almost single handed, but more often than not did the staff payroll, and had devised a work management system for the contract work with a large chart covering half of one wall of her office showing all the outside contract jobs, and who was working on them, so that we could tell at a glance who was where and what they were doing. Without Emma managing our time Maggie and I would never have been able to cover all the jobs as efficiently or as quickly.

On Wednesday, Maggie and I took the Land Rover and trailer and planted out an orchard of two dozen young apple and pear trees at a recently renovated house at Alderbury a few miles south of Salisbury and then looped around to Laverstock and Bishopsdown on the way back to quote for two almost identical projects. Both were at newly built 'commuter' houses and both were to create a new rear garden from scratch.

The first was for an existing customer and was fairly simple job to re-design the existing formal lawn and flower beds and put in new shrubs and bedding plants. Maggie and I both agreed that we should give it to Kitty as the practical applications project for her Cities and Guilds certificate.

The second job, at Bishopsdown, was at one of those small, modern, very expensive studio bedroom townhouses with a shingle drive and strip of lawn at the front but a long narrow garden at the rear. Garden was probably a generous description as it was simply a 10 x 40 yard patch of weed, scrub and rubble, just as the house builders had left it. The owner was asking for a complete make-over project, to design, layout and furbish the entire garden, complete with new all round fencing, a wooden decking patio, a small summer house and paved barbeque area.

The client, Caroline Brookes, was probably mid-twenties, a very attractive bottle blonde with a lush figure crammed into skin tight, bright red jeans and a black polo neck jumper which emphasised her generous breasts, hips and thighs. She was one of those gushing, very tactile women and as we walked around the plot discussing initial ideas stood very near to me and continuously touched my arm with her manicured finger tips and leaned in close to peer at the notes that I was making, 'accidentally' rubbing her tit against my arm or bumping hips. She listened to Maggie who was doing most of the talking, but stuck to me like glue.

If we took on the project this was going to be a major chunk of work and a big money earner so I was a bit surprised when Maggie gave Miss Brookes a ball-park estimate there and then particularly as she was asking for the work to be completed by mid-May. Her business card told us that she was a City of London investment banker and as there was a brand new, bright yellow, Lotus Elan M100, parked in the garage, I guessed that money was not going to be an issue.

"Bloody hell Maggie," I said as we drove away, "I know she can probably afford it but wasn't that wide estimate well over the top?"

"I know, but there is a method in my madness," she quipped, "I think Caroline Brookes is going to be one of those clients who will change her mind every few days and want something added in or changed as work progresses, we need to build in a bit of price change contingency. It the end she will only be paying for the work that we actually do."

I nodded in agreement. "Also," she continued, "I didn't like her very much, that is one very predatory lady!"

"I thought she was quite cute," I said. It was a pretty stupid comment on reflection.

"I think she was pretty taken with you as well." She laughed, "It was just as well you didn't come out here on your own, you would probably have been gone for days! I think that maybe Kitty and I should do the on-site work, if Miss Thunder-Thighs Brookes gets her hands on you I don't think you will be getting out of there alive!"

"The car was nice," I muttered sheepishly, trying to change the subject.

"Just how she crams those chubby thighs and that fat arse into that little seat, I shall never know." Maggie giggled. We were still laughing and joking about poor Caroline when we got back to the garden centre.

Friday morning I took the banking into town and then did some personal shopping, I wanted to get myself a battery operated travel shaver and a new, decent overnight bag to replace my old rugby sports bag. Everybody had worked such long hours that week that Maggie decided we should all have the evening off and we closed up at six o'clock so that every one could go home on time for the first time that week. She had suggested that the family all went out together for supper, but Mum had a long standing date to go out with some of the nurses from the hospital straight after work, and Emma was meeting up with friends so in the end it was just Maggie and I.

She picked me up about eight and we drove out to the Ship Inn at Burcombe one of our favourite restaurants. We both choose the homemade rabbit pie with a rich red wine gravy sauce, spinach and boiled potatoes, washed down with a couple of glasses of the house red wine. We finished off with traditional apple crumble with ice cream and custard and then took our coffees through into the bar and found a settle seat in the corner and sat side by side her arm looped through mine and talked about music and books, everything except work, we were having an evening off and just enjoying each other's company.

It was really strange and hard to explain, even to myself; since Mum and I had become lovers, she was never far from my thoughts, our conversation about my being with other women haunted me, I just couldn't get past the idea that it was being unfaithful to her, despite her assurances that it would become a necessary part of our relationship. The only woman who was excluded from that feeling of reservation was Maggie, she was as much a part of my emotional life as Mum, being with Maggie felt just as right as it did with Mum, I adored both of them equally and the fact that I wanted Maggie desperately raised no thoughts of infidelity or guilt.

"Maggie, if I ask you something a bit strange, you won't laugh will you?" I really needed to talk to somebody if only obliquely, and Maggie was the only person that I had, and she was the last person that I should be talking to, it was too close to home and she was too perceptive and intelligent.

She hugged my arm tighter but I think she sensed the difficulty in my question so continued to stare into her coffee cup rather than make eye contact. She just said simply, "Go on..."

I took a deep breath and mentally crossed my fingers that I would get what I had to say right, first time. "Is it possible, do you think, for two people to be lovers and be committed to each other, but to still have other relationships, if both agree, that is? Not just friends with benefits, more than that. Does that make sense?"

"Yes, yes ... I understand where you are coming from." She paused to reflect, "Yes, it does happen and it can work. I have a friend who is very ill and has been for a long time, both she and her husband love each other very much but their sex life is very limited and erratic. He has had affairs with other women for years, sometimes just one night stands and sometimes more permanent arrangements."

"And his wife doesn't mind?"

"They both accept that it has to be that way. She knows that he will always love her and come home to her, but she accepts that he has needs that she cannot always fulfil. Neither of them regard their special relationship as wrong or adulterous and she knows that it lessens the risk that one day he will become so emotionally deprived that he will leave her for somebody who can fulfil his needs. Is that the answer you were looking for?"

"Yes, I think it is." She had put in a nutshell exactly what I had been wrestling with for days. "Thanks Maggie."

"OK, my turn now," she said. "Does this sudden interest in relationships mean that some predatory woman has got her claws into my favourite nephew?" She was laughing and I grinned back, at least she hadn't twigged to the real reason behind my question.

"Er no, nothing like that."

"We Grainger women are very possessive of our men you know..... we would probably all band together to fight off any threat .... You haven't been sneaking back to screw that Caroline woman with the big thighs, have you?"

We were both laughing now and she was digging me in the ribs with her finger, just the way that Mum did when we were mucking about.

"Oh my God, it isn't Kristen Olsen...is it? If it is, that's easily resolved," she made cats claws with her fingers, "I will just set Emma onto her ... then we will see the fur fly!"

"No it isn't," I chuckled, "I don't know what you women hold against, poor Kristen?"

"We are more concerned about what she might be holding against you!" She laughed and dug her finger tips hard into my thigh making me yelp in surprise.

The landlord of the pub was calling time, and so we made our way back to the car still laughing. Maggie dropped me off at home, I could see that both Mum and Emma had their bedroom lights on and so guessed they had turned in for the night.

"I hope you and Gwen have a lovely weekend," Maggie said, then leaned across and gave me a hug and a kiss on the lips, which I thought lasted just a second or two too long, but I wasn't complaining. I watched her drive off down the road and then went into the house, made myself a coffee and took it up to my room.

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