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by c m

Chapter 1

It's a good place to work, is this. Well, I say work, it's work experience really. I'm doing a hospitality NVQ at the local college – just like the guy who runs the hotel did five years ago. Ever since he qualified, he's invited two of us from the College back here every year to work during the summer so that we can get some practical experience of what working in the hospitality business is really like at the sharp end.

Charlie – that's the guy I'm talking about - isn't just the manager, he's the owner. Sunnybanks has been in his family for more than fifty years. His grandfather bought it back in the 1970s. Back then it was a bit of a run-down, cheap and cheerful place. But not any more. A lot of money's been spent on it over the years and now it's a very smart, quite expensive, boutique-style place that prides itself on its rooms, its service and its food. It's quite a privilege to work here – and the competition to get one of the two places each year is fierce.

Charlie runs the place with his partner, Luke. They're amazing. They obviously love each other to bits, but both of them are the consummate professional when it comes to dealing with both guests and staff. No guest request is too much trouble – and no staff mistake goes unnoticed. Not that that happens very often – and when it does, they both want to use it as a chance to teach and help you improve rather than as something to blame you for or to get angry about. Provided you haven't made the same mistake twice. Then things can get a bit less friendly. But that's OK. They treat everyone the same and they're always fair.

OK, so I have a bit of a crush on both of them actually. And they know it. But that doesn't mean that they cut me any more slack than Tom, the other student working here – or any other member of staff for that matter.

Tom's not gay (unlike me, in case you hadn't worked that out), but he's been a good friend to me since we both started at College. He's bright and he's funny and we've got along ever since we were paired up for a project in our first term. I'm not as academically smart as he is – but I'm a hard worker. Just the way I've been brought up, I guess. So we kind of complement one another. Not that he's any sort of a shirker, and nor am I dim – and I've got the GCSEs to prove it ( not that I feel the need to do so).

I also like Tom because he stood up for me in that first term. I'm the only gay boy on my course and there were a couple of bullies who decided that the gay boy was the one to pick on. I've never flaunted my sexuality, but I haven't hidden it either. It doesn't help that my name's Mervyn. It's Welsh – like my dad – but you can guess what I got called…'Merv the Perv'. I put up with it but Tom asked me one day if I minded.

'What can I do about it? If they want to be stupid and call me names, let them. I mean, I wish they wouldn't but if I make a fuss about it, it will only make things worse.'

Tom just nodded and didn't mention it again. But I saw him take the two of them aside one day. I didn't hear what he said, but they didn't bother me again and the name calling stopped. When I thanked him, all he said was,

'Everyone's entitled to some respect. And picking on someone for their sexuality is cowardly. I told them it didn't bother me, that I was proud to have you as friend and that I stood by my friends. So picking on you meant they were picking on me too. I also pointed out that it was against College rules and that while you might not want to report their behaviour because of their threats, I was most certainly going to unless it stopped. When they called me a 'faggot-lover', I told them that they'd just made things a lot worse – as I'd recorded the conversation on my phone. They were suddenly very apologetic.'

'And had you?'

'No…but they didn't know that.'

He smiled at me and we both laughed – and he put an arm round my shoulder and gave me a squeeze.

'I hope you don't mind my having had a word with them,' he said.

'Mind? Why on earth would I mind? Thank you.'

'OK. It's just…I think you're probably pretty good at looking after yourself. I hope I haven't stepped on your toes - but I hate bullies.'

'I'm grateful; thank you. And what makes you think I'm OK at looking after myself?'

'I don't know. You have a sort of…inner confidence. And the name calling didn't seem to get to you, but…'

He gave a shrug of his shoulders.

I smiled.

'…but it's nicer that it's stopped. Yes.'

And that just brought us even closer together. Shame he isn't gay, mind. A bit of a looker. Blond hair, blue eyes; he's the whole cliché…but without a trace of arrogance. He could pretty much have his choice of all the good-looking girls, but he's going out with Sylvie because they make each other laugh – not that she's any slouch in the looks department.

We share a room. The staff quarters are comfortable, but they don't run to a room each – or not for the casual staff. There are bunk beds, and Tom asked if it was OK if he had the one on top. Which is fine. We have an en-suite shower room and a couple of comfy chairs. We don't need a kitchen because we eat in the hotel staff room, but there's a kettle so that we can make tea and coffee. And there's a TV and a DVD player – not that we get much time off to enjoy them.

Tom is totally unselfconscious about being seen naked when he's going to take a shower – although he did have the courtesy to ask me if I minded. Well, of course I don't. He has a great body. It seems silly for me to be shy when he isn't, but I'm a bit less confident – and the very thought of being naked in front of him gives me a bit of a stiffy. And that would be very embarrassing. So I usually keep my undies on until I'm in the bathroom. I saw Tom smiling the first time.

'No need to be shy. It's nothing I wouldn't have seen before.'

'I know. But…I'm gay and you're sexy and well…you know…'

He grinned.

'I'd take it as a compliment.'

'I don't think I'm quite there yet.'

'No prob…would you rather I didn't get naked in front of you?'

It was my turn to smile.

'Oh no…that's a treat.'

And we both laughed.

Being in the bottom bunk, it's pretty obvious to me when Tom is having a wank – and he knows it.

'I hope you're OK with the vibrations,' he said, 'can't do anything about it – and I can't get to sleep without jacking off.'

'That's OK…I'm the same,' I said.

'Cool…and I hope you didn't mind me saying, it's just I think it's better to be open about these things.'

'Much better all round.'

And it is. We are very open with each other about all sorts of things. One night as he's lying there above me he asks,

'How old were you when you knew you were gay?'

'Maybe thirteen.'

'And when did you come out?'

'Last year.'

'Was it hard?'

'It's always hard,' I say, and we both snort with laughter, '…but seriously, it wasn't great with my Dad. It wasn't what he expected from his only son and I could tell that he was disappointed. Mum was OK with it; I think she sort of knew and she did her best with Dad. To be fair, he's sort of come round - but we're not as close as we were. I think he feels he must have done something wrong in my upbringing. Of course he didn't – it's just the way I am.'

'Do you mind my asking if you've…you know…had any experience with other boys?'

'I don't mind you asking…provided you tell me afterwards about the experiences you've had with girls,' I say with a smile.

'Deal,' he says.

'The answer is that I'm a total virgin. A year after coming out and…nothing. Unlike all those stories you read, I don't have a randy cousin or a convenient school wank buddy. Truth is I'm a bit scared…and a bit shy...and that's not a great combination.'

There's a flurry of movement above me and then Tom is down the little ladder and sitting on the bed beside me.

'Seriously? '

I nod.

'But…I mean…you're a good looking guy, Merv. Hasn't anyone come on to you? There are loads of gay guys at College. I know they're not on our course but…'

'Coming on to me makes me uncomfortable…and the only two guys who've done so have are both really camp and that's not me at all either.'

Tom is all concern.

'Look, I mean, maybe this isn't right either, but I've got another gay friend I could introduce you to if you wanted…I've no idea if you'd get on – though I think you would. He's not in a relationship…if you were interested…'

'Thanks, Tom. It means a lot that you care, but I don't know….'

'Well, the offer's there if you want.'


And I give him a quick hug.

'And now,' I say, 'it's your turn. Tell me all about the girls you've had.'

'That's quite a quick story as well,' he says ruefully. 'I've been given a hand job by two girls, and that's it.'

'Is Sylvie one of them?'

He shakes his head. 'No, we're taking things slowly. I really like her. I mean, I'd love to do stuff with her, but I'm not going to risk things by pushing too hard too soon. Which is one of the reasons I jack off so much.'

He says this last with a grin. Then he shrugs.

'So…two sixteen - near seventeen - year-old virgins. We're quite a pair.'

'Thanks, Tom,' I say.

'What for?'

'For caring. For being so honest. For being so damn nice. Are you sure you couldn't be gay?'

'Completely sure, Merv…but if I was, I'd be your boyfriend like a shot.'

And with that, he shins back up the ladder and into the top bunk. Five minutes later, the frame starts its ritual shaking. I join in from my bunk. And we're soon both giggling helplessly.

Summer at the hotel is busy. There's a constant stream of guests arriving and departing. Many of them are regulars, and Charlie greets them as much as friends as customers. There's a good mix of older couples and families – some of whom have sons and daughters my age, although it's the sons, of course, who catch my eye. Or the good-looking ones at least. In line with my luck, the only overtly gay boy staying in the hotel who's around my age is not particularly attractive, although there is clearly nothing wrong with his gaydar. He has his own room next door to his parents, and I can feel his eyes undressing me every time I take something up to his room. After lunch one day he orders coffee and when I arrive he's wearing the towelling bathrobe provided for all guests. As I put the tray down, he comes across and says,

'Forgive my asking, but are you gay?'

I blush.

'Yes I am. Why?'

'No chance of a bit of a fumble I suppose?' he says, letting the gown drop to the floor. He is naked and erect. Despite the fact that I don't find him very appealing, I can't help but look. He may not be good-looking, but he is undeniably well-equipped.

'No…no…I'm sorry,' I blurt out.

'Shame, 'he says, 'you're very cute, 'are you sure? I'd make it worth your while. A little extra service that the hotel maybe provides for its guests?'

'Sorry,' I say again and leave in a rush.

I tell Tom about it that night.

'You should tell Charlie, ' he says, 'it's not right for guests to behave like that.'

'Do you think so?'


So I do.

I thought he'd laugh, but he doesn't.

'I'm so sorry, Mervyn, no guest has a right to act like that. And well done for walking away. I'll have a quiet word with him and they'll go on our list of guests who find we're mysteriously booked up any time they try to make a future reservation. Are you OK?'

I nod. There's a pause.

'Would you have said 'no' if you'd liked him?' he asks quietly.

I look up at him. Is this a trap?

'I'm not trying to catch you out, Mervyn. Let me tell you a story.'

And he proceeds to tell me all about how he and Luke got together when Luke had been a guest at Sunnybanks and Charlie had taken him his early morning coffee and found him emerging naked from the shower and how one thing had led to another…

'I was sixteen too, Mervyn…and Luke was my first. It's unlikely to happen, and on no account is it alright for you to be the one doing the approaching, but if another guest your age approaches you and you like him, then it's not always wrong to follow your heart, OK?'

'OK. Thanks. Umm…was Luke really your first?'


'So not having actually done anything yet at my age is OK?'

'Of course it is. It's about meeting the right person – and doing what's right for you. What other people do is irrelevant; if it's right for them, then that's fine – but being true to yourself is what matters. Tell me, are you getting on OK with Tom?'

'Tom's great. Distressingly straight, but other than that he's lovely.'

Charlie smiles.

'Good to hear. And you're both doing really well. You work hard and the guests like you. I can't ask for more than that. Keep it up – and don't stress about finding someone or doing stuff. It will happen when it happens.'

'Thanks Charlie.'

To his credit, Julian, the boy who propositioned me, actually apologies next time he sees me.

'I'm sorry. I was out of order. Please forgive me.'

He holds out a hand. I shake it. And my respect for Charlie grows even more.

Tom and I spend one of our all-too-rare free afternoons on the beach. The weather's glorious and the sea very inviting. We swim, splash about and even build a huge sandcastle. We end up covered in sand – which sticks to the sunscreen we've applied liberally all over. Time passes so fast, we suddenly realise that we're due back at the hotel, on duty, in ten minutes' time.

We grab our towels and rush back to our room where we both strip and head for the shower. I'm in such a panic I forget to worry about Tom seeing me naked. The shower isn't big enough for two and Tom holds the door open for me to go first. We are still chatting and I'm covered in bubbles from the shower gel before I realise that I no longer have any secrets from Tom so far as my body goes. The thought is slightly uncomfortable yet, I have to confess, mildly erotic. I rinse off and hop out before my hormones betray me. Tom is ready and waiting to take my place.

His habit of being open means he is entirely uninhibited about saying what's on his mind.

'God knows why you were so shy, Merv, you've got a great body. And definitely nothing to be ashamed of down there.'

He says this whilst soaping himself vigorously about a foot in front of me. He is busy paying particular attention to his foreskin.

'How the bloody hell did I get sand inside it?' he says.

I dash back into the main room before I sprout a boner.

We both make it back on duty with seconds to spare.

There was a huge thunderstorm last night. The sky was lit up with flashes of lightning that merged together like some vast firework display. One of the hotel chimneys got struck and needs urgent repair.

The first step is the scaffolding which arrives the following day. It's a locally-based company and there are three guys on the team. One of them looks to be about my age – and his looks are right up my street. In fact he's gorgeous. But the most striking thing about him is his mass of curly blond hair. The rain has passed as quickly as it came – as is the way with summer storms – and the sun is now burning brightly. By midday, all three guys are shirtless and Blondie (as I have nicknamed him) is showing a tanned torso with the faintest outline of a six-pack above a pair of cut-off denim shorts and work boots. He also sports an orange hard hat which seems to perch on top of those curly golden locks. I can barely take my eyes off him.

By mid-afternoon, his torso is speckled with sweat and when he removes his hat to give his hair a shake, it is a mass of damp, old-gold-coloured ringlets. When Charlie suggests we make them a cup of tea, I'm right there to volunteer.

When I take it out to them – along with some slices of chef's carrot cake and three glasses of ice-cold water – they all take a break.

'Thanks, mate,' says the boss, 'just the ticket.'

He's maybe early forties and he's in great shape. But then erecting and taking scaffolding down must be quite a daily workout. His assistant is ten years younger with a buzz cut. They both wolf down the cake and make short work of the tea. Blondie was at the top of the scaffolding and has only now made his way down.

'Take a breather, Dunc, you deserve it,' says the boss, 'I'll be back in few minutes, just need to make a couple of calls from the truck.'

So his name is Duncan.

'Thanks Dad, almost done up there now.'

A family firm.

And now Duncan is just a few feet away from me. Up close, he looks even better – and the sheen of sweat on his body almost makes it glow. He smiles at me – then takes one of the big glasses of water and empties it over his head. He then shakes his head from side to side like a dog, and droplets of water spray out in every direction – including all over me.

'God, sorry, I didn't mean to…'

'It's OK,' I say, 'it looks as though you needed that.'

He grins.

'Sure did, it's roasting up there. But I should have thought first…are you OK?'

'I'm fine. I'm Mervyn, by the way, but my friends call me Merv.'

He holds out a hand.

'Duncan…and my friends call me Dunc.'

I shake his hand. It's damp with sweat. His grip is firm without being crushing.

'So, you're the boss's son?'

He grimaces.

'Yeah, worst luck. I get all the shitty jobs.'

He smiles at me. What a smile. My heart falls through my stomach.

'Actually it could be worse. The old man's OK most of the time.'

'Been doing the job long?'

'Just over a year. I left school at sixteen…it was kind of expected that I'd join the family firm as soon as I could…I'd had enough of school anyway. It's pretty good working outside - at least when the weather's like this. How about you? Always wanted to be a waiter?'

'Umm, I'm a bit more than a waiter. I'm doing work experience as part of my course at College.'

'Oh, OK…what course is that then?'

'Hospitality and Leisure Management…it sounds like a mouthful I know.'

I'm aware of his gaze travelling over me before returning to hold my eyes.

'This a good place to work?'

'It's great. The owner did the same course as me at the same College a few years ago. He takes two of us on each year to give us practical, experience.'

'Nice guy?'

I can't help but smile.

'He's lovely. Kind, encouraging, enthusiastic – not that he let's anything slip. He has amazing attention to detail.'

'This place has got quite a name round here, hasn't it? Posh but relaxed.'

'That's it exactly.'

'Owner's gay isn't he?'


He looks at me as if weighing his words.

'Reckon you are too.'

I tense up.

'I've seen you looking at me'


'It's OK mate, I don't mind. Don't worry. It's not like you're some sixty-year old perv. In fact, you're pretty fit from where I'm standing.'

I almost do a double take. It was a compliment – but was it more than that or am I just letting my fantasies run away with me?

'Thanks. You're….absolutely stunning. If it's OK for me to say that.'

He smiles again.

'Thanks. Yeah, it's OK. Got a boyfriend?'

'No. Never had one.'


'Yup. Sad isn't it. Guess I just haven't met the right person.'

'What's the right person?'

'Someone who makes me laugh, has some of the same interests…and good looking would be nice too.'

I smile – and he smiles back.

'So what are you interested in?'

'You'll probably think this is weird, but I've always been fascinated by the old Beano comics.'


'Yes, dumb, I know but….'

'No. Not dumb. And the only really weird thing about it is that so am I.'

'No way.'

He nods vigorously.

'You have any rare stuff?' he asks.

'Nothing really rare – that's all out of my price bracket, but one or two unusual ones. Most of my collection belonged to my grandfather – sixties and seventies stuff.'

'Wow. Could I come and see them sometime?'

'Of course,' I say. Like I was going to turn down the chance to have this God spend time with me.

'Great.' He holds out his phone. 'Put your number in there and maybe we can chat later. Looks like it's time for me to get back up top. Dad's back.'

I realise that I'm shaking slightly as I put my number into his phone.

'Here,' I say, handing it back.

'Cool. Will you still be on duty later?'

'Yes. But I'll be in the kitchen from about 6.'

'Maybe catch you later, if not, I'll call you.'

'Nice to have met you, Dunc.'

'You too, Merv.'

As ill-luck would have it, I'm busy inside for the rest of the day. I only realise the time when I hear the sound of the truck's engine starting, and by the time I've got to the door, it's already pulled out of the drive.

Why do I feel so disappointed? So he was good-looking for sure, but I've met other good-looking boys before – but they haven't left me feeling like I do right now. OK, so I've got the hots for him – but there's nothing to suggest he's gay. Getting all steamed up is only likely to lead to greater disappointment. But there was something about him…more than his looks. But what? I only talked to him for a couple of minutes. So he likes the Beano – which is a happy coincidence but nothing more. I don't really know anything else about him, so what's going on? God he was gorgeous. And he's got my number, so perhaps he'll call. Might at least get a few hours with him if he really does come round to look at my comics. I try to focus on helping chef prepare dinner – but I can't get Dunc out of my head.

Tom picks up on it immediately, of course.

'Why so distracted this evening, Merv?' he says as we are getting ready for bed.

I'm tempted to say 'it's nothing' but what the heck. And Dunc hasn't called me or left a message so I probably just need to put the whole thing behind me. Maybe telling Tom about it will help.

'I'm just being stupid, Tom…one of the guys doing the scaffolding today…about our age...he was so damn sexy. We even got to chat for a few minutes when I made them all some tea. Turns out we have a shared hobby and he asked for my number so we could maybe arrange a time for him to come round.'

'Wow…sounds great. He's gay then?'

'No…or I don't think so. He'd worked out that I was, but somehow I never got round to asking him. Anyway, he hasn't called and I suppose I was hoping he might…but I just can't get his face out of my head.'

'Would a hug help?'

'Wouldn't do any harm,' I say with a smile.

He wraps his arms round me and squeezes. With my face pressed up against his neck, I'm aware of his scent. He smells lovely. As he releases me he says,

'Well, at least you'll have someone new to think about when you jack off tonight.'

'True,' I say.

And that's exactly what I do. Twice in a row – and I haven't done that for a while.

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