A Carpenter’s Carol

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“Jake, it’s quitting time.” Andy yelled out into the Plantation Mansion. The sound of a hammer pounding rang out from it’s interior. Andy Tibidoux was the Contractor of this construction site and was a friend of Jake’s, had been since middle school.

The Plantation was a nine hundred acre spread with cotton fields, guest houses, migratory workers shacks, a barn, sheds, silos, air strip, hanger and the big white pillared Mansion that had been under renovation for almost a year and a half now.

“Quitting time? It’s only two O’clock!” Jake yelled from the second story landing. Most of the workmen didn’t show up at all and those who did took an early lunch and disappeared for the rest of the day.

“It’s Christmas Eve Jake. Come on, I told Maggie to set a plate for you. You can come out to the house and we’ll drink a few brews for old times sake.” Andy stepped into the Mansion looking up into the big spiraling stair case towards the second floor landing.

“You got to be kidding. Thanks but no thanks, I’m working till seven at least and I’ll be back out here tomorrow, too.” Jake yelled out while nailing more boards. The slamming of the hammer against a nail set rang out from the Mansion’s upper level.

“Damn you Jake, Your worst than Mr. Scrooge. Come on, don’t be like that,” Andy pleaded.

“You’ve known me since we were kids, Andy. You think I’m joking?” Jake replied.

“Look if you change your mind, supper will be around eight, okay?” Andy shook his head in misbelief and turned and walked out the door, then stopped. “Oh, don’t forget to lock up. The owner may show up so try not to piss her off, and Jake…Merry Christmas.”

“Yeah whatever.” Jake mumbled as the nail gun spewed out it’s ringing sound. “Ca-shew.” Everyone say’s he works to keep his mind off his loses. A quiet man, known as the best Carpenter in these parts. But lately his favorite sayings been, “I wasn’t put on this earth to win a popularity contest.”

“Ca-shew… ca-shew,” the air powered nail gun rang out loudly with a slight echoing sound in the empty Mansion. The wood trim walls were solid mahogany, with a lacquered sheen that glistened. The spindles on the stairs were all lathed by Jacob Randle. Better known as, Jake around town.

Southern Mississippi, land of the big river, cotton, swamps and the Gulf of Mexico. The Mansion was owned by a woman that inherited the place. They say her families out of England and that she rarely visited. The history of the plantation dated back to beyond the civil war and slave trade days. The task of remodeling was a feat that was estimated to take at least two years with all the modern equipment to be installed. The state of Mississippi was more interested in saving the place than the owner. They were even establishing a room for tourists near the front door.

Jake wiped the sweat from his brow and leaned back into the silence. Gazing at the caps and molding to ensure that they were plum by sight. Reached out to a spindle on the stairs and pulled himself up. Standing, he stretched his arms out and twisted slightly to adjust his body to being erect, he had been knelt down for way to long.

“Lunch time,” Jake thought as he began to descend down the stairs. Holding onto the bannister and feeling it’s smooth surface as he walked slowly downward. He became entranced in the feel of slick wood. Checking for blemishes or bubbles in the finish and buckles in the wood’s grain.

“Cre….eek,” Jake stopped and listened for a second cocking his head slightly to see if he could hear better. “Anybody still here?” He yelled out through the house. The amount of men working here was enormous. The different crews it took to put this place back together was astounding. Mason’s, plumbers, pool builders, hot tub installers, painters, alarm and AC installers and the list goes on, so noise wasn’t anything to be concerned about except everyone had left, or so he was told.

The general help and field workers stayed in a congregation of homes down by the air strip, hangers and a barn about an eighth of a mile down the road. They never come up to the big house. Or at least not while the yellow construction tape had been placed about the place to warn of hazards.

Jake went to the kitchen were they usually had lunch. Opened up the fridge and took his sack lunch out and grabbed a canned beverage. Sat at the bar and straddled a stool and unraveled a sandwich from a baggy. Popped the top on his can drink and took a big swig.

“Creeeeek,” Jake stopped in the middle of drinking and gently laid the can down with his head slightly turned towards where he had heard the noise, the basement.

Slowly and quietly he got up from the stool and walked towards the door that led to the stairs. As he opened the door a Woman in a full, long flowing dress came barging outward.

“Oh blimey! You startled me! I thought everyone had gone home for the day?” Her long, wavy, brown hair was pulled back and pinned, then draped down around her shoulders then down her back. Her pumped canlı bahis şirketleri up breasts and long cleavage line was a bit different from the usual farm girl’s dress around here.

Her brownish red dress went all the way to the floor. She had a white knitted Shaw that draped over her shoulders. Jake figured she was from England by her accent and clothes. And rested a bit more assured that she was a family member or the owner. Yet still cautious enough keep an eye on her. Which was just as much an allure, for she was very pretty.

“Huh, ma’am, should you be in the construction area?” Jake asked politely. Stepping back and allowing her to pass. She was carrying a bottle of wine. Jake had redesigned the wine cellar months ago and assumed she had full permission to be here. He had never met any of the owner, but was told she may appear. So he tried to be polite.

“Well I bloody hope so,” she replied as she scampered about the kitchen getting a wine glass and some cheese from the fridge. She opened a drawer and pulled out a knife and got the cutting block along with a plate from the cupboard. She obviously knew her way around so Jake felt certain she had more right to be here than he did.

Jake steadily gazed at her and became more fixed on her pale complexion that added to her beautiful face. She wore a black choker around her neck with a Woman’s face stamped on it, that had the look of ivory, centered at her throat.

“And your name would be…?” Jake asked trying not to be to obvious that he was taking mental notes, in case she wasn’t supposed to be here.

“Cassandra, Cassandra Hardwick. And you are…?” She asked casually as she began slicing pieces of cheese and placing them on the plate in an eloquent manner.

“Oh, I’m Jacob Randle,” he answered while he grabbed is bag lunch and drink, then began to leave the kitchen.

“Where are you going Mr. Randle? Please stay, eat your dinner,” she said kindly yet pointing the knife towards the stool he had sat at. Jake glanced at the knife, frozen in his steps with uncertainty. “Oh Please…” she giggled as she saw his concerned look and silent stare at the knife in her hand. She quickly placed the knife in the sink and grabbed her plate of cheese then strolled around the bar and sat at another stool.

Jake slowly climbed into the stool and began spreading out his lunch once again. He kept his eyes on his sandwich as he took a bite but couldn’t help but glance her way and soak in her half bare shoulders that pulled on his pupils, begging him to memorize their soft, inviting way.

“I have seen you before, haven’t I?” She asked while pulling on the cork screw trying to open the bottle of wine. With no luck she slid the bottle towards Jake. “Would you mind?”

Jake reached over and took the bottle. His flannel shirt sleeve half rolled up still showed his strong forearm that seem to put a gleam in her eye and a grin on her face. ‘Pop’ went the bottle as the cork released the vacuum. Jake pushed the bottle back towards her.

“Thank you ever so kindly,” she said smiling. Her eyes were big and bright. Her hand graced his as she took the bottle and a smile curled across her face.

“No ma’am. I’m sure we have never met before,” Jake said as he began to eat his sandwich.

“Do they have the hot pool of water ready?” She asked as she poured the wine into the tilted glass. She put the glass to her nose and swirled the liquid around then sniffed it’s aroma.

“Yes ma’am. They’ve had it ready, but they are still building the mesquite skirting.” Jake finished his sandwich in one big bite and crumpled up his sack. Gripped his beverage and stood up.

“So I can sit in it then?” She asked just before taking a small sip from the glass.

“Yes ma’am,” Jake answered then turned to leave.

“Would you mind escorting me there?” She asked in a quick blurt as Jake was starting to walk away.

“I really must be getting back to work,” Jake replied in a short whim. Then finished his drink in one big gulp.

“You are an employee of the Hardwick Mansion right?” She spat. “I’m sorry, what I meant is that there is all this dangerous bloody equipment all around.” She smiled as she stood up and gripped the bottle of wine in one hand and her glass in the other. “Come on,” she demanded, politely.

Jake sighed and turned around and began walking towards the back door. Passing her up as she just stood there waiting to hear his rely. Jake opened the door like a gentleman. Then waited for her to step out. She delighted in this action and smiled as she passed Jake and went out into the back patio.

Her heels clicked on the brick walkway which brought Jake’s attention to her strange looking shoes. Black boots laced up the front that stuck out only slightly from her long dress. He closed the door and followed her to the hot tub house. He slighted a smile when he noticed her ass pouched out a bit as if she had something stuffed underneath her dress to create this effect.

When Cassandra got to canlı kaçak iddaa the Hot tub house she stepped to the side and waited for Jake to open the door for her. Holding the wine bottle up and cupping her glass. She smiled with a slight curtsy as Jake opened the door and a slight mist swirled from its steamy interior that met the cool, southern, December air.

She stepped into the small room and swirled slightly as Jake went to shut the door. His short black hair with a dew curl in the front swung a tad bit as he whipped around to leave.

“Wait!” She blurted. Jake sighed as he knew she was going to take up more of his time. His frustration showed as he slowly opened the door wider and glared at her slightly. “Is there a Mrs. Randle?” She asked curiously.

Jake closed his eyes as if a dagger had been run into his heart. “Yes,” he answered.

“You don’t wear a wedding band?”

“Gator got it,” he replied, not exactly a conversationalist to begin with but she touched the sore spot in his life and it showed.

“Oh my, an Alligator, but your fingers are still intact?”

“No ma’am, gator is the 80 tooth, saw blade, mider saw.”

“You call your saw, gator?” She smiled at his answer then chuckled a bit. “This saw of yours…it destroyed your ring, but not your finger?”

“No ma’am.”

“Jacob Randle…your not a very talkative person are you?”

“No ma’am, I wasn’t put on this earth for conversation.”

“Oh?” She set the bottle down and turned her back to him. “Would you mind? Or dare I say would your wife mind if you unfastened me?” She pulled her hair to her side to allow Jake full access to the fastens that ran down her back.

Jake stepped into the warm hot tub house and began unfastening the top set of fasteners. He had never seen this type of connectors so his curiosity peaked a bit. The door closed and Jake went to step back and turn the door knob, but it appeared locked. He shook the handle and got a firm grip and twisted with a bit of strength.

Cassandra slightly snickered as her dress fell to the ground. Jake gasped thinking he was about to see her fully naked, but she wore another set of clothes under the dress. A long white frilly slip like top with a strange white frilly pant set. Jake had never seen such under garments. His eye’s darted back to the door as she caught his smiling glance.

“What’s wrong?” She asked with a giggle pulling her undergarment top down around her shoulders. Jake tried even more desperately to turn the knob.

“Great…It’s jammed.” Jake replied then looked about the small room for a window or an opening.

“Will your wife miss you if your not home soon?”

“Huh? Uh…no. She passed away few years back.” Jake checked the hinges for a way to remove them but without his tools he couldn’t pull them out either.

“Oh…I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. I’m nosey that way you know. I like to hear about people’s past. Do forgive me.” She pulled the undergarment off and laid it to the side. Fully nude now Jake’s eyes shot wide open. Her back was to him as she quickly stepped into the bubbling water and submerged up to her neck and choker before turning around.

She pulled her hair up and twisted it into a bun and tied itself into itself. Trailing strands fell to her neck and shoulders. It had been a long time since he had seen so much of a woman. “Look…I might have to kick the wall slats outward to get us out of here…” Jake started.

“Oh no you bloody won’t,” Cassandra blurted. Snickered then reached for the wine glass but it was out of her reach. “Would you be as so kind?” Her long finger pointed at the glass of wine.

He quickly picked the glass up and handed it to her. The touch of her hand sent a jolt through him like he had never felt before. Almost electrifying. He stood dazed a second then searched for a place to sit down as he got light headed.

“Are you alright? Mr. Randle…MR. RANDLE!”

“Yeah…yeah I’m fine.” Jake said as he sat on the edge of the tub and looked around the tiny room for a way out. The room seem to spin slightly. His eyes blinked quickly trying to regain focus. It was as if he had been drugged. He put his head in his hands. Then blacked out.

When he came to, he was in the tub. The swirling water massaged his every being. Leaning back into the side of the tub he looked around trying to get his bearings. Slightly disorientated and yet soothed by the bubbling water.

“There you are,” Cassandra said with a smile. She was next to him still holding her glass of wine as if she had never moved. He looked about the hot tub room and saw his clothes when he realized he was stark naked. His shock showed in his face.

“What happened?” He asked curiously and a tad bit excited.

“I invited you in the tub and you excepted.” She replied with a smile. “Here,” she handed Jake the bottle of wine.

“I don’t drink.” Jake replied.

“You do now,” she said. And as if he was under a spell he took a drink from the bottle before he canlı kaçak bahis even realized he was drinking wine.

“I don’t like wine,” Jake said then took another drink.

“Finish telling me about your wife?”

“Finish? Huh…what do you mean?”

“You said she passed away?”

“Yeah…she died giving birth to our son.” Jake took a big, long drink as he looked straight ahead, as if the whole event just came flooding back. He had tried for so many years to shove those memories deeply into the back of his mind. But they came flooding back like watching a homemade movie reel of the whole event. He broke down slightly as a tear fell from his face.

“You loved her very much didn’t you?”

“Well yeah,” Jake took another drink then looked at Cassandra. Her bare shoulders up from the water line that seem to dance around her breasts in the swirling water. His eyes fixed on her while she raised an arm up and drank from her glass that finished her drink. She reached over towards him with the glass out for him to refill it.

“More please,” she said smiling. Her arm up and out of the water brought her breast up higher too. Jake was shakily trying to pour the wine and look at her at the same time. She giggled at his attempt then reached out and steadied his hand. “Tell me about your son. Do you still see him? Is he at your home?”

“No, he stays with my mother over in Vicksburg.”

“Oh, why is that?”

“I really don’t want to talk about this.” Jake said as he took another drink.

“When was the last time you saw him?” She asked in persistence.

“Well, it’s been…lets see. I guess 2 years now.”

“Mr. Randle…that is way to long for a child not to see their parent. I should know, my father came to this place to get it ready for my mother and my two sisters. She passed away from phenomena the winter before we were to arrive.”

Jake seemed to be feeling better but he could feel the effects of the alcohol beginning to take effect. “I am truly sorry to hear that. I know what it’s like to loose someone.”

“Yes well, soon afterwards my sisters and I arrived here, my father was killed by the blue coats and we have been here ever since.”

“Damn, that’s sad, Cassandra, right? Cassandra, that’s a pretty name … blue coats?” Jake smiled for the first time. This made her smile too. Jake stared into her eyes then down at her breasts. Then he looked down at his own nakedness. His stirring mind began to try and recall his getting into the tub naked. “Or did she take my clothes off?” He thought to himself.

“Your to kind,” she said then sipped her wine and leaned into him. “Kindness is a virtue my sister, Robin didn’t have. Now my other sister Victoria, she’s an angel. You would like her. Do you have any siblings?”

“No ma’am,” Jake replied as he leaned into her beauty. He couldn’t take his eyes off hers. They were like stars glistening, attracting him, drawing him closer. She leaned into him. He leaned into her. Closer they came till he felt her warm breath on his lips just before he kissed her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Splash!” Jake sat up, groggy. He looked about the empty hot tub room. His clothes were where they had been. He looked over and saw the bottle of wine and one empty glass.

“Cassandra?” He mumbled. Realizing he was alone, he got up and got out of the swirling water. Reached for the stack of towels on a shelf and dried off. Confused he then got dressed and went to the door. He recalled the door being stuck so he gripped it tightly and turned it hard. It turned and opened. “Where in the…?” He looked back in the bubbling water trying to figure out what was happening to him.

Jake opened the door and stepped out into the cold air and a chill run through him. His mind was boggled with the events that had just taken place but he headed towards the Mansion and figured it was time to get back to work. He could sort it all out in his head while slaving away over lumber as he had done so many times before. He took a few steps toward the house when he heard a voice.

“You there…give me a hand. My mare has bolted and run a muck.” Jake turned to see a red headed woman in a riding outfit walking briskly towards him. Riding crop in hand and briskly walking towards him. She was very pretty with her hair pulled back into a ponytail held by a large black bow.

“Excuse me?” Jake replied.

“Who put those ring ties on at the barn? I tied my mare to them and she rare’d and broke free. I’ll have their jobs for doing such shoddy workmanship.” She was stern in her tone and steady in her stride as she walked up to Jake and must have liked his appearance cause she smiled at him even through her huffy comments.

“The welders I think,” Jake answered.

“Well could you take a look? I can’t tie the horses to a tie if they will not hold.”

“Yes ma’am. And you are?” Jake asked.

“Robin Hardwick, who am I speaking with?” She asked

“Jacob Randle ma’am,” Jake replied.

“I will have to report this to Daddy and he will be furious that horse is very expensive.” She rambled as she turned to head towards the barn.

“You want a ride?” Jake asked as he saw she was going to walk to the barn a foot. He was accustomed to driving his truck down there.

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