"I've had an idea, Nick. We could get an au pair boy to look after Andrew and Joe."
"Don't you mean au pair girl , Dad?"
"No, a boy. Someone to be their elder brother once you've gone to university in October. You've been a tremendous help since your mum died but you can't stay at home, you've got your own life to lead."
"Nice idea, Dad but where do you get hold of au pair boys? I've never heard of them."
"Germany, Nick, or what used to be East Germany until reunification a couple of years ago. I heard about it at the Rotary Club last night. Apparently there are lots of young people in the former Eastern Bloc keen to learn about Western ways while earning a little money. Our Rotary Club has links with Leipzig and our chairman's keen for some people here in Bexhill to consider having an au pair from there."
"An au pair from there," said Nick. "Trips nicely off the tongue. But wouldn't an au pair boy be older than me?"
"Not necessarily. The minimum age is seventeen so assuming any boy we get is between school and college he'll probably be no older than nineteen."
Nick was surprised to find the topic of au pair boys giving him a slight stirring in his loins. "How do we pick one?" he asked.
"I think it'll be me doing the picking, Nick. First he has to speak good English and be clean and hardworking but if he's German we can pretty well take all that for granted. You can show him how the house works and then set off for Durham. You might even find a girlfriend there."
Nick went to bed thinking not of finding a girlfriend or, for that matter, a boyfriend because he wasn't like that. He had friends of both sexes but had never engaged in sexual activity with them. A chaste kiss or perhaps a hug were all he desired in practical terms. No, he went to bed thinking of meeting a nice German boy who'd look after Andrew and Joe.
A fortnight later Nick's father showed him an illustrated list of a dozen Leipzig boys eager to be au pairs in Britain.
"I thought they'd all be blond, Dad. But that one's got black hair - and so's that one!"
"Not all Germans are blond, Nick. Look, this one's got brown hair."
"Yeah but I can't believe he's old enough to be an au pair - he only looks about fourteen. And gosh - just look at his shorts!"
"Well, he's seventeen and look - his birthday's the first of May, so he's exactly a year younger than you! And it says that photo was taken only last month."
"Wow," said Nick, disturbed by feeling again that stirring in the loins. "He could look like a slightly older brother to Andrew and Joe. What's his name?"
"Let's have him!"
"You sound a bit eager, Nick. But I agree, He does look like a very nice boy."
Nick was now blushing and made no further comment but later, after supper, he presented some ideas to his father.
"Dad, if you want Jens to be the boys' elder brother shouldn't he sleep in their room, like I did after Mum died? And I think he should dress like them and eat the same food."
"Good point, Nick. The boys are still feeling the loss, just as we always will but they aren't coping well. So yes, if we have Jens he should try to act like you did, a friendly big brother. He could walk them to and from school, do the shopping, prepare their meals and keep their bedroom clean, just as you did when school allowed and when I couldn't do it myself."
"I definitely think they'd find it easier to bond with Jens if he slept in the same room. It's a big enough room and you know how Joe still gets these nightmares...."
"You could be right, Nick and I like your idea that Jens should dress like the boys. That means shorts, of course. How tall is he? Ah, it says one metre seventy. That's about five foot seven, so a fair bit taller than Andrew but not as tall as you. And his hair's the same colour as Andrew and Joe's. He really could look like their older brother."
"He's obviously used to wearing shorts, Dad. Remember that photo?"
"Ah yes, here it is. Lederhosen , a fine German tradition. You'd look good in shorts like that."
"I wouldn't be seen dead in shorts as short as that!" said Nick, with feeling. "Even my running shorts are longer! Anyway, it's 1991 and really short shorts are out of fashion, thank God."
"But not in Germany, it seems," said Nick's father.
"So do you think Jens will bring his Lederhosen with him?" said Nick, unable to take his eyes off the photo of a smiling, bare-thighed Jens standing in mountain scenery.
"Hey, steady on!" said Nick's father, causing Nick to worry his keen interest in the photograph had been spotted. But it hadn't.
"You talk as if we've already settled on Jens! He does look like a nice young man but I'll study the whole list and let you know when I've made a decision."
"Sorry, Dad. I'll leave you alone and go upstairs. Night."
"Goodnight, Nick," said his father, smiling to himself. After a few minutes he thought 'Nick's right, we'll go for Jens. I'll ask him to send a CV.'
Jens's CV arrived a week later and was studied with relish by Nick. Jens was the younger of two brothers and he enjoyed photography, cooking and drama. His ambition was to study English and Drama, preferably in Britain and thought several months living with an English family as an au pair would be an ideal way of getting to know their way of life.
The striking photograph of Jens in Lederhosen was in the CV and so was a photo of him in a smart grey suit. When he turned over the page, Nick felt more stirrings. He was looking at two pictures, each a still from a TV show in which Jens had apparently acted a couple of years earlier. He was in a checked shirt and tight, black shorts of eye-watering brevity. Nick had never seen such an attractive boy. He was itching to make his acquaintance.
"Those two photos are interesting," said Nick's father. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Nick?"
To Nick, what was interesting was the extraordinary brevity of Jens's shorts but he could hardly say that to his father.
"Not sure what you mean, Dad. Jens does look a bit serious."
"It's not his expression, Nick, it's his clothes. Don't you see, his shirt and shorts are just like what Andrew and Joe wear for school!"
"So they are," said Nick, relaxing a little. "So you're thinking that Jens should wear clothes like that on school days."
"Exactly. I'll arrange to buy a selection of shorts and shirts in his size. It was clever of him to put his waist, collar and shoe sizes on his CV. And he'll need some knee socks like the boys wear."
This gave Nick even more food for thought at bedtime. The stirrings were stronger than ever.
On a Saturday in late September Nick's father went to Gatwick Airport to meet Jens off his flight from Germany. He was instantly impressed by the smart young man and drove him down to Bexhill-on-Sea thinking what a good choice he'd made. Jens was fluent in English and dressed in the smart grey suit in the photo. He chatted politely in excellent English, saying how in a year's time he'd like to attend college to study drama.
When Nick met Jens the first thing he thought was how attractive the boy was in the flesh but what a pity he was in long trousers - although why Nick thought Jens would dress on a cool autumn day in shorts like the ones in the photographs we will never know. At the suggestion of Nick's father, Jens changed out of his suit into more casual clothes.
'A pity those jeans aren't cut-offs,' thought Nick. 'He'd look fantastic in cut-offs.' And then 'Hang on - I must stop thinking like this!'
The first evening was spent introducing Jens to the house and to Andrew and Joe, who'd put on at Nick's suggestion what they wore on school days: checked cotton shirts, blue trainers and very brief shorts in a black wool mix. Andrew was ten and Joe eight. Nick showed Jens around, explaining how things worked and Jens seemed to understand everything, although he was surprised to learn that he'd sleep in the same room as Andrew and Joe and wear clothes similar to theirs. Nick thought he'd better change the subject.
"Jens, we're going to have a typical English meal tonight. Fish and chips. Do you know what it is?"
Jens smiled at Nick. It was a very sweet smile. "I have learned about English food but I haven't yet eaten any. I think the fish is fried and the chips are like our Frites. I would like to see what the fish tastes like."
Nick's father drove into town to pick up five portions of fish and chips and, much to Nick's relief, Jens tucked into the meal as enthusiastically as everyone else seated round the kitchen table. Andrew and Joe were now in jeans and sweatshirts.
That night Jens would sleep in the guest room, next door to Nick's room, on the second floor. On one of the beds Nick's father had placed the clothing he'd bought for Jens to wear on weekdays during Andrew and Joe's school term: six checked shirts, six pairs of black shorts and six pairs of grey knee socks. Jens was visibly taken aback when he saw the shorts. He picked up a pair and looked at Nick with a quizzical expression but Nick said it was important that the little boys should see Jens as their elder brother and so he should wear similar clothes.
"But these shorts," said Jens, "are so short. I am seventeen and it is not dignified for me to dress like a very young boy."
"But in two of the photographs you sent us you were in very short shorts just like these and you looked very nice in them. My father wants you to be like the boys' elder brother because I'll be away at university and he wants you to look like their elder brother."
"So before today did you wear shorts and sleep in the same bedroom as your brothers?"
"Yes, I did - for a few weeks after mother died - and I admit my shorts were a bit longer than these," said Nick, thinking of the cargo shorts he'd worn most of the summer. Picking up a pair of the little black shorts Jens was destined to wear he said "Look, the material is quite stretchy. I think you'll look fantastic in these!"
"I am not so sure," said Jens, blushing.
Nick lay in bed thinking of the handsome German boy just feet away, on the other side of the wall. He'd never thought of himself as gay but he couldn't help getting stirrings when he looked at Jens. What, he wondered, would it be like when he saw Jens in those tiny black shorts? .
On Sunday Jens spent the day getting to know the family. Both little boys were in longish cord shorts but Nick and Jens were in jeans, a sensible choice considering the cold north-westerly wind blowing when Nick's father drove them all down to the sea. Jens had said how keen he was to see the sea. In Leipzig he'd been hundreds of miles from the sea.
That evening one of the single beds in the guest room was moved to the large bedroom on the first floor occupied by Andrew and Joe. Jens's suitcase and all his spare clothes remained in the guest room which he'd use as his dressing room and he'd use the bathroom next to Nick's bedroom. Andrew and Joe's bedroom doubled as a playroom and was where the boys spent much of their time when not outside playing in the garden. The furniture was moved about to create a private area for Jens's bed so he could sleep out of sight of the boys and there was a bedside lamp so he could read when the boys were asleep without disturbing them.
"After Mum died, I slept here for most of the summer," said Nick. "The boys knew I was close by in case they had bad feelings in the night. And I was at hand if they misbehaved!"
"I hope the boys will feel able to trust me," said Jens. "I will try to join in with their games."
"Oh, they like you already, Jens. And so do I. I have to go north on Saturday and I'm sure by then we'll all be very good friends."
Going north no longer seemed so exciting to Nick. A part of him would much rather stay at home and properly get to know Jens but of course, he must go to Durham and begin his university education. He'd be home for Christmas and that was only ten weeks away.
"The boys are at school tomorrow," said Nick. "They need to be there at eight-fifty and it's a fifteen-minute walk. Dad will be at work so you and I can take them to school and I'll introduce you to some of the teachers. These days any person collecting children from school must be known to the school staff. It's for security reasons. School finishes at three-fifteen so that's when we collect them and bring them home."
"And I am to do this wearing those shorts?"
"Not tomorrow," said Nick, thinking that the teachers might mistake Jens for one of the children. "I think tomorrow you'd better wear what you've been wearing today but after that I know Dad will want you to wear the shorts."
"Even in winter?"
"Yes, even in winter but don't worry - being by the sea Bexhill never gets really cold."
"That wind was cold today when we were by the sea."
"Yes but what I meant is we don't often get snow like you do in Germany. Andrew and Joe wear shorts all year round. If it's wet or cold they have anoraks and we'll get you one too.
Nick hadn't seen any pyjamas when he'd helped Jens unpack his case and wondered what he wore in bed. Nor were there any Lederhosen, which Nick found slightly disappointing. Still, he thought, with inside leg measurement of barely two inches, the same as those worn by Andrew and Joe, the little black shorts would probably look just as interesting on Jens as would Lederhosen.
That night Jens slept in the boys' bedroom and Nick lay in his own bed, thinking. He hoped Jens would get used to sharing the room with two little boys. At least he was separated from them by a sort of partition, made by the furniture. 'I wonder if he tosses himself off?' thought Nick. 'If so, he'd better not make too much noise. Maybe it's too much to ask him to sleep down there. If he had the guest room he'd be up here, right next door to me....'
Nick pondered on the feelings he'd had thinking about Jens or when looking at him. It was time to take action. There was only one thing to do. He snuggled into the bedclothes, thought hard about Jens and enjoyed the most satisfying masturbation he'd had for ages.
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