Authors: L.C. Fenton
Bats seemed to make a special effort to talk to me and be friendly, and the other women took their cue from her. I stopped feeling like a complete outsider, floundering to understand the nuances of behavior that everyone else took for granted. Things seemed to click into place, and I got the jokes, and other people got mine too. I looked at Jack and smiled, admitting to myself that I wanted him to be my boyfriend. I had moved him into the right pile, even though it had taken me a while to realize it. There was just one thing that made me hesitate.
“Have you and Bats ever hooked up?” I asked as we went up to our separate rooms.
“No.” He laughed. “Though not through lack of trying on my part when we were about fourteen. Mind you, I was so horny I tried any girl standing still long enough. Bats is like the sister I never had.”
Jack cornered me as we reached my door and, putting his arms on either side of me, started to kiss me breathless. He broke off only at the sound of voices nearby. Giving me a last lingering kiss, he smiled and walked backward until he reached his room further down the hallway. I laughed as I closed my door.
, our relationship took an unexpected step forward at the end of one of one of our daily telephone conversations. Not thinking, it just slipped out.
“See you tomorrow night,” I said. “Love you, bye.”
“You love me?”
Embarrassed, I could feel my face going red. There was silence as I fumbled for something to say. Did I mean it? It hadn’t been intentional, but was it true nonetheless?
“Ah, um…” I stammered, unsure.
“That’s nice,” he said, laughter in his voice.
Ugh, well, I definitely wasn’t going to confirm it now!
I decided to just pretend it didn’t happen. Denial was underrated for situations like this.
“Okay, well, see you later!” I said feigning chirpiness and hanging up quickly. I banged my head on my desk with a surprisingly loud thunk.
Oh, God, how mortifying!
I saw him the next night, and, thankfully, he didn’t bring it up. As we said good night, he asked me to his house again.
“Come and have dinner with my parents. We’ll stay, make a weekend of it,” he suggested.
“I’m not sure I’m ready to meet your parents,” I said doubtfully. Jack hadn’t exactly responded in kind to my slip, but yet he seemed keen to fast-forward things. We hadn’t even slept together yet, and he wanted to introduce me to his family?
“Come on; it’ll be fun,” he encouraged, looking at me hopefully before shaking his head and continuing laughingly. “Well, maybe not
. It will probably be a bit of a chore, but still they want to meet you. Plus, my brother is home for the weekend so you’ll get to meet him too. Two-for-one!”
“Why would your parents want to meet me?” I asked, puzzled that his parents even knew of my existence.
“Because I’ve had to tell them why I’m spending so much time in London. My mother’s started to drop hints that you don’t exist and that I’m making you up.”
“I’m not so sure. I’m hardly the type of girl they’d approve of,” I said, bearing in mind the sort of girl Jack told me they had been trying to set him up with, mostly Caroline and her ilk. His mother seemed to be fairly fixed in ideas of the attributes of anyone Jack should be dating, and I’m not sure I fulfilled even one, except maybe the gender. “Why are you so keen for me to meet them? It makes me think that you’re just seeing me to annoy them.” I watched him closely to see if he reacted.
“You’re a tall, beautiful, and smart Australian. What’s not to hate?” he joked, giving nothing away.
Unfortunately, he was right. His mother detested me on sight.
Jack’s parents were out when we arrived, so we decided to wait in the informal sitting room and were playing cards when they came back. We heard them come in the front door, but it was almost an hour later before Jack’s brother came to join us. We looked up at the sound of the door opening, and a gangly body followed.
“Crispin!” Jack rose from his chair with a smile and approached his brother. He went to hug him but awkwardly stopped when Crispin stuck out a hand. They then reversed actions in a weirdly amusing dance. Finally, they seemed to settle on a “man-hug” where they sort of thumped each other across the back.
“Crispin, come and meet Kate.” He drew Crispin back across the room, and I stood as they approached. Crispin was around my height with unruly blond hair and spots. I tried to see some resemblance between the two brothers but failed. Jack was taller and broader, though Crispin was likely still growing. Beneath the pimples, Crispin’s face was rounder, and he would probably always be baby-faced, while Jack was more angular.
“Nice to meet you,” I said as I smiled at Crispin. He looked at me through his hair and mumbled something. I just assumed it was a similar greeting.
“How is school?” Jack asked.
“Okay…boring,” Crispin answered with a grimace.
“What are you going to do next year?”
“Don’t know…whatever…same as you, I guess. It will keep Mummy happy.” He shrugged.
“Is there something else you’d rather do?” I blurted out.
wouldn’t go for it, so there’s no point.” Crispin and Jack shared a look. I didn’t really understand why they couldn’t just do what they wanted, but they didn’t volunteer anything else. Luckily, I didn’t open my mouth to question them further because, at that moment, their mother finally swept in, and I started to understand.
Jack’s mother wasn’t a tall woman, but what she lacked in height she made up for in barely controlled ferocity. Her graying brown hair was waved and set into a Margaret Thatcher-like coiffeur, her plump body swathed in a blue and green tartan kilt and matching green wool jumper with a white round lace-collared shirt underneath. Stockings and navy court shoes completed the ensemble. Her whole demeanor was reminiscent of the Queen, if one could imagine the Queen as a not-so-benevolent dictator.
When she saw me, her brows drew together in displeasure, and I had the sudden image of an angry Persian cat pop into my head. I felt the corners of my mouth turn up and I had to use every bit of willpower I had not to giggle. I knew even then that laughing at Edwina would not be good for my health. In all the years after, I could take some comfort from this first meeting. She disliked me before I had uttered a word, so her later vindictiveness could not have been personal as she knew me not at all. She hated me for what I was, not who I was, and nothing I did would ever have changed that.
“Good afternoon,” she said, managing to peer down her nose, even though she had to look up, and made even that simple greeting sound scornful, as if I had soiled the rug at her feet.
“Hello, Lady Preedy,” I replied. “Thank you for having me to stay for the weekend.” I smiled blandly, not sure how to deal with such instant, overt hostility. Most people at least made an attempt to fake friendliness for a bit first.
“Yes,” she said with a sniff. “We do encourage Jack to have people to stay to keep him entertained.” Her voice was loaded with disapproval, though I wasn’t sure at what. That Jack needed “entertaining”? That she would need to specify what sort of people he brought next time, because clearly I wasn’t the “right” type, even for entertainment purposes?
“Hello, I’m Arthur.” Jack’s father was an older version of Jack, a tall, thin man with a beautiful thatch of gray hair, with a perfectly bald circle at the back. He smiled at me warmly until he caught Edwina’s eye. His smile disappeared, and he moved away quickly to the drinks cabinet where he poured himself a large whisky in a crystal tumbler. Those were the only words he spoke all night, though occasionally he would give me an absentminded wink, though that might have been just a facial tick, I couldn’t be sure.
After that, I was largely ignored by Edwina. Throughout the formal dinner, most of her comments were addressed to Jack, Crispin, or the staff, and occasionally her husband, though he rarely replied. I think he had tuned her out and simply didn’t register that she was speaking to him, as she talked so much and most of it was complete drivel. Minute details of gardening things or long convoluted stories about people I didn’t know. Her soliloquies had so many tangents that I was utterly confused.
“You know Helen, of course. She was married to Paul for years, and they lived in the old vicarage near the river. Shoddy builder, though, who did their renovations. He went out of business shortly after, and they couldn’t get him to fix the problems. That’s the difficulty with thatch rooves. So many of the old places used to have them, and now the blasted heritage people want everyone to put them back as they were. Great business to get into; there’s no one around here doing it since old Mr. Smith went into the retirement. His back was gone, though his daughter…”
I think it was actually impossible to follow what she was saying, and as no one else seemed to even be trying, I gave up. Jack, Crispin, and their father appeared to be in a competition as to who could be the most silent while consuming an enormous amount of alcohol. Even Edwina would have drunk the best part of a bottle of wine over dinner, not that it slowed her down or cheered her up.
Rather than drive us apart, as I’m sure was the intention, Edwina’s hostility toward me brought us closer together. Jack became protective whenever she came near, shielding me whenever possible. We snuck off, giggling, when we heard her coming, hiding out in spare rooms and cupboards to avoid her. It was childish but surprisingly fun.
Saturday afternoon, Jack was showing me around the beautiful gardens, resplendent in the autumnal colors, when we heard Edwina coming. Jack grabbed my hand and started running past the ornate stone and glass orangery to the more functional greenhouse.
We were hiding inside with Edwina striding around the gardens looking for us. I think she had seen us from a window and come rushing out, but we had managed to escape her before she caught us by slipping through the hedges and circling around. We were crouched low behind the oranges in their large pots, the scent of citrus mingling with the earthier underlying scent of the greenhouse. We heard her calling us, and Jack placed his hand over my mouth to quiet my laugh as she walked by right outside the window.
As her voice faded as she got further away, I looked over at him with laughing eyes, and he was suddenly serious. He slowly removed his hand and, closing his eyes, replaced it with his lips. We kissed slowly, exploring, something more serious than before. Jack was an excellent kisser, just enough passion to be exciting without being overwhelming, but this time he wasn’t so tentative.
The build-up was slow enough that I could have objected to anything, if I wanted to. I decided that I didn’t. Pulling us up so we were standing, he slowly slid his hand from my back, around the sides to the front of my white cotton shirt to cradle my breast. He ran his fingers lightly over my nipple, which contracted sharply. He played there for a moment before moving up to slowly undo each button. We stopped kissing and paused, looking at each other from only a few centimeters apart.
In answer to his silent question, I reached one hand behind his head, pulled him closer, and started kissing him again. He reached around and put his hands on my bottom, pulling me against him so I could feel the hardness in his pants against my belly. I arched my back to bring our contact closer. Breathing hard, he broke away and unrolled some turf onto the concrete floor before coming back to me and kissing me more urgently.
He guided me to the turf bed, and unbuttoning my shorts, I wiggled them and my underwear down my hips and off over my legs. I lay down and spread my legs for him, and he fumbled off his pants and underwear in his haste to answer my clear invitation. Then he was on me and in me, finally, and I let go, enjoying the sensation of having him inside me. After so long waiting, I was ready and about to combust. I felt the waves of pressure building at the feel of him until it surged suddenly to a peak of pleasure. I surrendered to it, and I felt him throb as he came, which prolonged my orgasm, the added intensity making me let out a short squeal. He groaned and thrust again, my contractions squeezing him. He groaned one last time and collapsed on top of me.
“Good God! That was amazing, woman,” he whispered in my ear.
“Thank you,” I responded, slightly smugly. “You weren’t bad either.” I kissed him lightly on the lips.
After that, Jack followed me around everywhere, pulling me into corners of the house to have his way with me, not that I minded. By the end of the weekend, I was slightly sore, and there were many fewer rooms in his parents’ house that we had not had sex in. I think we were caught by some of the staff on occasion, but they tactfully withdrew and started knocking on every door before entering. I was a bit shocked, but Jack laughed it off, and none of the staff gave any indication that they were aware of anything. I couldn’t help but admire their professionalism.