Puppy for Sale

by James Matthews

Chapter 42

Getting Numbers on Napkins

"Well I don't know about you guys but I fancy a trip to the mall today," Steven announced, changing into some jeans. We were all in the bedroom after Max had brought some stuff back from Dave's with him shortly after breakfast.

"The mall?" Dave asked, raising a brow.

"Yeah, I know you don't have any money Dave, but that's fine, I'm gonna treat you both to a fat lunch at Burger King."

"Can't argue with that," I said, pulling some fluff from my tummy button. I looked up and saw Dave smiling. It was good to see that after last night's troubles.

"I just hate going to the mall when I can't buy anything, that's all."

"You need a Saturday job Dave, that would solve all your problems there," Steven remarked.

"Hey, but then we wouldn't be able to spend any time together." I said, pulling a sad face.

"The guy lives with us now, how much time do you want goon ball?"

"Yeah Jensen, I think you will be glad to get rid of me after spending the next few weeks together," Dave teased.

"Uh, somehow I don't think that is going to happen. Anyway we are going off topic here, what time did you have in mind for leaving Steven?"

Steven shrugged. "Meh, say half an hour?"

"Ok, but I really need to shower, I woke up all sweaty this morning... oh and I gotta feed the chickens too, before we go."

"You and those damn chickens," Steven said, shaking his head.

"How would you like it if mum and dad didn't feed you? You would last about three hours before crying like a baby."

"Look at him Dave, cocky little shit now that he's found his identity. You should have seen him when he stood on my doorstep for the first time. He looked like he'd shit his pants before I even spoke, and now he answers me back."

Dave grinned. "Yes well, I never used to answer you back, but now I do, perhaps it's you Steven, perhaps you are going soft in your old age." Dave and I laughed as Steven frowned.

"Just get ready you two; I wanna get a woolly hat for the winter, before mum buys me some ridiculous bright red one with 'Happy fucking holidays' on it!"

"And a bar of soap for your mouth if she hears you," Max commented, standing in the doorway to our room.

"Busted!" I cried, getting him back for earlier.

"You boys doing anything special today or just stinking this room out with your musky odours?"

"The mall, and I swore you just offered to take us," Steven chirped.

"Cheek of it... well since I need to get fuel for the car I guess I could drop you there, but don't expect a ride home, I have to go to the farm store with your mother, we need bedding and food for the chickens and a new fence panel after the wind took one of ours away,

have you seen all the mess in next door's garden?"

"You almost sound excited Max," Dave said.

"Well, to be honest, it was rotten and I have been wanting to do the whole fence, but..." Max turned round as if to make sure Susan wasn't there I could only imagine. "... but Susan wants a low one so she can gossip over the fence to the neighbours," he whispered.

"Why don't you want a low one?" I asked, curious.

Steven rolled his eyes. "Because old woman batty next door pervs on Max in the summer time. Mum thinks it's all in his head and I happen to agree with her."

"Boys, I swear to you that woman is after my body, and now, with that fence down, it will be like a zoo that's left its gate open." He shuddered.

"Who's after your body, Max... I hope you aren't spreading rumours about poor Mrs Farthing next door?" Susan asked, poking her head under Max's arm that was leaning on the doorframe.

"He is mum, he's still convinced, and now he's trying to get Dave and Jensen onside with it."

Susan just sighed and walked off. "Traitor," Max grunted at Steven before walking away himself.

"Right, Puppy dawg, shower now, if you want to come out... Dave, do you need a shower too?"

"Yeah Dave, wanna rub some dog shampoo into my fur?" I teased. Dave did the most bashful cute smile yet and had to look away.

"Just kidding, I'll be out in a bit then."

Down at the Mall I had to find my bearings again, trying to remember which parts Susan had taken me to. Steghorn Mall was to me, like a small city. Shaped in a cross over two floors you could easily spend hours here and still not visit all the shops.

Steven led us over to the Superdry store first, stating he wanted to look at the winter jackets there. Dave and I followed like sheep just chatting to each other, leaving Steven to lead on in purchase mode.

"This is nice, you know... being out with you." I declared, locking my eyes onto his.

"Yeah, I agree. So you've been here before?"

"Uh huh, Susan brought me here to get clothes. Back at Greenstone, fashion wasn't really in the itinerary."

"No I guess not, but you look really hot today in those tight Jeans, and your arse looks amazing. It's all I can do not to walk a few feet behind you."



"Nothing... it's just, with your posh accent, that sentence just doesn't sound right coming from you."

"It's called flirting with my boyfriend, and even posh people can do that."

My eyes went wide and the biggest smile of the year came over my face. It must have looked funny cause Dave started to chuckle.

"So... so its official?"

"That you're my boyfriend? Yeah, I guess it is. Does it feel right me saying it?"

"Feel right... man, I have been wanting this day since... since forever, or at least Cutters Farm, anyway."

Dave laughed. "Jensen, that's where we met!"

"And your point is?"

Dave rolled his eyes at me playfully. "C'mon, let's go and see how much Steven has spent already."

I followed Dave into Superdry in a daze, feeling so fluffy and sweet inside. My stomach had butterflies in it and I felt like I was going to levitate off the ground I felt so light. If it wasn't for all the people I think I would have pushed Dave to the floor and kissed him all over for what he said to me. This was a new high in my life. To be here, with Dave and Steven, have a family, a home, and now a boyfriend, it...it was just unreal.

Dave and I found Steven trying on a few Jackets over on the far side of the store. He had hung his own jacket up temporarily on a hanger and was currently wearing a black and orange short coat which hugged his defined body very nicely.

"Well guys, what do you think of this one?"

"Steven, its ninety five pounds."

"Dave, I have the money, and don't worry, you and bone head here will not go hungry."

"Isn't there a cheaper one?" I added, feeling up a couple of others further along.

"Excuse me, but I don't do cheap if you hadn't noticed."

"God, you sound so gay saying that Steven Chase," Dave said. Banging his cheeks with his hands.

"This one is sixty five, Steven, and look, it's almost identical."

"And it has no hood, Dufus!"

"Thirty pound for a hood? Even I know that's a rip off."

"What's the point of buying a winter jacket if it has no hood Jensen? That's like buying a condom made out of chocolate."

"I could think of worse things," Dave remarked. The thought made me smile for a moment.

"You know what, I think I'm gonna get this. What do you guys think?"

Dave gave a strange look. "Jensen is kind of right Steven, it is very expensive, especially for the hood, and if I know you, it will just be worn once and sit in your closet for the rest of its life before your mum sells it on Ebay for you."

"Great, now I feel like I shouldn't buy it." Steven moaned.

I turned to Dave. "Would you say he's impulsive?"

"Oh God yeah," Dave replied. We both then turned to Steven who looked pissed we were talking about him as if he weren't there.

"Fine, you know what, I'm not going to buy it, just to prove a point. Fucking impulsive indeed."

"Then Jensen, you'll see the camp huffy side come out of him, like his boyfriend has just brought him some cheap perfume, instead of the one he wanted."

"Fuck you Dave!" Steven said, getting animated.

"I asked you to before but I had to settle for a hand job, remember."

"You're funny... not! Let's go eat, and then I'm getting my woolly hat. That, I am buying!"

Up on the second floor we headed towards Burger King. It was going to be my first time there but already Steven and Dave had convinced me what I was going to have even before I saw the menu.

"It has to be the Double Bacon Cheeseburger, Jensen. Everything else is just for girls. I think as a Burger King virgin you need a good amount of meat inside you and the Double XL is gonna be more meat than you can handle."

I nodded, not knowing why Dave and Steven had started giggling. "Steven, can you let up with the meat topic, its putting thoughts in my head about Jensen here."

"Have I missed something?" I said, frowning that I might have failed to notice an easy joke.

"You definitely won't miss a ton of meat inside you, in fact I'm gonna bet it will make your eyes water."

"Well fuck me," I said, the penny dropping. My comment made the whole thing even funnier to them as they creased up laughing.

Steven was holding his stomach as I walked with an innocent look on my face. We padded into Burger King and it was immediate the queue was nearing the door. Steven sighed as we pulled up behind the last people and started our patient wait.

"This should move quite quickly," Dave remarked, looking at his watch.

"I hope so, I'm starving." Steven said, rubbing his stomach.

"Is it always this busy to get food in here?"

"Normally just on Saturdays Jensen, oh and when we are off school. Sometimes I come down here with Billy and Jessie for lunch. It's always busy then.

"So Bacon and... what is it?" I asked.

"Double Bacon Cheeseburger... look don't worry, I'll order it," Steven replied.

"No it's not that, I just wanted to see if I could spot it on the menu."

The queue was in fact moving faster than any of us thought and we had about five or six groups to go before we would reach the attendants. As Dave stood chatting to me I heard a faint laugh from somewhere in the restaurant that filled me with a sudden rush of adrenaline.

I know that laugh, I thought tilting my head diagonally upwards.

"Jensen? Are you listening to me?" I heard Dave say.

"What? Oh, sure sorry, just thought I... it doesn't matter. What were you saying?"

"I was asking you what you wanted to do tonight."

"Wait a sec, Dave, I'm really sorry." I blurted hearing the laugh again.

I jumped out of the queue leaving Dave and Steven looking astonished. I beat my way through the hordes of people all over the restaurant before settling my eyes on a table containing four people. My jaw dropped open as my eyes locked onto one of the people.


Cindy and the others stopped joking around and all put their faces up towards my voice. Cindy dropped her burger back into its box and slowly got to her feet.

"Oh my G... PUPPY??"

She almost threw the other girl off her chair clambering to get out from behind the table before running over to me and throwing herself into me. Two slim arms came wrapping themselves round my back and I got a face full of her hair.

"Fuck... Cin... I mean, fuck, where... why have you... why didn't you contact me?" I asked, struggling to comprehend who was hugging me.

"Contact you? I was told you were not allowed to contact me after the whole business with Max."

"Max told you that?"

Cindy stopped hugging me and took a step back. My God, you don't know do you?"

"What?" I asked, perplexed.

"Mr Watson, he... he adopted me, him and his wife."

Hmm, did I know that? Or wasn't I supposed to... more to the point why hadn't Watson told her I knew? I thought and thought, trying to come up with something really quickly. Be honest Jensen, be honest! My mind screamed!

"Actually, I did know, and what's more I had to find-"

"Come back to the table Cindy," Mr Watson said, coming to a stop right between us. "On your way Puppy, I am trying to have lunch with my family."

"What? What are you talking about, I WAS part of your family for ten years and now you treat me like I'm some stranger... and why didn't you tell me about Cindy?" I yelled, causing the restaurant to briefly go quiet as people stopped talking and looked over at us.

"Puppy, this really isn't the place, and I'm not treating you like a stranger, I am trying to have lunch with my family who I rarely see for great lengths of time precisely because I am always at Greenstone." He snarled, his embarrassment obvious. One, because of the other customers who were eves dropping, and two, because he knew his whole secret to Cindy was about to be busted open if we carried on talking.

Mr Watson's wife came over and greeted me. "Hello Puppy, you're looking well. Darling, is everything ok?" She asked looking at Watson.

"Yes dear," he laughed nervously. "Puppy was just here having some lunch, and he was just about to go and do that weren't you Puppy?"

I felt completely in two minds. In one way, I had a huge amount of respect for Mr Watson. He had been very good to me for many years and we had always got on very well. I also knew that, for whatever reason had decided to keep Cindy a secret from me but was sort of confident it wasn't done maliciously. But, the other part of me wanted to scream at him to come clean and end this cover up. I wanted him to explain to me... to Cindy, why... just fucking WHY?

"Uh yeah, Good to see you again Mr Watson... Mrs Watson, I'm pretty hungry so I'm gonna go and get some lunch. Cindy, it's good to see you again too."

Cindy stepped forward and pulled me into a tight hug and leaned her mouth close to my ear. "I don't know what's going on, but write your number on a napkin. When you go to the toilet, there is a small red cleaning bucket just outside the boy's toilet, leave it behind that," she whispered before pulling away from me. "Good to see you again, Puppy, enjoy your lunch." She finished, her acting making the Watson's none the wiser to our... plan.

I smiled at her before displaying an ever so brief stern look into her eyes, as if to let her know the message was heard and understood. I did a half wave and backed off, before turning around and going to find the guys. Heading back into the sea of people I looked along the various queues for the counter unable to see Dave or Steven. But fortunately they must have seen me looking around like a lost puppy as Steven called out to me.

"Numbnuts, over here." I heard him call. He and Dave had found a small table and had taken root there.

"Where did you go, Jensen? We were worried!"

"You guys are never gonna believe this but I found Cindy in here!"

"That girl you lived with at the children's home?" Dave asked.

"Yeah, yeah, It's so bizarre, I don't know what the hell just happened really, its like it's a dream or something."

"Was she with the Watson guy?" Steven chimed in.

"Yeah, him and his wife... and I assume his real daughter, her I'd never seen before."

Dave seemed unexcited for me as I looked at him, leaving me feeling a little hurt. I mean sure, he didn't really understand how important me seeing her was, I got that, but it was like he was totally disinterested.

"So um, is this what I got to eat?" I asked, taking a seat opposite them both, thinking it maybe best to change the subject and turn down my excitement.

"Yep, it's all yours, do your worst on it!"

"Wow there is a lot here... A whole lot of meat to get inside me eh Dave?" I said, winking at him. Dave just about managed a smile and nodded.

"So, will you be seeing this... this Cindy again?"

"I hope so Dave... God it's so good to see her again, you really have to meet her, she's awesome."

Dave just looked at his burger and said nothing.

"I'd like to meet her... is she hot?"

"I guess you could say she is attractive, but I don't see her like that, as you know... Dave are you ok, you've gone pretty quiet."

"Fine Jensen... eat your burger before it gets cold, maybe less talking."

Whoa, now that comment didn't sit well. Even Steven glanced at Dave when that came out. "You ok pal?" Steven asked.

"Yes I'm fine, why does everyone think there is something wrong?" Dave snapped a reply.

I just put my head down and got on with my food, and talked less like I was asked. Steven, ever the lively person he was... well, even he was quiet through our meal.

Every so often I would look up at Dave and try and get his attention. We were always good at that, both smiling at each other whenever we locked a gaze. But he didn't even look at me. Not once. It got to a point where things were starting to feel awkward. Steven was doing his best to maintain a light conversation here and there, but I think even he didn't know what to say.

"So, what do you guys wanna do after lunch?"

"Well, you wanna get your woolly hat right? Maybe Dave and I could go look around some shops while you do that."

"Great, leaving me on my own."

"Well you suggest something then, I dunno. Dave, what about you, do you have anything you want to do?" I asked.

"Not really," he grunted. "I'm pretty good for getting back if you guys don't mind?"

"Oh, right ok." I said,

"We just got here." Steven added.

"If you guys want to stay, I'm happy to get the bus back."

"No of course not," I said, before Steven could reply.

"Fine then, looks like our day out lasted an hour. I'll get my hat and we'll make our way back if that's what everyone wants to do."

"Hmm, well I um... I just need to go to the toilet if we are leaving then. Back soon." I got up and left Dave and Steven at the table for a bit. Dave's behaviour was surprising, and I really wondered why his mood had changed so much. I fought my way back through the crowds again before finding a clearing to the bathroom corridor. Because of the way Dave had been I thought it best not to reveal what I would be doing before I got there. As I approached the boy's bathroom door I immediately spotted the red cleaning bucket Cindy had mentioned. I quickly went and got a napkin from the dispenser near the counter and then almost fainted when I realised something.

"Shit, no pen!" I muttered. Looking franticly around the restaurant I saw some old man sitting alone doing a crossword puzzle supping away on his drink. "Erm, excuse me sir, but I-"

"I don't smoke kid, if that's what you are going to ask me for."

"No actually, I was wondering if I could borrow your pen for a moment."

"My Pen?"

"Yeah," I chuckled nervously. "I know, it's a strange request... it's just to write a number down for my friend."

"Fine, boy, but you do it here, don't be taking that pen nowhere now will ya."

"No sir, of course not, thank you."

I took the pen from his hand and wrote my number down in large digits before giving it back and scooting off to the toilet. Taking a quick look behind me, knowing it was going to look strange as to why I was crouching down by a bucket, I lifted it up and slid the napkin underneath.

"Jensen? What are you doing?" Came Dave's voice behind me. I looked round to see him frowning at me. I guess it did look weird, it was bound to.

I got a feeling this wasn't going to go down well.

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