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by c m

Chapter 5

I reply to Dunc's message with,

'What happened?'

But I get no response. Then, fifteen minutes later, there's a knock on the door. I open it to find a clearly very distressed Duncan on the doorstep.

'Oh my God. What's happened? He hasn't throw you out has he?'

'No, no…nothing like that. But I had to see you.'

'Of course, come in.'

My mother has poked her head out of the kitchen to see who it is. She's about to say something but I cut her off.

'Not now Mum…please? Dunc and I just need to talk.'

To her credit, she just raises an eyebrow, then shrugs and goes back into the kitchen. I usher Dunc upstairs. We sit on the bed and I put an arm round his shoulder.

'Are you OK?'

'Yes. Kind of. Mostly.'

'Tell me what happened.'

'When I got back inside after you left, Dad was waiting. He said 'Duncan, I'm going to ask you a question and I want you to answer truthfully. Are you gay?' I asked what made him think that. He said 'It's a little unusual for a straight boy to kiss his friend goodbye'. He'd seen us. How could I have been so stupid? Anyway, he says 'I'm waiting.' I said 'would it be so bad if I was?' He said 'I can't pretend I'd be very happy about it. I can't pretend I wouldn't be disappointed. But I wouldn't be angry. And you'd still be my son.' So I looked at him, straight in the eye, and said 'Yes, Dad, I'm gay.' He seemed to crumple a bit. Then he said what he'd said in the pub 'I can't say I understand it and I certainly don't like it, but I guess you are who you are. I suppose it was that boy from the hotel who's responsible for this.' I said 'His name's Mervyn and, as I recall, he just saved your life. And he's not responsible for me being gay – he just helped me to realise that I am.' He went a bit quiet at that. Then he looked at me. 'I suppose you're right. And he seems like a nice lad, I have to admit. Just…can we keep this to ourselves? I ask for your sake, not mine. You know what it would be like at work if everyone knew.' I said 'Yes, I'll keep it quiet – but if you want me to be honest with you, I want you to be honest with me too; and keeping quiet about it is as much for your benefit as mine, isn't it?' 'Touché' was all he said. Then he said 'I need a drink.' That's when I messaged you. And that's why I'm here. I'm a little scared Merv. He can get nasty if he drinks too much. He seems to be sort of all right about it now, but…anyway, I told him that I was coming to see you to let you know that he knew I was gay. He said 'Fine. Go and see your little gay friend. See you in the morning.'

'Are you saying he'd hurt you?'

'He never has so far. One night a few days after Mum died he got very drunk and rampaged around breaking things before collapsing in a heap and just sobbing. Maybe I'm worrying unnecessarily. Maybe I should go back.'

'Would it help to talk to my parents about it? Ummm…I'd need to tell them about us first. I mean they know I'm gay but I've not actually told them that we're boyfriends.'

'That's too much to ask.'

'No…no it isn't. Come on.'

We go downstairs to the kitchen. I ask Mum to get Dad, which she does.

'This is all very mysterious, ' says Dad as he comes into the room.'

'Shush dear and just listen,' says my mother.

'Mum, Dad…two things. First, you need to know that Dunc and I are more than just friends. We're boyfriends.'

I look at Mum. She's wreathed in smiles.

'Second, Dunc isn't out – and he didn't even really know he was gay until quite recently. His father is a bit of a dinosaur about these things…'

I glance at my father who has a little half-smile on his face.

'…and he saw Dunc kissing me goodbye today and put two and two together. He's sort of reluctantly accepted it because Dunc was brave and told him the truth - but he's not very happy and Dunc fears he's getting drunk and may be unpredictable later. We need some advice.'

'How about your mother?' asks my Mum, looking at Dunc.

I curse myself for not having thought to tell her about Dunc's Mum.

'My mother died four years ago, Harriet. It's just my Dad now.'

'Oh you poor boy – and I'm so sorry for putting my foot in it.'

'It's alright; you weren't to know.'

'Right. First things first. Congratulations on being a couple. We couldn't be happier. You're a lovely boy, Duncan, and we know that you make Mervyn very happy – don't we darling?'

My Dad realises that he's been put in the spotlight.

'Yes…yes we do. And Merv, I know that perhaps I wasn't thrilled when you came out, but I've seen the way you handle yourself and I'm very proud of you. So yes, I'm very happy for you – for both of you.'

I suddenly feel very emotional. This is the first indication I've had of Dad really accepting my sexuality - and of realising what he thinks of me.

'Thanks, Dad,' I say – with a little quaver in my voice. Dunc gives my hand a squeeze.

'Now, as for Duncan's position. I would offer to come over and talk to your father, but I suspect that might be too much too soon. You are, of course, welcome to spend the night here, Duncan, if you would like to and if you think that best. How will your father feel if he finds you haven't been home?'

'I don't know. That's the problem. I told him I was going out and he just said 'see you in the morning.' I don't know if that means that he knows I may stay out or whether he expects me to be back home in the morning, ready to go to work.'

'How about if you stayed here but we got you home by early so that you could be in your bedroom when he wakes? Will he realise – or mind – if you're not there when he goes to bed?'

'I don't know. Sorry. If he's just going to have a couple of drinks, he'll probably not be too bad and wonder where I am; if he gets stuck-in like he can, he wouldn't notice or care. But I just think telling him I'm gay and then going off and spending the night with my boyfriend would be rubbing it in a bit - you know, being insensitive if he's actually not going to get drunk.

'OK. I understand – and that's very mature of you. Could you call him in a bit and see what kind of a state he's in? If he seems fine, you can go home, if not then I think you should stay here. Better safe than sorry. And if that's the case, we'll get you home early tomorrow.' Dad pauses. 'Umm, I know this probably seems like an odd question, but if he only just about accepts you being gay, what does he think of Mervyn?'

Duncan gives a short laugh. Almost a bark.

'Well that's the thing. Merv saved his life today.'

'What?!' say my parents in unison.

So Dunc tell the story.

'And actually, before he knew I was gay he knew Merv was… and he was pretty much fine with him today even before the choking thing. So provided he's seeing things rationally and not through the bottom of a whisky bottle, things will probably work out OK. He certainly owes Merv big time.

'Yes – although that's not always the best basis for creating a positive relationship. When one person owes the other it's…asymmetrical, but lets not worry about that now. Do you think we have a plan?'

'Yes; thank you both,' says Dunc, ' I'll call home in about an hour, if that's OK, and see how things lie. And if things aren't good then I'd be very grateful if I could stay here.'

'Excellent. Right, if all that's settled, would you mind if I went back to my programme?' says my father.

'Yes…and I'll go and make up the spare bed just in case,' says my mother.

Then she stops.

'Or…that is…are you…do you…oh dear, I don't think I know how to put this…umm…'

'Dunc would be happy to share my bed, Mum. Especially if he needs a bit of TLC.'

'No, Merv…' cuts in Dunc, much to my surprise, '…nice as it would be, I'm happy to abide by whatever rules you have in this house, Harriet.'

What on earth is Duncan playing at? Doesn't he want to share my bed?

Mum is flushed with a mixture of embarrassment at the thought of us in bed together, and pleasure at Dunc's approach.

'Well, thank you, Duncan - but I think I understand the picture, and we don't really have any rules that deal with….this sort of situation. Maybe we should but we don't. So if sharing a room is what you both want, then that's fine.'

I smile inwardly at the fact that she's said 'room' rather than 'bed', but who cares? We have permission to sleep together. And that will go not just for tonight but all future sleepovers. Maybe Dunc knew exactly what he was doing….

'If you do stay and you need some pyjamas, I'm sure that Mervyn….' She catches my eye, 'that is I'm sure we can find whatever you need.'

'Thank you. Let's see how things look after I've called.'

I take Dunc upstairs. Once inside my room I kiss him.

'I can't believe that you came out to your Dad like that – even if he did suspect. You're amazing, Dunc. No more worrying about that side of things any more.'

'Yeah, it's a relief actually – despite all the drama. It's hard to believe. Just a few months ago I was so far in the closet that I didn't even realise I was inside one. And now…I'm having the best time in the world with the best boy in the world…and my Dad knows I'm gay…it all seems impossible.'

'Just shows how truly amazing you are. And how lucky I am.'

He looks at his watch.

'OK…I'm going to give my father an hour before I call. How do you suggest we fill the time?'

'Under other circumstances, I'd say sex was quite high up the list of options, but I'm still recovering from earlier.'

'Me too.'

'Have you ever looked at gay porn?'


'We could do that…see if we can pick up some ideas?'

'Why not?'

And that's what we do. We visit amateur sites rather than professional ones. The sex is somehow truer to life – or at least I assume that it is. Dunc is relieved, I think, to see guys fucking and getting real pleasure from it. And despite our exertions earlier, we both get aroused. The ache in our balls prevents us from doing much about it, but we do end up kissing. The hour passes very quickly.

Dunc is a little nervous when he phones home. He's clearly surprised when his father picks up after just three rings. I only hear one end of the conversation.

'Hi Dad, It's Dunc….yes, I'm at Merv's place…have you? Oh OK…yes, sure…I'll ask him….about half an hour?...see you.'

When he comes off the phone he's looking a little bemused.

'Dad's fine. I don't think he's had more than one or maybe two drinks. He says he's had a chance to think and he wants to talk to me. And you - if you'll come. I said I'd be back in half an hour. Is that OK? Hope you're not too disappointed I won't be staying over.'

'There'll be other chances for that. But why does he want me to come too?'

'I don't know…but would you?'

'Of course…if that's what you want. We better go and tell my parents.

They are surprised but pleased at what Dunc tells them.

'But I think we'll drive you both over…Mervyn will need a lift back anyway, and if anything goes wrong we'll be there.'

'That would be really kind of you – if you don't mind.'

'Of course not; our pleasure.'

And thirty minutes later, here we are outside Dunc's house. I can see that my parents are as impressed with it as I was.

'Wish us luck,' I say, as Dunc and I climb out of the car.

'Take as long as you need. And call us if you need us. We'll be here for as long as it takes.'


As we get to the front door, Dunc looks at me. We give each other's hand a squeeze before Dunc puts his key in the door. We go inside. Mr. Bell appears from the lounge. He looks a little flushed but nothing more, and when he speaks his voice is both calm and clear.

'Hello lads. Come in. We need to talk.'

Dunc and I sit down on the sofa facing Mr. Bell in his armchair.

'I've had a chance to think about things. Now don't get me wrong, I still can't understand anything about this whole being gay…stuff. But…I don't want to lose you, Duncan. I've lost your mother and I couldn't bear to lose you too. And I know that I have to accept what you are…who you are…or that's just what's going to happen. Your mother would have understood better than me. But she's not here.'

He pauses and takes a sip of clear liquid from a glass beside him. He sees Dunc and I exchange glances.

'Don't worry lads. Just water. I've done with the whisky for tonight. Duncan – I know I don't ever say it, but I do love you. You mean the world to me. The fact that you came to work with me without any protest when I never really gave you any choice. The fact that you get all the shitty jobs – yes I know I give them to you – and yet you don't complain. I'm proud of you. I just thought…you know…that you'd find a wonderful girl like your mother and have kids and….I know. It's all selfish. But you never did anything to suggest you were….gay. So when I saw you kissing that boy…' He stops and holds his hands up. '…sorry…kissing Mervyn…it was all too much. Especially as he'd just saved my life. I was so conflicted inside… '

He pauses, then looks at me.

'Mervyn, can I ask you a question?

'Sure Mr. Bell.'

'How did your parents react when you told them you were gay?'

'Well…' then an idea strikes me, '…that is, you can ask them if you want. They're outside in the car.'

'Are they? OK…why not.'

I get up, go to the door and step outside. Mum understandably assumes that it's because we're all done and opens the back door of the car for me, but I explain.

My parents look at each other.

'And just tell him the truth, Dad. How you really felt at the time. Please?'

'Sure, Merv.'

They follow me back inside and I introduce them to Dunc's father. I can feel the tension.

'Mervyn tells us you want to know how we felt when he came out to us?'

Mr. Bell just nods.

'I'm afraid I wasn't very happy,' says my father. 'It wasn't what I wanted to hear – and it wasn't what I expected to hear. I've always prided myself on my tolerance of homosexuality, but when it's your son telling you he's gay, it suddenly feels a bit different – or it did to me, I'm ashamed to say.'

I see Mr. Bell sit forward in his chair. He's nodding.

'Harriet, my wife, was much more understanding and she's helped me see past the labels and the silly stuff about not having grandchildren and all that. And Mervyn has helped too in the way he's conducted himself. I've come to realise that his sexuality doesn't change a thing about who he is or how I really feel about him. He's a kind boy with good values – something I'd like to think I had a hand in – and he works hard and…I'm proud of him. And, if you don't mind my saying so, you have a son to be proud of as well. We haven't known him very long, but we very much like what we've seen.'

I can see Mr. Bell gathering himself, and I wonder what's going to follow.

'Yes…yes…thank you. And I am. Proud of Duncan, that is. I think I still have to go on your journey – or at least, I've barely started out on it yet. I'm still hurting – I am, I don't mind confessing – but what you've said….I can see myself there as well. Maybe not quite as understanding as you were to start with but nonetheless…and I think my wife, God rest her, would have been like yours; more understanding. Maybe she could have helped me through this…but she's not here, so that's that.'

He looks up.

'And I've known your son for an even shorter time than you've known mine. And I like him too. Hard work. Passion. Vision. I like those things. And he saved my life. Hard to hate someone who's done that – even if the temptation is there to blame him for corrupting my boy…which I know he didn't do, by the way. No. Thank you for telling me how it was for you. Yes, thank you.'

'It's not easy to start with,' says my mother, 'and it must be even harder without your wife. But if we can be of any assistance, we're here for you as well – if that's something that would help .'

'Well, lets see how it goes. But it's good to meet you. If our boys are going to be….special friends…then…well…you know what I'm trying to say.'

'Yes…yes indeed,' says my father. 'And let me say that if both our sons are in the world of having boyfriends rather than girlfriends, then there's no-one we could be happier to see Merv with than Duncan.'

Mr. Bell gives a lopsided smile.

'It might take me a little while to get used to the idea of…boyfriends…but thank you anyway. Now, I mustn't take up any more of your time.'

Mum and Dad get up and shake hands with Mr. Bell. Duncan takes me out into the corridor and silently embraces me. There are tears in both our eyes.

'I think it just might be going to be OK,' I say with a bit of a croak.

'I know. I so hope so.'

'My place next Sunday?' I ask.

'If that's OK.'

'Can't wait.'

'Me either.'

My parents emerge from the lounge just as we are breaking our hug. I see Mum smile. Mr. Bell comes up to me and holds out his hand. I shake it.

'Thank you again for earlier. And…be patient with me.'

'I don't ever want to be the cause of difficulty between you and Dunc,' I say, 'but he's very special to me, Mr. Bell. He just is.'

'Aye. I can see that, son. To me too. And we'll find a way.'

In the car on the way home I thank Dad for what he said.

'That's OK, Merv. And I should have told you all of that a long time ago as well.'

'Do you think things will be OK between Dunc and his Dad?'

'Yes…yes I think they probably will. Getting started on the road to acceptance is the hardest bit. And he clearly loves his son. That's probably all that matters. Love finds a way.'

Love finds a way. I hold on to that thought.

Dunc and I speak every night the following week. I'm keen to know how things are with his Dad, and he's keen to keep me in the picture. It's slow, but things are OK at work and at home, he says. The whole issue of Dunc being gay isn't something that gets mentioned. Dunc says that, apart from the fact that that's his father's way, it also means that he's probably working away at it underneath the surface.

On Wednesday he calls to tell me that he won't be working on Saturday as his father has been invited to a golf day by a firm of builders. So would I like to spend the day with him at his house on our own ? It's almost too good to be true.

'Fuck, yes!' That's amazing.'

'I know. See you about 10? Earlier if you like…Dad's leaving around 8.'

On Saturday, I arrive at No.17 just after 9.30. We go straight to bed and stay there until midday. Along the way we talk about some of the porn we watched. When we decide that we need a shower about halfway through our session, I take the opportunity to use my tongue on his pucker once I've made sure that it's all nice and clean.

Dunc's reaction is impressive.

'Oh my fucking God! That is like…wow.'

It also gives him an instant erection.

'And it doesn't taste…you know….'

'Nope. You're all beautifully clean. Can I try something else?'

'Like I'm going to say 'no'….'

I slide a finger into him – or try to. He tenses up.


'Are you sure?'

'I'm sure.'

My finger, slippery with the remains of the gel I've used to make sure his pucker was all clean, slips easily inside hi. It is surprisingly hot and tight.

'Oh fuck, fuckety fuck….'

I feel him squirm with pleasure. But when I pull my finger out, I realise that if this is something we are going to do in future, we need to learn about getting clean on the inside as well as the out. I'm not disgusted, but I'm pleased the shower is running so that I can deal with it.

I share my knowledge with Dunc – and that's enough to prevent him from attempting to return the favour. At least for now.

Back in bed we just enjoy the feel of one another's bodies. We are slowly getting to know each bump and crevice. Each freckle and hair. Dunc discovers that he likes me to nibble his earlobes, and I find that the way he pinches my nipples is a source of unexpected pleasure. We still go no further than oral sex – but we can now make it last almost as long as we want each time. As we lie there, idly playing with one another during those minutes it takes to recover from one climax before embarking on the journey to another, I ask him if he'd like me to invite Tom round as well next time he visits me. Not for sex, obviously, but because I think they'd like each other.

'Sure. Why not? Provided we've had enough time to satisfy our lust first,' he says with a smile.

'Definitely lust first,' I say, 'OK…I'll give him a call. Now….lets see if I can stir this thing back to life….'

We're teens. We're horny for each other. Of course I can.

One of the best things about getting really close to someone is that you can do pretty much nothing together and still be happy just to be in one another's company. Dunc and I have pretty much grown into that place already. We decide to go and get fish and chips from the local takeaway for lunch (we're starving) and then head down to the local leisure centre for a swim. We take it in turns to mark the other guys out of 10, and it turns out we have pretty much the same taste in what we find sexy.

We go and have a coffee afterwards and it's all going beautifully – until someone who clearly knows Dunc spots us and comes over. I groan inwardly. As ill-luck would have it, he is also someone who happens to have been at my school - and who knows I'm gay.

'Hey, Dunc, haven't seen you in a while. Hanging out with the gay boys now are you?'

'Hi Pete,' I say, 'nice to see you too.'

'Hey, you know I don't mean any offence, Mervyn. Just saying. I assume Dunc does know you're gay?'

'Yes, I know. Is that a problem?' says Dunc.

'No. Just a bit surprised, that's all. I mean. You were hardly on the list of cheerleaders for Gay Pride last time we talked.'

'Guess I've grown up a bit since then. Maybe you should too.'

'Fuck that. I wouldn't want anything to do with them. How do you know him anyway?'

'I met Merv while we were doing a job. Got talking. Became friends. Good friends.'

'Good friends huh? Well watch your arse is all I'm saying….'

And with a shake of his head, he walks off.

Dunc makes a move tot get up; I can see the anger in his eyes - but I put a hand on his arm.

'Let him go, Dunc. There's always one or two.'

'Is that what you've had to put up with since coming out?'

'Not very often. Occasionally. Best ignored. And what was that about not being a cheerleader for gay pride?'

He blushes.

'Oh that. I'm sorry. Before I met you…before I knew I was gay…well, you know how it is when you're with friends and they start on something, you kind of join in. I know I shouldn't have done and I wish I hadn't…but…maybe it was unconscious self-protection. It was wrong and I regret it more than you can know right now'

'S OK…I know how it is. And that was then and this is now. And you just stood up for me, which is all that matters.'

'But I should have stood up for myself too. Told him.'

'And what good would that have done? You've already been braver than anyone could have any right to expect about being gay. How long's it been? A few weeks? No need to make things any more difficult than they have to be. The time will come – but it's not now. Come on. Let's get out of here.'

As we walk out, we see Pete talking with a group of other boys. They look at us and then just turn away. Fuck 'em. I'm with the boy of my dreams who's been braver so far than they are ever likely to be in their entire lives. Once we're out of sight, I take hold of Dunc's hand and hold it tight.

When I invite Tom round to meet Dunc, he can't wait. And when they meet they just hit it off right away. Turns out they're both Arsenal fans. Can't say that football has ever interested me that much – bunch of overpaid prima donnas as far as I'm concerned - but they seem to find it interesting. They even make plans to go and see a live game – although they are kind enough to invite me along as well.

'No, no,' I say, 'if you want to go and watch fully-grown men fall about like they've been shot when another player comes within touching distance of them, it's entirely up to you.'

'Looks like it's just us on the date then,' says Tom.

'Oh, very funny, ' I say.

'Well he is pretty good looking,' says Dunc.

'I hope you'll both be very happy…'

Then they both just jump on me until I beg for mercy.

The next Big Thing that happens is that Dunc comes out to his work colleagues. It's about three months later, and they're out on a job. The subject of wives and girlfriends comes up, and one of the team says,

'Come on Dunc. Spill the beans. Good looking lad like you must have a girlfriend…what's she like? You shagging her rigid yet?'

When Dunc tells me the story, he says, 'I just didn't want to lie anymore. You and I had been boyfriends for a while, Dad was becoming more relaxed about it by the day and…I thought I owed it to you to be honest. To lie would mean I was somehow ashamed of you. And I'm not. You deserve better than that. So I told them. Barry was the guy who asked – do you remember the guy with the buzz cut when we did the work at Sunnybanks?'

I nod.

'Well, it was him. So I said 'I don't have a girlfriend, Barry. But I do have a boyfriend. And he's lovely.'

You could have heard a pin drop. Then he just laughs.

'Nice one, nearly had me there. Boyfriend! Lad like you? I don't think so.'

Then, to my amazement, my Dad says,

'No, it's true Barry. The lad's gay and he has a boyfriend. I don't have a problem with that and I hope you don't either.'

Barry is a hilarious mixture of emotions. He eventually gets them under control.

'No, boss. If it's alright with you, it's alright with me. It's just I never….'

'Me neither. But it just goes to show that sometimes you have to admit that you're wrong. And as it happens, his boyfriend saved my life. And also, as it happens, he's an OK bloke who's got his head screwed on.'

Barry looks at me and then just mumbles,

'Sorry, Dunc, no offence meant.'

'None taken,' I say. But then, at the end of the day, as we're packing up, another of the guys, Smiffy, comes over and says 'my brother's gay, Dunc. I've never liked to mention it because, well, you know…but I wanted to say well done for saying what you did, and good luck to both of you.' Just goes to show, I guess.'

'I'm so proud of you, Dunc. That can't have been easy. But your dad…he really said those things?'

'Yes…once we got home I thanked him for his support. He just shrugged and said something about blood and water, but I told him it meant so much to me. Looks like he's really getting his head round it.'

'Then he deserves my respect as well.'

Sexually, Dunc and I have got to the point where we know how to get nice inside, and we've got as far as using our tongues and a finger or two to for stimulation 'back there' when the mood takes us. We haven't gone any further because…well, because we are both still very happy to use our mouths and our hands to achieve what is now spectacular sexual satisfaction. I do, however, start to experience the first glimmer of desire to know what it would be like to have Dunc properly inside me. We talk about it and agree that we'll let those feelings take care of themselves as and when the time comes. Dunc is in no hurry – and he is honest enough to say that he doesn't feel the same urge – or not yet.

The other thing that happens is that my parents become increasingly relaxed about Dunc sharing my bed overnight from time to time, but out of respect for Dunc's father and the journey he's on, I haven't slept over at The Larches yet.

I've also been back in touch with Sunnybanks to see if there's any chance of getting to work there over Christmas to earn a few pounds – I know they take on extra staff at Christmas – and Charlie has said 'yes' in principle. He also reminded me that the offer of a meal was still open from the summer. I ask him if I could come with my boyfriend.

'Of course you can – you'd both be very welcome. And congratulations...I suspected that it wouldn't be long before you found the right guy.'

'I kind of have you to thank for that,' I say.

'How so?'

'You remember the storm and the broken chimney and the scaffolding… and the boy I saw and was keen on?'

Yes…yes I do…'

'Well it's him. He's called Duncan and, well, we 've been together for about four months now.'

'How lovely. Did you have a date for dinner in mind?'

'December 10th would be four months to the day from our first date…if that's what it was.'

'Let me check the reservations list…..yes, that looks fine. Would you like to stay over afterwards?'

'It would be lovely, but I couldn't afford it, Charlie.'

'On us. Special thank you ahead of us working you to the bone over Christmas….'

'Well, if you're sure, that would be wonderful.'

'Consider it done. 7 for 7.30 for dinner, OK, but you're welcome to check in any time you're ready that day?'

'Sounds perfect. I just need to double-check with Dunc.'

'Of course. Let me know if it doesn't work for you.'

'Will do.'

When I tell Dunc he is incredibly excited.

'That's amazing, Merv…I can't believe that I…that we…are going to get to eat and stay at that place.'

December 10th is only a week away. It is another week that seems to pass very slowly. But eventually Friday is here. Dunc has assured me that he will be back from work by 5 at the latest; my parents have agreed to take us to the hotel and pick us up again in the morning. Dunc's father is fine with the arrangement.

At 5.30 Dunc calls me to say that he's ready any time I am. We collect him at 5.45 and are at the hotel by 6. Luke is on duty and greets us both with a hug.

'Good to see you both. Charlie will be down in a little while. You're in Room 214…you OK finding it yourselves?'

I nod. I know from having worked here that 214 is one of the best suites in the hotel. I can't believe it.

When I slowly open the door to room 214, I make sure Dunc goes in ahead of me. We've both only brought overnight bags, but his drops to the floor with a thump.

'Oh my fucking God. This…this is all ours?'

'And the dressing room through there. And the bathroom beyond that, and the sitting area through there.' I point in the various directions as I explain. 'This is one of the best suites in the hotel .'

'I've never seen anything like it. The only hotels I've stayed in have been Premier Inns when we 've been working a long way from home. This is extraordinary.'

'Maybe we should take a shower before dinner?'

'Good idea.'

We strip off and walk through to the marble-tiled bathroom. The shower is comfortably big enough for two, and there is shower gel and shampoo in generous sizes dispensers. As is our habit, we soap and wash each other, we make sure we're nice in case the mood takes us, and, as usual, we both get thoroughly aroused. He takes hold of me.

'Can we leave this 'til later?' I ask. 'I want tonight to be special.'


By the time we get downstairs, Charlie is on duty, and we thank him profusely for the room he's put us in.

'That's Ok, Merv. This is sort of the quiet before the storm of Christmas. It's nice to be able to spoil people from time to time. The restaurant is quite busy; we have two Christmas Parties in, but not many guests staying. We've put you over in the corner so that can have a little privacy. Meanwhile, there's a drink waiting for you at the bar.'

The drink turns out to be a glass of Champagne, which is a first for both of us. We enjoy the taste and the sensations of the fine bubbles. No-one takes any notice of two young men sitting together. We both relax completely.

Dinner is lovely – and chef comes out to say hello to us.

'Nice to see you, Merv – and I gather we have the pleasure of your presence over Christmas?'

'Yes,' I say, 'I'm looking forward to it.'

'Good, I hope you enjoyed the food.'

'Delicious – as ever.'

'Good. See you in a few days.'

We go and find Charlie to thank him again, then make our way upstairs.

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