More character introductions. I’m throwing the ingredients into the pot, and then I shall start stirring.
The family dining room may have been smaller than the grand entertaining room on the ground floor, but it was still large. The long, heavy, oak table could easily seat ten, with four along each side, and one at each end. Right now, it was set for eight.
Jiggles did some quick maths. She presumed that Toby’s stepmother might be joining them, but couldn’t think who the other two would be. It would be revealed soon enough, she was sure. And there was already an array of cold cuts laid out on the sideboard. A good flight, even a relatively short one such as the one that had brought them here, could make her very hungry and thirsty. She picked up a plate, and started picking out slices of ham and beef.
Ginge and Ally had arrived with Jiggles, but had been distracted by the view from the tall windows. They could look down the long drive, to where it disappeared into trees beyond the ornamental lake. The lower end of the runway was also visible, looking rough and out of place next to the manicured lawns and neat borders of the garden.
But, mostly, they weren’t looking at the scenery. They had spotted a horse rider trotting her mount up the long driveway. Even from this distance, her bearing was striking. Her long legs clasped the flanks of her steed as she urged it into a final gallop, and the cream of her blouse blended with the pale skin of her arms and face, to make it seem she was riding topless. As her horse picked up speed, long, dark blonde hair streamed behind her.
Ginge looked at Ally, who was clearly intrigued. She did like an English Rose, and a sporty one obviously peaked her interest some more. With luck, they would meet the rider soon, and find out whether she enjoyed mounting anything else. The rider disappeared from their view, and they both walked over to the sideboard, suddenly hungry.
There were two doors into the dining room. The larger one was for family and guests, whilst, tucked into a corner, the smaller one was for staff to enter and exit through as they ferried food and crockery to and from the room. It was at the end of the room nearest the hidden staircase that Eileen had called the Shaft. No doubt staff bustled up and down those narrow steps bearing trays all the time.
Jiggles sat with her back to the windows, and started ladling relishes onto her plate of meat and cold potatoes. Ginge and Ally worked their way along the offerings, picking out their choices. When they sat opposite her, Ginge asked, “Are we acting properly on protocol? Should our hosts be here before we start eating?”
“I have always believed that if the covers are off the food, then it is perfectly okay to dig in, hosts or no hosts.” Jiggles assured him.
The issue was resolved almost immediately, as the larger door opened, and Toby and Godfrey entered. They were in the middle of a conversation that seemed to have been going for some time. “….to a war economy would be easier in some industries than others, of course. I have studied the issue somewhat. But you know this, of course Godfrey, or you wouldn’t have got me started on the subject.” Toby’s hands were spread wide, as if illustrating a point he had started making somewhere further down the long corridor. “Ah, ladies, Ginge. Good to see you again. Godfrey was baiting me with questions of economics and gloomy talk of war. I hope you can help me steer the conversation to more interesting matters. Goodness, what a spread. Cook has outdone herself. Where has she been storing all this, I wonder?” He immediately steered for the food and started to fill a plate.
Godfrey followed suit, but felt the need to defend himself against accusations of being a bore. “Toby may look like a good old lord of the manor, with a healthy interest in flying machines. But he actually possesses one of the finest logistical minds in the country. No, the world. If only he could be dragged away from his biplanes, he could do wonders for the economy.”
Toby held a thick slice of roast beef in a pair of serving tongs. He waved it about as he gave a dismissive wave at Godfrey’s compliment. “Oh, tosh. You know full well that I run father’s businesses, all of them. I keep my little part of the economy ticking over just fine. I am allowed my indulgences on the weekend.” The beef tore, and a large section dropped to the floor. “Oh, bother.”
It was just as Toby was throwing food around in an embarrassing manner, that Eileen arrived through the smaller door. She was carrying a large tureen of soup, steam escaping from under its silvered lid. “Oh dear, master Toby. Let me just put this down, and I will tidy that up for you.”
Toby dropped the remaining beef onto his plate, and looked around for somewhere to put it down. “Oh no, Eileen, no. Don’t bother yourself with that. It’s my mess, and I should clear it up.”
Before Toby could place his plate anywhere, Eileen had the soup in its place on the sideboard, and was already bent over to pick up the scraps of meat on the floor. Her skirt may have been long and modest, but there was no way it could keep from pulling tight around the fine globes of her buttocks when she was in this position. Toby looked down at the lovely, rounded sight with a little smile. Not so long ago, those fine cheeks had been sitting on his lap. He seemed to be recalling the sensation.
Eileen straightened up, and turned to face Toby. “I will take this downstairs with me, and see that the dog gets it” she told him.
“Yes, of course, very good. Thank you Eileen.” Toby’s gaze was still aimed lower than her face. Buttons on her blouse had popped open as she bent over, and he was staring into the gap, rewarded by the sight of the swell of her small, firm breasts. His nervous expression suggested that he was working out just how far he would have to move to get a look at a nipple.
Snapping out of his naughty reverie, Toby brought his eyes up to Eileen’s face. “Very good, Eileen. Thank you. I apologise for being so clumsy.”
“Not at all, master Toby.” If Eileen realised the buttons had come undone, she didn’t show it. She gave a little curtsy-like bob, bending forwards ever so slightly. Toby’s eyes were dragged down again. The colour in his face suggested that he had seen a nipple this time.
“I…. ah…. I was wondering if you would be able to join us again later in the hangar. If Ginge doesn’t mind working on the crates, of course. And giving you some lessons in engineering, of course.”
“Of course.” said Ginge. He never passed up the chance to work on an interesting aeroplane. Or to help with what looked like a clumsy courtship.
“I think I will be able to join you. Cook is very understanding about the…. other work I do for you. Mister Lynes may not be so happy, though….” Eileen said, eagerly.
“Oh, I shall have a word with Lynes. Don’t worry yourself about that.”
“Then I shall help you in the hangar in any way you want me to. But now, I must get back to my duties.” Eileen did her little curtsy thing again, and it seemed much more obvious this time that she knew she was flashing her employer. She didn’t look around to check the reactions in the room as she headed for the little door, pausing only long enough to remove the lid from the tureen.
Toby stared at the door after it had closed. “She is an interesting young lady.” Godfrey said, to help him come back to the room.
“Spirited. And very talented and intelligent. She is wasted in service. You know, her father was an engineer. I believe he taught her all manner of useful skills. His father supplied Grandpapa with some of the equipment he used in his factories. But the family business fell on hard times. I don’t know the full story, but I couldn’t turn her down when she applied to work below stairs here to help them out.” Toby started loading his plate with cold meat, concentrating on piling up the food to distract himself from whatever thoughts Eileen’s nipple had stirred in him.
The family door opened once more, and a couple entered, just as Toby reached the end of the sideboard closest to it. He looked them up and down, and his expression briefly went dark. He turned away quickly, before either of them noticed. “Ah, Melissa, Donald. Have you met our weekend guests.” he said, forcing jollity into his tone. Perhaps he was thinking about the breasts of a pretty girl to cheer himself up. “This is Veronica, Ally, and Ginge, of Jiggleswick Air. They are going to help me with the aeroplanes. And you know Godfrey, of course.”
“Of course I remember Godfrey. But I haven’t seen you, young man, since you were at University with my stepson. Where have you been keeping yourself?” Melissa was in her late thirties, short and attractive, with a pretty face made pale by the curls of jet black hair framing it. There was a hint of dark rings around her icy blue eyes, from worry or lack of sleep. She still managed a sly smile as she teased her stepson’s friend, though.
“Oh, I have just been working for the civil service. I’m just a boring man in a suit in an office. You are looking as lovely as ever, Lady Carstairs. And, Donald, was it? I don’t believe we have met.”
Godfrey extended a hand to the tall, aloof gentleman standing beside Melissa Carstairs. Donald looked at the hand for a drawn out moment, before accepting it. He was expensively dressed, his pinstriped suit cut to the latest fashion, and his pocket watch chain, and monocle frame, were highly polished gold. His angular face was handsome enough, but spoilt by a narrow moustache over his thin lips. As he shook Godfrey’s hand, his attention wandered, and he looked around the room, studying its other occupants. “Charmed, I’m sure.” he said, unconvincingly.
“Well, I am sure you are all hungry. I can see that you are, in fact, looking at your plates. Let’s put the introductions aside, and eat.” Melissa said, starting to drift towards the plates at the end of the sideboard. Donald followed her, everyone else in the room forgotten.
There was still one setting unaccounted for. Jiggles, Ally and Ginge sat across the table from it, whilst Godfrey and Toby sat either side of it. Godfrey looked eager for the seat to be filled. He must know who would be occupying it. They all tucked into the soup they had ladled out into gold rimmed bowls before starting on the meat.
Donald and Melissa sat at either end of the table. Toby stared into his soup, face darkening. He was the Lord, and should have been at the head of the table, facing his stepmother. He had chosen to sit with his friends, not thinking how he would feel when usurped.
The family door opened again, and the person Godfrey was waiting for arrived. She was the woman who Ginge and Ally had watched riding her horse earlier. Still wearing her wonderfully tight jodhpurs, thigh high boots, and white blouse, she glowed from the ride. Her blonde locks bounced as she strode in, and sharp, intelligent eyes scanned the room.
“Ah, hello Godfrey. And this will be the crew of Jiggleswick Air. Veronica, Alexandra, and…. Ginger? I have heard about you.” The gorgeous newcomer said. Her accent was American, but none of the crew knew enough about the country to place which part of it she hailed from.
“Your reputation precedes you.” Godfrey joked.
“I didn’t know we had a reputation.” Jiggles said, feigning innocence. They had several reputations, depending upon who was asked. But it was a surprise that a complete stranger had heard of them.
“A stunningly beautiful pair of lady pilots- and their handsome mechanic- who run their own air charter service? But of course I have heard of you. I keep a look out for all the women out their blazing a trail and doing incredible things. I am Erin, by the way, as it seems that Toby has failed to do his job and provide introductions.” Erin stood behind the chair left empty for her and smiled at the Jiggleswick Air crew.
“Here from the United States to learn all about Britain and Europe. And no doubt to steal all our manufacturing secrets and apply them to her father’s business.” Toby joked.
“Tobias, darlin’, we all ain’t such backward colonials no more, y’hear. We know exactly how to build the things we need now.” Erin laid the drawl on thick, and ran fingers through Toby’s hair to ruffle it up. They obviously teased each other this way often. “My dear cousin almost has a point, however. There is a fine amount that our countries can learn from each other. Anyway, I am starving.” She turned quickly and went to join her step aunt and Donald at the buffet.
Godfrey’s expression as he watched the American go was similar to the one Toby had graced Eileen with. For some reason, Jiggles felt a pang of jealousy seeing it. Then she looked at Erin, and saw the tight hemispheres of her buttocks, emphasised by her tight jodhpurs, and felt something else entirely.
“Uncle Charles went off to the States to seek out new markets and found himself a wife as well. Erin is the oldest of my cousins. She really is here to look for new business opportunities. Whatever you do, do not play cards against her, she’s a card sharp.” Toby said, leaning across the table to deliver the information in a low voice.
“I heard that, Toby.” Erin said, from the buffet. “Are you implying I cheat?”
“I would never dare to do that, dear cousin.” Leaning even further over the table, Toby added, in a stage whisper, “I believe she cheats, and has done since we were children.”
“You’re asking for a whupping, cuz.” Erin said, wielding slices of ham as if they were a weapon, then chortling.
When Erin returned to the table with a plate laden with food and a bowl of soup, Godfrey stood to pull the chair out for her. Jiggles felt that jealousy again. “Why, thank you, kind sir.” Erin teased Godfrey, the put on Southern drawl less pronounced than earlier. She laid down her crockery, then sat directly across from Jiggles.
The jealousy evaporated as quickly as before, as the gorgeous American studied Jiggles, and said, “I wish I had learnt how to fly. To be up in the air like that, there must be so much freedom.” She sipped at her soup.
“There certainly is. It does feel wonderful to be up in the clouds. Above them sometimes. Just you, and the crate, enjoying it. Of course, we are a commercial operation, so most of the time we are actually carrying passengers.” Jiggles couldn’t help but like the blonde bombshell across the table, and be attracted to her. She was rediscovering forgotten feelings for Godfrey, raised by obvious desire for the young American. But that wasn’t Erin’s fault. It was an issue for Jiggles, that harked back to her teenage crush on her brother’s friend.
“Where is the most interesting place that you have flown to?” Erin asked, unlocking the opportunity for a series of anecdotes as the meal went on.