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Dodger last won the day on September 9

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18,014 Almost Divine

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About Dodger

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    The Artful One

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    Reading, writing, traveling, art, and my dog.

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  1. Nathan is a feisty character with a devilish streak in him which Robbie finds attractive. It's a weakness in him which has been prevalent from the start and the reason why he was drawn to Alex. Nathan, of course, is aware of this and he's smart. Using the Christmas play to belittle Robbie's enemy was a masterstroke that no one else could have pulled off and it very nearly did the trick. It's not clear yet if this was a deliberate attempt to win Robbie over, or if Nathan even wants to win Robbie over. He already has a boyfriend who Nathan didn't mention and didn't seem to be around after the play. There's a lot of questions that still need to be answered, but as you point out, Robbie needs to be wary of Don. Those locker room numbskulls seem to find their way into every school in the western world. It's odd how they all seem to have exactly the same personalities and deficiencies. Robbie is definitely not alone there.
  2. Probably because he's done such a good job of sabotaging himself in the past. The fact that he was able to make a decision without dwelling on it for too long may be a good sign, but he needs to back it up now and show some commitment to the boy who waited patiently for him all this time. Nathan will be a temptation but Robbie can't afford to slip up this time.
  3. Thank you @croyde for reading and commenting on the story. I'm glad you're enjoying the ride.
  4. Conner seems like a sensible guy and I think even Robbie can see that he needs someone like that in his life. A calming influence who can keep him out of trouble and help him to conquer his demons. Nathan is the temptation he knows he should resist, but it's not going to be easy.
  5. Let's hope he's made the right choice. Nathan has always been a thorn in the side for Don.
  6. It was nearly four weeks since Alex left and nowhere was his absence felt more than in the boy’s locker room at Stephenson Collegiate. Showers were mandatory following team sports, but for the only known gay guy in class, they were generally an awkward and unpleasant experience. You don’t know what you got till it’s gone, was something my mom always used to say and this was true with Alex. Up until his recent disappearance, our unlikely friendship had worked in my favour at school, particularly in an all-boys environment like sport. His presence helped to quell any disquiet in the locker room, and ensured a relatively easy time for me, but now the honeymoon period was over, and I had to fend for myself. While the majority of my classmates adjusted quite well to my coming out, some still had a problem with my sexuality. These boys who I had regularly seen naked for almost a year were suddenly uncomfortable with my company in the showers, and without my usual minder, they were becoming increasingly vociferous. They were a small minority with even smaller penises, but my presence seemed to exploit their insecurities and threaten their masculinity. I tried to keep out of their way, but on Thursday morning, as I showered at the end of PE, one of them accused me of looking at him. His name was Aron, and he was one of the bullies I stood up to at the beach when I was Nathan. If I did look at him, it was accidental and definitely not in the way he suggested, but it wasn’t about that. It was an excuse for him and his small-minded friends to insult me. I did the sensible thing and tried to walk away, but he blocked my path and repeated his accusation, while his friends looked on. “I don’t like you looking at me, homo.” “I wasn’t looking at you.” “Yes, you were.” He turned to his friends who were laughing. “I caught him staring at my dick.” “He’s looking for a new fuck buddy,” said his friend. “Now Alex has gone.” I turned to face the boy, surprised by his comment. “What’s wrong, we know Alex was fucking you,” said Aron. “That’s probably why he’s not here anymore. You must have given him some kind of disease.” “You don’t know anything,” I said. “I know you were looking at me. That’s sexual harassment, so stay outta my way in future,” said Aron. “It’s bad enough I have to shower with a queer, but I don’t want him looking at me.” The three boys laughed behind me as I left the shower and hurried back to the locker room to grab my towel. I put it around my waist and sat next to Rory to explain what happened. “They’re fucking losers,” he said. “Ignore them.” Rory rarely used the F-word, but I understood his anger. He had been the target of more homophobic slurs than any straight guy I knew. I stared Aron in the face as he walked past us naked and smirking with his friends. “It’s kinda difficult to ignore them when they’re surrounding me in the shower.” “You should report it to the principal then.” I looked at Rory and thought about what he said, then averted my eyes as he stood up and removed his towel to put on his underwear. “Nah, I’ve got enough problems as it is.” “Is that why you're having counselling,” asked Rory, lowering his voice. “Yeah.” I stared at the floor as water dripped from my hair, forming a puddle at my feet. “But things are getting better.” “Was it something to do with Alex?” “Some of it.” “You can tell me; you know? Oh, and you can look now, I’m decent.” “What?” “I saw you look away when I took off my towel,” he chuckled. “You always do it.” “No, I don’t.” “Yes, you do. But you don’t have to. It doesn’t bother me. I’m not like those creeps.” I thought it odd how I felt more embarrassed when Rory caught me looking away from him than on any of the countless occasions he caught me looking at him. It was even stranger when I realised that this was the only time he had ever complained. ‘Maybe he wants me to look at him. I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of this gay thing’. Whenever I thought I had it figured out, something else came along to confuse me. “It’s not easy, Rory. Being a gay guy in a boy’s changing room. People tease me because they think I enjoy it, but really it’s the opposite. I try not to look at anyone, but you can’t walk around with your eyes closed. Straight guys get so paranoid. I’d rather shag a goat than go anywhere near those wankers. Sometimes I think I’d be more comfortable changing with the girls.” Rory pulled a t-shirt over his damp hair and gently nudged my shoulder. “Hey, I’m sorry. I never thought of it like that. I guess it is kinda awkward.” It was typical Rory, apologising for something he never did. He had nothing to be sorry about but was often on the receiving end of my rants. The boy never failed to impress me. “When I said straight guys; I didn’t mean you, Rory. And you're definitely more shaggable than a goat.” “You say the nicest things.” “I know, and if I weren’t naked, I’d stand up and hug you.” “No, please don’t do that. I’d prefer it if you just got dressed. Everyone else has gone.” When I looked around, there was only us and a couple of stragglers left, and I was the only one still without any clothes on. “You can go if you want, I don’t need you to hold my hand.” “That’s the only thing I’m gonna hold, now hurry up already.” “Okay.” I stood up, looked him in the eye, and then pointed to the wall. “You're a dork,” he said as he folded his arms and turned his back on me. “We just showered together.” “It doesn’t matter. I know what you're after and you're not getting it.” I dropped my towel and dragged on a pair of boxer briefs as he sighed and stared at the wall. “You're probably only shagging Rebecca to get to me. You're all the same, you straight boys.” “Are you ready yet?” He turned his head sideways before looking away again as I admonished him. “No, I’m shirtless, don’t you know. You're not to see my titties.” “You're a jerk,” he chuckled. “I suppose you're planning to get into my pants at Conner’s house. Probably expecting a threesome.” “Well, now, you mention it. The thought had crossed my mind.” “I bet it has.” I popped my head through the neck of my t-shirt and smiled at my golden-haired friend. “I can ask him tonight if you want.” “That’s if he manages to get here. You do know it’s supposed to snow.” I didn’t, but Rory was right. * * * By the time I boarded the school bus that afternoon, Cobourg was already under a blanket of snow, and it was still falling five hours later as Sue drove Daniel, Amy, and me back for the annual Christmas play. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” said Sue, and for once I couldn’t disagree with her. Fancy displays lit up with bright, colourful lights adorned every house and garden on our route, and the snow added the final touches. “It looks magical,” I said, waving out the window at a giant illuminated Santa Claus. It was sitting at the front of someone’s garden smiling at the cars as they passed. I was mesmerised by the beauty of a town that now resembled a postcard. Daniel and Amy had seen it all before, but for me, it was something straight out of Hollywood. “I hope it stays for Christmas.” “Don’t worry; it’ll stay until March,” groaned Daniel, and I wondered how he could not be impressed by the sights around us. Despite the heavy snowfall, the ploughs that constantly crisscrossed the town kept the roads clear, and the school play went ahead as scheduled. It was a credit to the small army of personnel who worked around the clock and at short notice, but I guess they had plenty of practice. ‘Maybe I’ll feel differently about it next year’. The snow arrived just in time for Christmas, but as Daniel predicted, it would stay—topped up almost daily—for most of the next three months. At the school, Sue, Daniel, and Amy went inside to meet up with Don, while I waited outside in the cold for Conner. My adopted father had arrived early to attend a meeting of the board of governors. It was an opportunity for him to have a say in the running of the school, and probably get the low down on Jo from Mr Andrews. He had been quite cheerful since Jo confronted Sue, but I still wasn’t expecting him to back down. He had something up his sleeve and Sue confirmed it the previous evening when she informed me that Conner couldn’t stay over. Not even in separate rooms and on different floors. Apparently, it was only a temporary measure until they sorted things out, whatever that meant, and it applied to all of my friends. I knew it was Don’s decision. Probably his way of punishing me for my alleged indiscretions with Alex, but his latest attempt to disrupt what little private life I had, proved ineffective. It actually suited me, because I wanted to keep Conner away from our house for as long as possible. It also gave me an advantage when I asked Sue later if I could sleepover at Conner’s on Christmas night. Consumed with guilt, she didn’t have the heart to deny me and agreed without consulting Don, providing his parents were at home, and I could find a way of getting there. I broke the news to Conner in a text as I waited for him at the front of the school. He made it on time thanks to four-wheel-drive. His mom’s truck no longer seemed excessive, but a necessary piece of equipment, especially out in the boonies. He waved at me, then leaned across to kiss his mom, before hopping out and surprising me with a generous hug. Most kids would have avoided doing either of those things in front of a busier than usual school building, but not Conner. He wasn’t the least bit embarrassed as he took my arm and walked me around the truck to introduce me to his mom. “I hear you're coming to our house at Christmas,” she said. I nodded as I tried to work out her accent. It wasn’t what I was expecting from someone who came from Saskatchewan. “And he needs a ride,” added Conner. “Well, I’m supposed to pick up Rory in the afternoon, so I guess I could collect you at the same time. You’ll need to arrange a time with him and let Conner know.” The only remaining obstacle vanished before my eyes. It looked as if Conner was going to get his wicked way with me, after all. He even got his mom to help out. ‘Does she realise what she’s helping her son to fool around with a guy he hardly knows’. She was either entirely at ease with her children having sex in her house or incredibly naïve. I decided to ask Conner, but first, I needed to warm up. My face—the only part of my skin exposed—was numb and red from the icy wind. Conner waved goodbye to his mom and told her he would call when he was ready to leave. “She’s gonna visit her friend in town,” he said, studying my face and covering it in his frozen breath. “You look cold?” “I’m freezing.” “You poor thing let’s get you inside and warm you up. You could’ve waited in the school. I would’ve found you.” Conner was sweet and sensitive; fussing over me like he really cared. I thought it was kind of him to be concerned, especially after I had spent the best part of a month ignoring him. Once in the heated foyer, I soon warmed up, and before long, I was peeling off my layers. “I spend all winter doing this,” I said. “It’s too cold for me outside, and too hot inside, so I’m either putting clothes on or taking them off.” “Well, I prefer it when you're taking them off, but that’s just me.” He raised his eyebrows and pulled off his hat to reveal an untidy mop of dark blond hair. It was damp, and half of it stood up, making me laugh. He patted it down and frowned at me, but it was only a joke, and his expression soon switched back to a smile that I found difficult not to return. Under his winter coat, Conner looked smart in pale blue designer jeans and a distinctive red and white hoodie. I liked the way he dressed. Casual but stylish, with very little bling and not a hint of make-up. There was nothing camp about Conner. He was all boy, and the total opposite of Nathan, but maybe that’s what I was looking for. We were standing in the busiest place. The middle of the reception where people congregated before heading into the auditorium. I wasn’t trying to keep a low profile, but it seemed like everyone I knew chose that moment to walk past. I was getting fed up of saying hello to people I saw every day, so I led him away from the crowd to the nearly empty corridor. “I’m not usually this popular.” “I don’t believe you,” he said. “I bet everyone wants to know a cute boy like you.” It made me laugh. “Actually, it’s you creating the interest. They don’t know you, so it makes good gossip.” “I see. So where are you taking me, anyway?” “Don’t you want to see my school?” “Sure, but aren’t we were supposed to be watching a play?” We weren’t supposed to wander around the school after hours, but there was still half-an-hour to go before the show started, and I thought it would be a good idea to leave our coats in my locker. It was also an opportunity for us to talk alone. Now that I was definitely going to sleep over, I wanted him to know that things might not go as smoothly as he planned. “What do you mean?” “Well, I’ve had some problems at home. It’s the reason why I haven’t been available.” He stopped walking to place his hands on my shoulders and look me in the eyes. “Are you sick again?” It was unexpected, but his concern was obviously genuine. “Is it your head?” For a moment, I was lost. “No, it’s your eyes.” “What?” I smiled. “Sorry, it’s nothing. Your eyes are very blue, that’s all. My locker’s over here.” Conner was understandably confused by my erratic behaviour, and so was I. He was definitely having an effect on me, which I liked and wanted more of. I was blushing and had a familiar tingling sensation down below. ‘Maybe I don’t need to tell him after all’. It suddenly seemed like a pointless exercise. Talking or even thinking about what happened with Alex was an instant passion killer, and I was enjoying a mini-revival. ‘Telling him will only make it worse. I need to forget about Alex. Not talk about it all the time’. “Are you sure you're okay?” “Yes, I’ve just got a thing for eyes, and yours are really nice.” He relaxed, and I could see him smiling to himself. “Well, I’m glad there’s something about me that you like.” Now it was my turn to stop. “I like everything about you, Conner. You're not the reason why I’ve stayed away. It’s nothing to do with you.” I smiled as sweetly as I could, then tried to change the subject. “But I’m kinda curious about your family.” “What about them?” “It’s nothing bad, but I was wondering. I mean are they gonna be okay with us, you know, with me staying over and stuff?” Conner giggled at me as I struggled to find the right words. “You mean are they gonna have a problem with us sleeping together?” I looked around quickly to be sure no one could hear. “Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean.” “No, they don't have a problem with you staying over. Why would they?” I thought it was obvious. “Because you're gay. Won't they be suspicious?” “I know it may sound weird to you, but my folks are okay with that kinda thing. They’re Swedish, and it’s different over there. People are more open about sex; it’s not like it is here.” I should have guessed. The blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin were clues along with his mom’s accent. When I looked at Conner, it was obvious he was Scandinavian. “So you're Swedish, like that crazy chef from the Muppet Movies?” He laughed as I opened my locker and took his coat. “That’s not a very good example, and I’m not Swedish, my parents are. They moved here before I was born.” “Sorry, but he’s the only Swedish person I could think of.” “He’s a puppet, Robbie. And I’m pretty sure he’s not really Swedish.” I laughed at my own stupidity, but I still didn’t quite get the sex thing. “So, they don’t mind you bringing guys back?” “That’s not what I said. They wouldn’t be too happy if I started bringing back random boys for sex, that’s for sure. But a regular boyfriend is okay. Providing they know who you are and I’m truthful with them. Trust is a big part of it. You still don’t get it, do you?” “No.” “Haha, at least you're honest. It’s a culture thing. I was brought up with it, but it’s different over here, and a lot different in the UK. Don’t worry, I can educate you…. If you allow me.” I was ready to give in to him right there and then, in the school corridor, during the Christmas play! I swallowed hard and tried to pay attention rather than focusing on his lips. “What? Oh, yeah, of course, I’ll let you.” I wasn’t sure exactly what it was I had just agreed to, but Conner looked happy at my response, so it was probably something naughty. Whatever it was, it didn’t scare me as much at would have earlier. I closed my locker and glanced at my watch, as we began walking back to the busy end of the corridor. We were still early, so I slowed the pace to barely a crawl and listened to Conner as he talked about family values, Swedish style, in a deep seductive voice. “They know they can’t stop me from having sex, but this way, they know where I am and who I’m with. I’m gonna do it somewhere, so it makes sense that it’s at home where I’m gonna be safe, rather than in the back of someone’s car, or one of those cheap motels on the edge of town.” I looked at him curiously. He could have been talking about me. “Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it,” I said. “Cheap motels can be fun.” “No! You mean you’ve been to one?” I nodded proudly. “I spent my sixteenth birthday at the Palm Springs Motel in Cobourg.” “Oh my God, really? I’ve been past there. It looks filthy.” “It was that day,” I laughed. “Especially in our room. That was Nathan’s present to me. A motel room and a bottle of lube. We used them both up that day, but we had a good time.” “Sounds like it.” “Sorry, I shouldn’t have told you about that.” “Why not? I don’t care as long as you're not still seeing him. I know you're not a virgin, and I don’t mind you talking about stuff like that. In fact, it’s quite refreshing, you don’t usually like talking about sex.” “Well, I don’t have much to report after, because that was the last time we did it. It’s been just me, and my right hand since then.” ‘And not even that lately’. He laughed. “I can beat that,” he said. “It’s been six months for me, and I didn’t exactly have much of a love life before that. I was still a novice when we had to move.” “Do you miss him a lot.” “Yeah, quite a bit, but there’s no going back. I’ve talked to my parents about it, and they feel bad, but I understand they had to move. It’s better for us here.” I would have been happy with a lie. A simple no would have been easier for me to digest, but I understood how he felt. I think that’s why I was so concerned. “I was exactly the same until I met Nathan. I know it sounds bad, but when we started having sex, I forgot all about Tom. Maybe the same thing will happen to you?” “That’s what my parents said.” “They did? Really?” “Yes, why are you so surprised. They know you're not sleeping over to play video games all night. That’s why they’ve been so keen to see us hook up.” It sounded weird to me. Conner’s parents wanted me to have sex with their son to relieve their guilt trip. Scandinavia seemed like a fun place to be. ‘Why wasn’t I born in Sweden instead? What was my mom thinking, marrying a Canadian’? “So you talk about stuff like that with your mom and dad?” “Of course, and my sister. It’s not an issue.” “Wow, in my house, I’m not even allowed to mention I’m gay.” “You're kidding, right?” “No, at Thanksgiving, Don told me not to talk about it because he didn’t want the rest of the family to find out.” Conner put his hand on my arm, a warm and delicate touch that made me tremble. “That’s terrible. I’m so sorry, I knew you had problems at home, but I didn’t realise it was that bad. Is this what you were trying to tell me earlier?” “Yeah, it’s part of the problem. Well, actually it’s a lot worse than that, but it’s okay. I mean, I’m dealing with it.” I don’t think Conner knew what to say to me after that because we walked in silence until we reached the auditorium. Most of the audience were already inside as a girl from my homeroom took our tickets and pointed to our seats. She looked at Conner and gave me an approving smile, but I quickly changed course when I saw the family, dragging my boyfriend along the back to the next set of stairs. “I’ll explain later,” I said, as we squeezed past an entire row of disgruntled people to reach two empty seats near the other end. I sat down next to Daniel and whispered as I introduced my brother and little sister. On the other side of Amy was Sue, who glanced over and mouthed a polite hello to Conner, but Don just stared ahead at the empty stage. He was sitting on the end seat by the stairs. “It’s okay,” whispered Conner. “I understand now why you took this route.” He grabbed my hand between the seats and leaned into me as the lights went down. Then I heard Nathan’s voice above us, and there was a collective gasp from the audience as he was lowered by wires from the gantry. He had huge wings and a big blond wig that kept falling in his face as he delivered his lines. “That’s my ex,” I said loudly and proudly, and Nathan acknowledged it with a wink and a kiss in my direction, before landing awkwardly on the stage and falling over. It wasn’t meant to be a joke, but everyone laughed, and it set the tone. “He’s a lot different from how I imagined,” said Conner. “Of course he is, you plonker, he’s in drag. I know I said he was a bit camp, but not that camp. And he doesn’t have tits in real life either.” The woman sitting behind told us to keep our voices down, and Sue gave me a stern look, which I chose to ignore. I had something else to think about which competed with the antics on stage. Between the seats, Conner was making love to my hand with his fingers and doing an admirable job for someone with limited experience. “Are you okay,” he whispered, and I nodded. I was a little more than just okay. The show was hilarious, and I could see what all the fuss was about. For a school play and a family production, it was a little close to the mark in places, but overall it was well received. I was able to recognise Nathan’s influence. His bawdy seaside humour was easy to spot, even when it was someone else delivering the lines. In the Stephenson spoof version of Peter Pan, Tinkerbell was an insanely jealous drag queen with an unhealthy obsession for the clean, straight-looking, lead actor. He was blissfully unaware of this crush, of course, as he fought and eventually killed the evil pirate Captain Hook. The show was riddled with sexual connotations, which the younger audience would not have understood, and a few teen abbreviations which may have confused some of the adults. The students loved it though, and Nathan, just as he predicted, stole the show and received a rousing encore from everyone except Don. My hapless adopted father was subdued throughout and left in a huff shortly before the end. Knowing he was watching made it even funnier for me, and I was certain that a couple of Nathan’s jokes were aimed directly at him. Don probably knew it too and looked unimpressed when Tinkerbell told a story about an evil, balding bigot, who lived at the top of the hill and preyed on young gay boys. Payback no doubt, for the nasty things Don said about Nathan in the past, and a whopping show of support for his ex-boyfriend. Everyone laughed, but I knew the jokes were mostly for my benefit. Perhaps this was the reason why Nathan was so keen on me being there. It was a nice gesture from an ex-boyfriend, but I needed to stay focused. Conner was like a breath of fresh air to me. He made me laugh, without being rude to Sue, Daniel, or Amy, who all found him charming and polite. I got the impression he was making a play for me, and Daniel thought so too. He was trying to romance me. I guess it was normal behaviour on an early date, but I quite liked it that he was prepared to pull out all the stops in a blatant attempt to win my heart. It was cool having a cute guy fussing over me, and kind of hot knowing why he was doing it. Afterwards, Daniel and I persuaded Sue to stay behind so we could talk to Nathan, and I introduced him to Conner with a little trepidation. It was an awkward moment, which passed without incident, and the new boy on my arm was happy to take a back seat as I eagerly chatted with my ex. “The bigot on the hill was Don, wasn’t it?” “Of course, it was. I put that in for you.” “I know, and you should’ve seen his face when he got up and walked out.” “Oh my God, I bet that was so funny.” He slapped my arm as we laughed and fell back into a well-worked routine, which was distinctly ours. Sue was chatting, and Daniel was keeping Conner amused, but I didn’t want to hurt the boy who was supposed to be my date for the evening, so I forced myself to leave. “I have to go, Nathan. It’s been cool talking to you, and the show was really special.” “Is Conner staying at your house?” I wasn’t expecting him to ask me that, and my expression made him laugh it off as a joke, but he seemed happy when I explained the situation. “He has to get home so I best not keep him too late.” “You can come back to our house if you want. Ginny and a few others will be there. It’ll be fun. My sister will give you a ride home.” Nathan was still high on adrenaline and buzzing from his performance, and I was sure that was the reason for an invitation, which could have easily been misinterpreted. “Thanks, but I really wanna get home.” My face told a different story, and he must have easily picked up on it, as he put his arms around my neck and kissed me on the cheek. Despite his fake boobs, it was the closest we had been since we split up, and a familiar embrace, which I sorely missed. “I’ll see you in school tomorrow,” I said. “Maybe you’ll let me sit at your table for lunch?” “Maybe,” he said and smiled through teary eyes. He suddenly looked drained; the show must have taken a lot out of him, but as I left, Ginny took my place, and he perked up. Outside, I stood confused in the bitter cold, as I tried to explain Nathan’s exuberance to a very understanding Conner. He took it in his stride, but he clearly wasn’t as happy as he was earlier and I cursed myself for insisting we stayed behind. I was trying to do the right thing. If I had gone without seeing him, Nathan would have been devastated. Conner was quick with his assessment. “Look, Robbie. You’re a good guy, with more than a few problems. I think I know you a lot better now.” “Really? I’m not sure if I do.” “If you still have feelings for Nathan, then you should go back to him. I understand, and I won't hate you for it.” His words shook me up, and a million different thoughts competed for my attention at the same time. I was emotionally drained and unable to offer a credible response. Instead, I reached out to hold his hand, but our gloves made it a pointless gesture. “No, I like you, Conner.” “That’s not enough to have a real relationship. If you like me, we can be friends, but I need more than that to sleep with you. It’s my fault. I was putting you under pressure without realising what was going on.” I didn’t know what to say, or what I really wanted. ‘What if I go back to Nathan and next week he decides he’s bored with me again? And do I really want a drag queen as a boyfriend’? Connor represented a fresh start, and an exciting future filled with safe, parental-approved sex, but an unknown commodity. With Nathan, I knew what I was getting. A lot of fun, and a connection which I had never had with anyone else before or since. We would struggle to find any time alone, but the Palm Springs Motel was a lot closer than Conner’s house, and sex with Nathan was always out of this world. ‘Am I really that lucky to have two boys vying for my attention’? It seemed so unreal and so unfair to have to choose, but if I didn’t do something soon, then I could lose them both. I saw Daniel and Sue approaching with Amy between them and behind Conner, his mom’s pick-up truck, parking at the disused bus stand. Conner laughed uneasily and held my arm. “Go home and think about what you want. The invitation is still on the table, but I’m not gonna push you anymore. It’s your decision. If you wanna be with me, all you have to do is turn up on Christmas day?” I thought he was very generous, and I was impressed. It showed how much he wanted to make it work. His mom must have wondered what was going on because she got out of her truck and walked over. “it’s okay, mom,” said Conner and he duly introduced her to Sue, Daniel and Amy. While I was still in a world of my own. Poor Conner didn’t deserve to be kept waiting, but for once, I had to make the right decision. The best choice for me. He looked at me and tried to hide the hurt on his face. I guess he must have known what I was thinking. He was smart, but this time he was wrong. He was surprised as I leaned forward and kissed him on the lips. “I’ll see you on Christmas day.” “Really?” “If I’m still invited.” “Sure. That’s cool.” “Yeah, cool.” Then we kissed again. I don’t know who initiated it. It just seemed to happen on its own, and this time, it lasted much longer. I put my arms around his waist and pulled him close as Amy giggled and Sue coughed loudly to get my attention. With two winter coats between us, it was hardly erotic, but enough for me to get an erection, and that alone was worthy of a celebration. It was his mom who eventually managed to separate us. “Okay, boys, that’s enough for now.” My lips were still tingling in the car on the way home, as I sat quietly in the back with a smile that didn’t want to leave my face. Then later that night in the privacy of my room, and with my new boyfriend as motivation, I finally and effortlessly completed Jo’s homework assignment.
  7. Thank you, @daveymars, for some wonderful comments and for sharing your job and personal experiences with us. I'm sure you mentioned to me in the past that you were involved in counselling but I was fascinated to hear that you are similar to Jo. It's a huge relief to discover that her character is believable, especially when it comes from someone who does the job for real. My experience of counselling is limited to half-a-dozen or so visits as a patient. I was a little older than Robbie and not nearly as messed up, so my situation didn't help much when it came to writing about Jo. I did a fair amount of research, but it was still a risk trying to portray an unconventional character working in a specialist job I knew very little about. I'm always worried that I'm going to get it fundamentally wrong and be called out by a professional. After posting the chapter where Robbie is rushed to the hospital with a head injury, I remember reading a comment from a neurologist. Just my luck, I thought. Why did he have to read it? I was expecting him to explain where I went wrong, but instead, he thought I described the symptoms quite well. This was a surprise because what I knew about neurology I could write on the back of a postage stamp. Needless to say I'm not going to push my luck and start writing a story about a nuclear physicist.
  8. Good for you, Thorn. You make some excellent points, and your work is certainly good enough. You're one of many authors on GA and similar sites who, if marketed correctly, deserve to be able to publish their stories and make money. I think that's a fairly reasonable statement to make, and I doubt if many would disagree, but the last two words, for some stupid reason won't sit well with some. As you point out, anyone who dares to talk about 'making money' is immediately regarded with suspicion. It's very odd, but this is especially true when it comes to the arts, where the presumption seems to be that it's somehow wrong to ask to be paid. Isn't that what everybody does anyway. Most of us get paid for something. Nothing stifles creativity better than a lack of funds, and although this may sound a little extreme, I often wonder how much we've been denied through the ages. How many budding artists, writers, and musicians have had their talents suppressed because of their circumstances? I'm not saying you're going to starve to death in pursuit of your dreams, but money is useful, and it sure helps to have some laying around. You may not make enough to retire with, but you certainly deserve some recompense for your art. There's nothing wrong in promoting yourself, and your talents to potential readers outside of the GA community and I'm sure everyone here would applaud you for it. Cream doesn't always float to the top on its own. Well, it does, but you know what I mean.
  9. You totally nailed it @droughtquake Kids can relate to her and will listen to her because she so obviously represents them. Robbie wants to be seen in her company because she's cool and even Ginny talks to her more as a friend than someone who works for the school district. She would be quick to point out that it's just the way she is and not an act designed to win their trust but it certainly helps. She's also quite good at her job of course.
  10. Dodger

    First Steps

    Great chapter Tim. The more I read of this the more impressed I am with this world you've created. There's a lot of feeling in this chapter. As I read I cannot decide if I love Stravor or hate him. I think both at the moment. I wonder if Keter will trust him. Like @droughtquake I'm also interested in Shade.
  11. Robbie clearly hasn't been able to get over Nathan. He still has feelings for him, is still attracted to him, and is insanely jealous of his new boyfriend to the point where he would find it difficult to be in the same room. Conner is a nice guy who is eager to have a normal relationship but I'm not sure if Robbie is the right person at the moment. Not because of what happened with Alex, but because he's still obsessed with Nathan. I know she wants to help Robbie but it's still a little odd that she should invite him to her party knowing that Nathan will be there with his boyfriend. This potentially could make Robbie even more depressed and she should know this. It may sound like fun but Robbie should think seriously about the consequences. Jo doesn't like taking risks and she's obviously not comfortable with Robbie's situation at the moment. I guess she has been around long ehough to know the danger signs and she definitely recognizes them in Don's recent behaviour. Robbie needs to be aware and listen to her advice.
  12. I think this was a deliberate tactic by Jo maybe to try to isolate Don. Sue's the weak link and her abilities as a mother are being questioned by someone with the authority to take Robbie away. As you point out, they can't ignore it.
  13. Thank you @Arran for your kind words. I like Jo too and I've been itching to bring her into the story and see what kind of reaction she gets. She works well with Robbie who is completely mesmerized by her. He will find it difficult when she has to move on, but that won't be for a while.
  14. So now Don knows what he's up against with Jo, and he definitely won't want the shame of having Robbie removed by a child protection officer. However, Don will know that Jo can only do this if she has evidence to suggest Robbie is not safe in the house and as far as he's concerned there isn't any. Sue may have challenged him but Don's still in the driving seat or so he thinks.
  15. Poor Ginny has had serious issues with depression, which even Jo has been unable to reverse. Robbie has been a lot more responsive to Jo's therapy but he's not out of the woods yet. There are still serious issues that he needs help with, but Jo isn't going to tell this to Sue. She knows that Don is still a formidable opponent and is concerned by his recent erratic behaviour. She's seen something she doesn't like and this may well be the reason why she decided to push Don into a corner perhaps a little earlier than planned.
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