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Life, love and all that jazz

by c m

Chapter 1

I first saw him in church. Not that I'm a regular churchgoer, but my wife was the Churchwarden here until her sudden and unexpected death last year. Cancer. Out of the blue. Six weeks from diagnosis to her death. We were married for thirty years; thirty years during which I remained absolutely faithful to her. Not that she had any reason to fear I'd be attracted to other women – although she didn't know that. No, my guilty secret was - and is - the attraction I feel for young men. Not that she would have had any reason to doubt me on that score either as I've never had much of an opportunity to do anything about it so there's been nothing to hide. Well, virtually nothing. I did – and still do - satisfy my gentle lusts by watching online porn – and by enjoying the presence of good-looking boys when I see them. I say 'boys' but it's the eighteen to twenty-fives who do it for me. Youthful is perhaps a better word. And now I'm free to do or be anything I choose – with the irony that at fifty I'm scarcely going to attract the young men who I, in turn, find attractive. But that doesn't stop me from still enjoying the sight of them.

Anyway, the reason I'm in church is that there are going to be a couple of semi-professional singers at the church service on Sunday and they've come to rehearse today. And I'm in charge of the sound system – my contribution to the local community and to the memory of my wife.

And there he is, arms wrapped around his girlfriend, kissing and cuddling, as they sit waiting for her brother to finish his run-through. Brother and sister are both performing separate pieces - and then a duet - on Sunday. And she has obviously brought her boyfriend along for company. There's something a little weird about seeing a couple canoodling in church – but it makes me smile anyway.

Her brother finishes his piece. He has a very pleasing tenor voice which fills the volume of the church effortlessly. He beckons his sister up to join him before turning to look at me to see if I'm happy with the sound levels. I give him a thumbs up and he smiles. Before they begin their duet, I walk back down the main aisle to the sound desk so that I can check the sound is as I hope it will be at the back of the church too. As I approach the pew where the boyfriend's sitting, he turns towards me and smiles. I smile back. He's very good-looking. Just my type. A mop of blond hair and a fresh, open face. But, all too evidently and disappointingly, not gay. Not that he'd fancy me even if he was. I nod an acknowledgement.

As I pass the end of the pew, I become aware that he's moving down the length of it towards me. I stop and turn.

'You're the sound man, yes?' he asks.

'That's me,' I reply, as we walk together to the back of the church.

'All OK?'

'All's very OK. He has a great voice that doesn't need any help from me. I take it you're his sister's boyfriend?'

'Yes…' he gives me a slightly guilty grin '…I guess I shouldn't be kissing her in church – sorry.'

'No need to apologise to me – I'm not a regular here. And I think it's rather sweet actually. And anyway, if God made us, then he must have given us these feelings so I'm sure he wouldn't mind you expressing them here in his house.'

He gives a little laugh.

'That's cool…thank you.'

And he smiles again.

'I'm Jordan, by the way,' he says, holding out his hand.

'James – good to meet you.' We shake briefly. I notice he has long fingers. And that he looks cold. Then I realise that he's dressed in a short-sleeved shirt and flip-flops. Which is odd given that the weather's cool and the church is none too warm.

I'm about to ask him if he's warm enough, when the duet starts. The two voices are beautifully matched, contrasting yet wholly complementary, and the effect makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. We both stand there, riveted to the spot. As the last notes fade away, it's all I can do to hold back a tear of emotion.

'Beautiful, isn't it?' he says. He notices the moistness in my eyes. 'It makes me feel that way too sometimes.'

'Stunning,' I say.

'Oh well,' he says, 'better get back to her. Will you be here tomorrow?'

'Yes. Just in case I'm needed.'

'Cool. See you tomorrow.'

His eyes meet mine as he smiles and then turns and walks back down to the front pew where his girlfriend is now sitting and gives her a hug. Guess she'll have a way to keep him warm. I feel envious.

I make my way back to the sound desk, tidy things up, and head back to my house.

That night I can't get him out of my head. What the hell's wrong with me? I realise that it's the first time I've actually spoken with a boy who I find attractive since my wife died. That talking to him meant I could look at a face I found beautiful without worrying that I might be caught staring. And I realise that I'm looking forward to seeing him again tomorrow. I wonder if we'll have the chance to talk again. And if he'll be dressed more warmly.

Though what I really wish is that I could see him naked.

Fat chance.

My wife and I always had boiled eggs for breakfast on Sunday, and it's a tradition I haven't been able to break. We – I – keep a few chickens in the back garden, so fresh eggs are almost always available. I spread out the Sunday Times as I'm eating and catch up on the major news and sports stories. I glance at the clock. 9.15. The church service is at 10.30 with coffee afterwards. Plenty of time for a relaxed breakfast followed by a lazy shower – one of the advantages of living right next door to the church.

I make my way out of the door just after 10; I like to be able to check everything's still working as it should be without being rushed. As I go up the path to the church, I'm passed by Paul, the senior bellringer and Tower Captain. We nod to each other before going our separate ways once inside the church door; he to climb the steps to the ringing room and me to head to the back of the church where the sound system resides. Looking down the aisle, I see – to my pleasure - that the two singers are already there – along with the boyfriend. To my even greater pleasure, I see Jordan turn his head towards me, recognise me and give a little wave. I feel absurdly happy.

The service goes well, and the singing is outstanding. Breath-taking in fact. At the end of the service, about half the congregation stays on for coffee, served in the hall next door. The two singers are surrounded by people waiting to talk to them, congratulate them and thank them. I find myself looking for Jordan. And then I see him. On the edge of the group. He turns and catches me looking at him. I smile and look away. But I can't help myself. I keep looking back – and he catches me again. He turns and walks toward me.

'Hi,' I say.


'Every bit as good today as yesterday,' I say.

He nods, and uses his fingers and a flick of his head to push the mop of hair that's fallen forward over his forehead back into place. It's incredibly sexy.

'So, are you a singer too?' I ask.

He shakes his head and smiles. 'No…I'm a jazz trumpeter and pianist, actually. Are you a singer?'

I laugh. 'God, no. I mean, I'm not terrible but definitely not in their league – or even the one below. Are you studying music at college?'

'Yes…I'm at the Royal Welsh School of Music and Drama – like Ellie – that's my girlfriend…it's where I met her.'

'Ah, OK. First year?'

'Just about to start my second.'

'Enjoying it?'


'And do you play as part of a band or group at College?'

'Yes; both. Why? Do you like jazz?'

'Very much – mostly Trad but I like the more modern stuff too.'

'Cool. You must come to one of our jazz evenings or concerts.'

'I'd like that.' And I would. It's been a long time since I went to a live jazz night.

'OK, have you got your phone?'

That takes me a bit by surprise. So often these invitations are made just as a matter of social pleasantry with no intention of being made a reality. But I'm certainly not going to stop him from giving me his details and inviting me to a gig if that's what he wants to do.

'Err, yes, sure.'

I take my phone out of my pocket and hold it out towards him. He takes it, gets his own phone out, and then his long fingers fly over the keys. He hands my phone back to me.

'All done. My details are all there and I've put your details in my phone too – I hope that's OK. I'll send you all the info about our concerts and gigs once term starts.'

'Thanks. Brilliant. Look forward to hearing you play.'

And seeing you again too, I think to myself.

We smile at each other. I notice he's wearing a grey hoodie today.

'If you don't mind my asking,' I say, 'is there any reason why you were pretty much dressed for lying on a Spanish beach yesterday? You looked freezing cold.'

He laughs. And his face lights up. He goes from being good-looking to heartstopping. It makes my stomach lurch.

'It's because I WAS dressed for the beach in Spain. It's where I was on holiday with Ellie and Gerald – that's her brother – and her family until yesterday. When we got back here, my mother was supposed to pick me up and take me back to Cornwall – that's my home – but something cropped up and she couldn't make it, so I'm staying with Ellie's family for a couple of days - and all I've got to wear is my holiday gear. I managed to borrow this hoodie for today, thank heavens.'

'That would explain it,' I say with a laugh.

There's a pause. Then he looks at me.

'Umm…I hope you don't mind my saying so, but I've kind of noticed you looking at me – a lot.'

I feel as though I've been punched in the stomach. I sigh inwardly. I've been caught. I knew it was too good to last.

'Yes…I'm sorry. I…just…please forgive me.'

To my intense surprise, he puts a hand on my arm.

'Oh no, please don't apologise. It's fine.' He smiles at me again. 'So, is it because…you find me attractive?'

I can't speak. But I owe him honesty. I nod.

'So…are you gay?' he asks.

Guess he just says what's on his mind. This is the stuff of nightmares. I've never come out to anyone. But I don't want to lie to him. To this beautiful boy. But…I try to settle for a compromise.

'Umm…maybe. I don't really know. I was married for thirty years. But I know I find good-looking young men attractive…and you…you're very good-looking.'

He smiles.

'Well, thank you. But you're not married anymore?'

'No…my wife died last year.'

'I'm sorry to hear that.' He gives my arm a squeeze. 'Did you…do you…have children?'

'No, no…we weren't blessed with children. Perhaps it was for the best.'

'And did your wife know about…how you felt about boys?'

'No…no…I'd made my choice and I was faithful to her. We were happy. There was no point in risking spoiling things.'

Why am I telling him this? This boy I've known for all of five minutes.

'And now?' he goes on.

'Umm…well…now I suppose I'm free to…do…be…whatever I want.'

'And what do you want?'

'Well…to find love again, I suppose. But I'm fifty. And bi, gay or whatever I am, my attraction is to young men like you. And I can't see anyone like that – anyone like you, for instance - fancying someone like me.'

He smiles.

'Well….' he says, 'life can be full of surprises.'

'Maybe. But I think it pays to be realistic.'

'Maybe. And you've never been with a boy?'

I shake my head.

'But I'm betting you watch gay porn.'

I look into his eyes. They are grey-blue. I wonder again why we're having this conversation. Where it's going. But I don't care. As long as I'm talking to this gorgeous boy, nothing else matters. I just nod.

'I do too,' he says.

I don't know what I expected him to say, but it wasn't that.

'Why?' I ask.

'Take a wild guess,' he says.

'You…but…you've got a girlfriend. You spent most of yesterday with your tongues down each other's throats.'

'True,' he says, 'and I enjoyed it…I love her…very much…and I'm looking forward to kissing her a lot more. But I also hadn't met you then.'

His words don't really register.

'But…don't you…aren't you….'

'Sleeping with her? God, no. She's a good Christian girl. No sex before marriage. Which is fine. I like her a lot and I'm prepared to wait. But marriage isn't on the horizon for at least three years 'til we've finished college. And in the meantime, I'm a horny teen; a bisexual teen with…needs…who just happens to find older men very much my thing. Well, some older men. Men like you.'

I am utterly, totally, and completely gobsmacked. Of all the things I thought he – or anyone – would ever say, this is outside of any dream - never mind logic – that has even crossed the outermost threshold of my mind. I stand there open-mouthed.

'Oops,' he says, 'have I shocked you?'

I'm still standing stock-still trying to come to terms with what I've just heard.

'Guess I'll take that as a 'yes' then,' he says, '…sorry, it's just…you've been honest with me so I thought the least I could do is to be honest with you. I value honesty.'

I finally recover the power of speech.

'Shocked is a good word – but because it's unexpected rather than unwelcome, if I may put it that way.'

He smiles.

'That sounds like an excellent way to put it,' he says, '…come on then.' And he grabs my hand.

'What? Where are we going…?'

'I think we need a little privacy, don't you?'

'Privacy? Why…?'

'Well, I don't know about you, but I certainly want to get to know you, umm…a lot better. Right now.' He says this with a grin.

I slowly register what he's saying. Or what I think he's saying. But surely that's not possible.

'But we can't. I mean…what about your girlfriend…and all these people…we'd be missed…and we wouldn't have time anyway…'

'My girlfriend will know nothing about it, and you've seen the crowds around her. If anyone should ask, which they won't, I'll tell them you were explaining the sound system to me. Don't worry, we've got plenty of time for what I have in mind.'

'What do you have in mind…?'

'God, you really are sheltered. Look…just come with me.'

He heads out of the hall, and I follow. He makes his way into the now empty church, up the aisle and into the vestry, shutting the door behind him. The next thing I know he's pushed me back against the door, his hands are on either side of my face and his tongue is trying to force its way into my mouth. I can't believe what's happening, but who cares.

I surrender.

He tastes sweet. The first time I've kissed a boy. My first kiss of any sort since my wife died. And then he's scrabbling with my belt and zip. My mind is screaming that this is insanity, but my body isn't listening.

'Christ, Jordan, are you sure this is safe?'

'Yes…and I can't wait anyway.'

Seconds later my trousers are round my ankles and he's doing things to me that make me want to scream with pleasure. My wife occasionally did this to me during our marriage, but it was nothing like this. Jordan is in a different league. My only regret is that the intensity and the effects of what I'm experiencing mean that my explosive release comes all too soon. But I'm still feeling sufficiently aroused to be excited by the prospect of returning the favour. I push him back against the door. He has already unbuckled himself and I complete the job. I've never done this before, but some kind of primal instinct kicks in – some kind of sexual autopilot. I don't know what I expected it to be like, but I do know that it's giving me near sensory overload; it's the stuff of my dreams, and I do my best to do to him what he did to me. I guess I must get it mostly right because in what seems like no time he's hitting his climax too.

'Amazing,' he says, 'for a first time, bloody amazing. I'm looking forward to what it's going to be like in a year or two's time.'

'A year or two's time?' I say, '…you mean…?'

'Well, I want to if you do. I'm not promiscuous by nature. I really like you, James. I want to keep seeing you and I'll be as faithful to you as I am to her – if that's what you want too. If you regret what we've done, or just want it to be a one-off, then just say so – I'd understand. I'd be disappointed, but I'd understand.'

I figure that any moment now the bubble I appear to be inhabiting will pop and I'll find myself back in the real world. But in the meantime…

'God, of course I want to keep seeing you…keep…doing what we've done…you're bloody gorgeous, truly a dream come true – assuming this is real and not a dream - but how…?'

'Oh, it's real alright. And we'll find a way. When you come to my concerts, you can stay over. Or you can set up a recital in the church here and I'll stay over with you. Or…or…well...I don't know but I'm sure we can work it out - if you're OK with that?'

'It sounds wonderful. Amazing, actually.' I glance at my watch. 'But…do you think perhaps we should get back?'

He nods. 'Probably. And thank you.'

'I think it's me who should be thanking you.'

'I know I said I like going with older men – and I do - but the fact is that you're only the second one I've been with. And you are SO much nicer than he was.' He pauses. 'You WILL be OK about sharing me with Ellie, won't you?'

'Umm…yes…yes, of course. But will you tell her about me…about us?'

'God no. No way. Unless she asks. Which she won't. And when and if she and I are married, this will have to come to an end. I hope you're OK with that too.' He pauses. 'You probably find my…how can I put it…compartmentalised relationships…a bit weird, but it's who and how I am.'

'Yes, I guess I do. Weird but kind of wonderful. And yes, of course I'm OK with it, Jordan.'

I'm still trying to take in what's happened. What we've done. What he's just said. In truth, I've no idea if I'm OK with it. I haven't even thought about it. I shake my head. It IS weird. But it is undoubtedly wonderful. And I feel - surprisingly – just fine with rolling with it and enjoying it for what it is…for what it will be…for as long as it will be.

'You're…amazing, Jordan…and certainly…different.'

He smiles.

'Different – yeah. I know my mind and I like to get what I want and I'm also straight with people;' he grins, 'well…in most senses. And I meant it when I said thank you. You're what I need, what I've been looking for, and even better than I dared hope.'

And he kisses me.

We make our way back into the hall. He's right; no-one's missed us and the crowd around Ellie and her brother is still substantial. I look at my watch again. We were gone for maybe ten minutes. Ten minutes that have just changed my life. Jordan gives my hand a quick, unobtrusive squeeze.

'I need to get back to her, James. I promise I'll be in touch very soon. Message me if you want. I think we're going to have a lot of fun together. We may not be able to meet up very often, but we'll make the most of it when we do. And thank you again. I mean it.'

'Could we have a quick selfie? A pic to remember you by?'

'Might be hard to explain if people are watching. I'll send you something over later, I promise.'

I realise that he's right.

'Cool. And...thank you…can't wait to see you again.'

'Me too. Take care.'

And with that he rejoins the group clustered around Ellie and Gerald. As I leave the church, he turns to look at me, smiles, and gently inclines his head. I nod back.

Back in my house, I open WhatsApp and look at the details he's put in. Jordan Pierce. Along with his email, and address at college. I feel absurdly emotional, and I can't help but press the phone to my chest. I realise that there are so many unanswered questions that I wish I'd asked. Not that we had much time for small talk, I think with a smile. And then the memory of the feel of him, the taste of him, the sound of his voice, the touch of his hand all come flooding back. And suddenly I'm crying. Tears of joy, tears of longing, tears of relief – all these things and more. My head is full of him as I make lunch for myself. Chicken, roast potatoes, runner beans from the garden. I open a bottle of wine and drink a toast to the unexpected. To Jordan. To me. To serendipity.

Later that afternoon, my phone pings – and there's a picture of Jordan, shirtless, presumably taken while he was on holiday in Spain. He has a good body. Smooth and lightly tanned. I can't wait to see the rest of him. There's also a message. 'Do I get one of you in exchange?' I take a quick selfie – with my shirt very much on - and send it to him.

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