Juggling the Pieces

by Pink Panther

Chapter 48

December 2012

It's Saturday morning. I'm working in my studio when the reporter from The Sentinel arrives.

"Hi, " he says brightly. "I'm Jack Forrester. Thanks for agreeing to talk to me."

"That' s fine! " I say ushering him inside. "I'm pleased to have the opportunity."

"This is quite a place," he says, looking around. "I understand that you designed it all and project managed the work."

"Yeah," I confirm. "When Scott bought it, it hadn't been touched since it was built twenty odd years ago. We had to rip everything out and start again."

"That's a pretty remarkable thing for a guy your age to have done," he comments.

"Oh, I did my first design project when I was thirteen," I tell him. "Dad and I refurbished my sister's bedroom. I already knew I wanted to be an architect, so it was a great experience. It's just gone on from there."

"Oh, I see," he says.

"Actually, this isn't the hardest one I've done," I go on. "Eighteen months ago, Bill Gardner, the guy who did the work here, was converting an old workshop and storage area into a live-work unit, with an office on the ground floor and living accommodation above. He asked me to come up with some ideas and make drawings to present to the client. I worked on it with a friend from school. In order to make the best of the living accommodation, we worked out that we'd have to move the staircase."

"That sounds complicated!" he says, grinning.

The conversation continues. It's all very relaxed. Maybe he's hoping I'll open up and say something I shouldn't. If so, he's out of luck. I make my point about being old enough to have a partner without running the risk of him being labelled a paedophile. Apart from that, sex is never mentioned. I thought he might ask if I'd been with anyone before I got together with Scott. I'm ready to give him a "No comment" response, but the question never comes. We're just winding up when Scott returns.

" Hi! " Jack says. "Good to see you again. How did it go?"

"Pretty well, thanks," Scott says.

"Would you like to stay and have a bite of lunch with us?" I suggest. " Football Focus will be on in ten minutes."

"Thanks," Jack responds. "I'd love to."

Heading into the kitchen, I leave Jack and Scott in the lounge. I quickly put lunch together: chicken salad with granary rolls and fresh fruit to follow. We settle down to eat just before the programme starts. We have to wait about fifteen minutes till they show the interview.

"So how does it feel to be Britain's first openly gay professional footballer in more than twenty years?" the interviewer asks.

"It's been quite a challenge," Scott says. "Clearly, I wasn't expecting it to happen in the way that it did. But I've been very fortunate. Things have moved on a great deal since Justin Fashanu came out. I've received a huge amount of support that I know he didn't get. It's now generally accepted that football is for everybody; black, white, straight, gay, whoever. That wasn't the case back then."

Jack nods approvingly. I'm not surprised. It was a great answer. The interview moves on.

"It's been suggested that your decision to move to Greswall was less to do with football and more to do with the bright lights of London and your wish to be with your partner."

"I believe that suggestion was made by the manager of one of the clubs that tried to sign me," Scott answers. "It's wrong for two reasons. First, when I was considering which club I wanted to join, my main consideration was to find the best place for me to develop as a footballer. Given how much I've improved since I came to Greswall, I can't see how anyone can argue that I made the wrong decision. Second, just like any other player, in order for me to produce my best, I need a happy, stable home life. Being with my partner, who loves and supports me, is absolutely crucial. In return, I try to provide the same level of support to him. The idea that I could have moved on my own to a strange city, and produced the sort of form I've shown this season is crazy. It wouldn't have happened. He's right about one thing though. The cultural life here in London works well for both of us. It's meant that we've been able to go out quietly without anyone bothering us."

"It does mean that at the moment you're not playing in the Champions' League," the interviewer suggests.

"Right now, that's not a priority," Scott tells him. "I'm a long way from being the finished article. I need to improve in all aspects of my game. As far as I'm concerned, Greswall United, with this manager, this coaching staff and this group of players, is the ideal environment for me to do that. For sure, I'd like to play Champions League in the future. It may happen with Greswall. Given the way we've started the season, it could happen as early as next year."

"Aren 't you concerned that you're tying yourself down?"

"Not at all; Ian will have to be in London for three years, until he's finished his degree, so that's where I'm going to be. We can think about our options then. I'll still only be twenty-three, and as long as I stay healthy, I'll be a much better player then than I am now."

"Tomorrow you've got to go out in front of the fans. How d'you think that's going to go?"

"It's hard to be sure," Scott says guardedly. "I've received loads of support from our home fans, so I don't think I'll have a problem tomorrow. Away matches are another matter, but I know the FA has been reminding clubs of their responsibilities. Homophobic abuse is no more acceptable than racial abuse."

"Of course, there have been further concerns raised since this story first broke. Do you think they're going to affect things?"

"I hope not," Scott answers calmly. "As far as I'm concerned, the suggestions that have been made are wholly unfounded. Let me just say that we are addressing that."

After a few more questions, the interview comes to an end.

"You did a great job there," Jack says quietly, "really professional, way better than most footballers would have done. And we're definitely addressing the rubbish that The Globe published. That was such a shoddy piece of journalism! I can't imagine what they were thinking about! Just wait till tomorrow. We're going to blow them out of the water!"

"Thanks," Scott responds.

"Right," Jack says, getting to his feet. "I need to get back to the office. We have to put all this stuff together. You've done the right thing by speaking out, believe me."

We shake hands with him and show him out.

"D 'you think it was a good idea to invite him to have lunch with us?" Scott queries.

"Yeah," I tell him. "I wanted him to see us just being us. It was something Mum said when she was here. Seeing us here together was what finally convinced her that I'd done the right thing by moving in with you."

"Babe, " he says, gently drawing me close. "You are one very special guy. There's no way I'd even be here if it wasn't for you."

We don't usually bother with the Sunday papers, or any other papers for that matter. But today is different. As soon as I'm up and dressed, I head to the station to buy The Sentinel on Sunday . I hurry back home so Scott and I can read it together.

Brad was right. As well as flagging it up on the front page, they've spread the story across the two middle pages. It's all there. As well as the stuff Brad told us about, there's a quote from an FA spokesperson .

The idea that the FA should conduct an investigation is complete nonsense. We can only investigate allegations of wrongdoing. As far as we are aware, there is no such allegation for us to investigate. And given the testimony presented here, we believe that Scott Paxton should be allowed to continue with his football career without having to face further questioning.

That seems pretty definitive. Then there's the quote from Dr Aitken. He couldn't comment on my individual case, but he says that it's irresponsible and unprofessional to make judgements on people you've never even met, and questions whether the so-called 'child protection expert' is adequately qualified or experienced to make such pronouncements.

But my main focus is the interview with Mum. She hasn't held back at all. To be honest, it's quite hard for me to read it. But it's summed up in one line, a line that's so important it's been splashed in large type across the middle of the page.

'Young people in unhealthy relationships do not thrive.'

That says it all. When I came out to Mum and Dad, Mum was convinced that I'd go off the rails. But I didn't. In fact, I did even better at school than I had before. Eighteen months later, when I told them that I'd got a boyfriend, once again she was concerned that the relationship would have an adverse effect on my schoolwork. But as she makes clear, exactly the opposite happened. As she puts it, I went from strength to strength. She invites readers to draw their own conclusions.

I'm struggling to hold back the tears. Mum didn't have to be as open as that. It must have been very hard for her, but she's done it for me. I'll never be able to thank her enough. Finally, we read the editorial. Mainly, it's a scathing attack on The Globe, concluding:

Unlike the newspaper that began this story, we have investigated this matter properly. Not only have we talked to Scott Paxton and his partner, we have spoken at length with people who have known Scott and worked with him over a period of several years. From what they have told us, it seems that Scott's conduct in relation to the younger boys he's encountered has been exemplary. There is no evidence whatever that he presents any sort of danger to them. We hope now that he will be able to continue to represent his club and his country with the flair and distinction that he's displayed so far this season.

They couldn't have said it better than that.

It's half past twelve when Geoff and I arrive at the ground. It's an hour before kick-off, but already there's a large crowd gathering. We head to our usual seats. I vaguely recognise some of the people sitting around us. I guess they must be season ticket holders.

"I don't know what sort of match we're going to get," Geoff says. "The opposition aren't much fun to watch. They've only had two wins, but they've managed eight draws, some of them against good opposition, so they're not easy to beat."

We lapse into silence. We're both nervous, neither of us sure what to expect.

"Look over there," Geoff urges, indicating the stand on the far side where the away supporters are sitting. "There are more stewards there than we usually see, police too. If that lot have any silly ideas about giving Scott some abuse, they'd better forget them. To be honest, I can't see there being a problem. There aren't enough of them to cause trouble. They don't have the sort of fan base that Greswall has."

With kick-off time approaching, the atmosphere's electric. Finally, the teams take to the field. Immediately the chant goes up from the home fans.

"Scott Paxton! Scott Paxton!"

It's all around us, strong and defiant. I'm overwhelmed. I know he's had lots of messages of support from the Greswall fans, but this is something else. I've got goose bumps all over.

A few minutes later, the match begins. Geoff was right. The opposition aren't trying to play football; they're just trying to stop the Greswall team. Scott's got two defenders on him all the time, the right back and the right-sided midfield player. It's downright tedious.

With fifteen minutes gone, Scott gets the ball out on the left wing. Immediately the two defenders close him down. Scott slips past the midfield player. The right-back trips him. It's a blatant foul. The whistle goes straight away. As Scott gets to his feet, the right-back says something to Scott. With the stand being so noisy, we're too far back to hear it, but it's clear Scott doesn't like it.

As the referee strides across, his assistant on the touchline calls him over. There's a brief conversation, which again we can't hear.

"He must be telling the ref what he heard," Geoff says as the referee marches across to confront the offending player, brandishing a yellow card. The guy slinks away, looking disgruntled.

"I don't know what he's looking so upset about," Geoff says. "If he said what I think he did , he's lucky to still be on the pitch. That could easily have been two yellow cards, one for the foul and one for the abuse. Then he'd have been off."

The game continues. It's more of the same, like a war of attrition. We had rain overnight and the pitch is greasy, which doesn't help. Scott gets caught again, this time by the midfielder who's marking him. He gets a yellow card too. Finally, it's half time. Not only have there been no goals, there haven't even been any clear-cut chances. And Scott's not the only one to have been fouled, with two more of the opposing defenders collecting yellow cards. It's the worst forty-five minutes of football I've ever watched.

Geoff and I take the opportunity to relax. Suddenly there's a tap on my shoulder. I turn round to see a big guy looking at me, his bare forearms covered in tattoos.

"Hey," he says. "You' re Paxton's, like boyfriend, aren't you? I saw you on the telly."

I'm alarmed. I was only on for a few seconds. I hadn't expected anyone to recognise me. But I'm not going to lie.

"Yes," I admit, my heart in my mouth.

"Don 't look so worried!" he says, grinning. "You're with friends here. Paxton's done fantastic since he joined the club. What The Globe said about him is a load of bollocks. I'm Mick, this is Brett and that's Jason. Pleased to meet you!"

He shoves out a huge paw. I shake it as firmly as I can. His two friends follow suit.

"Paxton's been a great signing for us," Jason says as the shakes my hand, "not like that dickhead Briscoe. What a waste of fucking space he is! He's been nothing but trouble since he came here. The Supporters' Club have already been in touch with the Chairman about getting rid of him. He's a disgrace! "

"Oh, thanks!" I say, completely taken aback. "Good to meet you! This is Geoff, Scott' s dad. "

There's another round of handshakes.

"I thought you'd have been up in the directors' box," Brett suggests.

"Oh, that's for the suits," Geoff says, smiling. "I like to be with the real fans, and I like sitting with Ian. He's not a footballer, so I can explain things to him."

"You mean like how that arsehole defender should have been sent off?" Mick asks.

"Yeah, that sort of thing," Geoff says, grinning.

"You've been here before, haven't you?" Jason queries.

"Yeah, we've been a few times," Geoff acknowledges. "I live in the Midlands, so I can't come every time. But when I do, I always bring Ian with me."

"You don't come on your own then?" Jason continues, turning to me.

"I haven' t yet, " I concede. " B ut I'd have come today if Geoff hadn't been able to make it."

"You should come more often ! " Mick urges. " Nobody 'll give you any problems if you're with us, and we're always here!"

"Thanks," I say. "I'll try!"

"I don't know what you do for him , " Mick says, bending forward to whisper in my ear, "but keep doing it. It's working!"

I can't help smiling. It's the last thing I expected him to say. My brain's totally scrambled. If I'd met these guys on the street, I'd have shied away from them, but far from being aggressive or hostile, they've treated me like, well like a sort of younger brother. It's hard to take it in. I guess they reckon I help Scott do what he does for the team, and as far as they're concerned, that's all that matters.

The teams come out for the second half and the match resumes. Initially, there's no improvement, but as the half goes on the pressure on the opposition begins to tell. They've been pressing the ball for over an hour and they're starting to flag. Once again, Scott picks up the ball on the left wing. Immediately, the opposing right-back closes him down. Scott wrong foots him, but as he slips past, the guy sticks out a leg, bringing him to the ground. Even I know it's a foul.

As the referee blows his whistle, the shout goes up all round us, "Off! Off! Off!"

The referee calls the guy over. He calls the opposing captain and their right-sided midfield player too, giving a lecture to all three of them. But there's no second yellow card, which would have meant the right-back being sent off. The crowd around us is in uproar, really angry. I've never experienced that before, and I don't like it. It's scary.

"All that shouting was probably counter-productive," Geoff says quietly. "The ref doesn't want to be seen to be influenced by the crowd. My guess is he's given them a final warning."

As soon as the ball goes out of play, the opposition's manager takes off their right-back. It's a victory of sorts. I'm guessing his replacement won't be as good. He isn't, and he's very clumsy, getting a yellow card after barely five minutes. The dam is about to burst, I can sense it.

Seconds later, Scott gets the ball again. The opposing right-sided midfielder, who's visibly tiring, is way out of position, and the replacement right back, already on a yellow card, daren't touch him. He's away! One of the central defenders come across to cover, but Scott cuts inside, leaving him stranded.

Running into the eighteen-yard box, Scott squares the ball to Alvaro. As the other central defender moves to block his path, Alvaro delivers a perfect return pass. With his first touch, Scott curls the ball into the top right-hand corner of the net. It's a beautiful goal!

The crowd erupts. I've been to a few matches and seen some celebrations, but I've never experienced a reaction like this. The jubilation is insane! I'm sure that much of it is to do with the Greswall fans' dislike of the opposition's tactics. There are twelve minutes to go. With their opponents having to look for an equaliser, the game changes completely. Suddenly the Greswall lads have space to play. And they do, adding a second goal before the final whistle.

As the players leave the field, Scott trots around the edge of the pitch, applauding and acknowledging the home supporters. Not only do the Greswall fans applaud their team, and Scott in particular, they make their hostility to the opposition very clear. I can understand why, but I don't like it. To me, it's the ugly side of football.

"Today you've seen just how tribal football fans can be," Geoff says as we leave the ground. "I knew they'd get behind Scott. And when he plays like that, most of them couldn't care less what he does in his spare time."

I keep my mouth firmly shut. Today's been important. We're not out of danger yet, but at least we've cleared the first hurdle.

As he has to be back at work tomorrow, Geoff heads directly to Paddington to catch the train home, leaving me to make my way back to the flat. An hour later, Scott appears. I stand up to greet him. Wrapping his arms around me, he draws me into a passionate kiss.

"Thanks for being there today," he says quietly as we sink down onto the sofa.

"You were amazing!" I enthuse. "What a goal that was!"

"It was a horrible match to play in," he admits. "The atmosphere was really tense. The other lot hadn't come to play football; all they wanted to do was to make it a physical battle and stop us playing."

"Did you hear what that guy said to you?" I ask.

"Yeah, he called me a fucking poof. I heard it clearly enough, but apparently the referee didn' t. "

"It sounds like you don't believe it."

"Well, let's just say that the linesman heard it too, and he was further away. He had words with the ref, but the ref didn't want to give two yellow cards for what, effectively, was one incident. So that was it."

"The guy could have been sent off later on too," I comment.

"Oh, that was ridiculous!" Scott responds. "It was a clear yellow card. I don't know what the guy would have had to do get himself sent off. Fortunately, their manager took him off immediately afterwards. But they were very lucky to finish the match with eleven players."

"You pulled through in the end though! The goal was fantastic!"

"Yeah, I guess," he concedes. "In a match like that, you just have to be patient and keep working, which is what we did. In the end, the pressure was too much for them."

For a few moments, we fall silent, just sitting on the sofa, snuggled up together.

"I'm so sorry you've had to go through this," Scott says quietly, stroking my hair. "You didn't deserve any of it."

"We 're a team, yeah?" I counter. "I've just done what I could. Most of it's fallen on you in any case."

Without another word being spoken, we wander into the bedroom and begin to undress each other. In less than a minute, we're down to our underwear.

"I had a shower after the game," Scott remarks, "but I wouldn't object to another one."

Well, that suits me! If that's what he wants, that's what I'm going to give him! Picking up the Astroglide, I lead the way into our en-suite and turn on the shower.

As before, we begin by soaping each other until we're both absolutely covered in it. It's time for me to get to work. After rinsing the area around Scott's right nipple, I take it into my mouth, sucking it hungrily, while tweaking his other one between my right thumb and index finger.

"Oh, babe!" he purrs, stroking my hair. "That feels amazing!"

After a couple of minutes, I swap over, spurred on by Scott's moans of pleasure. Having given both nipples a thorough work-over, I get onto my knees, my face level with my boyfriend's beautiful penis. Holding it around the base, I gently run it over my face, taking the time to delight in its silky hardness.

Finally, I take it into my mouth, steadily working my way down until I'm taking it right into my throat. Over the next few minutes, I don't just suck it. I worship it; make love to it, working my tongue over every square millimetre.

The last time we did this, it was a celebration. This time, we're relieving each other's frustrations, Scott's and mine. This has been one hell of a week. We've needed to rely on each other more than we ever have. Of course, most of the pressure has been on Scott, and the way he's handled it has been magnificent. I want him to know that I appreciate it.

"Oh, babe!" Scott groans. "I'm nearly there!"

Immediately, I let him go, his slick penis sliding from between my lips. I look up at him, grinning mischievously. Instinctively, we swap places, my cock disappearing into his warm, wet mouth. Oh, fuck! He is seriously good at this! With the shower still running, the suction is incredible, and with his fingers gently stroking my perineum and tickling my bum-hole, I can scarcely remember my own name!

Eventually, he lets me go. I know what happens now. Without waiting to be asked, I turn around to face the toilet. With my feet well apart, I bend over to rest my hands on the seat. Moments later, Scott's expertly licking me out, working his tongue right into my starfish.

"Oh yeah!" I moan. "Ohhh! That feels so good!"

After a short time, his tongue is replaced by a well-lubed finger, which works its way inside until he's grazing my prostate. Fuck! I don't need much preparation. The last time we did this, we hadn't had sex for more than nine days. On this occasion, it's barely 48 hours.

Allowing his finger to slide out, Scott moves into position, the head of his cock probing my anal ring. I relax as fully as I can, allowing him to slide smoothly into me. After pausing to steady himself, he gets to work. Within seconds, he's fucking me like there'll be no tomorrow. The sensations are out of this world!

He needs this, I remind myself. We both do. It's our way of saying how together we are, and no matter what happens, we'll work our way through it, and come out stronger for the experience.

With Scott having just played in a really tough match, it's not quick. Somehow, I sensed it wouldn't be. But he's relentless, pounding away metronomically, transporting me to who knows where. Finally, his hand slides down off my right hip, a sure sign that he'd getting close. As his fingers wrap themselves around my throbbing prick, he begins to wank me. That's all it takes.

"Oh, fuck!" I gasp. "I'm going to cum!"

A moment later, my dick jerks in his hand, my teen spunk spurting over the toilet and onto the floor beyond.

"Oh, babe!" Scott rasps, drawing me right onto him. "You're amazing!" he adds, his hot, creamy semen filling my bum.

An hour later, we arrive at our favourite restaurant for dinner. As soon as we walk in, the owner and waiting staff are there to greet us. The service here is always good. Tonight, they're going the extra mile. They treat us like royalty.

I'm pretty sure that the owner's gay, and I guess several of the staff are too. As a result of the publicity we've received, it seems that we've moved into the ranks of 'celebrity clientele'. In a way, it's quite embarrassing. Although it's nice that the staff probably realise how difficult the last week has been for us, I don't want to be regarded as someone special. I know Scott won't either.

"So, this will be the last week of term?" Scott suggests as we wait for our food.

"Yeah! On Friday, most of the guys will be off home."

"And on Wednesday, you've got the LGBTQ group's Christmas social. I take it you will be going."

"Definitely! Mind you, I'm not sure what sort of a reaction I' ll get. "

"Is it okay if I come with you?"

"Yeah, I guess!" I respond, rather taken aback. "I mean, Jody came to the last one, and he's not at UCL, so I'm sure it won't be a problem. I'm just a bit surprised; that' s all. "

"Well," he explains quietly. "The reasons I was asked not to attend LGBTQ group events no longer apply, do they? So, if you're going to be there, I'd like to come with you."

Wow! That's come right out of left-field, but I'm certainly not objecting.

"Actually, Wednesday's going to be a busy day," I say, smiling. " We 've got an inter-colleges league race in the afternoon."

After an excellent meal, we head back to the flat, where we snuggle up on the sofa.

"You said you'd talked to Franny," Scott says, drawing me in so my head's resting on his chest. "Will he be playing any gigs this Christmas?"

"Yeah, they're playing at Newton Valley on Thursday, and the School of Music the following Tuesday."

"Well, you obviously couldn't get to the Newton Valley gig, but you could go to the other one if you wanted."


"Yeah, why not? You'll have finished term. You could go home on Monday, come back on Wednesday. I'm sure I'll be able to manage without you for a couple of days."

"Well, as long as you' re sure, " I say, looking uncertain.

"To be honest, it's something you probably need to do," Scott advises. "You haven't seen your mum and dad for weeks. After everything that's happened, spending a couple of days with them would help to reassure them that you' re okay. "

"Yeah," I agree. "You're right. I'll call them tomorrow."

Because of today's match, Scott's training tomorrow will start an hour later than usual, which gives us time to watch Match of the Day 2. There were only two games today, with Greswall's being shown second.

After showing the highlights, the pundits are unanimous in criticising Greswall's opponents for their negative tactics and their total lack of ambition. But their most damning condemnation is reserved for the referee, whose performance they describe as 'abject and spineless' .

I've heard these guys lay into referees before, but this is at a whole other level. Of course, no player or manager could criticise a referee like that without getting into serious trouble, but they can, and they savage him.

On a positive note, they applaud the way that the Greswall players stuck to their task, and finally produced the few moments of magic that broke the deadlock.

"In what must have been very difficult circumstances, for Paxton to have shown that level of focus and composure is quite outstanding," the presenter says. "It shows what a remarkable player he is."

His colleagues wholeheartedly agree. Listening to their comments is almost overwhelming. That's my boyfriend they're talking about, the guy I love more than anyone in the world. As Scott turns off the telly and we make our way to bed, I'm on the verge of tears.

On Monday lunchtime, I make my way into the Students' Union where I locate Christian, the secretary of the LGBTQ group.

"Good to see you!" he says warmly. "That was one hell of a week you just had. How are you coping?"

"Okay, thanks! Most people have been totally supportive, which is great. Scott played yesterday and did very well, so that's another positive."

"It can't have been easy, having the spotlight on him like that. I saw one of the interviews he gave. He handled it very well!"

"Thanks! Now that Scott's been outed, we were wondering if it would be okay for him to come with me to Wednesday' s social? "

"I don't see why not," Christian answers, sounding a little less than certain.

"What you may not know is that he's a part-time student," I explain. " He's doing an economics degree at Birkbeck."

"Oh, in that case, there'll be no problem at all!" he assures me. "We often have guests who are studying elsewhere. We'll look forward to seeing you both!"

After dinner, I decide to begin making arrangements to go home. Like most of the guys I know here, I call home at least once a week. I usually call the house, which almost invariably gets me to Mum. This time, I call Dad's mobile, simply because I really fancy talking to him.

"Hello! " he says brightly. "This is unexpected! Don't you usually call the landline? Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, fine thanks! Today, I just thought I'd call you instead. Did you watch the match yesterday?"

"Of course! I understand you were there. Geoff called us."

"Oh, right!"

"I have to say that in all the circumstances, Scott showed remarkable strength of character to play as well as he did."

"Yeah, like totally!"

"Well, it's great to hear from you! Was there anything specific you wanted?"

"Yeah, actually there is. As you know, we finish term on Friday. Franny's playing a jazz gig at the Birmingham School of Music next Tuesday. Scott suggested I could come home on Monday, stay with you Monday and Tuesday, go to the gig, and come back here on Wednesday."

"Well, that sounds like a plan! Obviously, we'd love to see you!"

"How' s Mum? "

"Oh, she's good!"

"I'm so grateful for what she told The Sentinel. It must have been very hard for her to open up as much as she did."

"Yes, she showed a great deal of courage, but she's never been short of that," Dad says quietly. " We 're hoping that it may help other parents who find themselves in our position,"

"Oh, I'm sure it will! It was superb!"

"Actually, there is one aspect of it that we need to discuss with you. But it's not urgent. We'll deal with it when you' re here. "

"Yeah, sure," I respond, not having a clue what he's talking about.

"From what you've told me," Dad continues, switching back to our previous topic, "this jazz group that Franny's in is really good. I may just come with you next Tuesday. Franny is my nephew after all, and clearly an excellent musician, but up to now, I've never had the opportunity to hear him play."

"Actually, they're playing at Newton Valley High School this Thursday. That's the better gig, because they get to play more. At the School of Music, they only play one or two tunes."

"Oh, I see! The problem is, I'm not sure I'd want to drive all the way to Newton Valley on my own."

"Franny told me that Aidy was planning to go, but I'm not sure how he's getting there. Let me make some enquiries. I'll get back to you!"

After a few more phone calls, I've got it sorted. On Thursday, Dad will take Aidy and Anthony to the gig at Newton Valley. Dad and Anthony get on really well, so that works. The three of them are going to love it!

Sadly, I know Mum won' t go. She's not much into music anyway, but the real issue is that Franny's from Dad's side of the family. Although she's never actually said it, I can read between the lines. Basically, Mum thinks Franny's a bit full of himself. Let's just say that I'm staying well out of that!

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