Chapter 15:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 232

Chapter 15

The day before Maggie's birthday Jack was at the airport just after dawn to meet the guests from Scotland. The reunion between Greer and her architect lover Andy was almost embarrassing to witness.

Jack who'd been standing with Andy spotted the threesome pushing their trolley into the main concourse. Maggie's father had wild silver hair, quite an abundance of it really for someone who looked to be around sixty. He had a barrel chest and his arms looked unusually long. In attempting to place him against an occupation, Jack thought blacksmith.

Mrs MacRae was reasonably tall, with a round, cheerful face and long straight hair. She looked a little younger than her husband. Jack would have placed her as either a schoolteacher or librarian.

Greer - well, she was standing there swinging her head about, looking for them. Their eyes locked and he heard the scream, "Hello Jack! Where's Andy?"

Andy emerged from behind Jack and Geer charged at him and screaming, jumped at his chest, forcing him to catch her. Greer was kissing him all over the face saying, "I love you, I love you. Oh, Andy, I love you."

Mr MacRae thrust out a big, meaty hand and said: "I thought you would be a much bigger chap Jack, being so stroppy on the phone. It's very nice to meet you. Thank you indeed for the invitation."

Mrs MacRae and Jack stood for a second, slightly nonplussed. It was she who broke the deadlock, reaching up and kissing him on the cheek. "Hello, Jack. You look like a New Zealander."

Jack hadn't a clue what that meant. As far as he could see the MacRae's looked very much like New Zealanders.

The MacRae's gathered around Andy who in a few minutes would have to dash to an important meeting.

"I like Auckland," Mr MacRae said conversationally. "Seems a temperate climate."

"Yes, it is."

"Quite a few darkies though."

"Pardon?"

"Colored people. Are these ones Maoris?"

"Pacific Islanders the big ones, the thinner and shorter ones are probably Chinese and Taiwanese and the bit taller ones Koreans."

"Those Asians all look the same to me."

"You can usually tell the women by their dresses, or if they are wearing trousers by their busts, usually very modest busts though," Jack said straight-faced.

Mr MacRae made a faint Rottweiler growl and fixed an unblinking gaze on Jack. Jack held his nerve and didn't break-up. Greer, standing behind her father had heard that exchange and was half bent over smothering a laugh.

Jack made a phone call when five minutes away from home. As a result they arrived at the house to the smell of a cooking breakfast.

The MacRae's looked wide-eyed when they saw the cook was a young woman. Jack was relieved when Carolyn used her initiative during the introductions. She said she was a university student who lived over the fence, and for many years had fed Mrs Nightingale' cat and now continued the tradition for Mr Nightingale and sometimes cooked for him when he had guests.

Greer smiled at that and began chatting to Carolyn about the young girl's university studies.

Carolyn went off as soon as she placed breakfast on the table.

Greer came the dinning room ahead of her parents. "I'm sorry about you and Maggie."

"What do you mean?" Jack asked.

"I received a letter from Maggie a couple of week ago saying that she was seeing this man and thought that something was developing between them. The problem was he's married."

"Phil", breathed Jack.

"Yes," she called him Phil in the letter. Do you know him?"

Jack nodded. "I can hear your father coming, probably carrying that ‘clallymerry' thingy."

"Claymore, you twerp. It's a two-handed double-edged sword that big fellows used to flay in the olden days."

"Come on guys," said Jack. "Although there are covers over the food, it will be cooling down. We'll then go out and do a couple of touristy things - a drive through the domain and a side trip up to the top of Mt Eden, then I'll bring you home to have a long sleep so they you are fresh when we go out for dinner tonight. Any preferences?"

"I'd like to try kangaroo."

"Haggis, of course."

"They're big teasers, Jack. We should go to a seafood restaurant by the harbor."

"Are you sure about that?"

All three signaled yes.

"Good, I made the booking two days ago."

After the mini tour, Jack settled them in back at the house, leaving his mobile phone with Greer and taking one of his old ones to work, recharging it in the 4WD. He drove to work, deep in thought.

Often flittering into mind had been thoughts of Maggie and him, always very close, and then into these picture sessions came Greer and then Greer with Andy, his own relationship with Greer developing until they were living together. They became inseparable as a foursome. Always they seemed to be happy. In one scary dream both women were very pregnant.

At no time had there been images of weddings flittering through his head. Nor could he recall ever having a thought of marriage between himself and Maggie though he'd had day dreams, night dreams and wet dreams about having her in his arms and in his bed. There were no memories of babies or little infants - the only current images he could successfully picture were bigger children - Simon and Anne, Alanya's children.

Interesting! He wasn't terribly upset about he and Maggie not bonding romantically. In fact he was practically devoid of emotion about the sudden swing in these relationships. Perhaps he was in shock?

Of all the people he chose to talk with about this was Roberta, because later when he was in his office, he'd been alone - Maggie was out on a K&K assignment - K&K being Kitchen&Kitsch Magazine while Milly was away having her eyes tested.

Roberta, as usual trying to burst out of a dress - a slinky little number that looked slightly out of season as high summer was still some way off - came in and volunteered to make him coffee.

"No, you're too busy," he grinned, knowing that Gavin was out. The morning flush of on-the-run couriers trying to rip off stickers while attempting to peer down Roberta's dress front, female couriers included, was over. The mix of irate or happy visitors and First Wave phone calls were also behind her.

Unhappily he sat slumped, watching Roberta return with his favorite brand of machine coffee - Atomic, a dull ache in his head. She hitched up her dress and slung over a long leg across the corner of his desk and looked at him, worried. At least he imaged that's what she was doing because his gaze was elsewhere: Roberta didn't wear stupid pantyhose - she wore stockings and a suspender belt.

Busily trying to decide whether the piece of belt in view was black or very dark blue, he was conscious of her saying in a kitsch-sounding voice, "Does baby want to tell me all about it?" Roberta shifted her weight to make be more comfortable with her butt on the hard desk and a leg across it; she pulled her dress us higher and clucked, "There, is that better? Come on sweetheart, tell mummy."

With difficulty Jack tore his gaze away from the bunched up flesh above her stocking and he caught her look of concentrated concern. Out tumbled the words. It was all about his relationship with Maggie and about her drifting away from him, er, spiritually.

This confounded Roberta; she and the office gossipers were convinced that Maggie and Jack had been at it like rabbits, although amazingly keeping out of the limelight. Instead it was Phil who was banging Maggie.

"God, Maggie's being bounced by Phil, day and night! How amazing. Steph and I have talked about him; she positive he'd be a goer, I wasn't quite sure, put off by the moustache. I like men hairless - well, at least on the face. But cheer up; you really don't have a problem, apart from what's in your head. Your mind just hasn't caught up with the impact of all this. Don't sit there with your mouth sagged open like that; it makes you look like one of those droolers in production - Phil excluded. Do you like my knickers Jack?" she asked.

Without thinking Jack had lowered his gaze. "Can't see them," he said truthfully.

"Well, I can fix that..."

"No - can't we just talk?" he croaked.

"Okay, so think about it Jack, even I know you are not the deep, emotional type. Get your thinking sorted: cut back to basics, it means instead of thinking all day about humping Maggie try to prohibit the thought of any wrongdoing in such a connection - that's what I have to do to cheat successfully on my husband. Unless I had it sorted in my mind, I would not go beyond a oncer. Mounting a sustained bout of adultery is not an easy challenge, you know."

Jack nodded. "Yes, I can imagine that. Actually I've always thought there were only three complications."

"Three? I only thought there were two?"

"Well, I always have these flash-thoughts when dreaming of someone like you," said Jack. "The thought of three complications worries me: getting caught, the female getting impregnated or either party carrying a transmittable disease."

"Yuk, Jack. Even adultery is supposed to be a loving, passionate experience. I'm really flattered that you dream about me...if only you knew. Little wonder you have the worse scoring rate of any other male in this entire building - you need professional help. With sex one always focuses on the positives, leaving the negatives for someone else to worry about. If you don't do that it's difficult to make it work, and you end up going without. It requires management, Jack. Any Dickhead knows that."

Roberta began giggling at her unintentional touch of humor, and Jack joined her with a smile than turned into the male version of a giggle, that a male writer would term a suppressed laugh because real men don't giggle.

"Is there anything I can do for you, Jack?"

Jack was about to reply that she'd already been a great help when he noticed her gaze, riveted on him, her tongue peeping between her lush lips. He looked down for conformation - and got it: Roberta's bust looked bigger than ever and her nipples - oh gawd, she was fully aroused.

"Excuse me please, Roberta," Jack said as evenly as he could. "I'm late for a meeting with the advertising manager," he lied.

Roberta swung her leg off the desk. "I was seconds away from nailing you, you wimp," she muttered, watching Jack flee down the corridor to production. She smiled thinly, aware that advertising was down the other corridor.

* * *

For the next five hours Jack worked non-stop preparing his next house feature spread over eight pages in his dummy layout, ready to pass on to the graphic design department to create into camera-ready pages ready for proofing. This work was a relief, taking his mind off other things.

Completing that task, he switched to writing an article based his interviews of five influential architects - two arguing that the pivot of today's house was the entertainment center while two others insisted that a kitchen renaissance was occurring with health-conscious families aware of the side-effects of fast-food eating and wanting greater control of what was being pumped into their bodies.

The fifth architect predicted new homes would be built without any sign of a kitchen, that small ‘refueling' centers would be positioned throughout the house plugged into modules that would be delivered and installed - much the same system of ice-delivery men operated early last century.

Maggie arrived back before he'd quite finished, but he stopped working and fetched coffee for them. Milly had gone to dispute the liquor bill for the launch party - the supplier indicating no returns whereas she possessed signed verification given to Jack of nine unopened cases of wine and beer he'd personally returned plus 7/12ths of a case of whisky and 3/12ths of a carton of champagne.

"Cheers," said Jack, lifting up his coffee. He received a grateful smile and a return salute.

"You look bushed."

That was an opening to begin a confession, he thought, but Maggie disappointed him.

"No, I'm just getting my breath back. I'll go home and have a long bath then I'm being taken out for a birthday treat as you want me exclusively from lunchtime tomorrow."

Jack lost interest in that line of conversation, wondering should he go out and test the look on Phil's face by asking him to go out with him that evening for a beer. Instead, he began asking her what she had planned for K&K in the upcoming issue; Issue 2 was on the press.

That evening he took his guests to the fish restaurant, pleased that Maggie and partner - he couldn't be certain it would be Phil - hadn't chosen the same restaurant.

They consumed a fair amount of liquor, with the older folk not at all concerned about Greer's bouts of flirtation. Back home there was no chance of Jack having a quiet word with her as her parents were watching the Maori TV station and wanting him to answer their questions. However, Greer did come to his bedroom early next morning - just after 6:00, fully dressed. She bought in two cups of coffee and they chatted for half an hour.

Here, let me take your cup. I'll get breakfast - dad's terrified that you are going to offer him porridge. None of us can stand the stuff."

"Oh."

At lunchtime Jack parked and he and Maggie reached the elevator, Maggie knew they were going to one of the Sky Tower restaurants.

"This is a lovely birthday treat, I haven't eaten here."

"You'll love it. I promise you shall have a memorable day."

The restaurant was crowded. Jack went over to a waitress who grabbed two menus.

"Sorry, but she says we have to share a table. I'll know you won't mind."

"No, not at all. We should have booked a two-seater."

Maggie followed the waitress, Jack trailing.

The waitress pulled out a seat and Maggie nodded to the man between her and the window. She shot another look at him; her mouth opened and looking at the two females across the table screamed an almighty, "Oh God!"

Other patrons looked up, startled then realized some excitable red-head woman was going over-the-top with her greeting.

Jack stood back, the waitress beside him; both enjoyed the cries, the tears and the mangle of arms, heads and hair.

"This is amazing. This is so amazing. This is amazing," went Maggie like a stuck record.

Then she went up a gear.

"When did you arrive?

"Why are you here?

"Where are you staying?

"How long have I got you here for?

"Why wasn't I told?"

Eventually there were gaps to allow answers and the very patient waitress managed to get their orders.

They all went out to dinner than evening, with Maggie accepting an invitation to share the bedroom with Greer to maximize her time with her family. It was a joyous occasion, with the girls' parents insisting that Jack call them Bonnie and Blair.

The parents appeared dumbstruck when Jack, straight-faced, asked: "Very well, but which one of you is Bonnie?"

"Jack grew up so fast that he missed out on a childhood, so is experiencing it now," explained the birthday girl.

Next morning over breakfast a schedule was being prepared with the visitors. They would have Maggie's car at their disposal as she and Jack had to travel to do features on a farmhouse at Kiwitea behind Feilding and another on the return home at Acacia Bay on the nor'-western shore of Lake Taupo not far from the town of Taupo.

* * *

Much to Jack's relief not a word was mentioned about Phil and Maggie's feelings for him on this trip. Maggie became quite ecstatic once they got well past Turangi with the Central Plateau mountains on their right and the Kaimanawa Forest Park to their left when Jack recited some of the history and Maori legends about the three mountains and the Kaimanawa wild horses.

"This area is lovely and wild," said Maggie "but one really needs to get deep into the South Island to truly feel the great majesty of the towering landscapes."

"People have their opinions - I really like the wild beaches of the North Island, even those west coast beaches within easy access of Auckland City," Jack said. "But like you my mind and heart soar when I get inland and head to the McKenzie Country."

Rodney and Sheryl Mason own a sheep farm incorporating a small Romney stud near Kiwitea and their four children were away at boarding school so beds were available in the new house.

"Or do you want this lassie to spend the night in genuine shearers' quarters," the ruddy-faced Sheryl asked. "Rodney's father built them years ago when our farm was four times its present size, but the accommodation has been retained for itinerate workers coming into the district - including shearers."

"It's over to Maggie," Jack said.

"We'll take the shearers' quarters," Maggie murmured, looking quite keenly at Jack. Her mood towards him had mellowed on the long drive down.

"Right - but you'll eat up here, of course," Sheryl said. "I'm doing lamb shanks for you this evening and in the morning we'll have honey-cured bacon from a pig that we raised on our household scraps; it's sensational."

The Mason's home had been a nondescript rambling single-level house. The core structure had been sound, but extensions had been rather thrown together and completed as cheaply as possible.

Architect Beryl Mason - Rodney's unmarried sister - had attacked the house with vengeance, having most of the extensions demolished, which required the family to shift to the shearers' quarters during rebuilding.

A corrugated iron two-level round ‘barn' was erected over the remaining core, and a duplicated structure erected as a sleeping wing alongside it, with direct connection between the two structures at ground level plus a walkway encased in a Perspex tube connecting the two upper floors of the ‘tin sheds'.

The concept had proven to work very well with the dwelling being divided into distinctive zones.

"It is somewhat unkindly referred to as ‘the tin sheds' by locals, but those who have visited leave raving about it," Sheryl said, when interviewed by Greer.

At the time specified by Jack, Rodney's brother Malcolm arrived in his aerial spraying helicopter to take Jack and his cameras to the air - hovering about six meters up for the best shots; any higher and the buildings quickly lost their appeal through losing their vertical perspective and beginning to ‘merge' with the ground.

Beryl the architect arrived with her friend Tony just before nightfall and Greer interviewed her while Jack was taking interior shots with the lights on and his supplementary lighting. He came into the study and took a beautiful portrait shot of Beryl sitting on the office chair, lit by the table lamp, with one arm folded across her stomach and the other hand cupping her chin with two fingers pointing up her cheek.

Jack captured the photo he wanted after coaxing her to stretch her back straight and then to bend her head slightly on to the hand cupping her chin. He simply used the light from the table lamp, which left part of her face dramatically in shadow.

"Beautiful," he said.

Beryl, with a wide and sun-ravaged face, looked very pleased to be told that.

Rodney's brother Malcolm arrived with his wife Harry (Harriett) and even before the beer and wine began taking effect the conversation was roaring away.

Maggie was surprised to find that everyone had been to Edinburgh.

"Kiwis are great travelers," explained Harry.

"Is this your first time away from home?"

"No, I been to America and worked in South Africa for a while."

"Well, Kiwis and the Scots are great travelers," Harry said.

"Why are you called Harry instead of Harriett, may I ask if this is not a rude question?"

"No, I'm used to being asked it, Maggie. Daddy really thought he was getting a boy when I was due to arrive, so I was going to be called Harold, hopefully Harry. I was a big disappointment and one day when I'd turn seven, he mentioned this. I said he could call me Harry, and he did so and was really pleased to receive the invitation. Mum resisted for almost two years before she permanently lapsed into Harry.

Later, walking up to the shearer's quarters with Jack who had the torch, she said, "I didn't know you had been to Scotland let alone Edinburgh."

"Yes, three times actually, to see games played by the All Blacks. But on football trips like that one doesn't get to see a great deal apart from football grounds and pubs."

"So you didn't experience Scottish culture?"'

"Oh yes, at the matches and in the pubs."

Jack had decided to avoid an awkward moment when they entered their quarters. As he closed the door in the communal room he drew Maggie to him. If she resisted he let her go; Phil could have her.

"Are you ready for this?"

Big-eyed, she nodded, lips parting slightly.

They kissed, long and soft. He pulled his head back and looked at her happy smile.

"Coffee?"

"No thanks."

"Bed?"

She smiled beautifully and nodded.

"I take it, that means my bed?"

"Let's shower first," Maggie smiled, remaining motionless.

Jack interpreted this pause correctly.

He began undoing her front-buttoned top.

The both looked down as the fine-wool garment opened, exposing an eggshell blue bra. Their eyes met, they kissed.

Jack reached behind under the garment and unhooked the three bra fasteners without too much fumbling. He then removed both garments and cupping both breasts saw with pleasure the desire in Maggie's eyes.

On he progressed, undoing the button at the back of her black skirt, unzipping it and it dropped to the floor.

"Oh I say, stockings," he breathed, eyeing the thigh-highs.

The black panties were slipped down.

"Jack," gasped Maggie as he went on to his knees.

"Oh Jack," she moaned, digging her fingers into his hair and shuddering.

In the shower after some kissing and hugging, Jack lifted her up, feeling Maggie's legs close around his waist and then he lowered her a little. They stared at each other despite the shower water streaming down their faces. Luckily someone must have turned the water on as soon as Maggie and Jack had elected to sleep in the shearer's quarters, as it was warmish.

Maggie sighed, and said, "Let's not rush it."

As the connection was completed, Jack leaned back against the shower wall; eyes closed momentarily and yelled, "Y-a-a-h-o-o!", startling his companion.

"You'll stampede the stock," warned Maggie, who then clenched her teeth and began grunting as Jack picked up the pace.

The combined sounds of a rooster, barking dogs and a tractor woke the two friends, now lovers; the emotional bonding with its verbal declaration had come during the night, Maggie happily acknowledged that status.

Jack was staring at her, soft-eyed, and was she awoke in the cramped single bed.

"Hello Jack my lover," she greeted, running a hand down his cheek before rolling on her back to stretch.

A door banged opened and Sheryl called out, "Hello Jack!"

"Down the passage to the right, first room."

Thudding of boots indicated Sheryl's progress and she arrived at the doorway.

"Oh God, you looked cramped in that single bed - I never thought to tell you there were no double beds down here. Actually, I wondered about your relationship - several times actually," she grinned. "I thought you'd know what to do."

"Oh, he knew what to do, I must say," Maggie joked and they all laughed. Sheryl being country-bred and thick-skinned.

"All I can say is you look very lovely together. Here - drink your coffee while it's hot. I've just come in from moving sheep."

"What time is it?"

"Seven twenty."

"Don't you sleep?"

"Yes, and usually we take a nap after watching a ‘Soap' just after we finish lunch."

"Very couth."

"Indeed. Come up to the house for breakfast at 7:30. I can't think how you can fill in time until then," she said mischievously, departing with a friendly wave.

"Nice woman."

"Country women are the salt of the earth," Jack said. "Particularly those born into farming, but I must say even late-switching life-stylers seemed dedicated to following the tradition."

"Are we able to continue this conversation later, perhaps when we're driving? Now that I've got you in bed I aim to have my fill, as they say. Providing that's all right with you?"

"Right, think of something good to do to me while I nip off to the bathroom. Try to be very creative."

Three hours later after breakfast, which included Jack taking a series of photographs of the breakfasters at the colorful breakfast layout, bathed in soft early morning sunlight, the two journalists were back on the road heading for Taupo.

"Truly salt of the earth farming people, I really enjoyed socializing with them and staying the night," Maggie said. "Their house seems so absolutely perfect for them. I don't know if I would feel this way had we just nipped in for a quick shoot and then. This emotional like with them and their home will be reflected in the way I write up my contributions, I'm sure of that."

"Yes, that's how is works," Jack agreed.

Just after noon the next day Jack and Maggie headed back to Auckland.

"What are your thoughts about Smith Mansion?" he asked, most interested in getting Maggie's assessment.

"In a nutshell - I am left with an impression of unhappy clients, an unhappy house and not surprisingly a disinterested architect - result, a lovely house rather than a great house that it could so easily have been."

"Well summed up. The Smith's brief was they wanted a view from every window, and got it, which wasn't too difficult as they are on a hilltop. But the way the house was redesigned to particularly frame the nightlights of Taupo town from the dining room was brilliant, giving the impression one was viewing the town across water from the bridge of a ship. The old-fashion ship's wheel and telegraph control system set into the deck was a kinky touch, but looked an integral part of the structure rather than an after-thought."

"I believed that I could easily have been on a ship."

"You were spot on thinking the architect was disinterested, Maggie. When I was out saying goodbye to Cecil he showed me his original sketch that gave the whole exterior facing the lake the representation of a tugboat, with the mast serving as a radio and TV aerial and the chimneys of the two fireplaces being incorporated in one rooftop vent or funnel, and slightly raked back for marine-like authenticity. He told me that was the first of many three-way scraps between him and the Smiths. The Smiths found it difficult to agree on anything as Mr Smith was still licking his wounds after finding Mrs Smith had been having an affair. She of course had many temptations as he'd been away at sea for much of their married life."

Maggie was surprised that so much personal information had been exchanged.

"An architect divulges confidential personal information to you like that?"

"It was indiscreet and unprofessional I know but I suspected something like that was involved and chipped away until Cecil finally choked out his frustrations, calling it his unhappiest relationship with clients ever. He's been a registered architect for 47 years; he's known me for years as I used to row with his son Stuart."

"Who's also an architect or builder?"

"No, he drives railway locomotives. Why did you think that?"

"Oh, your stories often result in Happy Families."

"Are you happy?"

"Yes, very. So the unhappy Smiths were the reason why we slept in that local motel last night?"

"Yes, when Milly organized the visit Mrs Smith said she would preferred we did not stay with them."

"Gosh, the cow. I would have dumped them as a project."

"The idea was to artistically and interestingly depict a striking home conversion project, not to focus on the social niceties of the clients. Anyway, you seemed to get the job done with your interviews.

"Cecil suggested I interview them separately, and now I understand why. Mr Smith didn't really have much to say of merit. She was good, although abrasive and for an older woman she does have a pretty amazing face and figure - little wonder she is able to put it about at her time in life."

"Maggie - isn't that being indiscreet and unprofessional?"

"I suppose it is; makes interesting conversation, though.

That evening in Auckland Andy and Greer announcement their engagement and Andy took his parents, Jack and the MacRae family to a very expensive restaurant to celebrate. The MacRae seniors left for a seven-day tour of the South Island the next morning and four days after returning to Auckland left with Greer for Australia for ten days before returning home.

* * *

The wedding was held five months later, the timing being such that both Jack and Maggie could not be away together, so Maggie went to Edinburgh without him.


Submitted: July 29, 2007

© Copyright 2022 Grigor McGregor. All rights reserved.

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