Long Holiday

Ben Esra telefonda seni bosaltmami ister misin?
Telefon Numaram: 00237 8000 92 32

Long HolidayCopyright Oggbashan September 2014The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.*************************************************Long HolidayAs it was Monday morning, I got up early, washed, shaved, put on a business suit and sat down for a quick breakfast. I put the coffee mug and cereal bowl in the dishwasher and went to the front door to pick up my briefcase and laptop. They weren’t in their usual place.It hit me then. I was on holiday. I wasn’t going to work. I wouldn’t be going to work ever again. My holiday was four weeks of accumulated days I hadn’t taken last year. Once those days have passed I will be retired, forever.I went back to the kitchen, retrieved my mug, and made another cup of coffee.What was I going to do? My work had been my life for the past ten years since my wife Rita had died. The last few months had been hectic as I completed that major project while training the youngster who would take over my role. I had been working at the office more than twelve hours a day and most weekends, coming home, grabbing a micro waved meal, and working online into the early hours. Only the last few days had been quiet. Last Tuesday, the Board had accepted the successful completion of the task, congratulated me and the youngster, and all I had left to do was make my farewells.I had several other roles that I had accumulated as part of my career but although I could pursue them, they weren’t really important to me anymore. I should resign from them, announce my retirement, or just let them lapse. The contacts had been useful to me, to my company, and to those organisations, but as a former manager they were not really relevant. Why did I need to keep a string of letters after my name when I had no one who would be impressed by them?I couldn’t even go back to meet old colleagues. The whole company was relocating to a new site, chosen by me, two hundred miles away. Most of my contemporaries were retired, retiring, or moving for a few months work at the new location. They were buying homes to retire to at prices far lower than in London, or much grander.I thought some of them were misguided. They would be leaving friends, family, and everything they knew, just to get a better house. Bill, for example, was moving from a small three bedroomed house to an eight bedroomed mansion standing in five acres of land. Why? His c***dren had left home years ago. Bill and his wife would be rattling around in all that space and struggling to maintain the house and land.Was I any better than Bill? I had a detached four-bedroomed house with a garage, an unused swimming pool, off-road parking for four cars, and just me, alone. We had tried but failed to have c***dren. My only relations were in Australia. My brother had moved there forty years ago to join our uncle’s business. That business had grown and now employed all the extended family because it was still family owned. But I couldn’t fly to Australia. My ancient injuries made flying, even in business class, too uncomfortable for anything but an hour or so.I had rewritten my will after Rita died. The family solicitors would arrange my funeral, sell everything I owned, and the balance after taxation would be split between my Australian nephews and nieces whom I had never seen except on Skype. They didn’t need the money because they were all house owners, mortgage-free, and part owners of the family company. Even the youngest of them had more capital than I.I finished the mug of coffee, went back to my bedroom and changed into the casual clothes that had been in the depths of my wardrobe for years. I put on a pair of jeans and a short-sleeved shirt. I hung my suit back on its hanger. Would I wear any of those suits again?I put cash and my credit card wallet in one pocket, my mobile phone in another, and set out to walk to the local Library. Perhaps I could join some community society? The Library should have a list. But which society? I didn’t feel like a pensioner. I had been a senior manager on Friday. Technically I still was, for the next four weeks, but all that meant was that my bank account would be credited with my salary. After those four weeks it would be credited with my company pension and share dividends. What did it matter? Even if I had no pension at all, my investments would provide enough for me to be financially comfortable for the rest of my life. But my pension was what? Four times the average national earnings for a family? I would be paying more tax on my pension than an average adult’s earnings.I walked to the Library. I could have driven and parked the car, paying the exorbitant parking charge levied by the cash poor local council, but why? I had time to walk. I had more time than I knew what to do with. Ten minutes later I was staring blankly at the Library’s closed doors. The Library does not open until ten o’clock. I looked at my watch. It was eight thirty.What could I do for an hour and a half? I couldn’t go to the Museum. That was in the same building and had the same opening hours as the Library. I could go to the coffee shop across the road, but two cups of coffee was my normal morning limit. There was a map to inform tourists on the Library wall with a large arrow pointing to the Tourist Information Office, which, of course, was in the same building as the Library and Museum, and didn’t open until ten o’clock.But there was a green area marked about two hundred yards away. It was a small park named after a Victorian benefactor. It seemed to have a pond or lake in it. I had never been there. Why would I? I had never had a dog to walk, never had c***dren to bring to play on the outdoor toys, and if I wanted grass and flowers, my garden had enough. But I could spend at least a few minutes walking there and around it. As I entered the park I could see a few bedraggled ducks sitting by the other side of the small pond, expectantly watching a mother sitting on a bench with a toddler in a pushchair beside her. Would she have bread? The toddler was sound asleep, so even if she had bread, she would wait until the toddler could see the ducks.The path passed in front of the bench. As I walked I could see that my first impression was wrong. She wasn’t a mother. Although well preserved and carefully dressed, she might be the c***d’s grandmother or other retired relation. Her grey hair just showed underneath her wide-brimmed hat. As I came nearer, she lifted her face to see who was coming. I recognised her. It had been many years but she had been one of Rita’s friends. What was her name? She gave me a faint, fleeting smile. That smile, weak though it was, triggered my memory. She was Maureen.Years ago Maureen had been one of Rita’s wider group of friends. They had been acquaintances who had grown apart long before Rita died. Maureen’s interests had been her c***dren and her friends had c***dren of similar ages. Rita had said a couple of times that she thought Maureen’s brain was wasted on rearing c***dren. At the university together but studying different disciplines, Maureen had been the high flyer, achieving a First, to Rita’s stolid competence and a 2.1.Maureen had graduated when pregnant. She took a decade out for c***d rearing before she started a career far below her talents. I was surprised that I had remembered even that much about Maureen. She must have made a bigger impact on me than I thought.I had no idea what she had done in the last ten years. At least I could greet her. She might want to talk, and finding out what she had been doing might pass the time until the Library opened. I didn’t really want to know. Why would I? What interest did I have in the activities of someone who had been a distant friend of my wife years ago?“Hello Maureen, how are you?” I said as I reached the bench.“Hello Paul,” She replied. “I wondered if you’d remember me.”“It has been years,” I said, “but I remembered your smile,”I had obviously said the wrong thing. Her face looked sad.“At present I haven’t got much to smile about, Paul,” She said.“Why not?” I asked. She had moved slightly as an invitation to sit beside her.“It’s my own fault. My daughter Helen had to take her daughter Stephanie for a dental check up. Helen’s car is being serviced, so she walked round and borrowed mine. James…” Maureen pointed at the pushchair, “was asleep when Helen arrived, so I said I would walk him to the park. Stephanie’s appointment was only ten minutes long and there’s nothing wrong with her teeth, so I expected them to meet me here in about a quarter of an hour. That should have been half an hour ago. Stupidly I left my handbag in the car when Helen drove off. It has my new mobile phone, my purse, and my house keys in it. I had my old mobile phone in my skirt pocket. Helen rang ten minutes ago, but my old mobile’s battery died in the middle of the call. She had said she was delayed by an accident, but I don’t know whether she was in the accident, or delayed by traffic because of someone else’s accident. I’m worried.”I produced my mobile phone from my pocket.“Here you are,” I said. “Ring Helen.”“You’re sure?”“Of course.”Maureen took her hat off and put it on the bench. I walked a few yards away while she rang her daughter. The conversation didn’t last long. When Maureen switched my phone off, I came back and sat down again.“Well?” I asked. “Is she OK?”“Yes, but I’m not. There was an accident right in front of Helen. She wasn’t involved in it but the Police want her as a witness because the accident is serious. The road is blocked and she can’t leave until the Police have taken her statement. Who knows how long that might be?”“All you can do is wait. I’ll stay with you. You could ring Helen from time to time to check what is happening.”“You’ll stay, Paul? Shouldn’t you be doing something else?”“I’m on holiday,” I said abruptly.“Holiday? You? You never have a holiday, Paul. Rita used to complain that getting you to stop working at weekends was like pulling teeth.”“I am on holiday,” I insisted. “A very long one. At the end of it, I retire. I’ve left work for ever.”“I don’t believe it,” Maureen said looking sharply at me. “What will you do? You lived for work.”“I know. That’s why I’m here. I was wasting time waiting for the Library to open at ten o’clock.”I glanced at my watch. Not yet nine o’clock. At least another hour to wait.“So you can stay with me. Thank you, Paul. That would be a help. If James wakes up he’ll be a handful. He’ll be thirsty, probably hungry because he didn’t eat much of his breakfast, and fractious because his Mum isn’t here. And I can’t get him a drink or anything to eat. I can’t get into my house…”“…and your money is in your handbag, in your car with Helen?”“Yes, Paul. It is. There might be a drinking fountain in the Park, but it probably doesn’t work.”“Drink and food for James is another problem I could solve. I may be unused to small c***dren but I do have cash in my pocket. There is a refreshment kiosk over there…” I pointed at it.“But it doesn’t open until…”“…ten o’clock?” I finished.“Exactly.”We laughed. I explained why I was going to the library. Maureen talked about her c***dren as parents. I was surprised how well we were getting on together. It seemed as if we were old friends meeting after a long break, catching up with news. But we had never been old friends. She had been one of Rita’s acquaintances and we had never exchanged more than a few words when passing in the street.We were talking freely and enjoying each other’s company. Maureen smiled more perhaps because she knew Helen was only a witness to the accident, and that I could help if James woke up. I felt comfortable with Maureen. When I sat down on the bench there had been a couple of feet between us. I hadn’t moved. Maureen had begun to rock James’ pushchair when he wriggled in his sleep. Now her skirted leg was touching my jeans. I didn’t know why, but that closeness was reassuring.Maureen leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. It was the first time I’d been kissed by a woman for years. It was only a friendly peck but it shook me up. Maureen had been one of Rita’s friends. I couldn’t remember that she had ever touched me. Yet she had just kissed me. I liked being kissed by her, but it felt much more important to me than it should. Maureen seemed to sense that my reaction to that kiss was unusual. She was studying my face. There was a long silence between us.“Paul?” Maureen said quietly. I looked at her. “Paul, you have greater problems than mine, haven’t you?”“Yes, Maureen,” I said heavily. “I have. I have nothing and no one to live for. I lived for work. That ended on Friday. I loved Rita. She’s been gone ten years…”“And there’s no one else?”“My brother and his family, but he’s been in Australia for forty years. I don’t know and have never met his wife or c***dren.”“Friends?”“At work. And they’re moving away.”Maureen’s hand reached out and gently took mine.“You have a friend. Me. It’s a start. We might not know each other well, but you’re helping me now. I’ll help you. mersin escort Fair exchange?”I couldn’t speak. My throat was tight. I nodded. Maureen’s hand squeezed mine. I looked at those entwined hands, and gently squeezed back.“I’m not going to kiss you again, Paul,” Maureen said. “Not now. It would mean too much, wouldn’t it?”I nodded again.“But…”What Maureen might have said was lost. James woke up with a start. He cried for a few seconds and then looked at us.“Dink?” he asked.“We’ll have to go to get one,” I said.James looked at me and my hand in Maureen’s. He seemed to accept that whatever his Granny did was permissible.“Dink,” he repeated.We stood up. Maureen hung her hat on the handled and started to walk the pushchair towards the Park entrance.“Where?” she asked.“The High Street Coffee Shop?” I suggested.“They’re pricey.”“I’m paying,” I replied.“OK.”“How old is James?” I asked as we left the Park.“Twenty months,” Maureen answered. “Stephanie is nine. She is beginning to accept her little brother but his arrival was a shock to her and her parents. They had disposed of all the baby items years ago, then Helen found she was pregnant. Stephanie was my youngest grandc***d until James.”“How many have you got?”“Eight.”“Eight! It must be chaos when they visit.”“It was, but they are all reasonable now, except James, of course. They can help prepare meals, wash up, and although it can get crowded in my kitchen I don’t have to do much.”In the coffee shop we bought James a bottle of water with a spout. He held it solemnly, watching us drink coffee. He made a mess with a couple of biscuits but most of them went inside him. Maureen used my phone to ring Helen who thought she would be with us in about quarter of an hour.When Helen and Stephanie arrived, Maureen introduced me. Stephanie was making a fuss of James who was giggling at his sister.“Paul?” Helen said. “Oh yes, I remember. You’re the one with the swimming pool. Rita taught me to swim in it. But you were rarely there, always at work, either at the office or in your study. That’s why it took me a while to think where I knew you from.”Helen gave Maureen the car keys. Maureen rushed off to retrieve her handbag. I ordered drinks for Helen and Stephanie, and more biscuits for James.When Maureen returned Helen gathered up Stephanie and James and left. Maureen and I sat with our empty cups and the litter of James’ biscuit crumbs.“The Library is open now,” Maureen said into the silence between us.“The Library?” I nearly said a rude word. “I don’t think I need it now. I’ve found a friend. She might give me better advice than a librarian. Would you join me for a walk around that park? Please?”I waited for her answer. It meant more to me than anything except work had done for years.“Hand in hand?” she asked.“That would be nice,” I replied.“Hand it hand it is.”I paid the bill and left a tip. Maureen and I walked quietly side by side until we reached the Park entrance. I extended my hand. Maureen took it. We took only a few steps. Maureen pulled my hand around her waist, slid hers around mine, and rested her head on my shoulder. I stopped and looked at her upturned face. I meant to kiss her forehead. I met her lips.Her hand moved from my waist to behind my head, prolonging the kiss. I hadn’t felt this excited for years. When the kiss ended I knew I wanted another, and another.“Sorry, Paul,” Maureen said. “I shouldn’t have done that.”“Why not? I enjoyed it.”“So did I, but I was taking advantage of you. You are vulnerable and although I wanted to kiss you, I should have waited until…”“…we know each other better?”“Yes, Paul.”“Then let’s start if it means we get to another kiss sooner…”The next kiss arrived instantly.“We know we like kissing each other,” Maureen said, “But we knew that already.”We had reached the bench by the pond. The ducks were still hopefully waiting for food.“The kiosk, now open, sells duck food,” Maureen said. “I can pay, now.”She did. We went back to the bench but when the duck food had all been eaten the ducks were still noisily quacking around us. We walked on to another bench under some trees.“I have an idea, Paul,” Maureen said when we were seated. “You don’t know what to do with yourself and were looking for possible activities. How about shadowing me for a few days, seeing what I do, and whether any of my activities appeal?”“Won’t that be an imposition on you? And what about your family?”I didn’t say it, but I wondered what her husband Edward, or Ted as he was known, would say. Maureen seemed to know what I was asking.“I had forgotten just how little you know about my recent life, Paul. I’m on my own. I divorced Ted years ago when you were in hospital. He had taken up with a young blonde from work. He was apparently working the sort of hours you did, but he wasn’t. He was in her flat enjoying unlimited sex. She gave him an ultimatum when she thought she was pregnant. It was a false alarm, but he confessed to me and asked for a divorce. I was happy to let her have him. I’m pleased that she found out what a selfish man he is after a year or so, before they married, and she chucked him out too. He’s now working in Northern Ireland, or he was when I last heard. What about you? I know nothing since you lost Rita and went into hospital.”“You knew we were in a car accident?”“Yes, Paul, but just that. What happened?”“We were at the traffic lights where Helen was held up this morning. You know the place. The main road is in the valley and the two side roads come down steep hills to join it at the lights. We were in the middle of the road waiting to turn right. A large truck was coming down the hill towards the red lights. A c***d jumped out in front of it, the driver swerved, missed the c***d, but the truck hit a bollard on the pavement. It was a freak accident because that bollard wrecked the truck’s braking system. He wasn’t moving fast but it was a very heavy load. The truck hit Rita’s side of the car and killed her instantly. Our car was pushed across the road into the front of a car waiting for the lights to change. That impact crushed my side of the car. I broke both legs and chipped some vertebrae. I had to be cut out of the tangled remains. If I hadn’t been driving a large car I would have died with Rita. Sometimes…”Maureen hugged me. She knew what I was going to say.“It wasn’t the driver’s fault. He had a perfect driving record and the truck had been properly maintained. The accident investigators calculated that his speed at the time of first impact with the bollard was no more than fifteen miles an hour, but thirty tonnes of vehicle and load had too much momentum. I was in hospital for four weeks and now I have metal pins in my legs and back. The long term effects limit what I can do but I can work within my capabilities.”“I’m sorry, for you, and for Rita. You loved her, didn’t you?”“Yes. I was working hard to provide a safe and financially secure future for both of us. Her parents were always in some sort of monetary crisis, and Rita was terrified of being like them. When she died I had already paid off the mortgage and had started building a capital reserve. Just knowing we didn’t owe money to anyone and could survive a small disaster like a broken washing machine made her happy and relaxed. Of course the insurance payout for her death provided far more money that Rita would ever dreamed of.”Maureen kissed the tear on my cheek.“But you would have preferred to have her, not the money.”“Yes. We’ve both been hurt, haven’t we, Maureen?”Her answer was a kiss.“Back to my idea about your lack of interests,” she said when the kiss had ended and we had regained our composure.“What would I be letting myself in for?” I asked.“I’d rather leave what I do as a surprise. If you really don’t like one activity, you could always back out, and go to the library…”“…if it’s open. But I have to make one proviso. I’ve seen your car. I’d never get into it, or if I did get in, I’d have to be cut out. I’ll use mine, if that’s OK with you.”“It’s a great little car. I love it.”“I’m sure you do, Maureen. It is economical, easy to park, but it is a little car, and I can’t get into little cars. If I could, I might be a poor passenger. I’d re-live that truck crashing into us, and know that in a small car I wouldn’t have survived.”“What is your car, Paul?”“An older Range Rover. It may be old, but it is low mileage and well maintained by the local dealer. If you are going to ride with me, I suggest that you don’t wear a pencil skirt. Climbing up into the Range Rover could be difficult or inelegant.”“I don’t think I have any pencil skirts. This…” Maureen plucked at her skirt, “is one of my narrowest. I think I could climb into a Range Rover wearing this. What do you think?”Maureen stood up. She lifted one foot to the bench without straining the hem of her skirt.“Nice leg,” I said. Maureen pretended to slap me. “and I think the skirt would pass the Range Rover test.”“Which reminds me,” Maureen said, “I’ll have to move my car. Helen left it on a one hour spot. I’ll take it home. Could you pick me up at twelve thirty?”“Yes, Maureen, I could, if I knew where you lived. I don’t. Do I need to change to join in your activities?”“No. You’ll do as you are. Where I live?”Maureen wrote down her address and telephone numbers, including old and new mobiles.“Use the new mobile number. I’ll put the old one on charge as soon as I get home. I know where you live, but not your phone number. I might have had it years ago…”Her house was less than half a mile from mine, but a railway line ran between them. I would have been unlikely to drive past her house, nor she mine, because they were in quiet roads that led nowhere. I passed her one of my business cards, not the work one I’d never need again, but my private one for people who had needed to contact me when I wasn’t at work.Maureen and I stood up. She hugged me tight and kissed me again. We didn’t want to stop.“I must go,” she said breathlessly. “I don’t want another parking ticket.”We walked hand in hand out of the park. She climbed into her car and drove off. I walked back to my house to collect the Range Rover. I had time to pick up the post from the hall floor, sort it, reject the advertising and open the few bills. As usual, none were for large sums, mainly for renewals of annual subscriptions that had been running for years. I ought to review them. Why was I still paying towards organisations that had been Rita’s interests, not mine? Inertia, I suppose. I stopped outside Maureen’s house, recognising her car on the drive. She came out of the front door almost as soon as I had stopped and climbed into the Range Rover easily.“Where to, Madam,” I asked. “Your chauffeur awaits your instructions.”“To the Hall, you know, our local stately home.”“To the Hall it is.”The Hall was about three miles away, including the half-mile long carriage drive. I parked in the visitor’s car park which was surprisingly busy for a Monday lunch time. As we walked towards the ticket office I riffled through my card wallet. As I thought, although it wasn’t National Trust, but still owned by the original aristocratic family, I had an annual season ticket. I showed it to Maureen.“A season ticket, Paul? I didn’t expect that,” she said. “When did you come here last?”I had to think. I had come with Rita. It must have been more than ten years ago yet I had renewed the season ticket by direct debit every year.“At least ten years,” I replied. “It might have been longer.”“And you kept paying for the season?”“Yes. When I picked up my post just now I was thinking that I have been paying for many organisations I never contact. This season ticket is one of them.”Maureen’s ticket and mine were scanned at the ticket office. She led the way to the restaurant.“This meal is on me,” she announced. “I get a staff discount.”We had what was described as Ploughman’s Salad. The quantity and variety of the cheese was generous and the quality was outstanding.“It’s all produced on the Home Farm,” Maureen said. “Everything that can be home-grown is. The local Agricultural College provides students who do much of the work except in their summer vacation when other people stay here as working parties. They keep the costs down.”“Why do they need to keep the costs down?” I said, looking at the crowded restaurant and thinking about the number of cars in the car park.“I don’t think they do, Paul, need to economise, that is, but the family are always willing to make money somehow. They always have. That’s why they still own this estate and their other large houses.”That started a train of thought. I remembered reading the Guide Book to the Hall that must be filed somewhere in my house, as is a substantial and rare history of the family.“Why are we here, Maureen?” I dared to ask.“I’m a volunteer guide, or docent as the Americans would say. I come here about once a month for a couple of hours, sit in one of the rooms that are open to the public, and answer questions if there are any. You’ll be joining me this afternoon, in the second guest bedroom.”“Why the second guest bedroom?”“There’s a hierarchy among the guides. Those in the major rooms have history degrees and have published works on escort mersin an appropriate period. The other important rooms have guides who have lesser qualifications but are here several times a week. The rest of us, like me, are just there to make sure no one touches things they shouldn’t and to be able to produce answers that can be found in the Guide Book.” “Which you have read, of course?”“Yes, from cover to cover, many times. Most of the public just walk through my room quickly. It can be boring. I have read the Guide Book just to keep me from falling asleep.”“Have you read the history of the family? I have a copy at home. It was published in the 1880s, I think.”“You have it?” Maureen was surprised. “There is one copy here, in the library. Anyone reading it has to wear white cotton gloves and handle it with extreme care. They have talked about scanning it, but it is too fragile.”In the second guest bedroom, Maureen was right. It was boring most of the time. There wasn’t much to see compared with the principal rooms and most visitors walked through it quickly. We were able to talk quietly, catching up with our activities over the past decade.A couple stopped to ask about some Chinese vases. Maureen had to answer from the guide’s notes on the objects in the room. While she was busy an American couple came in. They walked up to me.“Excuse me,” the man said, “Can you tell me anything about the family connection with Maine?”“Yes,” I replied. “That would be James. You can see his portrait on the main staircase, halfway up. He was a younger son who went to America to look after the family lands there.”“We asked in the other rooms, and no one seemed to know about Maine,” the woman said. “Do you know more?” Maureen had finished explaining the Chinese vases and was standing behind the Americans as I was speaking.“James was the family representative in America at the time of your War of Independence. He kept a low profile but he did provide money and arms to the Continental Army. His relations here were part of the King’s Party, opposed to any concessions to the American Colonists. That was typical of them. They have always had a foot in both camps. They did it with James during the War of Independence. One of his brothers was in Canada so they were on both sides. They did it during our Civil War. One of them was a Colonel with Cromwell while another was a Cavalier leader of Cavalry for King Charles. Their object is always to preserve the family’s fortunes. Whichever side wins, one of the family is with the winners.”“We bought the guide book,” the man said, almost accusingly. “There’s no mention of James, nor of Maine, nor the American Revolution.”“There wouldn’t be,” I replied. “You know this estate is still owned by the family?”“Yes,” they said together.“The Guide Book is a publication produced for the family. It wouldn’t include anything controversial. The guides give information based on the Guide Book and other papers provided by the family. Of course all that is favourable to the family and no criticism is allowed.”“So how come you can tell us about James?” He asked.“I’m not a guide. I’m a visitor, like you, but I’m the guide’s friend. I can say things she wouldn’t know or couldn’t say.”“Thank you. Is there more you can tell us about the American link?“At the time of the Revolution, James owned considerable parts of Maine. After the success of the Revolution, he still owned those and was able to buy more estates from Tories who had fled to Canada, and his brother could pay them there. James became an American Citizen and his descendants still are. The family still has substantial land holdings in America, including Maine, but they spread Westwards and into Canada as well. This house and the estate are a tiny part of their land holdings in England. They do come here sometimes but treat it as a weekend cottage…”“Cottage? It’s enormous!” The woman spluttered.“Not by their standards. It only has eight formal bedrooms. One of their other houses, in Derbyshire, has thirty, but that one isn’t open to the public.”“Is there anywhere we can find out more?” the man asked.“Not here. They do have a copy of the family history that I have read, but I understand that it is fragile and not available to read. It was written ‘warts and all’ by someone who was a distant relation. The family disapproved of it and tried to stop it being published. You might find more information online.”“Thank you, sir,” the man said. He saw Maureen.“And thank you, ma’am, for having such a knowledgeable friend. We had asked in all the main rooms and your friend has told me more than everyone else.”“Don’t forget to look for James on the main staircase,” I said as they walked away.“How did you know so much?” Maureen said mock accusingly. “Surely you didn’t remember from reading the family history years ago?”“I had the family history because I know a couple of the family,” I admitted. “They are non-executive directors of my company and I used to meet them several times a month. That’s why I bought a copy of the family history, years ago in Charing Cross Road. I thought it might help. It did. Their descendants are just as interested in profits today as their ancestors were then. The only 21st Century change is that they are slightly more considerate of their employees than their ancestors were.”“You know the family?” Maureen was astonished. “Whenever one of them visits here they meet the senior staff briefly, and never acknowledge the lower echelons like me.”“That sounds typical. Servants were always beneath their notice and this place doesn’t make much money for them. They were far more interested in the company I worked for because it generated millions of pounds of year for the family.”Maureen and I chatted for the next hour, very rarely interrupted by visitors’ questions that Maureen could answer easily. I found out more about her life over the past decade and things I didn’t know about her life when Rita was alive. I didn’t say much about me. The last ten years of my life had been about work, and any outside interests had been work-related.One of the other guides came rushing into the room.“Maureen,” she spluttered breathlessly, “You’ve been summoned to the office urgently. I have to take over from you – now!”“Why?” Maureen asked.“I don’t know. They seem to be in some sort of panic and I think they blame you. You’d better hurry.”“I’m coming too,” I told Maureen.We walked at a normal pace to the office. The Director’s secretary smiled at Maureen, and pressed the intercom.“Maureen is here” she announced.“Send her in,” a voice replied.We walked into the Director’s office.A middle-aged woman was sitting behind a large desk. I recognised the setting. The furniture was designed to intimidate others. Her name, followed by the word ‘Director’ was on a prominent sign on the centre of the desk. While Maureen took the indicated low chair, I remained standing.“Who are you?” She asked me bluntly.“I’m Maureen’s friend, and her witness.”“Witness? Why does she need a witness?”“Because this looks like an interrogation and she might need support.”“Maureen?” She ignored me. “Do you want him here, at a private interview?”Maureen looked at me. Out of sight of the woman she winked at me.“Yes. I have no secrets from him.”“Very well. The front desk has made a complaint about you. Apparently you told an American couple derogatory things about the family. You know we aren’t allowed to do that…”“Stop right there!” I said forcefully.“Why? Why should I take any notice of you?” The woman was irritated.“Because I was present when the American couple were in the second guest bedchamber. I know exactly what was said to them.”“You do? That makes it worse for Maureen.”“No it doesn’t.”“Why not?” The woman was getting exasperated.“Because Maureen did NOT say a single word to them. I did, Mrs Jenkins.”“Doctor Jenkins!” She hissed back at me.“Very well, DOCTOR Jenkins. We haven’t been introduced.”I rummaged in my credit card wallet and produced a business card that had been made when I visited the German branch of the company. It was almost a joke card. On one side were my titles in German, and on the other an English version. I handed it to her, English side up. It read:“Herr Professor Professor Doctor Doctor Engineer Paul Arkwright” followed by a long list of letters.“This is me,” I said, “I’m sorry it isn’t up-to-date. It should start with three ‘Professors’.”I thought she was going to explode. I had outdone her ‘Doctor’ in spades.“But…” she started to say.“But what? I spoke to the Americans, not Maureen. They seemed pleased with the information I gave them. I can’t believe that they complained about it.”“They were grateful,” Doctor Jenkins admitted reluctantly, “but that breached the conditions of our agreement with the family. We are not allowed to talk about the unfortunate parts of their family history. All our guides know that…”“Your guide Maureen didn’t say a word. She was talking to other visitors at the time. She didn’t know what I know. Your agreement with the family doesn’t cover what visitors like me might know and say.”“But we could be in trouble with the family. Those Americans wrote a detailed set of remarks in the Visitors’ book which would be embarrassing if the family read them.”“There is a simple solution,” I said. “I’ll send an email to Sir John, telling him what I said, and that I said it, not your guide.”“You’ll send an email?” She spluttered. “We don’t know his email.”“I do – his work one and his private one. I met him last week, one of several meetings with him and other members of his family this year. I’m sure he’ll see the amusing side. He has no illusions about his family’s history.”I thought Doctor Jenkins was about to burst.“I can’t see any point in continuing this discussion,” I said. “Maureen did nothing wrong, and you cannot criticise her for something a visitor said.”I held out my hand to Maureen to help out of her low chair. As we walked out of the room Doctor Jenkins looked stunned.The secretary was smiling broadly as Maureen grabbed me and kissed me passionately.“That was fabulous,” Maureen said. “Doctor Jenkins is the worst part of this place. She runs it like a tyrant. But Herr Professor Professor Arkwright flattened her. Thank you.”“Three ‘Professors’ please,” I retorted.“Are you really three times a Professor?”“Yes. Visiting Professor, not full time staff.”“I was asked to record the interview,” the secretary said. “I did. I enjoyed it. Doctor Jenkins will probably ask me to delete it, but it is worth sharing. Thank you, Professor Arkwright.”“My pleasure,” I replied.We went to the front desk. The staff looked shaken. We looked at the Americans’ comment. As I thought, it was complimentary, but admitted that the family’s history had murky patches. What family hasn’t?Maureen and I went to the restaurant for coffee. Her period of duty had expired when she was in the Director’s office. The Director’s secretary joined us.“It was time for my break,” she said, “and I thought I should let the Director calm down before I go back. She’ll be really mad.”“I’m sorry if I’ve landed you in trouble,” I replied, “but Doctor Jenkins was asking for it, and I wasn’t going to let Maureen take the blame for something I said.”“I think it would be more interesting,” Maureen said, “if we were allowed to be more honest about the family. We present them as saints and they weren’t.”“They weren’t,” the secretary said. “They made their first fortune from the Slave trade. But you’d never know that from the Guide Book.”“They didn’t!” Maureen protested.“They did,” I confirmed. “They owned several slave ships and had sugar plantations in the West Indies staffed with slaves. The family history gives details and includes some unpleasant incidents.” “Can I see your business card?” The secretary asked. “That really made the Director mad.”I handed it over.“It was a joke by my colleagues,” I said. “A few Germans make a point of putting their academic titles on business cards, rather like having a wall of certificates in your office. None of the Germans I worked with cared about status, being more interested in cooperation to our mutual benefit. I don’t think I ever used that one in Germany.”“But it is impressive,” the secretary said as she handed it back. “It made Doctor Jenkins’ PhD in Tourism Studies look pathetic.”“But annoying her might end my career as a guide,” Maureen said wistfully. “I enjoy it most of the time.”“She can’t sack you,” the secretary said. “You and I are volunteers, not employees. We are responsible to the Trustees, not to her. The Trustees want more volunteers. We barely have enough, and the Director’s attitude to them doesn’t help.”As we walked back to my Range-Rover, hand in hand, Maureen said:“My idea of having you shadow me didn’t work too well this afternoon, did it? You got me into trouble, even if you did get me out of it again. Tomorrow afternoon I was going to take you to the Cathedral. I help out in the shop. I suppose you know the Bishop?”“Bishop? No.” I replied. “He’s a recent appointment. I do know the Dean. Is that good enough?”Maureen pretended to hit me.“Seriously? You know the Dean?”“Sorry, Maureen, yes. Do you know why?”“No. Should I?”“He’s mersin escort bayan a younger son of the family who own The Hall. I’ve met him a few times this year, and my company helped the Cathedral’s Finance Officer with last year’s audit of accounts.”As we drove off Maureen was very quiet as if she was thinking hard. Suddenly she said:“Paul, if you know so many important people, why were you going to the Library. The Dean would probably want you to help at the Cathedral, and other people you know want skilled volunteers. Why didn’t…”“…because that would be just like continuing my work,” I interrupted, “and the danger is that I might get back to being a workaholic, but unpaid. I wanted something different, something new I could enjoy but something that would not become an obsession.”“What do you enjoy, Paul?”“That’s a difficult question. I enjoyed my work but it was stressful. I haven’t a real idea of what else I might enjoy. No. That’s not true. I’m enjoying your company, Maureen.”“That’s a start. I don’t think I want to take you to the Cathedral tomorrow. I’ll cancel my stint there. I’m not an essential volunteer there. We will have a whole day, just you and me.”“To do what?” I asked.“To be together, to go somewhere neither of us have been. Any suggestions?”“Not at the moment, Maureen, just a question. Where are we going now? I’m driving back to town. Am I driving to your house, to mine, or somewhere else?”“Back to the park, please. The tea kiosk will still be open. We can feed the ducks again and make plans for tomorrow.”“The park it is. I’ll go to the other side from the High Street, to the free car park.”At the park we bought some duck food and tea in plastic mugs. The ducks made conversation impossible until all the food had gone.We dropped the empty plastic cups in a litter bin and started walking around the lake.“How good are you at walking, Paul?” Maureen asked suddenly.“I am limited,” I admitted. “I could walk two or three miles at most. Any more than that and my back would be painful. Practice wouldn’t make that any better. If I wanted to walk a distance every day, a mile would be enough.”“That reduces the possibilities for tomorrow. Does your back limit any other activities?”“Flying any distance would be impractical, Maureen. Airline seats aren’t designed for injured backs, and the whole airport experience might be too much. Public transport? Again it could be for a short distance – a Park and Ride bus perhaps, or a reasonable train such as EuroStar to Lille if I went First Class. Driving? In my Range Rover I can manage about 200 miles in a day, but not day after day…”“In bed?” Maureen squeezed my hand and winked at me.“I don’t know,” I replied seriously. “I haven’t tried since the accident. I’m sure I couldn’t ‘sleep’ sharing a bed, if sleep was intended. I move around too much trying to get comfortable. I can’t hold one position for more than an hour, even when asleep. I would be an impossible sleeping partner.”“You mean you haven’t, not since Rita?” Maureen sounded shocked.I turned and looked at her.“Who would have wanted me?” I asked. “A damaged workaholic who was rarely home. I was no one’s ideal partner.”“Then there is something we can share. Come on. The High Street shops are still open. You can buy some protection. We’ll explore the limits of your possibilities in bed.”Maureen swung her free arm around me to hug and kiss me. I couldn’t turn her down. She dragged me into the large Chemist’s shop and put a dozen packs of condoms in the basket I was carrying. I paid but she used her loyalty card for the points. The bored cashier didn’t seem to notice my acute embarrassment.Outside the shop Maureen hugged me again, and her hand in mine pulled me back into the park, past the lake, ignoring the insistent ducks.“Your house first,” Maureen ordered. “I want to check out the possibilities. For all I know you might be a messy bachelor.”“I’m not!” I protested. “Anyway, my cleaner wouldn’t let me make a mess and ruin her work.”“You have a cleaner? Who? Should I be jealous of her?”“Yes, I have a cleaner, who comes twice a week,” I said heavily. “She’s Jackie, the daughter of one of our old friends. She’s cleaning for me to help her University costs. She’s decades too young to be a threat. I’ve known her and her family since she was a toddler. She regards me as an ancient, older than her grandfather. That doesn’t stop her from telling me off if I leave things around in her way.”“Does she have a key?”“Yes. She comes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, a couple of hours each time. She doesn’t have lectures those mornings.”“Is she ever likely to come at a different time? That could be embarrassing.”“No, Maureen. If Jackie has to change her times she gives me a couple of days’ warning. Up to now that hasn’t really mattered because my house had been empty every weekday. But she and I insisted that she shouldn’t use her key except at the set times. She had a problem with a previous family with a student son. She came on a different day, had told the parents, but they hadn’t told their son. She found him in bed with another male student, both naked. All three of them were embarrassed, particularly as the son hadn’t admitted to his parents that he was gay.”“What happened?”“Jackie promised not to mention it, but a neighbour had noticed that there were three young people in the house at once, and mentioned it casually to the parents. The parents thought their son had been fucking Jackie when they were paying her for cleaning. They accused her and she resented it. Even after their son admitted the truth, she felt she couldn’t continue after the hurtful things that had been said.”“I can understand how she felt. That must have been awful.”“She was also upset because she needed the money. Her parents knew that my former cleaner had retired and contacted me. Jackie and I met, and I’ve found the arrangement very convenient. We have rarely seen each other but I have been delighted with her standard of work. You can see for yourself.”We had arrived at my house. Maureen and I walked to the front door. She looked at the front garden.“Do you have a gardener as well?”“Yes,” I said as I opened the front door. “He’s really retired but still does work for a few favoured customers – those who paid him promptly.”Maureen walked into the hall. She looked around critically.“Follow me for the guided tour,” I said.We went into the living room, the dining room and the breakfast room. I could see that Maureen was appreciating how clean and tidy everything was.Even in the kitchen I had put my breakfast items in the dishwasher. Upstairs the spare bedrooms were as clean and tidy as usual. My bed was pulled back to air, and my pyjamas were neatly folded. Until Jackie started cleaning, my pyjamas might have been in a heap, but when I found them neatly folded after her first clean, I decided that she shouldn’t have to do that.Maureen sat on edge of the bed. She seemed to approve.Maureen commented on the cleanliness of the ensuite bathroom and the family bathroom. “Your cleaner Jackie seems to be very professional.” She said. “I wish all cleaners were like her. Some local companies charge the earth for a poor service.”“Jackie is that overworked word – a treasure,” I said.“I agree,” Maureen said. “But – I think we should go to my place, not here.”“Any specific reason?”“Yes. If we were here, I’d have to move to a spare bedroom during the night. In my bedroom I have the main bed and a single bed, from the time a great-aunt used to stay with us. She needed watching at night because she might sleepwalk. The single is new, unused. We had been using an old bed from the spare bedroom but bought a new one after she complained it was lumpy on her last visit. She never came back, dying in her sleep at her sheltered accommodation, so the new bed just stayed. I use it sometimes just to spread clothing when I’m sorting my wardrobe.”“That sounds good to me. We could sleep in peace.”“OK. Grab those pyjamas, your toothbrush and whatever, and come to visit me. Now!”I grabbed. I drove the few hundred yards to her house and parked on her drive.Maureen made coffee in her kitchen. We took the mugs upstairs to her bedroom. It was smaller than mine but the single bed was against a wall, next to the door to the small ensuite bathroom that had originally been a dressing room when the house had been built in the 1890s. We sat beside each other on the double bed drinking the coffee. I was unsure what to do next. We were in her bedroom, together. My sponge bag, spare clothing and the bag of unopened precautions were on the bedside table. Maureen took my empty mug and put it beside hers on a dressing table.“Shoes off, please, Paul,” she asked.I took my shoes off.“Good. No holes in your socks.”“Why, Maureen? Should there be?”“Of course not. I was joking.” She kissed me and pulled me gently on to the bed. I swung my legs up as she sat beside me, kicking her shoes off. She unbuttoned my shirt and helped as I took it off. She lifted her top over her head to show an attractive bra. She put her hands behind her back to unfasten it, but stopped.“Ready?” She asked.“For what?” I responded.“To see some ancient saggy tits?” “They don’t look ancient, nor saggy.”She unfastened her bra and took it off. Her breasts drooped a little. Why not? Neither of us are youngsters. Those breasts looked great to me. I reached out a hand to cradle one. It was soft, natural, warm and very inviting. Maureen looked anxious, as if she was worried I would reject her. I moved my head to kiss both her erect nipples, slowly and gently.Maureen straddled me with her breasts poised above my face. She lowered herself so I could continue kissing her nipples. Suddenly she squashed a breast across my mouth and nose. I enjoyed that for a few seconds but had to use a hand to clear an airway to my nose.“Can’t breathe?” she asked. I couldn’t answer. Her breast was still covering my mouth. I opened it. Maureen stuffed her nipple in followed by much of her breast. I could breathe through my nose but still couldn’t answer her question.I could suck and nibble. I did. Maureen arched her back and almost purred as I explored the mouthful. After a few minutes she changed breasts. I was enjoying myself and she seemed pleased too.“What else can you do, Paul?” she asked. I was still breast-gagged but I pointedly moved my eyes downwards.“You’re sure?”I nodded, dragging her breast slightly.“We’ll see,” she said.She lifted her breast from my mouth, reached under her skirt, and pulled her panties down and off. She tossed them in the direction of the dressing table. They were a sensible full shape but flashed like satin as they flew through the air.Maureen moved up my body and put her knees either side of my head. I was looking up inside her skirt. I could see bare thighs and a hint of lips above. She hitched the skirt and waist slip up as she lowered herself.I kissed the inside of both thighs as they came slowly downwards. Maureen’s skin was wonderfully smooth and my lips slid across as her pussy came closer and closer.Her legs spread wider and my lips met warm wet pussy, wonderfully scented female skin. I kissed and licked as she became warmer and looser. My tongue eased its way gently between her lips, fighting against her weight as she relaxed above me.My hands reached up blindly towards her breasts. I couldn’t see them because her skirt and slip had completely covered my head. Her hands caught mine and directed them. She held them to her breasts as I stroked, squeezed and kneaded.I could feel that she was nearly reaching a peak. I kept my tongue and hands busy. I was aware that she was making appreciative noises above me even though my hearing was muffled by her soft thighs. Maureen became even noisier as she shuddered into the first orgasm, clamping her thighs hard around my head and grinding her pussy over my face.I wasn’t sure how much I could take before running out of breath. She lifted herself just before I had to choose between suffocation or pushing her away.She slumped down on me for about thirty seconds as I slowly licked around her warm wetness. Her hands pushed mine harder on to her breasts and I started arousing her again.By the time Maureen had finished a long series of orgasms I was becoming tired. After all, it was a decade since I had pussy-licked a woman and I was out of practice. She seemed to sense that I had reached my limit. She lifted herself, unwrapped my head, and slid down beside me, resting her head on my shoulder.“That was great, Paul,” she whispered. “but what about you?”“I need a rest,” I admitted. “I’m out of practice.”“Out of practice? I’ve never had anyone that good. What would you be like when you’re in practice?”“You’ll have to wait to find out, won’t you, Maureen?”She pretended to slap me.“A coffee break before I try to satisfy you?” she suggested.“Perhaps a meal break might be better. We have all night to practice, haven’t we?”“Yes, Paul, we have. All night, and tomorrow and tomorrow…”“I think I might enjoy getting into practice for this new activity. After all, today is only the first of my long holiday, and the first with an old friend who has become more than a friend.”And so it was. Maureen and I enjoyed each other’s company out and about and in bed for the next four weeks of my official holiday.I celebrated the first day of my official retirement by proposing to her. She accepted. The holiday was over, and a new life could begin.

Ben Esra telefonda seni bosaltmami ister misin?
Telefon Numaram: 00237 8000 92 32

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

bahis siteleri bahis siteleri bahis siteleri bahis siteleri bahis siteleri canlı bahis porno izle sakarya escort sakarya escort izmir escort webmaster forum balıkesir escort bartın escort batman escort bayraklı escort bilecik escort bodrum escort bolu escort bornova escort buca escort burdur escort adultmeimei.com  sakarya travesti