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Making Nico

by c m

Chapter 1


This story is a sequel to 'Finding Nico'. It's designed as a standalone story, although the characters will be richer and more fully appreciated if you've read 'Finding Nico' first. Alternatively, for a (very) brief overview of that story, see the synopsis below.

'Making Nico' has a fair amount of sex in it, although little if any of it is graphic. There is (for the most part) a story-related reason for this which will, I hope, become apparent. But if a story with active physical relationships between boys in their late teens is not your thing, then you've been warned.

If you haven't read 'Finding Nico' then the following may be helpful:

Nico and his twin sister Jules go on summer holiday with their parents to Sunnybanks hotel when they are seventeen.

While there, Nico meets Josh, a fellow guest staying with his family at the hotel, and they fall head over heels for one another. When Josh goes home, Nick almost makes a mistake with another guest, Piers, who is in an abusive relationship with an older boy, but he catches himself in time.

Josh lives in Bristol and Nico in Oxford – some two hours away from each other. The two boys do, however, manage to conduct a long-distance relationship after their holiday, in the course of which they meet each other's friends, and, on their eighteenth birthdays, take their relationship to another level. They also both end up with places at Bristol University; Josh to study medicine and Nico to study English.

Through a set of linked circumstances, Piers ends up with Zak as his boyfriend. Zak was at school with Nico and always wanted to sleep with him, but never did. Piers and Zak live together in an apartment within his parents' house in London.

Piers' father is a wealthy Venture Capital CEO with houses around the world including a villa in Italy.

All four boys meet up at the Italian villa the following summer and become firm friends.

The story ends with Nico and Josh both arriving to start their first term at Bristol University.


It's my first day at Bristol University and I've just finished unloading my stuff from the car and putting it in my room in my Hall of Residence. It takes me a little while to unpack, and then I message Josh. He messages back to say that he should be arriving in about ten minutes. I go down and wait outside, keeping a look-out for his mother's car. Almost exactly ten minutes later I see it, and walk over to where they park. We give each other a kiss.

'Seems silly to drive such a short distance,' he says, 'but there's no other way to get all this stuff here.'

I help him unload – and it gives me a chance to see exactly where his room is. He's on the ground floor, and more or less in the middle of the Hall opposite mine. Once we've got everything unloaded, we see his mother off. And we're left standing there, side-by-side.

I look at him.

He looks at me.

We hug.

'I'll pop over and see your room once I've unpacked,' he says.

'I'll go and fill the kettle.'

'See you in a few.'

We each head for our rooms. Him to the right, me to the left.

I make my way back up to my room, and start to unpack my things. There's a small built-in cupboard-cum-wardrobe with shelves and a hanging rail for my clothes, and two more shelves above a desk where I put the few books I've brought with me. There's also a small ensuite shower room. I sit on the bed to test the mattress; could be worse, but it's going to be a bit of a squeeze if both Josh and I want to share. Looks like overnight stays will be out. I make the bed up with a bottom sheet, a top sheet and my duvet, along with two pillows. I'm just putting a set of mugs, along with my kettle, on the small table below the window, when there's a tap on the door.

'Come in,' I say.

The door opens to reveal the boy I met as was bringing my bags upstairs.

'Hi,' he says, 'I thought I'd introduce myself if that's OK…and if I'm not disturbing you?'

'No, not at all. I was about to put the kettle on for coffee. Would you like one?'

'Thanks – that would be great. I'm Cameron, by the way, but everyone calls me Cam.'

'Nick,' I say, holding out my hand.

We shake. His handshake is firm, and he smiles as our eyes meet. I motion him to sit in one of the two chairs beside the table.

'How do you like it?'

'White – with one sugar if you have it.'

'I think we can do that. Hold on.'

I rummage in one of the remaining boxes and pull out a jar of coffee, a small jar of sugar, and a pint of milk, along with a couple of teaspoons.

'God, you're more organised than I am,' he says.

'My mother said that a kettle and the things to make tea and coffee with were the essentials for helping to get to know people in the first few days,' I say with a smile. 'How strong do you like it?'

'As it comes – stronger rather than weaker for preference.'

'Me too.'

'So where do you live?' he asks.

'Home is in Oxford – you?'


'Wow…that's some journey.'

'I guess…but I was away at school – Rugby – so I'm sort of used to travelling distances when term starts. Where were you at school?'

'Locally in Oxford.'

'So, first time away from home?'

'Pretty much.'

'Do you know anyone here?'

'My boyfriend started this term too – he's in the building across the way.'

'Boyfriend? So you're gay?'

'That's pretty much what having a boyfriend means,' I say with a smile.

'God. Sorry. Yes. Stupid comment.'

'That's OK. Any other guys from your school here?'

'A few – but none doing my subject, and none I was particularly friendly with.'

'And what subject are you doing?'


'Wow. That's a coincidence…that's what Josh – my boyfriend – is doing. I expect he'll be over in a bit. I'll introduce you.'

'That would be great. And what are you studying?'


'Have you two been together long?'

'Just over a year. We met on holiday. Do you have anyone?'

'No. Well, no one special like that. And I'm straight - in case it matters. Well, pretty much. As straight as any public schoolboy is.' He says this with a grin.

'Is Rugby single sex?'

'Oh God, no. Near enough 50:50 – and with one all-girls sixth form house. But if the mood took you to…experiment…with a guy…there was ample opportunity. And to be honest I don't have a lot of time for all those labels anyway.'

This intrigues me, but barely fifteen minutes into knowing someone doesn't feel like the right moment to explore this any further. And anyway, at this precise moment, the kettle boils.

I make us both a coffee, and we sit facing each other. Cam is blond, like me, with floppy hair that he occasionally flicks back out of his blue eyes. He's pleasant-looking – nothing special, but nice enough. When he smiles, his wide mouth half-opens to show his teeth, and the corners of his eyes crinkle. He's wearing an open-necked polo shirt in a shade of lilac, along with stone-coloured jeans. He seems totally relaxed – I suppose that's what comes of being used to living away from home amongst hundreds of other students.

'Does your boyfriend live close to you,' he asks, 'or….that is, I know you said you met him on holiday…did you have to make a long-distance relationship work?'

'Actually, he lives here in Bristol, but we made things – make things - work.'

'Bristol? But you said he had a room across the way…?'

'Yes. He felt it was important to be on campus to get the proper Uni experience.'

'Ah, OK…cool.'

'But we intend to get a house next year – you know, share with a couple of others – so we can be together.'

'I'll look forward to meeting him.'

The words are barely out of his mouth when there's a tap on the door and Josh walks in.

'Hey sexy, I thought I'd come and find you…oh, you've got company.'

'Hi, Josh. Meet Cam. My next-door neighbour. Coffee?'

'Mmm, yes please. Hi Cam, nice to meet you.'

He holds out his hand and they shake.


'Hasn't taken you long to get settled in, I see.' Josh says, turning to me before throwing himself onto the bed.

'Getting there…and Cam's doing medicine, like you.'

Josh swings his legs down and sits on the edge of the bed.

'Really? Cool. Guess we'll be seeing each other at lectures and stuff.'

'Guess so.'

Josh looks at me.

'Have you told Cam that we're…?'

'Boyfriends? Yes.'

Cam smiles.

'Nick says you met on holiday…but it was obviously a bit more than a holiday romance.'

'Yeah, you could say that,' says Josh with a smile as he looks at me. 'We just…fell for each other. God knows why, but….'

'Oh charming,' I say.

Josh just grins at me.

'Guess you just…fitted together,' says Cam.

Josh looks at me and we both crack up.

'Yeah…but that happened a good bit later…'

'What….? OHHH….I see….sorry, I didn't mean…'

'It's OK. We know you didn't…it's just us being….us.'

Cam's smile broadens.

'Thanks for the coffee; I'll return the favour as soon as I've got all my stuff unpacked.' He drains his mug. 'Good to meet you both, and I guess we'll be seeing each other pretty regularly – you as my neighbour, Nick, and you as a fellow-medic, Josh.'

'Good to meet you, Cam,' I say.

'Maybe see you in the Hall bar later?'

'Good idea. Eightish?'

'Sounds perfect.'

He stands up, gives us both a nod and leaves.

'He seems nice,' says Josh.

'Yeah. Good to have someone you get on with next door. Wonder who's on the other side?'

'Guess you'll meet them soon enough.'

'You met any of your neighbours yet?'

'No. It's all pretty quiet across the way. I've seen one or two people arriving but no-one in a room close to mine.'

He bounces up and down once or twice experimentally on the bed.

'Seems comfortable enough. But not exactly what we're used to…' he says with a grin.

'I know. It'll be kind of…cosy.'

'Umm…I don't suppose you fancy seeing just how cosy do you…?'

'Josh Brimacombe, are you suggesting that we should….?'

He steps across, wraps his arms round me and kisses me.

'I haven't seen you for a week, and although we've been together for more than a year, you still drive me crazy with desire. So, yes, you bet that's what I'm suggesting.'



He moves his hand down and gives me a squeeze.

'Certainly seems you're excited by the thought.'

I slap his hand away. 'NO, Josh…not now. We can't.'

'Oh yes we can.'

'NO, Josh. There are people everywhere. We need to unpack. Look I'm as horny for you as you are for me, but...we'll have all the time in the world later.'

'But I want you right now.'

'And I want you too, but….just NO…OK?'


'Josh, if we have sex it's going to be noisy. It always is. And I don't think that's the impression I want to make on my neighbours before I've even said hello to most of them.'

'Hmm…OK. How about we slip into the bathroom and have a bj, then?'

'JOSH! Sex in the toilet is not the way I want to start our Uni life! I promise you we'll christen my bed before the day is out…christen it properly…and I'd like you to be fully-charged for when we do, OK?'

'I suppose so. God, I hope Uni isn't going to turn you into this totally sensible person who seems to be standing in front of me.'

'Fat chance of that while I'm with you.'

He gives me a look. 'I think I'll take that as a compliment.'

'It is. Now go before I change my mind and rip your clothes off.'

'I could stay if you want….'

'Just…GO….go, go, go…'

We've both got huge smiles on our faces, and he kisses me as I shovel him backwards towards the door.

'I'll come over and see your room in a bit,' I say.

'I'll be waiting for you…'

He gives me a final kiss before leaving. I'm left shaking my head. God I love him.

I finish putting the rest of my things away and reckon it's time to explore the rest of the building – before going to see how Josh is getting on. I open the door and almost bump into a girl who's struggling with a massive suitcase.

'Can I help you?' I ask

'Would you mind? It weighs a ton and one of the little wheels seems to have got stuck.'

'Here, let me.'

I take hold of the handle and lift it. She's right. It's extremely heavy, but I can see that a stone has got wedged between one of the wheels and the frame. I shake it loose.

'There, that should be easier, but let me at least help you get it to your room. I'm Nick by the way.'

She smiles at me and holds out a hand.

'Thanks, Nick. I'm Nicola – but everyone calls me Nikki.'

She's a pretty girl with slightly boyish looks and dark auburn hair and brown eyes.

'Which room are we heading to?' I ask.

'End of the corridor, I'm afraid. Can you manage?'

'Sure. Have you got much more to bring in?'

'No, this is the last of it. My brother helped me with the rest, but he's had to go and move the car.'

Her room, when we get to it, is pretty much a mirror image of mine. I lift the case up onto the desk.

'Anything I can do for you?'

'No, that's great thanks – unless I could persuade you to let me buy you a drink a bit later in the bar? You know, to say thank you?'

She turns a dazzling smile on me.

'Sounds good; I was planning on heading down there about eight.'

'Great. See you there.'

I feel her eyes travelling up and down my body. I hope she won't be too disappointed when she finds out I'm gay. As I turn to go, six-feet-plus of manhood suddenly fills the door…six feet of blue-eyed, very blond, very fit, very tall, very hunky manhood.

'Sam, meet Nick. Nick, meet my brother Sam,' says Nikki.

Sam holds out a hand. We shake and our eyes meet. My heart does a flip. If I wasn't with Josh I'd definitely be wanting to get to know him better. A lot better. His eyes meet mine. And hold my gaze. His hand gives mine an almost undetectable extra squeeze. Almost. And the needle on my gaydar is flickering. More than flickering.

'Nice to meet you, Nick – very nice indeed; and thanks for helping sis.'

'My pleasure, Sam.'

He releases my hand, but his fingers drift over the back of it as he does so.

Nikki looks at him.

'Hands off bro, I saw him first,' she says with a grin.

Well, that clears up any doubt.

Sam shrugs.

'Maybe that's up to Nick,' he says with an equally big grin. Then he turns to me. 'Sorry, Nick, it's very rude of us to talk about you as if you weren't here. As you've probably worked out, I'm gay and you are very cute – if you'll forgive my saying so. I do hope I – we - haven't offended you.'

'Not in the slightest,' I say, 'my twin sister and I have a very similar relationship. For the record, I'm gay too.' I see Sam's smile broaden. 'But I already have a wonderful boyfriend who I love to death.'

'Bother,' says Sam, 'still, hardly unexpected - no-one with your looks is going to be single.'

'Thanks. And I hope that doesn't mean we can't all be good friends.'

'Double bother,' says Nikki, 'why are all the cute, nice ones gay? But yes, I really hope that we can be good friends too.'

'It'll be good to know little sis has a guy who'll be looking out for her without having designs on her,' says Sam.

'Thanks. I think. And are you at Uni too?'

'No. Graduated last year. From Cambridge.'

'OK. And if you don't mind me saying so, I'm kind of surprised you're single.'

A rueful smile passes over Sam's face.

'Bit of a bust-up a couple of months ago. Partly my fault – but probably for the best. It's hard to keep relationships going through Uni. Sorry. I don't mean to put you off. I hope everything works out for you and your boyfriend. What's he doing while you're here?'

'Probably unpacking his bags,' I say with a smile.

'Oh, OK. Where's he at Uni?' asks Nikki.

'About a hundred yards in that direction,' I say, pointing.

'Oh God, you mean he's here at Bristol too?'


'OK. Way cool, I can't wait to meet him.'

'I expect he'll be in the bar with me later.'

'OK, I need to be going,' says Sam. 'Would it be OK to have a hug?' he asks.


He envelops me in a big bear-hug, my face pressed into his neck. He smells lovely.

'A genuine pleasure to have met you,' he says,' I hope we'll meet again.'

'I'm sure we will.' I turn to Nikki. 'If that's it, I really ought to go and see how Josh – that's my boyf – is getting on.'

'Sure. Thanks so much for helping. See you both later.'

'Will do.'

I make my way across the courtyard that separates the two residential blocks and turn towards Josh's room. Just as in my block, people are coming and going with bags and boxes. Josh's door is open when I get to it. I give it a tap and enter. Josh emerges from the ensuite.

'Oh, hi Nico. Almost done.'

He gives me a kiss.

'Met any of your neighbours yet?' I ask.

'Not so far.'

I tell him about helping Nikki with her case and meeting her brother Sam.

'I guess I'm going to have to get used to people fancying the pants off you. Can't say I blame them, though.' He gives me a big hug. 'Just don't go falling for anyone else, OK?'

'And why would I do that when I've got you? And anyway, I reckon it's you who'll be being propositioned all over the place rather than me.'

'Evidence says otherwise so far.'

'Hmmm. Anyway, Nikki's looking forward to meeting you later in the bar.'

At that moment there's a tap on Josh's door. A fresh-faced, sandy-haired boy is standing there.

'Hi. Hope you don't mind me knocking. I heard voices and thought I'd say hello – I'm your neighbour…well…of one of you!'

'That's me,' says Josh, holding out a hand. 'I'm Josh and this waste of space is my friend Nick.'

'Hi Nick, I'm Toby, nice to meet you.'

'You too.'

Our eyes meet and he smiles.

'I'd offer to make you a coffee, but I still haven't got as far as finding my kettle'' says Josh.

'Oh, that's OK. Just wanted to introduce myself. Are you studying here too?' he asks me.

'Yes. My room's in the building opposite.'

'Ah, OK. And you two know each other already?'


'From the same school?'

'No. We met a year or so ago on holiday,' says Josh.

'Oh, wow, must have been a weird coincidence to find that you were both going to the same Uni?'

'Umm, kinda,' Josh says, 'Nico had Bristol as one of his options, but he hadn't fully made up his mind. But when we got on so well, it seemed like a great way to keep seeing each other.'

Toby's eyebrows form a little frown. 'I might be about to put my foot in it here, but do you mean 'keep seeing each other' as in friends, or 'keep seeing each other' as in…something a bit more?'

'No foot involved, Toby. You're sharp. Nico and I became…are…boyfriends.'

Toby grins. 'Well, good for you. Are you doing the same subject too?'

'No,' I say, 'Josh is a medic and I'm doing English. You?'

'History. And if you can't find your kettle and would like a coffee, I could make you both one in my room if you wanted.'

'That's kind Toby, but Nico and I just had one over in his room.'

'Ah, OK. Maybe catch you later.'

'For sure. We'll be in the bar this evening if you fancy a drink.'

'Sounds good. See you later, then.' And he leaves, shutting the door behind him.

'Seems like a nice guy,' I say.

'Yup. A relief to have someone nice next door. Fancy giving me hand with the rest of my unpacking?'

'Of course.'

We both meet up with Nikki in the bar that evening, and Cam joins us a little later, and so does Toby. It seems we already have the makings of a group of friends. Toby and Nikki seem to get on particularly well, and it all feels like a great start to Uni life. We all drift back to our rooms around ten, and I'm no sooner through the door of my room than Josh grabs me.

'Bed christening time?' he says, with a wiggle of his eyebrows.

'Well, aren't YOU Mr. Patient,' I say.

'Fuck that,' he says, pulling my sweater up over my head, 'I'm so horny I think I'm going to burst.'

'Well, we can't have that, can we?'

We almost rip the clothes off each other, and then we're stumbling, naked, locked in an embrace, backwards onto the bed.

And you can safely say that the bed proceeds to get thoroughly christened.

'Josh,' I say afterwards, lying in his arms, 'I could do this for ever with you.'

'Me too.'

He kisses me on the nose.

'Of course, you know we'll have to do the same with my bed tomorrow?'

'But of course. Life's just one challenge after another, isn't it?'

He snorts with laughter.

'I love being with you, Nico. Not just the sex – though that's great – it's…you make me laugh. You make me happy…you make me…I don't know….'

'Complete. We make each other complete, Josh. I can't imagine not being with you. I almost have to pinch myself sometimes.'

'I know. It's great, isn't it? But I think we need a shower and then, much as I don't want to, I ought to go back to my room. These beds aren't big enough for a sleepover.'

'I know.'

We both somehow fit into the small ensuite shower and clean up before Josh puts his clothes back on. I'm still naked as he hugs me to him.

'I love you so much, Nico.'

'And I you, Josh.'

'See you in the morning.'

'You bet.'

And with a final kiss, he's gone.

And the following evening, his bed gets thoroughly christened as well.

Lectures start the following Monday, and I'm rapidly into the first part of the course which takes us back to mediaeval literature as part of an overview of the way literature has evolved up to the present day, and the way it integrates with cultural change and development. It may not be the most interesting part of the course from my own particular perspective, but you have to start somewhere. I'm particularly looking forward to the creative writing element that comes in the second year. I also make good friends with one of my fellow English students called Mikey. He's good company and we just seem to hit it off. And Josh likes him too.

Josh is immediately into a very heavy-duty set of lectures, as well as practical anatomy work on a human cadaver that's been left to science. He shares a body - that he christens 'Wozza' - with a fellow student called Ollie, who, it turns out, is also gay. When I ask him why they've called it Wozza, he says because it 'wozza living human being once'. That's medic humour for you.

Outside of our studies, we both get involved in 5-a-side football as there's a league between the various Halls dotted around the campus. We also go along to a couple of events run by the LGBTQ group to show our support, following a leaflet being posted under our doors, but the events themselves are not really our thing, and there don't seem to be many other couples there. Great if you're looking for a relationship – be that brief or something more long-lasting – but that's not us. But we do get to meet Ian, the guy who did the posting of the leaflets, and like him a lot. And he persuades us to take part in Pride Day later on in the term, which is a new experience for both of us as well.

The other exciting thing that happens is that we get an invite from Piers and Zak to spend two or three weeks with them at the villa in Tuscany again. Josh and I have plans to do the European tour trip that we've postponed from last year, but the thought of relaxing and taking it easy in Italy gives us pause for thought.

'I mean, we've still got another couple of years when we could do the trip,' says Josh.

'Yeah…and to be honest, it was so lovely…so relaxing….'

We look at each other.

'We say yes?'

'We say yes.'

It's amazing how fast time seems to pass and in no time at all, it's not only the end of our first term, but the end of the whole year is rapidly approaching. We realise that we need to organise accommodation for ourselves for the coming year, as we'll no longer be in Halls, and we start looking at what's available. It's all a bit depressing – and expensive.

But our hunt for accommodation has to take a back seat to make way for end-of-year exams, so the last two weeks are a flurry of revising. Josh is in a similar position, and we see a lot less of each other than usual. So once the exams are over, and with only a few days of term remaining, we make up for lost time, spending our nights together and alternating whose room we use.

The issue of accommodation is now urgent again, and we even consider moving in with Josh's parents - but it turns out that his Dad has a surprise for us. He invites us both round.

'I know you guys have been struggling with finding accommodation for the two of you, and don't think that we wouldn't be happy for you to move back in if you had to, but we know that's not what you want – or what we really want, for that matter. So….I've been wanting to diversify my investments to include some property and had it in mind to do this for some time. I didn't want to say anything in case it all fell through, but now that everything is sorted out, I'm happy to tell you that I've bought a house in Bristol that's currently being used as fairly upmarket student accommodation. There's one big and three smaller bedrooms, all with their own bathrooms and it would be doing me a favour if you'd move in as one of the tenants. That way you could keep an eye on the place for me as well as having what I think will be very comfortable accommodation. Of course, you don't have to live there unless you want to – though I think you'll find it's a very nice place. My intention is to spend a bit of money on it doing it up over the next six weeks, but it should be ready for you – and any friends who you want to invite as housemates – in time for next term. They'll have to pay rent at the going student rate, but obviously I wouldn't be charging you two anything. How does that sound?'

'That sounds amazing, Dad – doesn't it, Nico?'

'It's unbelievably generous of you,' I say to him.

'Well, you better take a look at the place first. How about tomorrow?'


The house turns out to be an Edwardian mid-terrace house spread over three floors about a ten-minute walk from where Josh's parents live. The conversion to a student house has been done well, although it needs some refreshing and updating, and Henry - Josh's dad - has organised a team of workmen to do precisely that.

The top floor – where the large bedroom is – is particularly spacious, with plenty of room for a sofa and desks as well as the bed, and a very nice ensuite bathroom.

'I assume that this is the room you two would take; you'd have this floor to yourselves. The other three bedrooms are on the floor below.'

These other rooms are all a decent size – if not quite on the scale of the top floor. The ground floor has a decent-sized kitchen, a nice lounge, a utility room and a toilet.

'So what do you think?' asks Henry.

'It's fantastic, Dad. Thank you so much.'

'So it's a 'yes' in terms of moving in?'

'Of course it is! There can't be better student accommodation anywhere in the city.'

'Excellent. If you want to show any friends who you think would like to take the other three rooms - and who you'd be happy to house-share with – just let me know.'

'Will do.'

Later that day, Josh and I discuss who we think would make good housemates.

'What do you think about the mix? All boys or boys and girls?'

'If we go for a mix, it would probably have to be two and two…I can't see one girl wanting to share with four boys.'

'True – although we could ask. I think Nikki would be a good choice if she was interested.'

'Agreed. I'm not sure we know any other girls well-enough to be sure if they'd be a good fit...or maybe we could ask Nikki?'

'Good plan. But if we went 'all boys' who would we want?'

'Mikey might be fun.'

'Yes…that would work.' He pauses. 'How would you feel about Ollie?'

'Yeah, he's nice. I like him. And he's a fellow medic which would be good for you. And he's gay. I'd be OK with him.'

'Who else?'

'Maybe we need to talk to Nikki…see if either she's OK being the only girl or knows someone she'd like to invite.'

'That makes sense. Want to go and talk to her now?'

'Why not?'

We make our way down the corridor to Nikki's room and tap on the door. It opens.

'Ooh! My favourite two men! And what can I do for you?'

'We wondered if you had your accommodation for next year sorted out?'

'No…it's on my urgent 'to do' list. Bit of a nightmare actually. Why?'

'Well,' says Josh, 'my dad has bought a place that's been converted to provide four student rooms. Nico and I will share one of them, and we're looking for three housemates. We wondered if you'd be interested?'

'Wow…sounds great. Who else is sharing?'

'That's sort of why we're here. We wanted to ask you how you'd feel about sharing with three other guys – well, four as Nico and I will be sharing – or else if you knew another female who might like to share. One of the others will be Nico's friend Mikey. I think you know him.'

'Yeah, Mikey's cool. If I said I was OK with being the only girl, who would the other guy be?'

'Probably Ollie; we haven't asked him yet because we wanted to talk to you first.'

'Ollie's your fellow medic, yes?'

'That's right.'

'I don't really know him but he seems nice enough. I'd be OK with him. And…being the only female wouldn't bother me one bit. Quite fun actually…provided you don't expect me to be some kind of skivvy cleaner and cook for you all.'

'Absolutely not. All that stuff will be equally shared on a rota.'

'Cool. Can I see the place?'

'Of course. You free tomorrow?'

'Yeah...after 12.'

'OK, so why don't we meet at 12 and go down to take a look…maybe go for a drink after?'

'Sound lovely. OK…and thanks…thanks a lot. Could be the answer to a prayer.'

When we take her to see it the next day, she's bowled over.

'MY God! This is LOVELY!' Then her face falls. 'But how much is it? I'm sure I won't be able to afford it.'

'Dad says he'll charge the average rent for student accommodation in Bristol even though this should be at the top end. So it would be £600 a month plus a share of the bills.'

'REALLY? Are you serious?'

'That's what he said.'

'Then 'yes'…yesyesyesyesyes…I can't believe it. Do I get to choose which room?'

'Sure. First come first served…except the top floor is ours.'

'I realise that. Then I'd like the one that looks out over the garden at the back, please.'

'Done. I'll tell Dad and he'll get the agent to draw up the contract.'

'Thank you guys so, so much.'

And she gives both of us a kiss. 'Right, well, the drinks are definitely on me.'

Mikey and Ollie are both equally delighted to have the opportunity to join us, and that's that.

We arrange a meeting for all five of us to discuss the house rules. There aren't many of them, but it's good to get things straight so far as everyone's expectations are concerned. Josh and his Dad have produced a draft between them that deals with keeping the place clean, paying the bills, not upsetting the neighbours, respecting each other's property and privacy, and what to do if there are any disputes between us.

'What about overnight guests?' asks Mikey.

'I take it you mean your girlfriend?' Josh says with a smile.

Mikey blushes.

'Overnight guests are fine provided they respect the house rules too, but they can't move in unless we all agree and they pay their fair share. Is that OK?'

Everyone nods.

'Any other questions?'

'When will it be ready for us to move in?' asks Nikki.

'Dad says all the refurb should be complete by the end of July, so let's say the start of the second week in August unless you hear any differently. Term doesn't start until the end of September, so there's plenty of leeway if necessary.'

'Is there somewhere to lock up a bike?' asks Ollie.

'Yes. There's a shed at the back and there'll be access by keypad once the work on the place is complete. Same with the front door…it will be touch recognition so we'll need to program it for each of us.'

'Sounds perfect.'

'Great. You'll all have contracts to sign by the end of next week and then we're good to go.'

'Can't wait,' says Nikki.

Josh and I spend the first couple of weeks of the vacation at our respective homes. I go back down to Bristol after that to stay with Josh, partly to see how the refurbishment of our house is going and partly to get everything ready for our trip to Italy.

When we visit the house Josh's Dad has bought, the changes are obvious. The whole place has been redecorated; new suites put in the bathrooms and a new kitchen and boiler installed. There are also new beds and furniture in the bedrooms and the lounge, and the new electronic access equipment is all in place.

'How will the others get in if we're not here?' I ask, once Josh and I have been programmed into the system.

'They should be able to access the registration remotely; I'll send everyone details. There's also an emergency override with a code that I can give them if necessary...we'll just change it once we're all safely installed.'

Josh and I go up to our room on the top floor.

'First things first,' says Josh, 'better test the bed.'

He leaps onto it and I follow. It's very comfortable. He pulls me into his arms and kisses me.

'How do you fancy christening it?'

'Well, as a matter of good procedure, I think we ought to test it…just to make sure it doesn't collapse or anything.'

Josh stifles a giggle. 'Come on then.'

We're naked in seconds, top to toe in a few seconds more and…well…let's just say that the bed performs perfectly, even given the considerable workout we give it over the next hour. We move on to test the sofa and finally the shower.

'All very satisfactory,' Josh says as we finally put our clothes back on.

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