Category: Writing

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 11.6

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.


A Bump in the Knight. Chapter eleven, part six

Over the following months, David’s relationship with Jessica remained as strong as it had been on the island, the miracles of modern technology allowing them to be in contact as often and as long as they wished. Indeed, were it not for the lack of face-to-face and, dare I say physical contact, they probably spent more time together than many a regular couple. The excitement leading up the Reeves family’s three-week visit – not only from the youngsters, I might add – was palpable, and much needed to be done in preparation.

Kanene flew over specially to lead a team that we engaged to redecorate and refurbish the apartment that Eddie and Martha use on their visits. They also prepared a bedroom for David, outside the master suite – something he had been asking for ever since his sixteenth birthday. Before that, actually; we had suggested that he could have a separate room once he hit sixteen, but never made good on that promise. Until now.

Our suite occupied the first floor of the main building, with the guest apartment on the ground floor of the west extension. The team prepared two small one-bedroom apartments on the floor above the guest apartment, that the kids could use. We had discussed this fully with Jason and Noalani. Jess had recently passed her sixteenth birthday, and her parents were convinced that she was sensible and trustworthy, as were we about David. However, when they arrived, the six of us sat down together and talked through the situation. The outcome of that conversation was an agreement from the children that they would continue to talk to us openly and responsibly about their developing relationship. For our parts, we undertook that we would deal with whatever they told us in as sensitive, supportive and non-judgemental a way as we could. Our key message was that with much freedom comes much responsibility, particularly to each other.

That they would spend time in each other’s rooms was never in question. That they would indulge in petting, even heavy petting, was expected. It was not until a few days before their departure date that the two of them came down for breakfast, hand in hand, and announced that they had spent the night in the same bed.

“And did you…” Noelani asked.

“No, Mum. We both wanted to, but I was nervous and wasn’t sure whether we should. David said there’d be plenty of time for that. We just cuddled.”

“Just to be safe, make sure you have protection in both rooms,” Sophie said.

I looked at Jason. He was pinching at his throat and tapping his feet. The expression on his face suggested he was on the point of saying something.

“What’s up, Jason?” I whispered.

“She’s just a baby,” he quietly replied.

Noelani picked up on that. “Remember how old we were when we started going out, lover?” she asked.

“This is different,” he said.

“How?”

“She’s my little girl.”

“How do you think my father felt? And we worked out okay.”

“I know. It’s just…”

“Dad,” Jess said, “if and when David and I make love, we’ll be careful, I promise. Mum put me on the pill a year ago, and we have condoms in our rooms, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to be at it every chance we get. But we might. Not every chance we get, but… you know. Anyway, the point is we’re not pushing ourselves. We are very much in love and we want to spend the rest of our lives together.”

I looked at David; he was nodding, smiling and blushing all at the same time; I was impressed by his ability to multitask to that extent.

Jess continued, “We’ve got decades ahead of us; there’s no point in rushing, is there?”

“That’s my girl,” Jason said; “I’m proud of you.”

 

GTI 4.2

Waist of Space, part one of the Unlikelihood series, followed Commanders Tarquin Stuart-Lane and Meredith Winstanley; hapless heroes of the Royal Space Regiment; who were sent on a mission to the Moon from which they were not expected to return. There they met with a group of aliens who had forged a living under the surface of the moon, and whose forbearswere testing a new kind of spacecraft.

In part two, FLATUS, our dynamic duo help the aliens (and the RSR) build their own multi-locatable craft. Will the ships be built and if so, will the drives work? What are the possible effects of having three such craft in space at one time? FLATUS — Fantastically Large Assembly for Travel at Unbelievable Speeds. The most unlikely spacecraft never built?

Part three follows the preparation and development of the Gap Travel Initiative (code named GTI) and the developing relationships among and between species, races and genders. Will humankind achieve the nirvana of limitless travel and if so, at what cost. Stick with Tarquin and Meredith as they navigate their route through an uncertain future.


GTI. Chapter four, scene two

The following morning, Meredith and Joan were discussing upcoming activities when Patsy came in. Knowing that Jason Strangename was due in less than an hour, Meredith asked Patsy to explain her plan to Joan in the Rear Admiral’s office. The two ambled, hand in hand, as far as Meredith’s office door, where they separated, straightened up and stepped out in a more businesslike manner.

“Congrats on the Commander spot, Patsy,” Joan said when they arrived in her office, “the rank looks good on you.”

“Thanks, Joan,” Patsy said, “right back at you.”

“So. This plan of yours…”

Patsy started to explain her plan in detail.

Meanwhile, back in the Admiral’s office, Captain Algernon Pippington, Meredith’s outgoing PA, reported that Jason Strangename had arrived.

“Show the Commodore in, Pipsqueak,” Meredith said.

“It’s Captain, Ma’am,” he said on entering his boss’s office.

“I beg your pardon?”

“It’s Captain Strangename, Ma’am, not Commodore.”

“Do you want that command I offered you yesterday?”

“Yes, Ma’am, very much so. I’ve looked forward to seeing my name on the captain’s ready room door for a long time.”

“And whom are you showing in?”

“Commodore Strangename, Ma’am.”

“That’ll be all, Captain Pippington.”

Jason Strangename marched smartly towards Meredith’s desk, halted and saluted.

“Good morning, Jason. Take a seat, please.” Jason sat rigidly in the chair facing the admiral and placed his briefcase on the floor beside him. “For goodness’ sake, relax, man,” Meredith said, “this isn’t an interview. You’ve got the job and the rank that goes with it. You’re a member of my senior staff now, and as such, I encourage, nay expect you to be comfortable in my presence.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Jason said, relaxing a little.

Meredith called her PA. “Pipsqueak, can you organise coffee and biscuits for the Commodore and me, please?”

“Of course, Ma’am.”

“And Pipsqueak?”

“Ma’am?”

“Put one on for yourself. I want you in on some of this.”

“Ma’am?”

“Just do it!” she barked. Turning back to Jason, she said, “I hope his replacement is someone with a bit more gumption.”

“Talk in the regiment is that Captain Pippington was marked out as an exceptional officer in his early days, Ma’am; tipped as a future candidate for top rank.”

“What happened to him? I mean; look at him now.”

“Wardroom chatter says it was the Waist of Space thing that did for him, Admiral.”

“I was one of the two officers on that mission. Didn’t do me any harm.”

“Wow. Sorry, Ma’am. I never connected the name. You were… wow!”

“Yes, Jason, I was and am she.”

“Seems Captain Pippington took most of the flak for that… erm… operation, Ma’am. As far as I can gather, it wasn’t down to him—”

“No. It was Farquharson’s thing really.”

“That’s my understanding, too, but Pippington became Farquharson’s fall guy.”

“Where did you get that from?”

“You know, don’t you, that the guy appointed as XO on the Sir Prijs – against my wishes, I have to say—”

“Postlethwaite, wasn’t it?”

“That’s right, Ma’am. Jacob Postlethwaite—”

“Met him once. Staff car driver. Pretty mediocre at that, as I recall.”

“Mediocre is one of the terms I would use to describe him generally…”

“The other being?”

“Farquharson’s nephew.”

“Oh, bugger.”

“Indeed. That’s how he came to be my XO.”

“So he’s the source of your information about Pippington. Accurate, do you think?”

“Well, Ma’am, the lad was somewhat – as they say in Game of Thrones – ‘in his cups’; the worse for wear after an impromptu wardroom party, and I had my MO introduce something into his drink that would loosen his tongue even more and render him incapable of saying anything untrue.”

“Surely that’s strictly against regulations?”

“Very much so, Ma’am.”

“I think you had better give me a full report on that matter before I confirm your promotion, don’t you?”

“As you wish, Admiral.”

“And make sure it includes full technical details about this substance your MO introduced into the drink: formulation, dosage… everything.”

“Because you want to…”

“I do indeed, Jason. I do indeed. Ah, here comes Pippington. We’ll talk more about this later.”

“Your tray, Admiral.”

“Thanks, Pipsqueak. Commodore, can you give the Captain a brief rundown on the operational aspects of the Sir Prijs?”

“No need, Ma’am,” Jason said, extracting a folder from his briefcase, “I’ve prepared a briefing document.” He handed a file to Meredith.

Meredith proffered it to Captain Pippington (she probably preferred it to him as well, but the context demands proffered) and said, “Take this and your coffee. Study this and we’ll talk later.”

“Can I take some biscuits, too, Ma’am?”

“Three. No more.”

The captain took three biscuits, his coffee and the briefing document, and left Meredith’s office.

“Did you read the project brief, Jason?” she asked.

“I did.”

“And?”

“I understand most of it, Admiral, but I still have no idea what you want of me.”

“Give me back the document.”

“Ma’am?”

“Not you, too. Look. Give me back the one I gave you yesterday and I’ll replace it with one that has no redactions.”

“My clearance came through?”

“No, I just thought knickers to the rules, I’ll give it to him anyway. Of course your bloody clearance came through. Now, take this away and read it. Go to Joan… Rear Admiral Weinberg’s office where you’ll find Commander Pratt—”

“Patsy Pratt?”

“Yes.”

“Patsy Pratt the preposterously post-pubescent, pouting, preternaturally pugilistic preparer of puff pastry, pies and pasties?”

“And flans. Yes, that Patsy Pratt.”

“Commander?”

“Why not?”

“Oh, no reason, Ma’am. This is some regiment, where even a humble galley-maid can get three bars.”

“It is, isn’t it? Anyway, talk to her. She’ll fill you in on a job I have her doing. Your first job for me will be to add gravitas to her efforts with One Dimension.”

“You mean I’m to be her muscle? Is that it?”

“Seriously, Jason. Do you think Patsy needs a man to back her up?”

“Not if her reputation is anything to go by.”

“Exactly. This is all about perception. I’ll let her explain it to you. Suffice to say, your initial role will be as a diplomat – one that One Dimension will see as a strong, senior, not-to-be-trifled-with presence. It’ll also give you an opportunity to think through your part in the project. Now go and find Patsy. Dismissed.”

Jason picked up his briefcase and extracted the briefing. He handed it to Meredith and accepted her replacement. He stood smartly to attention, saluted, turned and marched out of her office.

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 11.5

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.


A Bump in the Knight. Chapter eleven, part five

In contrast to the flight to Hawaii, when David slept for the entire journey, he was so energised that none of us had any sleep at all on the way back. As soon as he realised that WiFi was available on the flight, he asked us if he could use it. Of course, it came at a price, but compared to the cost of the tickets, it was small change, provided the usage was low.

“Okay,” I said, “but no movies, alright? Plenty of movies to choose from on the in-flight entertainment.”

“No movies, Dad. I might look at Facebook, but its mostly for WhatsApp.”

I tapped the relevant card information into his phone and did the same with mine and Sophie’s. Immediately, his phone sounded a tone. I looked at him with raised eyebrows.

“Jess,” he said, and turned his attention back to his phone.

“I’m going to message Noelani, to thank her for looking after us so well for so long,” Sophie said.

“Go for it,” I replied, “and remind her that we expect to see her and Jason at Knight Towers before too long.”

“And Jess,” David added, before turning back to his screen.

“And Jess,” I agreed.

For the next twenty minutes or so, the Knight family observed a kind of silence, broken only by the gentle sound of fingers on pretend keyboards. For my part, I had my tablet out and was reviewing the notes on the working party’s recent meetings and activities.

“Dad?” David said, breaking the silence, “What do you think of Jess, really.”

“She’s so much like you, David, how could I not love her.”

“Do you, Dad? Really?”

“Seeing the two of you together was like seeing a brother and sister, only without the worst parts of sibling rivalry.”

“Yeah, we did do that a bit, didn’t we?”

“At first, I didn’t know if you’d work it out. You really are very similar, you know, even to the point of being what I would call ‘quietly competitive’. You wanted to show her that you were her intellectual equal, didn’t you?”

“Well, yeah. Because she’s so much smarter than I am.”

“And do you know why she was going on about her accomplishments; what she had done and what she knew?”

“I thought at first it was because she wanted to rub my nose in how much better and cleverer than me she is.”

“At first?”

“Well, yeah. I figured out that she was just trying to show that we are equal.”

“And do you know why she was trying to do that?”

“No.”

“She was trying to show that you were equal because she was convinced that you are much smarter than she is.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Not at all.”

“But she’s smarter than I am.”

“Possibly she is, in some areas, but you’re smarter in others. The end result is that you complement each other, and between you, you make one very smart team.”

“Oh, wow.”

“Why do you ask, anyway?” I said, “What matters isn’t what we think of your friends, it’s what you think of them; how you relate to them.”

“But I want you and Mum to approve of my choice.”

“We do, but we don’t have to approve of your friends. They’re your friends, not ours. We’d let you know if we thought any of them were bad for you, but even then, it’d only be an opinion. You’re old enough to take responsibility for a number of things, David, and your choice of friends is one of them.”

“But what if Jess were more than just a friend?”

“What are you saying?”

“Nothing, just a hypothetical.”

“You mean if there were a romantic dimension to your relationship?”

“Or sexual.”

“She’s only fifteen.”

“Now, but she won’t always be.”

“Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it, shall we?”

“Hypothetically, Dad. If I were to fall in love with Jess—”

“You think you might?”

“I think I might… I think I might have.”

“Oh.”

“Hypothetically.”

“Okay. Do I think the two of you are suited? Yes. Would I, in later years, be happy to welcome her into the family? Absolutely. But do I think this is something we should be addressing when you’re sixteen and she’s only fifteen—”

“Yes, I do,” Sophie interrupted.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Hannice. If you respect our son, respect his feelings, and especially respect that he feels able to discuss them with us. David, I think you and Jess would make a smashing couple. Now, I know that you have been very close over the past few weeks, but you need time now to work out whether this is the real thing, your first love, or a holiday romance. Once we get home, you can WhatsApp and Skype her as much as you like.”

“Or FaceTime, Mum.”

“Or FaceTime, whatever that is… and don’t bother explaining it to me now, that’s for later. Point is, when the pressure of time is off, you can use all your gadgets to get to know each other better. Talk about everything, even politics and religion. As you really get to know each other, you’ll gradually come to realise what pulls you together and what could separate you. My hunch is you’ll get closer. But know this. Long-distance affairs are hard. Relationships are never static. Throughout your lives, you will either grow closer together or further apart; and that’s when you are together a lot of the time.”

“So are you saying it can’t work, Mum?”

“No, not at all. I’m just saying that your father and I will support you, but it might not be as smooth sailing as you would like it to be.”

David’s phone gave out the tone that suggested an incoming WhatsApp message.

“It’s Jess,” he said. “She’s been having a long talk with her folks.”

“About?” I asked

“Same as we’ve been talking about.”

“And?”

“They said the same as you guys. She said they’re not trying to put her off, just preparing her for a disappointment they hope she won’t have to face.”

“I’m glad we’re all thinking the same. We don’t want you guys to be hurt, that’s our only concern. But if you have to face any pain, I hope you’ll let us support you through it.”

“You don’t sound very positive.”

“We are. We’re positive that you believe this is the real thing. We’re positive that you’ll both do your best to make it work. And though we hope against hope that it doesn’t go wrong, we hope you’re positive that we’ll be here to help you pick up the pieces if it does.”

“Thanks, Dad. Thanks, Mum. I think I’ll try to sleep for a bit.”

That was when the pilot chose to give his ‘we are preparing for landing’ announcement.

“On second thoughts,” David said, “maybe I’ll stay awake for a bit longer. What shall we talk about?”

“How about your gap year plans?” I suggested.

“I might want to change those, in the light of recent events,” he said.

“Perhaps you could spend part of it with me and Scott Enoch, identifying and investigating expansion possibilities in the US.”

“Any States in particular?”

“Wherever there may be openings for us.”

“Hawaii, by any chance?”

“If Scott identifies openings there, why not?”

“Will you talk to Scott, or shall I?”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, David. I know where you’re going with this, but we’ll investigate Hawaii if, and only if, there are opportunities that Knight Global can profitably exploit.”

“Can’t let love get in the way of business, can we?” Sophie asked with a wink and a grin.

“Sadly, no, but the one doesn’t necessarily preclude the other,” I suggested.