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Christmas with Luke

by c m

This story stands alone, but follows the storyline from 'Sunnybanks Revisited' rather than the original 'Sunnybanks'.

Luke and Charlie are still very much together following their meeting and falling in love earlier in the year when Luke stayed at the hotel with his grandmother.

Now Christmas is approaching…

It's Friday 16th December, and Luke's term has finished. He's travelling down by train on Monday to spend two weeks working at the hotel with me over Christmas and New Year. I can't wait to see him again. It's one of the busiest periods of our year, and he knows that he's going to have to work hard – as will I – but we will have fourteen wonderful days and nights together.

In the four months since we first met when he came to stay with his grandmother in the summer holidays, our relationship has had one wobble when he had to face breaking up with his girlfriend. But we dealt with that and everything is back on an even keel.

My mother has insisted that Luke is treated as a normal member of staff while he's working at the hotel, and we've both agreed. It was a condition of allowing Luke to come and we'll respect it – even if it is in my bed rather than the staff quarters where he'll be spending his nights.

My heart aches for him – and so does my body. And, as we agreed, neither of us has masturbated for a week. I'm getting desperate.

I spend the Saturday in the local town buying my Christmas presents. Once we get to the 21st , it will be all hands to the pump; we are fully-booked all the way through to New Year. I spend a lot of time hunting for something special for Luke. I find it in the shape of an LED light box with ten panels on it. The headline on the box says 'Ten things I love about you' and each of the ten panels can be personalised with one of the ten things you choose. It will take three days to do the personalisation, so I'll have to ask Mum for time off to come back and collect it – but I'm sure she'll be OK with that.

The ten things I choose are:

The good-looking young sales assistant looks at what I've written and then looks at me.

'He…that is…umm…sorry…it is a 'he'… isn't it?'

I nod and smile. 'How did you know?'

'I don't know exactly…I just seem to be able to tell.' He flashes me a smile. 'It sounds as though he must be quite something,'

'I certainly think so.'

'Have you known him long?'

'Four months.'

'Oh…just beginning. Well, good luck to both of you. If he's half as cute as you, if you don't mind me saying so, then you must make a very handsome couple.'

I blush.

'Is he from round here?' he adds.

'No…he's someone I met on holiday, but he's coming to stay for Christmas.'

'You must be looking forward to it.'

'Like you wouldn't believe.'

'Well…if things don't work out, give me a call,' he says with a laugh. 'I'm Giles, by the way.'

He holds out a hand. I shake it; his grip is firm but gentle. We smile at each other. He really is very good-looking.

'Hi Giles. I'm Charlie. Don't you have a boyfriend, then?'

Then I add, with a little grin, 'I assume it would be a boyfriend…'

A shadow flickers across his face.

'Touche. But not at the moment. No. Not any more.'

There's a catch in his voice, and I can his eyes becoming moist. 'I'm so sorry…please forgive me,' he says, 'it's all still a bit…raw.'

Without thinking I put a hand on his shoulder. He puts his hand on top of mine.

'Thank you,' he says.

'I better pay for my purchase,' I say.

'Oh…yes, of course. Sorry.'

At that moment, an older man comes out of a room at the back.

'Giles…it's time for your break.'

'Thank you Mr. Knowles, I'll just complete this young man's purchase.'

The older man nods and retreats back into the storeroom.

'So, Giles, what do you do on your break?' I ask

'Oh...I usually go for a coffee over there,' he says, pointing across at a Starbucks. He hesitates, then adds, almost shyly, '...I don't suppose…that is…could I buy you one? It would be nice to have someone to talk to, someone who's like me.'

I look at him. His eyes are almost pleading with me. I consider it for a second. Why not - I've got plenty of time.

'Why not…thank you.'

'Really?' His face breaks into a huge smile. 'That's wonderful. I'll just get my jacket.'

He reappears a moment later and leads the way across to Starbucks.

'My treat,' he says.

I take a seat towards the back of the shop on a comfy leather sofa. A minute or so later, Giles arrives with the coffees. He's gone for a large cappuccino and I've got an Americano with a splash of milk. He puts the coffees on the table, then sits down beside me.

'Thanks, Giles. And nice to meet you.'

'Nice to meet you too.'

He puts both hands around his oversized cup, as if seeking its warmth. His long fingers wrap almost all the way round it.

'Umm…can I ask how old you are, Charlie?' he says.

'Sixteen…coming up seventeen. And you?'

'Eighteen. And a bit. Are you OK with that?'

'Why wouldn't I be? It's whether you're nice that matters. Luke – my boyfriend – is nearly eighteen.'

'Ah, OK, great. Where did you meet him…I know you said on holiday, but where? Somewhere nice overseas?'

'No…not overseas. Much more local. My family runs the Sunnybanks hotel. Luke was a guest there.'

'Sunnybanks? Wow, that's a lovely place – everyone says so. Does Luke live a long way away?'


'Gosh. So how are you coping with a long-distance relationship?'

'Fine – bar one hiccough. Nice coffee, by the way…thank you.'

'Don't mention it. It's lovely to have someone to talk to. And I apologise for getting a bit upset just now…Damian was very special to me.'

'Did he…walk out on you…?'

He goes to speak and then swallows hard. He catches his breath and starts again. His voice is slightly quavery.

'Oh…no…he was killed in stupid accident about a month ago.'

I can see him choking back the tears. His eyes fill up, and then a single tear rolls gently down one cheek. He wipes it roughly away.

'Oh my word. I'm so sorry, Giles. I can't imagine what that must be like.'

Pure instinct makes me put an arm round him, and I can feel his shoulders shaking as more tears start to flow.

'Sorry, Charlie…so sorry.'

'Hey, it's fine. And I have waterproof shoulders.'

He lets out a little laugh, before wiping a hand across his eyes. Close up they are electric blue.

'You're lovely…really lovely. Thank you, Charlie.'

'So…tell me about you.'

'I'm Giles…Giles Powell. Always lived round here. Off to Uni next October and working in the meantime to raise some cash. We…I…was planning a three month holiday next summer before starting, but….that was…something Damo and I were going to do together…and now…'

He is on the verge of tears again. I pull his head onto my shoulder and he puts an arm round me. I see disapproving glances from a couple of older ladies who are sitting across the room from us. I just stare back at then until they drop their gaze. That takes the few seconds that are all Giles needs to compose himself. He releases me.

'Thank you…and I'm so sorry if I'm embarrassing you.'

'Not in the slightest. You must miss him terribly.'

'I do. We…got together…at sixteen. My first and only love.' He sighs and takes a deep breath. 'Now… let's talk about something more cheerful. Tell me about you – and Luke.'

'Well, I completed my GCSEs this summer, and I decided to leave school to help my mother and grandfather run the hotel…but I'm at College getting a professional qualification in hotel management at the same time.'

'Wow. What about your Dad?'

'He was in the RAF. He was killed in an accident nearly four years ago…that's why we moved here. My Gran had died a few months earlier, and the hotel was getting too much for my grandfather on his own. We had to move out of RAF accommodation, so Mum came to help…and now I'm helping her.'

'You don't want to go to Uni?'

'Well…this way in three years time I'll be three years into the career I want rather than just starting out...and I'll be earning instead of having a whacking great debt.'

'Guess it makes a lot of sense when you put it like that.'

'What are you going to do at Uni?'

'Medicine. I want to be a doctor. How about Luke?'

'He's doing A levels. At one stage he was talking about joining the Army – like his Dad did.'

'Did? Past tense?'

'Yes…one of the things that Luke and I first discovered we had in common was that his Dad, like mine, was killed while serving in the armed forces. In fact that was the first thing we ever talked about…what made us feel…a sense of kinship, I suppose. Though it turned into something else pretty fast. But he's enjoying his A level history course so much, he's thinking of maybe becoming a teacher. He'd be a brilliant teacher, actually.'

'Do you have a picture of him?'

I find the picture that Chris took of both of us just before he left at the end of his holiday. The one where we're shirtless and have an arm around each other.

'God, he's gorgeous. Lucky you.'

'Gorgeous on the inside as well; and you're right, I'm very lucky.'

'I'm beginning to think that he is, too. You're cute and you're kind…and I've loved chatting with you. But my break is just about over and I need to get back. Umm…I don't suppose there's any chance we up again – just as friends, obviously?'

I smile. 'I'd like that, Giles.'

'Maybe take in a movie together?'

'Sure. Why not? But Luke's arriving on Monday, so it might have to wait until after New Year…it's so busy at the hotel, I won't have much time off before that.'

'Of course. I'll just have to be patient. Shall we exchange details?'


He gives me his phone and I enter my email and phone number, and then he does the same for me. Then we both stand up.

'Thank you so much for the coffee, Giles. It's been a real pleasure to meet you – turned a dull old shopping trip into a lovely day.'

'You're too kind. It's been lovely for me too. Maybe see you when you come to pick up your present for Luke? And I'd love to meet him sometime too.'

'I'd almost forgotten about that…yes, of course. If I come at about this time again, maybe I can buy you a coffee?'

'I'll look forward to it. Is a hug permitted?'


He embraces me. My head is pressed against his neck. He smells of citrus, jasmine and wood; it's intoxicating. I have to know what it is.

'It's called Raw Instinct. I'm pleased you like it. I bought it from the Crabtree & Evelyn shop just down the High Street.'

'It's gorgeous – but I bet it's expensive.'

'It's not cheap…but I hate those supermarket cans of stuff. I guess it's a luxury – but we should all have at least one of those. OK…I have to go. Hope to see you Wednesday; the lightbox should be ready by then.'

We have another brief hug and then he's heading back into the shop where he works and I make my way back to where I've left my bike.

Sunday seems to crawl by, and then It's Monday; Luke is arriving at the station at lunchtime. Fortunately, the hotel is already starting to get busy so the hours until he's due seem to fly past. At one o'clock, my mother and I jump into the car and drive to the station.

The arrivals board says that Luke's train is running five minutes late.

Can five minutes ever have passed so slowly?

The train pulls slowly into the station. I search each carriage as it passes for the face I love. Nothing. I start to panic…and then there he is…a bag in each hand coming down the platform towards me. He sees me and breaks into a run. The bags get dropped at my feet and then our arms are round each other as we embrace. He kisses me. I know my mother is not particularly keen on PDAs, so I break the kiss. It – and anything else – will just have to wait for when we get home.

When we DO get back to the hotel, Mum just tells me to have the afternoon off – she says she'll cope. And she does it with a smile. I'm pretty certain she knows exactly what Luke and I have in mind.

Upstairs, we waste no time. It's been nearly three months since we've seen each other. We take up exactly where we left off – in bed. We kiss. We stroke. We suck. We fuck. And then we do it all over again. Our reproductive organs are given the work-out of their lives, until even our teen horniness can make them go no further. Our balls ache, our cocks are sore and we both need a shower. The evidence of our lust for one another is plastered over our skin and all over the bed. It's even in our hair. Exhausted, we finally end up lying beside one another.

'God, I've missed you,' Luke says.

'Likewise. Shower?


Once we're clean and sweet-smelling again, we get dressed.

'Right,' I say, giving him a kiss,'…time to show you the ropes. We are going to be run off our feet from Wednesday onwards.'

Luke is both keen and a fast learner. I'm impressed; but so, more importantly, is Mum - and the other staff. Everyone knows that we're boyfriends – and Luke and I know that that means we are both going to have to work even harder than everyone else to prove there are no favours going on and no slack being cut. For the first forty-eight hours Luke can shadow me – but after that he's going to have to be able to take on duties on his own. He takes to it like a duck to water. Importantly, the guests really take to him as well.

On the Wednesday morning, I put him on early morning tea and coffee duty. He smiles. It was doing that that led to the two of us getting together in the first place.

'No jumping into bed with the guests,' I say, 'we may have done it, but it is strictly forbidden.'

'Spoilsport,' he says, with a smile.

But we jump into bed with each other at every available opportunity. I can't get enough of the feel of him entering me, or the taste of him as he empties himself in my mouth. And, slightly to my surprise, he is increasingly eager to have me inside him too. At first I can see that he's gritting his teeth as my cock pushes through his tightness, but as my invasions become more frequent over the two weeks he's with me, so it gets easier and his pleasure arrives sooner and with greater intensity.

'You're turning me into thorough-going top,' I tell him with a smile after a particularly satisfying session.

'I hope not,' he says,' I mean, I really love that we do it both ways, but being buried deep inside you is so amazing. It's like we become one. It's just…magical.'

'Well, I can take any amount of that magic...and your magic wand…'

'Goody,' he says, lifting my legs over his shoulders, 'because I think I can feel a spell coming on right now….'

On Wednesday, I ask Mum if its OK for me to go into town to pick up my present for Luke. The flood of people checking in won't begin until after 3pm, so she gives it the thumbs-up. I tell Luke, and make him promise that if he comes with me he'll wait outside the shop when I'm collecting his present. He's fine with that. I tell him about Giles and the loose arrangement we've made to have coffee together. I also put him in the picture about Damian.

'Poor guy - that must be so hard. Still, I'm looking forward to meeting him.'

We arrive outside the shop where Giles works at almost exactly 11 o'clock. Luke waits outside. As I walk through the door, I can see Giles finishing serving a customer. He looks up and sees me. His face lights up with a huge smile. I mooch around while he puts the customer's card through the till.

'Thank you, sir. I hope you have fun with it. Merry Christmas.'

'Thank you – and merry Christmas to you too.'

The customer leaves and Giles bends down to retrieve something from below the desk.

'Here it is, Charlie. I've got a box ready for it, but I thought you might like to check it first.'

Giles plugs the box in. With the lights on, it's even better than I expected. I hope Luke will like it.

'Thanks, Giles, that's perfect. Now, are you free for that coffee?'

'Great; I'll wrap it up for you and then, yes…a coffee would be lovely. Is Luke with you?'

'Yes...I've made him wait outside; I didn't want him to see what I've got him.'

'Even better. I get to sit with two good looking boys instead of one.'

We grin at each other.

Giles boxes the present up and then gift-wraps it for me as well.

'That's supposed to be an extra £3…but I'll throw it in. We're allowed to if we think someone deserves it.'

Giles takes his time, wrapping it carefully in silver paper and tying coloured raffia around it. It looks lovely. Finished, he goes to find Mr. Knowles, and I take the present with me. I rejoin Luke and we wait for Giles, who emerges a minute or so later.

'Luke, this is Giles,' I say, 'and Giles, this is my boyfriend Luke.'

'Pleased to meet you and – if Charlie will permit me – may I say that you are even more good-looking in the flesh than in the photo Charlie showed me.'

'Thanks. You too as it happens.'

We all smile and make our way into Starbucks.

Luke and Giles hit it off at once. I'm glad that Luke is already with me, because I could see the two of them easily becoming a couple. When we part, there are warm and extended hugs all round – and I tell Giles that if he's ever passing, he must call into the hotel and we'd be happy to give him a cup of coffee or tea – or even just to say hello. He says he will.

We get back to the hotel in time for some lunch before the Big Rush begins. I'll be running reception and Luke will help guests to their rooms with their bags. We have extra waiting staff for the evening meal and extra cleaning staff during the day as well. The hotel is a well-oiled machine and we've done this for years – but there's still a lovely sense of anticipation in the air. The hotel itself is beautifully decorated – from the Christmas trees in the lounge and the bar, to the mistletoe and holly in the hall. The big log-fire in the main lounge is already crackling; its smell and its warmth spreading through the ground floor like the very essence of Christmas. We are all set.

Two of the couples staying at the hotel over Christmas are regulars; the Dawsons will be on their fifth stay and the Terrys on their third. Regulars get a complementary bottle of champagne in their rooms which I deliver once they've checked in.

Mr. and Mrs. Dawson are in their seventies. It's the first time that I've been on Reception during one of their stays. But they know who I am.

'Hello, Charlie,' Mr. Dawson says, 'I see they've got you working at last! Is your mother keeping well?'

'Yes, thank you. She asked me to pass on her warmest regards and says that she'll look forward to greeting you both in person later.'

'Splendid. We'll certainly look forward to seeing her. And your grandfather?'

'He's not so well, I'm afraid, but he'll definitely be around from time to time. I know he's looking forward to giving you a personal welcome too.'

'I'm sorry to hear he's unwell – but it's lovely to be back in these wonderful surroundings.'

Luke comes through from the back office.

'This is Luke. He'll help you with your bags.'

'Ah. A new face. Hello Luke.'

'Hello sir, madam.'

'They're in the Somerset suite, Luke. First floor.'

'If you'd like to follow me – or perhaps it should be me following you, ' says Luke with a smile, 'I'm sure you know the hotel better than I do!'

They both laugh. Luke leads them to the lift and the door pings shut behind them.

When Luke reappears, he's clasping a £5 note.

'They gave me this for helping with their bags!'

'Lucky you. A lot of the guests are generous, but not all of them – as you'll doubtless find out.'

'But do I keep it or put it into a central pot?'

'Personal tips are personal, Luke. It's yours.'

The next family to arrive are the Harrisons. The parents are, I would guess, in their forties and they have identical twin teenage sons with them. The boys introduce themselves as Joel and Ethan; they look pretty much my age – and are almost impossible to tell apart. They and their parents have adjoining rooms on the second floor. When Luke gets back from showing them to their rooms, he fills me in with a bit more information.

'Joel and Ethan were sixteen last week. They both go to Eton. They seem really nice and their parents were very friendly too. They asked about you being so young and running Reception so I gave them the potted version. They're pretty impressed. They asked if I was local as well, so I told them that I was just helping out over Christmas.'

Over the course of the rest of the afternoon, four more sets of guests arrive. We have five more setstomorrow and then no less than nine on Friday. Saturday is Christmas Eve – and there's a mass of things to organise and to do for the guests that day; we have carol singers arriving and stockings to fill for each of the guests (a tradition my grandfather started) and a special evening meal. We also lay on transport for anyone wanting to go to the Midnight service at the local church. Not to mention all the prep for Christmas Day itself.

Luke and I both help out as waiters at dinner. When I'm taking the Harrisons' orders, Joel (at least I think it's Joel) makes a point of asking my advice about what to choose. It reminds me of the first time I met Luke. And he holds eye contact with me longer than is strictly necessary. We exchange smiles. I notice Ethan (I think) dig him gently in the ribs.

In bed that night I tell Luke about it.

'Well if he fancies you I can hardly blame him.'

'Perhaps I should take him his early morning coffee,' I say with a smile.

'And perhaps you shouldn't…you know where that can lead…'

'I still remember every detail of the first time I brought you coffee when you stayed. You emerging all pink and naked from the shower….'

'Yes…and you all red with embarrassment but unable to take your eyes off me…'

I smile.

'God, yes…and I still find you just as irresistible.'

'Any bits in particular?'

'I've always had a particularly soft spot for this bit,' I say, taking hold of his cock, 'although from the feel of it a 'soft' spot is perhaps not the most appropriate word….'

'But you have somewhere lovely and soft for me to put it.'

'You say the nicest things,' I say, lying back and guiding him into me.

The next day, Joel – and it is Joel – makes a point of coming to talk to me on several occasions when I'm on reception, but with no-one needing my help. He wants to know all about me leaving school and going to College to do a relevant qualification. He wants to know what my interests are. He wants to know about the hotel. I suspect that he's really building up the courage to ask me something else. And eventually he does so – sort of. He asks me if I've got a girlfriend.

'No, Joel. I'm gay. So I have several girls who are friends, but no girlfriend. How about you?'

I see him swallow hard.

'Umm…yes…well…I'm gay too.'


'My parents know – and obviously Ethan knows. Though he's not gay, by the way. Umm…do you have a boyfriend?'

'Yes, Joel, I do.'

I see his face fall.

'Have you known him long?'

'About five months.'

'Lucky you. I wish I had one.'

'Well, from where I'm standing, you're pretty good looking…I don't imagine it will be long. Are you out at school?'

'No…no, I'm not. Were you? Out at school, I mean.'

'No. But I'm out at College. I didn't really admit to myself I was gay until about a year ago, and the prospect of telling everyone at school was…hard. Too hard, in fact. But I decided that if I was honest right from the start at College it would be alright. And it is. It's brilliant in fact.'

'Did you meet your boyfriend there?'

'No. I met him when he came here on holiday this summer.'

'Gosh. Amazing. And you kept in touch?' He catches himself. 'Sorry, stupid question, of course you did if he's your boyfriend.'

We both smile.

'How often do you see him?'

'We met up once after the holiday and we've got some time together this holiday too.'

'Wow. Bet you can't wait to see him.'

'He's already here, actually.'

'What? In the hotel?'

I nod. I see him thinking.

'Oh my…is it Luke?'

'Yes…yes it is.'

'He's so lovely. Dammit!'

'What's the matter?'

He smiles ruefully. 'Well, when you said you had a boyf – apart from the fact that I was disappointed – I also thought, oh well, maybe Luke might be a possibility. Bugger.'

I can't help but laugh.

'I'm sorry neither of us can help you.'

'Guess that's life. Hey ho.'

'What does Ethan think of you being gay?'

'Oh, he's fine with it. I'm not sure he's totally straight, actually – but he's very supportive.'

'Well that's good. I hope you enjoy your stay anyway.'

'I'm sure I will.' He smiles. 'And it's good to know that there are at least two other gay boys here – even if neither of you is available.'

'No problem. And come and chat anytime. If it helps – which it probably doesn't – if I wasn't with Luke I'd definitely be very interested.'

'Thanks. I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse. You're dead sexy by the way.'

I smile. 'Thank you.'

Then I suddenly think of Giles. I wonder if it would be silly for me to introduce him to Joel. Joel's only going to be here for another few days, and I have no idea if they'd hit it off anyway…but maybe there's nothing to lose. I've no idea if the age gap's a problem either but…

'Joel…this may be a really silly idea…but I have a gay friend who's unattached – a lovely guy – would you like to meet him? I mean, you may not get on at all, and I know that you are only here for a week but…'

'Why not? If you like him, I'm sure he's great. There's a pause. 'Umm…forgive me being shallow, but is he good looking?'

'I certainly think so. But he's eighteen…is that a problem?'

He smiles. 'Don't know until I've met him. And why is he unattached?'

'His previous – and only – boyfriend was killed a few months ago in an accident.'

'Oh gosh…poor guy. Does he want know…start dating again and all that?'

'I think he's ready. Would you like me to talk to him?'

He turns the full weight of his brown, puppy-dog eyes on me, smiles, and gives a shrug.

'OK…why not. What have I got to lose?…go for it.'

I call Giles and put him in the picture.

'I'm not sure, Charlie. Thank you for thinking of me but…he's sixteen and he'll be gone in a few days.'

'I'm sixteen…didn't stop you having a coffee with me…and a coffee with him is all that's on offer – unless the two of you decide differently.'

'OK. Maybe. But tell him it's just a coffee and a chat. And if he thinks better of it, then that's fine. Let me know either way.'

'OK…but come for coffee anyway. Tomorrow. I'd like to see you again - even if he decides that he doesn't want to.'

'That's lovely of you…and of course I'll come. What time?'

'Assume 10.30 unless I say anything different. Can you send me a pic of you? He wants to know what you look like.'

'Sure. Can you ask him to do the same – if he wants to meet, that is.'

'Will do.'

'Great…bye for now – speak later.'

Once I've finished my stint on reception, I go and find Joel. Giles has sent me a photo of himself. I show it to Joel.

'Wow. Quite a looker. OK, he passes that test.'

'He's coming for coffee tomorrow at 10.30. You're invited. You don't have to come. No pressure either way. If you do come and you hit it off, fine, if not, then that's as far as it has to go. Is that OK?'

'Fine. Mum and Dad very much let us – want us – to do our own thing during the day.'

'Will Ethan want to be there?'

'No. I'll tell him what it's about. He'll be fine.'

'Can I send Giles a pic of you?'

He smiles. 'Of course.'

I take a quick snap of him and Whatsapp it to Giles.

Ten minutes later he pings me back. The message consists of a big, smiley emoji.

I tell Luke all about it as we lie in bed together that night.

'You're a right little matchmaker, aren't you?' he says.

'It may come to nothing, but if there is a spark, well, it might mean one unhappy and one frustrated boy both find a cure for their conditions in each other. That has to be a good thing, doesn't it? Especially at Christmas.'

'You're so lovely, Charlie.'

He props himself up on one arm. 'I suppose that's sort of true about us as well. You know, when we met. We weren't exactly unhappy, but we'd both experienced unhappiness. And you were definitely frustrated…'

He says this with a smile. I just nod. Then he giggles.

'Oh man, do you remember? That first time? I don't know how long you'd had all those needs and urges pent up inside you, but it was like a dam had burst. How many times did we do it that afternoon?'

'I dunno…three…four…and I don't think I was the only one with pent-up urges. As I recall, we both splurged in about thirty seconds flat that first time.'

He nods – and we both laugh.

'True. And you're right.' He sighs. 'Once I'd met you, Charlie, I knew that I felt things for you I'd never felt with any girl. The sex was amazing - but kind of the icing on the cake.'

He stops. 'No, that's not what I meant to say. I don't mean that the sex was – or is - unimportant, but compared with knowing that you've discovered the true you, and also found the person who maybe you want to spend the rest of your life with….'

He stops. He realises what he's said. And I can barely speak.

'Do you mean that, Luke?'

He just nods. His eyes are teary.

'I love you so fucking much, Charlie. These last three months without you have been awful. Seeing Donna and her friends every day at school. The looks I get from some of the other boys. The disappointment that I can still see sometimes in my mum's eyes….and no you to be with. No you to make me feel on top of the world.'

I stroke his hair.

'I've missed you so much too, Luke. Not just the sex - though God knows I've missed that. I miss your voice, your smile, your laughter. Mum says that the pain is just a sign that we love each other. That's pretty much what's got me through it.'

'We will get through it, won't we, Charlie? I mean….I've got another six months of school and then Uni….' He stops and shakes his head. ' Actually, maybe I won't go to Uni, I'd rather be with you….'

'Don't be so stupid Luke.'

He flinches. Almost as if I'd hit him.

'I love you, Luke, but you have to make the most of your talents. You'll be a wonderful teacher. You know you will. What kind of a boyfriend would I be if I stopped you from being the 'you' you should be? I'm going to be the 'me' I should I be. And that means getting my qualifications and one day running this hotel, or that's my dream. I want you here beside me more than anything in the world. But that's part of the same dream, not a different one. Depending on where you're at Uni, we'll probably be able to see each other regularly – more regularly than now. It will become easier. We can do this, Luke. If we love each other, anything's possible.'

I can see him thinking it through. Eventually he looks up at me and smiles.

'Of course you're right. As usual. Which, may I say, is bloody irritating. And do you mean it, that you want me to be part of your dream?'

'As much as you did when you said you think you might want to share the rest of your life with me.'

'Come here,' he says, opening his arms.

We embrace. And the embrace turns into a cuddle. And the cuddle turns into…well…you can guess the rest.

At 10.25 the next day, Giles arrives. I show him through into the lounge.

'Wow. This place looks amazing. So beautiful.'

'Thanks – a lot of hard work goes into it.'

'I can see that.'

Luke has gone to find Joel, and the two of them come over and join us.

'Giles, Joel; Joel, Giles.'

They shake hands and you can see them sizing each other up. The fact that they both have big smiles on their faces when they've done so is encouraging. I go and get coffee for four from the kitchen. By the time I get back, Giles and Joel are laughing and clearly at ease with one another. Luke and I sit with them while we finish off a cup of the - much needed – coffee, then we excuse ourselves.

'If you two are OK with each other, we have work to do. Is that OK, Joel?'

'Err…what? Oh, yes…that's fine.'

We leave them to it. I'm so busy, I don't have chance to catch up with Joel until much later that afternoon when he comes and finds me on reception again.

'Thank you so much for introducing me to Giles. I've no idea whether there'll be anything in it, but we got on really well and we like each other and we're going to meet up again.'

'That's great. Even if you just become friends, that would be cool.'

'I think we're already friends. Can I ask you a question? It's a bit personal.'

'You can ask.'

'When you met Luke…how long was it before you…you know?'

'Had sex?'

He blushes. 'Yes. Sorry. Is it OK to ask?'

'It's fine. The answer is two days. But I'm not saying that was right, Joel. Frankly, I was lucky that Luke turned out to be as lovely as he was - and is. And we were both virgins. Don't get rushed into anything.'

'Umm…I think it's me that wants to be in a rush – not him!'

'Can I ask YOU a personal question.'


'What have you actually done with another boy so far?'

'Usual mutual masturbation. And I've been given a bj. Once. But I've never given one. Wouldn't mind giving Giles one though…but I've no idea if he's interested in anything like that with me. We didn't get around to talking about anything like that.'

'You need to let things take the time they need to, Joel . I know that's difficult because you're only here for a few days…but if either of you pushes too hard, you'll both be left with nothing. If you're anything like me, you're horny as hell all the time. I think Giles is still getting over Damian - and though I have no doubt he's often horny as well, it's probably not as all-consuming for him as I guess it is for you.'

He smiles. 'You're right. I am so fucking horny all the time. I guess I mustn't let that cloud my judgement.'

'Ideally not – but I know that's easier said than done. There are times Luke and I can't keep our hands off each other. Most of the time, actually.'

'You two….do...everything, I guess?'

'Pretty much. But there's no rush for that either. Not that I'm in any position to give advice about that.'

'I don't think I'm ready for…that…yet. If Giles and I ever…you know, do stuff…do you think he'll want to do that?'

'I have no idea…but if he's half the nice guy I think he is, if he wants to but you don't, he won't. Sex is about doing what both of you want, not just one of you. And that's as true of a wank or a bj as it is of going all the way.'

'Thanks, Charlie. These are the conversations I don't get to have with anyone else. It's really helpful.'

Later that day I talk to Giles on the phone.

'I gather you two hit it off?'

'Yes, we did. He's lovely, Charlie. Thank you so much for introducing us. I've no idea if it will go anywhere but I already like him a lot.'

'Sounds much like another conversation I had earlier. He thinks the same way about you.'

'Really? That's great. We've arranged to meet up again.'

'He told me. He's looking forward to it.'

'So am I. Do you know if he's…experienced at all?'

'I do, and he isn't. But he says he's keen to rectify that. Your name got mentioned in that context.'

'Well, that's good to know but… I dunno …I suppose I feel like I'd almost be seducing him… if things ever even get that far. Having my wicked way with someone two years younger than me. He's only just legal for God's sake.'

'But legal he is. And he's not interested in more than a bj. Or not yet. But he is pretty keen to try oral. Or so he told me.'

It all goes quiet.

'I think I'd like that too…if that's really what he wants.' He sighs. 'I mean…he's very sexy in his own quiet way. But sometimes I just can't get Damo out of my head. I think it would feel like I'd be being…disloyal to him.'

'And what would you be telling Damian if the boot was on the other foot?'

'I'd be saying…go for it. Life is for the living.' He gives a sad half-laugh. 'You know, not that we were married or anything, but one day we did actually both promise to love each other until death us do part.' He sighs. 'And now it has…so I'd be saying find someone else to be happy with, someone to have fun with.'

'And did Damian think the same way?'

His voice is almost a whisper as he says, 'Yes, yes he did.'

'Then…?' I leave the question hanging in the air. 'Anyway, when are you two meeting up again?'

'Christmas Eve. We're going to have lunch together. Pizza.'

'Just enjoy being with each other. Sex isn't compulsory.'

He laughs.

The 23rd is non-stop. I barely see Joel all day, but when our paths briefly cross I wish him well for tomorrow.

Luke and I are exhausted by the time we finally make it to bed. We have a kiss and a cuddle, but even if we'd had the energy for something more, Luke falls asleep in my arms - his head on my chest - before we can even think about it. I run my fingers through his hair and whisper 'I love you' to him before I, too, fall asleep.

Christmas Eve is a blur. It's only when Luke and I join the guests in the lounge to join in with the carol singers at around 6pm that I see Joel. He beckons me over to stand beside him. He gives me a huge grin. We sing our way through 'Angels from the realms of glory' and 'Silent night' before mulled wine and mince pies are handed round and everyone breaks up into little groups. Joel pulls me over to one side.

'How was the pizza?' I ask.

'Pizza was wonderful…dessert was better.'

'What did you have?'

'What I had was sausage and cream.'

There's a huge grin on his face.

'Sausage and?…FUCK! mean…?'

He nods.

'Lunch was great. It felt like we'd been friends for ages. We talked about all sorts of stuff including how and when we'd come out. And that kind of took us onto the subject of our first experiences. What we'd done – or in my case mostly hadn't done. He was very funny and so easy to talk to. It seemed natural to go back to his room once we'd finished eating, we both wanted to keep talking. And…well…one thing led to another. I got really brave and asked him if he'd give me a kiss. God….that was amazing. Made me feel all squidgy inside. And well…what can I say. We ended up having fun. A lot of fun. The bj he gave me made my toes curl with pleasure – so much better than the one I'd had before – and then I got to do the same to him. Oh god…the feel of his cock in my mouth…I could have sucked him for ever. Then we did it again. And then again. As I said to him – it's the best Christmas present I could ever have received. If I had my way, I'd still be in bed with him now. Thank you so much for introducing us. And we both know that it's probably just a bit of holiday fun – and that's fine too. We'll stay in touch, of course, and if by any chance there's more to it, then great…but time will tell. I'm going to see him again on Monday, though.'

'Good for you. Feeling less horny?

'Right now? Yes…but I think normal service will have been resumed by bedtime.'

We laugh.

Later on, I call Giles.

'I hear you two had fun.'

'God, he was inexhaustible. Yes…we had a lovely lunch and we got on to the subject of sex...and we were honest with each other about what we'd done and what we wanted. Then we went back to my place…and he asked me to kiss him and, well…things took their course. He asked me to show him what to do – which I did – and then he just went for it. Several times. He was amazing. And we're both fine treating it as a bit of fun with potential rather than anything more.'

'He told me he thoroughly enjoyed it.'

'And so did I. It was the first time with anyone since….you know...but it was so wonderfully, exploratively joyous. I think it was the perfect first step back into any sort of relationship for me. I could almost hear Damo applauding at the end. Is that weird?'

'I think it's wonderful.'

Later that evening, all the guests hang up their stockings by the fire; we fill each of them individually before we go to bed. It's a tradition at the hotel.

About a dozen guests go off to the Midnight service, but Luke and I are tired – and tomorrow will be exhausting. Lying in bed, I tell him all about Giles and Joel enjoying oral sex together. Luke suggests we should do the same. Who am I to refuse? And it's with the taste of one another in our mouths that we both fall into an – all too brief - sleep.

Mum has done Christmas stockings for Luke and me. We open them when we wake and before we get showered and dressed. There is a mixture of fun things, useful things and edible things inside them. And in mine there is also a beautifully wrapped little box. Inside it is a bottle of the 'Raw Instinct' cologne that I'd smelled on Giles. I was about to say 'how did Mum know?' when Luke says;

'That's from Giles. He gave it to me to put in your stocking that day we had coffee together. He said it was to say thank you for being so kind to him.'

My instinct is to pick up my phone and call him to say thank you – but a quick glance at the clock tells me it is only just after six – way too early to be calling someone on Christmas Day.

We get showered - and yes, before you ask, of course we do; we can't keep our hands off each other at the best of times, and this is Christmas day. Well, that's our excuse.

Luke and I deliver early morning coffee and tea. Then we help prepare and serve breakfast. While the guests are opening their stockings, we are in the kitchen helping chef with preparations for lunch.

And so the day goes.

By five o'clock most of the guests are either in the lounge or have gone to their rooms for a rest. By six, Luke and I are behind reception having a well-earned sit down. Jack has appeared and he'll be the manager on duty for the rest of the day.

Luke and I head up to my room. It's time to exchange presents. But before we do that, we go and find my mother and thank her for the stockings.

'You deserve them every bit as much as the guests. More, actually. And I have to say, Luke, that both Charlie's grandfather and I have been incredibly impressed with how easily you've slipped into the role you're filling here. The guests love you; I've had all sorts of compliments about how helpful you've been. You seem to be almost as much a natural at this as Charlie. And can I also say that I'm very fond of you, Luke, and I couldn't be happier at Charlie's choice of boyfriend. Every mother worries, but I can see you love him as much as I know that he loves you. Oh, and there's a bottle of champagne in the fridge for you both from your grandfather, Charlie. Go and enjoy it. Happy Christmas to both of you.'

She smiles, and Luke goes over and gives her a kiss. Mum blushes but is wreathed in smiles. As we leave she says,

'Oh…and I've put a change of sheets in your room. I imagine you need them. Just put the…err…used ones in the washing machine in the morning.'

I look at her aghast - and Luke and I flee in embarrassment.

Mum does her best to stifle a laugh.

Back in our room, and with the bottle of champagne in an ice bucket, I get Luke's present out of the wardrobe where I've stashed it. He opens it carefully.

'It's beautiful, Charlie. Thank you so much. And all those words…'

'Plug it in. It lights up.'

Once illuminated, it looks almost like a piece of stained glass with the words picked out across it.

He reads them all out slowly. Then he giggles.

'Do you really love my 'you know what' that much?'


'How would you feel about proving it?'

I don't need a second invitation. I may be tired, and I might be looking forward to a glass of champagne, but I'm not saying 'no' to a swallow of a very different liquid first.

Luke just sighs with pleasure as I release him from my mouth afterwards.

'Mmm…seems like you were telling the truth. And you are so good at that. Now…I'll go and open the champagne while you open your present.'

He hands me a beautifully-wrapped rectangular package with a silver bow tied round it. Inside the paper is a box. And inside the box is…the braided leather wristband with the gold clasp that we'd seen in the shop when he'd stayed at the hotel in the summer.

Luke comes over with two glasses as I'm clipping it round my wrist.

'But how did…?' I ask.

'I didn't lose my wallet that day – I just went back and bought it because I could see how much you liked it.'

'It's lovely, Luke…but it was so expensive.'

'I wanted you to have it – and it looks lovely on you.'

He hands me one of the glasses.

'To us, Charlie. Happy Christmas – and may it be the first of many.'

'Happy Christmas, Luke.'

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