Andrew

by The Composer

Chapter 2

Hours later, I woke up, still under that duvet. I was naked, and I stretched out, just as I had stretched out for Charles only a few hours ago. I felt like any fifteen year old boy who had had sex for the first time. And here I was, under that duvet.

Charles had trusted me. He had given me the keys to his boat and he had told me that I could stay. For how long? I didn't know. What I did know was that I never wanted to go back to that home. In two weeks' time, I would be sixteen. As far as I was concerned, I was out of there.

It was never as easy as that though, was it? Slowly, reluctantly, I climbed out from under that duvet, went for a long long piss. There was still some milk and cereal, and bread for toast. I looked at that money on the table. I hadn't even counted up how much he had left. I shuffled through the notes. £120?? He carried that much around with him in his wallet? I took a twenty note and stuffed it into a pocket. I could stop at the supermarket on my way back.

I was in no hurry to go out. Figuring how to lock up was not exactly difficult, and after I had locked the boat, I ambled from the boat to the marina entrance, nodded to the boatyard people on my way out, and set out back for 'home'. I haven't got much stuff to collect. We couldn't lock our rooms – they didn't trust us behind locked doors – so anything valuable was immediately nicked. People tried writing their name all over their things in great big letters, but still it disappeared. I know that some people just enjoy thieving for thieving's sake. I never had much stuff because there wasn't much point. It would just get nicked.

It was about 2 o'clock when I went in through the door, and, luckily, it was Trevor on duty. Trevor was – well, not old, not young, certainly grey-haired and solid. I'd heard that he had been in the Navy, and that sounded about right. He wasn't like a lot of the others. He knew when you were bullshitting. Some of the others you could tell all sorts of stuff to them and they would nod and smile and try and sympathise. Others – you told them stuff, and they would nod and smile and write it down, not believing a word of it, but just writing it down made life easier for them.

Trevor looked up as I walked in. "Good afternoon, young man. To what do we owe the pleasure? It's been a day or two since we last saw you."

"Yeah, well. Things to do. Places to go. Had to see a man about a dog."

He sat back in his chair and gave me a smile. Trevor's smiles were genuine. "One of the things about you, Jason, is that you're always direct and to the point. Is it worth me asking?"

I shrugged. "Not really."

"And you're bunking off school too."

"Yeah, well. As I said, things to do, places to go."

"So where have you been sleeping the last few nights?"

"Here and there."

He looked at me a little closely. "You haven't gone and got yourself a sugar daddy, have you?"

That was little too much like the truth. I shrugged. "Who would want me?"

"Don't run yourself down, lad. You've grown quite a bit recently, and you're not that bad looking."

From anyone else I would have been wary about that last comment, but I reckoned Trevor was about straight as they came. "I've come to get my things."

"You have got a sugar daddy then."

"Yeah, right."

"So what am I going to write on this piece of paper? About you being out for three nights?"

Another shrug. "You could say that I came back seemingly unharmed."

"Seemingly?"

"Well, you're not going to inspect me all over, are you?" He was going to say something, then stopped. "And I know – bruises don't show on darkies. That right?"

"Do I ever get at you for being black?"

"Not really. You know, you're the most honest person around here."

"Given the other people around here, I'm not even sure whether that's a compliment or not."

"You're better than all the rest of them put together."

"My, my. You are being complimentary today."

"Well, as I said, I won't be coming back."

"Aha. Well, not until he throws you out. Or is it true love?" He looked at me carefully. "You've done it, haven't you? You've done the dirty deed."

The trouble with Trevor is that he was too fucking sharp. I lifted my chin. "And if we have?"

"How old is he, this bloke?"

"Thirty."

"Well, he'll have been around a bit."

"He hasn't!" Trevor's eyebrows went up. "If he has, he's a fucking good actor." Trevor always knew how to wind me up.

"So, sitting comfortably, are we?"

I knew what he meant. I was still sore. "Mind your own fucking business."

He looked at me again, a slightly speculative look. "Are you genuinely gay?"

He always did know how to put me on the spot. I stared at him and he stared back. I'd never put it into words like that. But after we'd done, Charles and I, there wasn't really much doubt. "Yeah," I said slowly. "I think I am." No one liked saying that out loud. No one admitted to something like that, not in here, but it was Trevor, and in an odd sort of way I trusted him.

He carried on looking at me, then eventually nodded. "Okay. But do I really have to tell you about all the blokes out there, and what they might want to do to boys like you?"

"You're such a fucking know it all, aren't you, Trevor."

He shrugged. "The trouble with kids is that you can give them advice, and then they always ignore it. Then they come back a little bit later, and tell me that I was right."

"You know, even if it wasn't him, I would be getting out of this place. I'd rather live on the streets than in here."

"Are we as bad as all that?"

"You're the only one worth talking to. The rest of them – I wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire. And the rest of the kids in here? Some of them aren't so bad, but half of them are just thugs and bullies. And pissheads and druggies. Why would I want to stay?"

"Once you have been on the streets for a few weeks, you might change your mind. Well, at least you're not going for a fuck at a fiver a time. Has he given you money?"

"For food. He said I needed to feed myself."

"Isn't he feeding you?"

"He's away working at the moment."

Trevor looked at me. "For real?"

"I reckon so. Anyway, you've got to trust some people sometimes." Trevor just looked at me and shook his head. "He's trusted me with the keys."

He raised an eyebrow. "So you're there by yourself at the moment?"

"He's going to be back Wednesday evening after work."

"And he left you with the keys?"

"That's right."

"Maybe it is true love after all."

I looked at him. "What future do I have here?"

"Not much. What future do you have with him?"

"I've no idea. I'll find out."

"You know, I wish I could give you some good advice. But I can't. You've no future here. Whether you've got a future with him …" He shrugged.

We looked at each other. "I've been happier this weekend than I've ever been," I told him. "Okay, it won't last. But I'll enjoy it whilst I can."

"Fair enough. So you're buggering off. In a manner of speaking."

I nodded. "You won't tell anyone – about what we've been talking about?"

He cupped a hand to his ear. "Eh? Can't hear you."

I grinned. "You're a gem, you know that?"

He held out a hand. I took it, and we shook. "Whatever happens – I hope it works out. You're not a bad kid, Jason. Better than most."

"Thanks."

I stood up and walked out. I would miss Trevor. No bullshit, that was Trevor. I went up to my room. It didn't look as though anything had been touched, but there was really nothing worth touching. I had a rucksack, and stuffed a few clothes into it. They were so tatty they weren't worth stealing. I remembered I was wearing Charles' boxers. The thought of it started making me go hard again. No, I thought. I'm not going to touch myself again. I'm going to save it up for Wednesday night.

I walked back through the tatty streets, stopping at the supermarket. I bought some fresh fruit – I loved bananas, although we never got any at the home. Bread. Milk. Cereal. Butter. Marmalade. I stopped by the microwave ready meals, and picked up a couple of them. I hoped I had enough money, but there was some change left over when I went to the till. I carried it all back to the boat. I put the change back onto the table together with the receipt.

Next morning I woke up wondering what to do today. I knew that Charles was obviously well educated, and as for me – well, I have been to six schools in the past five years, had more teachers than I could remember, and had skipped most of the classes anyway. I had been registered with a school nearby, but I guess that I had been to less than half the lessons that I should have gone to. Anyway, I stuffed what books I had into my backpack, and set off. I could hardly remember the layout of the school once I had got there, but I did have my timetable. The first lesson was English, and I walked in and found a seat. I couldn't remember ever seeing the teacher before, and she looked me blankly, and asked me my name. I told her. She fussed around with her computer, and then looked back at me. "You've missed quite a few lessons." I nodded. "We are doing Macbeth." That meant absolutely nothing to me. "Have you got a copy?" I shook my head. She sighed, and got up, went to a shelf, and pulled out a book. "Here you are." I took it and flicked through it. I think it was some sort of play. She went back to the front and told the class which page to turn to. She asked someone to start reading. It was a funny sort of language. Someone read out some lines which fascinated me.

When shall we three meet again?

In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

When the hurlyburly's done,

When the battle's lost and won.

Those lines fascinated me, and I read them over and over again. The teacher was going on about various things but I didn't pay much attention. Finally she stopped, and then said "Any questions?" I raised my hand, and she looked at me in surprise. "Yes, Jason?"

"Please Miss – why do they meet in thunder and lightning?"

It took her a moment or two to realise what I was asking, then she looked pleased. "That's a good question. Anyone?" She asked, looking round the class. Nothing. "Well," she said, "in those days people believed witches were real, and that they could make their own weather."

I nodded. "And what's a hurlyburly?"

"Not quite a battle, but certainly a disturbance, a load of trouble. Maybe – fighting?"

"And how can a battle be lost and won?"

"One side wins, the other side loses."

I nodded again. "Those were intelligent questions, Jason." The rest of the class turned round and stared at me. I didn't really need attention like that.

The rest of the day didn't go so well. It ended with maths, and I simply had no clue as to what was going on. I sat there whilst the teacher went on and on, and then set us some problems from the book. The trouble was I didn't really understand what the questions were asking, and stared at them blankly for ten minutes. When the bell rang, I just stuffed my books into my bag and walked out. What use was all of this?

When I got back to the boat, I pulled out those books and started to read them. I needed to read them over and over until they began to make some sort of sense. But then I wondered how long I would be going to this school, how long that I was going to be in Gosport, even what sort of future I was going to have. Okay, I might be able to live in this boat for a few days or maybe even a few weeks, but what after that? I really had no idea.

I went back out to the supermarket. He said he was going to be back on Wednesday evening, and what I wanted was to prepare a proper meal for him when he arrived. I knew something about cooking: in one of the homes I had been in I had helped out in the kitchens, and had watched them and helped them as they prepared the food. I reckoned I could do something.

I went to bed early, and woke early. I thought I would go to school again – at least for the morning. Some of the reading I had done the night before helped, but a lot of it still didn't make any sense. I left at lunchtime, and went back to the boat. I tidied everything up, and began work on a casserole. It was something you could leave, and if anything it got better the longer you left it. I didn't know when he was going to be back. I took off all my clothes, and went had a good wash. I stuffed the dirty clothes into a bag, and put on fresh clothes. His clothes. Ones he had worn. I laid the table with knives and forks and plates. I looked around. Everything was ready for when he came.

I had to do something while I was waiting. I picked up that copy of Macbeth, and started at the beginning. It was hard work. I didn't understand much of it. I started again from the beginning, and that helped. I was reading the bit about the three witches when suddenly the boat lurched. He was back! I heard the hatch slide back, and he came back into the cabin. He had a backpack over his shoulder. He looked around at the cabin and then back at me. It was difficult to read his face.

He slipped his backpack from his shoulder, and dropped it down. He wasn't looking at me. Then he turned, and I could see his face. I could see that he was holding a neutral expression on his face; not smiling, not frowning – and not welcoming. I knew what he was going to say.

"You want me to go, don't you?"

He didn't say anything, but looked at the table, and the money lying there. Suddenly, he lifted his head, sniffed, and turned to me. "Have you been cooking?"

"I did dinner for us." It seemed pointless now.

He went over to the hotplate with the big pot. He lifted the lid and steam came out. He sniffed again, put the lid back on again, and turned back to me. "You did this for me?"

I was fighting back the tears. "Well, it seems I wasted my time."

He looked at the money on the table, and the till receipts. "What's this?"

"The money you left."

He picked up one of the till receipts. "And these?"

"That's what I spent. You can check it all if you like."

"You mean –" he looked at the money and the receipts "– you mean – this is it? The money? And the receipts? You didn't buy anything else?"

"You said the money was for food. That's what I spent it on." He picked up the other till receipt, and looked it over. "I told you," I said thickly, "I'm not a thief and I am not a whore." I stared at him defiantly. "I'd better be going. I know when I'm not welcome." I picked up my rucksack, and stuffed that copy of Macbeth into it. Why I did that, I have really no idea. I turned to the steps, and reached up to slide the hatch back.

"Andrew!" I heard him call my name.

I turned round, angrier than I had ever been. "Look, you got your money back. You got your fuck. Is there anything else you want?"

"You."

"You had me, remember? In that bunk there? Do you want to do it again? One quick fuck before you throw me out?" I had tears in my eyes, tears of anger and frustration.

"If you don't want to do it, that's fine. But will you stay?"

"Stay for what? I know men like you. You would soon get tired of a boy. And then I would be back out on the streets."

"If I said to you, you can stay here for as long as you like, would you believe me?"

I stared at him. "Me live here? What happens when you want to go out sailing in the boat?"

He shrugged. "That's not a problem. We can go out together."

"So you want me here, so you can come down weekends, and shag your little toyboy?"

He winced. "You can spend your nights in that cabin up forward, if you want to."

"And you're going to tell me that you wouldn't molest me?"

"When I first asked you on board, did I molest you? Let's see – who molested whom?"

"Stop trying to be right every time."

He smiled a little. "So will you stay?"

"What is there to stay for?"

"When we were in that cabin …"

"You mean, when I fucked you and you fucked me?"

He nodded. "Yes. But it was afterwards. I held you in my arms, and it was the most wonderful thing I have ever known."

I wiped away those tears. "You bastard, Charles." He looked at me. Suddenly I couldn't meet his eyes. "It was the best thing I've ever known." Suddenly, the tears were running down my cheek.

"Look," he said awkwardly, coming a little closer. "Will you stay?" He lifted his hand and, with a finger, wiped away those tears.

"Hold me," I whispered.

I felt his arms go around me, and I melted into him. I couldn't help myself. I rubbed my face against his shoulder, against my neck. "Why did you do this? Why didn't you want me?"

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I thought about you all day Monday and all day Tuesday, and then I thought, perhaps I'm deluding myself. I mean, how can an old man like me live with a beautiful boy such as you?"

"You're not old," I whispered back.

"Old compared with you. If we tried living together as lovers, everyone would stare at us. They would think me – what were the words? A pedo and a pervert."

"Forget that. We're here, and there's no one to tell us what we should be doing."

"Perhaps it would be better if …" He didn't finish.

"If what?"

"I shouldn't have let you … do that."

I stared at him. "For real?"

He nodded. "Sod that," I told him. "So you don't you want to do it?"

"Do it?"

"You know what I mean," I snarled. "Do it. Have sex. Shag. Fuck. You know?"

I could see the nervousness in his eyes, and I pulled away from him, and stared at him. "Do you want to?"

"What?"

"I know two things – that you want me, and that I want you. Do you want to?"

He stared at me. He knew what I meant. "Do you really mean that?"

"Why do you think I am asking?"

He stared at me. "For real?"

"For real." I pulled away from him. "The first thing I need to do is to switch this off," and I reached for the cooker. Whatever was in it would keep.

I looked at him. "Do you want to do this?" I could see the agony in his face. "The first thing I'm going to do is take off all your clothes." I looked him in the eyes. "Do you want me to do that?"

"Anything you want," he whispered.

I took my time. He was curiously shy as I stripped him naked. "Stand up straight, and show yourself to me," I told him. He did as he was told, and I approached him, and put my hands on his shoulders, and ran them down his arms, and then down his chest, and then I stopped. I stood back.

"Now," I told him, "strip me."

Slowly, tentatively, he began. Finally, I stood before him, and I was naked, and he was naked. "Touch me," I told him.

I could see his eyes running up and down my body. Finally he reached out a hand, and touched my shoulder. I shivered at the touch. His other hand came up, and began to caress me. I closed my eyes at his hands moved over my body. And then it wasn't his hands. I could feel his lips on my neck, on my shoulders, lower, lower, until – I couldn't believe this. I opened my eyes and looked down, and he was on his knees, and I could see his tongue, and what it was doing to me.

"Charles," I whimpered. He looked at me. "Please, please. If you keep on doing that – not just yet." I reached down and pulled him to his feet. "The cabin – now."

His arms went around me, and I thought he was going to carry me into there, but he opened the door, and dragged me in with him, and laid me down on the bed. I looked up at him. "Be gentle with me," I whispered.

"Do you think I would ever hurt you?"

"Not intentionally."

He smiled down at me. "I deserved that."

We began manoeuvring our bodies together, and I felt his hand between my legs, stroking me, preparing me, for the moment when … he entered me, and I could not help giving a little whimper of pain, and that sound, he froze. "Go on, please, do it," I told him.

He began moving backwards and forwards, and I could tell he was trying to be as smooth and gentle as he could, but there comes a time, when you're having sex, when you can't be kind and gentle, and he began to ride me to his climax, whilst I reached up and clutched his arms. I heard those sounds which I would get to know so well – "uh uh uh" – until he finally reached over me, gasping, and then collapsed forward on top of me.

I don't know for how long we lay there, both gasping for breath, and then drifting into a semi-doze. As I came to, I looked across at him. I wanted him. I sat up. "On your back," I told him. He mumbled. I took his shoulder and pushed. "On your back."

He rolled over and gazed up at me as I knelt between his legs. "Please. Be gentle."

I suddenly felt guilty. I wanted to take him, I wanted him to know that I wanted him. But he wanted me to be gentle, and suddenly I was ashamed. I put out my hand to caress his chest.

"Tell me if I'm hurting you."

I was as gentle as I could be, but there are times when you can't be. I heard the noise he made as I entered him. I stopped, poised above him. I could see him biting his lip. Then, "Go on," he whispered. Slowly, back and forward, and I looked down into his eyes as he stared back at me.

I could see that he was hurting, but trying not to show it. And then his eyes rolled up into his head, and I could hear him whispering, "oh oh oh". I tried to slow down, and he reached up to me, and I heard him say, "Go on, go on." I could see him turning his head from side to side. I couldn't stop now. I was nearly there, and then, as I came, I felt the feeling spreading through my body. Panting, I looked down at him. "Please," he muttered. I was still hard. I eased my way out of him, and again I heard him gasp and shudder.

I leaned forward and brushed the hair off his forehead. "Sorry. I tried not to hurt you."

He smiled back up at me. "You did at first. But then it got better, a lot better."

I moved my fingers over his face. "Do you mean that?"

He nodded. "Really."

I leaned forward and gave him a very gentle kiss, and he reached up, and pulled me against him. We lay there for what seemed an eternity. Eventually, we stirred, and began to move.

"You made supper," he murmured in my ear.

"I knew you were coming back. Or you said you were coming back. And I wanted to …" I'm not quite sure what I wanted to do, except to feed him and look after him, because I wanted him so much.

We pulled on a T-shirt and boxers, and went out into the cabin, and I turned on the ring heating the big pan. It was soon bubbling again, and I stirred it, and served out two portions. I think we were both really hungry, and it all went in no time at all. At the end, he looked at me curiously, and asked how I have learnt cook like that. I told him about helping out in the kitchens, and he nodded. He moved his spoon in circles around the plate, and I could see that he was thinking what to say now. He looked up.

"We need to talk about us."

"What about us?" making air quotes around the word 'us'.

"I want you to stay. Do you want to stay?" I stared at him. I didn't know whether to say 'yes' or 'no'. "Last weekend," he said, "for me, it was the most wonderful two days of my life. I spent Monday and Tuesday reliving those moments."

"When you saw me on the pontoon on that Friday night, you asked me on board," I said thickly. "Did you do that because you took pity on me, or did you do it because you fancied me?"

He looked down for a moment, shamefaced. "Both," he whispered.

"Well, at least that's honest."

"I asked you to stay. One of the reasons was that I enjoyed your company. This is rather sad, I know, but I live by myself and I don't have much company, and it was nice to have some."

I knew what he was talking about. I tilted my head on one side, and looked at him. "You know, one of the things I like about you is that you didn't treat me as a kid. Okay, I knew nothing about boats, but you didn't make fun of me, and you treated me as though I was an equal. Believe me, that's rare."

"You were good company. But then – well, you know what I'm going to talk about next." He looked at me steadily, and I nodded. "What we did was unbelievable. I never knew sex could be like that. You were so – " he looked away for a moment, and then back at me "– sexy, erotic, beautiful."

"No one's ever said that to me before," I told him, trying to make a joke of it.

"That was part of the problem. All day yesterday I was asking myself – was it just an infatuation? Was it just simple lust? Or – maybe - " he looked straight at me "– was it something else?"

I had no answer to that. I didn't know myself. I sat in silence looking back at him.

"This morning," he went on, "I cancelled my appointments for tomorrow. I thought I would spend the day with you. Getting to know you a little more. Then, in the car, driving here – I wondered whether that was a good idea. Whether we had any future. Whether it would be better if we split." He paused. "You picked up on that as soon as I came in." He looked at that little pile of money that I had left. "You're right about two things. You are not a thief and you are not a whore." He looked back up at me. "And I have to apologise to you."

I had difficulty speaking. "You don't have to."

"Oh yes, I do." There was a long silence. "So will you stay tonight? We can spend some time together tomorrow."

"All day tomorrow?"

"All day," and he smiled.

"What will we do?"

"Anything you like."

"Anything?" and I looked at him from under my eyelashes. He smiled back.


When I woke, it was bright daylight, and Charles was asleep next to me. I looked at him, and knew that if once I touched him, that would be it. I wouldn't be able to stop. As quietly as I could, I slipped out of bed. I washed and dressed, and started preparing breakfast. I had bought loads more food than we really needed. I knew how to make omelettes, and I started off by cutting the bacon into small squares, then I put it in the pan. It started sizzling. I cracked all six eggs into a bowl, and started beating them. It would be ready soon. I opened the door to the cabin and yelled, "Charles! Up!" I got a muffled response. "Up!" I yelled again.

A sleepy face appeared, and then he sniffed. "Is that bacon I can smell?"

"Yes, and it will burn if you don't hurry up."

He came shuffling out and disappeared into the heads. I poured the egg into the pan. There was a trick with this. You had to let it set underneath before turning it over, and if you left it too long, it would burn. Charles reappeared and I pointed to his seat. "Sit." He did. I had just made some coffee for him, and he picked up the mug gratefully. The omelette was ready now, and I cut into two chunks, sliding them onto plates. I gave him one of them and sat down with the other. Although I say it myself, it was good. It disappeared fast. Charles finished his and leaned back in his seat.

"That was good," he said.

I grinned. "You see? Your sex toy can cook as well."

He grimaced. "Don't call yourself that."

"Can't I be your sex toy then?"

"Is that all you want to be?"

This was a bit heavy for that time of morning. "No," I said, "but isn't that what today is going to be about?"

"Not really."

"Oh." Then why was he here?

"So – what do you want to do?" I had no idea. I shrugged. "Have you thought any more about what we were talking about last night?"

"Not really." I had been so exhausted that I had slept like a log. I hadn't time to think about it.

"If we were going to put this on a more permanent basis," he said, trying to sound casual, "you ought to see where I live."

Somehow, I never thought about that. As far as I was concerned, this boat was home. At least, my home. The nearest thing I had to home. And he said 'a more permanent basis'. What did that mean?

Cautiously I said, "A more permanent basis?"

"Do you want to live with me?" he said bluntly.

I stared at him. "And how is that going to work?"

"I think I can make it work." He looked down at his empty plate then back up at me. "If you want it to work."

"You want to take me on? Full time?"

He smiled slightly. "Full time. Yes."

"Are you serious? You don't know anything about me."

He smiled again. "I know the important things."

"Like what?"

"That you are not a thief, you are not a whore, that you are very beautiful, and that you are amazing in bed."

"Really?" I said in a very small voice. He nodded. "But – if you want to live with someone, you need to know more than that," I told him.

He shrugged. "It's enough to be going on with. We don't have to decide anything immediately."

This was all going a bit too fast for me. "Look," I said awkwardly, "let's be serious. We've known each other for less than a week. Can we – I dunno, cool it a little?"

He nodded slowly. Then he looked at me. "Can I do something for you?"

I was slightly wary. "Yeah."

"There's a market in Gosport High Street today, isn't there?" I nodded. "Would you let me buy you a new jacket and some new shoes? I mean, your shoes are falling apart, aren't they? Just some cheap stuff from the market."

He was right. My shoes were falling apart. So was the jacket. And stuff from the market would be cheap. I nodded. "Okay."

He stretched, and then yawned. "Sorry," he said, "it was hard work on Monday and Tuesday. I'm knackered."

"We could always go back to bed," I suggested.

He looked at me. "And?" I wiggled my eyebrows suggestively. "No. Not now." I shrugged. "We'd better get dressed," he said.

"Boring," I told him.

We walked down the pontoon, keeping a discreet distance. It wasn't far to the High Street. Most of the stuff for sale was cheap and tatty. I didn't want any of it. But there was an Oxfam shop, and I tugged at Charles' arm. He didn't want to go in there, but it was where I usually bought stuff. I had a look through the coats and jackets, and picked out a couple of them.

"What you think to these?"

"They look okay. Do they fit?"

I tried one on. "What you think?" He nodded. I thrust the coat at him. "You're paying."

He took the coat up to the counter, and handed over a tenner. He gave the coat to me, and took my old one. As we went out into the High Street, he thrust the old coat into a bin.

"Hey!"

"You really want to keep that?"

I hated to throw anything away. He took my arm and dragged me to a stall with all sorts of trainers. "What size feet are you?"

"Size 8. I've got big feet for my age. You know what they say about people with big feet?" I wiggled my eyebrows suggestively.

"Don't be coarse," he told me. "Okay. Size 8. Pick something."

I didn't really know what I wanted. I wasn't into fancy trainers or anything like that. I looked over the shoes for sale. "Which do you like?"

"It's not going to be me who's wearing them."

"First, you're paying for them. Second, if we are going to be an item, I don't want to be wearing something which you think is nasty and vulgar."

He looked sideways at me, and thought about that. "Almost everything here is nasty and vulgar."

"That's all I've ever been able to afford."

"If we are going to be an item, will you let me buy something for you which is not cheap and vulgar?"

"I hate this."

"What?"

"I hate not being able to buy things which are decent. I hate the idea that you are going to have to pay for it."

He took me by the arm and pulled me back from the street. "There is nothing that would give me more pleasure than buying something worthwhile for you. Please. Let me do it."

I stared at him. I knew he meant it. I still hated the idea. "Have I told you about sugar daddies? "

"Sugar daddies?"

"It's going to be a long story."

"Really?"

"Yes."

He looked around, and saw a cheap teashop. "Come on." We went inside and sat down, and ordered tea and a sandwich. I could see him looking around.

"Not what you're really used to," I said quietly. He didn't say anything. "For me, this is an unexpected luxury." That got his attention. "I don't go into teashops or anything like that. I can't afford it. I don't have the money. Even this place is too much for me." He gave me a long long look. "Get used to it. Your beautiful boy is in reality a runaway from a council home. I'm ignorant. I've never had a proper education. I buy cheap stuff from Oxfam because I don't have any money. If you get your head around some of that, you will know a little bit more about me."

The woman came with the tray which had cups and a teapot.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Don't be fucking sorry," I hissed at him. "The way you live – cars and homes and yachts – and the way I live – you really have no idea."

He picked up the teapot and began pouring. I could tell that he was doing it to avoid having to talk to me.

"Andrew …" He began.

"You know something? You think I'm honest? You think I gave you my real name?"

"It's not your real name?"

"You never ever give someone like you your real name."

"Someone like me?" He asked quietly.

"To a kid like me, any bloke by himself who starts talking to you is dodgy."

"Fair enough." He looked up at me.

"I trusted you more than I would trust most blokes. Andrew is actually my second name." I could see that he wanted to ask me what my first name was. "I'll tell you when I want to tell you. But I like Andrew as a name. Would you mind calling me Andrew?"

He leant back in his chair. I could see that there were a lot of things that he wanted to say. He was turning them over in his mind.

"Later," I said.

He looked up at me and nodded. "Okay. But you were going to tell me about sugar daddies."

"Yeah. Sugar daddies. There are blokes who like boys. The snag is that most boys have got families to look after them. We don't. We're easy bait. So – a boy from a home who has no one to look after him hooks up with a bloke. The bloke gives him money, buys him trainers, a decent jacket. You can tell when someone's got a sugar daddy, because they come in one day and they have got all these fancy clothes. They usually start off with trainers. Trainers are big with boys like me. Well, not me – I couldn't care less – but with boys in homes." I stopped for a moment. "Everyone knows what you have to do to please a sugar daddy. The boy might not like it doing it, but it's a price worth paying. You're being fucked up the bum, but you've got someone who says he cares for you and who buys you stuff." I paused again. "Everyone in homes hates gays, but somehow, if you've got a sugar daddy, people don't mind. They know what you have to do for it, but, okay, you get money and trainers and a decent jacket."

There was a long long silence.

"Is that what you think I am?"

I looked across the table at him. "No."

He looked a little surprised. "Why?"

"You didn't come on to me; I came onto you. Even then, you didn't want to." I smiled. "As far as I remember, you used the word 'rape'."

"That's why you wouldn't take my money."

"Not really."

"Then why?"

"I suppose it's a matter of pride. And self-respect. I don't sell myself to people." I looked at him. "I had sex with you because I wanted to. Not for what I would get out of it."

He smiled slightly. "I gathered that from the things you said." He fiddled with a teaspoon. "I don't want to buy you jackets and trainers to buy your affection. I want to buy them because you need them."

"I know. But I still find it difficult."

He nodded. "But it is a fact of life. You haven't got a job. You're supposed to be in school. You haven't got any source of income. Most young people have got a family which will buy them what they need. You haven't got a family." He looked up at me. "But you have got someone who loves you. Seriously. I mean that."

I sighed. "I know that. But it's going to take me a little time to get used to it."

"That's why we're here today."

"I suppose so. Look, this tea is dreadful. Can we go?" I knew he would have to pay.

"Of course."

We stood up and he paid the bill. We wandered back out into the High Street. We walked slowly along, silent. I looked ahead, then hissed, "Charles! Go and look in a shop window or something." He gave me a startled look, then turned away. Ambling towards us were two kids I knew. They had been in the same home as me. Kieran and Dave. Charles walked away and sat down on a nearby bench. As they came closer, they recognised me, and came up to me.

"Hey, Jason. We heard you'd done a bunk."

"Well, sort of."

"You moved all your stuff out, didn't you?"

"Who've you been talking to?"

"Trevor."

I nodded. "Trevor. Ace bloke, Trevor." They nodded. "I've – moved on." They looked at me expectantly, but I didn't say anything else.

It was Kieren who said, "Got yourself a sugar daddy then?"

I laughed. I hoped it would be convincing. "A sugar daddy? Who would be interested in me?"

"Don't do yourself down. You're not a bad looking bloke." I just looked at him. "Dave and me – we used to rate all the blokes in the home. You usually came close to the top."

"Rate them?" I looked at them blankly for a moment or two, then it clicked. Very carefully, looking from one to the other, I asked, "So … are you two …"

Kieren nodded. "Got a problem with that?"

"Hey, no. It's just – just a surprise, that's all."

"So where are you living now?" asked Dave.

I shrugged. "Here and there."

"We're renting a room, Kieren and me." I looked at them. There was another unspoken question. "We're legit. We don't do drugs and we don't sell ourselves. We're working for this bloke. He's straight, but he likes us. He's got a van, and does removal stuff. He's got work for us most days."

"You know," said Kieren, "if you have nowhere to stay, you can stay with us."

"What do you mean?"

Kieren and Dave looked at each other. "You can move in with us."

"Meaning?"

Dave gave me this long look. "You know, we could never work you out. You never seemed to have a girlfriend, but we weren't quite sure as to whether – you know."

"You don't know what you're missing," Kieren joked.

To say that I was gobsmacked was the understatement of the year.

"We'd give you a good time," said Dave softly. "I mean, we really like you. As in we really really like you."

I bet they would too. "Guys, I'm really flattered…" I could see the disappointment on their faces. "It's just that I've got a lot on at the moment. Difficult to explain."

"Is it legit?" asked Dave. I nodded. "Well, Kieren and me aren't busy at the moment. If you fancy coming along for an hour or two." He shrugged. "Just for a bit of fun. Know what I mean?"

I knew what he meant. "You know, if things were different, I'd take you up on that."

"Yeah? Seriously?"

"Seriously. Look, I'm not quite sure how things are going to work out for me. You're going to be around?"

Kieren gave me a crooked smile. "Yeah, we're going to be around. If things don't work out for you, let us know. We'll see you right." He raised a fist and we bumped knuckles. Dave did the same.

I watched them as they disappeared into the crowds. I'd never have guessed. And, yeah, I was seriously tempted. Maybe if this didn't work out …

I looked round. Charles was still sitting on that bench, pretending all was right with the world. I sat down a decorous distance away from him, and put my head in my hands. My shoulders were shaking.

"Are you all right?" he asked, concern in his voice. I pulled my hands away my face. I wasn't crying; I was laughing. "What is it?"

"You will not believe this."

"Try me."

"I have just been propositioned for a three-way."

He looked at me and then the crowd through which Kieren and Dave had disappeared.

"Really?"

"Really."

"Who were they?"

"A couple of the lads from the home I used to be in."

"And they are together? A couple?"

I nodded. "I would never have guessed. But we started talking, and they said they had in a room somewhere, and did I need somewhere to sleep? I said I was okay. Then they suggested I might like to come along for the afternoon, and they would give me a good time."

"Seriously?"

"Seriously. And I was seriously tempted. They told me that they used to rate the boys in the home, and apparently I used to come near the top."

"I'm not surprised. You know, you really underestimate yourself."

"You think so?"

"I know so. But you turned them down."

"Well, yeah. Aren't I with you?"

He turned to look at me properly. "Are you?"

Although we were in the middle of the High Street, I couldn't help myself. I reached out for his hand. My meeting with Kieren and Dave left me – well, excited. "Charles?"

"Yes?"

"Can we go back to the boat?" He looked at me, and our eyes met, and he knew exactly what I wanted. His gaze wavered for a moment, and then he nodded.

It seemed to take to take for ever to get back to the boat. We climbed on board and made our way down below. He slid the hatch back, and turned to me. He knew what I wanted. Without a word, he pulled off his jacket and then his T-shirt. I looked at him, moved forward, and slowly slid my hands up and down his chest. I could hear the intake of breath as my hands touched him. I took my hands away, and took off my own jacket and T-shirt – that new jacket which he had bought me.

"And the rest," he said, and I could hear the hoarseness in his voice. Slowly, without taking my eyes from his face, I took off the rest of my clothing, and stood there, naked, in front of him. "You prefer me to those two young boys?" he asked.

I nodded. "I do." He looked at me in bewilderment. "Your turn," I told him. "Strip." He took off the rest of his clothes, but was reluctant to reveal himself. "Stand up and let me look at you." We were both hard, and the sight of him made me harder still. I grabbed him, opened the cabin door, and we fell inside. I lay on top of him gazing into his eyes. "If I had met them before I met you, I would have gone along with them. You don't know how much of a temptation it was. But then I thought of you. Yes, they were young and fit, and they would have given me a good time. But I thought of you."

"You know I love you?" There was a note of desperation in his voice.

I did not know what to say. Then: "I don't really know what love is. All I know is that I want you, and I want to stay with you."

"For how long?" There was agony in his voice.

"Forever and a day." I leaned forward and closed his mouth with my mouth. I reached for that bottle of lotion. Doing it yet again was a lot easier. I knew what I was supposed to be doing, where I was supposed to be going. He gave a whimper as I entered him. Then I could not help myself. This was sex as it should be, as I rode his body to climax. I felt his arms envelop me as I collapsed, helpless, across him. I lay there panting as he caressed me. There was nothing better in the world.

I don't know how long I lay there. It could have been minutes, it could have been days. Eventually, I slid to one side. I turned my head to look at him, and he was on his side, staring at me.

"Your turn," I whispered. "Take me." And I opened my body to him.

Again, it was easier. And this time, he didn't hold back. I clutched his arms as I recognised that grunting that I would become so familiar with, as he reached his climax. I held him to me as, panting, he went limp across me. He lay there, and I let him lie there, until his weight was too much for me.

"Charles?" I asked. He grunted. "I love this, but really, I can't breathe."

"Oh, God," he muttered, and rolled off me. "Sorry."

I ran a hand down his chest. "It's okay." We lay there in silence. I took his hand. "This is why I would prefer to be with you."

I could see him lying there in the half light, staring up at the deck above us. Then he turned his head to look at me. "Really?"

"You doubt me? After that?" I was suddenly angry. "You know, this afternoon, I could have gone with Kieren and Dave up to their room, and they would have given me a very good time. I'm sure the sex would have been wonderful. But that's all it would have been. Sex. Do you understand the difference?"

He was silent for a long time. "So you're saying that is more to us than just sex?"

I sat up in frustration. "Why the fuck do you think I didn't spend all your money? Why do you think I had prepared supper for you when you came back? Was it just because I thought I'd get another good fuck?"

He turned to me, put a hand on my chest and pushed me down, and leant over me. "You mean that?"

I stared back up to him. "What else do I have to do to convince you?"

He was silent for a long time, then he said, "There is something else."

I shifted slightly and looked up at him. "What's that?"

"Well – would I be right in saying that I am the first adult who has shown any interest in you as a person?"

I knew what he was going on about. "You mean I'm a needy, vulnerable boy who needs a daddy, a father figure, a role model. Those were the phrases the social workers used to use."

"But that's true, isn't it?"

I sighed. "Yes, it's true. You make a lovely daddy. You're a perfect role model – careful, cautious, caring. You're also very sexy." I was silent again for a moment or two. "You know how I could have gone with Kieren and Dave, and they would have given me a good time. I think I can guarantee that. But the difference is that when it was all over, they would just yawn and scratch themselves. When we had finished, you held me and I held you, and it was bliss." I looked up at him again. "You know what I'm saying?" He nodded slowly. "We have so much to learn about each other. There are times when I want to fuck you hard. There are times when I want to lie back and let you ravish me." I gave him a grin. "And you did."

He ran a finger around in circles on my chest. "You don't know how beautiful you are."

I laughed. "That's what Kieren told me. And Dave."

"And you turned them down – for me."

"You still don't understand, do you?"

"No, I don't," he said.

"A lover and a daddy all in one. A meal ticket for life. I can be your toy boy, your sex toy. Stay at home all day long and polish the furniture and cook your dinner, waiting for you to come home and ravish me." I smiled seductively up at him.

"You're becoming too much of a drama queen."

I sighed theatrically. "I know." I lay back in a seductive pose. "Ravish me. Please, ravish me."

He suddenly laughed out loud. "What have I taken on?"

"A randy little boy. A poor and needy orphan."

"Are you an orphan?" he asked curiously.

I shrugged. "I've no idea at all about who my father was or where he is. My mother abandoned me when I was five. Whether they are still alive or not – I've really no clue."

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"That one is a long way behind me now."

We lay on our backs side by side. Our fingers were wrapped together as we held hands. Neither of us had much more to say.

There was a ringtone of a mobile phone coming from the shelf above us. "I've got to get this," he muttered. "Yes? … Seriously? … Okay … No. Not half price. If you cancel at 5 o'clock in the afternoon the day before, then you can pay me the full rate … So when is it going to be clear again? … Well, rather than arrange another date, tell me once you've sorted it out."

He turned and looked at me. "You are not going to believe this." I raised my eyebrows. "The job I was going to go to tomorrow – they found asbestos in the building, and only essential workers are allowed in. They've cancelled me."

"Just like that?"

"Just like that."

"But you asked for money," I said slyly.

He shrugged. "It was worth a try, and they agreed. So – what do we do tomorrow? We have another day free." He brightened slightly. "I could show you my home."

I wasn't so sure about that. "Or we could go sailing."

"Sailing?"

"This is supposed to be a sailing boat. You could teach me something about it."

He smiled again. "You'd really like to do that?" I nodded. "Okay."

I knew that he would like me to go with him to his house, but somehow I didn't want to. I knew where I was here. This boat was becoming almost like home. It was the first place where I been by myself, independent, looking after myself. And I knew Gosport. It was a fairly dreadful place, but it was somewhere I was familiar with. To go to a strange place, to a strange house, and become someone else – that was a step too far.

Charles got up quite early in the morning, and started tidying things away. I let him get on with it. Then we went up on deck, and he started talking me through all the things that he was doing. He was obviously enjoying this. We motored out of the harbour and then out to sea. It was a weekday, and so it was not nearly as busy. He made me steer the boat, and then we hoisted the sails, and began sailing back and forward. Again, he talked me through all the things that he was doing, then made me do them. "You're a quick learner," he told me.

I could tell he was happy out here. It was sunny, and there was not a lot of wind, but enough to keep the boat moving. It was nice out there, away from everything, and I think that's what appealed to him. I knew he liked to get things right, and sailing a boat, and fiddling with the sails until he got them right was something he found satisfying. Eventually we turned round and headed back. The sun was low on the horizon by the time we had tied up and sorted things out.

"You want me to get some supper ready?" I asked him.

He gave that characteristic pause before answering, as if thinking through an answer. "Let's go out. There's quite a good Indian in Gosport."

"An Indian restaurant?" I asked cautiously. I have never been to one of those before.

He nodded. "Yes." He looked at me. "You've been to one before?" I shook my head. "Well, it'll be a new experience for you. I go quite often."

I followed him. Yes, I had been in places like MacDonald's or Burger King or fish and chip shops, but never into what you might call a proper restaurant. If you are someone like Charles, you walked in. You knew what to do. You were confident. You expected things to happen. You expected the waiter to come up to and take you to a table, and pull out a chair for you, and produce a menu. It would take me a long time to learn those sorts of things. I was given a menu as well, but it didn't mean much to me, apart from the prices.

"Can I order what you order?" I whispered to him.

He considered that. "I'll order something for myself, and something else for you. If you never had this sort of food before, you don't want something too fierce."

I'd had stuff which they called 'curry' at some of the homes before, but I doubt if it was like the stuff we would be getting tonight. The waiter came up and asked if we were ready to order. Charles reeled off items from the menu, and then said, "And my nephew will have …"

After the waiter had left, I looked at him and said, "Nephew?"

"I could have said toy boy," he said, "but I'm not sure whether you would like that to become public. Nephew is much easier."

I bowed my head. "Yes, Uncle Charles."

He grinned for a moment. "I'm glad to see you are giving me the respect I deserve."

I leant back in my seat. "I think we might have been better off with sex toy, don't you think, Uncle?"

He grinned again. "Just exactly which of us is the sex toy here?"

"You're the toy, Uncle. You're such fun to play with."

Luckily, the waiter interrupted us at this point, before things could go much further. Basically, I watched what Charles did, and then followed suit. I'd never had anything like this before. At the places I had been before, you shovelled the food into your mouth as quickly as you could, in the hope that you might get seconds. Or to prevent other people nicking food from your plate.

"Relax," whispered Charles. "Slow down. And don't wave your fork around like that."

Somehow, that got my hackles up. "Look, I'm a kid from a council care home, not some nancy namby-pamby stuck up little boy from some fancy nancy mansion in the country." I deliberately jabbed my fork at him as I said this.

"People judge you by many things, and one of the things that they judge you by is your table manners."

I bit back a lot of the things I would like to say, then, "Look. Don't try to make me into something I'm not. If you're going to take me, you're going to take me as I am."

He nodded, then shrugged. "There are probably many things about me that annoy you."

"Like your snoring."

He looked offended. "I do not snore."

"Do so."

"Okay. Suppose I do snore …"

"Which you do."

He ignored that. "Snoring is something I can't help. Some things we can help. And table manners are one of them."

I slammed my fork down onto my plate, and then realised we were getting curious glances. "You're fucking going to have to live with it."

He shrugged again, and carried on eating. We finished the meal in silence. He paid, and we left.

"Thank you for the meal," I said awkwardly.

Another long silence. "Was that our first quarrel?" he asked.

"No. That was on Wednesday evening, when you were going to throw me out."

"Ah." We walked along in silence. "Was that a quarrel?"

I shrugged "Dunno. Depends what you mean by a quarrel."

"Look," and it was his turn to sound awkward, "I really don't mean to turn you into someone you are not. I know we come from very different backgrounds. You said you were a kid from a council care home. What future do kids like that have?"

"Drugs. Selling themselves on the street. Whatever."

"Do you want a better future?"

I was wary. "Am I going to get a better future?"

"I hope so." He stopped, and turned to me. "Look. I want to help you. I want you to be someone I can be proud of. I'm sorry if I sounded patronising back then."

"Patronising?"

He considered that. "I was telling you how to behave. That was presumptuous."

"Another long word."

"If you're with me, then you're going to have to get used to long words."

"And if you're going to be with me, you're going to have to put up with being embarrassed quite often."

We began walking on. "Do you enjoy embarrassing me?"

"Not intentionally."

I could see him smile. "I deserved that."

"Charles?"

"Yes?"

"Can we leave it – just for the moment?"

We reached the boat and went down below. Charles turned and looked at me, and took my hands. "Do you want to go to bed?" We were already beginning to develop our own code. I nodded. Don't they call it 'make up sex'? It wasn't as good as it had been, but it was still good, and afterwards we lay in each other's arms.

Out of the darkness he asked, "Tomorrow. Do you want to come and see where I live?"

"Of course."

I'm sure he could hear the falseness in my voice. "There's a problem, isn't there?"

I wriggled slightly so that I was facing him. "I'm happy here."

"You're happy living in Gosport?" He said with a tinge of amusement in his voice.

"You're forgetting – I'm that kid from a council care home. This is the sort of place that I grew up in." I paused for a moment or two. "I know you mean well. I know you mean the best for me. But it's a lot to get used to in a very short time." He reached for my hand and squeezed it. I turned over and said, "Sleep well."

I woke up in the morning with the impending visit hanging over me. I have no idea why it upset me as much as it did – we were just going to drive to this place to have a look at it. But the idea of moving to an entirely different place, to an entirely different house, and becoming an entirely different person, was too much for me to handle. All the same, we got into his car after breakfast. It was the first time I'd been in the car – it was a Ford Focus, quite new but obviously well used. He said something about it being a company car. I wasn't quite sure what that meant.

He drove along what were mainly country roads, or what seemed like country roads. We turned in by a large piece of open land, which he called 'the village green'. There was a church there. We went down a few more roads – the houses looked big and expensive – and then suddenly turned into a drive. There were bushes and trees all around, so you couldn't actually see the house itself from the road until we turned in. He stopped the car. I looked out of the window. It wasn't as big as some of the other houses we have passed, but it was big enough. He pulled something out of his pocket and gave it to me. It was a key. "It's for you," he told me.

I turned it over in my hand. It was obviously the key to the front door. I sat there, not wanting to get out of the car, knowing he was sitting there expectantly. I summoned up the courage, opened the door, and stepped out of the car. There were lots of bushes and trees around, but they were neat and tidy. I could just imagine Charles going round trimming them, making sure that they were nice and neat and tidy.

I heard the slam of the car door as Charles came out, and the crunch of his feet on the gravel. He stood there waiting for me, and I knew what I was supposed to do. I went up to the front door and tried that key. The door opened, and I pushed it wider. As I might have guessed, everything was neat and tidy, just like it was outside. I could feel Charles behind me, knew he was watching me. I didn't want to go inside, but felt I had to. I heard him close the door behind us.

There was a door to the right, and I opened it and looked inside. It seemed to be the sitting room – there was a settee and an armchair. Lots of bookshelves. No television. I closed the door, and tried another.

"You go in there under pain of death," I heard him say. I turned round, and saw him looking at me with a slight smile. "That's my computer room. But you can look inside." There were stacks of shelves with all sorts of electronic bits and pieces. There were keyboards and screens. It all meant absolutely nothing to me. I closed the door.

There was one other door. This was obviously the kitchen, split between the cooking area and a dining table. Again, everything was neat and tidy.

"Looks good," I said, in an attempt to say something positive.

"Do you want to have a look around upstairs?" I heard him ask.

I couldn't face that. I turned and looked at him for the first time. He was watching me with that careful neutral expression.

"Charles?"

"Yes?"

"I'm sorry, but …"

He came a little closer. "What is it? What's worrying you?"

I waved a hand. "All this – it's not me. It's what you would like me to be. I can only do so much at a time."

He nodded, and looked round, and then back at me. "You want to go back to the boat." It wasn't a question, but a statement.

"Please. Sorry."

He shook his head, and came a little closer, taking each of my hands in his. "It's too much all at once, isn't it?"

I nodded. "Can you give me time?"

Gently, he put his arms around me. I sank into him. "As much time as you need."

I felt dreadful. Here he was, offering me his home, and I was turning him down. We got into the car in silence, and drove back to Gosport. He parked the car and looked round at me. "You prefer this?" he said, with some amusement in his voice.

"Please don't," I said in a very small voice.

"Don't what?"

"Make fun of me. Look. I'm a kid from a care home, and that house of yours – it's too much. I can't take it."

"Will you think about it?"

I nodded. "Can we go back to the boat, please?"

"Of course."

Once inside, I looked around. This was a place I knew. It might seem silly saying this, given that it was a fancy sailing yacht belonging to someone else, but I felt at home here. It was the first place I had ever slept in for any length of time which was not a care home.

I could feel him standing behind me. "Put your arms around me," I asked him. I felt him envelop me, and I felt his breath on my neck. "Squeeze me." He obliged. I wriggled round so that I was facing him. I buried my face in his neck. "I'm sorry."

He squeezed me again. "It's my fault. I'm rushing you."

"I know it sounds silly, but I feel at home here, in this boat." I pulled away from him slightly, and looked into his face. "It's the first place that I can ever remember living in that wasn't a council home." I could see the shock on his face. "You come down here, and I'm waiting for you, and it's marvellous being with you. Then you go away, and I am here by myself. I feel – independent. No one is telling me what to do. I can feed myself. I can go to the shops and buy food. I've started going to school again. I come back after school, and I can make supper. I can make whatever I want. I don't have to eat the food which they dish up in those homes. Then I get my schoolbooks. I can sit and read. And then when I'm tired, I can go to bed when I like. I can sleep back there in the duvet when we first slept together. The duvet where we first had sex." I nuzzled my face in his neck. "Having sex with you is fantastic. You've no idea how good it is, how good it makes me feel. I'm serious." I put my face back into his neck and felt his arms tighten around me. "Squeeze me. Hard." He squeezed me until I could scarcely breathe, then he released me.

"I don't understand you," he said in a thick voice. "What's attractive about a man like me?"

"I don't know." I looked up into his face, and then rubbed my nose against his. "All I know is that you make me hard, like this," and I rubbed my groin against him. "All I know is that I want to take you into that cabin there. First, I would have to take your clothes off." I undid a button on his shirt, and looked back at him. "Would you like me to do that?"

"On one condition," he said in a slightly hoarse voice.

"What's that?"

"That I get to take your clothes off afterwards."

I smiled back at him. "I think we can arrange that."

Afterwards, lying side by side in the dim light of the cabin

, he asked me, "Did you mean all that about living here, in the boat, by yourself?"

"I did. And I meant it about the sex, too."

"You're a monster. An insatiable sexual monster."

"A boy has to start somewhere."

"With a worn out old man?"

"Worn out?" I put my hand on his stomach. It was flat and hard. "You're pretty fit."

"I spend all day behind a keyboard staring at a screen. If I didn't do something about it, I would be fat and flabby in no time. I go to the gym."

"What do you do there?"

"Exercises. Lift weights. That sort of thing. And I try and exercise at home."

"It seems to work." I ran my hand over his chest and shoulders. He wasn't a muscleman or anything like that, but he was solid. "You ought to be glad that you go to the gym."

"Why?"

"Because if you were fat and flabby, I wouldn't have gone for you in the first place."

"So am I condemned to a lifetime of working out to keep you happy?"

I smiled at him. "I can give you plenty of exercise."

I knew I was being stupid. He had this lovely home and he was offering it to me. But I didn't want it. What I wanted was to be here, independent, even though I was taking his money. I was happy waiting for him to come back, to cook him a meal, to take him into this cabin, and to fuck him. And let him fuck me. I didn't want to be in some fancy house where everything was neat and tidy and expensive. I wanted to be here.

I could see him gazing up at the ceiling. I squeezed his hand. "I'm sorry," I said.

"Sorry for what?"

"You took me to your home. And I asked to come back here."

"Too much too soon." He turned his head and looked at me. "You told me you were some back street kid from a council home." I was, but somehow it hurt me to hear him say that. "I know that I live in quite an expensive area, in quite an expensive house. A house I have spent money on. But it is an empty house. It's just me. I don't really know why I spent all that money making it look nice, just for me. I knew that I was never going to get married. I knew that I had very little chance of finding someone I would love, and who would love me." He was silent for a time. "But now I have found someone who I think I could love, and who might love me in return." He looked at me. "I think and I hope that I have found that someone. And that he will come and live with me, and love me."

I squeezed his hand as hard as I could. "I'm just a kid from a council care house. You know that, don't you? I can't be some smart bloke who knows how to hold a teacup, who knows what knife and fork to use. Who doesn't shovel food into his face, because if you don't eat it quickly enough, someone else will steal it. I'm a good fuck, aren't I? Is that all you want?"

"I want much much more than that. And I think you can give it to me. And in return, I will give you everything I have, including all the love that I'm capable of giving."

"Give it time. You might find you're wrong. You might decide that I am this nasty little kid. You might wonder how you going to explain me to the neighbours. Will you introduce me as your little toyboy? Your plaything? Your sexy little orphan that you spread out on the bed each night?"

He winced. I could see him digesting that. "There are ways we could get round all that."

"Yeah?"

"Last night. In the restaurant. I called you my nephew." He rolled over and looked down at me. "Would you like to be my nephew?"

"No." For a moment he looked stricken. "I would like to be your lover. And I can be your lover. But people out there – they wouldn't understand. How I could love you, and you could love me. Yes, if we have to, I could be your nephew. I wouldn't like it. I would like the world to know that we were lovers. But I know we can't. So – Uncle Charles, what shall we do about it?"

Cautiously, he asked again, "Would you like to be my nephew?"

"And how would that work?"

"I can make it happen."

I looked back into his face. "How?"

"I work in computers. Networks. Hacking. How to stop hacking. But I know there are ways of changing someone's identity. Getting them a new birth certificate, for example, so that they become someone else." He looked at me very carefully.

I thought about it. "So you want me to become someone else living in some fancy house in the country and pretending that were not really lovers, but you're my uncle? Really?"

"I can do it if you want me to do it."

I stared up at him. "Really?"

"Really."

I honestly did not know what to say to him. I would have gone along with Kieren and Dave to their rented room, and lived with them happily. Well, not happily maybe, but I would be perfectly prepared to do it. Now here was Charles, who could give me love and sex and affection, as well as lots of money, and I wasn't sure about it. Not because of Charles himself, but of the whole idea of becoming someone else, moving somewhere else, pretending I was something that I wasn't.

"Charles?"

"Yes?"

"You want to make me the sort of person that I'm not. I belong with Kieren and Dave in some rented room here in Gosport. You want to make me live with you in some fancy house in the country. Give me time."

He trailed his fingers across my face. "As much time as you like."

He left for work early on Monday morning. I watched him walk down the pontoon. I had to get my things together to go to school. I sat in lessons. Some of the work I understood. Coming back, I stopped in the supermarket and bought some food. I kept the receipt. I went back to the boat and made myself supper. I took out the school books and sat down at the table and read them. I didn't understand a lot of it, so I read much as I could, and then started again at the beginning. Each time I read it, it made more and more sense.

But homework was a different matter. One night, I sat looking at my exercise book. Most of the kids had sheets of paper in a file, but I preferred to use an exercise book. I had been doing my English homework. It wasn't that difficult, but I looked at what I had written. My handwriting was dreadful. It wasn't handwriting, it was more of a scrawl.

I had tried practising in an old exercise book. I took that book I had, Macbeth, which we had been studying in English. I tried writing out passages from the play in the exercise book. Even when I was trying hard, it was still a mess. I had no problems with reading, but I'm not sure if anyone taught me how to write. I was doing my best, but it really slowed me down, trying to make my handwriting legible.

I had tried to lay the homework out neatly, leaving an empty line between sentences, but even so, it was a mess. I looked at it. Why was I bothering doing this? I had some idea of making Charles proud of me if I continued with school, but what I saw in front of me was nothing to be proud of. I was sitting there looking at the book when I felt the boat lurch, and knew that Charles was climbing on board. He slid back the hatch and climbed into the boat. He dropped his backpack, and sniffed appreciatively. Supper was on the hot plate. He looked across at me, and I saw his face change. He moved towards me.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

I just waved at the book in front of me. He sat down beside me and picked it up. He flicked through the pages, and then started reading that homework which I had just finished. I could see his brow furrowing as he tried to decipher my writing.

Eventually: "What's wrong with this? You've answered the questions quite well."

"Look at it. It's a complete mess."

He flicked through the book again. "Compared with this" – he pointed to a page near the beginning of the book – "it's fine".

"I wasn't even trying then. I'm trying now. And look at it."

He shrugged. "I don't think I've written anything by hand in the past year. We can easily get you a laptop and printer."

"That's okay for homework. What do I do when it comes to exams?"

He looked at me. "You want to take exams?"

"Of course I do. What sort of job am I going to get if I don't have some sort of qualifications?"

"So what sort of job do you want?"

"I haven't a clue. But I don't want to be a shelf stacker in Tesco."

"Some of those answers are really quite well-written."

"Providing you can read them."

"What's that school like – the one you're going to at the moment?"

"Rough. Most of the kids couldn't care less."

"And the teachers?"

I shrugged. "Some of them can cope, and some of them can't."

There was an unspoken message here. If I moved out of Gosport, I might be able to go to a better school. I knew Charles wanted me to come and live with him, but that was a step way too far.

We had some supper, but I was still down in the dumps. Charles sensed that, and when we went back into the cabin, he pulled me to him, and held me tight. We didn't do anything that night. It was as if he knew that I wasn't in the mood for it. He knew me too well.

In the morning, the alarm went off, and as usual, he had to head off. I watched him through the cabin window as he walked down the pontoon, and felt really guilty. I had been miserable all night, and he had accepted that.

He would be coming back on Friday. I was there waiting for him, supper ready, as he came through the hatch and into the boat. I gave him a quick hug, took his backpack, and told him to sit down, whilst I dished up supper. I talked to him all the time, asking him what he had been doing and what his day had been like, and telling him what I had been doing at school. After a few minutes of this, he looked up at me.

"Don't."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"You're trying to make up for Wednesday, aren't you? Trying to be all cheerful." I just looked at him. "I know you too well."

I stared down at my plate. "I'm sorry."

"Don't try and be what you are not."

"I thought that's what you wanted to do to me. Be someone I wasn't."

He smiled ruefully. "You win that one. But I don't really want to change you. You're wonderful as you are. But you deserve better. And that's what I'd like to give you."

He did know me too well. When we had washed up, we went back into the cabin, and we were gentle with each other.

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