Knowing Noah

by c m

Chapter 2

The film was kind of OK, I suppose. But a couple of hours in the dark with Noah, holding hands, would have made anything enjoyable. Afterwards, we go back to his place and well, you can guess the rest. It's the first time I've spent a whole night with someone else. Was it a slow and romantic courtship? No. Was it what I wanted? Yes.

And when 'that' moment came, I said 'yes'. I wanted to continue our journey of exploration as much as he did.

When I wake up I'm sore. Noah is sleeping peacefully just six inches to my left, his chest rising and falling gently as he breathes slowly in and out. His black skin contrasts starkly with the white of what had started out as crisp, linen sheets, but which are now rumpled and stained with the results of our love-making. He's truly beautiful.

I can't resist. I lean over and plant a gentle kiss on his chest. He stirs fitfully in his sleep before the gentle rhythm of his breathing returns. The top half of his body is uncovered. The sheet covering the rest of him is almost as if an artist had placed it - just preserving his modesty. But the shape and size of his sex is still all too obvious through the cotton. I can't take my eyes off him, and I'm happy just to lie there beside him, drinking in his beauty and wondering what the future holds.

Now, with the sun streaming through the window, I'm so happy that he's the one I've lost my virginity to. He was so gentle with me; but then I wouldn't have expected anything else. Not just sexy, but a thoughtful, kind and tender lover. He took care the first time to make me as ready as possible for him, and in truth, despite his length, the only pain I felt was when he went, as gently as he could, through my inner ring of muscle. After that it was pleasure all the way. And he clearly enjoyed it every bit as much when it was my turn to be inside him. The second time he took me was best, because I was more relaxed. The third time was good too - but that's what's left me sore. He was less inhibited - which was wonderful at the time - but there's a price to be paid for everything.

He's beautiful when he's asleep. And I can't resist. I slide my hand under the sheet and take hold of him. I feel him thicken at my touch. And then his eyes flicker. He turns his face towards me and smiles.

'Mmmm...morning gorgeous,' he says.

I lean across and kiss him.

'Not too sore?' he asks.

'A bit,' I confess, 'but absolutely worth it.'

'Let me take a look.'

I roll over on my side and I feel his fingers pulling my cheeks apart.

'Wow...that sure looks sore. Sorry, Ollie. Let me go get something.'

He rolls out of bed and heads over to the cupboard. His cock is semi-erect and bounces up and down as he walks. He rummages in a bag and pulls out a tube.

'Here, this should help,' he says, rubbing a blob of cream on my hole. The cream is cool and soothing.

'Thanks, Noah - and you have nothing to apologise for. Last night was the best of my life. I hope this cream works fast because...well...you know....'

He laughs.

'Sounds like a plan. But in the meantime, there's no reason you shouldn't be inside me again - if you want to.'

I roll over. I'm hard as a rock.

'Ohh...looks like that's a 'yes' then...'

He pushes me onto my back and straddles me. He guides me to his entrance and impales himself slowly on me.

'Last night was the best of my life too, Ollie. And I hope it's just the first of many.'

'Now that sounds like a plan too, Noah.'

We both laugh, and then he's bouncing up and down on me, his cock slapping against my chest. I want him more than anything else in the world, and my body responds eagerly to his attentions. I explode inside him, then pull him up my chest until I can engulf him in my mouth. All too soon his seed is splattering against the roof of my mouth. He rolls off me and lies beside me.

'God, I love you, Ollie.'

In the silence that follows - the silence during which I should have been telling him that I love him too - there is instead only one unworthy thought that fills my head. A question. He likes honesty, he says, so I'll ask it.

'Have you had sex with many other boys, Noah?'

There's the briefest of pauses. It's not what he was expecting.

'Just two, Ollie.'

'And did you love them?'

He smiles and then shakes his head.

'No, Ollie. I lusted after them, but that's not the same thing. I lusted after you too, that first time I saw you, but the moment we started talking I knew it was different. I felt things I hadn't felt before. I wanted to be with you, not just in bed with you - wonderful though that is too. Leaving those other two behind was easy...but it would already break my heart to lose you.'

He leans over and kisses me. And I know he's being honest with me. But I'm not ready to let it go yet.

'Tell me about them.'

'OK, Ollie, if you really want to know.'

I can hear the confusion and uncertainty in his voice. And I really don't know why I'm pursuing this. The last thing I want to do it to wreck things. He's beautiful and I do love him – at least, I think that's what the feeling must be. But somehow I know this is important.

'My first lover was an older boy called Michael. I was sixteen, he was eighteen. He was a friend of my older brother. He was always kind to me, and he was very handsome. I used to look at him a lot - and he noticed. He asked me one day if I was gay and I said I was. He said he was bi, but that he found me very sexy. I was hungry to experiment, Ollie, and one day he came round looking for my bro, but he was out - and so were my parents. I asked if he'd like to see my room and that's where he seduced me - not that I needed much persuading. In fact, I knew exactly what I was doing. We became regular lovers for nearly a year - although opportunities were hard to find - until one day he just told me it had to stop. He'd got a regular girlfriend.'

'That must have hurt, Noah.'

'Well...to be honest, by the end I was just feeling used. He saw me as a convenient fuck - a way to relieve his urges. I don't think he ever felt much for me - he certainly never loved me. And at the start that was fine. I wanted to discover sex and he showed me. But by the end I wanted more and he didn't want to give it.'

I saw a flicker of something pass across Noah's face.

'And before you ask, no, he never let me fuck him. It was definitely a one-way street.'

I blush. Embarrassed that he knew what was on my mind. 'I'm sorry, Noah. You deserved better.'

'My second lover was different. In every way. Where Michael had been black, like me, Peter was white, like you. Where Michael had been very much a top, Peter was very much a bottom. The first night we spent together, I was waiting for him to take the initiative. I'd assumed he'd be like Michael. But actually Peter was waiting for me. Once we'd worked out what was happening, we both realised how funny it was. Peter was patient and experienced, and he showed me what to do. I discovered the joys of giving with him. He fucked me once or twice when I begged him to do so, but it wasn't really his thing and so in the end it was just as much of a one-way street with him as it had been with Michael. And that was sort of why things eventually petered out - if you'll forgive the pun.'

I can't help but laugh.

'That and the fact that we discovered we had little in common with each other. It became a relationship based purely on sex. And that's no good. Not in the long run.'

'How long did it last?'

'Maybe six months. It all finished before I started here.'

He runs a hand over my chest.

'And I'm so pleased it did. Because otherwise this wouldn't be happening.

'And exactly what IS happening, Noah?'

'I'm having sex with the cutest, sexiest boy I have ever met. But it's better than that, because I am also spending time with him and finding out just what a bright, kind and altogether nice person he is. And that makes me very happy. And I hope it makes him happy too.'

He looks into my eyes and smiles.

'When I'm with him, my heart sings, and when I'm not, then I'm just thinking about being with him. He makes me laugh and when he smiles it's like a thousand rainbows bursting all around me. And the sex is awesome because it's a real two-way street. Having him inside me is like being made complete - and being in him and hearing his little squeaks of pleasure is the best feeling in the world.'

'Little squeaks, huh?'

'You have no idea how adorable it is, Ollie. But best of all...I'm in love. For the first time in my life. I know we haven't known each other long, but I'm sure of it. And it's awesome. That's what's happening.'

I smile.

'Hmmm...guess it's just as well I quite like you too, then.'

'Why you...'

And then we're mock wrestling and I'm no match for Noah. I end up flat on my back, pinned at the wrists and with his shins holding down my thighs. And he kisses me. And I can feel his hardness against me.

'Doesn't that thing ever go down?'

'Not with you around.'

'Let me take care of it for you.'

He lets go of me and rolls over beside me. I take hold of him. We take our time, but eventually I am aware that he is pulsing in my hand, and a warm wetness spreads between us.


Over the next few weeks, life settles down into a pattern. We both go to lectures, or work in either the library or our rooms in the mornings; we play sport or write our weekly essays in the afternoons, and we spend most evenings and several nights together. Or that's the theory that we agree on.

What actually happens is that we make love at every available opportunity. The fact is, we just can't get enough of one another. We are horny boys who love each other, and whose preferred method of demonstrating that love is to fuck each other's brains out as often as possible.

However, if it sounds as though all we do together is have sex, that's not true either.

We go to the theatre and the cinema together; I've been to watch him play rugby (and he was awesome); we've both auditioned for parts in a different play put on by a different society - and both got parts, meaning we now have a perfect excuse for spending even more time with each other learning our lines. We go out to the pub together and we eat pizza together. Last night we officially became boyfriends. And to celebrate, Noah's invited me to go with him when it's his sister's birthday. The family are throwing a party. So I'm going to meet his parents.

I'm nervous beforehand.

'Do they know about me...about us? God...do they know about YOU?'

'My folks know I'm gay, if that's what you mean. And I asked them if it was OK to bring a friend from Uni with me. They didn't specifically ask if that person was my boyfriend, but they're pretty smart people so I think they've probably worked it out.'

'What about your brother and sisters?'

He smiles.

'Don't worry, Ollie...they know I'm gay too. And my brother is three years older than me and works in New York, so he won't be there.'

'Are you sure this is a good idea, Noah?'

He goes quiet and looks at me.

'Ollie, I'm proud of you. I am proud of having you as my boyfriend. I want to show you off. But look...if this makes you uncomfortable, you don't have to come.'

'Are you sure that they are going to be OK with me?'

'They'll love you, Ollie - just like I do.'

Then his face clouds over.

'Or do you mean are they OK with you being white? Do you think they're racist?'

Suddenly he's angry.

'Is that what you meant, Ollie? Is it?'

I can't bear him being angry with me. And it's not what I meant. It feels as though he's slapped me. I can feel tears prickling in the corner of my eyes. I can't speak. I just shake my head miserably. He sees my misery. He steps across and puts his arms round me, hugging me to him.

'I'm so sorry, Ollie. Of course you didn't mean that. Forgive me. But they will definitely be alright with it. How can anyone not love you?' He sighs. 'Hey... you're right...maybe seeing me with my first boyfriend will be a new experience for them. But I just know it will be OK.'

I squeeze him - just pleased he's not angry with me anymore.

'I only said it,' I say, 'because...well...if the boot was on the other foot, and it was you meeting my parents, things wouldn't be so easy. Not because you're black - honestly - but because...well...remember they don't even know I'm gay.'

He lets out a sigh.

'Of course, Ollie. I'd forgotten. Well, I guess we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.'


And he's right about his parents. When he introduces me to them, his mother looks me up and down and then smiles.

'So, Noah...is Ollie your boyfriend?'

'Yes, Mama.'

'You have very good taste. Welcome, Ollie.'

And she steps forward and embraces me. She is a substantial woman and being hugged by her is a bit like being enveloped in a duvet – a duvet with a powerful grip. I am almost gasping for breath when she releases me.

'Careful, Mama, I don't want him suffocated.'

'Don't be rude. He's a strong boy, I can tell. Now, how about you go and collect your sisters from school and then we can get on with the celebrations.'

'Sure, Mama. Come on Ollie.'

We walk out of the apartment and along the corridor. The lift is out of action, so we have to walk down all three flights of stairs. As we emerge from the stairwell, we cross a small rectangle of grass and head diagonally across a slightly run-down play area. There are a few people about - mostly teenagers. Noah nods an acknowledgement to some of them. So far, all the faces I have seen on the streets around where Noah's parents live have been black. One or two of the faces have followed me with their eyes. I guess a blond white boy is something of a novelty here - but I sense no animosity.

But I'm puzzled. Noah went to a public school. They cost money. A lot of money. His parents' flat is perfectly pleasant - but not what I expected. Noah seems to be able to read my mind.

'Not what you were expecting, Ollie?'

'Ummm...no.' I blush. I feel embarrassed.

'My Dad works for the local Council in the Planning department. He's paid OK - but not a fortune. Property in London is very expensive. More than an average family like mine can afford. I got to go to Public School because I got a scholarship. All fees paid. My sisters are at the local Comprehensive.'

'A full scholarship? Wow...you must be really bright.'

'I am'

He smiles. It's not said with a trace of arrogance.

'That, and I work very hard. Or at least I did until I met you. You are proving something of...a distraction.'

'I apologise.'

'Don't you dare. You are what life is really about. You make me come alive - and that means when I do work, I work even better.'

We've walked maybe half a mile and I can see the school in front of us. Children are already spilling out of the gates.

'OK, Ollie. Prepare yourself. It will be like the Spanish Inquisition once those two join us.'

As we get to the school gate. I see a group of kids talking. One of them, a good-looking girl, turns as we approach. A huge grin lights up her face.

'NOAH!!!'

She taps one of the other girls on the shoulder before running across and throwing her arms round Noah's shoulders. The other girl looks up and immediately follows. These are clearly Noah's sisters.

'So good to see you, Noah. Thank you so much for coming back for my birthday,' says the older-looking of the two.

'How could I not be here for my little sister's 16th birthday, Esther?'

The girls pause, noticing me for the first time. I can see Esther thinking. Her eyes suddenly widen.

'OOHH...Noah...is this your boyfriend?'

I blush.

'Oh look, Ruth. He's blushing. That's SOOO cute. So come on, Noah...introduce us.'

Noah looks at me and holds his hands out as if to say 'I warned you.'

'Ollie, this is Esther and Ruth. Esther, Ruth, this is Ollie. And yes, he's my boyfriend.'

The girls both throw their arms round me.

'Hello Ollie...ooh, you're gorgeous,' says Esther.

'If you like blonds,' says Ruth.

They both giggle uncontrollably.

'So did you meet at university,' asks Esther.

'Yes,' I say, 'we did.'

'How did you meet?' asks Ruth.

'Come on, girls, give the poor boy a break.'

'No, we want to know.'

'We met at an audition for a play,' says Noah.

'And was it love at first sight?'

'It was for me,' says Noah, with a smile.

'How about for you, Ollie' says Ruth, her eyes shining with curiosity.

'Nah. I just felt sorry for the ugly bastard,' I say.

The girls look at me, incredulously. Then they see my smile.

'There you go, girls,' says Noah, 'I really can't imagine why I like him.'

The girls laugh.

'So what's it like at Uni, Noah?'

'It's fun, Esther. Lots to do - work, sport, drama...when Ollie here isn't distracting me.'

Esther sees the grins we exchange. She looks from one of us to the other. And back again.

'Do you two have sex with each other?'

That, Esther,' says Noah with a smile, 'is none of your business.'

'I bet you do. You do, don't you? Do you do it lots?'

'All the time,' I say, 'he's insatiable – an absolute animal. Maybe ten, twelve times in a row. Every day. All night. Non-stop sex. In fact, we need to get you home quick so that we can get back to it.'

She looks at me and the penny drops.

'Oh very funny, Ollie. OK...I deserved that.'

She smiles at me and puts her arm through mine.

'He's funny - like you,' she says to Noah, then, 'I like you, Ollie.'

'And I like you too.'

She pulls my arm tighter, and the four of us start to walk back to their flat.

'So, Esther, what's happening to celebrate your birthday?' I ask.

'Mum's doing us a birthday cake for tea, then they've hired the church hall for a party tonight. I've invited a load of friends. You will come to that as well won't you?'

Noah cuts in. 'We wouldn't miss it for the world, Sis – would we Ollie?'

'I'm looking forward to it,' I say, although the thought of spending several hours with a bunch of sixteen year olds and no alcohol didn't sound like a recipe for the most fun I'd ever had…but at least Noah would be there, and being anywhere with Noah was better than being in the greatest place on earth without him.


The birthday cake turns out to be an enormous confection of chocolate and cherries – and it's delicious.

'Have another piece, Ollie,' says Mrs. Diouf, pushing what looks like about two pounds of cake towards me, 'You've got to keep your strength up.'

I see the girls look at each other and start giggling.

'Mrs Diouf, it's lovely but I'll explode if eat any more.'

She sniffs slightly disapprovingly. 'Well, it looks to me like you could do with putting on a few more pounds.'

Noah laughs. 'You say that to everyone, Mum. And I like Ollie just the way he is, thank you.'

'Well, if you're sure…and please, call me Josephine, Ollie.'

'Thank you…Josephine. Can I help you clear up?'

'Hah! Listen to that, children…a boy who's been brought up polite. Listen and learn.'

Noah gives me a hand to clear away the plates and cups. As we leant over to stack them in the dishwasher in the kitchen, he gives me a quick kiss.

'Well…you've certainly impressed Mama.'

'I like her, Noah.'

'Good.' He smiles. 'That makes me happy.'

He pushes the kitchen door gently closed behind him with one foot and then wraps me in his arms.

'Are you sure this is a good idea, Noah? I mean, I love it, but…'

He puts a finger on my lips and kisses me. Properly. I feel myself responding. Noah presses his groin against mine. I can feel that he is responding too.

'Noah…'

He breaks the kiss. 'I know, Ollie. Not here. But God I want you.'

'So what's new?' I grin.

We adjust our clothing and go back into the lounge.

'So, sleeping arrangements…' says Josephine, 'I take it you boys will want to be sharing rather than one of you being on the couch?'

She says this with a smile. 'No need to answer. The bed's made up in your room, Noah. But may I remind you that the girls will only be next door. You know what I'm saying.'

Noah blushes. 'Mama!'

'Don't you 'Mama' me…you just exercise some self-control, yes? And that goes for you as well, Ollie - though I'm sure a well-brought-up boy like you doesn't need me to tell you that.'

'No…I mean yes, Mrs Diouf…err, Josephine.'

She turns away – but I swear I can see the ghost of a smile on her lips as she does so.

'C'mon Ollie,' says Noah, 'let's go and unpack our stuff in our room.'

'Our' room. Not 'my' room. He is so lovely.

It doesn't take long to put out our few wash things and the change of clothes we've brought. Noah sits on the bed and pats the space beside him. I go over sit down beside him, and he wraps an arm round my shoulder. I lean my head against him. And then I start to laugh.

'What's so funny, Ollie?'

'Exercise some self-control,' I parrot. 'You know what I'm saying.'

Noah's shoulders start to shake and then he's laughing too. Soon we are both roaring helplessly with laughter. The door opens and Josephine pops her head round it.

'Everything all right?'

'Yes, Mama,' says Noah, 'just exercising some self-control!'

That sets me off again. I see Josephine quietly shaking her head. And this time I can see her smile clearly as she shuts the door. Eventually we calm down.

'Seriously, though, Ollie…what are we going to do? There's no way I can spend the night next to you without, you know…'

'Well…maybe you better spend the night on the couch…'

Noah looks at me. Then he grins and throws himself at me. I'm no match for him and he soon has me spread-eagled underneath him.

'Maybe it's you who should spend the night on the couch…'

'Yah…maybe I should.' His face is only inches from mine.

'It's just as well I know you don't mean that.'

'Maybe I do and maybe I don't,' I tease.

'You know you don't. Well…we'll just have to look at it as a challenge. Silent sex.'

'Well, you're the one who moans and groans as he cums,' I say

'And you're the one who makes all those little squeaks.'

'I guess we'll work it out.'

'I guess we will. But in the meantime, the girls are doing their homework, Mama's gone out to meet Pops, the door has a lock…a little quick relief?'

'How could I resist such silver-tongued blandishments,' I reply.

Noah goes over and locks the door. He's unbuckling his belt as he returns, and I've already got my fly open by the time he reaches the bed. We take hold of one another and jack each other off. It's like being back at school; hastily grabbing a moment of release with a wank buddy before someone shows up. I can feel myself getting close. Noah is too. He reaches over and grabs a handful of tissues. I knock his arm away and take him in my mouth.

'Quicker and less messy,' I say. He grunts, and then, seconds later he's flooding my mouth with his seed. No sooner has he finished than he's returning the favour; I erupt gratefully into him. It's taken perhaps two, maybe three, minutes altogether. We lie beside one another on the bed, zipping ourselves back up.

'Nice to see that iron self-control at work,' I say.

Noah giggles, and then we're both laughing.

'It's your fault for being so damn sexy,' he says

'It's your fault for being a horny bastard.'

'Are you complaining?'

'Ask me again later.'

Noah sits up.

'How about we go to the pub for a drink seeing as how there won't be any alcohol at the party?'

'Great. Is it far?'

'There's a decent place about seven or eight minutes walk away.'

He gives me a quick kiss, and then we get up off the bed and straighten ourselves out. I grab my jacket and then we head back into the lounge. The girls are sitting at the table working.

'Ollie and I are just popping out for a pint.'

'OK. Don't be too long, Noah. Party starts at eight.'

'We'll be there, don't worry,' he says.

When we leave the building, we turn in the opposite direction to the one we took when we picked the girls up from school. About a hundred yards down the path, there's a group of black boys chatting. I can sense Noah tense.

'Ollie, if they say anything, just keep walking, OK?'

'OK, Noah.'

As we approach, one of the boys turns and looks at Noah, and then at me.

'Well look who it is. Mr. Brilliant. Mr 'I'm at a posh University'.'

'Hi Nathan,' says Noah, as we pass them.

'Oh…he deigns to speak to me. Fucking poof. At least it's nice to see you're fucking a white boy and not corrupting a brother.'

I can feel my hackles rising.

'Just walk, Ollie.'

'Hey, white boy…don't you ever let us catch you on your own round here. We'll show you what a real black cock looks like. Or maybe you'd like that. Yeah, you probably would. Maybe show you five or six. We'll show you how proper black boys fuck.'

The others all laugh. We keep on walking. When we reach the pub, I suddenly realise that I'm shaking. Noah notices.

'Hey, Ollie. Don't worry. They're not all like that. That's just Nathan shouting off his mouth. He's never liked me. Not at school and not now. It's OK, I promise. Now…what would you like to drink?'

'Pint's fine, Noah.'

He can hear the catch in my voice. He puts his hands on my shoulders and propels me to a table in the corner.

'I'll be right back.'

When he comes back he's holding two pints and a glass of whisky. He holds the whisky out to me.

'Drink this. It will make you feel better.'

I swallow the whisky in a single gulp. The fiery liquid almost burns on its way down. I take a gulp of the beer. And Noah's right; I do feel better.

'OK, Ollie?'

'Yes…yes, thank you Noah. I'm sorry. I don't mean to be such a wuss…it just…took me by surprise. It sounded like he hated you.'

'I don't think so, Ollie. Maybe a bit jealous. And he's never liked gays. But he represents maybe one or two percent of the people living here; they know what's it's like to be in a minority, so most people are fine with gay people in general and certainly with me as an individual. Pops helps a lot of them out with financial things; he's well liked and so am I - mostly. But I'm sorry you had to see that side of things.'

I think about this.

'Actually, I'm not, Noah.'

'Not what?'

'Not sorry. To have seen that. A dose of reality never hurt anyone. Especially someone like me. Sheltered. No challenges. Spoiled, I suppose.'

'Spoiled? Ollie, you're not spoiled. OK, you went to public school, but you're maybe the most genuine, open boy I've ever met. Trust me, I've seen spoiled. My school was full of them. Rich boys who behaved like total shits to anyone less fortunate than them. But you know what? Nathan is just as bad as them. He might not be rich or privileged, but he behaves just as badly for just the same basic reason; they resent anyone who's different; they think that means they don't matter. If you were spoiled, Ollie, you wouldn't be seen dead with me – despite my magnetic personality and extreme good looks.'

I look up and see he is smiling. I can't help but laugh.

'Yeah, right, Noah.'

'But you wouldn't. I'm black and my parents aren't rich and I was at that school on a scholarship. And for those spoiled boys at my school, that was enough to make me inferior. Most of the boys were fine…like I say, it's a minority. But trust me Ollie, that's not you.'

'Thanks, Noah.'

'Look…do your parents know about me?'

'No. I mean, it's not that I don't want to tell them, it's just I haven't really spoken to them since the start of term – other than to say I'm fine and the course is going well and that I've made friends there.'

'OK. So when you tell them about me, how will you describe me?'

'Wow. Umm…I guess I'll tell them what you're studying, that we both like drama, that you play rugby, that we've become good friends, that you make me happy, that you make me laugh, that you make rubbish coffee – have I told you that? - that you live in London, you've got two sisters…all that sort of stuff.'

'Exactly. That's my point, Ollie. You haven't even mentioned the fact that I'm black.'

'Well, no. I mean…that doesn't matter, does it?'

'No, it doesn't. But that's just one of the reasons I love you, Ollie…because you see the me I am on the inside, not just the me I am on the outside. And what do you mean I make rubbish coffee?'

'Umm, sorry. I've been meaning to say. You need to buy something that isn't so bitter and you need to put less milk in it.'

'So how come you always say it's fine?'

'Because…because to start with I didn't want to say anything that might upset you…and once I'd said it was fine once…well…I kind of had to stay with it.'

'Why didn't you want to upset me?'

'Why do you think, stupid? Because I fancied the pants off you and I didn't want to risk anything that might…well…'

'Seriously, Ollie? Really?'

'Yes…really. Pathetic isn't it?'

'No...actually it's really rather sweet.' He pauses. 'Is the coffee really that bad?'

I look him in the eyes and nod.

'OK. New coffee it is. Of course, you'll have to come and help me choose it and show me how to make it…it might take all day to learn…'

I grin. 'Probably, what with you being so slow on the uptake. I guess we'll have to find something to do in-between cups.'

'Yeah…I expect something will pop up.'

'Yeah…with you it usually seems to.'

We smile complicitly at each other.

'Another drink before we go?'

'Sure…my round though.'

I go to the bar and order two more pints. As I wait for them to be poured, I notice that the clientele is almost equally divided between white and black. I guess Noah's family must live on the edge of where the two communities meet. But it reassures me that Noah's description of Nathan as being the exception rather than the rule is probably right.

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[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 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