Walking the Wild Side

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 1

Some time ago I wrote a story "Miss Jenkins' Work" which is published elsewhere on the web. I had always intended to write another story about Miss Jenkins and had an idea for it but could not get the back-story right. Then in a short space of time two different people told me about experiences they had with online gay meeting boards. That gave me the back-story I was looking for. When I had finished the back-story I found I had a serial novella in its own right, so here it is. I still have to write the story about Miss Jenkins, maybe I can get that done now.

This is a story which is based partially on real events which happened to real people, people who I have come to know. I would like to thank Dan and Jaz for telling me their stories. Authors need inspiration and our inspiration comes from the world around us. Sometimes that world is not a nice place.

Authors also need a support team around them. I would like to thank Pedro, JD, Ty and Cole Parker for variously beta-reading, fact checking and editing the innumerable drafts that this went through before it got to its final form. The errors that are left are all mine.

Copyright ©Nigel Gordon 2017 All rights reserved

Yes, I know I should have been eighteen to join the site, but, so what? I was nearly eighteen — well, alright, I was seventeen a couple of months ago. Anyway, it is not as if it was illegal for me to have sex. I was well over the age of consent, bloody randy, and all my friends were bonking off with their girlfriends like there was no tomorrow. I wanted sex. I wanted to find out what it was all about.

There was of course one major problem. I wanted sex with another male. Girls did not interest me, never have, never will. No, that is not quite correct; girls do interest me but not in that way. I have some girls who are friends, and I have a good time with them. It is just that they are not girlfriends, and I don't want a girlfriend. Now a boyfriend, that would be different. Unfortunately, in the town I live in it would also be impossible. Where in the seven hells was I likely to find a boyfriend? So far as I knew there were not any other gay boys or men in the entire town.

Looking back on things, I should have known better. There had to be other gay boys and men in town. They say that between five and ten percent of the male population is gay and there is another twenty to forty percent that plays both sides. Given that there were some thirty thousand inhabitants of Cromford of whom about fifty percent were male, that is some fifteen thousand males, of which probably two thirds are of legal age, that means there must have been a potential ten thousand males of which at least five hundred had to be gay. Then there were another two thousand who were playing about with both men and women. So, in theory I should have had a potential pool of two thousand five hundred to hook up with.

That may have been fine in theory, but the question was, how did I find them? I had heard rumours at school about boys being approached by men in the public toilets off the Market Street carpark. However, that sounded a bit sordid to me. Anyway, the option was no longer available. In one of their cost cutting exercises the council had closed the public toilets just after Easter. So, no hope there.

It occurred to me that if those public toilets were a pick-up spot, then there must be others around town. How did people find out about these? It's not as if they had adverts showing up in the local paper. Where to look to find out? Where did you look to find out anything? The web of course. So, I went online and googled it.

"Cromford gay meet up", was what I entered. Was a bit shocked when Google returned more than seven thousand hits. I was even more shocked to find that the first few in the list seemed to be for massage parlours and escort services. Though I must admit if I had the money, I would have been tempted to use one, the way I was feeling at the time.

It was on the second page that I found a listing that looked as if it might be worth following. "Young bi male looking for fuck partner in Cromford or Little Hamford …". It looked interesting so I clicked on the link.

I did not get to the page. Instead I got a page telling me that the page I was trying to access was viewable by members only and I needed to sign up or login. What caught my eye though was the site name, 'LocalGuyWildSide', and the page banner, "Explore your Wild Side, Local Man 2 Man Sex Contacts." It gave me the option of logging in as a guest for a time limited period, so I did.

I had to put in my post code. When I did, a list of local matches came up. There were over two hundred. I could not message them or anything but could look at their details and see their pictures. Most of them showed pictures of their bodies or their cocks, but no faces, at least on their public pictures. They also had 'friends only' pictures but you could not see them unless you had become their friend and you had to be a member to do that.

I clicked to message one guy who looked interesting. A window opened telling me that I had to be a member to message members and that I should sign up.

Tempting, in fact very tempting. To quote Oscar Wilde, 'the only thing to do for temptation is to give into it', so I did. I clicked to sign up and entered my details. OK, they were not exactly my details but they were close enough. The site made it clear that I had to be over eighteen to join, so I changed my date of birth to fit.

The registration process was quite long. I had to write up a profile of myself. Easy enough; I said that I was new to all this and just wanted to find somebody to show me the ropes. One thing I had to say was how big my cock was. I chose average. I do not know if I am bigger or smaller than other guys. Never got around to measuring it, at least not since it stopped growing. That is if it has stopped growing.

Once I had selected average I decided I better check, so got out a tape measure, whipped out my cock and got it hard, then measured it: sixteen point two five centimetres. Was that average or not? Opening up another tab in my browser, I entered another Google search, 'average cock size'. Apparently, the average American male's penis size is five point six inches when erect and four point eight inches in circumference. Not much bloody help. Why can't they use the same measurements as the rest of the world?

I gave up on cock size and went on to sexual interests. How should I know what my sexual interests are? Anyway what is TV or SM? I just ticked all the boxes. That way I had all my bases covered.

The next boxes were asking if I could accommodate and could I travel. Well, I know how my parents would react if I was to say I have someone coming round for sex. That was right off, so I stated 'cannot accommodate'. However, I could travel, at least a bit. Got a 125cc motorbike for my seventeenth and had just passed my test, so I could get around, at least in town and the surrounding villages.

Finally, I had to select the age group I wanted to meet. Did not want to meet anyone I was likely to know from school, so I set the minimum age to twenty, then left the maximum age to the default, that was ninety-nine. What the hell, I am not into age discrimination.

Once that was set I pressed save and got a message saying that my profile was saved and would activate as soon as I had activated the confirmation link that had been sent to my email. Checked my email, found the email in the spam folder, opened it and clicked on the link. Got taken to the login page with a notice confirming my account was now open.

I then logged in and got a reminder that I needed to upload some pictures. I took a quick look around the site looking at profiles and seeing what sort of pictures others were putting up. Most of them were nude or semi-nude shots. There were some close-ups of cocks and a lot of close-ups of tight underwear showing erect cocks in them. I wondered how I could get some pictures like that, then remembered my mother had a full-length mirror on the wardrobe in her bedroom. So a stripped off and went into her room and took some pictures of myself in the mirror using my phone.

Back in my room, I dressed. Uploaded the pictures from the camera onto my computer, then edited them to make sure there were not any face shots and I could not be recognised. Then I uploaded them to the site. One, which showed me in a very skimpy pair of white briefs with a very erect cock tightly packed in the briefs, I put up as my profile picture. The rest I made friends only.

Just then I heard the front door go; mother was home. I switched my browser to Facebook and started to catch up with my friends.

Mother called, saying that lunch was ready. I went through to the kitchen, where she was just turning out some chicken pie and chips onto some plates.

"Sorry dear," she stated, "I have to go back on duty at three, Carol's phoned in sick, so I won't be able to cook dinner. Thought you better have a good lunch as your father is out 'til late."

For a moment, I considered asking her when Father was not out late but then thought better off it. Anyway, just then my phone pinged. I checked it to see that an email had arrived. Then it pinged again, another email. Followed by yet more pings as more emails came in. Mother looked at me.

"You phone seems busy?" It was a question, not a statement; she wanted to know what was going on.

"Yes," I replied. "Got added to some email list and now getting piles of spam. Must reset my mail filters." I switched the phone to silent.

Over lunch we talked about my plans for the summer holidays. Basically, I did not have any. I had wanted to try and get a holiday job but Dad had put his foot down on that. Said it looked bad, as if we needed the money. The fact that we did need the money was beside the point; no son of his was going to have to work whilst still at school. Once I was away at university I could think about getting part-time work to support myself but not before.

Mother moaned to me about Carol going sick. By the sound of it, I think she suspected that Carol's sickness was just the first step to Carol leaving the surgery. For the past few years Carol and my mother had job shared the assistant practice manager's role between them whilst bringing up their respective families. One of them covered the morning session eight 'til one, the other did the afternoon/evening session three 'til eight. It was likely that if Carol left they would want to make the position full-time, which would be a bit difficult for mother.

I thought it was best not to tell mother that Maddie, my best friend and Carol's daughter, had told me that Carol and Dr Stevenson were now an item, though suspected mother probably knew that anyway; Carol was one of her best friends. Dr Stevenson had locumed at the surgery for a few months last year, shortly after Maddie's father died. He had taken a permanent position at a practice in Worcester, some thirty miles away. Maddie was worried that if things got serious her mother would want them to move to Worcester.

Must admit I would not have minded moving to Worcester. I had checked out Gay Worcester's site and there were a number of gay friendly places, so I would have had no problem meeting up with somebody. As it was I was stuck in Cromford, with not much option. However, things might be getting better. Those pings on my phone were all emails telling me I had messages on LocalGuysWildSide; now all I needed to do was read them, that though would have to wait until mother was out. Did not want to risk her walking in on me whilst I was on the site. Not that she ever did walk in on me without knocking first but, you know, there is always a first time.

So, I waited 'til after three to go back onto the site. When I did get back onto it I had over thirty messages waiting for me. Some of them I could just not believe. One man was telling me he had a bladder full of piss for me to drink, another that he wanted to eat my shit. Do people really do that? Then I found the message from someone calling himself GayAuthor. I checked his profile, he was an old man but had a lot of verifications saying how good and gentle he was, some of them from members around my own age, or at least the age I had given when I registered.

What he said made sense:

Hi LonelyBoy147

You say in your profile that you are new to this. If that is the case I think you need to look at the interests you have listed and revise them. Are you really into scat? Do you even know what it is? If you don't I suggest you remove it from your list. The same goes for watersports and S&M. Are you a TV/TS or do you really want to meet one? Again, if you do not know what these means you might be best to delete them from your profile

To start with you need to cut your list of interests down to the minimum. For a start I suggest you just have 1 on 1, kissing, safe sex, and wanking on your list. You can think about webcam — do you really want to show yourself wanking on the web with the risk that the other end may be recording it and could post it to the web?

If you are meeting anyone, meet them first somewhere public, just in case you want to break the meet off.

If you need any advice, message me.

GayAuthor

I noticed that GayAuthor was online, so sent him a message asking what the terms meant. The reply I got shocked me. Scat it seemed was eating or playing with somebody's shit: not my idea of fun. Then again being pissed on and drinking piss, which it appears that the term watersports covered, was also not something I wanted to explore. As for S&M GayAuthor explained that meant sadism and masochism. I knew what sadism was and did not fancy that. I had to look up masochism and decided I definitely did not enjoy pain. TV/TS turned out to be transvestite and transsexual. There was no way I was dressing up in girl's clothing, though I had no objection to meeting someone who did, though did not fancy the idea of sex with them. However, just to be safe, I thought it best not to go down that path.

Once I got GayAuthor's reply I got quickly back to my profile and edited it. Then went through the messages and deleted most of them. There were a few, though, that I followed up on.

One responded that he was in the area that afternoon, wanted to fuck me and I should be standing on the corner of High Street and Station Street at six for him to pick me up. He specified that I should not be wearing any underwear. I deleted that response and blocked the user. There was something about it that did not feel right.

I did send a message to GayAuthor asking him how I could decide which responses to follow up. He replied that I should only meet up with people who provided a face picture on their account, though he pointed out that it may be in a friends' only section and I would have to friend them to see it. Also he said to read the verifications carefully. See if there was anybody of a similar age to myself verifying them and see what they said about them. He also suggested I should check out the profiles of the persons verifying and see if they were verified by others. GayAuthor warned me that some people set up accounts just to verify themselves, so you get circular verifications. If you start to find those you need to be wary as it indicates something might be wrong. I had to message him back and ask what a circular verification was. He responded:

Hi LonelyBoy147

Genuine account holders tend to pick up verifications from all over the place. However, questionable account holders often set up two or three fake accounts to verify themselves, or they may set them up with a small group of friends. So if A verifies B and B verifies A, that is not a problem. It is normal for board members who have good sex together to verify each other. However, if A verifies B and B verifies C and then C verifies A you have a circular verification. One or two of those may not be a problem but if you find a lot you are probably looking at either a close-knit group of friends, who are probably using the site to get new bodies to play with, or a member who is using a number of fake accounts to verify himself.

Take care, play safe.

GayAuthor.

He was right. When I checked the verifications on the accounts I found a couple which were circular, so I deleted the responses from them and blocked the users. The others I sent simple responses to, thanking them for their messages and asking them to tell me more about who they were and what they were into.

Some responded quickly with invitations to meet up that evening for all sorts of things. Most said they wanted either to fuck me or have me fuck them. Was not sure I was into that yet, so I sent back a message saying I could not be free that evening. One message was from a chap with the username TommyTeen, the site said he was twenty-two and he had been on the site for three years. In his message, he identified himself as Tom and suggested that we meet up in town for a coffee one day in the week. I told him my name was Peter — it wasn't; it's my middle name — but I did not want to use my real name on the board. Tom said it was always best to meet someone somewhere safe and neutral to start with. That was what GayAuthor had said to me, so it made sense, I responded to Tom and agreed to meet up at the local Starbucks on Thursday.

There was also a message from a MasterJames. He was a new contact, had not been in the original set of messages I had got. His message was very complimentary about my profile and said that he liked the fact that my English usage was correct. From the sound of it I thought he might be a school teacher. Anyway, he sounded nice, so I responded to him.

Later that night I got another message from him. He asked me what I had done and what I wanted to do. I replied and told him I was new to all this; aside from some mutual wanking with my friends, Simon and John and a couple of boys from school when I was thirteen, I had not done anything. That got a response that I needed to be taught properly so I did not mess up. I messaged back that it would be nice to be taught by somebody who knew what they were doing.

I also got friend requests from MasterJames and TommyTeen, both of which I accepted. I also sent a friend invite to GayAuthor. The other friend requests I received I deleted. I had just deleted the last of them when I got a friend acceptance from GayAuthor. I went and read his profile. One of his verifications was from TommyTeen. I made a mental note to ask about that when we met on Thursday.

Tuesday morning there was another message from MasterJames. It said he would be in Cromford that afternoon and suggested meeting up for a drink in the Red Lion about one. Well, there was no way I could do that. Cromford is not very big and there are only a couple of pubs in the centre. If I went to one I was bound to be seen and word would get back to mother. To make matters worse, the bar maid at the Red Lion was my mother's oldest friend; they had been at school together. If I was seen in there meeting a thirty-six-year-old man mother would know about it before I even got home. I messaged him back and explained the situation. He replied that it was a pity as he would have liked to have met me but it would have to be some other time, maybe at the weekend. I agreed but felt a bit bad about letting him down when he had gone out of his way to invite me to a meeting.

I got another message from Tom, that is TommyTeen, to finalise arrangement for Thursday. He said he was taking his brother camping in the Wye Valley for two nights so would not be back till Thursday morning. I asked him wasn't it a bit far to go for two nights. He told me his brother was fifteen and a keen angler who wanted to do some night fishing, so they were going to a fishing lake for two nights. We agreed to meet at Starbuck's at two-thirty, Tom told me what he would be wearing so I could recognise him.

That evening I exchanged another series of messages with MasterJames, who had guessed I was not eighteen. Don't know what gave me away but he insisted I tell him how old I really was. Once he was satisfied I was over sixteen he was happy to continue but warned me to be careful as some users on the site would report me if they found out I was under eighteen. He then started to ask me about how often I wanked and what I thought about when I was wanking. I felt a bit embarrassed answering his questions and felt that he was being intrusive. At the same time I found it somewhat exciting to talk or at least chat online about these things to somebody. Never could speak to any of my friends about such stuff.

Wednesday, mother was off all day. Carol was doing a double shift to cover for the one she took off sick. Apparently, she confided in mother that she would be leaving. Dr. Stevenson had spoken to her about marrying him, though they had decided not to do anything till Maddie finished school. With mother around the house I kept off the board. So it was Thursday morning when I finally got on it. There were piles of messages for me. One from MasterJames sounded a bit angry. He wanted to know why I was not responding to his messages, said it was important that if I was to learn that I had to respect him and respond promptly. I messaged him back saying that I had not been able to get on the board because my mother was around all day.

I had told mother I was meeting Tom in town for coffee. Fortunately, I had a school friend called Tom, so she did not question who Tom was. She actually gave me a fiver to help with the costs, saying she was glad I was starting to get a social life.

Having a couple of things I needed to get, I took the bus uptown and did a bit of shopping before making my way to the market square. I arrived at Starbuck's a good fifteen minutes before I was supposed to meet Tom so went over and took a seat in the old church yard, from where I could see the entrance to Starbuck's. About ten minutes later I saw a young man, dressed as Tom said he would be walk up to Starbuck's and stand near the door. I got up and walked across the precinct to him.

"Tom," I asked as I walked up to him.

"Yes, you must be Peter." I took me a second to remember that I had used that name. "Not your real name, I see."

"It is, but it's my second name," I replied. "How did you know."

"Oh, just the way you responded to it, you had to think for a moment."

I nodded. "Then Tom must be your real name."

"Yes, in that it is my first name. However, my family call me Steve, which is my second name. Only my gay friends and my friends at uni call me Tom. Shall we go in a get a coffee?"

Tom was nothing like I expected. From the pictures on his profile I had expected somebody who was … well, not anything like the man in front of me. The photographs of his body on the site had shown a fit body but nothing like the body I could see under the tight stretch of tee shirt, he was ripped. I must have been staring.

"Like what you see?" he asked.

"Yeah, you look a lot more developed that your photos on the site," I responded.

"I should hope so — they're three, four years old. I really ought to put some new ones up," he commented. "I'm on the rowing team at uni and that requires a lot of training." He paused for a moment. I felt his eyes on me, studying me. "Come on, let's go in and get a coffee."

"Ok," I agreed, "though I think I'm having a hot chocolate."

Tom laughed at that comment, guided me into Starbuck's and told me to grab a table, he would get the drinks. I watched him as he went up and joined the queue at the service counter. The place was not busy — never is early afternoon — but there was still a queue. I do not know what it is about Starbuck's or coffee shops in general for that matter but it does not seem to matter how busy they are it always takes ten minutes before you are served. If anything it took a bit longer right then, not that I was complaining. It gave me more time to look at him. He looked fantastic. Dirty blond hair tied back in a ponytail, tight white tee shirt that emphasized the muscled form below, black hip hugging jeans, which looked so tight that they must have been painted on. They showed the shape of his arse perfectly and when he turned to bring the drinks over to the table I could clearly see the outline of his cock. By the sign of things he was not wearing any underwear.

"So you do like what you see," he stated, placing the tray of drinks on the table. There was also a plate with a couple of Tiffin cakes on it. "Thought we might need some sustenance as I think we are likely to be here for a bit."

With that he sat down. For a moment there was silence, the he started. "You're not eighteen are you?"

"No," I responded.

"How old are you?"

"Seventeen."

"Good, at least you are legal."

"Are there some who aren't?" I asked.

"Some," he responded. "Not many; the board is good at picking them up and killing their accounts, but there are some. Met up with a lad in Brum last term and it turned out he was fifteen."

"What did you do?"

"Introduced him to the YLGBT group in town and told him to get off the board, it's too bloody dangerous and not just for him. I also reported his account, so it got killed. Stupid idiot was back on a week later with another user id. He is going to get hurt."

"Haven't you reported his new id?" I asked.

"Naa not my job, and anyway, I was too busy with my finals. He got taken down anyway in a couple of days."

I asked him what he had been studying at Birmingham University. He informed me he was not at Birmingham but at Aston, where he was reading Engineering. Although he was hoping to be at Birmingham next academic year to do his master's. That took us onto a discussion about education. He told me that he was planning on going for a PhD in Environmental Engineering, the master's being his first step. He wanted to know about my plans for A levels and university. It turned out he had gone to the same school I was at now and one of his brothers, Paul, was in the sixth form with me, though I did not know him other than by sight. In the end we were chatting together for over half an hour and had not discussed sex or the board.

I went up and got us some more drinks and another couple of slices of Tiffin cake. When I got back I asked about GayAuthor.

"Ah, Cromford's dirty old man," Tom replied.

"Is he a dirty old man?"

"Naa, actually he is quite nice. I'm glad I met him when I first went on the site. He gave me a lot of good advice and also taught me a lot about sex. He is very considerate and although a top he is not a dominant unless you are into that sort of role play with him."

"So you have had sex with him?" I asked.

"Of course, that is what the site is about. It is not a dating service to make friends and find your life partner, though I have made quite a few friends through it. It is somewhere to find a body to bonk with for a couple of hours. Don't make the mistake thinking you are going to meet friends and other gays you can talk to and have a good time with. Most of the men on that site are so deeply in the closet they have problems admitting to themselves that they are gay or even bi. They call themselves bi-curious. Well, if they are still curious after six months of getting their arses fucked you have to wonder about their ability to think. They are either gay or bi. Accept it, the board is a place to arrange meet ups for sex; that is its sole purpose and the sole reason for being on there is to look for sex. If you are not after sex, leave it. Of course that raises the question, are we going to have sex?" I must have blushed quite deeply. "Have you had sex with anyone before?"

"No," I replied.

"I thought so. Look, I like you and would like to have a bonk with you but if this is all too fast, tell me and I'll pull back. I was going to suggest we go to my place. My parents are away on holiday in Italy. They left at lunch-time and have taken both my siblings with them, so I have the house to myself for the rest of this week and next."

I was not sure. Anyway, it was now gone half three and I needed to be home by five. That was a good excuse. It ended up with us agreeing to meet again and swapping mobile numbers and email addresses. Also, Tom told me that if I did make arrangements to go anywhere for a sex meet-up to make sure somebody knew where I was going.

"Who am I going to tell?" I asked. "Can't tell my parents I'm going off to meet somebody for sex."

"Don't you have any friends you could trust?"

"Not for that."

"Look, use me. If you are going to meet anyone, text me the details, what time you are meeting them, what time you are due back. When you get back text me to let me know you're OK. If I don't hear from you in a certain time I will raise the alarm."

"Is that necessary?"

"It bloody well is. Most people on the board are OK or at least not too bad, but there are some nasties. You need to be careful."

With that we split up with a final agreement to message each other later. I went back to the car park and got my bike, then rode home thinking what I might have missed not going to Tom's place. By time I got home I was bloody regretting it. I liked Tom and thought I could trust him and I needed somebody I could trust for my first time.

When I got home I walked into the inquisition.

"Where have you been?" my mother asked.

"I told you, I was going up to town to meet Tom, we've been in Starbuck's all afternoon chatting."

"I saw Mrs Crawford and Tom at the library. He said you've not been in touch with him since the end of term."

"Not that Tom, Paul Bletchley's older brother, he's just finished at Aston and I was talking to him about what it is like there." I knew mother knew the Bletchleys so she probably knew the older brother was at Aston. It was a good cover because we had already discussed Aston as one of my options for university.

"I thought the older Bletchley boy was Steve," she commented.

"That's his middle name, it's what the family uses, but he prefers to be called Tom by his friends."

Somewhat mollified she went back to preparing dinner. I went to my room and onto the computer. There was an email telling me I had a message from TommyTeen. Did not risk going onto the board with mother in the house, just in case. One of the problems of living in a bungalow is that you can't hear people coming up the stairs, so you get no warning that they are on their way. I know my mother would not walk in without knocking but can't say the same for some of my friends who might call round.

It was a good job I did not go onto the site because about ten minutes later Maddie burst into my room. Maddie is one half of the Atkins twins, the bossy half. Her mother and mine have been friends since they were both nurses in the local hospital. They both gave birth there as well, though not at the same time. Maddie and John are four months younger than me. As a result our mothers tended to share childcare between them. From the time of their birth the twins were either at our house during the day or I was at theirs. Actually, it came as a bit of a shock to us when, at about three and a half, we found out we were not triplets. I still regard Aunty Carol as a second mother, and I know Maddie has the same feeling for my mother. She also treats me as a brother, a younger brother. That explains some of her attitude to me. She never knocks and it has been embarrassing on a couple of occasions. It was not so much the fact that she caught me wanking, more the fact that she just stood there pointing and laughing her head off. I was thirteen at the time and am certain that is what totally turned me off girls.

This time fortunately she did not catch me at anything. She just stormed into the room, slammed the door and slumped onto my bed.

"Not a good day," I stated. It was far more of a statement than a question; I know Maddie too well and know her moods.

"Fucking no. Bumped into Shirley at the supermarket and she congratulated me on my mother's engagement. When did they get bloody engaged?"

"Don't think they are yet," I commented. "At least not according to mother. Anyway you told me they were an item."

"Your mother knows about it. Tell me what…"

"Maddie, calm down."

"Sorry, but what is going on."

"All I know is that your mother and Dr. Stevenson have discussed the idea of marriage. That is what mam said anyway. Apparently, they have agreed not to take it any further until you have finished your A levels and are off to university. Then they will decide if they want to get married."

"Thanks for that information, it's fucking more than anyone else has told me. I'll kill them, the pair of them, when I get home. They could have told me what was going on."

"They probably could," I agreed, "but Maddie, you have to look at it from their position. As yet they have not done anything more than discuss the idea of marriage and there is no formal engagement or anything. It's not quite two years since you father died, and I suspect your mother still feels it is a bit too soon to move on."

Maddie thought about that for a moment, then nodded. "There bloody well should be an engagement, everybody knows they are dolallie over each other."

"Yes. Just give them time."

"OK, but I'm not giving you time. Who was that hunk you were with in town?"

"What hunk?"

"The one you were having coffee with in Starbuck's. Don't deny it because Marion saw you and took a picture, she's sent it to everyone." I groaned. "So, come on, who is he?"

"Tom," I responded.

"Tom who?"

"Tom Bletchley," I answered.

"Bletchley as in Paul and David Bletchley from school?"

"Yes, their older brother."

"I thought their older brother was called Steve," she commented.

"That's his second name. His first name is Tom, which he prefers and it's what his friends call him."

"So, you're his friend?"

"Well, sort of," I answered.

"How sort of? How do you know him? Is he…" I blushed. "You've got a boyfriend haven't you?"

"No, it's not that. I just met him to get some advice about Aston University."

"But how do you know him? It's not as if you are in the same crowd as Paul. I only know Paul through my economics class, so how do you know his brother?"

"I met him online," I told her.

"You've been going online to meet people?" I did not answer, did not need to my face turned a bright red. "Lennie, have you been going online to get a boyfriend?"

"Well, it seemed a good idea," I responded, wondering when I was going to get her to stop calling me Lennie. My name is Leonidas, usually shortened to Leo, but Maddie shortens it to Lennie and everybody follows Maddie's lead, even my mother sometimes.

What followed was a half hour lecture about the dangers of meeting up with people from the internet, especially when you are a seventeen-year-old gay boy. It was only afterwards that I wondered exactly how she knew so much about it. Then again, when it came to computers and the internet, nothing surprised me about Maddie's knowledge. She definitely knew more about the subject than the IT teacher at school. Bet she had been online doing some research on the subject to try and find me a partner.

That was something I would have to take up with her, though that was for later. Right now I realised I had a major problem. Whether I wanted to or not I had just outed Tom. I knew he was out at university but when it came to home I had no idea.

"So," Maddie asked me when she had finished her lecture, "is Tom your boyfriend now?"

I looked at her –she had promised never to mention the fact that I was gay after she had wheedled that information out of me last Easter. "No he is not, and we were talking about Aston University. I am going to apply there now." I had not decided that before but it was one way to shut Maddie up and thinking about it, there was a sensible reason for doing so. It was a good university with a strong basis in science and technology.

Just then mother shouted out that dinner would be ready and did Maddie want to stay for dinner. Maddie jumped up and ran out of the room. I followed her into the kitchen.

"Sorry, Mrs Oliver," she stated as she passed through the kitchen, "I did not realise it was that late. Have to get home and put dinner on; mother's expecting Dr. Stevenson this evening." Mother smiled at receiving this titbit of gossip.

Once Maddie had gone I fed Blackie, our dog, then went to clean up before dinner. I also sent Tom a quick text telling him what had happened and that I may have outed him. Got an answer back that he was already out at home so no problem.

It had gone eleven by the time I got onto the board. There was a message from Tom thanking me for the meeting and suggesting we meet up for lunch on Sunday at one of the pubs by the canal. He said it was his treat and he would bring a friend who could tell me more about the gay scene in Cromford. I messaged back saying OK.

There was also a message from MasterJames. I had told him at one point that I had a 125cc motorbike and he had said he rode a Triumph and a BMW and had several friends who rode bikes. In one of his messages he had said that they often went off for rides in the country for parties. Now he was inviting me to join them on Saturday week. Said they were going to Langford Bridge, which was about forty-five miles, then would be returning to his place in Little Hamford for a barbeque party. He also said he would be in Cromford this Saturday morning and suggested meeting up at the shopping centre by the Worcester road junction.

I asked him what time and also asked for details about the trip. He messaged back suggesting eleven by the entrance to Mario's, about the only good food outlet there. He also told me that the road trip would start about three and the party would be starting about seven. Sounded good, so I said I would see him on Saturday and join them for the ride but was not sure about the party. He sent a message back saying he would send me directions to his place in Little Hamford closer to the date but he did confirm that the party was an optional extra.

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