The Pervert And The Virgin – Part Fifty-Six

My thanks to those readers who took the trouble to offer their encouragement. Hopefully I have managed to make reading this tale worth your time and evoked shall we say a suitable reaction in response from you. Please let me know what you find particularly enjoyable so I can consider more of it in future stories. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond.

Disclaimer: Please do not read this story of a man and a boy who choose to become lovers if it is illegal and/or socially or religiously unacceptable within the society you now find yourself. Please do not read this if the love between a grown man and a boy is likely to upset you. However, if you should decide to go ahead and read what I have written please do so with the awareness you have chosen to do so of your own free will. The story is entirely fictitious and any resemblance to anybody alive or dead is purely accidental.

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No archaic weapons, drugs, food or interesting sex toys to declare.” I said approaching the Customs Officer when we landed in England. “I promise to do better next time. This scruffy lot are not much of an entourage for a Cardinal but the church has fallen on hard times. Have a blessed day. Come along guys. I'm sure the scruffiness will lighten when we all get some food in us. Let's not keep this man from his important work of catching smugglers. I wish you everything of the best sir.”

Thirty-seconds later we were walking through the customs area. What joy! I simply had to hum. I would have preferred to sing but in England you must restrain yourself a tad. The locals appreciate it when you honor their level of decorum. I loved this country and the people too much to go against most customs. Except customs officers of course. The one at the gate hadn't been willing to take me at my word it seemed.

Excuse me Sir may I have a look at your bags?” a policeman asked approaching us while we were greeting Christopher and Garth.

I'm always willing to respect the law and as a fine officer of the law you do have the necessary search warrant and other paperwork on hand don't you?” I asked with a smile. “No doubt that customs man has the right to search my bags but we have passed through customs. Now we are on English soil subject to English law. I am a businessman, owner of several residential properties and a cardinal. The last is the office that insists you be held accountable lest one of my flock should run in to a police officer less honest than you who tries an unlawful search of their possessions. I must set an example for the flock.”

You can call our lawyers.” Christopher said handing over a card. “They'd be delighted to chat with you and help you brush up on what paperwork you need. We'll be enjoying breakfast at The Queen's Lancer if you are looking for us. Be sure to double-check you have all the paperwork on hand. Come along Cardinal we can't have you fainting on us.”

He's right you know.” I said. “Once my blood sugar drops too low so do I. You be sure to find us when you have your paperwork on hand. I'm sure he means well Tim.”

That's a good test of Rohan's new cheerfulness.” Holden said. “I think he passed it nicely. Do you really have lawyers on standby?”

We have one at a very well-known and prestigious law firm the police are loath to go up against.” Garth said. “The card has our names on it advising them to speak to a specific lawyer. He knows all about us and has lots of fun on the rare occasion any policeman calls. This incident smacks of Gregory.”

Oh good.” I said joyfully. “I hope he calls your lawyer friend. No word of this to Charlie. We don't want to spoil his lunch and I'm sure he'll hear of it soon enough. Now all this insistence on suits and coats by Tim has me intrigued about our dinner. Caryn tells me getting a table is almost impossible.”

That's why we mentioned you are a cardinal passing through London and only in town for tonight.” Garth said. “They thought it best to err on the good side of the gods.”

The two of you will look stunning.” Christopher said. “Caryn there's room for you and Holden at the table if you'd like to join us.”

I tried to get her to come along but she insists on some quiet time with Holden.” I said. “They're dining at O'Mally's on me tonight.”

When we arrived at the B&B I held Tim back and chatted with Leanne while Christopher and Garth took our bags to our room. Tim reluctantly admitted if he saw our suits we'd have to try them on. Caryn had insisted on a sneak peek at our suits. Tim felt better when she told us we'd look very handsome tonight. That was all she would say despite the thousands of kisses he promised to find out the colors. Garth pulled me back on the walk to the pub from the Underground. He let me know everything was ready for tomorrow morning. When I congratulated him on getting it taken care of so quickly he thanked me for getting the nuns and monks some exercise. I grinned and told him he could buy me a thank you pint.

I'm so glad you paid us a visit.” Matilda said sitting in my lap. “Things are terrible here. That Betty has me scheduled for ten hours less per week than my last job and I make four times as much. Four times. Do you know how much temptation that is? Lots. I have more leisure time and more money. Now instead of worrying about paying my bills I can relax. When I relax this much I get bored out of my skull.”

What about a hobby.” I suggested. “Cycling or rowing or sailing.”

Travel is fun.” Caryn suggested.

Those are great ideas.” Matilda said. “I can get fit and travel.”

Speak to Garth.” I said quickly when she kissed me. “He knows some lovely monks and nuns who can help. They specialize in health and fitness.”

Yes Albert hard to imagine but the man being kissed by the pretty barmaid is Cardinal Rohan.” Christopher said with a smile. “He'd have stuck with tradition but there were no altar boys close at hand I guess.”

Pleased to meet you Albert.” I said. “I'd get up but I'm in trouble for giving this lady more leisure time and lots more money.”

My dear if I didn't already represent him I'd chat to you about taking this ruffian to court.” Albert said with a wink. “He's in trouble with customs because he refused to let the police search his bags. Something about them not having a search warrant.”

Really? Rohan you are the best boss ever.” Matilda said kissing me again. “When did this happen? You only got in a few hours ago.”

Seems he made quite an entrance.” Albert said. “I'd love a pint. Whatever Rohan's drinking will be fine.”

I'll get you both one.” Matilda said. “Betty I must share the good news. Rohan refused to let the police search his bags this morning. Isn't he the best boss ever? My family will be so proud to hear I'm working for an anarchist.”

The security tapes will confirm everything but I'd like to ask you a couple of questions.” Albert said. “Did the customs official tell you to stop or that you had to open your bags? No. You definitely told the policeman you would let him look at your bags if he had the necessary paperwork? Good. He didn't produce any paperwork? No. Unfortunately this won't take long at all to resolve Rohan. The next time you pass through customs could you do me a favor and assault a few officials? That would make it much more challenging.”

You could beat up Gregory my Love.” Tim said. “Assaulting the second-in-command ought to make it more interesting for Albert. He's a conscientious man who wants to feel like he is earning his salary. I think you ought to do whatever you can to help him. Albert would brandishing a sword or war axe make it more interesting for you?”

That would do very nicely Tim.” Albert said with a smile. “I'm glad you understand my position. You've had a run in with Gregory before I take it?”

Christopher, Garth and Tim were happy to share our previous encounters. I got on with my breakfast. Caryn told me the biggest hooligan in England was sitting at this table. A grinning Holden told me my street cred had gone through the roof. He couldn't wait to hear how the gang back home reacted. My sons will be so proud Matilda predicted. Tim tugged on my hand and urged me to listen to Albert.

Hello Gregory.” Albert said. “You called earlier about the incident involving Cardinal Rohan. I'm really glad you called. Oh I absolutely agree we cannot allow such behavior to continue. Yes it does put the safety of the public at risk. I wholeheartedly agree with you old chap. What on earth makes the police think they can do an illegal search on a high-ranking church official? Thank you for letting me know. I will be certain to mention you when I file a lawsuit against the local constabulary. Very civic-minded of you.

Gregory a lawsuit is the only way to impress upon the police the need to respect the law they uphold and our religious leaders. I am certain it was your knowledge that Cardinal Rohan is the head of an ancient and venerable religious order that inspired you to call me. Seeing him harassed like this was obviously more than you could take. Quite rightly so I might add. Once we file our suit a thorough investigation will soon bring the person who ordered the illegal search out in the open. One rotten apple can spoil an entire organization and bad publicity sticks to the honest, diligent officials as much as the inept and corrupt.

I've just spoken to Cardinal Rohan. I'm sure the camera footage will confirm his version of events. Then my recommendation will be to go ahead with a lawsuit. We must protect the public who mightn't be well versed in law and clear the good name of the church. Now if you would be so good as to give me the name of your superior I'd love to write a letter of commendation about your actions. No need for false modesty. Is it still my good friend Charlie? I think I've just received an invitation to join him and his friend Noah for lunch. Once again thank you. Good job old bean. Keep up the good work. Must dash if I'm to make it on time for lunch.”

Caryn was laughing so hard she almost fell out her chair when Albert confessed he'd never met Charlie. I nodded at Christopher who slipped away to call. When he returned he told Albert that Charlie would be happy to meet another friend of Rohan. There was plenty of food because he always cooked extra when Rohan visited. I told Albert it would be nice if we resolved the Gregory matter. I had tried promoting him but the man seemed to hold a personal grudge. Charlie knew the company regulations and policies and Albert knew the legal side of things so between them I was certain they could find a solution.

Darts until lunch.” I declared. “Matilda I'll have my bread and butter pudding in a few minutes. Let my breakfast digest. I think eleven-fifteen will be perfect.”

My Love it's eleven-ten now.” Tim said. “Yes it's a few minutes until eleven-fifteen. I'll play with Albert unless he feels the need to lose because you're paying his salary.”

I'm going to kick his butt for making this too easy and turning it into a peaceful resolution.” Albert vowed rolling up his sleeves.

We'll give you what-for my Love.” Tim said happily.

I smiled and chose Christopher as my partner. A good thing I did because Albert proved an extremely skilled darts player. Tim felt even better when they won the first game. He upped the what-for to what-five. I got lucky with two darts that hit the mark and won us a victory just before Tim could close it out for them. There wasn't time for a decider but we agreed it had been a lot of fun. We disappointed Matilda with the news we'd be leaving London soon. We learned from Betty she was hoping to see me arrested. I agreed it was sweet of her to offer to post my bail.

Will it make you feel better to know he's going to Chesterfield to do housework Matilda?” Caryn asked. “A fiend has gone through a lean period and let things fall behind. Now the place is too much of a mess for her to get in help without embarrassment. Rohan is going to spruce it up a bit.”

What a sweetheart.” Matilda said. “Now he's making me cry. Caryn you must send me some pictures. There's nothing like a man doing housework to get a girl excited.”

You've made her day.” Betty said kissing my cheek. “Thank you Rohan and you Caryn for suggesting she travel more. I'd love to see those pics. No need to let the boss know.”

None at all.” Caryn agreed. “Come along gang. We mustn't be late.”

Charlie smiled at our stunned expressions when Noah got out his chair and walked over to greet us. I told Christopher and Garth they were very close to being spanked for not updating us on how much Noah had improved. We had to agree we wouldn't have believed it. Charlie was very grateful. He knew there wasn't anything I needed so he'd settled for a nice thank you bouquet. I told him it was the perfect gift and I would take it with me to spruce up a cottage. We chatted for a bit about the cottage.

Any troubles coming through customs this morning Rohan?” Charlie asked. “Albert it's a reflex question with Rohan. The man never brings anything illegal in or tries to avoid import taxes but he keeps having a run-in with one of my employees. Yes Gregory. Have you had trouble with him?”

No I haven't.” Albert said. “Rohan would like us to chat about Gregory after lunch. I don't want to ruin our lunch.”

I'd prefer to get this matter settled before lunch so I can enjoy it.” Charlie said.

Why don't we take a walk guys?” Noah asked the others. “I can make it around the block and need my daily exercise. I'm going for two blocks today so having you with me would be reassuring for Charlie. Having the Hospitallers on hand is good insurance. Tim would you mind getting me the walking stick by the door? Thank you.”

This won't take long Noah.” I said. “Albert scolded me for not making it interesting. He liked Tim's suggestion of wielding a broadsword when I next came through customs.”

Charlie agreed asking for an illegal search of my bags was extremely foolhardy. I let Charlie know I would go along with whatever course of action he and Albert suggested but I wouldn't sue anybody. Garth predicted a second scolding from Albert. Strangely enough Albert told us he seldom recommended suing except in personal injury cases to cover living or medical expenses. The matter didn't take long to settle. Gregory would be demoted and sent to a remote post. Somewhere I was unlikely to ever travel through. I promised to do everything I could to avoid going anywhere close to Gregory.

Rohan are you really surprised after the incident at your sparring?” Garth asked.

No I'm not.” I said. “I was just hoping he would surprise me.”

The man isn't dead yet Rohan.” Christopher said. “He might still surprise you.”

Tomorrow Charlie would view the tape and do his own investigation to make certain the workers union couldn't challenge his decision. He would make certain everything got done by the book. I was glad because it would give me time to get out of London. Noah came back triumphant but weak. I had Christopher examine him quickly. Then I did a little chi healing because I wanted him to stay awake through lunch. Shockingly selfish for a clergyman Noah agreed with a smile. Tim promised to spank me for my selfishness.

A good thing you never have to worry about Rohan losing his humility.” Albert said. “Any man who is willing to let a teenager spank him has to have lots of it.”

A very excited Christopher and Garth gladly shared the progress Kasper was making with his mad cows. Seems the wonderful man had found a way to halt the spread of deformed cells. The surprise was when he applied simple cellular healing methods to keep the rest of the cow healthy they discovered the deformed cells got replaced with healthy cells. Kasper was humble enough to admit he was just as surprised as them. Garth told us it took anywhere from three to six months for the cows to recover but they did recover.

How did he stop the disease from spreading?” Albert asked. “I can understand the cow developing a way to fight the disease given enough time.”

The current theory is Kasper boosted the number of healthy cells so much there was no room for the deformed ones.” Christopher said. “He actually used the same protocol he has used to treat Noah.”

We find it reassuring to know I won't get mad cow disease.” Noah said with a grin.

Chances are it will be a while before you get any disease.” Caryn said. “I wonder if there is a daily maintenance or less intense protocol for us regular folks.”

I am on one now.” Charlie said. “I am managing to stay healthy despite the colds and flu going around at work. A lot of my staff have tried adding some of my protocol to their treatments and noticed they recover quicker.”

Yes Rohan we are getting the word out and consulting with Hospitallers around the world.” Christopher said with a smile. “I have set up a small group to coördinate all the information. When we travel it will be good to have a list of local herbs to replace the ones we use at home. Lao has been so intrigued he hasn't asked for a donation. We've made a few anyway. I will remind you to ask the boys if they want to go on it.”

Your housekeeper warned me she'd be a little upset if you went to dinner without showing the gang your suits.” Garth said. “Would you guys mind if we rushed you a little with lunch? I'm not as fearless as Rohan. I'm not giving her any reason to get the slightest bit upset with me.”

Would you let us join in the chat?” Noah asked. “I'd like to see you guys all dressed up. Six is perfect because I'll have time for a nap.”

The blush gave Tim away when Charlie brought out lunch. Caryn laughed and hugged him for being so sweet. Lunch was salad, bangers and mac and cheese. I promised Tim unspeakable pleasure for an ungodly length of time tonight for being so incredible. He pointed out Charlie had gone along with his request. I decided Charlie deserved a special kiss after lunch. Noah was happy to spend some time learning a new kiss from Charlie.

This does make a very nice lunch.” Garth said. “I love the flavors and textures. We must suggest it to Betty.”

I kissed Charlie when we took a drinks break before dessert. Charlie couldn't wait to share it with Noah. Noah stood and let Charlie take him in his arms for a long, slow kiss that involved a lot of tongue. A simple steamed pudding with ice-cream and custard was the perfect dessert I assured Charlie.

Mindful of Noah needing some rest we chose to leave shortly after lunch. I apologized for rushing off but I only had one day in London. Charlie thanked me for making the time to visit. He promised once they had taken care of Gregory he'd give me a call.

You did everything possible to help the man Rohan.” Charlie said. “He even had access to medical and psychological help. I'll chat to Garth and keep him close to an Order clinic. He might change his mind and surprise us.”

Garth kept giving me strange looks as we made our way back to the B&B. Eventually he came straight out and admitted he couldn't understand being as patient as me. I let the others know they'd understand tomorrow. Holden promised to do his best to get over to us an hour earlier tomorrow morning. When our two Hospitallers announced the surprise scared them Holden considered coming over two hours earlier.

We both tested it Rohan.” Garth said. “I tested it for thirty-minutes before handing it over to Christopher. When we returned he agreed we'd better let you play with it. All I know is if I spent one-hundred-and-twenty-thousand on a toy I would have wanted to see it right away. A big shift has occurred inside Rohan.”

You guys are lucky you aren't on the receiving end of it in the bedroom.” Tim said. “I've loved every excruciating orgasmic moment. Suits, dinners and one-twenty plus on a toy all arranged before we even got here my Love. You are going all out.”

Well the one-twenty could have been one-eighty.” I said as we hopped on our train. “No Caryn it wasn't about moderating my excess. I just got the strangest impression the sixty-thousand would come in useful for another project. I have no idea what that might be. Christopher may I have your business card please.

Excuse me for troubling you Ma'am but I'm a member of a church and I'm looking for somebody to help today. Yes little guy I am doing my good deed like a boy scout. Well Harry if your mom doesn't mind I'd like her to chat with my friend Christopher. He'll discuss things with her. That man is a doctor who can really kick-ass with a sword. He's very cool.

My name is Rohan. Pleased to meet you Elizabeth and Mary-Anne. I'm celebrating my day in London with a fancy dinner. That pretty young lady and her boyfriend are letting me buy them dinner. Elizabeth would you allow me to buy you and your family dinner? Your husband is welcome to call to confirm it. Please take this and treat yourself to your favorite.”

Thank you Rohan.” Elizabeth said as she let me slip the folded bills in her hands. “I'm sorry but we don't have a phone.”

We're seeing Cardinal Rohan off tomorrow morning.” Garth said. “Can we visit you for tea? I'm Brother Garth and this is Brother Christopher. I know that neighborhood well. Yes Elizabeth he's a real cardinal but he is the naughtiest cardinal in the world. He prefers it if you call him Rohan.”

I get in trouble a bit to.” Harry said. “Mostly when I don't mean it. Sometimes it just happens.”

Yes sometimes it does seem to just happen.” I said. “That happened to me when I arrived at the airport this morning. I upset a policeman.”

That's lots of trouble.” Harry's sister, Mary-Anne, said.

Fortunately it was more trouble for them than me because they broke the rules.” I said. “Oops! Here's our stop. Have fun and please accept our help Elizabeth. These two are better at working things out for people than me. That's why I'm going to scrub floors and dust while they help you.”

“Did the patches and holes in the shoes get to you Rohan?” Caryn asked when we were on the platform. “You always do keep an eye out to help people. That's very sweet. I'm paying for our teatime treats.”

“We would never forget about something so important Tim.” Garth said. “Lance likes hot chocolate. You like your tea. Remembering what the people you love enjoy is easy.”

“Thank you guys.” Tim said. “Now you might find this unbelievable but it really did happen. Yesterday morning Rohan chose tea over coffee. This is a lovely shop. I'm pretty certain I'd have remembered such a cute bakery.”

“This just opened a week ago.” Christopher said. “We are curious to get Rohan's opinion. I know organic ingredients is a good start with Rohan.”

“That's a lot of treats even with Rohan's appetite.” Tim said. “Oh I'm so glad Phyllis and Sam are joining us. Is Ingrid joining us?”

“She's in Blyth.” Caryn said. “I'm hoping Rohan won't mind taking us up there when we're done with Millie's cottage. You'll be finished with your cellphone work.”

“Please say yes my Love.” Tim said tugging on my hand. “After the stress of all this cellphone stuff I'd love to relax on your little tub. I'll let you treat me to a new outfit, a fancy dinner and have your wicked way with me tonight if you agree. I find making promises that are easy to keep reduces stress Garth. You ought to know this as a Hospitaller.”

“He's got you there Garth.” Holden said. “I cannot see Rohan turning down an offer like that no matter what has changed inside him.”

“I'll agree if you also allow me to wake you with a pot of tea tomorrow.” I said calmly. “Holden I can't have him thinking I'm a pushover can I? My marriage would collapse.”

“Then you will have to buy us some wake-up treats to go with the tea my Love.” Tim said. “No need to trouble yourself. I can charge your card. What are the staff recommendations for wake-up treats? We'll need two dozen of whatever you recommend. Thank you. Now hold still while I kiss you my Love.”

I loved the pleasure Tim found in his tea and treats. My adoring husband thought I was the greatest when I bought him tea and cake. From what Christopher had shared he'd find our outfits mind-blowing. Lawrence had gone all out while not going totally crazy. A definite cut or two above the average Christopher described them. Phyllis and Sam greeted us warmly. They smiled when they saw all the boxes from the bakery. Tim kissed them for putting the kettle on before we arrived.

“Everything is going well with your development Tim.” Phyllis said. “We are fortunate we can build within the warehouses so we aren't delayed by the weather. Yes it is very coincidental our new buildings just fit inside the warehouses. Fortunate as well.”

We smiled at Tim's discomfort when he discovered our fancy outfits were hidden in another room. The pastries were superb which proved all the distraction Tim needed. I gave thanks we weren't spending a lot of time near the bakery. Our guests were happy to speak of our Winchester projects. They were becoming gold mines for the Order. Caryn told me I'd have to spend some time in my little conversion after our trip to Blyth. There are surprises for both of you after your work on the cottage she told us. I thanked Sam and Phyllis for their offer to help with Millie's cottage.

“Let me get the place in a less embarrassing state first.” I said. “I will show it to Millie and let her decide when it is fit enough for me to bring in help if I want any. Sam it will be good to have you inspect the structure and look at the plumbing and such stuff but I'd like to clean it. These two Hospitallers have done amazingly well to get everything ready for me. They've even packed some cleaning supplies for me to get started.”

“Well there is the reward of an amazing dinner.” Garth said.

“The dinner is to thank you for lots more than what you've done the last two days and bailing me out with the police.” I said. “Would you believe I had a run-in with a policeman at the airport Phyllis? I thought you might believe it. This time I was in the right. Even Garth agrees with me on that point.”

“Garth also knows you need to go take a shower now so you will have time to relieve the pressure.” Garth said. “Put on some robes when you're done. Sam you and Phyllis must stay to see this with Leanne. She's coming over for a sundowner and to embarrass them with her compliments.”

“Let's go my Love.” Tim said. “I finally get to wear my new threads.”

“The sweet boy is more excited about the clothes than shower sex.” Caryn remarked. “I love them so much. The perfect couple.”

The shower sex was oral sex because I was as eager as Tim to see the clothing. Leanne thought how quickly we showered was very sweet. She promised not to let anybody know I was almost as excited as Tim to see the outfits.

“We're excited as well.” Dylan said from the TV. “Thank Garth for calling while you showered. Don't the two Hospitallers look very handsome?”

Garth and Christopher had dressed in some very nice suits of their own. Garth wore a black suit with a stunning green shirt and patterned black and green tie. Christopher had on a charcoal-gray pinstripe suit with a red shirt and a gray tie. They teased Lawrence for dressing us so well they had to wear their best clothing.

“Now what's this we hear about you causing a ruckus within three minutes of arriving?” Tracy asked. “Nobody is saying a word. Rohan are you embarrassing us again? Apparently Matilda even offered to post bail for you.”

“I had a little run-in with the police when we got through customs.” I said.

“Cool!” Morgan said with a grin.

“Way to go Dad!” Adam said giving Morgan a high-five.

“How little a run-in?” my housekeeper asked.

“He wanted to search our bags.” I said. “I told him he could look all he wanted if he showed me a search warrant. Millie there's no way I will submit to an illegal search.”

“I'd be very upset if you did Rohan.” my housekeeper said calmly. “The freedoms and rights of every person across the planet are very important to me Dylan. I would have been terribly embarrassed, disappointed and very angry with Rohan if he'd allowed it. I'm glad you handed it over to a lawyer to sort out.”

“Noah looks amazing doesn't he Dad?” Adam asked. “He tells us they went for a two block walk this afternoon. They bought you flowers for helping. Us newlyweds plan on spanking you for helping. We can't spank Kasper so you'll have to do.”

“That reminds me.” my housekeeper said. “The package left Houston this morning. He's as bad as you and was on the road at sunrise. Something about avoiding the traffic. Garth tells us you will have something to show us tomorrow as well. Call us at eight. Now that we've caught up off you go and get dressed. We'll chat with the others. Don't be long.”

Garth had a tray with two glasses on it in the room. I could see they both had a double-shot in them. Christopher handed us our underwear and socks first. When we had them on he opened the one closet door to reveal Tim's suit. Slowly Tim reached out to touch the suit. His navy suit had a Glen plaid Garth told us. The brown shoes were hand-stitched. Hanging next to the suit was a crisply starched white shirt with French cuffs. He had a red tie with a paisley pattern.

“Good luck keeping that on when I see how handsome you look.” I said hugging him.

“I want to see your suit my Love.” Tim insisted. “Please close that door Christopher.”

I also had a crisp, perfectly starched white shirt but my hand-stitched shoes were black. Garth told me if I decided they weren't comfortable enough the store had promised to exchange them. My suit was charcoal with a white pinstripe. The blue tie had a Glen plaid pattern.

“This required a bit of work and we had to have them custom-made for Rohan but I think it was worth it.” Garth said approaching with two jewelry boxes in hand. “These are your cufflinks Tim. Yes they are gold triquetra cufflinks. Rohan's have a Carolingian Cross design. Hold him tight Rohan. You bought it for him so you get to kiss it better.”

My husband dissolved into tears when he saw his Carolingian Cross brooch. I had decided to pair his triquetra cufflinks with a Carolingian Cross brooch and my triquetra brooch with Carolingian Cross cufflinks. Reaching around Tim I pulled Garth close for a kiss. The brooch was beautiful and the triquetra could be clearly seen within the pattern. After I'd given Garth a quick kiss I turned my attention to Tim. My Lady singing a love song didn't seem to help much but my saying so got Tim to smile. We both took the offered brandy gratefully. Tim touched his glass to mine and smiled at me. He whispered a thank you before taking a large sip.

“I'll save the rest for when I'm dressed.” Tim said wiping his face with a tissue. “You three are the sweetest guys I could ever hope to have as family. Yes I have to kiss you all.”

Lawrence had allowed enough of our shirt sleeve to show so the cufflinks were visible. We both had three-quarters of an inch of sleeve visible. The shoes felt amazingly comfortable I told Garth. We almost forgot my cufflinks amidst the emotion. Christopher let Tim know the choice of brooch and cufflink pattern was my idea. Tim decided I was coming along nicely.

“Ready my Love?” Tim asked as we stood outside the closed-door. “Then let's go face our admirers.”

“Thanks for the warning Garth.” Dylan said raising his mug. “Irish coffee is good medicine.”

“That was my reaction.” Tim said when Joseph dissolved into tears. “Lawrence I'm letting everybody back home thank you. I can't think of any polite way to do it.”

“Ridiculously fucking handsome.” Millie said. “You guys are lucky you aren't within reach because I'd bed you both.”

“Stunning.” Leslie said. “Garth tells us you came up with a surprise of your own Rohan.”

“I couldn't have done any better.” Lawrence said when I showed them the brooch and cufflink combination. “You guys could dine with the queen you look so good.”

“Yes they could and I should know.” Charles said. “I got warned about a change in my son and I wasn't going to miss it. What do you think Griogair?”

“I think I need another drink.” Griogair said. “We'd better have it in the bedroom. You guys look incredible and the matching shirts work brilliantly. Well done Lawrence. You even went so far as to match the plaid in Tim's suit with the pattern in Rohan's tie. I agree with Millie. You two are ridiculously fucking handsome.”

“Griogair!” Tracy said in shock. “I've never heard you utter a single curse. True Millie's way is the only way to describe them. You won't embarrass us dressed like that.”

“Are you okay Tim?” my housekeeper asked. “I'd be unable to stand for an hour if they dressed me that well. You've left your British friends speechless.”

“What can we say?” Caryn asked. “I'm just thinking it is a good thing they don't dress up more than once or twice a year. Rohan you look ridiculously hot. I might need to bed Holden before we go out for dinner. Tim's going to break a lot of hearts tonight. You guys better take the camera.”

“I want a video of you guys dancing.” Skye said. “You will find somewhere in London you guys can dance. I have to see the two of you close together. Don't forget to kiss.”

“Well my Love you heard the lady.” Tim said knocking back the last of his brandy. “Time for us to break some hearts. You caused mine to melt. Again.”

Leanne just hugged and kissed us. She told us it was worth staying late at work. While we waited for the taxi Caryn took pictures of the four of us in the garden. Caryn told us to go on ahead because she was taking Holden back inside for a shower. She couldn't wait to get home. I hugged them and told them to have a good time. Caryn promised to order a very nice bottle of wine with dinner.

“I asked a friend to arrange some outfits suitable for your restaurant.” I said to the hostess as I flashed my religious ID. “My fashion sense is terrible. I hope he got it right.”

“He may have made you look too handsome your Grace.” the hostess said.

“Please it's just Rohan when I'm trying to go incognito.” I said. “Thank you for the compliment.”

“You must have forgotten to mention the incognito part to him Rohan or else he ignored it.” she replied. “Would you like a drink before dinner?”

“Yes please.” Tim said. “We'd each like a Champagne Charlie. I might need two because the first one is purely medicinal.”

“These two monks need it for putting up with us.” I explained to our bartender. “I'd be delighted to bless your bar if you don't mind me doing it softly.”

“Thank you Sir.” the bartender said when I finished singing two short blessings. “The second round will be on me.”

“Very kind of you.” I said sincerely. “Tim this was a good choice. Do you mind if we have the second round at the table?”

“I'll collect it once I've placed your food order.” our waitress said before she led us to our table. “My name is Abigail and I'd be happy to answer any questions. Would you like a minute to look at the menu?”

“I'd like the potted beef and bacon with Yorkshires for my starter please.” I said after a quick glance at the menu.

The other three chose scallops with port and garlic. The food was worth every penny we decided. Abigail took pictures of us. She laughed when I kissed Christopher's cheek and Tim kissed Garth's cheek. I told her that is why we put them in the middle – no escaping. After the kissing Tim came back to sit on my outside.

“When in a steakhouse we do steak.” I said firmly. “Bone-in Prime Rib for me please. I'd like that with beef dripping potatoes and creamed spinach. No it most definitely isn't to share. Well if it's pretty large then I'd better double up on the potatoes and spinach. You three better not be trying to save me money or I'll spank the lot of you. Order what you want and will enjoy. Sometimes they take looking after me to the extreme Abigail. This time I'd like something with soda to drink. Whatever you feel will go well with the steak. These three will have the same. There's no sense in delaying you more than we already have. They'll be ready to order when you return with our drinks.”

Tim ordered a bone-in sirloin with chips and creamed spinach. The Hospitallers ordered a Porterhouse to share with field mushrooms and creamed spinach. A salad or two for us to share would be wonderful I agreed when Abigail suggested it. I chose the English lettuce and herb salad. Tim snuggled close and whispered how he kept having trouble recognizing me in my new clothes. I asked if he'd like to join me in sending a thank you gift to Lawrence and Richard. A dozen roses was my idea. Tim added each to that and would do it tomorrow.

“Congratulations Abigail.” Garth said when our food arrived. “This might be the only restaurant where our esteemed leader doesn't order seconds.”

“That's because it's the only restaurant that realizes the difference between starter and main course.” I said beaming in delight. “We might need to get a second set of clothes Tim because I plan on coming back here again. I think Lance will have a lot of fun here.”

“Abigail please take a picture of all that food before he starts.” Tim said. “I will need proof he actually got through it all on his own. The gang back home will have to see it to believe it as well. This is the perfect restaurant for Rohan. I must confess I've enjoyed myself. The Champagne Charlie was delicious.”

Sheer unadulterated bliss with every mouthful. Christopher suggested taking blood before I left in the morning to check my cholesterol. I told them my cholesterol was doing just fine. Nice and healthy and no need for anybody to meddle with I declared. Abigail told me it was nice to see somebody who knew staff needed a firm hand. I needed two cognac and sodas to help me through my main course. Our waitress kissed me when I ordered a third drink and asked to see the dessert menu.

“We'll all have some chocolate hazelnut cheesecake.” I said when she returned with our drinks. “After this wonderful meal I'm willing to let you guys have whatever you want. Fine we can do a little blood tomorrow morning.”

Christopher insisted Abigail give him the bill. I nodded when she looked at me. The three of them were shocked when all I did was compliment Abigail on the food for the sixth time. I even threatened to fly Joseph and Dr. Deidre over for a meal. Tim reminded me the boys were coming out. I grinned, reached for my phone and placed a call to Lawrence.

“Lawrence I don't want to ruin the surprise but you'll know who I mean when I say to dress the group for dinner at this restaurant.” I said while Tim kissed me. “Add Joseph and Dr. Deidre to that group please. How is Joseph feeling? The others will be glad to know he is doing okay. Oh, I almost forgot. Tim and I will need a second outfit for our return visit to this fine restaurant. We're treating Lance, Nancy, Charles and Griogair to dinner.

Lawrence the food is ridiculously amazing and it cost me a pittance. I know it cost a pittance because Christopher settled up or I'd be tempted to tip several hundred quid. He didn't need to say it Tim. Yes it happened once before. Well Lawrence we're off dancing. Abigail our brilliant waitress told us of a nice club.”

My three companions were having a tough time with me tonight. I told Abigail if the other diners didn't mind I'd gladly bless the restaurant. Some genuinely didn't mind and others were curious but all agreed. I stepped into an open area with Tim held close. My Lady managed to balance the exclusiveness of the restaurant, the joy I was feeling and how proud I was of Tim. I sang freely and turned around during the songs so all could hear.

“Better leave before they decide whether to clap or throw food at us Tim.” I said when I finished and the place was deathly silent.

We managed to escape before they made up their mind. Abigail was waiting at the door to hug and kiss us amidst the sound of applause behind us. The sweet girl had even called us a taxi. I hurried back in to kiss her again.

“Ngiyabonga Abigail, uhlale kahle.” I said thanking her and offering the traditional Zulu farewell.

“Uhamba kahle Rohan.” Abigail said. “How did you know?”

“I lived in a Zulu village for a while.” I said. “I wasn't certain but your walk is very similar to the way the ladies of the village walked with loads balanced on their head.”

Abigail laughed when Tim swatted my butt before dragging me to the taxi. She had already given the driver our destination.

“What language was that my Love?” Tim asked as the taxi drove away.

“I was thanking her and saying good-bye in Zulu.” I said. “When you are leaving you tell your host to stay well. They respond with go well. Ngiyabonga means thank you.”

“Ngiyabonga uhlale kahle.” Tim said haltingly. “Thank you, stay well. I like it my Love.”

Tim agreed Abigail had impeccable taste. The ballroom was perfect for what we wanted. The tables were on the outside of a vast open space between a domed ceiling. People danced slowly with their arms around each other. I never made it to a table for a very long time.

Pulling Tim close I started dancing the moment we reached the bottom of the steps leading to the dance floor. Nobody else existed as I glided with him in my arms. There was a live band to play gentle music. A mix of candles and lights helped provide a soft, romantic ambiance. Tim was still surprised I was happy to kiss him in public. He told me he loved being held in my arms. I let him know I loved holding him, dancing with him and well you know.

“Will you get us a drink my Love?” Tim asked when the music stopped. “I need to take a quick break.”

Christopher and Garth teased me about only having eyes for Tim. I responded by saying I had brought them along because I knew how I'd react. They agreed he was looking very handsome tonight. They blushed when I told them they should feel very proud of their work with him.

“You can also feel proud of your work with my husband.” Tim said sitting down at our table. “That's why both of us will be giving you some blood tomorrow. I'd like to try Kasper's cellular healing protocol. You will need before and after tests. Garth will you let us know when it's time to leave please? You know what the old geezer has planned for tomorrow and we need to get up for sunrise meditation. This is part of our new commitment. We might not spar but we can still greet the day.”

I don't know how long we danced when we returned to the floor. All I know is I kept falling deeper and deeper in love with my husband. Later he settled in my arms in the taxi and let us all know he'd had too much of a good time. Garth confessed it had been fun going out and dancing with Christopher again. He was sending Abigail some flowers for recommending the place. I agreed we'd come back again.

Ignoring the clock I kissed my husband when we were alone in the room. The kisses continued while I removed his fancy clothing. My lips moved down with each button I unfastened. They moved lower when I opened the front of his pants. I was sucking on his cock jutting through his boxers while his pants dropped to the floor. Clad in only his boxers and socks my husband fed me his load.

“Should have done that hours ago.” I said releasing him and removing his socks.

“Yes you most definitely should have.” Tim agreed. “I'll forgive you this time because of the brooch.”

“I'll broach your butt in a minute.” I vowed casting his underwear aside.

“Let me my Love. Please.” Tim said when I began to remove my jacket.

“I will because you let me dance with you tonight.” I said kissing him.

Our lips stayed pressed together for a long time. They became more ardent as the time passed. Tim kept his lips glued to min while he removed my jacket, shirt and tie. He leaned back to tell me I had looked very hot in my new outfit. A lot like my husband he agreed with a smile. We only have time for one or the other Tim told me. I chose his ass. He chose to tease me for several minutes.

His tongue lapped my cock from head to balls. My balls got sucked, licked and spanked. I cursed joyfully with each blow. Tim drove two fingers straight inside my ass while slapping my balls. I writhed in pain even as I felt pleasure flowing from where his tongue touched me. The fingers added to the tormentuous pleasure and pain cocktail. When he finally stopped I stood shaking for a couple of minutes as the residual effects flowed from me. Then I picked him and carried him to the bed promising to wipe the smile from his face.

“Good luck trying Scoundrel.” Tim said as I set him gently on the bed. “You might make it bigger but you won't get rid of it.”

“We'll see.” I said leaning over him to kiss him.

I kept kissing him while I reached down between us to fondle ass, cock and balls. Prising his cheeks apart I forced lubricant over and inside his hole. My hand squeezed his cheek hard enough to get him to gasp in pain. The boy had his legs spread to either side of me. I groped for my cock and got it buried inside him before I moved from my place against his groin. Grabbing his ankles I pushed his legs apart. What a fucking amazing sight he made.

Looking down I relished the sight of us connected by my cock in his ass. I'd raised myself so I could lift him on his shoulders. Tim's smile had gotten wider with each thrust. He laughed in delight as I lifted him just a little more. The tops of his shoulders were barely touching the bed as I thrust forward.

“I love you.” I said with a grin.

“I love you more.” Tim responded with a laugh. “Fuck that feels good.”

“Well I love you twice as much.” I responded. “Almost as much as I love your ass squeezing my cock.”

“I love you double your twice as much Scoundrel.” Tim said. “Is this a squeeze or a clench?”

“I'll raise your double and triple your twice as much.” I said gritting my teeth. “Stop splitting hairs it's fucking amazing.”

“I'll quadruple your double triple and fucking explode!” Tim said spraying cum down his body.

“Naughty, naughty Tim.” I said when I regained my breath. “Now you've made me cum inside your bum. I was enjoying fucking you.”

“There was a smidge of enjoyment from my side as well.” Tim said. “You've got a lot of cleaning to do Scoundrel. That's been building up all night.”

“I must buy you a new outfit every day if this is the effect.” I said happily setting about my task.

Later we were lying in bed drifting off to sleep when Tim's text alert sounded. Then again. Again. Again. Again.

“OMG too hot!” - Millie

“Ridiculous! :-)” - Skye

“The handsomest couple in England” - Tracy

“Way too cute” - my housekeeper

“Beautiful” - Leslie

“Hitching you to dad was our best decision ever” - the scurvy knaves

“Oh my you guys are …. sorry I'm going to cry again.” - Joseph

“What Joseph said” - Dr. Deidre.

The two of us teared up as well. Happy tears we agreed just seconds before we fell asleep.

I woke Tim early enough for us to have tea and a pastry in bed. When we showered I sat him on my shoulders and blew him. This morning I was feeling fine. I skipped temptation by moving us quickly along to the garden. Sam and Phyllis were waiting with Caryn, Holden and the Hospitallers. I sat and sang in the morning with my arms draped over Tim and Phyllis. The others joined in the chanting I sandwiched between the singing.

Phyllis helped Tim prepare pots of tea while I warmed up some pastries in the oven. Then we carried them back down to the others who had stayed in the garden. Leanne came out to say the video of us dancing was one of the most beautiful she'd ever seen. I thanked her, offered her a pastry, a mug of tea and promised to pop inside to say goodbye. We brought the remaining pastries inside to the front desk for her to share with guests. We each got a hug and a kiss. She included her bosses in her thanks.

Then it was off to the diner to check on Isaiah. Paula was happy to see us again. She blushed when we complimented her on how fit she was looking. Isaiah was also looking a lot trimmer and smiled a lot more. He insisted we chat while we ate because our bags let them know we were traveling. I thanked him because I wanted to get started a little earlier. They both agreed the difference made by fresh herbs was amazing. Petersen had chatted to them about the diner in Bigfork. They had chatted with Bethany and Hayden to help reassure them things would work out well. I thanked them for their help.

“You guys have told us how you are more active and enjoy hiking and cycling now.” I said as we were leaving. “A barmaid at a pub I own is looking to get fit and do a little more traveling. Would you mind having a chat with her for me? That's very kind. Her name is Matilda and she works at The Queen's Lancer. I'll buy you lunch. Thank you.”

This time it was Tim who had to hold me up when the garage door opened. I had decided I wanted a car to use when I visited England. A car that was going to get me around quickly, safely and was most definitely not utilitarian. No SUV or station wagons. This was sheer unadulterated driving pleasure. A person can look at pictures online and read specs for hours but seeing it proved too much. Sitting in the garage rented for me by Garth was just over one-hundred-and-twenty-thousand pounds worth of car. The Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG was a very beautiful car. Worth every fucking penny I thought to myself.

“Fucking hell!” Holden said. “This is your car? Damn I think I'm going to cry.”

“Not too shabby for a run-around.” Tim said. “I like the blue with the beige leather trim. What do you think Caryn?”

“Nice color choice Rohan.” Caryn said. “Can you open the trunk for our bags from there or do we need to wait until you've recovered?”

A grinning Christopher pressed a button on my key and the trunk opened smoothly for her. She calmly loaded all our bags before urging me inside. Still in a state of shock I drove out the garage. Tim, Caryn and Holden blew kisses at the Hospitallers while I settled in the contoured racing seat.

“Yes! Now this is a fucking car!” I roared suddenly startling them. “Buckle up kiddies because it's time to see what this lovely lady can do.”

What she did was fly. We danced nimbly through the small amount of traffic it took to get out-of-town. Then I took her for a spin down to Kingston upon Thames. A trip that normally took thirty-minutes we did in twenty. I wanted to give Holden more fun so I headed west to Staines-Upon-Thames. Then through Brentwood to Shepherd's Bush where Holden hopped out at his college. Kissing Caryn in front of such a cool car would earn him lots and lots of street cred Tim agreed. I made a call to pay my fine while they kissed.

“Good morning I'd like to pay a speeding ticket please.” I said cheerfully. “Do you need the amount? Hang on it's a new car. Tim what's our registration? Did you hear that? Yes it is a decent amount but I had to honor this fine lady. I was checking to see if the electronic cut-off thing was working. The one that kicks in at 155 mph. Your lovely officer figured a cardinal had the gods on his side and he gave me a break because I promised not to test it again anytime soon. You have my card on file from the last time? Oh wonderful. So we're all settled? I must dash. I have floors to scrub in Chesterfield.”

“I only hope England has the gods on its side.” Caryn said as we drove away. “No wonder Tracy starts every day with Irish coffees around you. Rohan this beast drives so quietly and smoothly I couldn't believe you were doing 155 mph. I think the policeman was genuinely relieved you stopped so quickly for him. Helicopters would battle to keep up.”

“Tim can you figure out how to connect my phone to the stereo so we can listen to some music?” I asked. “Some Karl Jenkins will be perfect. Oh that's amazing. I do like my run-around. I really do. What say we find a teahouse along the way to celebrate?”

The teahouse in Leicester had freshly baked Chelsea buns. They could and did spare us half of what they had. Caryn decided it was ridiculous I could consider a good day one where I paid a four-hundred and some change speeding fine. She decided Tim was as ridiculous as me when he agreed it was a pity the officer hadn't made it five-hundred plus. I'd asked him very politely to up the amount of the ticket Tim agreed. Maybe next time I would get a more accommodating officer. I rushed next door to the outdoor store to get us some travel mugs. The tea shop filled them for us so we would have something to drink with our Chelsea buns.

“Yes Caryn I am blissfully happy in this moment.” I said. “You must drive this beast to appreciate it. I'll let you and Tim take us for a spin when we're settled in the cottage.”

“The first step would be teaching me to drive.” Caryn said.

“I'm a lousy teacher but we'll find a way.” I promised. “I'm hungry and need some lunch. What was the name of the pub Millie recommended? Crown and Thistle.”

I chose a nice outside table for us. The proprietor knew Millie very well. I assured him Millie was doing well and would make enough money to eat here every day if she wanted. He told us he passed her cottage on the way to work and wished me luck. I thanked him for not ruining the surprise. When I slipped back inside for a second round I asked if he knew of a good driving school. Living in London you don't really need a license I explained. He gave me directions to one just a few blocks from the pub. No problem if I left my car parked at the pub while we walked there he assured me.

“This young lady needs some lessons.” I said leading a reluctant Caryn inside. “Starting from tomorrow if you have time. Will you fetch her or do I need to bring her to you?”

“We can have somebody stop at the cottage.” the receptionist said. “Does ten o'clock work for you?”

“That will be perfect.” Caryn said. “Better warn the instructor I've never driven before.”

I gave them my card to charge. They thanked me. Caryn suggested I enroll for some lessons to prevent more fines. I declared my driving skills had nothing to do with people setting the speed limit too low. The receptionist went a little pale when Caryn mentioned my speed. I asked Tim if he would like to see about getting past the electronic cut-off so we could see what my run-around could really do. Naturally if anybody asked our motive was purely to make sure there was no way to bypass it I agreed. I thought it kind of Tim to share some of the fun with William. Caryn felt the need to stop for a G&T when we fetched the car.

“The poor, brave lady.” I said when I saw the cottage. “That's a lot of pain.”

“Yes it is.” Tim said wiping the tears from my eyes. “We'll get things fixed here and the gang will help her over there.”

“Back in the car.” I ordered. “We need to find a gardener. I need another drink.”

“Pauline will help.” Damion said setting a G&T in front of us. “I'll ask her to come over.”

“I'll have a G&T thank you Rohan.” Pauline said when she joined us. “Yes Millie's garden is well-known. I live opposite her. How did you talk her into sprucing her place up? I've offered to help lots of time but she insisted she'd take care of it soon.”

“This time she has the money to keep it up.” I said. “That could be the difference. Yes she will have enough for a maid service as well.”

Pauline was a godsend. I showed her my cleaning supplies and the list of gardening items I needed. She took us to the garden store to buy the tools I needed.You had to fight your way to the front door. I bought some red ribbon for her to tie around the plants we wanted to remove. The plants we might want to keep were hidden underneath the overgrowth. I thanked for Pauline for her offer to help remove the plants but mentioned my promise to Millie.

“When the kids come up with Benjamin you will be welcome to join in.” I promised. “They are coming here on Saturday. Yes it will be ready Tim. A few of the keepers might get caught up in the clearing but I can always replace plants Pauline. When in doubt out! I'll uproot and these two can load the wheelbarrow. Pauline will show you where to empty the wheelbarrow when she finishes tying ribbon around the plants.”

Pulling up any plant was a little upsetting so my Lady sang a song about the cycle of life and how all returns to energy and get made into something fresh. My hurt eased as she taught me through song to see through the illusions I'd learned as a child. Knowing I wouldn't get started on cleaning the cottage until the morning I had Caryn book us rooms in a B&B. We fetched pizza for dinner when we delivered our bags to the B&B. I collected lanterns for us from the hardware store and kept working after the sun set.

“What a difference.” Pauline said a few hours later. “You've worked really hard Rohan for a long time. I think ten is a good quitting time.”

“I stopped trying to keep up two hours ago Rohan.” Caryn said. “You just kept on going and going and going. In eight hours you got this place ready for the kids when earlier I thought they would be lucky to get started on Monday.”

“A lot of the overgrowth was really big plants.” I said. “There were less plants to remove than I first thought. Damn I forgot the gang wanted to see my run-around.”

“They saw it my Love.” Tim said. “I showed it to them when I showed them how happy you were gardening. I called to you twice but you were so caught up in your work you didn't respond. We thought it best to leave you to it. Let's go get some rest. We might be in time to grab a drink before the pub closes. You've removed every plant with a ribbon on it.”

“Thank you Pauline.” I said kissing her cheek. “Can we buy you a nightcap? Oh wonderful. Come along you two or we'll be too late. Hop to it! Enough loafing. We won't say a word about our work to Damion. He can enjoy the surprise tomorrow morning.”

We made it in time for a last round. Damion agreed he most likely wouldn't believe the difference without seeing it. Since we were going in the opposite direction Damion offered Pauline a ride home. A happy Tim decided if the run-around inspired me to fuck him this hard we'd gotten a bargain. I had let the manager know we were checking out early. Caryn and Tim were still half-asleep when I bundled them in the car and drove to the cottage. After we greeted the new day I carried them inside and put them to bed. While they rested I cleaned the kitchen enough to cook us omelets.

A lot happened all at once much to Tim's amusement. I met Pauline outside to keep my promise to get the place cleaned up before others saw it. I had a lot of Millie's furniture stacked outside to give me access to the stone floor. We sat outside while we enjoyed a cup of tea. While we were chatting Caryn's driving instructor arrived. I wished her luck, hugged and kissed her. Soon after Caryn left we saw a man approaching with a determined look on his face.

“Uh-oh that doesn't bode well.” Pauline said. “The man approaching is Frank Henderson. Our local bank manager. Rohan when a banker has a scowl it is unlikely any good will come of it. You mark my words something bad has happened.”

“We'll fix it right up whatever it is.” I said brightly. “Hello Mr. Henderson please have a seat. Whatever you have to say can wait until we have a cup of tea in our hand. My husband Tim brews a very good cuppa. You know Pauline? I'm Rohan. A friend of Millie. She kindly allowed me to spruce the place up in return for a roof over our heads. Tim is busy getting his cellphone network up and running. These are the last little tweaks before he goes live and starts testing.”

Tim returned soon with a tray of tea. I asked Pauline to stay because she knew the locals and I'd appreciate her guidance. Unfortunately it was still too early to wake the folks in America. I went inside to grab us a few boxes of shortbread. Frank was very understanding about the informality.

“I was hoping Millie would be here so I could tell her the bad news.” Frank said. “The owner of the cottage fell behind in his payments and we have no choice but to foreclose.”

“You don't have to tell Millie the bad news and you do have a choice about the foreclosure.” I said. “Will you give me a minute to chat with my accountant. Tim this Sharktooth thingy won't work. Instead of laughing and almost dropping your teacup come here and get it to work. Good husbands are impossible to find today.”

“Don't I know it.” Pauline agreed with a wink at Tim.

“The Sharktooth is actually Bluetooth my Love.” Tim said. “The trick to getting it to work is turning it on. There you go. Edgar.”

“Hello Rohan.” Edgar said a few seconds later startling me. “Hello? Rohan?”

“Hello Edgar.” I said. “Sorry my imp of a husband somehow got my phone to call you without me knowing he did it. Anyway I need you to come up with a brilliant financial solution to a pickle I find myself in about a cottage. Hang on a moment and I'll put you on speakerphone. Well Tim will. Frank this is Edgar my accountant in England.

Edgar I'm sprucing up a cottage for an artist friend. The owner she rents from is behind on his payments and they are going to foreclose. Edgar I assume she likes living here.”

“Edgar I'm her neighbor.” Pauline said. “Millie has told me she'd love to live here for some time. The cottage is small but there is a nice half-acre backyard.”

“Do you like the cottage Rohan?” Edgar asked. “Tim how about you?”

“I love it.” Tim said. “Perfect for Millie. Once we update it with some modern appliances, windows and fix the roof it will be gorgeous.”

“Edgar I'm about to get on my hands and knees to scrub the stone floor.” I said. “I cannot wait to get started. Yes I love it.”

“Then give the man your debit card and let him take care of the sale.” Edgar said. “Unless they want more than five-hundred thousand for the cottage there's enough on your card.”

“This is the pickle part.” I said. “The lovely Millie will be upset with me if I spend all this money on saving her cottage. She wants Caryn and Sanne managing the upgrades. You have no idea how difficult it is for me to shower my friends with gifts. The ladies are the worst. Anyway the owner needs compensation for all the payments he has made. Frank the man has provided my friend with a lovely home all this time and I'm certain he feels bad enough without losing his money. Then we need to set things up for Millie to buy it. She's going to sell a lot of paintings in the next month. That will give her enough for the deposit.”

“Frank how much was the original mortgage?” Edgar asked. “Eighty-thousand. The current owner has paid half of it. So under normal circumstances you'd want between twelve and fifteen-thousand as a deposit. Here's what we can do. Frank I'd like you to tell Millie the owner has fallen on hard times and your bank is willing to let her take over the payments and make up the deposit when she has some spare cash. Rohan will deposit eighty-thousand as security in an account with your bank. Whenever Millie makes a payment you can transfer an equal amount from it into Rohan's everyday account. Between the two of them you'll always have the balance covered. Does that sound like something your bank would agree to?”

“We would indeed because we'd effectively have the loan settled in advance.” Frank said. “Rohan tells me Millie will be away for a month or more though.”

“I'm chatting with them this evening on Skype.” I said. “Please take my debit card number and set up an account with the eighty-thousand you need for security. Edgar will you chat with Frank about the personal information he needs when he gets back to his office? I'll sign whatever papers are necessary this evening. Frank would you mind joining us later to chat with Millie? I've got an accountant back home who can help her with the paperwork. Better add a couple of hundred quid to cover mailing and other incidentals. Whatever you think is fair. Obviously I am trusting everybody here not to mention a thing about my involvement.”

“I think it's very nice to see country banks going out of their way to help the locals by thinking outside the box.” Pauline said. “That's all I have to say on the matter.”

“Here's my card Frank.” I said handing over a debit card. “Thank you for working with us. I know it is unorthodox but that's my life. Now I have to go scrub the floor. I'm glad we got knee pads. Edgar you mentioned the ticket just to make me blush. I was testing the 155 mph cut-off feature on my new car Pauline.”

Treacherous Tim took plenty of pictures of me scrubbing floors. He mentioned something about doing his work while I cooked because pictures of me cooking weren't as much fun for the others. When Caryn returned she told us she hadn't hit another vehicle and was able to get around. I hadn't realized she had been gone for two-hours. The floors were looking good but they still had lots of grime I couldn't shift.

“The weather is fine so let's get all the other stuff out, take down the curtains and go rent some pressure washers.” Caryn suggested earning herself a kiss.

Pauline brought over some shepherd's pie for our lunch. She offered to wash the curtains for us when Caryn explained our plan. The rental would cost half as much as buying our own pressure washers so I bought a couple. That would allow Millie to clean the outside more often. Pauline agreed stripping would definitely keep us from getting our clothes soaked. She admitted to Caryn she thought we'd undress inside and not out here in the garden. Now that I had a couple of pressure washers Tim was eager to join in. Caryn had to get pictures of us cleaning. Purely to prove it had just been us doing the cleaning she insisted.

“Looks more like a bubble bath exploded in there than any cleaning I've seen.” Pauline said. “Well if you got organic soap from the co-op I guess it's okay.”

“Excuse us ladies.” Tim said closing the front door. “Caryn please have the mops ready. We won't need much time.”

“Thank you.” I said calmly reaching for the mops a few minutes later.

Caryn let us stand outside the front door peering inside to admire our handiwork for some time. When the fifth or sixth car honked their horn in appreciation she suggested we at least put on our underwear. She agreed we had good reason for being enthralled. While we dressed Caryn ran her eye over Millie's furniture. Most of it would go to new homes she decided. Tim suggested she chat with Millie before our banker arrived to see if some of the pieces we were discarding had sentimental value. Sam was visiting next week and might be able to give some pieces a facelift.

“I thought I had a garden bench.” Millie said the moment the gang joined us for our chat. “Skye thought I was hallucinating. Thanks for finding it for me Rohan. Look Skye there's even a path with stone that matches it.”

“This is trick photography.” Skye said. “There is no way you got Millie's cottage that clean in one day. I won't believe it. That is beyond even Rohan ridiculous.”

“Pressure washers and lots of soap.” Tim said. “Cleaning has never been so much fun.”

“All it took was an exploding bubble bath Millie.” Pauline said stepping into view. “Rohan kept his promise and didn't let me see it until after the explosion. He did let me run your curtains through the wash. I'm afraid it must have been the dirt holding them together because they literally fell apart.”

“Thank you for trying Pauline.” Millie said. “I don't think Caryn will spend too much on curtains. Sanne what do you think about the garden?”

“I will need a clearer idea without the furniture.” Sanne said. “Tim or Caryn will give me one the moment we finish chatting. I'll speak to you later with some ideas and email a list of what's needed. The time difference may extend the project by a day but it should only be small things for Rohan to do on Monday.”

“Sam and Phyllis are coming up on Monday to inspect the cottage. They can bring us anything we can't find locally for the garden.” I said. “I'd rather support the local business if I can. Now it is time for Millie to have a very important chat with Frank. We can set up a table inside the cottage if you want privacy Millie.”

“You can use a bedroom here.” my housekeeper offered.

“I might need your advice.” Millie said. “Frank is the local banker so this might involve some Rohan shenanigans.”

“Rohan has gone out of his way to set this up with minimal involvement from him.” Frank said. “He even got his accountant Edgar to work out the solution. Something about doing all he can to avoid spoiling you too much.”

“Thank you for explaining everything.” Millie said once Frank finished making his offer. “What I want to know is why the amount is the same if this is about to go into a foreclosure? Aren't those usually sold off cheaper? I think I detect Rohan's influence.”

“Yes you do.” I confessed. “I thought it would be good if the current owner didn't just avoid foreclosure but also avoided losing everything he had already paid. Frank is willing to adjust the sales price if you feel differently. Forty-thousand is a lot of money. We will understand if you decide to go for the lower price. The current market value is a hundred.”

“What is your reason for paying the owner what he has already invested Rohan?” Millie asked.

“Faith that there is sufficient abundance in my world to allow me to help people.” I said. “I feel good thinking of the joy and relief the man will feel when he hears he won't lose a dime. The other reason is knowing I paid a fair price for the property. Starting off with a sign of good faith between me and the property by paying a fair price just feels good and is the honorable path for me. We are entering a partnership with the land and buildings. I like to show that I am mindful and respectful of this partnership.”

“Those are very good reasons Rohan.” Millie said. “Do you mind if I use them to feel better about paying the full price? I didn't think you would. Frank I am going to ask Sam and Phyllis to inspect the cottage for structural damage. Unless they find something major I will buy the property at eighty-thousand. Please send me the paperwork when they have completed their inspection. You have the soap sud warriors to thank for the sale. The cottage looks beautiful.

There is one more question I have for Rohan. You wouldn't have let that man lose his money. How would you have helped him?”

“I'd have bought a property, subtracted forty from the price and let him pay me the balance in a rent-to-own agreement.” I said. “That is a tactic I've used before and not something I came up with because I doubted you would agree to the full price.”

“You are a very deviously generous man Rohan.” Millie said. “Thank you being so honest with me. Lawrence has just opened up a smaller window on the TV for us to watch a video of you keeping your promise. Yes Skye I do have the cutest house gnomes to keep the place magically clean.”

“Innogen loves the natural splendor of Chesterfield.” Tracy added. “Wednesday it was an attempted illegal search by the police. Yesterday a speeding ticket. Anything today? Public nudity perhaps? None. Looks like we need to get you in the housecleaning business Rohan.”

Frank was very happy to have resolved things. He stayed to help us get furniture back inside while Caryn and Millie sorted it. There were a couple of pieces Millie wanted to see if Sam could transform. I asked Millie if she trusted my chef friends to give me a list of the essential items for her kitchen. I wanted a working kitchen. She told me I didn't have to call anybody because Joseph was right there. He was so excited he hopped on her lap and kissed her.

“Four people would be double the usual amount.” Millie said. “I am planning on being more sociable now I have money.”

“Rohan I will send you a list for six people.” Joseph said. “Thank you for helping Millie. She finished my painting. I love, love, love it. Dr. Deidre loves it as well. I'm so glad I get to help. I'll have the list to you in ten-minutes. I know the stores are about to close there. Now Millie what are you planning? Oops sorry Rohan. Rude of me. Good-bye folks. Call us when you get back from the store. Love you.”

Pauline told us we had plenty of time because the kitchen specialty store didn't close until six on a Friday. I suggested we give Frank a ride home and make our way to the store so we were there the moment the list arrived. We quickly got the furniture squared away and hopped in the car. Frank went very pale when I told him my car could have bought me one-and-a-half Millie cottages. After we'd driven two miles he admitted it didn't seem like too high a price to pay.

When we had all the cookware together I thought being able to cook for six looked and felt right. The range really would need replacing but I got a vegetable curry, chicken curry and rice cooked in an hour. Pauline joined us for dinner. We carried a table outside to enjoy the pleasant evening. Sanne called and asked us to chat about the garden after dinner. Tim called her while I made some crepes for dessert. He let me know Pauline had helped him measure the garden for Sanne. After dessert Pauline joined us for a night at the Crown and Thistle. She introduced us to a lot of the locals.

The next morning I had to hold Tim back so I could greet the kids first. Benjamin laughed loudly.

“Yes I'll sing for you but it will cost you each a kiss for me, my naughty husband, Caryn and our friend Pauline.” I said to the kids. “Me first Tim. See I warned you he was naughty. He'll steal all the kisses and leave me with none. I'll have to give him more spankings.”

I sat on the bench with two hooligans on my lap as I sang. The healing and blessing songs soon became kids songs. They left me to sit there singing while they started on my garden project. I soon put that to rights by grabbing a shovel and digging a hole. They might not have needed the hole but it was a lovely hole Pauline agreed. Then we went shopping with a nun who knew almost as much as Sanne about plants. I got to spend a small fortune. That cheered me up so much I didn't complain about my hole being filled while I was gone.

Tim arranged for a caterer to cook all our meals. I didn't have enough cooking utensils to feed forty people. The children stayed after work for Millie to thank them. They told her I had mostly behaved. There was the time I dragged Tim inside the garden shed and made it shake a lot. When she stopped laughing Millie thanked us for testing the soundness of the shed.

Benjamin let her know they were going camping in a nearby national park and would be at work bright and early. The nun let Sanne know what plants she chosen from the list of alternatives and where we had planted them. Millie wanted to wait and see the finished garden tomorrow. The kids thanked Millie for letting them play in her garden and for the camping trip. One little boy told her they enjoyed listening to me sing. I promised I would sing for an hour before they left tomorrow.

I listened to the excited kids tell me all about their camping adventure the next morning. Tiny had been very good so I didn't get to spank him. The kids told me I could spank Tim. All too soon breakfast ended and we were back to work. The kids had fun doing some carpentry with the monks to build container beds on wheels. They made them smaller so Millie could move them. I thought they were very cute. The nun wouldn't allow me to plant hooligans in them. She asked Tim to take me in the garden shed and give it a second soundness testing.

I changed my mind about a second test being unnecessary when Tim got me inside and inside of me. We laughed when a rake fell off the wall and the handle landed between his cheeks. Pauline and Caryn had to help keep each other upright when Tim remarked he'd nearly been impaled by a rake handle. The nun promised to give us the name of a better quality hanger. Tim kissed her. Caryn agreed with me it was a good thing the rake was not hung the other way around.

“This just isn't fair Millie.” Pauline said. “For years I looked at an overgrown jungle. Then with three days of work and some of the cutest gardeners on the planet you end up with the perfect low maintenance cottage garden with vegetables and herbs growing in mobile containers. There's even a greenhouse for them when it gets cold. Don't even get me started on the grill and outdoor eating area. See for yourself. From the worst or make that no garden to the best garden in the village. Why it''s....”

“Ridiculous.” Skye said. “Leslie has worked really hard with Millie to help her feel deserving. She's paid a high price for that garden. Don't worry Pauline when we get back we will spend some time in the garden with you.”

The hedges closest to the cottage were just far enough from it for her to get the nozzle of her pressure washer in when she cleaned the walls. We had cleaned them before planting the hedges. The kids thought we were very naughty to do it naked. Pauline decided it was a good idea we didn't know how much of a crowd we drew. I got the hooligans to giggle by bending Tim over backwards and kissing him.

The grill area was at the back near the vegetable and herb garden. The retractable awning would have ruined the cottage look if it was on the front we all agreed. There was a low table in front of the bench and fold up chairs could be brought out if there were more than two people. My favorite part was the automatic sprinkler system that had a sensor to check the moisture content of the soil. You didn't need to worry about a timer. When the soil got dry the sprinklers came on and switched off at the perfect time.

Millie held out bravely until we showed her the orchard with apple, pear, apricot and peach trees. They would grow at an angle to make it easier for Millie to reach the fruit. I suggested we have tea while Millie regained her composure. She called back to thank everybody. The hooligans laughed when she promised me thousands of kisses. Tim pointed out that was just for the garden. There was still the inside. I suggested as we were a married couple he could take half. He decided we'd negotiate that after the kids left.

When we went back to the front garden there were some curious folk looking over the fence. I invited them in. The kids beamed when they got complimented. Benjamin gave them a little time to show off their work before he herded them on board the buses. I thanked him and promised to visit when I was next in London. Tim told him we had found a restaurant where I couldn't eat two servings. Benjamin laughed and promised he'd join us on our next visit.

The four of us took some time to really explore the garden while the beef stew simmered. I sang softly as I walked around the garden just as I had done in Blyth. Walking the blessing felt especially good here in a garden. I was very happy with what we'd accomplished. When we sat down in the grill area Tim donated a thousand pounds to the orphanage for “all the love and joy they put into Millie's garden”. Caryn surprised me by saying we had gotten a bargain until I remembered seeing her in the constant company of a hooligan or three. They had sat on her lap at meals. She had pushed them around in a wheelbarrow. There had been lots of mutual tickling. I smiled at the memory of her setting some of them after me to kiss me. Yes it was a bargain I agreed.

“Rohan we are getting a TV and some DVDs for Millie.” Caryn said as we made our way to the pub. “Are we emptying the coffers with all our trips to the pub?”

“You know we aren't.” I said pulling her close. “I was wondering if it would be good to buy a pub though.”

“What about something with guest quarters above it?” Caryn suggested. “I can see how you'd want to separate work and business. Your staff might not mind.”

“I think Millie has come to mean a lot to my husband.” Tim teased. “We've been here four days before he thought of buying a property Pauline. Let me guess my Love. You're looking for another property close to Millie's cottage as well as one for us.”

“Skye?” Caryn asked. “Go get us a round Tim while I sit myself in this man's lap and kiss him. The kisses will continue until you promise to let me decorate your new homes.”

“I promise. I promise.” I said quickly.

“Sorry I couldn't hear with all the noise.” Caryn said after several kisses. “Mere coincidence the kisses stopped when the drinks arrived Rohan.”

“Buying a pub is difficult because you need to find one when the people are willing to retire in this area anyways.” Pauline said. “There is a tea house for sale though. Unfortunately instead of staff quarters above the teahouse you'd have to settle for a cottage out back.”

“Sam and Phyllis will be here at nine tomorrow.” I said. “Any chance of seeing the tea house before they arrive Pauline? I was thinking at eight after a light breakfast. We'll have a second round of breakfast with our guests. I'm sure they'll be hungry.”

“There is a lock box with a key on the gate so we could go have a look now if you want.” Pauline said. “The tea house is a fifteen-minute walk from here.”

I pulled Caryn back and let Tim enter ahead of us. You could feel the longing in him as he let his fingers trail on the tables and looked around. He sighed wistfully. Caryn handed me a couple of tissues to wipe my eyes. When Pauline told me it was possible to place a small sign advertising the tea house on the main street I knew what I had to do. The teahouse was behind the stores on the main street which kept it hidden but provided a nice quiet setting.

“No need to go back to my cottage.” Pauline said. “I always keep a copy of the sale agreement in a drawer on properties I show. We'll need five minutes Caryn. Please distract Tim for us. How did you know I was a realtor Rohan?”

“Your cottage is in good shape and set up like a model show house.” I said. “You've been able to share our fun without having to go to work the last three days which suggests you set your own work schedule. Knowing the code to the lock box confirmed it for me.”

“I suppose military training will emphasize observation skills.” Pauline said. “You've mentioned having Sam and Phyllis inspect the cottage for structural soundness. I'm going to leave the sale amount open for now. When they've had a look we will enter a fair amount. I can guarantee the heirs will accept the amount we settle on. Rohan you have to see it in daylight before you are certain you haven't missed anything. Now shall we go set a match to the powder keg called Tim? Even a corpse would feel the change in Tim when he stepped inside.”

“What do you think Beloved?” I asked as I wrapped my arms around him from behind.

“A little secluded.” Tim said. “Oh it's quite lovely. There just isn't much passing trade. I guess a quiet tea house would be good for students to study.”

“You can put a small A-frame on the street pointing people in this direction.” I said. “You could speak to Philip, Peter, Leif and Petersen about the menu. I'd suggest a new name with a completely new logo designed by the graphics students helping Charles. For one kiss I will clear the energy and you can start with a clean slate on all levels.”

“The garden needs sprucing up.” Tim said. “Maybe some window boxes with flowers. The nun who visited seemed very knowledgeable. The whitewashed walls and thatch roof reminds me of Millie's cottage. Don't you think so my Love?”

“Yes I do.” I said ignoring the muffled laughter from the ladies behind me. “I think the decorator doing that cottage would love to help you decorate your tea house.”

“Some nice curtains my Love.” Tim said. “I've always thought curtains make such a difference.”

“Then let the decorator know how important they are for you in your teahouse.” I said patiently enjoying the game.

“My tea house would need a better floor.” Tim said. “Maybe it's possible to save this one. Bram will know.”

“I am certain you will be able to save the floor.” I said squeezing him tightly. “Once Sam and Phyllis have looked it over tomorrow this will be your tea house.”

“My tea house.” Tim said with another sigh. “One day I will own a tea house my Love.”

“I've had quite enough of this teasing Rohan.” Caryn said coming over and slapping the papers down on the table in front of us. “You do own a tea house Tim.”

“I do?” Tim asked in surprise.

“Yes you do.” Caryn said kissing him soundly on the lips. “This tea house. See here? For buyer it says Tim's International Trading House.”

“Well isn't this a pleasant surprise.” Tim said softly. “Come along guys. I'll buy us all a drink to celebrate. A double brandy and soda sounds perfect.”

I stepped outside with Tim in my arms while Pauline and Caryn turned off the lights and locked up. Then we walked back to the Crown and Thistle.

“Bram how good of you to call.” Tim said as he walked back to our table. “I was just thinking of you a few minutes ago. Rohan never has his cellphone with him or turned on. Yes we can set up a Skype call on my phone. I'm just buying us some drinks to celebrate. How sweet. We can celebrate together. Ten-minutes will be perfect.”

“This is the surprise you were fleeing isn't it Rohan?” Caryn asked with a huge grin. “You have to know it is a really big one when a man flees across an ocean to avoid the thank you. I'm really looking forward to finding out why we rushed over here Rohan.”

“That's a pretty good sign it is a big one.” Pauline agreed. “I think the two of us are going to enjoy the next few minutes.”

I made a quick call to Sam to see if he could spend a few days here. Pauline knew of some homes she thought would be ideal for me. Sam promised to pack enough to see him through the week. I thanked him and told him I had to go face an epic scolding from about a dozen people ranging in age from ten to forty-something. A chuckling Sam told me it was wise of me to take the call in a pub.

“Before anybody here says a word and there will be plenty said I need to chat with Tim.” Leslie said. “Go ahead and spill the beans Tim. You look worse than Dylan when the monk tried to kill Rohan.”

“I know you guys might find it difficult to believe but I've always wanted to own a tea house.” Tim said.

“No shit Sherlock.” Morgan said. “Let me guess. My ridiculous father-in-law made your lifelong dream come true.”

“Yes he did.” Tim said. “I own a teahouse.”

“This time Rohan had no choice.” Caryn said quickly. “Leslie you had to have experienced Tim's reaction. Standing outside you could feel the longing and ache inside Tim. Rohan and I were both crying. I would have bought it for Tim if Rohan hadn't. Yes it was dark but even if it had been a complete dump we would have still bought it.”

“I've insisted we wait until Sam has inspected the place tomorrow before agreeing to a price.” Pauline said. “The heirs will accept whatever price I decide is fair.”

“That is very nice of you Pauline.” Leslie said. “Is there anything else you want to warn us about?”

“The rest is the usual Rohan stuff.” Caryn said. “We'll let you know what we can when we can. Millie trusts me to keep Rohan in check with her cottage. You can trust me to keep an eye on Rohan's shenanigans. I must say he is being very restrained.”

“You're right.” Leslie said. “The old Rohan would have secretly bought Millie that cottage and given it to her as a gift. I'll wait and let you guys surprise us. We'd have called earlier but it took Bram three hours to recover. Marikie and Samantha even want to scold you. Zachary is keeping an eye on Clifton and Hans because we can't pry them loose.”

“Well if Zachary is there then this scoundrel has arranged sailing lessons for the boys.” Tim said happily. “How very sweet. You knew he planned on doing this soon.”

“Yes we knew.” Bram said. “What we didn't know was he'd include me and my family in the lessons. There is something very essential to sailing lessons Tim.”

“Oh my gosh!” Tim said literally bouncing on my lap. “You bought them a boat didn't you Scoundrel? Yes Bram and Sanne deserved a little bonus for their work in Montana. Please show us your tub Bram.”

“There's nothing little about this bonus.” Bram said turning the computer around to capture the boat with Hans and Clifton scurrying all over it. “I'm told we could sail around the world in this little tub. Zachary is as bad as you Rohan. He also bought a rubber dingy because he didn't know how deep the water was close to shore.”

“Now we need to extend the jetty.” Elaine said. “That will involve more wood, permits and who knows what other paperwork. This might come as a surprise to you Rohan but I do have some work to do during the day.”

“Thanks Dad for giving me the chance to practice my carpentry skills.” Adam said. “The truck Zachary got is incredible. Yes it's the luxury model with the most powerful engine. I guess the navy captain is good at following orders. Zachary tells me this truck has the power to tow your sailing boat and Bram's together if you wanted.”

“Thank you Rohan for this lovely gift.” Sanne said. “The joy on Hans and Clifton's face is all I needed to see. They got on board three hours ago an haven't climbed off it yet. All I ask is you make this a lifetime bonus gift please.”

“Any other gifts will be given by first talking to you or Bram or Elaine.” I promised. “Sanne if I want to spoil you and Bram with a weekend away I will speak to Elaine. When I am surprising you I will talk to Bram. This gift was a thank you for all you have done at the cabin, in Poland, Montana, the village in Blyth, Tim's development up there, the Winchester projects, Millie's cottage and my other projects.”

“We are going to need your help for the tea house plus at least nine other gardens.” Caryn said. “Does that help you feel better?”

“From what I've just heard you guys have done a lot to help Rohan.” Pauline said. “I don't even know the details but that sounds like a lot of work.”

“This time dad got it right.” Dylan said walking over to hold Bram's hands in his. “We don't know the exact figure for the boat. Zachary said around one-thirty would be a good guess. You've helped us boys set up two businesses. Then there is all the work you did around this cabin to make it such a magical space. There's the training area and love nest. All that work helped Clifton so much. Adam is learning blacksmithing and carpentry with a guy who makes a great second dad. He will enjoy working on extending the jetty for Elaine.”

“Don't forget about the help you gave dad during his mantra retreat.” Adam said. “Now that these two have mentioned how much you've done for us I think you got off too lightly. We're all quick to tease and scold dad for spoiling people too much but this time I think he might have held back too much. Never mind what Sanne just said keep giving them these little bonuses Dad. Don't be afraid to go a smidge or two bigger either.

We have Leslie and Dr. Deidre who worked miracles with Joseph to counsel you. One more word about it being too much or dad spending an excessive amount on you guys and I will go grab a paddle. I'll leave you guys to thank dad while Tracy takes me inside for an Irish coffee and a special kiss to calm me down.

Yes Tracy that includes you so if you want to mention the truck better keep it to thank you and how much fun you will have driving such a powerful truck. I know us guys are going to enjoy riding around in it. That thing is awesome. Yes Tracy we will be lucky if we can climb up in it. I don't mind you lifting me up. Right now I'm feeling a lot like Tim. Make it a quick thank you Tracy. I need my medicine.”

“I'll make us both an Irish coffee.” Elaine said. “You've made me realize how badly we behaved. We could have spoken to Leslie before we called. Rohan's housekeeper wouldn't have gone along with this if she didn't think it was fair. Rohan it is a wonderful gift and including sailing lessons was a good idea. That Zachary is as patient as a saint with those boys. They've been for a sail twice already. Thank you for being such an incredible guy Rohan.

Now Adam you did mean what you said about the paddle didn't you? Good because I think it will take more than Irish coffee to make me feel better. You, me and your paddle might need to go for a walk. I hear there is a perfect room for such things in the love nest.”

“Our son is growing up too fast Rohan.” Amanda said with a smile as Elaine and Adam headed off holding hands.

“He's also growing into a ridiculously mature, sensible and kinky man.” Millie said. “The two of you have done a great job with him.”

“I must admit Dylan is correct.” Bram said. “I am sorry Rohan for not trusting you. There will be something waiting for you with Christopher and Garth soon.”

“Apology accepted Bram.” I said. “You are simply too modest to see the gift in light of your true value and generosity of spirit. Adam is lucky to learn from you. That alone would be worth a lot more than the cost of your little tub.”

“Please don't make the same mistake we did Tim and underestimate Rohan.” Bram said. “The man has such a brilliant mind what takes us a week to think through he can do in an hour. When he offers advice on your tea house I would suggest following it. I will email you a list of things to check with Sam. Sorry to take you from your work.”

“That is Rohan's fault.” Tim said. “I can't concentrate on anything until things are moving with the tea house. Guys please chat with Millie and Skye about these new changes in Rohan. Yes he is conspiring but in a good way and in such a way for it to still work out even if people say no. Remember Adam isn't afraid to use that paddle and he wields a mean paddle. Was there anything else you needed to share with us or is that all the surprise Rohan cooked up?”

“There's a second part to it.” my housekeeper said. “I'm guessing Rohan didn't share any of it with you. That's perfect because the guys here want to keep it a surprise. I'm certain Rohan won't mind going along with them.”

“Millie we need to get the inside of your cottage painted soon.” Caryn said. “Do you think you could send me a color palette? Provided Sam gives us the all clear tomorrow I'd like to get the painters in on Tuesday. I'm hoping to get a nice discount by including Tim's teahouse.”

“I'll have it waiting in your inbox when you wake up tomorrow.” Millie promised. “Now we are going to have lunch and go sailing.”

Pauline bought us a round of drinks to enjoy while Caryn chatted to her about the projects Dylan had mentioned. I leaned back with Tim pressed close to me and we chatted about his tea house. The color scheme and possible logo. The new name. I shuddered when he mentioned putting cucumber sandwiches on the menu. He laughed and kissed me. None us had noticed the other guests leaving at closing time. The kind owner had let us talk. He joined us for nightcap because he guessed we had something worth sharing.

“The one your uncle owned Pauline?” Damion asked. “I don't think it could have gone to a nicer guy. You've been the talk of Chesterfield and not just for your attire or lack of it. Yes there has been lots of favorable comments about that part of your visit Caryn. People have noticed your expensive car and think it wonderful you are humble enough to do housecleaning for a friend.”

“A lot of people loved the kids gardening.” Pauline said. “Now you know why I am confident the family will accept whatever price we agree on Rohan. They will be glad it is going to such a nice guy as well. I can just imagine the sheer joy when the realtor heard you were buying half a village. Tim has a really big development under construction Damion. I'm told it's a little south of Blythe. He needed a place for the staff of the different businesses to live but had borrowed so much he didn't want to borrow more.

Rohan loved the thought of buying forty-plus houses and sprucing up a village Damion. He's not going to let a couple of million stand in the way of helping a village out. There's even talk of an organic grocery store opening up soon. Yes Rohan I would believe you invested because of the scones at a local tea house. I think if I visited the best tea houses and pubs in England you would own a property within walking distance.”

“I hadn't thought of that but I'm certain Pauline is right.” Tim said. “That sounds like a great tour of the country my Love.”

“We mustn't keep Damion.” I said. “Tomorrow we have guests arriving. Caryn I hate to have you working on two things at once but if we can put Sam and Phyllis up in the cottage behind the teahouse that would be nice. I don't know what furniture we'll need. They might enjoy some time in a local B&B. You guys can decide.”

I thanked Damion for his offer of a ride but chose to walk. The ladies joined me we saw Pauline home first. Then it was over the road to Millie's cottage and bed. Sleep had to wait because despite Caryn being close I simply had to bugger my Brit. Tim made the mistake of agreeing it wouldn't do to disturb Caryn's rest. Very ungentlemanly he agreed. Slipping up behind him I used a silk scarf to gag him. Then for extra reassurance I pressed his face against a pillow while I pounded his ass.

We got away with it because the bed was solidly built and didn't make the slightest noise. I gave it a good test by fucking Tim hard. This was fucking without frills. My focus was entirely on getting off. When I flipped him over I muffled his cries by kissing him still gagged. My hips kept up their instinctive thrusting for a few minutes after he had climaxed. I wasn't in that much of a rush to get off. The feel of his ass around my cock was not the least bit unpleasant. Knowing he couldn't give full voice to his emotions had added a nice bit of spice to proceedings. Behind his gag Tim smiled at the self-satisfied smirk on my face when I finally deigned to unload.

“You enjoyed having me gagged didn't you.” Tim said in the shower. “I found it hot as well. I'll go online and get something shipped. Oh you're right. We'll find a local shop.”

“Supporting local businesses is lots of fun at times.” I said. “Now wash my back so I can get some beauty sleep. Sunrise meditations seem to get here earlier and earlier.”

“Thank you for the tea house my Love.” Tim said simply before we fell asleep. “That was very sweet of you.”

A curious Pauline joined us for our sunrise meditations. The cottage was too open for me to consider doing any sparring in the yard. I was confident Sam and Phyllis would come up with a solution. Nothing less than eggs Benedict would do for our celebratory breakfast. Pauline kept Caryn company while I cooked with Tim. They enjoyed having guys cooking and keeping their coffee mugs filled. Caryn called me such a demanding employer when I asked her to call Sam to see when they would arrive.

“Five-minutes out and would their illustrious, all-knowing, handsomest leader please cook extra.” Caryn said. “I told Sam he'd have to settle for me telling Rohan to cook extra. The other fellow might not show up before breakfast and a chef in the kitchen is better than two on the way.”

“Very wise.” Pauline said. “I can understand how Irish coffees are standard around this wonderful man. Even married to Tim he still inspires naughty desires within a lass.”

“My boyfriend is planning on erecting a shrine to Rohan.” Caryn said very calmly. “He thinks there's no better aphrodisiac in the world than having me spend time with Rohan.”

“Sounds like our guests arriving.” I said. “Come on Tim. Let's go see who they've dragged with them.”

“Christopher! Garth!” Tim shouted rushing to them and hugging them.

“What's Rohan done this time?” Garth asked smiling over a sobbing Tim.

“Everybody seems to react the same way.” Pauline remarked.

“Oh well if all he did was fulfill one of your dreams of a lifetime we'll have you back together in two minutes.” Garth said lightly stroking Tim's back. “Which one was it?”

“Tea house.” Tim said wiping at his eyes with Christopher's hanky.

“The dirty rotter.” Garth said. “This might take an extra minute. That was one of his very, very big dreams Rohan. He used to mention it when he was only ten. One day I will serve Christopher hot chocolate in my own tea house he would say when we enjoyed hot chocolate at night. Well Rohan if you're going to make me work up an appetite I hope you've cooked something tasty. Thick slices of ham I trust? Thank you.”

“Come along Tim.” Christopher said. “I didn't have to wait long at all for you to keep that promise.”

Garth told me he'd checked with Millie that it was okay for them to visit with Sam and Phyllis. When I saw Sam looking around with his penetrating gaze I told him I felt the same way but we had to enjoy breakfast first. Then we needed to visit the tea house. Pauline told us there was a nice hotel around the corner from the tea house. A four star hotel is seldom fully booked Garth agreed.

“This is a business trip so the Order can pay.” I said setting plates on the table. “I'll explain in a bit. First we need to eat or I'll have to eat Tim.”

“Speaking of eating Tim you guys have been way too quiet.” Caryn said. “I'm partly concerned about you guys but I need your noise to cover mine. That's called being ladylike Rohan.”

“Now she tells us.” I said. “Yes it was a lot of fun Tim. We went to the trouble of making certain you wouldn't be disturbed.”

“We had to improvise last night but we're going shopping today for something better.” Tim said over his mug of tea. “Caryn we're shopping for gags. Would you like to join us?”

Pauline nearly lost her mouthful of food. When she recovered she told us we were such considerate hosts. Proper gentleman Phyllis agreed eying Sam with a thoughtful expression. I smiled but kept quiet. After thirds I took Sam and Phyllis outside for a chat. They listened closely as I explained my dilemma. Looking around they saw exactly what I meant. When we returned I asked Pauline if she wouldn't mind showing them some of her listings. There were two cottages nearby Pauline thought would be perfect for Skye.

“What about this property Rohan?” Sam asked motioning me over to the laptop. “There are only neighbors on one side. You'll have to give up some floor space for the extra soundproofing but when we're done you could have firearm practice in there without disturbing the neighbors.”

“Yes Caryn I need three floors.” I said. “We need something like the penthouse addition on the second floor. This cottage lacks the privacy I need to instruct Tim. I also want a steam room and soaking tub. Think Mercedes-Benz with this property. Can you do that for me?”

“Rohan there isn't a lady on the planet who has trouble spending a man's money.” Caryn said. “Yes I can do it.”

“I never doubted you.” I said taking her hands and looking her straight in the eyes. “What I need to know is can you do Mercedes-Benz or will your sensible streak kick in like that shut-off? No I'm not talking about throwing restraint completely overboard. A couple of notches more than usual. I love you so much.”

“Enough to let me breathe?” Caryn asked as I hugged her tight. “No you can't bed my boyfriend if you let me go.”

“Worth a try.” Tim agreed as we left the cottage.

We stopped at the hotel first. Sam and Phyllis helped take the bags to the room so they could brief the Hospitallers. I danced with Tim in the lobby to help get my excitement under control. My husband laughed when I admitted hearing of his dream made me more nervous. Now I really, really, really wanted to buy the tea house. Caryn reminded me it was working fine just a couple of months ago. I danced with her while Tim danced with Pauline.

“Hello Ben, I wasn't expecting you.” Pauline said when we saw a young guy leaning on the gate. “That's Sam over there.”

Ben was a former contractor who had switched to house inspector when construction worked slowed up. Sam had called him while they were upstairs because there were always local quirks and conditions to consider. Sometimes tradition overrode code in construction or people just didn't pay attention to things. Tim wandered around with them reading from the list that Bram had sent. He made notes of their answers. I was beginning to see the secluded setting as a blessing as I sat in the garden. There was almost no traffic noise. Now I was aware there was a four star hotel nearby I knew this would be perfect. Tim sat in my lap to tell me there were a few things to fix but nothing five-thousand wouldn't cover.

A smiling Ben led us to the large property I was considering. This was at the end of a row of homes. The park across the street was nicely maintained. I was glad we had a garden even if it was a small one. Caryn wandered around with Ben and Sam. They helped her take measurements. Caryn placed a call to Ingrid to let her know about the new projects. Everybody gathered around when Caryn switched to speakerphone so Ingrid could scold me. I listened patiently. Learned she was driving down from Blyth and would be here in a couple of hours to reduce the damage. I told her we'd put her up in the same hotel as the Hospitallers which was close to both major projects.

“I want you close to them because this will be an Order project.” Garth said when Ingrid started to protest she didn't need a four-star hotel. “We're happy with four-star comfort so you will adjust. Now would be a very good time to issue orders to your crew and hit the road. Text me just before you leave and make certain it is within the next fifteen-minutes.”

“Yes Sir.” Ingrid said. “Miles gather your no-good crew together. The big boss needs me. I have to leave in ten.”

On the way to the cottages Garth told me I'd have to work on being more of a boss. The British liked their social pecking order and felt more comfortable with rank and authority he assured me. Some bonhomie was okay but I tended to do too much it seemed. Christopher put it at four times too much. I promised to chat to Garth and Leslie about it. A quick lunch at the Crown and Thistle because I was hungry and wanted introduce my friends to Damion.

“Your smile tells me the inspection went well Tim.” Damion said. “This round is one me. Thank you for recommending the fish and chips Pauline. No pub in England worth its salt serves bad fish and chips.”

“I've heard good things about your bread and butter pudding as well.” I said. “I'll take two helpings of the fish and the pudding please. Now for some darts.”

Pauline kissed Damion for me. He looked so relieved we all laughed. Tim scratched me under my chin just to confirm I was purr-happy. Just when I thought my day couldn't get any better Sam, Phyllis and Ben told me they couldn't decide between the two nearby cottages.

“I love you guys so much.” I said hugging the three of them “You've made an old man very happy. Now let's go give Millie's cottage a thorough check. This is such a good day.”

“Thanks for the extra work guys.” Caryn said linking arms with Ben and Sam. “I ought to borrow Adam's paddle and spank you. They couldn't decide between the cottages Pauline. Now Rohan will buy them both. Four sales in less than twenty-four hours ought to take care of one or two bills.”

“That's nice enough but getting to look out at the transformed garden is the best part of this weekend.” Pauline said. “How much do you think your gardeners would charge to do my garden Rohan? They must charge something. Caryn that is so old-fashioned and sweet Rohan must have thought of it. I'll call Benjamin tomorrow.”

Ben typed up an official report on his laptop for me to take with to Frank. My husband went shopping for gags and things while Pauline took me to see Frank. We held a conference call with Edgar. Bank accounts got opened and funds transferred. I waited in the office while they readied some paperwork. The paperwork got scanned and emailed to Edgar. He called to tell me it was okay to sign.

“You guys run a very efficient bank.” I complimented Frank when I got up to leave. “I won't hesitate to recommend you to others if you keep this up. This might be normal everyday stuff to you but you worked with me and my accountant so efficiently we finished in less than an hour. I might own a few properties it is always a thrill when I hold the keys to new properties for the first time.”

“You are the master of understatement Rohan.” Pauline said. “Are you certain there isn't British blood in your veins? Frank he bought over forty homes in one village recently. I'm not certain of the exact number he owns in total but it is over a hundred.”

“Thank you my Love.” Tim said when I handed him the keys to the tea house. “Now stand still for a moment.”

“Very nice.” I said calmly and winked at Frank's smiling secretary after my dozen swats with a paddle. “That serves me right for sending you to the store on your own.”

“We're going to the hotel for tea.” Tim said sheathing his paddle in the shopping bag. “I still find it amazing how calmly you buy homes Scoundrel. You just purchased three homes, a teahouse for your husband and negotiated the cottage sale for Millie. Naturally I will need to open an account with Frank. I suppose it's only polite to let his staff set it up. Pauline sometimes it's just easier to hack their computer and set it up myself. That way I don't need to bother with tiresome questions about my age.”

“I was wondering how you got to shop at the adult store.” Pauline said.

“They know me as eighteen year old William Rothbury.” Tim said calmly. “This is a genuine drivers license Pauline. William is the imaginary bit but nobody ever seems to ask. I only misbehave to make my husband feel better about spanking me. You will spank me soon for carrying a false ID?”

“The ID is genuine.” I said as we entered the hotel. “You can drive so there's no harm no foul. I'll kiss you though for keeping it under wraps from me.”

“Darn I will have to go to plan B.” Tim said. “Right now there is tea and I spy with my eagle eye a cucumber sandwich. Never mind who ordered them I'll kiss you all.”

“Thank you for joining us so quickly Ingrid.” I said hugging her. “Your room is sufficiently comfortable I hope.”

“Yes Rohan it is perfectly acceptable.” Ingrid said. “Caryn filled me in on what you have planned and showed me the penthouse project. What is it you wish to practice?”

“Archery and I will need two more bows like the one you got me Christopher.” I said as I buttered a crumpet. “They are more powerful and need less head room. I'd like the regular bows for when we can get out to a range please. Swords, mace, dagger, chain and unarmed combat as well please.”

“That is the easy part.” Ingrid said making notes. “I can guess the answer but I will ask when you want this space ready?”

“Yesterday.” I said with a smile. “We have nowhere to train. All I need is a space to use for an hour before the workers arrive.”

“You will be able to use it on Wednesday.” Ingrid said. “Seven-thirty to eight-thirty and after six in the afternoon. We'll do the soundproofing tomorrow as well Rohan. Ben helped us get in touch with six dependable contractors. I am glad Phyllis is here to keep track of the projects. Our conspiracy will have to include Caryn so she is sharing my room. There are two beds in it and enough space for a family of six Rohan. Garth thought I needed a suite for some reason.”

“You're working too hard.” Garth said calmly. “That's one of the reasons I needed you close. We are going to discuss the matter before Rohan spanks us.”

“What about Millie's cottage?” I asked. “That is my main priority.”

“I have a few questions to ask her about some of the work but we don't need permits so it won't take long.” Sam said. “The painters are coming through tomorrow. You will need to hang out in another cottage for a few hours. Sorry to shuffle you around.”

“The big project is the tea house.” Ingrid said. “Tim can you do your cellphone stuff in the morning and meet with us after lunch? A quick call to the graphics student before dinner tonight would prove helpful. You'll need about an hour. Hopefully she will have some ideas ready by tomorrow afternoon.”

“I can do that while my husband cooks us dinner.” Tim said.

“No you can't.” Garth said. “He isn't cooking dinner tonight. You are all joining us for dinner here at seven. Drinks at six-thirty. Ingrid we won't mind you dragging Caryn off with you at nine but for two hours you will relax and enjoy a meal. You have to eat.”

“Meditate or read while Tim chats with the designer Rohan.” Christopher suggested.

“Sounds like a nice evening.” I said. “Let's get back to work then. You guys have lots to do and I have a novel waiting for me.”

Sam and Phyllis were staying in the staff quarters at the teahouse so they were close to the action. I drove back with Tim and Pauline. Tim called the graphics student on the drive home. He was lucky enough to get to chat with her. My clever husband jogged her memory by asking how her work with Charles was going and chatting about the Sunderland game where we had met her. I laughed when he told her I was being ridiculous and bought him a tea house. Pauline chuckled when he mentioned he'd bought a paddle to teach me a lesson about spoiling him rotten.

Pauline told me she'd be back over at six to join us for a glass of wine before we drove to the hotel. I poured some for Tim and me to enjoy now. He smiled when I set it in front of him and mouthed “laptop”. I set the laptop on the table in front of the garden bench before hurrying back inside to read. Forty-five minutes later Tim came in to tell me Hollie was brilliant, kind and joyful. Pretty much everything he was looking for and had found in a guy. My husband insisted on showing me the tea house logo.

“You see my Love the image on the surface of the tea in the cup will be the garden setting.” Tim explained excitedly. “Well what do you think? You've had five-seconds to form an opinion. There's more than one paddle in that bag you know.”

“I think I have to kiss you.” I said and did. “Truly a lovely logo and it will work so well on the A-frame and your company stationery. The blue and white is a good choice because you can get China in those colors.”

The logo was part of a teapot pouring tea into a cup. Placing a picture of the garden on the surface of the tea in the cup would finish it perfectly. Next to the stream of tea was the name of his tea house – A Spot Of Solitude. The word solitude was underneath the first three words. I liked the symmetry of both lines being the same width.

“She even thanked me because she was trying to come up with an idea for a class assignment.” Tim said. “They have to work with one of the website design students. Yes I could have done the website myself but I think I'll let them get the credit. I can always tweak it for them. Besides I have to figure out the menu. Hollie came up with the name. I get all squishy when I think of it. I keep hearing Adam saying “a spot wot” in his cute British accent.”

“We have thirty-minutes before Pauline joins us for tea.” I said. “Would you be up for a spot of oral?”

“Let's multi-task and do it in the shower.” Tim said hopping off me.

Pauline dabbed at her eyes when she saw what Hollie proposed. Her uncle would have loved it she assured us. I told Tim he couldn't take the laptop to dinner to show the others. He told me there was no need. He'd sent it out in a group email to everybody here and back home before he'd shown it to me. Tim had to sit on my lap while we had our wine.

“Green.” Caryn said in greeting. “Blue, white and a crisp green. Think how it will pop against the thatch and you have the whitewashed walls. We'll find a lovely toile for the napkins and cushions. Maybe for the curtains as well if it isn't too much. I can chat with Emily about it. Light and airy so the wooden tables must be slender. Sculptural. Aawk!”

“He really has the soul of a Hospitaller.” Garth said. “Kissing Caryn was the perfect remedy for too much business chatter.”

“I wonder if she needs a second dose.” Christopher said. “I'd like a picture of it.”

“No she doesn't.” Caryn said. “Thanks Rohan I tend to get caught up in my work. Especially when Holden isn't around to release pressure. Don't you love the concept? Brilliant.”

“Make the green a grass-green to tie in with the garden.” I whispered.

“Great idea.” Caryn whispered back.

“I'd love a glass of wine Garth.” I said in a normal tone. “Do you know there is a bent church spire in Chesterfield? That would drive Bram crazy.”

“Yes he'd be out there working on fixing it the first day he moved here.” Garth agreed. “How is the gang doing? Sailing. That's relaxing.”

“Initially it wasn't but they've come around nicely thanks to Rohan's son.” Caryn said.

“There are a lot of interesting group dynamics in your gang Rohan.” Christopher said after she related our conversation. “I think it is time to have a nice long chat with Leslie. After dinner of course or else we'd be taking business.”

“Speaking of dinner.” Tim said. “I haven't eaten anything except a er snack in the shower since tea.”

We all chose the roast chicken. Pauline caused a stir when she commented on how I ate so much but didn't have an extra ounce of weight on me. She knew because she had seen all there was to see of me. Caryn promised to share the video with Ingrid. Tim laughed when she decided the hedges saved us from being arrested for public indecency. Pauline called our pressure washing escapade “simply cruel”. There's no bigger kid than a man in love Garth told us.

“Pauline I must have dessert tonight.” I said. “Caryn has deserted and left me all alone with a teenager. There are two loaded paddles on hand. I will burn off a lot of calories tonight. Oh wonderful they have trifle.”

Tim advised the waiter to bring me seconds right away. The waiter looked shocked when I handed him my empty bowl when he returned with seconds. When he asked for our comments on the food I told him the food was very good and they could confidently serve larger portions. I thanked Garth for the offer of another round but seeing such a small dessert bowl one more time would make me cry.

“Think soup bowl Pauline.” Tim suggested. “Yes my Love it is sad to see how poverty consciousness has invaded the kitchen. I'll let you make me some brownies when we get home. You weren't planning on serving them without ice-cream or whipped cream were you? I think blackberries would go perfectly with them. Missing her are you? Yes, I do.”

“Even if you don't eat any you have to see this to understand what we mean Pauline.” Caryn advised. “Besides Rohan needs to chat with the gang. Well he really just needs to chat with his housekeeper but he isn't brave enough to admit it yet. Go with him Christopher and set up a time to chat with Leslie.”

“Take our car so Rohan doesn't have to drive you back.” Sam said. “I'm going to help Caryn and Ingrid. Hopefully they will get to bed a little sooner. Thank you for a lovely dinner.”

“Go on guys.” Caryn said. “You can come tuck is in if you must play dad and turn out the lights Garth. Dinner was superb. Don't forget to bring back some brownies.”

“I'll thank you for dinner at the cottage because Ingrid is too young to see me give you a deserved kiss.” I said. “We'll swing by the store quickly and meet you at the cottage.”

My housekeeper, Tracy and Leslie chatted to us because the others were having a sailing lesson or watching it. Leslie set up a time to chat with the Hospitallers. Sneaky Zachary had got the boys off the boat by taking them for a ride in the rubber dinghy and beaching it really fast. I shared most of my plans for Chesterfield with them when the three of them promised to keep them secret. Leslie promised to pass on the information about the four-thousand saving to Millie. Tim chatted about his teahouse. I insisted he work on his cellphone stuff in the morning while I measured the garden. Garth assured Tim they didn't mind helping. They only had a few calls to make in the morning so one of them would always be on hand to help. I wanted to learn what information Sanne liked to gather before designing a garden.

I promised we'd email to arrange a time to show the painted cottage to them. Garth would ask Caryn to email a list of the improvements Sam had in mind and the cost. The water heater, windows and doors would be upgraded. That much I did know. We were hoping to put together a list for all the properties and order in bulk for a discount. Millie wouldn't mind if we applied a discount to the prices. My housekeeper promised to have the others call if they got back within the next thirty-minutes.

When I finished sharing the brownies we were left with half a tray. Pauline took hers home with her. Garth and Christopher let me know the bows would fall within their conspiracy so I couldn't pay. They did need to take some measurements of us. I settled down with my novel. The boys called us ten-minutes before our curfew. Sophie and Amanda told us they were having way too much fun on the lake. Adam was working in the forge with Bram this afternoon. Morgan and Dylan were having a workout with Tracy. Sanne came in just as we were saying good-bye. I got permission from my housekeeper to call Sanne on her cellphone if we kept the chat to fifteen-minutes.

I used Tim's phone to call her. She agreed to keep the surprise and had learned a lot doing Millie's garden. I dictated what Sanne needed me to do. Tim entered it in my phone. He would show me how to use the phone to send an email updating Sanne as I went through my day. Sanne spent the last three minutes saying how much fun she was having with Bram on the sailboat. Zachary had told them about a small dinghy they could buy for the kids to take out on their own. She agreed they would be spoiled rotten at Christmas. I thanked her for accepting the gift. That really meant a lot to me. I was glad they could enjoy it together.

“We've been ordered to go to sleep soon Beloved.” I said taking Tim in my arms. “Soon is not the same as right away. We have the place to ourselves. How shall we pass the time while we wait for soon to arrive?”

“I know just what to do my Love.” Tim said brightly. “Oh boy do I ever know what to do. First we get naked.”

“I like the way this is starting.” I said as we shed our clothes. “Oh how cute. Your wooden paddle has little hearts cut outs. Are we going to have a heart-to-heart chat?”

“A heart-to-ass chat is more accurate.” Tim said turning me around. “Stand upright my Love. This won't hurt me in the least.”

“I do love a sensible man.” I said assuming the position. “That has a nice bite to it Beloved. Very nice indeed.”

“The hearts look even cuter on your butt Scoundrel.” Tim said a few minutes and three dozen swats later.

Taking a sound thrashing from Tim was not difficult. He knew this and didn't really try to test my limits. Tonight the spanking was a set up for something dastardly. I discovered I loved the fiend my husband harbored in his breast. Unknown to me some jerking off had been going on behind my back. When Tim had me kneel and bend over the coffee table I expected a good fucking. All I got was one thrust. A half thrust before Tim starting spurting cum inside me. He'd finished draining his balls by the time they kissed my ass.

“I'm so proud of you I'm going to feed you my cock.” I said standing up and smiling at a kneeling Tim.

Tim opened his mouth without a word and let me fuck his face gently. The sweet boy knelt unmoving on his haunches while I thrust gently in and out of his mouth with my hands resting lightly on his head. I never took hold of his head or moved it in any way. His head bobbed in response to the light pressure of my cock inside his mouth. I groaned a little as I pumped cum inside him. Withdrew my cock, helped him up and led him to the shower.

“Good night my Love.” Tim said as we snuggled under the covers. “Thank you.”

“Oh no thank you.” I said. “I think you played that fiendishly well. You will pay for it in the morning.”

“Of course.” Tim said with a smile.

The boy paid for it by letting me feast on his body for an hour. I kissed every inch of his frame. The kissing stopped when I decided to fuck him. I half-fucked my husband twice. How wonderful to hear him curse in frustration as I withdrew my hard cock from his ass. I almost think he didn't believe me when I promised to kiss it better. There were so many kisses. I couldn't understand how he wasn't feeling better.

“Sinking into your ass is so fucking amazing.” I said to the back of his head.

I loved watching my cock slide between his cheeks. Tim lay on his stomach hugging a pillow close. Unfair he called it when I nuzzled his neck, kissed his chin and drove just a fraction deeper into him. Up and down my cock went for several lovely minutes. Down to the hilt and grind your hips in circles I told myself silently.

“Some things aren't fair in love.” Tim said. “Yes that grinding is one of them. Holy fuck! I always think I know how much of a bastard you are but every time I test the fucking waters a shark bites my ass. No fucking way I'm going to stop. I love this too fucking much. Kiss me Scoundrel.”

“Gladly.” I said as I entered him for the third time this morning. “Next stop Cumville! Choo! Choo! All aboard!”

“Was tugging on my cock for the choo! choo necessary Scoundrel?” a laughing Tim asked. “Gods I love you. Please greet me with a hug and a kiss when we get to Cumville.”

“Happy to Beloved.” I said picking up the pace. “We're not far from that station. Inside the tunnel just before it. Scattered showers predicted for round about now! Yes! Take it Beloved! Every drop. Yes!”

“Fill me Scoundrel.” Tim gasped. “Hug me! Kiss me please! Keep jerking on that cock Scoundrel! Almost there. Oh thank the gods. We just did. Well I did. Oh meditate. Enunciate my Love. That might prove embarrassing.”

“I'll enunciate when I can walk and the room stops spinning.” I said as I lay motionless on the bed. “Trying to satisfy my husband will kill me soon. That was so amazing but a lot of work. Yes rapscallion you wore me out, wrung me out and now you will have to drag me out to the shower.”

“Tell me Scoundrel how does a boy gets dripping wet on the inside?” Tim asked as I leaned on him. “Even better will be if you demonstrated. Educating the youth is so important. Nothing beats hands on experience my Love. Cute boy see. Cute boy do.”

“This cute codger will see his hands smacking cute boys' ass.” I said. “A month from now when I can walk.”

There was a gentle knock on the bathroom door. I asked Pauline what time we were getting married when she offered to put the kettle on and make a couple of pots of tea. Tim advised her to make it the weekend to allow me to recover. The others had joined Pauline while we dressed without telling us. They applauded Tim when we entered the room.

“Almost killing yourself is nothing worth applauding you for Rohan.” Garth said. “You do it so often it's commonplace. Not feeling yourself this morning?”

“No I wasn't.” I said accepting a mug of tea from Caryn. “That's what got me all worn out. I was feeling a teenager for the best part of an hour. No I don't need you to give me a physical. Once I've done my meditations and gotten a couple of Irish coffees in me I'll be fine. No imp will get the better of me.”

“Looks like he did.” Phyllis said delightedly. “Very true I mustn't gloat about the past. Oh is it really “live in” instead of “gloat about”? Thank you o' wise one for correcting me.”

“I think it would be wise to lead you lot outside for meditation.” I decided standing up. “Let's go. We have lots to do today.”

A quick kiss after he had shown me how to retrieve the list and compose my email and we were off. Tim settled in the cottage behind Pauline's home to get on with his work. Sweet Pauline told us she'd have tea ready for all of us at eleven. Since we were already at one of the cottages I started with soil samples and measuring right there. I got both cottages done just before eleven so I took Garth for a short walk. We had a nice time on our walk even though it was very brief. Trails started just twenty-minutes up the road. Time constraints only allowed us to view the map of the trails.

“The work isn't difficult my Love.” Tim said over tea. “There's just a lot of it.”

“You do know we have engineers in the Order don't you Tim?” Sam asked. “You are going to have them looking after the network. Helping put it together will give them a good understanding of how it all works.”

“I appreciate you not wanting to take them away from other projects but they will be taking over soon.” Christopher said. “Let me make some calls to the engineers who are going to look after the network and see if any of them can hand off their current projects.”

A wise Christopher suggested Tim help me take the measurements and soil samples from the other two gardens while he made some calls. Now I knew what to do it took half the time for us to get done. This proved timely because Christopher returned to say nine engineers could get right on it. Tim settled in a large armchair in Christopher's suite to call them. I delivered my soil samples for testing. I held out my phone to the lab assistant with a list of the soil tests I wanted done. When she told me the results would be ready tomorrow afternoon I promised her a bouquet of flowers. Then I thanked her for being such a star and left humming a song or three.

I entered the first florist I came across and had a bouquet sent to the lab. Then I bought four bouquets. Two went to the hotel, one to the staff quarters behind the tea house and one to Pauline. I hurried back for a fifth because I thought we could do with some in our cottage. The rest of us waited at the bar downstairs for ten-minutes while Tim finished up. While we were enjoying lunch the painters called to say they were moving on to my cottages. Everybody had something to do after lunch except me.

“I need a chaperone.” I said as we left the pub. “The only two available are Christopher or Garth. Do you guys think if I promised to keep you in fresh flowers for a month you could arrange for that lovely nun with the green thumb to spend a few days here? I'll buy her some clothes if she doesn't have time to pack before the train leaves. Yes I am in that much of a rush. Please guys. Oh you guys are the very best. So good to me. There's only one reason I'd need a chaperone. I'm going shopping.”

“That sounds dangerous.” Caryn said. “I guess the rest of us are busy”

“I'm exploring.” I said. “Garth is a tech whiz who will show me how to keep track of what items I see and take pictures. That's all I'm doing. We have no idea what Chesterfield has to offer. I'll keep an eye open for tea house stuff. We must get Grace up here when you are ready to open. Vernon needs to come and spar with me as well. Maybe we'll go down and fetch Grace. I'll toss Tim in bed with Vernon for a day while I recharge my batteries. Caryn I promise not to visit Winchester without you. Now go put together a brilliant tea house.”

Pauline gave us directions to the main shopping areas. I took a cab so we could get there quicker. Garth found it reassuring I had my priorities right when I entered a kitchen supply store first. He laughed when the next store I visited was a bed shop. I embarrassed the sales assistant by pulling Garth on the bed with me. She blushed prettily but bravely stayed the course. A sale of ten or eleven beds gave her the motivation to endure a lot of embarrassment. I insisted we take her card because she had put up with me.

We found some tables for the garden I thought were just right apart from the color. Christopher was certain painting them wouldn't be a problem. They remained rock solid even when I leaned on the edge. The round base was small enough you didn't need to worry about bumping you legs against it. There was even a place to put umbrellas. I found some nice dainty ones to offer shade in the summer. Then I looked at some larger adjustable umbrellas to keep the rain off. Naturally we'd need a storage shed to keep stuff in but we had a good one at Millie's cottage so we'd get a few more of them.

I found furniture for the cottages I liked. Unfortunately the furniture stores went from solid mid-range to garish. There was nothing I'd want in my home available. Garth cheered me up by saying I'd have to take a drive to the shop in London or have stuff shipped. That lot will stay stuck to their design software unless we rescue them I warned. We took a taxi back. I ordered tea from the front desk. The kind lady agreed to keep those ghastly cucumber sandwiches on a separate tray for me.

“There you are.” I said tossing my phone at Caryn. “They didn't have anything for my home. The stores went from sensible to garish.”

“Looks like Rohan found almost everything we need for the tea shop though.” Caryn said scrolling through the pictures.

Sam agreed painting the tables wouldn't be a problem. The good thing about the design software was seeing how they would look painted white. A little loop thread through the table rim and secured with Velcro would stop the tablecloths from blowing up or off the tables I suggested. The garden setting was the main priority because it was integral to the logo design. Hollie needed to get her assignment in on time. Tim swatted my butt when I suggested they put a poison warning on the dome covering the plate of cucumber sandwiches. Then he kissed me for ordering enough for the others. I smiled and settled down with a plate of scones.

“Can we go shopping for the tables after tea?” I asked. “They don't sell tablecloths with a hole in the middle for umbrellas though.”

“I can rent a sewing machine and take care of the loops and holes.” Phyllis said. “I'm a little old-fashioned Rohan and enjoy sewing. Yes I know how to make curtains. A pity our nun couldn't stop and get my sewing machine on her way.”

“Yours broke Phyllis.” Sam reminded her. “I'm not certain if they can repair it but regardless a second one would be nice.”

“We will buy Phyllis one.” I said. “No if and buts from the two of you. This way we can get custom linens for Tim's tea house. The savings on this will pay for half the price of the machine. Drink up. We also have to meet the nun at the station soon. Remind me to pick up some flowers for her.”

The sewing machine was too expensive. Staying an extra two weeks just for the lessons wasn't necessary even though the lessons were free. Relaxing in a cottage with Sam and going for walks together on the trails we found would be too much. Phyllis complained she'd fall in love with Sam at least three times in the next two weeks. Pauline pointed out some nice restaurants for romantic meals. The nun told me flowers weren't necessary. I was certain Phyllis had texted her in the last ten-minutes. Draping an arm around the nun and Phyllis I let them scold me and complain as we headed to buy the tables.

“Are you done or do we need to stand out here for a few more minutes?” I asked. “I love you. You love me. Garth is here to help you with issues about self-worth and accepting nice things without bitching. Speak to him because the next time you protest I will spank you. There will be a next time for me to see if you've learned what Garth shares. I bet Sam is hesitant to spoil you because of the bitching. Can't say I blame him. Phyllis the man is too gentlemanly to tell you. He simply stopped doing it if I know men. Yes I think he should spank you. How do you think I keep my husband in line? Apology accepted. Now for the tables.”

We had to stop and see the China. Caryn and Tim made the store owner's day by asking how long it would take to get a large order of China delivered. We didn't want it in the tea house while construction guys and painters were working. Then we stopped at the material shop. Phyllis wanted to start on some linens and curtains. One set of each so they could see what it looked like. Phyllis assured me it wouldn't take her long. I told her people whipping out curtains, tablecloths and linens was simply amazing and brilliant.

“The cottages got painted late in the day and need to air out.” I explained to the nun. “You might be okay sleeping in them with the smell but I am not. See I've only booked the room for one night. Garth you will chat with this brilliant lady. I think she'd rather you reminded her of how wonderful and deserving she is. You also need a good rest Sister Deanne because tomorrow we are hitting the ground running. I've enlisted Christopher and Garth to help or I'd have you doing too much.”

Millie, Skye and Lawrence had all been asked to send a favorite color palette to help disguise my plans. Lawrence had chosen brown, blue and gold. I kissed Caryn when I saw how brilliantly she had mixed the colors. The perfect shades of each color. Holy crap but I couldn't wait to show Lawrence how gorgeous it looked. Using my camera Tim made a video of it. Then it was off to the Skye cottage. She had chosen a Fall palette. This time Caryn dropped me back and kissed me before I could kiss her.

“Go in and check on it before we show Millie.” I urged Caryn. “The painters did a great job in the other cottages but we're showing this one to the gang.”

“I hope those are happy tears.” Tim said when Caryn rejoined us. “That's a relief. We can wait a few minutes before we call. I'll suggest some Irish coffees to them.”

“Yes Millie I did shed a few tears when I saw what they'd done.” Caryn said. “I think Rohan is going to spank me for this conspiracy.”

“I'll be your whipping boy.” Tim said. “Here my Love it seems you better keep some tissues close at hand.”

“Ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculous.” Millie said bouncing in her seat a few times before throwing her arms around my housekeeper.

I was too stunned to move for several minutes. When I could move I went over and poured myself a double Scotch.

“You and Holden are going on holiday to somewhere very special in Europe.” I said. “Brother Garth you will make this happen soon.”

“So it shall be Grand Master.” Garth said before he beat me to it and kissed Caryn. “When you get back from that holiday I am sending you on another. I am also taking you out for dinner. This is one of those times when I'd gladly let Rohan spend a million on you. Thank you. This is not only a very stunning design it is heart-warming.”

“You don't mind me using it here?” Caryn asked. “I thought it might be a very personal thing you wanted to keep private.”

“The space is to inspire so using it in an artist's cottage is perfect.” I said holding her close. “How did you get it done so quickly?”

“From the moment I saw pictures of it I knew I would use it one day.” Caryn said. “I've been working on this design for a while. Tweaking it until it felt just right. Then I had the wallpaper and stencils made. When I saw Millie's cottage I called Holden and had him send the stuff to me. Rohan I have a room filled with designs I'm waiting to use.”

Caryn had used the largest wall as her accent wall. The wallpaper showed the Redwood trees from my church garden. Bathed in soft sunlight they looked so beautiful. Every time I looked at the wall I got transported back to the garden. They had painted the rest of the cottage in colors taken directly from pictures of my garden. Caryn had used the color of the Redwoods to paint the kitchen. The smaller wall in the dining room and the two other walls in the main living space were a burnt ocher. Blue from the sky with green trim in the main bedroom made for a very relaxing space. Shades of orange with the green from the bedroom made the second bedroom or studio a vibrant and energetic space but I could still picture getting to sleep in here. Tim thought the deeper orange tones were surprisingly soothing.

They had painted the stone floor as well. I liked the terracotta color. Sam had told me by using area rugs and sealing the rest of the home nice and tight we wouldn't have to worry about a cold stone floor. The warmth of the room would penetrate the floor. Yes it would take a while but Millie liked the character it added to her cottage. She didn't mind wearing house slippers while it warmed. The bathroom would be transformed with the use of tiles that had a mix of all the colors. We decided to hold off seeing it until it was finished.

“How is Rohan doing so far Millie?” Leslie asked. “I know he has Caryn helping but is he sticking to the promise he made? Keeping it simple and low-key enough for you?”

“I have no idea why everybody worried.” Millie said with a smile. “I always knew Rohan wouldn't embarrass me or make me feel uncomfortable. He is the epitome of tasteful ridiculousness. He has kept to the letter and spirit of our agreement. Thank you Rohan for sprucing my place up just a tad. Pauline might actually want to visit.”

“Looking at this place painted and seeing pictures of it decorated you'll be throwing me out.” Pauline said.

“All I can say is the design is truly brilliant and meaningful.” Leslie said. “I cannot wait to see it complete. When will that be Caryn?”

“Now that Millie has approved the budget for upgrades and furniture I hope to have it done in two days.” Caryn said. “Rohan and Tim have been great living through the remodeling. Ironically Rohan has us staying in a four-star hotel.”

“We're making this our main project to get him settled and comfortable.” Phyllis said. “Sister Deanne is going to play with him outdoors in the garden for the next two days while we wrap this up. The kind man bought me a sewing machine. Now I can make some nice drapes and curtains for your cottage.”

“I won't wait any longer than two days to get it done Millie.” I said. “Living through the remodel is not a problem. I'm just too excited to see it finished.”

“Adam the two Hospitallers got enlisted by Rohan to look after Sister Deanne while they play.” Tim said. “The time difference is killing him Sanne. He can't wait and knows he needs help with gardening. I imagine he wants to do some clearing and build the vegetable beds while he waits for the test results. We won't get to them until tomorrow afternoon. Any suggestions you have to keep him busy in the morning?”

“There are a couple of projects I can get him started on.” Sanne said. “I'll email Rohan and if you have any questions you can call me Sister Deanne.”

“Thank you Sanne.” I said. “Send the email soon so I can go shopping tonight. The stores don't open until nine or ten in the morning Dylan. That's way too late. Tim insists on dragging me out of bed at sunrise.”

“Dragging being the operative word.” Garth said. “Your dad looked like he needed to go back to bed to recover Adam. This morning was definitely won by Tim.”

“I have an idea for your back garden Rohan.” Bram said. “I'll send it to you, Ingrid and Caryn. This involves some bricklaying. That will keep you busy for a while.”

“Thanks guys.” I said. “Have fun with your sailing lessons. Leslie I am having a blast. Now I must dash. I have to go buy some bricks and wood. Then we need to find a restaurant for dinner. Darts and drinks at the Crown and Thistle. Now they've painted the walls I'm putting up a TV Millie.”

We all squeezed into my car. Caryn sat on Tim's lap with my phone so they could see what Bram and Sanne had in mind. Sister Deanne sat next to them on Innogen's lap and Sam had Phyllis on his next to them. They all agreed Bram's suggestion looked lovely but might need to go a little higher. Sam had his measuring tape on him so we went straight to my home.

The idea was to have a brick barbecue with a vegetable and herb bed next to it. This raised bed would be built with the same brick. A deck from the house would connect the two. Ingrid suggested a low wall on the deck made from the same brick that would tie it all together and provide seating. The problem was to keep them level would make the grill and vegetable bed very tall.

“How much lawn do you need Rohan?” Sam asked. “Show us some Tai Chi so I can get an idea. Okay it looks like we have just enough space.”

A small second deck for the grill and a vegetable bed would connect them nicely Caryn agreed. Some steps leading from the deck by the house to the cooking area would make a shorter trip to the grill. This lower deck would also give us space for a seating area for the cooks. Ingrid and Sam huddled for a few minutes to decide how much wood and bricks we'd need. Then we were off to the hardware store. I clarified with the man first thing really did mean eight a.m so I could plan my day. The raised beds gave us a gardening project. Sanne had included the soil mix and plants. Sister Deanne called her with a few local alternatives. Our wall was going to have a few built-in flower beds as well. I came to a screeching halt in front of the bookstore. Returned in time to grab the parking ticket from the hardworking traffic officer. Tim settled it while I drove us to the hotel.

Pauline helped Garth find us a table at a nice local restaurant. I carried my bags of books with me. After dinner I led us inside a pub and drew Sister Deanne to a separate table to discuss my flower beds. Tim sat in my lap as I unloaded book after book after book. Eight books are plenty Sister Deanne assured me when I explained they didn't have many. I'd bought one of each and thrown in a book on local weather patterns for good measure. We would have finished sooner but I went overboard in figuring out my soil mix. Then I had to double-check Sanne had it right. I wanted to check it against the local weather to see it would hold up. Then I discussed critters and bugs for the soil.

“First stop in the morning is the clothing store.” I said while we enjoyed a nightcap at the hotel. “Pauline I seldom get to have this much fun so my clothing is more comfortable than practical. I want something durable and local if possible. I assume it will be of the highest quality. Well I must dash. I have to give my garden a last check.”

“Won't that be the one you do at five a.m tomorrow?” Garth asked.

“Very funny.” I said kissing him goodnight. “Pucker up it's time I got Tim home for his beauty rest.”

The next morning Garth listened closely to what Jinsong had shared with me about Tim's sparring. We were testing my new sparring space. I was sparring with Christopher. Rolling-hands was the focus of our sparring session. We did separate far enough to work on strikes and parries. The space worked perfectly. I was a very happy guy as we headed back to the hotel for a shower and breakfast.

“You can't go shopping in your robe.” Caryn said brazenly filching my debit card from my wallet. “I have your measurements from Garth. Remember your fancy outfits? I sure do. Come along Tim let's get the man a few work outfits.”

“Let's go with them Phyllis.” Sam suggested. “I've spent enough time in this clothing to know what works.”

“Thanks Sam.” I said. “Send us a text when you're on your way back and we'll order breakfast. I might have a snack while we wait. Is this room service? Good. I need a bottle of Scotch and lots of coffee. What Scotch do you have from Islay? That will do nicely. Now when I say lots of coffee I mean by the flask. Six to start will be fine. I'll also need some sausages, bacon, eggs and toast to sample. Six servings please. We'll order more when the others return with my new clothes. Thank you so much.

Caryn are you at the clothing store yet? Can you see any flasks and travel mugs on the shelves? I'm tired of always finding myself without one. Please buy a couple of dozen for me to leave scattered around. Whatever they can spare will be fine. They are plain mugs without any pithy phrases or company logos aren't they? Perfect. I'd better go that sounds like our coffee and snack. Take a taxi back or I'll starve waiting for you.

This is such a wonderful hotel. Good choice Garth. Now Sister Deanne do we need to visit the garden store? I like delivery. Can we set up an account with them. I'll have Edgar call them. Let me send him a text. I'll work it off Garth so don't be parsimonious with that whipped cream. That looks lovely. Cheers guys! Happy gardening!”

The clothes were great. Sam needed a medicinal whiskey because my five outfits had cost more than his entire wardrobe back home. The boots had cost almost two-hundred pounds. He agreed they were worth every penny but it was a lot of pennies. I'm blessed to have lots of pennies to my name I reminded him. Spending some pennies on breakfast sounded like a splendid idea. Sticking my head out the bathroom door I reminded them to order more coffee.

“Let him stay rugged.” Garth said holding Tim back. “The man just got dressed so don't go undressing him. Yes he is very handsome in his new clothes. I like the hat as well.”

“I think I know the answer but how would you like to take Sam shopping at the hardware store for a tool belt Tim?” I asked lounging with a cup of coffee. “I have these work clothes but no tools. Hardly makes sense does it?”

“Sam will be helping you so I'll go with Tim.” Phyllis said. “I ordered plenty for the Order in my time Rohan. Being around Sam I learned what brands to avoid.”

“Did you pick up a travel mug or two Caryn?” I asked. “How generous of them to spare five dozen. You even got me a bulk discount. I am so lucky to have you working for me. Let's leave a dozen here. I'll keep a dozen in the car. A dozen at the house. Millie's cottage can do with a dozen. The last dozen we will share between us and leave the last three at the tea house. Now let's go lay some bricks and slap some mud. Grab that Scotch please Sister Deanne.”

The front desk staff grinned when I stopped to compliment them on our breakfast. They laughed when I explained the Scotch was for Sam who had to teach me bricklaying. Tim warned Sam the biggest danger was all the kisses he'd get. Garth told Sam they'd intercept them for him. The boots were so comfortable they felt like dress shoes I told the others on the way to my home.

Before we laid bricks we had to build the decks. Sister Deanne was in charge of the saw.

“When you get tired Sam remember you can supervise from the side.” Christopher said. “I've also arranged for a second saw. You can help Sister Deanne. When Rohan gets the bit between his teeth he won't stop and he'll work at a brisk pace. Are we ready to begin? Let Rohan do the heavy lifting.”

The sweet man did. I got the heavy uprights with the concrete footers in place. Sam leveled the joists and I secured them with screws. Then all we had to do was lay the floor. Hammer and nails were a lot more satisfying than a nail gun. Sam did man the second saw. Christopher and Garth caught planks and tossed them to me. The planks got cut to fit from one side to the other without me thinking or worrying about the stagger so I breathed, hummed, sounded my mantras inside me and kept my head down. I didn't even look up when the construction crew came out to make our steps off to the side. I hopped from the top deck to the lower one and quickly finished it off.

“Glad you didn't embarrass me by hitting your thumb with the hammer Rohan.” Jinsong said.

“I'm glad I didn't hit my thumb either Jinsong.” I said taking a long drink of water. “Jinsong! What are you doing here? Is this why my tools took so long to get here?”

“Yes.” a grinning Tim said. “We fetched him from the train station and stopped for tea. I know how you are when you get started. We stood here for half-an-hour without you noticing. Lovely deck you built my Love. Did you do the stairs?”

“What stairs? No idea how those got done. We can talk at lunch.” I said. “Now I have bricklaying to learn. Sister Deanne is great with that saw. I don't think we'll get our beds planted today but we'll do it first thing in the morning.”

“There's no sense in starting with bricks only to stop for lunch in a few minutes.” Garth said. “You can break for lunch now. Pizza will be here soon. I've ordered for the guys working on the house as well. We can eat on your fancy new deck. The one that Sam is having trouble believing got finished.”

“How he did it that quickly without missing a joist is beyond me.” Sam said. “This got finished at least twice as fast as normal. I'd have taken all day working with an assistant.”

“There are many uses for meditation.” Jinsong said. “What is it the people say about letting go and letting God? That's what Rohan did. People often think no thought means doing nothing but it is about allowing an inner knowing to flow through you. Hui is not often impressed. He sent me to remind you about your phone call. I came over to help you keep up with your training. Somebody has to help Tim while you are busy buying up England one house at a time. The gang knew you would buy a property or two. They guessed five.”

“Four this time.” Tim said. “We haven't left yet though. Here's our pizza. Did anybody get beer? Come along Caryn we must rush. Keys please my Love. Thank you.”

Dangling the keys in front of me Tim let me know if I needed any help deciding what to get him for Christmas to remember this moment. Pauline grinned when I told him it looked like he'd enjoyed the ride a little more than Caryn. We laughed when Caryn drained a beer fast enough to impress the watching construction crew. I agreed nothing made a license more genuine than a few speeding tickets and they did have a card linked to my registration. Caryn shook her head when I got teary eyed over Tim's first speeding ticket. I had a beer with him to celebrate. Garth and Christopher told him they were glad they could share the moment. Four hooligans and three of them are high-ranking clergymen Caryn declared before joining our celebration.

When it was time for my bricklaying lesson Caryn took Jinsong for a tour of the building. She took her laptop with to show him her design. Tim walked back to the hotel with Ingrid to find a quiet place to work. I asked them to arrange tea for us here in a couple of hours. This was a simple rectangular construction and went very quickly as well. The only tricky part was around the rounded doors on the grill. I let Sam do that bit while I worked on the upper deck. Sister Deanne told me she was having lots of fun. Christopher and Garth were also helping us. We completed everything in no time at all. There was just enough variety in the bricks to keep the walls interesting I decided. I liked that most of the bricks were clay bricks and provided a nice splash of color without being overwhelming. Sam had tossed us the right amount of different bricks to keep it organic.

“That is amazing.” Ingrid complimented us when she rejoined us for tea. “I love those solid metal doors beneath the grill. How soon before we can try it out? I'll invite the construction guys to join us for dinner tomorrow.”

“Standing around lollygagging eh.” Tim said when he led the catering people to the yard. “Oh it looks fine for a rush job I suppose but there are all these holes still to fill. Where did Sam set that Scotch down? I'd buy this place for the decks and grill alone my Love. What do you think Pauline?”

“I watched it happen and don't believe it.” Pauline said. “That's a lot of pennies in added value to this property. You guys certainly dressed Rohan for success today. I might stay in bed tomorrow if he's planning an encore. Sister Deanne might be too tired to get out of bed tomorrow.”

“There's no way I missing out on filling the beds and planting tomorrow.” Sister Deanne declared. “Thanks for the tea Tim. I am feeling ridiculously proud about what we've done today. What are we doing after tea?”

“I'd like to have a meeting with Christopher and Garth please.” Jinsong said. “Sister Deanne are there some gardens you can take Rohan to so he doesn't overhear us?”

“Yes there are and we have to stop by the lab for our soil analysis results.” Sister Deanne said. “Sam I think using the leftover bricks for a border is a great idea. Send them up to Millie's cottage please. I know these aren't enough but we can see if we like it before we order more.”

The construction crew loaded the bricks on their foreman's truck right after tea. I left while they were busy so we'd be there to help him unload them. Pauline insisted on giving us a hand so she got a ride with us. I admitted to her I was too caught up in my meditation to fully take in how good the decks and brickwork looked. Alert enough to drive I assured Sister Deanne quickly. She trotted in to grab the reports. The lab assistant came out to give me a kiss for the flowers. Pauline sided with Sister Deanne when she told me she had no choice but to let her kiss me. We caught up to the bricks just before the cottage.

There were enough bricks for us to do both flower beds in front of the cottage. I thought they looked very nice but wanted Millie and Sanne to decide. I was thinking of a brick pathway to the front doorstep. Using the red ribbon trick again we got the garden cleared of the plants we didn't want. Tim chatted to the gang back home for a few minutes while I finished clearing the garden at the second cottage. The windows and water heaters at all three cottages got replaced today. The chimneys were being swept tomorrow. More thatch was going on the roof of each cottage. Sam and Bram knew how much and why. I was happy to let them explain it to Millie.

Our brick border and pathway got a resounding thumbs up. Sanne sent me a text to say it would look good at the other cottage as well. She would adjust her design on the computer. Tim had texted her pictures of the decks. Bram told me it looked like I had enjoyed a very successful day and could be well-pleased with the results. Caryn confirmed we were right on schedule to get Millie's cottage furnished tomorrow. I told my housekeeper tomorrow was my last busy day for a while. Then I could work in earnest with Jinsong. Jinsong added I was doing stuff that would help my sparring anyway.

Sister Deanne gave Sanne a call on her cellphone to chat about our gardens. Once again we all went out for dinner. I stopped to buy groceries for our barbecue on the way home. Jinsong and Sister Deanne were staying in the cottages tonight. They stopped for a drink and chat with us while I prepared the meat for tomorrow. Pauline was happy to keep an eye on the vegetable dishes tomorrow afternoon. I would finish in town first thing and then work on the cottage gardens for the rest of the day. This would allow me to help her with the cooking. Jinsong was happy to help us with our gardening.

The next morning I asked Jinsong if he'd spar with Christopher and Garth. He was glad to spar with them. They were not very happy with me when they finished. I promised to kiss them better in the shower. They responded by suggesting I spar with Jinsong. Tim laughed at their stunned expressions when I finished sparring and bowed to Jinsong.

“Jinsong is one of the few people I can throw everything at without holding back.” I said on our way to the hotel. “There's only the slightest chance I'll mark him. Tomorrow I will spar with you Christopher and not hold anything back if you want. You're sure?”

“Yes please Rohan.” Christopher said. “This is very important.”

“Anything for you my friend.” I said hugging him. “Sister Deanne please call in our breakfast. The same order as yesterday plus an extra two servings for Jinsong. Ask them to include some cinnamon for my whipped cream please. Good for the nerves Tim. I'm hoping Skye will consider relocating so my nerves are under a little more stress.”

Once again we finished just before tea. I chose to relax on our newly completed deck and admire our work. We'd used a lot of starts which provided plenty for us to admire and enjoy. I confessed to Sister Deanne I was also feeling insanely proud of our work. The true test would be if the plants thrived in our soil mix. Only time would show how well we had done.

Thanks to thick canvas, strong tape and a powerful vacuüm there was surprisingly little mess from the chimney sweep. Caryn was busy directing a fleet of furniture delivery trucks to different cottages. One flower bed at a time I reminded myself when I looked at all the gardening work we had to do. Jinsong cooked us a stir-fry for lunch. I took a short break and returned to work. This time I sent a text to my housekeeper saying we'd need an extra hour. Hearing of our plight the construction guys came up from town to give us a hand. They told us it was because they were hungry and wanted to eat sooner.

“Sorry Millie but there is something I have to do before I show your cottage.” I apologized quickly. “I loved your home so much I bought two cottages nearby. You see I thought it would be nice if your friend and fellow artist lived closer. Maybe even as neighbors. My house inspectors couldn't decide between the two cottages. I had no choice but to buy them both. Skye I know you won't accept it as a gift but there is a rent-to-own offer for you to accept if you want. Otherwise you can just pay rent. Before you say anything let us show you the cottages. You might not like either of them.”

Millie held Skye tightly as Caryn took the laptop and toured the first cottage. The one done in her color palette. I was quick to point out the place came fully furnished but we could change the furniture for her. Skye watched silently until the end and told us it was lovely. Then we quickly walked over to the second cottage. I explained how to get to each cottage from Millie's cottage. Tracy didn't know if having Millie, Skye and Pauline in a row would be good for the neighbors. I loved the second cottage as well. Caryn had kept it simple with good quality furniture, appliances and kitchenware. Cozy but elegant Leslie agreed. You could relax in either home and dress it up without too much effort. I apologized for not getting the decks in yet. They would be attached to the back of the cottages for privacy. Identical to Millie's deck I told everybody.

“Well Millie dear would you like to have me for a neighbor?” Skye asked.

“I'd love it.” Millie said hugging and kissing her friend. “How do you choose between them though?”

“Rohan thanks to the showing at your gallery we are no longer starving artists.” Skye said. “I know you are flexible with things like deposits and payments so I'd like to wait before committing an amount. Would you mind if I spoke to your accountant and worked out the details of the rent-to-own offer? Based purely on the color palette I will choose the first one. I've always wanted to live in a home in those colors. Caryn you did a ridiculously good job on both. Now show Millie her cottage so we can both go outside for a good cry.”

Once again we were all floored by Millie's cottage. Yesterday was overwhelming even with the old furniture. Filled with furniture that sparkled under the light I felt the same sense of joy that I got in my garden. The gang applauded when I gave Caryn a lingering kiss. Millie promised Caryn another kiss just like that one. I told Millie the kitchen and her cookware worked perfectly. They had decorated the living area last when I finished my cooking to keep me from seeing it before her. Tracy promised to take Millie and Skye to my garden when they returned to town.

“You can charge dad a pretty penny for staying in that space now.” Dylan said with a grin. “The discounted friend rate would be a hundred per night.”

“I couldn't charge that old fogie a penny.” Millie said. “I'm so glad I got to see it from here with Leslie on call. The reality is beyond imagining. Now that I feel I can walk I'm going outside for a good cry with Skye. Rohan I will call you back and thank you for the gift of my house and my friend as a neighbor. We can enjoy sundowners together every evening Skye. Rohan that TV is the perfect reminder of you. Ridiculously big. Excuse us.”

“We're heading to town to test something Rohan worked very hard on.” Tim said. “I want you to see it. Christopher, Garth, Deanne and Sam worked on it as well. This is another property Rohan bought. We can't show you the inside yet because it isn't finished. Rohan needed a place where he could help me with my sparring. He bought a house. There is one more thing for me to share but I will do that when we chat. Thank you Skye for accepting Rohan's offer. He has been a bundle of nerves all day.”

The construction guys told Tim he couldn't have gotten a speeding ticket in a better car. They gave me a lot of street cred for letting Tim drive it. Caryn let them know Tim was as much a menace in that car as me. We followed them to my house. The guys had done a little work in the kitchen to help us with the barbecue. I wasn't allowed in to see it.

“Before we show you what we built I have to let you know something.” Sam said. “The construction guys made the steps. I cut the wood with Sister Deanne. Christopher and Garth tossed it to Rohan who nailed it in place by hand. Somehow he got it done in record time without missing a joist. He most definitely didn't embarrass you.”

“A definite not-too-shabby Pater dear.” Adam said with wide-eyes.

“Pretty decent guys.” Morgan said.

“I would call that Bram-worthy.” Dylan said. “Holy cow its stunning even with lanterns. I can't wait to see it with the proper lighting in.”

“You will build me one of those as a wedding present won't you Rohan?” Tracy asked. “I'll make certain I get to keep it in the wedding contract. We will have to go on a milkshake date soon. I must find out what other talents you've hidden from us.”

“This was pretty simple.” I said. “All we did was make a box. I had more trouble trying to work out the soil mix and plants to go in the beds. Sanne they only had eight books on local gardening in the store. Oh yes I did get the book on local weather. I'm hoping to talk two local artist's into helping care for my plants while I'm away. Hopefully they will still want to make money on the side.”

“We might have to sub-contract because somebody turned us into the talk of the town.” Millie said. “I suppose we could find a way to enjoy sundowners on that deck with that grill Skye. A lot depends on what happens in New York.”

“How big is that house Rohan?” Morgan asked. “There's a big shadow from it.”

“Three floors and I've turned the second into a space just like the addition at the penthouse.” I said. “We're getting some bows to embarrass Lao. There's a garage behind it and a park out front. I haven't had time to explore it. Now Tim needs to make his announcement because our dinner is almost ready.”

“When I was ten I used to promise Christopher I'd serve him hot chocolate in my tea house one day.” Tim said for the benefit of the construction crew. “Well the old fogie and Pauline took me to see one that was for sale last weekend. I did something to melt Rohan's heart and he bought it behind my back. No more than five yards from me without me knowing.”

“Millie if you combined how you and Skye were feeling now and multiplied it by seven or eight you might come close to what Tim has gone through.” Caryn said.

“Here are some files with my logo and the name of the tea house.” Tim said. “That's what the tea house looks like from outside. I'm holding off on pictures of the inside. Yes I know I need to speak to somebody but we've been very busy Millie. I will speak to Garth when I have some downtime.”

“You will speak to him tomorrow before morning tea.” my housekeeper said. “Then you will send me a confirmation email. Thanks to you I can use email. Rohan is chatting with Hui tomorrow and Priscilla the next day. Tracy will schedule it for you Rohan. Tim will show you how to use the calendar. Get it right this time Rohan. I'm tired of you playing the fool in any area of your life. Phyllis will you help Rohan use his calendar and plan his days better? Thank you. He hasn't even contacted the photography student Lawrence found for him.”

“I let her know you were very busy and might not contact her until the weekend.” Tracy said. “Call her tomorrow afternoon and set up a time to meet this weekend.”

“Tim please call Joseph tomorrow.” my housekeeper said. “Looks like you will be staying in Chesterfield for a while Rohan. These cottages were simple redecorating and touch-ups Rohan. The building behind you is a big one. I would guess bigger than the tea house. You've worked hard and done very nicely Rohan. Now it is time for you to relax and let the others do their job. I know you are about to have dinner. I will wait until tomorrow to chat with you guys about the house and Tim's teahouse. Right after your lunch is a good time for me if it works for you guys. Remember no more false modesty Rohan or I'll be extremely upset.”

“I'll send you a text to let you know a good time.” Garth said. “I would value your advice. Although I trust Rohan has made incredible shifts within him there are things about this project I cannot share with him yet. Rohan I truly am sorry and would love you to sit in but the best I can do is ask if you and Pauline wouldn't mind cooking dinner? We're buying cookware for your home tomorrow morning and it would be nice if you gave Millie's new industrial stove a second test.”

“Were you planning on buying some slow cookers for my home?” I asked. “I'll test those as well. Garth it makes perfect sense for me to cook dinner early. Then I can chat with Hui without worrying about delaying dinner. I'll be more relaxed. Building these decks was a lot of fun so I'd like to do the ones at the cottages as well next week.”

“That's only fair.” my housekeeper said. “You and Sister Deanne worked hard on the gardens and if she wants to the two of you can complete the projects.”

We sat and ate on the low wall. The guys had used two overturned milk crates and a board to make a temporary table for our veggies and salads. Tim mentioned a folding table but I wanted a more permanent feel. Jinsong smiled and let me know even in this low light he could see the wheels turning inside my head. He laughed when I warned people would rue leaving me alone tomorrow with Pauline. Ridiculous on an epic scale might just begin to describe it.

“You are beaming my Love.” Tim said in delight. “Whatever it is that made you smile that broadly you must keep to yourself. I have enough to work on.”

When I shook hands with the construction foreman I pulled him in for a hug and whispered doing well now would make him very rich soon. The workers laughed when he kissed my cheek. They laughed harder when I let them know they would all kiss his butt-cheek gladly in the near future. I took it as a good sign they cleaned us out of leftovers.

Standing rooted to the floor I faced Christopher the next morning with a level gaze. I had drawn the pulse of the space inside me and using the mantras I had raised it. Held inside me it pressed eagerly against me. Straining to get free it was as restless as I was still.

“Whenever you're ready Christopher.” I said with a smile.

Time seemed to drag through molasses. I saw the slightest movement of his sword and breathed out the pent-up pulse. Although Christopher struck with his usual speed it seemed to me I was facing Tim. Turning my right shoulder slightly I thrust my sword up in a small circular motion and parried Christopher's sword down to my left. Then in a simple cross-stroke I cut him across his chest.

“Allow me please.” I said when Garth stepped forward with needle and thread ready.

Breathing at the energetic pulse-rate of the room I calmly stitched Christopher's cut. Then I took the cloth from Garth and wiped away the blood. A sprinkle of powdered herbs to stop any further bleeding and a bandage completed the job. Then taking his hands in mine I did chi healing from his core out. Christopher's eyes widened and he smiled as the energy flowed. Garth kissed me before we left the sparring room because Christopher's arousal was obvious. When I told Tim giving was receiving he asked why I was dragging my heels.

“My housekeeper doesn't want me playing the fool.” I said while we waited for breakfast. “Christopher asked me to spar like I do with Jinsong on the same day she made her request. Far too much of a coincidence. I thought any area included medicine Tim. That's why I stitched the wound. I wanted to honor Christopher's courage. I know what's it feels like to stand in front of Jinsong. Once somebody makes the first strike I'm okay. The standing and waiting at the start scares me silly.”

Sister Deanne told me we were in limbo until next week when we worked on the decks. I kissed her when she assured me she planned on starting the first one on Monday morning. Jinsong suggested we go for a walk around town and enjoy a run. He promised we'd be back for tea. Sister Deanne asked if she could join us on our run. I didn't mind but warned her we wouldn't slow down for her. I suggested the trails we'd discovered so we headed that way from the cottages. Sister Deanne kept up with us.

“I don't care if you only just kept up you did great.” I said hugging her. “You mean there's another way to get sweaty with a cute lady. I thought everybody did it this way.”

Tim told me he was chatting some more with Garth after tea. I agreed it would only have made him more miserable if he missed tea. Sister Deanne blushed when I shared how well she had held up on our run. She laughed when I admitted to thinking about putting some effort into my run. I took her for a walk to the co-op where they had some meat set aside for us. Then I took her to the tea house to look at the lawn. I wanted a really green organic lawn for the tea house. Sam was setting the tables out so we gave him a hand. Phyllis hung one set of curtains up in the window. They were white with two blue stripes running down the edge and across the bottom.

The metal chairs got painted white to match the tables and the cushion cover Phyllis made mimicked the curtain. I insisted on seeing how it looked with one of the dainty umbrellas. We had bought one setting of China which had to come out to the table. Very nice indeed Phyllis agreed. I texted Caryn and asked her to bring Tim over as soon as he finished chatting. Tim hugged and kissed both Phyllis and Sam before scolding me because his teapot was empty. He forgave me when I suggested it was best if he went shopping for the tea.

Later the gang made good on their foolish promise to leave me alone to cook with Pauline.

“We'll get to the food in a few minutes.” I said as I pulled a chair out from the dining room table. “This is top-secret and even the two of us knowing is two people too many.”

“I understand completely.” Pauline said in a whisper that matched mine. “What is my mission?”

“I need at least six more houses like the one by the park no more than a five-minute walk from mine.” I said with a smile.

“That would be two full blocks.” Pauline said in awe. “May I ask why so much housing?”

“We can fit five bedrooms in each of those homes.” I explained. “Three on the second floor and two on the top floor. That's ten people per home at two per bed. My sons need space to spar and some of the space will have to become offices or classrooms for homeschooling. My gang back home usually numbers over thirty so I'd need at least five more. Now if guests from England want to join us that can easily become another twelve people in need of a place to stay.”

“You surely won't have everybody here all the time will you?” Pauline asked.

“No I won't and I'm not certain what I will be doing with some of the space.” I answered. “I need a minimum of six. Nine will give me some breathing room. I'll buy as many as I can. Ideally block by block would be the way to go but it isn't realistic to expect all three on a block to sell at the same time. Is the one-twenty I paid a fair price? Let's work on one-fifty so nine-hundred or a million for six.”

“Sellers will like knowing you won't haggle and are ready to buy.” Pauline said. “The biggest fear will be you are going to knock the buildings down and put in a mall. Do you mind showing them yours when it's finished? I can also have some guarantee written in the sale agreement for them. Your rental properties in Blyth will reassure them. I'll get in touch with the residents on Monday when I've drawn something up for them. Rohan we want them to call us first when they are ready to sell.”

“Let them know I will cover all closing costs and your commission.” I said. “I will pay for a building inspection and only deduct major expenses from the sales price. You would make me a very happy man if you got me three entire blocks. No more because then the walk becomes too long. Six more homes spread over three blocks would work. Now we ought to get cooking or we'll miss tea. We can chat while we cook.”

Pauline asked me questions about the gang. I had just opened some wine and was starting to prepare the vegetables when Tim came in.

“A very good thing I came up to supervise my Love.” Tim said kissing us on our cheek. “Nothing is remotely ready Scoundrel. You've barely started a thing. Hang on a minute while I make a call. We will need to have tea up here Garth. I haven't had time to chat with him about it because I just got here. I'm sure if Caryn thinks they'll look lovely then layabout Rohan will enjoy them. Besides spending money makes him feel very good. We can think of this as a test-run. Let me know if you need me to pop down and fetch anybody or anything. Since when has being too young had anything to do with having a license? I have one. I really must go crack the whip or we'll be having chicken in wine for breakfast.

Was it a good conspiracy Pauline? A million pounds worth of conspiracy is a good one especially with the potential to go up fifty percent. You mean that is just the start without upgrades or improvements. I'm glad I have some wine on hand. One is seldom caught short by budgeting too much so tack on a million for improvements. I like it Scoundrel. I might even change my mind and ask you to share.

Our meeting went very well thank you my Love. Your house is taking priority. Ingrid was happy to hear I bought blindfolds with the gags so we can get you to the sparring area without ruining the surprise. You might have to go a couple of days without sparring while they finish those spaces. They promised it wouldn't take more than two days. Petersen and Leif are on standby if we need them to help with the tea house. Grace and Vernon are on my list to contact first. I don't hear a sizzle yet Scoundrel. Do I need to put a sword in your hand to get you to move quicker? Now we have an empty bottle of wine. I'll get another. Swatting my ass when I bend for the wine isn't getting you a promotion.”

Pauline kindly engaged Tim in conversation about the gang. He loved chatting about his extended family, the cabin, Montana and how uncivilized America was. The Gnarly Marley and Peter's Tush story got her to crack up. Then he was chatting about Poland and all our wonderful friends. Tim advised us to ignore the commotion outside. Staying focused on dinner was most important he reminded me. He was happy to hear I liked the new cookware for my home. A pity our testing of the slow cookers was so far behind schedule but he'd fix that for us. I thanked him with a kiss. Garth learned it was a great time to bring tea to the cottage. Pauline learned I wasn't spoiling or indulging Tim too much by letting him supervise. What I was being was sensible or else we'd starve. I thanked Tim for the clarification.

All the others kissed Tim for saving our dinner as they filed through to the deck. I took one look at his smirk and suggested to Pauline it would be good of her to join the procession and keep everybody out back. We'll join you shortly. There is nothing like a hard cock inserted between lips to stop a smirk on your husband. I laughed loudly when Tim stood up and thanked me for finally getting the hint. Very, very well-played I complimented him. Caryn laughed when Tim told them he'd had to misbehave for so long before I got the hint he had begun to fear he'd need to spank himself tonight.

“Discussing seating at your home caused me to think of the cottages.” Caryn said stepping over to wrap an arm around me. “Do you like it?”

“Yes I do and even more importantly it is a permanent table not a fold-up one.” I said admiring the table and chairs they had set up under the retractable awning.

“There are two different tables for the other cottages.” Caryn said. “When you have built the decks we'll have them delivered. Yes the one to Jinsong's cottage will be there early Tuesday morning. Now come and join us for tea and tell me how much extra work you're planning to give me. Yes it would be easier if I knew ahead of time.”

“Grab a cup of tea so we can toast our conspiracy.” I said taking a bite from a scone. “I don't want a word of this to get out to the gang for as long as we can avoid it. You guys can consider my home a test run to see if you enjoy the work. I'm fully aware there are aspects of it that will be extra special because of what you guys have cooked up for my surprise. Caryn did you keep a copy of your original design? I am more concerned about the step-up in quality. You can show it to me after I see my new home. Keep that design close.

I'm afraid I've got some very bad news for Christopher and Garth. You'll have me in your backyard soon. I am thinking of moving to Chesterfield. That means I need room for the gang. I have hired Pauline to approach the tenants surrounding my home with an offer to buy when they are ready to sell. Yes Jinsong the gang is big. I will need at least another six homes like mine. My lovely realtor thinks she might be able to get me nine.”

“Half a village in Blyth and an entire neighborhood in Chesterfield.” Caryn said. “Good to see you cutting back Rohan. I think you need to know the original design isn't cheap.”

“Asking the others to live in less luxury isn't fair.” I said calmly. “I'll ask you all if you want to work on the other properties when you've finished the first so you can decide if you had enough fun to take on another one.”

“What do you plan to do with the extra space Rohan?” Jinsong asked. “The entire gang won't stay here all the time.”

“Pauline mentioned that as well.” I said. “After tea I am chatting to Hui. I am hopeful I can talk him into indulging in some industrial espionage and share inside detail of your er I mean Lao's church. Obviously I haven't given this much thought yet but my housekeeper raised an interesting point when she told me to learn how to use my phone and stop playing the fool. I am certain others could use some guidance and instruction.

Garth I want us to go from the academic to the practical. There will be members of our Order who prefer the theoretical and we will honor their choice because they will provide new insights for us to use. I want to make a decided effort to help people apply all the knowledge we have. Life is a classroom. A lot of us have chosen to become teachers. I want our curriculum dedicated to making life easier for everybody.

Earlier when I was stitching Christopher's cut I wondered if there was a better way. The bleeding makes it challenging to see where to insert the needle. I'm no healer but it would be nice if we could stop the bleeding or slow it first. My thought was nipple clamps and herbs.”

“I know it sounds funny but Rohan might have a point.” Christoper said. “Clamps to keep the wound closed with some herbs to help the blood coagulate might just work. Good idea Jinsong we could include a tea to help with the pain. I will chat with our instructors and see if we can test out this approach in our clinics.”

“That's the sort of thing I am wanting to try.” I said. “Natural remedies are great up to a point. What does the ideal first aid kit with natural and regular remedies look like? Teaching people to grow medicinal herbs is a good start but they need to know how to make salves or tinctures from it. How can this be done in a regular home? What inexpensive equipment do they need? Are there business opportunities to help struggling families?

Tim and William are brilliant with computers but how about regular folk like me. How can I use technology to make my life easier without going to college for months or years? I learned about online calendars Tracy can share with me. Wouldn't it be nice if a shopping list on my phone could be updated if Tim saw we were out of something at home and I was driving to the store? I'm glad it's possible but how? A list of apps would be nice. There are wireless speakers you can place in a home but how do I get my music to play on them? Eddie and Benjamin are the people to ask about the ideal settings. I don't need to know why they are the ideal settings I just want to get it set-up and enjoy my music.

What is the best workout routine if you have no training equipment? Can we prepare several workouts with gradually increasing amounts of equipment? I want people to know the health benefits of different sports so if the kids go for a bike ride they can adjust their workouts for the week. Is rollerblading more effective than cycling? Why?”

“Take a breath Rohan.” Garth said. “I think your plan has a lot of merit. I know you have also considered the psychological aspect and support. Teaching meditation and other stress reducing techniques will prove invaluable. Tim we must chat again soon. The comment about struggling families has given me an idea. I am waiting for some reports to come in. Once I have the background information I will let you know.”

“This is a good idea but a very big undertaking.” Jinsong said. “Yes you do have access to thousands of employees across the globe. I think it will be a wonderful topic to discuss at your meeting in the Andes. We have enough time to start putting some flesh on the bones. I think a more proactive approach would be good for both our churches. Times have changed a lot but we might not have adapted as much as we ought to. Maybe it is time we taught others how to apply our wisdom.”

“These properties are unlikely to all come up for sale in the next week.” I said. “We will have time and can start with some volunteers. People visiting the clinics might be willing if we offered to cover the costs. After all I've gone through at the monastery and with Samuel healing is very important to me Tim. Brother Cameron is correct about me inhaling medical books. Promise to keep this just between the two of us Tim? Thank you. I once sneaked in to a Hospitaller examination room to take their exam and worked in a clinic for months to get the practical experience required to graduate.”

“Do you mean where I have my license you have a Hospitaller certificate?” Tim whispered.

“Yes I do.” I whispered back. “I used Samuel's name.”

“How many years Rohan?” Garth asked taking out his phone. “Fifteen years ago. He didn't graduate top of his class but he got an A on both the written and practical with an honorable mention about being very good with children. A bit unorthodox but very good. How did you do it with us watching? True we wouldn't suspect you were working in the clinic.”

“What helped keep it secret was making appointments to see a therapist.” I said grabbing a scone. “The sweet Sister loved the idea of helping me with my degree. She also helped me a lot with my grief. I used to let the kids poke and prod me before I examined them so they knew what was going on and why Phyllis. Those were some of the best days I've spent in the Order. Such brave hooligans to trust us with their lives. A lot of them had cancer Pauline. I cried a lot that year but I was still mourning my lover who died of cancer. I'd most probably have cried a lot regardless. Are you doing some sewing tomorrow Phyllis? Good and if it isn't too distracting would you fill Pauline in on the Order?”

“No trouble at all Grand Master.” Phyllis said. “We'll have a lovely time drinking tea and chatting about you.”

“The others will answer your questions about it as well Pauline.” I said. “I am no longer too concerned about keeping it as secretive but trust you will be discrete. There might be something this lot feel uncomfortable sharing but you can bring those questions to me. We are working on this lovely property deal together and the more information you have the better. Now if you will excuse me I need to make a couple of calls.”

The first call took barely five minutes. I arranged to for Harriet to meet me at the cottage at ten. She would show me the basics of using my camera. We'd have tea and then head off to take some pictures. My call to Hui lasted an hour. We could have gone on but he suggested I think on what we'd talked about over the weekend. I promised to give him a call on Monday. Sundowners while the soda bread baked was perfect after my chat. Spending the evening with my friends watching some travel shows after dinner was also perfect.

My husband accepted Harriet's offer to watch our lesson. He left us for a bit to retrieve the Chelsea buns from the oven and a second time to frost them. The lovely lad posed for some pictures. My brilliant tutor gave me a piece of advice that was both simple and profound. She told me if I needed some help deciding if the picture would be good I just had to think of awe-inspiring moments in my life. Picture the scene that took your breath away and see if any of those elements are present in this moment she advised. I walked around the cottage snapping pictures. Then we sat down so I could verbalize what it was that had captured my attention.

Harriet joined us for lunch at the hotel. I wandered around Chesterfield with Tim in the afternoon and continued my exploration on Sunday. Tim told me it was a rare treat to spend almost two days alone with me. I agreed we ought to do it more often. Caryn had gone back to London to bang Holden and do some shopping. Christopher had rented a car and driven her back. The Hospitallers were going back to help arrange more of my surprise.

“You two are way too excited about this deck building for me not to supervise.” Tim said looking at Sister Deanne and me on Monday morning.

Sam taught us how to build the simple deck. He let us do all the work. I had spoken to Bram yesterday about how to get the stagger right and made some notes. Sister Deanne held the joists in place while I secured them. I suggested we cut all the boards for the deck floor first. That would allow us to stop for tea. I had given Tim the job of baking scones. He had to learn for his tea house. Everybody agreed he did a great job. The majority came over to watch the Rohan and Deanne show. Jinsong handed boards to Sister Deanne who stood next to me as I made my way from one side to the other. We celebrated with lunch.

There might have been enough time to frame the second deck but I got sent on a run instead. Garth was having that chat with Tim he had mentioned earlier. The reports had been waiting for him in London. The week unfolded nicely. I held my own against Jinsong a lot better with a sword in hand. When we sparred without weapons I kept getting pummeled. This was proving very frustrating. I spoke to Hui about it who wasn't a lot of help. He told me I was doing something right if I was able to walk. Jinsong left me to deal with the frustration on my own. Tim helped ease it with some good hard bouts of sex. No way I was staying this irked just so he could get fucked hard I declared.

“We have a nibble Rohan.” Pauline said excitedly as she rushed over to Millie's cottage one afternoon. “I showed them pictures of Millie's original design to them. You move in to your place tomorrow. Why don't you have your tutor help you take pictures of it? Wonderful.”

The family's only child was finishing high school and going to college elsewhere so the entire family was moving south. I was happy to wait another month before taking possession of the home. Pauline promised to let me know if the family needed some of the money for a deposit on a new home in the meantime. This home was directly behind mine. Sam and Ben would inspect it on the weekend. I suggested the family visit me for tea to see what I planned while the inspection took place. This was exciting news for the others as well.

“I know the property is ready tonight but this feels very, very special so I am waiting until the morning.” I said over dinner. “Jinsong we might not spar tomorrow. I don't know how I will feel after I've blessed the home. Yes Tim that's why I'm not sharing the unveiling with the gang. This is something I must do alone. Please don't take offense Garth.”

“Better to take your time and pay it due homage.” Garth said. “The construction crew and their families will be joining us for dinner. They are simple down-to-earth folk so pasta dishes will be perfect. We'll all give you a hand in the kitchen.”

“Oh what a brilliant idea.” Tim said. “The whole gang cooking the first meal together is so perfect. I'll supervise my Love. You can spank me er thank me later.”

Nothing less than two hours of meditation would do before I entered my home. My Lady sang her songs and shared chants with me for the two hours. Tim helped by making our coffee and tea. He would kiss me softly when he brought me a cup. Come back for the car my Lady suggested. Walking meditation is what I needed now.

“How are you holding yourself together Rohan?” Pauline asked when I met them outside the cottage. “I know nothing about energy healing or chi but I can feel it coming off you in waves. What time did you get started? That was two hours ago. Poor Tim has been in that cottage throughout it.”

“Trust me it was a very invigorating experience.” Tim said. “I've already taken three showers this morning Sister Deanne.”

“Jinsong it will take an hour to safely release this energy before I go to sleep.” I said. “There are chants my Lady says I must share with you. Chants your teacher didn't have time to pass on to you. She says if the Buddhist abbots knew how many secret chants she has shared and plans on sharing with me they would take up arms.”

The others gathered together in the back yard. I had to enter my home through the front door. Despite being very deep within myself I sounded the grounding mantra six more times before stepping inside. When I opened the door my Lady started singing a song of thanks to all who had contributed and worked on the project. I was glad I had taken the time for more grounding before entering. The home felt as if it were about to burst at the seams. My Lady wisely added more voices to the song to help distract me from the rush of energy.

All the heads of the different regions had used this as an opportunity to thank me for finding their embezzled money. The living room and dining room was all Africa. Caryn had used the same color palette in the kitchen. On the wall in the dining room was a beautiful picture of a Zulu village. The huts, cattle and women pounding maize were just how I remembered it. My six months there were some of the most healing I'd ever experienced. On the inside of the front door was a pouch that held muti from the sangoma to protect and bless the home. A zebra patterned area rug made me smile. I loved the black and white against the wood flooring which had a golden tint to it. Singing constantly I sat down on the couch. The cushions were thick and tufted. Dark wooden armrests and feet went perfectly with the deep orange of the cushions. Side tables and a coffee table matched the wood in the furniture.

Continuing the dark wood theme was a thick dining room table that seated eight. Two sideboards gave me a place to serve from and somewhere to store the dinnerware. A part of me wondered where the other chairs were because I noticed the table could be extended. I found them in the kitchen seating area. They had placed a table in front of the window seat in my bay window. Around this table were four chairs that matched the dining room chairs. The range had eight burners with four on either side of a grill area almost as big as the grills at the cottage. There was also a pot filler at the stove. When I turned on the hood you could barely hear it but holding my hand under it nearly caused me to lose an arm. Caryn had used the same countertops I had chosen in my apartment. The sink was even bigger than the one in my apartment. I judged I could bathe both the scurvy newlyweds in it.

The three spaces on the second floor each got decorated from a different region. The first was Asian with some wonderful Chinese sideboards. Being the first room the sideboards wouldn't be in the way of our sparring. There was something hauntingly familiar about the room but caught up in my song and the beauty of the space I couldn't put my finger on it. I'd let Caryn point it out to me later. The second space was a mix of English bedroom and library. The round table and two tufted chairs at the foot of the bed were perfect. The wooden shelving had a space for a TV. There was storage space beneath the shelves as well.

When I stepped though the raised roll-up door into the third space I was glad to see the wood theme continued. Paying homage to the Middle East were the two divans instead of chairs and the rolled pillows on the bed. There was enough similarities in the wood shelving, colors and layout to stop you from feeling a jarring shock when you entered each room. I understood the need to represent the different regions and felt they couldn't have done any better. Ingrid and Caryn have every reason to feel very proud of their work.

Despite guessing the theme of the master suite by realizing which one was the missing region I was left speechless. The centerpiece was an exquisite four-poster bed with gauze curtains hanging down. In the middle of the crosspiece at the foot of the bed was a carved sun. The linens were a crisp white with wool blankets providing splashes of color. The bench at the foot of the bed was a large folding bench made of wood and stretched leather. I loved it. On the walls were pictures of the Andes mountains including a picture of our conference center. I was glad Caryn had hung it in the seating area so I wouldn't be staring right at it while in bed.

Taking her cue from the mountains the color palette was granite, sky-blue and a reddish-brown. This color scheme continued in the bathroom which had a large soaking tub. I loved the fact the shower was completely open and set slightly behind the tub. There were two hand basins set on top of some wooden tables with carved legs and crosspieces. Reaching out to touch the towels I smiled when I discovered they were even more luxurious than the ones back home. Returning to the bedroom from the bathroom meant passing through the seating area. I paused to admire the coffee-table chest. There was a sofa and two chairs around the chest. They were comfortable and the perfect height to stretch your feet out on the chest. A very lovely space that felt as open as the mountains that had inspired the design.

Overall the house reminded me of the luxury I'd expect at a four-star hotel with a few splashes of five-star decadence in the towels, bed linens and definitely the range. I had to stop singing and take some time just to breathe. Composing myself took such a long time there were some concerned expressions on the faces of my friends and husband when I finally rejoined them. I kissed Ingrid first. When I kissed Caryn and thanked her I lost what little composure I had regained. We ended up crying in each other's arms for a long while. Garth gently led me to the table on the deck. He motioned the others to go in.

“I think this is your tea house my Love.” Tim said when he returned and sat himself on my lap. “Where does a person start? There are pull-down screens to cover the chairs and shelving in our sparring area. The space looks amazing with them down. We can seat twelve at the dining room table. You wouldn't know because you haven't seen the garage but Caryn tells me there are folding tables so when the gang visits we can all sit around the table. We can use them on the deck as well during the Summer. I think there are six tables that seat eight. Phyllis made the cushions for the benches. Now my Love there is something very important we need to discuss.”

“Towels.” I said smiling at Garth. “I knew you'd want them at the apartment as well. Go ahead Beloved. Yes I am feeling better thank you. Some tea would be wonderful. I'll make us some crumpets. I really need to cook something on that stove.”

“I can't fucking believe we're moving in today.” Tim said. “My Love it's much more than I could ever have imagined. I cannot wait for the others to see it. Think how much fun we'll have watching soccer on an eight-foot TV. We have every possible channel. Now let's get you cooking my Love. We can all gather in the kitchen and chat.”

Caryn came over and leaned in against me while I made the crumpets. The Chinese room had a couple of pieces from my room in China she told me. I correctly guessed which ones. Dabulamanzi knew of my reservations about muti and the bag only contained vegetable and mineral items Caryn explained. Her eyes widened when I told her I had learned how to use the traditional shield, stabbing spear and knobkerrie. Tim figured out the knobkerrie was the fighting stick with the rounded end. They looked wonderful on the wall and I could use them to fight with if needed.

“We are doing dinner for the guys aren't we Garth?” I asked when I heard a knock at the door. “Somebody is very early.”

“Maybe it is a neighbor welcoming us to the neighborhood.” Tim said brightly. “I'll go check. I was wrong my Love. Looks like your dad is checking up on you. Quite rightly so.”

“Dad!” I shouted rushing over to hug a grinning Charles. “My husband will pay for this later.”

“Deservedly.” Griogair said when I hugged him. “He told us we might want to pop down this weekend. We hear you've kept busy.”

“A little.” I said kneeling to hug Lance. “I'll start warming some milk for your hot chocolate and make some more crumpets.”

“I'll show you around this little place we like to call home.” Tim said. “I'm very glad you could make it. Rohan's been so busy I've only been spanked twice in the last week.”

“You poor lad.” Nancy said taking his arm. “I love the kitchen. Okay we'll save the deck for later.”

They came down within a few minutes for Lance to get his hot chocolate and crumpets. I suspected they wanted their tea and crumpets as well. Lance thought I had the most amazing backyard ever. I reminded him he had a very nice one in Scotland. They hadn't seen the master suite yet. What I really liked about the master suite was being able to look out over the park from the seating area. I was very grateful for the coffee and tea station in the corner. The kitchen was a long way down and back up. I kissed Tim and thanked him for making it so easy for me to wake him with tea.

We all went up to see the master suite. The space had gotten filled up by the steam room, bed room, sitting area and bathroom. I didn't mind meditating in in one of the chairs. Jinsong suggested setting a Laughing Buddha statue in the front corner on the left. I promised to go online and find one over the weekend. Charles told me he'd arrange it with Jinsong as a housewarming gift. Griogair gave me a long look when all I did was thank my dad. I winked at him just to unsettle him a little more. Lance thought I had a swimming pool in my bathroom. Sister Deann lifted him inside the tub and he disappeared on us.

“Sometimes Tim gets so dirty we need lots and lots of water to get him clean.” I explained. “We might want to get you a snorkel so you can check for fish later. They only come out when there's water in the tub. I think they're shy.”

“Drinking hot chocolate with a snorkel is tricky.” Tim pointed out. “What are we doing for lunch? There's a lot of food to prepare for dinner. Griogair I know it sounds incredible but Rohan is letting us all help with the cooking.”

“Let's make it a pub lunch so I can get a drink.” Griogair suggested. “You have no idea how upset I am with you Rohan. I've invested a lot of energy preparing my arguments about why you should accept the housewarming gift from Nancy, Lance and me. Now I discover you will most likely simply accept it with a polite thank you, hug and a kiss.”

On the walk to the pub I pulled Caryn close for a whispered conversation. Then I pulled Sam over and asked his advice. Phyllis laughed when I kissed them both on the cheek. Over lunch Garth confirmed they still had a bank card to my account. I asked them to wait a few minutes while we went to the hardware store before they headed to the kitchen supply store. Ingrid agreed to give them a hand. I asked Nancy to join us with Lance because Garth was getting him a surprise.

“There is just enough space in the pantry for everything now Tim.” I said as we headed over to look at the display of garden sheds. “I'd rather get the slow cookers out of there and I'd like to get an electrician out to wire an outlet in this shed for a second fridge. When the gang visits we will need the extra space for provisions. I will have to get bread machines so my housekeeper can lighten my workload and bake bread. Then there is also Lance's surprise today.”

“I'm just as surprised as you Lance.” Tim said leading him by the hand to look inside a shed. “Judging by your smile there is something else going on here. I agree none of these sheds match. I think cladding them in a brick tile to match the bricks on the deck is a great idea. Keep Sam handy for the other work you have planned my Love. Where are we putting it?”

“Next to the steps that lead to the grass.” I said. “Around the corner out of sight from the deck but close so we don't get too wet fetching stuff. Sam none of these sheds are grabbing my attention. Let me make a quick call.

Hello Ingrid, buy the guys another round before you take a taxi to the hardware store please. You can take it back to fetch them on your way to the kitchen store. Sorry about this but things aren't working as smoothly as I thought.”

Ingrid made a few calls to some Order architects who were able to send her some designs for garden sheds. Sam explained we often needed them at chapels or chapter houses and you could always find wood to build one. This would make our idea of facing it in brick tile easier he added. I looked at a few designs. I chose the one with a roof that mimicked the lines of my home. Ingrid smiled when I took her aside and explained what I had in mind.

“Let's get it built first Rohan.” Ingrid said. “We can set the stuff on the floor for a night. Then we can also figure out the area for a fridge and it will be easier for the electrician to work without shelving. I am certain we can get one over tomorrow. I'll call Ben or ask Pauline to recommend one. Meet you back at the house in a few minutes.”

While we chatted Sam had purchased all the stuff we'd need to build our shed. The lovely sales assistant checked to see a truck was available to deliver it right away. I learned there would never be a delivery charge for me because I'd already bought so much from them. Tim warned when news got around of my planned project they might erect a statue of me in the yard. I groaned and suggested we head back for a Scotch. We'll swear them to secrecy and chat while we cook I promised Tim.

“Rohan you have so many chefs for friends catering tonight was simple.” Phyllis said when I complimented her on the provisions for tonight. “One call to Phillip was all it took. He sent me quantities and even included a list of wines, beers and sodas for the kids. Yes he knows how you feel about sodas so there is plenty of soda water and fruit juices to mix for the kids. I bought some fancy crystal squirt bottles for the soda and some non-slip mats to put under them. Paul thought the kids would have fun if they had their own drinks station. Nancy and Lance can help me set it up. Oh for the rest of us mere mortals in the kitchen he sent us recipes.”

“I will kiss Phillip when I see him again.” Charles promised. “Rohan there is no Fionola to scold me. You can bet Tim's spanking I will be doing lots of cooking and baking this weekend. I intend to make the most of my opportunity to cook with my son. Tim sent me a list of the cookbooks you have at the love nest. I had some sent here. They will arrive tomorrow. Now where do we start Phyllis?”

“Here you go.” Phyllis said handing over a laminated sheet that had our complete plan of action all laid out. “Phillip thought the boys would find something like this useful.”

“That's brilliant and will also help with my plan.” I said. “The one you are about to agree to keep secret Dad. Tim will share it with you while he supervises.”

“Aren't I an organized supervisor or what?” Tim said taking our laminated schedule from Phyllis. “No need to reinvent the wheel my Love. This plan will have us finished with time to join our guests for drinks when they arrive.”

Charles kissed my cheek when Tim finished laying out my tentative proposal. When Nancy asked if I'd miss being close to the boys I pointed out it took the only slightly longer to fly to Montana from London as it had taken us last time from San Francisco. We might have to spend a night in New York or another city but I liked splitting up my travel time. I also expected this project to take a while because it was unlikely I could buy a neighborhood in Chesterfield like I had managed in Blyth.

“People could be a little hesitant but you have one sale coming up in a month.” Charles said. “I think you might be surprised at how quickly others sell once they see how you renovate it and hear about your plans. People like to know their homes will be well cared for when they sell it. Promote the classes and they will feel part of a larger cause. Set aside some days for them to visit each year. Yes like an open house for your college. Remind them all this good work came from them letting go of their lovely homes. I think taking pictures and letting people see your renovated homes is a great idea.”

The pot filler really saved time when cooking pasta. I discovered it wasn't just the time of walking to the sink but while the pot filled I could continue preparing vegetables next to the stove or cook something in a skillet. Tim loved the fact that somebody with all my money in a gorgeous home could get so much joy from a pot filler. Sister Deanne came in to let us know they had framed the shed if we wanted to have a look. I told her it was perfect timing because the Chelsea buns needed to cool before we frosted them.

Sam explained it didn't take long because they had a template so while some of them built the floor he had cut the panels for the walls. These were quickly secured to the wall studs. I was glad to hear the electrician would be out after tea. Caryn had dug a small trench for the electrician to run his wires from the house to the shed. She told me she understood why I had enjoyed building the decks and laying bricks. There was something very satisfying in being part of the construction process even if it was a small trench. Sam was going to teach her how to install windows and let her do the second one on her own. We laughed when Tim reminded her to bill me for these hours at contractor rates. I left them to instal the window while we frosted the Chelsea buns and Tim brewed us tea.

I promised Tim something extra special tonight when he invited Lance to test one of the urns with our tea. The meat sauce for the lasagnas simmered while we enjoyed tea. The vegetable sauces were in the slow cookers on the sideboard in the dining room. Tim took one look at the shed with the window in and whispered in Sam's ear. Then he asked me for the car keys and led a startled Caryn off. They returned with shutters for my shed. Some nice crisp black ones to tie in with the slate roof tiles. Some of our construction crew had already arrived and their kids laughed when I kissed Tim.

We all agreed the garden shed looked very nice. The front of it got painted the same color as my home to help it blend in. The brick facing would protect the wood from the weather. I was very happy with the way it looked. The foreman complimented Griogair, Sam, Caryn and Sister Deanne on their work. He offered them a job if they ever got tired of being overpaid and under-worked. One of his crew promised they'd never have those problems working for him. The foreman asked me to put him on dishes after dinner.

Once everybody had seen the home we turned the second floor into the sparring space. Then we carried up the folding tables, slow cookers and trays of lasagna. There was plenty of spinach salad and a few simple green salads. Nancy kissed Charles when he entered the room with hot garlic bread in hand. Some of our guests had recognized Charles but had kept it low-key much to his relief. The space and the tables worked very nicely. I thanked the crew for all their hard work and let them know I would most likely have more work for them in a month. They cheered when I told me I hoped to do at least six more of these renovations. I was pushing for nine but no less than six.

What surprised me the most was their support for my plan. Somebody had asked why I needed so many homes and Tim was happy to explain. Christopher spoke about Tim's development in Blyth and the teaching aspect of it. Helping people help themselves was my hobby I told them simply. Some of the wives expressed an interest in the healing and nutrition classes. Garth promised to give them the contact information for our local chapter house so they could arrange small gatherings with some of the healers. I agreed their questions would prove invaluable in helping us prepare for the larger classes. Sister Deanne agreed to build a small container garden of culinary and medicinal herbs for them one weekend. Garth agreed to play mad scientist and show them what to do with the medicinal herbs.

The drink station for the kids went over very well. I decided we'd do something similar for dessert. While Charles and I cooked the crepes Lance perched on a bar stool we'd bought just for him and made a big pot of hot chocolate. The garden shed crew wanted to cook something. They stewed apples and berries for the filling. We loaded up the slow cookers with four different filling options. I set the slow cookers on benches within easy reach of the kids. The adults could add some brandy or coffee and hazelnut liqueur to their hot chocolate. Tim decided he needed one of each because I'd promised him a very special spanking. I did remember that promise didn't I? Good because it would contravene every provision of the Geneva Convention if I broke that promise he informed me. Christopher knew about such things and had confirmed it for Tim.

We knew the kids would be the reason the evening ended early but the food and dessert kicked in almost before they finished eating. They soldiered on bravely but started to fall asleep right after we cleared the tables. Next time we'd arrange to have camp cots on hand so they could sleep while the adults socialized. Griogair took great delight in having me and Charles stand at the front door so the ladies could give us thank you kisses. When they remarked how special it was to have an earl cook for them he asked them not to let his cook know or she'd scold him.

The others insisted on leaving me alone with Tim in my new home tonight. Charles knew about my garden and was looking forward to spending the night in Millie's cottage. We chuckled when Griogair told us Millie had called an earl staying in her cottage too ridiculous for words. When she learned of Charles adopting me she decided ridiculous must run in the family. I was deeply touched when she agreed her little cottage was nice enough for royalty. Nancy told me once she got talking about all the ridiculous stuff I'd done for her and Skye there was no stopping her. Lance told us he had drunk two mugs of hot chocolate during that call. Jinsong and Sister Deanne kindly agreed to let me come up in the morning and show our visitors the other cottages. I assured Griogair there would be sparring tomorrow morning before Tim showed off his tea house.

Tim drove us to the cottage. We weren't going to miss their reaction for anything. I agreed Caryn deserved every word of praise for her work. Working on a minimal budget she had produced something exquisite. Charles suggested I include home décor classes by Caryn at my school. I agreed there were many middle-class families that would love to have a home as nice as this one and it hadn't really cost a lot. Sam was happy to show people how to refinish and restore furniture. He also agreed to give a class on basic home repairs and maintenance. Sanne and Bram would make great guest speakers Tim pointed out.

Before we left I lifted Lance up to get the hot chocolate down. He wanted it ready for the morning. I promised the rest of us would bring our travel mugs for him to fill. Lance promised to call me if he needed more milk or whipping cream. I told them it was good to have my Scottish family visiting. When Charles mentioned making a trip to check on the orphanage Tim told them we were taking them to a very special restaurant for dinner. Garth called to reserve a table. He told me after my blessing getting a table would never be a problem. Our trip to London would take place on Thursday. I told Caryn we were spending the weekend there so she could spend time with Holden. Tim told her she had no excuse for not joining us for dinner and dancing this time.

“I wouldn't dream of not going dancing after dinner Tim.” I said. “That was such an amazing time. Of course we'll take you Lance. Tim dances very well. He'll give you lessons.”

Nancy, Pauline and Sister Deanne decided Tim would have to share Lance with them. They needed to check Tim was teaching him how to dance properly. Lance agreed with Caryn it was nice being popular. On the drive back to town Caryn and Ingrid decided a four-star hotel was easier on their nerves than my place. Ingrid told me it was the heads of the regions that made it so much more opulent. They could turn down something that didn't fit the design but not because of cost. These were gifts to me so they worked with them. Tim agreed when you returned several million dollars to a man he was likely to think tens of thousands of dollars was a bargain. Caryn told me she could live very nicely for two years and take vacations with the money the furniture from Chen had cost.

“We are not rushing things tonight.” I said when we settled on the couch with our wine. “There is something I'd like to do but I made you a promise and if you hold me to it I will keep it. I would really like to spank you tomorrow night Tim. You see what I'd like to do tonight is show you I love you for who you are and on many more levels than sex. I want to be with you. I want you to know it is you and not just your body. God knows I love your body and every minute I spend with it. Tonight I'd like us to lie close and hold each other.”

“Hmm that sounds very sweet but I think you must keep your promise.” Tim said with a smile. “You are lucky I am brilliant enough to come up with a solution. Naturally there is a price for this solution. A very sound spanking and some hard sex tomorrow night is the price. Agreed? Now about tonight. I need you to spank me. Twelve smacks please.”

“What a wise husband I have.” I said reaching down and swatting him lightly on the ass. “Anything else?”

“Yes we need to snuggle naked.” Tim said. “I also need to relieve the pressure. You do agree a teen needs to at least jack off don't you?”

“That's only natural and it makes sense not to waste your load.” I said sliding down. “Go ahead and jack off.”

Opening the front of his jeans my husband made certain we weren't touching and stroked his cock. I lay there motionless and watched him masturbate. Smiling I obeyed his order to open wide. I nodded my agreement when he warned me not to touch him at all. Holding the head of his cock between my parted lips he spurted cum in my mouth. I stuck my tongue out underneath his cock to catch the last few drops.

“Phew! That feels a lot better.” Tim said standing up. “Grab our wine my Love. I've got your glass. There's a TV in the bedroom.”

“Before we climb in bed there is something I must do.” I said taking hold of his hands. “This means a lot to me Tim. You agreeing to just be with me is the perfect gift and worth much more than any of the things in this building. Come sit with me in the seating area. We need to chat with the gang.”

“Better put a robe on.” Tim suggested grabbing us each one from the closet.

“Hello guys.” I said when they gathered in front of the laptop. “Sorry to get back to you so late but something came up to delay sharing my new home with you. I had to add a structure to the home and it isn't finished. There are shelves and painting to finish. Yes I am doing well. I was busy entertaining the construction crew and their families.”

“Don't worry he let everybody else join in the cooking.” Tim said.

“What do you mean don't worry when the old guy is behaving so strangely?” Tracy asked. “Glad the earl liked Millie's ridiculous cottage. Hopefully he'll find the bed comfortable.”

“I really am doing very well.” I said pulling Tim close. “I'm just tired of having to pack and unpack. Lawrence I need a home base in some places. Can you come up with a wardrobe I can leave in Winchester, Chesterfield and Blyth? Something that allows me to just travel with an overnight bag between stops. Tim needs one as well.”

“I'll order them online and have each one shipped directly to the home so you know what goes where and don't end up with a great pile of clothing.” Lawrence said.

“Don't forget our fancy outfits for Thursday please Lawrence.” Tim said. “We're taking Charles and a few others with us. I don't mind you giving us something a little different. Now if you'll excuse us we must go cuddle.”

“Cuddle on your first night in the new home?” Adam asked in surprise.

“Yes cuddle and almost nothing but cuddle.” I said with a smile.

“He promised that wouldn't apply to our first morning.” Tim said with a smile. “Leslie I'm a horny teen so it is very hard for me to understand this adult need of closeness without sex. What I do know is Rohan gave me such an incredible night of dancing and has been very kind to everybody these past few weeks or months. I'll celebrate the first night exactly how he wants it. Besides lying in his arms is a very good feeling in many ways. Tomorrow night he promised me something special.”

“You're also going dancing next Thursday night.” Dylan said. “I'm glad you guys are having a good time.”

“One last thing about the wardrobes Lawrence.” I said. “I need some work clothing at Winchester and Blyth please. I'm curious to see your take on work clothes. Bye guys. Love the lot of you so much. We'll chat soon.”

“You can always call me or chat with Garth if you need some insights Tim.” Leslie reminded him. “I'm glad you're willing to try it first. Goodnight guys.”

We snuggled for an hour before a naked Tim disappeared to get us something to drink. He returned with a large glass pitcher filled with a fizzy concoction. A wine spritzer with blackberry juice and a few slices of orange. I told him I didn't mind he had made it on the weak side so he could stay awake longer. When I admitted my ego stopped me from making weak drinks he chuckled. Yes there are days when I would love a drink just like this but he'd have to make it. Obviously the good spirits didn't get diluted or served with a faint heart. The brandy in my hot chocolate could be a single if he added the brandy.

“Gay, spiritual and working on expanding my non-violence capacity I might be but I am still a guy.” I said. “My manly ego is not going to lie down and die without a fight.”

“I'm glad.” Tim said. “You know my Love this has been pretty nice. I'll never admit it in public but I've enjoyed it. Yes just like you drinking this spritzer to humor me.”

“This is a nice balance of flavors.” I said sincerely. “We must get in some more of this wine.”

“Did I just hear a reason to go shopping?” Tim asked with a grin. “You're spoiling me my Love. I like it lots.”

Smiling at the thought of going to sleep with a happy husband I snuggled deeper into the mattress and drifted off to sleep. My last thought was off my plan for Tim in the morning. This made my smile grow a little broader and my cock twitch in anticipation. Tomorrow would be a wonderful day in many ways.