The Things we do for Love - Part 7

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“Ladies, ladies, let us not get carried away. There is a lot more to discuss that could potentially stop the project dead in the water. May I suggest that we break for lunch? That will give everyone time to think and try to consider what going forward may mean to the rest of your life.”

No one disagreed so I added,

“It is almost one o’clock now. Why don’t we reconvene at two thirty?”

Again, no one disagreed so the meeting broke up. The new arrivals went and found their rooms with the help of Ann-Marie.

That left Jo and myself alone in the kitchen.

“How do you think that went?” she asked after we’d had a kiss.

“So-so at best.”

“When everyone is in the dead zone after lunch are you going to hit them with the skills problem?” she said quietly.

I grinned at her.

“Me? You want me to do that?”

“Why not. You are doing great so far.”

Jo smiled. She knew that she was doing ok.

“If Sarah-May could see me now eh?” said Jo.

I chuckled.

“She’d probably go apoplectic at the sight of a vibrator let alone a chastity belt. She’s as puritan as they come. If she saw me she’d probably keel over on the spot. Remember when you spoke up for the proposition to allow that lap dancing club down by the old Railroad Depot? She threatened to start a petition to get us thrown out of the Country Club.”

“But here you are holding your own and… being lovely at the same time.”

“You know how to say the loveliest things my darling. Why did I take two weeks to say yes to your proposal eh?”

“Because Brad Thompson was after you just to spite me.”

“Oh him… he never had a chance. I just wanted to make you jealous.”

“Now she tells me. Pah!”

*

Lunch was a fairly subdued affair so it was good to get it over with and be able to get some fresh air.

Jo and I were in the garden when Karema came up to us.

“Sorry for butting in like this but there is something I need to know before we go back.”

“What do you want to know?” asked Jo.

“Daniella… I don’t know how to ask,” she said hesitantly.

“Karema,” I said smiling.
“Underneath this there is a man but I am living as a woman and I love it. Does that answer your question?”

She looked embarrassed.

“Yes. Sorry.”

“Karema, don’t feel ashamed to know. I plan on telling everyone if we go ahead. They have a right to know who they’ll be working with. Am I going to be a problem to you? With your heritage and all that?”

She nodded her head.

“Sort of. Please let me explain, in India, people like you are outcasts, the lowest of the lowest cast. Only the untouchables are below them. My family are very traditional. They had me married at 16. He turned out to be a really bad person. I divorced him when I was eighteen and my family has not spoken to me since. I’ve never really met anyone like you before so please forgive me. My life since has not been great. I seem to go from one disaster to another.”

“Karema, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. I hope that things work out and that we can get to know each other a lot better. I really don’t have two heads and turn into a dragon at night.”

Karema laughed.

“Thank you so much.”
Then she hurried off.

When we all gathered back together, the atmosphere was still subdued.

“You have given us lots to think about,” said Ann-Marie trying to break the ice.
“What more bad news to you have to give us?”

“Ann-Marie,” began Jo,
“You said before that you ran a Riding Stables?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Did you repair the tack? Did you do anything else with your hands?”

“Yes, I repaired the tack. Got quite good at it by the end and it saved me a fortune but fat lot of good it did me? Why do you ask?”

“Could you for example, make a bridle and bit to fit me?”

Anne-Marie looked astonished for a few seconds. Then she seemed to cotton on.

“Oh, I get it. Do I have any skills that we could use in the business?”

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

“I can do what you want. I can cut, shape and stitch leather. I know the difference between a harness quality leather and stuff that isn’t. Is that what you wanted to know?”

“Yes, that was perfect. What about the rest of you? Can anyone do carpentry, welding, operate a lathe or just about anything that makes stuff?”

“I can sew, offered Sylvia. My mother was a seamstress and I learned about it from her. I had a job doing alterations and the like when I was at University. I also did two years as a ‘sous chef’ in London before I got involved with HIM.”

No one else had anything to offer.

Jo looked at me and said,

“That means if you wanted to make something like the belt Daniella and I are wearing then you couldn’t. You could make one out of leather, or at least Ann-Marie could but that is about it, isn’t it?”

“I did an MBA,” said Karema quietly.
“Could that be of use running things?”

I took my opportunity to get involved.

“Did you do much book keeping, raising invoices and chasing payments?”

Karema looked sad as she shook her head.

“No, I didn’t but I did ‘A’ level accountancy if that helps?”

“Are you willing to learn all the bits in the middle?”

“Yes but…?”

“As long as you are willing to learn then that is good.”

That put the others on the spot.

“So, what do we do then?” asked Samantha
“It seems to me that we are next to useless?”

“No Samantha, you are not useless. It just makes things more difficult. If you are willing to learn a skill, then you can play your part. By a skill, I mean being able to weld, to operate machinery and a thousand and one other things that are going to be needed in order to get a product out the door and most importantly, do it day in, day out and not get side-tracked back into your old life. That ladies, is called commitment,” said Jo.

“Daniella sometimes worked sixteen hours a day, seven days a week to get his business off the ground. I was there supporting him all the time. I was playing my part even though I didn’t realise it at the time.”

“Hold on a moment,” said Sylvia.
“You said ‘him’?”

I put my hand up.
“Guilty as charged. Daniel was my name and yes underneath this, I am still that man. True, I wear women’s clothes and have some breasts but somewhere underneath all this there is a man. Do I want to go back to being a man? No way Jose. Jo here has been with me all the way encouraging me and letting me make mistakes and learning from them. Do I want to go all the way? Well, that’s something for me and my wife and, only us to decide. If you can’t or don’t want me here then we will walk away, no fuss from our side but please keep this off of social media and the rest.”

Having said my piece, I sat back and waited for the storm. Instead Samantha started clapping. The others gradually joined in.

“Bravo Daniella,” said Julie who’d been rather quiet all day.
“I don’t have an issue and in fact I’m happy that it is out in the open. We all have things that should not become common knowledge. I’m a lesbian. Yes, I was married to a man he knew and everything but I was simply too afraid to come out of the closet only because his lawyers said that it would make him look good. It came out in the divorce bet he’d played away and the judge told him in no uncertain terms that he was in the wrong and that was that.”

There were no further revelations but everyone understood that keeping quiet was the right thing to do.

“Let us look at this from another point of view,” I said trying to change the subject.

“Making stuff is all about taking an input, and adding value and sending it out. Buying the inputs costs money. Adding the value costs money and you are not guaranteed to get your money back at all or if you do, actually make a profit. Is everyone clear about that?”

There were no dissentions.

“It might take a year to get the first product out the door. Funding is needed to get you through at least 18 if not 24 months. Can you come up with that? It is time to talk money,” I said quite firmly.

“Ann-Marie is broke, but can contribute this place as well as a base for you all. The Indoor riding arena is as good as we can expect at this time. That is a very valuable contribution. Who’s next?”

One by one they outlined the amount of money that they were willing to contribute until it came to Sylvia.

“I wasn’t sure about all this from the outset. Everything I’ve heard from Jo and Daniella today has been not only an eye opener but in my opinion very deliberate in the fact that we are totally unskilled and unprepared to do this, whatever ‘this’ turns out to be.”

“What I’d like to know is what part of all this are Jo and Daniella going to play?”

Everyone looked at Jo and me.

“We have not discussed this in any great detail. However, the idea is all yours but speaking for me, I don’t have a particular axe to grind with anyone. I did want to do some damage to some Venture Capitalists a while back but I’m actually very happy with my life now. I think Jo is as well. That means that I’m prepared… we are prepared to act as a consultant or mentor at no cost to you. That way we can remain objective and tell you honestly if you are up shit creek without a shovel. And I can keep out of the spotlight. The press would have a field day if they knew about me and you and what you are trying to do.”

I looked at Jo who smiled.

“I agree with Daniella. Don’t forget you also have two willing product trialists as well.”

“Thank you for being honest with us. I for one appreciate that,” said Sylvia.

Then she wrote down a figure on a pad that she had in front of her. I guessed that it was either a very good number or a very bad one.

She showed it to the others. Then to Jo and myself.

“I think Daniella is right and that without her help we are already up shit cheek but I am fed up being taken for granted or used by others and not all of them are men by any means. I think we all know at least one super bitch who will stop at nothing in order to get her way.”

There was general agreement all round.

“I’m in the process of selling the house on Cheyne Walk. My agent says that it is worth around six point five. Well, if he did go and literally die on top me while in the act, then I deserve to enjoy the fruits of his labours. I’ll put up two but along with Karema, I’ll keep a close watch on the finances. There are some conditions though.”

Everyone looked at Sylvia.

“Those of us who don’t have the skills must learn them. If Daniella can set us up with all the right kit I’m sure that there are retired people who are willing for a payment to teach us their skills, no questions asked so to speak. All off the books. Then there is an incentive for everyone concerned to keep quiet. I estimate we’d need around a year to get sufficiently skilled to be able to start working on prototypes. This also gives us time to do the research and even try what the competition is going to offer. Daniella and Jo didn’t say the words but they meant that we’d have to adopt the lifestyle. Much like a tattoo artist is usually covered in them. They live the lifestyle. We will have to do that as well.”

Then she continued

“What Daniella said was spot on. We need to drop out of sight. This place is perfect for that. It is silly to expect that we can just drop everything and come here. So, we all sell up or let our homes, downsize and report here in a month or so with very little in the way of stuff and then we can do our thing. If we fail then there is something left to fall back on but girls, I’m game to try this. I’m basically fed up with being someone’s date just so that they can be seen and get into rags like ‘Hello’ and ‘Ok’. I’m done with that. I don’t know about the rest of you but it is time for me to as the men say, ‘grow a pair’ and live my life as I want to and not as others expect me to.”

There was silence when she’d finished speaking. Then one by one they all went and hugged Sylvia. I took it to mean that she’d said what they couldn’t or wouldn’t say.

I took hold of Jo’s hand and we slipped away.

Out in the garden we found a seat and after sitting down, I looked at Jo right in the eye and said,
“Well we tried didn’t we.”

“Yes, darling we tried. They wouldn’t listen. I guess that the opportunity was just too great to let go. I think it might be up to us to help them succeed. What do you think?”

“My darling as ever, you have hit the nail right on the head. Yes, I think we do need to help them in any way we can. You never know it might be fun.”

Then I said,

“Were you serious about a bridle and bit?”

“Why not? It might be fun to try.”

“Whatever happened to the idea of a wearable gag?”

“That too.” Replied Jo with a glint in her eyes. I just shook my head.

We sat quietly for several minutes. The only sounds were the crows in the nearby trees.

“Do you honestly think that have any chance at all in pulling this off?”

“None at all but it won’t be for the want of trying.”
I chuckled. Jo looked at me and said,
“What’s so funny?”

“I just remembered something that my father once said to me. He said that failure is part of the rich tapestry of life and you should not be afraid of it. Treat it as part of learning and growing your personality. Those girls have been twisted and used by others. Concentrating on something like this may be the best form of rehab that they could ever have. I saw some evidence of determination coming through in that last session. That is goodness. Sure, they will fail but it could be the making of them as people. A brand new start after what they’ve been through in the past year or so is probably the best thing that could have happened to them. Doing it as a group will make them all stronger even if they fail.”

Joe hugged me tight and gave me a slobbering kiss. She only did that when she was really pleased with me.

When we went back into the house, the others were in deep discussion. It was obvious that it was going to go on for quite a time. Instead of being at a loose end, Jo and I went off in the car. We found a nice pub with a warming log fire. The food wasn’t bad and the beer was pretty good as well.

I’d grown to like what Americans call ‘Ale’ and the locals call Bitter. The different flavours of the different beers were a real pleasure to experience. This beer was from a very local brewery called Firebird. Jo was also developing a taste for the drink.

It was quite late by the time we arrived back at Ann-Marie’s. Anne-Marie and Samantha were the only ones still up.

“Have a good evening?” inquired Samantha.

“Yes. We found a nice pub.” Said Jo.

There was a bit if a pause so I asked,
“Did you resolve anything after we left?”

“We tossed a lot of ideas around. We tried hard but you seemed to hit all the big problems we might encounter right on the head.”

Jo looked at me. I knew what she wanted.

“I did miss one thing. If and that is a big if, you get something to market there is the question of if you want to be associated with something that might be perceived as a little sordid.”

They both laughed.

“I think we are all beyond that now. We are going to do this and we’d very much like your help. What do you say?” asked Ann-Marie.

I looked at Jo who smiled back at me.

“In principle, yes we’d like to help out. Are you going to do some market research as I suggested?”

They both grinned.

“Yes, we are. We are also looking for some help regarding tools and the like.”

“Anne-Marie, the work here involved some Electrics. Do you have an Electrician that you can use?”

She shook her head.

“I’m afraid not. They like several other trades, took me to court the day after I settled with my former husband. Thankfully the magistrate took pity on me and gave me time to pay. I did just that. They got all their money but I don’t want to even think about using them again.”

“Thanks for that. Perhaps it might be appropriate to bring in some new people to do the work but I am getting ahead of myself. I’ll look out for some decent equipment that is up for sale. In the meantime,”

“It can wait until the morning. Let’s say goodnight and we’ll see you in the morning.”

Later in bed Jo cuddled up to me. I knew the signs.

“Yes Darling?”

“This gig will mean a lot of work you know.”

I knew exactly what she meant.

“So, we do it together?”

“What about my job?”

“What if we bought a place oh, about ten or fifteen miles from here? They play Polo over at Cowdray Park.”

“I sort of like where we are.”

“I wasn’t thinking of selling that. Just a base down here so that we don’t have to stay here when we are needed.”

“Isn’t this place ok?”

“Remember those times when you suggested that I put a bed in my office?”

“Ok, I get it. Not a good idea and you told me so in no uncertain terms.”

I hugged her tightly.

“I’m not going down that road again. I almost lost you once. Never again understand.”

“No going back eh?”

“Not with these beauties attached to my chest I’m not.”

“I’m going to enjoy giving them a good fondle when we get home.”

“Yes dear,” I replied with a huge grin on my face.

For that comment, I got a hefty punch on the arm.

Everyone was in high spirits the following morning. It was good so see something positive starting to take shape. We left them in no uncertain terms that they would probably fail but as Sylvia said,
“It is better than doing nothing, isn’t it?”

I could not disagree with that, no siree.

Jo and I left them just before lunch and travelled home. Jo was pretty quiet all the way which is unusual for her.

“Ok darling, out with it? Why the silent treatment?” I asked once we’d had something to eat that evening.

She took my hand and looked me in the eye.
“I saw that glint in your eye. The last time I saw it was when you moved your company into that new place. You were looking at the future.”

I knew what she was referring to. I smiled at her.

“I know what you mean but I am a different person now. You are as well. I’m not going to do anything that does not involve you. I was very driven back then and looking back, I shut you out of a lot of stuff, some of it was by accident and some deliberate and… well I was wrong to do that. But the sort of mundane stuff that I talked about this weekend, suppliers, shipment, payments and even taxes are part of the business whether you like it or not. I didn’t want to worry you but I knew that was what I wanted to do and I almost lost you in the process.”

I kissed her hand softly.

“I promise you that I won’t get anywhere like that ever again. In fact, you have permission to let rip on me if I do even get close. Deal?”

Jo leaned over and we kissed for a long time. When we came up for air she said,
“I won’t forget your promise.”

Then she ruined the moment by saying,
“And don’t think you are going to get out of doing the dishes tonight either.”

About a week later, Jo came home exhausted.
“Two girls just didn’t turn up for work today. The manager called them and they have got jobs at that swanky new hotel right next to New St Station in Birmingham. That meant that the four of us had to do nearly double the rooms.”

“Then it is up to me to give you a bit of pampering then?”

Jo smiled at me as if to say, ‘please’.

I poured her a glass of wine and ran her a bath.

“Go and have a soak. When you are done, I’ll have something nice for us to eat. I’ll give your feet a massage later. Does that sound good?”

Jo wrapped her arms around me and gave me a hug.

The following morning, I could tell that Jo was not looking forward to going to work.

“I’ve been thinking,” I said quietly.

I could almost hear her mentally groan.

“As you are short staffed then why don’t I apply for a job?”

Jo laughed.

“Really?”

“I am perfectly serious you know. It will keep me out of mischief and also stop me spending too much time thinking about Sussex. How about I take you to work and see your boss? If he’s agreeable, then I could start today.”

“Sometimes darling, you are too good to me.”

“The only proviso is that we work the same days and have the same days off. Other than that, I’m ready able and willing.”

Three hours later I was being instructed in how to clean and ‘make up’ a room. Jo made sure that I was well rewarded in bed that night.

We received regular updates from the girls in Sussex. They were having fun trying out all sorts of products. They did put together detailed reports on each one which were entertaining reading but I could start to see some of that steely determination coming through. They were very critical of a lot of what was available. This was helping them decide on their market. We provided input and comment when needed.

About three months later, I was cleaning a room one morning and as usual, I had the TV on in the background. It was tuned to one of the news channels when something the announcer said caught my ear.

I stopped what I was doing and watched with interest. The TV was showing a building on fire. I knew in an instant that it was Ann-Marie’s place in Sussex. I dashed out and found Jo. Together we watched the scene unfolding before our very eyes. We saw Ann-Marie and Samantha looking very sorry for themselves. The reporter was saying that there had been an electrical fire in the oldest part of the house. I remembered Ann-Marie saying that it had not been re-wired before the money ran out.

It was hard to tear ourselves away but we had rooms to see to. Our boss was always trying to get us to speed up but then he’d criticise us for cutting corners. He was never satisfied so we didn’t want to attract his ire at this time.

We called Ann-Marie that night and got an update. The house was a ruin. That also meant that they were effectively homeless. Sylvia had organised rooms at a hotel in the nearby town of Petworth and everyone was safe and sound. Naturally all thoughts of the business went right out of the window.

Naturally, we offered any help we could but it seemed that some of Ann-Marie’s Horsey friends had rallied round and were there on the spot lending a hand. She also said that the Insurance people were going to be there the following day.

A couple of days later Ann-Marie called us with some news. The Fire Investigators had found evidence of shoddy wiring in the part of the building that had been re-wired. The Insurance Company were going to go after the very same Electricians who’d taken her to court over unpaid bills, but the good news was that Ann-Marie was going to get a sizeable insurance pay out in due course.

Then a month later an overjoyed Ann-Marie let us know that she’d received a very generous offer for the whole property and was minded to sell. At least, she’d walk away with some money from the place.

We kept in touch with the girls but the long term didn’t look very hopeful but Sylvia being Sylvia who seemed to know everyone worth knowing came to the rescue a few weeks later. Her solution was very different to their original idea but everyone was willing to go along with it. Their working together and the fire had really bonded them together as a team.

As a result, a little under twenty weeks after the fire, they took over an Inn not far from Tenterden in East Sussex. Both Samantha and Sylvia had experience behind the bar. Julie was in charge in the kitchen. Karema was going to look after the books and had also found a job in the local Post Office. There was a small livery at the other end of the village where Ann-Marie would be in her element. The main thing that came from our long conversations with them was that they all had a chance to do something without any men telling them what they could and could not do and well away from London with all its distractions and press with long lenses.

We visited them a couple of times and found them all to be very happy. I guessed that being together and being able to talk about things really helped them get going. They all thanked us for making them approach things in a different way so our involvement was not a total waste of time.

The ‘team’ invited us down for Christmas and we readily accepted only to find that we’d have to work Christmas Day. So, we compromised and travelled down right after work so we’d be there late in the evening. The hotel had agreed that we could have the 26th and the 27th off so we had two days to be with the girls.

We arrived just before 8pm and found them all in the bar waiting for us. They’d been open for Christmas Lunch which had turned out very well and all of them had pitched in to help. We could see right on arrival that they were very tired but pleased with their day and equally pleased to see the pair of us.

“Come on in and sit down,” commanded Samantha as we came through the door. The pub wasn’t open so we were the only people there.

We had a glass of champagne thrust into our hands and we all drank a toast to Friends.

Once we’d opened the presents, the girls looked at each other slightly nervously. Eventually Sylvia said,

“We would not be here doing this without you two. We all feel very liberated since you came into our lives. Daniella, you came and laid it out straight. For most of us to have someone telling it as it is and not some PR or PC Psycho babble or even worse a so-called Journalist just trying to dig up their next scoop was truly enlightening and chilling at the same time. It allowed us to bond together and work towards a common goal. I think the word for it is empowering.”

She took a deep breath and carried on.

“We may not have made a go of the sex toys thing but what you did was make us become a team and to hell with men. For that you have our eternal thanks.”

She looked at the others who were all dressed in the outfits they’d worn at lunchtime to serve their customers.

“We feel so liberated that we have all decided that we…”
then she ran out of words.

Samantha took over.

“Ready Ladies?”

They all smiled and lifted up their uniform skirts to reveal that they were all wearing chastity belts.

“We are all done with men for the foreseeable future so we’d like you to be our key holders,” said Ann-Marie.

My reaction was one of astonishment. Then Jo said,

“You have gotta be kidding?”

Then we all fell about laughing.

That was a Christmas to remember all right.
At one point Karema came up to me and quietly asked,
“Do you ever want to go back to… being a man and stuff?”

My reply was short and direct.
“You have gotta be joking. I’m having too much fun to ever want to go back.”

Then she kissed me. As she did, I saw Jo out of the corner of my eye. She grinned and gave me a thumbs up.

[Postscript]
A few days later, Jo and I decided to move closer to our friends so a few months later we sold our home near Stow moved down to Sussex. We both still work together cleaning rooms in a hotel. You might ask why we do that but working and being together really makes us happy. Our new place of work is a much smaller boutique hotel place near Bodiam Castle where we have a very nice boss, namely ourselves but only the general manager knows that. To everyone else, we are just the two lesbian maids that clean the rooms rather than the real owners of the hotel. That suits us perfectly.

We have a really great bunch of friends just a few miles away. Their pub serves a good pint of beer and great food which really helps at the end of a hard day.

Jo and I recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. Jo asked me as she has taken to doing on these occasions, “Do you want to go back to your old life?”

I smiled back at her and cupped my breasts. Then I said, “and lose these beauties? Besides, you like playing with them so much, you’d probably want a divorce if I even suggested that I would want to go back.”

And I meant it. I have grown to love living as a woman and with a woman that I love and who loves me. What else could I ever want eh? There is a lot more to life than making oodles of money. I never realised that before... well before Jo decided to get me out of that rut I was in.

Besides, we were having far too much fun in bed to change our lives again.

Now where is that Bridle?...

[Really the end]



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