The Touch Ch. 34byGreenFingers©
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. 34 Brothers and their Sisters – Sisters and their Brothers
I did not deliberately avoid Emma for the next couple of days but as the weather was holding out we were all picking up outside jobs which had been postponed from last week and I was working through from early morning until dusk as I was putting in extra hours planting in the summer bedding flowers at Caroline's in the evenings to catch-up on time lost. The times that I did see her everything seem normal between us, there was no friction; she didn't even tease me or flirt with me but she did seem cheerful and happy and kept grinning like the cat that got the cream; my cream I guess.
Maggie and I picked up a hedging job at Paul's Dene, a suburb to the north of Salisbury, to put in a twenty yard run of Cotoneaster Franchettii, a nice evergreen shrub that was becoming very popular, partly due to the pretty white flowers that bloom in early summer and the colourful orange berry crop through the winter, a big attraction for wild birds. The bushes needed to go in quite quickly as they were starting to bud.
I had already completed a couple of other small jobs that morning and so I met Maggie at the customer's house just after lunch. Planting in twenty-five smallish bushes probably didn't really justify both of the senior partners being there but the job did need to be finished in a single afternoon and Maggie and I wanted some time together to talk, mainly about our staffing issues.
When we had planted in about half of the shrubs we decided to take a mid-afternoon break for coffee and biscuits and took our flasks and availed ourselves of a convenient garden bench seat.
We still had not been able to decide which of the two applicants for the trainee gardener jobs we should take although we had been tossing it back and forth all afternoon. Both were equally suitable and both had seemed very keen and able.
The first was a young guy who was nearly 18 named Benson Pope, he had left school at sixteen and had been working for the past eighteen months at the golf club as a trainee groundsman and so was known to Colin and came with his recommendation which put him right at the top of the list. He was really keen to work with Colin again and seemed totally in awe of Maggie.
He was a shortish, rather chubby looking lad which was deceptive as up close you immediately realised that a lot of that chub was actually muscle. He had a broad pleasant face covered in freckles and curly ginger hair which made him look a lot younger than he was, but Colin reckoned that he had a lot of potential and that was good enough for me.
The other hopeful was Elizabeth Rollesby, who liked to be known as Libby. She also came with a recommendation, from my old college tutor who had pushed her to apply for the job and had taken the trouble to ring and ask me to interview her. Libby was attractive in a rather homely way, with shortish brown hair, quite an infectious smile and a neat 'fitness regime' figure with smallish tits, a firm waist and stomach and rounded buttocks crowning quite muscular and strong looking legs.
I vaguely remembered her from college, she had started the horticulture course about a year before I finished but had dropped out after about two months. She was quite candid about her reasons; they were singularly financial...she was over 18 and could not afford to continue paying the college fees once the grant ceased, and so had been forced to quit college and take a full time job in a supermarket to support herself. I guessed that she also recognised me but probably couldn't place me, as several times during the interview I caught her looking at me out of the corner of her eye when she thought I was looking away.
Both had been more than willing to agree to the conditions that Maggie had set on the trainee job; a commitment to work for us for three years, and the willingness to take the Cities and Guilds Horticulture course and see it through. De Veres would sponsor their college fees and at the end there would be a guaranteed career with us as a senior gardener. Maggie was absolutely committed to promoting horticulture as a well paid professional career for young people... her magic had worked for me and I was in total agreement.
In truth Maggie and I were each trying to find justification for hiring both candidates and I think that the final deciding factor was that I had received a letter that morning telling me that I had been accepted for the Royal Horticultural Society Diploma course at Writtle Agricultural College near Chelmsford in Essex, subject to my attending an interview and assessment during the next few weeks.
It was a fairly rigorous three year course in about twenty parts, theory and practical; but could be taken as a part time course, mostly what they were now calling distance learning, working from study packs either at home or the work place, plus about fifty compulsory days in college for lectures and assessments. There was an optional degree qualifying segment which could be taken on completion of the whole course.
The down side was that I would be away from Salisbury for several days at a time through the year, plus possible extended on site project works at significant garden sites up and down the country in the second and third years, which made it now really critical that we upped the head count for the gardening team.
The up side was that the college had accepted Maggie as my primary mentor and that a lot of my practical work could be performed as part of my normal working schedule for the garden centre with Maggie's reports backed by an independent assessor. I knew that Maggie would always be scrupulously fair but I guess the there was always the risk of accusations of nepotism.
I hadn't told anybody about the letter as it had been delivered to home by first post; I had shoved it into my pocket and only opened it during my morning break between jobs, so Maggie was almost the first to know. I had driven to a public call box between jobs and telephoned Gwen at the hospital to tell her first. I handed Maggie the sheaf of documents and let her scan through them whilst I sat and puffed at a cigarette and watched her lovely face for an initial reaction to the news. I had been boiling over inside all morning waiting to tell somebody... no that was not quite true... not just anyone... waiting to tell Maggie.
"Oh Jamie, this is fantastic... I am so pleased for you... and so proud of you as well," She leaned over and put her arms around my neck and pulled my face to hers and gave me a long lingering kiss on the lips, not at all an aunt to nephew kiss, it was soft and compliant our mouths slightly open so that the tips of our tongues briefly touched. "You are happy about it, aren't you?" she asked smiling. The course acceptance, or the kiss? Yes, I was happy about both. I nodded my agreement smiling broadly, I could now fully understand Josh's joy at his university acceptance; I suppose that it is just one of those milestone events of your youth, but mainly I was thrilled that Maggie had told me she was proud of me.
"We need to celebrate," she told me smiling. "Why don't we all go out tonight for a meal and then party?" I must have pulled a wry face, "What! Don't you want to?"
"I don't think that I could handle another party for a little while, I'm still getting over Sunday night." Emma had made certain that everybody knew that I had got totally rat-arsed and that she had needed to help me to bed but had not mentioned any of the more intimate things that had happened between us.
Nobody knew about Cherry or the fight; I hadn't mentioned it and Josh couldn't remember anything about the party at all when I telephoned him on Monday. I still hadn't spoken to Becca and she had been out when I talked to Josh, so I asked him to have her call me when she was free, but I knew that he probably wouldn't remember.
I certainly had no intention of getting drunk again for any reason however justified, and parties or raves were certainly going to be scratched runners for some time, but I really did want to share my happiness with Gwen and Maggie and Emma. "Let's all go out somewhere nice on Saturday evening for a meal... we can make it a joint celebration when Emma passes her driving test tomorrow. I absolutely know that she will."
"OK if that is your wish... my gallant knight... then your boon shall be granted," she chuckled. "It will be my treat... I will book somewhere.... No arguments, OK?"
"Thank you my queen," I grinned, standing and giving her a mock bow. "Where ever you choose will be Camelot to me." I didn't know why I said that it just seemed to slip out, was I subconsciously thinking of Lancelot and Guinevere? I should be that lucky!
We returned to our work still laughing, the 'gallant knight' thing had been a private joke between us since I had stood up for her against her ex-husband last November. The little silver statuette of a knight on a charger that she had given me at Christmas was one of my most cherished possessions although nobody but we two knew its significance.
"I suppose that if you are going to be sloping off all over the country and deserting me we really ought to take on both of the trainees.... I could initially assign Benson to Colin and you and I can share Libby between us, OK?"
"Oh absolutely, my own thoughts exactly." I replied.
Emma had the whole day off on Thursday and I had agreed to take most of the day out to go with her to her driving test and had promised her lunch afterwards. We took Gwen's car for Emma to use during the test as she was used to driving the VW Golf and had been practicing with it for weeks. Gwen had a meeting in Bristol and so she used my Polo to drive to the station after the three of us had breakfast together and she spent some time with Emma boosting her confidence for the driving test.
The test was booked for 11 am and so we spent an hour driving around town as a final practice and then, because the Salisbury test centre was temporarily closed for refurbishment, we parked on the Salt Lane car park to wait for the Test Examiner,
The examiner, who turned up dead on time, was about sixty with a quite solemn face but greeted Emma pleasantly enough and I watched them drive off and then strolled across to the Five Bells pub on the corner of Salt Lane and St. Edmund's Church Street for a cup of coffee. Judging by the number of coffee drinkers with Highway Code booklets, in the bar several were either waiting for their driving tests or had been dropped off after. The Test Centre being closed was obviously a bonus for the landlord of the Five Bells.
I finished my coffee and went back to the car park and sat on the wall smoking for about ten minutes until I saw Gwen's car pulling in from Salt Lane and edge into a space over on the rear wall. I had full confidence in Emma's driving ability but I still felt nervous for her as they sat in the car whilst he went through the necessary paperwork for either pass or failure. Eventually the test examiner left the car and walked over to his own vehicle and got in. Emma was still sitting in the driver seat of the Golf and so, full of trepidation, I walked over. She must have spotted me in the rear view mirror as the door swung open and she stepped out and I knew immediately that she had passed.
"Yes, yes, yes!" she shouted, jumping up and down and waving her arms in the air, one hand clutching her pass certificate. She bounced up to me like she was on springs, "I've passed! I've bloody passed!"
"That's fantastic Emms," I enthused, "Well done you....congratulations!"
Before I could stop her she literally leapt up throwing her arms around my neck and hooking her feet up behind her, nearly over balancing both of us, I had no choice but to grasp her around the waist and swing her around, her dark hair fanning our around her face, just to stay on my feet.
"I did it, I did it, I did it!" She crowed loudly. An elderly couple returning to their car in the next row stopped and laughing, gave her a round of applause, I figured that regular users of the car park had become used to people taking the driving tests from there.
When she finally allowed me to put her down the first thing that she did was to go round the car and peel off the learner L plates. I held out my hand to take them from her.
"Give them to me, I'll put them in the rubbish bin."
She opened the car boot and dropped them inside. "No way... they are MINE... you gave them to me when you paid for my lessons... I'm keeping them."
"OK," I laughed. "I promised you lunch if you passed... so where do you want to go... anywhere you like?"
She gave me a big radiant smile. "I want to go to...... Stoby's"
"Oh NO!" I groaned in mock exasperation, "Not bloody fish and chips again.... Every time I take you for a meal you want fish and chips."
"I like fish and chips," she replied with a little pout, "I only ever get to have them when I am with you ... and it's my favourite place, you used to take me there every Saturday when we were kids remember?"
It was true, from the time she was age ten I had met her out of ballet classes on term time Saturday mornings, after my rugby practice, and we had nearly always gone to Stoby's for take-away fish and chips to eat on the way home. It had become a little ritual for us that had ended when she was fourteen; Emma's dance lessons and my extra-curriculum sports were a luxury Mum could no longer afford and they became a casualty of Dad's sudden disappearance and the financial crisis that it had provoked. It had also fragmented the family. Emma had taken it hardest; all those little things that we used to do together as a family suddenly stopped when Mum and I had to work to make ends meet. Emma just couldn't cope with that and it had taken four years for the three of us to regain that old warmth and closeness.
"OK, a piece of leather and burnt offerings it is then..." I joked, using our childhood derogative. "We can leave the car here and walk, it is only a few streets away." In truth, I really enjoyed good old fashioned battered fish and chips, but she was right, I also usually only got to have them when I was with Emma.
For Thursday lunchtime Stoby's was exceptionally busy and there was a queue for tables in the upstairs dining room. I offered to take her somewhere else but Emma was adamant that she still wanted her fish and chips; so as it was a nice day, we decided to get take away portions wrapped in paper to eat by the river and ran down Crane Bridge Road with them and found a bench seat on the river bank.
Emma was still happy and excited about passing her test and took me through the examination drive, almost minute by minute as we sat and enjoyed our plaice and chips out of the paper wrapping, eaten with tiny wooden forks, and washed down with a can of ginger beer, the way that we had when we were kids. We fed the last few chips to the ducks on the river and then I dumped the papers and cans in a waste bin and returned to sit beside her.
She was in such high spirits that I really did not want to burst her bubble, but I seriously needed to speak to her about what was going on between us; she was in a good mood, we were outside in a public place, neutral ground, and it just needed to be done, Janice's comments a few days ago had scared me shitless.... and then there was Sunday night!
"Emms, we really need to talk... " I tried to make my voice light, I did not want to come across heavy or aggressive and upset her more than necessary.
"Yes OK," she chirped back, still bubbly, "What about?"
There she had me, the million dollar question! I guess that I hadn't really thought this through very well, prepared my script so to speak. I was going to accuse her of what? Getting jealous... coming on to me.... teasing me with erotic suggestions and flaunting herself in front of me in her night wear.... touching me up...? We were both teenagers most of those things were happening in fun between good friends all the time, this was the 1980's after all, pre-war prudery had long gone, swept away by two decades of sexual freedom during the 60s and 70s. I just sat there looking stupid for maybe five or six long seconds before I regained the guts to continue.
"Emms ... it's about us...." Oh shit, that was a bad start; it implied that I thought that there was an 'us'. "I mean it's about what has been going down between us the last couple of months.... " I knew that I was starting to babble, "You know... the er.... The sexy things .... The kisses... The intimate touching.... That sort of thing..."
She turned towards me. She was still smiling, a little pouty smile... it wasn't the smile of a nearly eighteen years old girl it was the all knowing smile of a woman, a timeless goddess with the sexual knowledge of millenniums.
Emma had chosen not to dress in her normal austere, all black attire for her driving test, instead she had put on a tight fitting mint green mini skirt with blue lacy leggings and a navy blue scoop neck top which looked to be made of some sort of a silk weave. Gwen had done her make-up for her before leaving for the station and she had brushed her long dark hair until it shone. She looked really sophisticated and grown up....and very sexy.
She twisted around on the bench to face me and locked her eyes onto mine. "Are you telling me that I repel you?" She had twisted my words but I wasn't sure if I was seeing a hint of hurt in those bright blue eyes; or maybe it was laughter.
"Oh God, Emms...No!" I gulped, "You could never ...."
"Can you honestly say that you don't find me sexy.... that you don't sometimes see me as a woman, not just your sister ... that you don't want me sometimes?"
She wasn't going into one, she wasn't getting angry; she was calm and cool, I was the one starting sweat and panic but she was driving the conversation in the direction that SHE wanted it to go. I hadn't thought this conversation out, but she had! Right then I knew that I was royally fucked. This was one battle I was going to lose.
"Maybe..." I mumbled, "But you are still my little sister, Emms."
She leaned forward until her face was only a couple of inches from mine. "I haven't been your 'little sister' since that first time we kissed in Mum's car after the Pharaoh's concert at Devizes."
"That was just a mistake...." I was drowning now and she was just ducking my head under the water for the fun of it... she already knew I was beaten.
"You wanted me then... and you want me now, a girl knows these things." She was laughing but she was so damned right, I did wanted her back then and she was starting to make me feel horny again right now.
I was clutching at straws, "What... what about Sunday ... that was too much... Sunday was too much, Emma?"
She was grinning with her success now, "Yes, it was .... A brother shouldn't dump his load all over his sister... even when he is as pissed as a newt."
I should have given up there and then but I wasn't being that bright. "I know Emms, and I'm sorry... but what about later, in my bed, what you... you... you...did to me."
"What is it that you think I did?" Emma laughed. She was obviously enjoying my discomfort, but not in a malicious or cruel way, it was a sexy tease.
"Did you er...touch me....wank me off, whilst I was sleeping... did you?"
"A girl would only do that if she really cared for the guy.... Don't you think?" She still was not saying for certain.
"Oh God, Emms! What is that you want from me? We can't have the kind of a relationship you are looking for, we really can't... we mustn't!"