After a 10-year time jump, we take a look at Alex's life in the present.
Absentmindedly playing with the orange wristband on his left arm, Alex was looking at the passing scenery through the passenger side window. There was uncomfortable silence in the car, as his father Nicholas was driving them home from the airport.
No one spoke a word since they got in the car half an hour ago. Alex was too embarrassed and even afraid, knowing he had screwed up royally. He was even fine with the silence, for he knew that once the floodgates open and his parents start talking, he would be in for a world of trouble.
He didn’t want to even look at his dad, keeping his eyes firmly on the window, observing the fields and trees they were passing by. It was just the sound of breathing that constantly kept them aware they weren’t alone in the car. The tension seemed to be rising by the second, until Nicholas finally decided to break it.
“I found you a job, you start on Monday,” he spoke calmly, as if issuing an everyday order.
“Where?” Alex asked quietly.
He felt nervous, as he wasn’t really used to working. During his third year of college, he had a part-time job in a gas station store, but that was it. Now, in his fourth year, getting a job was the last thing on his mind. Despite that, he was always a good student - smart and quick to pick things up, although a bit lazy. That last part especially became evident in the last semester.
“At the car wash on 39th. I know the owner,” Nicholas replied.
“At the car wash!” Alex moaned, ready to start complaining.
He especially wasn’t used to physical work. Gym was the only way he kept himself fit.
“Is that a problem?” his dad asked.
That’s horrible, Alex wanted to say. I’m going to have to wash other people’s cars, be all wet and cold all the time. And I bet the pay sucks. However, he knew not to push his luck too far.
“That’s so far,” he said. “Guess I’ll have to get my car fixed.”
“Your mom is using your car now. Unless you want to walk or get the city bus, I can drive you to work and back. It’s on my way.”
“Oh, come on, dad! That’s not fair!”
As soon as he said those words, he knew he crossed the line. He always did talk too much, and now he’s going to get his lesson.
“Not fair?! Alex, I swear I am so close to kicking you out and letting you walk all the way home,” his dad said. He was visibly annoyed and upset. “After what you just did?! I thought we raised you better than that, but obviously not. We always made sure to give you everything you wanted, and maybe that was our fault… I just can’t believe it. Spending everything we gave you on fucking gambling! How the hell did that happen? When did you become a gambling addict?”
“Dad, I’m not an addict,” Alex moaned, looking at his father. He had never seen him so angry.
“Then what the hell was that?” Nicholas asked, glancing at Alex as he started to open his mouth. “An accident? Don’t say it was an accident, or I swear…”
Alex immediately closed his mouth and looked away.
“I just… I got carried away, I wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry.”
Maybe dad doesn’t believe it, but it is true, Alex thought. I did get carried away.
At first it seemed like some harmless fun, but then he found himself enjoying it too much. I could get it all back at any time. All I need is some luck! But that luck never came and before he knew it, all the money was gone.
He had no choice but to phone his family and admit what he had done. That was without a doubt the scariest he’d ever felt in his life. His heart was pounding as if trying to break out from his chest, as he told his dad what happened over the phone. At first, Nicholas thought Alex was joking, but then he realized it was true. After a brief yelling outburst, he disconnected and Alex just wished the ground would open up and swallow him. Fifteen minutes later, Alex got a call from his dad, telling him he’d bought him a ticket to get back home from Paris.
And now here they were, on their way home from the airport.
“How do you get carried away with ALL the bloody money we saved for you?! I still can’t believe this is happening… How do you intend to finish college now?!” his dad was fuming.
I wish he would just quit it, Alex thought. I feel bad enough as it is, I know I did the wrong thing. Just tell me how you’re going to punish me and let’s get this over with. You don’t have to rub it in the whole drive home.
After another awkward silence, this time shorter than the last time, Nicholas continued.
“As I was saying, I can drive you to and from work, your choice. But the car… forget about it. When you have enough money to buy your own car, you’re free to do so. Any questions?”
“No,” Alex shook his head in shame.
“And don’t think you’re getting off easily. Mom is ready to talk to you when we get home.”
That’s what he was dreading most of all. As much as his dad was strict when it comes to job and money, his mom was the type that would tear you apart as a person. No doubt she was ready to tell him how he disappointed her as a son and how she would die from worrying about him. As if he didn’t already feel like the worst son in the world, he will once he gets home. I just can’t wait, Alex thought.
“Does Liz know?”
Just great, Alex thought, rolling his eyes. He’d never hear the end of it from his little sister.
“She’s not going to tell anyone,” his dad added.
“Thanks,” Alex said, not really meaning it. He didn’t care even if she spread the word. Who was she going to tell anyway? Her friends? Who cares about them? I haven’t lived here for over three years and all of my friends are gone to college, Alex thought. There’s no one here that I care about. No one that I know.
The talk to his mom, Gaby, went as badly as Alex had imagined it. She cried, measured her blood pressure in front of him and then took her pills to calm down. He couldn’t have felt more guilty if he tried. She even made him cry, something he didn’t do lightly.
The only good part was that dad took Liz out so they didn’t have to witness it. It was just him and mom, together in a room, talking and crying. Well, she did most of the talking while he just nodded and looked down at his feet, feeling like the worst son ever.
In the end, he promised to be better, make it up to her and never to cause her to worry like that again. And he really meant all of it, even though he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to actually follow through with it.
Alex spent the rest of the weekend mostly outside, walking around the town and remembering all the places and people, all the things he did with his friends. He had barely visited since he started college and didn’t even realize how much he missed Port Alvin until now. Also, he wanted to avoid being at home with his family. He didn’t want any more judgment and preaching.
In a weird sort of way, he was glad to be back, even though things were so different now. He was the black sheep of the family, Richie and Niall were gone to college. None of his other friends were here, no boyfriend. To top it all off, he was about to start working in a car wash. What a promising career ahead of me, he chuckled humorlessly at the thought.
He was one semester from graduation, and now he’s wasted his opportunity to finish college. Tourism and Marketing - those were his majors. Fat load of good they’ll do to me now, he thought.
As he walked down the street and looked at all the new shops that were opened since the last time he was there, he felt a hand on his shoulder gripping him tightly. Turning around, his eyes opened wide in shock.
“Well, well, look who’s back! I thought that was you! Must be my lucky day,” the chubby, tall guy with a buzzcut said, smirking at the frightened look on Alex’s face.
“Kris, uh, hey. I just got back like yesterday…”
“Welcome back, then. Did you come back to give me my money?”
Alex opened his mouth, but no words came out. He’d totally forgotten all about Kris. The sleazy bastard owned a sportsbook that Alex liked to visit before he went to college. Sometimes he’d win, other times he’d lose, but that damn Liverpool game cost him so much! Serves me right for thinking I was an expert in British football, Alex thought.
He hated the smug look on Kris’ face. The guy had finally caught him and he was clearly loving seeing Alex squirm.
“Should I come to your house later if you don’t have the money on you?” Kris asked threateningly, his grip on Alex’s shoulder getting even stronger.
“No, don’t come home,” Alex blurted out. He couldn’t risk his parents finding out he had another gambling debt. “I’ll come by and give you the money. Give me… uh, give me a week, ok?”
“Ok, but if you disappear on me again-”
“I won’t. I promise.”
“You have by next Sunday. I waited long enough for that money, don’t make me wait any more.”
Shoving him to the side, Kris left without another word.
Just fucking great! Where am I gonna get all that money, Alex wondered, turning around and rushing back home. Suddenly, he was no longer in the mood for strolling.
Monday for Alex started as badly as he had imagined it. The alarm clock woke him up way too early. Even in college he didn’t get up before eight, but now that he had a job, he had to be up at the crack of dawn.
“Oh God, I can’t do this,” he muttered as he rubbed his eyes, trying to come to his senses.
Washing his face with icy cold water helped a bit, though. Shit, I’m gonna have to be doing this every day, he thought. I don’t know how I’ll ever get used to it.
After putting on his clothes - nothing fancy because what’s the point? - and grabbing breakfast in the kitchen, he and his dad were off to work. Dad dropped him off at the carwash and drove off to the bank where he worked in the corporate department.
“If you can find a better job, feel free to quit here, but until then, you’re working here,” his dad had told him that morning.
Now that he stood in front of the car wash, Alex was sure he would not like it here. A middle-aged man appeared and started approaching him. This must be the boss dad told me about. Ugh, here we go, I guess.
“Alex, right? Nick told me you need a job. There’s always work around here, let me tell you that! I’m Ollie, nice to meet ya,” the man said, shaking his hand vigorously.
He was a sturdy man, average height, obviously used to lots of hard physical work. By the look on his face, he clearly loved his job. Alex could already tell they wouldn’t be friends outside of work.
“Uh, nice to meet you too,” he nodded.
“So, you ready to start?” Ollie asked, seeing Alex curiously looking around.
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Alrighty, then. Let’s go inside and I’ll show you what you’ll be doing. The other guys should be here shortly, they’re a good bunch of lads, you’ll see.”
Either ignoring or not even noticing Alex’s complete lack of enthusiasm, his boss led him inside, gave him a brief tour of the place and presented him with his uniform - an overall and rubber boots to keep his feet dry.
He had barely put on his uniform when he heard voices outside - those must be the other guys working here, he thought. Three guys came in, one about his age and the other two a bit older, shaking hands and greeting him. Well, Ollie was right about one thing, they did seem like a nice enough group - definitely loud and talkative, even more than me, Alex noticed.
The guys were ready in no time and the first cars started arriving soon after they opened.
Alex was obviously much slower than the rest of them, but luckily there was enough of them to cover all the vehicles that arrived. Being so self-conscious didn’t help at all. Half the time he kept thinking how ridiculous he looked in those clothes. Everyone else looked as if they were born in those uniforms, some of them even looked hot. Glancing at them, Alex couldn’t help but remember all the car mechanic and car wash gay porn he’s seen, which brought a smile to his face.
“Having a good time, eh?” Ollie asked, seeing Alex smile as he worked on a car. “See, told ya you’d fit in here just fine!” he added, not even waiting for Alex to reply.
Oh great, he’s gonna tell dad I like it here, Alex thought, rolling his eyes. Just what I needed. As if I could possibly have a good ti…
His train of thought was suddenly interrupted as his eyes fell upon a metallic silver Mercedes-Benz rolling in. The driver’s door opened and a handsome young man walked out, looking as if he came out of a catalogue. His brown hair was neatly tied back, while his brilliant smile showed off his perfect teeth. Alex wasn’t sure if the guy was smiling at him since he was wearing shades.
Suddenly, Alex wished he wasn’t wearing his work uniform. Sure, he looked good - he had a nice tan and his hair was on point, but he wished he was dressed in something more tight and revealing. Rolling up his sleeves to reveal his muscular forearms, he got to work on the car, cleaning it as best as he could. Wish I could soap him up as well, he thought, his mind filled with all kinds of dirty thoughts.
Once he was finished, he turned to the guy and gave him an awkward smile.
“Sorry if it took long, it’s my first day at the job.”
“Don’t worry, you did a great job,” the guy said, paying up and giving him a handsome tip.
“Thanks! Come again,” Alex said, handing him a business card from the stack Ollie gave him earlier that day.
The guy flashed a smile and took the card, putting it in his wallet. At the same time, he took his own card and handed it to Alex.
“My name’s Brandon. And I’ll definitely come by again.” With that, he drove off.
Sitting on a bench and waiting for his dad to drive by and pick him up, Alex thought about his first day at work. First of all, he was glad to be out of that uniform and in his own clothes and shoes. Fuck that, I’m gonna have to see if there’s a smaller size tomorrow. I felt like a freakin’ astronaut all day.
That guy though… Was he flirting with me? Alex couldn’t keep his mind from going back to that scene when Brandon and he met. Why else would he give me his business card? Should I call him? He looks hot as hell, but do I wanna get involved with a rich dude? He could be one of those spoiled brats who think they can buy everything with money.
Actually… if he could help me get Kris off my back, who am I to say no? I mean, do I really have a choice? Where else am I going to get all that money by Sunday?
As he pulled out his phone and contemplated texting Brandon, Alex heard a familiar voice and laughter from across the street. Looking up, he saw his sister Liz walking with a girl and a guy. He recognized the girl as her friend Melissa, but he had no idea who the guy was. Skinny, pale, curly brown hair, freckles… If that was Melissa’s boyfriend, she could do so much better! Even though I’m gay, I can see she’s hot, way hotter than him.
It didn’t take long for Liz to notice him, waving him over.
“Sooo… How was your first day at work?” Liz asked with a smirk as Alex came over to join them.
“Meh, it was work,” he shrugged, hating the look on his sister’s face. If they were alone, she would tease him to no end.
“You remember Melissa,” Liz said, pointing to her friend.
“Yeah, of course. How’s it going?” Alex shook her hand.
“Good, thanks. So you’re back, huh? How’s college?”
“Uh, it’s good,” Alex muttered as Liz suppressed a chuckle. It didn’t go unnoticed by the other two, but judging by the confused look on their faces, Alex could tell they had no clue what was going on. So she didn’t tell them why I came back, Alex thought. Good, mom and dad must’ve threatened her to stay quiet.
“And this is Melissa’s friend,” Liz said, gesturing to the guy.
“I’m Alex, nice to meet you,” Alex said, offering a hand. The guy gave him a cute crooked smile and shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you too, I’m Jeremy.”
Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on the first chapter! I hope you liked this one as well.