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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. "I decided to put her mind at rest that evening, but she didn’t show up, so maybe it wasn’t such a big deal after all." Admittedly it's an easy one to miss tucked away at the end of the last paragraph. I think a few people were confused by this.
  2. I never get togged up, but I wouldn't mind occasionally.
  3. A great question and some encouraging responses. The general theme seems to be that writers will find a way to write and be creative, even if the rest of the world is upside down. I've also been creative. I've become very localized, focusing on the small community where I live and staying away from the big city. My income has taken a battering, but I've got to know my neighbours a lot better and made a fascinating discovery.
  4. If Don was to paint himself as a rainbow, march at the head of pride, donate all his money and free time to gay causes, and somehow discover the cure to Coronavirus, I still don't think most of the readers would be prepared to forgive him. As for Alex. We know he's a bully and he may even have reason to dislike Nathan, but I doubt if he would be capable of such a vicious assault. If you annoy Alex you're likely to end up with a black eye and maybe missing a couple of teeth but not in the hospital with those kind of injuries.
  5. The last thing he needs for sure. Robbie is nowhere near mature enough to be a father, but we don't know for sure if this is the case.
  6. It may be too late now for Don to redeem himself with his family. It's hard to see how he would be able to do that. Perhaps he will see the error of his ways and choose to go down with his ship, or he could simply implode as Jo suggested.
  7. There has been a definite power shift in the house and the kids have played a big part in this, particularly Nicola, who, it seems has now thrown her weight behind Robbie. The fact that Don can no longer buy her allegiance represents a significant blow for Don's futile attempt to control his family. He may not be a thoroughly bad person. Maybe he's not as bad as Robbie wants him to be. We don't know yet, but we know Don has made some fundamental mistakes and allowed ignorance and bigotry to destroy the family he wanted to protect.
  8. It sounds crazy but Robbie would have preferred Don to find something. Jo had prepared him for it and he knew what to do. This probably means that Don isn't involved in any attempt to set up Nathan, which complicates things. Just when Robbie was starting to get the better of him. Don has lost a lot of his bite recently and thanks to Jo, Robbie has become increasingly confident when dealing with parents. His newfound confidence has resulted in him becoming more confrontational, as you rightly point out, to the point of stupidity and that highlights perhaps his biggest issue. Robbie doesn't know his limitations. Most people know how far they can push someone. There's always a line you can't cross, but he has no natural understanding of where this line is, so he keeps pushing until the person he's pushing snaps. He's done it with everyone, not just Don and Sue, or people in authority, but also his friends and even boyfriends. This is an issue that will need to be addressed if he's ever to hold down a long term relationship.
  9. I'm guessing it's searching through Robbie's stuff without just cause and then not bothering to apologize when he couldn't find anything. Nathan's honesty may cost him in the short term but be beneficial in the long run. Perhaps Robbie should take note.
  10. I doubt if anything Robbie does will make Don douchecanoe happy and he doesn't deserve to be happy either.
  11. While I slumped in the armchair, resigned to an outcome that seemed no longer in doubt, Sue was sitting on the couch opposite leaning forward with her head in her hands. She looked as though she had at least thought about what I said, and the fact that she hadn’t dismissed it outright provided a glimmer of hope. It would have been asking a lot of most people to believe their partner was capable of something so despicable, but she didn’t laugh at me or shout me down. She didn’t do or say anything. She just sat there deep in thought, like she was trying to look for holes in his story, a reason to believe I was telling the truth. I was now confident Nathan was set up. Either by the police or by whoever attacked him. It was the only thing that made any sense. Nathan had told me stuff I would never repeat no matter how bad things got between us. I was privy to his innermost secrets, hopes, fears, and desires. The type of information that is only ever shared between lovers. Daniel may have known him forever, but I knew him better, and not once had I ever seen him use drugs. Daniel broke the silence, appearing at the top of the stairs and looking distraught. “What’s going on. Why is dad searching my room?” “He’s looking for drugs,” I said. Sue stared at me as if I had just divulged a family secret, but I refused to be a part of this charade. Daniel deserved to know; it was his room too, and it made sense he would also be under suspicion, although a part of me already knew he wouldn’t. “He’s what?” Daniel spun around to go back downstairs, but Sue called him back. “No,” he said. “I don’t have any drugs, and I don’t want him looking through my things.” “I don’t blame you; it’s a bit of a shitty thing to do, isn’t it! I mean, he could have just asked us.” My voice and body language reflected the inevitability of what was about to happen. There was not a shred of doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t find something; it was just a matter of how much. For all I knew, he could have found kilos of the stuff hidden under the floorboards, along with briefcases filled with cash, and enough guns to start a civil war. If he had the police on his side, anything was possible, and I was confident the good people of Cobourg would believe every word. Particularly if it involved Nathan; the boy who refused to hide his sexuality, openly ridiculed Don and his friends, and replaced the traditional school nativity play with a sordid, Oscar Wilde type rendition of Peter Pan. Cobourg clearly wasn’t ready for Nathan, and many would see this as divine retribution. He had it coming. It was just a matter of time before he got caught doing something really bad. Despite Sue insisting he stay with us, Daniel marched back downstairs, presumably to have words with his dad. It was the first time I had seen him openly defy her, and I wondered if my actions earlier had anything to do with it. The family seemed to be disintegrating in front of my eyes, and soon Nicola joined the fray. She scoffed when I told her about Nathan. “I know the kids who sell drugs at school,” she said. “And Nathan isn’t one of them. It’s ridiculous.” “How do you know these people?” demanded Sue. “Oh, come on, Mom. You don’t have to buy them to know who's selling. Word goes around, and it’s not like they’re the smartest kids either.” “I would have thought they would want to keep it quiet,” said Sue. “Really? How are they supposed to sell anything if nobody knows what they’re doing?” Nicola had a point. I had also heard rumours about certain kids in school, and Alex was one of them, but Nathan’s name had never been mentioned. “So why is Robbie under suspicion?” “He’s not, dear.” “But he’s searching his room. I don’t get it. What’s the connection? It would make more sense for him to search my room.” “It’s a setup,” I said. “Mom, this has to stop.” Nicola circled the room, looking frustrated and angry. “Dad has to stop behaving like this!” In the past, my sister was loyal up until a point, but that day, I got the impression she had finally seen enough. A generous allowance and a do-as-you-please lifestyle could no longer guarantee her compliance. Daddy’s little girl had not only turned but was biting the hand that fed her. It must have come as a shock to Don, who, in the beginning, relied on her to keep me in line. Nicola was his chosen deputy, the one he trusted to run the house in their absence. It piled even more pressure on Sue, and I was beginning to feel sorry for her. Caught between her kids and a bullying husband, while forever trying paper over the cracks. At times it seemed she was the only one trying to keep the ship afloat, desperately bailing out, while water poured in at twice the rate. We were already up to our necks; it was only a matter of time before we went under. Don was fast running out of options. Finding drugs in my room would hand him back the control he craved. It was a serious offence that would require a tough stance and some difficult decisions. If he could nail this on me, then he could do whatever he wanted under the guise of protecting me from a well-documented evil, and everyone else would have to fall into line. While my sister remonstrated with her mom, I ran through a quick checklist in my head. Jo had told me what I needed to do, but staying calm was going to be difficult, and by the time Don came back upstairs, I was ready for another confrontation. I took a deep breath and kept my eyes on him the whole time as he walked into the living room and then straight past me to his study. Sue followed him at twice the speed and then Nicola, who was the first to emerge with a satisfied smile on her face. Moments later, Sue closed the door behind her and walked smartly over to where I was sitting. She too sported a friendly face, not what you would expect from a mother who just discovered her child was a drug addict. She crouched next to my armchair and put her hand on my knee. I waited for the verdict, but I didn’t need to, Don’s absence spoke volumes. “Are you hungry, dear? You missed your lunch.” “What’s that supposed to mean?” “It means you were telling us the truth. I’m sorry he had to do that.” Inside I was ready to explode. It didn’t make sense. I was convinced he would find something. Now I was angrier than ever. I was prepared for every outcome except that one. ‘What’s he fucking playing at’? I jumped from my seat, shaking with rage. “That doesn’t mean anything! He’s the one who should be apologising, not you!” I pointed towards the study, hoping to goad Don into another fight, but he stayed in there, maybe to fall onto his sword. “I told you I don’t take drugs. That was wrong. He has no right to search through my things. They’re personal. How would you like it? This is an invasion of my privacy. It’s against my human rights and stuff like that. I would call the police if this shitty little town had any. It’s a violation of my … of my … of my.” Sue, Nicola, and Daniel watched in silence from the safety of the kitchen until I ran out of things to say. It seemed to be a new tactic of theirs, which infuriated me even more. Only Amy dared to approach me from the top of the stairs. She was fearless and wore a cunning smile as she pulled my sleeve to whisper in my ear. “Ask mom if you can take me to the Dairy Queen.” I stood up straight, looking bewildered. “Go on,” she said, pushing me towards the kitchen. “Do it!” Amy could tame me at will, and she must have known her guilt-ridden mother wasn’t going to deny me such a request. I probably could have got a lot more, but I was still grounded, and Sue had to drive us there and back. In my room, while it was clear Don had searched my belongings, nothing was left out. He hadn’t ransacked the place or left everything in a mess as I imagined, but there were tell-tale signs everywhere I looked. There was a box I made in school that I kept in my suitcase on top of the wardrobe. Inside were mementoes I collected over the years. These were my most personal belongings; stuff I cherished, like photographs of my mom, her swimming medals, and a shrivelled up flower from her funeral. There was a ticket from the first football game I attended with Tom, and the postcard he sent me from his holiday in Greece. Even the tacky synthetic rose from my first date with Fran. When I looked, the lid of the box had been put on back to front, and that was something I would never do. There was nothing in there I wouldn’t have shown someone if asked, but the thought of him looking without my permission hurt me in a way I couldn’t explain. * * * In school, the next day, Nathan’s name was on everyone’s lips. He would have revelled in all the attention had he been there, but the gossip wasn’t very flattering. It was common knowledge he was at the Palm Springs Motel, but there were numerous versions of why he was there. So far, though, I hadn’t heard anything about the supposed drugs. I spent lunchtime with Rory trying to ignore the gossip, but it wasn’t possible to avoid Stephanie. She grabbed a chair from an adjoining table and sat down next to me in a space that didn’t exist. It was unusual for her to show up at our table, and her proximity made me nervous. “If you want to know about Nathan, I don’t know any more than anyone else.” “I know,” she said. “It’s not about Nathan.” I shared a confused glance with Rory as we waited for her to continue, but she just sat there looking at her phone. I figured she was avoiding someone. Maybe the unwanted attention of a boy? “Nicola told me you were sick,” I said as I moved my chair away to create some daylight between us. “Nothing contagious, I hope.” It was only meant to be a joke, and Stephanie usually laughed at most things, even if they weren’t funny, but that day she seemed distracted. It was unlike her, and I wondered if she was still feeling unwell. “Are you okay?” “What?” “I asked if you were okay?” “You don’t have to worry, Robbie. You can’t catch it!” Stephanie wasn’t usually rude, and as far as I knew had no reason to be angry at me, but her curt reply turned a few heads in our direction. I could have done without the extra attention on a day when I was trying to keep a low profile. “Sorry, I was only asking.” She flashed me a smile, but she couldn’t sustain it for long. “I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong with me, but I need to talk to you.” “Okay.” I looked at my watch; we had ten minutes of lunch remaining. “Go ahead.” “I can go and sit with David if you guys wanna talk alone,” said Rory, but when he tried to stand up, she grabbed his arm to stop him. “It’s okay, Rory, you don’t have to leave. Are you gonna be at home this evening?” She was speaking to me, and I nodded. “I’m grounded.” “What again?” There was a hint of amusement on her face as she stood up to leave. “I’ll see you later.” I watched her walk away and scratched my head. “What was all that about?” asked Rory. “Who knows? Something to do with Nicola probably.” Despite my claim of ignorance, I had a pretty good idea of what was bugging Stephanie. She wasn’t the best at keeping secrets, and it seemed likely she had let the cat out of the bag and told someone about our night together. If this was the case, then she was worrying over nothing. I had already told Conner, and I wasn’t concerned about anyone else finding out. Stephanie was a nice looking girl. Gossip like that could only enhance my reputation at school and throw a few of the homophobes into a spin. There was nothing they hated more than a gay guy getting off with a hot chick. She was the one who had stressed the importance of keeping it quiet, and I always got the impression she wasn’t particularly proud of what happened. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was Nicola’s brother, or if she just considered me a dork, but whatever it was, it worried her more than it did me. I decided to put her mind at rest that evening, but she didn’t show up, so maybe it wasn’t such a big deal after all. * * * On Wednesday, Daniel and I went straight from school to meet Sue at the hospital. It was a place I knew well, and everyone seemed to know me. Even the cleaners stopped to ask me how I was, but my favourite nurse, Lorna, had already gone home. Sue had also finished her shift and was still in uniform when she took us to Nathan’s room. Outside, she held our hands and told us what to expect. “I want you to be prepared for how he looks because it’s going to shock you. The swelling and bruising make it look a lot worse than it is. It’s important to remember that and not look too upset. He’s very conscious of his appearance.” That was an understatement. This was Nathan, the boy who would take a day off school if he got a zit. I could only imagine how he must have felt. As I followed Sue into his room, I remembered a conversation I had with Nathan’s sister. She was telling me how much his family worried about him. They were frightened his personality would one day make him a target. I kept replaying Karen’s words as we approached his bed, like some chilling prophecy that was destined to come to fruition. Nathan’s face was badly swollen down one side, and he could only open one eye. He had tubes up his nose and traces of dried blood around his nostrils, where tiny stitches ran diagonally across the top of the biggest fat lip I had ever seen. The bruises varied in colour and intensity but covered most of his once-perfect complexion. Despite my best efforts, the sight of him in real life, lying bruised and beaten, was difficult to take, and I struggled to hold back tears. Daniel was more composed, so I stood back and allowed him to talk first, while I stared at Nathan’s heavily bandaged forearms. They were set in plaster, and it didn’t look as if he could move them. I got the feeling he was sedated because he looked fatigued, and I wasn’t even sure if he recognised us at first. It was a while before he said anything, and when he did, his speech was slurred, and his lips hardly moved. “Why are you here?” His question was directed at all of us, and I understood his anger. He didn’t want anyone to see him like that, and his frustration was evident as he tried to look away and hide his face. It was a heart-wrenching moment, and I felt the need to hold onto Daniel as he wiped away tears with the back of his hand. My mouth was open, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. Sue wasn’t so timid. She walked around the bed to tell him off, speaking to him as a nurse even though she was off duty. “Nathan, they’re your friends. They’ve come to see you because they care about you. Don’t ignore them; they’re not worried about how you look.” She used a remote control to change the position of his bed, lifting his back until he was almost sitting upright. “Is that more comfortable?” she said, before muting the television above the bed. “You can watch that when we leave.” Nathan must have hated her fussing over him, and I could see the consternation on his battered face as Sue told him to lift his head while she fluffed his pillow. She was firm, and I got the feeling she needed to be with such an accomplished performer. “Everyone’s asking about you in school,” said Daniel, and he pulled a giant card from his bag to show him. Written on it were messages of support and best wishes from his friends, teachers, and most of the kids in their homeroom. I thought it was a cool thing for Daniel to do, and he was rewarded with a tiny smile that melted my heart. Nathan had a lot more friends than he thought, and Daniel read out a few of the messages before placing the card on a shelf behind the bed. “That’s cool,” said Nathan. “I’m sorry for making you worry.” “You don’t have to be sorry,” said Daniel. “It wasn’t your fault.” “It was.” Then he looked at me. “They got me. I told you they always win in the end.” “Who got you?” asked Daniel. “Who did it?” Sue looked annoyed. “Daniel, the police are dealing with it.” “I was stupid,” said Nathan. “I trusted someone.” “Who?” I asked. “I met him on a dating site. Over Christmas. He said he was twenty-two. Told me he lived in Port Hope. I know it was dumb.” He spoke slowly, pausing at the end of each sentence, and at times he was difficult to understand. He was having trouble moving his top lip to form the words and looked and sounded like a bad ventriloquist. It seemed to hurt him when he talked, and it hurt us almost as much to watch. “He seemed nice. We exchanged pictures. I should’ve known it was too good to be true.” As he spoke, his emotions gradually got the better of him. Nathan rarely cried, so it was heartbreaking to see him sob so openly. I wanted to hug him, but Sue beat me to it. “It’s okay, dear,” she said. “You don’t need to explain.” “No, I do. I know what people are thinking,” said Nathan. He composed himself, while Daniel and I wrung our hands and looked at the floor. “He messaged me on Saturday. Asking if I wanted to hook up.” Nathan looked around the room, making eye contact with each of us before continuing. “I knew what he meant. I’m not ashamed to say it.” I felt so sorry for him. Despite what he said, his words were coated with shame; it showed on his face and in his tears. There was no need, but it was unavoidable. We were conditioned to think that way, and even Nathan wasn’t able to shake off those shackles. “You did nothing wrong.” I needed to tell him that, but it wasn’t my opinion that mattered, or Daniel’s, or even Sue’s, but society in general. I knew what most people would think. “I trusted him,” said Nathan as if it were suddenly a crime. “I was stupid. He didn’t want sex; he wanted to hurt me.” Nathan stopped crying and was remarkably calm as he talked us through the attack. “He was nice to me at first. We were just talking. Then, without warning, he started punching me and calling me names. The usual ones; he wasn’t very imaginative.” “Why?” asked Daniel. “He was crazy. He grabbed my throat and tried to strangle me, so I bit his arm. I bit him as hard as I could. It hurt him quite badly. That’s when he hit me with the chair. I tried to protect my face. I don’t remember anything else.” There was a long silence as Nathan turned his attention to the muted television above his head. The Prime Minister was giving a speech. “I met him once.” “Do you know his name?” asked Daniel. “Stephen Harper, he’s the Prime Minister.” “What? No, I mean the guy who attacked you.” The confusion brought a brief but welcome smile to my ex-boyfriend’s face and even a little chuckle. “You dimwit,” I said, but it was a relief to hear him laugh. “Nathan was able to give the police a pretty good description,” said Sue. “He was using a false name on social media. It’s easy to do. They got his DNA, fingerprints, and he’s even on video leaving the room.” “Plus, I gotta chunk of his arm,” said Nathan. I was proud of him. Nathan was tougher than he looked. I knew he wouldn’t go down without a fight. “Why haven’t they found him yet then? Are they even looking?” My brother was angry and frustrated. “I need to use the bathroom.” He pushed past me, covering his face. Nathan looked worried. “Daniel’s upset. I didn’t mean to.” I thought it was sweet of Nathan to be concerned for his friend. When I looked at Sue, she flicked her eyes towards the door. “Can you go and see if he’s okay?” I found my brother in the men’s washroom splashing water on his face. “I didn’t mean to upset Nathan,” he said. “But I’m so angry. I wanna kill the person who did that to him.” “You and me both.” “I just don’t know what’s going on lately. All this talk about drugs. I’m scared he’s got mixed up in something bad.” He rested his head on my shoulder and put his arms around my waist, so I hugged him back. These random hugs were becoming a habit. I didn’t mind, but on this occasion, we were attracting attention. “This probably isn’t the best place for a cuddle,” I said, pushing him off me. “What would Nathan think.” Daniel followed me into the corridor. “He would probably be jealous.” I agreed, but I wasn’t sure which one of us he would be jealous of. “Both,” said Nathan after I joked about our bathroom rendezvous. “I love you both like brothers.” I thought it was sweet of him, but it wasn’t what I wanted to hear from the boy to whom I was ready to pledge my undying love. I thought maybe he was trying to tell me something, warning me of possible rejection. It was something he would do to avoid hurting me, but it hurt me all the same. Sue was trying to explain how the plaster casts on his arms worked. She was keen to focus on healing rather than the cause of his injuries. “His bones should mend completely, but it will take time.” “I might have trouble going through a metal detector,” said Nathan. He was referring to the small metal plate in his right arm. It was the reason for his surgery. “But I probably won't be allowed to go anywhere anyway.” He looked at me. “You heard about the drugs they found?” “Nathan, dear. You don’t need to talk about this,” said Sue, but he brushed her concerns aside. “They said they found them in the room. But they weren’t mine. They were his. He took them from his coat to show me. Before he went crazy.” “We believe you, don’t we Sue.” I stared at her demanding her support, and she nodded, but I could tell she wasn’t convinced. “No one’s gonna believe me.” “Of course they will,” said Daniel, but Nathan looked resigned and shook his head. “My fingerprints are on the bag, and I booked the room. Ginny did it like she did for ….” He stopped to look at Sue. “It’s okay,” I said. “She knows.” “I don’t get it,” said Daniel. “How did your prints get on the bag?” “He was showing them to me. He wanted me to buy some.” “Is that why he attacked you because you wouldn’t buy his drugs?” “No, I already told him I would buy some. That was the other reason we met up.” I glanced at Daniel as Nathan’s words sunk in. ‘Conner was right’. “I didn’t know you used that stuff. Why?” He looked at me through teary eyes. “Because they made me feel good. I don’t need to explain to you or anyone. You have no right to judge me!” “I’m sorry.” I tried to grab his hand but found only the tops of his fingers protruding from the plaster casts. He hadn’t moved his arms since we got there, but his fingers were warm, and I held onto them, unwilling to let him go. “I’m not judging you, Nathan. I wouldn’t do that.” I was a mess. It should have been him who was crying, not me. He was always tougher than I was, and it showed as he stared into space with a determined expression while I wiped my tears. “You're crying on my cast.” “What?” “My cast. The things on my arms. I’m not supposed to get them wet.” I apologised, as Sue handed me a tissue. “It’s okay,” he said and then glanced down at his hand where I was rolling his fingers in mine without thinking. I stopped when I saw him looking, but he didn’t say anything, and I didn’t let go. “How long will it be before they come off?” “Eight weeks,” said Sue. She jumped at the chance to steer the conversation away from sex and drugs but was visibly shaken by Nathan’s admission. Daniel was the same. Don would probably be doing backflips when he found out if he didn’t know already. He would see this as justification for his hardline stance against a boy who had caused him the most amount of trouble. It couldn’t have worked out better for him. Now he would have a reason to stop Daniel from seeing Nathan, and he would try to stop me too, although this was looking increasingly unlikely. Sue must have realised that as she watched us together. I had already left enough clues to warn her of my intentions. I wasn’t about to abandon my ex-boyfriend or think badly of him because of drugs, and I wanted everyone to know that. It wasn’t as if he was the first kid to try them. I grew up in the age of party drugs. In London, it was a huge industry and a problem that could not be contained. Cocaine and ecstasy, glamorised by pop stars and supermodels, had become a big part of the youth culture, and an integral part of the club scene. It was cool to do those drugs, and if I hadn’t been shipped off to Canada, I probably would have used them too. After a long silence, Nathan and I spoke at the same time, asking each other the same question. “Are you okay?” It brought a smile to his face. “I’m fine,” he said. “Don’t worry; it’s not like I was using them every day or anything. Just occasionally, like at the party.” My eyes told Nathan to choose his words carefully. I could see Sue from the corner of my eye, making mental notes of everything we said. If she ever got wind of the true nature of Ginny’s party, I would likely be grounded forever. Daniel was still trying to work it out. “I don’t get it. Why would he leave the drugs in the room when he left? They’re expensive, right?” “That’s what the police want to know.” “Maybe he forgot about them,” said Daniel. “He was probably in a panic to leave.” “Or he left them behind deliberately to set you up,” I said. Nathan was finding it difficult to keep talking. He was obviously in a lot of pain. “He’s talked more in the last hour than he has in the whole of the past three days,” said Sue. It was a highly charged and emotional visit that confused the hell out of everyone, and I wasn’t surprised when Sue decided we needed to go. She would see him again in the morning, but I would have to wait until Sunday when I wasn’t grounded. I walked around the bed to kiss him on his good cheek. “Do you want me to bring you anything? Fruit, sweets, something to suck on?” He laughed. “You can choose; you know what I like.” Then as I went to walk away, he called me back. “I’ve never done that before,” he said. “Hook up with a stranger. I just wanted you to know.” He didn’t need to explain, but I was glad he did. I think I already knew. “Robbie!” Sue’s voice made me jump. She was holding the door open and urging me to get a move on. “Say hi to Lorna for me.” As I passed Sue, she tried to swat me on the arm. “Ouch, what are you doing? That’s child abuse, you know. I could have you arrested.” I could hear Nathan laughing to himself at my antics in the corridor, and that was priceless. * * * Being forced to stay indoors while everyone else was out having fun was something I had gotten used to since joining the family, although admittedly, the majority of the time, it was my fault. If I could have learned to keep my mouth shut like Daniel, or chosen my words more carefully like Nicola, then I would have had a lot more freedom and fewer nights like Friday. “Sometimes, it seems like you're looking for a confrontation,” said Daniel. “It’s almost like you want to get yourself grounded.” He stood in front of the mirror, combing his hair and looking spruce ahead of his third date with his new girlfriend. I was lying face down on my bed, feeling sorry for myself. Earlier, I had to turn down an invitation from Rory and David to go bowling. It was especially disappointing since Rory was going to be on his own—a rare night out without Rebecca on his arm. The bowling alley was only a stone’s throw from the Rainbow Cinema where Daniel was taking Ratana, and they had agreed to meet up afterwards for something to eat. After a final look in the mirror, Daniel stood by my bed and tried to console me. “Next time, think before you say something. She didn’t want to ground you. You forced her to do it.” It was old advice. Nicola said the same thing earlier when she left with Mr Lube, and I had heard it at least a dozen times from Sue over the course of the week. They were wasting their breath. Maybe one day, I would learn, but it didn’t look like happening any time soon. “Have a good time. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” “Is there anything you wouldn’t do?” “Nope.” “I didn’t think so.” I waited until I heard him say goodbye to Sue, before closing the bedroom door and changing into a pair of shorts. The internet would be my friend for the night, and Nicola had written down the password so I could turn off the parental controls. It was a stupid rule anyway. I could understand them wanting to protect Amy from porn, but there wasn’t much to see on the internet that I hadn’t already tried in real life, or so I thought. ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me.’ The guy in the video didn’t look that old, but he had an anal opening the size of the Channel Tunnel, with nearly the same volume of traffic. The latest dick to slip effortlessly inside him would have put Alex to shame. Having almost cried in agony from the insertion of a penis a third of the size, I winced in sympathy. He disguised it well, but it had to hurt, and the man on top was relentless, pounding him like a jackhammer. In recent weeks, I had endured similar attacks on my rear end by an equally excitable Conner, albeit with a much smaller tool, and I was watching more out of morbid fascination than anything else. My dick had lost interest ages ago, just like it did whenever Conner fucked me. At least the guy in the video was wearing a condom, which he yanked off before a vociferous, but ultimately disappointing money shot. I switched to my email the moment I heard Sue coming downstairs. It was gone ten-thirty, and she was usually past prying by then, but she had some news for me, which apparently couldn’t wait until the morning. “I’ve decided to cancel your punishment a day early,” she said. “So, you're no longer grounded.” I was typing an email to Rory and stopped to look up at her. I thought it was an odd time to tell me. “It’s a bit late now. I’ll have to be back here in an hour.” “Do you have to be so petulant all the time? You can go out tomorrow. I know Conner wanted you to go to his house for a meal.” “I would rather have gone out tonight with Rory and David.” “Well, maybe in future you’ll learn not to be so argumentative.” I went back to typing my email. “I doubt it.” Sue’s frustration only encouraged me to keep defying her. Unlike her bully of a husband, she was never comfortable disciplining her kids, and she never had to before I arrived. It was a weakness I exploited to the full, and I couldn’t stop myself, even when it hurt me. She stood behind me, exhausted by my stubborn refusal to give in. “I’m not your enemy, Robbie.” “I didn’t say you were.” I threw her a look like she was crazy for even suggesting such a thing. “Why are you, undressed anyway?” At times, Sue was so dumb. ‘Why would any teenage boy be undressed while browsing the internet’? “I was getting ready for bed.” I got the feeling she would have accepted any answer rather than me tell her the truth, so maybe she shouldn’t have asked. I wouldn’t always be willing to spare her embarrassment. “Okay, dear. Daniel will be home soon, so don’t stay up too late.” I closed the door again when she reached the top of the stairs, but my internet activity was stifled by the news that I was free. I got the feeling Sue wasn’t cancelling my punishment out of the goodness of her heart. She wanted me to go to Conner’s house because she liked him. He was their chosen one—golden bollocks. I decided it should be his nickname. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to his party, but two weeks without sex and a night spent watching porn tipped the balance in his favour. Sex was sex, and I convinced myself I needed it, so I called him on Skype to break the news. I was sure Conner would cream his pants when I told him I could go, but he looked surprised like he didn’t expect me to get off that easy. “Actually the party’s been cancelled. I was gonna let you know, but I figured you would still be grounded.” “Cancelled? How come?” “Ah, it’s nothing. The bank pulled out of the deal at the last minute, which means we don’t have the funding to build the new dairy extension after all.” It sounded like a bit more than nothing to me. I knew his dad had invested everything he had into his farm. Their entire future was wrapped up in that deal. “Can they do that?” “They’re a bank; they can do anything. Look, Robbie, you got your own problems. You don’t have to worry about us. I’m pretty sure something will turn up. We’re not dead and buried just yet.” He tried to sound upbeat, but I could tell he was upset. It showed on his face, and Conner was a poor actor. I felt sorry for his family; they were good people who worked hard and deserved better. “I’m sorry. What will happen now?” “We have to try and get the money from someplace else. The problem is we’ve only got a few weeks to do it.” I wasn’t sure why that was, and I didn’t want to ask. “I shouldn’t be telling you this. It’s not your problem. I told you, things will work out. I know they will. But you can still come and see me tomorrow; we can find a reason to celebrate.” He looked like he needed cheering up, and I needed to get out of the house after a week stuck indoors. I told him I would go providing I could be back early on Sunday to visit Nathan. Conner’s face lit up, probably because he knew he would get his oats, but I was looking for a more immediate solution. I tried dropping a few hints, but they were too subtle, and I didn’t have a lot of time, so I pulled off my t-shirt and fanned my face. “It’s so hot in here. Are you hot, Conner?” “No, it’s cold here. What are you doing?” I had my hand inside my shorts. “What does it look like?” Suddenly I had his full attention. “Is this why you’re Skyping me? Do you wanna have some fun right now?” It seemed like an exciting thing to do and a better option than jerking off on my own to porn, so I stood up and surprised him by dropping my shorts. “Do you want me to jerk off for you, Conner?” My boyfriend looked like he had just won the lottery. He ordered me to stay put while he ran across his room to shut the door. When he appeared in front of the camera again, I was sitting in my chair, pulling on my dick. “Oh, shit. Wait for me. Fuck, I wasn’t expecting this.” I stopped and laughed when I saw him struggling to remove his jeans, and then nearly rolled up at the sight of his long johns. It was the only house I knew where you had to wear thermal underwear indoors. There was something incredibly erotic about jerking off to Conner on Skype. I was still a novice at webcam sex, but the advantages were obvious. I knew how to please myself better than he did, and was prepared to explore my body in ways he would never do, even if I asked him. I wasn’t interested in what he was doing, and he didn’t look very appealing in his thermals, so I concentrated on my performance, knowing what effect I was having on him. I was hot and horny and needed a prop. There was a pencil in my drawer, and Conner’s eyes looked as though they were about to leave their sockets when he saw what I was doing with it. His reaction encouraged me to go further, and I leaned back in the chair and hooked my leg over the arm to please myself on both fronts. When I glanced at the screen, Conner’s arm was just a blur, and his face contorted. “I wish this pencil was you, Conner.” ‘Am I really doing this’? With no lock on the door, I was gambling on Sue staying upstairs and Daniel not coming home early. The consequences of getting caught in such a compromising position would be an unimaginable embarrassment. Yet, once again, it was the fear that made it so exciting. Like it was with Tom in his tiny bed, watching his door as we fumbled in the dark, terrified someone would walk in. Or with Nathan in the boy’s washrooms after school, and a few weeks later in the shower, while everyone else slept. A little vocal encouragement did the trick. He liked it when I talked dirty, and it was a useful tool to get him to finish. Under the circumstances, this was more important than ever, and I was pleased to see him cross the line, before doing the same a few minutes later. I was lucky not to fall off the chair, and the pencil nearly disappeared completely as I bucked my hips and sprayed myself with happy juice. After pulling on my shorts, I sat back in the chair, blushing and giggling, with embarrassment. ‘Don’s right. I am a slut’. “Fuck, that was hot,” said Conner. “You were really horny.” “It was probably looking at your golden bollocks that did it.” I wiped my stomach with my t-shirt and tossed it in the laundry basket. “Sorry for likening your dick to a pencil.” “We should do that more often.” “How about tomorrow. Same time, same place?” I would have been happy to keep him as a virtual boyfriend, someone I could switch on and off whenever I fancied, but I knew Conner would want a little more input. It was ironic that the best sex we had was when we were apart, and it was the only time he didn’t hurt me.
  12. Thank you for your kind words. Glad you've enjoyed it. I can promise a chaotic but entertaining ending.
  13. That would really throw the cat among the pigeons.
  14. I don't think Jo takes a vacation, but Alex definitely needs her help and he seems to have gone missing again after promising to tell Robbie something he needs to know!
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