tagNovels and NovellasThe Touch Ch. 33

The Touch Ch. 33


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.

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Chapter 33: Getting Rat-Arsed

The remaining days of that last week of April were wet and miserable with some of the worst thunder storms that the Southern Counties had experienced for several years. There was localised flooding all over England and we even had to close the garden centre early on Thursday as the car park was awash and we had only seen a handful of customers all afternoon.

Maggie and I spent all of Thursday morning in the office and studio, I needed to do some quotes and invoices for Emma to type up, then put some ideas together for Caroline's roof garden and she was working on the landscaping designs for The Old Rectory Restaurant. In truth I spent a good part of the morning just watching her work; she had already drawn up the rough plans for the designs and pinned the photographs that she had taken of the site on the big cork board which covered virtually all of one wall and was doing a first artist's impression sketch to get perspective on the end vision of the project.

It reminded me that I needed to call Becca Hill and arrange to take her up to London to see the roof garden job as Caroline had asked for another set of watercolours for that project as well; there was also another idea that was starting to form in my head which I needed Becca's help with. There was no hurry as I was seeing her son Josh on Sunday, I decided to send a message back with him.

I had poured us both a cup of coffee and came though from the office to tell Maggie it was ready. We had a strict rule about not bringing hot drinks into the studio... fortunately I hadn't been the one who had spilled coffee on the plan table, but it would have been only a matter of time before I did and so I was happy to comply with the rule.

"Coffee is ready when you are," I told her. I was peering over her shoulder as her pencil stokes created a perfect, recognisable image of a bed of rose bushes. I had never had the slightest bit of talent for any of the creative arts and was always fascinated by the miracles that Maggie and Becca could work with their charcoals, pencils and watercolours.

Maggie was sitting on her tall revolving stool and was wearing a loose, faded blue denim shirt over stretch blue jeans, which were pulled very tight over her round buttocks as she leaned forward above her swivel topped drawing board. I was standing directly behind her with her honey-blonde pony tail bobbing tantalisingly in front of my eyes. I don't know if it was that mesmerising soft tail of hair, or the perfume of her shampoo, the same one that Gwen used, or just because they were so very much alike but for a moment I forgot that it was Maggie and not Gwen before me.

I was running on auto-pilot and before I realised what I was doing I stepped up close and leaned my chin on her shoulder and slid my arms around her waist my hands slipping beneath the hem of her shirt and resting lightly on her bare waist, finger tips against her firm belly. It felt smooth and cool and it took a serious physical effort to stop myself from reaching up to cup her breasts. It was what I would have done if she HAD been Gwen and we were alone together.

I suddenly realised what I was doing but before I could withdraw she had put down her pencil and placed both of her hands over mine holding them against her, the fabric of her shirt sandwiched between. She didn't seem to mind my hands being on her bare midriff and I wasn't at all sure if her hands were covering mine to hold them in place or to stop them wandering to where they would not be welcomed.

"What have I done to warrant this sudden rush of affection from my nephew?" she chuckled, and turned her face slightly to give me a small peck on the cheek.

I really didn't want to think about Maggie being my aunt, we almost never treated each other as aunt and nephew and she had recently become more tactile and affectionate than ever, but I was very close to breaking through a boundary and as much as it was one that I desperately wanted to tear down I shied away... the risk was just too great!

I slid my hands back out from under her shirt and thrust them into my pockets out of harms way. "No reason... just felt like giving you a hug," I mumbled lamely, "Sorry."

"I didn't say that I didn't like it..." she teased. Her flirting sent a small tingle of response rippling though my balls.

For about the millionth time the thought entered my mind that she MUST know how I felt about her. This was not the first time that I had nearly made a real pass at her and we spent time nearly every day together, probably adding up to more hours than most married couples had in the average week. Certainly it was more time alone than Gwen and I ever expected to get.

What really concerned me was that I had almost slipped up and called her Gwen.... Not even Mum.... Gwen! Sons do hug their mothers sometimes, but they call her Mum they don't use her given name. Maggie was far too perceptive to miss that kind of mistake and it was hard enough already trying to hide our relationship from her as she was Gwen's twin. The hardest thing about having an intimate relationship with your mother, an incestuous relationship, was the having to keep secrets, lie and hide away from those people that you both loved most, the other members of your family, knowing that the slightest error in judgement would hurt not just you but them as well. It was the heart-breaking, hateful price that Gwen and I had to pay for the joy that our special intimacy had brought us.

Maggie spun around on her stool and looped her arms around my neck. "Help me down and you can tell me all about your trip to London yesterday," she said cheerfully. I lifted her off the high stool and we sat on the sofa in the office with our coffees and a plate of biscuits whilst I updated her on what I had discovered at Caroline's flat and my initial thoughts about the project, the problems over access that we would need to get around and my early ideas for the type of garden that I wanted to create. I did not tell her about my thwarted intention of taking Georgia for lunch, or meeting with Kristen. I didn't offer an explanation of why I stayed over in town, and she didn't ask.

I spent the early part of the afternoon making telephone calls. I called Caroline's office number but was informed that she was not expected back from New York until later in the week. Most of the other calls were to clients re-arranging appointments which needed to be postponed because of the bad weather, all were small jobs and there were no issues over the delays.

My final call was to Philippa Shelby, after a long wait whilst one of the stable hands went off to fetch her she eventually came onto the line and I asked her about the history of Shelby House and the gardens.

"I'm sorry, Jamie," she said. "I really don't have much of a clue about the history of either the house or garden before my grandfather's time. You might get something out of the Salisbury Civic Society they took a bit of an interest some years ago and spent a week or so poking about the place."

"OK, thanks Philippa, I will do that."

"You are always welcome to come over and go through the old library, I keep it locked up now, and it's a bit of a bloody mess, but if I do have anything of interest it will be there."

"Thanks, that sounds a really great idea....I'll come over soon."

Her voice changed to a husky whisper, "Do you think I have anything of interest, Jamie? If I have it could take you all night to look for it......our little walk in the garden on Saturday was really just too short....." she chuckled sensuously.

I was really glad that I was in the office alone. I guessed that Philippa was starting to get horny again and made a mental bookmark to go out soon and have a look through that library. We said our good-byes and I made a note to find out about the Salisbury Civic Society, they weren't in the telephone directory or yellow pages and Maggie did not know anybody involved which was a bit unusual as she always knew most of what went on in the county.

By mid-afternoon the weather had turned so foul and business was so slow that we decided to close up early at 4pm and let everybody go home.

I had a couple of errands to run in Salisbury, I needed to drop off the rolls of photographs that I had taken in London for developing and wanted to slip into the library to find out about the local history groups and quiz my pet librarian about anything they might have in the reference archives about Shelby House.

I left the rolls of film at the photograph's shop and started to make my way up High Street towards the Market Place and the library when something caught my eye in the window of a gift shop. It was a small soft toy, a grey fur fabric elephant with a big pink ribbon around its neck. I chatted up the young woman serving in the shop and she went into their storeroom and found me a small box, packed the toy in tissue paper, I slipped in one of my business cards with 'See you again soon' hastily scribbled on the back and then she parcelled it up and even found me a sticky label on which I wrote Kristen's name and address. I thanked her for her kindness and walked back down High Street to the post office and got it posted. It was only a small thing but I thought that it would make Kristen happy.

The visit to the library was not as productive as I had planned, the librarian that I could usually persuade to do me little favours, a very nice single lady of about 35, called Anthea, was not on duty that afternoon. The officious young guy on the desk just handed me a couple of leaflets about local museums and the Salisbury Civic Society but the latter did have the group's contact details.

The whole of Friday was taken up with interviewing candidates for the two new gardener posts that we wanted to fill. By the end of the day we had short listed one guy who fitted the bill for the senior gardener role and two more, a younger chap and a girl for the trainee slot.

Maggie telephoned Jasper Lee the new senior gardener when we finished the interviews about four-thirty and told him that the job was his and we were both glad when he accepted. Jasper was a slim athletic looking guy of 28 with a mop of blonde hair and a diploma in garden design backed by ten years work experience with Gloucester Council Parks department. He was recently separated from his wife and eager to move to a new city and agreed to give his notice in on Monday and would be able to start with us on or around the 5th of June which fitted our needs perfectly.

The two trainee candidates were both very good and Maggie and I were struggling to choose between them and so decided to think on it over the week-end and then make a final decision on Tuesday, after the bank holiday.

The all important weather began to clear over the week-end with prolonged sunny gaps between the showers and as Gwen had taken Emma out for a day's driving practice in the car I decided to work and so Sunday morning I collected the Land Rover from the garden centre and drove over to Caroline's house at Bishopsdown. I assumed that she would not be at home as I had telephoned her office again on Friday and had been told that she was still in the United States on business and not expected back for several more days.

As I had anticipated, the newly laid grass turf was pretty waterlogged and so I got the aerator-roller down from the Land Rover and spent a couple of hours carefully pricking the surface of the lawn to allow for better drainage and then sprinkled the grass with a selective fungicide mixture to prevent moss taking hold.

The heavy rain had left the flower beds quite damp but had nicely broken down the horse manure that I had forked in a few days ago, and as it was still dry I decided to make a start on getting the shrubs planted in. In fact, apart from one prolonged heavy shower which drove me into the shed with my flask and cigarettes for half an hour, the day stayed dry and by five o'clock I had all the planting finished.

By the time that I got home, had a shower and changed into jeans and a t-shirt, Gwen was getting ready to serve up an early dinner as we all had arrangements for the evening. Emma had fixed to go out with Janice and some other friends, I was meeting Josh at the Royal George Inn in Salisbury to celebrate his being accepted into Leeds University, and Gwen had been invited over to Maggie's place for the night. It was a bank holiday, May Day, on Monday and we were only opening the garden centre from 12 'til 4 so everybody could have a lay in the next morning if we had a late night.

Gwen was dropping Emma off at the riding stables and as it was still dry and had turned quite mild, and I knew that I was going to be drinking, I walked into town and got to the pub about eight o'clock. The bar was already heaving; mostly students from the college and some old school friends, some with their girl friends, and all were drinking fairly steadily even that early in the evening. I ordered a whisky at the bar and then pushed my way to the table occupied by Josh, his brother Tim and a couple of our closer friends from school, Simon Goldblum, Adam Black and a girl I had never seen before who was introduced as Adam's girlfriend, Jane or Janey, I think.

Josh was pretty ecstatic at getting into university, like me he had dropped out of his A-Levels half way through but had chosen to go to college to study journalism and retake his essential exams.

"Fucking miracle...that's what it is! Bloody good fishing rivers in Yorkshire too!" He kept crowing over and over. He was already three parts cut, and was energetically pumping the hands of anybody who came over to congratulate him, Simon and I were sitting either side of him and he must have shook our hands at least a dozen times.

I was really pleased for him, Josh, and I had been mates since junior school although we had drifted apart the last few years as our interests diverged. He only really had two interests in life his abiding love of fishing and his new romance with journalism. I was also glad that he had got himself sorted out for his mother's sake, Becca had been worried that his wanting to be a journalist was just an adolescent fad but she would be pleased that he had netted a degree course in media studies at a decent university. My only reservation was that living on his own on campus he would probably get pissed every night, but then that was what all students did anyway.

By about ten-fifteen everybody was getting to be seriously drunk. I hadn't had so much to drink since Old Year's Night and I was certainly pissed enough that when somebody suggested the whole group went on to a house rave I agreed to go along, even though I am really not keen on parties or large gatherings. Several of us crowded up to the bar and eventually persuaded the landlord to make us some off-licence sales and we all left the pub armed with bottles of beer, wine or spirits.

The party was not far away, a house on Belle Vue Road, and the dozen or so of us trooped up to the front door laughing and singing drunkenly. To my surprise we were welcome, or at least our bottles were, and were soon all sprawled about the place or thrashing about on the area designated as a dance floor. I guessed that somebody's parents were in for a severe shock when they came home, the house was already looking seriously trashed there were empty bottles and full ashtrays everywhere and pop music was hammering out from what was obviously the sitting room. I reckoned that the bash had been going for some time, nearly everybody was drunk and I suspected some were stoned, and the more randy couples were pairing off and petting or even shagging with hardly any thought to privacy or discretion. I was drunk but that type of rave was not really my scene.

The party crowd was mostly young people about my own age; there were several faces that I knew other than from Josh's celebration group but also quite a few strangers. I never did find out whose house we were using. After a time and several more whiskeys I decided I needed some air and threaded my way through the crowd and out of the kitchen door into the rear garden. Even outside the sound of the music blaring out was deafening and I was surprised that the neighbours had not called the police by now. The rear garden was in complete darkness but I could just make out the pale forms of two or three couples who appeared to be shagging energetically on the large lawn probably totally drunk and unaware that they were visible from the house despite the darkness.

It was a sizable detached house with a very large drive-through garage built onto one side, there were no outside lights and nobody else around so I just lit a cigarette and leaned against the corner of the house close to the nearest garage door which was standing half open.

I could hear noises inside the garage, scuffling, muttered words and moans, and if I had not been as pissed as I was would have recognised them for what they were and simply discreetly moved away; but I was smashed and so decided to investigate. I leaned around the open garage door and peered in. The big up and over door at the far end was open and the garage was dimly lit by the street lighting beyond.

At first the only thing that my drunken senses registered was the shape of a large white saloon car parked facing towards me and then I made out two figures bent over the front of the bonnet. Pathetically slowly my eyes absorbed and transmitted what they were seeing to my befuddled brain, a man's naked buttocks humping furiously at a half naked girl who was spread-eagled face down beneath him over the bonnet of the car; she had longish dark hair and long, naked legs which were twitching as the guy thrust at her. It wasn't a particularly pretty sight and certainly not a turn-on; they hadn't seen me and I was being very careful in my tortoise like efforts to turn away without disturbing their pleasures. I don't think I am the voyeur type; I am not even keen on spectator sports... I would much rather be doing than watching.

I took a silent step backwards and was beginning to turn away when an alarm bell started to ring in my whisky soused brain. There was something wrong about the way that the guy was pinning the girl to the bonnet of the car by her shoulders; he was grunting in obvious satisfaction with his violent rutting but she was not moaning in pleasure as I had first thought, she was sobbing. Deep heart rending sobs. I turned back and for the first time saw that there was a dark liquid stain spreading down the white paintwork of the car from beneath them.

I took a step forward through the door. They still hadn't seen me but I could recognise that dark stain, it was blood.

Now I could make out the girl's gasping, sobbing words. "Stop it, Kevin....please stop it.... It hurts... I'll let you fuck me if you do, just please stop it!"

I could now also see that what I had thought was doggy-style sex was not; his shaft was buried deep into her anus, he was buggering her and she did not appear to like it or want it.

They obviously knew each other, but I recognised neither of them and I guess the sensible thing to do should have been to turn and stagger away before they saw me. Instead I took another step forward and opened my stupid mouth.

"Hey, get off her you bastard!" I slurred aggressively.

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