The Touch Ch. 06byGreenFingers2015©
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.
ABOUT THE REVISED CHAPTER The original text for this chapter was written in the form of journal style entries over fifteen years ago and when it was posted to Literotica I knew that something was missing, it felt a little skeletal but needed to be published to complete the time line of the story. I have now discovered the full version, which is a little bit longer with a slightly expanded ending, and had been misfiled in amongst the pages for chapter 38. This is it, enjoy. GF
Chapter 6: A Shag for Christmas (Revised)
As it turned out I was to be disappointed, because neither of the girls came back to the garden centre before Christmas.
It was nothing to do with my having shagged both of them it was just pure chance and misfortune. Debbie called me from Cardiff with the bad news; Joanna had slipped on some stairs and had broken her leg in two places and would be in Cardiff hospital until a few days before Christmas and probably in plaster for a couple of months. Naturally, as her best friend, Debbie would be staying in Cardiff to support her, then, as soon as she could leave hospital they would go to Debbie's parents in Berkshire, for Christmas and New Year.
I felt really sorry for Joanna, she was a great girl and a broken leg is a shitty thing to have happen, doubly so at Christmas. I sent her a really big bouquet of flowers by Inter-flora, along with a 'Get Well Soon' card signed by me, Maggie, Jack and the lads.
It did leave us short staffed over Christmas if everybody was to get their days off and holidays. I didn't mind putting in additional time but Maggie was going to be away for a few days and it would not be fair to expect the others to work a lot of extra hours. It was too late to advertise in the paper for new staff so I just put the word around at college and next day I got a call from Josh, volunteering his younger brother Tim.
I had known Tim since we were all kids together; he was the same age as Emma, a year younger than Josh and I. Josh and Tim were almost exact opposites in most things except their joint abiding love of fishing which they shared with their father. Josh was tall and slim with dark hair, and was totally devoid of any sense of responsibility or ambition beyond the next pub crawl or angling match. He had been one of my best friends since junior school and I was very fond of him, but he could be a bit of a pratt at times and had left school halfway through his A-levels for no reason that anybody could discern only to sign up for technical collage within months to study on a creative writing and journalism course. I secretly suspected that he had only chosen college and a grant over unemployment benefit to pacify his father and to have an excuse to go out drinking most nights with other students.
Tim was more like his mother, shortish, but well built, with auburn hair and blue eyes and steady and studious a hard worker at anything he put his hand to and had every expectation of university quality A-Level grades; he had ambitions to be an art teacher like his mother had been before becoming a full time mother and housewife.
I gave him a call later that afternoon and told him that the job was his until the new school term started if he wanted it. He did, and we agreed that he should start immediately, the next day. Tim was a reliable and honest lad and so that left me with one more body to find. In the end the other replacement was a surprise to us all.
I got home from work about eight that night and Mum was sitting on the sofa reading. She looked up and beckoned me into the sitting room, "Come here, sweetheart, I want to talk to you," she said. I had a bad feeling in my stomach but hoped that my instincts were wrong she seldom brought up serious matters until after I had finished my supper.
"It's about Emma," she started. I raised my eyes to the ceiling and threw myself into the armchair dramatically.
"Oh, bloody hell; what has the little sod done now!" I snapped angrily.
"Calm down," Mum said, then, "I received the quarterly telephone bill yesterday; it was three hundred pounds, less a few pence. Emma has been sitting on the phone all day talking to her friends whilst we were out at work."
I jumped up from the chair, "I'll bloody kill her!" I was really angry, we had only just started to get ourselves straight and then this happens. Three hundred pounds; that was more than I brought home in wages over three weeks. "Where is she? Upstairs?" I stormed, "I'll shake her so bloody hard she'll never use a telephone again!" I made for the door to the hall.
"No, wait!" Mum, got up and grabbed my arm, "I have already given her a good scolding and I may have a solution, but I need your help to make it work." She pulled me down so that we were on the settee side by side, sat really close and held onto my arm to stop me getting up again, "Emma has agreed to pay back the money......"
"With what?" I scoffed, "her dole money, maybe?" That was another running sore, even the DHSS were not prepared to entertain somebody was not at all interested in getting a job and her social security payments had stopped when she was unwilling to attend interviews and help sessions. Mum and I had been keeping her since she left school, not just board and sustenance; Mum had been buying all her clothes and giving her pocket money to go out with her friends.
"Please listen, my darling!" Mum went on firmly, "She has agreed to get a job and has promised to use her wages to pay me back....I thought as you need extra people at the garden centre....?"
I shook my head frantically, "Oh No.....Oh No! Not that.....!" The thought of having that little cow around me all day was unthinkable. Emma and I had been really close when we were kids and I loved her dearly as my little sister, but the trauma of Dad leaving had been stressful for us all not just for her alone, and I had developed a very short fuse where her whining, her tantrums and bitchiness to Mum, were concerned.
Maggie had left the hiring of the replacement staff entirely up to me, and would run with whatever decision I made...but no....not Emma! Then I looked at Mum's face and I knew that I couldn't refuse her anything. Her sad smile was heart breaking and totally melted away my resolve but at the same time left me with a tingling in my groin that really shouldn't be there. She looked sad and worried and beautiful and totally sexy. I realised that coming down hard on Emma would only hurt Mum by proxy.
"OK," I said calmly, "but, only on the condition that you let me pay the telephone bill and then it will be me she owes the money to......I love you dearly Mum, but I don't trust you not let her off after a couple of weeks." Suddenly, I was acting like the parent, not the son but since Dad left Mum and I had gradually slipped into a changed relationship, we were no longer just mother and son; we were more like friends supporting and encouraging each other, helping to try and rebuild our shattered family and had become each others confidants as two equal adults.
"Thank you, Jamie, my darling," she said, "I will get your supper out of the cooker and then go and have a talk with her... I know that she will agree to the arrangement... and I know that it will all work out for the best."
"Just make sure that she turns up ready to work, starting tomorrow, and keep her out of my way until then." I added. So that was that, we were back up to strength at work but I was now stuck with Emma for at least a couple of months. I promised myself that the first time she was late, sulky or pissed me off in any way I would kick her arse into outer space.
Emma kept out of my way at breakfast and turned up on time at the garden centre, looking a bit sheepish, but making the right noises. Maggie rescued me as usual and said that she would see to getting her kitted out and show her the ropes and kept her occupied for the rest of the day in the shop.
Later that afternoon I managed to snag Maggie in the office, "How is she doing?" I asked. I had been secretly watching Emma all day waiting for the first sign of a problem but in truth she seemed to be coping OK, she had picked up the routine for the shop almost instantly and had managed to get through the day without pissing anybody off or having a tantrum.
"She is doing fine," Maggie replied. She tucked her arm through mine and squeezed it, "Try to cut her a bit of slack, Jamie. She knows she has cocked up big time, and is genuinely sorry.....let's give her a chance to prove it." She looked up into my face with those big soft eyes and the battle was over.... Mum and Maggie together, they had me twisted around their twin little fingers and I didn't have any choice but to do whatever they wanted me to.
To my total surprise Emma not only stuck it out for the rest of the week, but actually fitted in quite well. I suppose being the only girl on the team made a difference, the guys made life fairly easy for her and Tim followed her about like a love sick puppy, he was a really nice boy and although the same age as her, was a bit immature when it came to girls; he had to be if he seriously wanted to hang out with my sister... God help him, I thought.
I did however begin to secretly hope that she would actually take up with him, or even one of the older college boys, having a relationship might open a window onto the real world for her. As far as Mum and I knew, Emma was not romantically into boys, or girls, for that matter; she had never had a boyfriend and just hung out with her mixed group of friends who I thought were a waste of space. None of them worked and they always looked scruffy and untidy, like something left over from a 70's hippy commune. In the beginning we were seriously worried that Emma would get into drugs or booze, but despite being a little shit at times and something of an emotional wreck, she was basically sensible and kept herself clean, she didn't even smoke.
When it came to looks Emma, like me, took after Dad's side of the family. She was almost as tall as me, with dark hair and bright blue eyes. I thought she was painfully thin, her arms were like twigs and her legs not much better, but then, she never stayed still long enough to eat a decent meal despite Mum's best efforts to coax her to eat with us at supper time, and I think most of her dippy friends were vegetarians, or worse. To my eyes her arse was too scrawny and hips too bony, but her tits were well shaped if small. Overall she was far from being unattractive, she had a quite pretty face but her real redeeming feature was the smile that she had inherited from Mum and Auntie Maggie, it was a shame that she seldom used it and just pouted or scowled most of the time.
Emma was totally devoid of any dress sense, and despite both Mum and Maggie spending hours with her shopping and treating her to decent togs, she habitually wore either shabby jeans and an old Bob Marley t-shirt which had once been mine, or loose fitting shift dresses which made her look like a pre-war waif. Emma's trainers were good quality, Mum had always insisted that both of us wore the best shoes she could afford to buy us, but were generally filthy unless I found them laying in the hall and cleaned them for her. Her hair usually looked a mess and was either pulled into thick, uneven, bunches like a small scruffy school girl might wear, or allowed to hang loose around her face so that talking to her was like calling a dog out of a bush.
I was totally surprised that first day at work when Maggie brought her out of the staff locker room. She had worked that 'Maggie Magic' again; she had found Emma a decent pair of black jeans, which probably belonged to one of my cousins, a green sweat shirt with the company logo on the breast and a matching fleece both of which fitted quite well. She was finished off with the obligatory green wellies and a red woollen ski hat with a bobble. Maggie had done Emma's make-up and her hair was tied back with smart red tartan Christmas ribbons from the gift shop. Overall, I thought she looked quite cute, I had not seen my sister look that good for years.
By the time Saturday came around I was really impressed with the new Emma. She had arrived for work on time every day, despite having to walk in, as Mum was on early day shift at the hospital and couldn't drive her. She worked hard; happily took on whatever she was asked to do, was cheerful and pleasant with the customers, popular with the staff and by the end of the week was not even trying to avoid me any more. I thought she was still a bit wary of my temper as I noticed her secretly watching me from across the yard on several occasions. Actually that wasn't quite true, in a strange way it was as if she was seeing me for the first time and was watching me out of curiosity. Had she not been my sister but just any other girl I would have thought she was interested... maybe even fancied me.
At lunchtime Maggie handed me the pay packets for the temporary staff and I went round and handed them out, except for Emma's which I slipped into my pocket. I left if for a while until I saw her standing alone behind the holly stall then went over and held out her wage envelope. She just looked at it, smiled sadly and shook her head.
"Come, on, Emma," I said as kindly as I could, "take it, you've earned it!"
"But, I thought....you know...the 'phone bill!" Her bottom lip had started to tremble and I could see that her eyes were moist. I hated to see her unhappy but at the same time it was one step up from the constant hissing fits and screaming tantrums which had become her stock in trade means of dealing with problems.
"It's OK, Emms....just take it home and tomorrow you can give me however much you think is right.....we can do the same every week, but this way you get to keep a bit of money for yourself, OK!"
Suddenly she just burst into floods of tears, threw her arms around my neck and gave me a big hug, then ran off in the direction of the staff room. I felt like a real wimp for backing down over the money, but after all she was my baby sister and she had really made an effort that week. Or maybe it was because she looked so cute in that bobble hat and ribbons.
I thought that I needed to make a gesture of good will and family spirit. After all it was only a week before Christmas so I found Emma and Maggie, then called Mum and fixed up for us all to go out as a family after work. I couldn't get a booking for the Ship Inn, so Maggie collected us all in the Range Rover and we drove into Salisbury and just waited for a table at the Berni Inn. I was happy just being with Mum and Maggie and that evening Emma was really nice to everybody, especially me, and so I was happy being with her too.
She was wearing a smart green velvet skirt I had never seen before, a chunky wool sweater with fir trees and reindeer across the front, she had done her make-up and brushed her hair and looked quite sweet. I noticed that waiter was quite taken with her and kept coming back to our table and fussing around her. The evening was fun and I think as a family we had managed to build some bridges and plaster over some old cracks.
The next day, Sunday, was exactly a week until Christmas Day and we all had our own agendas. Maggie had left early to drive up to Yorkshire to collect the twins, Lucinda and Lauren from school and was going to take them up to London for a couple of days shopping and would not be back until Thursday.
I didn't look forward to the girls coming home because I knew that my bickering with them upset their mother, but it was probably really because I hated sharing Maggie with anyone these days. The up side to the twins being home was that the four of us had always been very tight as kids and whilst I had drifted away Emma and the girls had remained close and it would be good for her to have them at home over Christmas. She hadn't seen her shit-bag friends since the upset over the 'phone bill and I wondered if Mum had set that as a condition to the agreement, I was certainly glad they were no longer around and would much rather she hung out with Lauren and Lucinda.
I had brought home a really nice six foot Christmas tree and put it up in the corner of the sitting room and Mum and Emma planned to stay home and do the decorations. Mum was cooking a roast dinner and for once Emma had said she would be there to eat with us. She had knocked on my bedroom door before breakfast and come in with a wad of cash which was more than half her wages. At least she was keeping her promises so far.
In the morning I got the garden barrow and brought fire logs down to the house and stacked them in a ready-use pile against the wall by the kitchen door, then filled up the wood basket by the fire place in the sitting room, we always had log fires over the Christmas holiday period. After that I went out and strung a rope of coloured outdoors lights around the little wooden summer house and across the lawn, held up in the middle with Mum's linen prop. I glanced up and saw Emma standing watching me from her bedroom window and waved but I don't think she saw me; the next time I looked she had gone.
It was about 3.30 by the time we finished lunch and it was starting to get dark so I switched on the lights for the Christmas tree and out in the garden, to my relief they worked, the summer house looked like a little grotto. The three of us stood by the French windows silently just looking and I slipped my arms around Mum and Emma's waists, one each side. It was the first time that we had really bothered with Christmas trimmings since Dad left, and I felt that we had finally turned an emotional corner.
We spent the evening at home just watching old black and white Christmas videos of 'Holiday Inn' and 'It's a Wonderful Life' at Emma's insistence; Mum enjoyed them as well and both of them sniffled at the appropriate places. In truth I thoroughly enjoyed both films, but then they had come from MY collection of classic movies, I didn't shed tears but the films left me with a warm glow; but that may have been because we had turned back the clock three years to when we spend regular Sundays happily together as a family.
With Maggie away, I was in charge of the garden centre, but in truth, most of it could run without my supervision, Jack needed no instructions or guidance about managing the greenhouses, and the others knew what they had to do to keep things ticking over. We had received another large delivery of trees but most of them had already been sold or reserved and I was kept pretty busy doing the deliveries and sometimes took Emma out with me in the van. I knew the area quite well now but it was faster and easier if you had a navigator. Emma seemed to enjoy our time out and we had regained some of the closeness that we had as kids, although I felt that we seemed to talk a lot but never say anything important.
On the Tuesday I had taken her out with me to deliver some larger trees and trays of pot plants to various customers on the south side of the city. After making the drops we were driving up the Odstock Road approaching Salisbury District Hospital, where Mum worked, when I had an idea. Behind the hospital was a large car park, usually quite deserted in the mornings and frequently used by driving instructors when starting first time drivers. I pulled in and got out of the van.
"Alright, Emma," I said, "it's about time you learned to drive!" We swapped seats and I ran through the beginner's stuff that she needed to know. We spent five minutes or so kangaroo jumping and stalling the van until she finally got the hang of it and made a couple of relatively smooth circuits. We changed seats again and she was excited as a little kid who had been taken out to a funfair. I realised that I had probably made a rod for my own back as Emma would not rest now until either Mum or I started to give her driving lessons for real, but if it kept her sweet I did not really care. It also inadvertently solved another problem which had been bugging me for the last week.....what to get her for a Christmas present.