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20,836 There Can Be Only One!

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About Dodger

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    The Artful One

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    Reading, writing, painting, talking, traveling, and my dog.

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  1. Thanks @Caramel8. Robbie and Nathan do work quite well. I can't help you with the unknown story, but it sounds like I should be reading it. You would do better posting this on one of the forums where you will reach a lot more people, and stand a better chance of finding the story. Good luck.
  2. When you put it like that, Conner probably needs therapy too. Rory may be destined to be the one that got away for Robbie. Ironically, personality wise, they would probably make a very good couple. If only. Rory's good fun and has reached a stage where he's completely comfortable with Robbie's sexuality, and even willing to encourage his little games. Was he flirting with Robbie when he asked if he should pose with or without clothes? Robbie could do with having a friend who's just a friend.
  3. You make a valid point here, because it's possible, despite claiming otherwise, that Robbie has no intention of hiding this from Don. He may feel he has enough support from Jo and his family to openly defy Don and maybe even push him into doing something stupid. If this is the case then it's a dangerous game to play. Don has so far been good at staying just within the legal boundaries to keep Jo at bay, and he's unlikely to risk losing everything, no matter how annoyed he may be with Robbie. There are quite a few loose ends to tie up, but not everything will be known. We will only see what Robbie sees and as in real life some things will remain unsolved. In these cases, like Robbie, the readers may have to draw their own conclusions. As for the date. It would have been nice to finish on Canadian Thanksgiving, but it may not be feasible considering there are still five chapters to post. It may drag on to Christmas, but it needs to be a holiday. It will make sense in the end.
  4. Yeah, Robbie may have surprised a few people in this chapter.
  5. Well said @Israfil Conner is only sixteen and still a novice at relationships. Robbie hurt his pride but he didn't break his heart. He should get over this fairly quickly without holding too much of a grudge. Robbie and Nathan may compliment each other in many ways but they're far from a perfect match and they're unlikely to grow old together. If Stephanie is in the family way, then this would be a logical choice. We don't know if there are any reasons preventing this or who else knows if anyone. She certainly hasn't confided in Nicola, although this would not be a bad thing. Robbie, of course, will be blissfully unaware until someone actually spells it out to him. For Don, it would be a gift he would never have predicted.
  6. I'm assuming you're referring to Stephanie. Is it even worth me denying it at this stage? Probably not, but I'm going to anyway, because we still don't know for sure if this is the case.
  7. This is entirely possible. Robbie is relying on Conner having enough decency not to do this, and it's one of the reasons he wanted to part on good terms. Despite Conner's initial brat-like reactions, Robbie should feel reasonably happy with the way it went. After licking his wounds, Conner would do well to look at this objectively and realize there was no malice in Robbie's actions. In fact he did everything he could to lessen the blow. Conner knows what Don thinks of Nathan and it will be easy for him to throw a spanner in the works if he chooses.
  8. Robbie could be forgiven for thinking the cards have finally fallen for him. He's due a slice of luck, so maybe this is where he turns the table on Don. He knows it's only a matter of time before word gets back to his adopted father, so Robbie needs to have some kind of plan in place.
  9. Robbie did the honorable thing, which seemed to go down well with Conner's mom and will probably impress Nathan.
  10. Robbie could have avoided a difficult situation by simply not going to the farm and telling Conner over the phone and perhaps he would have done that in the past. Robbie proved he has principles and he wants to do the right thing, but he also needed to show Nathan he meant business.
  11. Conner's behavior was definitely immature but probably no more than most sixteen-year-old kids after being dumped. I think it could have been a lot worse and even Robbie wasn't sure how he would react.
  12. I think Robbie will be pleased that he doesn't have to go back to Conner's farm. Their relationship was doomed from the start.
  13. It was eight-thirty on Saturday morning, and I was still half-asleep when I stumbled out of bed to pick up my phone. I had two missed calls from Karen, and a voicemail message, which I listened to in the bathroom. “Hi, sexy. Nathan told me the good news. I’m so happy for you guys. You should never have split up in the first place. You're meant to be together, I mean it. But really, I’m glad you worked out your differences. Call me later, baby, okay.” I giggled at her message, but before I could delete it, she called again. “Morning, Karen.” “Hi, sleepyhead. Did you get my voicemail?” “Yes, I got it.” I laughed and put her on loudspeaker while I peed. “I had a feeling something was going on with you guys. Why didn’t you tell me? It doesn’t matter; I get it. You don’t want to discuss these things with your boyfriend’s sister. Was this the reason why you came over yesterday? Did you tie up Daniel, so you could take his place? Are you peeing?” “Yes,” I chuckled while flushing. “Yes, you're peeing, or yes, you tied up Daniel.” “Both.” I washed my hands and walked back to the bedroom. My brother was still asleep and only partially covered by a duvet that was mostly on the floor. I laughed at him then grabbed yesterday’s t-shirt from the back of my chair and took it with me to the family room. “Are you still there?” “Yeah, I had to mute you because I didn’t want to wake Daniel. He got home late last night. He was with his girlfriend.” I smiled at Amy and gave her a quick hug as I joined her on the couch. Then sniffed my t-shirt and pulled it over my head. I could smell Nathan on it, and it made me feel good. “It’s about time Daniel put that sexy body to use,” said Karen. I grabbed the phone and quickly switched off the loudspeaker so that Amy couldn’t hear. It wasn’t a second too soon. “I baked him a cake for losing his virginity.” “Yeah, he told me about that.” “I think I embarrassed him.” ‘No shit’. “It’s very likely.” “Do I embarrass you?” “Only most of the time,” I said. “But I don’t mind. I’ve missed talking to you.” “Ah, that’s so sweet. I missed you too babe, and I know Nathan did. This is exactly what he needs right now. A hot boyfriend to take his mind off all the negative things going on in his life. I know you’ll be good for him.” I was already feeling ten-feet tall, but Karen’s lavish praise put an extra spring in my step as I walked around the basement trying to lose my little sister. Amy had heard enough of our conversation to tweak her interest and was in the mood for trouble. “All I can do is try my best.” “Well, whatever you did to him yesterday worked, so keep it up, big boy.” The last few words were spoken slowly in porn star fashion, but still relatively tame for Karen. Amy was too close and trying to listen, so I switched my phone to the other ear and ducked into the laundry room. “We didn’t do anything yesterday. All we did was talk,” I said while trying to fend off my sister. “What are you waiting for? The poor boy needs some loving. He’s been humping his bedsheets for two days solid and thinking I haven't noticed. I have to keep changing them when he goes downstairs, but I can’t keep up. My brother’s a sperm machine.” I cringed. It was true, but I didn’t want to hear it from his sister, and I didn’t want my sister hearing it at all. “Will you leave me alone, please?” I was trying to push her out of the laundry room, but she was holding onto the leg of my pyjamas. “No, I don’t mean you, Karen.” “Who's Karen?” “None of your business.” I put the phone under my chin and managed to prise Amy’s fingers from my clothing before closing the door. Then I sat on the tiled floor with my back against it to stop her from getting in. “Are you okay?” “Yeah, it was only Amy.” “She’s your little sister, right?” “Uh-huh, and she’s listening on the other side of the door.” Karen thought it was funny. “Nathan used to annoy me like that, too, when he was young. He still does, but now it’s me who's spying on him. Only because I’m worried, though, I won’t have to do that now he has a sexy boyfriend to keep him in line.” It made me go all warm inside when I realised she was referring to me, but it seemed like they were expecting a lot. “I’m not sure if I can keep him in line, Karen.” “Let me tell you something. Yesterday afternoon, when we told Ginny she couldn’t come in, Nathan lost his temper. It was awful. I’ve never seen him like that before, not even when he was little. He swore at us and said he would never speak to us again. It upset me and made my mom cry.” “I didn’t know that.” “We were hoping Daniel might be able to talk to him, but then he called to say you were coming instead. To be honest, we weren’t sure at first if it was a good idea, but when we talked to you, it was obvious you still cared about him, so we took a chance.” “I’m glad you didn’t stop me from seeing him.” “So am I, honey. After you left, Nathan came upstairs to apologise to us. He even let me hug him. He’s a different person when he’s with you.” She sounded upset, but then she giggled and said in a teasing voice. “He told me what you said to him.” “He did?” “He told me not to tell you.” “Well, that didn’t work then, did it?” “Sorry, but I had to say something. I’m proud of you. It was a brave thing to do, and it totally sent Nathan for a loop. Don’t tell him I told you.” Karen’s words moved me. It sounded like I made quite an impact. ‘Maybe he does have feelings for me’. I was still confused. “Let me get this right. You don’t want him to know that you told me something that he told you I told him?” “Something like that.” “But I already know, because I told him in the first place.” “Yeah, but he doesn’t know that you know that I know.” I was lying when I told Karen I missed talking to her. Our conversations were always challenging and often embarrassing. “Does anyone else know?” “Only my parents, but they won't tell anyone.” I shook my head at the phone. “There’s no one left to tell, that’s why.” “I’m sorry, Robbie, but it made their day. You’ve made us all very happy. You love my brother, what could be better than that?” ‘Loving him without everybody knowing about it’. “Don’t worry, everything’s gonna work out okay, and you won’t need to go to the Palm Springs Motel to get laid either. Sorry, he told me about that as well.” My life was an open book, but only the bits I didn’t want people to know. “That was the last time we did anything.” “I know; it was your birthday.” “Does Nathan keep a diary or something?” “You must think I’m weird.” “Only a lot.” “I’m just trying to keep him safe. When you guys split up, I argued with my parents. I thought they should have bent the rules a little and allowed you some time together. They were trying to protect him, but all it did was drive you away and put him in danger. I could see what was gonna happen, but I couldn’t stop it. When he got beat up, it changed everything, and they blamed themselves.” “It wasn’t their fault, and it wasn’t the only reason why we split up.” “Well, it won’t happen again. They’re gonna allow you certain privileges.” She put a lot of emphasis on that last word, knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to resist. “What kind of privileges?” “Put it this way. They know they can’t stop him from having sex so they would rather he did it indoors with someone they know and trust, than at a seedy motel with a stranger who could potentially be a danger to him. It makes sense.” I agreed with this philosophy. It was nothing new, but I couldn’t imagine her parents allowing us the kind of freedoms she was suggesting. Karen was prone to exaggeration. Nathan’s parents were liberal and open-minded, but they weren’t Swedish. “They trust me, really?” I thought that was funny. No one else did. “I’m serious, Robbie. Nathan was safe when he was with you, and he wasn’t doing drugs either. My parents think you're wonderful. You're their favourite person in the whole world right now. They’re gonna treat you guys like your married. So you don’t have to worry about them walking in and catching you slapping his butt with your thighs.” I had to laugh at her terminology, but the idea of them treating us like a married couple was a huge turn on for me. It opened up a world of possibilities. ‘We could sleep together in the same bed, even when we weren’t having sex’. Nathan was like a human radiator. Holding him naked in bed was the best feeling in the world, and something I desperately wanted to experience again. My pyjama bottoms allowed easy access to an unrestrained penis that was now begging for attention and impossible to ignore. My hand slipped under the waistband almost without me knowing. “Well, what do you think?” “What? Oh, it sounds too good to be true.” I jumped as I felt the door pushing against my back, followed by a familiar voice. “Who’s in here?” I panicked and whispered into the phone. “I have to go. We’ll speak later.” “Robbie, what are you doing in here?” “Nothing!” I scrambled to my feet as the door opened and Nicola held me in her sights. “Who were you talking to?” She glanced between us at the tent in the front of my pyjamas. My erection was dropping like a stone but not quick enough to escape my sister’s eagle eyes. “Oh my God, was you jerking off?” “No, of course not. I was on the phone.” “You’ve got a hard-on, Robbie.” She turned her head to look the other way in a farcical attempt to appear shocked, while I fumbled with my dick. “I just saw it.” Nicola was overreacting; pretending to be offended by the sight of a bulge in my pyjamas. ‘Like she’s never seen anything like that before’. “Are you decent yet?” She turned around and looked warily at my crotch as if she was frightened, it would leap out and attack her. It made me laugh. “It’s okay; it doesn’t bite.” “It’s not funny. Most boys would be embarrassed.” “Why, I was only talking on the phone?” “You were sitting on the floor with your back against the door and your thing sticking up.” I expected a little more maturity from someone as worldly as Nicola. She was unlikely to be traumatised even if I was doing what she claimed. She was probably fifty-per cent right with her assumption, but I didn’t care. “I’m sure you’ll get over it.” I tried to squeeze past her, but she wouldn’t budge. She was gazing at a basket of dirty laundry. It was washing day, and it was probably Sue’s next load. Nicola scrunched up her face and turned to confront me. “Have you got some kinda underwear fetish?” “For goodness sake. NO! Definitely not.” “That’s disgusting.” “I swear that’s not why I was in here.” “But you were jerking off.” “NO!” “Liar, give me your phone.” “Why?” “Because I wanna see who you were doing it with. Was it Conner again?” She had a smug grin, and I had to admit it looked bad. She laughed. “I knew I would catch you sooner or later, but in the laundry room? Really? This is so sick; I can’t even tell anyone about this.” I refused to give her my phone, so she tried to take it from me. “What are you doing?” “Let me see your phone.” “No!” “Why won’t you let me see it? What are you hiding?” She let go and stood back narrowing her eyes at me. “Oh my god. It was Stephanie, wasn’t it?” “No, it wasn’t Stephanie and I wasn’t jerking off. I was talking to someone, and Amy was trying to listen. It was private.” I handed her the phone and shrugged. “Here, you can check if you want.” My sister scrolled through the list of recent calls. “Who’s Karen?” “Nathan’s sister. You know….” “Yeah, I know.” She looked confused. “Are you satisfied now?” “Yes. No. I’m not sure. You're up to something. I know that much.” She sniffed my t-shirt. “And you smell. Go take a shower. You can take care of your thingy in there too. I don’t wanna have to look at it, what would Amy think?” “It was an erection, Nicola. Sometimes they just happen, but I don’t need to explain it to you. I’m pretty sure you know how they work. It doesn’t mean I was jerking off, okay?” ‘Geez, this is the girl who bought me Viagra’. I was proud of my response. It put Nicola in her place and made me sound mature. My sister seemed satisfied I wasn’t having phone sex in the laundry room with her best friend while ogling my family’s underwear, but she knew I was hiding something. I attributed this newfound cockiness to the success I had with Nathan. If it had happened twenty-four hours earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to look her in the eye for a month. I was on a roll, brimful of confidence and certainty. It was exactly what I needed to break up with Conner. Rarely had I felt so indestructible as I headed to the bathroom to follow Nicola’s advice. Beating off in the shower wasn’t my preferred choice, but I was buoyed by thoughts of sharing a bed with my former ex-boyfriend, and it was better than humping bedsheets. At least I knew Nathan was taking care of his needs, although I never doubted that was the case. * * * I felt even better after a shower and able to focus on what promised to be a difficult day. I wasn’t looking forward to going to the farm, but I promised Nathan I would officially end my relationship with Conner, and I had to deliver. I was under strict orders. I could help fix the barn, but staying the night, unsurprisingly, was no longer an option. I even agreed to call him via Karen as soon as I got home. It was the first of two tests I had to pass before Nathan would allow me the kind of privileges his sister was suggesting. The second required a trip to the family doctor, so while I was waiting for Rory, I booked an appointment for Wednesday after school. Rory’s dad offered to drive us to Conner’s farm, and I spent the journey updating my friend on recent developments. He was upset but not surprised when I told him I was going to break up with Conner. “I’m gonna miss hanging out with you at the weekends, but I won't miss being woken up in the middle of the night by you guys arguing.” Rory’s statement was proof it was never going to work with Conner, and it gave me another boost. I knew I was doing the right thing, but I still felt terrible for ending it. I was, after all, leaving him for another boy and Rory didn’t need any help guessing who it was. “You can’t get Nathan out of your system, can you?” “What makes you think …?” I stopped and scolded myself. I was about to lie to my best friend—someone I knew I could trust more than anyone. “Is it that obvious?” “Probably not to everyone, but it is to me. You're always talking about him. You never really stopped talking about him.” He laughed. “I don’t think that’s normally how it works.” Rory wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t true, and he wasn’t the only one to mention it. Daniel had said the same thing. “You're right. I can’t get Nathan out of my system. I think we still have a long way to go. There’s a lot of unfinished business between us, and I’m hoping he feels the same way. Don’t say anything, but I saw him last night, and we agreed to give it another shot, so maybe he does. This is all I want, Rory. I don’t care about anything else. I’m so happy at the moment; I might just be the happiest person in the whole world.” I could see Rory’s dad smiling at me in the rearview mirror. He must have thought I was a total douchebag. I looked at Rory, and he laughed as I blushed and bit my lip. I forgot his dad was even there. “I guess I do talk about him a lot, sorry.” “Wow, the happiest person in the whole world. That’s really something.” “I said I might be. It hasn’t been confirmed yet.” “Oh, okay, but you don’t have to apologise because you like someone. I had my suspicions, but I didn’t realise you were like this obsessed.” “It’s worse than that.” “In that case, you're doing the right thing by breaking up right away, or you're gonna end up cheating on him. You haven’t been cheating, have you?” “No, how is that even possible? Nathan can’t even pee on his own; his sister has to help him.” “That’s gross.” “I know. Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this, but you get what I’m trying to say. She may be willing to hold his dick while he pees, but she won’t wanna hold it while he does, you know, other things with it.” I knew what I was saying didn’t make any sense, and Rory’s expression confirmed it. I was digging myself into a hole for no reason. “Forget I just said any of that. What I mean is I haven’t been cheating on Conner.” “I believe you,” said Rory. “But I doubt if he will. Conner’s always been suspicious of Nathan. He thinks he’s manipulating you and leading you astray.” “I know.” “I’m just warning you, so you know what to expect. I hope you guys don’t start fighting.” “So do I, Rory. He’ll probably beat the crap outta me. That’s why I’m not gonna tell him until I’m ready to leave. I’m not stupid. But I’ll be leaving tonight after we finish work.” “I think it’s good that you're still gonna help with the roof, Conner should appreciate that at least, but he’s gonna know it’s Nathan and he won’t keep it a secret. What happens if he tells Don?” “I’m really hoping he doesn’t. If Don finds out, he’s gonna go nuts, for sure. I mean he’s gonna totally lose it. I’ll be grounded for eternity. He’ll never forgive me.” “Robbie, Don will find out. You won’t be able to keep it quiet. It’s only a matter of time. What will you do?” “I don’t know. I haven’t given it a lot of thought. I didn’t see the point in worrying about it when I wasn’t even sure if Nathan would say yes.” “I think you're really brave. I hope things work out for you and Nathan. I really do.” There were times when Rory’s simplistic honesty could make me melt. If we weren’t restrained by seatbelts, I would have been hugging him for that remark and trying to intoxicate myself by breathing in as much of that musky, straight-boy aroma as I could possibly take before he pushed me away. Instead, I reached across the middle seat and quickly squeezed his hand. It would have been too gay for most straight boys, but Rory had a very high level of tolerance when it came to that kind of thing, which often made me wonder about him. He accepted my show of appreciation with a smile that almost made me faint. * * * I was half-asleep when Rory’s dad pulled up outside the white-bricked farmhouse. “Wake-up, Robbie, we’re here!” I refused to open my eyes, so Rory slid across the back seat and began playfully slapping my face. “You can’t go asleep now; we’re supposed to be working today.” Rory was excited to be doing a day’s work even if he wasn’t getting paid, but I was already feeling tired. As my friend pushed me from his dad’s warm car, Conner looked on disapprovingly. He didn’t like me having physical contact with anyone else, especially an attractive boy like Rory. The fact he was straight and going out with his sister didn’t seem to matter. Conner knew I got a thrill out of it, which was enough to make him jealous and encourage me to do it even more. Rory was just naturally touchy, playful, and affectionate, but not in a sexual way, or so he always claimed, although I had my suspicions. My best friend’s warm touch and clammy hands were replaced by a rather frosty hug from my boyfriend. It was our first physical contact in two weeks, and it was cold and suffocating, but he stopped short of kissing me in front of his extended family. Conner was keen to get started and led us around the back of the house to show us what they were doing. His dad waved at us from the top of the scaffolding that covered the front and inside of the barn. He was with Conner’s American uncle who I met at Christmas and another man who I didn’t recognise. “My uncle and his family are staying for the weekend,” said Conner. “You’ve already met his son, Erin.” The teenager nodded at me as he walked past us, carrying a metal frame. Conner’s younger brother, Dylan, was at the other end. “Hey, Robbie and Rory.” My reply was drowned out by Conner yelling at his brother to put a hardhat on. “They’re working above us,” he said. “If they drop something from that height and it lands on your head, it could kill you. We’ve got hats and gloves for you indoors. I know they’re not comfortable, but you must wear them.” I didn’t mind, Conner was right to be safety conscious, and he also enjoyed being in charge. He explained what they were doing and told us they were hoping to get the roof finished that day while the weather was reasonable. I knew in Canadian terms; reasonable winter weather was anything above minus five degrees, and according to Rory’s smartphone, it was already a lofty plus two. “Warm enough to take our shirts off Rory,” I said, but he didn’t respond. “It’s a lot of work,” said Conner, as he led us back to the farmhouse. “But it’s gonna be easier with you guys. Don’t worry, all you have to do is carry stuff. You don’t have to go up the scaffolding. It should help you get in shape, Robbie.” I didn’t like the way he singled me out. It wasn’t as if I was overweight. I usually got plenty of exercise when I visited. “I brought some apples and bananas,” said Rory. “They’re good for giving you energy.” I sneered at him and produced a can of Red Bull from my bag. “Not as good as this.” I was about to pull the ring when Conner grabbed it from my hand. “What the fuck?” “Do you know how bad this is for you?” I snatched it back. “No, but I’m sure you're gonna tell me.” He tried to retake it, but this time I held it out of his reach. “Fine,” he said. “If you want to destroy your body, that’s up to you. I’m only trying to help. If you need energy, then I can make you a smoothie with stuff that’s actually good for you.” I decided to stick with the Red Bull. “I’ll take my chances.” Conner wasn’t happy. He was a control freak and didn’t like it when I stepped out of line or wanted to do something different. That day I was deliberately insubordinate. I wanted him to be annoyed with me. It would stop him from being over-affectionate and make it easier for me to break the news to him. “We can have a smoothie for lunch,” said Rory. He was keen to keep everyone happy, and it amused Conner. “Lunch?” he chuckled. “We won't be stopping for lunch.” It was just as well; I wasn’t in the mood for one of Conner’s smoothies. They tasted nasty and were difficult to swallow. * * * Our job was tiring but straightforward. We had to carry sections of the roof into the barn and attach them to the end of a rope for Conner and his cousin to hoist up the scaffold. His dad, uncle, and the other guy whose name was Jack would then fix them onto the newly installed frame. Everything was pre-fabricated, but there were lots of sections and lots of damaged ones that had to be loaded onto the back of a truck. I wasn’t used to physical work or getting dirty, but it was worthwhile if only to see Rory in a hardhat. It was too big for him, and it kept falling over his eyes which only added to the appeal and made him look even sexier. I was trying to picture him naked wearing just a hardhat and gloves when Conner disturbed my fantasy by grabbing my butt and making me jump. “We’re doing good,” he said. “We should be finished before we lose the light. Thanks for your help, you guys are making a big difference.” He was exaggerating; we had hardly done a thing. I found it difficult to relax in Conner’s company, and I was unusually quiet. He kept asking me if I was okay, and he must have known something was wrong, but I couldn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure how he would react. I didn’t want him to have an accident or fall off the scaffolding because he was distracted. It was four-thirty and about to get dark when Conner’s dad and uncle fixed the final two panels onto the roof and then shouted something in Swedish. They went indoors with happy, weathered-faces, slapping us on the back as they passed. “We’ll leave the clearing up to the hired hands,” said his dad, but Rory blocked my path when I tried to follow them. “He means us, stupid.” “Oh, I know that,” I said and grabbed a broom. “Can I take a picture of you wearing that hardhat, Rory?” “No, you're a pervert.” My friend was on to me. He was wiser now and able to outwit me at my little games. “Send me a selfie then.” “With or without clothes?” he smirked. “I don’t want pictures of you naked, Rory. What do you take me for?” I laughed and shook my head as I swept the concrete floor. “You can keep your gloves on.” “You did good, boys,” said Conner. He seemed pleased with our contribution, but when he tried putting his arm around me, I flinched and stepped away. “You're frigid today, Robbie. Maybe it’s the hard work. You're not used to it.” “Can we talk?” “We sure can; we can talk all evening after we clean up and have dinner. My mom’s making a special meal.” I could smell her cooking before we entered the house. I didn’t realise I was so hungry or dirty. I brought a bag with a change of clothes which I carried upstairs to Conner’s room, before stripping to my briefs and claiming the shower after his cousin Erin. Conner jumped in after me, and by the time he joined me in his room dripping water, with a towel wrapped around his waist, I was fully dressed. I sat on his bed in silence, trying not to watch as he dried himself and ditched his towel. “What’s up with you, something’s wrong. You’ve hardly said a word to me all day.” “There’s something I have to tell you, but I don’t know how.” He stood in front of me, naked with a teasing smile. “You don’t usually have trouble talking.” “Can you put something on, please.” “Why, does it bother you that I’m naked?” “Yes. I’m sorry.” He stared at me for a few seconds before pulling on a pair of shorts. “Is that better?” “I’m not staying tonight; I have to go home.” He snapped to attention, and the mood changed instantly. There was no going back after that. “Why? You can’t leave, we haven’t seen each other in ages.” “I came here to help you with the barn because I promised and I didn’t want to let you down, but our relationship isn’t working, Conner.” “What do you mean it's not working? THAT’S BULLSHIT!” I waited a few seconds for him to calm down. “We’re not like a normal couple.” “That’s because we hardly see each other.” “Well, that’s part of the problem. The distance doesn’t make it easy. Maybe it would have worked had you been more local.” He walked across the room to look out the window while he adsorbed my words. “Okay, so what are you saying, you no longer wanna see me?” I felt terrible. I didn’t want to hurt him, but it seemed almost unavoidable. It was so much easier with Nathan because I was angry with him. I wasn’t mad at Conner; I just felt sorry for him. “It’s only been a few weeks, Conner. I’m pretty sure you’ll find someone nicer than me. I’m really sorry.” “DON’T BE!” He spun around, grabbed my bag from the chair and threw it at me. “You can see yourself out!” I put my bag over my shoulder and stared at his back, but he wouldn’t turn around. “If that’s what you want.” “No, that’s what you want. It’s Nathan, isn’t it? I knew this would happen sooner or later. Is this why you’ve been avoiding me?” “No,” I said. “I haven’t been avoiding you.” “You're avoiding my question, though. Is it Nathan? You can at least have the courage to admit it.” Conner was right. I owed him the truth, whatever the consequences. He would find out anyway and then it would look worse. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. “Yes, I’m getting back with Nathan, but I haven’t been seeing him behind your back. It was important for me not to cheat on you.” “Yeah, right. I can’t imagine that somehow.” Conner was annoyed but not over-emotional or threatening. I wasn’t convinced beforehand that would be the case. “Why did you even bother to come here; you could have told me over the phone?” “That would be wrong. I wanted to talk to you in person, and help with the work.” “We could have managed without your help. Please don’t tell me you still wanna be my friend, because that’s bullshit and you know it.” That was going to be my next line. “It’s possible.” “NO, IT ISN’T!” he snapped. “And I wouldn’t want that. We’re not friends, okay. I don’t like the people you associate with. I’m not into drugs and getting drunk. You’ll end up just like them, Robbie. A loser like Nathan and everyone else at that party!” I hoped it wouldn’t be like this, but at the same time, I knew Conner wasn’t going to take it well. He didn’t like the fact that it was my decision. Had it been the other way around, I don’t think he would have had any hesitation at all in kicking me out the door. “I was hoping we could part on better terms.” “Can you go now, please?” “Good luck with the farm,” I said, and I meant it. They worked hard and deserved success. Conner didn’t reply, and he wouldn’t look at me either, so I said goodbye and closed the door behind me. When I reached the stairs, Rory was waiting for me. We both flinched as we heard something being thrown across Conner’s room. Whatever it was, smashed on impact with his door. Rory was clean and dressed after his shower, but his hair was still wet. He put his hand on my shoulder. “You okay?” “Yep.” “I guess he didn’t take it too well.” “I guess not.” I sniffed and wiped my eyes. They were all the tears I would shed for Conner. “I need to call a cab.” Conner’s mom was in the kitchen with her sister preparing dinner. She was surprised to see me dressed and ready to leave when I should have been upstairs with her son. “Is everything okay?” I thought I should leave it to Conner to explain, but I didn’t want to be disrespectful to his family. They were kind people who had welcomed me into their home and treated me well. “I have to go home.” “But dinner’s almost ready.” “Why; what’s wrong?” “You can’t leave without eating.” “What happened?” His mom and aunt were flustered speaking at the same time and cancelling each other out. “How will you get home?” asked his mom. “At least stay for dinner,” said his aunt. “I can call a cab.” “Nonsense, it’ll cost too much from here.” His mom removed her apron and told me to wait, then ran upstairs to talk to her son. “Do you want me to go with you?” asked Rory. “Why?” “I dunno, I thought you might want some company.” Rory was unquestionably the most thoughtful person I had ever met, but it would have been selfish of me to expect him to leave. “I’ll be fine, Rory. I can call Cobourg Taxis, they know me.” “No, you won't,” said Conner’s mom. She looked pained after talking to her son. “I’ll give you a ride home, Robbie, but only if you stay for dinner.” I was hungry and tired, and it seemed too good to be true. I couldn’t understand why she was so generous, but it would have been stupid of me not to accept her offer. Dinner at their house generally lasted for most of the evening, especially if they had guests. They would eat, drink, and then talk for hours while their children made their way upstairs for their own brand of fun. That night was different. Conner and I sat at opposite ends of the table, and he refused to look at me. His mood affected everyone and created an atmosphere that took the shine off what should have been an evening of celebration. Fixing the barn themselves was a considerable achievement, and vital to their chances of securing the financial backing they needed to be successful. It was more important than any teenage romance, but who am I to judge. I felt terrible, but I took comfort in the knowledge that I acted as honourably as I could, even if he didn’t believe me. At nine o’clock, Conner’s mom dropped me outside my house for the last time, and I kissed her on the cheek. “Thank you for all the rides you’ve given me,” I said. “And for making me welcome in your house. I’m sorry if I hurt Conner.” She smiled and gave me a bag of Swedish sweet pastry. “That’s okay, dear. It was nice of you to help out today. It says a lot about you. I wouldn’t worry about Conner; I’m sure he’ll be okay.” I was sure he would too. Conner had a lot going for him and could be a nice guy when he wanted. He must have felt bad being dropped for Nathan because on paper, he probably had him beat, but who can guess the human heart. As my mom always used to say. ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.
  14. Thank you @Jon Jon The story is set to conclude this year on or around Canadian Thanksgiving, which is October 12 or roughly one month from now. There are a handful of chapters remaining which are being edited and these will be posted as soon as they become available. I'm happy with the way the story ends although not every loose end is neatly tied-up. Thank you for your support, I hope you enjoy the final few chapters.
  15. Very good point. Nathan will likely use this against him at some point in the future and Robbie is unlikely to be as generous second time around.
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