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Last week, people assembled at the local council offices to talk about improvements around our shire. I responded to an advertisement in our local newspaper seeking interested people to get involved with their council to suggest improvements to open areas and parklands. I am Wendy Bradley, a journalist and I write articles for magazines and newspapers so I thought this may be the chance to get some articles published in the local newspaper. I also have a community interest because I live here, so there were two reasons for me to be at the meeting.
As I entered the foyer I felt a little overwhelmed by the business-like appearances of some of the men. Not to be deterred, I walked in and signed the attendance book as directed by a man in fancy jacket. I signed in and he directed me to the urns with coffee and tea. I walked to the urn and took a cup and saucer then waited for the man ahead of me to get his hot coffee. He saw me and said, “Do you want coffee?” I smiled, nodded and said I did.
“Here, you take this one I will fill that for myself.” I accepted his offer with a smile and a big ‘thank you’. I added milk and turned to him and offered him the milk jug. Now it was his turn to say ‘thank you’ for my effort.
“My name is Peter, Peter O’Neill. I am interested in helping improve our suburb any way I can,” he said.
“Hello, my name is Wendy Bradley. Our reasons for being here seem to be the same, which is a relief. For a while I thought I had entered a secret domain, but hearing you say that has put my mind at ease, at least for the time being. I am not sure what I can do to make a difference; I am a journalist, not a town planner.” I know I talk too much when I am nervous, I think Peter noticed that, too.
“No, you are in the right place. I have some ideas of what is wanted in this town because I play golf with the Recreation and Environmental Officer, or REO for short,” Peter explained.
“So, you already know what is needed?” I asked to confirm what he said.
“Yes. I think there is as much need for a journalist here as there is a Civil Engineer, which is what I am.” Peter was a quiet man, so I didn’t think he was boasting about his job, but his manner suggested authority and I liked that.
Just then a voice echoed in the hall, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please take a seat and we will open up a host of ideas and opportunities for you to bring new life to our community.” It was the man with the fancy jacket. Peter looked at me and said, “Well, let’s find a seat and be enlightened. Please come and sit with me, if you wish to do so, of course.” What a gentleman, I thought.
“Thank you. I appreciate your offer because you’re the only person I know here.” I was truly grateful not to be alone with all these important-looking people.
There was a PowerPoint presentation using photos to highlight where improvements were needed at various suburban locations. We watched the slides and listened to the talk which lasted about 40 minutes and then we were asked to consider if we felt we could contribute to the town’s beautification program. We were offered refreshments; wine, beer and soft drinks, along with hot and cold finger food.
“Let me get you a drink, Wendy. Oh, I hope you didn’t mind me being so forward.” He waited for my response.
“No, please don’t apologise, I prefer Wendy, informality is part of my job and I encourage it.” I told him as I followed him to the bar.
“What will you have?” he asked.
“Chardonnay, please,” I said, again feeling out of place.
“Then, I shall have the same,” he said. As we sipped our drinks, he opened the conversation again, “Well Wendy, do you have any preferences for being involved in this project? Did any location grab you by the throat?” As he spoke, he clenched his free hand to indicate a gripping action.
“To tell the truth, I was a bit overwhelmed by the scope of work that may be required, so I don’t know what to think. I may need time to digest it.” It was an excuse because I could not see how I could contribute, but was not yet prepared to share that with Peter.
“Yes, I can see that, but I have a secret passion for the lower end of the creek which is just a mess of leaves and broken branches. Do you know where I mean?” I nodded. Peter continued, “Yes, I take my dog for a walk along the walking track on weekends. I think it could be made to look better. Perhaps there could be a small bridge over the culvert that could become a concealed drain with a waterfall opening onto a small wetland for the native birds in this area. It would be good if we could encourage water birds to congregate there.” He spoke with some authority and he painted a lovely image in my mind.
“Peter, that sounds great. I’d like to think the water fowl could stay there and change the whole appearance of that area. But how and where do we start?” Once again I was overwhelmed by his mental images and his obvious enthusiasm.
“Would you like another drink, Wendy?” He took my empty glass and refilled bets10 it at the bar. On his way back he stopped briefly to talk to some-one he obviously knew then returned to me.
“Don’t you worry about that, I can lead you through some ideas I have in my office. I’ll let you in to a little secret. I knew this night was planned. I asked the REO, which is the man I mentioned earlier, if there was a particularly difficult place that really needed rejuvenation and he mentioned this area.”
“So you had prior knowledge of these projects? That’s cheating isn’t it?” I laughed to ease my tension, he accepted my attempt at humour and answered,
“In my job, you need to be on top of a task to be able to see it through. I enjoy difficult tasks and I always like the finished job.” I was still thinking about that when he added, “As a journalist, you would have a laptop computer, wouldn’t you?” I nodded. “Of course you do, why did I ask?”
Now I was more curious than confused, so I asked why he needed to know about my computer.
“Wendy, it may be fortuitous us meeting tonight. Fate has a wonderful way of putting answers in front of us before we even ask the questions.” I think I frowned, because what he said was weird. “I know, you think I’m strange. You wouldn’t be the first, but I believe answers come to those who seek them if they have ideas. I would like to show you some sketches I have prepared for that area, ducks included.”
“How does that include me?” I searched his eyes for an answer.
“Let me explain. I am a busy man, with a large Civil Engineering business in town. I enjoy doing the work, but I am hopeless at setting out reports or statements. These will be required by council, the REO again, to ask the Mayor for funds to get started. I have a secretary to do that in my office, but she won’t have time to add this project to her workload, and frankly, I don’t think she would be interested in it. You see, the best part of this project is that we don’t use our own money, we just contribute our time. I am asking you to write those progress reports for this project.”
“OK. That’s when I know what I am doing. But how do I get the words and the details together?” I asked.
“That’s a fair question, but can I answer it in a few days after I have digested what has happened here tonight. I will reveal all soon. Will you wait to see what I have planned, Wendy?” I nodded and smiled just a little.
We were asked again to be seated to see who would be prepared to lead a project. As we sat down, Peter looked at me and asked, “Are you in on this project?” How could I refuse when he asked so sweetly? I saw this as a challenge and it seemed to get me thinking in a positive way. It may also get me a job at the local newspaper office.
“Yes, of course. But I will need direction. Is that OK?”
“That’s good, let’s shake hands on it. This will be a great project.” Peter was really into his idea and I was being drawn along by his enthusiasm. When the mayor asked for interested people, Peter was first to stand up and speak, “Mr Mayor, my name is Peter O’Neill of O’Neill and Franz, Civil Engineers. I would like to take the challenge to make a new wetland in the swamp area at the end of Jackson Boulevard. I believe I could make a huge difference, but I will need the services of a landscaper or excavation company to do the dirty work. Is there anyone suitable here tonight?”
“I heard the voice of a younger man respond. “I have a landscaping business and I have access to heavy machinery. I think I could be useful, but I am not an organiser. I can do the work, but please, not an office job.” Peter spoke again.
“That man who just spoke, would you meet me over near the door to the conference room when we break up here, please?” I heard a positive response and the man gave his name. So, now we were three. Most of the projects were allocated to people like Peter. After more discussion the man with the fancy jacket declared the meeting closed and thanked all those for their attendance.
I could see Peter was in his element. “Come on Wendy; let’s see if the landscape man is who we want.” I am sure he wanted to take my hand and drag me to the door he had indicated. When we arrived there, I saw a man in his twenties, with suntanned arms and face. He had a great physique. Peter introduced himself, shook hands and introduced me to his newfound friend. “Wendy, this is Clive Walters. Clive this is Wendy, I think we can get a lot of good work from her and I hope you share my idea.” Clive produced a glossy brochure and handed it to Peter.
“This is a family business, started by my father and our clients expect me to be his equal, so I will do my best.” Peter looked at the brochure and passed it to me.
“Clive, I can see this working for you?” Clive listened. “Good, I will recommend that you do the earthworks as required and you can get some of your council rates back. How does that sound?” Clive thought it was good and smiled for the first time. Peter looked bets10 giriş at his watch and said, “Time is getting on, let’s exchange details and I will call you in a few days, early next week, to share what I have been doing so far. We exchanged business cards and I shook hands with Clive, as did Peter and said ‘goodnight’. I went to shake Peter’s hand, but he said, “No, I am not finished with you yet. I need to transfer my software to your computer so you can start thinking about my dream and hopefully it will become your dream too.” Whether it would work out or not, I was interested. I was taking a liking to his style and forthright manner. I liked this man.
“Now Wendy, can you meet me for lunch next week? Do you have time to add extra tasks to your list?”
“Yes, I can. What day and time do you have in mind?”
“How about we meet for lunch at the Travellers’ Tavern in High Street on Monday? How does midday sound?” Peter waited for my decision.
“Yes, that will be OK. I am not busy next week, so I can be there.” I told him, trying to hold back my excitement at his offer.
“Good. See you at midday on Monday. We shook hands at the door and we said ‘good night’ to each other and headed to our respective vehicles.
All the way home all I could think of was Peter and his positive approach to life. My husband, Ron, is nothing like that; he is more laid back and lets the world roll by. I was having naughty thoughts about Peter, but tried not to let my feelings show when I reached home.
“How was the meeting?” Ron asked me.
“Very good. I am part of an improvement program to beautify the creek at the end of Jackson Boulevard.”
“Why? That’s a dump. Just let it be, it can’t be fixed.” Ron was never enthusiastic about anything, but Peter, wow! He was living a dream and I really wanted to be part of his dream.
Monday couldn’t come fast enough. I had dreams about Peter. I felt wet when I thought about him and I even fingered myself in bed at the thoughts of him as a sex partner. Boy! I can have great dreams too! When Monday came, I watched Ron head off to his work and Ryan off to school. I had a shower and gave special attention to some parts of my body to ensure I was up to the standard Peter might expect of me. I had my computer on charge all night to be sure I wouldn’t let him down. I had no idea why he wanted my computer, but I wanted to find out. I had a new set of sexy, lacy underwear for just such an occasion. I chose a blue dress with a button-up front, and matched it with a suitable handbag and shoes. I looked in the mirror and felt good. Look out Peter O’Neill, here I come.
Just as I was about to leave, the phone rang. I answered it. The voice at the other end asked, “Mrs Bradley?” I said, “No. My name is Carter”, I didn’t recognise the caller’s voice. “Oh, I must be mistaken, your business card said Wendy Bradley, journalist. Is that you?” I felt foolish. I tried to apologise.
“Is that Peter O’Neill?” He answered ‘yes’, so I started to apologise. “I hadn’t expected you to call, I’m sorry to confuse you.”
“Don’t be sorry. I was just checking to see if you are still meeting me in 20 minutes.”
“Yes, I’ll be there. Yes, I sure will. I am about to leave home.”
“Good, I’ll be waiting in the car park for you. Bye until then, Mrs Carter.” He made me laugh and I was jubilant, although I stuffed up badly on the phone call. I would have to explain that to him.
As I drove into the hotel car park I saw him waiting at the entrance. He waved. I felt myself getting damp between my legs when I saw him wave back. I hardly knew him. I picked up my computer, locked the car and walked up the steps to greet him. I moved to shake his hand, but he took my hand and kissed it. That did it! I became wetter, much wetter down there now. My heart was thumping, but I didn’t want him to notice. This was a business arrangement, so I composed myself as he guided me by my elbow to the dining area. “I have a reserved table just over there. I always select that one.”
I started to apologise for the telephone mishap, but Peter said, “No need to apologise. It was me who didn’t identify myself, I am to blame. It won’t spoil our meeting.” What a gentleman. He pulled my chair out, seated himself beside me and passed the menu to me, “Choose whatever your heart desires.” I wish he hadn’t said that. What my heart desired right now was not on that menu! The waiter arrived and addressed Peter by his first name and took our orders. “Would you like a chardonnay, Mrs Carter?” He spoke to the waiter and ordered a bottle. “Our business relationship should start on a high note, so only the best chardonnay for us today,” he said with the voice of authority.
“Is this your local haunt? They seem to know you.” He looked at me and said,
“This is my table. I phone in; I don’t need to ask for a table, all they ask is how many guests. As you can see, it is bigger than a normal table. That is so we can put laptops on it to do work. You bets10 güvenilir mi might be surprised how many bridges, roads and drains have been designed at this table. Today it is our wetland council project. I trust you are still enthusiastic about it?” It was a question.
“Yes, totally. This will be a new experience for me and I am looking forward to getting started,” I replied.
That’s good, but first, some idle chatter until the food arrives. I know you are married, but are there any children?”
“Yes, one boy; just turned twelve this month. How about you? I asked.
“Yes. Married. I have twin boys who will turn thirteen in July. Gosh, saying that makes me feel old.” He laughed, but I responded with, “You don’t look old enough.” As soon as I spoke I knew it was wrong, but Peter thanked me for the compliment. We spoke about Clive, the landscaper, and his part on our team.
“The reason I asked you to bring your computer is so you can see the same images as I do, because we can talk over the phone when we share ideas. Let me warn you, I will ask you for your opinions on all aspects and I want honest answers, or even a contrary opinion, or even another idea. I won’t be offended or annoyed if you disagree with any of my ideas. In my business nothing gets done until all parties agree on the outcome.”
Our food came as did the wine. The food waiter placed the plates down and the drinks waiter poured the wine, Peter nodded and our glasses were filled. Peter said, “Let’s toast to a successful partnership.” The word partnership caused another little feeling between my legs, I raised my glass, clinked it with his and we both took a mouthful. “Is the wine to your liking?” I said it was really pleasant. As we ate we barely spoke except to comment on the food and the sunny, spring day outside the window.
When our meals were finished and the dessert dishes taken away, Peter ordered a pot of coffee. The waiter poured coffee into our cups and added milk to mine.
“Now, let’s get down to business.” He opened his computer and I opened mine beside it. He pushed a few buttons on his and asked me for my Bluetooth password to connect. We talked and watched the two screens as his software was copied to my computer.
“You only have the trial copy, you can use it to try new ideas, but you will not be able to make permanent changes, but your changes will show on my computer too. In short, you can play around with ideas, but you can’t change the original copy. I will need to do that. Do you understand that?”
“Yes, I think I do.” In truth, I had no idea what he was talking about, but I saw my screen change to look like his.
“Good. Now let me show you my dream. Hopefully, it will be our dream when it is made and Clive plays his part.” He showed me what the area looks like now and superimposed his vision onto the image. I was surprised to see how much he had transformed the ugly area. Things went well — until he put his hand over mine to move my mouse to highlight an image to chnage. I didn’t hear what he said, I was tingling all over. I took another mouthful of wine to steady my nerves and to wet my dry throat.
When Peter saw the bottle was empty and asked me, “Do you have to leave early? Do you need to be somewhere else?” I said ‘no’. My mouth was dry despite the large mouthful of wine I just swallowed.
“Would you like to share another bottle, Mrs Carter?” He was smiling as he used my married name. I enjoyed his little taunts about my name.
“I would like that very much, thank you Mr O’Neill.” He smiled at me. Between pouring wine and discussing his vision my mind was in turmoil. I listened to him and wondered what he would be like in bed. He’s such a gentleman. He would please me, I just know he would.
He looked at me and asked, “Are you all right? You went quiet for a while there.”
“Yes, I’m all right, thank you. I am still trying to absorb all the good work you have already done.” I told him.
“I think you need another coffee.” He refilled my cup and added the milk. “I am pleased you like what I have done so far, Wendy.”
“I liked it when you explained it at the meeting last week. I am good with words, but I can’t apply the same skills to your sort of creativity. Perhaps I could get the local papers interested in publishing progress reports on this project. Perhaps, reports on all the projects. It will keep me in touch and I may get to know the editor well enough to publish my other works.”
“That’s the idea. Plan ahead. Get involved. Over the weekend I was thinking of how your expertise could be added to the project, rather than just transferring my mental meanderings into worthwhile words; the local papers would be a good outlet for the community to see changes.” When he finished the sentence he kissed me on the forehead. “Oh! I’m sorry; I got carried away with your idea. It’s more than I expected, but a wonderful adjunct to our project. I hope you’ll forgive me.
He was looking directly into my eyes as he spoke and I don’t know what possessed me, but I put my hand on his thigh and squeezed gently. A strange look came over his face, he asked me, “What are you doing, Wendy? Do you want to take this meeting further?” I nodded and faintly answered ‘yes’.
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