When a man who casts no shadow is of this world and Ethereal.
Beware the fated love he brings for it’s your soul he comes to steal
No one shall walk before him nor in his footsteps tread .
For he dwells amongst the living,……… as well as the dead .
- Michael Fletcher
The Prologue .
Torbridge , Devon . 1973 .
When Elaine Hamilton finds a new born baby dumped on the church doorstep three days after the funeral of her father, Reverend David Hamilton, she saw it as a sign from God. Wrapped in just a thin blanket and naked as nature intended, the child was close to death after being left outside on a cold, snowy, wintry night. The baby was in need of urgent medical help, but the blizzard that raged outside had taken the phone lines down and snow drifts blocked the roads in and out of the village. It was several miles to the nearest hospital and around half that distance to the nearest Doctors Surgery in the neighboring village of Horrabridge. Dressed in her herringbone overcoat, Wellington boots and thick wooly scarf, Elaine braved the elements for the long arduous trek on her mission of mercy.
The child was blue in the face and its breath was faint and shallow when she arrived at his surgery almost two hours later.
After examining the infant, Dr Shaw shook his head. “I’m sorry my dear, there is very little hope. The baby was born premature, of that I’m sure. His lungs are not developed properly yet and he’s suffering from hypothermia. It will be a miracle if he survives or a blessing when the Lord takes him.”
“The Lord giveth and the Lord shall taketh away!” chanted Elaine. “Why would God take my father, then deliver this child to me if it wasn’t meant to live? It can’t die, I won’t let it!” She cradled the almost lifeless infant in her arms and carried it over by the fire. “Can’t you give him something to ease his suffering?”
“It’s a little too late for that, I’m afraid. Even if I could get him to a hospital, the chances are he wouldn’t make it. All we can do now is pray.”
“Then I will!” She placed the baby near to the hearth, knelt beside the ailing infant and put her hands together. “Almighty God, have mercy on his soul. Give this child the strength and courage to make it through this night and allow him the chance to live in this world before calling him into the next. Let me teach him to follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ and tread the path of righteousness. Amen!” She picked up the child and cradled it to her bosom, but the little sign of life it once had was gone. Elaine gave out a cry of anguish, held out the limp bundle at arms length and looked up towards Heaven. “Why? I’ve never asked for anything in my life before, even now, I asked it only for him.”
Dr Shaw took the child from her arms and placed it on the examination couch and covered it with a sheet.
Elaine threw herself down onto the floor and sobbed uncontrollably.
“I’ll ask Mrs. Bates, my house keeper to make you a nice cup of tea. I’m sure you’ll feel better.”
“Tea! Why do people think a nice cup of tea makes you feel better? I’ve just buried my father and that’s all I’ve heard, “Let me make you a nice cup of tea, it’ll make you feel better”, well it doesn’t!” Elaine became quite irate and muttered incoherently. She squatted in a corner and tucked her knees
firmly under her chin and wrapped her arms tightly around her shins. Her eyes were wide and fearful as she stared across at the Doctor and his housekeeper.
“Poor girl, she looks like a scared rabbit,” exclaimed Mrs. Bates.
“She’s probably suffering from shock! Bring my bag and I’ll give her a sedative.”
It was almost daylight the next time Elaine opened her eyes. Her head felt heavy with the sedation and her legs weary from the journey. She had slept in a high – backed armchair, covered with a heavy woolen blanket to keep out the chill. The blizzard outside had ceased and the air was still as she glanced through the window. In the distance, a snow plough weaved its way between the many abandoned cars that littered the streets and rushed by like it hadn’t a care in the world. Her thoughts were of the dead child, and for the desperate mother who had left him.
Suddenly, a faint cry pierced the silence and she mustered the energy to push herself up from the chair and walk slowly towards the door. The curtains had been drawn and the room was in darkness as she opened the door and stared at the still, white sheet covering the examination couch. Could it be, God has answered my prayers, she thought. Her hands were shaking and her breath excitable as she peeled back the sheet; gasping as the sight of perfect pink skin came into view. “It’s a miracle!” she cried, joyfully. Elaine hurriedly folded the sheet in half, then in half again and wrapped the baby up like a papoose. She tucked the child inside her coat before sneaking silently out through a side door.
On awaking and discovering that both Elaine and the baby had gone, Dr Shaw notified the police and the coroners office of the baby’s demise. And, although he reported the child’s death was due to natural causes, that’s all he could report. Elaine had never given her name or told where she lived.
Elaine Hamilton was an only child. Her mother had died when she was barely into primary school and, for the past twelve years, had suffered the wrath of her father’s strict religious upbringing. She didn’t have many friends to speak of, and now, at the age of seventeen her life was about to turn a new chapter. Now the last of her immediate family had departed this world, she felt very alone, and yet, she believed that the little miracle delivered to her doorstep was somehow recompense for those who had been taken from her early in life. Still stricken with grief and afraid of any backlash from her visit to Dr Shaw’s surgery, Elaine packed a few clothes, drew out all her savings and moved far away from Torbridge, the small Devonshire village she knew so well, and headed North, renting an apartment in a high – rise on the outskirts of Sheffield, Yorkshire. She mingled in perfectly with the locals; many of the residents were single parents or divorced and of mixed dialects and races; where a new mother and child on the block wouldn’t seem anything out of the ordinary. She named the child Clayton after her favorite cowboy actor, Clayton Moore, who, played The Lone Ranger in the popular T V series of the same name. She changed her surname by deed poll to Walker, fearing any incriminations should she be found out for not reporting the child’s abandonment. Elaine knew life from now on wasn’t going to be the same; looking over her shoulder all the time or awaiting that dreaded knock on the door wouldn’t help her already shattered nerves.
Living on a high-rise estate was tougher than she thought. Everyone knew everyone else’s business, crime and drugs were rife, burglaries and muggings were an everyday occurrence, and trying to juggle a job and look after a baby at the same time was almost an impossibility. She made many friend over the years and when Clay reached the age of nine, Elaine married local shopkeeper Archie Monroe, a man much older than herself. Almost a year to that day she gave birth to a daughter, Austine. Two years after that, Susan came along, followed by Kenny a year later. Ten happy years they spent together, until his
business went bust and Archie ran off with a pretty nylon stocking saleswoman half his age.
Clay had reached his nineteenth birthday by then and had turned into quite a handsome young man. All the girls loved him and all the boys were envious. He was streetwise and tough, those who didn’t move in his circles kept out of his way, those who got in his way, wished they hadn’t. By day, he worked hard for a living doing menial jobs, earning just enough to put food on the table and keep the bailiffs away from the door. By night, he studied relentlessly and completed a five year modern construction apprenticeship attending evening classes and practical workshops; gaining distinctions and honors along the way.
At the age of twenty – eight, Clay was well established as a competent builder and property developer. They moved upwards and outwards after buying a five bedroom detached house in the beautiful rural village of Brunswick, South of Sheffield. The family continued to prosper and their lives couldn’t have been better, but for Clay, there was always something missing. He’d suffered reoccurring nightmares from an early age and would get strange notions in his head that his life was incomplete and that he had a mission, a destiny to fulfill and he had to discover it. Elaine thought it was just pangs of wanting to know who his real parents were after revealing the truth to him about what happened all those years ago. She hoped the pangs would go away.
On the eve of his twenty – ninth birthday, Clay packed a bag and fuelled his 4 x 4 in readiness to leave after his birthday celebrations, much to the disappointment of his family and friends.
CHAPTER ONE .
Brunswick, South Yorkshire. 2003.
It should have been a joyous occasion for Clayton Walker. In seven hours time he would be twenty – nine years old, in less than forty hours, he’d be on his way touring the Southern coast of England in the hope of finding his long lost parents. Family had always been his number one priority and when troubles arose, he was always the one to sort things out. His youngest sister Susan was a typical post – school teenager, thinking she was all grown up and that she knew best. She was very adolescent in her actions and her naïve ways were a cause for concern. It had come to Clay’s attention that she was talk of the town, talk he didn’t like to hear or want to believe of his little sister. Things needed to be sorted before he could embark on his long awaited journey, and come what may, everyone had to tow the line when he laid down the law.
“Clay, how long will you be gone?” asked Austine, staring into the cup of tea she was continuously stirring.
“I don’t know? A week, a month, till I get home sick.” He hunched his shoulders.
“But why? Everything you’ll ever need is here. Your family, friends, home, your business.”
“Haven’t you ever felt that you needed to be somewhere else, even though you didn’t know why you had to be there?”
“No, I’m not that adventurous.”
“Maybe I just need to get it out of my system. Maybe when I do get to wherever, I find I was wrong and caused all this fuss for nothing.”
The door slammed and in walked Kenny. Kenny was almost sixteen now and the youngest member of the family, he doted on Clay’s every word and would miss him the most while he was away.
“Hi, shortstop, what yer’ been up to?” Clay had a nickname for them all and was referring to Kenny’s unusual small size for his age and untidy appearance. Austine, the elder of his two sisters, fondly known as sweet cheeks, because of her plump rosy complexion and the fine downy facial hair that resembled peaches, and Susan, ultimately became known as smarty-pants, the academic one of the family. Top of the class in every subject at school and now attending technical college.
“I just had a fight with Billy Walton!” said Kenny breathless.
“I thought Billy was your mate?”
“Not any more, he was slagging you off in front of everyone. He said you were leaving because you’ve slept with half the married women in Brunswick and their husbands are out to get you. He said you were running away because you’re chicken.”
Clay snorted a laugh and shook his head. “Kenny, you know that isn’t true! I’m not scared of anyone and I haven’t slept with any married women.”
“Married women!” cried Elaine at the top of her voice, on hearing the tail – end of their conversation as she walked into the room. “Oh, Clay, you haven’t?”
“No, mother, I’m not that desperate!”
“You keep away from married women, they’re nothing but trouble. There’s plenty of nice, respectable girls out there; like the postmaster’s daughter for instance or the girl at the flower shop.”
Clay rolled his eyes at his siblings. “Christ, mother, I set my sights on someone a lot more attractive than those two mingers. No man has ever given them a second glance, and if they ever did, then they should’ve gone to Specsavers.”
Austine and Kenny burst into laughter.
“Don’t be so awful,” said Elaine, “all I’m saying is, it’s about time you thought about settling down. Twenty – nine is a good age to be thinking about marriage and starting a family.”
He knew his mother all to well. This was her little retaliation, her way of saying don’t leave, frightened that he may find his long lost parents and ruin their relationship forever, though, she would never admit to it.
He pressed his lips against her forehead and gave her a reassuring hug.
“Mother, I am coming back, you know. There’s plenty of time for marriage and grandchildren.”
“I know, it’s just…… I know I shouldn’t say it but, you’re special to me.”
“Mother, we’re all special!” He pulled Austine and Kenny into their emotional huddle. “This is the best family anyone could ever want.” He ruffled Kenny’s hair and kissed Austine’s cheek. “I love you all and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you.”
“Seeing as you’re in a good mood then, can I ask a favour and invite a few of my friends to your birthday party tomorrow?” said Austine cheekily.
“I can’t see why not, more the merrier.”
“Great! I’ll go and ring them now, they’ll be over the moon.” Austine disappeared into the living room.
Elaine took a cake from the oven and placed it on a stand to cool.
“Where’s Susan? I want a word with her before I leave. She’ll be at college tomorrow and I might not get the chance,” asked Clay.
“She mentioned going to the park with some of her friends when we spoke earlier,” his mother replied.
“Should I go and get her?” suggested Kenny.
Clay nodded. “If she won’t come, you drag her here. I won’t have her thinking she can do what she likes, when she likes.”
Kenny rubbed his hands together and had a excited grin on his face as he bolted through the door.
“Don’t be too hard on her,” insisted Elaine. “ When they reach seventeen and start college, kids like to think they’re grown up. You were just the same at that age.”
“Mother, I didn’t smoke dope, drink on street corners and have sex with every spotty teenager who smiled at me.”
Elaine eyebrows disappeared into her hairline. “You are joking, aren’t you?”
“Why do you think half the men in Brunswick are up in arms? I didn’t sleep with their wives, I threatened their sons. I overheard a group of boys bragging they had slept with Susan; two of them said on the same night. I just lost my temper and threatened to punch their lights out if they ever went near her again. It has to stop! She’ll end up with something she can’t get rid of, pregnant, or both.”
“But she’s such a sweet natured girl usually, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.”
“Yeah, and Dr Crippin was a Doctor! She may have got you fooled, but I’ve got her number.”
Twenty minutes later, the front door slammed and in walked Susan with a mixture of anger and pain on her face. “Who do you think you are? You’re not my father, you’re not even my brother, really! You’ve no right to boss me around. Kenny just humiliated me in front of the few friends I have left, thanks to you. When I refused to come home straight away, he forced me to the ground and dragged me along the grass by my legs.” She hitched up her skirt at one side. “Look at the gravel marks on my buttocks! Everyone laughed because my skirt rode up and showed my knickers.” She took a cold drink from the fridge and slammed the door shut. “I’ll be glad when I’m eighteen and I can leave home, it’s like living in a prison here.”
“You know where the door is, you don’t have to wait another year.” Clay hooked a thumb in the direction of the front door.
Elaine intervened. “Clay, don’t say such things, no – one’s going anywhere.” She turned to face Susan. “ If you treated people with a little respect young lady and dropped the attitude, then things might be different.”
“ I hope when you go away, you never come back. I hate you, I wish you were dead!” Susan’s face turned red with rage after her outburst and stamped her feet as she bounded up the stairs to her bedroom.
“I’m sure she doesn’t mean what she says,” commented Elaine, seeing the hurtful expression on Clay’s face.
“It sounded like it to me! But mark my words, if you don’t get her in hand soon, you’ll have big problems with her later.”
Elaine nodded in agreement. “I’ll have words with her, don’t you worry! Better let her calm down first.”
Susan didn’t come down from her room when Elaine called her for dinner.
Clay sat at the head of the table carving the roast while the others served themselves the prepared vegetables.
“I’m starving!” Kenny said, heaping his plate with mash potatoes. “Just think of all this home cooking you’re going to miss while you’re away.”
“Have you decided on which route you’re going to take on your journey?” asked Austine.
“Not really, I’ll just head South and take it from there.” He pulled a face and rolled his eyes at Austine, as if to say, ‘not in front of mother’.
“That’s enough talk about going away, eat your food before it gets cold,” said Elaine dully.
The conversation stopped there.
It had been a funny sort of day, thought Clay, as he trudged up the stairs to bed. Mother hadn’t been her usual chirpy self and he knew the reason was because of his leaving. And Susan rebelling like she had recently wasn’t making things any easier. Little miss smarty pants was supposed to be the intelligent one of the family, and now, she was acting like an idiot. Thank heavens for Austine, she was the levelheaded one, and, with her help and
Kenny’s, between them, they should be able to keep her in check until he returned home.
The light was still on in Susan’s bedroom as he passed by her door. Clay checked his stride, back peddled a few steps and pressed his ear to the door. He could hear her crying lowly, followed by intermittent sobs. He gripped the door handle and tapped his knuckles on the door panel before entering the room. Susan looked up, then buried her head into the pillow as he walked slowly over, lowered himself onto the bed and stroked her hair.
“Hey, what’s with the tears?” Susan didn’t respond with words, his caring tones only made her sob even more. “I know I come down a little heavy on you sometimes, but it’s for your own good. I love you, and I can’t help being protective, that’s what big brother’s do.”
She lifted sharply from the bed, flinging her arms around his shoulders and sobbed into the nape of his neck. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean what I said.” She clasp her hands together and looked towards Heaven. “Please, God, I take it all back. He is my brother, and the best in the world. Let him come to no harm and please bring him back safely.”
Clay held her at arms length and stared into her sorrowful eyes. He realized that he’d created the monster, spoiling her rotten with his generosity and extravagant gifts and, letting her have her own way from an early age. But it was time to exorcise her back into the world of reality. “Have I not given you everything you’ve ever wanted?” He motioned with his arm to the things around her room. “ A beautiful house to live in, nice clothes, every must - have accessory that a teenager could wish for.”
The question went unanswered. Susan just bowed her head and looked shamed.
“You don’t know how lucky you are. I’ve seen kids without shoes on their feet because their parents were living on the breadline, not knowing where their next meal was coming from. No televisions! play stations! Ipods!” He gestured again.
“I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you, I just want to be popular,” she replied, weepily.
“Popular! Sleeping around only makes you popular with the guys you’re doing it with, no-one else.”
“What about you? You’ve slept with loads of women!”
Clay sighed and shook his head. “It’s different for guy’s. The more conquests we make, the more we become one of the boy’s. With women, you just get a reputation as being an easy lay or a whore, slag, tart, slapper, you name it, you’ll get called it.”
“Yeah, ok, I get the picture!” She slid off the bed and stared out through the window.
“If you really want to be popular, study hard, get into university and make something of your life. That’s when you’ll become popular, when you’re a success. No – one wants to be friends with a failure.”
Susan nodded in recognition of what he was saying. “I thought I was the smart one! Everything you’ve just said makes sense, but I never saw it that way.” She put her arms around his shoulders and hugged him tight.
“I tell you what, if I get good reports of your behavior when I get back, a certain black mini cooper with racing stripes maybe parked on the drive one morning when you awake.”
Her eyes gleamed brighter than her perfect smile.
“ Have I ever lied to you?”
The question should have been, “Do you realize I’ve just done the exact opposite of what I intended?” The fact was, he’d always given in to Austine and Susan when the waterworks started. There was something about a sobbing woman that tugged on his heartstrings, especially when it came to the two sisters he adored. But blackmail and bribery always worked in the past, he thought, and as long as Susan changed her ways, he’d achieved his main objective.
As the first light of day illuminated the bedroom, Clay swung his legs out of bed and lit up a cigarette. It had been another night of interrupted sleep and weird dreams, dreams that made no sense to him, and yet, a feeling of
significance swept over him. He moved about the bedroom quietly so not to wake the others, putting the last few essentials he needed into his travel bag. It was barely six o’clock as he tiptoed down the stairs, sauntered slowly into the kitchen, filled the kettle with water and switched on the radio. More doom and gloom, he thought, as the newsreader announced an increase in business taxes, another half percent rise in mortgage lending and another rail crash, only this time, without any casualties. On a lighter note, a child missing suspected of being kidnapped had been found safe and well after a man walking his dog discovered the youngster in a makeshift camp in some nearby woods.
A few minutes later, Austine crept down stairs groaning and holding her head. She searched the medicine cabinet, confiscated the coffee Clay had just made for himself and popped two painkillers into her mouth.
“Hey, make your own!” cried Clay, realizing his cup wasn’t where he’d put it.
“My need is more urgent, I’ve a bursting headache.”
“Self inflicted, of course!”
He re – boiled the kettle and made another coffee.
Austine picked a piece of dry icing from the birthday cake base and popped it into her mouth. “Just think! You’ll be thirty next year, you’ll be an old man then.”
“Oh, is that what you think? Well, this nearly old man is still young enough to put you over my knee and give you a good spanking.”
“Huh, you wouldn’t dare,” she said teasingly.
Clay leapt to his feet.
Austine shrieked with laughter as he dodged either side of the kitchen table, fooling her into running the wrong way and cornering her near the sink.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I take it all back. You’ll never be to old!”
He lifted her up into his arms. Austine giggled and kicked out trying to break free of his grip as he carried her over to the chair.
“What the hell’s going on?” cried Elaine, fastening the belt on her dressing gown, before re –attaching two curlers that had sprung loose from her hairnet. “You’re making enough noise to wake the dead.”
“Sorry !” they said in unison. There guilty expressions changed to looks of innocence as he lowered Austine to her feet.
“Now I’m awake, I’ll have a nice cup of tea, please.” She touched up her hair again as she turned away. “In bed, thank you!” Elaine clip – clopped her way back up the stairs in her feathered mules to the warmth of her bed.
Austine clicked the kettle back on to boil, turned, and leant against the kitchen units. “God, it’s going to be like a graveyard when you leave. Mother will be as grumpy as hell, Kenny is never in, and as for Susan . ….. well?”
He smiled and looked quite pleased with himself. “Don’t worry about Susan, things will be different from now on.”
Austine made a pot of tea, poured some into a large China cup, placed two slices of bread into the toaster, which she buttered when golden brown, and took them on a tray up stairs to her mother.
Clay lit a cigarette and searched through that mornings mail looking for anything of importance, of which there weren’t, and discarded them into the bin along with the rest of the weeks junk mail.
Austine reappeared a few minutes later holding a small gift wrapped parcel and an envelope containing a birthday card. “Happy birthday, and lots of ‘em.” She placed them in front of Clay and stepped back awaiting his reaction.
He opened the envelope first and smiled at the sentiment written inside before plumping the parcel trying to guess what it was. He tore open the wrapping and raised an eyebrow. “Underpants! Don’t ever let anyone ever say that you’re unimaginative when it comes to buying birthday presents.”
“Don’t you like them? They’re designer!”
“Kelvin Klein!” Clay smirked. “Calvin’s poor relation, I gather?”
Austine blushed. “Well, I didn’t have a lot of money at the time, and besides, what do you buy a man who has everything?”
Clay smiled and shook his head. Austine always had an answer for everything, he thought, and, I suppose it’s the thought that counts really.
Hours later, when everyone was up and about there were more birthday surprises. Kenny had saved up his pocket money for months and bought Clay a Swiss army knife with an ivory handle, a multi tool for all occasions.
Susan, however, came up a little short. She’d only bought him a birthday card, but in Clay’s way of thinking, if she changed her ways and went on to university, then that would be a gift in itself.
Elaine’s gift was a real statement of her love. A top of the range satellite navigation system, so Clay could never get lost and would always have the capability to find his way home wherever he was.
The party was in full swing. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the huge birthday buffet that half circled the room, and the endless flow of booze that was on offer. It was around ten thirty when Clay wandered through the French doors to take a breath of the cool night air. Inside, the place was like an inferno, heaving with sweaty bodies gyrating to the pounding music of the stereo sound system, while outside, the light breeze and the gentle rustling of the leaves at the bottom of the garden was a welcomed respite from the hustle and bustle of indoors. Clay had never been much of a party animal, a quiet meal and a drink around the dinner table with the family would have been much more to his liking. He did appreciate that his mother had gone to a lot of trouble planning the whole thing, as well as baking him a cake and preparing the buffet herself. And besides, one or two of Austine’s friends were quite attractive too, he thought, even though it looked like she had invited the whole staff at the Co –operative store where she worked.
He sat on the garden swing facing the house, gentle swaying to and fro and looking up at the night sky. The moon was full, hanging in the sky just above the horizon and casting light over the garden. A few loud pops like balloons
exploding broke the peaceful tranquility, before the French doors burst open and laughter echoed into the night. Austine and a rather leggy blonde girl swayed their way towards him, both slightly the worse from drink.
“Here he is! I knew he wouldn’t have gone far,” slurred Austine, giggling like crazed Hyena.
The blonde girl stood still and stared at Clay in awe.
“Come on!” ordered Austine, taking her friend by the arm and pulling her closer. “He doesn’t bite! Not hard, anyway.” Another silly giggle.
The blonde girl stumble reluctantly a few steps further.
“Hi , I’m……..” She interrupted him mid – sentence and thrust a bottle of Budweiser into his outstretched hand.
“Yes I know who you are, Austine’s told me all about you…..well, not everything. I hear a lot of gossip in the store too.”
“Nothing bad, I hope?”
“Anyone who’s as considerate as you, can’t be bad.” She giggled and raised her eyebrows at Austine.
“I’ll leave you two to it, see you later, Roxy.” Austine threw her friend a wink and rejoined the party inside.
Roxy’s initial shyness of Clay began to wane after a while, in fact, the more she drank, the more bolder she became.
“ So, is it true what they say? You don’t stop making love to a woman until she has an orgasm.”
Wow! What an icebreaker of a question, he thought, she certainly gets to the point. “On a good night, and if I’m in no hurry to get home.” He threw her a cheeky grin.
He offered her his swing seat after she swayed a few more times and almost stumbled. They made small talk, trivial questions about work, favorite music, and the like. They had a lot in common it seemed, to much in common for his liking, to much to be coincidental, anyway. Then a strange notion entered his head. Roxy was the manager of the Co-operative store where Austine worked and he remembered a conversation with Austine a few days
earlier about the position of Assistant Manager coming up for grabs and Austine thought she deserved it, having been overlooked twice before. Maybe
this was a set up, a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ type of thing; a sexual favour for a high ranked position? There was only one way of finding out, he thought. He’d either get laid or slapped across the face, and one way or the other, it was going to be interesting finding out.
He lifted Roxy to her feet and pulled her close to him. Her eyes filled with anxious desire and anticipation as he pressed his lips firmly against hers and ran his hand up the outer side of her thigh. She felt his erection pressing against her as his hands slid around her hips and gripped her buttocks, gently squeezing the firm plump orbs. Roxy sighed as they broke from their kiss, parting her lips with her wet tongue and then thrusting her moist mouth towards his again. Like two rutting stags, their tongues interlocked, heads bobbing from side to side as their passion escalated. He unbuttoned the front of her dress and forced a nipple out over the rim of her bra.
“Not here,” she said, “someone might see us.”
Clay took her by the hand and led her to the nearby garden shed. In next to no time, they were half naked, tearing at each others clothes as if they were on fire. He switched on the dimmer light and marveled at her magnificent, small, pear shaped breasts, stroking them gently as if they were fragile. She straddled his body as he sat on a stool, his erection bursting out from his loins like a barbers pole. Roxy lowered herself gently onto it and cried out as if in pain.
“Am I hurting you?” he gasped.
“God, no! I’ve never had one so big inside me before, that’s all.”
He grinned widely, putting extra effort into their lovemaking by thrusting upwards to meet her downward motion.
Her high – pitched cries and deep moans echoed loud into the night, and the aroma of their scented sweating bodies overpowered the smell of their seasoned wooden surroundings. She arched backwards exposing her erect nipples, allowing his wet tongue to lash over them like a rough sea on rocks.
Roxy straddled his waist with her long slender legs as Clay lifted her onto his work bench and pounded her wet sex all over again. She gripped his buttocks, her nails penetrating his skin as he thrust deeper and harder than before.
“Oh, God, I’m coming!” Roxy gave out a long loud shriek as her body stiffened and twitched violently like electricity passing through it and her face contorted like a gurning champion.
Seconds later, Clay gave out a loud groan as he pumped his hot cum inside her moist pussy. “You certainly hit the high notes there baby. God, I’m good!”
“And fucking arrogant!” she cried, pushing him away. “You really think you’re something, don’t you? My sister was right about the orgasm bit, but she didn’t tell me you were conceited.”
“Your sister! Who?”
“Crystal Stapleton, your girl Friday at the builders yard.”
“Oh, fuck!” Clay screwed his eyes tight shut and slapped his forehead. He’d been secretly dating Crystal for over two months, it was supposed to have been kept a secret until her divorce was finalized because of some stupid discretion clause she’d signed.
How could he have been so stupid to sleep with her sister?
How could he have known? There was little family resemblance. Roxy was almost six feet tall, blonde with a slender figure. Whereas, Crystal, was five – six at the most, dark haired, with a very curvy and voluptuous body.
“Don’t worry,” she said, seeing the dreaded look on his face, “I’m not going to tell her. I knew you couldn’t invited her to your party, so I asked Austine to wangle me an invite instead. I got sick of hearing Crystal going on about how good looking you are and how great you were between the sheets, that I just had to find out for myself.”
“Get out!” he ordered, tossing her clothes, “and if you know what’s good for you, you don’t breath a word about this to anyone, ok.”
Fletcher / When casting no shadow.
She slipped her panties back on and stepped into her dress, smirking as she did so. “If you ever get bored of Crystal, just give me a call.” She tossed him a sexy wink, buttoned up her dress and closed the shed door behind her.
“The bitch!” he cried, thumping his fist hard onto the work bench, “I didn’t see that coming.”
Only Austine was up and about the next morning when Clay came down stairs. And as usual, she was popping painkillers into her mouth to easy the hangover caused by all the drink she’d put away the night before.
Clay busied himself doing last minute checks before his long journey South, making sure he had enough cash in his pocket and that his credit cards were still in date, should he ever need them. He felt quite giddy, butterflies fluttered in his stomach just like they did when his mother had taken him on daytrips to the seaside when he was little. In fact, today would be the first time he had left Yorkshire since the day he arrived twenty – nine years ago and the excitement and anticipation had been welling up inside him since first light.
“Austine, I’m leaving you in charge till I get back. Any problems, you ring me, ok.” He slung his holdall over his shoulder and picked up the car keys from the dish by the telephone.
“Haven’t you forgotten something?” she asked.
He walked back and kissed her on the forehead.
She smiled and shook her head. “Your mobile phone, I meant.” She sighed deeply and unplugged it from the wall socket. “You’d forget your head if it wasn’t fixed permanent.”
“I’ll see you when I see you.” Clay closed the door behind him and tossed his bag into the backseat of his 4 x 4.
There was one last stop off he had to make before his journey could begin. The builders yard.
Gary Blake was Clay’s foreman. He was going to be left in charge of all contractual duties while Clay was away. He’d known and worked with Gary for six years and could trust him with his life, as well as his business. Had it not been for Gary’s bravery and quick thinking, Clay would probably be dead already. Three years earlier, while renovating an old block of apartments, Clay suffered a life threatening fall when part of the scaffold he was working on collapsed underneath him. Luckily, his belt got caught on a pipe clamp leaving him dangling hundreds of feet in the air. Gary lowered himself down a rope from a top storey window and secured Clay with an harness until he was winched to safety by the other crew members.
There began a friendship for life.
Crystal had wanted to make the journey South with him, but due to the discretion clause in her divorce proceedings banning her being seen in public with other men until the decree nisi was final, it just couldn’t happen.
Crystal had been married to a high ranking government official. She had been his secretary, his confident and lover for two years, before he finally popped the question suddenly and whisked her off to Las Vegas for an Elvis style wedding ceremony. Their marriage was a disaster right from the beginning and didn’t last very long. He was never at home due to work commitments and when he was at home, most of the time he was to tired to make love to her. And when scandal knocked on her door less than a year into their marriage, that was to be the final straw. Her husband was photographed by the paparazzi coming out of a seedy bar in Soho with a prostitute on his arm. The press had a field day. The photos were plastered on the front pages of every daily newspaper for weeks and her phone never stopped ringing because of reporters pestering for her side of the story. But Crystal was bound by the official secrets act and never made any statements to the press.
The press made up their own conjecture.
Crystal saw Clay in the yard talking to Gary and waved at him to come to the office. His feet clattered noisily on the steel steps as he ascended to the second storey Porto cabin office. He wasn’t sure if she was pleased to see him or not when popping his head around the office door.
She stared at him sternly.
“Wow, you look hot! Going somewhere nice?” he said, eyeing her up and down. Crystal was wearing a black see-through blouse with a red half – cup bra and a tight black mini skirt that looked like it had been sprayed on.
“No! Just reminding you of what you’ll be missing if I find out you’ve been fucking around while you’re away.”
“If you feel that insecure, why not come with me? We can drive to your place, pick up a few things and be on our way in no time.”
“If it was only that simple! You know why I can’t.”
“Then you’ll just have to trust me. Besides, I won’t be gone that long, I’m sure I can go without sex for a few days.” He laughed.
Crystal raised an eyebrow questionably, pulled the blinds down on the windows and started to undress. She began to unbutton her blouse, her huge breasts swaying as she pulled the silky garment off her shoulders and let it slip to the floor.
Clay swallowed hard, his eye fixated on the pink surrounds of her nipples as they peeped over the half cups of her bra.
“Lock the door!” she demanded, slipping the tight skirt down over her curvaceous hips.
Now, his eyes lowered to the dark patch of pubic hair glistening under her white silken panties.
“Want to fuck me?” She sat on the edge of her desk, spread her legs and slid her hand inside her panties and masturbated.
It was like slow torture. He had to resist. This was a test, he thought. He walked over to her slowly and planted a soft delicate kiss onto her lips.
“What are you doing? I thought our relationship would be based on love and trust, not just sex.”
She grinned as he rearranged the bulge in his trousers.
“I almost tempted you!”
“ Yes, you did! But that doesn’t mean that just any woman can tempt me.”
He had a flashback of the previous night with her sister and his face flushed a little with pangs of guilt.
She threw her arms around him and they kissed passionately. “Don’t break my heart, that’s all I’m asking. I love you and I can’t bear the thought of you in the arms of another woman.”
“I love you too, so stop worrying! There isn’t a woman out there that can hold a candle to you.”
With those words they kissed again.
“I have to go now,” he said, glancing at his watch. “I want to beat the rush hour traffic before it gets too heavy. I’ll call you later.”
His journey seemed simple. South down the M1, then picked up the M5 South of Walsall, West along the A30 to Okehampton, then South again down the A368 to Tavistock. Torbridge was situated between Horrabridge and Sheepstor on the edge of Dartmoor forest. Many of the long, winding, single track roads were poorly signposted or not at all, and were not shown on the roadmap or on his brand new satellite navigation system. Finally, after going around in complete circles or along dead-end roads for the best part of an hour, he drove down the main street of Torbridge and pulled in at the petrol station. What a dive, he thought, no wonder mother left this place. You would probably grow old just waiting for something exciting to happen. It looked as though time had stood still. All the houses he could see looked hundreds of years old. The main street was deserted except for a dog cocking its leg upsides a nearby lamppost, and the petrol pumps with there dull paintwork and rusty exteriors looked like something from an old fifties movie.
An old man closed the door behind him and walked along the forecourt towards him. “ My goodness, a stranger,” he said, in a thick Devonshire accent. He nodded in the direction of the pumps. “What will it be? Regular or diesel.”
“Diesel, fill her up!” Clay looked at his watch, it was almost four pm. It would be dark soon and he needed somewhere to stay for the night. “There wouldn’t happen to be a hotel or a boarding house in the village, would there?”
“Yes, but it closed because no-one ever comes here, but if they do ever come here, then it will open again.”
Clay paid him for the diesel. “ So, now I’ve arrived, will the hotel be open or will it still be closed.”
The old man laughed. “You’re the smart one, you work it out!”
As Clay drove away slowly, he looked back in the rearview mirror. An old lady joined the old man and they seemed to be having a disagreement. She waved her fist at him angrily and then slapped him with the tea towel she had draped over her arm, then turned and waved frantically towards Clay’s departing vehicle.
Clay braked hard, threw the 4x4 into reverse and sped back to the pumps. “Is there a problem?”
The old lady dried her hands on the towel and smiled at him sweetly.
“Would you be looking for a room, sir?” she asked politely. “ We have a spare one, quite reasonably priced too.”
“How reasonably?” asked Clay.
She noticed the sign writing on the panel of his van, ‘Clay Walker. Property repairs and development.’
“I’m sure we can come to an amicable arrangement.”
He thought about it for a moment. She looked him in the eyes and smiled again. She had kind eyes, he thought, eyes that hid loneliness behind them.
“I’ve just baked bread,” she said, enthusiastically, “it’s still quite warm and tastes grand with a knob of my homemade butter.”
That swayed him! There was nothing more he liked better than freshly baked bread and best butter. He pulled the 4x4 off the forecourt and followed them inside the house.
“Sit yourself down, supper will only be a few minutes,” she said, tottering into the kitchen.
The old man sat in a rocking chair and lit up his pipe. Clay pulled out a heavy high-backed oak chair from under the dining table and sat down.
“Lived here all your life?” asked Clay.
“Not all of it, yet.” The old man smiled to himself thinking he was funny. “Eighty –two years and never had a days sickness in my life.”
“Must be all this fresh country air!”
“That, and the wife’s cooking.” He took his pipe from his mouth and pointed it at Clay, gesturing. “ Can’t beat vegetables straight from the ground and fresh meat killed the very same day. Non of that frozen muck!”
At that moment, the old lady walked in carrying a large pan of stew. It smelled absolutely delicious and made Clay’s mouth water. She ladled some into a large soup bowl and placed the pan in the center of the table onto a stand.
“Help yourself to some more if you’re still hungry,” she said, before tottering back into the kitchen to fetch the bread and butter .
Wow, he thought, the old man was right. Fresh vegetables and what seemed like three different kinds of meat. Best stew I ever tasted. One of the meats was obviously rabbit, he’d tasted rabbit before. But the taste of the other two meats alluded him.
“What kind of meats do you use?” Clay asked.
“Anything I can get my hands on,” replied the old man. “Rabbit, Hare, Pheasant, Fox, Hedgehog, Squirrel Wood Pigeon , anything I can scrape off the floor. You can’t beat a bit of road kill!”
Clay dropped the spoon back into the bowl. All of a sudden he wasn’t hungry anymore and felt sick. He thanked the old lady when she returned with the bread and butter and gave her the excuse that he’d eaten a large meal at lunchtime.
She scraped the remains of his bowl back into the pan. “Waste not want not,” she said, “we’ll have it again for lunch tomorrow.”
At nightfall, she led him upstairs to a large attic room. It had a huge double bed beside a small set of drawers, a mirrored dressing table with a old fashioned washbowl and water jug on it, a wardrobe that had obviously seen better days and an old oak chair pushed against the slope of the roof below a skylight window.
“On a clear day you can see right across the moor,” said the old lady, stepping down from the chair after closing the window. “The mist is rolling in, hope no poor soul is lost out there tonight.” She said goodnight and left Clay to undress and get ready.