Matt Hodgson predicted that the Annual General Meeting of the Hillary Hodgson Museum and Literary Appreciation Society, formed to preserve the memory of his great-aunt, was going to be the most boring day of his life; instead, it proved the opposite. So many new experiences in one day, it was difficult to say which was the most precious.
Author's Note: There's no explicit sex in here - not quite - but lots of fun. I have turned off comments but if you enjoy the story, please click on the Good Story button, and you can always PM me. Best wishes and Enjoy
by Charlotte Dickles
Matt Hodgson predicted that the Annual General Meeting of the Hillary Hodgson Museum and Literary Appreciation Society, formed to preserve the memory of his great-aunt, was going to be the most boring day of his life; instead, it proved the opposite. So many new experiences in one day, it was difficult to say which was the most precious.
The preceding year, his cousin had been made trustee of the Society following her eighteenth birthday, so it was a matter of prestige to Matt's father, Jeffrey, that Matt also became a trustee following his eighteenth birthday.
In case you're wondering, perhaps remembering the name Hillary Hodgson but not quite able to place her, she was a romantic novelist of the 1950s. Her first novel published in 1950, Unconsummated Love! closely mirrored her own teenage years; indeed, her photograph was even used on the front cover. Throughout the early 1950s, Hillary Hodgson's novels were selling almost as fast as Agatha Christie's in that all important lead up to Christmas.
In a bid to outdo Christie in life, if not in sales, Hillary bought a splendid manor house on the banks of the River Combe, near Seacombe, and promptly renamed it 'Golden Gates', to give clear superiority over Christie's 'Greenway', on the banks of the River Dart, and it was to Golden Gates that Matt and his father, Jeffrey, travelled that morning; by train from London as far as Dorton, where they alighted and walked the short distance to the riverside quay.
Back in the 1950s, this quay would have had ferries waiting to take the hundreds of holidaymakers on to various destinations along the river. That day, the only other traveller was Matt's Great Aunt Edith, also attending the AGM. She travelled first class on the train, so there had been little danger of seeing her beforehand, mutually beneficial to all, since the two sides of the family had hardly spoken a word for decades.
Today they gave brief nods to each other, leaving Matt feeling distinctly embarrassed, as he often did. It really wasn't his fault he wasn't allowed to speak to her. For that matter, it wasn't even his father's, since the rift had occurred in 1957, although his father had kept the rift going throughout his adulthood.
Hillary had gone off on one of her research trips, leaving her husband behind as she normally did, and had a brief but passionate affair with an artist on the French Riviera. After a few weeks, she had returned to her husband but, in the view of many of her fans and family, her innocence was sullied and her ratings started to fall. Hillary responded by changing her style of writing, with less romance and more love. In those years before the Lady Chatterley's obscenity trial, there was nothing to shock the censor, since such people could never comprehend the existence of a female orgasm. Instead, Hillary used terms such as sweetness and tenderness, and the fireworks which fill her heroine's mind after being gently stroked.
The post 1957 books had always been banned in Matt's house, but after his father proposed him as a trustee, Matt had secretly bought electronic copies and read them on his smartphone in the lounge whilst the family watched TV — at least until he realised he was getting massive boners at the subtle descriptions of female orgasm. After that, he retired to his bedroom to read them, under the pretext of doing his college project, delighting his parents who were amazed at his new-found enthusiasm.
Great-Aunt Edith climbed aboard the solitary launch waiting at the quay and took her seat on one side of the boat. Matt and his father followed and took seats on the other side, carefully offset, so they didn't have to look directly at each other. Matt rested his brand new briefcase on his knee, anxious not to let it get wet in the bottom of the boat. He had brought the briefcase especially for this meeting, feeling that it would give him just a little bit more confidence about it than he had been feeling.
There were no other passengers, and the launch cast off and headed down river towards Golden Gates. The house was situated almost at the top of a wooded hill in the junction of a tributary with the main river. One of the reasons they travelled by rail and boat was the difficulty of getting to Golden Gates by road. That would have meant driving further on to Seacombe, to cross the bridge there, and then returning on the other side of the River Combe along a narrow meandering lane. The lane had to skirt around the tidal section of the tributary in order to cross it, before finally terminating at Golden Gates. It was far quicker to take a fast rail journey followed by the ten minute boat trip.
They moored next to the boathouse (which had been designed to be larger than Agatha Christie's boathouse) and were met on the quayside by Larry and Nancy Pennington, the American owners of Golden Gates and devotees of Hillary Hodgson. They were both in their forties, and dressed in costume typical of the 1950s. He was a small man in a pinstripe suit, with his thin black hair plastered down with Brylcreem, whilst she was much larger and had a voluptuous figure squeezed into a Marilyn Monroe halter-neck white dress.
Matt knew they had bought Golden Gates a few years ago and spent a fortune on renovating it to its former glory, turning some of the outbuildings into a museum, opened once a week to the public. It was they who had formed the Society, with Larry as Chairman and Nancy as Secretary.
"Welcome, welcome," Larry enthused to all three, carefully oblivious to any rift between them. "And so glad you can make it, Matthew," he said, turning towards Matt. "We're really keen to embrace yet another member of the great lady's family onto our little committee. May I say that you bear a remarkable resemblance to the great lady?"
Matt winced. Larry was not the first to remark upon that. Not that Hillary Hodgson had been a particularly feminine-looking woman; indeed, from the pictures Matt had seen, he thought she was a rather ugly — even manly-looking — woman, but it hardly did much for a guy's ego to be compared with any kind of female.
"But of course, I was forgetting," Larry continued. "You really are Hilary Hodgson, aren't you?"
Matt felt like screaming. Just because the year before he was born, his uncle had named his daughter, Hillary, in memory of the author, his father had to name him Hilary (one 'l') just to keep up. Fortunately, his mother insisted it be his middle name, a fact he had successfully kept hidden at school, and he hoped it had all been forgotten. Now this American was parading it around as though it was something to be proud of.
"Larry, I think Matt would rather be called by his first name," Nancy said, and he gave her a grateful look, and then did a double take as he realised the size of her breasts squeezed into that dress. He could even see her nipples poking out the material — and no wonder, he thought, since the backless dress revealed no unsightly bra strap. He felt an erection stirring.
"Nothing to be ashamed of in having the same name as his aunt," Larry said. "Anyway," he continued, noting Matt's blushing face and thinking an argument was about to begin, "we have a little buffet lunch laid out in the dining room, so let us go and eat before we get down to business."
It was a fair climb up the hill to the house, especially for Edith, and they all walked quite slowly so she didn't get left behind. There was a large green lawn in front of the house, and Larry led the way across it and through French windows into a spacious room.
A superb buffet lunch was laid out on the dining table, accompanied by a delightful selection of wines — one of the main attractions which brought his father down to the AGM. On previous occasions, when he knew contentious items were on the agenda, he had deliberately restricted his intake of the excellent vintages. Today, he knew he had the support of Larry and Nancy over Matt's nomination, so even if Edith objected, it would be passed, and he rather let himself go. Of course, that was the other reason why they had travelled by train that day, rather than driving.
"Matt," his great-aunt summoned him, as soon as his plate was full of food and he had a glass of white wine in his hand. "Since you are proposed as trustee, tell me a little about yourself. Jeffrey has been economical with any news of you."
So rather than getting to talk to Nancy Pennington, as he had hoped, with the opportunity of peering down her cleavage, he spent lunch telling his great-aunt about his life, leading up to the art history course he was currently taking at college.
"So you leave college in June," Edith summarised. "Do you have any job arranged?"
"Not yet," he replied. "I have applied for several, but many firms aren't taking anyone on at the moment."
"Perhaps if you had taken a different course..." she started to say, but her words were interrupted by Larry politely tapping a wine glass with a spoon and announcing it was time to commence the AGM.
"Please recharge your glasses and bring them in with you," he added.
Jeffrey needed no further invitation and went over to the table holding the wines, whilst the others moved towards the door indicated by Larry, which led into the library. There was a smart mahogany table laid out with eight places, with paper, pens and crystal glasses for water. Larry sat down at the head of the table, and Nancy took the seat on his left whilst Edith the one on his right. Matt politely gave deference to the others, and then took the seat next to Edith, which coincidentally happened to be diagonally opposite Nancy. He self-consciously placed his briefcase on the table and withdrew the new notebook he had bought especially for trust business. Feeling all eyes were watching him, he then placed the briefcase on the floor next to his seat. Finally, Jeffrey arrived and took the seat opposite Matt, having filled his glass to the brim with a rather nice Chateau Latour, which he had just discovered. He didn't seem bothered that all eyes had now switched to him, but Matt was mightily relieved.
"Let's move on to the agenda, then," Larry commenced. "Item one, apologies." He turned to Nancy.
"We have apologies from Harry Hodgson and his daughter Hillary," Nancy said. "That makes the meeting just quorate, so we can go ahead with the rest of the agenda."
"Item two," Larry continued. "The appointment of Matthew Hilary Hodgson as a new trustee. Proposed by me and seconded by Nancy. I don't believe any further discussion is required so let us put it to the vote. All in favour?"
Amazingly, even Great-Aunt Edith raised her hand, so the vote was unanimous. Larry immediately stood up and walked around to shake hands with the new trustee, which took Matt by surprise and in his confusion he forgot to stand up. Then Nancy was standing over him and bending down to congratulate him and kiss him on both cheeks.
He saw her nipple! It was a beautiful shade of pink and stood proud from the wonderful curve of her breast. But before he could even take stock, she was gone and he was automatically responding to the congratulations from the other two members. "Thank you, Aunt Edith. Thanks, Dad."
"Item three. Museum Report," Larry said. "Attendance figures have been low again this year, with just fifty-five visitors. However, I think that will substantially increase..."
"Just over one visitor a week," Jeffrey interrupted in a rather loud voice, surprised it had taken him so long to work it out. "It hardly seems worthwhile keeping it open."
"I think that will change when people hear of our new acquisition," Larry responded.
"I don't recall authorising any new acquisitions," Edith said, leaping in.
"The item has actually come into my personal possession," Larry responded, "and I intend to loan it to the museum, with certain restrictions. It's The Drawing."
Matt couldn't work out why both his father and Great-Aunt Edith suddenly gasped. It wasn't as though he had said which drawing he had acquired, only 'The Drawing'.
"It was destroyed," Jeffrey said. "Uncle Charles told everyone he had destroyed it." Charles was Hillary Hodgson's husband, who had outlived his wife by several decades, but had finally succumbed to cancer a few months ago.
"Charles was a lover of art," Larry said. "He couldn't bring himself to destroy it."
"Can someone tell me what this is all about?" Matt said, amazing himself at his own courage in speaking out.
There was a moment's silence before his father said, "Hillary Hodgson had a brief affair with an artist in 1957. He drew a picture of her." He hesitated, before adding, "A compromising picture."
"After the affair ended, Hillary wanted it destroyed," Edith added.
"You mean Great-Uncle Charles kept this compromising picture of his wife drawn by her lover," Matt said, trying to grasp the implications. "That sounds weird. Most people would put it on the bonfire."
"Her lover," Larry said, with a gleam in his eyes, "was Pablo Picasso."
"Holy shit!" Matt said, and then suddenly realised his words.
Before he could apologise, Edith spoke up. "Precisely," she said.
"I was willed the picture by Charles," Larry spoke, "but only on certain conditions which I had to agree, otherwise the drawing would be shredded."
When no one spoke, he continued: "The main condition is that I do not put it on public display or allow anyone to copy or photograph it. It should be for private viewing by lovers of art, only."
"No," Matt's father said. "We can't allow it. It would totally damage Hillary Hodgson's reputation."
"She wanted it destroyed," Edith added. "You should have refused to take it."
"But if you're not allowed to put it on public display," Matt said, trying to grasp the implications, "what's the point of loaning it to the museum?"
"I have discussed the terms of the legacy with Charles's executors," Larry said. "They are of the opinion that in order to ensure the viewings are strictly limited to art lovers only, it must be done through the auspices of a reputable organisation, such as the Hillary Hodgson Museum and Literary Appreciation Society."
"No," Matt's father repeated.
"Of course, once people hear about a new Picasso find," Nancy said, "it's bound to awaken interest in Hillary Hodgson as an author. It won't just be museum visits which will increase. Book sales will go through the roof. You and Edith had better arrange for reprints straightaway."
"That's true," Edith reflected.
"I said NO!" Matt's father shouted. "It will bring shame on the whole family and I won't allow it."
"Let's take a vote on it," Nancy said. "It looks like there are three of us in favour and..."
"I said I won't allow it," Matt's father interrupted, suddenly standing up. "Matt and I are leaving now so the meeting will be inquorate. You'll have to abandon it.
"Matt," he barked at him. "Come on, we're going."
"I said we are GOING."
Matt obediently followed his father from the room, leaving uproar behind them.
"You can't do that."
Within seconds of them leaving the house and starting to walk down towards the river, they were flanked on either side by Larry and Nancy, with Edith bringing up the rear, all of them trying to persuade them to stay.
"Wouldn't you at least like to see what all the fuss is all about?" Larry asked.
"I certainly do not want to see such filth," Jeffrey said.
But Matt paused, staring at Nancy and said, "You have it here? The Picasso? At Golden Gates?"
"We sure do," she grinned at him. "And we've arranged for a private viewing by the trustees at three o'clock today."
"We don't want to see it," Jeffrey said.
"But Dad, it's a Picasso."
"You mean you've already seen it?"
"Uncle Charles described it to me, and it sounds nauseating."
"But it's a work of art. Shouldn't we sometimes see nausea, and every other emotion in..."
"You and your bloody art. Just shut up about it. Where's the bloody boat?"
They had just walked around the corner of the boathouse and come into view of the landing jetty, but of the launch which had brought them, there was no sign.
"It's bringing in the security guards necessary for us to enter the safe where the drawing is stored," Larry explained. "They should arrive in a few minutes. Jeffrey, why not view the drawing and judge for yourself whether it..."
"I've told you, I regard it as filth," Jeffrey shouted. "I won't have Matt corrupted by it and I won't return to the meeting to have a vote on whether it should form part of the museum collection. We need to catch the five past two train from Dorton. How long will the launch be?"
"About twenty feet, I thought, Dad," Matt quipped, "the same as this morning."
"What..." He turned to stare at Matt, saw his face and then laughed, his anger broken. He turned back to Larry. "Sorry, I have been exceptionally rude. Please forgive me. Is the launch likely to return soon?"
They all relaxed and Larry said, "About ten minutes. That should give you reasonable time to get to Dorton for the 14.05."
"Dad, do you mind if I look in the boathouse while we're waiting?"
Jeffrey stared at the boathouse, and would have liked to look in it himself. It reminded him of the stories in books he had read as a child. On the other hand, if he went with Matt, he wouldn't put it past Larry to send the launch away when it arrived, thereby trapping him here until they'd had the vote. "You go, son. We'll give you a shout when the launch arrives."
He didn't notice the look which went between Larry and Nancy, but Edith did.
"I'll come with you and show you around," Nancy said.
Matt's face broke into a grin. "Great," he said.
He followed Nancy back up the slope and around the corner of the boathouse to reach the large double doors, with a smaller pedestrian door to the far side.
"This boathouse reminds me of books I read as a child," Matt said.
"Me too," Nancy grinned as she pulled open the door and allowed him to enter.
She followed him in, slammed the door shut and, in a completely different tone said, "Now then, young man. I want a word with you."
"You were staring directly at my breasts all the way through that meeting. I could sense you mentally undressing me. How do you think that makes a woman feel?"
Matt blushed, deeply ashamed he had been so obvious. "I'm sor..." he started to say.
"Sorry? Sorry? Why don't you come out with the truth? Why don't you say you'd like to squeeze my breasts — to put your head between them and suck on my nipples — or for me to give you a tit fuck?
"Or perhaps..." she raised her hand to fumble behind her neck which had the effect, Matt noticed, of making her nipples poke out even more.
"Why don't you say," Nancy continued, "that you'd like to do all three?" The halter strap of her dress parted behind her neck and her dress came tumbling down to reveal large, perfectly shaped breasts.
"Where the hell is Matt?" Jeffrey snapped, his previous bad temper having returned. He had shouted for him to return as soon as the launch had appeared in sight. Now it was just about to dock to disembark the three security guards, and still no sight of him. "Matt," he shouted again at the top of his voice and then muttered, "What on earth is he up to?"
Edith, who had a suspicion of exactly what Matt was up to at that moment, said, "Shall I go and see if I can find him? You get on board and I'll send him down."
"Thanks, Edith." Jeffrey felt quite moved by Edith's offer to help. At least this prevented Larry sending the boat off without him.
By the time he had got aboard, Edith had returned. "I saw Nancy," she said, quite honestly, "and apparently Matt has lost something."
"It must be his new briefcase," Jeffrey moaned. "Presumably he's gone back to the house for it."
"I only saw his rear," Edith answered, "and he was going far too fast for me to have either the stamina or the inclination to keep up."
"Jeffrey," Larry said, "unless the launch leaves now, you'll probably miss the train. Why not stay for the meeting?"
Seeing the look of rejection on Jeffrey's lips, Edith forestalled him. "Jeff, I'll look after Matt and make certain that no harm befalls him." She did not add that her idea of harm and Jeff's might be very different.
"Would you?" Why had he been so antagonistic to Edith for all these years? She was actually a really nice person. "Thanks for hosting the meeting Larry, but I'm sure you appreciate that I need to leave now to ensure the AGM is no longer quorate."
"No hard feelings, Jeff."
But then, Edith surmised, he hadn't seen what she had inside the boathouse. Nancy had certainly been feeling something exceptionally hard.
The boatman slipped the mooring line and the launch moved out towards the centre of the river and Dorton.
"Of course," Larry said to Edith. "What Jeff said about the meeting being inquorate without him wasn't quite the situation. With Matt now being a trustee, it means we have our quorum to restart the meeting."
"Goodness," Edith said, her tone of voice making clear the lie of what she was about to say. "I never realised that. So that means we could agree to go ahead with your plans for exhibiting the drawing to art lovers."
"We could if the majority agree."
"OK, Larry," she continued, "but let's try to make certain the decision is unanimous, shall we?"
He nodded. "Absolutely. In fact, I think we ought to involve Matt far more in museum affairs."
"How do you propose to do that?"
"Wait and see." Larry grinned at her. "In the meantime, since you said that Matt had gone up to the house, why don't we go up there and prevent him wasting his time by coming back.
"That was absolutely gorgeous," Matt was saying to Nancy at about the same time. "It was just so unbelievably good. I can't tell you..."
"Sshh." Nancy put a finger to his lips and whispered, "Someone's walking past the door."
"It's probably my father looking for me," Matt whispered back, a slight edge of panic entering his voice.
"No. I heard the launch leave a few minutes ago. Your father will have left. It's probably Larry walking back to the house with Edith."
"So we can stay here a while longer?" Matt hopefully suggested.
"No we can't," she replied, "we'll be missed." She used her arm to push him off her, and stood up and stepped out of the boat in which they had made love, a classic steam launch which Hillary Hodgson had bought as another one-over on Agatha Christie.
Matt watched her as she picked up her dress from the boardwalk, stepped into it and fastened it behind her neck. Suddenly, she was respectable again. She slipped on her shoes and no one would ever realise the throes of passion she had been in just a minute ago.
"You'd better get dressed and we'll get back to the house." She bent over to pick up his trousers and shoes, then moved along the boardwalk, picking up other items of his clothing discarded at various points along the way. "Here you are," she called from the end of the boardwalk, and she tossed the bundle of clothes towards him. The bundle described a perfect parabola through the air and landed in the water, a couple of feet short of the steam launch.
"Shit!" Matt yelled, scrambling to try to retrieve them before they disappeared beneath the water. It was a pity that his shoes had been on the top of the pile, for their weight submerged the lot before he could get to them, leaving just one sock floating on the surface.
"Oh, heck, I'm sorry," Nancy said.
"What am I going to do?" Matt was panic stricken. "Larry will realise what we've been doing and he'll kill me."
"Here," Nancy said. She walked over to a set of yellow waterproofs, hanging from hooks on the wall. She selected one of them and brought the garment to him, this time, passing it directly into his hands. "Put this on and we'll tell them you fell in the water."
"But what about my clothes?" Matt asked. "They're submerged."
"With a bit of luck, they'll sink directly to the bottom, and we'll be able to retrieve them at low tide, this evening."
"And if we can't find them?"
"Then we'll have to spend absolutely ages here, and you won't have any clothes on."
Matt paused whilst he considered the statement. "OK," he said, a big grin replacing his worried frown. "But what am I going to wear in the meantime? I can't wear an oilskin all afternoon."
"Come back to the house. We've bought some gowns for the museum, for visitors to wear when they inspect The Drawing. You can have one of those. Come on. Put the coat on and let's go."
"...so poor Matt saw me trip and leapt forward to catch me, and fell straight in himself." Nancy grinned as she told the tale she and he had rehearsed on the walk up to the house.
"It's fortunate he didn't wet his hair," Edith wryly remarked.
"Well, the important thing is that you're safe," Larry said. "I was just showing Edith our new layout in the museum. We have some time before the time lock on the safe releases, at three o'clock, and we can then go in and inspect the drawing."
"We are going to see the Picasso?" Until a few minutes ago, he'd have thought that the best thing in the world. Now he knew it could only ever be second best.
"We sure are," Larry confirmed. "In the meantime, let me show you around the museum."
Matt completely forgot he appeared a total prat, walking around in a white dressing gown, and became completely immersed in the displays which Larry had set up. Until then, his knowledge of Hillary Hodgson had been forced down his throat by his father. But with the enthusiasm of Larry and Nancy, her life suddenly took on new interest. He asked lots of questions as they went round which Larry happily answered and they were both taken by surprise when Nancy said they now had only ten minutes to prepare for entry into the safe.
Larry led the way through a door and into a connecting building. It was an area with a high pitched-roof. In the centre, stood a solid-looking metal structure, about twelve feet square and eight feet high.
"The building was initially built as a barn," Larry explained, "but in Hillary's day, it was used mainly for storage of junk. We completely cleared it in order to house the safe."
"If it was only built as a barn," Matt asked, "is the building really strong enough to house The Drawing? You hear of thieves with thermic lances cutting their way into safes."
"We took the view that the building is only keeping off the rain," Larry said. "Our total security is based upon the safe itself, rather than preventing access to the outside of it. In this big safe, which we'll go inside in a minute, there's actually another safe holding The Drawing.
"The guards and I have our personal access codes," he continued, "but in order to enter the outer safe, we also need a one-time code brought by the guards each day. Which means that even if we are held up at gunpoint, we can't open the safe. And if thieves do get into the outer safe and try to touch the drawing, the inner safe immediately locks shut. If they try to cut into it, the drawing will be destroyed, so there's no point in them trying to do so. The whole system is monitored from the security company's secure centre and they can shut everything off and call the police if necessary.
"Now, we will all be scanned as we enter the outer safe. Almost nothing apart from ourselves is allowed in. Obviously, no mobile phones or cameras, but even items as small as the wire in your bra, Edith, will trigger the alarm, so I recommend that you change into a gown like Matt's wearing." He selected a suitable gown from the pile on a shelf.
Edith sniffed, but took the gown Larry proffered, went to one of the changing cubicles and pulled the curtain across.
Larry went over to a control system on the side of the safe where the security guards stood and conferred with them. "OK, it's now three o'clock so we can start to enter the safe. I'll enter my security code, as will one of the guards, and he will then open the envelope and enter the one-time code. After that, we'll be able to enter the safe through a vestibule, one by one. One of the guards will go in first, then I'll enter followed by you, Matt, and Edith when she's ready. Nancy will bring up the rear. Once inside, the inner safe will then open to allow us to inspect, but not touch, The Drawing."
He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and started entering a series of numbers into a keypad shielded from their view.
"Shouldn't you memorise the pass code?" Matt asked. "Someone could steal the paper from you."
"You're absolutely right," Larry said. "Unfortunately, instead of giving me a four figure PIN, which I could remember, the security company forced me to have a twelve digit number. So much more secure, they say but I can never remember it so I have to write it down. However, the paper is edible, so the first whiff of trouble and I'll swallow it."
Matt shrugged at such tramline thinking from so-called security specialists.
The guard entered his personal and the one-time codes and a thick steel door slid open to reveal a tiny vestibule. The guard stepped inside, the door closed after him and about one minute later the door opened again to reveal the guard had disappeared.
"If the guard had any prohibited items on him, he would still be here," Larry explained, "or if he had something like a gun, he'd be stuck in there until the police arrive."
"Should you be telling us all this?" Matt queried. "Shouldn't you keep the security arrangements to yourselves?"
Larry smiled. "A good question. In fact, we took the decision to publicise all this to protect ourselves from attempts to force us to open the safe. We simply can't do it on our own. Now, I'll go inside and you can all follow one by one."
He stepped inside, the door closed and then reopened a minute later, and Nancy indicated Matt should follow. Excitedly, he did so.
It was quite claustrophobic inside the vestibule, but within a few seconds, the inner door was opening and he stepped forward into a small lobby area. In the opposite wall was an aperture about eighteen inches square with several cinema-type seats in front, at the right height so that the aperture was at eye level. Matt sat down in the centre seat, and a minute later, Edith joined him, as did Nancy, a minute after that.
"OK, now let's open the inner safe," Larry said to the guard.
The lights dimmed and inside the aperture, a shutter slid up to reveal a framed drawing. There was a collective gasp from Edith and him, at the excitement of the moment.
Matt had never been particularly good at interpreting Picassos, usually having to have the meaning explained to him, but there was no mistaking the perfectly shaped breasts to the left and right. Directly between them, was a large circle looking like a misplaced belly-button, until it suddenly transformed before his eyes into something he had seen very recently. It was the view as seen from above of a vagina being penetrated by an erect penis! Only unlike the penetration he had just personally observed, this was clearly a very large penis entering a very tight vagina. Matt felt his own penis go suddenly hard.
"I've never seen Hillary look so happy," Edith said.
Matt's eyes were drawn upwards to the wide crescent shape above the breasts to realise it was the woman's mouth, set in a huge grin of total pleasure. Two squirls at the top of the drawing became large unfocused eyes staring in different directions. Here was a woman in absolute ecstatic gratification.
He glanced at Nancy, as he recalled her own position earlier and she smiled and nodded back at him. Yes, she had been deliberately posing earlier, trying to mimic the drawing. Matt grinned. She had been incredible, but the sight before him now was even more incredible. Just by looking at these few charcoal lines, he was transported to a bedroom chamber in the south of France, penetrating a woman whom he had only just met, and giving her a pleasure she had never before known.
"We've been in here for forty minutes." Larry's voice broke the silence in which they had all been absorbed. "I think it's time we moved out."
Even so, both Edith and Matt could not take their eyes off the drawing until the guard pressed a button and it disappeared from their view.
"Let's go, then folks," Larry said, and Nancy led the way to the exit door and went through.
When they had assembled outside, Larry said, "I think most people need a little time after seeing that to get their thoughts together. Why don't we meet at six for sherry in the library? Then, we'll reconvene our meeting and follow that with dinner. I'm assuming that both of you are staying the night?"
"But Larry," Matt objected, "Dad said the meeting couldn't continue; that it would be inquorate."
"The quorum for the meeting," Larry explained, "is two Ordinary trustees and the Chair or Secretary. That was fixed so that Nancy and I couldn't railroad through something the family members didn't want. Your father and Edith made the meeting quorate this afternoon, but now that we have you as an additional trustee, then you and Edith will make the meeting quorate."
"But Dad doesn't want the display to go ahead. He'll think I betrayed him if I vote for it."
"You're an adult, now, Matt," Nancy said, giving him a look which said much more than words. "You have to decide for yourself. Do you believe that drawing should never be seen again? Do you believe it should be shredded?"
"No," he gasped, horrified at the idea. "People must be allowed to see it. It would be a crime not to."
"That's what we all think, Matt," Edith said.
"So we go ahead with the meeting at six o'clock?" Larry asked.
"That will give you time to sort out your clothes so you're dressed for dinner," Larry said.
"But they're wet," Nancy said.
"We've got two hours," Larry snapped. "We have a washing machine and tumble drier. I don't see the problem." He turned to Edith. "Now Edith, I'd like a few words with you in private."
Taking the hint, Nancy and Matt withdrew from the room.
"What do you think he's stitching up with Edith?" Matt asked.
"Larry always feels incredibly randy after seeing the drawing," Nancy explained. "I expect he wants to fuck her."
"But Edith is ancient," Matt protested. "She must be thirty years older than he is. He can't fancy..." He stopped as he noticed the expression on Nancy's face, and he realised his almost gaff. After all, Nancy was pushing it and she must be about forty, so that would make twenty-two years difference. Had he known Nancy's real age, he would have been even more aware of the sensitivity of the remark.
"I suspect she has a very tight pussy," Nancy said, "which is more than can be said about me. A tight pussy is what Larry needs after viewing The Drawing."
"Then you two have a relaxed relationship?" Matt asked.
"Far from it," she said. "Larry expects me to be absolute faithful, whilst he screws anyone he fancies. This afternoon in the boathouse seemed too good an opportunity to miss. He'd ban you from the house forever if he found out what we had done, and you would never again cast eyes on that drawing — or me."
That sounded a terrible fate, Matt thought. He couldn't decide which was worse. On the other hand...
"But since he's currently screwing Edith," he said, "can we go somewhere quickly and fuck?"
Nancy shook her head. "Sorry, you heard him say about dressing for dinner. We have to go and recover your clothes and get them washed and dried. Maybe after that..."
It was enough for Matt, and he practically dragged her back down the hill towards the boathouse. But when he entered, it was as though the three boats which had been moored there earlier had all disappeared. He gasped, then walked forward only to realise that the falling tide had lowered them out of sight; they were now about ten feet below him.
The boardwalk had been designed to float so that it went up and down with the boats, and Matt dashed down a ramp so he was level with the bow of the steam launch, and the spot where his clothes had fallen. There was a boathook resting on hooks which Matt picked up and commenced fishing in the murky water.
Within seconds, he'd located a shoe. It took another couple of minutes to locate the other shoe, but that was all there was.
"They must be in here somewhere," he muttered, hopelessly stirring the boat hook around in the mud at the bottom. "My clothes can't just have dematerialised."
"Not dematerialised, no," Nancy said, "but I guess if the clothes weren't held down by your shoes, then they could have drifted out into the river with the ebbing tide. By now, they're probably halfway to Seacombe."
"You mean they've completely gone? I don't have anything to wear this evening? Or to go home in? What am I going to do? Larry will kill me - and he'll banish me from ever seeing you or The Drawing again."
Nancy unexpectedly smiled at him. "Don't worry. As you Brits say, I have a cunning plan. It's a way out of this mess and Larry will not only fall for it hook, line and sinker, he will love it. Come on; let's go back to my bedroom."
"That's more like it," Matt said. "I might as well get hung for a sheep as a lamb. Just lead on to your cunning stunt."
"My plan is that you put on fancy dress," she said as they walked up towards the house.
"Fancy Dress?" Matt was intrigued. "What kind of Fancy Dress? I can't imagine Larry being satisfied with me going in a Batman costume, and in any case, do you have one handy?"
"Yes, I do," Nancy said, "but I'm not telling you what it is until we get upstairs."
"You're joking! You really are joking. Right?" Matt stared at the white dress with charcoal flowers dotted over it. There was a black band at the waist and clearly, a frilly petticoat beneath which made it flare out delightfully. At least, it would look delightful when a woman was wearing it. He would look simply ridiculous in it.
"This is a direct copy of the dress in which she appeared on the cover of Unconsummated Love," Nancy explained. "I sometimes wear it but it never looks the same on me as it did on Hillary. Larry would love to see you in it. You know he remarked how similar you were to Hillary."
"But my hair is completely different," he said, grasping a straw.
"No problem," she said. She bent down to rummage in a cupboard and pulled out a wig, a direct copy of Hillary's original hairstyle.
"Nor do I have breasts," he said defiantly.
"Strictly speaking, you could do it simply by padding out one of my bras, but I have something much better than that. I wore it before I had my breasts enhanced." She bent down and pulled something else out of the cupboard, and flopped it on her bed. It was a pair of breasts, looking so realistic they might just have been cut off someone's torso.
"Bloody hell! That's scary."
"They're made locally. They are very realistic, aren't they? I can assure you, Larry couldn't tell they were false, even when he was fondling them. And although on the original bookcover Bridget had the dress buttoned right up, to give her a virginal look, I think we should leave several buttons undone to expose your wonderful cleavage."
"Expose my cleavage. I'd feel... sort of stupid."
"You were prepared to put on a Batman outfit. How stupid would you have felt in that?"
"Not really. We'll all know you are in fancy dress — it's not as though you're trying to fool anyone — and you're amongst friends here.
"And in any case," she continued, "do you have a better plan?"
That's where she had him stumped. He couldn't think of any other way out.
"Edith and Larry," Nancy said as she stepped into the Library, "I'd like you to meet Hilary Hodgson."
Matt stepped into the room to gasps of delighted amazement from both Larry and Edith. He'd expected their scorn — at least from Edith — but instead their joy at seeing his transformation lifted his heart.
"Hilary. You look fantastic," Larry said, sweeping up to Hilary and kissing her (for that is how he thought of her) on her cheek. Matt was rather taken by surprise at that, but instead of feeling angry, as he would as a boy, he felt very moved by it. How strange.
"You certainly scrub up well," Edith said. "In fact you look a lot more attractive than many women I know." Including your mother, she silently added. She too went over and kissed him (for that is how she thought of him) on the cheek.
"I feel very stupid," Matt said.
"You shouldn't," Larry said. "You look wonderful."
"It was very courageous of you to do it," Edith said, with just a trace of irony. She had a good idea of why he had done it.
"I forced him into it," Nancy sheepishly admitted (at least, she tried to sound as sheepish as possible), as she handed a glass of sherry to Matt. "We went down to the boathouse to recover his drying clothes and I threw them all into the water. Before he could catch them with a boathook, they'd been swept straight out into the river by the ebbing tide."
"Obviously a receding tsunami," Edith said, but not too loudly.
"I guess I'll need to borrow some clothes for tomorrow," Matt said, "as well as some pyjamas, if that's all right."
He cast a glance at Larry, but it was Nancy who answered. "I have some beautiful nightgowns you can use tonight and plenty of pretty dresses you can wear tomorrow."
"I think he was thinking of male clothes," Edith said.
"Well, I don't think any of my clothes are going to fit him," Larry said. He was right there; he was such a small man, nothing was likely to fit Matt.
"Don't worry, Hilary," Nancy said. "We'll go shopping in Seacombe tomorrow. We'll be able to buy something for you to travel back home in. It would probably be too big a shock for your father if you turned up home wearing that."
They all smiled at that. They enjoyed a few minutes chatter before Larry was saying, "It's time we resumed our meeting. It shouldn't take long but I'd like to get the formality out of the way, and then we can enjoy dinner."
So they all sat down at the table where they had been seated earlier — to Matt it seemed a hundred years before.
"To continue my museum report," Larry said, "I think everyone now appreciates how I expect attendance figures to rocket, so that Hillary Hodgson once more takes her rightful place in history. Obviously, we cannot put The Drawing on public display, but what I do intend to do is to allow visitors a private display, for which there will be a substantial charge." He looked around the others.
"That is not simply profiteering out of the drawing; there are substantial costs from the security company each time they send staff to open the safe."
Edith and Matt nodded, neither of them having thought about that aspect of the business.
"There is another issue arising from this," Larry continued. "You can see the amount of supervision necessary to allow visitors into the safe, and I had certainly not considered that properly. I therefore feel it is necessary to employ an Assistant Curator to undertake much of the workload involved with visitor security. Were it not for events that have happened this evening, I might have spent some considerable time in obtaining the services of a suitable person. However, I believe in taking an opportunity when it presents itself, and I am therefore proposing to ask Hilary to take on that role, when she finishes college in a few weeks time."
There was a gasp from Matt, and even Edith was surprised.
"Clearly, there will be a substantial novelty value in employing Hilary, both because of the family connection but also because of her similarity to her great aunt."
"You mean," Matt said, trying to gain understanding, "you want me to appear permanently in drag?"
"Drag is very definitely the wrong term to use," Larry responded. "I don't consider you are in drag now. To me you are an attractive woman wearing a pretty dress. Don't you agree Edith?"
Edith considered. "I would never have called my sister attractive," Edith said, "but I do think that Matt not only bears an uncanny resemblance to my sister, but also looks at home in her clothes. Presumably you see him wearing a number of similar outfits to those my sister wore?"
Larry nodded. "Obviously, they would be considered her 'uniform', so the museum would pay the cost. And Nancy and I would be happy to offer a home to Hilary in our own house here, so the relatively low wage we would be able to pay would be almost entirely profit."
He turned to Matt. "Well, Hilary, what do you say?"
"Err..." Matt gasped, the events overwhelming him.
"Before Matt gives an answer," Edith said, "I would like a private word with you, Larry. That will also give Matt an opportunity to think about the offer you have just made. Shall we go outside?"
She stood up and walked over to the door, waiting for Larry to join her. Rather taken by surprise, he did so, and followed her out of the door.
Edith led the way over the lawn until they were beyond earshot from the house. It was a pleasant spring evening, and the birds were in the trees were in full song.
"You're not having sex with Matt tonight."
"What... I can assure you. Nothing like that was further from my mind."
"Bollocks," Edith said.
"I'm not gay, for God's sake," Larry said. "You know that as well as anyone."
"You said just now that Hilary — as you've referred to Matt since he came into the room — was an attractive woman wearing a pretty dress. Therefore, having sex with 'her' would not be homosexuality."
"But why would I? I have regular sex with my wife, and I very much enjoyed our time together this afternoon."
"You're a man," Edith said. "Men want sex with anything that moves, especially a pretty young thing like Hilary. Besides, I finally understood The Drawing."
"Oh?" Larry was not certain how he should respond.
"I thought it was her vagina in the centre of the picture which Picasso was penetrating. It wasn't, was it? It was her anus. That's why it was such a tight fit. That's what you wanted to do with me, this afternoon, but I wouldn't let you, and that's what you want to do with Matt."
"Hilary is an adult. It's down to her to decide for herself. If she wants to show her appreciation of my generous offer of a job, then sexual acts between males are not criminal offences."
"I told Jeff I would look after Matt," Edith said, "and that's what I intend to do. Of course, it's down to him to make decisions about his sexuality, but I'm not having you railroading him into it. He's had too much happen to him today; he's overwhelmed..."
She broke off, and then said, "That was the plan, wasn't it? Everything which happened to Matt today was designed by you and Nancy to get him into your bed tonight. Go on, admit it."
Larry shrugged and then held up his hands in surrender. "When Jeff suggested him as a trustee, it's true I searched for details of him on the web and found his photograph. I immediately saw the similarity and thought it would be interesting to get him to dress as Hillary, and — yes, you're right — that drawing does something to me. I really want to have sex with Hillary Hodgson in the same way as Picasso did. In a way, Jeff is perfectly right about the drawing; it is filth and it has corrupted me. I can't get the image out of my mind."
"I bet Nancy told him you'd be furious if you found out they'd had sex, after she'd thrown his clothes in the water. That's hypocrisy, coming from you two. I don't suppose even the sheep around here are safe."
Another shrug from Larry. "We 'accidentally' forgot to send out the invites to the other branch of the family. You were necessary to make the meeting quorate, and I guessed correctly that, with sufficient alcohol inside him, Jeff would storm out and try to ground the meeting."
There was silence between them for a moment, and Edith was about to speak when she heard a noise on the track leading down to the boathouse. "There's someone down there," she said. "Could it be burglars after The Drawing?"
"More likely," Larry said, "it's the catering company bringing in our meal for this evening. They also provided the excellent buffet for lunch."
The track was in shadow from the sun, so although they both saw a figure moving towards them, they couldn't identify him until he spoke. "Hi, Larry. Hi Edith. I've returned."
"Jeff?" Larry was as surprised as Edith. "What are you doing here? I thought you'd have reached London by now. Did you miss the train? But then you could have caught a later one."
Jeffrey grinned. "I caught the train by the skin of my teeth. It left the station, travelled half a mile down the track and then stopped. It was stuck there for three and a half hours. It seems there was a derailment on the main line to London so the line was closed. The toilets on my train all got blocked up and the buffet ran out of food and drink.
"Eventually, they reversed it back along the track to Dorton and we waited for coaches to take us on. When the coaches arrived, there weren't sufficient to take us all, and a group of us were left behind. Then, from the platform, I noticed your catering people loading their cases of food onto the launch. I streaked down to the quayside and begged a lift.
"Er," he continued, showing nervousness for the first time, "sorry about earlier. Is it all right if I join you for dinner. We could reconvene the meeting afterwards."
"Sure," Larry said. "That would be excellent, although we realised after you left that with Matt now being a trustee, we are still quorate. However, we haven't yet taken a decision upon our plans for the future."
They all started walking towards the house as Jeffrey asked, "How's Matt being getting on? Not disgraced himself?"
"I think he's probably performed very well," Edith said. "But before we go in..."
"Yes?" Jeffrey asked.
"Well, we need to just warn you," Larry.
"Warn me about what?"
"Well, Matt, er..." Edith started again.
"Matt? What's happened to him?" Jeffrey stared at them both, and then marched quickly into the house.
"Shit!" Larry said.
"Oh dear," Edith said. It looked like any hope of conciliation between her family and Jeff's was dead.
Jeffrey couldn't see Matt when he stepped into the Library. There was Nancy sitting at the long table and some other woman who they'd obviously got to dress up as Hillary Hodgson. "Hi Nancy," he said. "Good evening, madam. Is Matt around?"
They both jumped like startled rabbits, and turned to face him. The other woman was really a remarkable likeness to Hillary Hodgson, why it might almost be... "Matt!" he gasped.
"You look absolutely fantastic," he said.
"I do?" Hilary could see the mouths of all the others gaping open with disbelief.
"I can only remember the real Hillary from my childhood, but you look identical to her."
"I didn't really want to do it, Dad, and I got sort of pushed into it, but now I'm glad I did. Does that sound weird? But I thought you'd be cross with me."
Jeffrey grinned. "Do you know? I sometimes wanted to suggest you dress up as your great-aunt. It's only acting a part, after all, not having your willy chopped off. But it's not the sort of thing you suggest to a teenage boy and I thought you'd be mad at me for proposing it."
"Well, that's all great," Larry jumped in. "It sounds like we can proceed with the rest of the meeting. Let's all sit down."
They all moved back to the seats at the mahogany table they had occupied that morning.
Larry cleared his throat and restarted the meeting. "I do have to tell you, Jeffrey, that Edith and Hilary — that is, Matt — saw the drawing this afternoon, which may influence their decision about displaying it."
Jeffrey nodded. "Actually, I also have to come clean. I wasn't quite honest with you when I told you I hadn't seen it. In fact, Uncle Charles showed it to me shortly after Aunt Hillary died."
That shut everybody up, even Larry.
"I was only sixteen, and I'd come down here to help him move out a lot of Aunt Hillary's stuff, prior to him selling Golden Gates."
They all waited for him to continue. When he did not, Larry asked, "What did you think of it?"
There was silence for a moment, and then Jeffrey said, "I was excited by it. I..." He broke off.
The silence lingered for a while, then Jeffrey continued, "Uncle Charles was excited also. He... He seduced me."
"Oh my God!"
"Dad! How horrible."
"I always knew he was an evil shit!"
"It wasn't rape," Jeffrey explained. "I told you that I was also excited, especially when Uncle Charles explained that was not Hillary's vagina that the artist was penetrating."
"It wasn't her vagina," Matt said, "then what..."
"It's her anus," Larry said. "Picasso was taking Hillary Hodgson up her anus."
"And that's what Uncle Charles did to you?" Matt said. "Dad, that is really evil. How could he do that?"
"I've felt dirty ever since," Jeffrey said. "That's why I could never vote for it to be displayed."
"Jeff," Edith said. "I know that was a horrible experience but this is a significant piece of unknown art by one of the most notable artists who has ever lived. We must display it."
"I do agree with Edith," Larry said. "How do you vote, Hilary?"
Matt hesitated and then said, "I know you're offering me a job and everything, but now I know how Dad feels about it. I'm voting against it." Not that it made any difference, he realised. With Edith supporting Larry and Nancy, it would still be carried.
"I understand both your positions," Larry said, "but that makes three votes in favour and two against, so the proposition is..."
"You haven't asked me for my vote, yet," Nancy said, "and I'm voting against it."
"You're voting against it?" Larry couldn't believe his ears.
"I thought Picasso was a big man having good sex with Hillary," she said. "I didn't realise he was arse fucking her. Why did he have to do that?"
"But the look on her face," Edith said. "She was enjoying it."
"That wasn't a look of joy," Nancy said. "It was a look of absolute agony. No wonder she broke off the relationship with him."
"She broke off with him?" Matt asked.
"That seems to be a generally agreed fact," Larry said. "But are we really saying we're going to hide away a previously unknown Picasso? It's crazy."
"Yes," said Nancy.
"Yes," said Jeffrey.
"Yes," said Matt.
"But I do suggest," Nancy said, "that we continue with the plan to appoint Matt, dressed as Hilary, as the Assistant Curator. It's the kind of thing we can use for publicity; get it into the press and on TV. It makes good sense, so all those in favour of employing Matt as Assistant Curator?"
All but Larry raised their hands, and eventually he did too.
"Well, I guess that's all settled," he said. "Matt will start work for the museum as soon as he's finished college, and we will not allow any private viewings of The Drawing. I hereby close this meeting."
"Thanks, son," Jeffrey said, "or should I call you daughter?" He stood up and walked over to her, and gave her a hug. "I think we need to explain this to your mother quite carefully... and not a word about the other business. OK?"
"Of course, Dad."
"I don't think everything is quite settled," Nancy said. "Larry, have you got the piece of paper with the pass code for the safe?"
"You mean this?" He pulled the paper from his pocket and held it out.
"Yes," Nancy said, deftly removing it from his fingers. "There's to be no more access to the safe, so we'll just dispose of it."
"No!" Larry shouted, but before he could stop her, she had popped it into her mouth, masticated it a few times and then swallowed it.
"I'll get them to issue another pass code," Larry said defiantly.
"No you won't," Nancy said. "If you remember, you couldn't be bothered to do all the paperwork to get the safe set up, so I have to authorise a new pass code. And I'm not going to do it."
"But... but... but..."
"Larry," Edith said, "I think you've been outmanoeuvred. I didn't quite understand the significance of The Drawing before, so how about if you explain it all to me now, putting it to me as directly as you can?" She should have put it more subtly than that, she realised, although Jeff didn't seemed to have picked up the nuance, thank heavens.
Larry looked at her — a not unattractive but, undeniably, old biddy. That afternoon, he had been prepared to do his duty by Edith, keeping her out of the way whilst the rest of his plan was taking place. But he really didn't want to have another round of sex with her, even if she was offering to replicate the Picasso fucking for him. Or was it a case of any port in a storm?
He glanced at Nancy, who stared daggers back at him, and then she turned to fondly look at Hilary, who was still hugging her father. No doubt who'd be sleeping in Nancy's bed tonight.
He was already in love with Hilary, he realised, which is why he'd agreed to employ her, even after the shambles of the vote. She had such a fantastic figure — her breasts were as large as Nancy's before she'd had them enlarged — how on earth had Nancy achieved that? And Hilary's waist really put Nancy's rather big tummy to shame. What a shame everything had turned out as it did, even though he could appreciate the poetic irony of it all. From the way that Hilary had just reacted to news of Charles's act with her father, her relationship with Larry was clearly going to be a case of...
"Unconsummated Love," he said. Then he turned to Edith and added, "Great idea, Edith. Let's go."
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