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Dodger last won the day on September 9 2019

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22,319 Master Scribe 3rd Class

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  1. It took only a few days for news of Stephanie’s pregnancy to surface in the corridors of Stephenson High School, accompanied by the usual game of guess the father. In the absence of a regular boyfriend, Mitch—the mouthy bigot who tried to fight me in the cafeteria—seemed to be most people’s prime suspect, and judging by his confident swagger around the school, I got the feeling he rather enjoyed the notoriety that came with this accusation. In an apparent attempt to save my blushes, Stephanie had decided not to volunteer the name of the real father, and those who already knew were asked to keep it a secret. While I appreciated her efforts to keep me out of the equation, I got the feeling it wasn’t done entirely for my benefit. Having a bun in the oven was bad enough for her, but it probably would have been even more embarrassing if people discovered the boy responsible was her best friend’s gay brother. As Nicola was quick to point out, Stephanie would have preferred it to be anyone rather than me, and I suspected this much was true. Perhaps I should have viewed this as good news. I was, after all, quite happy to let Mitch take the blame for my transgressions, but being an embarrassment to Stephanie didn’t sit well with me. I mentioned this to Nicola after she ambushed me at my locker on Thursday to take me to a secret meeting at an undisclosed location. “You're being paranoid,” said my sister as she held onto my arm and led me through the busy corridor at breakneck speed. “She’s not embarrassed by you; she just doesn’t want anyone to see you talking to her.” “Isn’t that the same thing?” I was struggling to keep up as Nicola punched a hole through the lunchtime crowds. We were heading away from the cafeteria to the gymnasium and against the flow of traffic, but it didn’t slow her down. She was on a mission, and those with any sense quickly stood aside. “Where are we going anyway?” “Somewhere private where you two can talk alone.” “Maybe I don’t wanna talk to her.” My sister tightened her grip on my arm and gave me a look that told me I had no choice. “You should be grateful. She’s only doing this for you.” ‘Of course, she is. It’s always for me.’ By the time we reached the gymnasium, the corridor was almost empty. I jerked my arm free and reluctantly followed her up the staircase. “Don’t you think this is a little over the top? Why can’t she just call me?” “She wanted to talk to you in person. Now hurry up!” The top floor was the quietest part of the school, with only a couple of classrooms, an art studio and the library. I assumed we were going to the latter when I saw Stephanie waiting for us at the top of the stairs. She smiled at me but looked pensive as she glanced along the empty corridor before walking past the library and into the adjacent girl’s washroom. I turned to Nicola and shrugged. “I guess she had to go.” Then I noticed Stephanie holding the door open and signalling for me to join her. “You're having a laugh. There’s no way I’m going in there.” “What are you waiting for?” said Nicola, shoving me towards the entrance. “I’ll make sure no one comes in.” “This is a bad idea,” I said, but I was talking to the back of the door as it swung shut. “Don’t worry; no one comes up here at lunchtime.” They were the first words Stephanie had spoken to me since leaving our house almost a week ago, although our paths rarely crossed outside of the cafeteria. I turned around, looking past her at the unfamiliar surroundings. The girl’s washroom was bright, well-kept, and spacious. “This is much cleaner than the boy’s room, and it smells a lot better too.” “That doesn’t surprise me. Boys are disgusting.” “Only some,” I was quick to point out. “Most of us are quite hygienic. You’re probably hanging around with the wrong types. Like your boyfriend, Mitch, for example.” “He’s not my boyfriend.” “Well, maybe you should tell him that because I think he’s getting confused.” Stephanie folded her arms and stared at me with a critical smile. “You're not jealous of him, are you?” I sneered at her and shook my head in disgust. “Jealous. Do me a favour. Why would I be jealous of that tosser? I just can’t understand why anyone would wanna be friends with him.” “It’s got nothing to do with you who I hang around with. Anyway, he’s not that bad; he just happens to hate you, that’s all.” “Have you told him?” “About you? God no. He would probably want to kill you if he ever found out.” “That’s reassuring. Have you any more good news for me?” I looked at myself in the mirror. My hair was a mess, and I had dark rings around my eyes. ‘Where did they come from?’ “That’s why we should try to keep this quiet for as long as possible.” She put her hand on my shoulder and looked concerned as she spoke to my reflection. “You haven’t told anyone, have you?” “No.” “Good. So far, only our families know. Has my brother said anything?” “David? No, why?” “He didn’t react too well when he found out. I thought I should warn you.” I was surprised to hear that, but it explained why he hadn’t been very talkative lately. If David knew, it seemed likely his girlfriend, Fran, did too, and I wondered how truthful Stephanie had been. “You spoke to my mom,” I said before correcting myself. “I mean Sue.” Stephanie smiled. “She is your mom, Robbie. You’re allowed to call her that.” “No, she’s not.” My reply was automatic, but my argument was beginning to wear thin, and I no longer had the conviction to make it sound believable. Sue behaved like she was my mom, and it felt like she was, but there was still a part of me that felt bad whenever I slipped up, and that word passed my lips. It was happening a lot lately. “That’s not why we’re here, though, is it? I know you told Sue about that night, and She said I should thank you.” “I’m not a total bitch, you know. I’m not gonna blame you when it wasn’t your fault. You just did what any other boy would have done under the circumstances. That’s what I told your mom. I like you, Robbie, and I was certain you swung both ways. So, when Nicola passed out, I thought we could have some fun. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and you looked like. Well, you looked like you were up for it.” She glanced down at my crotch and smirked. “You know what I mean.” I sighed. “It was the Viagra Nicola gave me. I’m not usually like that.” “I know, but it would’ve been a shame to waste it on Nathan’s video.” “What?” “I caught you jerking off, remember. Don’t worry, I haven’t told anyone, but it was kinda hot at the time. Girls get horny too, you know.” “You got what you wanted then, but you must be regretting it now.” Stephanie reached for my hand, forcing me to look up from the floor. “I don’t regret having sex with you, Robbie, even though I could tell you wasn’t totally into it. I just regret not using protection.” I returned her smile. “I was that bad then, huh?” “It’s okay, I won’t tell.” I appreciated her honesty, but she could have told me this anytime. It didn’t warrant being dragged into the girl’s washroom. “Is that it? Can I go now?” “No, I wanted you to know that I’ve ….” When she stopped in mid-sentence, I thought she was searching for the right words, but she looked worried, and I soon understood why. The sound of a toilet flushing made me jump and turn expectantly towards the line of stalls. I glanced worriedly at Stephanie before the door at the far end opened, and a young girl with red hair walked towards the sinks where we stood. I recognised her immediately from my homeroom and smiled nervously as she washed her hands and glanced suspiciously at me. “Hey, Malissa. How’s it going?” “It’s Clarissa,” she corrected me smartly. “And you’re in the girl’s washroom.” “I know that.” She finished drying her hands and looked disapprovingly over her shoulder at Stephanie. “The boy’s is next door.” I dashed to the door and held it open for her to leave. “Thanks, I’ll bear that in mind for next time. See you in class, I guess.” Clarissa was a quiet girl and not particularly known for her sense of humour, but she looked like she was smiling to herself as she passed a shocked-looking Nicola in the corridor. “Where did she come …?” I shrugged my shoulders at my sister and shut the door in her face. “Nice one Stephanie.” “How was I to know she was in there. Do you think she’s gonna tell anyone?” “Unless she falls down the stairs, bangs her head and goes into a coma, but what are the chances of something like that happening in this school?” “Didn’t that happen to you?” I narrowed my eyes at Stephanie, but I couldn’t be bothered to explain my sarcasm. “You're right; it’s very common.” “Maybe you should ask her not to say anything.” “Yeah, that usually works; why didn’t I think of that?” “Well, it’s worth a try. Be nice to her; maybe she’ll feel sorry for you.” I had a better idea. “Nah, it’s not worth it. Let her talk; I don’t care about Mitch or anyone else. I can think of worse things to be accused of than getting you pregnant. If anything, it’ll make me more popular. Unless, of course, it bothers you. I wouldn’t want you to be embarrassed.” “You're Nicola’s brother; of course, I’m gonna be embarrassed. And you’re gay. Everyone will think I just used you for sex.” “That doesn’t make much sense, but I suppose you did.” “I know I did, but I don’t want them to know that.” “Who’s them?” “Everybody!” I stared into her watery eyes, looking for a glimmer of sanity, but all I could see was a desperate and frightened girl whose world seemed to be collapsing around her. Listening to Nicola made me believe that Stephanie was in control and handling it quite well when clearly the opposite was true. I felt bad. Even after she admitted it was her fault, absolving me of all blame, I was still overwhelmed with guilt for my role in this debacle. Sue was right; I could have said no. Nathan would have. Without my co-operation, it couldn’t have happened, and I wouldn’t be stuck in the girl’s washroom with someone who sounded like she was losing her marbles. “I was gonna leave school, but I’m determined to get my diploma; I’ve worked too hard to quit.” Like Nicola, Stephanie was in her final year of high school with only four months left until graduation. She stood in front of the mirror, wiping away tears with her hand and making me feel worse. “I’ll be six months pregnant when I graduate. I’m gonna look terrible.” I snatched a handful of paper towels from the dispenser and handed them to her as her voice cracked, and she began sobbing. “Stephanie, please don’t cry. I’m sure things will work out.” She needed comforting, but I wasn’t sure if I was the right person, so I reached for the door to call Nicola, only to be dragged back by my t-shirt. “Don’t go!” “It’s okay, relax.” I put my hands on Stephanie’s shoulders and looked into her eyes. “Maybe we should go outside for some fresh air.” I held her loosely, but she ignored my attempt to keep her away and moved closer until she was able to put her arms around my waist. “No, I can’t go out like this. I need a hug.” I rubbed her back as she held me tight and cried into my shoulder. Her scent brought back memories of our night together, along with her bosoms that were squished against my chest. Her hair was in my mouth, and I had to push it off of my face to breathe. It was difficult to imagine a more compromising position. I was caught between a feeling of genuine compassion and an instinctive desire for self-preservation. Even Mr Andrews would not have been able to save me if I was found in the girl’s washroom in the arms of a female student, especially if she happened to be pregnant with my baby. “Stephanie. I have to go. We can talk later. Anywhere but here. Sue’s gonna kill me if I get expelled on top of everything else that’s happened.” “I’m sorry. You must hate me. I ruined your life.” 'Not yet, but almost.' I never thought I would be so pleased to hear Nicola’s voice when she threw open the door and yelled at me. “What are you doing?” “She’s upset, Nicola.” “I can see that. What did you say to her?” “I didn’t say anything. I don’t even know why I had to be here.” Stephanie had stopped crying and regained enough composure to look embarrassed. “I’m sorry.” She let go of me and gingerly stepped away, sniffing and wiping her face. “I don’t know what came over me.” Nicola rolled her eyes. “Him, probably.” I straightened my t-shirt and felt a damp patch on my shoulder where she had been crying. “Here, let me,” said Stephanie, but I pushed her hand away when she tried to wipe my shirt with the screwed up and equally damp tissues I gave to her earlier. “It’s not that bad, really.” “Leave it. I don’t mind. What was it you wanted to tell me?” “Oh, I thought you should know; I’ve decided not to put the baby up for adoption.” Nicola squealed with excitement, but my face told a different story. “Why?” “I thought you’d be happy. Isn’t that what you wanted?” “Whatever gave you that idea?” “Your dad. He came to my house yesterday to talk to my parents.” “He did what? You mean Don went to your house?” I turned to Nicola, but she looked equally puzzled. “I didn’t know,” said my sister. “It’s news to me.” “Yeah, I was surprised to see him too,” said Stephanie. “I thought you guys knew about it.” I was gobsmacked. “What did he say?” Stephanie must have realised she had been duped and immediately clammed up. “It doesn’t matter. It’s not important. You should go now before someone catches you in here.” Nicola agreed, pushing me out the door in much the same way as she pushed me in. “I’ll talk to you later when we get home.” I had a feeling Don wouldn’t be able to resist the opportunity to cause problems. My mind, like my t-shirt, was a mess, and I spent the rest of my lunch wandering around the school, trying to avoid anyone I knew. * * * I ducked as Jo’s clipboard hit the clock behind me, knocking it off the wall. “Is this the same girl you slept with before Christmas, Nicola’s friend?” “Yes, there was only one.” “Do you think she’s telling the truth? I mean, are you sure you’re the father?” “I suppose.” “I suppose isn’t good enough. You’ll need to insist on a test. Geez, what is it with you?” “It wasn’t my idea. I told you; she led me on. She even admits it.” Jo popped another piece of gum in her mouth and paced the room, stopping to pick up her clipboard but ignoring the broken clock. “I’m not angry because you had sex with your sister’s friend. I’m angry because you didn’t use protection. This wouldn’t have happened if you had bothered to wear a condom. You do know how to put one of those things on, don’t you?” “Of course, I know. I’m not stupid.” “I wonder sometimes.” “Thanks.” I slumped in the chair and stared into space. “I thought you were supposed to be helping me, not making me feel worse.” “I am helping you, but you have to meet me halfway. You can’t give Don ammunition like that; he’ll use it to destroy you. There’s no way he’s ever gonna believe you’re gay now. I’m not even sure if I do. But whatever happens, you’re not ready to be a father.” She picked up her bag and placed it on the table to look inside. Jo carried a lot of stuff wherever she went. Most of it she didn’t need, like an empty water bottle, batteries, and a set of screwdrivers. They were all placed on the table until she found what she was looking for—a diary which she quickly thumbed through. “What are you doing?” She looked up from the small book and tossed it back into her bag. “It was almost twelve weeks ago. I take it she’s not having an abortion.” I shook my head. “Adoption?” When I didn’t reply, she kicked the wall. “You're kidding me. She’s only eighteen; why would she want a kid?” “I don’t know, but Don went to talk to her parents last night, and Stephanie seems to think I’m okay with it.” “No offence, Robbie, but you’re not planning to marry her, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re okay with it or not. She’s the one who’ll be stuck with a kid.” “She told me she’s made up her mind.” “If that’s the case, then there’s not a great deal you can do about it, but it’ll put you under a lot of pressure. She’s your sister’s friend; you’re likely to see a lot of the baby. How do you feel about that?” “I don’t know.” “Does she want you to play an active role?” “I don’t think so.” “Good, because that’s a big responsibility for someone who is usually so irresponsible.” She ruffled my hair. “I’m only kidding, but I’d like to know what Don said to her. This is like a gift to him; I bet he can’t believe his luck.” * * * I needed to talk to Sue and explain how her husband had sabotaged her attempt to persuade Stephanie to put her baby up for adoption, but by the time Jo dropped me home, Nicola had beaten me to it. I suspected Sue was less than enthralled by the news that her meddling husband had potentially secured her a grandchild, and she looked unwell when I passed her on the stairs. “Are you okay?” “Yes, dear. I’ve got a headache, and I’m feeling tired. I’m going to lie down for a while.” Those words sent a chill up my spine. I remembered my mom complaining of headaches and tiredness before she was diagnosed. It was the start of her illness, although she didn’t know it at the time. There were periods of my life that I wanted desperately to forget, and this was one of them. I would have paid good money to have those memories surgically removed if it were possible, but I knew they would live with me forever, returning to haunt me whenever anything triggered them. I had invested so much into Sue I couldn’t bear the thought of anything happening to her. Losing two moms would have destroyed me, but I guess no one could be that unlucky. After a troubled night spent worrying about her, she was back to normal in the morning, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to her about Stephanie. * * * I arrived at Nathan’s house on Friday afternoon just as Ginny was getting ready to leave. His rapid recovery and improving moods had persuaded his parents to ease their restrictions on visitors, and she was no longer seen as a threat. Nathan had insisted all along that Ginny wasn’t the one who had supplied him with drugs, although he had so far refused to say where he got them. I got the feeling his family were just happy to see him smiling again. They seemed content not to rock the boat while heaping praise on me for supposedly saving their son. The return of Ginny’s familiar face seemed to do him good and made life easier for his overworked sister, although Karen still had to help with more private matters when I wasn’t available. Naturally, I was the preferred option for anything bathroom related, and it was a responsibility I took seriously and worked hard to normalise. It was usually my first job, and I waited while he kissed Ginny goodbye before dutifully following him to the upstairs bathroom. “How’s life treating you?” Nathan was in good spirits as I fumbled with his button and zipper before pushing his pants and underwear to his ankles. “Stephanie wants to keep the baby.” He looked unconcerned as he stood before me in a pale-blue striped hoodie that didn’t quite cover his dangling bits. “I thought she would. It’s a mother thing.” He sat on the toilet and gazed up at me from under his long fringe as it fell across his face. A quick flick of his head pushed it to one side, but it needed cutting, and it was soon back covering his eyes. “I know it’s important to you, but can we not talk about Stephanie tonight? I’d rather talk about us.” He smiled sweetly before dropping his head to concentrate on more urgent matters. My boyfriend looked almost childlike, hunched forward with his pants puddled around his ankles and his knees pressed together. His plaster casts rested on the top of his thighs and between them, pointing directly at me, the reddish-purple head of his circumcised penis. It wasn’t how I was used to seeing him—flaccid and concertinaed to no more than a couple of inches—and when he caught me staring, he frowned, but it was just a game. Nathan enjoyed me looking at him even during odd moments like these when sex was not the reason for his nakedness. It was a bizarre situation that went way beyond the usual boundaries of dating, and it probably should have been more embarrassing than it was. Yet somehow, sharing those hitherto private moments seemed to bring us even closer together. My actions were, of course, born entirely out of necessity and love, rather than some weird fetish, but normal couples didn’t do this kind of thing, and I saw it as an advantage. There was no longer any part of his anatomy and no bodily function that I wasn’t now intimately familiar with to a point where it felt like he was almost a part of me. I sat on the side of the bath and twiddled my thumbs like an expectant father. Never mind Stephanie, it looked to me like Nathan was the one giving birth, and I stifled a laugh when I thought about what Daniel said. ‘Nathan’s having a phantom pregnancy.’ “Stop laughing at me. I don’t know why you have to watch. You can wait outside, you know.” “It’s okay. I’ve got nothing better to do.” My boyfriend looked curiously at me. “You got nothing better to do than watch me taking a shit? And I thought I was weird.” We both laughed, but I guess he had a point. I was spending a disproportionate amount of time in lavatories. Maybe I was weird, but I had every reason to believe my day was about to get better, and I considered his bowel movements a good sign. I used to do the same thing whenever I stayed the night at Conner’s house. A little preparation was necessary to avoid anything unpleasant later in the evening, and Nathan was always on the ball when it came to personal hygiene. In the past, he would spend a lot of time making sure he was ready for sex and clean where it mattered. I learnt from him and did the same thing for Conner. I thought it was necessary, especially with him going in unwrapped, but my efforts were never appreciated. My boyfriend’s call of nature was proving somewhat problematic. We had been in there for a while, but there was little I could do to help other than some verbal encouragement which wasn’t appreciated. Then a final concentrated effort was followed by a red face and an awkward smile. “I’ve finished,” he proclaimed triumphantly as he stood up for me to clean him. “Blimey! No wonder you had problems.” “Don’t look; it’s embarrassing.” “It’s impossible not to look,” I said. “Everyone looks. I think we might have to call a plumber for this one, though. How did that even fit inside you?” “Stoppit. Don’t be rude.” He admonished me with a glare that soon softened to a naughty smile. “Anyway, you’d be surprised what I can fit inside me. Maybe later, I’ll introduce you to Buffy.” “Buffy?” “Don’t panic; it’s just a toy,” he giggled. “Well, if it’s anything like the size of the Richard the third you just left behind, then I’m not sure I wanna meet him, thank you.” He laughed as he turned his back on me and penguin walked to the washbasin. “Richard the third? I’ve missed your stupid cockney slang.” Then he turned to wink at me. “Now, how do you want me?” I chuckled. “Usual position, darling. Bend over and think of England.” In the past, the sight of my boyfriend’s bare backside protruding invitingly towards me as he kissed the countertop meant only one thing. Before I started caring for him, that little brown pucker’s only purpose was to accommodate my manhood, but despite an aching in my loins and an almost desperate need to experience those joys again, this was neither the time nor the place. It was over half a year since my rubber-coated dick last parted Nathan’s gorgeous round cheeks in search of the promised land. That was on my sixteenth birthday, which we celebrated at the now infamous Palm Springs Motel. However, since that day—if you discounted Stephanie—the only sex I had was playing host to Conner’s virulent tool. While it wasn’t entirely unrewarding, it was an uncomfortable and often painful experience that helped me realise I wasn’t cut out to be a permanent bottom boy. Nathan was different. He was a natural receiver and a willing recipient of everything I had to offer, but a desire to please also made him a very capable lover. Unfortunately, that’s where Conner went wrong. It was his stubborn refusal to switch roles that made him such a literal pain in the ass and ultimately sealed his fate. When I finished cleaning Nathan, I knelt and planted a gentle kiss on each of his supple cheeks before a quick slap from my hand made him howl and sent him bolt upright. My dick was leaking love juice at an alarming rate, but I was pleased to discover my boyfriend had the same problem. His dinkle no longer dangled, and I had trouble zipping him up. “I think you enjoyed that, you dirty sod.” He gave me a dreamy look and smiled. “I had a hot boy fingering my ass; why wouldn’t I enjoy it? You nearly had a lot more mess to clean up than you bargained for.” I stroked his sides and kissed his lips, then pushed back his hair and stared at his face. Six weeks after his attack and all that remained was a small scar above his left eye. Maybe it was the lack of makeup, but he looked better that day than I had ever seen him before. “Do you really think I’m hot?” I asked. “You know I do. I wouldn’t offer to share my bed with someone who wasn’t.” We were close enough to rub noses, and I could feel his hot breath on my face as my fingers rested on his flushed cheek. “I want you so badly,” I whispered, and for a moment, it looked as if he was going to cry. “You can have me. I’m all yours. Every bit of me. We just have to wait a little longer, that’s all.” I could afford to be patient. Earlier during a phone call to Nathan’s mom, Sue left me speechless by not only allowing me to visit my boyfriend for the evening but agreeing to his spontaneous request for a sleepover. It was an unexpected bonus, and I was sure she had taken leave of her senses as I bolted downstairs to fill an overnight bag before she changed back into the woman I knew. Sue may have been swayed by the fact that Nathan’s parents would be home, but she didn’t bother to ask about our sleeping arrangements, and I got the feeling she didn’t want to know. I probably gave the game away when I hugged her on the way out and told her she was the best mom ever. No sixteen-year-old gets that excited about an innocent sleepover, and I could tell Sue wasn’t entirely comfortable with the situation. She was, however, prepared to compromise and after the problems with Stephanie, Nathan probably seemed like a safe option. At least he couldn’t get pregnant, although I was a little concerned about Buffy. “You can put your bag in our bedroom,” said Nathan as he led me through the cluttered kitchen where his mom was talking on the phone. “Our bedroom?” I waved to Liz and giggled at his terminology. In the past, it was always his room. He turned to face me at the bottom of the stairs. “Unless you prefer to sleep in the basement.” “I wanna sleep with the sexiest boy in the world,” I said as I leaned in to kiss him and graze his lips with my tongue. “Don’t we all, sweetie. But I gotta put up with you,” he giggled and took off, running upstairs with me in close pursuit. We were both handicapped. Nathan with his arms in plaster and me with my overnight bag, which I threw onto his bed as I chased him into the bedroom and kicked the door closed. He stood with his back to the window, waiting for me to pounce, but I was suddenly distracted. I scratched my head and looked around, puzzled by the tidy appearance of his room. “What’s wrong?” “Nothing. It’s just I never realised you had carpet. Where have all your clothes gone?” “Very funny. They’re in my wardrobe. I cleaned up. I know how much my mess bugs you, and I want you to feel at home.” “Wow, you did all that for me? It must have taken days.” “Well, not exactly. I got my sister to do it, but it was my idea. From now on, whenever you stay here, this is our room, just like it would be if we were living together.” “That’s so cool.” I grabbed his waist and pulled him towards me, but he squirmed in my tight embrace, and my kiss missed his mouth. “I know, right.” He sounded excited then looked at me coyly. “You don’t think I’m being too forward, do you?” “Too forward? Don’t be daft. I love you, Nathan. Who knows, maybe someday we can live together for real. Permanently.” “Permanently?” He gasped when I squeezed him. “Oh my God, Robbie; I’m only fifteen.” “I don’t mean now, silly. In the future.” “You really wanna live with me?” “Well, maybe when we’re older, if we’re still together, that is. Don’t laugh.” “I’m not laughing at you. Well, I am, but in a nice way. I suppose if you wanted to buy us a place to live, I wouldn’t say no.” “I could probably afford to buy a house.” “I prefer an apartment.” “In the middle of nowhere.” “I like the city.” “As long as it’s just the two of us.” “And Buffy.” I laughed and pushed him back until we fell onto his bed with me on top. “We can work out the details another time. They’re not important.” I kissed his neck and began lifting his hoodie. “What are you doing?” “Getting you undressed.” “It’s not even six o’clock.” “We don’t have to go to sleep straight away.” “Oh my God, we can’t do it now!” he said. “Not with my parents downstairs.” “We can be quiet.” He smiled and kissed my nose. “No, you can’t, and I definitely won’t be able to. We still have to be discreet, you know. My parents aren’t that open-minded. They won’t allow you to stay if they think we’re up here having sex all the time.” “What else would we be doing?” I kissed the middle of his chest, then dragged my tongue across his skin to tease his nipple. His body went rigid beneath me, and he gasped as I pushed my hardness against his stomach before rolling off him and sitting upright. “You told me you wanted to have sex.” Nathan was still on his back, staring at the ceiling and panting; he looked flushed when he lifted his head. “I do, and I have a plan. We just have to wait until the morning. They’re going out early to visit their friends. Then we’ll have the place to ourselves. It’ll be better that way.” It sounded like a long time to wait at the end of a week of self-imposed abstinence. “I’ve been saving myself for you like you said.” “I know, baby.” He knelt on the bed behind me, draped his plastered arms around my neck and covered my cheek in wet kisses. “Oh my God, you’re so cute when you’re horny. I promise you won’t be disappointed.” I had no reason to doubt him. Nathan had never disappointed me in the past, and there was something different about him now that made him even more appealing. * * * I was looking forward to sleeping with my boyfriend again, even if we had to behave ourselves until the morning, but first I had to endure an evening with his family. Thankfully they didn’t ask about Stephanie, but the conversation was still awkward, and I found it difficult to relax. Trying to behave like I wasn’t a lovestruck, hormonal teenage dirtbag, whose sole purpose in life was to shag their son proved nearly impossible. For a treat, and I suspect, to escape the suffocatingly high levels of testosterone, his dad decided to take us out for dinner. There was a family steakhouse just outside of Cobourg that they often used. The owners were amiable, but I still cringed and wanted to hide my face when Liz introduced me as Nathan’s boyfriend. I wasn’t expecting her to divulge that information, and I was worried about how they would react. I didn’t want them spitting on my food or poisoning me, but when I mentioned this to Nathan, he laughed at my paranoia. I was concerned over nothing. There were no discerning looks, and we weren’t treated any differently from the other patrons. No special treatment but nothing bad either. Just the same as everyone else, and that was all I wanted. It was a glimpse of how easy life could be, and it gave me hope for the future. Whether or not Nathan would want to be a part of my future was up to him, but so far, the signs were encouraging. More than once that night, I caught him watching me with an expression that I hadn’t seen on him before. It looked like a mixture of gratitude and admiration, but neither of these was common on a boy usually so consumed with his own importance. It was as if he suddenly noticed something about me that had always been there, and now, he was wondering how he had missed it. I spent the best part of a month trying to win his heart and regain his trust without knowing if I would ultimately succeed. It wasn’t about sex. I always knew he would surrender his body to me when the time was right, but I wanted more than just fleshly sins and something more enduring than a high school romance. I wanted him to feel the same feelings I had for him, and that night I started to believe it was true. I could see it in his eyes when I fed him his steak, in his dreamy smile when he watched me talking, and in his fingertips as they drew lazy circles in the palm of my hand. It was unlike him to be so subdued, and at first, his family were worried, but this wasn’t the same troubled boy who had caused them so much distress a few weeks earlier. For once, Nathan wasn’t seeking the spotlight and seemed content to sit in my shadow, eyes glued to me as he watched me interacting with his sister. He never left my side the whole time we were at the restaurant, and naturally, when he had to use the bathroom, I went with him to help. We squeezed into the only stall, and I showed off my ambidexterity by holding us both as we peed at the same time—a task more difficult than it sounds. There were no spills, but by the time we finished, we were both hard, and I had two erections to conceal for the short but farcical walk back to our table. Tomorrow morning couldn’t come quick enough. It was three weeks to the day after I persuaded Nathan to be my boyfriend for the second time, and when I held him in my arms later that evening in the privacy of his room, he had tears of joy in his eyes. We were awake for most of the night; our naked bodies pressed together in the middle of his bed as we swapped spit and whispered our hottest fantasies beneath the sheets. It would have made sense to rest and conserve our energy, but we weren’t in the mood to be sensible and sailing too close to the edge. Nathan’s plan to save ourselves for the morning was always going to be a tall order, and I had already come within a hair’s breadth of the mother and father of all premature ejaculations. While I somehow managed to stem the tide at the critical moment, Nathan was less successful. It was too dark to see, but there was no mistaking his high-pitched gasp and rapid panting that momentarily drown out the sound of his dad’s snoring. I held my boyfriend tight and kissed him for all he was worth, then felt his spasms and the warm splashes of his sticky essence against my skin as I repeated my love for him in his ear over and over again. My boy was spent, and I was surprised by the volume of his deposits, which quickly spread between us and onto his sheets. He tried to apologise, but there was no need. Nathan, caught in the throes of a climax, was a thing of beauty and an experience to cherish. It made me feel special knowing I was not only the person responsible but also the sole beneficiary, and for once, I rather enjoyed him making a mess. Under the sheets, the bleachy scent of his sensual offering proved an overpowering aphrodisiac. I smeared it across his body like sunscreen, then rolled on top before inevitably losing control and adding another glorious layer of love to our already sticky mess. Shortly after, I opened my eyes and lifted my head from the nape of his neck. Then slowly straightened my arms, peeling my soggy skin from his. A solitary bead of sweat ran down my heated cheek and dripped onto his face, making him twitch his nose. Then he smiled and told me he loved me, and after that, nothing else mattered.
  2. Occasionally, I have to work outside and high up where I'm exposed to the sun for long periods. Add a suffocating safety harness, work boots, and hard hat into the equation, and it can get a little hot. Sunblock, is obviously important for any exposed skin, but I keep myself well covered and hydrated with water in a cooler and hot tea in a flask. We have reasonably hot summers in southern Ontario, but it's the high humidity that can make it unbearable. Luckily, I don't do this every day, but when I do, it's generally hot and sunny. It can be challenging to put it mildly, so you have to be sensible, keep a cool head, and take plenty of breaks. On the plus side, I get the best views of the city.
  3. This is a fine achievement. Congratulations @Mrsgnomie
  4. The wildfires are obviously a problem at the moment but I'm hoping they will have the situation under control by the time I leave, which I should have mentioned won't be for a few weeks. I'm travelling mid-August, so there's a while to go yet, and I will definitely be taking lots of pictures. This is not the sister that I loosely based Nicola on and mentioned in the past. She's the closest to my age and lives on the other side of Toronto, or just around the corner in Canadian distance. She has a busy life, but we see each other quite regularly so I'm not totally alone. I have a brother in Calgary and another who lives just a few miles away who I see maybe twice a year. We don't have a problem and we have a good laugh when we're together, but I've always been closer to the girls in the family.
  5. Thanks, Val. I hope your brother gets well soon. I like going places but the actual travelling bit is always stressful for me, especially the airports. I dislike the intense security checks, although I understand the reasons, and I probably wouldn't board a plane if there were none. Now there's another reason to be stressed and I will definitely be careful. I'm fine with the actual flying part.
  6. Yeah, I watched quite a bit of it too on Sportsnet. You get to see the amount of work that goes into putting on a show like that and this year, everyone did a great job to make it happen. It's good to see the respect that these guys have for each other in a very tough sport, untainted by mega-dollar television deals.
  7. Excuse the delay, Tim. I’ve wanted to reply to this for some time, but I’ve been busy, and I wanted to check on some facts. I have yet to meet anyone who has not been appalled and shocked by the recent discoveries on the grounds of the residential schools, even though the horrific treatment of the indigenous people has been widely accepted for many years. It’s a time for reflection and an opportunity to recognize and confront past mistakes while we attempt to discover what happened. The families of these children and the survivors of these schools are finally being listened to, and their accounts are important, but the bodies will also need to be exhumed and tests done to determine the individual causes of death. I believe there are records for some, although certainly not all of these deaths, which is encouraging. If a child was murdered, I think it’s unlikely those responsible would have bothered to record it, even if they lied about the cause. They weren’t mass killings, and they’re not communal graves, like in wartime atrocities, so they were likely buried individually over a long period. So, therefore, it stands to reason that many would have died from childhood diseases, and it’s essential to keep this in context. We’ve come to expect children to survive in recent years, but this wasn’t always the case. It was accepted by even well-off families that not all of their children would make it to adulthood, and this only changed with the incredible advances in science and medicine during the last century. With this in mind and considering the enormous time, it is entirely possible, although highly unlikely, that all of these deaths were caused by diseases that were very common at the time and also highly transmissible. I’m not trying to make excuses. We all know this wasn’t the case, but before we start burning the flag and looking at ourselves as a nation of child killers, we should at least try to uncover the facts. It’s a harrowing task, but the fact that it is happening in the open and not covered up by state-run media, as it would in China, is a reason for Canadians to be proud. Considering its relatively small population, this country has a unique and proud history, which I often feel is appreciated more abroad than it is here. Canadians have consistently boxed above their weight in science and medicine and have quickly taken a stand against foreign aggression, even at a terrible cost. I could also mention the Underground Railroad and Canada’s role in the abolition of slavery or Queen Victoria’s decision to offer sanctuary to the indigenous tribes fleeing certain genocide at the hands of the American army. They probably would not have survived at all had it not been for Canada or Great Britain as it was in those days. Anyone unsure of Canada’s role in history should visit the memorial at Vimy Ridge in France. It’s immaculately kept and free to enter for anyone with a Canadian passport. The moment you see the rows of white crosses that stretch as far as the eye can see in every direction, you understand why. Yes, I believe we should still celebrate Canada Day—although obviously it’s a bit late for that now.
  8. Never mind the title; that was just a cheap ruse to get some views. I know how your filthy minds work, but this is a family blog. It’s been more than three years since I last had a vacation, so now the restrictions have eased, I’ve decided to visit my sister out west. She is the third of my five sisters in terms of age and was the oldest of my adopted siblings still living at home when I joined the family as a young teenager. We bonded quickly, and she soon became my closest confidant. She was the first person to guess my sexuality at a time when even I wasn’t entirely sure, and she helped me to hide it from our parents until I was ready to come out. I even met my first boyfriend through her. He lived further than I could walk, so she would drive me to his house after school and pick me up later in the evening. Everyone knew I was up to something, but they assumed I was meeting a girl, and my sister did all she could to encourage this misconception. Such loyalty deserves a reward, and in return, I would open the back door so she could sneak in late from her boyfriend’s house. We didn’t have air-conditioning, so in the summer, I used to sleep in the basement where it was cooler, and she would tap on the window by my bed to wake me. Needless to say, we’re pretty close, and I’m looking forward to seeing her again, four years after she left for the boonies, but it’s not going to be easy. In Canada, everywhere is far away, and my sister lives three time zones from me on the Pacific coast. For someone who spent most of his childhood living in a city where you couldn’t drive for more than a few hours in any direction without ending up in the sea, it took a while for me to appreciate the sheer size of this country. To visit my sister, I have to endure a five-hour flight to Vancouver, followed by an hour on a small seaplane and another hour’s drive from the dock into the wilderness. I’m told she has a Jeep; I suspect a bull-whip too. Indiana Jones springs to mind, and I can remember watching those movies with her as a teenager and sharing the same unhealthy obsession with Harrison Ford. Door to door should take about sixteen hours. Of course, it’s quicker and easier for me to get to Europe and only slightly less distance, but it will be worth the hassle to see her in the flesh again. That sentence alone will ensure her favourite sibling is treated like a king. I’m a sly fox; she taught me well. Until now, Calgary is the furthest west I’ve been, and I shall never forget watching the bareback riding with my brother at the famous Stampede a few years ago. Make of that what you will, but it was an experience not for the faint of heart, and I’ve been dying to get back there ever since. Cowtown is a cool place to be in the summer, especially during the Stampede when the city is thronging with cowboys. If you’re reading this, I hope you appreciate the plug, @wildone. I'll be back there someday. On a serious note, I enjoy travelling; it’s in my blood. But I’m not irresponsible, and I understand that this virus has yet to be defeated. I’ve followed the rules from the beginning, isolating to the point of depression, but now I crave close family—something I took for granted for so many years. Living on my own hasn’t been easy, but my life is comfortable, and despite often working in areas of high infection, I haven’t been sick. I’m grateful for that and looking forward to finally crossing the Rocky Mountains.
  9. Glad to see the Calgary Stampede back. They call it the greatest outdoor show on earth and that's probably right. I went there a few years ago and had a great time. Calgary rocks during the stampede and the city is bursting with cowboys.
  10. Greetings Marty. Hello Page. Hope you're doing good. Well, I'm not really the lumberjack type. Something a little more domesticated, I think.
  11. Hello Albert. Hope you're well. This is the kind of beach I like... Empty.
  12. I wasn’t sure how my boyfriend would react to me fathering an illegitimate child with my sister’s best friend, but he seemed to take it quite well. The fainting episode ensured he remained the centre of attention, which was always of paramount importance to him, and he milked it for all it was worth. “He’s totally faking it,” said Daniel, an accusation that was met with disdain by the girls fussing over Nathan like a wounded soldier. Nicola was fanning him with a magazine while Stephanie—the pregnant one—ran to the kitchen to fetch him some water. Even my brother’s girlfriend, Ratana, looked concerned as she knelt by the side of the couch holding my boyfriend’s limp hand. At times it seemed like Nathan had the entire female population at his beck and call. They tended to gravitate towards him, tripping over themselves in their efforts to pamper the boy. It made him the envy of many a straight lad at school, but unlike them, my boyfriend—who described himself as a six on the Kinsey scale—showed not the slightest interest in the female form. It was an attribute I had long admired but was unable to emulate, and now I was paying the price. As much as I wanted to blame Stephanie for leading me on and inviting me into her bed that fateful night, I had to accept that I not only allowed it to happen but willingly provided the necessary ingredient without even considering the consequences. It wouldn’t have happened to Nathan. I was sure there wasn’t a female on the planet who could have persuaded him to part with even a single sperm. While the girls mollycoddled my boyfriend, Daniel—eager to escape the mayhem—followed me upstairs to the bathroom. “What the fuck. I’m not even gonna ask what you two were doing in here.” “Good, because I wasn’t gonna tell you.” I dropped the bucket by the door and peeled off my socks before wading in with the mop. “Have you come up here to help?” “Nope, you’re good.” “I didn’t think so.” Daniel watched as I emptied the bath and began wringing out the sodden towels over the sink. “What are you gonna say to dad about Stephanie?” “Nothing.” “It’ll probably make his day. I mean, that’s what he wants, right?” “It’s not what I want. It’s taken me almost a year to convince him that I’m gay and now he’s gonna think he was right all along.” “So, why don’t you just let him believe that. Tell him it was just a phase you were going through or something.” “You think I should pretend to be straight just to please him?” “Why not? If it gets him off your case, then who cares?” “Stephanie being pregnant is not gonna get him off my case.” Daniel disagreed. He had a sly grin as he watched me clean the bathtub from the safety of the doorway. “He might shout at you a bit to make it look like he’s concerned, but he won’t be upset. Believe me; he’s gonna be ecstatic. It’s not the kind of problem that’s gonna embarrass him; it’s the kinda problem that he can secretly be proud of and tell his friends about.” “I know what you’re saying, but ….” “You can’t lose. All you gotta do is play along.” I finished wringing out my boxer shorts and threw them at him. “You're beginning to sound like Nicola.” “I know, but she’s right. Just tell him what he wants to hear, and he’ll leave you alone. But if he finds out you’ve been doing whatever you're doing with Nathan, he’s gonna go nuts.” “But I’m not doing anything with Nathan other than holding his dick while he has a pee.” “C’mon, you didn’t pay me eighty bucks so that he could take a leak. I don’t care what you and Nathan get up to, but dad does, and he’s always gonna think the worst. You can’t win. He’s gonna beat you every time because he makes the rules.” I wasn’t so sure. Lately, it seemed like Sue had the upper hand and the way she was talking made me believe things were going to change. I didn’t want to say anything to Daniel, but I was convinced Don’s days were numbered. “I don’t think I could do that anymore. I mean, pretending to be straight. It’s like going back in the closet. No one does that.” “You’ll only be doing it to him; no one else. Even mom will know the truth. She’s already asked us not to mention that Nathan was here.” “She has?” “Of course.” “What if Don finds out we’ve all been lying to him?” “He won’t find out because he won’t wanna find out. Don’t you get it? He doesn’t care what you do, as long as other people don’t see it. That’s all he’s worried about. He’s selling his family like he sells soap powder. Everything’s a giant advert to him. His whole life is as fake as Nathan’s fainting.” Nicola had already told me the same thing, and even Sue had hinted at it. She was happy for me to lie to Don about Nathan. I wasn’t convinced it would work, but I couldn’t rule it out either. I told him I’d think about what he said, then laughed when I saw Nathan’s pyjama bottoms on top of the bathroom cabinet. I don’t know how I hadn’t noticed them. “So, that’s where they went.” Daniel followed my eyes and giggled. “How did they get up there?” “Beats me.” “What happened with you and Stephanie anyway? Was she stoned?” “No, who told you that?” Our conversation abruptly ended the moment I heard Amy’s voice outside the front of the house. It signalled the return of Sue and sent me into sudden overdrive. But, like everyone else that day, she was early. Nicola had the presence of mind to keep her mom talking at the bottom of the stairs, which allowed me just enough time to finish. While Daniel carried the towels and bucket into the spare room, I backed out of the bathroom on my hands and knees, drying the remaining damp patches on the floor with Nathan’s pyjamas. It was a close call, but when Sue came upstairs to get changed, the bathroom was spic and span and my brother and I were in the spare room. We must have looked as guilty as sin when she popped her head in to say hello, but she didn’t see the mop or pile of wet towels hidden behind the bedroom door. * * * Sue must have known something was going on, but I was able to keep the news from her until later that evening when all the guests except Nathan had left, and Amy was in bed. She was still at the dinner table leafing through a magazine when I brought her in a coffee and sat down opposite. “How did the sale go?” “Better than expected; it was busy. You should have come along; Jamie was there with his mom.” “I didn’t know he was going. How is he?” I had been meaning to call him for ages. “He looks well considering. That boy always has a smile on his face. Is everything okay, dear?” “Yes, why?” “I just wondered why you're sitting here and not downstairs with Nathan and Daniel.” “I wanted to talk to you,” I said, holding onto a smile that faded the moment Nicola pulled up the chair next to me. She had been trying to get me to spill the beans all evening and was growing impatient with my delaying tactics. “Robbie has something important to tell you, but he doesn’t know how, and he’s scared,” she said. “Do you want me to tell her for you?” I pushed her away with my elbow. “No, I can do it.” “Whatever it is, make it quick, please,” said Sue. “It’s been a long day.” “We can leave it until tomorrow if you like. It’s not a problem.” Nicola rolled her eyes and growled at me. She couldn’t wait any longer. “It is a problem, Mom. Stephanie’s pregnant!” Sue must have expected much worse and looked relieved to hear the news that confirmed her prediction. “I know that, dear.” “You do? How?” “She guessed. She has some kind of super-power.” Nicola was confused. “So, you already knew. Was I the last one to find out?” “Looks that way,” I said smugly and stood up to stretch. “I’m tired too; I think I’ll have an early night.” Nicola grabbed my hand and forced me to sit down again. “Not so fast, coward. She obviously doesn’t know everything.” Sue was starting to show signs of anxiety. She looked concerned by our odd behaviour and focussed her attention on me. There was no way I would be able to postpone it any longer, and the realisation brought on an instant attack of nerves. I was hot and sweaty, and my stomach felt like it was twisting inside out as I squirmed in the seat, wishing I was someplace else. My discomfort must have been visible to Sue, who was now wide-awake and trying to read my pained expression. “What is it, Robbie?” “Stephanie and me … we err. Something happened.” My heart rate may have doubled as Sue stared at me, demanding an explanation. I struggled to remember the lines I had rehearsed in my head over dinner before turning to Nicola for help. “It’s Robbie’s baby, Mom. That’s what he’s trying to tell you. You're gonna be a grandmother, I’m gonna be an aunt, and he’s gonna be ….” She paused to think. “Well, we don’t know what he’s gonna be yet.” She squeezed my hand under the table and looked me in the eye. “See, it was easy.” Sue’s expression barely changed as she sat cradling her coffee and staring into the space between us. I had never seen her lost for words, but I guess it was a lot to take in. “Is this true?” I was glad to hear her finally speak. I was beginning to worry about her. “Yes, I think so. I mean, that’s what Stephanie thinks.” “When did it happen?” “When did what …?” “She didn’t get pregnant from sitting on a bus. I want to know when it happened.” “Before Christmas. But it was only the once. I swear.” Sue took a long breath and covered her face with her hands. “She was drunk,” said Nicola. “Drunk? It gets worse!” “She wasn’t drunk!” I glared at my sister. “You're the one who was drunk. We had to carry you upstairs. That’s why it happened!” “Don’t try to blame me. I had a couple of drinks. That doesn’t give you the right to screw around with my friend.” She folded her arms on the table and mumbled at me. “I was trying to help you.” “Well, don’t bother. You're only making things worse!” Sue stood up and put her hands on the table. “Stop bickering! You both have some explaining to do, and Stephanie too by the sounds of it.” She shook her head and turned to me. “I thought you didn’t like girls.” “He’s bi-sexual.” “No, I’m not. It was a mistake. Don’t worry; it won't happen again.” “It’s too late for that, Robbie! This isn’t something that’s just gonna go away. This could affect you for the rest of your life. I’m gonna need to talk to Stephanie’s parents. Are you certain it’s yours?” “Mom, Stephanie’s not the type to sleep around. Why would she blame him if she didn’t have to? I think she would have preferred it to be someone else, don’t you? I mean anyone rather than him.” “Thanks!” “I don’t mean that in a bad way,” she said. “You're just not her type, that’s all.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was coming from the girl who was convinced Stephanie and I was dating. “Will you make up your mind. Either she likes me, or she doesn’t.” “Well, she obviously liked you enough to want to sleep with you,” said Sue. “I’m disappointed in Stephanie. What was she thinking?” “It wasn’t her fault,” said Nicola. “She didn’t force him.” “I realise that, but somehow, I don’t think it was Robbie’s idea either.” “You're right,” I said, feeling at least some vindication. “It wasn’t.” I hoped Sue would understand, but she was tired and angry. I could feel her eyes on me as I stared at the table. ‘Maybe this wasn’t a good time.’ “You still could have said no. You don’t need to jump into bed with everyone who shows some interest in you. It’s stupid and irresponsible and a problem you need to sort out!” “He needs a sex therapist,” said Nicola. Sue glared at her daughter. “I don’t need your opinion, thank you.” Then she turned back to me. “We’re going to have to tell Don; you know that, don’t you? We can’t keep this one a secret.” “I know.” “This is why you were asking about her, wasn’t it? She must be aware of her options. I mean abortion.” Nicola shook her head. “They don’t agree with it.” “Neither do I, dear, but it’s Stephanie’s choice. Maybe she’ll consider adoption. Whatever happens, she’s too young to start a family. Why did you have to be so stupid? Just when I thought you were beginning to act more responsible. I’ve bent over backwards trying to make things better for you, only for you to find new ways of causing problems for yourself.” “I’m sorry.” Sue looked exhausted as she sat with her head in her hands before getting up to leave. She had never told me off like that before, and it hurt, probably because I knew she was right. I slumped back in my chair, picking at a bit of dried food on my t-shirt, while she headed upstairs to bed. “Sorry isn’t good enough this time. I can’t talk to you at the moment, Robbie. Maybe you should stay indoors until you can learn to be more responsible.” “Grounded? For how long?” She didn’t reply, so I turned to Nicola for an explanation. My sister put a finger to her lips, urging me not to say anything else until we heard Sue’s bedroom door slam shut. “She’ll be okay. She just needs a little time to think about it.” Sue didn’t sound like she was going to be okay to me. She already had a lot on her plate, and I felt guilty for making things even worse. It seemed like I was the cause of most of her problems, but I expected a better reaction than the one I got. ‘I shouldn’t have told her.’ My day had turned into a nightmare. I buried my head in my arms and pushed Nicola away when she tried to comfort me. Stephanie said it wouldn’t affect me, but now I began to realise how improbable that claim would be, especially in a small town like Cobourg. I couldn’t just walk away; there was no place for me to go and no way I could avoid her. My head was a mess, and now I was grounded indefinitely. I closed my eyes and listened to my sister as she paced the room, updating Stephanie on my predicament. “He’s a little upset,” she said. “My mom didn’t take it too well, and he’s grounded. I think she wants to talk to your parents.” I was too busy trying to listen to Nicola’s phone call to hear Nathan creeping up behind me. He bumped my shoulder and made me jump. “Oh, it’s you.” My boyfriend looked sad but in an adorable kind of way with big sorrowful eyes and a protruding bottom lip. It made me want to hug him. “I overheard. Are you okay?” I nodded as he rested his arms on my shoulders and kissed the top of my head. It felt good to have him there with me. He was the only person capable of putting a smile on my face, and he did it with ease. We still hadn’t found the time to talk alone about any of this, but I got the impression we didn’t need to. Not yet anyway. I had to grateful for that; after all, none of this was his fault. “I’m sorry I messed up your day. I left you in the bath.” “It doesn’t matter. You had more important things to deal with.” “Nothing’s more important to me than you.” “Aww, that’s sweet.” He put his legs over mine to sit on my lap and then giggled as he licked the end of my nose. “There’ll be other times. I don’t mind waiting. I’m not going anywhere.” They were the words I most wanted to hear, and I smiled at him before burying my face in his t-shirt. A familiar smell helped me to relax, and he giggled as I kissed his chest through the thin cotton material and nibbled on his taught skin. “I wish we could be alone tonight,” I mumbled through a mouthful of soggy t-shirt. “So, do I,” he said. “Maybe next week you can stay at my house.” ‘Not if I’m grounded.’ It seemed so unfair. Making love to my boyfriend would have provided the perfect distraction for my overstressed brain and some much-needed relief at the end of an otherwise disturbing day. The torture was made even worse by the fact that he was sitting on my lap and so obviously feeling the same way. Earlier, we planned to go all the way for the first time since we started dating again. If Stephanie hadn’t turned up, I would have been chilling out downstairs with a satisfied smile on my face. Instead, I was the complete opposite. Worried, emotional, tense, and suddenly very horny. My hands weren’t listening to reason. They found an easy way inside his t-shirt and circled his back as my tongue found a nipple. I forgot about Nicola until she appeared at my side. “He’s kinda busy at the moment, Steph. Maybe you should leave it until the morning.” I smiled coyly at my sister as she slapped my arm and frowned at me. I guess she had a point. I couldn’t imagine what Sue’s reaction would have been if she had caught me copulating with Nathan at the dinner table, but it wouldn’t have been good. We decided not to push our luck, and Nicola looked relieved to see us uncouple and relocate to the basement where Daniel was watching the hockey. Edmonton was playing Calgary in the battle of Alberta. It was the Canadian equivalent of a local football derby, except the players were the ones punching each other’s lights out and not the fans. I watched one of the fights while I made up Nathan’s bed and then gave him a passionate kiss goodnight. His tongue explored my mouth, and he tried to drag me down onto the bed with him. “I have to sleep upstairs, Nathan.” He was disappointed. His legs were wrapped around my midriff as he humped my stomach like a horny canine, leaving a damp spot on my t-shirt. I hadn’t seen him this worked up since we started dating again, but he would have to save it for another time. “I can’t help it,” whispered Nathan. “All this talk about getting Stephanie pregnant has made me horny. I’m jealous of her. I want you to impregnate me.” I swallowed hard at the implications and glanced nervously across the room at Daniel as I extracted myself from my boyfriend’s loving embrace and reached into my pants to push down an unwanted guest. “That’s not possible.” “I know, but we can have fun pretending.” Despite an insane desire to penetrate the boy I loved and fulfil his immediate needs, it wasn’t to be. Watching us Kiss was one thing, but I doubt if my brother would have tolerated a live sex show, and I couldn’t guarantee that Sue wasn’t going to come back downstairs. It was unlike her to retire so early. I made these points to my sexed-up boyfriend during the second intermission in the hockey while Daniel was upstairs grabbing a drink. “Well, I don’t mind if you wake me up in the night,” he said, pressing his foot against my crotch. “I can show you what I can do without my hands.” I nearly creamed my pants there and then before pushing him away and taking a couple of deep breaths. The thought of snuggling up to my boyfriend’s nearly naked body was difficult to resist, and it took a will of iron to drag my heavy legs against their wishes up the wooden staircase. When I passed Daniel on the landing, he looked relieved to see me heading in the opposite direction, but he must have overheard Nathan’s not-too-discreet attempts to get me to stay. “You know what,” he said, sporting a big grin. “I think Nathan’s going to have one of those phantom pregnancies. You wait; you’ll be running around town in the middle of the night looking for ice cream for him. It’s gonna be hilarious.” I watched my brother go downstairs and scratched my head. ‘For you, maybe.’ When I reached the top floor, Nicola was just coming out of the bathroom in her dressing gown. She looked ridiculous with a towel wrapped around her head and her face covered in moisturiser. On any other day, I would have laughed, but I had more pressing needs to take care of, and my sights were set firmly on my temporary bed. “Robbie, wait,” she whispered and followed me into the room. “What do you want?” “I’m sorry for being mean to you.” I chuckled at her apology. “What day are you talking about? You're gonna have to be more specific.” She looked towards the hallway, wary of waking Sue or Amy and then closed the door. “Oh, come on. I haven’t been that bad.” “You’ve been telling everyone that Stephanie was drunk and stoned.” “She was.” “No, she wasn’t, Nicola. Everyone’s gonna think I took advantage of her, and that’s not true. If you ask her what happened and she’s honest, she’ll tell you that’s not the way it happened. She asked me to get in bed with her that night, and she wasn’t drunk, or stoned, or hypnotised or whatever. Maybe she just found me attractive, or is that too far-fetched to believe?” Nicola looked surprised by my comment. “Wow, that really bothers you, doesn’t it?” “Yes, it does. How would you feel? Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to go to bed.” “I wasn’t trying to make you look bad.” “No, you never do,” I replied sarcastically and shook my head at her. “It doesn’t matter, please go.” “I’m sorry. It was a bit of a shock for me, that’s all.” “You’ll get another shock if you don’t leave.” I was getting fed up with asking her, so I dragged my t-shirt over my head and threw it in the corner, hoping she would take the hint. “What are you doing?” “I told you; I’m going to bed. This is my room for tonight. I asked you to go, but you won’t.” I unzipped my jeans and pushed them down to my ankles, then kicked them aside and walked past her to put my watch on the shelf. It was a battle of wits that I was determined not to lose. “Fine, stay if you want.” I pulled off my socks and stood by the bed in just a pair of briefs as Nicola watched with her arms folded and a smirk on her face. In the early days, I would have died of embarrassment, but I no longer cared. My sister was daring me to go further but expecting me to back down. When I hooked my thumbs under the waistband of my underwear, she realised it wasn’t going to happen and put her hand up to stop me. “Okay, I’m going!” she said, turning for the exit. “Can you switch off the light?” I giggled as her hand reached through a narrow gap in the door and patted the wall looking for the switch, but my briefs stayed on, and I was already in bed. Her room was next to mine, and I could hear her talking on her phone for ages that night as I lay in bed thinking about Nathan. ‘He wants me to impregnate him.’ I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded like Stephanie’s predicament had affected my boyfriend in a way I never imagined. I needed a distraction and almost sub-consciously reached between my legs to make use of some rare privacy. It was the only good thing about sleeping upstairs, but after such a traumatic day, I found it difficult to concentrate and fell asleep unrewarded with my dick in my hand and my briefs around my knees. * * * At least I was covered by the sheet when Sue came in the following morning after only the briefest of knocks. She looked pleasantly surprised to see me upstairs in the right bed, and it paved the way for some reconciliation. She opened the curtains and tapped me on the shoulder, but I was already awake. “I’m sorry I shouted at you last night, dear. I was probably a little harsh.” I lifted my head and shielded my eyes from the bright sunlight. “Not probably, definitely.” “Well, I was angry with you for allowing it to happen, but I know now it wasn’t entirely your fault.” “Do we have to keep talking about it?” I covered my head with the sheet and pulled up my briefs when she wasn’t looking. I didn’t care much for her apology and closed my eyes to go back to sleep. “It’s embarrassing for me too, Robbie, and for Stephanie. I talked to her this morning, and she explained what happened.” That sentence woke me up again, and I propped myself up on my elbows, then watched in fear as Sue sat on the end of the bed. The frame creaked and knocked against the wall bringing a concerned look to her face, but she held her nerve. “You called her already?” “No dear, she called me.” I grabbed my watch from the shelf. It wasn’t even nine o’clock. Stephanie was never up that early when she stayed at our house. “What did she say?” “She said it wasn’t your fault. I don’t think I need to go into details, but she told me what happened, and I can’t see any reason why she would say that if it wasn’t true. You should have told me this last night.” “What’s the point? It doesn’t change anything.” I sat up and covered my shoulders with the sheet. “I told you it wasn’t my idea.” I wondered what Stephanie had said to her and why she felt the need to intervene. Whatever it was, I didn’t want to discuss it with Sue. “I realise that boys can be manipulated into these things easier than girls. It was wrong of Stephanie to do that because she took advantage of you, but it was also brave of her to come forward and take responsibility. She said the same thing to her family; I haven’t talked to them yet, but I will do.” “It wasn’t all her fault.” Sue reached out to touch my arm. “You don’t have to explain, dear.” “Some of it was Nicola’s.” I was referring to the Viagra, but I wasn’t going to mention it to Sue, whose expression told me I was pushing my luck. “Well, you should probably thank Stephanie when you get the chance. She didn’t have to do that; she could have blamed you.” I wasn’t sure what difference it would make, but I was happy to accept Stephanie’s confession over the version touted by Nicola. “I still feel kinda guilty, though.” “And so, you should. You're not innocent by any means.” I looked away as she cleared her throat and continued. “I think you have a problem.” “What do you mean?” “What I mean is, you’ve had too many sexual partners.” “You think I’m a slut?” “Don’t say that, Robbie; it’s not nice. That’s not what I meant.” Sue was flustered and completely out of her comfort zone, but she had a point to make. “Maybe you should talk to your counsellor about it. You're only sixteen, after all. Most boys your age ….” “Okay, I get it! Am I still grounded?” “No, dear. I think having to deal with this has punished you enough.” I nodded. That much was definitely true, but it was a relief to know I could go out again. Maybe I could stay over at Nathan’s house, where my newfound freedom allowed me overnight access to his bedroom under the no-questions-asked guise of a friendly sleepover. I hid my excitement with a forlorn expression and genuine regret over a stupid episode that shouldn’t have happened. “If I could change things, I would. I’m not proud of it, you know. Not even at the time. It’s not like I went around telling everybody. Now everyone’s gonna know.” I sat cross-legged on the bed with my back against the wall as Sue stroked my arm. “We can’t stop that, dear. People will always gossip. I thought you’d be used to that by now. The important thing is to find a solution, so you're both able to put this behind you. There are a lot of couples who want to adopt newborns. I’m going to suggest this to Stephanie. I can put her in touch with the agencies, and they’ll find the right family.” It sounded like a good idea, and I felt somewhat better knowing there were other solutions that didn’t involve changing diapers. Now she had calmed down; Sue offered a more pragmatic and level-headed approach than my sister. Experience counted for a lot, and she had that in abundance. “From now on, I’ll deal with Stephanie and her family. You don’t have to be involved, understand?” I nodded. “You won’t see the baby when it’s born, and you’ll have no contact with the adopters. It’s the best way for everyone.” I was happy to let Sue take charge of a situation that I knew little about and something that was already way beyond my control, but once again, there was no mention of Don. ‘Am I the only one who’s noticing this?’ It seemed likely that he would have plenty to say on the matter, even if he misread it like Daniel seemed to think he would, but when I mentioned it to Sue, she brushed it off as if he wasn’t a problem. “I’ll tell him when he gets back, but I expect he’ll agree with me,” she sighed and stood up. “You don’t need to worry; he won’t be angry at you. If anything, it’ll probably make his day.” * * * Don arrived home on Tuesday afternoon and was in the living room when we piled in from school. His business trip was successful, the client liked his presentation, and he expected to be awarded the contract. It put him in a good mood as I stood next to Sue and watched him hand out gifts to Nicola, Daniel, and Amy. “Did you tell him?” “Yes, dear.” I could have done with a little more information, but he didn’t drag me into the study to yell at me, so maybe Daniel and Sue were right. I decided to skip the welcome home ceremony and go downstairs, but Don called me back. “Don’t you want your present?” he said, holding up a t-shirt. “Did you think I was gonna leave you out, really?” It had crossed my mind, and now I was embarrassed. I had to walk over and look interested while he talked excitedly about a new client—a household name that none of us had heard of, but I suppose that was why they needed him. The t-shirt was from Banff, a tourist town in the Rockies, and it featured a cartoon moose on the front. It wasn’t something I would usually wear, and it was a bit small for me, but I put it on anyway to show my gratitude. I was still wearing it later that night when Don visited me in the basement easing his large frame into the armchair. It was unusual for him to venture downstairs, and when he did, he never looked comfortable, but that old leather chair was a snug fit, and I wasn’t convinced he would be able to get out again. I was on the couch with Daniel, who stood up to leave, sensing a private moment. “There’s no need to leave, Daniel,” said Don, and my brother sat down again, looking confused. “I was thinking of getting some work done down here. Maybe we can put a door from your room to the bathroom and replace these old chairs with something more comfortable.” I had heard it all before. Don often spoke about his plans to renovate the house, but nothing got done. Now, with the possibility of a big injection of cash into the coffers from his new clients, he could afford to make brash promises. He loved playing the big shot and knew he could buy loyalty from his family even when their respect for him was at an all-time low. He had Nicola eating from his hand with the promise of a car, and Daniel’s eyes nearly popped from their sockets when he produced tickets for the final Maple Leaf's game of the regular season. When my brother ran to his bedroom to call Doug, Don’s smile dropped, and his mood became serious. “Sue told me,” he said while looking at the television. We both knew what he was talking about, and I mumbled a reply. “I know.” “What do you intend to do about it?” “What do you mean?” “Well, Sue seems to think that she can talk Stephanie into putting the kid up for adoption, but what if she doesn’t want that?” “I don’t know. I haven’t had time to think about it, and it’s not really my decision anyway.” “Robbie, this will affect the rest of your life. You have every right to have a say. Don’t let other people make decisions for you.” “So, what would you suggest?” “Well, for a start, it’s important to take responsibility for your actions.” I laughed. “I’m not marrying her; if that’s what you’re trying to say.” “It may seem funny to you, but that’s what would have happened in the past.” He had a wry smile on his face as he studied my reaction. “Would that be so terrible?” “Yes, it would, and not just for me. Stephanie wouldn’t want to marry me.” “Have you asked her?” “No, of course not.” “Then how do you know?” “Because she wouldn’t. It’s not what you think.” Don walked across the room to sit next to me on the arm of the couch. “You know, you had a lot of people fooled around here with your gay routine, but not me. I knew Conner was just a diversion; he’s not even gay, is he?” “What are you talking about? Conner is a hundred per cent gay.” “Oh, come on, Robbie. The game’s up now. You don’t need to lie to me anymore. I don’t care if you and Stephanie have something going on. I know she’s Nicola’s friend and she’s a little older than you, but she’s a good-looking girl. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I just wish you had told me; things could have been different.” “I don’t get it.” “You see, for a while, I thought you were still being controlled by that little faggot.” “Do you mean Nathan?” “You know who I mean, but it doesn’t matter now.” He patted my shoulder and smiled. “I guess I was wrong about that. It sure is a relief to know I got that one wrong.” I wasn’t sure if Don was playing mind games with me or if he really believed this crap, but it hurt me to hear him talk that way about the boy I loved. I wanted to put him straight, and in the past, this would have almost certainly ended in a full-blown argument with me being sent to my room and grounded, but not this time. I decided to play his game like Daniel and Nicola suggested, although it took every ounce of strength to keep my cool. “Nathan’s not a bad person,” I insisted. “That’s your opinion. I don’t get what the attraction was with that boy, but for your sake, I’m glad you come to your senses because he would have destroyed your life. I promised your mother I would treat you as a son; that’s why I couldn’t just sit back and watch you do that to yourself. I had to be tough on you at times, but she would have approved.” ‘I doubt it!’ “I always knew something like this would happen; although I have to admit, I didn’t think it would be Stephanie. That was a surprise. Did you get her drunk or something?” “NO!” I glared at him, and he chuckled. “I was joking. But she’s a nice-looking girl. I don’t blame you for hitting on her. A lot of guys will be jealous. Have you talked to her parents yet?” “I don’t want to, and Sue told me I don’t have to.” “Why not; they’re good people.” “Do you know them?” It was a stupid question to ask. Don knew everyone. “Of course. Her father is my lawyer; I’ve known him for years.” I had plenty of time to dwell on those words as I watched Don climb the stairs with a renewed swagger that made me feel quite sick.
  13. You won the award on September 9th. Interesting, considering, that's my birthday. And, The Artful Dodger just so happens to be one of my favorite characters of all time.

  14. It seemed like Amy was right after all. I did get married to Nathan, and it was a grandiose affair held on a hot summer’s day in the middle of Cobourg beach. Mr Andrews performed the ceremony in front of a crowd of family, friends, and well-wishers, including a contingent from the UK. People who I hadn’t seen since I was a young boy. Tom and Daniel were the best men, and everyone was kitted out in their finest beachwear. Shorts, t-shirts, and swimsuits were the order of the day, with shoes and socks prohibited. The reception was held in a giant tent on the beach, with drum and bass pumping from huge speakers and a live boy band on stage. Everything was going well until the tent transformed into the school cafeteria. I was sitting with Nathan, Rory, and Ginny when the double doors flew open, and Stephanie walked in pushing a stroller. As she got closer, the music cut off, the dancers stopped dancing, and the cafeteria fell silent as everyone turned to look at us. "What does she want?" asked Nathan. She parked the stroller in front of our table and smiled at me. "We need to talk, Robbie." "I’ve just got married, Stephanie." "I know, and this is your baby." “Yeah, I thought so,” said Mitch. “Don’t fuck with me again unless you're willing to back it up.” I called after them as they walked away, but they couldn’t hear me over the noise as the cafeteria returned to normal. “Wait! What am I supposed to do?” “Oh my God,” said Nathan tugging on my sleeve. “That is the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.” When I peered over the table, the baby had Don's face, and he was laughing at me. I jumped as I woke with a fright, then sat up in bed and glanced around the tiny bedroom. 'What the fuck was that about?' * * * It was a struggle to get back to sleep, and I was still awake a few hours later when Sue knocked on the door to tell me she was leaving. “It’s nine o’clock, don’t forget you have a guest to look after.” I told her to come in. “I didn’t sleep well,” I groaned. “I had a weird dream.” “Are you sick?” She put a hand on my forehead and looked into my eyes, then opened the curtains to let in some light. “You haven’t got a temperature.” “Why do people get bad dreams?” “It’s usually something that’s bothering you. We can talk about it tonight if you want. I’m taking Amy with me, and Nicola’s going out, so I’m leaving you in charge of the house.” She ruffled my hair as I sat up in bed and yawned. “Don’t let me down.” This was part of Sue’s new plan moving forward. The idea was to make me feel more like part of the family and less like an outsider by giving me specific responsibilities. “Does that mean Daniel has to do whatever I tell him?” “No, dear. It means you're in charge of the house.” I didn’t get it. What use was it if I couldn’t make a slave out of my brother? The other thing I was in charge of was Nathan’s bathroom and hygiene duties. Without Karen, my boyfriend depended on me for his morning pee, although I wasn’t entirely convinced that he couldn’t manage on his own. I had seen him holding bigger things than his dick with the tips of his fingers, and without his slings, he was surprisingly flexible. I didn’t want to rock the boat by questioning him because I enjoyed looking after him. It was more proof that I could be responsible. All they had to do was dangle the right carrot in front of me, and lately, Nathan’s carrot was looking increasingly catchable. There was someone else who wanted my job without understanding what was involved. Amy was the least qualified, but it didn’t stop her from kicking up a fuss as she joined her mom in my room and sat on the end of the bed to sulk. "Why can’t I look after Nathan and Robbie go to the sale?” “No, dear,” said Sue. “Nathan will be here all day tomorrow too.” Then she turned to me. “If you're stuck for something to do later, you can come and help.” “I’ll ask Nathan, but I don’t think he’ll wanna go back to the hospital.” I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be stuck for something to do either. “Well, don’t stay in bed all day,” said Sue, and she signalled for Amy to leave so I could get dressed. That’s when I heard Nicola in the next room talking on the phone. Three words grabbed my attention. “I’ll get him!” I heard her door fly open and heavy footsteps along the hall as she marched into my room. I didn’t think it was possible to make that much noise walking barefoot on carpet, but Sue and Amy wisely stood back as my sister held her phone at arm's length in front of my face. “It’s your girlfriend!” she growled and then crossed her arms as I took the handset and tentatively lifted It to my ear. “Hello, Stephanie.” “You didn’t give me your phone number.” “I know.” “Well, how am I supposed to call you? I need to know what time to get there.” “Just a minute.” I dropped the phone in my lap and stared at my family. “Can you go, please?” Sue looked intrigued, Amy thought it was funny, and Nicola had steam coming from her ears. My head was spinning. I had never had to deal with so many women at one time, and there was another on the phone asking me if I was still there. I should have realised then it was going to be one of those days. It was supposed to be my bedroom—if only for the weekend—and all I was wearing were a pair of boxer shorts. So much for respecting my privacy. I watched Sue push Amy out the door, but Nicola stood her ground and stared defiantly at me until her mom tugged her sleeve. As she turned on her heels and headed back to her room, I leapt from my bed and slammed the door shut. Stephanie was apologetic. “I’m sorry for causing problems with your family.” She sounded genuinely upset, making it difficult for me to be angry with her. “You shouldn’t have called me on Nicola’s phone.” “It doesn’t matter anymore; she won't wanna talk to me after today. You’ll have to explain it to her and tell her I’m sorry.” “Explain what? What are you sorry about?” She didn’t want to talk on the phone, and I didn’t feel comfortable either with Nicola, almost certainly trying to listen. So, I gave her my number and told her to call me before she left home. When I opened my door, Sue was on her way downstairs. She asked me if everything was okay and told me to put some clothes on as I knocked on Nicola’s door. She was used to seeing me in my underwear, but I wasn’t bothered anyway. I handed her the phone with an explanation. “If she’s supposed to be my girlfriend, Nicola, and this is a big secret, then why would she call me on your phone?” “Because yours is probably switched off.” She pressed a number on her handset and held it to her ear. “Ha! What did I tell ya!” ‘I don’t believe it.’ “It still doesn’t make ….” She slammed the door in my face. “Sense.” ‘Bitch!’ I headed back to bed. ‘Nathan can wait for his pee or get Daniel to hold his willy for him.’ * * * To give Nathan his due, he tried his best, but Daniel refused to cooperate. He came upstairs to wake me instead. “Nathan needs you in the bathroom,” my brother smirked as he watched me crawl out of the death trap they called a bed. “He said it’s quite urgent, but I’m sure you can handle it.” I stared at Daniel while I pulled on a pair of pants then threw a punch at him that he easily dodged. “It’s not funny.” “Oh, it really is. You should see him.” I could hear Nathan calling me from the top of the stairs, and when I reached the basement, he was bent double outside the bathroom in his pyjamas with his legs pressed together. “It’s your fault if I pee myself, you know! And you, Daniel!” he said as my brother laughed. I tried to keep a straight face as I followed Nathan inside and kicked the door shut. “It’s not funny. I could damage my liver. Can you hurry up please, this is kind of important?” “I’m doing my best; you’ll have to wait a second.” I couldn’t untie the knot at the front of his pyjamas and had to get on my knees and pull them down past his hips. “Oh my God, what are you doing?” “I’m trying to get to your willy.” “Karen never has this problem.” “She’s probably more experienced.” “I’m gonna tell her what you said.” If anyone was in danger of peeing himself, it was Daniel. I had never heard him laugh so much, and in the end, his curiosity got the better of him. He opened the door just as Nathan started to relieve himself and fell to his knees, holding his stomach. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.” “Oh my God, that is such a relief. Do you mind not watching me pee, you pervert!” I suppose it was pretty funny, but I didn’t want to clean up any spills, so I tried to keep my mind on the job at hand. Then after a quick shake and a flush, I calmed him down with a gentle hug and good-morning kiss that sent Daniel scampering into the next room. I thought it odd how he could watch his friend pee but not kiss, and I was sure Nathan was thinking the same thing. I could almost read his mind as I stared into his eyes and nibbled his bottom lip. “Have you had any breakfast?” He shook his head, so I told him to sit on the couch while I went upstairs to make a giant bowl of Cinnamon Crunch. “I can’t eat all that.” “You don’t have to,” I said as I squeezed in beside him. “We’re gonna share it.” I thought it was a cool way to get him to eat more. He needed to put on weight, but he didn’t like people feeding him, and he struggled to do it himself. This way, it was fun and a little bit naughty too. He enjoyed sharing a spoon, and for an added incentive, a sloppy wet kiss followed each mouthful. It was an opportunity for Nathan to get some revenge on his best friend for laughing at him earlier, but Daniel surprised us. If he was uncomfortable with our antics, then he didn’t show any outward signs of revulsion as he sneaked the odd look from the safety of the armchair while pretending to watch TV. Nathan’s face was a mess as milk dribbled from his mouth and down his chin, wetting the front of the flannel pyjamas I helped him change into the night before. But my plan worked, and I decided to apply the same principle across the board, starting with his wash. He told me he wanted a bath rather than a shower, and he brought some oils with him to relax his muscles. I was thinking the opposite, and the tub upstairs was big enough for two. He was becoming more affectionate towards me with every day that passed, and that morning there was an added hint of mischief in his eyes. His kisses were slower, longer, and more intense than usual, and it wasn’t just to annoy Daniel. Two weeks into our second relationship and Nathan’s resolve was beginning to crumble. My clean bill of health removed the only obstacle preventing us from restarting our sex life, and I could see the hunger in his eyes. ‘I do believe my boyfriend’s feeling horny.’ He waited until Daniel was in the shower before confirming my suspicions. “I think I’m ready to have sex with you again,” he said very matter-of-factly as he rested his head on my shoulder. “Well, actually, I know I am.” I was born ready, and just discussing it brought a familiar tingling sensation in my loins as the blood rushed to my dick on the promise of fleshly sins. I encouraged him with an arm around his waist that slid under his pyjama top to find some skin. We hatched a plan starting upstairs in the big bathroom that Nicola regarded as her own. She was in Toronto with Mr Lube, and she wouldn’t be back until the evening, but Daniel was still a problem. My brother was now the only thing standing between me and my boyfriend’s tight little pucker, and I was ready to tie him up and put him in the cupboard under the stairs, but Nathan had a more humane solution. “We can bribe him.” Daniel wasn’t a big spender, but he wasn’t stupid enough to turn down an offer of free cash either. He was in the bedroom changing when we barged in with an offer he couldn’t refuse. “I could take Ratana to the charity sale, but I haven’t got any money.” It was a barefaced lie. Daniel always had money and hated shopping for clothes. “Why do you wanna go there?” I said. “You're only gonna be buying back stuff you’ve already thrown away.” “I never thought of it that way.” Nathan interrupted. “Maybe you should take her somewhere better than a charity sale. Somewhere further away and more expensive, where you can spend the whole afternoon. I’m sure Robbie can loan you some cash.” I jumped when Nathan elbowed me in the ribs. “Yeah, of course. How much?” Daniel chewed his lip and rubbed his chin. “A hundred bucks,” he said. “And I promise not to get back until four o’clock.” It was criminal; he wasn’t even pretending anymore. “That’s twenty-five dollars an hour.” “Okay, I guess I don’t have to go out. Maybe we can watch a movie instead. I got Iron Man on DVD.” I glared at my brother. “Fuck Iron Man.” “I’d prefer it to be me,” said Nathan. “Oh, stop being such a skinflint and give him the cash.” He put his arm against my chest and fluttered his eyelids. Daniel winked at me. “He’s worth it.” “What are you, his pimp? Fifty dollars. He’s got two broken arms.” I got a wack in the ribs with one of them, and we agreed on eighty. While my brother grabbed his coat and called a cab, I took Nathan for another pee to inspect the goods, then counted out four twenty-dollar bills from the money I kept in my drawer. “Four o’clock,” I said. “Not a minute earlier and not a word about this to anyone, ever!” Daniel zipped his mouth, took the cash, and kissed me on the cheek before running out the door, leaving his friend puckered up and disappointed. * * * We were up to our necks in hot water, and it was beginning to breach the sides, creating puddles on the tiled floor of the upstairs bathroom. Sharing a bath with Nathan was a wild and erotic experience if a little uncomfortable. Even in the extra-wide tub, it was a tight squeeze, but circumstances had presented us with a rare opportunity that we were keen to exploit. So far, Daniel’s paid absence was money well-spent. This was only the warm-up. The main event would take place downstairs in my bed, but we were in no rush to move on. I wanted to use up as much of my four hours as possible, even if it meant relying on multiple orgasms to reach the finish. Two was usually my maximum, but if anyone was capable of wringing a third from my shrivelled sack, it was the cute boy sitting opposite. He had a wicked grin which turned to a look of surprise as my toe found his rectum. I hadn’t even noticed my phone ringing. It wasn’t something I was listening for until Nathan pointed it out, and I remembered about Stephanie. I was having too much fun to answer and was about to switch it off when I heard the doorbell. I climbed out of the bath and slipped on the floor, making Nathan laugh as I searched for my phone, but I was right. ‘Stephanie. She always turns up at the wrong time.’ Nathan looked deflated when I picked up my jeans and t-shirt. “Stay here, don’t get out; I’ll be back as soon as I can.” I hopped out of the bathroom and over to the stairs with my t-shirt in my hand and only one leg in my jeans. The doorbell rang again as I struggled to pull them over my wet legs. In my haste to fasten my zipper, I narrowly avoided an accident that is every boy’s worst nightmare. It was a lucky escape and a reminder of why I liked wearing underwear. After a brief pause to make sure my skin was well clear of the metal zipper, I grabbed my t-shirt and dragged it over my head. Then I hurtled down the stairs, taking them two at a time and landing with wet feet on the hardwood floor. My arms found their way through the holes just in time to open the door. Stephanie looked cold and windswept but managed a mocking smile as she looked me up and down. I may have resembled something the dog dragged in, but at least this time, I was partially dressed. “What were you doing?” I wasn’t sure how to answer that question or if it needed a reply. It should have been obvious. I had water running from my hair and dripping from my nose. “I was in the pool,” I said, pushing strands of wet hair off my face. “I wasn’t expecting you this early.” “Sorry, I’ve been trying to call you. Is it okay if I come in? It’s kinda cold out here.” “Oh, yeah, of course.” I opened the door just wide enough for her to pass through. “It’s freezing.” “Not as cold as the pool, I bet.” “What?” “You told me you were in the pool.” She looked in the mirror as she pulled off her hat and shook her shoulder-length hair. “I did? Oh yeah, I was joking. I was in the bath.” “You sure had me fooled.” I sneered at her sarcasm, then stood with my back to the door and watched her remove her coat and boots. It wasn’t a good sign; I was hoping she would say what she had to say and leave. She wore a baggy white hoodie that hid her stomach and dark jeans with designer rips above the knees. It was similar to how she dressed for school; smart, practical, and casual but not pregnant. Not to me anyway. Whatever it was that supposedly gave her away to Sue was still invisible to my untrained eyes. She noticed me staring, although I wasn’t trying to disguise my curiosity. “What’s wrong?” That should have been my question. “Nothing. You look well.” It was only partially true. Her rosy cheeks were offset by puffy red eyes. It looked as if she had been crying, but she smiled at my compliment. “And you look nervous?” “A little.” “You don’t need to be scared. I’m not gonna hurt you. I just wanna talk, okay?” She spoke softly as if trying to reassure me, but I found her tone condescending. She was only a year older, but she talked to me like I was a little boy. Nicola often did the same thing, and it always bugged me. My appearance probably didn’t help. I was shivering from the cold and standing in a mini puddle of bathwater. I took a deep breath and tried to look as if I wasn’t bothered by her clandestine visit or concerned by the possible implications of what she was about to tell me. I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible and get back to Nathan before he turned into a prune. “Shall we go in the kitchen?” I led the way as if showing her around for the first time, but Stephanie had been visiting the house long before I appeared on the scene. “Do you want a coffee?” “Why don’t you go and get dry first. I feel guilty for interrupting your bath.” “It’s okay; I was finished anyway.” “But you're still wet, and your t-shirt’s back to front.” She put her hand in front of her mouth and giggled. “I don’t know much about sport, but I’m pretty sure the number is supposed to go on the back.” She was right, but it wasn’t important. There were more pressing issues. “Look, Stephanie. I need to know what’s going on.” There was an awkward silence as we stared at each other. Her smile dropped, and she looked frightened. She was nothing like the confident, talkative girl who lured me into bed before Christmas. As she opened her mouth to speak, there was a loud thump on the ceiling. The bathroom was directly above us, and it sounded like Nathan had knocked something over, probably while trying to get out of the bath. Stephanie looked at the ceiling and then at me. “Are you alone?” “No, you're here too.” She giggled. “I know that, but is anyone else here?” “No,” I said and then cringed at the unmistakable sound of footsteps along the hallway upstairs. “I mean no, I’m not alone. There’s someone else here. Someone upstairs.” I smiled timidly as my cheeks heated up. “Are you sure you don’t want a coffee?” “Who’s upstairs, Robbie?” “A friend. Does it matter?” “Probably not.” Then she nodded and smiled. “Is it Conner? Did I interrupt something?” “No, but you're getting warmer.” “Maybe I should come back.” She turned to walk to the door, but I grabbed her arm. “No! Wait, it doesn’t matter.” As I talked, my eyes were distracted, and she must have seen the horror on my face as I looked behind her to see Nathan creeping slowly down the stairs. He was naked and bent forward with his clothes bundled between his plastered arms. They concealed his manhood but little else. As I watched his bare ass turn the corner, Stephanie followed my eyes, turned her head, and gasped. “Oh my God! Nathan?” My boyfriend jumped and dropped his clothes, exposing himself. “Hi Stephanie, how are you?” Nathan wasn’t the type to be shy and had nothing to be ashamed of either, but I wasn’t expecting him to be so calm. He smiled nervously at us from the top of the basement stairs before continuing on his way. “Fine, thank you.” Stephanie had her hand over her mouth in shock. “Nice seeing you, Nathan.” I don’t think it was meant to be a joke, but I laughed anyway. The whole thing was pure comedy, and Nathan deserved some kind of accolade. I just wish I could have captured it on film. “He’s looking much better, don’t you think?” “Why is he naked?” “I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t realise you were here.” “We’re you guys in the bath together?” she giggled as I shook my head in denial. “Yes, you were. That’s kinda hot!” “He can’t get in the bath on his own. He needs my help.” “Yeah, I bet he does.” She winked at me. “It’s okay, I understand. It’s more fun with someone else. I guess you got fed up watching him on video, huh. I got a lot of shit on you, Robbie.” She must have seen the colour drain from my face as I walked to the stairs and looked over the handrail. The open plan design of the house made it too easy to overhear conversations on another floor, and this wasn’t something he needed to know. I grabbed her hand and led her upstairs. “You promised never to mention that, remember?” “I haven’t.” “You just did.” “Where are we going?” “Shush, we can talk in my room.” “I thought your room was in the basement.” When we reached the top of the stairs, I stopped outside the bathroom and stared at the mess. “Shit!” “Nicola’s gonna kill you for sure.” “I’ll clear it up later before she gets home.” I tightened my grip on Stephanie’s hand and pulled her along the hall to the spare room, where she sat uneasily on the edge of the bed. There was a loud twang from the broken frame, and it began to sink in the middle under her weight. “Is this safe?” “Maybe. It should be okay if you sit still. I slept in it last night, and it didn’t collapse.” She looked hesitant, clasping her hands in her lap. “Are you guys back together?” I huffed in frustration. We weren’t there to discuss my relationship. “Yes, I’m back with Nathan, and you were right; we were in the bath.” She grinned. “I know. So, what happened to Conner? He was cute.” “You can have him if you want.” “He’s gay.” “That doesn’t usually stop you.” “You can’t blame me. You could have said no.” “I’m not blaming you, and I don’t regret it either.” “Well, maybe you should because I’m pregnant!” She stared at me, waiting for a reaction. “Did you hear what I said?” “Yes, but why are you telling me. I’m not your boyfriend. Shouldn’t you be talking to Mitch?” “Mitch isn’t my boyfriend either. I only went out with him the once.” “Are you sure?” “Of course, I’m sure. Do you think I would date an asshole like that?” “I don’t know what to think anymore. It doesn’t make sense to me.” She reached out to hold my hand. “It makes perfect sense, Robbie. You're the only person I’ve had sex with since I left Mike. I’ve been trying to tell you for ages, but I didn’t know how, and you kept avoiding me.” She spoke quietly and rubbed my hand. “My parents are the only other people who know.” I was in shock. It didn’t seem possible. ‘Sue was right, after all.’ There was another loud twang from the bed frame, and it sank a little lower as she wiped back tears and stood up to leave. “I don’t think you should sleep in this bed, Robbie. It’s dangerous!” I waited until she left the room, then ran after her, passing her on the stairs and blocking her way. “Wait a minute. Are you serious? You're really up the duff?” “I’m pregnant, Robbie. If that’s what you mean.” “And you think it has something to do with me?” “It has everything to do with you. You came inside me. Do you remember that?” “But we only did it the once.” “That’s all it takes. You do know how it works ….” She stopped talking when she heard the front door open. Nicola looked smugly at us as she removed her coat and hat. “I knew it. I was right all along.” I looked at my watch as my sister marched into the kitchen. “I thought you said she was going to Toronto.” “That’s what she told me.” “I caught you,” shouted Nicola. “The game’s up. I know what’s been going on. It’s so fucking obvious. It wasn’t gonna happen just the once.” Stephanie looked surprised. “Did you tell her?” “Yes, I mean no, she guessed. Does it matter?” “No, I suppose not.” She looked at me and started to cry. I needed to keep her calm and talk some sense into her before Nathan came upstairs, but it wasn’t going well. “Look, it was probably a mistake. They got your results mixed up or something; it happens all the time.” “It’s not a mistake,” she hissed and pushed me out of the way to talk to Nicola in the kitchen. I held my head and followed, stopping in the doorway as Stephanie sobbed. My sister walked over to comfort her. “I’m sorry I did this, Steph, but I had to know. You should have told me?” She glared across the room at me and then back to Stephanie. “Did you two just…?” “No!” said Stephanie. “Definitely not.” “What were you doing upstairs then, and why is he half-dressed? Your shirt’s on back to front.” “We were talking,” I said, pulling off my t-shirt and turning it around. Nicola scoffed and threw me a look. “I know what happened, Steph. I found his shorts in your bed.” “So, you’ve known all this time?” “I figured if you wanted me to know, you would have told me.” Nicola smiled sanctimoniously at me, and I shook my head, but this was old news. “I was embarrassed. He’s your brother. But it only happened once, I swear. We haven’t been seeing each other. He’s not even my type.” “He’s not as gay as you think, Steph. It’s not the first time he’s done this kind of thing.” “I’m sorry,” said Stephanie. “But it really was just the once.” “Then why are you here, with him?” “Because I needed to tell him something.” Stephanie glanced at me, unsure if she should tell her. I shrugged my shoulders; It was too late now. My sister looked at us and then reached out to hug her friend. “I believe you, Steph, and I’m sorry I got it wrong. You don’t have to be upset about it. It’s embarrassing, but I’m not gonna hate you for it. It was a mistake. We were wrecked, remember?” “You were,” said Stephanie. “But it doesn’t matter. It happened. No one can change that.” “Then why are you upset if it was just one night? No one else needs to know, and I won't tease you about it. Well, not much anyway.” “Because I’m pregnant. I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know how.” “Oh my God, you're gonna have a baby,” said Nicola. For a second, she sounded excited. Then she took a deep breath and pointed at me. “He’s the father? Are you kidding me?” “No, it’s the truth.” “But he’s gay.” “I’m pretty sure that doesn’t make a lot of difference,” said Stephanie. “How many times did you guys…?” “Just the once,” said Stephanie. “I promise.” “Really? That’s unlucky.” “See, I told you someone's made a mistake.” “It’s not a mistake, Robbie. The doctor confirmed it. And I did my own test as well. Everything adds up to that night.” “It’s too unlucky to be true,” said my sister. “I don’t believe you. I know you’ve been seeing each other for weeks.” “Your crazy,” I said. “Your wrong, Nicola. I don’t even like your brother in that way.” “See, she doesn’t even like me.” “Well, except for that night, but I was stoned.” Nicola laughed. “That was a fun night, wasn’t it? We were both hammered.” Stephanie didn’t look very hammered to me. I stared at her, but she refused to look at me. Everything was happening so fast it was difficult for me to keep up. I wanted to go downstairs to see Nathan and help him get dressed, and I needed to put some clothes on too, but this was suddenly the most important thing in my life. I remembered Sue talking about abortions, and I wished I had paid more attention. Then I thought about my dream and nearly had a panic attack. Nicola managed to calm me down. She apologised for jumping to conclusions and poured me a glass of water. “You need to sit down; you're looking pale.” Stephanie rolled her eyes. “I’m sure he’ll be fine, Nicola. He’s not the one having a baby.” Nicola smiled apologetically, then looked surprised. “Wait a minute! Are you gonna have the baby?” “Yes, I won't have an abortion. My parents don’t want that, and neither do I.” My stomach turned into knots as Nicola’s face lit up. “You're gonna have a baby, Stephanie. That’s so exciting.” “I’m scared,” said Stephanie. “Don’t be scared,” said Nicola. “It’s gonna be wonderful. I can’t wait. How long before you know the sex?” “I have a scan in two weeks.” While Nicola hugged her friend, I sank lower in my seat until my chin was level with the table. Stephanie must have seen me turning blue. “Don’t worry; you won’t have to marry me if that’s what you're thinking. It won't even affect you. I’m not expecting you to play any part.” “But he’s gonna have to pay you something. Don’t worry; he’s got money.” Nicola turned to me and sneered. “It’ll teach him a lesson. He shouldn’t have taken advantage of you.” “What?” “It’s not his fault, Nicola. He didn’t take advantage.” “He’s a boy; they all take advantage. He should be more responsible. Didn’t they teach you about sex in England?” I was only half-listening to them as I sat pondering my future and how I was gonna break the news to Nathan. “I was the one who took the risk,” said Stephanie. “I came off the pill when I split up with Mike. I knew I wasn’t protected.” “Oh, Steph, why did you do that?” “I wasn’t planning on going that far. I got carried away. I was gonna say something to him, but next thing. Well, you can guess what happened next.” Stephanie sobbed as her friend put her arm around her. “I’m surprised his gay sperm managed to find their way,” said Nicola. “They must have wondered where they were.” For some reason, I thought that was funny, but there was a certain amount of truth in her remarks. I pretended not to listen as I absent-mindedly played with my dick through my jeans. It was a comfort thing made more accessible by my lack of underwear, but my penis was the cause of the problem. If it hadn’t betrayed me in the first place, none of this would have happened. Now, I was sixteen and soon to become a father. ‘What will Sue think? She’s only just got used to me being gay.’ I was still a kid. Not old enough to vote or drink alcohol. It seemed like history was due to repeat itself. I knew the disadvantages of growing up without a father. Jo considered it the root cause of all my problems, the catalyst for everything bad in my life. Now I was about to inflict the same pain on someone else and not just anyone, but a person who came from me. It seemed like the ultimate betrayal. I spent most of my childhood hating a man I never knew. ‘Will this kid grow up to hate me too?’ Probably not as much as I hated myself. Stephanie pulled up a chair and sat next to me. I hardly noticed her until she waved a hand in front of my face. “Are you okay?” “What? No, I don’t think so.” “Don’t worry; I’m not gonna take you to a court or anything. My family have money. Your life isn’t gonna change at all.” I didn’t believe her. My stomach was churning, and I felt sick. She didn’t understand. Paying her money wasn’t something that particularly bothered me. While she was talking, Nicola went to let her boyfriend in. I could hear them whispering in the hall. It was spreading already. I knew that soon the whole town would find out, but I was only concerned about Nathan. ‘How will he react?’ Mr Lube definitely had trouble getting his head around it. While the girls talked in the kitchen, he pulled me aside to get the low down in the living room. “Did you really stick it to her?” I shuddered at his turn of phrase. “I didn’t stick it to anyone.” “You know what I mean. Man, you're a dark horse. I’ve been trying to bang her for months, but she won't let me anywhere near her.” “You have? I thought you were going out with my sister.” He put a sweaty arm around me and spat into my ear. “Only kidding. Don’t take what I say too seriously. But fuck man, she’s hot and ends up getting knocked up by a queer boy. Ain’t that funny?” “Hilarious.” I wasn’t surprised to hear he had been trying it on with Stephanie behind Nicola’s back and even less surprised to find out she wanted nothing to do with him. Even so, the fact he was willing to divulge such information to his girlfriend’s brother was disturbing. “So, what happened? No offence, man, but she must have been totally hammered.” I stared at him, wondering if this was some kind of joke. It seemed incredulous that Nicola would want to date such a moron. “I think she just likes me.” He laughed as if it was totally beyond the realms of possibility. “Come on, what really happened?” ‘Why am I talking to this guy?’ “What’s your secret?” “I pretend to be gay. Girls love it.” He laughed and playfully slugged my arm. “Come on, that’s bullshit?” “It’s the truth. I’ve shagged a lot of girls around here using that trick. I guess this was bound to happen eventually.” I could almost see his mind working as he grappled with this most unlikely tale. “You're kidding me, right. Your fucking queer, it shows a mile.” I laughed. “Do you think I would be poking chicks like Stephanie if I were queer? I’d be more interested in guys like you.” I reached out to touch his arm, and he jumped back. “What are you doing?” “I’m only kidding; I don’t fancy blokes.” “What about the boy who got beat up. I thought you and him were?” “It’s just an act? I told you I’m not gay. I’m only pretending so I can get laid.” “How does it work then? I wanna know.” “If a girl thinks you're gay, they know you're not gonna try anything, so they drop their defences. Then they start flirting with you. It’s natural for straight women to do that. The longer you hold out, the more determined they are to fuck you. In the end, they’re ripping your clothes off; they’re so desperate. I’m telling you, it’s the best sex ever.” He removed his cap and scratched his head. “You're fucking with me. Nicola told me you were an ass bandit.” I was sure Nicola didn’t describe me as an ass bandit, and it was a good bet she didn’t know he was trying to bed her best friend either. That was my job. “She doesn’t know; you're the only person I’ve told.” “You would let everyone think you were queer so that you can sleep with a few girls?” “More than a few.” “How many?” “Double figures, just in the past few months.” “No shit! Are you fucking serious?” “I’ve lost count.” I wasn’t sure whether he believed me or not, but he was considering it. He laughed nervously and muttered to himself when Stephanie called me into the kitchen. It was almost worth getting her up the duff, just to see his face. I had visions of him showing up at the house in a white singlet and skin-tight black leather shorts. I had to bite my lip to stop myself from laughing as I walked away. “I wasn’t expecting you to be smiling,” said Stephanie. “I thought you’d be pissed.” “I was laughing at Mr Lube.” She thought my nickname for him was funny. “He’s a jerk.” “I don’t know what my sister sees in him. I’m pretty sure he’s cheating on her.” “It’s sweet of you to worry about Nicola at a time like this. I think you're handling it really well.” “I am?” “Yeah, most guys would have freaked out.” “Oh, I’m freaking out alright; I’m just good at hiding it. As soon as everyone’s gone, I’ll be heading for the lake.” She grabbed my hand and pulled me towards her. “NO!” “I was joking.” “Don’t even joke about something like that.” She looked very serious. “I would never forgive you. How would I explain it to him or her?” “To him or her?” “Yes, to him or her.” She pointed to her stomach. “Our child.” ‘Our child?’ I think that was when it hit me. The point when I realised that even if I played no part, it was always going to be my child; nothing could ever change that. I was going to become a father whether I liked it or not. “When the baby is born, will I be able to see it?” “Of course. I would never stop you. If that’s what you wanted.” I wasn’t sure what I wanted. “I don’t know.” “I understand if you don’t want to. But if you did, I probably couldn’t stop you. I mean, you have certain rights too, I think.” She squeezed my hand. “I just assumed you wouldn’t want that because.” “Because I’m gay?” “Yeah, I suppose.” “Does it make any difference?” “Not to me, it doesn’t.” “What about your family?” “They’ve never met you, but I told them you're gay and you have a boyfriend. That wasn’t easy. Where is Nathan anyway?” ‘Nathan!’ I panicked when she said his name and then ran downstairs. I was supposed to be looking after him. Some carer I was. When I entered my room, he was tucked up in my bed asleep. He must have got tired of waiting for me. At least he managed to get partly dressed, and I took the opportunity to do the same. Underwear, socks, and a dry t-shirt made me feel somewhat better. I wasn’t sure how I would explain it to him, but for now, I thought it best to let him sleep. Nathan stirred when I kissed him on the cheek and then told me he loved me, but he didn’t open his eyes, and I wondered if he was dreaming. It didn’t matter. I took those words for gospel and repeated them to him before heading back upstairs with a smile and fresh resolve. Whatever happened, I had invested too much into that boy to lose him. Nicola and Mr Lube were outside on the balcony smoking a joint. I remembered now why she was dating him, but I was relieved that Stephanie wasn’t with them. ‘Is this some kind of parental instinct kicking in?’ It seemed odd that I should suddenly be concerned about her well-being, but I laughed it off. Stephanie was in the living room. She looked scared, and I didn’t blame her. I would have been worried, too, if I found out I had a baby growing inside me. I wondered how it felt as I watched from the hallway before walking over to sit next to her. “Hey, what’s up?” “Just thinking.” “Yeah, I do that sometimes. Probably not as often as I should, though.” She smiled. “How’s Nathan?” “He’s fine. Fast asleep. He always looks so cute when he’s sleeping. I’ve been looking after him. It’s stupid, I know, but I enjoy it, and he likes me fussing over him.” Stephanie was watching me like she was genuinely interested in what I had to say. “I don’t think it’s stupid. It just shows that you care. You're a nice boy, Robbie; I’m sorry this happened. It wasn’t your fault; it was only supposed to be a bit of fun. I’ll talk to Nathan if you want.” “He already knows what happened, but not about you being, you know, pregnant.” “I was certain you were gonna run away screaming or deny it ever happened.” The thought had crossed my mind, and I wondered if I should insist on some kind of test. I wasn’t sure how it worked, but I didn’t want to distress her at a time when she looked better than she had done in ages. She must have felt relieved to finally get it off her chest and talk to people about it, especially me. I felt terrible for avoiding her. I turned to hug her, and she must have needed it because she seemed reluctant to let go. It didn’t matter; normal rules no longer applied, and I wanted her to know I cared, no matter what. Stephanie smiled and leaned forward to kiss me on the cheek, a move guaranteed to get Nicola’s attention. She walked in from the balcony stinking of weed. “Are you okay, Steph?” “I’m fine. Your brother has handled it quite well. He’s more mature than you think.” “Mature? Ha! Don’t make me laugh.” “No, I’m impressed, honestly.” She smiled sweetly at me as Nicola rolled her eyes. “Think about what I said. I won't think bad of you if you decide not to be involved. You can still see the baby.” “Robbie’s not cut out to be a father, Steph.” “What do you know? I might make a good dad.” “Huh, the kid will be swearing all the time and arguing with everybody.” “Fuck off!” “What did I tell you. It probably heard that, Robbie. They can hear, you know, even before they’re born.” “I don’t think it’s quite at that stage yet,” said Stephanie, and she gave me a look indicating that my sister was slightly stoned. “Oh my God,” said Nicola. “I’m gonna be an aunt. We’re gonna be related, Steph.” “It doesn’t work that way,” said Stephanie. “You’ll be an aunt, but we’re not getting married.” “Why not? He’s only a year younger than you. Then you could be my sister-in-law.” “He’s gay!” “Oh yeah,” said Nicola, turning to me. “You had to go and ruin it, didn’t you? Things could have been so perfect.” I was glad someone bothered to mention it. For me, it was kind of important. * * * It was precisely one minute after four when Daniel arrived home with his girlfriend. “So, Nicola came back early, huh? Where’s Nathan?” “He’s asleep.” Daniel laughed. “You must have worn him out.” “No, it wasn’t like that.” “Sorry, I can’t give you a refund.” I wasn’t worried about the money, but I didn’t get a chance to explain before Nicola interrupted. She seemed to be having fun with this. “Robbie’s having a baby.” “Is Nathan pregnant?” “No, Stephanie is.” My brother wisely kept his opinions to himself until we could talk alone. “Wow, looks like you're gonna be a daddy,” he said as he cornered me in the dining room. “I must admit; I didn’t see that one coming.” He wasn’t the only one; I doubt if Nostradamus could have predicted it. “Yeah, it was a surprise for me too.” “What does Nathan think?” “He doesn’t know yet.” “Well, you might wanna say something soon because he’s right behind you.” My boyfriend’s presence brought Nicola and Stephanie in from the kitchen. He looked tired and confused by the influx of people and the sudden attention. “There’s a strange man sitting in the basement watching TV.” “That’s Mr Lube,” I said, and Nicola frowned at me. “What’s going on?” said Nathan. “Did I miss something?” I looked at Nicola and then at Stephanie before turning to my boyfriend and swallowing hard. “Stephanie’s got some news for you.” Nicola interrupted. “You creep, don’t expect her to do your dirty work.” “I’m pregnant,” said Stephanie. Nathan turned to look at her, still half asleep and not particularly interested. “Congrats,” he said before turning back to me with a dreamy smile. “I’m gonna be a dad, Nathan.” He fainted. It was possibly the most over-dramatic faint ever. He fell straight into my arms with the grace of a ballerina and to a chorus of giggles mostly from Daniel and Nicola. My brother and I carried him into the living room and dropped him on the couch, where the girls fussed over him. “I think everything’s gonna work out fine,” said Nicola through red blotchy eyes. “I’m so excited. We’re gonna have a baby! I can’t wait to tell mom!” She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek before running upstairs to grab some Tylenol for Nathan from the bathroom. I looked at Stephanie, and we covered our ears as my sister yelled.
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