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Jack Ladd

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About Jack Ladd

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  • Age in Years
    26
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    Male
  • Sexuality
    Gay
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    Everything
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    UK

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  1. Jack Ladd

    Part 30

    It is indeed. But without giving too much away, I can assure you Oscar gets the help he needs. This is the first in the series that explores and develops his personal growth: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36126476-oscar-down-under Thanks for your feedback
  2. Jack Ladd

    Part 29

    Thank you for the comments guys. Oscar is indeed closing off his feelings, and I agree, at another time and another place, perhaps he and Tim could be so much more. Unfortunately, before Oscar can realise he's in a bad place and change, he still needs to make a lot more mistakes. I'll be uploading a new story soon that continues his journey at university, so watch this space
  3. Jack Ladd

    Part 30

    Thanks RolandQ, you're too kind. I really appreciate your feedback. Re: phenomenal sex, Oscar's next tale, Oscar Bachelor of Arts, is sure to have what you were looking for ... Coming soon
  4. Jack Ladd

    Part 30

    I should have told him the truth. That I loved him. Explained to Tim, the first man to make my heart soar inside my chest like a lone bird in the dead of night, that there was no wonder he didn’t “get me”. I should have told him that the kind of person who does the kind of things I’d done isn’t reasonable. Or understandable. Or normal. I should have told him that I was fucked-up, poisoned and lost. I should have explained, begged him to forgive me, that since my mum had left and my dad had rotted away with loneliness, I didn’t know how to be good or kind or honest. I didn’t know how to love. How to express it or feel it. And worst of all, I didn’t know how to recognise it. Love wasn’t on my radar. Now I know love. I see it and feel it. And, most importantly, understand why I hadn’t. Why at eighteen I was unwilling to accept how afraid and alone I was because I’d been abandoned. Tossed aside and forgotten by the people who had supposed to have loved me the most. They had, for a while. I’d tasted a good life. A normal life. But then they’d left and my world hadn’t just flipped, it had flipped, fissured and imploded until only miniscule chunks of ripped apart memories were left, spinning and spiralling in the gaping, icy void left inside my head and heart. My mother gone without a goodbye. My father distorted beyond recognition. My parents snuffing out the embers of happiness in cruel, cold, selfish instants. Everybody leaves. But that’s the so-called beauty of hindsight, isn’t it? Only knowing which path to walk thanks to the clarity of the future. It all seems so clear looking to the past. So easy and obvious away from the storm of confusion raging and thrashing around the present. I should have told him. Told him everything. But I didn’t. Because I didn’t know any better. Want to know a sad secret? Truth is, I learned the importance and power of honesty four years and many miles away from that fateful afternoon at Mr. Price’s, dumbstruck and destroyed and unable to convince him to keep me. Tim was just the beginning. The beginning of my descent into depravity. ‘I’m waiting for your answer,’ he said, still standing over me; still staring me down; still furious. I wanted to speak. Say something. Anything. But I was still lost for words. Still stuck between gutted and horrified. Powerless to make an excuse or lie quick enough. Unable to find a solution to make everything go back to how it was. Back to the two of us. Just him and me, in his car and out of town. Far away from his ex-wife and my nightmares. Far away from my stupid lies. Far away from everything. ‘All I can say is I’m sorry,’ I said, accepting the truth that there was no way out. No dishonesty big enough or clever enough. ‘That’s all you’ve got?’ he said. ‘Please, Tim. It won’t happen again. I promise.’ ‘It won’t happen again?’ ‘Never.’ ‘You don’t get it, do you?’ he said. ‘I do!’ ‘No, you don’t! You’re like a child in the classroom. Apologising for the sake of it. Saying you won’t do it again because that’s what you think you’re meant to say. But you don’t even know what you did or why it hurts, do you?’ ‘I do, I do. I lied to you.’ ‘And?’ And? And what? ‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘You see, Oscar. This is what I’m talking about. You knew my story. You knew my wife left me because of Adam. You must have known, or at least realised how confusing and fucked up a situation that was for me. But you used it.’ ‘No I didn’t.’ ‘Yes, you did.’ ‘How?’ Shaking his head, he took another swig of beer. But this time he slammed the bottle down on the dining table. Glass collided against wood and made me jump. Amber liquid fizzed white and foamed down the bottle neck and over his knuckles. He didn’t even move. Didn’t flinch. Didn’t look down. Just let the beer run over him and onto the table as his empty eyes punctured through me. Seeing me for exactly what and who I am. ‘You think I wanted to tell you that story?’ he said, barely able to control the fury in his voice. ‘You think I wanted to remember? Dredge up the past? Parade my skeletons for your amusement?’ ‘No,’ I muttered. ‘So what do you think I would have wanted?’ ‘I don’t know,’ I said again, looking at my hands, locked tight together in my lap. For a moment, there was silence. I looked up into his eyes and he looked away. Then, letting out a deep breath through his mouth, his thick lips pursing, he hung his shaved head and rubbed his crown. Fingernails gently scratched against stubble. Once, twice, three times. Then wooden chair legs screeched against floorboards as he took a seat. ‘I would have liked to have the chance to be me, without being the guy who cheated on his wife with a schoolboy. I would have liked to meet a cute guy and start a future together, or at least something real. The last thing I wanted was to bring up my sordid past.’ I said nothing, even though I still wanted to speak. Tell him we could have a future together; that I could be that guy. But I’m not that guy. ‘You used me,’ he said. I still said nothing. Just shuffled in my chair as the painful realisation hit. My cheeks burning red as my options became black and white. My palms damp. My future barren. ‘And then, you lied about it. Over and over. Even when I gave you a chance to come clean … I’m sorry but no. No more. No more you or Adam or any of this. Please, Oscar, just get out.’ His anger was gone and in its place was sadness. I knew it well. It was the sadness of loneliness; the grief of having no one. But I couldn’t empathise. Not properly. Empathy needs love, like a car needs fuel, and there had been just enough left inside of me to spark my reaction. But that was it, a spark. Running on fumes. I had no choice but to do what I did best. Take his pain and my mistakes, his anger and my lies, everything that had gone so wrong and swallow it. Force it down deep to where the love should have been and lock it away. Tim and I were over and whatever hope he’d had for me was dead. There would be nothing more. Nothing more than memories. The crunch of his trainers against gravel. His inquisitive eyes. His rough but gentle hands massaging my thigh. The sound of his tread through the dark forest. The snap of twigs and the crunch of leaves. The rich smell of wet earth. His lips against mine. His huge hands running through my hair. His trainer laces digging into my wrists. His cock stretching my jaw and slamming into the back of my throat. His deep grunts and manly groans. His hot, salty load streaming into my stomach. Following him home. Walking into his house. The refreshing tingle of cold beer against my friction-burnt throat. His fingers playing with my tongue and mouth. Feeling them slide between my other cheeks and inside my hole. The sting, the burn and the rush. The rush of dreams becoming vivid reality. The soft fibres of his carpet under my bare feet. Then stomach. His tongue against my hole. The heat. The wetness. His bedroom. The cloudlike plushness of his bedsheets. The power of his body on mine. The eye-rolling intensity of him forcing his way inside me. Joining us together for what seemed like an eternity and no time at all. A spark in the darkness. Then I extinguished him. I stood and turned and left his dining room without looking back. I didn’t want to remember him like this. I didn’t want to mourn. Everything after that was a blur. All I remembered was getting home and raiding Dad’s alcohol stash. Drinking myself stupid and smoking joint after joint in my bedroom as he snored in the room next door. Then waking hungover and tired but repeating until I passed out again. The weekend over, school rolled around. I thought about ditching but they would call the house. So I forced myself to go in. Forced myself to focus on the lessons and keep my mind busy. I was in my last year. The same year as Adam. A-levels and university on the horizon. And university meant escape. Three days of endless school later, gossip started circulating about Adam. That him and that “little ginger gay boy” were dating. Gossip confirmed an hour later via two texts. One from each. That afternoon I skipped my lessons to walk the route I’d been avoiding. Down Overslade Lane and through the mundane part of town. To Tim’s. His house was empty. A sold sign out front. No. I came close to breaking that day. Closer than ever to letting the pain I’d been holding out. Surrendering to the agony in my heart and the darkness in my mind. Doing something irreversible. Something I wouldn’t be able to regret. Do it. But I didn’t. Later at home, I changed my mind. Something happened. Something amazing. Something I would never have seen coming in a million years. I got an email while I was writing a note. It was from the gay supplies store in the city I’d bought lubricant from. An advert. Spam advertising that had popped up on my computer screen about a new app for the iPhone. A dating app that would show me how far away the nearest guy was. Tell me how to get to them through its GPS system. A faceless orange mask with empty eyes and untold promises. And it was free. If I have an iPhone. The next day I didn’t go to school. I took my dad’s credit card from his wallet and took a trip into town instead. A few hours later, sat in my room and watching my new phone load into life, I realised I had more to live for. Gone were the days wasting hours pretending to care about the boys on MSN. No more would I care about the men on Gaydar taking hours or days or even weeks to reply. Even the pain of Adam and James and Mr. Price was suddenly dulled by the growing excitement inside my stomach and groin, and the game-changing realisation in my head. A multitude of thumbnails, tiny squares of skin and muscles and smiles, shone from the screen in my hands. Radiating possibilities. As far as I was concerned, life was just beginning.
  5. Jack Ladd

    Part 29

    We could have gone around and around in circles. Trapped in a hopeless loop. Him demanding or begging for the truth. Me pulling more and more lies out of my arse in a desperate attempt to cover my tracks. The dire process repeating and repeating until one of us snaps or storms out or both. I could have told him I didn’t have my wallet on me. Or I didn’t have any ID full stop. Saddle up my high horse and get all indignant and offended. It’s not a legal requirement to carry any in this country. I could have left it at home. Lost it. Never applied for one in the first place. But I had applied for it. And I did have it on me. Tucked inside my wallet next to my debit and National Insurance cards. Thin, pink and plastic: my driving license. Good picture. Bad birthdate. Liar. He saw it in my face. Otherwise he wouldn’t have looked at me like he did. Sad and disappointed. Cold. Then, in a flash, hot and sharp. Searing and angry. Like I’d betrayed him. Worse than betrayed. The way his brow crinkled and his top lip snarled, it was like I’d stabbed him in the back. Or slapped his mum on her birthday. Or walked into his house at Christmas and taken a steaming shit on his presents. The jig was up. He’d caught me out red handed, or in this case, empty handed. No ID. No explanation. But he wasn’t saying anything. He just kept staring. Staring and staring like he was seeing me for the first time. I was no longer the runner from the park who had gone to the school he’d worked at. Now I was an ex-student obsessed. Gone was the man I’d met in the old creek field: dark and broody and intrigued. And long gone was the man I’d known for the best hours of my life. The muscled power-house that had ruthlessly ploughed me. Stretched my throat and hole open fuller and wider and fulfilled me more than any man. The sensual, affectionate man smiling at me from the driving seat of his car. Sending me cute text messages. Listening. That man had gone. And I had no idea how to find him again. No idea what to say. I’d never been in this position. Sure, I’d lied to plenty of guys in the past. Told them I was a virgin longing to finally have my arse broken in. Or I had a girlfriend but she wouldn’t let me fuck her in the back. Something to get them going. Something they could latch onto or lap up to feed their fantasies itching to be acted out with or in or on my toned and eager teenage body. But I hadn’t cared about them. Hadn’t cared if they’d found out I was telling porkies. Hadn’t cared if it had bothered them. As far as I was concerned they’d been cash machines with cocks. Walking distractions with thick arms, nice abs and nicer cars. I hadn’t given two short shits about any of them. Still didn’t. But Mr. Price. He was real. We were real. And sadly, unlike the rest, I couldn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. Because he wanted the truth. And the truth was too embarrassing. Too fucked up. What would I say? That I’d been following him? Watching him run around a park for the last two weeks so I could learn his movements before implementing some master plan to win his heart? He’ll hate me. Or worse, pity me. ‘I’m sorry,’ I said. He turned his head away. Looked at the empty beer bottle wedged between his huge hands and sighed. Said nothing. Reaching out, I touched his forearm. For half a second he allowed it. Allowed me to feel his skin and hair and heat and muscle in a blissful blink. Then he pulled away, still saying nothing. I tried again. Tried to grab hold. Pull his arm toward me and hold his hand against my cheek. I told myself if he let me I would tell him everything. Explain it all. Tell him why I’d lied. Why I’d used Adam and why he’d deserved it. Then I would tell him how much I needed him. How he was the first man to ever give me any sense of hope. That maybe, with him by my side, I could have a decent life in this fucked up town. That maybe dreams do come true. But he shook me off. Pulled his arm away and turned his head so all I could see was his powerful profile and the sublime line of stubble where shaved head met strong neck. A neck I will never hang off again. ‘Please, I’m sorry,’ I said. He shook his head and turned back to face me. Said nothing. Just kept staring at me with unblinking eyes. The muscles in his jaw clenched and throbbing. His body so close but so far away. ‘I didn’t mean to lie to you,’ I said, reaching out for a third time. Dodging my hand, he grabbed his bottle and stood up. ‘Please don’t touch me,’ he said, looking down at me. ‘Please? Tim?’ ‘No,’ he said. ‘Don’t. You lied to me.’ I said nothing and looked at my hands; the weight of his stare too much for my shoulders. ‘Cat got your tongue?’ he said. ‘I don’t know what to say.’ ‘Admit it.’ ‘Ok.’ ‘Ok, what?’ ‘Ok, yes,’ I said, sweat beginning to bead under my hairline; my face red, my palms moist, my skin itching like a colony of fire ants had made me their home. ‘I lied to you. I’m not nineteen.’ ‘How old are you?’ ‘Eighteen.’ ‘Prove it.’ ‘I’m still at school. Adam and I are in the same year.’ ‘I need proof.’ ‘Why?’ ‘I have no idea who you are, Oscar! You could be fifteen for all I know! When I say I can’t deal with lies in my life, I mean it!’ ‘Ok, ok,’ I said, reaching around my back and pulling my wallet out of my back pocket, his voice still booming in my ears. Opening the tattered leather, I took out my ID. Handed it to him over the table. He put his beer down and looked at the rectangle of laminated plastic for exactly three seconds before giving it back. ‘Thank you,’ he said. ‘You’re welcome,’ I muttered. ‘Now get out.’ ‘What? Why?’ ‘Why do you think?’ ‘I’m still legal! I haven’t done anything wrong!’ ‘Haven’t done anything wrong?’ he said, placing his hands on the dining table and leaning towards me; his biceps and triceps and pecs bulging under the thin grey cotton of his jumper. ‘You told me you were nineteen,’ he said. ‘So what?’ I said, still sweating under his scrutiny. ‘People lie about their age all the time.’ ‘Yeah. You’re not wrong. People do. And you know what? I wouldn’t have cared. I wouldn’t have given a flying fuck if it’d been as simple as you adding a few months on because you didn’t want to put me off.’ ‘Then why? Why should I leave? Why do you hate me now?’ Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath. A short, sharp hiss filling the room as he inhaled. I felt his outbreath, warm and moist and smelling of beer. Opening his eyes his face was softer. But still an eternity from the face I’d been in awe of, lying in his arms. ‘I don’t hate you, Oscar,’ he said. ‘Yes, you do,’ I said, my voice weak and pathetic. ‘No, I don’t. But I don’t get you.’ I looked up and the room was suddenly blurry. There were tears in my eyes. Wiping them in my elbow crease I shook myself out of it. Don’t fucking cry. Taking a deep breath of my own, I focused. Controlled my emotions. Pushed the sadness and pain down and away. ‘If you don’t hate me,’ I said, as calm and collected as I could. ‘Why do you want me to leave?’ ‘Because of Adam.’ I said nothing. Shook my head and made a face that said I couldn’t believe he was still taking that over-sized moron’s side. Bad idea. Mr. Price’s fire did not need any more fuel. ‘Stop it!’ ‘He’s lying!’ I said. ‘Why?’ I said nothing. ‘Why would he make up something like that? Why would he beg to talk to me? Tell me through streaming eyes that you’d sat on his cock and let him fuck you for information.’ ‘I don’t know!’ I tried to say but ended up shouting. ‘He’s fucked up.’ ‘He’s fucked up? That’s rich.’ ‘Excuse me?’ ‘You stalked me! You literally threw yourself at me!’ ‘I told you why I did that.’ ‘How can I believe anything you’ve told me?’ I said nothing. My mind was blank. All I could focus on was the sinking feeling in my stomach. My guts twisting and knotting and tightening. Nausea rolling through me like polluted waves. ‘Exactly,’ he said, shaking his head at my silence. ‘I can’t believe you. I gave you a chance, Oscar. To tell me the truth. You looked me in the eye and lied to my face. I don’t want anything to do with you.’ ‘Please, Tim,’ I said, words finally working. ‘Don’t do this. I need you.’ ‘Need me? You need me?’ I nodded fast. Tried to think of what to say. How to phrase it so he would listen. But he didn’t give me a chance. ‘You don’t need me. You used me. Which, hey, I really shouldn’t be complaining about should I? A boy like you, who gets anyone he wants, no matter the cost. I should be grateful. Thankful you even bothered to look at me.’ ‘That’s not true.’ ‘Whatever, Oscar. The truth is I can’t see you anymore. I can’t keep second-guessing my life and the people in it. I lived a lie for too long.’ ‘But I only said those things so I could be with you. I didn’t want to hurt you.’ Shaking his head, he walked out of the room to the kitchen. Bare feet clapped against tiles and the fridge opened. A bottle of beer hissed. Just one. Then came the slow, morbid applause of naked soles again. He appeared by the doorway with his fresh beer in his hand. Leant against the frame and took a swig. ‘Ok. You didn’t want to hurt me. I suppose I can see that. But you knew. You knew all along. About my ex-wife and my history. About Adam. And you sat right there. Right there, in my dining room, listening to me tell you a story you already knew just so you could what? Build my trust? Manipulate me?’ My mouth opened but nothing came out. ‘What kind of person does that?’ he said. Silence descended again. My chest numb. ‘Answer me!’
  6. Jack Ladd

    Part 28

    I wish I could say I saw it coming. That, as my shoes crunched the gravel of Tim’s path, the ominous, sickening feeling wriggling around my gut became clear. That, before I crossed the point of no return, I realised what was waiting for me inside, and I turned and ran and cut my losses no matter how much I knew I would lose. But I didn’t. I did exactly what I’d told myself to do. I swallowed it down. Pushed the dread somewhere so deep and dark I lost it. Replaced it with starry-eyed, teenage fantasies. Will he kiss me on the doorstep? Or wait until we’re away from prying eyes? Will he sweep me off my feet and into his car? Cruise us far away from town to the city somewhere big and shiny and exciting. Or will he invite me in? Play coy or shy or standoffish to make me want him more? Or will he be all over me? Kiss me, hold me. Tie me up, use me and abuse me. Feed me a shot of his load with a beer chaser. And what will he be wearing? I’d only ever seen him in his rugby shorts and sports tops. Not that his fashion choices had ever been bad, but I could only imagine how smart and handsome and irresistible he was going to look in a pair of jeans or chinos and a fitted shirt or sweater. A real man. A gentleman. As I took the single, moss-speckled stone step up to his front door and lifted my hand, a wave of sickness rolled through me. It didn’t even occur to me, when my knuckles collided against the dark navy, polished wood, pushing the unlocked door open an inch with a low creak, that something might be wrong. I thought it was a game. A tease. Sir leaving the door open so I, the young, blue-eyed boy could find him waiting inside. Sat ready to bend me over his knee and peal my jeans down. Hungrily pull at my cheeks. Closing the door gently behind me, I tiptoed through the hallway as quietly as I could. Past the empty living room and the stairway. Past an array of framed photos recently hung, now gently gleaming in the low afternoon light trickling through the frosted-glass window of the front door behind me. The dining room door was closed but he was in there. I could sense him. Placing my ear against the smooth, cool wood I waited for the initial muffled sounds of contact to smooth away. Then I heard him: the faintest in-and-out of a large, muscled chest rising and falling. Standing up straight, I stretched out my back. Cracked my neck. Took a deep breath and ran a finger around the waistband of my jockstrap to make sure it wasn’t twisted. Decided, that if he was sat on a chair, I would straddle him. Kiss his mouth and neck while I grinded my arse against his crotch and squeezed his muscled flanks between my thighs. But, if he was standing, I would drop to my knees. Take him in my mouth and down my throat before anything else. I wanted him to know I liked his games. Finally his star pupil. Then, I wasn’t. I went from nervous and excited to terrified. Desperate for his arms and chest and legs and back and load to weak and unprepared and vulnerable. To the right, no more than five inches from my eyes, was Tim. Framed in full colour and hidden among a group of ten other smiling faces. A family shot taken on holiday. He was beaming, wide and toothy, and he had his arm around someone. A young blonde woman. The young, blonde woman. From my nightmare. His ex-wife. I knew I’d seen her before. At school, when she’d dropped Tim off a long time ago. Back when he’d been a teacher. I’d seen her behind the wheel. Beautiful but sad. Then her haunting scream echoed in my mind. ‘GET OUT!’ That was when I knew I needed to leave. I didn’t know why but something animal and primal was telling me to turn and run. There was no rational reason, but the squirming sense of foreboding was back from the depths and stabbing furiously inside my gut. Incubated just long enough to burst through my chest. I’d made a mistake. My quest to claim Tim Price was fundamentally flawed. It had been all along. I’d known it was based on lies and founded on dishonesty, but I hadn’t cared. I’d wanted it to work so badly that I’d ignored the truth. Acted like everything would be fine because I’d needed it to be. Because I need him. He was going to make my life better. He was going to give it meaning. I’d thought that he could even be the one to convince me that I was going to be ok. That I wouldn’t be alone anymore. But it was too late to run. ‘I know you’re out there,’ he said. I said nothing. Held my breath and didn’t move a muscle. ‘Please. I can hear you,’ he said. His voice was calm and void of emotion. Neither friendly nor hostile. An instruction. Pushing the door open slowly, I slinked through the crack and closed it. Leaning with my back against the door and arms folded, I looked over. He was sat in the same chair he’d picked the first time I’d been over. Far left corner of the table. On his upper half was a woollen grey jumper, clinging to his body. His legs were open but I could only see his right one – the other obscured by the table top. He was wearing midnight blue jeans. One of his hands was rested below the table line in his lap and the other gripped a half-full bottle of beer. His posture was slumped and closed off. His shaved head hung slightly; his eyes fixed on the dark green glass in front of him. His feet bare. ‘Hey,’ I said. No reply. Taking a step forward, I ignored the alarm bells ringing in my head and chest and stomach. Cocked my head to the side and coughed. He looked up and saw me for the first time. For the briefest of moments, he smiled. Kind and genuine. Maybe he liked how well I’d scrubbed up. Or maybe he was just happy to see me. I didn’t find out. The look on his face vanished and his eyes turned cold and away. ‘You ok?’ I said, walking closer. ‘Take a seat,’ he said, his voice gruff and cracking like he’d been silent all day. ‘Ok,’ I said, pulling out the chair opposite him and obeying like a submissive puppy. For ten seconds neither of us spoke. For all ten he didn’t look at me. All he did was take a swig from his bottle and place it back slowly and soundlessly. ‘Bit early for that?’ I said trying to catch his eye. No use. He simply raised and lowered his eyebrows, his stare on the bottle. Then he spoke. ‘We need to talk.’ ‘Of course,’ I said. ‘What about?’ There was still a chance. A chance that this had nothing to do with me. Maybe he’d had a bad day. Bumped into an old friend or colleague. Maybe his past mistakes had come back to haunt him and he needed me. Needed me to hold him and make him feel better and tell him everything was going to be ok. Wrong again. ‘You lied to me,’ he said. My head shook by itself. Five words came out of my mouth on their own accord. My auto-piloted, self-defence mechanism already deployed. ‘What are you talking about?’ I said. ‘Oscar. Stop.’ ‘Stop what?’ ‘Stop lying to me.’ ‘I’m not.’ He scoffed. ‘I had a visitor last night,’ he said. ‘And?’ ‘And he told me everything.’ ‘Who?’ Not that I didn’t know the answer. ‘Adam Stanmore,’ he said. I looked away. To hide the anger spilling across my face. How could I have been so stupid? How could I have underestimated him? I knew he was pathetic enough to try and tear Tim and me apart, but I hadn’t expected him to act so soon. I thought I’d had more time. More time to outsmart that brainless slab of useless muscle. ‘Let me guess,’ I said. ‘No. You don’t get to speak.’ ‘That’s not fair.’ ‘Not fair? You have no right to come into my home and tell me what’s fair.’ I said nothing and he took another swig. ‘He woke me up in the middle of the night by throwing fucking gravel at my window. I told him to leave but he wouldn’t listen. He said he needed to warn me.’ ‘Warn you? What about?’ ‘You.’ I said nothing. Shook my head and made a face. A face that asked how he could even consider such an absurd possibility. It’s Adam’s word against mine and Adam isn’t here. ‘That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?’ I said. ‘Dramatic?’ he said. ‘He was in tears, Oscar. I’ve never seen him like that.’ ‘So? He got the shit kicked out of him by his dad. I doubt things are sunshine and lollipops for him.’ He shook his head. Said, ‘You lied to me. You said he’s been going around telling people I’m his boyfriend.’ ‘He has!’ ‘Not according to him. He says you coerced him into telling you where I lived.’ ‘Why the fuck would I do that? ‘So you could find me. Stalk me in the park and throw yourself at me.’ ‘Bullshit. You know why I did that.’ ‘You manipulated him. You made him feel like you were on his side and then you tossed him away.’ I laughed. Half at the glorious memory of sticking it to the King of School. The other because I had nothing to worry about. True though it was, it was hearsay. Unsubstantiated rumour and gossip. It didn’t paint me in the best picture, but unlike Adam, I was in the room. And while he may have outsmarted me by a day, I had more acting talent in my little finger than he had in all six feet and six inches of his body. Standing up and out of my chair, its feet screeching across the floorboards, I put on my finest sneer. ‘So, that’s it. You’re going to listen to him over me? The boy who ruined your marriage and your career?’ He shook his head. Once and then twice. Looked up at me from his chair with pleading eyes. ‘Oscar,’ he said. ‘I don’t know who to believe.’ ‘Believe me!’ ‘How can I?’ ‘Why can’t you?’ I said, sitting back down to his level and making my face warm and caring and friendly. ‘You said you wanted me. That you couldn’t wait to see me.’ ‘I couldn’t. Honestly, matey, I’ve been looking forward to seeing you all week. So much so I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. I listened to him and then I told him to go.’ ‘So why the accusations? Why the change of heart?’ ‘I thought about it. I’ve been thinking about it all day … You did lie to me, Oscar. You pretended you didn’t know me.’ ‘I explained that,’ I said, reaching out and stroking his arm. ‘I know. But why would he make up something like this?’ ‘He’s having a hard time. You know how it can be.’ Neither of us spoke for almost ten seconds. ‘I want to believe you. I really do,’ he said. ‘You can, Tim, you can. Trust me,’ I said, getting out of my seat and sitting in the empty chair next to him. Placing my hand on his leg, I squeezed his thigh. Reaching out I kissed his neck and cheek. For two seconds, he let me. Then he pulled away and looked at me, his piercing brown eyes almost black. Searching my soul. ‘Prove it,’ he said. ‘Prove it?’ ‘Prove to me you’re telling the truth.’ I laughed. Said, ‘How?’ ‘Get out your wallet.’ Silence. ‘What? Why?’ ‘Show me your ID.’ ‘My ID?’ ‘Yes. Your ID. You told me you’re nineteen.’ ‘I am nineteen.’ ‘Adam said you’re at school together. You’re in the same year. You can’t be nineteen.’ Silence. ‘I repeated a year.’ He shook his head like he could smell the lies. ‘In my car, when I dropped you home, you looked me in the face and you told me you had no more secrets.’ ‘I don’t. He’s lying!’ ‘So, prove him wrong,’ he said. ‘Please.’ I said nothing. Like in my nightmare, I couldn’t speak.
  7. Jack Ladd

    Part 27

    I had the same dream that night. Almost the same. It began like before. At home in the kitchen with my parents in their wedding outfits. Mum fussing over my black and gold suit, inexplicably back from whatever life she’d chosen over us like she’d never left at all. Dad fit and young and smiling again. In the blink of an eye, I was outside the same glitching church, its eerie spire twitching and jolting and piercing cloud. Down on the ground, like before, was the same faceless wedding crowd waiting for me. The same woman in black and gold standing by the old wooden doors. But she looked different: gone was the swirling soup of skin and shadow that had made up her face. Now her features were as clear as day. She was older than me but young. Late twenties, early thirties. And beautiful. Stunning. She had glossy, shoulder-length blonde hair, high cheek bones and red painted lips pulled straight in neither a smile nor a scowl. Two dull, sad blue eyes looked at mine, but she wasn’t looking at me. She was looking through me, like I was made of glass. I recognised her. I’d seen her before. Somewhere. Moving on, I pushed the church doors open and they flung inwards at the slightest touch, crashing against the stone walls inside. Tim turned at the boom, still waiting at the altar in his matching suit. Black and gold. Emptiness and everything. Beckoning me closer. I ran. Faster than before but the floor still turned like a treadmill. Pumping my legs as hard as I could, I tried and tried to get closer. But again, it was futile. The ancient, broken tiles fell away, right on cue, and I tumbled into darkness. The same office materialised around me as I landed in the same green chair. The same computer in front of me. The same nameless folder on the screen. The same video file: Tim and Adam kissing. James in the middle. All three naked and hungry and hard. But this time, as the red-haired piggy got spit-roasted raw, his tiny, toned and flawless alabaster body rocking back and forth on his knees and hands between two muscled giants – Adam pumping in and out of his mouth and Tim, my Tim, stretching and filling his hole wider and fuller than I ever had – I wasn’t jealous. Or angry. Or anything I’d felt before. Instead I laughed. A grin. Then a smirk: no more than a punchy, breathy burst through my nostrils. But once I’d started I couldn’t stop. Soon I was howling like a maniac. I knew what the video meant. What all of it meant. Before I’d been scared. Scared of losing Tim. And jealous. Jealous of Adam’s past and James’s potential. But now I knew Mr. Price wanted me. He’d told me himself, in his own words. Words I’d read with my own eyes. Adam and James are nothing next to me. Standing, I picked up the computer monitor and yanked it away from the desk. Wires strained and snapped but the scene kept playing: their grunts and moans and groans, thrusts and winces louder and closer, looping in my hands. Raising the screen above my head, I threw it down as hard as I could. Plastic and glass crashed and shattered. Wood splintered and cracked. The monitor exploded in a spray of glistening glass shards, wires and metal. The desk broke in two, clean down the middle. All around me the sounds of destruction rolled and echoed. But the noises grew louder. Louder and faster; reverberating off the walls and through me like feedback through an amplifier until the booms and bangs became beats and the beats merged together to create an endless, ear-splitting, high-pitched screech. Then in an instant, as the pitch neared unbearable, silence descended. Heavier and thicker and more oppressive than silent. Like sound had been sucked from the air by an unseen vacuum. The broken desk vanished. All four walls around me fell backwards and the filing cabinet and chairs and printer disintegrated like sand castles caught in a noiseless gale. In its place appeared Mr. Price’s bedroom. His bed. The same bed I’d just seen in the video but empty; the same bed I’d spent an hour on the evening before. Face down, arse up. Sitting, I stroked the soft, cotton of his duvet cover. Pulled it to my cheek and breathed in his scent. It smelt mouldy. Then it was ripped out of my hand. The blonde woman. She was standing a metre away from me. Hunched over and sobbing soundlessly into the sheet scrunched up in her fists. Her whole body was shaking and convulsing. Her hair hanging forward, hiding her face. I tried to move. Tried to speak. Couldn’t. She looked up and a blood-curdling shudder rolled through me. Her eyes were completely black, streaming golden tears. Her teeth were bared, but the gold was pouring over her gums and down her chin from cracked lips pulled back in a furious snarl. Raising a shaking hand, she pointed at my chest. Then, as sound returned with vigour, air whooshing past my ears like I’d stuck my head out of a car doing a hundred miles an hour, she screamed. Two words. A single syllable each. Both thrust into the void with a sadness and fury and hatred worthy of a lifetime of pain. ‘GET OUT!’ I woke with a jolt, panting and wet through with sweat; my hands clutching at my damp bed sheets; my knuckles white and my fingers aching. Letting go, I rubbed my eyes and looked around. I was home. In my room. Awake. Letting out a long, deep breath, I stared at the ceiling stain as the unsettling aftermath of my nightmare slowly seeped away with the retreating gloop of unconsciousness. ‘It was a dream,’ I told myself. ‘Just a dream.’ Then I remembered what day it was. Smiling, I shook my head as fast as my aching neck would allow, and tried to make myself forget the blonde woman’s black eyes and tears of molten gold. Swallowed down the all too vivid sorrow and agony of her words. I have more important things to worry about. Throwing back my covers like a kid on Christmas morning, I let the air roll over me. My room was cold but the chill soothed my hot, naked flesh. Wiping my forehead with my forearm, I stood up and stretched. Looked down at my cock. ‘Good morning.’ Wrapping my fingers around my shaft, I squeezed. Relished the ache through my balls and thighs and calves. My arse cheeks clenching. My hole squeezing tight between them. ‘Today’s the day,’ I said, relaxing out before slowly pulling on myself. Fast enough to feel good, but slow enough to stay in control of the urges racing through me. Urges telling me to lie down. Spit on my hand. Smear my saliva from base to tip while I thought about him. All the things he’d done to me. All the things he was going to do. I let go. Tim Price. Full balls. Yawning, I walked to the window and pulled open my curtains. Daylight streamed in, dimmer than any other morning that week. Too dim. Flopping onto my bed, I reached over to my bedside table and picked up my phone. Checked the time. ‘FUCK!’ Jumping onto my feet and grabbing a towel I raced to the bathroom. Slammed the door shut, locked it and turned on the shower. ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck!’ I said again, throwing myself under the stream of lukewarm water and furiously brushing my teeth. It was three in the afternoon. Not only had I slept for fifteen hours I had, at most, forty-five minutes to get ready. Forty-five measly minutes to shave my arse crack, wash my body from top to toe and shampoo and condition my hair. Forty-five minutes to dry myself, dress myself, dry my hair, do my hair, smash a coffee and get walking. No time for last-minute press-ups to beef up my pecs and biceps and triceps. No time for a sit-up power session to tighten my abs. No final squats or lunges to ensure my legs and arse were looking their best. All I had was a race against the clock to turn up at Tim’s looking barely fuckable. Thank sweet Jesus I don’t need to douche. Thirty-five minutes later, I was watching the kettle boil in the kitchen, dressed in my go-to outfit: my best, arse-cupping jeans paired with my tightest white t-shirt and burgundy sweater. White jockstrap. Tan suede shoes. My hair had turned out better than expected too. I looked good. Smart but casual. Smooth and sexy. But I didn’t feel smart or smooth or sexy. I felt like shit. I was tired. That weird, dazed tired you get from too much sleep. But there was something else. A feeling in my stomach, deep down inside my gut. Unsettling and unwanted, wriggling around like a parasite. Who was she? I ignored it. It didn’t matter. I’d seen a documentary when I was a kid that said humans are visual creatures, and our dreams are made up of what we consciously and subconsciously see around us. She could have been anyone. A woman on the street or on the bus or at school or on TV. Slamming my empty mug on the counter, caffeine racing through my veins, I grabbed my keys, wallet and coat and made my way to the front door. But as I reached for the door handle it moved downwards and the door came at me. Dad. He was holding a blue plastic carrier bag full of what looked like a six-pack of beer. And he was drunk. ‘Look who it is,’ he said, stumbling into the hallway. Collecting himself he leaned against the wall and looked me up and down. I said nothing. No point. ‘Aw what’s the matter? Don’t want to talk to your dear old dad?’ I said nothing. ‘Pfft,’ he said, pushing himself back to standing; the plastic bag rustling. ‘Where you going?’ ‘Out.’ ‘Where?’ ‘Out.’ ‘On your own?’ ‘I’m meeting a friend.’ He scoffed. ‘You? Who the fuck wants to be your friend?’ Again, I said nothing. His words didn’t hurt anymore. They hadn’t for a long time. Plus, going by his choice of vocabulary and level of inebriation, he was only getting started for the day. He was far more interested in getting inside and getting obliterated than getting under my skin. ‘Whatever. As if I care,’ he said. Tensing, I passed him slowly. He stank of booze but he let me by without any trouble. He’d never hit me before, but he’d pushed me. Shoved me once or twice. ‘For fun’. Safely outside, I began the fifteen-minute walk to Mr. Price’s. It was cold, but the sun was still shining, and its late afternoon rays were strong enough to heat my face and body. It felt nice. But I still didn’t. I couldn’t shake the feeling. With each step, it grew and grew, twisting and turning and squeezing tighter. Flashbacks of the blonde woman strobed my mind as I crossed streets and passed shops and walked along busy roads full of Saturday traffic. At two-minutes-to-four, I reached Tim’s street and by dead on four I was next to his spotless black Audi. Leaning against the cold metal, I closed my eyes and pushed it down one final time. All the dread and unease and uncertainty and foreboding. All the way down to the place where I kept the things I never wanted to think about again. Like my mother and father and the weak child I once had been. It was nerves on an empty stomach. My mind playing tricks on me after a bad dream. Right? Wrong.
  8. Jack Ladd

    Part 26

    The phone rang. Quiet and monotonous. A double-beat through the tiny speaker pressing against my ear. Two-trills of digital noise lasting less than a second each, but ominous. Ominous enough to make my heart beat hard. Hard and loud and heavy. It rang again and my palms grew sweaty; the rigid grey plastic of my phone turning slick and slippery. Tightening my grip, I rubbed my free hand against my joggers; blood pumping like a drum through the cartilage sandwiched between my head and the handset. Three rings. I swapped hands. Four. My neck ached. It already hurt. Strained and stretched by Mr Price shooting his hot, tangy bolt into my stomach. My hands tied behind my back. My skull and mouth his personal property to use as he’d wished. But the ache was different. No longer was it a trophy or a reminder of our time together. Now, and so suddenly, it was becoming something bad. A painful reminder that, I didn’t have him yet. A man who had made my wishes come true. Who had talked to me like an adult and had treated me like one. It felt like he was lost to me for a reason I didn’t know but was undeniably growing inside of my gut like tangled thorns. Five rings. Six. Seven. Nothing. Nothing but the steady beat of an unanswered call in a void of sizzling white noise. Where is he?! Then my thumping heart pounded. His voice. It boomed through the quiet. Strong and manly and confident. I took a quick breath. Composed myself. But my jaw hung in the air. My excitement plummeted, all the way to the floor. In its place, a sickening dread. Voicemail. ‘Hi, you’ve reached Tim Price. Sorry I can’t get to the phone right now. Please leave a message after the tone and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.’ Hanging up before the beep, I threw my phone at my bed. It bounced off the springy top, hitting the wall by my window, before crashing noisily to the floor. I didn’t move. Even if I’d thrown it hard enough to break I didn’t care. Unwanted questions and more pressing problems were elbowing their way in and stomping around my mind. Why is he ignoring me? Where is he? Who is he with? What is he doing? My heart sank. Has Adam got to him already? Possible, but improbable. Why drop the bomb without all parties around to get obliterated? And judging by the look of pure hatred Adam had shot me, climbing into his mum’s car, I doubted he would waste an opportunity to watch my face as he poured gasoline on my relationship with Tim and lit a match. Not that I was going to let him get anywhere near us. It was simpler, then. It must be. And there was nothing simpler than another person. Tim must have found someone else. Another twink to play with. Another boy to turn into a man. James? Standing from my computer chair, I took a deep breath to cool the flames of jealously licking at my chest and head. It didn’t help. I took another and the flames grew, fanned by oxygen and uncertainty. Striding across my room, I picked up my phone. It was fine. No scratches or marks. No dents. But no messages or returned calls. Nothing. Slumping onto my bed, I forced myself to ignore the crushing scenarios rolling around my head like boulders. Pushed aside the flashbacks of my dream that morning. Of Tim and Adam and James without me. I busied myself by considering my options. It wasn’t much of a distraction. I didn’t have many. I couldn’t message him again. Not a chance. It would come across too desperate. Calling had been bad enough. But at least if he’d answered I could have pretended that I’d pocket-called him. Rang him by accident and then casually checked if we were still on for tomorrow. Laid and cemented and built on my pre-emptive strategy to get away from Adam. But he hadn’t answered. And now he had two messages and a missed call from me on his phone. Anything more, like a voicemail, would cross into James territory. And if that happened, I’d be no better than the needy little boys I couldn’t stand. Other than turning up at his house and knocking on his front door like a madman, I had no choice but to wait it out. Wait out each agonising second. Try to channel the virtue I’ve always had trouble with. Fuck you, patience. I checked the time on my phone. Almost ten at night. Dad’s muffled shouts at his computer screen resounded through the walls and into my room. Then the house went quiet again. Turning to my window, I opened the curtains and looked out. Past the smeared glass and the dim reflection of my face, the sky was a mixture of vivid greys. Completely blanketed by thin cloud it was illuminated by the bright white moon somewhere behind. Below the inverse, night-time carpet the yellow tinged street was lit by two dim street lamps spaced ten or so metres apart. Something in the corner of my eye darted toward one of the parked cars lining the closest pavement. Too small to be a cat. Too quick to be a dog. A rat? A bird. All alone and hidden if not for its shadow, its black silhouette stretching out from the camouflaged car bonnet and across the concrete like a Dali painting. Go to his house. No. I’d already decided, after he’d dropped me off the other night and asked if there was anything else I should tell him, that I wasn’t going to do anything like that anymore. No more stalking and spying. It was too risky. Too much at stake. Too much to lose. But, I told myself I wouldn’t knock on his door. I would watch. Stay invisible like my sly, feathered-friend down there. Keep quiet and keep an eye out for signs of Adam. Or James. Or anyone. Or even nothing. Anything that showed me he wasn’t home. That he was out and too busy to text me back. That everything was fine. That it was all in my head. I looked at my bed. Told myself to forget about it. To go to sleep and wait until the morning. To calm the fuck down and sort myself out. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t quiet the voice in my head. My own voice. Cold and cruel and uncaring. He’s fucking someone else. I know he is. He never wanted me. He just wanted my body. That’s all I’m good for. Two holes to dump a load in. As if I thought he would ever want me. Nobody wants me. Not Tim. Not Adam. Not James. Not even my parents. ‘Shut up!’ I shouted, wrenching open my wardrobe doors. Three minutes later, I was ready. Dressed all in black. Black jeans, black t-shirt and a black sweater. Black trainers and black socks. Turning my phone to silent, I placed it in my pocket. Picked up my house keys from my desk. But as my fingers wrapped around the cold metal of my bedroom door knob my leg vibrated. Twice, but quickly. A one-two buzz in rapid succession. A text. From him. Hey! Sorry for the radio silence, it’s been a crazy day. Definitely still on for tomorrow and really like the idea of a hotel night. Naughty boy For a second, I couldn’t believe my eyes; my poisonous inner-monologue silenced. Then came relief. Fast and refreshing like a dam bursting. The weight of it all gushing and flowing and falling away. It peeled off my shoulders like it had never been there. All the crazy ideas and terrible reasons evaporated like steam, warming my cheeks and turning them red. All the pain and fear of losing him now silly and stupid. Letting out the longest sigh of relief of my life, I let myself fall backwards onto my bed. Beamed at the ceiling as I bounced and sunk into my mattress, kicking off my trainers. I began to laugh. At the absurdity of it all. At how scared and angry and foolish I’d been. At how a man had made me feel. But he wasn’t just any man. He was my man. Tim fucking Price. A man who couldn’t wait to see me. Who did want me. Who cared about me. And I cared about him. I did. For the first time since I was fourteen, I actually cared about someone else. I could feel it, like a hot water bottle against my chest. In the release still rushing through my bones and muscles. In the ache in my neck. Lifting my phone up and in front of my face to block out the glare of my bedroom light, I unlocked it and opened my messages. Hey! That’s cool, no worries. And awesome, glad to hear it. What time should I come over? Or do you want to pick me up? I hit send and within twenty seconds his reply buzzed into my hand. Fast and attentive like usual. Come to mine and we’ll go from there. 6pm? I can come earlier if you like? Ok. 4pm? Perfect. Great. You’re going to get it. Get what? You’ll see. Come on. Give me a taste. Ok. I want you on your stomach. Back arched. Arse in the air. Your hole smooth and hairless. Done. I want you to unload down my throat again. You liked that? No one’s done that to me before. I’m hard thinking about it. So am I. Where are you? In bed. Me too. Are you touching your cock? No. I’m saving myself for you. Good boy. Thank you, sir. I’m turning the light off now. I’m shattered. Sleep well. Goodnight, Oscar. Goodnight, sir. For a minute, I lay still, staring at the pixelated letters of our conversation. Still laughing at myself in my head. At how quickly I’d lost my cool and composure. Almost lost my mind. But he was worth it. I hadn’t met anyone like Tim before. And I couldn’t wait to get to know him properly. Learn all about him. What turned him on and what drove him wild. How hard he could fuck me or how slow and deep and intense he could slide inside. How he liked to cuddle after. Big spoon always? Sometimes small? I fantasised about how maybe one day we could become boyfriends and move in together. I could live with him in his place. Help him with his new life. Make a life together. Away from this disgusting house. Away from my worthless father and the memories of my gutless mother. Rolling onto my side, I reached over to my bedside table and put my phone on charge. Then I stood up and took off my clothes, dumping them in a crumpled black heap by my feet. Flicking off the light, I climbed back into bed and under my duvet. ‘It’s going to work,’ I whispered to myself in the darkness. Then, less than a minute later, I fell asleep.
  9. Jack Ladd

    Part 18

    You two are far too kind. And, if you're looking for a tale with less sex and more story, my full-length erotic book set in Australia, Oscar Down Under: Part One, is out now and I'm always looking for people to leave honest reviews on Goodreads/Amazon in exchange for a free copy!
  10. Jack Ladd

    Part 22

    I don't want to give too much away but you'll eventually see that there is more to Oscar ... Much more! And thank you so much for your kinds words. You've put a big, fat smile on my face.
  11. Jack Ladd

    Part 24

    The rest of the school day was uneventful. Other than my tedious, but thankfully brief altercation with James, lunch ended without a hitch. There were the usual looks when I walked past a group of lads or unzipped at the urinals to take a piss, but there were no problems. No jeers. No name-calling. No pushing or shoving or tripping or spitting. In fact, as the bell rang, loud and shrill through the old, stone corridors and grey, concrete quads, and I took a seat at the back of my next class, I realised I hadn’t had any real trouble for days. Ever since Adam had turned up that Wednesday morning black and blue I’d been relatively left alone. Ever since their king had suddenly become an almighty batty-boy, something had changed. The dynamic had shifted. His pathetic followers were confused. Unsure on best bullying etiquette. I could see it in their eyes. I could see their measly brains trying to process me. Their gut reaction to shout or throw something, followed a split-second later by a thought. A memory. A recollection that their mate, their big, rugby-captain pal Adam was a queer, fudge-packing, shirt-lifting cock-sucker too. And that six-foot-six cock-sucker had made it clear he wasn’t going to take it lying down. It had happened a couple days after he’d come back to school; his bruises and cuts already fading. Unsurprisingly a beta male, pumped with hormones and cheap energy drinks, had taken his chance. Attempted to dethrone the weakened alpha while the going had been good. Or, in his case, not so good. I hadn’t seen it. Sadly. I’d learned a long time ago it was in my best interest to avoid large groups, but I’d overheard the glorious chatter in the lunch line the following week. Rumour had it that Adam had been walking across the field to the sports hall and a group of lads had cut him off. Mainly boys from the football team, but one or two from the second rugby team. Including a six-foot-two, acne-ridden reprobate called Rory Saunders. Saunders had done the usual. Squared up to him. Got up in his face. Started saying all the typical stuff like how faggots weren’t wanted in this school and how they had no place on sports teams. But then he’d got personal. Said Adam only played rugby so he could look at the boys in the changing rooms. Called him a pervert. Big mistake. Next thing you know Rory’s rolling on the ground with an imploded nose. Crushed almost flat by Adam’s forehead and gushing blood and bits of pulverised cartilage and bone. After that, as far as I could tell (and bar a week of detention: they’d gone easy on him considering his “situation”), everything had gone back to normal for Adam. Back at the top of the food chain. Still rugby captain. Still loved and admired and feared across the school like I’d said he would in the staff car park on his first day back. But I’d also been wrong that afternoon. What I hadn’t appreciated until now, so far distracted by my quest for the holy grail that was Mr. Price and his heavenly legs, was that things had changed. For me. I was still far from accepted – I was a full-blown bender whereas Adam was only half an abomination – but it was beginning to look like what he’d offered was coming to fruition. That I didn’t need to watch my back anymore. I could actually listen to my iPod, not keep it muted to hear footsteps racing up behind me. I could pass the playing field without the fear of a football or a can of Coke to the face. And, for the first time in a long time, I could answer a question in class without people sniggering or making lame innuendos or tired, boring jokes. ‘Very good, Oscar. Correct. It’s nice to hear you speak. Do it more, please,’ the teacher said, turning back to the whiteboard before scribbling my response in large, slanted green letters. Enjoying the rare swell of academic pride in my chest I smiled to myself. Pulled out my phone from my trouser pocket and unlocked it under my desk. I had about two minutes to talk to Adam while Mrs. Burton explained the difference between fact and inference to the rest of the class, her attention now successfully deflected away from me. Hey. I’ve got an update on our little mate. Can we meet? Forty seconds later his reply vibrated in my hand. After school. Same place as last time. Two hours later it was me waiting for him. Leaning against the red brick of the art block that made up one border of the staff car park, hidden by the shadows of the oak tree and the fast-creeping darkness of the autumn afternoon. It was cold. The coldest day of the year so far. I cursed myself for not bringing a jumper, too busy thinking about Tim and my weird dream to think about much else that morning, as I breathed clouds of billowing steam around my hands and willed blood to flow faster around my fingers. Small stones below me crunched as I hopped and stepped from side to side. The earthy scent of wet, muddy grass blanketing the adjacent field chilling my nostrils. Seven minutes in, I considered calling him, but as I reached for my phone he turned the corner. Tall and broad and beautiful in his school uniform. His rugby captain’s tie and a thick, burgundy scarf wrapped around his neck. His limp gone and his black eye now a light brown. Barely even noticeable in the fading light. We’d been texting almost every day, about James, about what we were going to do to him if I ever managed to convince him to open his legs for both of us, but we hadn’t seen each other. Not properly. Not face-to-face. He looked almost as good as new. Maybe even better. ‘You look good,’ I said, ceasing my two-step and forcing my teeth to stop chattering. ‘They let you back in the gym?’ ‘Yeah,’ he said, leaning against the wall about a metre from me. He looked away. ‘I heard about what happened with Rory Saunders.’ He said nothing. Just turned his neck to look at me; his eyes as cold as the air itself. Then he raised his eyebrows and nodded. Looked away again. ‘That dickhead got what he deserved,’ I said. ‘Whatever. What do you want?’ ‘Alright, chill out. What’s your problem?’ He looked at me and stared. Hard. Then said, ‘Nothing. It’s fucking freezing and I’m tired. I want to go home.’ I scanned him up and down. He did look tired. And cold. ‘Fair enough. I’ll make this quick,’ I said. ‘James is a no-go.’ ‘What? Why?’ ‘Long story short he’s not as stupid as I thought.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘When I tried to bring you up, in a more direct sense, he saw straight through me. Seems he wants me all to himself or not at all. I doubt I’ll be seeing him again.’ He shook his head and said, ‘Sloppy.’ ‘Excuse me?’ ‘You had him practically eating out of your hand and now he’s gone? Sounds sloppy to me.’ ‘Ok. Fuck you.’ ‘Am I wrong?’ The annoying thing was he wasn’t. Probably for the first time in his life the dim-witted slab of muscle was right. I had been sloppy. I could have easily saved the situation if I’d tried harder. But I hadn’t. And I definitely don’t need Adam Stanmore pointing it out. ‘Yeah. You are,’ I lied. ‘I wasn’t sloppy. I was too busy getting fucked by Mr. Price last night to give a shit about that whiney bitch.’ I watched his face as my words left my mouth. Waited for them to hit and sink in. Waited to see his lips or eyes droop or his forehead to wrinkle. His shoulders to slump or his nostrils to flare. I wanted to see the pain written across his face. But it didn’t come. He smiled. Then he laughed. ‘It’s true,’ I said, trying my best to hide the confusion creeping across my own. ‘I’m sure it is,’ he said, still smiling. ‘I hope the two of you are very happy together.’ ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ ‘Nothing. Like I said, I hope you’re happy.’ Then neither of us spoke. Him staring, the same smirk across his obnoxious but still handsome face. Me trying to figure out what was going on. Why he hadn’t even batted an eyelid when I’d told him about Tim. Then it hit me. It was obvious. He didn’t believe me. Plain and simple. Otherwise there was no way he would have reacted like that. Cool and calm and uncaring. Yes, he’d told me, stood in this exact location, that he was done with Mr. Price. But I remembered that Sunday morning in his parents’ bedroom vividly. I remembered his face. His eyes. Sad and confused and lonely. Wondering if he would ever see his first love again. If he would ever speak to him. Look at him. Touch him. There’s no way he’s happy for me. ‘Believe what you like,’ I said. ‘It’s the truth.’ ‘Whatever,’ he said. ‘Is that it?’ ‘Is what it?’ ‘Is that all you wanted to talk about?’ I considered thanking him. Mentioning my life at school had improved since he’d come out as bi. That, amazingly, it was somehow safer for me now. But there was something in his smile and in his stare. They were more than simple façades: cover-ups of his jealousy and insecurities. There was something else in there. Contempt. Fuck him. I would rather eat my own shit and die of dysentery than thank him now. ‘Yeah that’s everything,’ I said. As I spoke, a set of headlights turned into the car park. A BMW, charcoal in the evening twilight, but flashing brilliant silver as it passed under the school floodlights. ‘It’s a shame, Oscar,’ he said, pushing himself off the wall. ‘I was really hoping you were about to tell me we would have some fun with that lad tonight.’ ‘Why tonight?’ ‘No reason,’ he said, his smile widening. Walking over to the car he opened the passenger door. Scoffed to himself again and then shot me a look. But he wasn’t hiding anything anymore. It was a look dripping with disdain and hatred. A look designed not just to kill, but to hang, draw, quarter and then set my disembowelled corpse ablaze. ‘Have a good weekend,’ he said. Slam. The car drove away. I watched it turn left out the car park and join the rest of the meandering traffic, almost ethereal among the red and yellow clouds of exhaust smoke and steam. Thoughts flew around and around my head as I walked home. Adam was undoubtedly upset about Mr. Price. That was obvious enough, going by his farewell. But tough shit. I’d already told him I was after Pricey and he’d given me the go ahead. Not that I’d even needed it. If he was going to let his hopeless, long-expired feelings get in the way of any chance of fun between us in the future, then that was his problem. If he wanted to sulk and stew, then he could be my guest. I didn’t need him anymore. But there was something about what he’d said to me that stuck. Anchored itself in the pit of my stomach and began to bubble and churn as I crossed the field toward my house. Have a good weekend. He was planning something. He knew where Tim lived. He knew about us. It was safe to assume Tim and I would be seeing each other again, so maybe he was going to make a surprise appearance? Confess his undying love. Tell Mr. Price the truth. Expose my lie. Which cannot happen. Luckily it was easily avoidable. I’d just have to convince Tim to take us somewhere else. Somewhere out of town. To a hotel in the city maybe. A dirty weekend. Problem solved. If only I’d known the problem was just beginning.
  12. Jack Ladd

    Part 23

    I slept like a log that night. Smack, bang out of it and on my way to dreamland within a minute of face-planting my pillow. No shower. No wank. I didn’t even check my phone. All I could do was throw off my clothes, crawl under my duvet and let my final thoughts and feelings of the day play out through my exhausted mind and body like a movie reel stripped apart, cut up and reassembled at random. The smell of Mr. Price on my skin. The buzz of my hole still tingling after its magnificent workout. The taste of beer and sweat on my tongue. The ache in my throat. The memory of his load, hot and gooey, spurting into my stomach. The sting of my knee after throwing myself in his path. Trying to escape his bedroom. His interrogation. My brilliant lie. His car. Then my mum. Beautiful, like when I was a little kid. Not tired and stressed and sad like the last time I’d seen her. Her long blonde hair, down to her shoulders, was almost shimmering in the sun streaming through a window behind her. Her grey-blue eyes the colour of ice but warm as summer. Her skin healthy and sun-kissed. Her lips full and smiling. We were at home. Our home. In the kitchen. Dad was there too. Laughing at something he was reading in the paper. Sat at the table he looked younger and fitter. His hair was thicker and his face was free of the ghostly wrinkles and lines I was used to seeing in the incessant blue glow of his computer screen. He’s happy. They were excited about today. Something big was happening. Something to do with me. ‘You can’t be late, Oscar,’ she said, pinning a gold flower to the lapel of a black blazer I realised I was wearing. I looked down at myself. Under the blazer was a black shirt complete with gold tie and gold waistcoat. Below was a pair of black trousers that stopped above highly polished gold brogues. ‘Your mother’s right,’ Dad said, placing his paper on the table and walking over to me. He put his hands on my shoulders and beamed. ‘It’s your big day, son. You can’t keep him waiting.’ Then there was a church. Small and stone but with a steeple that reached to the sky. Long and thin like a needle it stretched on for miles, piercing a thick layer of grey ominous cloud and disappearing out of sight. So stretched it was distorted, like a glitch in a computer game. It shuddered and lurched and then suddenly disappeared, only to reappear exactly as it was half or a quarter-second later. But no one seemed to notice. Not one of the guests outside seemed to care. They were too busy looking at me. Standing still and staring. No smiles. No frowns. Blank, dead expressions on their faces. Faces I don’t recognise. I tried to focus on a woman in a black dress and gold hat as I reached the church doors. Her eyes and nose and mouth moved like liquid. Anywhere I looked her features would slink out of sight. Like water. ‘Go on, son,’ Mum said behind me, now dressed in black and gold. ‘He’s waiting for you.’ Taking a deep breath, I looked up. The steeple had disappeared. The sky was blue again and the sun was back out. The church was a normal size and shape. A fleeting bird song chirped through the air. Discordant and jarring. ‘Hurry,’ Dad said, his gold and black suit sharp and fitted. I heaved open the heavy wooden doors but they flew open like they weighed nothing at all. Slamming against the walls inside they sent a deafening boom through the church. A man, in a matching gold and black suit, was stood at an altar a long way away. Far longer than possible in such a small building, but the aisle, covered in a tatty, old red carpet, reached on regardless. He turned at the bang of ancient wood on ancient rock. It was Tim. Too far away to see, but I knew it was him. Tim Price, waiting for me. We’re getting married? I took a step forward. And another. Then another and another. But no matter how many I took I couldn’t get any closer. No matter how far I walked he stayed out of reach. Waiting for me to join him. Beckoning me closer. I ran. As fast as I could. The carpet below whirring under my feet like a treadmill. The same fibres, the same brown stains and the same frayed edges repeating and repeating as my arms and legs pumped. Then I tripped, forward onto my face, but as I hit the ground the floor disintegrated. It shattered apart like exploding glass. Benches and carpet and bibles and candles falling and spinning like Alice down the rabbit hole. Tumbling alongside me into darkness. Until I landed. Abrupt but softly and upright in a chair. An old green, fabric chair in an office. Mr. Price’s office. In front of me was his computer. On the computer was a folder. Nameless. I clicked it open and double clicked the single file inside. It was a video. A video of Adam and Mr. Price standing in a bedroom and kissing. Tim’s bedroom. Half-naked: their shirts off. Their hard, muscular torsos against each other. Their strong hands touching and gliding over bulging biceps and pecs and triceps and deltoids and abs. Then the camera panned back. Lying on the bed, naked and smirking, was James. My ginger pocket rocket, grinning up at them. Him five-foot-five and on his back. Mr. Price ten inches taller and Adam three inches taller still now either side of the bed. Dwarfing the smooth, toned teen like giants. Then James sat up, got on all fours and opened his mouth. Began to work Adam’s cock, sucking on it until he was as hard as diamond between his lips. Mr. Price moved to the other end. Pulled James’s arse apart and ate his hole. I watched. Astonished. Amazed. And then furious. My stomach twisted as Tim’s powerful jaw stopped moving. I shook with rage as he gathered a mouthful of spit and let it fly. Tears began to well as he slid himself inside raw. For five seconds, I watched them fuck him. Roast James like a pig on a spit. Both staring at each other, grunting and moaning. Reaching out and caressing. Stroking. Pinching. All three loving every second. James abandoning himself. Adam lost in Tim’s eyes. Tim lost in his. Tim. Lost. Bleep, bleep, bleep! My alarm yanked me back to consciousness. Loud and fast and disorientating. Clawing at my bedside table, I picked up my phone. Seven in the morning. Thumbing the alarm to snooze I snuggled back under the covers for warmth, my heart still pounding. What the fuck was that? A nightmare? But it shouldn’t have been. The whole messed-up church scenario aside, the idea of Tim and Adam working James between the two of them was ball-tinglingly awesome. Especially if I had a ringside seat or a camera for action shots. At least it should have been. Lying in bed, my forehead beading with sweat, all I could think about was how I’d felt. Upset. Envious. Scared. Weak. Picking up my phone again, I checked my texts. Four new messages. All from James from the night before. Each getting progressively more annoying and needy. First, he’d asked if I was still coming over. Then if I was ok. Then if there’d been a reason why I was ignoring him. Then, finally, one last instalment calling me a dickhead. All from not coming over one evening out of too many to count. This kid isn’t worth the trouble. Throwing my phone at a pile of dirty clothes on the floor, I rolled out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. I used the toilet and showered. Brushed my teeth and did my hair. Back in my room I dressed in my uniform. White shirt, navy blue blazer, black trousers, purple and navy striped tie. Black socks and shoes. Dad’s door was closed, as usual, but there were no sounds of mouse clicks or keyboards being furiously tapped. No swearing through headphones at spotty teenagers on the other side of the world. Maybe he’s actually gone to sleep. Down in the kitchen I put two slices of bread under the grill and made a cup of tea. Sat and sipped, still digesting my dream, as my breakfast slowly crisped under red hot elements. There was only one explanation. One explanation to why I’d gotten upset. Why seeing the three of them together had made my blood boil and why I’d dreamt about marrying the guy. I really like him. More than his body. More than using him to escape my cesspit of a home and school life. I missed him. His voice, his smell, his touch. I didn’t want to marry him. Marriage was something my parents did, so naturally I’d decided years ago that there was no way I would ever tie myself to another person like that. Tie myself to their life and their problems until death do us part. Not in a million years. But it must have meant something. Something big. Not to mention the fact that, as I spread butter and jam onto my toast, when it came to James and his texts waiting unanswered in my inbox, I didn’t care. I didn’t give a toss if he didn’t want to see or speak to me again. After all my hard work grooming and preparing him to get double dicked, he didn’t matter anymore. All that time wasted and I wasn’t bothered. I wasn’t even that bothered about seeing Adam again. It’s all about Pricey. I thought about him on the walk to school and all through first and second periods. French and music. Thought about him at break. Fantasised about him so much during double English I had to spend fifteen minutes in the library toilets at lunch rubbing one out. But as I stepped back into the cold, red-faced and semi-hard under my school trousers, my pondering on what the two of us were going to get up to on the weekend was cut short. Literally. James. We collided. His face, my chest. ‘Sorry,’ he muttered, scurrying backwards and out of my way, no doubt an inbuilt response for a short arse like him. But then he looked up and his demeanour shifted in an instant. Submissive subservience to narrow-eyed fury. ‘Oh. It’s you,’ he said. For a moment, I contemplated rolling my eyes and ignoring him. Walking away from his bitching. But, with the endorphins from freshly emptied balls still surging, I was prepared to hear him out. Humour him for a few minutes. After all, as much as I had bigger fish to fry, his arse was still one of the best I’d ever had. So, I decided that I should try to kill two birds with one stone. Set him straight and sweet talk him back to my side. ‘Well spotted,’ I said. ‘Where the fuck were you last night? You said you were coming over.’ ‘Yeah sorry, something came up.’ ‘Why didn’t you text me?’ ‘I forgot.’ ‘You forgot?’ ‘Listen, James,’ I said, taking him by the arm and pulling him around the corner, away from a passing group of year tens. ‘What’s your problem?’ ‘My problem?’ ‘Yeah, your problem. Why do you have to text me twenty-four seven?’ ‘I don’t text you twenty-four seven!’ ‘Surely you get my point, though? I’m still at the same school as you. I still live in the same town.’ Checking left and right – all clear – I ran the backs of my fingers down his cheek. ‘I’m not going anywhere.’ He moved his head away, but looked up through calmer eyes. He frowned. ‘I just don’t understand why you didn’t reply.’ ‘Like I said, I’m sorry, I forgot.’ ‘Do you even want to be my boyfriend?’ I’d been waiting for that question for days. Maybe even a week. It had been clear for a long time he thought we were dating. Officially together and all that bollocks. There’d just been no need to break his delusion. Until now. Taking a deep breath I collected my thoughts. It was earlier than I’d wanted, but it was now or never. Placing my hands either side of his waist, I pulled him in close. ‘Listen, handsome. I need to tell you something,’ I said. ‘What?’ he said, his nervous eyes darting left and right, trying to read mine. Nervous because of what I was doing and where we were, but also the same nerves as the first time I’d ever touched him. Scared but loving it. ‘This boyfriend thing. I’m super flattered, but I have to be honest with you. I don’t think I can do it.’ His eyes widened in sadness and shock. He pulled away from my hold. His mouth opened a fraction, saying nothing. ‘But it’s not you. It’s me. I promise,’ I continued. ‘So what? That’s it? You’re just going to stop talking to me all of a sudden?’ ‘No, no. Not at all. What I mean is, I can’t be your boyfriend because it wouldn’t be fair on you.’ ‘Fair?’ ‘Yeah. Fair. I’m not ready for it. I want more.’ ‘What do you mean more?’ ‘Adam.’ ‘Adam?’ ‘He wants to join in. With us. And I want it too.’ ‘Join in?’ ‘A threesome. You, me, him.’ ‘I get the picture!’ he snapped. ‘Come on, don’t tell me you’re not keen on the idea?’ ‘All this time,’ he said, his eyes glistening with tears. ‘All this time when you talked about him. About how he wanted to get together so he could have someone to relate to. That was all crap, wasn’t it? You’ve never cared about me. You were just using me.’ ‘That’s not true,’ I said. But it didn’t sound convincing. I was already switching off and it was beginning to show. He shook his head. Wiped his eyes. Then he began to walk away. ‘Come on, James. Don’t be a pussy. You’ll love it,’ I said, no more shits to give. It didn’t go down well. ‘Fuck you, Oscar.’ After that, other than in class or across the field or in the corridor, I didn’t see James again. But like I said, I didn’t care. I have Tim.
  13. Jack Ladd

    Part 22

    ‘What shall we do now?’ I said. ‘That’s up to you,’ he said, stroking a stray stand of my hair back into place. His fingertips were hot against my forehead and a tingle spread out and around to the back of my head as he stroked. Then it blissfully rolled down my spine all the way to the soles of my feet. Our spoon session over, he was on top of me again. In between my legs like before. Both of us still naked on his oversized bed; our cocks soft but our muscled bodies hard. His abs on mine. His chest on mine. My load dry and crusting on my stomach and sticking his chest hair together. Our breath slow and controlled and normal. Everything else far from it. ‘Oh yeah?’ I said, lost in his sensual eyes. ‘Yeah. The way I see it, you have two options,’ he said. ‘I like a choice.’ ‘One, we shower and I take you home. Or two, you stay here a little longer and we make more memories.’ ‘What time is it?’ I said. Shifting onto his side he peered at a small digital clock on his bedside table. Rolled back on top of me and said, ‘Eleven.’ ‘Plenty of time,’ I said. ‘For?’ ‘Option two.’ ‘Good lad,’ he said. He kissed me on the mouth. Not fast but not slow either. Just the right amount of speed and force and softness and tongue. Perfect. Everything about him was. His body. His lips. His chin. His nose. His ears. His voice. His laugh. His cock. His power. I wanted more. I wanted to see what else I could add to the list of what was perfect about Mr. Price. ‘I want to fuck you this time,’ I said, my balls tightening at the thought of burying my cock between his cheeks. But he laughed. Raised a single eyebrow and said, ‘Don’t hate me, but I’m not into that.’ I should have kept my mouth shut. ‘Bullshit,’ I said. ‘Sorry, matey. It’s not.’ I wasn’t thinking straight. I was too caught up in the moment. Too excited. Too eager. Too idiotic. ‘Yes, it is. You were on your back when your wife caught you,’ I said. Playtime over. His smile vanished. His forehead crinkled and he cocked his head to the side. But not like before. Not smirking like in the park. Not sizzling with excitement like downstairs in the hallway. This time he was confused. Confused and angry. It was then I realised what I’d said. What I’d done. He’d told me about his wife. How she’d caught him with another man in the very room we were lying in. But he hadn’t given me the details. The other man had given me those. ‘Who told you that?’ he said. ‘You did,’ I lied. He rolled off me. All the way this time. Then he walked to the centre of the room and picked up his underwear. Pulled them on and up and turned. Stared at me for a second before moving to the end of the bed, blocking out the light from above. In the darkness, his face was partially hidden, but I could still make out the whites of his eyes glistening in the dim. No, not glistening. Piercing into me like razor sharp icicles. ‘No, I didn’t,’ he said. ‘Yes, you did,’ I lied again, sitting up against the headboard and looking around the room for my clothes as nonchalantly as I could. Panic rising in my throat. I’d put my foot it in royally, and the only solution I could think of was to leave. Get the fuck out. But there was no sign. No sign of my shirt. No sign of my shorts. Underwear. Socks. Trainers. House key. Then I remembered. Half of my outfit was outside on the landing. The rest was crumpled in a heap downstairs, carelessly discarded in the heat of the moment. I was completely naked. Naked and defenceless and cornered. ‘Don’t lie to me. I know what I told you, and I didn’t say a single word about how or in what way my wife caught me. How do you know this?’ ‘I must have made it up,’ I said, hopping off the bed and walking towards the door. He sidestepped in front of me. All six-foot-three of him. Muscled and toned and unmoveable. ‘Where do you think you’re going?’ he said. ‘To get my clothes.’ ‘Not until you answer me.’ ‘Get out of my way.’ ‘No.’ I had three options. One was to kick him in the balls and run. Fling my leg up and peg it like the wind, snatching up clothes as I went. Which might work in the movies, but not in reality. Tim was a big guy, literally trained in physical education. And he’d played rugby all his life. He knew how to dodge and defend himself against oncoming body parts. There was a ninety-nine percent chance he would block and have me down on the floor immobilised in next to no time, even angrier. The second was to tell the truth. Admit that I’d lied to him. That I knew all about his wife and how she’d caught him. But then he would wonder. Wonder what else was a lie. The flood gates would open. How I knew where he ran. How old I was. Who told me I knew he was gay. He would never trust me again, which would have been fine if he was some random hook-up. I would never see or think of him again. I wouldn’t care. But he wasn’t and I did. Mr. Price was the best I’d ever had and everything I’d always wanted. And I wanted him again. Again and again and again. Option two was no good. Not in a million years, which left option three. Keep lying and lie some more. Put the blame on someone else. Create a distraction so big it blindsided him from the truth. Make someone else the problem. ‘Ok. Ok. I’m sorry,’ I said backing off. ‘I shouldn’t have lied to you, but I didn’t even think it was true.’ ‘Explain yourself.’ Sitting on the side of the bed I hung my head. Bunched up my body into my shoulders. Made myself look ashamed and upset. It worked. I sensed his body relax. His muscles unclench. His fists untighten. ‘Adam Stanmore,’ I said. I didn’t need to look up to know the name had made him flinch. At least mentally. But I did anyway. Staring at the floor he slumped his shoulders. His eyes glazed over, lost in deep thought. No doubt thinking of the schoolboy he’d spent hours with on the pitch. In the changing room. In his car. His home. His bed. The schoolboy who had made his life come crashing down like a tonne of bricks. ‘I heard from some friends still at school that he came in a couple weeks ago,’ I said. ‘Fucked up. All battered and bruised.’ ‘Oh.’ ‘Yeah. They said his dad beat him up because he’s gay or bi or whatever. Either way he doesn’t seem to care who knows.’ ‘Fuck,’ he muttered. Like he was muttering to himself. Like he’d forgotten I was in the room with him. Then he looked down into my eyes for the first time in two minutes. ‘Go on,’ he said. ‘We’re not friends or anything. I mean, I was in the year above,’ I lied. ‘But I wanted to talk to him.’ ‘Why? So you could find out his secrets?’ ‘No. Nothing like that. I wanted to see if there was anything I could do. Because I know what it feels like. To get the shit kicked out of you for being different.’ He said nothing. Nodded. Then he sat next to me on the side of the bed. Not touching but close. Close enough to feel his heat and smell his body. ‘I waited for him after school by the gates,’ I said. ‘To ask if there was anything I could do. But he told me he didn’t need my help. He laughed in my face. Said his boyfriend would look after him.’ ‘He has a boyfriend?’ ‘Yeah,’ I said, throwing Tim a look. A look he deciphered instantly. ‘He’s saying I’m his boyfriend?’ he said. ‘Not to everyone. Or at least I don’t think he is. But he did to me. It was like he was showing off. Bragging about bagging the ex-teacher. Just like he brags about fucking girls at his house parties.’ Tim’s features softened and he nodded again. He was saying nothing but believing every word. But I couldn’t lay off. I needed to finish the lie. Plant it deep and cement it over. ‘I told him I didn’t believe him. That he didn’t need to make up stories to make himself feel better, because I didn’t care who he stuck his dick in. But then he told me you and him had been fooling around since he was sixteen. He said he was the reason your wife left. He said he had you on your back when she came home.’ ‘He told you that?’ I nodded. ‘And you believed him?’ ‘Like I said, not at first. I guessed you two must have spent a lot of time with each other, what with rugby practice, but the idea that you might like guys was, well, honestly it was too good to be true. But then when I saw you out running, I couldn’t stop thinking about you,’ I said, resting my fingers on his forearm. My touch snapped him out of his daze. His eyes locked on mine. Kind again. But tinged with something else. Fear. It was time to seal the deal with the best possible solvent. A sprinkling of truth. ‘What?’ he said. ‘You were right. I did fall over on purpose.’ ‘What? Why?’ ‘I didn’t know how else to talk to you. I thought you were ignoring me all those times I waved and smiled because Adam was telling the truth. That you two were together and you weren’t interested.’ ‘Why didn’t you just say hi?’ ‘I was jealous.’ ‘We’re not together. I haven’t seen him in over a year.’ ‘I know that now. Well, I went ahead and assumed. But I like you. I’ve fancied you since I can remember. I thought you and me would never get together, so I ignored what Adam said. Passed it off as bullshit from the world’s biggest bullshitter. But then, watching you run around that field in your red t-shirt and your tiny shorts, I had to find out for myself. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before. I thought it would be best if I just pretended like I didn’t know anything.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because you’d think I was sad. And desperate. I would.’ He didn’t reply. Not for a while at least. But he did put his arm around me. Around my shoulders. Then he pulled me into him and kissed me on the side of the head. ‘Thank you for being honest, Oscar,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry for not telling you sooner.’ ‘It’s ok. I understand. It’s difficult.’ ‘Are you ok?’ I said. ‘I’ve been better.’ ‘Can I help?’ ‘Not really.’ ‘You sure?’ ‘Just promise me you won’t say anything about this to anyone. I could get in a lot of trouble if people hear what he’s saying.’ ‘He’s eighteen now.’ ‘It doesn’t matter. What we did was wrong. And at the end of the day it’s his word against mine. He’s the star rugby captain and I’m the disgraced ex-teacher. I don’t like my odds.’ ‘So, it’s true? He was the guy she caught you with?’ ‘Yes. But the rest isn’t. I haven’t seen or spoken to him since I quit.’ ‘I’m guessing that’s the reason you’re not into taking it up the arse?’ He nodded. Then he nudged me playfully. Said, ‘It does look like a lot of fun though.’ I laughed. But nowhere near as hard as I’d wanted. Mr. Price had just bought my utter bollocks about Adam and I’d managed to save myself by the skin of my teeth. I would have cackled maniacally if I could. Then the room went quiet and neither of us spoke for almost two minutes. ‘Should I go?’ I said. ‘Probably,’ he said. ‘Can I see you again?’ ‘Yes. I’d like that.’ ‘When?’ ‘How about this weekend? I’ll cook for you. You can let me know exactly how terrible I am in the kitchen.’ We laughed. Then ten minutes later we were dressed. Two minutes after that I was in his car. The journey to my house took five minutes and we talked the whole way. Talked about how great the evening had been. In the woods. On his sofa. Against the wall. On the landing. In his bed. We talked about how funny it was that I’d thrown myself in front of him and how glad he was that I had. He parked a few doors down from my house and placed his hand on my leg, the car interior light bright and blazing between us. Our reflections in the black glass of the windows. Total darkness outside. ‘Oscar, I want to say thanks for tonight.’ ‘You really don’t need to thank me.’ ‘I do. It was nice to have someone to speak to. All the stuff about Adam aside, until tonight I didn’t know how nice it could be to just be myself with someone. Someone who doesn’t judge me over my past. So, thank you.’ His words hit me. Hard and soft at the same time, like a sledgehammer made of marshmallow, right in the centre of my ribs. Then something peculiar happened. Something I hadn’t felt in a very long time. A swelling in my chest. In my heart. Warm and strong and powerful, heating and radiating through me. Pulling my lips into a smile I couldn’t shake. I like him. Not just his body or his legs or the fantasy of Mr. Price. I really liked him. ‘It was a pleasure, sir,’ I said, still unable to shake my smile. ‘Are you going to talk to Adam?’ ‘About what he’s been saying?’ I nodded, my fingers, toes and bollocks crossed for the answer I needed. ‘No. I thought about it, but at the end of the day, I don’t want to dredge up long-dead feelings. He can say what he wants, he’s obviously going through a tough time, but just as long as other people don’t corroborate his story I’m sure I’ll be fine.’ Phew. ‘I understand,’ I said. ‘Just one thing, though,’ he said. ‘What?’ ‘Is there anything else I should know? Anything else you’re not telling me?’ ‘Like what?’ ‘Nothing specific. It’s just, not so long ago, there were a lot of lies in my life. And I don’t want that anymore. If something you’ve told me isn’t true, no matter what it is, this is your chance to tell me. I won’t care, I promise.’ My smile disappeared. I thought about sitting on Adam’s bed all those weeks ago. Listening to his stories and prying out the juicy information. Leaving him high and dry and then laughing in his face. Stalking Mr. Price. Watching him on my reconnaissance missions in the park. Waiting for the right time. Telling him I was nineteen. Pretending to know nothing about his past. Naked in his bed, with the hum of his cock still resonating through my body, lying again and again. Lost in his eyes, a small part of me wanted to tell the truth. The part buzzing and tingling from his words. This is my chance. He won’t care. Of course he will. I’ve been a psycho. If I tell him the truth, then what? It will be over and I’ll never feel this feeling again. ‘No,’ I said. ‘There’s nothing else. I promise.’ ‘Good,’ he said smiling. ‘Sleep tight, handsome boy.’ ‘Good night, sir.’ What’s the harm in one more lie? More than I could have imagined.
  14. Jack Ladd

    Part 18

    Fizzing and foaming across my tongue, the beer was cold and delicious. It soothed my still burning throat as it poured into my stomach, mingling with whatever was left of the first gift Tim Price had given me that evening. ‘It’s a shit story,’ I said. ‘It can’t be that shit,’ he said, slumping back into his chair opposite me at the dining table. ‘That’s not what I meant,’ I said before taking a bigger sip to try and loosen the knots twisting tighter. ‘I mean it ain’t pretty.’ ‘If you don’t want to talk about it, we don’t have to,’ he said. I nodded. Opened my mouth to speak. To change the subject. Ask for a tour of his house. Get him on his feet and moving so I could brush up against him. Push my arse into his groin. Find somewhere comfy and horizontal where I could finally take off my running shorts and show him exactly how big a boy I was. But the words didn’t come. Like he’d kicked a hornet’s nest, memories began swarming angrily around my mind. The beat of their footsteps on concrete. The thunderous drone of their jeers booming through the red brick quad. The agonising stings of their kicks and stamps and smiles. I couldn’t look at him. Fixed my gaze on my beer bottle. Concentrated on its neck, moist with condensation, as the all too familiar rage began to simmer. I watched a stray water droplet lose its grip and hurtle south. Alone. Separated. Fragile. Saw it slow down over the bulge of the bottle before catching on the glossy paper label. I squashed it with my thumb. ‘What’s it to you anyway?’ I said. This time I looked up. Into his eyes still searing over me. They softened as our gazes connected and a kindness glistened over their surfaces. It spread out across his face and into his strong jaw muscles, lifting them into a gentle smile. A smile unnoticeable from afar, say in the autumnal shadows of a park, but undeniable up close. Under the harsh bare bulb accentuating every one of his powerful features. ‘Nothing,’ he said before taking a sip of his beer. He placed his bottle gently and silently on the table. ‘I told you about my wife, now it’s your turn. I believe they call it a conversation.’ The corner of my lip curled into a grin. Now there was no denying Mr. Price was more than just a handsome face attached to a heavenly body. He was sexy and funny. But it wasn’t enough to change my tune. My mind was stuck on repeat, replaying scenes over and over in fast forward. Scenes I’d forced myself to forget and failed to yet again. Memories I’d pushed down to where all the other disappointments dwelled, safely buried alongside my parents. Until now. ‘I don’t need your pity,’ I said, placing my beer on the table harder than I’d intended. Glass clapped loudly against wood in the night time still. His eyes darted down and back up. ‘You won’t get anything if you do that to my table again,’ he said. Then he smiled, playfully kicking me. ‘Whoops,’ I muttered. ‘You haven’t told anyone before have you?’ I shook my head. Words escaping me again. I hadn’t told anybody. Not a soul. Plenty of people knew. Plenty of people had watched it happen. Said nothing. Did nothing. But no one knew the whole story. No one had ever asked. ‘It’s good to talk,’ he said. ‘How would you know?’ He sighed. Quietly and quickly. Sipped his beer. Placed it back on the table harder this time. ‘You think it was easy for me?’ he said, his tone tougher but still open. Firm but friendly. Once a teacher always a teacher. ‘No,’ I said, unable to stop myself sounding like a moody teenager caught smoking. ‘And you know how I dealt with it? How I’m dealing with it?’ I shrugged and looked away. Toward the hallway and the front door. Anger bubbling hotter and heavier, sizzling over the sides. I didn’t run around a field every day for the last two weeks and given him the best blowjob of his life for a beer and a counselling session. ‘I talked about it,’ he continued, his gaze still burning over me. I ignored him. Patronising arsehole. ‘I said I talked about it,’ he said. ‘Who with?’ I said suddenly, twisting to face him. ‘Your wife?’ ‘No. A therapist.’ For three seconds neither of us said anything. His face hard. Blank and uncaring. Just like when I’d first seen him in the park. When I’d smiled and winked and got nothing. I gulped down a large swig of beer and the red haze began to lift, diluted by a rising panic. I’d forgotten where and who I was with, and why I’d ran around that stupid field in the first place. ‘Sorry,’ I said, tearing off a jagged strand of beer label. Soaked through it peeled off the glass like a hot knife through butter, leaving a trail of gooey white paper bits. ‘That was rude of me,’ I said. His smile returned. Bigger and more obvious. Said, ‘It’s ok. Let’s talk about something else.’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘You’re right. It’s good to talk.’ ‘It is.’ ‘But I’ll keep it short.’ ‘Short and sweet,’ he said. I nodded. Placed my almost empty bottle on the table. Wrapped both hands around it. Gently squeezing the cold glass, I took a deep breath. Told myself to be like the bottle. To be hard and strong but see-through. He was obviously interested. In me. In my life. And that was a good sign. The best. But I had to be careful. I’d suppressed this for a reason: to be strong. I wasn’t weak and beaten and broken anymore. The last thing I wanted was to talk too much. Undo my good work. Break down and shatter into a million razor sharp pieces. ‘It happened about three months ago,’ I said, relaxing my grip on the glass. ‘I’d been chatting to this lad online.’ ‘Gaydar?’ he said ‘Yeah. You know it?’ He nodded. Smiled shyly. Said, ‘I’ve heard of it. Haven’t tried it.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘I don’t know. I suppose I like meeting people in person. Call me old fashioned,’ he said. A wave of blood rushed south and filled my balls. Vivid flashbacks of the Old Creek forest gripped my body. My knee, still raw and muddy, pulsed in time with my heartbeat. ‘Since when has tying up boys in public been old fashioned?’ ‘Oh forever,’ he said with a wink before draining his beer. ‘Want another?’ ‘Sure.’ ‘Keep talking. I can hear you from in there.’ ‘Ok,’ I said, watching his perfect arse cheeks rise up and down under his tight, black rugby shorts and relieved to be free of his piercing gaze if only for a moment. He walked into the kitchen. ‘So, this guy,’ I said, the fridge door suctioning open. ‘He was my age.’ Bottles clinked. ‘We agreed to meet at the bowling alley out by the cinema.’ Two hisses whispered into the room as metal caps were prised off. ‘It was a Sunday so it was quiet. We played a couple of games. Had some fun in the toilets.’ Placing two fresh beers on the table he sat back down and slouched forward. A hot hand gripped my shin and lifted my leg to massage my other foot. His cock still solid. ‘The bowling alley toilets. Good to know,’ he said. I nodded and took a swig of my new beer. It was a different brand. Sweeter but stronger. ‘But we were caught,’ I said. ‘The staff?’ ‘No. They wouldn’t care if you were dogging in the carpark.’ ‘Who?’ ‘This waste of space in the year below. Mark Jenkins. He walked into the toilets just as we came out of the cubicle.’ ‘Shit.’ ‘Yeah. Me with a boner running down my jean leg. The other kid all teary after trying to deep throat me and then gagging on my load. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what we’d been up to.’ ‘I remember that kid. Nerdy looking. Big thick black glasses?’ he said. ‘Yeah, that’s him.’ ‘Harmless, surely? What did you say to him?’ ‘Nothing. We all froze. Then he legged it before I could say anything. I knew, then and there, shit was going to hit the fan.’ ‘Did it?’ ‘Big time,’ I said. ‘The next day he must have told anyone who would listen. All morning they whispered. Stared at me. Laughed. Pointed. Then at break a group of them came to find me.’ He nodded slowly. He knew what my school was like. How vicious boys can be when they’re lumped together for years on end without any female interaction. How ugly things can turn when pack mentality kicks in. ‘Where?’ he said. ‘The physics quad.’ ‘Did they hurt you?’ I wanted to say no. Shrug it off. Tell him I ran away. Make up some lie. I was done talking. Done remembering. Done feeling. Done forcing down the lump in my throat. But my face was giving him all the answers he needed. He nodded, stopped massaging and softly placed his hand on the top of my foot. ‘I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you,’ he said. ‘I told you I don’t need your pity.’ ‘You’re right,’ he said. ‘You don’t. But I’m still sorry.’ I realised I’d been staring at my bottle again. I’d picked it up and was squeezing it so hard I was surprised it hadn’t ripped open my hands. I looked up, into his eyes, and a warmth ran through me. Not hot, but warm. Warm and easy and simple. Who knew it really is good to talk? ‘They broke four of my ribs. Pushed me to the ground and stamped.’ He said nothing. His stare unwavering. ‘I didn’t even fight back. I just curled into a ball and waited for the teachers to break it up.’ ‘What happened?’ ‘The usual. The group all got detentions and a couple were suspended. I was told to get up and walk it off. So I walked straight out of the school gates to the hospital. Told them it was a rugby accident.’ ‘Why?’ ‘It was easier.’ ‘It’s nothing to be ashamed of.’ I laughed. Said, ‘I’m not ashamed. I’m glad.’ ‘You’re glad?’ ‘Yes. That Oscar doesn’t exist anymore. The Oscar pretending to be straight and clinging to that lie. He was weak. And he died on that concrete. He’s never coming back.’ For two seconds, he stared at me. Disbelief in his eyes. In that first second, I knew how he felt. I had no idea where that had come from either. But I felt better. Stronger and harder and more see-through. I smiled. Shrugged. ‘Anyway, that’s my shit story and you were the first to hear it. Consider yourself lucky.’ He widened his eyes and took a large swig of beer. Said, ‘I do. Very lucky. The worst I got was a few scratches when she caught me.’ ‘Ouch.’ ‘What did your parents say?’ he said. I shrugged again. Said, ‘Nothing. Mum left when I was fourteen. Didn’t say goodbye. Dad didn’t even notice when I came home battered and bruised. He stopped caring about me a long time ago. But that’s ok. He’s a twat.’ ‘Wow,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘What?’ ‘You’ve had it tough, matey.’ ‘It’s not all bad.’ ‘No?’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘No parents mean I can do whatever I want. Case in point.’ I nodded. He nodded back. ‘And, since I was so publicly outed, all the other boys struggling with their sexuality know who to add on MSN, don’t they?’ He laughed. Loud and booming. Grabbed my foot with both hands and squeezed it hard. Dug his fingertips deep into my sole. My leg kicked out all by itself under the intensity, shaking the table. I wrenched my foot from his grip. ‘Lucky fucker,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t say that.’ ‘Why not?’ Standing I picked up my beer and looked left to right. Locked my eyes on his. ‘Well, for one, I’ve been here for almost an hour and you still haven’t given me a tour.’
  15. Jack Ladd

    Part 17

    Like most average towns in England, where I grew up was split into three. The good. The bad. And the mundane. James, my ginger twink, lived in the good. West and high on a hill where redundant old halls and stables had been converted into huge, red-brick homes complete with winding driveways and security gates. My father and I lived in the bad. A stretch of land to the east. On the outskirts. Bulldozed and flattened for mass-built housing. All with the same cheap, rust-coloured brick and white, plastic rimmed windows. Crammed together and forgotten about. Everything else was the mundane. Boxy, bog-standard buildings. Some new, most dated. Some old and full of character but uncared for and unloved: weeds and rubbish tarnishing any potential. A few parks. An old creek. A couple of schools. Churches. A graveyard. All circling a town centre overrun with coffee-shop chains and charity shops, mobile phone stores and soulless clothing brands. Mr. Price lived in the mundane. Every street and lane had been set out practically identically by some sad, grey oligarchy. The same grey tarmac. The same yellow glaring out of the same dull metal streetlamps. The same attempt at a hanging basket or hedgerow to distract from the overflowing bins. Every house with its own patch of grass or gravel or driveway. All with a back garden, walled off and hidden from the world. Curtains closed. “Beware of dog” signs. The occasional cat scuttling across the road. Everything about Overslade Lane was as unremarkable as anticipated. His house, a two-storey terrace, suited the picture perfectly. As his keys chimed inside a glass bowl and a light clicked on, it was like any other terrace house. There was a hallway with a staircase in front. A living room to the left with a sofa, coffee table and TV. Past the stairs was a dining room. Through the dining room was a kitchen. Tiled. Clean. The only real difference between his and the places I’d found myself in since men had begun inviting me into them, was his was noticeably bare. There was furniture. Pretty much every household necessity. But all brand new. No scuffs or scratches. Factory-fresh smell. There were a few photos but no artwork. No knickknacks or meaningful treasures dotted about. Instead there were plenty of empty nail heads poking out of plaster, bordered by rectangular patches of brighter paint. Or indents in the carpet where something heavy had stood. Any other visitor would be forgiven in thinking it was a recent purchase. A new home freshly moved into. A blank canvas. But I could see the real story staring me in the face. The story of a house that had once belonged to a man and wife. Spacious and close to town. Ideal for little feet to run around. A perfect existence. Until one day the man had betrayed his wife. Hurt her beyond repair. Enraged and broken she’d cleared him out. Took everything that wasn’t nailed down, never to return. The man had no choice but to start his life afresh. How he wanted. The way it was meant to be. ‘You ok?’ he said, passing me a glass of ice cold water. Jumping out of my daydream I took a long gulp. Its chill soothed my sore throat. Placing it on the oak dining table I watched him take a seat opposite me. ‘Excellent,’ I croaked. ‘That throat of yours took one hell of a beating.’ I nodded. Eyes and smile wide. Said, ‘It was worth it.’ And it was. Every ruthless thrust. I had never thought I’d wind up at his house on the first day. One day definitely but not immediately. My initial plan had been to fall over and ask for a lift home. Suck him off in his car at best (I knew how much he enjoyed that) or get his number at worst. But that. Against a tree with my hands tied behind my back. His load in my stomach and my arse on his dining room chair. That was a remarkable result. Surreal. For a second, I couldn’t help but entertain the idea that I’d choked to death, and with some stroke of sheer luck, found myself in heaven. ‘What are you smiling at?’ he said. ‘Nothing,’ I said, suddenly aware of his deep brown eyes on mine, rich like chocolate in the harsh light from a bare bulb overhead. ‘I was thinking about earlier.’ ‘What about it?’ ‘It was a nice surprise,’ I said. ‘You can say that again,’ he said, relaxing into his chair and placing both hands on top of his shaved head. His biceps and triceps bulged out from under his t-shirt still darkened by sweat under his armpits. ‘That was one of the best runs I’ve ever had,’ he said. Smirking I took my trainers off. Used my heels to slip them onto the floor. Then I reached towards him under the table with my right foot. Found his leg. Ran my foot up until I felt the hot, softness of his package under the thick black cotton of his rugby shorts. Kept my foot there, leg straight, until the softness became hard. ‘Me too,’ I said. Taking my foot in his hands he lifted it so my heel pushed down onto his cock. He was almost as thick as my heel. He dug his thumbs into the sole of my foot and began to massage, grinding me against himself as he went. ‘How’s your knee?’ he said. ‘Much better,’ I said enjoying the release running all the way up my legs and into my lower back. ‘And your throat?’ Leaning forward I scooped up my glass, my hamstrings aching as I stretched. Took another sip of water, relaxed back and said, ‘Getting there.’ ‘Good lad. I’ll go easier on you next time.’ ‘Don’t you fucking dare.’ For five seconds we stared at each other, our slow breath and sweaty scents mingling in the air around us. Him smirking like he was reliving every second of the last hour in his head. Me forcing my lips from reaching up to my ears as his words ricocheted through my mind. Next time. Then we both tried to speak but our sounds collided in an unintelligible mix of noise. He nodded. Me first. ‘No please, sir, after you,’ I said. ‘Cheeky,’ he said, lifting my foot and letting it fall back to the floor. He looked me up and down. The half he could see above the table between us at least. Sat up in his chair, rearranged himself and cleared his throat. ‘I was going to ask why your parents wouldn’t be worried,’ he said. ‘What’s it to you?’ I said, channelling as much cheekiness as I could. He smirked. Said, ‘It’s getting late.’ ‘Do you want me to leave?’ I said, knowing full well he didn’t. ‘No,’ he said, his eyes almost glazing over as two thick veins bulged up his arms. Like he was grabbing onto something hard and long and thick under the table. ‘You’ve only just got here. But I don’t need some irate parent on my back,’ he said. ‘Don’t worry about them.’ ‘As long as you’re sure.’ ‘Positive,’ I said. ‘Good.’ Three letters formed in my throat and the word took shape. But before it flew out of my mouth I stopped myself. I didn’t need to ask why. Why he was being paranoid about my parents. I already knew the answer. It seemed that while Mr. Price had taken to his new life as a confirmed bachelor with flying colours, picking up boys in the park and taking them back to his recently refurbished pad, he still had wounds. Scars from what had happened inside these walls. I wondered where his bedroom was. If he and Adam had had any fun before venturing upstairs. In the living room. In the kitchen. On this table. I wondered if his wife had heard them. Or if she’d gone straight upstairs. Wandered into her room like any other day. Found her husband on his back with a six-foot-six sixteen-year-old on top of him. ‘Just moved in?’ I said. He narrowed his eyes on mine. Smiled. Laughed. A quick one-two from behind a closed mouth. Not forced but not gleeful. Like he’d been waiting for me to ask that specific question. ‘You really are a sneaky little bugger, aren’t you?’ he said, still smiling. I pulled my best confused face. Plastered it from chin to hairline. It helped that I was genuinely confused. ‘What do you mean?’ I said. ‘Come on, Oscar. Give me some credit. I know you know.’ ‘I honestly don’t know what you mean,’ I said. He frowned. Said, ‘You really don’t know?’ ‘Know what?’ He sighed long and deep. Rubbed the top of his head, his palm scratching against his stubble, and leaned back in his chair. Then he locked his eyes on me. Deadpan. ‘My wife left me. She caught me in bed with another man. Took everything.’ ‘How was I supposed to know that?’ I lied, relief flooding my body. ‘I just assumed the news had trickled down. Everyone else knows. My family. Her family. My friends. People I used to call friends. Ex-colleagues.’ I suppressed another smile. Said, ‘Is that why you left school?’ He nodded. Said, ‘Pretty much.’ ‘If it makes you feel any better, no one at school knew. Or at least while I was there.’ ‘Was?’ ‘I’m nineteen, remember. I left last year.’ ‘To be honest I’ve given up caring what people think,’ he said. ‘Me too,’ I said. This time the words had come straight out. Two little pieces of truth inside my brilliant lie. Raising his eyebrows he leaned closer. Cocked his head to the side: his signature move. ‘What do you mean?’ he said. ‘Nothing,’ I said. ‘Come on, sexy boy, tell me.’ Something strange happened next. My body tingled all over and the hairs on my arms stood on end. I’d had plenty of men call me sexy before. Handsome. Beautiful. Gorgeous. And I’d never tired of it. But from him it was different. It felt different. I suddenly found myself talking. Unable to resist his deep, masculine, mystifying voice. ‘I’ve given up caring what people think too,’ I said. ‘Already?’ ‘Age has nothing to do with it.’ ‘What people?’ he said. ‘My parents. The kids at school.’ ‘They knew–’ ‘That I’m a faggot?’ I interrupted. ‘Yup, they knew.’ ‘Don’t say that word,’ he said. ‘Why not?’ ‘Just don’t.’ We locked stares for another five seconds and I didn’t have to guess what he was thinking. His eyes gave him away. They burned with pain and sadness and fury. The same pain and sadness and fury I’d felt the first time I’d found myself on the receiving end of that hateful word. For him it would have been worse. Everyone must have been so proud of rugby teacher Tim and his beautiful wife and their happy little life together. Not anymore. ‘They can all fuck themselves,’ I said. He nodded slowly. Said, ‘How did they find out?’ ‘Long story,’ I said, my stomach already knotting. I tried to ignore the memories. Memories of that Monday morning. Their taunts echoing in my ears. The cold, wet grit of the quad soaking my shirt and scraping open my back. Their heavy black school shoes. The deafening cracks of my ribs. Standing, he walked to the kitchen. A fridge door opened and glass rattled. One hiss. Another. Walking back in, he passed me a cold beer, its brown glass already misting over with condensation. ‘We’ve got all night,’ he said.
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