Finding Nico

by c m

Chapter 1

I love the summer.

Even the bit where I have to go on holiday with my family.

We always go to the same place – a lovely spot on the south coast.

At seventeen, this is probably the last 'family' holiday I'll be going on, so for my mother's sake I'm going to at least try and pretend I'm still enjoying it. And it was great when I was younger; building sandcastles, eating ice cream, going shrimping…all the things you do at the seaside. But as you hit your midteens, those sort of things start to pall. You start to miss your friends rather than enjoying the change of scenery.

But this year there's one big change. Instead of staying in our usual low-budget B&B, we're going to be staying in a hotel, and a really nice one at that. The reason for the change is that my grandmother died earlier this year – one of the victims of Covid – and she left everything to my father, her only son. She wasn't particularly wealthy, but she owned her own house in West London. Along with my grandfather, she'd bought the house some fifty years previously for what was then the princely sum of £20,000. The seventies and eighties then saw an explosion in property values, and the nineties and noughties the gentrification of what, when they bought the house, had been a somewhat less than glamorous part of the metropolis. The result of which was that the whole area, by the 2020s, had become much sought-after. The long and the short of it is that, when the property was valued and then sold following her death, it turned out to be worth £1.6 million. Which has made life a lot more comfortable for all of us.

And amongst those comforts is the place we're going to be staying – the Sunnybanks hotel. When I mention this to one of my best friends at school, Clarissa, she says that she stayed there the previous year – which is quite a coincidence. She says it's a really lovely place – comfortable rooms, great food, good facilities.

'I envy you' she says, 'the owners are lovely too – a couple of gay guys.'

She says this with a wink; she's one of the few who know…one of the few I've told. My parents know, and my twin sister Jules, and my best friend Will…and Clarissa. That's it. It's not that I'm ashamed or anything, just…shy. Will says it's a lack of self-confidence which could be true, I guess. Either way 'loud and proud' I'm not…which is probably why I'm also hopelessly single and with no real idea how to change that. I'd like to have someone – who wouldn't? But I don't. The entire sum of my sexual experiences – if you can even call them that - are one excruciatingly embarrassing experience with a girl - which only served to confirm my belief that I was gay - and one drunken fumble with a boy at a party which ended with him being sick over me before we'd done more than run an exploratory hand over the lumps in our trousers. But I am, as a result, a committed, dedicated and – if I say so myself – highly skilled onanist.

It's not as though I'm bad-looking – and I've been sort of propositioned by two of the guys who are very much 'out' at school. So why have I said 'no'? And how come they could tell? Actually, I know why I said no to Michael – he's very camp and that REALLY doesn't appeal to me, but Zak is definitely quite cute in his own way. No…actually I DO know why I said no to him as well. He has a reputation for going with just about anyone – and I don't want to be just another notch on his bedpost. I want more. Is that being stupid? Would it be so wrong just to find out what sex - particularly with a cute boy like Zak - is like? I mean, I've thought about…doing it…with him when I wank, so that makes me pretty hypocritical, right? But...I dunno…I guess I am what I am. I'm more interested in why they thought I was gay…how they knew. What was it Zak said? He came and stood beside me at the next-door urinal when I was taking a pee. I could feel him checking me out.

'Nice cock, Nick…if you ever fancy sharing it with me, I think we could have a lot of fun together.'

'What makes you think I'd want to do that with you, Zak?'

'Well, first, I notice you've been checking me out – here don't be shy, take a good look…'

He half-turns toward me, his hand stroking down the length of his cock which is swelling. And he's right. Well, everyone checks other boys out, don't they? That doesn't mean anything. But I feel my mouth go dry.

'Put it away, Zak.'

'I know you're interested, Nick. And I'm pretty sure you're gay. It's OK…don't worry…I won't say anything…and if you're still the virgin I think you are, well, I'd be happy to be your teacher. I really fancy you, actually. C'mon, how about it?'

'Like I say, what makes you think I'd want to do that?'

'Call it gaydar if you want. Good looking. No girlfriend. Shy. Yes…I know you're shy…and that's kind of cute. No strings, Nick. If we tried and you decided you didn't want to do it again, that would be fine.'

'So it's just sex you want?'

'It's never just sex. Sex is wonderful. But it doesn't have to be more than that. Unless you want it to be.'

'Well, thanks for the offer, Zak, but the answer's 'no'…'


His eyes flick down to my groin again.

'And I have to say that it looks a bit like your body might be saying something a bit different.'

I look down and realise that I've started to chub up…not by much…but…

'Oh, that thing's got a mind of its own. You know what it's like.'

'I do indeed. Well, if you change your mind….'

I zip myself up, but I can't help but flick my eyes down to Zak's groin. He's now fully erect. The first real-life erection other than my own that I've ever seen. How can he be so…blatant? So unconcerned about showing me his stiffy?

God, it's beautiful.

Part of me wants to say 'OK, let's'…but deep down inside I know that I don't trust him. I know that if he and I go with each other, it will be round the school the next day. And I can't face the thought of all those smirks and whispered comments. And I know I'll hate myself as well.

'I won't be changing my mind,' I say, '…so you can put that away.'

'If you say so' he says with a smirk, 'but it's yours any time...'

I turn and leave.

'All you have to do is ask...and rather than put it away, I know somewhere I'd like to put it instead….'

His voice fades away as the door to the toilets closes behind me, but not before I catch his final words

'…oh, and I notice you haven't denied being gay by the way…'

And to my shame, inside my pants, I'm as hard as a rock.

In bed that night, as I stroke myself to my nightly climax, it's Zak's erection that I'm picturing. And a part of me feels flattered that he fancies me. And another part of me is happy that I seem to be similarly endowed, size-wise. Well, we all worry about how we compare with others – especially whether we're smaller than average, don't we? And I know it's only one comparison…but it's sort of reassuring. I stroke myself a little faster. My imagination starts to work overtime, picturing the two of us doing this together. Would it be so bad to go with him? Would it? I pass the point of no return, and the moment I do so, as the heat goes out of my brain, I know for a certainty that it wouldn't end well. But I think I'll keep it as my wank fantasy. Hypocritical or not.

My slight guilt about this isn't improved the following morning. I'm just retrieving my books from my locker when a voice whispers in my ear.

'I bet you were thinking about me last night. I was certainly thinking about you.'

Zak has somehow crept up behind me without my being aware of it. I turn to face him. To my horror, I start to blush.

'Hah! You were, weren't you? C'mon Nick, you know you want to.'

He puts a hand against the front of my trousers. I smack his hand away.

'No, Zak. Just no.'

'I'm not going to give up.'

'And I'm not going to say yes.'

'We'll see. And I notice you haven't denied you were thinking about me.'

'Well I wasn't,' I lie.

'If you say so. See you later.'

He turns to go, then quickly turns back and before I know what's happening, kisses me on the cheek.

I'm stunned. My only reaction is to look around to see if anyone's watching. Fortunately, the only two guys I can see have their backs to us.

'Just fuck off, Zak.'

'Love it when you're angry. So sexy…'

Over the course of the morning, my anger fades. And then to my horror, in the middle of a particularly boring history lesson, I catch myself wondering what it would feel like to have Zak kiss me on the lips. I shake my head to get rid of the thought. I need to get a grip. What's wrong with me?

I'm still distracted at breaktime. Will notices.

'What's on your mind, Nick?'

'Oh…er…nothing. I was miles away.'

'Yeah – I noticed. Come on, spill.'

I sigh. We always tell each other everything. It's our agreement.

'This stays just between us, OK?'

'Sure. As always.'

'It's just...God, I can't believe I'm telling you this…'

'Interestinger and interestinger…'

'That's not a word, Will.'

'Yes it is. It's my word. Now come on…'

'OK. Well. Yesterday I was taking a pee and Zak took the urinal next door to me and...well…asked me if I'd like to…well…you know…'

Will just shrugs.

'Can't say I'm surprised. Word is that he's had just about every other good-looking boy he fancies.'

'But…why would he think I was interested? Do I wear a badge saying 'I'm gay and up for it'?'

'No…well...first off, I don't think you have to be gay for him to approach you; straight and curious would be OK for him. Everyone knows he's not very fussy.'

'Oh, charming….'

'I didn't mean it that way. Look, you ARE kind of cute – and no, I don't fancy you – and let's face it, you ARE gay, so maybe he just sort of picked up on it….'

'But how? He said something about gaydar'

'Guess that's it then.'

'But do I give off some kind of…aura…?'

'Not to me…or to most people; I mean, except for Clarissa and me, no-one here knows or thinks you're gay, do they?'

'Not as far as I know.'

'Then there you are. It's just something Zak must have sensed. Don't ask me how or why – how would I know?'

'Hmmm, OK.'

'So, is that it?'

'No. You see…this morning when I was at my locker, he snuck up behind me and said he bet that I'd been thinking about him last night.'

'Oh my God…you mean when you were jacking off.'


'Oh, come on…we all do. And were you?'

'Was I what?'

'Thinking about him?'


'When you were….'

'God this is so embarrassing….'

Will starts to laugh.

'Oh my God…you WERE….'

'Yes…look…I know…it's weird…I mean I've deffo decided that I don't want to…do it with him. So what was that all about?'

'You're gay and sex-starved – not to mention the fact that your hormones, like mine and everyone else's, are running wild, and Zak is gay and quite a good-looking guy...even if he does have the values of an alley-cat.'

'But it gets worse…'

'Worse? Oh boy…tell Uncle Will everything….'

'He kissed me.'

'Zak kissed you?'



'This morning…after he'd said he bet I was thinking about him. On the cheek.'

'Blimey. What did you do?'

'I told him to fuck off.'

Will starts laughing again.

'Good for you. What did he say?'

'That he loved it when I was angry…he found it sexy.'

'Guess he's not giving up easily, then. Is that what's bothering you?'

'Yes. No. That is, I...I…no, I can't tell you.'

'Yes you can…c'mon….'

'It's just…you promise this stays just between us…not even Clarissa…?'


'I don't fancy him. I don't want to do stuff with him. So why did I find myself – in the middle of a history lesson - wondering what it would have been like if he'd kissed me on the lips?'

'FUCK! Really?'

'Yes, really. What's wrong with me, Will?'

I can feel tears welling up inside me. Will notices and puts his arm around me.

'Nothing's wrong with you, Nick. You're just…short of love. I used to wonder what it would be like to kiss a girl; if one had offered to kiss me back then, I'd probably have said 'yes' even if it was one I didn't fancy. Just so that I knew. In some ways, better that way so that I could do it properly with one I really liked – you know, I'd know what I was doing.'

'And did you?'

'No…but then the first kiss I had wasn't given to me by someone who took me by surprise.'

'But if I don't fancy him, why would I be wondering what it would be like for him to kiss me on the lips?'

'Because he's available even if you don't want to. I assume you'd like to kiss a boy you found attractive?'

I nod.

'Well, he's not unattractive, is he? Yes…I know you don't want to do stuff with him, but I can see why you might, in a purely abstract way, wonder what a boy with his looks would be like to kiss – or maybe…deep down inside…umm…might you not find him…just a bit…desirable?'

'NO! ...oh, god, I don't know…'

'Look, it's OK to find someone attractive, even if you wouldn't want to have them as a boyfriend because of the way they behave. I mean…look at Catriona…bloody amazing…beautiful, sexy…but a complete cow. I could imagine having a little fantasy about shagging her rigid, but I wouldn't want to go out with her.'

Catriona is in the year above us and is widely accepted as the most gorgeous-looking girl in the school. But Will's right. She's a total cow.

'Hmmm...are you saying that Catriona is your wank fantasy, Will?'

I say this with a smile.

'NO! I am NOT!'

'Methinks the boy doth protest too much…'

'Just shut up. We're talking about you.'

'Not any more…you bloody do think of her while you're knocking one out, don't you?'

'Well, it's no worse – in fact it's the same – as you thinking about Zak.'


'So there's nothing wrong with you, OK?'


'Even if it is really weird….'

He says this with a huge grin.

'Why you….'

And then we're chasing each other down the corridor.

But Zak doesn't approach me again.

The summer holidays arrive. The car gets packed up, and we are on our way to Sunnybanks. Jules and I are in the back of the car, which is a comfortable Merc that Dad has used some of his inheritance to purchase. Jules and I get on fine now – although it wasn't always that way. When we were aged about ten we used to fight like cat and dog. But, as we reached our teens, things just somehow got better; Jules used me to get introduced to some of my friends she liked the look of – and she was absolutely great when I came out to my family when I was fifteen. Having a gay brother is something she thinks is super-cool – and she's tried to fix me up with a couple of boys who were brothers of her friends. In fact, the guy who was sick over me was one of those. The truth is we now actually like each other, and we've become as close as twins are always thought to be. We have no secrets from each other.

It's also good having a sister instead of a brother when it comes to holidays; we have to have rooms of our own, whereas some of my friends who go on holiday find that they have to share with their same-sex siblings. I'm looking forward to having a comfortable room all to myself – and it also means my routine of self-relief can continue unaffected. I hope there'll be other guests my age – and in my wildest fantasies one of them is gay and we get together and…well…I've never been lacking in imagination.

The journey takes about three hours. We stop for lunch on the way at a nice pub, and arrive at the hotel shortly after 3 o'clock. Dad goes in to register, while I'm tasked with getting all the luggage out of the car. I've got most of the cases out when a nice-looking lad trots down the steps in front of the hotel. He's wearing a blue polo shirt with a logo on it and a pair of stone-coloured chinos. He has a mop of blond hair and pale blue eyes that almost match his shirt.

'Hi, I'm Jack. Let me give you a hand with those, sir.'

Sir? First time I've ever been called that. But it's all a bit formal for me.

'Please, call me Nicholas – Nick for short.'

'Very good sir…er…Nick.'

He smiles. He has a lovely smile.

'If you'd like to follow me….'

He's managed to pick up three of the cases, so I grab the other two and follow him into the hotel. Dad is talking to someone - the manager, I assume - behind reception.

'May I introduce my son Nicholas,' says Dad.

The manager stretches out a hand.

'Welcome to Sunnybanks. My name's Charlie. I'm one of the owners. I hope you enjoy your stay. If there is anything you need or that we can do to help, please just ask me or my partner Luke - or Jack here.'

He turns to my father.

'You and your daughter have rooms opposite each other on the first floor, Mr. Cummins, but Nicholas is on the second floor. I hope that's satisfactory. We simply didn't have three adjacent rooms available at this time of year.'

'That's fine – I expect Nick will be more than happy to have some space.'

I grin. Dad knows me all too well.

'I'll see you and your daughter to your rooms,' says Charlie. 'Jack, would you show Nicholas to his room please?'

'Certainly, Charlie,' says Jack, giving me another of his smiles.

I let my parents take the lift first, along with Jules and Charlie. Jack and I wait for it to return.

'Have you worked here long?' I ask him.

'I'm just here as summer staff. I'm doing a course at the local College in Hotel Management. One of the owners here, Charlie, did a course there some years ago and he's always taken on a couple of students doing that same course for work experience each summer – and at Christmas as well.'

'Enjoying it?'

He smiles.

'This is a great place to work. It's regarded as one of the very best hotels in the area – and Charlie and Luke are just lovely. Fantastic to work for. They work you hard but treat you really well.'

'Sounds great.'

'It is. How about you? What do you do?'

'I'm doing A levels at school. History, English and French.'

'Enjoying it?'

'Pretty much. Looking forward to going to Uni though. If I get the grades.'

'Excellent, I…'

He's interrupted as the lift arrives back with a 'ping'.

'Right, second floor it is.'

Standing next to him in the enclosed space, I catch a whiff of the deodorant or scent that Jack's wearing. It's rather nice.

'Excuse my asking, but what's the scent you're wearing?'

'Oh…it's an Acqua di Parma…Arancia di Capri…supposed to smell of oranges. Do you like it?'

'Very much. Is it expensive?'

'Well, it's certainly a little luxury. My grandparents gave me a bottle for my birthday. It's almost run out – so I'll have to wait for Christmas before I can replace it.'

The lift jerks to a stop with another ping.

'Right. Here we are. Turn left out of the lift.'

We go past three doors before Jack stops outside the fourth. He uses an electronic key to open it. The room exceeds my wildest expectations. It has a view out over the sea, with doors that open out onto a small balcony, and it contains the biggest bed I have ever seen. There is also a comfortable looking sofa in one corner with a big TV opposite it.

'The bathroom is through that door to the right, Nick. Dinner is served from 7 o'clock. We provide complimentary tea or coffee served to your room in the morning if you'd like it.'

'Sounds great…umm…coffee, please.'

'What time?'

'Oh, er, about…8.30?'

'Excellent. I hope you enjoy your stay.'

'Umm, Jack….'


'Do you know if there are any other guys my age staying? Or girls.'

He nods.

'Yes, we have a few – I'm sure you'll bump into them either in the bar or by the pool.'

'Where's the pool?'

'If you go through reception and follow the corridor all the way through the rear doors and then follow the path, you'll find it at the end on your left. There are changing rooms and showers there – and towels are provided.'

'Sounds great. Thank you.'

'My pleasure.'

I realise that he might be expecting a tip. But I don't have any money on me. This is embarrassing.

'I'm really sorry, Jack, but I don't have anything to tip you with.'

'What? Oh, no, that's absolutely not necessary. First, we don't expect tips – there's a gratuities pot if guests want to leave something at the end of their stay – and second, you're the son of another guest and I couldn't have accepted it even if you'd offered.'


I hold out my hand…I don't know why, but it just seems right. He smiles and shakes it. His hand is soft and cool and our eyes meet as we shake.

'Thank you, Jack. Nice to have met you.'

'You too, Nick. Please don't hesitate to ask me if there's anything I can do for you during your stay. Anything at all. I mean that.'

'Thanks, I will.'

He hands over the key, then turns and leaves. And I find I'm following him with my eyes. I realise I find him rather attractive. Very attractive actually. Right up my street. Pity he's not a guest. Assuming he's even gay, which I have no reason to suppose he is. And if he was, he probably wouldn't consider me worth a second look anyway. Or else he'd have a boyfriend. Or both. Still, does no harm to dream.

At the door, he turns and gives me a smile before closing the door behind him. I go over to the balcony doors and throw them open. The faint salty tang of the sea greets me and brings me out of my reverie. What's wrong with me? I've met a guy for a couple of minutes and I'm fantasising about him being gay and fancying me. Come on Nick…get real. I put Jack out of my mind and unpack. I take my wash bag into the bathroom – and that's another surprise. It's huge with a big bath and a double shower and various pump-bottles lined up full of shampoo, conditioner and heaven knows what. I run a hand over the towels hanging on the rail; they're big and fluffy and very soft. Looks like this is going to be every bit as good as place to stay as Clarissa said it was.

As I emerge from the bathroom, there's a knock on the door. I open it to find the rest of the family outside.

'Just thought we'd come and see your room,' says Mum.

They step inside.

'What a lovely room,' says my mother.

'And how come he gets a sea view and a balcony and I don't?' says Jules.

'Luck of the draw,' I say.

'Well, it's not fair.'

'You've got a very nice room, darling.'

'It doesn't look out over the sea.'

'It has a lovely view over the garden – and it's nice and quiet away from the traffic.'

'Hmm…I suppose so,' she says grumpily.

'I was thinking of trying out the hotel pool,' I say to her. 'You coming?'

Jules loves swimming. I can feel some of the tension go out of the room.

'Ooh…yes…good idea. Where is it?'

'Jack gave me directions. See you in reception in 5 minutes?'

'I'll be there.'

'You too?' I ask, turning to my parents.

'I think we'll pass for now, Nick – but you two go and enjoy yourselves. We've booked dinner for 7.30, OK?'

'Sounds great. Catch up with you later.'

And with that, they leave. I grab my swimming trunks and goggles, put my wallet in the little safe in the wardrobe, and head downstairs.

Jack's behind the desk as I pass through reception. I stop and wait for Jules to appear.

'Got everything you need?' Jack asks.

I'm thinking how good-looking he is rather than focusing on what he's saying, and the words come out before I can stop them.

'Yes – except a boyfriend.'

I cannot believe I've said that. I was thinking it but…oh God. I turn bright red.

'God, sorry, I have no idea why I said that.'

'That's OK. No-one's hung up about being gay around here. And every teenager wants either a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Though I'm surprised a good-looking guy like you doesn't have one.'

'That's probably because, except for my family and a couple of close friends, I'm not out. That's why I have no idea what came over me to say what I said.'

'Oh well, maybe it's a step on the way to you being more comfortable with people knowing. It'll be a lot easier for you to find someone if you can be open about it.'

'I guess.'

'Maybe you'll find someone here on holiday. Someone you can tell without it being common knowledge to all your friends – if that would make it easier.'

I nod. Maybe he has a point.

'But I'm still embarrassed about just…blurting that out…'

'Maybe you needed to. Just your subconscious vocalising what you were thinking.'

He smiles.

'Look…if it's any consolation, if I were gay I'd ask you out in a heartbeat.'

'Thanks. But you're not?'

'No. I have a girlfriend. And even if I didn't, staff and guests are…well, I'm sure you understand.'

Before I can say anything further, Jules steps out of the lift.

'This way,' I say.

As we walk down the corridor, she says,

'That receptionist is pretty dreamy, isn't he? What's his name…Jake?'

'Jack,' I say, 'and yes, pretty dreamy…but straight and taken.'

'How do you know?'

'Umm...we've been chatting.'

'Oh, OK. Pity.'

'It is, isn't it?'

We look at each other and start laughing.

'God, we both fancy him. That's why it's so cool having a gay bro!'

'Maybe there'll be some talent lazing by the pool…'

'Maybe. Let's go see.'

We make our way down the path and come to a kind of wooden hut that's clearly the changing room. Beside it is a good-sized pool. The water's crystal clear and sparkles in the sun. There are a couple of people swimming and a scattering of bodies on loungers around the edge. A quick glance suggests that there are two or three teenagers amongst them.

Jules and I go into separate changing rooms. The men's one is quite small, and empty. I change into my swimmers and put my clothes in one of the six numbered lockers. The key goes round my wrist on an elastic band. As I turn to leave, a boy about my age almost bumps into me in the doorway; he's dripping with water.

'Gosh, sorry…wasn't looking where I was going,' he says.

'That's OK,' I say.

He smiles at me. He has a mass of dark ringlets above hazel-coloured eyes, and a body that's evenly tanned from the sun.

'Are you new here? I haven't seen you around?' he says.

'Yes…just arrived. You been here long?'

'A week. Got another week to go. I'm Josh by the way.'

He holds out a hand and we shake. He has long fingers.

'Nick…nice to meet you…maybe after two weeks I'll have a tan like yours.'

'Yeah… the weather's been lovely. Maybe catch you later?'

'I'd like that.'

'Cool. Enjoy your swim.'

'Will do.'

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