James, the Stray, and the Single Mum
Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, First,
Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - He lived alone, except for a cat, which died. Then, he met the stray...
I was a solitary person. At school, I was isolated by character and by my interests – hating sports does not endear one to other boys. When my parents found out they made me take some Judo classes. I wasn't much good at it, but combined with determination to face down the bullies, it worked well enough that they left me alone. Perhaps because I'm shy, or because I preferred to live in my imagination, I got to my early thirties without a partner. I lost my parents, effectively, long before when they took up globe-trotting full time. Still, I had the house, a fairly good job (in Human Resources) straight out of university ... and the cat. If asked, I'd probably have said I was content with my life. In retrospect, though, if I'd been honest with myself, I'd have admitted I was lonely.
I muddled along fairly well until the cat got ill; the vet said renal failure. She never would drink enough to compensate for her love of that dried cat food. Much to her disgust I changed her to the wet stuff, and kept her going for nearly a year before I was confronted with the need to have her put to sleep. I didn't hesitate. But I was shocked when I couldn't stop crying as I buried her in my back garden.
Some of the contentment had gone from my existence.
I hadn't fully adjusted to my loss when, one day on my way home from work, I was accosted by a stray dog. It came up to me, emaciated, a clear appeal in its brown eyes. It was, I suppose, a Labrador cross, short-haired and almost black. I stopped and, against all reason, held out my hand, which was delicately sniffed and gently licked.
"Well, who's a good boy, then?" I stroked its head and fondled a soft, floppy ear. It sat, then slowly flopped over onto its back. "Ah ... I beg your pardon. Who's a soppy girl, then?" I rubbed her tummy. She had on a collar, but no tag. "Where's your owner, then, girl? You look hungry." You can argue all you like about how much dogs understand of human language, but she was on her feet in a flash, looking up at me, her tail lashing. "Well, I guess that answers one question, anyway. Come along, then. It'll have to be cat food for a day or so, though."
We weren't far from home. What happened when we got there ensured the capture of my heart. I found a tin of cat food, tipped it into a bowl and placed it on the floor. The dog sat and looked at it, then at me. "Well, eat it then."
She dived in and swallowed a couple of mouthfuls probably without chewing, but then left about half what I'd put down and came to me, sat, and held up a paw. I took it, and she licked the back of my hand.
"Well ... good girl. I'm duly thanked. Now go and eat it up." Another lick of the back of my hand and she did as she was told.
Can you wonder I was charmed? If I hadn't been, the way she came and leant against my leg that evening, and rested her chin on my knee, would have done it. I sat and listened to Fauré and stroked her silky head.
I reported her the next morning. The police asked if I wanted her to be collected for the pound, but how could I do that to her? I said I'd keep her unless someone claimed her. On the way home, I bought a lead, doggy bowls, dog food and chews. Her quiet, affectionate nature more than filled the gap left by Smoky, and her need for daily walks got me out of the house early each morning. At the weekend, she ensured I got two good walks. I called her 'Daffy' in view of her soppy tendency to roll on her back to invite a tummy rub.
Life was good for the better part of a month, then I got a phone call.
"Mister Fletcher? James Fletcher?" A woman's voice; she sounded young.
"Betty Hardcastle. I believe you have a stray dog? Black, cross-breed bitch?"
"I do. Had her a few weeks now."
"I think she may be ours. Biddy."
"Oh." There was a hollow feeling in my gut.
"Some clot let off a load of bangers while we were walking in the park and she ran off. She hates fireworks."
"You'd better come and visit, see if she's yours."
It was a couple of days before there was a ring of the door bell. When I answered it, I saw a petite, dark-haired young woman in jeans and a hoodie, holding the hand of a little girl of maybe six years. Daffy had come to investigate and immediately went to the little girl, who flung her arms round the dog's neck. Daffy was busily washing the lass's face comprehensively with her tongue. I couldn't really make out what the little girl was saying.
"I don't think there's much doubt there," I said as cheerfully as I could manage.
"You must let us pay for anything you've spent on her."
"No need. I've enjoyed her company."
It was hard to watch Daffy ... Biddy ... on a lead following the little girl, Sally, out of the gate. Especially when she turned her head to look back at me and Sally had to stop and tug on the lead. But then Daffy ... Biddy ... followed, and I watched them out of sight.
The house was very empty.
After a day or two I started surfing the web for animal rescue centres, but a pair of brown, soulful eyes in a black smooth-haired face kept interposing. Besides, as I was out of the house nine hours or more a day, an unfamiliar dog would be a risk; I'd been very lucky with Daffy ... damn ... Biddy.
Friday evening, the phone rang. The voice was familiar.
"Mister Fletcher? I wonder if Sally and I could bring Biddy to see you? Tomorrow?"
"Sure! What time?"
"I'm working nights and I'll need an hour or two's sleep, so afternoon? Two-ish?"
In the morning, as it was a nice day, I put a notice on the front door; 'In the back garden. Come through the side gate.'
As a result, I was sitting out back under a tree with a book when I heard the gate shut with a bang. Having a spring-loaded gate made sure it wasn't left open, but it could be annoying having it bang. Anyway, there I was when after a short hiatus, there was a streak of black lightning across the grass and Daffy ... I mean Biddy ... was scrabbling up into my lap. Her claws hurt, and really she was far too big to be a lap-dog, but there she was, licking my face while I half petted and half tried to fend her off.
"She really loves 'im, don't she, Mummy?"
"Doesn't, Sally, not don't. Yes, it seems like it."
I held the dog's head in order to look round her. Betty Hardcastle was standing there, holding her daughter's hand. There was a half-smile on her face. The little girl looked sad.
"Mister Fletcher," that was the little girl, in a very little girl voice.
"Do you love Biddy?"
"Why, yes. I believe I do."
She looked at her mother, then at me. "'cos I think she loves you. More than..." sniff, "us."
"I'm sure she loves you too."
The other two were looking at each other and I thought Betty gave her daughter a little nod.
"Biddy's been really sad since we left here before."
I didn't know what to say about that. Betty then said, "The reason we came back was to see if she was miserable because she was missing you. Now, she's alone a lot at home, with Sally at school and me asleep, and Sally sleeping at Mum's while I'm at work. We ... I ... was thinking ... perhaps we should give her to you. If you wanted her, of course. I mean, it's obvious she wants you."
"I don't like to take your dog..." I prevaricated, wanting very much to say, 'Yes, please!' "Won't Sally be sad?"
"Mister Fletcher..." the little girl was stroking the dog's back. "Biddy's all alone, and it's not fair to her." Sniff.
"Tell you what," I said thoughtfully, "I'd love to have Daffy ... Biddy ... stay with me. But you both must come to visit often. Perhaps if you have a holiday she could visit you? Would you like that?"
Both mother and daughter thought about that. When Sally looked hopefully up at her mother, the deal was done. In fact, after a few weeks, the two of them brought supplies and stayed in my spare bedroom over the weekend. At least, Sally slept there Friday night and I entertained her by taking her to the park or the museum while her mother slept a few hours Saturday morning. Everyone was happy.
At least ... fairly happy. At weekends, I couldn't miss her petite, shapely figure and I was becoming aware of bright, pale blue, eyes in her sweet face. When she wasn't there, images of her kept popping into my consciousness. Her long, dark brown hair was usually gathered up somehow on her head. She did that for hygiene reasons; as a nurse, of course, she couldn't have long hair floating around, but it emphasised her slim neck and was glossy with health.
We got on well. Very well, in fact. Quite early on they came in as I was listening to Thomas Tallis' 'Spem in Alium' played by an early English consort – I left it playing as I answered the door – and Betty's eyes lit up with enthusiasm.
"I love that piece! That sounds like the Tallis Scholars?"
"And it is."
While Sally didn't mind her mother's selection of classical music, she preferred something more upbeat, so it was later, after she was asleep, that we explored our respective musical preferences. For the most part, they overlapped, though she liked some music that I didn't – some of Benjamin Britten's, for example – and she didn't like the one or two heavy metal recordings I kept. But we both liked jazz, some opera (I dare say some would turn their noses up at Gilbert and Sullivan, of course, but we both lapped them up) and over the following weeks we explored our respective collections.
She soon poked through my book selection and, again, we mostly agreed, though I was adamant in my dislike of Dickens and Emily Brontë. She surprised me by her appreciation of my science-fiction collection, then by her disdain of the lighter romances. I did, gradually, talk her into trying one or two and reluctantly admitted they were quite good for passing on an hour, "Though not for serious entertainment."
Of course, Daffy being the original raison d'etre of our relationship meant we got out walking a lot, which in turn meant finding a mutual pleasure in the countryside. One memorable day which was, for once, hot, we sat and watched Sally and Daffy romping in a Derbyshire stream when Betty grabbed my arm and pointed to a nearby tree. I couldn't make out what had her so excited at first, but then I saw the cuckoo.
Soon enough, the weekends became the focus of my existence, but I bottled it up until I had to admit I wanted her, permanently, in my life, which meant, as far as I was concerned, marriage. I didn't know how to proceed, but in the end, I had to take a leap of faith. One Saturday night, after Sally was in bed, I cleared my throat and began.
"Um ... Betty..."
I'm sure she easily read the tension in my voice. "Jamie..." yes, we'd got to the point of that degree of intimacy, "go on."
"I've got very fond of you. And Sally. I was wondering if ... maybe..." I trailed off.
"There might be more than friendship between us?"
"Well, yes, but..."
"Appearances to the contrary, I'm not 'easy'."
I could feel my face heating and I'm sure I was bright red. "I never thought you were! No. Anything more between us must involve a ring and some paperwork. I mean..."
"Why, Jamie, that sounds almost like a proposal!"
"I suppose it does. I mean, that's where I was going. I wasn't asking you to ... jump into bed with me, although ... anyway ... I just wondered if ... I don't want to upset the apple cart, so to speak."
She sighed. "Oh, Jamie..." there was a long silence during which the expression on her face wasn't one to encourage hope. But she went on, "Jamie, I've been expecting and dreading this moment. I need to explain something."
With my heart thumping away in my boots, I said, "Go on."
"You've never asked about Sally's father."
"It's none of my business unless you want to tell me."
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I have to, now. You ... don't make friends easily, do you?"
"No, I don't. But I don't see what that has to do with anything."
"I think you might be able to understand what happened to me. I was, I suppose, a bit like you. I don't make friends easily. My parents were – still are – very religious and I didn't get much chance to explore relationships with the opposite sex. I did well at school, and had no trouble getting into nursing school. When I qualified, I was working all hours, of course. My parents were still uptight about me, but I managed to sneak some time outside work with some colleagues, which is how I met Randall. He was charming. Smooth. Swept me off my feet. When I moved in with him, my parents disowned me. When I got pregnant, he wasn't pleased. It never occurred to me to take any precautions and he was the sort that'd think it was the woman's responsibility. Anyway, he got a lot less charming and smooth. The crunch came when I found his stash of drugs. The friends who came and went? They were customers, rather than friends. His money? From drugs.
I didn't confront him. I begged a bed from a colleague, took my clothes, and reported him to the Police. The flat was searched, he was arrested, convicted ... apparently the police had been after him for several years and dealing in drugs was not his only activity. I haven't kept in contact, in fact, I've done everything I can to separate myself from him, but I do know he might be released any time soon; minimum term before parole seven years. So, you see..."
"I see a very lovely young woman, who I know I'm very fond of, who I respect, the mother of a delightful daughter. You're not the only person who's made mistakes in their life. I think I'd like it very much if you'd marry me."
"It's just, it's just ... he might come looking for me when he gets out. I'm sure he doesn't really want me, but I suspect he'd like revenge for my shopping him."
"In which case, you definitely need someone to support you. Not that I'm Bruce Willis, you understand, but perhaps having someone else around would give him pause."
"Can I think about it? I'll need to talk to Sally."
We sat and watched a documentary about the Antikythera mechanism. Found in an ancient shipwreck, it's thought to be the earliest mechanical computer, or the remains thereof, ever made. Theories abound. The programme was fascinating. At the end I stood.
"I'm going to have a cup of tea and go to bed. Can I get you anything?"
"Tea would be good."
We drank our tea in companionable silence, and when I stood again to go to bed, she stood, came to me, took my head in both hands and kissed me softly.
"Thank you, Jamie. I love you, but I need to work some things out in my head and make sure Sally's okay about us. Is that all right?"
"Very all right, Betty. Sleep well."
Betty's revelation about Sally's father didn't change my opinion of her, or my feelings about her. If anything, it enhanced my respect for her. Our discussion had the effect of giving me a lot to think about ... worry about ... and it required a definite effort to set it aside and get the sleep I needed.
Betty, apparently, had found it even harder to get to sleep than I did, so I was woken by the sound of Sally making her way downstairs. I dressed hastily and followed her.
"Good morning, Mister Fletcher."
"Good morning, Sally. What would you like for breakfast today?"
"Can I have toast, please? With honey?"
I wasn't so sure about the honey, but I reckoned it couldn't hurt for once. "I think so, love. What would you like to drink with it?"
"Cranberry juice, please."
I put bread in the toaster and started a jug of coffee, poured cranberry juice and put it in front of the little girl, who smiled her thanks. I was on my second cup of coffee, and Sally had demolished her toast and was consuming a banana when Betty appeared. She went straight to the coffee-pot. Carrying her mug, she stroked Sally's hair before sitting down – the little girl smiled up, a smile so full of love for her mother it brought a lump to my throat – and greeted me. "Morning, Jamie."
"Morning, Betty. Sally's had a slice of toast and honey," Betty's eyebrows lifted, but she nodded without comment, "cranberry juice, and, as you see, a banana."
"Good." She didn't comment further, but drank her coffee. Sally finished her fruit and was sent to clean her teeth. Once she was out of the room, Betty looked at me. "Jamie, I'd like you to take Biddy for a walk. I need to talk to Sally, as I said, and we could meet you in the park later."
Daffy ... Biddy, that is ... is not the sort of dog to go tearing around madly. She'll run after a ball, stick or Frisbee, and she'll trot around sniffing. Quite often, she'll go and lay down in the stream that runs through the park, which is shallow and comes maybe halfway up her sides. She'll lay there and slurp the water thirstily. Then of course, leap out, run up to me and shake herself dry. And that's how it was. I got about two miles up the valley before I got a text from Betty saying they were leaving the house and heading for the playground, which gave me time to turn round and head back.
They'd been at the playground about half an hour when Biddy and I got there. Dogs are not allowed in the playground, so I tied her to the fence outside and went in to talk to Betty. I think I got about four paces inside the gate before Biddy started to yelp in complaint at being left, but I found Betty, who was watching Sally clambering around the climbing frame in a carefree way. She held out her hands and I took them; we stood looking at each other for a few seconds as she smiled.
"Yes," was all she said, before closing the gap and touching her lips to mine briefly.
I think my smile conveyed more than my 'Good' response. "I'm going back to Daffy. I mean, Biddy," I said, "And occupy her until Sally's had enough exercise. Okay?"
"Call her Daffy, for goodness' sake," Betty laughed, "she's your dog now, really, anyway. We might still call her Biddy, but I don't suppose she minds."
I had one of those plastic devices that you can use to fling a tennis ball much further than just your arm, and saves you from picking up a slimy, slobbery ball. Daffy chased that ball until she got tired, or bored and didn't bring it back. After that, we walked the few yards to the café where I got myself a coffee while I waited. It was only a few minutes before Betty came up with Sally and asked what I wanted to eat. The park café does quite nice meals, but we settled for fast food and Betty went inside to order. Sally climbed on my lap.
Now that wasn't out of the blue. It wasn't unusual for her to sit on my lap as I read to her before bed at night, but in that occasion, she snuggled against me – despite the heat of the summer sunshine – and I held her lightly.
"Mummy says you're going to get married."
"Yes, we are. Is that okay with you?"
"Oh, yes. But does that mean you'll be my Daddy?"
"Would you like that?"
She nodded. "My Daddy wasn't nice to Mummy and he's in prison. I don't think I want him to be my Daddy. But I think I'd like you to be my Daddy."
"Well, Sally. I think you're a lovely little girl and I'd love to be your Daddy. But perhaps we'd better wait until your Mummy marries me?"