Allan stared open-mouthed at his young English friend. His mind was racing and he wasn't quite sure if he had heard correctly.
"You want to do what?"
"I want to introduce you to my parents."
"I'm really not sure that's a good idea."
"Because I think maybe it's a little too soon."
"You kidding me? We've known each other for a year - you said so, one whole year today."
"Yes, we have - online, but tonight was the first time we met in person."
"You telling me that you're disappointed?"
"Of course not, you know that isn't the case, but I think it's a little soon to want me to meet your parents."
"I don't see the point in waiting."
"Well, let me explain it to you, but not here, let's go up to my suite."
Allan hated that phrase, but chose to ignore it and led the way to the hotel's lift that would take them both to the floor that contained Allan's suite, the suite his company was paying for until his new apartment was ready for him to take possession of.
The ascended in silence, Carl looking at the floor, Allan looking at Carl, taking in the younger man's beauty and not quite believing that such a handsome young man could really be in love with an older American on the strength of one personal meeting.
He dismissed those thoughts from his mind as the lift came to a stop and the doors opened and he led the way down the corridor and unlocked the door to the suite.
Carl followed Allan inside and stood in awe.
"Wow! I mean, well - bloody hell! This is what your company is paying for you to live in?"
"What the hell kind of place they moving you too - Buckingham Palace?"
Allan laughed and followed Carl's gaze around the room.
"Guess it is all rather grand."
"I'll say. So where'd they hide the swimming pool?"
Allan laughed again and removed his jacket, placing it over the back of a chair, he also removed his tie and then he moved towards a drinks cabinet.
"You want a drink?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Don't mind if I do, do you?"
"No, you go right ahead."
Allan poured himself a large whisky and then sat in a comfortable armchair indicating for Carl to take the opposite one, which he did.
"Okay, now listen. It's one thing to want to be my boyfriend and, to be honest, I still can't get my head around that one, but it's another to want to take me home to meet your parents."
"I don't understand the problem."
He didn't. Carl genuinely did not understand what the fuss was about. He knew he loved Allan, he always had and meeting him, despite previous anxieties and fears, he knew that this was someone he wanted to share his life with, so to him it was logical that his parents should meet him.
"The problem is that they don't know me and..."
"I know, they don't," Carl interrupted, "that's why I want you to meet them, so they can get to know you."
"Yeah, but - and, as I was saying, unless something changed since we last talked, they don't even know that you are gay."
"Well, no, they don't, but this seems as good an opportunity to tell them as any."
"And you think that they're going to be thrilled with that?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know?"
"Well, okay, no, I guess they won't be too thrilled, but it's what I am, they can either accept it or not, it isn't my problem."
"Maybe, maybe not, but I think, before I meet them, you should talk to them and tell them that you're gay and then give them some time to get used to the idea before parading me like a prize bull."
"Is that what you think I'm doing?"
"Well, maybe I said it wrong, but what I mean is that I don't think coming out to your parents with a boyfriend, whether that be me, or anyone else for that matter, is a particularly perfect way of letting them know."
Carl sat in silence, staring at the carpet. He was thinking about what Allan had just said and knew his American friend was right.
"Can I have that drink now?"
"Sure, you can. What would you like?"
That phrase again.
Allan stood and walked to the drinks cabinet and poured another glass of whisky, which he handed over to Carl, who took a long drink from the glass.
"Jesus, that's shit."
Allan laughed and Carl, eyes watering, looked up and smiled.
"Okay, so maybe I don't take you to meet my parents tomorrow, it was just an idea."
"I know, but you have to think of how they're going to feel about their son being gay."
"Okay, I give in. You give good advice, but one things for sure, you have a crap taste in alcoholic spirits."
Allan laughed again and held out his hand. Carl, assuming he wanted to take the offending drink from him, held out his own with the glass inside, but Allan placed his own hand around Carl's wrist and pulled him to his feet then, with his other hand, he removed the glass from Carl's hand and placed it on a nearby table as he moved closer and kissed the Englishman on his lips.
"Wow!" said Carl. "Neat move."
"I have plenty more of them," replied Allan, "but for now, this is the one I've wanted to use all evening."
He pressed his lips once more to Carl's and there was no resistance, as the two of them locked together in a passionate embrace.
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