Bar worker and serial slut Terry Seymour is hardly charm personified when it comes to romance. In fact, he doesn’t believe in love at all despite his latent desire for his best friend of fourteen years, builder Marc Pierce.
Dan Hutchinson is a young, homeless man living in a derelict house Marc’s halfway to renovating. When Marc announces Dan’s moving in for a while, Terry is understandably miffed. After all, it hasn’t been that long since Marc spilt with his boyfriend of a year, so why is he intent on bringing a total stranger into their home?
It seems to Terry there’s more to this arrangement than meets the eye. Marc must be providing Dan with food and lodgings in exchange for sex. And with the lusty vibes Dan sends his way, it’s not long before Terry succumbs to the boy’s talents between the sheets. But carrying on with Dan behind his best friend’s back is not easy. Or desirable. And when Terry’s plans to oust Dan fail, he’s the one who finds himself out in the cold.
* * * * *
The boy was poking around in the fridge when I came down from exile in my room later that afternoon. He still wore Marc’s shirt and Marc’s jeans, all baggy arsed and clownish, the ends pooling lavishly around his feet. I strolled up behind and caught a faint waft of camomile -- my ten-quid-a-bottle, formulated-for-redheads shampoo -- as his body bumped back against mine. He recoiled and spun round, a chilled carton of orange juice clasped tight in his left hand.
After a moment’s confrontation, his lashes lowered, and he tried to sidestep. Resisting the temptation to grab hold of an arm as he passed, I stopped him with a question instead. “Where you going with that?”
The kid threw me a look instantly denouncing me as a half-wit.
“The juice.” I gestured to it with a nod. “It’s mine. Your boyfriend doesn’t touch the stuff.”
His eyes darkened, his neat Cupid’s bow plumped into a stubborn pout before he relented and offered out the carton like a child forced to part with a treasured toy.
I grabbed it off him and took a long, deep draft while the boy watched on, sparks from his gaze prickling my skin.
“May I have a glass of water?” he asked, with clipped vowels polished as a public-school bell.
“Sure.” I subdued a splutter. “The Evian is Marc’s.”
“Tap water is fine,” he replied, removing a glass from the drainer, which he filled at the sink, then offered up for inspection. “Does this half belong to Marc?”
Sarcastic whore. My grip tightened on the carton. “Yeah, he keeps a special supply for freeloaders.”
“I am not a freeloader. I intend to pay my way when I’m able.”
“Of course you do, sweetheart,” I said, flicking him over with a straight up and down. “I suppose in a way this is a promotion for you.”
This kid faked innocence about as well as I faked orgasms.
“What I mean is it must be far more comfortable working on your back in a nice warm bed than on your knees sniffling for pricks in park bushes.”
He paled. “You think... No...it isn’t like --”
“What is it like, then?” I slammed the carton down on the table and moved close enough to the boy that my breath rippled through his fringe.
“What exactly are you doing here?” I reached out and plucked a curl close to his ear, unfurled it in my fingers, where it shimmered like spun sunlight. “What is Marc getting out of this, if not your arse?”
The kid flushed scarlet. “Nothing. Marc wants to help me.”
“Help you how?”
He trembled beneath my touch. Was he scared? Of me? I hardly made for a foreboding figure, and in fact, he and I were more or less the same size. In a more charitable frame of mind I might have offered to lend him some of my clothing. However, as far as this kid was concerned, I’d never be in a charitable frame of mind.
“Help me to...to get my life back.”
“You lose it somewhere?”
“I seem to have lost everything somewhere,” he said, his eyes filming over.
I cleared my throat. If he was chasing pity with the kicked-puppy expression, he’d have a long way to run. “A word of advice. You won’t find it again by bouncing up and down on my mate’s cock.”
“Oh, but I’m not --”
“No, of course you’re not.” I edged closer. “Pretty little thing like you, I bet you’re pure as sh --” I stopped, feeling something I shouldn’t feel nudge my hip. I reached down, pressed my palm over the solid stretch of muscle behind the kid’s fly. He emitted a small, hitching gasp and squeezed his eyes shut.
“Wow, sweetheart,” I said with a chuckle, delighting in a fraud so easily revealed. “Is that a copy of the Big Issue in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?”
“Don’t.” Anger flared in the depths of his eyes as he snapped them open. “Don’t laugh at me.”
I chuckled again, louder this time. “Why not? It’s funny as fuck. I know you think I’m beneath you, but this puts a whole different slant on things, doesn’t it?” I clenched my fingers tighter in his hair. “If you’re after a threesome, sweetheart, you’re out of luck. Marc’s not into kink, and I’m not into you at all.”
“Let me go. Please. It doesn’t mean anything. I’m sorry...”
Shit, he was about to bawl. Couldn’t risk tears, not with his great Lord Protector on the prowl. When I released him, he tore away across the tiles like a fox dropped by a rabid beagle.
I picked up the glass of water and waved it at his retreating back. “Goldilocks, you forgot your --”
The rest of that sentence turned to ash on my tongue. Marc stared at me from the doorway.
“Marc, I didn’t see you there,” I said. And never mind what I didn’t see. What had he seen? Or heard, for that matter, while I’d been copping a feel of his boy’s upstanding prick?
“I’m warning you, Tez,” he said, his voice low. “Dan’s going through a difficult time. You hassling him isn’t helping.”
“No hassle from me.” I was relieved he’d only caught the tail end of our conversation. A fraction more and I’d be searching for a new set of balls or salvaging the old ones from my bowels. “Long as he keeps his thieving hands off my stuff.”
“He taken something of yours?”
Yeah. You. “He’s been using my shampoo,” I said, aware of how petty that sounded. Wish I had something more substantial to back it up with. I could mention the orange juice, but technically, the boy hadn’t touched a drop.
“I told him he could use whatever he liked. We’ll start labelling our stuff, if it’s going to cause a problem.”
“He is the problem. You’ve never even given me a proper explanation for why he’s here. All I’ve got so far is some crap about him staying in that old house with you and the fellas waiting on him hand and foot out of the goodness of your hearts. I know those guys from work. They’re arseholes, most of them. They wouldn’t think twice about flinging that kid out on his bum. Especially if they knew he was queer. And even if they all partied in leather hot pants at the Blue Oyster bar of a weekend, I’m sure if that kid had been in that house all this time, you would have mentioned it before now.”
“His name’s Dan,” he said quietly. “Three letters. Easy to remember.”
“Do you understand the question? Or would you like me to make it clearer?”
“I understand the question.”
He ambled over to the kitchen table and leaned back against it. “And you’re right. I would’ve told you. I just thought you’d accept him more easily if I said I’d known him awhile.”
“How long have you actually known him?”
“Since late yesterday afternoon. Everything else is true, though,” he said quickly before I could cut in. “His parents did throw him out, and he’s got nowhere else to go.”
He still wasn’t telling me everything, which pissed me off to no end because Marc and me didn’t have secrets, even as kids. I came out to Marc at fourteen, and even though it would be a further four years and several failed relationships with girls before he did the same, we always promised each other that whatever else happened in our lives, this friendship would always come first. I’d always kept up my side of the promise, even though Marc couldn’t always say the same. He was keeping something from me now, and I didn’t like it. Not one bit.
“It’s lot to take in,” he continued, breaking the silence between us. “I’d probably feel the same as you if you brought one of your...your...”
“Fuck buddies?” I supplied. “That the term you’re after?” It probably was, but the comparison didn’t fly. I never brought anyone back here. Never had, never would. This was our home. And Marc had no right to do this to us.
“Not everything is about sex,” he said quietly.
“No? The boy kept you amused all night with witty rhetoric, did he?”
Marc seemed uncertain for a moment, as if I’d somehow outfoxed him. His jaw clenched, his usually soft brown eyes bored into my mind, and I couldn’t think. Damn, he was blazing hot when he was angry. I knocked back the water Goldilocks had left behind and focussed on the weeds in the untended garden beyond the window.
“He cooks,” Marc said after a while had passed in awkward silence. “I know you don’t and I can’t, but Dan, he wants to be a chef one day and --”
“No, thanks.” I turned to face him once again. “I don’t know where those hands have been.”
“You’re not going to give him a chance, are you?”
“It’s not a case of giving him a chance. When you and Brad finished, you said you wanted us to go back to how we were. Just us. And now you changed the rules without consulting me. It’s not fair.”
“Life changes,” he said, like all this was totally beyond his control. “Dan’s here now. I’m asking you to treat him with some respect. Can you do that?”
“No, mate,” I said. “I can’t.”
“Then you’ll have to find a way to accept him, because he’s going nowhere, mate.” He spat out that last word, then stalked out, down the hall and towards the stairs, no doubt to treat Goldilocks to another portion of what he’d had the night before.
“You can tell your new pet he’s going to have to get a real job if he plans on sticking around,” I yelled, although of course he wouldn’t be. Sticking around, that was. I was confident I’d have Marc’s stray out of our lives within the week.
Copyright © Ash Penn