Such Sweet Sorrow
Chapter 19: Civil Engineering - February
Phil Lane & Freddie Clegg © 2010
BDSM Sex Story: Chapter 19: Civil Engineering - February - A new story from Phil Lane & Freddie Clegg. Jenny returns to Inward Bound, where she learned so much of her submissive drives in "Thesis" (also available here at Storiesonline) but what does all this mean for Joe, her husband? Should he try to learn more of her desires?
15 Months, 462 Days Since Jenny's Disappearance
It's rather too early in the morning when my mobile chimes to say I have a text. I grunt and turn over in bed. Who is texting me at... 6.30am? I grope for the handset and try to focus on the screen. I open the text. It says, "Joseph. Can you do lunch on Friday? I suggest The Cranford Wine Bar in Warwick about 12.00? Regards, Andrew Edwards."
Andrew Edwards? Just who exactly is Andrew Edwards? I don't know any Andrew Edwards, do I? Then with a start, I remember that I have met an Andrew Edwards. He was the guy at the PERvert Party, just as I was leaving. I thought he was a sub under the thumb of his wife/mistress, what was her name? – Philippa. He didn't strike me as the sort of person who would send such a direct, straight-to-the-point text, first thing in the morning. I mean - that's hardly sub behaviour, is it? Unless his mistress has got him up at his morning chores!
What should I do? Politeness says I should reply and if he is texting at this time in the morning, I don't need to worry about sending an early reply, in fact, I do not need to worry about replying immediately. What am I doing on Friday? I haul myself out of bed, go downstairs, put the kettle on for tea and check my work diary. As it happens, Friday is going to be an easy day. No meetings, video-conferences or deadlines to meet by close of business, so I could meet someone for lunch.
What should I do? I really suffer from indecision over things like this, but I suppose it's just another step on my journey. The Edwards seem to be an "interesting" couple and this is lunch in a public place, so I should emerge with my virtue in tact. They wanted to talk about civil engineering so perhaps their approach at PERvert was merely "ordinary"- no, what's the word? Vanilla. Vanilla networking? Although they did say something about providing an opportunity to indulge my interests, so perhaps it is not quite so vanilla. I pick up my phone and text "Andrew. Thanks 4 txt. OK Friday. Your number on my mobile now. Will txt if problem crops up. C U. JMcE"
Crops up. I find myself sniggering and thinking about riding crops. All sorts of innocent normal phrases and everyday articles seem to carry kinky possibilities and innuendos nowadays. I am not sure whether I should be pleased or exasperated!
The Cranford is a new addition to the Warwick social scene. It opened about three months ago. Upstairs is an art gallery; downstairs is a wine bar that's open from 10am through to 10 pm and serves breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and light evening meals. The enterprise is owned by one of Warwickshire's more successful hoteliers and extends his grip on good hotels and restaurants in the area. As soon as I am over the threshold, the maitre d' approaches with a solicitous smile. "A table for one?"
"Well, I'm meeting someone, actually."
"Ah," he gives a nod of recognition. "Would you be Mr McEwan?"
"Yes, that's me"
"Please follow me. Mr Edwards told me you would be coming. He is waiting for you."
I get the distinct impression I am being introduced to someone important, someone known to head waiters, hotel commissionaires and the like, someone who is used to getting his own way - which is exactly the opposite impression you might have if I told you that you were meeting a sub! We walk through to the informal dining room and towards one of the tables. We are half way there as Andrew Edwards gets up to greet me. He is dressed in a very smart light grey pin-striped tailored suit, white shirt and yellow tie. He pockets a blackberry as he rises and extends a hand. "Joseph! Glad you could come. I have got us a table over here at the side. A little more privacy than a table in the centre of the room, eh? What will you have? I'm having a G and T. You?"
"Yes, that would be good."
"Yes, Mr Edwards?"
"Get someone to fetch us gin and tonic each please. Bombay Sapphire."
The maitre d' disappears in search of a waiter (providing drinks being far below his status) and leaves me with this curious individual, who seems able to combine alpha male and submissive characters, in the one person.
"So how can I help?" I ask.
"Just now, by ordering!" he grins, pushing a menu towards me. "I'm having mussels in white wine followed by the smoked venison salad, but it's all pretty good."
I scan down the menu. Andrew has made two choices on the expensive side. I suppose this is a signal for me not to worry about what to order.
I choose the prosciutto melon and wild rocket salad, followed by a poached salmon and green vegetables – I am supposed to be losing weight, after all. The Trainer at the gym wanted to reassess my weight loss progress at my next session... !
I'm struck by the strange contrast: I'm trying to be a Dom. Andrew is the sub. I'm nagged by all and sundry at work and by the gym trainer, to do what I'm told. Andrew is ordering the house staff around and hosting this small encounter as if entertaining clients is what he was born to. Maybe he was. There is absolutely no sign of him being "under orders" from Philippa in anything he has done or said so far.
"So. Wine? I think rosé, would be the thing to have. Is that all right with you?" He glances at me across the top of a pair of expensive designer frames. I notice he has chosen a £50 bottle. I have never spent £50 on a bottle of rosé for a dinner, never mind lunch. "Well, let's talk," he continues. "You're in civil engineering?"
Straight to the point. It's where our conversation left off at PERvert. The wine appears. Andrew tastes it and indicates that the waiter should pour us each a glass, all without ever giving me the impression that his attention has wandered from what I am about to say.
"Yes. Concrete castings mainly, but our firm is involved with irrigation projects in Cambodia so some of my castings have an heroic flavour about them."
"I've never heard anyone describe concrete as heroic before. You're with New Horizons Civil Engineering?"
How he would have found out? "Yes, have you done business with us?"
"No, but I am well informed. Good firm. Progressive."
A plate of mussels appears for him. The prosciutto and melon for me. "Lets start," he says, gesturing to the food.
I nod, and reply to his previous remark. "Thank you, on behalf of the firm."
"Mmmm," Andrew gives a nod of acknowledgement. "Well, you might be able to help or not. If not, you might be able to point me in the right direction."
Point me in the right direction. This is the only vaguely submissive thing Andrew has said so far.
"Philippa and I have bought a plantation in Leicestershire. It's quite large – about five square miles. There's three things I plan to do with it. (His plans? What about Phillippa? I don't understand their relationship at all). First, to operate some of the site as a commercial forest but growing native hard woods. That's a longer term investment than say the sicca spruce you see all over northern England and Scotland, but the returns will be better and the forest will be much more interesting. Secondly, part of the site will be an arboretum. Trees are an interest of mine. This will be a private area but open to the public at times. I really want the project to stand on its own feet financially and that will be an important contribution." I'm wondering where this conversation is going. I don't know much about trees apart from having to clear some of the forests on the Cambodian project and I can't see what it's got to do with my BDSM interests as he suggested. Not unless he's planning to grow bamboo canes!
Andrew pauses while the starter plates are cleared and the main course appears. The salmon and the venison have one thing in common. For both, the food has been fashionably gathered up into a small tower. I'm never sure if this is to tax the waiting staff, to see if they can get it to table without it toppling over, or the diners who have to eat it without the whole thing collapsing inelegantly across the plate.
Andrew continues: "Finally," he says, "there's the third part, and this is where I could use some help or some advice and where your own interests might be catered for. The third part is going to be a 'play-space'. The idea is that PERvert and others can have outdoor meetings if they wish and of course there are things you can do outside which you can't do inside." He smiles, confidently, almost conspiratorially, and starts on his warm venison salad.
I follow his lead and take up cutlery against the salmon tower. It's all delicious. The vegetables are crisp but cooked. I'm regretting not ordering potatoes but I suppose I should just enjoy feeling virtuous. The waiter fusses in to refill our wine glasses and issues the obligatory, "Is everything all right with your meal?"
As I put my knife and fork down I take up the thread again. "So how can I help you Andrew? Concrete and forestry doesn't normally fit together, and I've yet to find any use for concrete in the BDSM world either."
"No, true. It's your more general civil engineering experience I'm after."
He is after. Not Philippa is after. Not Philippa told me to ask you. Curious.
"I have a forestry consultant who has had the plantation mapped to assess the various soil conditions and moisture content. Some areas need some "goodness ploughed into the soil". Some areas are too damp and need drainage. Some areas are on the dry side and could do with some water brought in and we need to be able to access all areas."
"So," I summarise: "drains, pipes, roads."
"Exactly. Of course, I'm not expecting you to do it all yourself, but I would like someone on my side to prepare an engineering plan before I go out looking for contractors. You might even be able to help short listing the contractors I should approach."
I'm not expecting you. I want someone on my side. Andrew's speech is delivered in confident terse sharp sentences which leaves no doubt that he is a man who knows exactly what he wants and knows how to get it. Yet, at PERvert, he was a submissive: may I speak with you Sir. I have been told to approach you. May I contact you? Will it be convenient to you?
We both pass on dessert. We're waiting for coffee before I manage to get possession of the ball.
"Well, Andrew. What you are after is not my main area of expertise, but it is basic civil engineering. Yes, I could have a good stab at creating a strategic plan and helping you to identify contractors. However I would like to see the site first."
"Excellent, I knew you would be interested..."
Did he? Am I?
"And then there is your fee..."
Yes, my fee. Actually what I was going to get out of the project had not entered my head! I play for time...
"Yes. Fee. Let me see the site first. As this is not a formal approach to NHCE I will have reflect on it. Work done during the week all has to go through the firm, of course."
"Of course. Look, Joseph I do not want to put you on the wrong side of your employers in any way so I recognise that this is going to have to be a weekend job for you. Private Practice, if your contract allows you to do that. I trust that's OK?"
There he is again: he is giving me instructions. Well, if he is a sub in the kink world he is definitely a Dom in the real world. Perhaps that is the point? Being a sub is a complete change from the person he has to be in his business life.
"Yes," I reply. "I can manage that."
"Good. Are you free this weekend? There is a good weather forecast and we could all go out on a site visit. Philippa, you and me?"
"Erm, yes. I had nothing planned so yes, I would be interested to see what you have got your hands on."
"Excellent! If you give me your address, we will come and get you. Our car. Eight AM?"
"Yes, I can be up for eight. I will look forward to it."
andrew & Philippa's project
Andrew and Philippa arrive on the dot of eight AM. Andrew is driving a new Range Rover, leather upholstery, sat nav, in-car hi fi and air con. Very nice. There are obviously a very successful couple.
Philippa starts the conversation and I sense we are not in "PERvert mode."
However, one thing I notice: today, Andrew is wearing a metal collar around his neck. It's stylish, understated and could be a hip modern piece of male jewellery, except I don't think it is just a piece of jewellery.
"Joseph! It's good to see you again. I'm sorry I was not able to join you both for lunch but thanks for agreeing to help Andrew and I with our little enterprise."
"Well, it's going to be an interesting change from the projects I am usually involved with."
"Yes, Andrew filled me in on what you had said over lunch."
"Have either of you two a background in forestry?"
"Absolutely not. We both come from the business world but forestry is a very green enterprise, so there are no shortage of people keen to give advice and support."
"But that's not really why you are involved?"
"Mmmm, well partly, but yes, it is a very good opportunity to mix business with pleasure, as they say."
"So are you pioneering the outdoor play space concept?"
"No, certainly not! There is one up in Cheshire, there is a group who used to have grounds of their own in the west country. There is also one in north Kent. We thought Leicestershire would be a good location for people from London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield places like that."
"And it was big enough and for sale!" adds Andrew, speaking over his shoulder.
"Also," he continues, "the country is gently rolling so there is a variety of terrain but it's not going to be overlooked from large adjacent hills and mountains, which helps with privacy."
"Yes, clearly an important issue," I add.
We are standing on a small track which leads into a forest of trees. It's rather untidy. Brambles spill over the roadway from the sides and the interior seems dank and unwelcoming. I have come prepared with rubber boots and a heavy jacket. So have Andrew and Philippa. We press on forward. The track improves and presently we come to an opening. The forest here is more open. The clouds have cleared and the sky above is blue, streaked with white. Andrew gets out an Ordnance Survey map.