The following day I went round to Tony's house with our study timetables
and found that he was back to his usual cheerful self. Neither of
us mentioned his words at the end of our last meeting, but after we'd fine-tuned
the timetables he lounged back on his bed and stared at the ceiling.
He seemed to be deep in thought, so I remained silent, sitting on his bedside
chair and scribbling absent-minded doodles around the edges of my timetable.
"You're definitely going, aren't you," he said eventually, more as a
statement than a question, keeping his gaze fixed on the ceiling.
"Probably. I can't see any alternative."
"So you're not considering my suggestion of staying here... I could tell
yesterday you didn't take it seriously."
He was trying to keep his voice emotionless, but I knew him well enough
to detect his disappointment.
"Of course I took it seriously!" I protested, "I just doubt my dad will
allow it... and I wonder if it's really practical."
"Practical?" he asked, sitting up and looking at me, "What d'ya mean?"
"Well, I've been thinking... we'd be living together, going to school
together, sometimes sharing a room. Don't you think that could put
a bit of a strain on our friendship?"
"Maybe for you," he said with a frown, "but anyway, won't living
a couple of hundred miles away be more of a strain?"
Unable to answer, I just shrugged my shoulders. He fell back and
resumed his inspection of the ceiling. Normally we could be together
in comfortable silence, but as this particular silence lengthened, I became
"We can still get together on school holidays, and maybe some weekends,"
I said lamely, "Nothing will stop us being friends."
He rolled over onto his side and propped himself up on his elbow to look
"You will stay in touch, won't you, when you move? Not just drift
"Of course I will! I'll phone you and we'll still see one another...
and I may even write," I quipped.
A week later, having had enough pricing quotes for work on Prospect
House, Dad calculated that buying was financially viable. I thought
he might be pushing his luck a bit when he put in an offer almost ten percent
below the asking price, but his offer was quickly accepted. The long
and tedious details of house purchasing in England meant that it was expected
to take about eight to ten weeks before purchase would be complete, and
only then could work begin on new bathrooms, decorating, etc.
During breakfast just a couple of days after Dad's offer was accepted,
he told me to make sure my bedroom and bathroom were 'clean and presentable'
because that evening some potential buyers were coming to look around our
house. Then I found out that he'd put the house on the market even
before we went up to Northumberland. Knowing how organised and efficient
Dad was, that didn't really surprise me, but until that morning it hadn't
really hit home to me that I would soon be moving out of the place had been
'home' for as long as I could remember. I was not happy.
Dad and I were both surprised when he received an acceptable offer on
our house less than two weeks after the first people came to see it.
He was, of course, jubilant, but my own reaction was very different.
On hearing the news, I tried to hide my frown and fled to my room with the
excuse that I needed to study.
The time up to and during the exams went by quickly and without any memorable
events. Nothing unexpected had come up in the questions and I was
reasonably confident that I'd done well in all my subjects. If truth
be told, unlike Tony and other boys I knew, I liked doing exams. To
me it was an exciting challenge and a chance to show off what I could do.
Also, when I did well it gave me the chance to be noticed and maybe even
praised by my dad. Soon after Tony and I had become close friends I
tried to explain this to him.
"How can you possibly enjoy exams?" he'd asked.
I remember him looking at me with a mixture of disbelief and disgust,
as if I'd just told him I enjoyed the flavour of raw sewage.
"I just do," I replied, trying to think of a way to explain, "Ya know,
like you enjoy playing video games."
"But if I mess up a game, it doesn't really matter. If you mess
up an exam... well, it's a bit more serious."
"That just makes it even more exciting," I said with a grin, and unable
to resist the temptation to show off, I added, "Anyway, I may not do as well
as I'd like but I've never actually messed up."
"You're weird," he said, effectively ending that topic of conversation.
In the weeks since Dad had accepted the offer on our house, my unhappiness
at the idea of leaving my home had gradually faded to a dull ache and the
anticipation of the move had even become a little exciting. The fact
that I was beginning to look forward to it made me feel guilty, especially
when I saw Tony's normally happy expression cloud over whenever the move
The completion date both on the purchase of Prospect House and on the
sale of our house had been agreed to be the first Friday in July, the same
week that Dad was due to start work at Stellar Pharmaceuticals. By
then we had to be moved out of our house, but there would be at least four
weeks after that before the work on the Prospect House was complete.
Stellar had agreed to pay for Dad to stay in a nearby hotel until he could
move into the house and they'd even offered to pay for me as well.
However, the thought of being stuck in a hotel for a month while Dad was
at work was unappealing, to say the least.
Of course, Elaine offered to let me stay with her, but I felt uncomfortable
with the idea of imposing on her for a whole month. Dad suggested
that Tony might want to keep me company by staying at the hotel with me.
When I suggested this to Tony, he was very keen because it would give him
a chance to see where I'd be living. However, his parents were unhappy
with the suggestion that he be away from home for four weeks without much
Eventually, after much discussion, we reached a series of compromises.
Tony would spend the first week with me in the hotel then I'd spend three
weeks staying with Tony while his sister was on holiday in the USA.
If Prospect House wasn't ready to move into when Sarah returned or if things
didn't work out with me staying with Tony's family, then I could stay with
Elaine. Somehow I felt like the parcel in a game of 'pass the parcel',
but I liked the idea of being able to spend so much time with Tony.
My last day at the school came and went almost without me noticing, and
contrary to my expectations it wasn't accompanied by any particular emotions.
Because there were no classes during or after the exams, the school year
just fizzled out and so leaving the school became an anticlimax. My
final departure from the home I'd grown up in was, however, extremely emotional.
That Friday morning as the last box was carried out to storage and I put
my personal luggage into Dad's car, I was closer to tears than I'd been for
many years, but still I couldn't cry.
That night and the following day we stayed at Elaine's house, where the
atmosphere was very subdued, though we all tried to maintain an outward cheerfulness.
On the Saturday, Elaine made us a wonderful farewell dinner, though Dad pointed
out that we'd be back often and that I would in fact be away for only a
week. Mid-morning on Sunday, we picked Tony up from his house and drove
up North. For the first part of the journey I was very quiet and most
of the talking was done by Tony and Dad. As usual, though, Tony's
cheery personality and happy chatter made me feel much better and by the
time we got to Northumberland I was joining in the conversation.
Dad had booked a twin room for me and Tony to share, a situation that
made me both happy and nervous. Despite our long and close friendship,
we'd never had any 'sleep-overs' together so I quickly found out some new
things about him. For example, he wore briefs during the day but
slept in just boxer shorts. Normally, I went to bed naked, but as
I knew I'd be sharing a room, I'd brought some pyjama bottoms. Also,
I quickly discovered that he seemed to have no inhibitions about undressing
in front of me. After our hot and sticky drive we decided to shower
before dinner, and I suggested that he go first. Thus, for the first
time ever, I saw him naked.
I tried not to stare as I sat an my bed and did my best to at least appear
as if I was watching TV, but he was chatting to me so I had a reasonable
excuse for looking at him. Of course, I'd seen him without a shirt
before, so I already knew he had well-defined abdominal and pectoral muscles.
As he stripped off before going to the shower, I saw that he had a thick
bush of black pubic hair over a nice uncut dick and large balls.
Although his dick was completely soft, it appeared to be a little larger
than mine. Also, the skin on his dick was darker than mine and his
foreskin barely covered the head, unlike my much longer foreskin.
He only took a few seconds to undress and disappear into the bathroom, but
it was enough time for me to get an erection that was bent painfully in
my jeans. Fortunately, I could bend over enough to hide my bulge from
him, but I couldn't hide the deep blushing of my face.
When he returned a few minutes later with a towel around his waist, I
resisted the temptation to watch him dress. Instead, I quickly grabbed
some clean clothes and went into the bathroom to undress, shower, and dress
again. As I closed the bathroom door behind me, Tony gave me a strange
look. As soon as I undressed I sat on the toilet seat and wanked off
with an image of a naked Tony in my mind. It took me considerably less
than thirty seconds to shoot my load.
That night, and every night we shared a room, Tony would strip and put
on his boxers whether I was in the room or not. On the other hand,
I always changed when I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth before bed.
The first night I was so aroused that as soon as I thought Tony was asleep
I wanked myself off. However, the bed squeaked a little and I had
to get rid of my cum-tissue, so from then on I did all my wanking in the
Presumably Tony, being a typical teenage boy, wanked several times during
our week in the hotel, but I never had any indication as to when he did
it. Throughout the week Tony, as usual, occasionally brought up sexual
topics, for example commenting on particularly attractive women he saw.
Again as usual, I made what I thought were appropriate remarks and then
side-stepped these topics as quickly as I could without seeming too strange
or prudish. After knowing me for so long, I'm sure that Tony had grown
accustomed to the way I responded to sexual chat. To him that was probably
just one of my many weird characteristics.
On our first full day in Northumberland Dad had to go in to his new job
for the whole day, although he seemed confident that later in the week he'd
be able to work some half-days so he could spend some time with us.
"Have you boys decided what you're doing today?" Dad asked over breakfast.
"Well, I'd like to see your new house," Tony answered before I could
"Okaaaaay..." Dad said, pausing briefly to consider, "as it's not much
out of my way, I could take you there on my way to work. But I doubt
that you'll want to stay there all day, so you might have to get a bus
"No problem," Tony said brightly, "Mark told me the house isn't too far
from the hotel."
"Depends what you mean by far," Dad said, looking at me, "It's probably
well over ten miles. We can check at the reception desk, but I'd bet
that will mean at least two buses. And don't forget, this is the countryside,
not the city, so buses won't be so frequent."
"I'm sure we'll manage, Dad. Anyway, apart from the house and grounds
to explore, there's the village and countryside, so we may even spend all
day in the area..."
"We could have a pub lunch!" Tony interrupted with a big grin.
"Don't even think about trying to buy alcohol!" Dad warned, frowning
at both of us.
"Of course not!" Tony protested, smiling at me.
Dad was quite happy for me to drink alcohol in moderation at home when
he was there, especially at meal times. In fact, at dinner the previous
night Dad had let me and Tony share his bottle of wine. Anyway, I
was quite happy to heed Dad's warning; apart from anything else, I looked
even younger than my almost-sixteen years and had no chance of being served
alcohol in a pub. On the other hand, Tony could easily pass for eighteen,
and I know he'd be adventurous enough to try.
"No, of course we won't," I added, then quickly changed the subject.
"What time do you think you might be finished work?"
"Between five and six."
"Okay, then," I said, "if we're still not back here by five, I'll phone
your mobile and tell you where we are so you can pick us up."
"Good idea," Dad replied, nodding his approval.
Before we left the hotel, Dad gave me a set of house keys, admonishing
me to make sure I didn't lose them as the only other sets had been left
with the workmen so they could get access to the house. He also told
me that if I saw Mrs Crawford I should ask her to phone him and let him know
if she was still considering becoming our housekeeper.
Because he was running a bit short of time, Dad dropped us off at the
end of the drive instead of driving right up to the house . There was
no sign of any activity at the gatehouse as we walked past, but I did notice
that a relatively new dark blue Volvo was parked outside. When we
emerged from the shielding trees Tony stopped dead in his tracks and let
out a low whistle.
"Wow," he said, "I know you told me it was big and you showed me the
photos, but I didn't realise it was this big."
"Nice, isn't it?" I replied, trying not to sound too full of pride.
"Looks like you've got visitors already," he said, nodding his head toward
A large blue van and a smaller white van were parked on the gravel and
workmen were unloading both vans while other men were carrying boxes and
plastic sheeting into the house.
"Must be the builders and decorators," I said, "I'm glad to see they've
made an early start."
As we reached the steps leading up to the front door we were approached
by a chunky dark-haired man who appeared to be in charge. In a barely
understandable thick Northumberland accent he asked who we were.
When I identified myself as the owner's son he became much more friendly
but no more intelligible.
"You never said you'd need to take language lessons to live here!" Tony
whispered as soon as we were indoors and out of earshot of the workmen.
"I'm sure I'll pick it up quickly," I said with a grin.
We spent more than an hour exploring the house and when he entered what
was to be my bedroom I watched him closely, but he showed no particular reaction.
However, when I followed him into the room I felt a slight disorientation,
although it was not unpleasant. In fact, it seemed almost welcoming,
as if I was going into a familiar room that had been redecorated but still
had all my old furniture.
By the end of our tour Tony was even more impressed and was especially
enthusiastic about the basement.
"You could have some great parties down here," he commented.
"You know I'm not really a party person," I replied.
"Yeah, but I am!"
"Anyway," I said, returning his grin, "I don't think Dad would approve
of you having teenage drunken orgies down here."
"Orgies? I never mentioned orgies, but now you bring up the subject,
I think that's a great idea!"
Laughing, we went outside to explore the rear of the house, and for the
next few minutes my mind was flooded with images of Tony at an orgy.
We walked down to the stream, which at its widest was only about ten
feet and nowhere deeper than about two feet. After trying unsuccessfully
to skip some stones across the slowly moving water, we decided to cross
over and make a foray into the woodland. We quickly found a shallow
area where rocks and large stones made the crossing easy. As we entered
among the trees I saw a faint path, and I felt a strong urge to see where
it might lead. Tony, however, was not enthusiastic.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" he said dubiously, hanging
back as I started walking. "Are you sure this is your land?
And we don't want to get lost, do we?"
He tried to make it sound as like a joke, but I could tell he was at
"Yes, it's ours and it's not big enough to get lost in," I smiled back
at him as I continued walking.
As he followed, it occurred to me that this was a complete reversal of
our usual roles. He was always the adventurous one and I was the
one who always hung back, reluctant to take risks. As we proceeded
along the path, I felt increasing elation and excitement, and suddenly
I remembered the unusual 'mini-vision' I had as I fell asleep the first
night after seeing Prospect House.
The path approached a thick clump of trees and bushes then swung away,
at which point, without knowing why, I left the path and approached the
"Whoa!" Tony said, halting and remaining on the path. "Where are you
going now? You can't get through there. Just look at all those
brambles... they'll tear you to shreds."
I stopped and looked at him, feeling a little confused and unsure what
to say. His concerned frown deepened when he saw the dazed expression
on my face. How could I tell him that although I'd never been there
before in my life, I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that there was indeed
a way through.
"Come on," I said pleadingly, "it's okay."
I turned and continued toward a couple of trees just to the left of the
densest part of the brambles. When I reached the two trees I could
see that between them was a narrow gap that was almost free of undergrowth,
and as I squeezed through the gap I entered a small clearing, which was totally
secluded and probably invisible from outside.
I was puzzled by the fact that the place seemed very familiar, but before
I could follow up that train of thought, I had a feeling of disorientation
similar to the one I experienced when I first entered what was to become
my bedroom in Prospect House. A brief wave of dizziness caused me
to hold onto the nearest tree in order to avoid falling over, and although
it was a warm and sunny day, I felt a brief chill that made me shiver.
Given the fact that none of those strange feelings were remotely erotic,
I was surprised to find that my dick was extremely stiff.
The disturbing effects the clearing had on me, together with the feelings
I had experienced in my prospective bedroom, made me wonder if there was
something wrong with me or if there was something wrong with Prospect House.
Maybe it had been a mistake for me to encourage Dad to buy this place.
I consoled myself with the thought that the effects the room had on me seemed
to be decreasing each time I went into it.
"Where are you?" Tony shouted, sounding concerned.
Breaking out of my reverie, I remembered to check that my erection wasn't
too obvious before I retraced my steps and saw that he was still on the
"Here." I said, "come and see what I found."
His worried expression gave way to one of relief and annoyance.
"Bloody hell, Mark, I never thought you were into exploring jungles."
"It's not a jungle," I laughed, "and I thought you were supposed to be
the adventurous one!"
"Adventurous I may be," he said, his mood becoming lighter, "but you
know I'm a city boy. All this green stuff can be a bit too much for
us city boys."
He followed me into the clearing and looked around.
"You should've told me you'd been here before, then I wouldn't have been
so worried," he said.
"I've not been here before."
"You must have!" he said, giving me a strange look, "From the path there's
no way you could have seen the way in and someone must have been here before
or this clearing wouldn't be so, erm... clear."
He smiled at his own cleverness and as I looked around it occurred to
me he was right; someone must have been keeping the clearing from becoming
"Really," I protested, "I promise I've never been here before."
"Then someone must have told you about it."
"No one told me about it," I said, a little upset that he might feel
I'd tricked him. "Finding this place was just a lucky fluke."
For a moment he seemed to doubt me, then he shrugged and accepted my
words at face value.
"Okay, I believe you. And this is nice little hide-away... just
the sort place you could bring your girlfriend for a bit of privacy," he
"Trust you to think of that!" I said.
"Anyway," he said with a grin, "I don't know about you, but I'm getting
hungry. Let's go see about some food!"
As we walked up the hill back toward the house I saw Brian walking across
the rear lawn. As soon as he spotted us, he waved and started walking
toward us. This was the first time I'd seen him in daylight and as
we drew closer I took the opportunity to get a good look at him. Automatically,
I began to compare him with Tony, who was my idea of perfection and therefore
the yardstick by which I measured anyone I found potentially attractive.
Although Brian and Tony were equally tall, Brian was much bulkier, and
I could tell from his tight black-and-white striped soccer shirt that the
extra bulk was all solid muscle. Brian, who had turned seventeen
in May, was almost a year older than Tony, so it's not surprising that his
face was noticeably more rugged and adult. Their hair was equally
short, but Brian's was dark brown and straight, whereas Tony's was black
and curly. The major difference that struck me, however, was that Brian
deep brown eyes, though attractive, could not compare with the strikingly
beautiful blue of Tony's eyes.
We were about half way between the house and the stream when we reached
Brian, who came to a halt about six feet from us.
"Hi, erm, Mark," Brian said.
Having spoken to me before, even though on only the one occasion, he
almost certainly knew that I was indeed Mark, and yet he seemed to be hesitant
and almost embarrassed. He cast a glance in Tony's direction before
looking back at me. Perhaps he was a little put out by the way Tony
appeared to be assessing him or maybe he was just waiting to be introduced.
This latter possibility was made more likely by the fact that they were both
standing in awkward silence and obviously waiting for me to speak.
"Hi, Brian, this is my friend Tony. I'm just showing him around,"
I said, then turned to Tony. "Brian's family owns the house at the
end of the drive."
As soon as the two of them had exchanged greetings Brian, apparently
a little more at ease, spoke again.
"Mum saw you going past our house earlier and told me to come and see
if you wanted to join us for lunch."
Not being a particularly sociable person and feeling somewhat uncomfortable
with Brian, my first reaction was to politely decline. However, his
family were going to be my closest neighbours for the foreseeable future,
so I was also thinking that maybe I should accept. Before I had time
to decide, Tony took the matter out of my hands.
"Yes, we'd love to. What time?" he said, then added with one of
his most charming and disarming smiles, "I don't want to seem too eager,
but I'm starving!"
"Well, now, really, " Brian responded with a grin. "Or at least
as soon as I go and get my brother. He's doing some gardening.
Want to come with me?"
"Okay," I agreed quickly, not wishing to leave all the decisions to Tony.
At first there was silence as Brian led the way back up the hill and
toward the east side of the house, but after walking a few yards Tony spoke
"Does all that woodland really belong to the house?"
"Yes," Brian said, slowing his pace and looking back at Tony. "All the
woods as far as the road."
"Road?" Tony said. "I didn't see a road."
"You can't see the road unless you get to the top of the hill." Brian
said, coming to a halt and pointing to the wooded slope on the other side
of the stream. "And even from the top you can only see it if you find
a gap in the trees."
"Wow," Tony said, clearly impressed, "Mark never told me the estate was
"A hundred years ago it was much bigger," Brian responded, "Now it's
still almost everything you can see from the house."
"So..." Tony asked thoughtfully as we resumed walking, "what can you
see from the house that doesn't belong to it?"
"The land my grandad bought off Miss Victoria," Brian replied with a
hint of pride, "From the gatehouse along the east side of the drive, up
to the kitchen garden and then across to the east boundary wall.
My family have lived in the gatehouse for over a hundred years."
Judging from the way he glanced in my direction as he made that last
remark, I guessed that it was aimed at me. There was a brief silence
before we reached the stone-paved path that went around the east side of
the house. Across the path from the house was a rectangular area of
rough grass which caught Tony's attention.
"That would make a great soccer pitch," he said, "Do you play soccer,
"I love soccer, but I usually play rugby at school," Brian replied, then
added proudly, "I'm in the college team."
"I play soccer for my school," Tony said, clearly not wishing to be outdone.
As we walked along the path the two of them began an enthusiastic discussion
about soccer and the Premiership teams they supported. As usual when
Tony talked about soccer I tried to show more interest than I really felt.
Although I was relieved that the earlier strained atmosphere had gone, I
also felt a bit excluded and a little jealous that they were getting on so
The paved path went toward the front of the house, but as we approached
a clump of trees on our left, Brian directed us along a smaller dirt path
which branched off and went round behind the trees. A few yards down
the path was a cobbled area in one side of which I saw an ivy-covered
wall with a door. We followed Brian through the door into a large rectangular
garden surrounded on all four sides by a tall brick wall. Only
about half the garden seemed to be in use for growing vegetables and fruit,
but even the unused part hadn't been allowed to become overgrown.
"What, no flowers?" Tony joked.
"No," Brian grinned back, "this is the kitchen garden. Mum's flower
garden is behind our house. Anyway, my brother's not here, so he's
probably putting stuff away in the stables."
"Stables?" Tony exclaimed. "You have horses?"
"No. There's not been any horses since my grandad was a boy.
The stables are just used for storage now."
With that he led us out of the garden and along to the Southeast corner
of the wall which we rounded to find a cobbled area ,on the other side of
which, about a dozen yards away, stood the large red-brick stables.
A boy was bending over washing his hands at a tap on a water pipe attached
to the outer wall of the stables.
"Hey!" Brian called out the boy, "Mum says lunch will be ready soon."
The boy, dressed in grubby old rugby shirt and jeans, stood up and seemed
to be surprised when he saw that Brian was not alone. Although Brian
made no attempt to introduce us, I presumed that this was his brother,
the 'Tommy' mentioned by Mrs Crawford when Dad and I had tea and cake with
her. However, the tension I sensed between them seemed far removed
from 'brotherly love'.
There appeared to be no family resemblance between the two brothers.
Tommy was about my height and build, and so considerably shorter and slimmer
than his brother. His hair, so short that it stuck up, could be described
as either dark blond or pale brown, depending on how the light struck it.
Despite the distance between us, the thing that made the biggest impression
on me, however, was the colour of his large, wide-set eyes. They
were a sort of blue-gray that seemed to glow with an inner light.
The lengthening silence and the fact that I was obviously staring at
him made me feel very uncomfortable so I felt compelled to speak.
"Hi, I'm Mark and this is Tony," I blurted out, "I guess you must be
Far from having the soothing effect I intended, the only response from
Tommy was a frown at me and an annoyed glare at his brother. Then
he walked off in the direction of the gatehouse. Wondering what I
could have done to upset him, I cast a questioning look at Brian, who was
smirking and looking quite pleased with what had happened.
"He hates being called 'Tommy' and I bet he thinks I put you up to it,"
Brian responded to my unspoken question.
"But your mum called him Tommy," I said, feeling a little foolish.
"She's the only one who can get away with it. He doesn't seem to
mind so much with her, and he couldn't do anything about it if he did."
"Anyway, what's so bad about calling him 'Tommy'?" I asked, still confused.
"No idea," Brian answered, shrugging his shoulders. "Until about four
years ago we all called him 'Tommy' and he didn't mind at all. Then
one day he said he didn't like that name and everyone had to call him 'Tom'
or 'Thomas'. After that he just got even more weird."
"Weird?" Tony and I echoed, almost in unison.
"Oh, never mind about our Tom," Brian said impatiently and with a hint
of irritation, "Let's go and get some lunch."
Tom must have rushed home because when we entered the hallway he was
just coming down the stairs, having already changed into clean shirt and
jeans. His mother came bustling out of the kitchen to greet us and
I introduced her to Tony.
"Lunch will be ready in a few minutes," she said, then looking from me
to Tony and back, she added, "Maybe you'll want to have a wash and freshen
up a bit? Brian can show you where the bathroom is."
Her words made me realise that not only was I hot and sweaty but Tony
and I were both showing signs of our walk through the undergrowth.
Tony must have noticed the same thing because he looked at me and grinned
before speaking to Mrs Crawford.
"Afraid we're in a bit of a mess, aren't we?" he said apologetically,
then grinning at me he added, "Of course, it's all Mark's fault cos
he insisted on exploring the woods. Anyway, I promise we'll get cleaned
up before we eat."
Mrs Crawford, having two sons and living in the countryside, obviously
had a lot of experience of messy boys and nodded her understanding before
returning to the kitchen. As Brian led us upstairs to the bathroom
I noticed that Tom, who had been holding himself in the background while
we talked, was now frowning at me yet again. It seemed as if I wasn't
making a good impression on at least one of my new neighbours.
Mr Crawford was at work so it was just the five of us for lunch, but
there was no doubt at all that Mrs Crawford was quite capable of controlling
four teenage boys. Without any obvious interrogation, she also managed
to extract a lot of information about Tony and me. Of course, I also
found out a few things. For example, I discovered that Tony seemed
to share many of Brian's interests and points of view. I was surprised
by the strength of my feelings of jealousy produced by that discovery.
I also found out that although Brian was a year ahead of me in his schooling
and Tom was a year behind me, I was much closer in age to Tom because of
the timing of the school years . Brian had already turned seventeen
in May, but Tom and I were both still fifteen, his birthday being just four
months after mine. However, nothing I heard explained the tension
between the two brothers. They didn't speak to one another unless
absolutely necessary and when they did exchange words they made little
effort to hide their animosity. Their mother must have been aware
of this tension, but she gave no indication of that awareness.
Tom said very little during the meal and he hardly ever looked up from
his plate. Whenever he did look up, however, there always appeared
to be a different balance between the blue and gray in his eyes, which
occasionally seemed almost luminous. Several times I caught myself
staring at him and I hoped that no one else noticed my fascination.
However, I suspected that Mrs Crawford had seen the way I was looking at
her younger son.
When I was stuffed full but Brian and Tony were still devouring their
second huge piece of strawberry cheesecake, Mrs Crawford turned her attention
"So, Mark, you've been exploring the woods already," she said in a joking
tone, "I was wondering how a city boy would settle in the countryside,
but I suspect you'll be okay."
"Oh, yes, Mrs C," Tony chipped in, "our adventure this morning showed
me that I'm definitely a city boy, but Mark seems to have taken to the countryside
as if he was born here. In fact, he managed to find this little clearing
in the woods that I bet lots of local people don't know about."
As I expected as soon as I heard him say it, Mrs Crawford didn't like
being addressed as 'Mrs C' but although she frowned her disapproval she didn't
say anything. What I hadn't expected was the effect that Tony's little
speech would have on Tom, who all during the meal had been keeping apart
from the conversation, giving me the impression that he'd rather be elsewhere.
His face went white, his expression of boredom became one of shock and he
looked at me as if I'd slapped him across the face. Then he stood
up, almost knocking his chair over, and left the room. A couple of
seconds later I heard the front door bang shut.
For several seconds there was an embarrassed silence around the table.
Mrs Crawford looked worried, Tony looked puzzled, Brian looked bemused and
amused, and I felt confused and concerned. The quiet was broken when
Brian whispered something to Tony, who was sitting next to him. I
couldn't hear what he whispered, but Mrs Crawford, who was sitting
between me and Brian may have done so because she gave him a disapproving
"Why don't you two clear the table and then amuse yourselves for a bit,"
she said to them, "I want to have a chat with Mark."
The way two of them, especially Brian, complied with her request gave
me the impression she was accustomed to getting her own way. They quickly
cleared the table and went upstairs, presumably to Brian's room. Apprehensive
that she might blame me for upsetting Tom, I followed her into the living
room where she sat on an armchair and directed me to sit on the sofa.
"Please don't let yourself be influenced too much by what anyone, even
Brian, might say about Tommy," she said as soon as I sat down. "I
hope you'll get to know him and form your own opinions."
Her words and serious tone took me completely by surprise and for several
seconds I had no idea how to respond. I wondered what people might
say about Tom and why she should care what I might think about him.
Not knowing how to respond, I remained silent.
"He's an unusual boy..." she said, then paused for thought, as if trying
to decide how to continue.
Although the silence only lasted a very few seconds, the way she seemed
to be assessing me was making me uncomfortable. Anxious to break the
silence, I said the first thing that came into my head.
"His eyes are certainly unusual!"
"Yes, everyone notices that," she said, and smiled a little as if grateful
for the diversion. "That's why he's called Tommy."
The ensuing expression of confusion on my face made her smile broaden
before she went on to explain.
"When he was born, his great-grandfather, Andrew's grandfather, was still
alive and as soon as he saw the baby's eyes he insisted we call him Thomas,"
she said, "Andrew and I told the old man that we intended to name the baby
James, but then he got very upset. He told us that his older brother,
Tommy, who'd died in the First World War, had had eyes just like our new
baby. Anyway, as it was it was obviously so important to him, we eventually
Her little story touched me much more than I would have expected and
impressed upon me the fact that this house had been a home to the Crawford
family for several generations. I closed my eyes for a moment and
imagined I could feel all those lives of all those people passing through
this place. Perhaps Mrs Crawford thought I was bored and falling asleep,
because her next words were spoken in a more business-like tone.
"As I mentioned," she said, "he's an unusual boy, but he's kind, gentle
and honest. Though he doesn't have many friends he's very loyal to
the few he has. But I must admit he can be a bit sensitive, as you probably
noticed just now."
"And he seemed annoyed at me just because I called him 'Tommy'!"
I added with a wry smile.
"Yes," she smiled back, "until he was eleven everyone called him 'Tommy'
and it didn't bother him. Then it seemed like overnight he decided
he didn't like it. But to me he's still my little Tommy."
"Do you know what upset him just now?" I asked.
"To be honest, I'm not really sure. As I said, he doesn't have
many friends and prefers to be out in the countryside alone rather than
being sociable with other people. Maybe he didn't like the idea of
others exploring the woods... but now they're your dad's woods, so there's
not much Tommy can do about it."
"Erm, I don't want to seem rude," I said hesitantly, eventually raising
a question that had been on my mind since the start of our conversation,
"but why should you or Tommy care what opinion I have of him?"
She looked at me with her head tilted slightly to the left, as if she
were studying me.
"Well," she said eventually, "you're going to be the nearest neighbour
of his own age and I think that if you give him a chance you could be a
good friend to him. The few friends he has now can be a little, ahm...
strange. So it would be good for him to have a nice, normal friend."
The idea that I might be a 'nice, normal friend' struck me as being very
amusing in an ironic sort of way. She wouldn't be saying these things
to me if she knew how unsociable I was, or if she knew about my strange
experiences in the house and the clearing. And I was sure she'd not
be thinking of me as nice and normal if she knew that most of my frequent
sexual fantasies involved Tony.
"Maybe Tommy... Tom won't want to be friends with me," I said,
unable to think of anything better to say.
"We'll just have to see," she replied.
After that she didn't speak for several seconds and I found the
long silence was making me nervous and so uncomfortable that I had to say
"Dad was wondering if you'd decided about being housekeeper," I blurted
out, speaking much too quickly, "and if you have, please can you phone him
to let him know when he can come over and talk to you about it."
At first she looked blankly at me and I realised that I'd interrupted
a completely different train of thought. Then, as her mind shifted
direction and she grasped what I'd said, she smiled gently.
"Well..." she said thoughtfully, "I think we could have a trial period
and see how we all get on... we hardly know one another yet..."
"I already know I love your cooking and I'm sure we'll get on," I said
with a genuine enthusiasm that made her smile broader.
"That's very kind of you, but we'll have to see what your dad has to
say about it."
"He'll agree if I ask him to," I said confidently. "Within reason he'll
let me decide most things about the house."
Her expression indicated an amused doubt, and I wondered if she regarded
me as just a boastful teenager. Perhaps I felt a need to justify
and explain myself, but I found myself pouring out the story of my compromise
and agreement with Dad about the move. Somehow, blended into that
story, I even told her how much I was going to miss Elaine.
Toward the end of my tale I heard the boys coming downstairs and I paused
so they wouldn't overhear me. Brian stood in the doorway and lifting
up a soccer ball he was carrying, he asked if I wanted to have a 'kick-about'
with him and Tony.
"We're talking just now," Mrs Crawford answered for me, "He'll be out
in a couple of minutes."
Brian shrugged, and possibly thinking I was being interrogated by his
mum, he gave me a sympathetic smile before going outside with Tony.
After a little encouragement from Mrs Crawford, I finished explaining why
my dad took so much notice of my opinions regarding the house. When
I finished, she looked at me thoughtfully before speaking.
"Miss Victoria and Tommy were very close friends" she said, "and she
knew how much he loved nature, so she let him go anywhere he wanted on
the estate. Maybe one reason he's a bit sensitive around you is that
he's afraid he won't be allowed to wander round now your dad owns the land?
Perhaps you could use your influence to persuade your dad ..."
"I don't need to use any influence!" I said with amusement, then continued
in a mock-formal tone. "I officially invite Tom to be my guest on
the estate and carry on as he's always done."
The combination of my words and my playful tone made her face light up
in a smile that made her look ten years younger.
"In that case, young Mr Kenny," she echoed my mock formality, "I officially
invite you here for tea and cake whenever you want to stop by!"
A couple of minutes later, I went outside and met up with Tony and Brian,
who were kicking the ball about on the grassy area between the gatehouse
and the driveway. When they saw me, Brian picked up the ball and spoke
"You spent ages chatting with Mum," he said with an irritated frown,
"What could you find to talk about for such so long?"
"Quite a bit," I responded a little defensively, "She's very easy to
He continued to give me a questioning look and there was a brief silence
while he waited for me to expand on my answer. When it became clear
that I wasn't going to volunteer any additional information, he spoke gain.
"I bet she was talking about Nature Boy," Brian said dismissively.
"Nature Boy?" Tony asked.
"Yeah, my little brother. He prefers plants to people... and he's
a total weirdo."
"Just cos someone likes gardening and the countryside doesn't make them
weird!" I protested.
"Isn't it weird when an eleven-year-old kid calls a ninety-year-old woman
his best friend?" Brian retorted. "And there's other weirdo stuff."
"Like what?" I asked, partly as a challenge and partly out of genuine
"Oh, never mind," Brian said with a shrug, "I'm fed up of talking about
He began bouncing the ball on the ground and there was a tense silence
until Tony decided to try and lighten the mood.
"Tell yer what, Brian," he said cheerfully, "why don't you show us round
the village? It's always a good thing to know where the nearest pub
For the rest of the afternoon, until it was time to arrange for Dad to
pick us up, the three of us wandered round the village and local area.
Brian's sullen mood quickly disappeared and we all had an enjoyable time
together. When we got back to our hotel room, Tony looked at me thoughtfully.
"Ya know," he said, "this place is better than I expected, but there
aren't many people our age about. I think Brian would make a good
friend, and as you're a stranger up here it would be good idea to try and
make some new friends."
"Yeah, maybe," I said non-committally. His words reminded
me that in just a few weeks my best friend and I would be living a couple
of hundred miles apart.
That night I dreamt about the clearing in the wood where I was hugging
someone I loved a great deal. However, I didn't know who he was and
couldn't see his face. Although we did nothing more intimate than
the hugging, the emotional and sexual charge kept building up until I had
an orgasm. I awoke in the early dawn light with a big wet patch in
the front of my pyjama bottoms.
That took me by surprise as I'd not had a wet dream for a couple of years
- in fact, not since I started wanking two or three times every day.
As I'd wanked the previous day during both my morning and evening shower
I couldn't understand why I ejaculated in my sleep. Fortunately, I
had spare pyjama bottoms in my suitcase, so I decided to get them and change
in the bathroom so that Tony wouldn't notice the stain in the morning.
I looked over to Tony's bed to check that he wouldn't see me, but he
was lying with his back to me so I couldn't tell if he was asleep.
He was still, apart from small regular breathing movements, so I got out
of bed and crossed the room to my suitcase. Unfortunately, I banged
the side of the wardrobe as I opened the case and as I lifted out the clean
pyjamas I heard Tony move.
When I turned around, I found him sitting up in bed a looking at me blearily.
Praying that he hadn't noticed the huge wet patch, I quickly covered my crotch
with the clean pyjamas. However, my prayers went unanswered and I
was mortified when I saw him grinning and looking at my crotch area.
"Had a little accident?" he asked, "You should try draining it more often!"
Blushing and almost dying with embarrassment, I didn't reply but instead
fled to the bathroom. After washing my sticky genital area I delayed
my exit from the bathroom as long as I could, and when I eventually emerged,
Tony appeared to be asleep, so I quickly slipped into my bed. It
took some time for me to get back to sleep as I wondered if there was something
strange about Prospect House and the Crawfords or if I was the one who