by PeterG09

Mrs Braithwaite loved Bridge. She played at least twice a week, and every summer she went on a four-day Bridge course at a hotel somewhere. The format was always the same: arrive on a Thursday afternoon, have a reception drink, dinner and socialising; Friday, play morning and afternoon; Saturday until afternoon tea free, then play with a talk in the evening; Sunday; play morning and afternoon; Monday ditto, posh dinner in the evening; Tuesday depart.

Normally she farmed little Leo out to friends or relations but this year there was no-one to have him so she had to take him along. The hotel provided them with a family suite which meant that there were two bedrooms with a bathroom each. The smaller room had a door to the corridor (locked) and another to the larger room which his Mother claimed. Little Leo was not unhappy with the arrangement and laid out his understanding thus:

  1. He would not have to put up with his Mother's snoring
  2. He had his own TV
  3. He had lots of unsupervised time to himself while his Mother was playing
  4. She would provide him with money to see him through each day

The one down-side was that to leave his room he had to go through hers. Little Leo could cope with that, for actually Leo was not that little at fourteen although his Mother did not seem to have spotted that her small boy was growing up into a young man. She still bought his clothes from an online catalogue, without bothering to find out if he liked what she got. Only that year he had had to refuse to wear pants with a Spiderman motif. Mrs Braithwaite could not understand the problem because she said nobody would see. She obviously had not a clue about PE at school and the cruelty of other kids. Reluctantly she sent them back unworn and unopened.

The hotel this year was in Devon, on the coast just south of Dartmouth. There was supposed to be a beautiful view from the room down along the length of Slapton Sands to Start Point. So who wants a view, however brilliant?

They got the luggage up to the room and Leo was delighted to find that it was as good as he expected. He unpacked his stuff while his Mother did the same. Then under parental pressure he had a shower and put on fresh clothes before going down to the reception.

The lounge was full of people like his Mother, all talking Bridge at the same time. A waiter was doling out what looked like orange juice with something fizzy in it. Leo tried to get some from a tray but the waiter he said he couldn't let him have alcohol and was given just the orange juice. As Mrs Braithwaite became more and more involved meeting old friends and making new ones, Leo slowly edged his way towards the residents' lounge. This would be a quiet place but he would be able to get his phone out and do some serious gaming. To his surprise there was another boy already there. They did the usual introductions:

"Hi. Leo"

"Ben. Hi"

That dealt with the social niceties.

Ben was also a Bridge orphan. He was about the same age as Leo, maybe a bit taller and a little broader. He had floppy fair hair and an open face. When he smiled, which seemed to be a lot, he showed off a gap in his teeth that for some reason gave Leo a sort of tingly feeling. He found he liked Ben a lot. They got talking and shared some of their favourite websites. Ben checked that no-one was listening and opened a site that seemed to be full of stories about boys like them. He told Leo not to let his Mother know as she would not like a lot of the stories. Best not to tell at all.

Ben announced that he needed a pee. Not to be left behind Leo said he did as well. Then they discovered that to get to the gents meant going through the crowd in the main lounge, and that might draw parental attention. They could do without it. Ben explored and found some doors that led out on to a patio at the back of the hotel. There was a shrubbery beyond it, and the hotel kitchen was just on their left.

"This'll do. I'm going behind those bushes."

Leo was both appalled and fascinated. This had simply not occurred to him. But he followed Ben out. They stood together relieving themselves, each secretly trying to get a quick look at the other's boyhood. Suddenly a voice hissed out from the direction of the hotel "Oi, boys. Over here". They both leapt back in guilt, quickly zipping up their trousers and trying to pretend that they weren't doing what they obviously were.

The voice came from the kitchen door where one of the staff stood. There was something in his hand. The boys went over to see what it was.

"Here. For you. Bring the plate back when it's empty". He gave them a leering wink and handed over the plate which was piled up with nibbles that the Bridge players were not going to get. He also handed over two tumblers of what looked very much like the orange-and-fizz drinks that they were denied earlier. "This'll put hair on your chests" whispered their benefactor. "Our special secret. Don't tell". As an afterthought he added "If you get any trouble just tell them you got stuff from Stanislav. That's me, Stan." He did not specify what kind of trouble that might be.

They sat on some chairs they found on the patio. Leo wondered out loud whether the kitchen bloke was alright or maybe a bit dodgy. "He's OK" said Ben who seemed to be an expert on judging human nature. "He gave us all this stuff. He's OK"

"You don't think he's a bit creepy, like dodgy."

"No, I think he's OK".

"If he was dodgy how would you know?"

"Well, my friend Mick, he was out one evening and it started to rain so he got in to this bus shelter." Ben lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper.

"Yeh, well what happened?"

"There was this bloke in there and he came and sat next to Mick and Mick said he was all friendly and chatted to him."

"Then what?"

"Well, he put his hand on Mick's leg."

"Yeh and then?"

"Then he tried to put his hand up Mick's shorts."

"Why would he do that?"

Suddenly Ben was not so sure of his ground. "Maybe he wanted to touch Ben's thingy, you know."

Leo didn't know, but he wanted to hear more. "So what then?"

"Well, Mick pushed his hand away and got out of he shelter. His Mum had told him that if he was in trouble he should look for a policeman or someone like that. Fat chance of that, you never see them. Anyway a bus came along so he jumped on and sat right near the driver."

"And then?"

"Well it wasn't his usual bus and he didn't know where it was going so when he got off he didn't know where he was. He had to phone his Mum to collect him. Then he had to make up how he got lost."

Leo shuddered. "I wouldn't like it if some dodgy bloke tried to touch me like that". It sounded like someone getting in to a very private place.

The nibbles disappeared. The parents appeared and it was time to go down to dinner. Leo found that he was supposed to sit next to Mrs B at a table for six. Ben was in the same situation on the other side of the room. The seats filled up and they had to endure introductions and pointless inane questions about what schools they were at and what subjects they liked best and what their hobbies were. Adults! Were they never young themselves?

Despite eating the nibbles both the boys managed to clean their plates which made up for some of the tedium since, once the niceties were over, they were both ignored by everyone at their respective tables as the talk turned to Bridge in all it glorious manifestations.

After dinner Ben and Leo managed to slip away again. Some of the big people had invaded the residents' lounge so they explored further and found a games room. This held promise for future evenings. There were lots of board games and jigsaw puzzles, but best of all there was a Pool table. Definitely a good sign, although there were no cues or balls. Those would have to wait until tomorrow. Ben found a Scrabble set and challenged Leo to a match. "There's a twist" he said. "If you make a rude word you double your score for that turn". It sounded promising.

'poo' across became 'penis' down. 'gear' made 'poo' into 'poor' and the 'a' of 'gear' was built in to 'fart'. Neither noticed Ben's Mother coming up behind them. Ben, with incredible reflexes, leapt up and managed to knock the board to the floor where all the words disappeared.

"Aren't you going to introduce me to your new friend?" she asked. Leo thought he could almost hear her say 'your little friend'. Ben did the necessary, and then it was apparently time for bed.

Leo knew that they were going to be on our own the next day so he asked Mum if he and Ben could get packed lunch from the hotel. On the way to the room she stopped by the reception desk and made the arrangement. Lunch would be delivered to the table at breakfast. He texted Ben to tell him and asked what we could do the next day. He texted back 'let's see what the weather is'. A very grown-up answer.

It was great for Leo to have his own room. Although he had nothing much to do it was nice to be on his own. He found a TV channel with some interesting stuff and watched that until about devices curfew at 21:00.

At breakfast they ordered their food. While they were waiting for it one of the staff came out carrying their lunches. It was the same man who had slipped them the nibbles the night before. He asked if the friends were having a good time. Mum looked on quizzically and when he went back to the kitchen she began the third degree. What was going on, how did he know them, etc. etc. Leo came up with an answer that Ben and he had been exploring the hotel grounds (which was true) and had met him outside the kitchen (which was also true). Phew, nothing incriminating there. No need to mention the peeing.

Leo asked his Mother if Ben and he could maybe have a table to themselves at dinner so that she could share the big table with more of her friends. She took the bait and agreed to make the necessary with Mrs Bell (so that was Ben's surname). Result. No more stupid adult chatter and then being ignored.

Ben and his mother turned up and came to sit at the next table. Leo gave Ben his lunch and told him about having the separate table. He was good with it.

When they finished their food they asked if we could leave the table. They went to reception and asked what there was to do in the area. Maybe there was a beach or something they could get to. The receptionist gave them directions to Blackpool Sands nearby. Apparently there was a café on the beach and it was not far to walk. The plan was cleared with parents, they packed a few things in their rucksacks and met up at the front door. They'd been told to go up past the church then turn left and follow the path. As long as they kept going downhill after that they could not miss it. Never thought of that.

The path down was a bit of a scramble, including going around a fallen tree. Some of the way involved walking on a very narrow steep road. They made it to the bottom and found a superb beach. Lots of rocks at one end, a sort of lagoon at the other, and lots of shelly sand in between There were very few people around.

Leo had been given me some cash for the day so when they got to the beach they headed straight for the café and hot chocolate. Throw in a millionaire's shortbread and they were happy.

They started exploring by going to the left, to the rocky end of the beach. There was the wreck of a fishing boat there, it must have been washed up in last winter's storms. They messed around with that for a bit and set up a stone-throwing competition. The tide was just starting to come in. Leo felt he needed a wee. It was a long way back to the café so he decided to use the rocks nearby. The sea would wash it all away. He wandered on a bit further to where the bushes of the cliff came down to the sand and went behind a large rock and suddenly found that in front of him were a man and a woman, lying on a rug. They were both naked and too busy with each other to see him arrive. He quietly stepped backwards and made a SH! sign to Ben. They edged away then Leo whispered to him about what he'd seen. Naturally Ben had to have a look. Leo held back but Ben crept forward until he saw what Leo had seen. His eyes were round with surprise. Together they made our way back to the wreck of the boat.

"What d'you reckon?" Leo asked "Well" Ben said with great authority "He's screwing her. It's like in the magazines and websites". Leo had no idea what magazines or websites but took his word for it and tried to seem nonchalantly knowledgeable. In truth neither of them had seen anyone at it before, though they were obviously learning fast.

"Let's get away so that if they look around they won't think we've been watching" Leo said. They moved down the beach a bit. Leo was feeling hungry and his phone said it was about half past twelve. He remembered that he still needed a wee but his time he went somewhere nearer to where they were.

The lunch was in two plastic boxes. There were sandwiches, crisps, apples and quite a lot of the left-over nibbles from the previous night. And there was a note on top. It said 'Same time tonight for something special'. Leo looked at Ben, the worldy-wise one, to see what he thought of it. "Is he a perv?". "Dunno, but we can find out. We can go together in case anything goes wrong". Either he was thinking ahead like a grown-up, or he wasn't as daring as he liked to make out.

After lunch they stretched out on the sand in the sun and talked about what boys talk about when they are growing up. They noticed the couple they'd seen behind the rocks walking by, all dressed, as though they'd just been out for a stroll.

After lunch they went to the other end of the beach and found the lagoon. There was a proper sand beach there and they started damming the water and digging with their hands to make channels and castles, Just like two little kids. Ben needed to get in a bit deeper and realised that his jeans would get wet. He came out of the water and started to undress. Leo said "I never brought my swimming costume. Did you?" "No" said Ben "pants will do" and he stripped to his undies. Leo was reluctant to follow but eventually undressed as well. Thank goodness he'd not got the Spiderman things on.

While they were playing a man came over from the café. Leo saw him first and said "A bloke's coming over. He's going to tell us off". But he wasn't. He wanted to warn them of the rip-tide in the area that could drag them out to sea. They thanked him. "See" said Ben, "he wasn't angry. He was being helpful".

The sun was beginning to get low in the sky and suddenly there was a chill breeze. The boys got out and started to dress. Leo noticed that Ben's clothes seemed much nicer that his own. Ben's denims seemed to be made of a softer material and his t-shirt was a thicker fabric. Even Ben's pants looked like a softer silkier material. Leo was not aware that he had ever looked at another boy like that before.

Like the night before the boys sat in the resident's lounge before dinner. Neither was quite sure what to do about the note in the lunch-box. Even Ben was uncertain. He suggested that they go out on the patio but make sure the door stayed open in case they needed to come back in a hurry. Maybe the bloke in the kitchen was dodgy.

"What do you reckon we do? Are we supposed to knock or something? Maybe he's a mad murderer and he's waiting in the dark to kill us and make pies of our bodies like that Sweeney Todd." It didn't work very well, even as a joke.

But the man from the kitchen had heard the patio door open and was already waiting for them. He beckoned them inside. "Come and look at this what I want to show you and see what you think". On a plate on the table was a pile of profiteroles covered in chocolate sauce. "I've made 'em for the Bridge lot but I'm giving you first go. Have a good helping. You boys need building up."

So he was apparently no perv. In fact he was the Chef. He said "My kitchen, my rules, I can give extras to anyone I like."

That evening the boys had their own table at dinner. Since they were unsupervised they could make their own rules, like having their phones out. Best of all there was no-one to remind them about elbows on he table.

The next day, Saturday, was the day when the adults had the morning free. Mrs Braithwaite wanted to go shopping in Dartmouth. And she wanted to go with Mrs Bell and the two boys. It seemed that the two Mothers had some friends in common since they lived quite close to each other. Shopping was not exactly what the boys wanted. But Ben had done a bit of searching the night before and found that there was a preserved steam railway in Dartmouth that went to somewhere called Paignton, wherever that was. He was a bit hazy about the Dartmouth end since it seemed to be somewhere called Kingswear and involved crossing a river to get there. Still he put the idea to Leo, who thought it was great. Anyway, better than shopping. So they approached the Mothers.

"When you go shopping can we get this train? We can go to this Paignton place and then come back and still have time to get back to the hotel?"

After a bit of discussion it was agreed. They would have to have their phones on and keep in regular touch. It was a small price to pay.

Next morning they all caught the early bus in to Dartmouth. There on the water-front was a kiosk selling round-trip tickets for just what they wanted: river ferry, steam train, Paignton, and return. The boys got their tickets, said goodbye, and got on the passenger ferry. This was exciting, to be able to navigate the world on their own.

On the train they sat in an old-fashioned compartment that would take about six people. Just before the train started off, a middle-aged man came in to the compartment and sat in one corner. Was this a dodgy bloke? Ben and Leo edged closer to each other in a casual sort of way. The man started to tell them about the train, and the locomotive, and the line, and everything he knew whether they wanted to hear it or not. He was rather overweight, with a snuffling sort of way of talking. His cardigan was stained with the bits of food that had missed his mouth. Ben and Leo edged closer together, each silently plotting a way out.

But the trainspotter was not dodgy. He only wanted to talk, and talk, and talk about the railway. When the train got to Paignton the boys were happy to get out of the compartment and leave their informant behind.

Paignton turned out to be a very odd place. If they had been old enough they would have recognised it as Margate in the 1950s. It felt as though they had walked in to a time-warp. They found the way to the beach which, surprisingly, had red sand. It was a cold and rather damp day and the beach had few attractions unless you were a dog owner. They found a café to get the necessary hot chocolate and then in unspoken agreement headed for the station.

On the ride back they had the compartment to themselves. It was Leo who opened the conversation they both wanted to have: "That bloke, was he dodgy?"

"No, I reckon he's what my Mum would say is lonely".

"He knew a lot about railways".

"Too much. Anyway, he's not here".

The rest of journey was uneventful except they both remembered that they had forgotten to phone back to base. Ben made the call and accepted a mild telling-off.

The Mothers had evidently had a good day with the limited shopping possibilities that Dartmouth offered. So in the bus on the way back to the hotel Leo launched his grand plan. Leo knew that Ben had to share a room with his Mother, and had an idea. It might work and it was worth trying.

"Mum. Can Ben come and stay in my room tonight like a kind of sleepover?" There was a silence as the Mothers processed this and tried to think of objections. Ben's mouth was hanging open, since he knew nothing of this plan. Mrs Braithwaite looked at Mrs Bell, who looked back. Mrs Bell broke the silence. "I've got no problem." She quickly worked out that she would get her room to herself.

And so it was agreed. Nobody thought to ask about the actual sleeping arrangements.

Back at the hotel the Mothers went about their Bridge business. Ben suggested swimming. The hotel had a pool that had to be booked in half-hour slots. Next to the pool was a jacuzzi. They asked at reception and found that there was a double slot available that was regularly booked by a local swimming instructor, so they would have to out by then. It was the young receptionist again on the desk, and she forgot to ask about adult supervision while the boys swam. They did not remind her.

It was exciting in the changing area to see Ben's body, shown off by his red snug-fitting trunks. Once again Leo felt that he absolutely had to get his Mother to see how he was growing and get him some more clothes. Preferably ones that he, Leo, could choose. Still wearing his t-shirt and modestly facing the wall he pulled on his once-baggy swim shorts that were now getting quite tight.

Ben was the slower swimmer of the two, but could stay under for longer. They set up a relay, swimming between each other's legs in turn. Whereas Leo tried hard to slide through between Ben's legs Ben seemed to almost make a point of bumping in to Leo. He claimed that the size difference made it difficult for him to get through. Leo didn't mind: in fact it was quite enjoyable in a funny sort of way.

There was a no-diving rule at the pool, and the boys were aware that if they made too much noise they would attract attention so they kept the shouting down. The clock showed it was time to get out. The swimming class that was coming in would not use the jacuzzi so the boys were free to go there. It was beyond the pool in a corner by a big window on to the garden, with a glass screen on the pool side. The water was invitingly warm after the cool water of the pool. There was a battery of buttons at the side to control the jets and bubbles. The boys slid in.

A lot of noise came from the changing room and Ben realised that this was not an adult swimming class. When they came out he thought they looked like Year-6s. It was fun to watch them having their lesson. Maybe they didn't even know that he and Leo were there. He couldn't help noticing how small the children were compared to him, yet he was only two, maybe three years older. He was become conscious in many ways of how his own body was changing and developing. It kept doing things that he wasn't ready for and couldn't always explain or understand. What he could understand was that staring at a bunch of little kids in swimming costumes was not likely to be popular if anyone found out. He switched his attention back to Leo.

Leo meanwhile had been exploring the jacuzzi controls. He pressed one button and to their mutual surprise and delight powerful jets of water bombarded them from the sides and from below. The one that caught Ben came up between his legs and was particularly exciting. There was also a control for bubbles and they could be mixed with the jets. When the water was full of bubbles it became opaque, and Leo was suddenly aware that Ben, who was lying almost flat in the water, had somehow allowed his right foot to drift until his toes were tickling the inside of Leo's thigh. He reached down and took the errant foot in his hand, but Ben didn't withdraw it. Instead he made out it was a game and started tickling Leo with his left foot as well. It became a game as they tried to avoid each other's feet while delivering tickles of their own. Leo saw something red floating in the pool and realised that Ben had shed his trunks and must be naked.

Once again the foot started travelling up Leo's inner thigh. It was at the same time thrilling and alarming. Where would it stop? What would it do when it got there?

The noise they made attracted the notice of the swimming instructor who came over and told them to be quiet, but fortunately he did not come close enough to see what was going on.

Ben seemed quite excited that evening. He and Leo planned what they might do together. After dinner there would be coffee for the grown-ups, then they had a talk or lecture or something, and then they would all talk about it. It would not be over before 10:30, at the earliest. Leo went to the games room and found the Scrabble set so that they could take it up to the room. They both had a curfew of 9:00 o'clock for devices and TV so there had to be something to occupy the rest of the time. In the resident's lounge there was a piano. Leo was learning the instrument so they rooted around in the piano stool to see if there was any suitable music. There wasn't so they started mucking about. That soon attracted attention and again they were asked to stop. Ben suggested they go outside on the patio. They had not been there long when the Chef heard them and called them over. He'd got left-over puddings from the dinner and they tucked in.

"I missed you boys tonight. Where were you?

"We were swimming and then it was dinner time. Sorry". Why was he apologising? It felt like they owed the Chef something. He asked what they were going to do the next day and Ben said they hadn't made up their minds. He was actually thinking about that night, but pretended there were some options to consider.

"Well", said Chef, "You can get a bus to Kingsbridge. Takes abut an hour. There's a lot to do over there. I think there's a kind of market. And if the tide's in you can get a boat on the river. Will your parents let you go that far? I've got an old mate there, chap by the name of John. Everyone there calls him Sailor Jack. He's got a boat on he marina called Pixi . If you see it and there's a bloke on board that'll be Jack. Give him a call and he'll take good care of you. He lives on that boat."

"Sounds good" said Ben. Leo kept quiet, he was not so sure. They would not be able to ask the Mothers until the next morning.

There was time for a couple of games of Pool then they went up to Leo's room. Ben collected his wash things and pyjamas on the way.

Although it was exciting to be able to watch evening TV there was in fact nothing on any of the channels available that they actually wanted to watch. They'd been told to be in bed ready for lights-out by 10:30. By the time they'd played two games of Rude Scrabble it was already nearly 10:00. Leo went to the bathroom first and then while Ben went to wash he quickly got in to his pyjamas and into bed. Ben came back wearing just his pants and climbed in to bed with Leo.

"Aren't you going to put your pyjamas on?"

"No. I only brought them so that my Mum would think I was wearing them. I usually sleep like this."

This seemed to Leo to be terribly daring. It had never occurred to him not to wear what his Mother insisted on calling his jim-jams. Suddenly that seemed a very babyish way of talking. "Well" he announced "I sometimes don't wear them either." But he was in bed and his briefs were on a chair on the other side of the room. He untied the trouser drawstring then clutching the garment in his left hand he slid out of bed and shuffled over to the chair, dropped the trousers and stepped in to his briefs again. He made it back to the bed, carrying the trousers. He took off the top and put it and the trousers on the floor at his side of the bed where his Mother would not see them if she looked in to say goodnight. His Mother would certainly notice he was not properly dressed for bed. Mothers always noticed.

They lay still for a while and talked about the day. Leo noticed that Ben seemed to be moving his hands a lot.

"What are you doing" There was a pause.

"I'm kind of, you know, rubbing my thingy." He sounded a bit defensive. "Don't you do that?"

Leo was not sure. Maybe it was the same as he played games with himself and got nice feelings from it. He supposed it was.

"We can do it together" Ben offered, "like at the same time."

Leo had started doing this about six months before. He had no idea that anyone else did the same thing. He thought it was his secret.

Just then they heard the outer bedroom door open. They both instantly lay still, the covers pulled up to their chins. It was Leo's Mother. She knocked on their door. "Everything alright?" "Yes Mum." "Good. Do you need anything?" "No Mum" "Good. I'm going back downstairs. I'll be up later. Turn the light out now."

Once they heard the outer door close they relaxed. Ben's foot seemed to be on its travels again, rubbing Leo's leg.

"We could touch each other's thingies if you like" Ben whispered conspiratorially. "What d'you mean?" said Leo. This was uncharted territory. When he suggested the sleepover he thought it would be fun to be together and perhaps play some games. This felt like something altogether more serious.

"Well, like we were touching ourselves, only we do each other's. Can I show you?". Leo felt Ben's hand slide over his hip and then take his penis in its grip. This was a whole new level of experience. He still did not know what to do. The feeling was good but how was he supposed to respond?

In answer Ben's right hand took Leo's left and placed over his own crotch. He had the beginnings of an erection and Leo could feel the growing stiffness. Leo was completely out of his depth. He supposed that Ben knew what he was doing, after all Ben always seemed to know what to do. They lay side by side, Ben rubbing Leo and Leo just holding on, not sure what was expected of him.

He was saved by the sound of his Mother coming in to her room. They released each other and lay together. Eventually they drifted off to sleep. During the night Leo woke and found he needed to pee. He was pinned down by Ben's left leg and arm. Leo managed to get out and relieve himself. When he got back to bed he crawled in without disturbing Ben. When he awoke in the morning it was to find himself again pinned down. He decided to just wait and see what happened.

At breakfast the boys asked their Mothers if they could make the trip to Kingsbridge. All the usual rules applied: phone in, don't be late, don't mix with strangers, don't be back late. They were given enough money to pay the bus fare and buy snacks. Lunch was courtesy of Chef.

The bus took them from the village, past Blackpool sands, down the length of Slapton Sands to Torcross, and then inland to Kingsbridge. At Torcross they glimpsed the tank on its plinth, something to investigate further.

Kingsbridge looked promising. The bus dropped them off in the square where there was indeed a market. There were lots of stalls selling craft goods and the like, but there were also some selling sweets and drinks. Again, something to investigate later. They walked uphill through the town but there was little there to entertain two young boys. They headed back to the head of the river. They found a miniature railway which was good fun, bought hot chocolate and some biscuits and sat by the water's side watching people come and go.

An elderly gentleman was sitting on a bench near the railway. He seemed to be just people-watching like them. He smiled at the boys as they looked towards him.

"What d'you reckon on him?" said Leo. "Is he dodgy?"

"No I reckon he's OK. Harmless. Nice smile though."

"Do you fancy him then?" Leo was incredulous.

"No, 'course not. It's just that if you needed help he's the sort of bloke you could go to. Like someone who would be helpful and not nasty."

A group of schoolgirls swept by on their way to the sports centre.

"So what do you reckon on girls?" Ben was the one to break the silence.

"Dunno. They're not like us. I can't understand the ones at school. They always stick together and I dunno what they talk about. They fiddle with their hair a lot. They take a lot of selfies."

"D'you fancy a girlfriend?"

Leo didn't answer. He had thought about it but did not know how you went about getting one. Some of he boys in class claimed to have girlfriends but Leo was not so sure they weren't just bragging. Anyway he did not know how you went about getting one. And why did you want one? Did it have to be a girl? Couldn't you just have a friend?

As the girls passed in a cloud of chatter, two boys came the other way. One was like Ben, white t-shirt, skinny jeans, longish fair hair, trainers. The other was quite different. He must have come from football training because he was wearing shorts over cream goal-keepers tights, a light blue anorak and blue trainers. His hood was up so maybe he was just cooling down after a hard game.

Ben was looking intently at the pair as they walked by. "What d'you reckon to those two? They look really fit." Leo hesitated and said "They look happy".

Once again Leo was out of his depth. Yes, they looked nice, but what was 'fit'? Did Ben mean they were athletic, or something else? He answered with a noncommital "yeh" and hoped for enlightenment.

Leo needed to go to the loo. They were sitting right by the public toilets so he went to the gents. While he was pulling the leg of his shorts up to pee he became aware of a man standing uncomfortably close, watching him. "You alright then?" asked the man. Leo muttered something about being OK and quickly finished. He got back to Ben as said "Let's get away, there's a creepy guy in there." The man must have been watching them. They moved down the quayside to a van selling ice-creams. That seemed a good idea, and there were quite a lot of people around so it looked safer than where they had been. The two boys they'd seen earlier came back. They were walking close together and with a jolt Leo saw they were holding hands very discreetly. He leaned across to Ben who also had his eyes on them and whispered "Are they boyfriends?" Ben had an intent look on his face. "Yeh" he answered. "I reckon…"

Ben remembered Chef's friend Sailor Jack, and there, right in front of them was a small sailing boat with Pixi stencilled across the stern. A man was sitting in the cockpit. Ben got up and walked to the water's edge. He called out "Hello" and the man looked up. Ben called "Are you Sailor Jack?"

"Who wants to know?

"We're friends of Stanislav. He said we should look out for you."

Sailor Jack, for it was he, climbed out of the cockpit and on to the marina pontoon. He came up the walkway, opened the security gate at the top, and waved to them to come in. As they walked through the gate Leo heard the ominous clang as it shut behind them and was aware that he had no idea how they would get out. But they were saved the worry. "Look" said Jack, "you push this button here and the gate opens. You need a code to get back in though." He led them down to the boat.

Jack's age was hard to guess. His weather-beaten face could be anything from forty to sixty. It looked like a face that had worked outdoors a lot. He asked them how they knew Stanislav. "You tell my friend Stan that he can send me lots of nice boys like you two."

There was just room for all three to crowd into the cockpit. He would not let them go down into the saloon, claiming it was too messy. He showed them all the clever fittings he had made to make best use of the small space. He went down the companion-way and busied himself getting biscuits and soft drinks out of a locker. He passed them through the hatch. Leo ate one of the biscuits and said "These taste like the ones Stan gave us the other day." Jack said they should, he'd taught Stan how to make them.

Jack gave them the Cook's Tour of the whole boat above decks. Ben wondered why it was called a Cook's Tour and thought maybe it had something to do with Stan being a cook, but he didn't like to ask. They learned about fore and aft, port and starboard, bunks, heads, sheets, spars, and a further bewildering list of bits and pieces. Ben was particularly taken with what he learned was the heads – the toilet. The whole boat was like a floating caravan. Jack evidently loved his little boat and spent a lot of time on and in her.

Through the hatch Leo glimpsed the clock over the navigator's desk and saw with a shock that they were late for checking in with the parents. Anyway it was time to go because their bus left in fifteen minutes. Jack seemed reluctant to let them go. He said he'd really enjoyed having them on board. They left via the walkway and just had time to buy some fudge in one of the stalls before the bus came.

For the bus ride back they were able to get the top front seats on a double-decker. After checking that no-one was overhearing them Leo asked Ben whether he thought Jack was dodgy. Ben was quite firm in his defence: "I think he's just like Stan. He's different, but OK".

That evening at the hotel when they went around the back to get their extras from Stan they told him about seeing Jack and looking over his boat. Stan asked whether Jack had offered them any biscuits. Leo said he had and they were like Stan's. "Should oughter be" he said, "after all I taught him to make them". One down to Jack then, or maybe it was just adults teasing each other.

Stan paused and seemed to be thinking. "Did you hear the story about him? His wife died years ago – it was very sad. He's over seventy you know. A few years back now after he'd sold his house and started living on his boat a couple of kids claimed he'd lured them on board and messed about with them."

"Messed about, like what?" Ben was eager for information.

"You know, touching them the way you shouldn't. Putting his hands inside their clothes and that. Anyway the kids was lying and they were found out. But the harm had been done. He has to be very careful now. He wont let anyone else down below on Pixi ."

At dinner they had their own table again away from the adults who in any case were making a lot of noise. In a low voice Leo brought up the subject of Sailor Jack. "What he was supposed to have done to those kids, was it like what we did last night?"

Ben said "Dunno. S'pose so. Something like that"

"So did we do something wrong?"

"I reckon if an adult did that you it would be wrong because they're stronger and they might have made you do it. It'd be different if it was like a friend and you were both OK with it. Were you OK with it?"

"Yeh, it felt good. But you didn't ask first. What about you?" Ben was suddenly aware that what they did wasn't anything he'd asked Leo about. He'd just assumed that Leo would be happy with it.

"I'm OK with it. I wasn't so sure last night but now I think I am. Can we do it again?"

"You sure?"

"Yes. I think I'd like it."

In the games room that evening they found a proper map of the area. Leo wanted to see where the tank was. They consulted the receptionist who told them it was Torcross. She said they could get there by the same bus they took to Kingsbridge and then there was the beach or they could walk over the hills to Start Point because on the way they would see the site of the village of Halsands which was washed away in a great storm. That seemed to sort out what to do the next day, their last full day together.

In bed that night they both felt easier about being together. Leo felt happier about undressing in front of Ben and, bravely, did not put his pyjamas on. The bed was a large single so there was room for them both to spread out a bit. Without speaking about it they explored each other's bodies in turn. Neither had any experience of this sort of physical contact or how to make it more intense or personal, so there was a lot of fumbling and stroking. Ben felt a sort of tingling in his belly and rubbed himself harder against Leo's thigh. With a sudden "Oh" he had his first orgasm, dry but still real. He didn't know if he had broken something but it all seemed well. Leo knew something had happened and asked Ben about it.

"It was kind of like a tingle. It was really nice."

"Will it happen again?"

"Don't know."

"Can I do it?"

"S'pose so. Try rubbing against me." Leo did so and was finally rewarded with a tingling feeling of his own. Nothing like what Ben had, but still nice and special.

When Leo woke in the night he found that he was sitting in Ben's lap. His friend had his left arm over Leo's chest. Leo wormed his way out of the embrace to go to the loo, then slid back in again. Ben grunted and put his arm back. Leo did not know whether or not Ben was awake but Ben slowly rubbed himself against Leo's bottom until they both fell back in to a sound sleep.

The plan for the day was agreed with the Mothers, subject to the usual Ts&Cs. The weather was going to be good.

The bus dropped them off opposite the tank. They went to look at it and fell silent as they read the story about the disastrous invasion planning exercise that took so many lives. Almost in a whisper Leo pointed to the part of the descriptive plaque that described the operation. "These guys were only a couple of years older than us!" It was hard to understand that something so awful had taken place here on the beach to men so young.

On the sea wall they found a pub that did takeaway hot chocolate so that they could order without having to try and go in. They sat on the sea wall and ate some of Stan's biscuits while watching the sea endlessly wash in and out. They tried to imagine the bodies, the tanks and other vehicles that were still there somewhere under the water. It just didn't make sense.

The map showed that there was a path along the cliff from here to the lighthouse at Start Point. It looked like a couple of miles. The sun rose higher and they got hotter. They made it to the modern Hallsands and read about the old village that was washed away in a great storm. The path led up another hill. The lighthouse always seemed to be just around the corner, never getting nearer. At one of their rest stops Leo got the map out and realised the problem. While the map showed the straight-line path, it could not show the real distance including going up and down the many hills.

By the time they felt like stopping for lunch they were finally in sight of the Point. There was a bench nearby and they thankfully flopped on it. In front of them the bay stretched away, the land to the east gradually disappearing in to the haze.

Ben announced that he needed a pee. There was no-one else in sight so he stood by the path looking out to sea, pulled up the leg of his shorts and relieved himself. As he finished he stepped back awkwardly. There was a yelp and he vanished over the edge. Leo yelled "Ben!" and leapt forward. Ben had come to rest below the level of the path, caught in a tangle of brambles and the remains of an old barbed-wire fence. Leo cast around in a panic for something he could use to rescue Ben. He yanked his jacket out of the rucksack and flung one arm of it towards Ben who grabbed the other arm. Leo pulled as hard as he could while Ben scrabbled at the gravel cliff face.

Suddenly there was a man next to Leo. He said "Let me help" and together they managed to drag Ben up and over the lip of the cliff and back on to the path.

Ben was in a bit of a mess. There was dirt on his face, his shirt was muddy and torn and there was blood on his right leg below the knee. The man got Ben to sit down and then checked over his injuries. He said he'd got a first aid kit in his car which was only a few hundred yards away in the cliff-top car park. He said "I'll be back. Just stay here. You'll be fine. You don't seem to have done any real damage."

Once he was out of earshot Leo whispered to Ben "What do we do now? Can we trust him? Can you walk?" Ben nodded and said he thought he could walk but he would rather wait for the man, and anyway he needed to rest a bit.

Then the man returned. He had his first aid box, some tissues and a bottle of water. He set about washing Ben's wounded leg and found there was a deep scratch but no more. He washed Ben's face and did a more thorough examination of his other scratches and bruises. He put a plaster on the leg scratch. "You're going to be a bit sore in the morning but you'll be alright. Now I don't think you should try to walk back from here. I'll give you a lift back to wherever you're staying."

Alarm bells started to ring in Leo's mind. He could hear his mother telling him never to get into a stranger's car but always look for help. But here was help and it was a stranger and what was the right thing to do? The man saw Leo hesitate and understood the problem. He said "I'm a doctor, Dr Hughes. I work near here. I just came up for a walk on my day off. Now let's get the two of you to the car then you can both sit in the back and I'll take you back to... Where are you staying?"

Leo quickly said "Torcross. That'll be fine. We can get home easy from there." That seemed a reasonable compromise.

Together they got Ben to his feet and walked to the car park. Leo whispered "Lean on me" to Ben and offered his arm. He expected Ben to take it but instead he took Leo's hand in his and they went to the Doctor's car.

Dr Hughes drove them back to Torcross and dropped them off. There was lots of checking that they would be all right to get back to the hotel. The boys thanked him for his help and he drove off. As they sat on the bench to wait the twenty-five minutes for the next bus they talked about what had happened. Leo said his was worried about getting in to a stranger's car and what a tricky problem it was. Ben agreed. There was a long silence then he said "I looked over the edge there. It was a long way down. I could have fallen right down the cliff. It's a good thing he came when he did." Leo agreed: he knew that on his own he could never have got Ben back up on to the path.

"D'you think he was a good bloke? I do." Ben said "Yeh, I should think so but we don't know he really was a doctor, but he didn't try anything dodgy."

Back at the hotel they had to tell their Mothers what had happened. Of course there was a bit of fuss made but Ben was able to convince his Mother that he was really not in pain, nothing was broken, and his shirt had taken the worst of it. Mrs Braithwaite wanted to know how they got back. Leo told here about the doctor and his help and how he gave them a lift. He left out the more graphic details of Ben's fall.

After showers they were both more presentable and clean. They met downstairs and went on their usual mission to Stan. He asked how Ben had got the bruise on his face and Leo gave him the sanitised version of the accident. He told him about the doctor who came to help. "What was his name?" asked Stan.

"Said it was Dr Hughes. He seemed OK"

"OK? If you had to fall over in front of a doctor you couldn't have chosen a better one. He lives over Torcross way. Everyone knows Johnny Hughes. He's my doctor. Good bloke. He's always up on the cliffs there bird-watching. So he fixed you up? He'll be here later. His Rotary Club meets here on Mondays".

Leo digested this. It meant that the doctor probably knew they were not from the area, and would be wondering why they had not said where they were staying. Oh well, at least he'd not have to explain that to anyone.

At dinner Leo was surprised when Stan appeared with Dr Hughes in tow. Stan led him to the boy's table. "Ah" said the doctor, "the hero of the hour." Everyone around turned to see what was happening. Mrs Braithwaite stopped talking Bridge and came over to see what was going on. She did not wait for Leo to do the introductions but instead asked Dr Hughes who he was. Leo tried to disappear into the woodwork. This was not what he wanted. Not at all.

Dr Hughes described how Leo had reacted when Ben went over the edge. Obviously he had no idea that the Mothers were not fully up to speed on the afternoon's events. "Yes, his quick thinking probably saved the other lad from a very nasty fall." Leo's mother looked at him quizzically. Leo avoided her look. Clearly there was going to be a lot said later.

Leo realised that some sort of introductions were necessary. He told his Mother who the doctor was. She said "And who is this?" indicating Stan. "This is Stan. Stanislav. He's the Chef. He's just cooked your dinner." As introductions go it was a show-stopper.

Mrs Braithwaite was out of her depth. There was stuff happening that she knew nothing about and that was quite unsettling. What was also unsettling was that not only was Leo the hero of the hour, he was now very much in control of events. Little Leo was history. She was looking at a young man who she did not seem to know.

Of course everyone around wanted to know what was happening. Leo and Ben did their best to explain. Dr Hughes had to go back to his own Club dinner. Things quietened down. Leo and Ben sat down again and Stan brought them a special dessert that they had not ordered. Sitting in their corner of the room surrounded by the Bridge chatter that had finally been restored, Leo found that Ben had slid his hand in to Leo's. Like that, hand in hand, they finished their meal and sidled out of the room before anyone else started asking questions.

That night in bed Ben held Leo close. The lights were out so they could not see each other but used touch. Ben whispered "thank you". "For what?" answered Leo. "For rescuing me." "I didn't. It was Dr Hughes." "Yes, but you made it happen." Then he leaned in and kissed Leo. Leo found that he really like it, and kissed back. It was amateurish, but it improved with practice. And they had lots of practice that night.

The Bridge weekend was over. Numbers and addresses were exchanged. Everyone said 'see you next time' and vowed to keep in touch. Ben and Leo found a quiet corner and hugged. They both probably knew that they were unlikely to meet again. They had each other's numbers, but even so. And never mind that they lived only twenty miles from each other, that was a huge gulf.

"Maybe we'll be back here next year? Maybe somewhere else."

"Maybe". They hugged, and from behind the bushes at the back of the hotel Stan materialised. He handed them each a package. "Just for you. My two favourite boys." And then he dived back in to the kitchen.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead