This is a mobile proxy. It is intended to visit the IOMfAtS Story Shelf on devices that would otherwise not correctly display the site. Please direct all your feedback to the friendly guy over at IOMfAtS!

Love from A to Z

by Charles Lacey

Chapter 7

Ash stretched out his arms and held Zak in a long, warm embrace.

"Ash, I don't know what to do."

"My dear, I can't make up your mind for you. But my advice would be to follow your heart."

"I want to be with you more than anything, but my father would never put up with it, and there's Emily too..."

"In that case," said Ash briskly, "you'd better go back to them."

"Where the hell have you been, you young pup? We've been worried sick about you. You're not getting up to your old tricks, are you? Because if you are, you can just put a stop to them right now. You'll damned well marry that young woman of yours and get on with it."

Zak bowed his head. He didn't think he had ever hated anyone as much as he did his father. Being married to Emily would at least get him out of this horrible house and away from the old man. If only he could be with Ash. But what could he do for a job, for money? He had no qualifications, no skills other than a knowledge of office routine. And even that was at a pretty basic level.

O God, he thought, get me out of this. There's got to be some solution. I love Ash. I don't love Emily, but at least she would get me away from here. But I want to be with Ash, I want to spend the rest of my life with him. God, if you are there, do something to help me.

Eventually, more out of habit than anything else, he dragged off his clothes and got into bed, but without any expectation of being able to sleep. Still his mind went on and on, around Ash, then Emily, then his father. In the small hours of the morning he even thought about making away with himself, but realised he wouldn't have the courage.

Eventually he decided that in the morning he would write to Ash to say goodbye, or rather, Farewell. He'd see if Emily would agree to their getting married sooner than they had arranged. He felt bad about Emily as he knew he would be deceiving her, but he promised himself that he would be faithful to her. Eventually he fell into an uneasy slumber from which he woke later than usual to hear his father banging on the door.

That day, and the next day, he dragged himself through the routine of the office. HIs father, predictably, was sarcastic and irritable by turns. Zak had not been able to bring himself either to write to Ash or to speak to Emily about bringing the wedding date forward.

One of Zak's daily tasks was to take the outgoing mail to the post office. He picked it up from the mail basket and went out. Two minutes down the road, he realised he had forgotten his wallet, and turned back to get it. Just outside the office door, he heard giggles and female voices. One of them was Emily's, the other was Helen, her best friend.

"... he'll own this place one day. He's no brothers or sisters, so he'll come in for all the old man's loot..."

"Yes, but isn't he queer?"

"I think so, probably, but we only need to stay married long enough to get a kid, then I can use that to divorce him..."

There was more giggling. Zak, sweating with embarrassment and anger, crept down the stairs and then came up again more noisily, collected his wallet and went out again.

Well, he thought, if ever there was a hint, that's it. He threw the letters into a handy litter bin, and then made his way to the railway station. He couldn't get all the way to Birmingham in time to make a call, but he stayed at the station hotel in Manchester overnight, and it was just after ten o'clock when he arrived at Ash's house.

Ash opened the door to his knock, and stood looking at him. He smiled, uncertainly.

"Ash," said Zak, without preamble, "Ash, I'm... Oh God, Ash, I want you to... I want to spend the rest of my life with you. If you'll have me."

There was a long silence. Very slowly, Ash's hands came forward, grasping Zak's. He leaned forward very slightly.

"Zak, are you sure? "

"Yes. Ash, I... I love you. I've loved you since that first time we met and went swimming together. You're the only one."

Ash's arms came up and drew Zak into a close embrace. Their lips met, as they had done before.

"Well then, you'd better come inside," said Ash after a few moments, "'cause I love you, too."

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead