"Hey Tombie, what are you doing here?"
"Waiting for you."
"You can't come with me."
"I'm not coming back."
"I'm not stupid Neil, I helped plan this trip for you. Remember? I've decided to run away too."
She was right of course. I parked my over-laden bicycle alongside hers at the crossroad outside town, knowing that any argument I put forward would be dismissed and if I refused to acknowledge her, she would follow me anyway. Once she made up her mind, her stubbornness and determination would see it through. After being friends for so many years, literally all our lives, I couldn't reject her now, yet I worried how we would get on, not only during the long bike ride but afterwards, when we reached our destination. My internal thoughts debated what to do but, as usual with my dealings with Tombie, I gave in and grunted, "Get your arse on the saddle then, and start peddling and see if you can keep up." More likely it would be me that fell behind.
Sharon Anne Edwards, nicknamed Tombie, a corruption of tomboy, came into this world four days before me and lived four doors down the road. Our mothers shared the babysitting, so naturally we grew up together and for years we accepted her as one of the boys in our little gang. Although one of the smallest in her class, we all treated her with respect especially after an incident when she was eight. Somehow she became involved in an argument with an older boy who punched her face several times. Bob Collins, an ex SAS instructor, heard of this and suggested she came to his marshal arts classes and offered them free. She took the offer and soon became so proficient that none of us boys dared touch her otherwise, before we knew what happened, we'd be on our backs and hurting. In later years, when she'd completed all the usual stages, Bob showed her techniques the SAS used and she had no hesitancy in using some of them.
I guess we were about twelve and rambling across afield, tossing the freshly cut hay at each other, when three youths blocked our path and demanded money. I was prepared to give them the few pennies I had but Tombie had other ideas. She shook her head no, and looked afraid. Thinking they could have some fun, the boys came at her, the biggest one leading. Although shit scared, I went to her but she quickly separated herself from me and let the big bully get close. For the first time I saw her in action for real. We'd played at wrestling but I gave up because I always came off worst, this time she didn't hold back and in a quick flurry of movements, she kick boxed his face as he bent down to grab her, and punched him a couple of times. In seconds he lay groaning on the ground. His companion, too shocked to move, soon found himself lying alongside holding his painfully sore groin. The third boy ran off. I looked on dumfounded and felt somewhat incompetent because I didn't do anything to help her. We walked on in silence after she'd commented, "If that ever happens again, keep clear of me. I want to know that you are out of the way when I swing a kick."
Despite her small size, she packed a hefty punch, partly from the training and partly because her father is a blacksmith and from the age of nine, she spent time in his forge, hammering hot metal, a skill at which she soon became very adept. As with learning the marshal arts, she set about learning the techniques with fierceness and great determination to succeed. Now at sixteen and only 5ft 1inch, she could produce ornamental ironwork better than her father, who now concentrated on the agricultural engineering side of the business and generally left the ornamental blacksmithing to her.
In many ways I had similar traits but I disliked handling dirty metal, preferring the cleanliness of wood, particularly the carving of animals, plaques and lettering. I wanted to be the world's greatest carver and had a flair for art especially when I could interpret it into clay and particularly wood. I didn't have her defiant spirit though, and usually gave way when trouble started. Neither of us liked school and did as little as possible in subjects such as history and geography that we knew would be of no use to us later. Tombie even went so far as to refuse to do any homework in those subjects resulting in a short term of expulsion.
When she hadn't done her history homework for the fourth week running, Mr. Matthews gave her detention, which she ignored and went home. Next day she had him for the last period and when he dismissed the class, he took her arm and led her across the courtyard to the detention room, or a least he the started to. I'd met her at the classroom to walk home with her and could see from the look on her face that she wasn't going to let him boss her around. And she didn't. In the middle of the courtyard, in front of many children, she suddenly did some quick turns and Mr. Matthews flipped over her back and lay face up on the tarmac. Cheers went up from us kids but we knew she wouldn't get away with it for long.
Next morning, the headmaster sent her home with a note saying she was suspended for two weeks. Her father, a big burly man went to the school and tried to sort it out but he too, took the view that it was a waste of time for her to do homework when she could be earning money at the forge. It was never really resolved but she never did any history homework.
Perhaps Tombie should have been born a boy. Certainly she never wore a bra, she had no need to. Her chest mounds hardly exceeded mine except her nipples were slightly larger and had a darker area around them. I developed more or less normally but stopped growing at 5ft 4 inches so I wasn't all that much bigger than her and one of the smaller boys in my class. I had the sexual thoughts of most teenagers and even wondered about fucking Tombie but I doubted that would occur so my wanking sessions centred on several of the well-endowed girls at school. They never noticed me and I only fucked them in my imagination. Tombie and I had seen each other naked several times when we skinny-dipped in the sea but when I lay in the sun to dry off and my prick started to rise, she told me in her forceful way, "Don't even think about putting that in me unless I ask you to, not unless you want the pain in your balls to last several weeks." I knew it wasn't an idle threat and that she was fully capable of carrying it out.
At Easter in the year we were sixteen and due to leave secondary school that summer, my uncle Ewen visited. He had his own joinery business in Wales almost as far across country as he could get from my home and when I showed him some of my work, he suggested that if I wanted a job when school finished, I should contact him. He gave me his email and web addresses. Mother and father had no great liking for Ewen and were set on my going to building college on a two-year course with a further two years for an advanced diploma. They even opposed my getting an apprenticeship at a local joinery firm. By then I'd had enough of school and a gutful of arguing with my parents so I secretly contacted my uncle. Of course I confided in Tombie and I knew she was a little jealous of my being able to get away and do what I wanted. The situation at her home deteriorated after her mother left soon after the Easter break and she told me her father kept looking at her and she believed he wanted her to take her mother's place, and not just in the kitchen.
I had enough money saved up to have taken the train and buses to my uncle's but thought it would be more of an adventure if I cycled the 300 plus miles and I would have my own transport when I arrived. I'd have to wait another year before I could take driving lessons. Tombie and I planned a route that kept me away from most of the main roads, even if it added a considerable number of miles to the journey, a journey I expected to take about a week. The morning before leaving, I carefully wrapped and packed the woodworking tools I possessed and a few other items I would need when I arrived, into a holdall and took them to DHL to send to Uncle Ewen. I knew my bike would have more than enough to carry without them. To economise, I took a small tent and a sleeping bag and would only look for a B&B when there was no alternative or if the weather turned foul. I promised to keep in touch with Tombie but, as she'd told me many times, we were friends and not lovers. We'd held hands a few times but never kissed and certainly, I hadn't tried to fuck her. It was therefore a complete surprise to find her waiting and prepared to travel with me to a destination miles from her home, without knowing if a job or a place to stay would be available and knowing I expected to spend my nights in a small tent.
Even when there are two of you, cycling is lonely way to travel. On the fairly busy road, we rode in single file and, for the first few miles, I frequently glanced behind to see if she was keeping up. I didn't need to worry; she was fitter than me. Two hours later we arrived at a roadside café with many lorries parked outside. "Fancy a break for breakfast?" We'd gone about eighteen miles and were making good progress and our route would turn off and meander along country lanes a couple of miles further on. This was the last café we could expect until the next largish town some thirty miles ahead. I hoped to talk with her and find out why she'd decided to come and how she viewed our sleeping arrangements but the café was fairly full and a driver took a spare seat at our table and asked about our destination. With the noise and his conversation, we didn't get to talk. I paid for the food and wondered if I would have enough money to keep both of us for the journey but outside, she gave me a fiver which more than covered the cost.
Steadily we made our way along minor roads until we reached the town. There, at a small baker's shop, we bought cheese rolls and sat by a pond in a park to eat them. My watch said 2:05 and we'd done fifty miles. I'd planned on about 60 miles per day so we were well up on schedule and could afford a rest. "What made you decide to come Tombie?" I asked when we'd eaten.
"Wanted to get away from Dad. Since Mum left, I don't feel safe around him and I don't think it would be too long before he found his way into my bed. I might be able to deal with him out in the open but if he caught me asleep, I doubt if I could stop him. I get paid for the forgework I do but at a pretty low rate, so I reckoned that if I stayed I would still have to work for him for peanuts. Your trip seemed a good time to make a break. Left a note saying, 'Eloping to London to work there'. I doubt if he will even notice my bike is missing. If he contacts your mum and dad, they'll all believe we headed for London together."
"Mum will definitely notice my bike is gone but probably not until later this afternoon. She knows I often spemnd time at Clarke's Joinery and won't be worried until I don't arrive home for tea."
"Unless my Dad contacts them."
For a while we discussed the possibility of being found and taken back but we were both over sixteen and could live our own lives. I tried to formulate a way of asking the two questions I most wanted an answer; did she decide to come with me for the reason she said or was it to be with me? And would I be allowed to fuck her when we spent the nights together in my tent? In the end I asked, "Did you bring a sleeping bag?" I'd noticed her panniers were far less bulky than mine.
"No, yours should be big enough for both of us." An answer that begged several more questions but she got up and headed for the toilets.
Late that evening, I set up the tent in a quiet piece of grassland off the road and with some trepidation laid out the sleeping bag. She must have known of my fears because she said, "Neil, I know this is going to be difficult for you, and for me too. We're going to be in close body contact with each other but I want you to keep your prick to yourself. I want my first time to be in a proper bed where we can do it without being cramped up and can enjoy each other. I know you'll probably get a hard-on but if you try and stuff me with it, then you'll ride with sore balls in the morning." Knowing that would most likely be true, I suggested she spooned herself behind my back.
For a long while I lay awake and I'm sure she did too. I pondered on her words and extrapolated. "She's a virgin, like me, and she'll be willing to fuck when the conditions are suitable." This was confirmed when at 'breakfast' (if swigging a bottle of water and eating a Mars bar could be called breakfast) in front of me, she snapped a pill from a blister pack and swallowed it. How long she'd been on them, I didn't know, but at least she was prepared and must have thought about it for some time. I found out later, I wasn't the prime reason for her going on the pill, she wanted to be protected if in case her father molested her.
When I woke, her arms were around my body and I felt her bare chest against my back. I did indeed have an erection but only once did her fingers touch the tip and then her hand retracted as though she'd touched hot metal. I still had a hard-on when I needed to go out and pee and I knew she saw it but she didn't comment. From then on, I didn't worry about her catching sight of me in an aroused state, but didn't dare try to have sex with her, or even to feel her cunt.
Four days later we'd made good progress and were in the Marches and approaching the border with Wales but mid afternoon the rain started and continued steadily. On rural roads with no shelter we were soon soaked through but fortunately we weren't cold. "I think we should look for a B&B tonight," Tombie suggested, "I've enough money for a room if you haven't." I agreed and I'd planned on spending some nights in a room anyway and had enough money but she had brought more than me and paid at least her share of the costs. We'd only had to pay for a night's stay at an official campsite and that was to enable us to get a shower and do laundry. Unfortunately, although we now rode along an A class road, there was nowhere to eat or stay until, miles further on, we came to an almost empty, small transport café still open. The motherly waitress had started tidying up ready to close but she took pity on us two drowned rats and cooked a typical bacon, egg, beans and chips meal which we quickly devoured.
"Is there a B&B anywhere near," Tombie asked, "Our tent and sleeping bag are soaked and so are we."
"I can see that," the woman laughed, "We're not an registered B&B but I have a room upstairs you can have for £30 for the night, £25 if you only use one bed to save me washing two lots of bedding. Breakfast is included and you can dry all your stuff in the boiler room downstairs in the basement. You'd better take your things off down there first otherwise my carpets will be flooded." She grinned at our bedraggled state and took us to the basement. "Take your wet top clothes off and go up to Room 2. You're lucky, both rooms were booked but the walkers who should have arrived phoned to say the weather had prevented them crossing the moors. You're the only ones in tonight." The offer to only use one bed was too good to refuse and, of course, we had to take her up on it.
I'm sure we both realised that what happened that evening and night would change our relationship forever. Until then we'd been friends, close friends it is true, but after a night of passionate intimacy, we became lovers. Perhaps we were before but never showed our feelings. A first though, we were extremely nervous and took longer than necessary taking off our wet things. Fortunately we'd the foresight to have a change of clothing in Ziploc bags and these were reasonably dry. "Put your shorts on and take the rest of our wet stuff down to the drying room and then come back and have a shower. I don't want to put a dry clean shirt over my wet hair just to cover the tits I don't have," Tombie laughed. Naked, she helped me bundle the wet underclothing into one pile and, to my surprise, she was still naked when I returned. I expected her to shower while I was out of the room but she stood there waiting for me. "I think we should shower together and get to know each other before we get into bed and do it," she said when I returned.
Knowing she had the final say as to whether we fucked or not, I went along with the idea half expecting her to turn away from me later but she eagerly anticipated our fucking too. By the time we finished washing each other, my raging hard-on stood out solidly from her manipulations and her cunt juices flowed freely from my massaging her clit. Holding my hand she led the way to the bed and declined the use of a towel under her. "My marshal arts training broke my hymen years ago," she grinned, "There's no need to worry about that." Soon I knelt between her legs on the bed and fumbled around until I found her entrance and began the fucking motions, conscious that I had to try and give her a good time if I expected repeat performances in the future. However, I came fairly quickly that first time but she held me inside her and shortly I firmed up again and went for seconds. Her grunts and little squeals let me know she was enjoying it too.
Eight days after leaving home we arrived at Uncle Ewen's house to be greeted by Megan, his wife. I'd only met her once but I liked her friendly, down to earth manner. "Well, well, well, Neil how come you didn't mention you were bringing your wife with you? Did you pick her up along the way?"
"In fact I did Megan but I'll tell you the story when Uncle is with us. Megan this is Sharon Edwards alias Tombie."
"Well Sharon Tombie, I hope you aren't used to too much comfort because we've put Neil in the caravan until Ewen finishes the spare bedroom and at the moment he's only got to the stage of ripping the floor up. It's only a small caravan so you'll be close to each other." In her mind there was no question of us having separate rooms.
"Can't be any worse than a one man tent!"
"Your two heavy parcels arrived some days ago and I put them in there too."
"Two?" I queried.
"One's mine. You sent your tools so I sent mine in case I can get work too." Tombie grinned at me.
"Yeah, I'm sure there'll be plenty of openings for half-pint sized blacksmiths!' A none-too-gentle punch numbed my arm and took the smile from my face.
"Don't start squabbling children," Megan smiled and took us to Ewen's workshop, a converted barn, and introduced us to him and to the two workmen he employed. I was most impressed by the equipment and the work being done. Mostly it was joinery for the boatyards a mile down to the coast and for several big houses and hotels in the area and it was high quality work.
Ewen wasn't overly pleased to see Tombie and wondered how she would fit into his workforce. "She's a damn good blacksmith," I stated hotly.
"Then maybe she can repair the ironwork on those ornamental gates we've been waiting for the marine engineers to have time to fix. Since old Joshua retired, they don't do much real blacksmithing, only when they run short of other work."
"No problem if they have the materials and a forge," Tombie confidently declared when she saw them.
Kevin Croft, the boss of Rhys Marine Engineers and Martyn Green his 21-year-old assistant, laughed when Ewen introduced Tombie as a blacksmith and I saw her tense up but fortunately she kept her cool. "Give me an iron rod and I'll show you what I can do!" she replied with some heat. We saw they had a fully equipped forge at one end of the workshop but it hadn't been used for a while. Nowadays the firm concentrated on fabrications and rarely used the forge.