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Making Nico

by c m

Chapter 13

When we get to the bar, Josh hasn't yet arrived. I ask Jase what he'd like to drink.

'No, I'll get them…I asked you out for a drink.'

'You will not. You've just given up an hour of your time to train a newbie…getting you a drink is the least I can do.'

'Well…OK then, thanks. I'll have a beer please.'

I order two Stellas and we find a table about halfway along one side and sit down.

'Cheers, ' Jase says, clinking glasses.

Jase is facing the door and I'm sitting opposite him, which is a mistake as it means I won't be able to see when Josh arrives. I'm just about to suggest we change places when Jase says,

'Omigod…your boyfriend isn't a Greek god with blond ringlets is he?'

I turn. Josh has just come through the door.

'You mean the ugly guy who's just come in?' I say.

Jase laughs. I get up and take a couple of steps towards Josh. We hug and he gives me a kiss.

'Hey, Josh, this is Jase who's just been trying his best for the last hour to knock some knowledge into my head; Jase this is Josh, my boyfriend.'

Jase and Josh shake hands. Jase appears to be mesmerised.

'So, have you had any success with the idiot?' Josh says.

'He's no idiot. He's a natural. Easiest bit of training I've ever done.' His voice is a bit of a croak.

'Oh well, surprises never cease. And nice to meet you.'

'You too.'

I ask Josh what he'd like to drink.

'Same as you, I think.'

I go over to the bar, and Josh slides in beside Jase. When I get back with Josh's beer, Jase has managed to reacquire the power of speech, and whatever he's said to Josh has made him laugh.

'Thanks, Nico,' Josh says as I hand him his beer.

Jase turns out to be very easy to talk to, and the conversation flows. Turns out that he's an only child, and his father left his mother when he was ten. He came out when he was sixteen, and his Mum's was very supportive and has been ever since. But his father no longer talks to him. It's also clear - although he doesn't say as much - that things are financially very tight for him and his Mum – hence his working at the coffee shop. I ask him why he's working there rather than at Starbucks.

'Well, first off, they didn't have any vacancies when I asked -I tried them first - and second it would have been a lot less convenient for me to work there anyway. And third, like I said, TDG is more intimate – I know that I said Harry could be a bit of a pain, but as you'll find out, it's very gay-friendly which I like. I'm not a particularly confident person, and it's nice to have plenty of similarly-oriented people around me without having to go out and look for them.' He pauses. 'God, does that sound really pathetic?'

Josh puts a hand on his shoulder.

'Not at all, Jase. We're all different. But I guess it's made finding a boyfriend…not so easy.'

He sighs. 'You can say that again. I've not even…heck, you don't need to hear my sob story. Tell me more about you guys. Brothers? Sisters?'

I tell him about having a twin sister, and how close we are. And about her accident.

'Yeah, 'I say, 'we've pretty much had our fill of hospitals recently.' I say this without thinking.

'You mean…because Josh is training to be a doctor?'

'No…well, yes, he is, but that's not the reason why.'


I realise that talking about Josh's op is not something I should do without discussing it with him. In fact, without his permission.

'Sorry, Jase, it's something a bit…personal.'

'Sorry,' says Jase, 'I didn't mean to….'

'No, it's OK,' cuts in Josh. He turns to Jase. 'I had a bit of a cancer scare recently. Fortunately caught very early and all's well now.'

'Cancer? At your age…gosh…that must have been well scary.'

'Yes. A bit.'

'Leukaemia or something?'

'No. Testicular cancer.'

Jase blushes bright red. 'Omigod, I'm sorry…I didn't mean to pry.'

'It's OK. Actually it's important to talk about it. It's important NOT to be embarrassed about it, in fact. Ignorance is what kills most people who die of testicular cancer. Because they ignore it – or simply don't know what to look for or how to look for it. So please, ask anything you want. Do you check yourself, by the way?'


'Hot shower – or better still a hot bath. Get everything relaxed and have a proper feel. And if you find a lump, get it checked. Chances are it will be harmless, but in some cases – like mine - it wasn't.'

'So did you have chemo…or radiotherapy?'

'No. It was caught early enough to mean that once they'd removed the affected testicle, I was fine.'

'REMOVED it?!'

'Yes. Don't be shocked. The other treatments only follow surgery, they don't precede them. And only if necessary – which mostly depends on how early the tumour has been detected. And I can function just fine with one ball rather than two. Ask Nico.'

At this point, I think Jase is about to die of embarrassment. He looks from me to Josh and then back to me. I give him a big thumbs-up. And then he starts to laugh.

'Oh fuck…I just love you two….I can't believe we're having a conversation about…your boyfriend's balls. We've only just met…you two are something else. This is just the best and the weirdest conversation I've had in…well, ever. But thank you. Oh man, if this is a taste of things to come, then I am SO glad you're going to be working at TDG.' And then he goes serious. 'And I'm very pleased you're all OK, Josh and I'll certainly…start checking.'


It's now nearly eight o'clock and I'm hungry. 'Have we got something to eat at home, Josh, or should we get something here?'

'I've made a ragu sauce to have with pasta.'

'Yum.' I look at Jase. 'What are you doing about eating tonight, Jase?'

'Umm…I'll probably pick up a pasty or something on my way back to Hall.' But he sounds a little evasive.

'Have we got enough for three, Josh?'


I cock my head to one side and raise an eyebrow. He nods.

'Why don't you come and eat with us? We've got plenty and it shouldn't be too out of your way.'

I can see him hesitating.

'That's very kind, but I probably should get back.' He says.

'We'd love you to come if you'd like,' says Josh, 'and then you'd know where we are as well.'

I give Jase's hand a gentle squeeze. 'It would be nice to keep talking…but obviously do whatever you think is right.'

'I'd…I'd love to come and eat, then, if that's really OK. If you're sure I won't be in the way.'

'You definitely won't be in the way,' says Josh.

When we get to the house, Jase is very impressed with where we live. 'This is nicer than where I live with my Mum,' he says. And half an hour later, he's even more impressed with Josh's cooking. And it must be admitted that the spag bol Josh has knocked up is delicious.

'Wow. How come you get to have a boyfriend who's drop-dead gorgeous and such a good cook?' Jase says. Then he blushes. 'Sorry, I didn't mean to…'

'That's OK,' I say, 'it has to be said that he IS pretty gorgeous and his cooking's OK, I suppose.'

'Just OK?' says Josh.

'Heck, you know it isn't as good as mine,' I reply.

'Says the man who burnt scrambled eggs yesterday.'

'Be fair, I had to answer a call from my mother and you know how they can go on….'

'Some of us would have taken the pan off the stove first.'

'Yeah, yeah, yeah,' I mumble.

'Actually, he IS quite a good cook. When he's not on the phone.' And he puts his arms around my waist and gives me a kiss.

I see something in Jase's face. 'What's up?' I ask.

'Nothing.' He sighs, 'Only…seeing you two together…it's lovely, really lovely…and it just makes me….I'm sorry….sorry….I'm being silly…'all unnecessary' as my Mum would say.' His eyes are a little shiny and I can see him blinking back tears. He gives a sad little smile.

'Come here,' I say.

He gets up and slowly comes over to where Josh and I are standing. We open our arms and pull him into our embrace. He puts an arm round each of us. I gently rub his back.

'Thank you,' he whispers.

'Come on up to our room and let's talk.'

The three of us make our way upstairs. I sit on the sofa next to Jase and Josh sits on the edge of the bed.

'So…how can we help?' I ask.

'I don't know. It's…I…I've never had a boyfriend. I sort of don't know how to start. Like I say, I'm not a very confident person…I mean, I couldn't imagine going to OMG or anything on my own.'

'Have you engaged with the student LGBT group?'

'I…no…it seems to be a little 'out and proud' for me...I mean, not that I'm not out...or perfectly happy about being gay, it's just….'

I give his knee a squeeze. 'It's OK, I get it. But it's kind of hard to meet other gay guys if you don't go to any of the places they go.'

'I know. I guess it's…I'm afraid that maybe all they'll want is sex and I want more than that. And it's not that I don't want to find out all about sex, but I worry that if I go to bed with someone maybe I'll just get used and dumped, and I don't know if I can handle that.' He sighs, 'How do I get to have the same sort of relationship with someone that you guys have with each other?'

'Not everyone's like Harry,' says Josh. 'And it seems to me that you know how to handle yourself if someone is trying to date you or get you into bed and you don't want to. I think you're stronger and better than you think you are. I can't pretend that OMG is necessarily the best place to meet someone for the first time, but if you wanted to go there with us, we could give you some moral support. Or maybe have a talk with Ollie, our housemate. He's gay and single…I'm not suggesting you'd want to date him, but he might be able to give you some pointers. We're probably not the best people to help you given that we were a couple long before we came to Uni.'

'Thanks, Josh. That all sounds good.'

'Have you had any sort of relationships before?'

'Not really. A couple of brief flirtations at school that didn't go anywhere. It became clear that both of them really just wanted to get me into bed. Or into bed before I was ready for that. They were nice enough but…that wasn't…isn't…me. I want to get to know someone well enough to love them…to be loved…I mean, how long did you guys know each other before you….?'

'Hmmm. This probably isn't going to help, Jase. About 48 hours. We were on holiday…we didn't have time to…but the fact is, and you can believe this or not, Nico and I just…knew we were meant to be together. How is that possible in just 48 hours you may ask, but it was. Granted we spent quite a lot of that 48 hours together in a way that doesn't happen if you're not on holiday but…we made each other laugh, we had fun together…and the sex just followed. Although when I say, sex, we didn't go….all the way...until a lot later.'

'So…it's normal to…do stuff without it having to…include…you know…'

He's blushing again, which is very cute, but this obviously matters to him a lot and it's no time to be flippant.

'Yes,' I say, 'Josh and I were more than happy to just use our hands and mouths. And we still are. Sex doesn't have to involve penetration…even after you've got to the point where it's an option. Indeed, even now we quite often just stick to oral. Sorry if that's too much information.'

Jase nods slowly.

'No, no…it's very helpful. Sorry,' he says, 'you must think I'm very stupid not to know this.'

'Not at all.'

'And….most guys would be the same as that?'

'Yes…or at least they should respect the fact that you didn't want to go any further than that. Otherwise it's rape.'

'Thanks.' He looks at me. 'Nick…I've never even done oral…pathetic isn't it?'

'It certainly is not. If you haven't got to know anyone well enough to want to go that far, it's a testament to your values that you haven't.'

'You're so nice.'

'And you're lovely, Jase. Don't let anyone or anything change that. Waiting for the right person is important. Just maybe give yourself a better chance to meet that person.'

He smiles.

'Yeah. I'll try. When could I meet Ollie?'

'I'll check and see if he's around this weekend. If he's here, maybe you'd like to come over and meet him after work on Saturday?'

'That would be great.'

'OK. It's a deal. I'll find out and let you know. Want to exchange details?'

'Of course.'

We quickly put WhatsApp and email info into our phones.

'Now I really ought to get back,' he says. 'Thanks so much for this evening…meeting you both and feeding me and for…the chat. It's been wonderful. I know it's only my first term, but I haven't had anyone to talk to like this….about this sort of stuff…or met any other gay guys…well, not who just want to be friends. You've no idea how much this has meant to me.'

'It's been great. I hope we'll see a lot more of you,' I say. 'Now, come here.'

I give him a hug and then Josh gives him a hug, before we go back downstairs with him and see him out. As he leaves he turns and gives us a wave. We wave back before closing the door.

'What a lovely guy,' says Josh.

'Cute too, no?'

'Very. All he needs is a bit more confidence.'

'Maybe we can help with that. Must be hard if it's your first time away and you're not the outgoing type.'

'And made worse if you're doing a job because you have to, and the boss is making life miserable for you.'

'Yes. I'll be interested to see what's actually going on once I've started working there. I'll do my best to support him.'

'I know you will.' He kisses me. 'Umm…all that talk of sex…I don't suppose….?'

'Yes please,' I say, as we charge up the stairs together.

Saturday is quite an experience. The coffee shop is heaving with customers when I arrive, and I'm immediately put to work clearing tables. I'm then on taking orders and actually making the coffee, most of which goes according to plan. I get confused once and Jase has to help me out – which he does with a practised ease. I get into the swing of it – and even running the till seems to go smoothly. Things quieten down a little around midday and Harry gives me a 'well done' which is nice. What isn't so nice is when I hear him saying to Jase – loud enough for us all to hear – 'so, cutie, you sure I can't persuade you to come out with me tonight?' and when Jase quietly refuses, he turns and says to the rest of the staff 'He'll crack eventually. And I'll be very gentle with him.' Once Harry's gone back into his office, I give Jase a discrete squeeze on his shoulder. He smiles and gives me a shrug. And I realise that I haven't told him about Ollie.

'Jase, Ollie's around this afternoon if you want to talk to him. I've explained your situation and he's happy to chat with you. He's said he'd be happy to take you to one of the student gay group events if you'd be interested. Anyway, if you'd still like to chat, he'll be there.'

'That would be brilliant. I'm finishing today at the same time as you, so would it be OK to walk back with you?'

'Of course.'

The rest of the shift passes in what seems like no time, and then the replacement team arrive and it's time for me and Jase to go. We put our heads round the office door and say goodbye to Harry.

'Well done Nick…good first shift. You OK for the same one tomorrow?'

'Sure. OK, see you then.'

Harry turns to Jase. 'Bye sweetie, I could show you a good time if only you'd let me.'

'Thanks, but no thanks.'

'Well, if you're happy being a frustrated little virgin, it's your loss.'

Harry leaves and we shut the door behind him. I put an arm round Jase's shoulder. 'Don't let him get to you. And if he keeps doing it, I'll have a word with him.'

'That's kind of you and I know you mean well, Nick, but please don't say anything; it will only make him worse. I'm used to it by now.'

'You shouldn't have to get used to it.'

'I know but…please don't rock the boat.'

'It's wrong, Jase - but of course I won't do anything you don't want me to.'

'Thank you.'

Back home after the shift is over, I make us both a coffee – which is, I suppose, slightly ironic - and then I go and tap on Ollie's door.

'Hi Ollie. Jase is here if it's convenient for you to chat.'

'Sure thing.'

Ollie follows me back to the kitchen and shakes Jase's hand. I can see Ollie looking approvingly at him. Ollie is still in 'hoping for Karim' mode, so I hope he's not stupid enough to make a move on Jase…unless Jase wants him to, of course. Not that I think someone with Ollie's sexual appetites would be right for Jase right now…but hey, that's up to them. I leave them to it, and tell Jase to come upstairs and find me when he's done.

'Will do – and thanks.'

Josh is sitting in front of an open textbook when I enter our room. He looks up.

'Hey gorgeous, so how was your first shift?'

'Fine. Good actually. Except for Harry having what's apparently his attempt at embarrassing Jase. It's not right, Josh. It's bullying at best. He knows Jase can't afford to lose his job. It makes me so angry.'

Josh comes over and puts his arms round me. 'I love that you care so much. How's Jase?'

'He's downstairs with Ollie. He's fine. Or says he is. He says he's used to it. I said I'd say something if it happens again, but he begged me not to. Says it would only make things worse. What do you think?'

'I think you need to respect his wishes…unless it gets to the point where he isn't able to handle it anymore.'

'I guess.'

'And look, if Ollie and we between us can help him to find a boyfriend, then it will probably stop; Harry will know he can't hurt him any longer. There'll be nothing to tease him about. And you know bullies…once they stop being able to hurt you they stop. Or find someone else.'

'I hope so. But I think I'm going to find it difficult working for someone like that.'

'Then chuck it. There'll be other places.'

'But if I did that, Jase would be back on his own. I can't do that to him. Or not until he's found someone anyway.'

He smiles.

'We'll work on it together. Maybe we could take him clubbing next week if he wants to.'

'I expect he'll be up here in a bit. We can ask him.'

And about ten minutes later, there's a tap on the door and Jase comes in. He's smiling.

'Thanks so much for arranging that chat with Ollie. He's really nice and we've arranged to go along to a meeting next week. Is he single?'

A gentle alarm bell starts to go off in my head.

'Sort of.' I think quickly on how best to describe the Karim situation. I think it's best not to give Jase too much encouragement vis-a-vis Ollie – if my instincts are correct. I decide to overdo, rather than underdo, the relationship. 'Ollie's been sleeping with a guy at Oxford Uni. Long-distance relationships are difficult but I think they're trying to make it work. Which is a bit of a first for him.'

'Oh. How do you mean?'

'Jase, Ollie's had…quite a few partners. I don't think he's looking for the sort of relationship you're looking for – or at least he wasn't until this Oxford guy came along. And who knows whether that will work out. But Ollie's a good guy and he knows his way round the Bristol Uni gay scene so he's in a great place to help…which I know he's keen to do.'

'OK. Got it. Thanks.'

'Don't be disappointed,' Josh says. 'We like Ollie a lot and he's a good housemate - but the truth is, whether he's available or not, you can do better than him. Ollie is happy if he's having great sex. You want more than that. Like we do. If you want what we have – or something like it – you won't get that from Ollie. And that's the truth. Sorry to be blunt.' He pauses. 'Not that we all don't want great sex,' he adds with a smile.

Jase laughs and gives a rueful shake of his head.

'I love that you're so straight about things. If that's not an unfortunate turn of phrase…' And it's our turn to laugh. 'Thank you, Josh. And you Nick.'

'No problem. We wondered if you'd like to come clubbing with us…maybe next Saturday?'

'Maybe. Can I see how this meeting I'm going to with Ollie works out? It might take a while to discover this whole new me.'

I smile. I remember the days of 'new brave Nico'.

'Of course. Take your time. There's no rush but if you fancy it sometime – not necessarily next week – just let us know.'

'I will. And thanks again. Umm…am I allowed to give you both a kiss to say thanks?'

'Never say no to being kissed by a sexy boy,' I say.

'Me? Sexy? Come on…'

'Oh no, you're definitely sexy,' says Josh. 'In fact, I want my kiss first.'

Jase blushes, and then gives him a kiss on the cheek which Josh returns, and then Jase and I do the same, followed by a group hug.

'I can't believe how lucky I've been to meet you two. I'm happier than I've been in ages.'

'Pleased we could help,' says Josh.

'Are you working tomorrow,' I ask.

'No…first Sunday off in ages. Thanks to you working there now. Something else to be grateful to you for.'

'Cool. Though I'll miss you.'

'You too. Hope the shift goes well. And I'll let you know how my non-date with Ollie goes.'

I grin. 'Can't wait to hear.'

We wave him off before going back upstairs. It may be Saturday but we both have work to do.

On my Sunday shift, I meet Martin for the first time. He's a local lad, in his late twenties with collar-length brown hair and an earring. He smiles as we shake hands.

'So, you're the new recruit. Pleased to meet you.'

'And I, you.'

'Do you need any help or are you OK with everything?'

'Did my first shift yesterday so hopefully all 's OK…but if I need your help, can I shout?'

'Of course. Just say.'

Today is quieter, overall, than yesterday. There's a bit of a flurry in the first hour and then a gentle flow of customers that's easy to keep up with. I'm aware of a number of same-sex couples and several of them are clearly regulars as they say that they haven't seen me before and ask my name. I get eyed up by one or two of the singles that come in as well, and one of them in particular is keen to chat as I'm cleaning the table next to him. I'm polite and smiley and he says how nice it is to have someone cheerful and helpful to brighten his day.

Back behind the counter, Martin says 'Careful who you flirt with. Jake's trouble.'

'Forgive me, but I wasn't flirting with him. I was just being polite.'

'Whatever. You're gay right? Most of the guys Harry employs are gay, pretty boys like you. I'm not by the way in case you were wondering. Gay I mean. And Harry likes his boys to flirt…he says it encourages the customers to come back.'

'Harry never said any such thing to me.'

Martin snorts.

'He will. Look, I have nothing against gay guys, where you put your dicks is none of my business, but be careful. You're pretty and Jake likes them pretty. I've seen him. He'll probably leave you a big tip – and a card with his number on. Oh…and be careful of Harry too.'

'I'd kind of worked that out.'

'Then you're brighter than most. Don't Let him bully you like he does Jason.'

'I worked that out too. Fortunately I have a boyfriend…and Harry knows that.'

'Good. That won't stop Jake by the way.'

'It will. I don't sleep around.'

'Hah. That'll just make you more of a challenge for Jake. And sorry, I don't want you to think that this place is full of predators. They're few and far between. Most of the customers are lovely. It's just your bad luck that Jake's in today. And now he knows you're working here…he'll be back every shift you're just see.'

'Well, thanks for the heads-up I guess.'

'Pleasure. And…for what it's worth…I like you. And you work hard.'

Sure enough, when Jake leaves, he gives me a little wave. And when I go to clear his table there is indeed a £5 note under the mug and a piece of paper with a number on it and a little message. 'You're cute.' I'm about to throw it away when something makes me hold onto it instead. I wonder if Jase has ever had a similar experience.

The rest of the shift passes off uneventfully and Julie, the only other employee I haven't met, comes on at 2.30 to replace me. I ping Josh a message to say I'm on my way – and that I'm starving. It's my fault, I should have had some breakfast but I was doing something much more interesting with Josh than eating…well, that's not strictly true, but I what I was eating wasn't enough to keep me going through a full shift at work. I'll know better for next time.

One of the things I love most about Josh is that he's always excited to see me - even if we've only been apart for a few hours. He gives me a big hug and a kiss as I come through the door.

'And how was it?' he asks.

'Good. Great. Got hit on by a customer too. See?' I show him the note.

'Well, you can't criticise his taste but I hope this isn't a common occurrence.'

'Martin – the other member of staff I was on with – says this guy has a bit of a rep.'

'And is he good-looking?'

'I guess. In his way. Don't worry , he does nothing for me…heck, no-one does anything for me but you.'

'Except maybe Karim…and Piers.'

'Sideshow fun compared with you. And anyway, they're special cases.'

'And if they're sideshow fun, what am I?' He puts his arms round my waist as he says this.

'You, my little cucumber, are most definitely the main event.'

'Your little WHAT?'

'Sorry, was looking for the right word. Can't imagine what made me think of cucumber.' I press my hand against the front of his chinos.

'After this morning you'll be lucky if it's more than a baby courgette. And anyway, I thought you said you were starving.'

'But I didn't say starving for what, did I.'

'Behave yourself. And you can't have anything left to give anyway.'

'True,' I say, releasing him, 'but like all addicts, I always want more. And I am most definitely addicted to you.'

Josh rolls his eyes. 'That is SO cheesy.'

'I know. But cheesy can be good can't it?'

'In your case, I'll make an exception. And as chance would have it, I've prepared my special cheese on toast for your late lunch. Well, mine too.'

'What makes it special?' I ask as I follow him into the kitchen.

'Well, as well as the cheese, I make it with beer and mustard and Worcestershire sauce…on sourdough.'

'Mmm…sounds yummy.'

'So, if you like to take a seat and open a bottle of something, I'll just get it going under the grill.'

I grab a couple of bottles of beer from the fridge and watch as Josh grills one side of half a dozen slices of bread and then, when it's toasted, spoon on a gloopy looking mixture out of a saucepan before returning the slices of bread to the grill. He leaves it there until it's all golden and bubbly – and the room is full of the smell of toasted cheese. He puts three slices on each plate and brings them over.

'One is usually reckoned to be enough, but after this morning I reckoned three would be nearer the mark.'

'You are so right,' I say, through a mouthful of volcanically hot, but utterly delicious, cheesy heaven. 'Josh, this is SO good.'

'Pleased you like it.'

'So,' I say, wiping my finger round the plate to get the last blobs of cheese off it, 'what's for dessert?'


'What? You've made profiteroles?'

'No, silly. I mean, I could…I know how…but these were on offer at the Co-op. Half price.'

He opens the box and puts it on the table. They are surprisingly good…full of sweetened cream and topped with chocolate that's just bitter enough to complement the filling.

'I'm stuffed,' I say, as I swallow the last of the choux pastry delights. 'And you, you can cook lunch for me any time.'

I get up and give him a kiss.

'So, apart from being hit on by a customer, how did it go?' Josh asks. 'Jase wasn't on today, was he?'

' off for him, and it went fine. Martin – the guy who was on with me – is nice. He's straight and a bit older than most of the other staff, but it's like…I dunno…he's got our backs, you know, of the younger gay guys like me and Jase. It's reassuring.'

'That's good to know. Was it busy?'

'To start with. Quietened down as the shift went on.'

'When do you get paid?'

'Part-time staff get paid weekly. So I should get the money for the shifts I've done this weekend, next Saturday.'

'You doing the same shifts next week?'

'Yes. Breaking me in gently. I think I'll be on the early one the week after.'

'Early bed then.'

'That's the theory. And no sex of course…can't have you tiring me out….' I say with a grin.

'Huh. If you can manage to rein your horny little self in for a night.'

'Me? You're the insatiable one…'

Josh just looks at me. And raises his eyebrows.

'No. Well. Alright. I suppose I DO find it quite hard to keep my hands off you.'

'Amongst other parts.'

'Hmm. Yes. Well. I think it's fair to say that you are equally to blame, however.'

''Who, me?'

'Yes, you…baby courgette man.'

'Careful or I'll have to give you a damn good cucumbering….'

We look at each other. Josh cracks first, but I'm not far behind as we both howl with laughter, before hugging each other.

At this point, Nikki walks into the kitchen. 'Oops, sorry, didn't mean to interrupt anything.'

'No, it's fine, Nikki. We were just discussing vegetables,' I say. This causes Josh to burst into laughter again. Which sets me off. She looks from one of us to the other.

'You two are weird. Lovely…cute…but weird. I was going to make myself a coffee. Do you want one?'

'That would be great. How's things with Miles?' I ask.

Nikki smiles broadly. 'He's great. I really, really like him. He's kind and thoughtful as well as being pretty damn sexy.'

'That's wonderful.'

'Yeah. It's still quite early days, but if things work out, might we be able to have a chat about the possibility of him moving in?'

'Wow. It's that serious?' says Josh.

'I hope so.'

'Then of course. Just let us know when you want to discuss it.'

'Will do. And thanks. How's the coffee shop thing working out, Nick?'

'All good so far. Come and have a coffee next time I'm on. Maybe bring Miles if he's around.'

'OK. Maybe we will. Oh, and regardless of you both being weird, it's lovely to see the pair of you always so happy together. What's the secret? I've never seen you two argue.'

'Lust, mostly,' says Josh with a grin. I giggle.

'Pffft. I don't believe that for a moment. I don't mean that you don't lust after each other…God, I've heard the noises…but that's not the secret.'

'Are we really that loud?'

'Mostly not…but…sometimes I guess things get…a bit steamy…'


'Don't worry…it's kind of…nice to know that passion can stay alive like that. And you two always seem so happy together.'

'We are, Nikki. We've had one or two...disagreements…in our time, but they don't last and we always resolve them. And anyway, it wouldn't be reasonable to expect a total doofus like Nick to get things right all the time….' Josh says.

'ME a doofus? That's rich. He's just trying to excuse his wholly immature attitude to anything that requires serious thought…'

Josh responds by blowing me a raspberry.

'Need I say more?' I say.

Nikki laughs. 'You see? That's just what I mean. Oh man…I'm so happy to be sharing a place with you two. And here's your coffees.'

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