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Chapter 10: A Shoulder To Cry
Daniel sat under the small, open-sided shelter watching the rain pour
down. He was soaked to the skin and so cold that he no longer had even
enough energy left to shiver. He sat hunched over, his arms around
himself, rocking backwards and forwards, crying softly as he looked out
over the deserted park. He wished that he was dead.
His whole life had suddenly fallen apart. He had nowhere to go and no
one to turn to. Jason hated him. Even his own mother hated him. The
memory of the look of hurt and shock on his mother’s face when she’d
heard that he was gay brought on a fresh wave of tears. By tomorrow the
whole school would probably know that he was gay; Jason would see to
that. After the way that he had deceived Jason, Daniel couldn’t blame
his former best friend for wanting revenge.
He wondered how long it would take to die of cold. He recalled hearing
somewhere that before you died you became all sleepy and didn’t feel the
cold anymore. He wished that stage would hurry up and come.
The rain was still coming down, continuous, relentless, the sky a
miserable, unbroken blanket of grey.
“Fucking rain!” Daniel screamed, in a sudden fit of uncontrolled rage.
“Fuck Jason! Fuck everybody! Fuck my fucking life!” He lashed out with
his foot, kicking a wooden post at the side of the shelter.
The sound of his voice was swallowed up by the grey emptiness and the
rain continued to fall.
Time dragged miserably by. Daniel glanced down at his watch. It was
coming up to 2.30 in the afternoon. It was almost four hours since his
world had been turned upside down and he had fled into the cold and the
rain without even a coat. He realised that he was starting to get
hungry; he hadn’t had anything to eat since the previous evening.
Reaching into the sodden pocket of his denim jeans he pulled out his
wallet and looked inside. He had a £5 note and a few coins. That
wouldn’t last for very long. On impulse, he opened one of the flaps in
his wallet and pulled out a small photograph. It showed himself and
Jason, laughing, their arms around each other’s shoulders as they sat
squeezed up against each other. It had been taken just a month earlier
in one of the automatic machines in the foyer of the local supermarket.
Daniel gave a sad smile as he thought back to that day. It hadn’t been
anything special, just two teenagers larking about. But looking back on
it now he’d give everything he had to go back to that time. The edges of
his smile turned down and his eyes once more brimmed with tears. Quickly
he stuffed the picture back into his wallet. As he put the photograph
away, his finger brushed against the edge of a small card. More for
something to do than for any other reason, he pulled it out to see what
it was. On the card was a name and a telephone number:
Dr. Adam Lomax
Mobile: 0777 34682 4510
For several long minutes, Daniel sat and stared at the card. He
remembered Adam giving it to him at the end of their last session; he
had given one to Jason as well. The doctor had said that if they had any
problems regarding the study, they were to ring him.
Daniel thought about Adam. The good-looking young doctor had always
appeared to be so calm and understanding. The teenager wished that the
man were here with him now. Adam would know exactly what to do.
He could ring the number.
The thought came out of the blue. The way Daniel felt at the moment, he
was desperate just to hear the sound of a friendly voice. He reached
back into his pocket for the coins. He had enough for a quick call.
First he had to find a public telephone. That meant going back out into
the rain. Luckily it had slowed to a light drizzle, but it was still
cold and unpleasant. He wished that he’d been able to talk his mother
into buying him a mobile phone; he must be one of the few teenagers in
the world without one. Except for Jason, of course. Why did almost every
thought that came into his head have to remind him of Jason?
There was a public phone at the entrance to the park. It was one of
those new modern ones with no sides, that offered almost no shelter at
all from the elements. His fingers trembling with cold, he awkwardly fed
his coins into the slot and tapped out the number on the keypad.
For several seconds he listened to the phone at the other end ring, and
then there was a click and a voice said, “Adam Lomax.”
Daniel’s voice wouldn’t work. He stood in silence with his mouth open,
trying to get the words out.
“Hello? This is Adam Lomax. Is anyone there?”
“Doctor Lomax... Adam.” The words finally came out as something between
a croak and a sob. “It’s Daniel. Daniel Marshall.”
“Daniel? What’s the matter? Are you OK?”
Daniel was unsuccessfully fighting back tears. “I’m in a mess. I don’t
know what to do. I just wanted someone to talk to.”
“Where are you, Daniel? Are you at home?”
“No, I’m ringing from a public phone.”
“Tell me where you are.”
The teenager explained his location.
“OK,” said the doctor. “Stay exactly where you are. I’m leaving the
house now, and I’ll be there in about ten minutes. Don’t even think
about moving.” He hung up.
It was actually less than seven minutes later when a dark blue BMW
convertible screeched to a halt beside the telephone and Adam Lomax
leaped out. He hurried over to the teenager, who had been trying to get
what shelter he could from the telephone’s small overhang.
“Daniel, what on Earth is going on? Just look at the state of you;
you’re soaked through.” Adam pulled off his own jacket and wrapped it
around the boy’s shoulders. He looked at the youngster’s tear streaked
face and then pulled the boy close and gave him a comforting hug. “Let’s
get you home and then you can tell me what this is about.”
Daniel started to struggle and tried to pull away. “No. I don’t want to
“Hey, take it easy,” said Adam, keeping a tight hold. “I meant I was
going to take you to my home. But if you would rather go someplace else
then just tell me where.”
“Your home’s OK,” said Daniel, weakly. He allowed himself to be lead
around to the car’s passenger door and bundled inside.
Daniel sat in silence as they made the short journey to Adam’s house.
The car was warm and the deep, leather seats were comfortable, and the
boy suddenly felt extremely tired. He was aware of the frequent
concerned looks that the doctor cast in his direction, but was grateful
to the man for these few moments of quiet. He knew that once they
arrived at their destination he was going to have to explain the mess he
had gotten himself into.
A few minutes later, Adam pulled into the driveway of a large detached
“You live here?” Daniel asked, staring open mouthed.
“I sure do,” the man replied, with a gentle smile. He pushed a button
beside the steering wheel and the garage doors in front of them began to
“This place is enormous. How come you live somewhere like this?”
Adam shrugged. “I guess I’ve been lucky.” He pulled the car into the
garage and the doors slid silently closed behind them. “Let’s get you
inside where it’s warm.” He got out of the car and opened the passenger
door for Daniel to climb out. Putting his arm around the boy’s
shoulders, he led him into the house.
The door they went through led into a large kitchen. Everything was
black, white, and gleaming stainless steel.
“This is amazing,” said Daniel, temporarily forgetting his problems.
“It’s only a kitchen,” Adam laughed.
Opposite them a door opened and a young man came though. Slim, medium
height, with short, blond hair, spiked at the front, he looked to be in
his late teens and was, if anything, even better looking than Adam. He
smiled as he saw them. “Hi.”
“Daniel, this is my partner, Craig. Craig, this is Daniel.”
“Hello, Daniel,” said Craig. “It’s good to meet you. Adam’s mentioned
you a few times. Well, quite a lot actually.”
Daniel realised that he was standing with his mouth open. “Erm, yeah.
Hello,” he said. He was having trouble taking everything in. Adam had
introduced Craig as his partner. But that could only mean one thing. Was
Doctor Lomax gay?
“I think we should get you out of those wet things,” said Adam. “Do you
need the loo or anything?”
“I think I’d better,” Daniel replied, feeling dazed and somewhat
“Alright. There’s one through here.” Adam led the way out of the kitchen
into a wide hallway and pointed to a door.
After quickly relieving himself in the toilet, Daniel went to wash his
hands. As he did so he glanced up at his reflection in the mirror above
the hand basin. The boy staring back at him was hardly recognisable. His
brown hair was tangled and matted, his face was dirty and tear-streaked,
but worst of all were his eyes: red rimmed and sunken, they seemed to be
totally devoid of even the slightest trace of happiness. Looking at this
picture of misery, Daniel was reminded of why he was standing in this
relative stranger’s house. The events of that morning, which had been
temporarily pushed to the back of his mind, came rushing back to the
fore. He gulped in air and a loud sob burst out from between his lips.
His arms went around his chest, holding himself, and he found that he
was panting for breath. He was breathing rapidly, but for some reason
was unable to get enough air. He started to feel dizzy and the room
began to spin. There was a knock on the door and a voice shouted
something, but he couldn’t make out what it was saying. He fell back
against the wall, gasping and panting. His vision had started to fog
over. He was hot. Why was he so hot?
Then strong arms were wrapped around him and a clear, calm voice was
telling him to breathe slowly and deeply. He felt a cool cloth wiping
his forehead and someone was gently stroking his hair. He opened his
eyes and his vision gradually cleared. He was on the floor in the
hallway and Adam was holding him in his arms, still speaking slowly,
reassuring him that everything was going to be OK. Knelt beside them was
Craig, his handsome features set in a concerned expression as he stroked
Daniel’s face with a damp towel.
“What happened?” Daniel asked, his voice little more than a croak.
“It looks like you had a panic attack,” said Adam. “It’s nothing to
worry about; you’re going to be fine. Try to relax and concentrate on
your breathing. I want you to breathe really slowly and deeply.”
Adam made Daniel stay where he was until his breathing had returned to
normal and the worst of the dizziness had passed. When he was satisfied
that the boy was sufficiently recovered, he helped him to his feet and
supported him as they moved into the lounge. There was a fire blazing in
the hearth and Adam took Daniel to stand directly in front of it.
“Before we do anything else, we need to get you out of these sopping wet
clothes,” said the doctor. “Craig, could you go get us a couple of
“No problem,” the young man replied. He disappeared back out into the
Daniel stood passively, allowing Adam to remove his soggy sweatshirt and
the equally wet T-shirt beneath.
“You’re wet right through to the skin,” the doctor observed. “How long
were you out in the rain?”
“I dunno,” Daniel replied, sniffing. “I was out about for about four
hours before I called you. But I spent part of that time sitting in one
of the shelters in the park.”
“You mean you’ve been in this state for more than four hours? You’ll be
lucky if you don’t end up with pneumonia! Hold onto my shoulders while I
get your shoes and socks off.”
After removing Daniel’s footwear, Adam began to pull open the belt of
the boy’s jeans. The thick denim trousers were stiff and heavy with the
water that they had absorbed and they rubbed Daniel’s legs as they were
pushed down. As the teen stepped out of them, Craig returned with the
“Here you go. These have been on one of the radiators, so they’re nice
and warm.” Craig wrapped one of the towels around Daniel’s shoulders and
proceeded to rub his chest and back.
The towel was indeed warm, as well as being extremely thick and soft. It
felt nice, so Daniel wasn’t about to object, even if it did feel a
little strange having someone he’d only met a few minutes ago performing
such an intimate action as drying his body.
However, it came as a surprise when Adam took hold of the waistband of
his briefs and pulled them all the way down and off, leaving him totally
“I’m going to take these and see if I can get them dried out a bit,”
said Adam. Gathering up all of Daniel’s discarded clothing he headed for
“You’re looking a bit better already,” Craig smiled, as he continued his
vigorous towelling. “You looked like you’d been fished out of the river
when Adam first brought you in.” After a final rub of the boy’s chest
and stomach, he handed the towel to Daniel. “I expect you’d rather dry
your own private bits.”
Self-consciously, Daniel rubbed the towel across his groin and then
around the back, before bending over to dry his legs, aware of Craig’s
eyes on him the whole time. Finally he straightened up and made to wrap
the towel around his waist.
“No, give me that one,” said Craig. “Wrap this dry one around you. “ He
accepted the damp towel and gave Daniel a fresh one.
As Daniel wrapped the towel around himself, Craig draped another large
towel around the boy’s shoulders and then he put an arm around the teen
and sat down with him on the sofa.
Daniel was really surprised at how comfortable he felt with Craig, even
though he’d only just met the young man and had spoken hardly a dozen
words to him. The arm around his shoulders gave the boy the reassuring
feeling that maybe there were people in the world who cared about him
“When Adam said you were his partner, does that mean you’re his
boyfriend?” Daniel suddenly asked, breaking the silence that had settled
as they waited for Adam’s return.
“Whoa! Where did that question come from?” Craig laughed. “You sure
don’t mess about do you? Well, since you asked, yeah, I’m Adam’s
Daniel nodded. “I thought that’s what he meant. Adam’s nice. It must be
really cool living with him in this huge house.”
“Yeah, it’s good living here. And just between you and me, Adam’s much
more than just nice, he’s absolutely, terrifically, incredibly nice. But
don’t tell him I said so.”
“He doesn’t need to, I heard.” Adam came back into the room with a grin
on his face and a steaming mug in his hand. He held the mug out to
Daniel. “Drink this. It’ll help warm you up.”
“What is it?” asked Daniel, accepting the mug and holding it under his
nose. It smelled fruity.
“Hot blackcurrant juice with a couple of spoonfuls of powdered glucose.
It might be a bit sweet, but drink it anyway; it’ll do you good.”
Daniel took a small sip then pulled a face. Sweet was an understatement.
“You’d better drink it anyway,” Craig laughed. “Or he might decide to
give it you intravenously or something.” He shot a mischievous look at
While Daniel sipped his drink, Adam pulled up a chair, arranging it so
that he was sitting immediately in front of the boy, their knees almost
touching. “I think it’s time that you told us how you managed to get
yourself into such a state,” he said, softly.
Sitting on a comfortable sofa, wrapped in soft towels, with Craig’s arm
around his shoulders and Adam holding his hand, the events of the
morning now seemed to Daniel like some sort of bad dream, as though they
hadn’t really happened. But down inside, he knew that what had happened
had been all too real and that sooner or later he was going to have to
face it. “I don’t know how to start,” he said, his voice sounding like
that of a lost little boy.
“Go back right to the very beginning,” said Adam, gently. “Take your
time and let it all go.”
And that is exactly what Daniel did: he let everything go. It was
difficult at first, opening his heart like this and saying things he’d
never told a living soul before. But as he went on it got easier, in a
way. The hardest thing was explaining his feelings towards other boys,
and in particular how he felt about Jason. Throughout this part Adam
just nodded and smiled, occasionally giving the teen’s hand an
encouraging squeeze. The hardest part out of the way, Daniel moved on to
tell about the arrangement that he’d made with Ben in order that he
would be able to partner Jason in the study. There was a slight
twitching at the corners of Adam’s mouth as Daniel briefly went over
what had happened during his two sessions with Ben and Billy. Daniel
explained about the video and how he had been duped. Finally he relived
Jason’s brief but dramatic visit earlier that morning. He told of
Jason’s reaction to discovering that his best friend was gay and the
look he had seen on his mother’s face when he turned around and
discovered that she had heard every word of his conversation with Jason.
During this final part there were fresh tears, which gained him in a
comforting hug from Craig and reassuring words from Adam.
When Daniel had finished, Adam let out a long, slow sigh and shook his
head. “You’ve certainly been busy,” he said, with a smile. “Though
things are probably not quite as bad as you think they are. When things
like this happen, things that affect us emotionally, it always feels
like the world is coming to an end. But usually it sorts itself out and
everything settles down again. We’ve all been there at one time or
“It won’t sort itself out this time,” Daniel sniffed. “You didn’t see
how Jason was this morning. He doesn’t want anything else to do with me.
Then there’s the video; suppose Ben decides to start showing it to
“Forget the video,” Adam replied. “That’s easily sorted. As for Jason, I
shouldn’t think that he meant everything he said. Once he’s calmed down
and had a chance to think things through he’ll probably feel completely
Daniel shook his head. “Not Jason. Not now that he knows I like boys,
not girls. Jason hates gays; he’s always saying so.”
“Is he indeed?” Adam’s smile broadened for a moment and then he became
serious. “Look, Daniel, you’ve got to consider that Jason probably has
issues of his own to deal with. When a boy reaches puberty and his body
starts to change and all sorts of things are happening in his head, that
can be pretty scary. But if those changes seem to be happening much
faster in the other boys around him and he thinks that he’s being left
behind, that can be scarier still. Jason is lagging a little bit behind
most boys in his age group. That isn’t especially unusual: I’ve known
boys of fifteen or sixteen who are less developed than some
twelve-year-olds. Everyone goes at their own pace. But Jason feels
insecure because of it and so tries to compensate by talking tough. The
chances are that his apparent anti-gay attitude is really just part of
“I guess he does overdo it a bit sometimes,” said Daniel, wanting to be
convinced. “But it’s not just around others; he acts the same when it’s
just him and me.”
“Of course he does,” said Adam. “You’re his best friend. He feels that
he has to impress you even more than anyone else.” He patted Daniel’s
leg. “All you can do is give him some time and let him get over the
shock. Trust me, good friendships can overcome far worse hurdles than
this.” Adam pushed the chair back and got to his feet. “Now, I think I’d
better give your mother a call. She must be going frantic.”
“What will you tell her?” asked Daniel, once again remembering the
expression on his mother’s face after hearing Jason’s outburst.
“I’m going to let her know that you are safe, that you are at my house,
and that I’ll be dropping you off at home later.”
“You’re going to take me home?”
“Of course I am. What did you think was going to happen?”
Daniel shook his head, vaguely. He hadn’t really considered anything
beyond the present moment. “I thought maybe I could stay here for a
while,” he said, avoiding meeting Adam’s gaze.
The young doctor laughed gently and leaned forwards to stroke the top of
the boy’s head. “Daniel, if there is ever a time when you need a place
to stay, then you will be more than welcome to come and stay here. But
this isn’t one of those times. You and your mother have some sorting out
to do. If it doesn’t work out, and having met your mother I would be
extremely surprised if it doesn’t, then you can always come back.”
Adam went out to use the telephone extension in the hallway, closing the
door behind him so that he couldn’t be heard.
“He’s right you know,” said Craig. “Everything will work out. I had a
real bust up with my parents when I told them I was gay. Mum wasn’t so
bad about it, but it took Dad a long time before things were right
between us. Now though, me and Dad are probably closer than we’ve ever
“How old were you when you told them?” asked Daniel.
“Sixteen. It was about three years ago, just before I moved in with
“You’re only nineteen?” Daniel turned his head so that he could see
“Yeah, I’m Adam’s toyboy,” Craig laughed. “Mind you, he is only
twenty-five himself, and everyone always says he looks much younger than
that, so there isn’t really that big an age difference between us.”
“I don’t suppose.” Daniel let himself relax back against Craig. The
older teen’s arm had moved down behind his back and Craig’s finger’s had
slipped under the edge of the towel and were lightly stroking the bare
skin at the side of Daniel’s chest. It felt nice.
A couple of minutes later, Adam returned. Daniel looked up at him,
feeling a little apprehensive about what had been said during the call
to his mother.
“You’ve nothing at all to worry about there,” said Adam. “She was a bit
upset because she’s been so worried about you, and she was relieved to
hear that you’re alright.”
“Did she say anything about what she heard this morning?”
“Neither of us said anything about you being gay. That’s between you and
her.” Adam crouched down in front of Daniel. “She wasn’t angry, only
worried. I’m sure that once you’ve had a chance to talk to her
everything will be fine.” He got back to his feet. “I’m going to go sort
out something to eat. You must be starving by now and I told your mother
that we’d feed you before we sent you back. While I do that, Craig can
take you upstairs and see if he can find something suitable for you to
wear. Your own clothes aren’t going to be dry for a while yet. Craig’s
got more clothes than anyone could possibly wear in one lifetime, so I’m
sure he won’t mind lending you something, and he’s not too far off your
“Hey, this is going to be fun.” A sparkle had appeared in Craig’s eyes.
“Come on,” he said, getting to his feet and pulling Daniel up after him.
“I’ve got some stuff that will look great on you.”
Adam gave a long, dramatic sigh. “Why do I get the feeling that this
might not have been one of my better ideas? Craig, please try to keep in
mind that he’s only fourteen and that we’re sending him back to his
mother. Choose something appropriate: no leather, nothing skin-tight,
and no half-shirts or anything that shows too much skin. I don’t want
him going home looking like a rent-boy.”
“As if I’d put him in anything like that. You go take care of the food
and leave the dress-sense to me.” With a grin, Craig led a bemused
Daniel from the room.
“Wow! Doctors must be paid really well for Adam to be able to afford a
house like this,” Daniel remarked as he followed Craig up the stairs,
his bare feet sinking into the thick carpet.
Craig gave a laugh. “You must be joking. While he’s working on this
study he’s not actually employed by anybody, so he doesn’t even get a
salary. He was given a research grant before he started, but most of
that went on equipment, so basically he’s working for nothing.”
“How come he lives somewhere like this then?”
“Because he’s loaded. Though I probably shouldn’t be telling you that.
His family owns most of one of the country’s biggest drugs companies. It
means that Adam never has to worry about money. He works because he
wants to. Oh, and also because he enjoys it. But then again, who
wouldn’t if their job involved getting their hands on cute boys like you
every day. A lot of people, including me, would happily pay to have a
job like that.”
Daniel found himself blushing and quickly looked away.
“In here,” said Craig, leading the way into a bedroom.
It was a large room, but it was dominated by the biggest bed Daniel had
ever seen. The bedclothes were all black, with a scarlet trim around the
edge of the bed. The teenager stood and looked at it, his mouth open.
“Nice, isn’t it?” said Craig. “I chose the black. I think it makes it
look really sexy.”
Craig had walked over to one of the walls which was filled along its
entire length, from floor to ceiling, with fitted wardrobes and
cupboards, complete with mirrored fronts.
“Now, let’s see what we’ve got. Underwear first.” He pulled open a
drawer. “How about these?” He held up a pair of white cotton boxers.
“Calvin Klein,” said Daniel, reading the name from the waistband. “I’ve
never worn anything like that. I usually just have ordinary briefs. Mum
buys them for me usually,” he admitted, shyly.
“Here, try ‘em on.” Craig tossed them across to the youngster. “They’re
the small size so they should just about fit.”
Daniel pulled the towel from his shoulders, dropping it on the floor. He
stepped into the boxers, but as he tried to pull them up, the towel
around his waist got in the way, so he threw that aside as well. It felt
a little bit strange, exposing himself like this in front of the older
teen, but Craig had already seen him naked anyway, so what the hell. He
pulled up the boxers, feeling Craig’s eyes on his body.
“They don’t fit too bad,” the nineteen-year-old observed. “They could do
with being a bit tighter in places, but they’ll do. They show off your
package nicely at the front. Turn around and let’s see what they look
like from the back.”
Trying not to blush, Daniel self-consciously turned a full circle. He
had to admit that they did feel pretty good, though different from the
briefs that he normally wore. He liked the way they seemed to hug his
body. He caught sight of himself in the full length mirror on one of the
wardrobe doors. They didn’t look bad at all. “I think I’m going to get
myself some of these,” he grinned. “Do they cost much?”
“About twenty quid. If you like them then keep that pair. It’s worth the
price just to see you in them. They fit really nice around your arse, by
This time Daniel did blush. He tried to hide it by turning around and
pretending to be looking at his backside in the mirror.
“I suppose I’d better find you something to put over the top of them,”
said Craig. “A shame really, because you look really hot like that.” He
turned back to the drawers. “Trousers would be a problem, since my legs
are longer than yours. These should work though.” In his hands were a
pair of faded blue denim shorts. Cut off at about mid-thigh, the leg
holes were ragged and frayed. He passed them across and opened another
drawer and pulled out a belt. “You’re gonna need something to stop them
While Daniel stepped into the shorts, Craig pulled open one of the
wardrobes and began sorting through a pile of clothing on one of the
shelves. With a big grin on his face he turned back to the younger boy.
“Perfect.” He was holding a black mesh T-shirt against his own chest.
“It’s see-through,” observed Daniel, eyeing the garment apprehensively.
“It’s going look incredible on you. Here, try it on.”
“I dunno.” With more than a few reservations, Daniel accepted the shirt
and pulled it down over his head. It was long enough to hang down over
the tops of the shorts. He turned to look at himself in the mirror. His
chest was clearly visible through the fine mesh and he now felt more
exposed and on show than he had when he was shirtless.
“You look sexy as hell,” said Craig. “Walk down the street like that and
you’ll have guys following you with their tongues hanging out.”
“Maybe,” Daniel admitted, staring at his reflection speculatively. “But
I’m not sure I want to go home looking like this.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Adam would probably flip if I sent you
downstairs in that. “Though it would be worth it to see the look on his
face.” Craig gave a sigh. “You’d better take it off and I’ll find you
The “something else” turned out to be a grey, hooded sweatshirt. It was
about four sizes too big and not the least bit sexy, but at least it was
warm and comfortable and felt soft against Daniel’s skin. A pair of
thick, grey, cotton socks and some brown sandals completed his attire.
“Not bad,” announced Craig, stepping back to view his creation. “I’m not
so sure about the socks, but the rest of it is OK. It’s sort of the
‘Little Brother’ look. Makes you look cute. I think Adam will approve.”
“No leather in sight,” smiled Daniel, remembering Adam’s instructions.
“Except the sandals.”
“That’s not really what he had in mind,” said Craig. “He wanted to make
sure that I didn’t put you in something like this.” He reached into the
wardrobe and took out a hanger holding a black leather waistcoat. “I
wear this sometimes when I go out clubbing. It looks best when it’s worn
open, without a shirt. I bet you’d look good in it.” He gave a
mischievous grin. “I’ll tell you what. When you get yourself sorted out
and you’re feeling a bit happier about things, come around sometime and
we’ll try some of this stuff on you. If you’re feeling really
adventurous, I’ve some things that will make your eyes pop out.”
“Yeah, ok. Maybe I’ll do that,” said Daniel. He liked Craig, even though
he’d only just met him. The nineteen-year-old had a sort of infectious
happiness that made him fun to be around, yet at the same time he
appeared to be gentle and caring. The young teen decided that he would
really like to get to know the older boy better.
Craig slid the drawers back into place. “We’d better get down and see
what the boss is doing. If we’re up here too long he might start to
think that we’re doing more than trying on clothes. Come on, let’s go
see what he’s got for us to eat.”
Adam had prepared a stir-fry with strips of beef and vegetables. It was
almost ready by the time they got downstairs, and while Adam finished
off, Daniel helped Craig to lay the table. There was also salad and a
huge bowl of rice; enough food to feed an army. Which was good thing,
because Daniel discovered that he was hungrier than he had ever been in
his life. By the time they had finished eating, the plates and bowls
were empty and Daniel sat back in his chair, full and happy.
“Had enough?” asked Adam.
“Yeah, that was delicious. Thanks.”
“Good. It’s nice to know that we’re going to be sending you home in a
better condition than when you arrived.”
At the mention of home, Daniel’s face fell. For the past couple of
hours, trying on clothes, laughing and joking with Adam and Craig as
they ate their meal, it had been like he was living in a different
world, a world where he didn’t have any problems or anything to worry
about. It had been easy to forget that real life was out there waiting
“It’ll all work out alright,” said Craig, seeing the expression on
Daniel’s face. He reached out and put his hand on top of the younger
“You need to get things sorted out with your mother,” said Adam, with a
gentle smile. “I told you earlier that she’s not angry, so you really
have nothing to worry about. I think I should run you over there now. If
we put it off any longer you’ll only get worked up about it. Besides, if
we go now it gets me out of doing the dishes. Craig can do them while
I’m out.” He winked at Daniel and turned to give his partner a smug
“And you think you’ve got problems,” Craig said to Daniel. “At least
you’re not stuck in a life of domestic slavery. I spent all morning on
my hands and knees cleaning the toilet bowls with a toothbrush. I’ll get
the last laugh though.” He leaned forwards and whispered theatrically
into Daniel’s ear. “I used Adam’s toothbrush.”
“Ugh! That’s gross,” Daniel laughed.
“You’ve probably noticed that my boyfriend has a sick and twisted
imagination,” said Adam, with a grin and a shake of his head.
The joking continued for another few minutes, until Adam decided that it
really was time that he took Daniel home. The teenager’s clothing was
still damp, so they put it into a bag for him. Since it was still
raining slightly outside, Craig loaned the boy one of his coats, which
was really a bit too big, but would at least keep him dry when he got
out of the car.
“I meant what I said upstairs about you coming back again,” said Craig
as Daniel stood in the kitchen ready to depart. “I’ve got a Playstation
and loads of games that are much more fun with two people. Adam’s
usually too busy for games, so it would be good to have someone else to
play them with. Or if you don’t want to play games, we could always
watch one of Adam’s dirty videos.”
“I think it’s time to go,” Adam put in quickly. “Before you corrupt him
“I’ll come back, I promise,” said Daniel. He turned to follow Adam
through the door into the connecting garage, but Craig grabbed his arm
and pulled him back.
“Come here,” said the older teen. He put his arms around the boy and
hugged him tightly. “I hope everything goes alright when you get home.
I’m sure it will. Adam’s got your phone number in his book; I’ll steal
it when he’s not looking and give you a call in a couple of days to see
how you got on.”
“OK” Daniel found he had a tear in his eye from this sudden and
unexpected show of affection. He briefly hugged Craig back.
“You’d better go,” said Craig. “If he’s kept waiting he’ll be in a bad
mood for the rest of the night.”
“I’m never in a bad mood,” said Adam, watching them from the doorway.
“Though that might change if those dishes are not done by the time I get
It wasn’t far to Daniel’s home. Just a few minutes by car. The boy could
feel the tension mounting as they came closer, and he wondered what his
mother would say to him when he arrived.
“Stop worrying about it,” said Adam. “I keep telling you that things
will be fine. I know it’s a big thing, your mother hearing about you
like that, but it could all work out for the best in the end.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” Daniel replied, unconvinced.
“It looks like you were a big hit with Craig,” said Adam, changing the
subject. “He’s really taken to you.”
“He’s nice,” Daniel agreed. “Is he always like that? You know, laughing
and joking all the time?”
“A lot of the time. But he has his serious moments as well; there’s a
lot of pain and hurt inside him. He went through a pretty bad time
himself a few years ago, so he knows first hand how you’ve been
“What happened to him?” Daniel asked.
“Oh, like you, he got himself into a bit of a mess. Things got out of
control and he ended up something like you did today, only quite a bit
“Worse?” asked Daniel.
“Yes, worse. But it’s Craig’s story, so I’ll leave it for him to tell
it.” Adam slowed the car and turned into the drive of Daniel’s house.
“Right, you ready?”
Daniel nodded, nervously. It wasn’t as though he really had any choice.
“I’ll stay in the car. Always remember that whatever happens, your
mother does love you and there are other people who care about you. If
you need me at any time I’m only on the other end of the phone.”
Feeling sick, Daniel opened the car door and stepped out, the bag of
clothes in his hand. As he walked up to the door he glanced back at
Adam, who gave him an encouraging wave. At the door he paused, not sure
if he had the courage to go in. However, as he reached for the handle,
the door opened and his mother was standing there.
For a moment they stood and looked at each other. Daniel felt a lump in
his throat and his eyes filled with tears. He had to struggle to make
his voice work. “Mum? I’m sorry,” he managed to croak, as the tears
started streaming down his face.
His mother’s arms were around him, so tight that he could hardly
breathe. She too was crying. And Daniel knew instantly that Adam had
been right. His mother loved him and everything was going to be OK.
Daniel lay on his bed reading. He’d showered and put on a pair of
ordinary soccer shorts. The clothes that Craig had loaned him, including
the white underwear, lay neatly folded on top of his drawers, ready to
be returned. Craig had told him that he could keep the Calvin Klein’s,
but at twenty pounds a throw they were a rather expensive gift, and the
boy had decided that he had better return them, even if they did feel
great and look really good on him.
The reunion with his mother had been emotional, with him repeating over
and over that he was sorry, and her telling him not to be silly and
saying how worried she’d been about him. After all of the hugs and
tears, they had watched TV together for a while, had a snack and then
Daniel had said that he was going up for a shower. Neither of them had
yet referred directly to the reason for him running off. Daniel knew
that sooner or later he was going to have to talk to her, but he had no
idea how to start.
There was a light knock and the bedroom door opened a fraction. “Can I
come in?” His mother’s voice came through the small crack.
“Yeah, I’m decent,” Daniel replied, glad that he’d decided to put on the
soccer shorts and not the CK’s.
His mother came in, hesitantly. She wore a tight smile as she walked
over and sat down on the edge of the bed. “I think there are some things
that we need to talk about,” she said.
Daniel slowly closed the book and laid it aside. He began to play with
his fingers, unable to meet her gaze. There was a long silence that
quickly became uncomfortable.
“I already knew, you know,” she said, eventually. “Or I’d a good idea,
“You knew?” Daniel’s eyes flicked up to look at his mother. This news
had certainly taken him by surprise. How could she possibly have known?
She nodded. “You and Jason have always seemed to be especially close,
but recently it’s started to look like more than that. The slightest
little disagreement between you makes you start acting like the bottom
has fallen out of your world. I guessed that there was more going on
between you than just being friends. Then, there’s the way that you
always perk up and take an interest when a good-looking boy appears on
TV; you never seem to be quite as interested in the girls.
Daniel was fighting not to blush. Hearing these things from his mother
was embarrassing. “If you knew, then why did you look at me like you did
this morning, after Jason had run off? You looked angry.”
“Of course I was angry,” his mother replied. “And I was upset. But that
was for you, not because of you. This morning was a bit of a shock for
me as well, you know.” She smiled and stroked his face, like she used to
do so often when he was younger. “It was seeing how much you had been
hurt that upset me.”
“So doesn’t it bother you, knowing that I’m... That I’m gay?” There, he
had finally said the word in front of her.
“If I’m honest, I’d have to admit that the idea did take a bit of
getting used to. But I’ve had time to think about it. All that matters,
really, is whether you’re happy. If you’re happy, then I can be happy.”
Daniel looked back down at his fingers, smiling shyly. “I thought you’d
hate me,” he said.
“Sometimes you can be really daft.” She shook her head, smiling
affectionately. “I’ve been dropping hints trying to get you to tell me
for ages now, but you’ve kept ignoring them. I didn’t dare ask you right
out, in case I’d got it wrong. Imagine what your reaction would have
been if I’d asked you if you were gay and you weren’t. You’d never have
forgiven me. As it was, I didn’t get everything right. I was convinced
that you and Jason were doing much more than measuring while you were
closeted up here together.”
“Mum!” Daniel gave an embarrassed grin.
“I’m sorry,” she said, with a short laugh. “It just seemed the obvious
conclusion to jump to at the time.” She stopped laughing and her
expression turned sad. “You weren’t very fair on Jason, you know.”
“I know.” The thought of their friendship being over was enough to cause
the prickling of tears behind Daniel’s eyelids. He became annoyed with
himself; the only thing that he seemed able to do today was cry.
His mother rubbed his leg. “Try not to worry about it. You’ve been
friends for a long time and I’m sure that once Jason has had time to
calm down, you’ll be able to talk to him. He’ll understand.” She got up
off the bed. “Get some sleep. Everything will look better in the
morning.” Leaning over, she kissed him on the forehead. “Have a good
night,” she whispered.
“Good night, Mum,” Daniel replied, as his mother closed the door behind
her. Would everything look better in the morning, he wondered. He wished
that he could believe that.
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