Juggling the Pieces

by Pink Panther

Chapter 41

August 2012

Friday morning dawns bright and sunny. As the forecast is for another warm dry day, I dress in my summer uniform of trainers, cargo shorts and a polo shirt, putting a sweatshirt over the top, knowing that I'll be able to take it off later.

After breakfast, I gather an apple, a cold drink and a few snacks and pack them into my bag. At quarter past seven, I head to the tube station.

I arrive at the flat at ten to eight and let myself in. With the place completely empty, there's nothing for me to do. There isn't even anywhere to sit down. I pass the time visualising where everything will go, and what it's going to look like once the work is completed .

A couple of minutes after eight, the buzzer sounds. I go to the intercom.

"Who is it?" I ask.

"Steve Judd, the electrician."

After buzzing him into the building, I open the door and wait for him to appear. Barely a minute later, he emerges from the lift, accompanied by a lad I'd guess to be a year or two younger than me. Dressed in work boots, grey sweat shorts and a grey running vest, he's around the same height and build as Jon, but with much lighter brown hair, and a dusting of freckles over his nose. The vest he's wearing shows off the lad's big hands and long, skinny arms.

"This is Ewan," Steve says, by way of introduction. " He's going to be labouring for me; like pulling through the cables when I tell him to."

"Hi! " Ewan says, giving me a most engaging smile.

They've brought two ladders and various other equipment.

"Right!" Steve announces. " We 're just going to bring up the rest of the kit. Then we'll be ready to start."

"D 'you need any help?" I ask.

"No, we're used to carrying this stuff. If you just wait here and make sure nobody walks off with anything, that'll be great."

It takes them three trips, but by half past eight, they've got everything they need.

"We'll be leaving at five," Steve says.

"No problem! " I tell him. " I'll make sure I'm here by quarter to so that I can lock up after you."

"Would it be possible for us to go out for lunch?" he asks. " We'll only go to one of the fast-food places, but in weather like this, I'd rather we weren't stuck in here all day."

"Yeah, that'll be okay. Just slam the door behind you when you go. I'll make sure that I'm here by half past one to let you back in."

"Thanks! That's very helpful. Okay, we'll see you later!"

Having left the flat, I cross Euston Road and head south, before turning west, passing through Russell Square, arriving at the British Museum shortly after it opens. After a couple of hours spent studying the exhibits, I decide it's time to hit the streets.

Continuing my journey west, I pass Centrepoint and make my way to Soho. Although I've visited the area before, I've never spent any time wandering around. As I'm starting to feel hungry, I make my way into Soho Square and sit down to eat the food I've brought.

This part of Soho, closest to Charing Cross Road, seems to be majorly concerned with the music business. Not only are there the live music venues that I went to with Scott, there are several recording studios, and the offices of some well-known record labels.

As I head west, the area turns into a maze of narrow streets. It becomes noticeably edgier too, encompassing not only the Gay Village, but many of the strip clubs and 'adult' stores. Finally, almost on Soho's western boundary, I find myself on Carnaby Street, known since the 1960s as a centre of London fashion.

One thing that I discover is that people actually live here, largely above the various businesses that line the tightly-packed streets. I try to wrap my head around the type of people who'd want to do that, and fail miserably. I know it wouldn't suit me, not least because it's so noisy. Even so, I find the whole area fascinating.

Wandering back to the Gay Village, I stroll along Old Compton Street to the café that Anthony and I visited three years ago. I treat myself to a light but leisurely lunch. As it's still quite early, the place is pretty quiet. Apart from the staff, nobody pays me the slightest interest. It works for me! Just after one, I pay the bill, step out into the sunshine, and make my way to Piccadilly Circus where I take the tube back to Kings Cross.

I arrive at the flat at twenty past one. Steve and Ewan have already gone to lunch, leaving plenty of evidence of work behind them. Just over ten minutes later, they're back.

"You seem to have been getting on well!" I say, smiling. "Right, I'd better leave you to it. I'll be back by quarter to five."

As I'm about to leave, I decide I need a piss. I head into the bathroom, closing the door behind me. The room is set up with the toilet facing the door, with the washbasin to its right and the bath beyond that, along the right-hand wall. Stepping up to the toilet, I open the front of my shorts and start to pee. I'm just zipping up when I feel a hand on my arse.

"My dad knows I'm gay, " Ewan says quietly. " He's cool with it."

Fuck! He's crept in behind me without me even noticing! I am not having this! I spin around to face him, wondering for a moment if Steve's in on it. Ewan's standing there, smiling at me, the bulge in his sweat-shorts suggesting he's about Jon's size down there too.

I step to my left, aiming for the space between Ewan and the bath. He moves across, in a half-hearted attempt to stop me, but I'm too quick for him. Stepping back the other way, I force myself through the narrow gap between him and the wall, using my left elbow to barge him out of the way.

Safely out of his reach, I turn back to face him. With his hard hat on, he looks like he's just stepped out of a porn movie.

"I don't know what your idea was," I rasp, "but I'm not about to take part in a Bonking Builders' video!"

He looks shocked and disappointed. Me not wanting to have sex with him was clearly not part of the plan.

"You're supposed to be working!" I remind him. "You need to keep it professional!"

As I exit the bathroom, I notice Steve working in the lounge. As far as I can see, he has no idea what just happened.

"I'll see you later!" I call.

Finally, I leave the flat, slamming the door behind me. As I make my way out of the building, my heart's thumping. That wasn't right! Okay, I realise that Ewan wasn't trying to hurt me, and he made no serious attempt to stop me leaving. Even so, he shouldn't have done it.

The question is, what am I going to do now? There's only one thing for it. I call Scott.

"Hi babe! " he greets.

"Are you back at the flat?" I ask.

"Yeah, I got back five minutes ago." He pauses for a moment "Are you okay?" he asks, clearly sensing that something's off.

I tell him what's just happened.

"Come back here now," he says firmly. " I'll see you in a bit!"

When I get back to the flat, it's quarter past two. No sooner have I got inside, than Scott scoops me into his arms.

"Who's a clever boy, then?" he purrs, drawing me into a big sloppy kiss. "We were training yesterday morning," he goes on, "So I didn't see your text till afterwards. I was so excited! I wanted to run around and tell everyone. I couldn't, of course. I just tried to stay relaxed, but inside, I was buzzing! Well, when it came to the match, I was totally on it. I was sharp; my touch was the best it's ever been, and I was seeing everything. Their right-back is a decent player. I ran him ragged. The mood I was in, he just couldn't deal with me. So I ended up with one goal and one assist. It could have been three assists, but for one of them their goalie made a wonder-save, and the other one was cleared off the line. Seriously, it's the best I've ever played. At the end, I was given the Man of the Match award, but the best part of all was when I got back to the dressing room, all the other guys applauded me. I'm a newbie! I've never played at this level before. That really isn't supposed to happen. I thanked them for all the help they've given me, which is fair enough because they've been brilliant!"

"Wow! I guess you're looking forward to next weekend now!"

"Yeah, definitely! Anyway, you'd better tell me what happened just now, and take it nice and slow!"

Over the next few minutes, I tell him the whole story, from Steve bringing Ewan to labour for him, right up to the encounter in the bathroom.

"Hmmm! " Scott purrs, grinning at me. "You showed some real bottle to get out of that! I'm proud of you! I think you're right, though," he adds, gently stroking my hair. "There doesn't seem to have been any malicious intent. How old is Ewan?"

"Sixteen or seventeen. Physically, he's rather like Jon, about the same height and really skinny. It was quite funny in a way. With his hard hat on, he looked like he'd just stepped out of one of those porn videos!"

"Maybe that was his fantasy. Well, he needs to understand that he can't approach people like that. He could get himself in trouble. What time are they set to finish?"

"Five o'clock. I told them I'd be there by quarter to, so that I could lock up."

"Only you won't; I will," Scott says gently. "You reckon Steve didn't know what had happened?"

"I don't think he had a clue!"

"Okay, I'll have a quiet word with him. And don't worry about it. I've got this!" He checks his watch. "Anyway, we've got plenty of time, so what would you like now?"

"You know what I want!" I say, snuggling even closer.

"Good, because that's what I want too!"

He leads the way to the bedroom, where we sensuously undress each other. As soon as we're naked, we get onto the bed.

"Did you get up to anything interesting while you were back at home?" he asks, drawing me close.

"When, I got back, I went to Jake's place for lunch. Afterwards, Jon and Aidy came over, so we had a foursome."

"Very nice! So who were you paired with?"

"Aidy. We had the bed. While he was riding my cock, I was watching Jon fucking Jake. That was unbelievable!"

"It must have been! I remember watching Jon doing Aidy when they came to my place. He's quite a performer! Watching him screwing Jake must have been so hot!"

I don't mention that I haven't been able to get the images out of my head since. I'd rather he didn't know.

After almost three days apart, our build-up is quicker than it usually is, and the denouement, when it comes, the most satisfying imaginable. Whatever happens in the future, nobody will ever be able to make me feel the way that Scott does. Afterwards, we slip into the most wonderful post-fuck snuggle.

"Well! " Scott says finally, checking the time. "I guess I'd better go and see the man!"

Getting out of bed, he starts to get dressed, donning a white business shirt, business trousers and black leather shoes.

"Why are you dressing like that?" I ask.

"If I want them to think I'm one of these young city types," he responds, "I need to dress like one! You just stay there and relax; I won't be long!"

When Scott returns, I'm still exactly where he left me.

"All sorted, I think," he says quietly, parking himself on the side of the bed. "You were quite right. Steve was rather surprised to see me, and had no idea what had happened. I explained that although you are gay, you've got a long-term partner, so Ewan put you in a very embarrassing position. I didn't say it was me, of course. I also emphasised that we didn't want to get Ewan into trouble, more that we were trying to keep him out of it. He told me he'd have a word."

"Cool!" I respond, smiling.

"When you let them in tomorrow morning, Ewan may well apologise to you. You won't be too hard on him, will you?"

"No, of course not! He made a mistake, that' s all. We 've all done it!"

"That's okay then!" Scott says, ruffling my hair. "Right! It's time we got dinner organised!"

It's Saturday morning. Scott's training today. In fact, he'll be training every day from now till next Friday, but for the first time since we've been staying at the rented flat, I had to leave before he did.

At ten to eight on a Saturday morning, Kings Cross is like a ghost town. I head to the flat and wait. A few minutes later, the buzzer sounds. I pick up the intercom.

"It's Steve and Ewan," the voice says.

I buzz them into the building. Barely a minute later, they emerge from the lift. I usher them inside, closing the door behind us. As I turn back into the flat, Ewan's waiting for me.

"I just wanted to apologise for yesterday afternoon," he says, looking very sheepish. "I was out of order."

"Don 't worry about it," I respond, smiling. "You just have to be a bit more careful who you approach and how you go about it. You'll soon learn!"

"I'm sorry," he adds. " I'm quite new to all this."

"Actually, I hadn't realised it was so obvious. These days, I never think about it."

"I don't know. Somehow, I just sensed that you were."

"So how long have you known you were gay?"

"A couple of years, maybe a bit longer. I tried to bat it off at first, but in the end, I just couldn't do it. I came out to Dad last summer. He's been great!"

"What about your mum?" I ask.

Even before the words are out of my mouth, I know I shouldn't have said it. There's an awkward silence.

"Ewan's mum died of cancer when he was four," Steve says quietly. "Since then, it's just been the two of us."

Now it's my turn to feel like a complete idiot.

"I'm so sorry!" I burble, trying to stop myself tearing up. "That must have been terrible!"

"It wasn't the easiest," Steve admits. "To be fair, his grandparents helped a lot, especially when he was younger. But we got through it. It's what you have to do."

"After I came out, Dad and I decided we ought to tell my grandparents," Ewan goes on. " Dad 's parents were fine with it; Mum's parents not so much."

"They were horrified," Steve adds. "They asked me what I was going to do about it. I told them it was part of who he was, and I wasn't going to do anything about it. I was just going to love him and support him like I've always done. They didn't take it very well. They said I couldn't have done a very good job of bringing him up. They even made enquiries about getting custody, but that obviously never went anywhere. We've had to cut contact with them. We don't need to be dealing with attitudes like that."

"Well done!" I say, smiling. "If it's any consolation, I haven't even told my mum's parents yet. They'd be much the same." I turn back to Ewan. "I take it you weren't out at school?"

"No chance!" he says, grinning. "I just had to keep my head down and try to fit in, yeah?"

"It wasn't exactly a gay-friendly environment," Steve adds. " I'd have moved him, but he had his GCSE's coming up. It would have been too disruptive."

"Okay, so you're sixteen and you've just done your GCSE's, right? So what happens now?"

"I'll be starting at college in September," Ewan explains. " I'll be doing an NVQ course that's part general education with English, maths and science, and part technical stuff. Basically, I want to end up as a qualified electrician, like Dad."

"That's wonderful!" I say, beaming at him. "You'll like college. I've got a couple of friends who went that route. It certainly worked for them. There'll probably be an LGBT group; I think most colleges have one. That'll help you to meet other guys."

"Thanks!" Ewan says, smiling.

"Are you finishing at five again?" I ask.

"Yeah!" Steve confirms.

"Then rather me coming back at lunchtime," I say, handing him the keys, "you can hang onto these till this afternoon. Just let yourselves in and out as and when. I'll see you about quarter to five."

"Thanks!" Steve replies. "And thanks for being so supportive."

I leave the flat with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Okay, I made a faux pas, but apart from that, or maybe even because of it, we got on really well. I know that I've got a great dad. Well, Steve's clearly another one.

By half past nine, I'm back at our rented flat. I spend the morning pottering around before going out for a run. Having found my way onto Enfield Chase, I end up covering around nine miles. It's the furthest I've run since before Scott and I went to Spain.

After having a shower, I'm so horny, I hardly know where to put myself. I'm guessing it's because yesterday afternoon, following the incident at the new flat, Scott kept things pretty low-key.

So, today I'm gagging for it! I remember Scott said that today's training would be fairly light. That usually means that he'll be up for it too! I quickly dress in my Reavington Town football kit. Not only does he love to see me wearing it, it'll let him know that I'm hoping for something pretty special.

I'm sitting on the sofa when Scott returns.

"Hi babe! " he says brightly, parking himself next to me. "How were things at the flat?"

"Very good, thanks! Ewan did apologise. Well, we got into a conversation. I made the mistake of asking about his mum. Not good! She died of cancer when he was four."


"Yeah, I felt dreadful. Fortunately, they were really nice about it. It seems that it's basically been the two of them ever since. It was weird! Just talking to them, I could feel how close they are."

"That's cool!" he says, smiling. Reaching across, he puts his arm around my shoulder. "You're looking very sexy today," he whispers, gently running his other hand up the leg of my shorts.

"Mmmm! " I purr. "You know what I want!"

"You naughty boy!" he responds, pushing his hand right up onto my boy-parts. "You've gone commando again!"

Withdrawing his hand, he quickly stands up.

"Come on!" he orders, helping me to my feet.

"We can't have you wearing this stuff anymore though," he breathes, a hand on my bum guiding me towards the bedroom. " I'll have to get you the Greswall kit."

With the bedroom door closed behind us, I turn to face him. Gently and sensuously, I help him remove first his polo top, then his silky white tennis shorts. I catch my breath. His body just gets better and better! His muscle definition is to die for! And he's all mine!

Submissively, I kneel in front of him. Holding the base of his cock between thumb and index finger, I carefully feed it into my mouth. Using lots of tongue, I steadily work my way down till I'm sucking him right down to the root.

"Oh, so sexy!" he purrs, running his fingers through my hair. "You want this up your bum, don't you, naughty boy?"

"Oh, yes please!" I beg, looking up at him.

Picking up the K-Y, he squeezes some onto my fingers.

"You know what to do then!" he says sharply.

I lovingly slather it over his rampant prong. As I withdraw my hand, it twitches involuntarily, as if to signal that it's primed for action. Standing up, I turn to face the bed. Standing with my feet apart, I bend at the waist, resting my forearms on the mattress.

Moving in behind me, Scott slips his hand up the leg of my shorts, before working a well-lubed finger into my rosebud. Finally, he allows it to slide out.

"Are you sure this is what you want?" he demands, ramping up the role-play.

"Oh, yes!" I insist. "Do it, please! I want you right inside me!"

"Okay then!"

A moment later, he guides his cock up inside my shorts and onto my twitching starfish. Settling himself into the perfect position, he thrusts it in. Placing his hands around the tops of my thighs, he steadily draws me onto him until I've got the whole thing. Oh, fuck! I've lost count of the number of times we've done this, but it still feels amazing!

"Oh, yeah!" I gasp. "Give it to me, Scott! I'm your boy! Fuck me hard! Hard as you can!"

He doesn't need me to ask him twice. Within seconds, he's pounding my arse like it's the last chance he'll ever get. I'm moaning and gurgling, the sensations of undiluted sexual pleasure right off the charts.

"Oh, you naughty boy!" he rasps. "Getting fucked in your football shorts! How sexy is that?!"

"Oh, I'm sorry, sir! I just can't help it! I need your spunk up my bum!"

"And that's what you're going to get! Not long now!"

Before he can say another word, my orgasm sweeps over me like a tidal wave, my muscles wracked by uncontrollable spasms. As night follows day, my prick jerks wildly, sending my teen cum spurting powerfully into my shorts, my anal ring flaring and tightening around Scott's invading cock.

"Oh, fuck!" he growls. "You've made a mess in your shorts! Sexy boy! Now take what I've got for you!"

A moment later, his hot creamy spunk is shooting over and over into my bum. Holy shit! I guessed he'd be up for something like that. I was not wrong! That was exhilarating! After a few seconds, he slowly pulls out.

"Fuck, babe! " he gasps. "That was crazy! Are you okay?"

"Sure! " I reply, giving him a cheeky grin. "I just need the bathroom."

As I make my way, I feel so alive, like my body' s tingling all over. I'm reminded once again of how lucky I am. We haven't done that for months, but when I needed that really full-on physical experience, Scott was ready to give it to me .

When I return to the bedroom, it's half past three. Scott's lying on the bed, looking very chilled. I'll need to leave at four to lock up the flat, but we've still got some time. I snuggle up next to him.

"Are you sure you're okay?" he asks, gently drawing me closer. " I'd hate to think I hurt you."

"Don 't be silly!" I respond, nuzzling his ear. "That was amazing, and I'm totally fine!"

"It's weird, " he says thoughtfully. "I wouldn't normally go for it as hard as that; it wouldn't feel right. But because we only do it occasionally, once I get into it, it's mind-blowing!"

I have to smile. As with so many other things, we're definitely on the same page. Another thought occurs to me. If I wasn't with Scott, I can't think of anyone else that I'd want to fuck me as hard as he just did.

When I return to the flat, there are signs of major progress. All the downlighters are in place, along with some of the new, brushed steel power sockets. Long gouges in the plaster show where the new cables have been chased back into the walls. That's not an issue. Re-skimming the walls was always part of the plan.

"Wow!" I say grinning. "You guys have been busy! It's looking great!"

"All this is going, isn't it?" Steve says, leading me into the kitchen.

"Sure! " I confirm.

"Tomorrow, we're going to need to pull some of it out so we can install the new power points. We'll leave Bill to get rid of it. I believe he's got a skip coming on Monday."

"No problem! You're going to finish tomorrow then?"

"Yes, definitely!" He pauses for a moment. "Are you going to be here tomorrow?"

"Yeah! I'm project-manager, and that's part of the deal."

"I can't guarantee it, but unless we run into a problem, we should be finished by about half past three. Would it be possible for you come back by then?"

"Sure! " I say, smiling. "I don't want you guys to be waiting around for nothing."

"Thanks! I've got your number. If I know we're going to be later than that, I'll give you a call." Smiling, he hands me the keys. " We'll see you tomorrow!"

As I show them out and lock up, I'm glowing again. I like Steve and Ewan. Even though we've only just met, we seem to have made a real connection. If I'm able to help them out a bit, I'm going to do it.

When I return the following afternoon, it's all finished. Steve and Ewan are sweeping up. Some of the kitchen units have been pulled into the middle of the floor so that they could install the new wiring and power points. Apart from that, everything looks remarkably tidy.

"I believe Bill and his crew are going to arrive at about ten tomorrow morning," Steve says.

"Yeah, that's right. I won't need to get up quite so early!"

"Okay! We'll get here between half-ten and eleven so Bill and I can check everything."


Over the next fifteen minutes, Steve and Ewan take their tools and the surplus materials down to their van. By ten to four, they're on their way. After locking up, I head back to Southgate. When I arrive at the rented flat, Scott's stretched out on the sofa.

"Hi babe! " he says, sounding as tired as he looks.

"Hi! You had a tough training session today then?"

"Yeah! We knew we would."

Right! It's time for me to give him some serious TLC! Over the course of the evening, not only do I give him lots of love and affection, I cook dinner and clear away afterwards. Of course, I won't be able to do that all the time, and Scott wouldn't want me to. But on this particular evening, it was what I needed to do.

On Monday morning, I arrive at the flat at ten to ten. Just as I'm walking in, I get a text from Patrick, telling me that they're around fifteen minutes away. In the meantime, all I can do is wait.

It's just gone five past when the buzzer sounds. I pick up the intercom. They're here! I press the button to let them in. I'm unbelievably excited. This is the biggest project I've ever been involved in, and it's finally happening.

As I'm waiting for them to come up in the lift, I realise that I haven't actually seen Jimmy for almost three years. I wonder if I'll even recognise him. A few seconds later, the lift door opens and they appear. Jimmy looks older than he did the last time we met, but it's still quite unmistakably him.

"Hi guys!" I greet. "Good to see you!" I turn to Jimmy. "You're looking great!"

"You too!" he responds, grinning.

"I could murder a cup of tea!" Bill announces.

Fortunately, I sorted that out last week, acquiring mugs and a kettle, so we're good to go. Once we've drunk our tea, Jimmy and Patrick head back down in the lift to collect stuff from Bill's pick-up.

"I see the skip's arrived," Bill comments. "That's good! We can start getting rid of the old kitchen and that."

"You're going to need these," I say, presenting him with the keys.

"Thanks!" he acknowledges. "Did you do that with Steve?"

"No. As I didn't know them, I wouldn't have been comfortable doing that. I opened up for them each morning and locked up again at the end of the day. I'd be okay with it now, though. They were great!"

"You said they?"

"Yeah, Steve had his son labouring for him, you know, pulling cables through and that." I check my watch. "They should be here soon."

After a couple of trips, Patrick and Jimmy have collected everything they need.

"It's getting warm!" Jimmy says, grinning.

He pulls off his t-shirt. Holy shit! I can see what Patrick meant about him being ripped. His upper body is amazing.

"Wow!" I comment. "You really have put some muscle on!"

"Yeah!" he replies, grinning and flexing his biceps. "As well as the job, I still work out. I enjoy it!"

Predictably, he's acquired some tattoos. They're not something I'd want, but I have to admit that the runic symbols on his upper arms look really good on him. I look up, and see that Bill and Patrick are deep in conversation.

"Are you still with your boyfriend?" I ask quietly.

"You mean Craig?" Jimmy queries. "Yeah!" He grins from ear to ear. "Once we've saved up a bit more money, we're planning to move in together."


I'm over the moon for him. I started off with lots of advantages. He didn't. But with hard work and determination, he's really making something of himself. I have to respect that!

Just at that moment, the buzzer sounds. It's Steve. A minute later, he and Ewan emerge from the lift.

After Steve and Bill have shaken hands, the two of them go around the flat, checking all the lighting, power sockets and other electrical stuff that Steve's installed.

Seeing Patrick pottering around, checking things out, I seize my opportunity. Jerking my head in Ewan's direction, I introduce him to Jimmy.

"Ewan' s gay, " I say, almost in a whisper. " He's about to start college."

"Nice one, man!" Jimmy responds, grinning. "When you get there, get yourself in the gym. It's a great place to meet guys. It's where I met my boyfriend."

"So were you two, . . . you know?" Ewan queries, almost drooling over Jimmy' s pecs.

"Sort of," I explain. "The first time we met, I was thirteen and Jimmy was fourteen. We were never really boyfriends though."

At this point, Bill and Steve reappear, with Patrick following behind.

"Well, it all seems to be absolutely fine," Bill says approvingly.

"Obviously we can't check the speaker points until the entertainment system's been installed," Steve responds, "but there shouldn't be a problem. If there is, you've got my number. Call me and I'll be right over."

"No problem, " Bill says, smiling. " We'll pay the final balance once we know that everything's working."

"I believe you've worked with Keith Brett," Patrick says, addressing himself to Steve.

"Yeah, good electrician. How d'you know him?"

"He lives around the corner from us. His daughter's my girlfriend."

"Oh, right!" Steve answers. "Well, we'd better leave you guys to get some work done."

Ewan looks disappointed. A couple of minutes later, he and Steve are on their way. After wishing them all the best, I close the door.

"This evening, I'll pay him ninety per cent of the agreed price," Bill explains. " He'll get the remaining ten per cent once we know that everything works."

"Is he happy with that?" I query.

"Oh yes," Bill says, smiling at me. "That's the way it's done. He's checked me out as much as I checked him out. He's talked to Keith, so he knows I'll pay up."

"Great! Well, I'm going to leave you to get on with it. You've got my number if you need anything."

After making my way out of the building, I head to the posh furniture store where I met Jason. Having sought him out (to make sure he gets the sales commission) I order a large mirror for the entrance hall, and a coffee table for the lounge. They're more expensive than I'd have liked, but they're totally what I want, and we've got the money. I notice that the old witch is here again, still looking at me like I've crawled out from under a rock. She needs an attitude transplant!

Back in Southgate, I turn my attention to the one problem I've yet to deal with. Overall, the décor is going to be very plain. To make it look really special, I need to find some suitable art to hang on the walls. Ideally, I want originals, or possibly limited-edition prints. I've already got two pictures from Anthony. I need at least three more, and given how big the lounge is, four would probably be better.

We can't buy works by well-established artists. We simply don't have the money. In any case, I know instinctively that there are some wonderful artists out there who, as yet, are not that well-known, but whose work would be absolutely ideal. The challenge is to find one.

Back in the day, a search like this would have been almost impossible. These days, we've got the internet. I begin my trawl, gradually refining my criteria, until I'm searching for 'Original pictures by contemporary British artists' .

That's when I find him. His name's Joel Carpenter. Even just looking on my laptop, I'm struck by his use of vibrant colours, and the sense of movement that he creates. As a bonus, he's based in south London, and so it'll be quite simple for me to go to see him.

I call the number and arrange to visit him tomorrow. I'm excited. I've got the sense that I've just encountered something pretty special.

When I see Joel's paintings for real, I'm blown away. When hung in the flat, they'll look amazing. I even know where each one will go. Our discussion turns to price. Joel names a figure. I know that individually they're worth what he's asking, but I am buying four, so I feel obliged to haggle just a little. Not too much though; he's a young artist trying to make a living; I don't want to rip him off.

Within a couple of minutes, we've shaken hands on a figure. I am buzzing! Along with the two I got from Anthony, these paintings will elevate the flat from the 'really classy' to being something quite exceptional. Scott's going to love it! My problem will be to keep it quiet until we move in.

On my way back to Southgate, I pop into the new place to see how the guys are getting on.

"Lads, the boss is here!" Bill announces, welcoming me inside.

"I'm not the boss," I counter. "You're the boss; I'm just the designer."

He shows me around. I'm seriously impressed. They've already dismantled the old kitchen and the main bathroom, removed the radiators and the boiler, and dumped everything in the skip. In the lounge, all the parts of the new kitchen have been neatly stacked.

"Wow!" I say, grinning. "You have been busy!"

"We 've spent most of the morning bringing this lot up here," Bill explains. "It took us over two hours. We're just about to break for lunch."

"Well, you're obviously doing a great job," I say, smiling, "so I'm going to leave you to it."

Heading to the tube station, I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I feel that as project manager, I ought to visit the place every day. On the other hand, I've got one of the best guys in the business running the job. If he's got any queries, he'll call me. What they don't need is me getting in the way and holding them up. Somehow, I'll have to try to strike the right balance.

Half an hour later, I arrive at our temporary home. Scott seems especially pleased to see me. I know why. The Premier League starts in four days' time, with Greswall beginning their campaign away to one of the newly promoted clubs.

Scott 's already been told that he'll be in the starting line-up. That's huge for him. In particular, it'll give him a level of exposure he's never previously had. Between now and then, my job is to keep him calm and focused. Actually, with work on the flat going so well, it's my top priority.

"I just popped in to the new place to see how the guys are getting on," I say casually.

"And? "

"Oh, they're doing great! They've already stripped out most of the old stuff, and they've taken delivery of the new kitchen, which is sitting in the lounge, waiting to be fitted. That's good going in just over 24 hours. For the moment, they've left our ensuite. Otherwise, they'd have nowhere to pee and wash their hands. They'll deal with that once they've installed the new bathroom."

"That makes sense," he agrees. He pauses for a moment. "I was thinking of inviting them out for dinner one evening."

"Yeah, that'd be good! The hotel they're staying at is less than a mile from the flat, so we could probably go somewhere around there."

"Great!" he says, smiling. " I'll call Bill and fix it up."

Finally, it's Saturday. Over the past few days, I've kept everything low-key and relaxed, giving Scott lots of love and affection. It helps that the guys have been working wonders at the flat. By yesterday lunchtime, when they left to go home for the weekend, they'd achieved far more than I'd expected. The place is really coming together.

As their match is quite close to home, Scott doesn't need to leave until ten.

"All set?" I ask, smiling.

"I think so," he says, sounding far from confident.

"You're bound to be nervous," I say quietly, putting my hand into his, "but once the game starts, you'll be fine. Terry wouldn't have put you in the team if he wasn't sure you could do the job."

"Thanks, babe," he says, wrapping his arms around me. "Without you, I wouldn't even be here. "

After giving me a final, passionate kiss, he turns and disappears through the door.

It's five to three. I don't know about Scott being nervous. Right now, I'm so jumpy I don't know where to put myself. There are five Premier League games kicking off at three o'clock. Because of an agreement with UEFA, matches that kick off at 3.00 pm on a Saturday cannot be shown on live television.

I could watch the BBC's Final Score programme, getting snippets of news from the various games as they come in, but I can't do it. It'd be purgatory. I could sit there for ages and hear hardly anything about Scott' s match.

The only way I can follow the match live is on the radio. In normal circumstances, I'd no more listen to a radio football commentary than I'd throw myself off a tall building, but these circumstances are anything but normal. Radio is what it'll have to be.

In the event, it's riveting. Maybe it's because I'm so closely involved, but I'm hanging on to every word. I've never really listened to one of these commentaries before. To give credit where it's due, the commentator is very good. His ability to make the action come alive is quite remarkable. The summariser, a former Premier League player, isn't bad either.

They've been playing for just over ten minutes. It's already clear that this is an exciting game which Greswall are dominating, with the home side gamely hanging on. It's also clear that Scott's in the thick of the action.

"Paxton cuts inside his marker," the commentator says, a note of urgency in his voice, "into the eighteen-yard box; plays the ball across to White near the penalty spot. White plays it back to Paxton. Paxton cuts it back to Fernandez. He hits it first time. Goal!! Greswall lead 1– 0! "

"What an excellent team goal that was," the summariser adds, "and Paxton was right at the heart of it."

"He's certainly shown why Greswall were so keen to sign him," the commentator responds. "Good pace, good skills, and great awareness."

I'm bouncing around with a mixture of elation and relief; elated that Scott played such a key part in the goal, relieved that he's justified his place in the team. Now he'll be able to relax and play his game with much less pressure on him.

And that's exactly what he does, setting problems for the opposing defenders every time he gets the ball. Forty minutes in, he's involved in the build up to Greswall's second goal. When halftime arrives a few minutes later, they're two goals to the good. Things could hardly have gone better.

"Paxton 's been superb," the summariser says as they review the first half. "For a young lad moving up from the Championship, he's been outstanding."

"What I like about him is his composure," the commentator adds. " He's kept it simple, not tried to do anything showy, but he's been ruthlessly efficient. If he can maintain this form, he could be one for the future."

"His positional play has been excellent," the summariser goes on, "and his vision. It's been a great debut for him."

I feel so proud of him. These guys have watched more football matches than I've had hot breakfasts, and they're impressed; there's no question about it.

The second half is more of the same. Greswall score a third goal, with Scott once again involved in the build-up. After 75 minutes, with the team leading by three goals to nil, he's taken off, receiving a rousing reception from the travelling supporters. The game ends without further addition to the score.

I couldn't be happier if I'd done it myself. He's on his way. We're on our way. The hard work is totally paying off!

The moment the front door opens. I'm up off the sofa. A moment later, Scott appears in the lounge.

"You were fantastic!" I say, throwing my arms round him.

"Yeah, it went well," he agrees. "But it's really about the team. I can only play as well as I did because of the guys I've got around me. And to be fair, we didn't have too much to beat. Last season, I played against that lot in the Championship. We got a draw at their place and beat them 2–1 at ours. Okay, they've brought in a few players in, but nobody who's going to make a real impact."

"You got another assist!" I enthuse.

"Yeah," he agrees. "That was nice, but it is what I'm there for. So, did you listen to the radio commentary?"

"Yeah! The commentators were well impressed with your performance."

"Oh right," he says smiling. "Did you catch the post-match interview?"

"No, I had no idea you'd be doing one."

"Yeah, after the game, they wanted to speak to me. Terry insisted that they could only do it if Kevin was with me, so they spoke to both of us."

"So how did it go?"

"It was okay. To be honest, I pretty much knew how to handle it. That's down to Dad. When we used to watch sport together, we'd always talk about the interviews with the players, so I could learn what to say and how to avoid the pitfalls. Anyway, they'll be showing it on Match of the Day."

"We 've got to watch that!" I insist.

It's half past ten. We're snuggled up in front of the telly. Greswall's match is the second one on the programme. Even on a fairly small screen I can see what Scott means about the teamwork. Some of it is mesmerising, epitomised by the first goal. The speed and accuracy are breath taking. I'm not surprised the opposition couldn't cope.

As the game goes on, Scott's everywhere, running at defenders, making great passes and putting fast, testing crosses into the opposition's eighteen-yard box. Finally, with the highlights completed, we come to the interview.

"Congratulations on an excellent debut," the interviewer says. "You seem to have adapted very quickly."

"That's down to the manager, the coaching staff and my team mates," Scott says modestly. "They've really helped me to fit in."

"I don't think he's giving himself enough credit," Kevin interjects. "From the day he arrived, he's been eager to improve and always willing to learn. That's why he's gone straight into the team."

"Back in January," the interviewer continues, turning back to Scott, "you had the opportunity to join one of the top four clubs, but you turned it down. Why was that?"

"I think what you saw out there on the pitch explains why this was the club I wanted to join," Scott answers.

"So you've no regrets about not playing Champions' League football the season?"

"None at all; I've got a big job to do to establish myself playing in the Premier League. I need to take one step at a time."

"Well, let me wish you the best of luck for the rest of the campaign."


With that, the interview is over.

"He got it exactly right," one of the studio guests comments. "Not only is he a talented player, he's got a remarkably mature attitude."

"You did great," I say, turning to Scott. "When he asked why you didn't join one of the top four, it was like he was trying to trip you up."

"It's what they do," he answers. "They always hope you'll say something controversial. Fortunately, I knew he'd ask about that, so I was ready for him. But it doesn't matter what they ask. You have to be polite without letting them push you around."

"You totally did that!" I say, grinning at him.

"Next week I'll be making my home debut," he says quietly. "Terry's already told me that I'll be in the team. Dad's coming down for it. I've got tickets for both of you. Is that okay?"

"It's more than okay!" I answer, throwing my arms around his neck.

"I hoped you say that," he breathes, drawing my lips to his.

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