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3,758 Journeyman Scribe 1st Class

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About Mawgrim

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    Writing (of course), amateur dramatics (mostly on stage), keeping the cats happy

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  1. Mawgrim

    Bed and Breakfast

    The job is no longer what he wants, but he's not sure yet what else he could do. It took me about two years of getting increasingly frustrated with the way the industry was heading before I finally made the move. And having done it, I wished I'd done so earlier.
  2. Mawgrim

    A Lazy Afternoon

    It would make for a fairly short story if he just moved it right away! Also, you are right about change taking a long time. I think as we get older and more set in our ways, it can make us more cautious. We've probably rushed in to situations, relationships and jobs in our youth and been burned.
  3. Mawgrim

    Bed and Breakfast

    Yes. You have to knock things down in order to rebuild. Did you notice he's been trying to eat more healthily as well? Little changes, but he's gradually moving out of his own 'dark days'.
  4. Mawgrim

    Bed and Breakfast

    He's getting there. Work just needs to get a bit more intolerable first.
  5. Mawgrim

    Bed and Breakfast

    He's starting to think about the possibility.
  6. Cindy is going to feel lost if Puppy leaves. He's going to find it hard adjusting to the outside world, when his only real experience of it is through TV.
  7. Excellent use of the prompt.
  8. They drove to Cassie’s Cabin in James’s Range Rover, which dealt with the potholes far better than Craig’s car had done. Craig had the job of safely transporting a bottle of wine; apparently everyone took their own alcohol as the premises wasn’t licensed. The cabin was as quirky as he’d imagined. The outside was painted blue and adorned with an assortment of coloured lights. Inside, it had been furnished with what seemed to be everyone’s cast-off dining furniture; six differently sized tables that were sturdy but old fashioned, lots of unmatched chairs and a couple of kitchen dressers festooned with plates and knick knacks. A few people had already arrived and greeted James warmly as they were shown to their table, in a snug corner near the log burner. ‘This’ll get some tongues wagging,’ James said, almost with relish. ‘Aren’t you bothered?’ ‘Considering since I moved in I’ve become a magnet for every single female in the village between eighteen and eighty, no. I’ve told most of them I’m gay, but that’s just made me seem like even more of a challenge.’ ‘Poor you.’ A teenage girl brought menus and glasses for their wine. ‘I had to pre-order our steaks, so I went for ribeye, but I didn’t know how you liked yours cooked. I go for rare myself.' The girl waited, pen poised above her order pad. ‘Medium-rare, please.’ ‘Fine,’ she said. ‘Would you like to order starters? I can come back in a few minutes.’ James glanced at Craig. ‘Well?’ ‘Definitely, after all of today’s exertions.’ Craig allowed himself an amused smile, then looked straight at James and ran his tongue along his lips. He wondered if the girl would note that down too and report back to headquarters. James played along. ‘Yes, and we need to refuel for later.’ When she’d gone, they both had to suppress laughter. ‘That was so immature of me,’ Craig said. ‘But fun. Her mother’s one of the biggest gossips in the village.’ It set the mood for the entire meal. The food was excellent. ‘Nothing like a Deluxe Inn,’ James said happily. ‘God, no. I could probably recite their menu from memory.’ It brought Craig back to reality. Here he was, enjoying well-presented, locally sourced food in great company. In a couple of days, he’d probably be perusing that same menu alone again. James must have noticed the change in his expression. ‘Sorry. Shouldn’t have mentioned it.’ ‘It is how it is. We all have to work. But it’s times like this that make life worthwhile.’ Was that going too far? Maybe even a bit slushy? James obviously didn’t think so. ‘I’ve really enjoyed today, too. Being with you is just… easy.’ Craig identified with that. ‘I know. I feel exactly the same.’ Even when they hadn’t been talking, back at the cottage, it had been a companionable silence. Good sex had been the icing on the cake. He definitely wouldn’t be using the guest room tonight and was looking forward to further exploration. Just thinking about it made his cock twitch. He hadn’t felt so totally alive in years. James stuck to just one small glass of wine as he’d be driving back down the dark lanes and potholed road. They finished the bottle back in the kitchen, though, sitting either side of the range while digesting their meal. Craig’s phone pinged a few more times, but he continued to ignore it. ‘Busy night, eh?’ James commented. ‘It’s always like this on a Saturday. It’s when cinemas are most likely to be full, so if anything goes wrong, the panic to get it fixed is ramped up a notch.’ Craig glanced at his watch. ‘It’s too late now to save the main evening performance and only the real gluttons for punishment would try to get it sorted in time for a late night show. But if I was on emergency cover, I’d be planning my schedule tomorrow based on what’s coming in now.’ ‘Why are you getting the emails, then, if you aren’t on call?’ ‘The Operations Centre send them to everyone. It’s just how it works. If the problem’s at one of my sites, I might be able to provide more information to the engineer who’ll actually be going out. Plus, some of the things the cinemas call the OC about aren’t actually an emergency.’ ‘What sorts of things?’ James asked. ‘Well, we usually only classify it as an emergency if they’re off screen. Sometimes a cinema will phone in if it’s something like an automation macro not working properly, or a lens needing slight realignment. If the on-call guy doesn’t get anything else more serious, he’ll go and look at it anyway, but he’ll often just pass it on to the engineer responsible for normal maintenance at that site. If that’s me, I’ll change my schedule and drop in in on Monday.’ ‘Seems as if you have a lot of autonomy in your job.’ Craig sipped some wine. ‘Sort of. Less than we used to, though. They keep an eye on what we’re doing through the online system we have to use. We’re also supposed to provide training to the on-site staff, but in reality, there isn’t enough time to do that. Plus, they’re either too busy, or can’t be bothered.’ He wondered if James was really interested in all of this. ‘Sorry. I’m being a cinema bore.’ ‘Not at all. It’s a very different job from what I used to do. I’d wondered why you kept on with it, but I can tell by the way you talk it’s because you care.’ ‘Well, yes. A lot of us still do. When I first became a projectionist, quite a few of the older guys were still around. They remembered the days when standards were important and losing a show was practically a hanging offence. You’d do everything you could to keep the projector running and the audience unaware of any problems. It gradually changed, of course. Once multi-screen cinemas became more common, it was less important if one of them failed. But most people still took pride in putting on a good show.’ ‘A cinema ticket’s expensive these days. You’d think it’d matter even more to make sure customers are happy.’ Craig had to smile. James thought the same as he did. As a projectionist did. ‘The trouble is, the company’s priority is making a profit. Most people outside the industry don’t realise a hefty proportion of the ticket price goes to the film distributor. Our booking department negotiate percentages with them before a film’s released and in the case of a blockbuster, they can end up taking eighty-five percent in the first week. It’ll drop after that, of course. That’s the reason cinema managers love the kind of films that play for months and keep bringing in audiences for repeat showings. “Mamma Mia” was a good example, or “Titanic”. “Avatar”, too. By the sixth or seventh week, the cinema’s starting to get a higher proportion than the distributor.’ James raised his eyebrows. ‘So that’s why the popcorn’s so over-priced?’ ‘Exactly. Cinemas bring in far more revenue from selling sweets and fizzy pop than film tickets. It’s led to a skewed outlook by the people at head office. They treat retail as more important than what’s showing on screen.’ ‘But people are only there to buy the sweets because they’ve come to see a film. That’s easy enough to figure out.’ ‘You’d think so. But recently, for example, managers have been instructed replace film posters with food and drink combo offers. And they’re under far greater pressure to reach their retail spend targets than to concern themselves with a focus issue in one of the screens.’ Talking about it felt like unburdening himself, so he continued. ‘When I do my regular checks - as I will be this week - I often find problems no-one’s reported. If a customer hasn’t complained, they assume everything’s fine.’ ‘I can see why you get depressed about it all. Do you think it’ll stay the same?’ Craig shrugged. ‘To be honest, I can only see it getting worse. Our workload has increased year on year. There’ve been rumours of even more changes in the future, but the cinema business has always thrived on speculation. There are times I feel like chucking it in and others when it still feels worth while.’ James nodded slowly. ‘I get that. It’s an industry you know well.’ ‘Exactly. Like a lot of the others, I don’t have any formal qualifications. I went into projection straight from school and learned on the job. A few of the other guys have tried applying for different jobs, but even though we’ve a lot of transferable skills, most employers only want people who’ve already got experience in their particular industry. When the projectionists were made redundant, they found it equally hard to break into something new. Most of the successful ones went self-employed.’ ‘Maybe you should do the same?’ Craig shook his head. ‘What could I do?’ ‘You can fix stuff. That’s something people will pay for.’ ‘I don’t know.’ He’d thought about it occasionally, but realised he didn’t have the confidence. He had a small safety net of savings, but setting out on your own required taking a gamble. If he’d been that sort of person, he’d have done it years ago. ‘If it’s any consolation, I thought of all the same obstacles before I jumped. I ended up working out I had to just do it. Not overthink too much.’ ‘It’s my failing,’ Craig admitted. ‘I always go through all of the pros and cons before doing anything.’ ‘Anything?’ James asked, with a slight smirk and that twinkle. ‘Well, most things. I don’t need to think too much about where I’ll be spending tonight. If you’re happy with sharing your bed, that is?’ ‘I was sort of hoping you’d say that. No pressure, though. I didn’t invite you here just for sex. I wanted to spend more time getting to know you. We didn’t really have very long together before.’ ‘True.’ ‘Then tomorrow, we can get really down and dirty.’ ‘Oh yes? What’s the plan?’ ‘You can help me destroy that awful seventies fireplace.’ Once they’d finished the bottle of wine, he watched as James banked up the range for the night, getting rid of the ashes first before putting a couple of shovels full of solid fuel into the firebox. ’It needs to burn slowly,’ he explained, moving some of the levers. Craig was already feeling his own fires kindling with anticipation even before they’d gone upstairs. He was nowhere near as concerned about exposing his less than perfect body this time. James had, after all, seen it in full daylight and not been put off. He reminded himself yet again not everyone had the metabolism of a twenty year old, or worked out in the gym for far too many hours each week. Upstairs, in the bedroom, James took his time. He closed the curtains against the night (although who would be looking in anyway) then turned back towards Craig and drew him into another of those lingering kisses. James obviously enjoyed kissing and to be honest, Craig did too, when it was like this. Some men went at it as if they were trying to chew your lips off, perhaps assuming it demonstrated their passion. James took it slowly but thoroughly, gently, but with a hint of teasing; like a trailer before the main feature. In between kisses, he removed items of Craig’s clothing and Craig was happy to reciprocate. Why not savour the moment and enjoy every sensation? There was no need to hurry, after all. It was as far removed from his sexual experiences in Deluxe Inns as it could be. There, it was always straight down to business. It was almost like the menu in the restaurant; no fuss and no frills, fulfilling a need as economically as you could. With James, it was more like the meal they’d just had, with time to savour every mouthful and enjoy the experience. With James, it felt as if there was a direct connection between lips and groin. The flicks of his tongue seemed to say, if it feels good here, wait until I get my mouth around your cock. As he worked his way down Craig’s body, peeling off each layer of clothing with fastidious care, Craig found himself hard and wanting in a way he didn’t remember for a long time. Well, not since earlier that day, anyway. He enjoyed the feel of James’s strong muscles under his hands after removing his shirt. He didn’t have a gym body, either, but he looked fit. Country walks, presumably and physical labour working on the cottage. He’d admired James’s bum before, when they were stranded for that night. Now he had it in his grasp, kneading the firm mounds and pulling their groins closer. James groaned as they rubbed together. He obviously liked that delightful friction as much as Craig did. Wordlessly, they negotiated the disrobing, the unfastening of buttons, slipping down of underpants. There was no elegant, or sexy way to kick off trousers pooled around your ankles, but that didn’t matter. Gloriously naked at last, James’s hands wandered over Craig’s body as his mouth moved lower, sucking on a nipple, licking a trail down his belly before tantalisingly flicking over the weeping head of his cock. Now it was Craig’s turn to give a little moan as James’s mouth enfolded his flesh, warm wetness surrounding him. He ran his fingers through James’s short hair, enjoying both the feeling of varying pressure and suction and the sight of his cock disappearing and reappearing by degrees. James must have sensed he was watching, as he turned his face slightly upwards to make eye contact as he gave a long, slow lick from root to tip, before swirling his tongue around the head as if licking an ice cream. Craig bit his own lip before remembering the nearest neighbours were nearly a mile away rather than just the other side of a paper-thin wall. Allowing himself to give voice to the pleasure he was feeling somehow increased it and the noises he made seemed to drive James to even greater efforts, fondling his balls, then trailing a wet finger along his perineum, before circling his hole. Once again, James looked up, as if asking permission. ‘Please.’ Craig’s brain wasn’t functioning. All of his blood seemed to have centred on that singular part of his body. The sensation was almost overwhelming as James’s finger circled again before pressing inward slightly and penetrating him. His finger probed at almost the same rhythm as his mouth on Craig’s cock. Craig heard someone making incoherent noises, somewhere between a groan and a plea, then realised it was him. His breathing was fast and ragged. His heart pounded loudly in his ears, the beat of life echoing through his entire being as he came closer to tipping point. ‘James,’ he moaned, warning him where he was about to go, although James must have felt the tension mounting in his body. He increased the speed and plunged his finger - or was it two now - deeper, finding the spot that always drove him wild. Craig felt his body convulse as he came, felt James’s throat moving he swallowed every drop, found himself hanging on to James’s head to steady himself as the waves of pleasure crashed over him. At last, it was over. His legs felt like jelly. James eased him backwards carefully so he sat on the side of the bed. Even sitting up was too much, so he crashed back onto the mattress, staring up at the ceiling until his breathing gradually slowed and his heart no longer felt as if it was going to explode. James leaned over him, concern on his face. ‘Do I need to call an ambulance?’ ‘No. I’m fine. Really.’ Although if he did die right now, it wouldn’t be so bad a way to go. ‘That was… amazing.’ James smiled slowly, then lifted Craig’s legs up onto the bed and lay down facing him. He grasped Craig’s hand and brought it down to his own hard cock. ‘When you’re feeling up to it…’ he said. ‘Shit, yes. Sorry.’ Craig’s brain began to work again. From their session earlier in the afternoon, he’d found most of James’s sensitive spots and having manipulated them both into a comfortable position, proceeded to demonstrate there was nothing wrong with his memory, or his own skills when it came to pleasuring a man orally. After James had reached his own shuddering, gasping climax, Craig pulled the duvet over them both and snuggled close to him. He felt totally sated, totally relaxed. Deep down, he knew it wasn’t just the sexual release. There was something utterly satisfying just laying here, skin against skin. Smelling the pleasant scent that made up James’s unique odour; a lingering fragrance from shower gel and shampoo, overlaid with his own male musk. ‘I can’t say how much I’ve enjoyed this whole day,’ James said, in a quiet, intimate tone. ‘I hope you have.’ ‘It’s been…’ he searched for the right words. ‘It’s been like having a week’s holiday packed into a single day. I feel sort of… restored. Like I did after we parted on the motorway, but even more so.’ James nodded slowly. ‘It’s been an eventful week for me, what with getting stranded, leaving work and meeting you. But I wouldn’t change any of it.’ ‘Me neither.’ It had been a whirlwind, so far. Far too early to think about long term plans, or the future. But James’s words gave him hope this wouldn’t be just a weekend fling. He wanted to spend a lot more time getting to know this man in every way he could. ‘I don’t know about you, but I could really sleep now.’ ‘Mmm, yes.’ The wine had left him mellow and his eyes wanted to close. James turned slightly to switch off the light. The room plunged into a darkness so deep that although Craig could still feel his presence, nothing at all was visible. ‘If you need the toilet during the night, there’s a torch in the top drawer of the bedside table. Best to use that than to stub a toe.’ ‘It’s really dark here.’ ‘Nearest streetlight is half a mile away.’ Although he couldn’t see it, he heard James’s smile in his voice. ‘Wait until it’s a cloudless night. You’ve never seen so many stars.’ ‘I’d like to see that.’ Craig felt himself drifting easily; not the exhausted sleep he so often fell into at home, but something far more revitalising. His last conscious thought was to picture both of them lying on a blanket in the cottage garden, the warmth of a summer evening washing over them as James pointed out the constellations in the sky above. He woke to the smell of frying bacon. The other side of the bed was empty, but James had drawn the duvet considerately back over him when he’d gone downstairs. Craig realised he’d not even heard the creaky stair. He’d been out like a light. Well, that wasn’t entirely surprising. He lay back, staring at the newly plastered ceiling and recalled, with a smile, the night before. He felt as refreshed as if he’d slept for a week. He checked his watch. Almost eight o’clock! He never usually slept so late, not even at weekends. No wonder James was already up and about. He had a quick wash, then dressed and went downstairs. ‘Ah, there you are. I was just about to give you a call. Breakfast’s almost ready.’ ‘Sorry. I overslept.’ ‘Don’t worry. You must have needed it. I slept like a log the first couple of nights I was here. No noise and no stray light has that effect.’ ‘Plus a good meal, wine and plenty of exercise.’ Craig smiled, then leaned in to kiss him gently. James replaced the pan of fried mushrooms on the top of the stove and enthusiastically responded, only pulling back reluctantly. ‘Best not let breakfast go cold.’ He placed the pan on a trivet next to all the rest he’d already set out. Craig dished up a couple of sausages, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs and mushrooms onto his plate. ‘That looks a treat. How come the eggs are so yellow?’ ‘Free range, of course. The sausages are made locally too, from Gloucester Old Spots.’ Craig turned one of the sausages, not seeing any blemishes on its perfectly browned surface. ‘This one doesn’t have any spots.’ James chuckled. ‘It’s a breed of pig.’ ‘Ah.’ Craig felt ignorant. ‘Showing my inner townie again.’ ‘Don’t worry about it. Enjoy. We’ve got some work to do today. If you feel up to it, that is?’ ‘It’ll burn off some of this.’ Craig ate heartily. Everything tasted so much better than the usual Deluxe Inn fair, which was the only time he usually had cooked breakfasts. There wasn’t time to cook on a workday and he never bothered for just himself on days off. They drank a couple of mugs of tea, then James washed up while Craig dried. Once again, he was struck by how domestic and normal it felt, as if this was their daily routine. ‘I’ve got a chicken to put in for later. What time do you need to leave?’ James’s words brought him back to reality. ‘Er, about four thirty, so I can get home in plenty of time to get ready for work tomorrow. And pay some attention to my cat, too.’ ‘You didn’t mention you had a cat.’ ‘He sort of adopted me. Don’t know how he puts up with my irregular hours.’ ‘Well, let’s eat about three. We’ll be losing the light by then anyway.’ Craig’s electrical knowledge came in handy to disconnect the old fire. Once made safe, they carried it away, then James brought through a couple of sledgehammers and dust masks. The destruction commenced. ‘They built to last in the seventies.’ Craig was surprised at the effort it took. He’d expected the thing to break apart with a few deft strokes, but it hung together stubbornly. ‘Some things.’ James took aim and swiped at one corner. Pieces of masonry and stone flew off. Craig renewed his own effort and felt satisfied when a whole chunk fell free. ‘Where’s all this going?’ ‘We can take it out to the yard and dump it there. I’ll need hardcore at some point.’ Craig wondered how the neighbours would feel if he dumped a load of rubble on his drive at home. Not happy, he suspected. But out here in the country, there was so much space. No neighbours to complain, either. As they worked their way in from either end the monstrosity diminished. Having knocked off another fairly large piece, Craig spotted something behind it that wasn’t just plain wall. ‘Wait up a minute,’ he said to James. James came closer to peer at it, wiping away the clinging dust. ‘I think it’s the old fireplace. We’ll need to go a lot more carefully, so as not to damage it.’ He fetched a lump hammer and chisel, clearing around it. Gradually a very dirty cast iron fireplace was revealed. ‘I can’t believe they just buried it. These things are worth good money.’ ‘Nowadays they are,’ James wiped again to reveal intricate patterning on the vertical surround. ‘Back in the seventies, they usually got thrown on a skip. I guess they thought it was too much trouble to remove, so they just covered it over. Luckily for us.’ After a tea break, Craig started shovelling the rubble into a wheelbarrow and taking it outside, while James finished knocking away the stones around the fireplace. Even dirty as it was, it didn’t look in too bad a condition. He carried on clearing rubble as James prepped a chicken and put it in the oven. By the time they stopped for more tea to wash away the dust, a delicious smell was beginning to fill the kitchen. ‘Right,’ he said. ‘We’ll finish clearing up in there, then you can have first turn in the shower while I get some veggies ready.’ It was amazing how different the room appeared without the overpoweringly huge stone fireplace. Its proportions seemed miraculously restored and felt somehow right. Craig swept the last of the debris onto a shovel and wheeled it out to the yard. The winter sun had already slipped behind the trees and there was a damp chill in the air. Crows cawed in the distance and blue-grey smoke rose from the chimney of the old cottage. He stopped for a moment to take a picture of it on his phone, although a picture couldn’t convey the tranquility of being there. By the time he’d cleaned up and changed, James had the vegetables steaming and was lifting the chicken onto a serving dish. ‘That’ll need to rest for a while in the warming oven. Can you keep an eye on that lot and drain them when they’re done? ‘Sure.’ Craig sat at the table, tired from all the work he’d done, but with a sense of achievement. He checked the vegetables several times, not wanting to let them get mushy, then placed them in the Pyrex dish James had left out. It seemed warm enough on top of the stove, so he put the lid on and left them there until James returned. In minutes, he’d carved the bird, then brought the roasting tray out. ‘This is a lot less fuss than a traditional Sunday roast. The juices soak into the potatoes as they cook. There’s garlic, rosemary and lemon juice in there too.’ ‘Smells wonderful.’ Was there anything James wasn’t good at, he wondered? As they ate, winter dusk settled around the house. James threw a few more logs into the stove and their steady crackle as they caught made a soothing backdrop to the clink of cutlery. James spooned more peas onto his plate. ‘Thanks for all your help today.’ ‘Thanks for everything else. It’s been wonderful.’ Craig felt sad the weekend was drawing to a close so soon. ‘I’m glad.’ James stared at the wall, seemingly deep in thought. ‘I was wondering… do you have any plans for next weekend?’ ‘Er, not really. The one after, I’ll be working.’ ‘So, would you like to come back again?’ Would he? Of course he would. ‘That’d be great,’ he said, trying to contain his enthusiasm. James smiled. ‘You could get here on Friday evening, if you wanted.’ Two nights with James. Even better. ‘I should be able to manage that.’
  9. Mawgrim

    Lows and Highs

    I hate teachers like that. We had a bullying teacher in the class when I was about 10. He always picked on the kids whose parents wouldn’t make a fuss and he'd do things like throw them across the room, pin them against the wall and slap their faces etc. Everyone was terrified, but back then in the 1970's teachers could get away with that kind of stuff. Glad Norman Bates won't.
  10. Luckily, in the UK we don't get much hot weather and when we do, it only lasts for a few days. This week it got up to around 29 degrees centigrade and didn't cool down much at night. Very few private homes here have AC as you'd only use it a few days each year, so it's the old standby of opening windows at night and using fans, plus drawing blinds to keep the sun from heating up rooms too much. I tend to favour shorts and a loose linen or cotton shirt to keep the air moving. It's back down to a more normal 20 degrees now and we've probably had our share of summer as August usually tends to be cloudy and cooler.
  11. A memorable story with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. Romance, family drama, cute dogs, loathsome villains; it has everything to keep you thinking, 'just one more chapter tonight.'
  12. Mawgrim

    Chapter 21-Epilogue

    This was a great story with lots of nail-biting moments, cliffhangers, great characters and loathsome villains. Take some time to congratulate yourself before going back to slaving over a hot keyboard again! Look forward to reading whatever you decide to write next.
  13. You're right. M'rell was in need of some help. Unfortunately, neither he nor S'brin could ever be accused of over thinking an issue before leaping in. D'gar will certainly re-assess his life and relationships after this setback.
  14. It would have been more surprising if D'gar came back to find nothing had happened.
  15. M'rell has a bit more of an excuse, but neither S'brin nor he think very much before acting.
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