Max and Me

by c m

Chapter 1

This story is set in time when the internet was still in its infancy, and when mobile phones were the size (and weight) of a housebrick, and their used confined to a few business men.

While this story stands alone, if you want more background to some of the characters, and what happened to them in the previous 18 months, please read 'Mark and me'.

I would welcome any comments you have to give. If you want to take the time to email me please feel free to do so by clicking the link behind my name at the head of each chapter

I hope you all enjoy the story.

Mark had been my schoolfriend. He had helped me realise that I was gay, and had then become my boyfriend for a wonderful eighteen months. We loved each other passionately, and had assumed that we would always be together. But then he was killed in an avalanche while he was skiing with his family, a holiday I should have been on with him - if it hadn't been for an injury I had suffered to my knee just a week before we were all due to go. Following his death, I had gone to Germany to stay with Max, a boy Mark and I had got to know - and like (and have sex with) - during a hockey tournament a year earlier. We had exchanged letters ever since, and had grown close.

He had comforted me and, during my stay, we had fallen completely for each other. Initially, I hadn't had sex with him - even though we shared a bed - but one day I had known that the time was right to move on.

Over the next few days Max and I made up for lost time. We had a lot of sex. We loved to masturbate each other, watching the cum spurt and pulse from our cocks, as well as to suck each other off. I fucked Max a lot and he returned the favour - less often, but when he did I loved it – and as he'd been a confirmed bottom boy previously, I knew that he and I had something special.

A few days before I was due to leave, and after Max had ridden me to a spectacular climax for both of us, we lay there in bed in the warmth and glow that comes after great sex. I ran my fingers over Max's chest and down over his stomach, tracing lines across his smooth, perfect flesh.

"So...tell me about the two boys who had you before me."

"You really want to know?...OK. The first was my cousin Gerd. It was just after my sixteenth birthday. He was nineteen and I had always had a bit of a crush on him, I suppose. I had told him that I was gay and he had asked if I had had sex with a boy yet. I said 'no', but that I hoped it would be with someone like him when I did. He asked me if I would like him to fuck me. He said he wasn't gay, but if I wanted to find out what it was like, he would be happy to oblige. 'You are kind of cute, Max,' was what he said. So I said OK. My parents were out and we went up to my room. He was the one who got me into using massage oil to make things easier. He was very gentle with me but it still hurt the first time. But I loved it. You know, he never touched my cock - he just fucked me. And then he did it again and it was even better. There was never any question of me getting to do him in return...and it never even crossed my mind to ask. I was happy just to have discovered how it felt to have another boy's cock inside me. We did it maybe seven or eight times over the next few months, and I gave him oral sex too. He never did that to me either – although he did start to masturbate me after I'd blown him because he could see how desperate I was to cum. Then one day he told me that he felt very guilty about what we were doing and that he didn't want to do it again. And he never did. He moved in with his girlfriend shortly afterwards and they now live in Koln.'

"Do you think he really was...is...straight?"

"Yes, Chris, I think he is. I think he was perhaps curious. But he liked me and I was happy for him to fuck me...so why not? And I think it was a good way to lose my virginity."

"And the second boy?"

"Ah yes. That was a mistake. A bad mistake. I had enjoyed Gerd fucking me, and I wanted more of the same. When Gerd said 'no more', I started looking for someone else. I met Klaus maybe nine months later at the local boys club. He was also older than me by a year or so. He had made it clear very early on that he liked me and I quite liked him. I didn't make any secret of the fact that I was gay and he told me one day that he was too. We went into the toilets and masturbated each other. Not very romantic, I know. The following week, he asked me if I would like to go and see a film with him on Saturday and then maybe stay over with him. That sounded good to me; I wanted to take things further with him and so I said yes. During the film he kissed me, and he put his arm round my shoulder; everything seemed nice. We went back to his flat afterwards and he poured me a glass of juice, but I think he put something in my drink, Chris, as I started to feel a bit funny. Then he became very...demanding. He stripped me and made me kneel in front of him and suck him off while he was still in his clothes. He pushed me into the bedroom and wanted to tie me to the bed. I said 'no' and asked him why he was being so unkind to me and he just told me to shut up and do as he said. I wanted to go home, but I thought the quickest and safest way was to have sex with him and then leave. I know, I know...it was stupid. He was rough with me, Chris. And he had a big cock and it hurt when he penetrated me. He told me I was a slut. I was afraid that he would try and stop me leaving, but I just told him I was going. He told me that I was a useless fuck anyway. I got dressed and walked home. It was a long way."

As Max was telling the story he had half curled up at the memory. I put my arms round him and held him tight.

"How could anyone treat someone as lovely as you like that, Max?"

"It scared me, Chris. Gerd had been so lovely and Klaus had turned so horrible. After that I just used a dildo."

"A what?"

"A dildo. You know what a dildo is?...Oh my god, you don't, do you? You're so innocent. It's so sweet."

This revelation had brought a smile back to his lips. He got up off the bed and went to his cupboard, coming back with a long, black, rubbery, penis-shaped object.

"Meet Friedrich. It's what I call it."

"Friedrich? Like your hockey playing friend? But he's tiny and that's...." and then I got it. "Of course...your little joke. That's funny."

Max was laughing. "Yes...I thought it would be amusing. You want to touch it?"

He gave it to me. I ran my hand up it. It felt quite like a real cock, I had to admit.

"'And you use this to...fuck yourself...with?"

"Yes. It is nothing like as good as the real thing, but after Klaus, I wanted the sensation of someone inside me but I didn't want to risk such a thing happening again. Until I saw you."

"And how do I rate?"

"Better than Gerd. Much, much better than Klaus...and almost as good as Friedrich here." He had a less than innocent grin on his face as he waved the dildo at me.

"You...you little...beast!"

Max was laughing so hard it was infectious, and we ended up clinging helplessly to each other.

"Would you like to try Friedrich?" Max asked.

"Sometime, maybe. But right now, I'd much rather it was you inside me."

"I would like that too, Chris. Come here."

I lay on my side as Max slipped an oiled finger inside me. His cock followed a minute or two later and I was in heaven. He made love to me slowly and skilfully, and when he eventually pumped his seed into me, my whole body was vibrating with pleasure. We lay there with him gently softening inside me for a long time. Then he pulled out and I felt something much bigger pressing against my hole.

"Say hello to Friedrich," Max said.

The dildo was bigger than Max ,and I felt it stretching me. It wasn't unpleasant, but it was a different feeling. Max pushed it deeper and I felt my inner ring protest.

"Gently, please, Max."

He took his time and eventually, with not much more than a twinge, I felt it pass through the muscle and then slide deeper and deeper inside.

"Wow, that's almost all inside you, Chris." Max started to move it in and out of me. "How does it feel?"

"It feels OK, Max, but I'd much rather have you."

"Ja, that's how I feel about it too now. I would much rather have you...but at least it did a job of stretching me so that when you fucked me that first time it was not painful at all."

Max pulled the dildo out of me.

"Can I try it on you?" I asked him.

Max smiled. "Of course."

I put the already slippery dildo against Max's hole and pushed. It disappeared inside him with no apparent effort. It was interesting but not particularly satisfying - for either of us. I pulled it out.

"OK. I've learned something. But I don't think we have much use for this anymore."

"I agree."

We lay back on the bed and cuddled up to each other.

"It feels so good just to hold you close to me, Chris."

"I love the feel of your skin against mine, Max."

We kissed, and then Max let his tongue travel all the way down from my lips to my groin. He took my erection in his mouth and worked me to a shuddering climax.

"Who needs any artificial aids when I've got you, my lion."

"You mean…?"

"Mmm…yes please." He grinned, and lifted his knees up to his chin.

Another time, as he lay in my arms after he'd ridden me gloriously, I asked him about what he'd done with other boys - excluding the two who had been inside him.

"Oh, from the age of thirteen I started a little mutual masturbation with some other boys, including Friedrich – the boy not the dildo – who you met at the tournament. We did it a few times but not any more. And it was one of the other boys who got me into the habit of shaving my groin and armpits. And I have had some oral sex with one boy."

"Who?"

"Sigi. You haven't met him yet - he's away on a week's holiday with his parents. He's been my friend for ages. He was the first guy I came out to when I was fifteen. When I came out, all he said was 'Does that mean you want to blow me?' I laughed and said 'Of course' and he said 'OK then' and dropped his trousers. So I did. And then he did me. He said he wanted to know what it was like. And we've given each other the occasional blow job ever since. And we masturbate each other sometimes too. Since he and I started that, I didn't go with any other boys – until I met you. And Sigi's never wanted anything more and he's not in love with me or anything. It's just sex. We both enjoy it, so we do it. He has a girlfriend - but he says I'm much better at it. When I got back from the hockey tournament I told him all about you. He didn't believe you were as handsome as I said - until he saw the picture of you. Then he was very jealous." Max laughed.

"I can't wait to meet him."

"He'll like you. Very much. He likes beautiful things. He'll probably ask you to give him a blow job too."

"And should I?"

"If you like him, why not? Maybe we can all suck each other…if you are OK with that?"

"How would you feel about it, Max?"

"I would be happy to share my English lion with my best friend. But not if you don't like him, Chris. We'll see. But now you must tell me about the boys you have had sex with. I know you have only fucked Mark and me...but what else have you done?"

So I told him about my wank buddies at school. I told him about how Mark and I had met and how Mark had shown me what I was - and how he'd slowly introduced me to all the joys of sex. And I told him about James. And about Tim. And about my blow job in the toilets with him during the tournament.

"Wow...he was one horny redhead. Tell me more about James. He is your best friend? Like Sigi to me?"

"Yes...I suppose so - although we have never had more than a wank together. You'll like him when you meet him. He loved Mark and I know he'll love you."

Max nodded and went quiet for a minute.

"Chris...when we're apart, I want you know it's OK to continue to do stuff with James. If it was OK with Mark, it is OK with me. You...I...we're both going to feel...needs...from time to time. I would like to know that you are being looked after by someone I know about and who you trust. Someone who Mark trusted."

"God, Max – you are more like Mark than you can ever know. And you must do the same with Sigi. Deal?"

"Deal."

Before I left, we arranged for Max to come and visit me for a four weeks in the summer, and then, afterwards, for me to go back to Germany with him for another three weeks. It sounded idyllic.

When Max's parents drove us to the airport at the end of the week, we sat and held each other all the way to the airport. I really didn't want to leave, but Max had college starting and, hard though it was to part, we both now had something we couldn't have imagined only a month or so before.

As we stood at the gate through to passport control, Max hugged me close.

"I love you Chris, more than I can say and more than I could ever dream. I can't wait for the end of June when we can be together again. You have made me so, so happy. Promise you'll call me every week."

"I love you Max. You are all could I ever want. I promise we'll talk whenever we can. You are everything to me."

We kissed. Out there in the open. We hugged each other close. I saw tears in Max's eyes and I wiped them away with my thumb. I put my thumb to my mouth and tasted his tears. We held each other like we would never let go.

I walked through the gate. I turned and waved a last goodbye. I felt the prickle of tears in my eyes. I tried to be strong.

At Heathrow, my parents were there to meet me. And so was James.

"James! What are you doing here?"

"I'm your best friend. You've been through the mill. How could I not be here to welcome you home?"

I gave him the biggest hug.

"Thank you. Thank you so much for being here. I have so much to tell you."

I'd almost forgotten about my parents. "Umm...sorry mum and dad...thanks for coming to pick me up."

"Our pleasure." Mum kissed me and Dad picked up my bag and we went through to the car park.

On the way home James wanted to know all about what had happened. I think Mum and Dad wanted to know too.

All I said was, "It's good. Everything is good. Mark was right. I'll explain later."

I couldn't say any more right then. My head and my heart were full of Max. My soul was at peace in a way I found it hard to believe could have happened. But I knew that Mark was happy for me. And that he had wanted me to move on. And I knew that I could. And I knew that I had.

Once home, James and I went up to my room.

"Soooo...tell me all."

"Oh James...I am so happy. I know maybe that sounds weird given what happened. But….I know that Mark is happy for me as well. Everything is perfect. Max and I...we...we're...he was...we are..."

James put his arms around me. "I am so happy for you, Chris. You've been through hell and out the other side."

And then he kissed me. For the first time ever, my best friend kissed me. Then he held me close to him.

"Mark told me that you were one in a million. And you are. I sometimes wish I was gay so that I could have even more of you. But I love having the bit of you that I have. Be happy, Chris. You so deserve it. I wish you every happiness with Max...and I can't wait to meet him."

"James - you are the best friend anyone could have. I love you...you know that? Not like I love Max...but I love you. Thank you. Thank you so much."

I kissed him back. On the lips. He smiled and ruffled my hair.

"Hug?" He asked.

"Hug." I replied.

We were already sitting on the bed and as he put his arms around me we sort of collapsed backwards until we were lying beside one another. I nuzzled into him.

"Thank you for being such a good friend to me, James."

"You must be the easiest person in the world to love, Chris. Now...tell me all about what you and Max did together."

So I told him. Graphically and in detail. And I told him about Max and Sigi too.

I could feel him hardening against my thigh. To my shame, I was hardening too. I looked into his eyes. I could see the answer. I unbuckled and unzipped him. He did the same to me. He took hold of my trousers. I lifted my hips and he pulled them - and my briefs - down my legs and off over my feet. My erection stood stiffly to attention between us.

"Get 'em off, James."

He did, and then he put his cock against mine. It was electric. He put a hand around both of us and started to masturbate us. And suddenly – and I don't know why - I wanted more.

"There's something I'd like to do for you, James. If it's OK with you."

"Anything and everything is OK with me right now, Chris."

I moved down the bed and took him in my mouth.

"Oh fuck, Chris. You don't have to do this."

"Are you asking me to stop?"

He shook his head.

I sucked him long and slow. He felt wonderful in my mouth. When he came it was over my face - although I sucked the last few drops out of him. I was curious about how he tasted. I liked it.

When we'd finished, and after I'd wiped his cum off my face with a handkerchief, he looked at me and then, very tentatively, put his mouth around my cock. I could sense his uncertainty. He bobbed up and down a few times, but I could feel that his heart wasn't in it. I put a hand under this chin and pulled him up.

"You don't have to do that, James. It was my gift. I don't expect anything in return."

"I want to Chris. But it's all a bit...new. Let me try again."

"OK. But you don't have to James. Stop if you want."

He went back down on me and this time it felt different. He just went for it. It might not have been the most sophisticated blow job I had ever had, but it felt amazing to have my cock in James' mouth.

"I'm going to cum, James."

He pulled off me, a trail of saliva looping from his mouth to the tip of my cock. He wrapped his hand around me and finished me off. I came all over my stomach.

Afterwards, we just lay beside one another.

"I just wanted...I wanted to be able to give you everything Sigi gives Max. if he's not gay and can do that for Max, I can do it for you."

"James...that's not a good enough reason. I loved it...but...you have to want to do it, not do it because you think I'm owed it in some way. You are the best friend anyone could have. I don't want it to come at a price."

He propped himself up and looked at me.

"Truth is...it was OK. I didn't know if it would be, but it was. So stop worrying. It's just another piece of the jigsaw in our friendship. Now...are you ready to be thrashed at squash tomorrow?" He smiled at me.

I smiled back. "You can try."

We pulled our trousers and briefs back up. Everything was normal. Everything was better.

Max and I exchanged letters and phone calls regularly over the next three months. I told him about how things had gone further with James. I hoped he was OK with it. He told me he was. Max told me about Sigi coming back from holiday and being so annoyed to have missed me - but how happy he had been that Max and I were together. He told me in detail about having occasional oral sex with Sigi - but wishing it was me.

We told each other anything and everything we could think of about each other. And we told each other what we wanted to do to each other when we met up again. It was better than any porn.

Eventually, July came around. I'd found some local work in a supermarket which had given me some money and kept me occupied. It also meant I met a load of people I otherwise wouldn't have come across. The girls all fancied me. The older women all wanted to mother me. Some of the boys were jealous at first, seeing me as threat, but they soon realised that I was more likely to want to sleep with one of them than with one of the girls. Amazingly, I didn't get any stick for being gay.

One of the other boys was gay too, a nice guy named Malcolm. He was obviously interested in me, but once I'd told him I had a boyfriend, we just became friends. He introduced me to a gay club in town and took me there as his partner - he said I'd be devoured if they thought I was on my own. I think he enjoyed being seen as the partner of a very good-looking boy. I was pleased to have had the experience, but I didn't enjoy it much, and we didn't go back.

James and I had continued to have mutual masturbation sessions, and these sometimes, although not often, turned into oral sex. He had got comfortable with me occasionally sucking him off without him having to do it in return. One time I had got so carried away that I ended up with the first spurt of his climax in my mouth.

The time passed surprisingly quickly, and suddenly Max was due to arrive at Heathrow the following Monday afternoon.

I decided that I could do the journey on my own and drove to pick him up. The airport was a little confusing, but I found the right terminal, parked up and headed for arrivals. The board said that Lufthansa flight LH 904 was on time and due to land at 12.40. It was now 12.30.

At 12.40 the board changed to display the flight's status as 'landed', and twenty minutes later I saw the familiar sight of Max's mop of curly hair appear through the doors to the arrivals hall.

"Max!" I waved. He looked up and then ran with his trolley towards me. He literally leapt into my arms. I just about caught him, his face buried in my neck, kissing me. I hugged him to me. Once I'd put him down we just looked at each other. His eyes were sparkling and he had the biggest grin on his face.

"So. I am here. You are on your own?"

"Yes, Max. Welcome to England."

We hugged again. We unloaded the trolley - one big bag and a small case - and carried them to the car.

"This is yours?"

I nodded.

"Very nice. And a VW. German...how fitting that you have been inside something German even when you haven't had me." We both laughed. God it was good to see him.

Max put his hand on my leg as we drove, but I told him that it was too distracting. I had a huge lump in my trousers that was uncomfortable enough as it was.

Max noticed. "I see that you and I are sharing the same problem."

"Yeah...but we'll do some problem solving as soon as we get home."

Max giggled. "I can't wait."

The journey was uneventful and we arrived back at about 2.30. Dad was at work and Mum was out for the afternoon, so introductions would have to wait. On the other hand, some things wouldn't have to wait. I took Max upstairs and into my room.

"It's not as big as yours, Max, but I hope you'll be comfortable."

He put his arms around my waist. "Provided you are in it, then I will have everything I need."

He kissed me. I kissed him back, and then we were tearing off our clothes. Naked, and both sporting rock-hard erections, we jumped onto the bed and just held our bodies against each other.

"My god, I've missed you so much, Chris."

"Not as much as I've missed you, Max."

I put a hand on Max's cock. It was hot and hard. He did the same to me. Lust took over and suddenly we were masturbating each other furiously. I lasted about thirty seconds. Maybe less. Two hours of having a stiffy in the car had left me right on the edge already. I spurted all over Max's chest and stomach and hand and then, with a groan, he was cumming too. It went everywhere. I licked some of his cum off his chest. I had missed the taste of him. Max scooped some of my cum up with his fingers and put it in his mouth – then licked the rest of it off my body

"I think we both needed that, Max."

"For sure. Now we have slower sex. I want you - I need you - in me."

Max got up and went over to his bag. He came back waving a little bottle of massage oil at me. His cock, hard again, bounced up and down as he walked.

"I thought this might be useful. For massage and for...this."

"How very thoughtful, Max." I grinned.

He lightly oiled my cock and then put his finger inside himself. He straddled me and guided my cock to his hole, slowly impaling himself on me. He ran his fingers through the blond fuzz on my chest and tweaked my nipples.

"I have missed your body so much."

I gently stroked his cock as he moved up and down on me. His movements slowly quickened, his balls bouncing on my groin. I pulled his foreskin back as far as it would go, the head of his cock all shiny and purple. A trickle of precum ran down the shaft over my hand. I was getting close and then he came. A jet of cum landed on my chest, with a few drops splashing onto my face. As his bottom tightened around my shaft, I came too, my seed pumping deep inside him.

"Oh so good, Chris...so good."

We just lay there enjoying each other's bodies; kissing and touching and inhaling one another's scent. I saw that he had kept his groin and his armpits hairless – just the way I remembered. He put his hand into my groin and took hold of the pubic hair there.

"We shave this off?"

"If you prefer me that way, Max."

"I think so. Come."

We headed for the shower and he soaped me up. He shaved me carefully, my cock rising to a full erection as he did so.

"Horny boy...me too." He pointed to his own cock that was rapidly stiffening in response to mine.

"Take me, Max. Here. Now."

I turned and put my hands against the wall, arms straight out with my legs slightly apart. I felt Max take hold of my cock. Then I felt him against me. His hardness slid slowly inside me and then he was pumping in and out, his hand stroking me as he did so.

"I have thought about this every day, Chris, for three months. I hope it feels as good for you as it does for me."

"It feels fantastic Max. But what's happened to that bottom boy I used to know?"

"You've happened to him, my Chris. I love having you deep inside me, but I now also like to be inside my English lion sometimes."

"Your English lion loves it, Max."

"Good...because I am cumming." I felt him swell inside me and then I felt his cock buck and start pumping. I put my hand over his between my legs and we increased the pace of his stroking. Seconds later my cum was splattering on the shower floor, and then the little white curls were being washed away down the drain. I felt his seed ooze out of me, and then Max threw me a towel and we dried off.

"Enough for now Max?"

"Umm…perhaps you could manage to do it one more time – it's just…I've missed it so much.?" He had his head on side, looking at me quizzically.

I smiled. "Slave driver. Come on then."

I led him back over to the bed. He lay back and lifted his legs back over his shoulders. I slid inside him in one long, gentle thrust. He moaned.

"Oh yes…now, fast please."

"Your wish is my command."

I took him urgently and energetically - and I collapsed on him as I came.

"So good, Chris. So good." He kissed me and we held each other close. I rolled over so that he was on top of me.

"I love you, Max."

"And I love you too, Chris. It is so good to be with you again." He licked the tip of my nose. " I hope we can do more of this tonight?"

"Tonight - and for the next four weeks, Max."

"I can't wait" was all he said.

That evening, Max met my parents for the first time. He was charming and funny and polite. They fell for him instantly.

"It's very nice to have you here, Max. And very nice to see Chris so happy too."

"That is mutual, Mrs. Alexander."

"You two just do what you want, but if you need anything do ask."

"Thank you, you are very kind."

…and that night Max and I made love over and over again, making up for lost time. And it was extra special when he entered me again and when I felt his seed flooding into me. We slept with him curled up inside my arms, and in the morning we kissed and cuddled - and it inevitably ended up with him riding me to another spectacular climax.

Afterwards, as we were lying, spent, beside one another, Max propped himself up on one elbow and said,

"Chris, may I ask something personal. If it is too upsetting, please tell me."

"What is it, Max?"

"I just wondered...where is Mark buried...or his ashes anyway?"

"Near where they lived, outside Newbury. Why do you ask?"

"Do you ever visit?"

I could feel the emotions rising inside me.

"Yes, Max. I've been to put some flowers by the plaque in the churchyard where his - and his parents' - ashes are buried."

"Chris...would it be too upsetting for us to visit? I would like to put some flowers there too."

My eyes filled with tears.

"Oh Chris...I am so sorry. I have been stupid and upset you."

I shook my head. " No, Max....no...you haven't been stupid. That's a lovely thought. Truly.

Let's do it." I kissed him.

So it was that a few days later, on a lovely summer's day, I drove Max down to a little churchyard a few miles outside the centre of Newbury.

We both held small arrangements of flowers as we walked along the path that took us behind the church to the small graveyard there. In one corner, under the shade of an ancient yew tree, was a small plaque, 'John, Maddy and Mark Taylor. With God.' and the date.

"Mark's family were religious?"

"His parents had an active faith; Mark not so much. But I'm pleased they're here in these beautiful surroundings rather than in the grounds of the Crematorium."

"Me too, Chris."

We knelt on the ground to put the flower arrangements beside the plaque. As we knelt there, Max took hold of my hand and then spoke.

"Hello Mark. Thank you so much for entrusting your Chris to me. I promise I will look after him and love him just like you did. I will never let him or you down."

I just looked at Max. It was so unexpected and so lovely. And suddenly I could feel the tears coursing down my face. Max took hold of both my hands and lifted me up and then embraced me.

"I wanted to come and tell him. I hope you don't mind."

"No Max. Of course I don't mind. I think it's wonderful. Thank you."

"Come on, let's go and look inside the church while we're here."

Max put his arm around my shoulder, and we walked over to the door of the church. Inside, it was cool - and the quality of the light filtering through the stained glass windows created a sensation of total peace and tranquillity. Max looked around, his eyes travelling over the vaulted roof, the carved stone pillars and jewel-like windows.

"It's so beautiful, Chris."

And it was. We sat in a pew, and let the calm and the serenity flow through us. And my emotions slowly return to normal.

As we walked back to the car, I put my arm around Max's shoulder and pulled him to me.

"Thank you, Max. Thank you so much."

"Without him, I would not have you. And that is a gift - a debt - that can never be repaid. I needed to say thank you - and to promise him that the boy he loved so much is in safe hands."

"I love you, Max."

"And I love you too, Chris. Now and for ever."

I hugged him to me. No words. No need for words.

And as we broke our embrace, I looked into his eyes;

"Come on, let's head back. I've got some ideas for the rest of the time you're here that I want to share with you. And I'm hungry, too."

And so, on the journey home, we stopped for lunch at a village pub. The food was good and we washed it down with a pint of cold lager - and we discussed our plans for the rest of the summer.

And I knew that Mark was truly happy for us.

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