You know you are going to have a good time when your boyfriend reminds you to bring a special pair of brown shorts with you when you go on holiday. We were both so excited about going and having time alone on the beach with nobody who knew who we were.
Then a couple of days before we left, Mike's Dad called us in from the garden where we had been sunbathing. I mean, you can't go to the beach looking like a troglodyte who hasn't seem the sun for years. He said he wanted to ask us something about the holiday in France, and that we were free to make the final decision about it.
Mike and I both looked at each other and nodded. Mike's Dad told us he had a girlfriend called Liz who lived in Bristol and that they had been seeing each on and off for several months, and he wondered if we would be OK if she came for the last three or four days of the holiday.
We looked at each other. I could see what Mike was thinking, and I'm sure he could read my mind. If this woman were there that would constrain us and it might be rather awkward.
It really wasn't my decision to make. Mike had invited me for the holiday, and it was Mike's Dad who was asking. So I told Mike I felt it was his call, and I'd agree to anything he decided on.
Then Mike asked what she was like. His Dad told us with a completely straight face that she is built like a Russian Shot Putt champion, was covered in great zits and pustules, had rotten teeth and the worst bad breath you could imagine, weighs maybe 150 kilos, and she dresses exclusively in leather, and she has a huge whip, and she likes to dominate men. And he went on saying that she absolutely hates gay people, and especially little tarty gay boys who go around wiggling their backsides at everyone while wearing almost nothing to cover those backsides.
By this time we were all laughing. After saying that she sounded just perfect for his Dad, Mike asked what she was really like. His Dad explained she was really nice and they were quite fond of each other and that she was really easy going, and was used to teenagers, and she had a great sense of humour, and loved playing practical jokes, and that there was absolutely no way he would think of inviting her if he did not think we would all get on together. And he asked us to trust him because it would be OK.
Mike thought for a little while, and then he asked up front whether his Dad's girlfriend knew about us and that we did stuff together. Mike's Dad said yes, she did and she was perfectly comfortable about it. He explained she worked as a Social Worker dealing with kids who came from abused homes, and that she had lots of experience dealing with gay kids and wanted to make sure that they were treated fairly and properly. She would have no problem dealing with two really happy gay kids, and it would probably make her very happy to see us together because she saw so much bad stuff on a daily basis.
Mike looked over to me and raised his eyebrows. I could see he had pretty much agreed that it would be OK if I agreed. So I nodded back and said I thought it would be OK but I had one condition. Mike's Dad looked at me and asked me what the condition was.
I replied that I really hoped she would bring her whip because Mike and I had not tried that yet and it sort of sounded fun. Everyone was laughing and we all relaxed.
And that's how it was. We drove to Montpellier in Mike's Dad super duper Jaguar, we spend a night near Lyon on the way which gave us a chance to have a really nice French meal so we stopped at McDonalds because we were all tired, and we got to Sete the next afternoon.
And it was perfect. I mean absolutely perfect. Two bedrooms that faced inland (who cares, bedrooms are for other things than looking at the view unless your boyfriend is lying naked on the bed), a living room and kitchen and a wonderful balcony that looked out over the Mediterranean. I loved it.
It took about ten seconds to get changed into our swim shorts and we were off to the beach. And that's the way it was for the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday and all of Monday because Frank (that's Mike's Dad but now I called him Frank) was at his meeting in Montpellier. And Mike and I got used to walking along the promenade hand in hand and being completely at ease with each other. And we swam and we tanned and we bought matching outfits – I got white shorts and a blue polo and he got blue shorts and a white polo, and we both bought those really, really naughty European swimsuits that do almost nothing to hide the family jewels. His Dad thought they were gross. I thought they were sexy. So did Mike.
And we weren't hassled by anyone. OK, we got a couple of catcalls, and some laughs when we wore the "ME" and "JE" speedos on the beach, and several Oh-la-lahs, but it was all in good fun. We were clearly a couple together and very much in love, so nobody tried to muscle in on us.
For absolutely the first time in my life I was completely and utterly happy. I had a wonderful boyfriend, we were out to each other and all of Sete, and it was like God was smiling on us. We spent most of the mornings on the beach, had some lunch, went back to our room and had lots of time for gentle, languid, passionate sex, dinner with Frank, and then more bunny games at night. It was perfect. I wish it could have lasted forever.
Tuesday was when Mike started to get nervous. Frank told us that his girlfriend Liz was flying in to Beziers from Bristol that afternoon, and that he would go and pick her up, and they would get back to the apartment about five, and then we would all go out for dinner. Mike and I talked about it quite a bit when we were on the beach. He said he was nervous because this wasn't just about having her there for the last three days of the holiday and us having to put up with the noise of their rutting in their bedroom – after all, the walls weren't that thick - but because he got the feeling that Frank was serious about this woman and he might be getting a new mother. And that if he didn't like her it might be really awkward. I mean really, really awkward.
I just said I trusted Frank not to do anything stupid, and that maybe he was nervous as well because he wanted Mike to like Liz and if he didn't it would be just as awkward for him.
So we left it at that and agreed to be as nice to her as we could and see what happened. We went home about three, decided to take a shower to get all of the sand off, and then we got distracted and did some other stuff, and then we had to take another shower, and then we dressed up in our new shorts and polos.
Mike said he thought we would go through one of those typical adult-child interactions, about oh how handsome we were and how proud his Dad must be, etc., etc. Make me vomit. I just shrugged. It is what it is. Was he ever wrong!
We were on the balcony when we heard them come in. So we got up and went into the living room, and there was this pretty good looking woman, younger than Frank, dressed casually, and with a nice smile coming into room with Frank just behind.
Frank said to her that she should come in and "meet the boys".
She looked at us. Then she turned to Frank and said "Don't say another word. I am not happy with you. And, you two, don't speak until I speak to you"
Oh God. What a disaster.
And she turned back to us, and looked us up both up and down. I mean really slowly like she was undressing us. I looked at Mike and he was looking miserable.
And then she started to speak to Mike's Dad. "Frank Edmonds," she said, "these are not boys. These are two of the most perfect specimens of absolutely beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous, sexy young men. They are not boys."
Oh, at last, a woman who understands me. I could get to like her in a hurry.
"So never call them boys again," she went on. "I'll forgive you this time only because I've always wanted to have a beautiful, irresistible drop-dead gorgeous sexy boy toy and you've gone out of your way to give me not one but two. So I'm happy."
I was beginning to like this lady even more and I noticed Frank was beginning to smile.
"But Frank," she continued, "you have put me in a terrible dilemma. I need to take one of these two godlike creatures into the bedroom right now and start to ravish him and do unspeakable things to him, and I don't know which to choose. Let me think."
And she looked at us again, and again mentally undressed us, and then she darted forward and grabbed Mike's arm.
"I don't know who you are but I'm taking you first. Come here." And she started tugging at him.
So I decided it was time to start playing the game. I grabbed Mike's other arm.
"No, no, you can't have him. He's mine. I got him first. Hands off."
"Goddammit, why are all the best one's always gay? It's just not fair."
By this time we were all laughing.
And she let go of Mike and gave us both a huge hug and said "I don't know which of you is which, but the three of us are going to have a ball together. You will call me Liz. The lawyer chap can stay here in the apartment knitting wigs or whatever lawyers do, and the three of us are going to go up and down the promenade arm in arm and all of Sete is going to be jealous of me with the two most fabulous boys in France on either side."
The ice had melted.
Then I asked her if she would like a glass of wine. She smiled, and then she turned to Frank, and gave him this huge kiss on the cheek.
"Oh, Frank, thank you so much. You have provided me not only with godlike creatures, but you have trained them as minions. Oh, how wonderful. Not only are they gorgeous to look at, but they can cater to my every need at a moment's notice. That's so thoughtful. I'm going to enjoy these few days."
Then she looked at me and she said she would like to wait for a drink until she got changed out of these clothes because she was dirty. After all, she had been forced to fly Ryanair from Bristol when any self-respecting lawyer chap would have rented a private jet for her and made sure there was lots of champagne on offer.
She said she would be back in fifteen minutes and then she would absolutely definitely like a glass of wine, and that I and the other god could also have one. She didn't care very much about the lawyer chap one way or the other.
More laughter. So then I decided to really see if the ice had melted.
"Liz, I have a last question."
"What, my minion?"
"Well, Mike's Dad told us about your role as a dominatrix with leather boots and stuff, so we wondered if you brought your whip with you?"
Mike just cracked up screaming with laughter. Frank was standing there as red as a beetroot, and Liz was cracking up as well.
"Frank, what've you been telling them? Oh, you're going to pay for this."
And that was the start of three days that surpassed all expectations.
Wednesday morning I woke up first to find us entwined in each other's arms and legs. It is wonderful to wake up like that with the person you love. I gently stroked his back with my free arm right down to the curves of his luscious backside. He moaned gently and just pressed into me. We both got hard, me awake, him still asleep.
I really had to pee so I reluctantly slid out of bed and used the bathroom. Mike looked at me and said what he really would like is for us to have some coffee and then go back to bed. That sounded like a plan but I was a bit nervous because I wasn't really sure how the four us would interact first thing in the morning.
While Mike went to pee I poked my head out of the bedroom door. Nobody was around so I pulled on my brown shorts and crept down very quietly to the kitchen. Mike followed, dressed just in his white shorts.
As quietly as possible, so as not to wake Frank and Liz I filled the coffee pot and sat down at the table as we waited for the coffee to brew.
"Oh, wonderful! The minions are making us coffee, Frank! You have them trained so well." Liz walked into the kitchen dressed in a bathrobe and probably not much else. She told us to stand up, and she gave each of us a big hug and a kiss.
Frank followed and also gave us a hug but no kisses. He was dressed in shorts and a polo shirt. Lawyers are really boring. Then he looked at me, and shook his head.
"John, those shorts are almost indecent. Don't you have anything better to wear?"
Liz just laughed. "Frank, I think those shorts are supposed to be completely indecent! That's what drop-dead gorgeous sexy boys are supposed to wear! Isn't that right, John?"
I really, really like this woman. The potential for a little morning awkwardness had disappeared and everyone seemed in a great mood to start the day.
"Yes, and Mike says I should never wear anything else! He says they really turn him on!"
Mike was blushing and laughing, Liz was cackling away, and Frank was looking a little bemused and beginning to resemble a beetroot again. But he was smiling.
Then I looked at Liz and grinned. "Frank told us you don't like little flirty gay boys who waggle their half clothed backsides at people."
"Frank, what else did you tell these two? Oh you're in great trouble!"
So I turned round, and stuck out my bum, and gave it a good wiggle right in front of her. She responded by giving me a gentle slap right in the middle of it.
"Oh, oh, more, ouch, more, I love it, don't stop, more! Use the whip! More!"
Mike eventually stopped laughing enough to look at Liz. "Liz, you are the first person in the world to leave my father speechless. Congratulations!"
"Oh, he's just a little pussy cat. It's easy to control him!"
By this time Frank had his face in his hands and was gently moaning. "Oh, no, what have I done? I've unleashed three monsters."
All four of us were in stitches. What a great start to the day.
Mike ran downstairs to the bakery just round the corner to grab some croissants and pain au chocolat, and we all had breakfast together.
Wednesday evening Liz gave us each a little package and told us to open them. We did.
You know how when you get really hard all of the blood goes to your cock and there is little left for anywhere else? Well, all the blood went to my cheeks, and Mike was the same. His tee shirt read "My Boyfriend Sucks" while mine read "And Then I Swallow".
Liz laughed. "I dare you to walk down the promenade hand in hand tomorrow morning wearing those shirts."
"No, they can't do that. That's gross." Frank didn't seem too happy.
"Frank, it's holiday time, the place is crawling with tourists wearing outrageous tee shirts, and half the town seems to be gay. They'll fit in perfectly. If you want, you stay home and I'll go with them."
"OK, OK, I know when I'm beaten! I'll come. If I stay home God knows what other stuff they'll end up doing with you around!"
Then Frank laughed and gave us a small package. "I'm not sure who should open this because it's for both of you. But I think I'll let John do it."
There was a small card on top. Inside it read "Coffee to be ready at 9:00 every morning. Have fun seeing if these work for you, Mike."
I opened the package and went completely red in the face. Inside was a brand new pair of brown Adidas shorts. John was already bright red.
"Payback!" said Frank.
That night Mike and I chatted quietly after we got into bed.
I said I thought something had changed since Liz came to stay. "I think your Dad has completely accepted us as a couple, and has come to terms with the fact that we have sex with each other, and that we are who we are, and he is very happy about it."
"I agree. I think he does accept us now. I wasn't sure when we first came to Sete and he knew we would be having sex together in the next room. But Liz just seems to find it so easy to make him relax and see things from a different perspective. She must be a wonderful social worker."
Mike and looked into each other's eyes, and gave each other a very gentle and loving kiss.
Then Mike's eyes lit up. "OK, you sexy, drop-dead gorgeous lover of mine. Let's try out those new shorts of yours and see if they work."
And they did. Twice.
Thursday morning we took Liz's challenge and we walked down the promenade in our new tee shirts. We got a lot of laughs and several people took our photo. Liz took one of me and Mike and his Dad, and she sent it to us so we could put it on our phones.
Thursday afternoon Frank said he wanted to go out and buy a few gifts for people back home. His office staff would expect token gifts. Liz said she was happy to stay home and be with us. That left Liz and us together. As the sun started to go down we went onto the balcony with a glass of wine each. Mike and I sat together holding hands, and Liz sat on the chair next to us.
She said that there was something she wanted to say to us. At first I was a bit nervous, but as she went on I began to realize what a wonderful woman this was.
"You know I spend a lot of my time dealing with kids who come from rotten homes. They get abused, verbally, physically and sexually. All they try to do is survive but they have no support. Until somehow the social services find out, these kids just suffer. And the longer it goes on, the worse it gets for them. And they mostly end up running away, becoming street kids, getting into prostitution and drugs, or committing suicide. It's really depressing.
"When we're lucky we get to a kid early enough that we can find them some form of care or foster home where they will be free of the abuse. But even in foster homes they normally don't find very much love or affection. And a few of them continue to be abused even though they are in foster care.
"And it's normally worse for gay kids because everyone picks on them. And it's not just adults but other kids as well, but gay kids are the most vulnerable and the most likely to end up dead from drugs or suicide.
"Just last month one of my boys ended up dead from a drug overdose. He wasn't a heavy user, but you never really know. I actually think it was deliberate. He was found miles away from where he normally hung out, and his friends had not seen him for a couple of days. It's days like that I just want to quit and walk away and do something completely different, so I've been really depressed recently."
She took a deep breath, drank some of her wine, looked over at both of us with a big smile, and continued.
"And then I come to Sete and I meet two absolutely happy young men who just happen to be gay, open about it, at ease with themselves and the rest of the world, and utterly and completely in love with each other. It reaffirms my faith that when the stars get lined up all right, anything can happen. And I say to myself, yes, this is why I do what I do because just sometimes it all turns out right in the end. If I can save just one more soul and get them to a safer place where they can be happier than they are right know, and they can make some friends, and learn to trust a handful of adults who protect them and guide them in the right direction, then I have to go on doing what I do. Thank you for sharing your love with me, and making me feel so much better than I did a few days ago."
Wow, I didn't expect that. I was crying, and so was Mike. But they were tears of happiness, because we both understood that here was someone telling us that they were proud of us, and that she loved us for what we were.
Then Liz asked us if she could ask us a rather personal question. I looked at Mike and we both nodded.
So she asked us whether we were out to anyone. I said my Mum knew, and obviously Frank knew, and Liz knew, and probably half of the population of Sete and a whole bunch of tourists, but otherwise, nobody really knew. And I said that the people in Sete didn't count because they didn't know who we were.
"I think you have missed two people on that list, John."
"Who do you mean, Liz? We haven't told anyone else."
"Well, who was the first person you came out to."
"It was Mike, when he came out to his Dad."
"No. You have forgotten the two most important people who know. You first came out to each other. That was a risk you both took when you decided that you wanted to go to bed together. Both of you could have gotten badly hurt, misjudging the other and misreading the signals. But you took the risk and it worked out for you both. Then you grew in confidence to the point where other people got to know. Remember, the trust between you two is the bond that holds everything else together."
I thought hard about what Liz had just said, and realized again how perceptive she was.
"Yes, Liz, you are right as always. But it wasn't that big a risk. We both knew what we wanted. We were standing next to each other with the front of our shorts stretched outwards, and there was a lot of heavy breathing and glassy eyes. I think lust won the day, and I doubt either of us could've turned around and walked away."
"Yes, but after you did whatever you did the first time, you still had to trust each other not to use that knowledge as a weapon. And you kept on seeing each other and doing stuff together. That's what trust is all about. Please keep that trust between you. It's very precious."
Then Liz asked if we were planning on coming out when we got back to England. I said we hadn't thought about it much because it's all rather scary.
So she said she would like to give us a little advice if we were willing to listen.
Mike and I nodded (we are getting good at reading each other's thoughts).
Liz said she thought we looked wonderful together walking around Sete because we were completely natural. There was no playacting, no hiding anything, we were just being ourselves, and she said it was a pleasure to watch. And although she realized that it was hard to come out at school, in the long run kids who came out were more comfortable with themselves in the long run.
I said I agreed with her because I had seem gay kids in school who seemed to be getting on OK, without too much bullying and hassle. But I didn't really want to be just in the circle of gay kids, my friends weren't gay and I didn't want to lose them.
So she suggested we considered coming out just to a small circle of friends who we thought we could trust, and then let it very gently spread around rather than letting it all come out as a big surprise. I asked her why she thought this, and she said most people react badly when they hear something they are not too comfortable about when it is sort of presented in their face. If they have a little time to think before they react, then it generally works out better.
"If you have really good friends, then they will stay your friends even when they find out you're gay. If they don't support you, then they're not your friends and you're better off without them.
Mike and I looked at each other, and then he said that for me it might be possible to let some of my friends on the swim team know and then we could see how they reacted. If his closest friends accepted us, then probably it would be OK because the group was pretty close-knit. He said it wasn't so hard for him if they knew because he would be going back to boarding school anyway and nobody there needed to know about him and me.
Liz gave us a long look and then said that seemed like a possible plan.
I went into the kitchen to get the wine bottle out of the fridge and topped up our glasses.
Then I decided that if I was as good at taking risks as Liz had said, I could try taking another one.
"Liz, I know it is none of my business, but you and Frank seem to get on really well, and Mike and I had wondered whether you two were going to get together permanently."
"You are right. It is none of your business. But I think you deserve an answer, or at least as good an answer as I can manage.
"Frank and I have discussed it. We both agreed we had reached a point where Mike had to be involved in the decision. We felt that at fourteen he should be part of the process, and we were looking for a way to get the three of us together.
"Then the idea of a holiday in Sete came up, somewhat unplanned, I should add. Frank realized that if I came to Sete then it would give me a chance to get to know Mike on neutral ground. And then, John, you became part of the equation, and that made things even more complicated.
"Thank goodness the ice got broken so quickly. I was pretty nervous on the plane down here because everything could go wrong. Mike, your Dad is quite conservative in many ways, and I wasn't sure how he was really going to cope with having to share an apartment with his girlfriend who neither of you had met, and us having to share an apartment with two really horny young men we didn't know who were dripping hormones all over the place. It could have been a disaster. But I think that Mike's Dad will feel we made very good progress. So far, so good.
"But even if you both liked me, it's still not that easy for me. I am the only line of support for a number of at-risk kids. If I just walk way from them, they'll feel that yet again an adult who they thought they trusted had let them down. I can't do that to them. Even if I don't take on any new kids it will take months to pass my current boys and girls on to someone else they can learn to trust and rely on.
"So, don't expect a decision will be made too soon. Mike, your Dad and I will have a lot to talk about after we get home. So let's just be patient and see how things develop. OK?"
We both nodded. We all took another much needed drink of wine. And then Liz really surprised us.
"Look I know I've only known you both for just a couple of days, but I already feel that we are part of a family, and we all seem to want to make it happen. So, here's a toast to that! Let's try to stay together as a family! Sante!"
Then Frank came home, he saw the three of us in deep conversation. With a big groan he pretend to be weeping.
"Oh no, the monster is working overtime. Help, help!"
We all burst out laughing and went and got ready to go out to dinner.
That night Mike and I lay in bed thinking about the evening. He said that he thought Liz was the best thing that had happened to his Dad in a long time and he would like to thank them for it. After a long discussion (which, by the way, cut into serious bunny time so you know we were pretty serious about trying to give them a proper thank you) we came up with a plan.
At breakfast on Friday morning I told Liz and Frank that both Mike and I had been so happy with everything that we wanted to give them a present to say thank you. But because we didn't have much money to buy stuff we decided we would offer to cook them dinner.
Liz immediately said that she knew that because she was leaving, and that because we knew she would find other boy toys in Bristol, all we were trying to do was poison here before she left. Frank assured her that between us we could probably find something in the market and it would be OK. After all, minions have to be food tasters like in Roman times and if we dropped dead then the two of them would be free to go out to dinner.
After Frank gave us a bunch of Euros, Mike and I went off to the market (things are best early in the day) and then we spent time on the beach and had a little bunny time in the afternoon. The old farts went off and did stuff and said they would be home by five.
When they got home Liz demanded the minions inform her what they had found in the market and if it was not up to her highest standards, she would leave and eat out by herself.
I stood looking abjectly in front of her and tried to put on my best Baldric impersonation. I said we had had no luck in the vegetable market. There were a few rotten tomatoes and a couple of roots, and some weeds. In the fish market everything was already dead. I said I asked the serving peasant what fish were there and in his strange language I'm sure he said poison but Mike said it might have been poisson. The fruits were just a few prunes and raisins. And we found a dead cheese that was trying to escape.
Liz said she thought it sounded perfect.
So we sat them at a table set for two, with all the trappings of tablecloth and glasses and some flowers, and some candles. And it was pretty romantic if I say so myself.
And between us we served them a tomato and basil salad with olive oil and a fresh baguette, a small green salad, some sea bass poached in wine with new potatoes and some haricot verts, and then plums and grapes with a perfectly ripe camembert.
And when they were having the dessert and coffee, Mike and I grabbed some wine and we went on to the balcony. We didn't want to watch Liz and Frank making googly eyes at each other. So we sat and looked at the moon over the ocean, and we had our arms around each other and we were holding hands, and we said to each other that at last we really understood what it was like to be in love. We didn't need just to have sex all the time, we just wanted to side by side for ever and ever. And we sort of snuggled up, and I think my eyes closed, and it was perfect.
And then there was this huge flash and we both leapt up, and there were Liz and Frank, and they were laughing.
"What a pair of lovebirds!"
But it was the best photo ever of the two of us.
Liz bent down and gave each of us a huge kiss.
"I love you both" she said, and I know she meant it.
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