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Sunnybanks Revisited

by c m

This is a variation on the storyline in the recently published story, 'Sunnybanks.' It is a version in which events twist a different way because two small things change from the original storyline when Luke goes home after meeting Charlie on holiday and falling in love.

It stands alone but some of the characters and the details of the storyline will be more rounded if you read the original first.

Luke calls to tell me that he's going off camping with a couple of mates and will be out of touch in some remote part of a National Park for three days, unable to call or message. This leaves me feeling a bit down. It's our regular chats that have helped me manage my feelings of emptiness since he went home.

Apart from missing talking to him, there's also a part of me that can't help constructing lurid pictures of what three horny teenage boys all sharing a tent might get up to. But there's nothing I can do about it anyway.

It's probably a good thing that I'm going to spend the evening with my best friend Chris; it will keep my mind off things.

The next three days pass in a bit of a blur, but Sunday is the day that Luke gets back from his trip. It's six o'clock in the evening before my phone rings and his name is there on the incoming call: 'Luke Marshall.'

'Hiya,' I say, trying to sound nonchalant.

'Charlieeeeee…oh god I've missed you so much. How are you? What have you been doing? Tell me all about everything.'

'Did you have a good time?'

'Yah…pretty much. Would have been better if you'd been here. Maybe we can arrange it sometime – next time even.'

'Sounds good to me. What did you guys do?'

'Oh…some fishing – not that I caught anything – did a couple of nice walks. Went skinny-dipping in a lake.'

'You naked with other boys…what a surprise,' I say.

'It was bloody cold; I shrivelled up like a worm. And on the last night we cooked out on a fire that we made.'

'Sounds like you had fun. How were the sleeping arrangements?'

'Cosy...a bit cramped really. All three of us on top of each other. Not literally. It all got a bit warm what with it being so sunny. Ended up sleeping on top of the sleeping bags rather than in them. But how about you? Anything interesting happen these last three days?'

'Not really. Spend all my time wishing you were here, but that's normal. Mum says Christmas is a runner, incidentally – provided your parents are OK with it. And she knows all about us and is totally fine with it.'

'Woohoo! Brilliant. I can't wait, Charlie…I really can't.'

'Have you told your parents about me yet? Or Donna?

'I think it will be easier to get mum to agree to me coming to you for Christmas if we keep our relationship under wraps for now, like we discussed. I haven't seen Donna yet. But I will. Tomorrow.'

'So, do we have time for a little fun together – or are you exhausted from jacking off with your friends as well as all the other stuff you did together?'

I mean it as a joke, but it all goes a bit quiet.

'We have loads of time for some fun, but….god…I promised to have no secrets from you so…look, you know I said we all ended up sleeping on top of our sleeping bags? Well, none of us wears anything in bed so we were all buck naked and then Tom says he's horny and would we mind if he jacks off, and then Paul says he is too and…well…it all ended up with us having a circle jerk – but nothing more. I'm sorry…I've let you down, haven't I?'

'Just one?'

He sighs.

'No. Two. We thought it would better if we'd all done it to each other. And look, I know it doesn't make any difference, but I promise you, when they touched me I closed my eyes and imagined it was you. Sorry, Charlie, I should have said no.'

Maybe, I think. In a perfect world. But the world isn't perfect and if it had been me with Chris and another guy and we were naked and someone suggested playing with each other, would I say no? Probably not. Hormones don't work that way. Particularly when you're missing someone like hell and getting hard at the thought of them. In the end you need a release. You want their hand on your cock. And if they're not available…

'I can't pretend I like it Luke, but hey, we're both horny teenagers. I suppose it's not much more than a slightly more interesting wank. But I guess I'd rather you did it with me.'

'I'm so sorry….and I'd rather I did it with you too. Umm…have we got time now?'

I'd started the conversation with exactly that in mind. But somehow, despite my trying to rationalise what Luke has done, the mood has passed. The vision of other boys with their hands on the cock that I've come to think of as my special property leaves me feeling hollow.

'Umm, can we leave it for today, Luke? Maybe tomorrow?'

'Sure….and I'm really sorry Charlie.'

I can hear the anguish in his voice.

'S OK…speak tomorrow. And…I'm pleased you're back.'

'Me too. Love you.'

'Love you too.'

The next day he sends me a message:

'Wish me luck…I'm about to tell Donna how things are. Love you.'

I'm on tenterhooks, but I don't hear anything that evening.

The next day I try calling but his phone seems to be off. I'm worried.

Then I get an email.

Hi Charlie

Sorry to put this in an email, but I need to be rational and tell you what's happened. If I see your face, I think I might not be able to hold it together.

Last night I told Donna that I'd found someone else on holiday, and it was over between us. She asked who this other girl was. I told her it wasn't a girl, but a boy. She refused to believe it. She said that she and I had had sex and that I'd enjoyed it…that I couldn't be gay. I tried to tell her about being bi, but she just said that she wasn't sharing me with a boy. She doesn't understand the whole bi thing. Anyway, she got all tearful and I wanted to comfort her. I didn't want to part on bad terms. The truth is, Charlie, I had sex with her. It didn't mean anything, and I said it was the last time; a final farewell. I know it was rubbish thing to do, in hindsight, and I'm sorry. And it's made things worse because she said the fact that I still got hard with her and that she'd made me cum showed that I fancied her and not some boy. I told her it wasn't like that… but…I've fucked things up so badly, Charlie.

And what if she's right?

It gets worse. She told her parents that we'd broken up because I was gay and had a boyfriend. Her mother then called mine. It was horrible. I wasn't going to tell my mother until after we'd had Christmas together as you know. She asked me what on earth I thought I was playing at, telling Donna such a stupid story. She said if I wanted to break up with her, I should have just told her, and that I couldn't possibly be gay as Donna and I had been going out for ages. I tried telling her I was bi and that I'd met you and that what we have is so much more than what Donna and I had. She just said you must be some predatory little gay whore who'd seduced me, and that I'd soon get over you. I said it wasn't like that – and that she should ask my Gran if didn't believe me.

Well, that was a stupid thing to say as well as she flew off the handle. She said she couldn't believe that I would have told my grandmother, and that the idea she would condone it even if it were true - which it couldn't be - was ridiculous. I was so upset by now that I just said meeting you and being with you and having sex with you was the best thing that had ever happened to me – and far better than the sex that I had with Donna. At least that shut her up for a moment. But then she said if what I'd told her was true, then it must just be a phase I was going through and I'd soon grow out of it.

I even showed her a photo of you on my phone. That was stupid too as she wouldn't give it back to me. Said she'd make sure I never spoke to you again if she had her way. She looked at the picture and then slammed it down on the table.

I haven't had a chance to talk to my stepdad about it yet so I don't know what he'll say.

I've made such a mess of things, Charlie – and I don't suppose my mother will allow me to come to you at Christmas. I don't know what to do. I know I've already let you down with the circle jerks and stuff that I did with the guys on the camping trip – I could tell how disappointed you were in me and I don't blame you. And now with Donna. I'm sure you don't want anything more to do with me – and you'd be right. You deserve better than me. Much, much better. I'm so sorry Charlie. Without you I can't go on. I don't want to. I feel like killing myself.


Reading the email was like being on a rollercoaster of emotions. Happiness, surprise, anger, sorrow, dismay…but all of that could wait. It was the last five words I have to deal with. I try pinging him on my computer, but there's no reply. I leave a message.

'Call me, Luke, please. Use your computer. Whatever has happened can be put right. I love you.'

I hear nothing. I am beside myself with worry. I eventually tell mum what's happened.

'Well, he certainly didn't handle things very well, but I appreciate that's not your main concern. Might he have gone to his grandmother's?'

'Mum,' I say, 'you're a genius. Do we have her number in the booking records?'

'I expect so.'

We go downstairs and look at the guest records. Mrs. Marshall's number is, indeed, listed. I give my mother a kiss and then dial.

'York 578925, Mrs. Marshall speaking.'

'Mrs. Marshall…it's Charlie from Sunnybanks. Is Luke with you? Is he alright?'

'Charlie! Thank heavens you're bright enough to have worked it out. I hoped you would be. I wanted to call you but Luke expressly forbade me. Yes, he's here and he's in a bit of a state, but I think it's all going to be alright. I assume you'd like to talk to him?'

'Yes…if he'll speak to me.'

'I'll go and ask him.'

'Please Mrs. Marshall…just tell him I love him and that there's nothing that's happened that can't be put right.'

'I will. And if I ever had any doubts that you're the right young man for him, they are firmly banished.'

I hear her put the phone down and then there are voices in the background - though I can't hear what they're saying. Mrs. Marshall comes back on the line.

'Charlie, would it be alright if he called you in a few minutes? He's a bit overwhelmed at the moment and needs a minute or two to gather himself.'

'Of course…he is OK isn't he? He said he….I thought he might have taken…'

'The only medicine he needs now - in my view - is you, Charlie. He'll call you. And don't worry. I'll make sure he's alright.'

'Thank you.'

The next five minutes pass agonisingly slowly. I'm afraid that he's changed his mind. But then my phone rings.

'Hello? Luke?'

'Hi Charlie,' says a voice I barely recognise.

'Oh Luke…tell me you're alright.'

'I'm…a mess. I'm so, so sorry Charlie.'

'None of it matters Luke. None of it. All that matters is that you're here talking to me.'

'I've fucked up so badly.'

'Nothing that can't be put right. Not if…'

'Oh I love you Charlie…don't worry about that. Even if all my stupid actions suggest I don't. You and Gran are the two things in my life that are worth living for. But having screwed things up so royally I assumed you'd just walk away. You have every right to. First the boys I went camping with and then Donna. Is she right about me, Charlie?'

'How do you feel, Luke?'

'I don't love her. I love you.'

'Then that's your answer.'

'Oh Charlie…I was sure that you wouldn't want to even speak to me again. And without you I didn't want to go on. But you've found me and called me. When Gran said it was you I just burst into tears. How can you still love a total fuckwit like me?'

'Because you're my fuckwit.'

He laughs. A sort of snort.

'You must be mad.'

'Probably. But I do.'

'But what am I going to do about Mum and Donna?'

'So far as your Mum's concerned, talk to your stepdad. Your grandmother says she thinks he'll be supportive. I can't solve Donna for you. If you can stay friends, that's fine but if she says 'it's him or me' you might have to sacrifice the friendship as well as the boyfriend bit. Guess it depends on whether or not you think what we have is worth it.'

It goes quiet.

'Wow…that's pretty tough love, Charlie.'

'I think that seeing things in black and white sometimes makes decisions easier.'

There's silence. I wonder if he's still there.

'All I know is I love you Charlie Douglas and I want to be with you. If she can't be just my friend, then that will be her choice. I'm yours. Now and always.'

'Decision made, then.'

It goes quiet again.

'Charlie….I'm so, so sorry for fucking things up. Can you forgive me? For being so weak….so stupid…'

'It's already forgiven. I love you, Luke. And we'll sort out Christmas.'

'I miss you so much, Charlie.'

'I miss you more than you can know, Luke. It's not just my body that aches for you – though god knows it does - it's my soul, Luke. It's like you're a part of me…and when you're not here, I'm incomplete.'

In the silence that follows, all I can hear is him crying softly.


I can hear Mrs. Marshal talking to him in the background. Then she picks up the receiver.

'Charlie? Luke's fine…thank you so much. I'm going to get him to bed and then have a word with my son. Please try not to worry.'

'Mrs. Marshall…I know it's probably not possible, but is there any way I could get to see him…be with him….I want him to know everything's all right...I love him so much.'

'I know you do Charlie. But we're four hundred miles away...' I hear her sigh. 'Look… let me see what I can do. And I'll try to get his mother to give him his phone back...or else I'll get him another one tomorrow. Now don't worry; speaking to you was the best thing that could have happened to him, and I'm sure everything will get better from here.'

'Thanks. And thank you for looking after him.'

'He's my grandson…it's what grandmothers are for. Now I'll say goodnight. I'm sure Luke will be in touch again tomorrow, but you can call me if you have any concerns.'

'Thank you, Mrs Marshall…goodnight.'

'Goodnight, Charlie.'

The call disconnects.

Mum looks at me. 'Everything OK?'

'Mrs. Marshall says he's going to be fine…'

'Then I'm sure he will be. I know you must be worried, love, but try not to be.'

I nod. But I am worried. I can't help it.

'Mum,' I say, '…is there any way that I could go and see him? I know he's miles away but…I think he needs me…needs to see me.'

She smiles. 'Or maybe you mean that you want to see him?'

I say nothing.

'I understand, love, but…he lives in York. You've got College starting in a few days.'

'I could take the train. I've got all that money…I could afford the ticket.'

'And where would you stay? It doesn't sound as though you'd be welcome at Luke's house.'

'I can afford a hotel.'

'I understand your feelings, Charlie but it really isn't practical. Why don't we focus on getting him down here for Christmas.'

'Christmas is months away, mum. I need to see him now.'

I can hear the petulance in my voice.

'Let's talk about it again tomorrow. It's late and you're on duty early. Why don't I make you a cup of hot chocolate and then you get a good night's sleep. Things will look different in the morning – you'll see.'

I reluctantly agree.

The hot chocolate is comforting, and I tumble into bed feeling a bit better. But I also look up the times of trains to York on the Trainline app on my phone.

In the morning I am on autopilot. I do the early morning tea and coffee trays for the guests and then help with breakfast. But all I can think about is Luke. I'm so distracted, guests have to ask me things twice; my mother notices.

At 10 o'clock, my best friend Chris arrives, entirely unexpectedly, in reception.

'Hi Chris…lovely to see you, but I'm on duty until 1.'

My mother comes out from behind reception.

'No you're not. You're no good to anyone in this state. I called Chris and asked him if he could come round and see you. He very kindly said 'yes'. Now, why don't you two go to the beach – it's a lovely day.'

'Thanks, mum.'

I need to go and get changed if we're going to the beach. I take Chris upstairs to our apartment.

'What's going on, Charlie? Your mum said that you were in a right old state over Luke, so spill.'

'Read this while I get changed,' I say, handing Chris my phone with Luke's email on it.

He reads it once, and then again.

'Fuck! Where does this leave you, Charlie?'

'Well, last night it left me with a boyfriend who virtually said he was thinking of committing suicide.'

'You still love him after he behaved like he has?'

'Of course I love the stupid idiot. He had a wank with a couple of friends and a goodbye shag with his girlfriend. I wish he hadn't, but it's not enough to change my feelings for him. It was the 'ending it all' bit that drove me crazy with worry.'

'Oh, OK. So what happened?'

I give him a blow-by-blow account of my telephone call.

'So he's OK?'

'I don't know!! That's why I can't concentrate on anything. I haven't heard anything from him this morning.'

'But you said his grandmother said he was going to be OK.'

'I know, but…god…I suppose it's because you've never been in love…you have no idea…until I hear from him that he's OK I can't stop worrying!'

Chris can see how distressed I'm getting. He comes across and just puts his arms round me.

'Charlie…you told him you still love him. He knows he's forgiven. He knows that you want him here for Christmas. Is he really going to do anything silly now that he knows all that?'

Chris has a knack of knowing exactly the right thing to say. I give him a squeeze.

'Thanks, Chris…how come you're so wise?'

'Only compared with you….' he says with a grin.

'Why you…..'

'There is one thing that puzzles me, though…'

'Really? What's that?'

'What on earth he sees in you anyway…..'

He skips away from me before I can hit him.

'Chris Young…if I get my hands on you….'

He's laughing…and that makes me laugh too…and suddenly I'm not worried quite so much any more.

'Come on,' he says, 'get bloody changed and let's go to the beach'

I strip down to the buff - Chris has seen me naked dozens of times – and pull on a pair of swimmers and a T-shirt. I put on some shorts so I've got something to change into after we swim and a pair of flip flops. I grab a towel from the cupboard on the way out.

'Ready,' I say.

'Great. Let's go.'

Chris puts an arm round my shoulder as we make our way along the corridor and down the stairs. I give him a playful punch along the way.

'That's for being so rude about me.'

'I apologise….actually I can see what must attract him to you…'

'Really? That's nice of you….'

'It's that you're so weird. I think that's what must fascinate him…'

And with that he's off and running, cackling with laughter. I follow in hot pursuit.

I love him to bits.

We have a great time on the beach and in the sea. As we lie on our towels drying off afterwards, I tell Chris about wanting to go and see Luke.

'I know what you said earlier is probably true…I'd just like to make sure he's OK though.'

'But he lives miles away somewhere up north, doesn't he?'

'York. It's not that far north. I could take a train. I've checked the times. It takes about five hours. If I left at 7, I'd be there before lunch.'

'Are you serious?' He looks at me. 'Fuck…you are, aren't you? Where would you stay?'

'A hotel. Or Mrs. Marshall said that Luke and I would always be welcome at her house if we ever needed somewhere. I don't know if she meant it, but I could ask. At least that would avoid me having to meet his parents if they – or his mother anyway – are still anti Luke and me.'

'Have you discussed this with your mum?'

'I mentioned it last night. She said it wasn't practical – but I don't see why not. I need to see him, Chris.'

He looks at me.

'You really love him, don't you?'

'Yes, Chris, yes…I do.'

Back at the hotel we shower together. We have done for ages. The shower is big and it means we can keep talking. He has a good body which, as a gay boy, I appreciate, and though we've jacked off together a few times, we've never done it to each other; there's nothing sexual between us and we don't get hard just because we're naked together. But we do have a running joke about him secretly wanting to give me a bj.

'So Chris…you ready to admit you want to blow me yet?'

'Charlie, that is SO not going to happen.'

'You know you want to.'

'The idea of putting your dangly bits in my mouth is deeply unattractive, not to say scary – lovely though you are in many ways.'

'They wouldn't be dangly. They'd be hard.'

'God, that is so gross. Why do I even like you?'

By the time Chris goes home, I feel better…but I've still not heard anything from Luke. And then my phone rings – but it's not a number I recognise; it's certainly not one of the ones I've got stored.


'Charlie…it's Luke. Mum's still got my phone but Gran bought me this pay as you go one.'

'I'll call you back,' I say.

I store the number and then call him.

'I've been so worried…are you OK?'

'I'm OK Charlie. I still feel awful about how I've treated you, but when you told me you still loved me…' he pauses, '…you did mean it didn't you…?'

'Of course I meant it. I'm crazy about you.'

'I don't deserve you, I really don't, but if you love me then everything is fine…well…it will be'

'How are things with your parents?'

'Gran's talked to them. And I 've talked with my stepdad. He's fine – he was worried sick when he found I'd gone missing last night, but he's OK with me having a boyfriend. A bit surprised, but OK. Mum is still pretty unhappy, but he's going to try and get her onside. And I'm so sorry about what I've done.'

'Luke…stop apologising. Do it again and I bloody well will leave you. It's water under the bridge, OK?'


'Are you back home?'

'Yes…it's a bit strained but it's OK. I think mum is a bit shocked that I ran away to Gran. I think it's made her look at things a bit differently. She's given me back my phone, but the screen's cracked from when she smashed it down on the table and it doesn't work properly. But she's apologised for that – which is a good sign, I suppose. And like I say, my stepdad has been great.'

'I need to see you, Luke.'

'God, I'd love to see you too, Charlie, but I don't see how…'

'How about I get a train? I could stay in a hotel. I know you're back at school, but If I came up on a Friday, we could have the weekend together. Or maybe your grandmother….'

'Gran! Of course! That's brilliant, Charlie! She said we could stay with her if we ever needed to, didn't she? I'd love you to meet my folks but staying over at home might be a bit tricky. I'll ask her, Charlie. If she says yes, is it really possible?

'I've still got to get my mum to agree, but if your Gran said yes, that might help.'

'That would be magical, Charlie. I'll call her now. Right now. Don't go anywhere, I'll call you right back.'

The call disconnects and then my phone immediately rings again.


'Forgot to say I love you. I love you. Bye.'

The call disconnects again. I realise that I'm smiling.

He calls me back an hour later.

'Sorry for the delay, Gran was out, but I've finally caught up with her. She says it would be fine for you to stay with her – and she'll invite me over for the weekend too if you can make it. But she says I have to tell my folks what's happening – and hopefully get their agreement. I'd like them to meet you, Charlie. I'm sure once they do, Mum will see what a lovely, kind, wonderful person you are. If they won't they won't…but if they will, would that be OK with you?'

Meeting his folks. I get a flutter in the pit of my stomach. But I know that it's a bridge that I'll have to cross sometime.

'Sure, Luke. It would be a relief if we could be open about our relationship, and wonderful if they were to approve. And that's not going to happen unless I meet them – so yes, of course, that would be fine.'

'So now you just have to get your mum to agree. Hopefully it will help that you can stay with my Grandmother.'

'I'll do it right now. She might want to call your Gran to check.'

'I'm sure Gran would be fine with that. Oh Charlie…I can't believe that this might actually work.'

'I'll talk with my mother and call you back. Love you.'

'Love you too.'

My mother still thinks it's a crazy idea, but she can see I'm absolutely serious.

'Let me talk with Mrs. Marshall and we'll see.'

We'll see. The magical words that mean the idea is at least on the table. Mum goes into the kitchen and shuts the door. A minute or so later I can hear a muffled conversation. Five minutes after that she comes back into my room.

'Mrs. Marshall seems to think that it would be good for Luke if you went. She is happy to accommodate you, which is very kind of her. She thinks it might be a chance for you to meet Luke's parents as well if things 'continue to move in the right direction' was, I think, her phrase. It would seem churlish of me to say 'no' under the circumstances.'

'THANK YOU SO MUCH MUM!' I almost shout as I throw my arms round her.

'Oof! Easy does it, Charlie, you almost knocked me over.'

'Sorry Mum…a bit overexcited, I guess.'

'More than a bit, I think. But then you're in love, so…'

'I've got it all planned, Mum.'

She smiles. 'Have you now?'

'If I go up on Friday, there's a train at 7 so I would be there just after midday and then Luke and I could have the weekend at Mrs. Marshall's – and go and visit Luke's folks at some stage if that's a runner and then I can come back on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.'

'You have been busy. You need to finalise the details with Luke and Mrs. Marshall, but if they say 'yes' then you may go.'


I leave my mother shaking her head and go back to my room. I call Luke.

'Hey sexy,' says his voice.

'Mum says 'yes' provided we can work out the details. How are things at your end?'

'Mum has – very reluctantly – agreed…but the condition is that I am back with them Sunday evening so that I get to school on time on Monday. I know we'd like to have all Sunday together...but it's better than nothing, isn't it? She also says she wants to meet you. Is that OK?'

'It will be wonderful to have any time with you again, Luke. And if she wants to meet me, of course, that's fine. Oh Luke…I can't believe I'm going to see you again in a few days.'.

'I know. I can't wait. Have you sorted out travel times and things?'

'If it's OK with your Gran, I could come up this Friday. There's a train that arrives at about 12.15 at York, and I'll find a train back for Sunday afternoon; I think there's one around 3.'

'We'll have two whole nights together.'

'I knew you just wanted me for my body…'

'Not just your body…though I can't wait to have that naked beside me again.'

'Stop or you'll get me all hard.'

'I already am.'

'Yes, well, there's a surprise...anyway…if you could see if my arrival plans suit your Gran, we can tie everything up.'

'I'll call you back.'

Mrs. Marshall not only agrees to have me to stay, she also says she'll arrange to have me collected from the station – by her chauffeur. She'd said that she was a wealthy woman when they'd stayed with us, but clearly she'd only told me the half of it. When Luke calls, I ask him to tell me more.

'Gran lives in a vast Georgian pile a few miles outside York itself. My grandfather was a wealthy man in his own right, but he came from a line of successful industrialists. Mowbray Manor is pretty impressive – as you'll find out.'

'But a chauffeur?'

'That's only the start. There's a butler, a cook, a gardener and a sort of handyman too.'

'Bloody hell, Luke…how come you didn't tell me all this before?'

'Well, you didn't ask – and anyway that's all to do with Gran and not me. And…look…in the past I just got the feeling that some of the people who wanted to be friends with me wanted to be friends for the wrong reasons, if you know what I mean. So I tend not to talk about it.'

'I guess I understand that. But you know I'd never…'

'Of course I do. I wasn't suggesting…'

'I know. Sorry. And you're right…all that has nothing to do with us and how we feel about each other. '

'I just can't wait to see you. I'll be at school until after lunch on Friday, but I have study periods all that afternoon and we're allowed to do those at home so I'll be free from about 1.45. Gran's chauffeur will pick me up, so I should be with you soon after that. God, I can't wait, Charlie.'

'Me neither, Luke.'

On Thursday night I pack a bag, and on Friday morning Mum drives me to the station – and insists on buying my ticket.

'Take care love. Have a safe journey – and I hope everything works out the way you hope. Call me when you get there, OK?'

'Sure Mum – and thanks. I love you.'

I give her a kiss, and she waves me off. I make my way through the barrier and onto platform 4. It is exactly seven o'clock and the departure board announces that the 7.07 to Edinburgh is on time. It is due to call at York at 12.16.

The journey is uneventful, but I fall into conversation with a good-looking boy who sits opposite me when he boards the train at Birmingham. It turns out that he's eighteen - nearly nineteen - and a first-year student at York University. He has a lovely smile.

Marcus – that's his name – asks me what I'm going to York for. I tell him it's to see my boyfriend. He asks how we met and how long we've been going out. I tell him about how I met Luke when he stayed at the family hotel.

'So not just a holiday romance?'


'Lucky you. I met a girl on holiday and we had a great time. Swore we'd keep in touch, but I never heard from her again. She seemed really nice, but all she left me with was an STD. Great, huh? Guess I was just another notch on her bedpost. Makes me wish I'd stuck to boys, really.'

'You're bi?'

'Yes, pretty much.'

'Luke says he's bi. Its one of the reasons I'm going up to see him. He got in a bit of a mess breaking up with his girlfriend.'

'But he has broken up with her?'

'Oh yes.'

'I hope things work out for the two of you. '

'Me too.'

'If they don't, give me a call.'

He says this with a broad smile, then continues, 'I hope I haven't offended you.'

'…no…not at all….just a little unexpected.'

'Hey, you're cute and you're nice and you're easy to talk to. I know you're only sixteen but I've never thought it was about age, just about connection. And I feel like we connect. But perhaps I'm not your type anyway.'

'Oh, err, no…I think you might be very much my type. If I have a type….and if I wasn't… I mean, Luke's my first. So I don't really…that is…but no, I mean, you're very good-looking…not that that…that's to say…and you seem very nice too…oh god…'

His smile has become broader and broader as I stumble and go redder and redder. Then he starts to laugh…and so do I.

'I'm so sorry,' I say.

'It's entirely my fault for embarrassing you, I humbly apologise. And I genuinely hope things work out between you and Luke. But why don't I give you my number just in case…if you'd like it.'


He takes my phone and puts his details in.

'Is it OK if I take your number?'

I nod, and he does. Then he gives me back my phone.

'Now tell me all about your hotel…'

The rest of the journey passes quickly. He buys me a cup of coffee from the buffet and I share the packet of chocolate biscuits that mum has given me with him. His fingers brush mine as he takes a biscuit from the packet and we exchange a smile. He is good company and he has a great sense of humour; I'm almost sorry when the train pulls into York. We both get up, make our way to the end of the corridor, step down onto the platform, and out through the barrier at the end. There, he puts down his bag and gives me a hug.

'Good to have met you, Charlie. Have a great weekend with Luke. I envy him. And call me sometime. Even if you're with Luke. Maybe we could all go out together if you're up here in York again.'

And with a wave, he disappears into the crowd.

I look around, and follow the sign that says 'Exit to the National Railway Museum', which is where I've been told that I'll be met. Sure enough, there's a man wearing a chauffeur's cap, carrying a sign that says 'Charles Douglas.' I go over to him.

'I'm Charlie Douglas.'

'Good to meet you, sir. If you'd step this way.'

He takes my bag and I follow him to the car park. There's a Bentley Mulsanne parked in one of the spaces, and I can't believe it when this is the car that he stops beside. He opens one of the rear doors and ushers me inside, then puts my bag in the boot.

'If it suits you sir,' he says as he starts the engine, 'Mrs. Marshall suggests that we go via the school and collect Mr. Marshall on the way. We may have a short wait, but she thought that you might like to have his company sooner rather than later.'

Good old Mrs. Marshall, I think.

'That sounds fine,' I say.

The back seat of the Bentley is incredibly comfortable, and the ride is virtually noiseless. We arrive at the school at almost exactly one o'clock.

'I believe that lunch is currently in progress. You are welcome to wait here in the car, sir, or you might prefer to go and find Mr. Marshall in the dining hall. I believe that it is over there to the left.'

I need no second invitation. It doesn't even cross my mind that arriving unannounced in the Dining Hall might put Luke in a difficult position. On my way, I get stopped by what I assume is a teacher.

'Excuse me, but I don't recognise you.'

'I'm a friend of Luke Marshall. I'm staying with his grandmother and we are here to collect him. Is it OK to go and find him?'

'I suppose so, but you should really have gone and reported to the school secretary.'

'I do apologise, sir…do you want me to do that now?'

'No...that's all right. This time. You'll probably find him at one of tables on the right hand side of the Dining Hall. That's where he usually sits.'

'Thank you.'

The level of noise increases as I get closer to the hall, and there is a short queue over to the left on the way in as students wait to be served. I go past them and into the Hall proper which is buzzing with conversation. I look over to the right and spot a head topped with a mop of sun-bleached blond hair with its back to me. It has to be Luke. I make my way through the tables and tap him on the shoulder.

He turns and looks up. It takes a moment - and then he's on his feet and throwing his arms round me.

'Charlie! What the hell are you doing here?'

And then he kisses me. In front of the whole Hall. There are open mouths and gasps.

When Luke breaks the kiss, he turns to the guys sitting on the benches around us and says:

'This is my boyfriend, Charlie.'

And to my amazement, people start to clap. Although I notice, on the other side of the room, there are a group of girls, one of whom has started crying and who is being hurried out by her friends. I guess that must be Donna. I feel genuinely sorry for her.

The boys with whom Luke is sitting offer me handshakes, and a couple of girls come over too.

'Wow, Luke, good choice,' one of them says.

I am still somewhat stunned. Clearly Luke has broadcast the fact that he's in a relationship with another boy. It is at once exhilarating and scary.

'Luke…the car's waiting for you whenever you're ready.'

'I'm ready now.

'But your lunch…' I say, indicating the plate of food that he's hardly touched.

'You think I want to eat when I've got you here with me?'

And then he leans in and whispers in my ear, 'and if I'm hungry, there's a part of you I'd much rather get my mouth round anyway,'

I blush like crazy and then Luke takes me by the hand and leads me out of the Dining Hall. We stop by his locker to pick up the things he needs to bring with him, and then go via the changing room where he's left his bag of clothes for the weekend, and then we're running over to the Bentley.

On the way to his grandmother's, and despite the presence of the chauffeur in the front, we cannot hold back from kissing one another passionately, deeply and without pause. We each rub a hand over the front of the other's trousers, feeling the hardness within – but anything more is out of the question. We are so wrapped up in one another, I scarcely take in the crunch of the gravel as we turn into the drive of Mowbray Manor. But I am aware that the sound seems to go on for a long time before we finally stop. Reluctantly letting go of Luke, I see that we have arrived on a huge circle of gravel with a fountain in the centre.

'Welcome to Gran's,' says Luke.

The chauffeur opens the door for us, and if he's noticed what we've been doing, he gives no indication of it. He takes our bags from the boot and puts them on the bottom of the four wide, stone steps that lead up to the front door of the house. I go to pick up my bag, but Luke says:

'Leave it, Charlie…Jenkins will do all that.'

No sooner are the words out of his lips than the doors open and a middle-aged man in a dark suit comes down the steps.

'Mr. Marshall, Mr. Douglas, very good to see you. I will put your bag, Mr. Douglas, in the Blue Room and yours, Mr. Marshall, in the Highland Room. Your grandmother is waiting for you in the Drawing room.'

'Thank you, Jenkins,' says Luke.

I am desperately trying to take it all in. There are three huge pillars each side of the double doors that lead into the house; they run from the top of the steps all the way up to a pediment running along the whole of the front of the house.

'Impressive isn't it? Come on…let's go and say hello to Gran.'

As we make our way through the marble-floored hallway, Luke says;

'You're very honoured to have been put in the Blue Room…it's amazing. And the Highland Room is next door.' He grins.

We pass two sets of oak doors on each side of the hall, and pass an ornate staircase that divides into two, one side leading to the left of the upper landing and one to the right. Luke leads me on through another set of double doors that face us at the end of the hallway.

'This is the Drawing room,' he says, as we enter.

Mrs. Marshall is sitting at a table about two thirds of the way along the room to our left. The room is filled with comfortable looking sofas and armchairs. An inglenook fireplace occupies the centre of the rear wall, and there are tapestries either side of it. It is about as big as the entire ground floor of our hotel. She gets to her feet as we enter.

'Charlie, how lovely to see you again.'

She stretches out a hand which I shake.

'Thank you so much for having me to stay, Mrs. Marshall. It's lovely to see you again. And my mother asked me to pass on her very best regards.'

'Such lovely manners. You are most welcome. Now I'm sure you have things to talk about, so I won't detain you with idle chit-chat. Would it suit you both to join me for dinner at 8?'

'That would be lovely, Granny, thank you.'

'Right…off you go. See you both later.'

Luke leads me upstairs. We turn right on the landing and make our way about half-way down an oak-floored corridor. We stop outside yet another oak-panelled door.

'This is the Blue Room.'

He opens the door - and the inside takes my breath away. The four-poster bed is draped in indigo silk with a bed-cover to match. The walls are cream with cornflower-blue panels. The carpet is also cream with a dark blue knot pattern running round the edge. The sofa under the window is in the same indigo colour as the bed. But is doesn't stop there. Luke leads me over to the right where there's an ensuite bathroom floored with blue quartz that sparkles. There is a huge, semi-sunken bath, a complicated looking double shower with all sorts of jets and nozzles, a Japanese style toilet and a big crystal bowl that acts as a basin. To the left of the bedroom, there's a dressing room with fitted wardrobes in limed oak down each side. At the end, between the wardrobes, is another door.

'Where does that lead,' I ask.

Luke smiles.

'It's locked...or at least it is usually.'

He turns the handle and the door opens into another bedroom that is furnished in tones of white, green and purple. The carpet has a heather motif running through it. There are hunting scenes on the walls in between panels of tartan and tweed.

'This has to be the Highland Room,' I say.

'Ten out of ten,' says Luke, 'and Gran has conveniently left the communicating door unlocked. She has retained the pretence that we have been given separate rooms, but she is well aware that we will be sharing the same bed. Yours, I suggest, as you have the benefit of that lovely bathroom.'

'Maybe I want to sleep alone,' I say.

There is such a look of surprise on Luke's face, I can't help but burst out laughing.

'Why you….'

'Umm…I don't know about you, 'I say, 'but I wouldn't mind trying out the bed right now. Come on.'

I almost run back into the Blue Room. Luke is only one step behind me. Once beside the bed we strip off our clothes, throwing them anywhere, and jump onto the bed together. We are already both erect. There is no need for words. No discussion about what we want; we know. Our faces are buried in one another's groins within seconds. His familiar, circumcised cock is in my mouth, and I feel his lips pushing back my foreskin as he slides them down the rigid shaft. Our need for each other is urgent, and there is little finesse in what follows. But we both get what we need as we each swallow every drop of what the other – all too soon – is pumping into them.

Luke swivels up to face me and we kiss.

'God I've missed you.'

'You too.'

We run our hands over each other, refamiliarising and re-exploring. He nibbles my earlobes; I fondle his nipples. He licks my neck; I put my tongue in his bellybutton. And we get hard again. And I know what I want; what I need.

And he knows without my asking. I pass him the tube of lube.

He lifts my legs over his shoulders and enters me in a single motion. I groan with pleasure as his groin

makes contact with my balls. He is as deep in me as he can get. He moves in and out of me with increasing force, and when he finally explodes inside me it is as if stars go off in my head. With a final thrust, he collapses on top of me.

I wiggle my bum around his slowly softening cock.

'Again please.'

'Slave driver.'

'Don't tell me you don't enjoy it.'

'I love it…but I love everything we do together.'

I use my finger to play with his pucker as he lies on top of me. And I slowly feel him getting hard again inside me.

'I want more than your finger in me,' he says.

'Goody….but first things first,' I say.

This time he takes me more slowly. Waves of pleasure roll through me. I don't want it ever to end. And when he finally reaches his climax, it's with a long, drawn out shout of my name.

Once he's recovered, he just looks at me.

'Please Charlie?'

I may have a preference for being on the receiving end, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy being inside Luke from time to time when he stayed at the hotel. In fact, the more we did it that way round, the more he seemed to enjoy it. And this time, as we get into it, for the first time he actually asks me to do it harder and faster. I've always held back because I don't want to hurt him, but I'm happy to oblige. To my surprise, this seems to awaken something of an animal inside him and it turns into one of the most uninhibited sessions we've ever had. It occurs to me later that perhaps, subconsciously, he wanted to be punished for what he'd done – but it never crosses my mind at the time. In any event, when I come – copiously – inside him, we are both dripping with sweat, and I have blood on my chest where his teeth have grazed me just under one nipple, and I know I've scratched his back with my finger nails.

As we lie, spent, beside one another, he just looks at me.

'Oh…my…god. That was…' he sees the blood. 'Christ - are you OK? Did I do that to you?'

'Yes…you animal you.'

'I'm sorry.'

'Don't be…it was amazing…you were amazing.'

'God, I'm sore…' he says as he gets up to go to the bathroom. As he walks, somewhat gingerly, away from the bed, I see three long, red scratches down his back.

I follow him and we run the bath. When it's filled, we settle down into it at opposite ends. As his back touches the water he yelps in pain.

'Sorry Luke…I've scratched your back. I've got some cream in my bag I can put on it when we get out.'

'Oh, OK…wow…actually, that's kind of cool…but what just happened there, Charlie? We've never been like that with each other before.'

'Carried away by lust, I guess….but I'm OK with that….are you?'

'Yes…a thousand times yes.'

I stand up and turn round and then sit back down between Luke's legs, my back against his chest, my head resting on his shoulder. I pull his hand across my stomach, my fingers entwined with his.

'I wish we could be together every day, Luke. But we can't. We always knew that a long distance relationship would be difficult. All I want to know is that now Donna is done and dealt with and now that your camping trip is over, we will wait for each other. No sex with anyone else. We can jack off with each other online…we can jack off thinking about each other, but real live sex - the sort of sex we've just had - the wonderful, wonderful sex we've just had - is something we only have with each other. Can you do that? I know it's easier for me; I'm not bi and you are the first and only boy I have ever loved. I don't have other guys I could have circle jerks with even if I wanted to, which I don't. Do I mean enough to you for you to do that? I need the truth, Luke. You owe me that. I don't want to lose you, but I can't and I won't share you. And I'm sorry if that's selfish, but it's how it is. Losing you would hurt me beyond measure…but finding out that you'd betrayed me would be a million times worse. I love you so much…'

I'm in tears now. Luke wraps his arms around me.

'My precious, special Charlie. I happily make you this promise: nobody gets to touch me in that way but you from now on. I am ashamed of the way I've behaved…and when I had to face up to the fact that my stupidity might mean that I'd lost you….that was what made me think about ending it all. You are my all, Charlie. I love you.'

And now he's all tearful too. I twist round and we hug each other as if there's no tomorrow. And then we kiss. And then I reach down and pull his now engorged cock into me again.

It's the first time either of us has had sex in a bath.

Afterwards my mind goes back to when I appeared beside him in the dining hall earlier that day.

'Luke…have you already told people at school that you've got a boyfriend?'

'Didn't have much choice after Donna told everyone. Actually, she did me a favour. And I'm so proud of having you as my boyfriend, how could I not show you off to everyone?'

'You are amazing, Luke Marshall.'

'I know,' he says with a grin.

I flick water at him.

Dinner is informal and delicious. Mrs. Marshall is very understanding when we plead tiredness and express the wish for an early night.

Luke and I snuggle up together in my bed. We have a kiss and a cuddle, but nothing more. Our earlier session has left us sexually replete – at least for the moment.

When I wake up in the morning, Luke is still asleep. He's lying on his back and he's breathing through his nose. It's not quite snoring; in fact the noise he makes as he exhales is quite arousing – it's almost as if he's halfway to a climax. I run a hand down his body, over his stomach and find what I am seeking. He is hard as a rock. I put my head under the sheet and take him in my mouth.

I've been working away at him for maybe three or four minutes when he stirs.

'Mmmm...whassappening…oh my god…Charlie…'

I feel his hands in my hair.

'Feels so good….'

I fondle his balls and give them a squeeze. And a minute or two later I feel them tighten - and then he's delivering his load into my mouth.

'Hell of a way to wake someone up, Charlie.'

'You complaining?'

'It was wonderful.'

He puts his arms round me and we have a kiss and a cuddle. He runs a hand down my body and takes hold of my hard, and already somewhat leaky, cock.

'Looks like this could do with some attention.'

His head slips underneath the covers and a few seconds later the warm wetness of his mouth engulfs me. He seems to know exactly how to hold me on the edge, and when he eventually tips me over it, I empty myself into him with an intensity I haven't experienced before. He comes back up and we kiss.

'You are so, so good at that.'

'And you are so, so yummy.'

I rest my head on his chest.

'What are the plans for today?'

'My mother and my stepdad are expecting us later this morning. I thought it was better to get it over with. I hope it will go OK. Then we have the rest of the day together. We can go and do something – or we can come back here. The gardens are lovely and there's a lake we could go boating on – or we could spend the afternoon in bed. Provided I'm with you, Charlie, I don't care.'

'Let's see how this morning goes. Now come here.'

We kiss, cuddle, stroke and fondle – and inevitably end up head to toe using our mouths to bring each other to our favourite form of slow and pleasurable climax.

After a lazy breakfast, Luke shows me round the house – including the library, the billiard room and the cellars - before it's time to go and visit his house. This time we are driven in a newish Range Rover.

Luke's family live about three miles away. Their house is nothing like as grand as Mowbray Manor, but it is still a large, detached property set back from the road. As we get out of the car, I feel my stomach churning. Luke takes my hand and gives it a squeeze.

He uses his key to open the door, and as we go in a man – his stepfather, I assume - comes out of a room on the right. He holds out a hand.

'You must be Charlie. Welcome.'

I feel his gaze taking me in from head to foot.

'Your mother is in the lounge,' he says to Luke, 'she's still somewhat upset, but I'm sure everything will be alright.'

'I hope so, Dad.'

He leads the way up the hall and then through a door to the left. Inside a woman is perched on the edge of an armchair.

'Hello Mum…this is Charlie.'

She looks at me with scarcely concealed hostility.

'So this is the boy who's corrupted my son,' she says.

'Lucy!' says Luke's dad.

'MUM!' says Luke.

'It's OK,' I say. 'I know this can't be easy for you Mrs. Marshall. Luke goes on holiday leaving behind a girlfriend, and comes back with a boyfriend instead. I think anyone would find that difficult. But Luke and I didn't set out to be boyfriends. We just discovered that both our fathers had been in the armed forces, and both had been killed while serving. It was a bond – and we got talking. And we found we liked each other. A lot. And yes, it turned into more. But I promise you I didn't corrupt him. We found something that was already there inside us. This isn't about anyone being seduced, Mrs. Marshall, it's about two boys finding that they love each other. And I do love Luke very much. I understand that I am not what you might choose for him, and I understand that you must feel disappointed – angry even - especially as I know that your other son came out to you a while ago as gay. But if I may be so bold, is it what you want or what Luke wants that matters? And if you can accept Ben, then can you accept me? I apologise if I'm speaking out of turn, but my feelings for Luke are genuine – as are his for me. We are just two boys who love each other.'

When I finish, there is total silence.

'You aren't what I was expecting,' Mrs. Marshall says at last, '…not what I was expecting at all. And Luke, you didn't tell me Charlie's father died in such similar circumstanced to Dad.'

'You didn't give me a chance, Mum! Donna's mother called and the next thing is that you're telling me I can't possibly love a boy and it must be a phase I'm going through!'

She looks at him.

'I suppose that's true.' Then she looks at me. 'Would you mind if I had a word alone with Luke?'

'Anything you've got to say, you can say in front of Charlie, Mum…'

'No, Luke…no. If your mum wants a word with you alone, that's fine. Is there somewhere I can wait?'

'Why don't you come with me, Charlie,' says his stepdad, 'we can go next door.'

He ushers me out of the room, along the hall and through a door on the other side.

'Have a seat,' he says. Then; 'that was some speech Charlie. I have no idea if it's affected Lucy the way you want it to, but well spoken. Well spoken indeed. I have never had a problem with either or both of my stepsons being gay or bi or whatever Luke thinks he is, but it's harder for his mother. Luke is what she has left of David – Luke's father. As for you, if Luke truly wants a boyfriend rather than a girlfriend, then I think he has chosen very well. Very well indeed. You are an impressive young man.'

'Thank you, sir.'

'Please…call me Michael – or Mr. Marshall if you can't bring yourself to do that.'

'Thank you Mr. Marshall.'

The door opens, and Luke and his mother come into the room.

'Charlie,' she says, 'first let me apologise for saying you corrupted my son. That was wrong and I should not have said it. Second, while it is difficult to listen to a sixteen year old telling you that you've got it wrong, you did so in a way that has made me think. I cannot pretend that I am pleased that Luke has found happiness in a same sex relationship, but I do accept that he has. And I can see why he has found it with you. I only want Luke to be happy, so if you would be generous enough to allow us to start afresh, I would be most grateful.'

'Nothing would give me greater pleasure, Mrs. Marshall.'

'Then thank you. As part of our fresh start, could I invite you to stay for lunch?'

I look at Luke. He's beaming at me.

'Thank you, that would be lovely,' I say.

'Is it OK if I take Charlie upstairs and show him my room?' Luke asks.

'Of course…I hope it's tidy. Lunch will be in about forty-five minutes.'

As I follow Luke out of the room, his stepdad gives me a pat on the shoulder.

When Luke shows me into his room, it feels familiar. I quickly realise why; I've seen bits of it on my webcam when we've been chatting online.

He kicks the door shut behind him, takes me in his arms, and kisses me.

'You were fucking brilliant, Charlie! Where did those words come from?'

'My heart, Luke…and that's the truth. But I think I probably owe your mother an apology for being an insufferably righteous little shit.'

'You owe her nothing, Charlie. She was bowled over. She thought you'd be some sort of camp little tart who'd go all petulant on her. When you said you understood how she felt, she couldn't believe it. And once we'd talked, do you know what she said?'

I shake my head.

'She said 'he's alright isn't he'….she likes you, Charlie.'

'Enough to let you come and stay at Christmas?'

'One step at a time…but given the miracle you just worked, that should be trivial.'

Lunch is pizza, and Luke's parents want to know more about my dad and about the hotel. The fact that I have more and better GCSEs than Luke, and that I'm leaving school to help run the family business causes more preconceptions to fall. The fact that the love Luke and I have for each other shines through in the way we talk, interact and look at each other thaws Luke's mother even further.

Luke even broaches the question of coming and working at the hotel over Christmas.

'I don't know about that, dear, let me think about it. You know that we always have a family Christmas together.'

But at least she hasn't said 'no'.

Luke and I are desperate to enjoy the limited time we have together alone. He makes the critical move.

'Mum…I'm so pleased that things are better between us…and with Charlie…but would it be OK if we went back to Gran's…we don't have much time before Charlie has to go?'

She smiles.

'Of course. But I hope we'll see you again soon, Charlie. Why don't both of you come back and have Sunday lunch with us…and then we'll take you to the station?'

'That would be lovely, Mrs. Marshall, thank you.'

As we are making our way out of the door, Ben, Luke's brother, is coming in the opposite direction. He has long blond hair and some of Luke's good looks. But he just looks at me before brushing past without a word to either of us.

'Just ignore him,' says Luke.

In the car he says;

'Why did you say 'yes' to Sunday lunch? We could have another few hours alone together if we stayed at gran's.'

'I think the best way to get you to Sunnybanks for Christmas is to build all the bridges I can while we've got the chance.'

He thinks about it.

'You're right – irritatingly enough. You're quite smart, aren't you?'

'Compared with you, I'm a genius,' I say – and then cover my face with my arms as a rain of blows descends on me.

Back at Mowbray Manor, we update Mrs. Marshall senior on what's happened.

'I'm delighted for both of you. And having lunch there tomorrow is entirely the right thing to do. Now I'm sure you have better things to do than talk to me during the time you have left together. Have fun and I'll see you at dinner.'

As we walk up the staircase, I say to Luke;

'When she said 'have fun' did she…that is…was she…'

'She knows that we have sex Charlie, and she knows that we're both horny teenagers, and she knows that we are about to be apart for two months. I think she knew exactly what she was saying.'

We spend the next two hours doing our best not to let her down – but we spend the bulk of that time just lying naked in each other's arms, talking about out hopes, our dreams and our plans. The sex that we do have is gentle and sensuous. We want to keep plenty to spare for later.

We enjoy a simple dinner with Luke's grandmother, and then go back to bed. It may not make for an interesting story, but we have no intention of wasting a single minute that we can be naked together doing anything else. We have two long months of being apart in front of us.

By the time we emerge on Sunday, morning we are however – quite literally – shagged out. We are sore and we ache – and we wouldn't have it any other way.

We shower together – fortunately Luke understands what all the buttons do. All the various nozzles and jets are a novelty to me, but I particularly enjoy the setting that delivers a powerful, pulsing water-massage to my back and legs.

Once we're dressed, we both pack our bags and take them down to the hall. We have missed breakfast by nearly two hours, but that just makes us even readier for lunch. Mrs. Marshall appears and we say our goodbyes.

'Thank you so much for letting me stay – and for letting Luke stay with me. I can't tell you how much it means to have been able to spend time with him again.'

'It was my pleasure. It's heart-warming to see two young people so much in love, particularly when one of them is my grandson. You are welcome here any time.'

'Thank you. We're hoping that Luke might be allowed to come and have a working holiday at Sunnybanks over Christmas – if his parents will let him.'

'I shall use my best endeavours on your behalf. I know that you've already made a very positive impression.

'Thank you.'

'Yes, thank you gran.'

The chauffeur takes us both back to Luke's house, where we have roast beef with all the trimmings. We are ravenous, and it's exactly what we need. The conversation is polite to start with but steadily warms up. We finish with all of us laughing. Bar Ben. He limits his conversation with all of us to a few grunts. I was probably like that at fourteen as well.

Luke's stepdad drives us to the station. He remains discreetly out of the way as Luke and I have a prolonged and slightly tearful farewell. Then he shakes my hand.

'Good to have met you, Charlie…genuinely. And I'll talk to Luke's mother about Christmas. No promises, mind.'

'Thank you, Mr. Marshall. That's very kind of you.'

Luke and I have a final embrace and then I walk through the barrier and up onto the platform.

On the way back home, my phone pings.

'How did your weekend with Luke go?''

It's a message from Marcus.

'It went excellently. Thanks for asking. All sorted.'

'I'm delighted for you. Hope things stay good between you; if they don't I'd be happy to comfort you. 😉 '

'…and I'd be happy to let you. But I think Luke and I are pretty solid.'

'Maybe we could all three meet up if you're up this way again.'

'Maybe. Take care of yourself.'

'I will. x.'

But it's only Luke who is on my mind as the train pulls into my destination. I so hope that he will be able to come and stay at Christmas. So many good things have happened this weekend…but the memory that sticks in my mind is of him kissing me in front of all his schoolmates and announcing, to all the world, with a huge smile on his face:

'This is my boyfriend, Charlie.'


This story is part of the 2019 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: By Any Other Name". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 8 March to 29 March 2019 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this picture:

2019 Inspired by a Picture Challenge - By Any Other Name

Sunnybanks Revisited

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It grabbed my attention early on
I had to know what happened
I identified with at least one of the cast
Gritty - it had an edge to it
Realistic - it could have happened that way
I found it hard to follow
Good characterisation
I feel better for having read it
It was romantic
It was erotic
Too much explicit sex
It had the right amount of sex, if there was any
Not enough explicit sex
I have read and enjoyed other work by this author
I will seek this author's work out

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