‘I hate Valentine’s Day and I hate Friday night games,’ grumbled Lindsay. ‘Whose bloody stupid idea was this?’ The redhead stood, well wrapped up, pint in hand, staring out at the pouring rain and the late arrivals dashing to the shelter of the stand. ‘All this false bonhomie, and everyone desperately trying to enjoy themselves in too little time.’
‘Are you talking about Fridays or Valentine’s?’ grinned Sian.
‘Both. What’s wrong with Saturday at two o’clock and keeping your smug coupley-ness to yourselves instead of infesting all the restaurants and decent pubs, and now even Harford Park Rugby Club?’ Lindsay’s Scottish accent strengthened when she was on a rant.
Sian sniggered at her ire. ‘The club thought they’d do something special. It’s primarily the idea of that new social media bloke, Roman, he hasn’t realised the importance of rugby being played at two in the afternoon Saturdays.’
‘All hail two o’clock Saturday rugby! Seriously now, kick off wasn’t until half seven, you’re not going to be eating your “Luscious Late Love Lunch” until ten.’
‘Or later, by the time Rob’s got off the pitch, showered and tarted himself up. For a manly prop, he takes longer than me to shower and get ready. Oh, and physio treatment, have a beer with his buddies, all the rest.’ Sian regarded her generous curves, ‘I’m hardly going to starve, but I won’t be able to drink much without getting squiffy.’
‘We’ll share a burger at half time.’
‘You’re on. Where are you off later?’
Lindsay pursed her lips, ‘Flames is having an anti-Valentine’s night for singletons. Which will probably turn into the usual meat market.’
‘Awww, I love Flames. It’s so bloody cheesy, it’s brilliantly dreadful. I got together with Rob there. Who are you going with?’
‘Some of the women’s team. They decided on the fancy dress theme: “leather or lace”.’ Lindsay wriggled, smirking.
Sian stared at Lindsay, ‘You’re dressed up, under your coat? G’wan, give us a flash.’
‘Later, it’s buried under jumpers.’ At Sian’s faked wobbling lower lip, she pulled open her long coat to show her long, black leather boots and skin-tight leather trousers, pulling up her layers to show her pierced midriff and the bottom of her corset. ‘I’m a dominatrix. My whip is back at the club.’
‘Wow, you have the body for it too, you’re so toned. Red lips to clash with your bright red hair?’
‘The full works, plus a black eye mask. I’ll add the dramatic touches later; I don’t think the Harford clubhouse is up for Mistress Ell.’
‘You’d give the old boys a collective heart attack. I’m not even sure if Flames is up for Mistress Ell.’ Sian shook her head, ‘I have to say, apart from having Rob’s company, I’m rather jealous.’
‘Oi!’ came a voice from the row below. ‘You’re on the same table as us and our husbands, it can’t be that bad.’ Their brunette friend, a heavily-pregnant Sarah joined them. Like most watching the game, she was wrapped up in a thick winter coat, hat, gloves and a scarf.
Sarah shook her brolly out. ‘It’s bloody tipping down and freezing. Whose idea was this again?’
‘The new social media bloke,’ chorused Sian and Lindsay.
‘Roman? The one who’s just walked out?’ asked Sarah.
‘Really?’ Lindsay rolled her eyes.
A low, male Scottish-accented voice came from a massive hunk behind them, ‘Yes, and he’s dropped the club well-and-truly in the brown stuff. Nothing’s ready for tonight. Lindsay, I may have to call on your organisational and diplomatic skills to help us out of shit creek. I wouldn’t ask if we weren’t desperate.’
‘Yes, boss.’ Lindsay was Tom’s second-in-command in his City offices, and had got to know the rest of the Harford crowd through his wife, Sarah. ‘Looks like I won’t be seeing much more of the match, I’ll see you in the bar later.’ Lindsay waved goodbye, and returned to the clubhouse.
When she entered the function room, the whole place was in turmoil. Some pink, red and silver decorations lay scattered on random tables, others were still in their boxes. The bar staff had set up, but were short of hands and coming into conflict with the caterers who were also in chaos.
It took five minutes to soothe the irate chef worried about his food getting spoiled, and placate the bar manager concerned about several missing bottles of wine.
One mousy young girl was attempting to lay all of the tables by herself. Lindsay approached her, ‘Hi, do you know where the rest of the waiting staff for tonight are please?’
The girl blushed and didn’t look at her. ‘The other girls? Ummm, they’re here…’
‘Ummm, I think they’re getting ready in the ladies?’
Lindsay helped the girl, whose name she discovered was Becca, for a few moments. ‘So, how long have you been here?’
‘Since seven, that’s when Roman said he’d pay us from.’
‘And the other girls, how long have they been here.’
‘Ummm.’ Becca blushed. ‘Around the same time, we were on the same bus.’
It was approaching eight o’clock. ‘I’ll be back in a bit.’
Lindsay went in search of the missing waitresses. It didn’t take long; the clubhouse was nearly empty apart from the working staff and she could hear giggling from the loos. She pushed the door open, to be met by a cloud of hairspray, perfume and cigarette fumes. Three girls in short, tight white blouses with black miniskirts were propped up around the sinks, drinking the pilfered wine, gossiping and fussing with their make-up. One further girl was smoking out of an opened window. They gave Lindsay dismissive glances and carried on their conversations. Lindsay went into a stall and listened.
‘Did you see the size of that girl who goes out with Rob, the prop? She’s massive, must be a fourteen at least. What an elephant!’ Sniggering followed the comment.
‘Fat cow, what the hell does he see in her?’
‘I’m going to flirt with him tonight, I don’t care if he’s single or not. He’s lush.’
They all cackled and agreed and discussed which of the men they fancied, each adding a malicious slur about the player’s wife or girlfriend. Lindsay had heard enough and exited the cubicle, spuriously washing her hands and striding out of the door.
Seconds later, she returned with backup in the form of a couple of bar staff and a doorman. ‘You four, you’re sacked. Don’t expect to be paid a penny for tonight, and don’t expect to ever work here again. Now, pay up for that stolen wine and piss off.’
With much bitching, the girls left.
Which was nice, but left them short of workers. She spotted Tom coming in to check progress. ‘I need at least four bodies to act as waiters or waitresses, plus a couple of bar staff who won’t drink the profits. Any ideas?’
Tom thought for a second, ‘I’ll send some of the squad who aren’t playing over. Maybe some of the under-20 boys as waiters. Don’t let them give you any shit.’
‘You know I won’t. How are things on the pitch?’
‘It’s only halftime and we’re winning by miles. So much for a close-fought local derby; they haven’t even turned up.’
Lindsay returned to the function room and was relieved to see Becca had finished laying the cutlery. Some bar staff had taken pity on her and started polishing the glasses to be placed on the tables.
‘Lindsay? Ummm, would you mind if I tidied myself up a bit? I haven’t stopped since I got here and I need the loo.’
‘No problem, apparently there’s more help on its way.’ Lindsay cast an eye over the room, assessing what was left to be done. Napkins with hearts on and other related table and wall decorations, more chairs. There wasn’t even any table plan to check. She could strangle that Roman.
The heating had been bumped up, and after walking back and forth a few times, she was far too warm in her long coat and layers. She hung the coat up with her whip and stripped off a couple of jumpers, leaving only a translucent, figure-hugging black silk blouse over the corset.
Where was the help? Becca had returned in short order, and was placing the glasses out. Her brown hair had been pulled back neatly into a more-flattering high ponytail. Becca was naturally pretty, a subtle beauty rather than in-your-face-and-caked-with-makeup, and under the baggy clothes was a good, athletic figure. Her eyes had nearly popped out of her head when she’d seen Lindsay’s skin-tight outfit.
The “Happy Valentine’s Day!” banner was to be suspended on permanent hooks installed above the bar. However, even kneeling precariously on a stool wouldn’t lift it high enough. Lindsay dragged a small table over, and retrieved her whip. In her insanely high heels with the use of the whip, she could just about catch the rings over the hooks, and the decoration looked great once up.
With hands on hips, she surveyed the room. It was slowly coming together. Now, she just needed some more staff.
Sniggering came from her left. Six males kitted out in hoodies and jeans were slouching in the doorway, watching her in her outfit.
‘You two!’ she barked and pointed her whip at the two closest, ‘Help me down from here.’
Their tittering shut off abruptly and the two lads uneasily approached her. She recognised them and a couple of others as younger players from the youth squad. The last duo, Gavin and Adam, were seniors in their mid-twenties.
‘Arms up!’ she snapped, and with their assistance, gracefully stepped down. The top of her head barely reached their chins. She squared her shoulders, tapped the whip against her boots and fixed them all with a gimlet stare.
Their expressions were combined terror and awe, and some sexual heat from the older pair. Despite their superior size, they seemed compliant. Hmmm, maybe she was onto something?
She circled the youth players, taking in their jeans and general scruffy appearance. ‘You! Name, and what other clothes do you have with you?’
‘D-Damian,’ her victim stuttered. ‘Us younger players have smarter clothes for later.’
‘You! Name and what kind of smarter clothes?’ she directed her question to another youth player.
‘Ricky. Sh-shirts and ties, trousers and shoes.’
She pointed at the youth players, ‘You’re now waiters for the night. You will be paid. You four have ten minutes to change and return here. Go now.’
She flicked the whip towards the door and the four scuttled away, leaving Gavin and Adam.
She had to hide the tremors of anticipation running through her. Hell, they were tall. And fit. Just how she liked her men. She took her time to slowly assess them, tapping her whip against her opposite palm. ‘You two. Clothes?’
Gavin answered, his redhead complexion blushing, ‘Just a change of shirt.’ The dark-haired Adam echoed him in his soft Kiwi accent. Neither of them could look away from the whip in her hands.
‘Have either of you ever served behind a bar?’ They both nodded. ‘Ok that’ll be your main job for tonight. You have five minutes to change.’
They nodded, but didn’t move. She scornfully looked them up and down again. Tall. More than filling out the front of their jeans. At her glare, they shuffled. Were they aroused? They seemed to be breathing heavily.
She stepped closer, meeting their widening eyes and whispered, ‘Go. Now.’
Gavin gulped, ‘O-Our kit bags are below the coat stands behind you.’
Lindsay permitted herself a smug smile, ‘Good, you can change here and help me with the rest of the decorations.’
She strode off to where Becca was watching open-mouthed. ‘Everything ok with you, Becca?’
‘Oh my god, you’re, like, my heroine. The way they went from cockiness to cowering in front of you in seconds.’ Becca was grinning and had forgotten to be shy, ‘I’ve never seen anything so epic.
‘How old are you, Becca?’
‘I’m eighteen. Just.’
‘Are you still at school?’
‘Ummm, I’m just finishing my A levels but…ummm, I want to be a professional cyclist,’ she rushed out.
‘Ooh, I cycle too. Only club runs though.’
‘I thought so; you have the legs of a cyclist…’ Whatever Becca was about to say next, she completely forgot, distracted by something behind Lindsay. ‘Wow!’ she breathed.
Lindsay suspected she knew what had distracted the goggle-eyed waitress, and before turning around, carefully blanked her expression. Wow indeed.
Two half-naked professional sportsmen, firm slabs of muscles and ridged abdomens on show, they rummaged in their bags for garish shirts. Gavin started pulling his shirt on. Looking up and seeing Lindsay and Becca watching, he slowed his movements down, smirking as he slowly buttoned the silky fabric from bottom to top. He said something to Adam who looked their way too.
Lindsay could feel herself losing control of the situation. ‘Follow me, and stop staring!’ she hissed at Becca.
Sauntering towards the troublesome two, she slowly unbuttoned the thin shirt she wore over the leather corset. Gavin and Adam’s eyes darted to her chest, the smooth black leather and bare midriff she was revealing. She let the shirt slip off her shoulders. ‘It’s rather…warm in here, don’t you think?’ she asked Adam.
His eyes were glued to the breast shelf barely covered by leather. With a deep breath, she nearly popped out.
She tittered, and shrugged the shirt back on, slowly rebuttoning it. ‘Silly me, I need to run to the cold office, and I’m afraid I’ll have to find you other shirts to wear, those just won’t do.’ She shook her head in mock disappointment. ‘Please be getting on with decorating and placing the wine glasses on the tables, tell the youths to help you when they return.’ She strolled out of the room, swinging her hips confidently, Becca trotting behind her.
‘Ok, Becca. First things first, we need table plans and a list of names. Secondly, we both need to keep those boys and everyone else under control all night. Part of that is appearance, most of it is attitude. I’m going to give you a makeover and “Don’t Fuck With Me” lessons.’
Becca almost skipped in happiness and clapped her hands together with glee.
Lindsay laughed, ‘I’m afraid the first lesson is be happy inside but don’t be too happy on the outside when you’re in a position of power. Second is, don’t overdo it and be a hard bitch, there’s always room for a smile and compliment if someone’s done well.’
Twenty minutes later, Lindsay had the paperwork sorted and a transformed assistant. She’d borrowed a skirt and shoes from one of the women players who’d brought them to change into after watching the match, and a red v-neck T-shirt with the Harford logo, from a youth tournament. There were more T-shirts for the waiters and bar staff. One other problem sorted.
She’d also enhanced her make-up and applied a bit to Becca to bring out her natural beauty. The improved appearance and lessons had dramatically boosted Becca’s confidence. Her shoulders had gone back and she could already sashay like Lindsay in the unfamiliar heels. Giving her a clipboard and clear tasks had also improved her assurance.
Lindsay checked her watch, the match was due to end in ten minutes. The muted buzz of voices and laughter came from the function room. Well, at least that meant they hadn’t walked out on her, yet.
The doors creaked as they walked in and the boys looked around from blowing up balloons. All of them did a double take at Becca’s appearance, and she responded by coolly meeting their eyes. Good.
The tables were almost finished too. Also good. Lindsay allowed herself a quick smile of relief while no one was watching her, before clearing her throat, ‘You waiters, Becca will be giving you a brief rundown on service, and T-shirts we’ve managed to procure. No more worrying about getting tomato sauce on your best pulling shirt, hey?’
She allowed time for the four to finish their current balloons, and to follow Becca to the catering outlet and congregate around her. A brief moment of worry was placated by Becca’s serene smile.
Gavin and Adam were left, and she could just tell that they were feeling belligerent. ‘Here.’ She threw T-shirts at them, ‘They may be a bit small though.’
Adam glanced at the label, ‘I usually wear a large. This is a medium.’
‘There aren’t any large so tough luck. It’ll stretch.’
Gavin had already started unbuttoning his shirt; he wasn’t going to argue. It took seconds for him to pull the top on, he looked resplendent in the formfitting fabric. Lindsay gave an approving nod, for some reason, it looked wonderful against his redhead colouring; his hair verged towards auburn rather than ginger. She returned her gaze to Adam who was grumpily pulling at the snug garment.
Wow! What a knockout! If Gavin looked wonderful, Adam looked superb.
She had to stop herself gaping, giving the same approving nod, ‘Both of you look great, and well done on the decorations. Now, go to Jim, he’ll give you a run down on the bar, it’s bottles only in here, mostly wine or beer. If anyone wants anything different, send them to the main bar. We have about ten minutes before the hordes descend.’
Those ten minutes she spent correcting cock-ups on the table plans and keeping an ear out for Becca, noting that she was spare in awarding compliments but the boys were preening when she did. The caterers came to her with some minor problems but they were all resolved in no time. Far from being a disaster thanks to the disappearing Roman, there was a chance they may, just, get away with it.
The main course of the “Luscious Late Love Lunch” was served at ten o’clock on the dot and Lindsay breathed a sigh of relief. Becca had come through for her, the boys behaved, the decorations, while utterly naff, seemed to lift everyone’s spirits, especially the remaining packets of pink, red and silver balloons they hadn’t had time to inflate so had just placed on the tables as DIY decorations. Blowing up and popping balloons entertained even the most churlish.
Tom offered his help once he had finished his coaching duties. Lindsay had waved him back to his wife until pudding was served, when she escaped to join the rugby girls in the bar for a drink, just in time to delay their imminent departure for Flames. They were very impressed with her outfit, and she didn’t have the audacity to tell them either how much it had cost or that she’d had it a few years. Or explain the difference between the dominatrix she was masquerading as, and the domme that she was in reality. The women agreed to hang on for a while longer, and she bought them a bottle of champagne to keep them entertained while she finished up.
‘What an evening.’ Tom came up behind her as she surveyed the function room for any more problems. ‘I think you deserve another pay rise.’
‘I wouldn’t have done it without your boys and Becca.’
Tom laughed, ‘I heard how you terrified them into submission. Well, apart from Becca, who has turned into a little domina herself. Ricky’s just asked her out.’
Lindsay gasped and laughed, ‘What did she say?’
‘She’s outlined a list of demands to which he happily conceded. I’ve paid them all, given her double, and as soon as they clear the last plate, they’re all dismissed. Is that ok with you?’
‘Perfect. What about Gavin and Adam?’
‘I’ll let them go in a bit. Were the tight T-shirts your idea? That was evil. They’ve been complaining of fighting off housewives all night.’ Tom grinned.
‘Serves them right for giving me shit earlier. Has Sarah enjoyed herself?’
Tom grinned even more, he was so besotted with his pregnant wife, ‘Brilliantly, thanks to that comfy chair you organised. I’m off to take her home.’ There was a ripple of applause from the room and a triumphant masculine whoop, ‘Awww, sounds like Rob proposed to Sian. He said he would if the night went well. Another pat on the back for you.’
Lindsay smiled in contentment, ‘Away wi’ ye now. I’ll also be off with the girls to go clubbing all night. Tidy, as Sarah would say.’
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