Against the Current

First job, and the end of first serious relationship. I had just left university and my lover. I was scared half to death and miserable as sin and trying not to show either. The job was backing up the manager on a big country estate – country boy, that’s me, and never mind who owns the place because she doesn’t appear in the story. The lover and I had kept things going all through four years at university, and then I went to the country and he went to the city, and after two months of juggling we had both admitted that we couldn’t manage a long distance relationship, and we had contrived one last weekend in which we had frankly fucked like rabbits, and then kissed each other and said goodbye.

The job was terrifying. I had lots of theoretical knowledge and no idea of how to apply any of it, and my boss Alan gave me the distinct impression that he didn’t suffer fools at all, never mind gladly. He wasn’t… aggressive, or unkind, or impatient, but he gave me the distinct impression that if he wasn’t, it was by the exercise of some personal control. I didn’t feel that I was doing good work for him, or that he was pleased about it. I’d been interviewed and employed by the estate owner and I wasn’t sure that Alan had wanted a helper at all.

Still, I had somewhere to live, which was a good start. The job came with accommodation. Alan had a largish cottage, and I had a sort of granny flat thing attached to it. His cottage had the office in it too, so I spent quite a lot of time there, processing paperwork. You wouldn’t believe how much paperwork there is for a country landholding. Or how incomprehensible some of it is. Or how high tech the country life has become.

So a couple of months past the Big Break-Up and no sign of any improvement to my love life, and the job was still terrifying, and Alan was terrifying too. He was so competent. There didn’t seem to be anything that he couldn’t do. There were contractors to run the farm, but he oversaw it, and there was a vet who called once a week, but Alan could identify most of the things wrong with the livestock, and he could ride a horse and milk a cow and the bloody pheasants didn’t peck him, and he could drive the tractor and use the combine harvester and service the equipment and I hated him. Competent, intelligent and sexy as hell, and he didn’t even look at me. Well, I hated him because of that. I had thought of making a play for him, and I had made a couple of flirtatious remarks (I was fairly sure both that he was gay and that he wasn’t in a relationship) and been snubbed both times, so that was that.

What I did was to go and get unbelievably drunk. I’m not sure even now just why I thought that would help. Every day off I spent in the pub, and the only thing I’ll say in my own defence is that I did have enough sense not to take the car. I walked home at closing time through the estate. Alan found me once leaning on the wall of the byre singing to the cows. I’ve got a good voice, though I say it myself, and I can sing most of the standards because my mother was a club singer. She is still, actually. I woke up the next morning with a ferocious hangover and the distinct memory of having serenaded forty Hereford cows with the collected works of Irving Berlin and several others, and then of having hung on Alan’s neck all the way home, having assured him, in song, firstly that he would be so nice to come home to, and secondly that blue skies were smiling on me. Not even good choices. I’d have done better with ‘Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone’. The next morning served only to prove to me that one doesn’t die of embarrassment however much one wishes to. Alan didn’t refer at all to the previous night, and I was expecting to be reamed out for it, and spent the whole day leaping like a startled gazelle every time he spoke to me.

After that, I still spent all my free time in the pub, but I paced myself a bit better. I didn’t reel home quite so plainly stocious, but kept sober enough to spot Alan doing his late round and to hide from him. I climbed a tree once…

But I was still drunk the night I went in the river. It was quite deliberate; it had been a very hot day, I was bevvied up, and I decided to swim on my way home. Stupid, or what? But there was the river and the water-meadow beside it, and a full moon, and Ryan deciding that skinny-dipping seemed like a good idea. I stripped off, and slid in and thought, as one tends to do, “Fuck, that’s cold!”, and swam across the river and back a couple of times, and then reached for the bank and found I couldn’t get out. I was quite a lot further downstream than where I had gone in, and the bank was timbered up, and there was nothing to get a grip on and no foothold. So I swam to the other side and it was the same.

Well, I said a short word or two, and turned to swim back upstream, and suddenly realised that I couldn’t do it. I’m fit enough, and strong enough, and I’m a good swimmer (school team and college team, but not good enough for university team), but there was a much stronger current than I had realised, and I was being run downstream at some speed.

That’s when I saw Alan. And fortunately Alan saw me. He came belting down the bank, and as I came over, he grabbed my wrist, called me three evil names, and crouched, bracing himself to pull me out. The trouble was, the bank was high, and the leverage simply didn’t work. My hand slid out of his, and I dropped back into nine feet of cold water. That was another problem: the water was so cold that I was becoming unable to think or do anything physically demanding. Never mind, I thought, a bit further downstream and there was sure to be somewhere I could get out. Alan shouted something, I didn’t catch what, and I saw him begin to run. Thanks a lot, I thought, that’s a big help. Then I heard the weir.

I don’t think I have ever been so scared in my whole life. It’s a big weir, and it had been a wet spring and there was a lot of water going over. And I had seen the body when one of the sheep had got trapped and had ended up going over the bar. I began to work hard towards the bank, not directly against the current, but diagonally across it, finally using my brains and the life-saving training I had been given. I could see the long concrete barrier that edges the upper pool, and I spared a thought that if I hit it, I would probably break a bone, and if I missed it I would certainly drown, and a moment later it was obvious that I was going to miss it. I just couldn’t quite get there. And then a hand closed in my hair and heaved, and I slid closer to the bank, and the hand dropped my hair, and wrapped round my wrist and heaved again, and I came into shallow water and stood up breast to breast with Alan, and my knees went from under me and I slid back onto the gravel.

He was waist deep, and furious. He leaned over, took me under the arms and hoisted me out onto the bank, scrambling up beside me. I lay, gasping, on the grass for a moment, and then rolled over and tried to get up. Alan caught me round the waist and supported me, and began to speak. He told me what he thought of my brains (inadequate), my breeding (doubtful), my career (probably over) and some more. I gasped and shivered and said nothing. The air was warmer than the water, but I was stark naked in the presence of a wet but fully clad man who had just saved my life and I felt bloody silly. I had nothing to say. He was entitled to be angry and when he stopped for breath I would say ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ but I wasn’t going to interrupt. I had rarely heard such a combination of profanity and home truths. We were staggering back up the bank towards the moonlit shape of the truck – I could see that Alan had been collecting the fencing stuff we had been using earlier, for the back of the truck was down.

He did stop for breath, as we reached the truck, and I said feebly, “I’m sorry, Alan,” and somehow that seemed to be wrong, for he exploded with rage again, abused me some more, and added, “You’re going to be bloody sorry, I’m telling you”, and with that he sat down on the flat bed of the truck and hauled me across his knees.

No, sorry, I fought. I struggled. Grateful or not, I fought. At another time I might not have done – I’ve been spanked before, Charles used to spank me occasionally, and I him, but only for fun – but I was by now sober enough to appreciate that Alan didn’t intend half a dozen light smacks and the chance to kiss and make up. And dark it might be, and private property, but nonetheless I’m modest enough that I didn’t want my bare bottom smacked outdoors. No, I fought. But he’s a powerful man, my boss, and he had the advantage of me in catching me by surprise. I wriggled and kicked, and he couldn’t get a good grip, and I twisted and swore, and his fingers tightened on my wrist and tugged it across my back and upwards, and against my vocal and physical objections my head went down towards the ground and my backside ended up presented over his lap. And I wasn’t cold, but I was afraid, and I writhed and swore again, and he froze. And I suddenly became aware of what he had already felt – that I was hard, against his thigh, and he was hard, against mine, and that every time I wriggled we rubbed together and that I at least liked it. And I don’t think he could have convinced a jury that he didn’t.

We were both absolutely still for about ten seconds, and then he shoved me off his lap, and snarled, “Get in the cab” and I tottered round to the door. I heard him slam the tailgate up and set the catches, and then he was in the truck and starting the engine. “Where did you leave your clothes?”

“Just below the gate to Linley meadow.”

He grunted and drove there. It was excruciatingly uncomfortable. I was still wet and the seats in the truck are vinyl, and cold and sticky on bare skin. He slammed on the brakes and jumped out, recovering my clothes for me, and dumping them on my lap and driving on without giving me a chance to dress. We went home, and I scrabbled my key out of my trouser pocket, and then I couldn’t get the fucking thing into the lock. Alan came up behind me and took it from my hand, opened the door for me and followed me in. I was shaking with shock and cold and humiliation and unrequited lust and God only knows what else, and he pushed me to the bathroom and turned on the shower. “Get in there and don’t come out until I tell you.”

Yes SIR! I thought rebelliously, and his head snapped round and I realised I had said it out loud, and leapt for the shower. I gasped at the heat of it for a moment or two, and then looked back, but Alan was gone. He came back five minutes later, turned off the water without a by your leave, and reached in to touch my shoulders and chest. “Are you still cold?”

I shook my head sullenly. “Out then, and dry yourself. Quickly.”

Bossy boots, I thought, but I was careful not to say that one out loud. He watched me dry myself, and then sent me to get into bed, and brought me a hot drink, and stood over me while I drank it all, and I suddenly realised that he was wet himself, and probably no warmer than I had been. I opened my mouth to say something and he got in first.

“I’ll see you tomorrow in the office at half past eight. Don’t be late.” And he was gone. I heard the door slam, and then his own door open, and by listening very carefully, I could just hear, five minutes later, the sound of him in his own bathroom.

I didn’t sleep. I was horribly sober, with all the alcohol frightened out of me, and in the morning Alan was going to fire me. I knew he was. I wondered if I would be better occupied packing than lying in bed, but although I couldn’t sleep, the shock and the cold had left me languorous and torpid, and I couldn’t motivate myself to get up. I lay there all night, dozing on and off, and having the sort of remarkable dreams that come when you are only very lightly asleep. In most of them, I didn’t fight when Alan tried to spank me, and I woke from at least half of them in a state of panting arousal.

I got up at half five and made coffee and sat on the step to drink it, looking out over the meadow towards the wood. Alan had said that we were going to start the tree felling this week, but it wouldn’t be with me. I wouldn’t see the deer herd through the year, or the… I shook off the self-pity. My own fault. I wondered if he would let me resign, rather than firing me. I wondered what difference it would have made if I had just kept still and taken the spanking he had wanted to give me. And which I had (I couldn’t deny) warranted. That line of thought made me fidget uncomfortably. It did odd things in my groin. I heard Alan move about next door, and took the dregs of my coffee back inside. Then I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom. It filled two hours, and was always useful, and would stand me in good stead if I had to vacate the cottage in a hurry.

I couldn’t wait for half past eight. I was in the office fifteen minutes before time, waiting for Alan. There was a huge pile of books on the desk, and a box of computer printouts beside the chair. Alan came in behind me. I opened my mouth to speak, although I have no idea what I would have said.

“Sit. There.”

I obeyed. Power stuff. Gets me lower than him so that I’m subordinate. Then he fires me.

No, actually. “I want you to do a piece of research for me. These are the estate Day Books. They go back twenty years. The early ones actually are ledgers, then the later ones were done on the computer. Those are the printouts. You’ll have to use paper copies because we changed the system last year and the new one won’t read the old backups. I want you to go through the whole lot. Find every occasion on which the estate manager has recorded someone or something swimming in the river. Who it was, what happened. Write me a list. Understand?”

I nodded. I’m too old for five hundred lines of “I must not swim in the river”, but that’s what it was. I should have taken the spanking. But it seemed I wasn’t going to be fired, so whatever I thought of the punishment, I would just take it and accept it as deserved.

It took me two days to go through the papers. I worked from eight thirty to one and from two until half past five. By then I was getting the idea, and I had stopped feeling resentful and started feeling guilty. And lucky. The first day, Alan hung around, shifting his own paperwork. He wasn’t unkind; he made me coffee a couple of times, but he didn’t talk. The second day, he saw me start work and went off to talk to the timber contractors. I made my own coffee. I was tempted to stop work while I drank it, but Alan hadn’t the day before, and although he hadn’t said anything, I felt as if he had put me on my honour to behave properly. Having made several pages of notes about the river, I was very, very subdued and ashamed of myself.

Alan came back at a quarter to six. He seemed vaguely surprised to find me still there. “You can go, if you want. Go on with that tomorrow.”

“I’d rather finish it now. I’ve only another six months to go.”

“Whatever. I’m going for a shower.”

By the time he emerged, smelling of sandalwood, I had finished, refiled everything, and written a summary.

“I’m done, Alan.”

“Tell me what you’ve found.”

“Well, I can’t extrapolate much, because we don’t know how many people or things went into the river that the managers didn’t know about. But I’ve got twenty-four recorded incidents. Not including me. Six of them were livestock. There was a cow saved who went in at the brook, and two sheep and a horse recovered. One cow and one sheep drowned.

“The other eighteen were people. One of them looks like a suicide, but it wasn’t proven. Five accidental, people falling in. Two of them drowned, three rescued. Twelve swimmers. Four drowned, eight rescued, although one died later in hospital of exposure. It’s a dangerous river.”

“Did you know that before?”

“I just didn’t think about it. But I could have worked it out. There are life rings and so on every half a mile, and since it’s a private estate, not open to the public, they aren’t a legal requirement. So I should have known. I’m sorry. And, Alan, I am grateful that you were there. I was unbelievably stupid and I didn’t deserve to get away with it.”

“No. You didn’t. You were lucky. I was late going out because I had been watching something on TV. Another night you would have drowned. Please don’t. I can’t face the paperwork.”

I jumped at that. Alan, making a joke? Weird.

“All right, Ryan, you can go.”

I headed for the door, and then hesitated.

“What is it?”

I glanced at him, and felt myself begin to blush, and opened my mouth to say, “Nothing, goodnight.” But to my absolute horror, I heard my voice say, “I’m due a hiding for it, aren’t I? And I didn’t take it.”

I don’t know which of us was the more surprised. I was bug eyed with what I had just said, and Alan had his mouth hanging open. He got up, and came across the room to me, and stopped and opened his arms very slightly and I hurled myself against his chest and wound both arms round his neck, and buried my face against his shoulder. He peeled me gently away, and said, “All right, calm down, it’s…” and I fastened my mouth on his before he could say any more. I was panicking and breathless with an overflow of emotion, and after thirty seconds I was breathless with lust. He kissed so beautifully, and so strongly, and my knees went weak. Eventually, he broke away, and I saw that he was as flushed as I felt.

“I’m sorry,” I babbled, “I shouldn’t have done that, you don’t want me to, it’s just reaction, you saved me and…”



“Stop talking. You talk too much. You never stop. I can’t kiss you while you’re talking.”

Right. That’s true. And he kissed me some more, and his hands slid wonderfully over my back, and I ground my hips against him. He came up to breathe.

“I do want to, Ryan. I’ve wanted to for months, but you seemed to be so confused by the job that I thought you couldn’t cope with turning me down if it wasn’t what you wanted, and I didn’t know how to help with the work. I’ve never had a subordinate before. Although you are about as insubordinate as they come. There must have been half a dozen times I’ve wanted to spank you, although the other night was something else.”

“I know. I really did deserve it. I should have… I shouldn’t have fought you. Do it now.”

“No. I don’t need to. I was just so angry with you for taking stupid risks.”

“You haven’t written it in the Day Book.”

“No. I thought that if I did, the owners might want you fired. They look in the Day Book when they meet.”

“Then I owe you for that.”

“You don’t owe me.”

“I think I do. I feel that I do. You wanted to punish me and I deserved a punishment and I didn’t take it. Do it now.”

I can’t imagine what possessed me to say anything so stupid. I honestly can’t. I suppose I thought I would get a sexy little spanking, like Charles used to give me, just enough to get us both interested in going to bed. I must have been mad. I must have been stark staring mad. Another case of all the evidence being available to me and me failing to deduce the conclusion. I hadn’t the wit to scream and run when he took my jeans down, followed by my underwear, and turned me across his lap. Oh, yes, I was hard again, and so was he, but in my case it didn’t last long. About three spanks. Alan’s a big strong man who works outside all year. He is terrifyingly strong, he has hard hands, and he spanks like an absolute demon. My backside was scalded almost at once, and I fought some more, despite everything I had said, and made some very peculiar noises, and bounced and bucked and wriggled.

And then the bloody phone rang! And the bastard answered it! He leaned forward and pinned me to his lap with his elbow, and hoicked his mobile out of his pocket, and said, “Hush, Ryan, unless you want the world to know what’s going on”, and I could tell that he was amused. He answered the phone with me bare-arsed over his lap squirming and wriggling, and then he leaned back and said, “Oh, yes, John, thanks for calling back. No, nothing that I can’t stop, just a little administration.”

Well, I suppose it was true, but it was my bum he was administering to. I began to try to ease myself off his lap – I would have come back afterwards for more, honestly (not) – and he nipped the skin on the inside of my thigh and I squeaked and lay still. Once he realised that I wasn’t going anywhere, he changed the phone to his left hand and began to palm my bottom gently with his right. He talked about some virus in the deer herd and he drew tiny circles on my hot cheeks with one finger, and I wriggled again, but not very seriously. I twisted far enough to get my head and shoulders onto the sofa, because it was making me dizzy to bend to the floor, and I think Alan realised it, because he shifted back on the cushions to accommodate me, and slid a hand over my thigh. And up. And in. And where was that finger going? Silly question, really, and I arched my back and opened my legs to let him. He talked on, steadily, without missing a beat, and my heart thundered, and then my hips began to flex, and I thought “How can he do that and talk at the same time?” And he began to exert pressure, and I groaned, and rubbed myself harder against him, and heard his breath hitch, and at last, AT LAST he was saying goodbye and putting down the phone.

“Where was I? Oh yes, I was spanking you, wasn’t I?”

And he did it some more, only this time it was light stinging smacks, not the powerful whacks that had hurt so much. These were definitely warming, and my wriggles were less the desperate desire to go, and more the desperate desire to come. “Please, Alan, please!”

“Please what?”

I couldn’t actually think of an answer to that one, but I don’t think it was a very serious question. He eased a hand over my hip, and pulled me upright on his lap, and my smarting rump rubbed against him and I fidgeted. He kissed me some more (God, but he was good at it!) and his hand went up inside my shirt and flicked at a nipple, and I wondered if that were a case of doing what he wanted done, so I squirmed round and peeled his shirt up, and got my head in to his chest. His head went back, and I licked his chest and sucked a nipple, and he made a throaty noise of his own, and suddenly we were fighting to get each other’s clothes off, and the heat in my rear was balanced by the heat of his mouth. He left me gasping and whimpering on the sofa while he went upstairs to fetch the necessities, and then he had me gasping and whimpering some more, bent over the back of the sofa, with his teeth in my shoulder to keep me still.

You could find our relationship in the Day Book, if you knew what you were looking for. Any mention of ‘discussion’ between him and me. The estate manager ‘discussed’ with his assistant the necessity to spray the top field against some crop fungus. That means that Alan walked the crop and said that I should have spotted the signs three days earlier, and put me over his knee for missing it. I’ve learned a lot, very fast, including not to talk back, unless I want a hot bottom.

Mind you, occasionally, I do.


Idris the Dragon

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