When I awoke early the following morning my subconscious had made the decision over Lizzie. I knew that whatever she said, that she really wanted commitment, and I wasn’t yet ready to give that. As my daughter had pointed out during her visit, the only female to capture my heart, other than Aggie of course, was Lisa Marie.
Thinking of those two made me realise that it was time to get up and take Aggie out. I would head past Lisa Marie’s and if she was out and about, as she usually was, then I’d take her with me. I got my usual morning rituals out of the way and one man and his dog set off.
I was happy to see the little girl playing and even happier at her excited reaction to joining us. It was a good start to the day, I even got a little smile from her mother. With Lisa Marie along, our progress was somewhat slower than normal and the long climb up to the ridge was done with her astride my shoulders. My slow pace didn’t affect my overly energetic collie in the slightest, other than forcing her to cover even greater distances between running off and returning.
I got one reasonable shot of a local village but with an inquisitive six year old (is there any other type?) along I was limited with my camera work.
On the way back my little friend was enthralled with a tractor working a local field. She told me she had always wondered why some people had those big awkward cars.
The last half mile or so was done, at Lisa Marie’s insistence, once more with her across my shoulders. How much was because of her plea of tiredness and how much because she openly loved being up high, I’ll leave you to guess.
‘Would you like a drink?’ Donna asked as we got back, giving me a real shock. This was the first time that she had spoken to me other than in answer to a direct question.
’I’d love a cup of coffee, if that’s all right, ’ I answered politely.
’I’ve only got the cheap stuff, ’ she said with her head bowed once more, ’It’s all that I can afford, sorry.’
‘Nothing to be sorry about, we all need to live within our means. Sometimes I have to give Aggie here mere sirloin instead of fillet.’
She looked up with shock until she realised that I was kidding. She just about smiled.
’Coffee as it comes please, ’ I said.
We sat down whilst the miraculously recovered Lisa Marie took Aggie outside to play. With me in the house I wasn’t worried about her running off, so I relaxed for the first time in Donna’s home. I realised that it was also the first time I’d been invited to sit. I noticed that Donna sat as far from me as was possible.
‘I thought I should thank you, ’ she started, ’not many around here stick up for me. Most think like Mrs. Hawkins though they aren’t usually as outspoken.’
‘Donna, I admire you tremendously, ’ I said and could immediately see her shock. ’You did what you had to do to protect your child. You thought only of Lisa Marie and not of the consequences to yourself. You still do everything in your power to make her happy. I know that you don’t really like being around me but you tolerate it because it allows your daughter to be happy. How can I not admire and respect a woman like that?’
She didn’t reply but I saw just a hint of a smile, more in her eyes, which I now saw were blue. I stayed only a short time as I didn’t want to push Donna into accepting my presence.
The rest of that Sunday was hectic and for all the wrong reasons. It started before I’d even got back to my cottage. I was stopped by one of the villagers, who I’d met at the Bar but couldn’t remember her name. The friend she was with reminded me by calling her Margaret.
’I’ve heard you are good around the house, any chance you can help me out with something my husband’s useless at?’ She asked me while smiling at her friend.
Stupid me didn’t spot the obvious yet I wasn’t that stupid not to ask what. ‘What do you need help with?’
‘A bit of plumbing. I hear you are very good at that.’
When her friend laughed before adding, ’he’s certainly doing all the servicing up at the Manor.’
’That’s what I’ve heard too, ’ said Margaret. Both women looked alike, late thirties to early forties, dyed blonde hair. The only difference was that whilst the one I knew was somewhat overweight, her friend had a delightful figure and even better legs. Neither were especially good lookers but nor were they ugly either. Back when I was in Stoke I would have bedded the slim one and maybe the other as well. It finally dawned on me as I thought that, that was the ‘help’ they were talking about.
‘So Mr. Newcomer, are you up to servicing a couple more locals?’ The second woman asked with a giggle.
‘Sorry ladies, but I never date married women.’ I said with a forced smile. After what I had been through, there was no way I would do anything with a married woman, even one as sexy as the second woman, plus I was never really into sexually aggressive women, except in the bedroom of course.
‘No one’s suggested a date, ’ Margaret laughed.
’Well maybe just the last hour or so of a really good one, ’ her friend giggled.
It took a few more firm refusals before I managed to get away from these predators.
A couple of hours later I decided that I owed it to Lizzie to tell her what I’d decided. That was one of the few things that went better than expected. Apparently, she’d already guessed what I’d say. In fact, knowing that I would turn her down was one of the main reasons why she’d approached me. Go figure!
I had a minor run-in with Stella Douglas when our paths crossed on my way to see Jane. Somehow she had heard that the Bar was originally my idea and that its success had a lot to do with the Falconer’s drop in takings and subsequently her lack of treats from Seth. I told her as politely as I could to go to hell as I was neither interested nor did I care one iota. As she headed for her daily handout she was swearing even more than usual. I fully expected a visit from our hostelry’s landlord but it never materialised.
Jane was busy at the Bar, so I had time for just a few words during the couple of pints I downed. She wanted to make arrangements for my next visit. She also mentioned that Ginny wouldn’t be back until Tuesday at the earliest. The manner in which she told me made it clear that her stepdaughter was staying with a man.
Sleep on the sofa or walk the beer off. That was my short dilemma. Short because Aggie made my mind up for me. I was so distracted that I was already a fair way from home when I realised that I didn’t have my camera. Still I had plenty thoughts to sort out. After changing my mind numerous times I decided that my affair with Ginny would have to end. I recalled that we’d had unprotected sex very early on and the odds were that I was not her only partner to do this. I hoped we could remain friends but past experience had showed that that was in the lap of the gods.
Jane was a different matter. I liked Jane as a person but knew that we were compatible in virtually nothing. I had no desire to become the next lord of the manor. We would never be sexually compatible, neither in deed or thought. Today’s scheduling of our next liaison showed that clearly. I eventually decided to use Ginny’s behaviour as the reason to end my physical relationship with both women.
That decision made, I felt a calm sweep through me, or at least as calm as my yapping collie would allow. That made me wonder if my decision regarding Lizzie was perhaps premature but it took little thought to believe if it had been right then, it was still right now.
Just as I was approaching my cottage I noticed two youths paying far too much interest in my van.
‘I wouldn’t bother if I were you.’ I said loudly as I walked up to them. Aggie had sensed my mood change and was paying close attention.
‘Wat you goin’ do ‘bout it?’ The older looking of the two growled.
‘Yea!’ His mate added, ‘you faggots are wimps.’
My mouth smiled at the second lad, who I thought was about sixteen. ’I’m neither and I intend to stop you messing with my van, whatever it takes.’
The first youngster took half a step towards me but halted the moment Aggie emitted a deep growl and bared her teeth. Well done girl, I thought, I didn’t know she had it in her.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I am 6’ 6" tall and because of my job pretty well built. I tried to add that to Aggie’s behaviour to intimidate the two teenagers. That would be preferable to any real violence.
As I took two steps forward they took three back. ‘I now know you pair. If anything, and I mean anything, happens to my van, or anything else of mine for that matter, then it’s you two that I shall come looking for. Understand?’
After a little show of machismo they backed off and headed back from whence they came. When I heard them mumble about ‘Kelly’ as they left I suddenly realised what was behind it.
I thought about confronting the young barmaid but decided against it, at least until I had a bit more proof that she or her mother were behind this rather trivial incident. I was well aware, however, that trivial could soon escalate into serious if not dealt with.
That evening I again opted to stay in with a good Bordeaux, I selected one of my less expensive but equally delicious wines, a 1995 Paulliac Chateau Fonbadet.
With nothing on the television I picked up the local free newspaper. Though actual news was scarce I did come across an advert for the Great Dorset Steam Fair, which was on the following weekend. I distinctly recalled Uncle Jim talking about that as a great place for a day out. I examined the ad a little more to find that you didn’t need to book, just turn up on the day. I decided that, weather allowing, that would be my first real day out in Dorset.
This is a romantic story from my imagination and is not biographic, although some parts are close.
There will be 9 chapters in all.