Wednesday, March 02, 2011
I was picked up at the Milford station in the old Bentley, by Mr. Phillips, the new caretaker at the manor. My luggage and the few items I had purchased on the journey filled the boot and the backseat of the car, so I was forced to sit up front with Phillips.
“You certainly look like the journey agreed with you, sir.”
“Thank you, Phillips, I had a lovely time.”
“Sir, I gotta warn ya, that bloke what used to live at the Manor. Miles.”
“What about him?”
“Well, sir, he keeps coming round asking for you. Lettie seems to have a way with him, cause sometimes he ain't quite sober and can get a bit belligerent. I was tempted to throw him out on his arse a few times. Pardon my French, sir.”
“What does he want, Phillips?”
“I think he wants you to hire him back.”
We rode the rest of the way back to Fair Oaks with Phillips filling me in on what he had been doing around the Manor and a few tidbits of local gossip.
“I saw him one night at the tavern.”
“Mr. Sheffington. Drunk as a skunk he was. Always getting into fights and making a ruckus. I don't think anyone'll hire him. That bad he is.”
Lettie, Mrs, Sellers and Mrs. Phillips were waiting for us at the front of the Manor when we arrived. Lettie hugged me.
“What a lovely colour you got, Mr. Reid. The sun certainly loves your complexion and hair. I'm that jealous I am.”
I shook hands with Mrs. Sellers and Mrs. Phillips as her husband removed my things from the car. I told him to place certain things in the hall, as I had purchased souvenirs for the women.
“He's here again, Mr. Reid.” Lettie said as we entered the foyer.
“Not as drunk as he usually is. I don't think married life agrees with him at all, sir. He's looking worse and worse for the wear every time I see him.”
“Phillips told me he's been coming around regularly.”
“Almost every day since you left. Wants a job as your gamekeeper. No one'll hire him in town. His reputation's that bad.”
“Where is he now?”
“In the kitchen.”
I steeled myself for the encounter and walked into the kitchen. Miles was seated at the work table in the center of the room with his head in his arms. He looked up and smiled when he saw me. He had aged considerably in the four months since I had last seen him.
“Yer Lordship, yer looking mighty fine.”
“I wish I could say the same about you.”
“Oh, sorry, been a little under the weather lately.”
“Yeah, the little misses runs me ragged with all her demands. Four more months til the little bugger arrives. Not sure if I'll last that long.”
He seemed tired and there was a sad morose quality about him. It broke my heart. There were dark circles under his eyes and they seemed deeper set than usual. His face was scarred from cuts and I noticed a tooth was chipped when he smiled.
“What can I do for you, Miles?”
“No use beatin' around the bush, eh Stevie. You were always one for getting right to the point.” There was an awkward silence. Miles stood slowly and walked towards me.
“Aren't ya gonna give yer old pal a hug and a kiss first, Stevie?”
“Tell me what you want, Miles”
“I think about you all the time, Stevie. Miss the good times. Miss our times out at the hut. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind hiring me on to be yer gamekeeper? Poachers been having their way on the property since I left and I could regulate it again, like I did in the old days. Oh, did I tell ya, Stevie? Moran, the old gamekeeper was indeed my dad. Still alive somewhere in the States. One of the gals in town keeps in touch with him and I had her write him a letter and ask him if he ever fucked a gal named Beth from the North Country. Had her ask him real casual so he wouldn't get afraid she was looking for him or nothing. Turns out he's me dear old pa. What a coincidence, huh Stevie? That kinda makes us brothers since he also fucked yer Ma.”
I made a rush for him, but he was faster than I had anticipated and I ended up in a hold. He had me in a head lock and was breathing in my ear, his face next to mine.
“Let me go, Miles.”
“So you do want to give us a hug and a kiss after all, Stevie.”
He turned me slightly and kissed me hard on the mouth. I struggled at first, eventually relaxing and giving into his advances. His tongue forced its way into my mouth. He held me tightly and I was having difficulty breathing; not only from the hold, but because my love and lust for the man surfaced and I grew hard. He relaxed his hold, moving me so that I faced him more, pressing his erect cock against mine. I was lost. I kissed him back deeply, moaning, grinding myself into him, wanting to dissolve into his being. Wanting to absorb his being into mine.
“God, I missed thee, Stevie. Fergive me, Stevie. Please” He kissed my cheeks, my neck, my eyes which were wet with tears and then my mouth again. My hands had made their way to his face and I held his head, kissing him back. I wasn't worried about us being discovered. I figured that Lettie would leave us until she was sure we had finished speaking to one another, but something inside me wanted to pull away; finding my strength I pulled back. We were both breathing heavily.
“Miles, you're married.” I whispered loudly.
“We haven't really taken care of that yet.”
“But you have a child coming.”
“She's a bitch, Stevie. A real bollocks breaker. Her Mum just kicked us out cause of all the rows. Her friend's letting us room with her right now, but it's hell, Stevie. I can't get a job, I drink too much. What little money we have ..” He started crying. I held him to me, resting his head on my shoulder.
“We'll figure something out, Miles.”
Miles and his fiance, Rose, got a room in the village with my recommendation and an advance on the money I would be paying him to oversee the property, keeping the poachers at bay. Occasionally we made arrangements to meet at the hut, falling passionately into each others arms.
“What am I to do, Stevie?”
Miles was lying on his back staring at the ceiling beams, both of us naked on the makeshift bed as I lay beside him staring at his profile. Miles had just fucked me and we both glistened with sweat. I put my hand on his chest, letting it wander down his torso. Mile's cock was still semi-erect, a drop of cum oozing from the head. I reached down, scooping it up with my forefinger and brought it to his lips, kissing him and licking his lips.
“Why can't we can continue like this?”
“I think she hates me and the bigger she gets, the nastier she gets and I tell thee, Stevie, I'm beginning to hate the sight of her. I can't bring a child into a life like that. It's not fair to the little tyke.”
“When is the baby due?” I was beginning to feel a chill and pulled the quilt over us.
“That gives us three months to sort things out.”
A fortnight later I came downstairs one morning to hear arguing in the kitchen. As I approached the kitchen door in the dining room, I heard a shrill young woman's voice above Mrs. Sellers and Lettie.
“I know he's here! Probably upstairs in bed with the Master of Reid Manor.”
“Keep your voice down, young lady or I will have yer arse on the porch, baby or no!” Lettie whispered loudly as I pushed open the door.
“Sorry, Mr. Reid,” Mrs. Sellers said as I entered the kitchen. “Miss Evans was just leaving.”
“The hell I was! Pleased to meet you, Mr. Reid. Rose Evans, Miles Sheffington's betrothed. I'm sure you've heard all about me. I certainly have gotten an earful about you from me Miles. Never stops talking about his Stevie, he does. Goes on and on about his Stevie. Stevie this and Stevie that. I came looking for him. I figured he was here since I haven't seen him more than three days.”
“Mrs. Sellers? Would you and Lettie mind if Miss Evans and I continued this conversation in the library?”
“Not at all, Mr. Reid. Are you sure you'll be all right?”
“We'll be fine. Please follow me, Miss Evans. Oh, and Lettie, would you mind preparing a pot of tea, please.”
“Yes, Mr. Reid. But you just holler if ya need any help.”
“Everything's going to be fine, Lettie.”
Rose followed me to the library, waddling and holding her stomach and back in a very dramatic pose to accentuate her condition.
“I'm afraid I haven't seen Miles in more than a week, Miss Evans.”
“Probably on some bender again. He's been drinking again, ya know.”
“No, I didn't. Please.” I offered her a chair which she sank into with great pomp and circumstance.
“That's when I hear all about you and him. When he's had a few he gets to talking and telling me how much he hates me and how he doesn't want to bring a baby into this marriage.” She started to cry and pulled a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed her eyes. I couldn't help but smile inside, she reminded me so much of a bad actress in a bad play the way she overacted, emphasizing every gesture. “Always going on about how wonderful it is here at the Manor and how much he hates living with me.”
“I'm sorry to hear that.”
“Oh, he goes on and on, he does. Won't shut up about his life at the Manor. So I says, why don't you go back to yer Stevie, if that's what you want. Don't let me and the baby get in the way of yer happiness. So he says to me, maybe I will, maybe I'll just go back and you can take care of yerself. Slams the door and I haven't seen him since.” By this time she was near hysteria and the tears were flowing. “Now that I'm here I can see why he'd want to leave me and the baby in our little flat.”
Lettie entered the library with a tray and set it down on the table in front of Rose never letting her eyes leave the young girl. Rose blew her nose and continued sobbing. Lettie frowned, turning her nose up. “Shall I pour, Mr. Reid?”
“No, I can handle it, thank you, Lettie.”
“Turning on the waterworks I see,” Lettie said, shaking her head. “Ain't she something.”
“That will be all, Lettie. Thank you.”
“I'm sorry sir, it's just that I -”
“Thank you, Lettie.”
“Yes, sir.” Reluctantly Lettie left the room. I poured us tea as Rose sniffled, blowing her nose again into her hanky.
“Cream or sugar?”
“Both. Thank you.”
I prepared her tea and left it on the tray while I moved away from her with mine. I studied her as I sat in the chair opposite her. She had a lovely complexion and had obviously put on a few pounds with the pregnancy. She had piercing blue eyes with long dark lashes. Her hair was dark with auburn highlights. She had it pulled back and formed rows on the sides. A small green hat with a pheasant feather protruding sat to the side of her head. I could definitely see the initial attraction. She picked up her tea, relishing the moment. She sat back in her chair, stirring her tea as she looked up at me and glared. Then she smiled.
“Sorry, to be such a nuisance, sir, but the way I sees it, you owe me.”
“Really. How's that?” I asked.
“Well, there's lots of folks around here that would be disgusted if they knew what's been going on here with Miles and you. Oh, if people only knew what been going on between you two buggers...” She shook her head and made a clucking sound with her tongue and teeth.
“How much do you want, Miss Evans?”
“Oh, please call me Rose or Mrs. Sheffington, cause it's only a matter of days now before we tie the knot and Miles becomes all mine.”
“Not sure what you mean, Mr. Reid?”
“How much do you want to leave the county and never come back?”
“Oh, I have no intention of leaving, Mr. Reid. I plan on having me baby and making sure you are reminded every day that Miles is mine and also making sure you will never touch him again. If you do, Mr. Reid, I'm afraid I may be forced to tell a few people what I know. Some may consider it a sin, Mr. Reid, but others consider it against the law. You could go to jail, Mr. Reid for what you and my Miles have been up to. You know that, don't you?”
“A few hundred pounds a month should cover it nicely.”
“I'll add it onto Miles' salary each month.”
“Oh, no, Mr. Reid. I don't want my Miles to know anything about this. This is my nest egg and I don't want him getting' his drunken mitts on it.”
I walked over to her and took the tea cup and saucer from her hands, placing it back on the tray.
“I will make sure a checque is made out to you and delivered each month. Now please leave, Miss Evans.”
“The bum's rush, yer giving me the bum's rush? How dare you, Mr. Reid!” Her voice had risen. “You'll never touch him again! You hear me? Never!” She had painstakingly extricated herself from the easy chair. “If you so much as lay a finger on my Miles again I will make sure that you get what you seem to love so dearly from all the other inmates of the Reading Gaol. Do I make myself perfectly clear, Stevie?”
“Is everything all right, Mr. Reid?” Mrs. Sellers was standing in the doorway of the library.
“Please see Miss Evans to the door, Mrs. Sellers. She was just leaving.”
“And I'll be going out the front door if you please. No more back door, if you get my drift.” She laughed diabolically. “I'm afraid the cabbie may have left me here. I'll need a lift back into Milford, if you don't mind.”
“Please have Phillips give Miss Evans a ride back into town, Mrs. Sellers.”
“This way, Miss Evans.”
She smiled at me as she left the library in front of Mrs. Sellers. “Please close the doors, Mrs. Sellers.”
“Can I get you anything, Mr. Reid?”
“No, I'm fine, thank you. Just get that vile young woman out of this house as quickly as possible.”
She closed the two doors and I sank back into my chair exhaling a sigh of relief, closing my eyes as I was reminded of what I had just negotiated. It seemed impossible. To never touch Miles again. To never have him touch me. I got up and began to pace the room, searching for a way out. I leaned onto the mantle, dropping my head between my shoulders.
“Damn! Damn! Damn!” I shouted, banging my fists on the mantle.
Miles eventually turned up, having gone to the Lake District to inquire after his grandmother's things that he may need to set up house with Rose. He brought back some linens, a few pieces of China and baby clothes that were stored in an old trunk. He and Rose made up and he came to the Manor to talk to me. I came down the stairs and found him in the foyer.
“She's threatening to tell, Stevie.”
“She says I can't see thee ever again. Only as yer gamekeeper.”
“Then that's what we must do.”
In the few days since Rose's visit, I had resolved myself to the situation, but inside could not let go of him. I would not do anything to ruin Miles' reputation any further and was only mildly concerned for my own.
“How can you say that? How can I live without my Stevie?”
“Miles, please. Control yourself.”
“That fucking cunt! I can't believe she is going to be the mother of my child. I'll fucking kill her!”
“Miles stop it. We just need to be patient. We'll figure something out. No one's killing anyone. Come into the library.”
Miles followed me into the library and closed the doors. As soon as he had closed them, he practically ran to me and threw his arms around me.
“I can't lose thee again. I can't.” He kissed me on the mouth; deep, holding my head with his hands. I struggled for a moment to be free, finally relenting, letting him kiss me long and hard.
Miles and Rose were married by a justice of the peace the following week. Snow fell in December and then Christmas came and went. Miles and I saw very little of one another. He kept to his position as gamekeeper and because of the cold, it was impossible to meet at the hut. The day after New Year's Day, Miles came bursting into the kitchen of the Manor. I could hear him from the library where I was reading.
“It's a boy, Lettie! A boy! Oh, God, he's so beautiful!”
Lettie was hugging Miles when I came into the kitchen.
“A baby boy, sir, it's a baby boy.” Lettie was drying her tears with a linen towel. “What's his name, Miles? What did you name him?”
“John. After his granddad.”
“Oh, Miles!” Lettie burst into tears.
“And he's not a bastard, like his pa. Signed the birth certificate and everything. Almost had him on New Year's Eve, but the little tyke was stubborn and held out til the morning. Got beautiful black hair and such lovely skin like his ma.”
“How is Rose?” I asked.
“Nasty as ever. Screamed like a banshee coming straight out of hell. The sisters keep trying to give her the baby so she'll nurse, but she says she just wants to sleep. I held him and fed him with a bottle while she passed out. She made the doctors give her something to knock her out when the pain got too bad. Sounded like a fishwife, cursing and screaming she was carrying on so bad. Scared me to death when it got so quiet and then I heard him cry. Like an angel. That's what it sounded like to me. Like a baby angel.” Miles hugged Lettie and then me. “Gotta get back to the hospital. Come see him, will thee? Rose'll be in the hospital for at least a week and then we'll be bringing him home.”
“Perhaps.” I said.
“What do thee mean, perhaps. Yer coming and that's all there is to it.”
Miles was out the back door and after it slammed shut, Lettie looked at me. “That girl's not fit to be a mother. Mark my words. Nothing good'll come of that union. That poor baby. The poor little thing.” Lettie started crying again and I put my arms around her.