Chapter – 21
The following morning Rick and I woke early and enjoyed a passionate hour together before showering and going down to the kitchen. There was quite a lot to do that day before our guests arrived for dinner in the evening and I wanted to be ahead of the game as it was Frank’s last night at home before a three month tour of duty and he’d not be home again until Christmas was upon us.
Rick made tea, coffee and a basket of toast and we sat at the table, drinking and munching, lost in our own thoughts. I’d picked up a pad and pen from the worktop and was making a list of shopping when I had a thought.
“Liam works for Boots, doesn’t he?” I asked Rick.
“Yes, but ask him. He’s coming now,” Rick replied as Liam entered the kitchen.
“Hi,” Liam said as he walked through the door already in his shop uniform of navy blue trousers, white shirt and store name badge.
“Hi,” I replied, as did Rick. “Liam, do you get the full staff discount at Boots,” I asked.
“Yeah, we get the same as the regular staff. It’s more on their own brands too,” Liam replied.
“In which case, if I give you a list and some cash, will you stock us up please?” I asked.
“No problem,” Liam replied, as he made himself tea and sat down to have some toast. I made out a separate list and passed it to Liam with a couple of twenty pound notes.
I’ve just put toothpaste and shower gel for your upstairs bathroom. Please get the brands you and Will prefer, okay?” I said.
“Yeah, sure,” Liam mumbled through a mouthful of toast and marmalade, picking up the list and money as he finished his breakfast and tucked it into his pocket.
“Give me a quick text when you’re ready to come home. I’ll nip up to collect you with all that stuff,” Rick said.
“Oh, thanks, that’ll be great,” Liam replied, as he cleared away his breakfast things and headed out of the kitchen door to catch his bus into town.
Will appeared round the kitchen door some ten minutes later and we said hi to him.
“Hi,” he replied yawning.
“Did you not sleep too well?” I asked.
“I’m fine. It’s just been a bit of a week, that’s all,” he replied with a smile.
“I have to agree with you there,” I said. “Oh, are you going to help your dad with his clearing out this morning?”
“Yeah, my old room’s got to be emptied so dad can store stuff in it and the old guest room while the builder does the alterations,” he told me.
“Right, of course,” I said. “We’ll see you later this afternoon with Justin then, I expect?” I asked.
“Yeah, we’ll both be back to help out later this afternoon, though I expect I’ll be bringing more of my stuff over here for my room too,”
“Okay, that’s fine; we’ll see you guys about four then?” I finished.
“Yeah, thanks,” Will said, as he then finished his breakfast, put his things in the dishwasher and left through the kitchen door to go over to his dad’s house. I completed my shopping list and after a quick kiss with Rick headed to the garage and off to town for the supermarket and then the farm shop for the joint of beef. I returned with the shopping a couple of hours later and saw Will and Rick helping Frank move furniture into the garage for storage. I parked up and took the shopping through to the kitchen before putting on the kettle and then out through the kitchen door to the workers.
“I’ve a brew on if you’ve a few minutes for a break,” I said.
They waved back and Rick said
“We’ll be in in a couple of minutes, okay? We’ve just to finish this last bit of stuff.”
I nodded back and returned to the task of putting away the shopping and making tea and coffee for the guys. In about five minutes they all came through the kitchen door and collapsed into chairs around the table.
“All sorted?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s the lot now. The rooms are clear for Mr Clarke on Monday. I’ve given him a key for the back door so he can get easy access, but I’d appreciate it if you could check in the evenings to ensure he has secured and locked up after him,” Frank said.
“Oh sure, that’s no problem at all,” I replied. Rick nodded in agreement.
“So what time do you want me here this evening?” Frank asked.
“How about sevenish?” I replied. “A little earlier than we’d normally eat, but you’re planning an early start you said on Sunday?”
“Well, not all that early. I’m planning to leave around seven am so’s to get clear of congestion on the motorway, not that any time of day is better these days,” he replied.
“True,” I agreed. “Well, that’s sorted then. We’ll see you then?”
indeed. I’m going to call on the new people down the road. Will was telling me
yesterday about a service family just moved in with their grandmother. Do you
recall at your partnership party that the lady from number eight came for a while?
She spent a bit of time chatting to me once she’d discovered I was Royal Navy.
She lost her husband in the Falklands and it seems her daughter married an army
chap and sadly he was lost in this latest engagement in
“Yeah,” Will chirped up. “Craig and Jamie.” We gave ’em a lift home Friday after swimming. Jamie’s joined the team and Liam reckons he’s going in for diving. Oh, and Liam likes Craig,” Will said mischievously with an enormous grin.
“Oh, does he?” I replied. “Well, you and your partner in crime had better keep your noses out, okay?” I said, laughing back.
“Yeah, okay,” Will replied. “But, its fun to wind Liam up a little bit.”
“Not at the moment it isn’t. Liam needs space and no pressures for a while. He’s had enough hassles and upheavals without you adding teasing just now, okay?” I said firmly. “And,” I added, “I seem to recall a rather sensitive teen who was just a bit nervous of having a boyfriend himself not two weeks ago.”
“Yes, Will, no teasing Liam, okay?” Frank added.
“Yeah, okay, I get it,” Will said, colouring up furiously as he spoke.
At which there was a loud rat-tat at the kitchen door, to which we almost with one voice called out
The door was opened quickly and Justin breezed in wearing an obviously new coat and carrying his backpack. He grinned widely at us all and said
“Hey, I’ve just got my new coat and bike this morning from Darren’s dad. He brought it round himself. What’d’ya think?”
“Very smart,” I said, “and is the bike as good too?” I asked.
“Yeah, same make as before, but it’s a newer model though,” Justin explained. “Can I lock it away in your garage?” he asked.
We all trooped outside to look at the replacement bike and then locked it away in the garage with Will’s and ours. Then Frank turned to us and said
“I’ll be on my way guys; I’ll see you all around seven.” He crossed over the driveway and went into his own house.
We went back inside and Justin picked up his backpack and grinning widely at Will said
“Can I take this up to your room? Then it’s out of the way?”
Will grinned back quickly, cottoning on instantly to Justin’s real meaning and darted out and upstairs calling for Jus to follow him. We heard them giggling away to each other before Will’s bedroom door closed behind them both.
Rick looked at me and smiling said
“They can have an hour before I’ll root them out to help with the dining room?”
I laughed and agreed, nodding back at him. “Did you guys have any lunch?” I asked.
“Yeah, we had cheese rolls between moving stuff,” he replied. “We’re fine till dinner, but I’m sure those two upstairs’ll want a snack though,”
“I think so, don’t you? Especially if they’re up to what I think they are?” I replied.
“Oh, yes. I am certain they’re getting reacquainted,” he grinned.
Between us we peeled and prepared the potatoes, carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts putting them into the steamer on the hob ready. I glanced up at the clock as we finished those preparations and saw it was ten to four. Just then Rick’s mobile bleeped a message warning. He checked it and said
“Liam’s leaving in ten minutes, I’ll go and collect him. Then they can all help set the table and carry in the china.”
“Yes, good idea,” I replied and smiled as he picked up his keys and jacket and headed out of the kitchen to the garage. A few moments later he roared off up the road to collect Liam from the shopping precinct.
* * * * * *
As soon as Jus’d arrived and we’d finished looking at his new bike and stuff, I couldn’t wait to get him to myself for a while. The second he came out with “let’s put my stuff upstairs” I couldn’t move fast enough and we rushed up to my room and got the door shut in less than a minute! The moment he bent down to put his backpack down on the floor next to my desk and his bum went tight in his jeans I felt a stirring in my own jeans too and came up behind him and putting my arms round his waist grabbed him to me and rubbed against him.
“You randy sod,” he laughed. “So we’re up for some fun tonight?” he added.
“Too right,” I replied. “It’s been ages since we last had a chance to do anything privately.”
“Yeah,” he said turning round in my grasp to face me and land a kiss before I could reply.
“Mmmmmmmmmmm,” I gasped coming up for air, my jeans now feeling decidedly too small round the front to hold in the bulge that’d developed more strongly in the last few moments. “I’ve so missed that.”
“Me too,” Jus replied. “It’s been all Darren’s fault though. I’ve as good as been out-of-bounds since that accident, which wasn’t one really,” he said.
“I know, but we’re okay, aren’t we?” I asked.
“Oh yes, no problems there, just a bursting cock,” he laughed.
I giggled back and kissed Jus full on the mouth again, letting my tongue find its way and then going for a full on snog. After as long as I could manage I came up and gasped for some air.
“I needed that,” I said. “I didn’t even get a birthday kiss from you.” I pouted, jokingly at him.
“Is Liam out?” he asked.
“Yeah, he’s at work,” I replied.
“You know, at the chemist’s…” I giggled.
“Ohhhh, yes,” Justin replied and a glint appeared in his eyes. “Still got those supplies?”
“Yup,” I said, grinning widely. “They’re in the bedside cabinet.”
“Is it time they had some use then?” Justin said, inclining his head quizzically to me.
“Mmm, yes, I am ready if you are,” I said back, looking right into his eyes.
“I am too if you’re really sure you’re ready,” he replied quietly.
“Oh yes, I’m sure,” I said. “They’ve been there for a little while now.” I paused a moment and then said, “I love you, Justin Naylor.”
“And I love you too Will Barnes,” he murmured in my ear.
“Have we time for a quick shower before Liam’s home?” Jus asked.
“Yeah, I reckon so, but it’ll have to be… quick,” I replied. Jus had already started to shed his kit and was down to boxers already. I shed my kit and went through into the bathroom to start the shower. A few seconds later a naked Justin followed me and yanked down my boxers. I giggled and collapsed onto the floor. We rolled around groping at anything and everything, shrieking with laughter as we did. After a minute or so we gave up and lay there getting our breath back.
Justin hauled himself up and got into the shower. Then coming back out all dripping he heaved me up, and dragged me in with him and quickly began to soap me all over. I so loved that feeling too, of his hands running shower gel all over my back and bum and softly caressing my shoulders as he landed another kiss on my lips.
I returned the favour and washed him all over gently massaging his shoulders and the bad bruises on his side and legs. I kissed him as I did it. I heard Rick calling from outside.
“Tea and crumpets in ten minutes guys, okay?”
I broke away from Jus and shouted okay back and said to Jus
“I’m already having my bit of crumpet,” I giggled. “Liam must be back. We’ll have to hurry or we’ll miss the food. We’ve all tonight… for more of this… much more,” I added, with a sly grin.
We rinsed and dried ourselves and then went back into my room to dress. Once we were all sorted we headed down to the kitchen for a tea and toasted crumpets.
* * * * * *
It was about twenty to five when Rick arrived back with Liam. they put the car away and locked down the garage before coming through to the kitchen together.
“Okay?” I asked them both. “Ready for tea and crumpets?”
Liam and Rick both put down a bag of toiletries that I’d asked Liam to get for us from work and then Liam said
“Yes please, I’m starved and def want some tea,” he said grinning and then adding “Where’s Will?”
“Oh, he disappeared up to his room shortly after Justin arrived. They’ve been up there for… half an hour now,” I said, glancing at the kitchen clock.
“No prizes for guessing what they’re up to then,” Liam laughed.
“Mmm, perhaps,” I replied, “but, I think if you tease them about their private time together, you really can’t expect them to remain quiet if you’ve a guest in your room, can you?” I chided gently.
“Um… no, I s’pose…” Liam replied colouring a little as he did. “I wasn’t being very fair then, was I?” he asked.
“Not totally, but teasing can hurt and we all know what hurt is in this house and do we really need any more?” I asked.
“No, I’m sorry,” Liam replied. “I’ll think a bit more before opening my mouth,” he said.
“No worries, we’re all learning here. Me and Rick don’t have all the answers either, believe me, but we’ll do our level best to make things work for all of us, okay?”
I’d just finished when a clattering down the stairs announced the arrival of Will and Jus into the kitchen for a snack. I served the crumpets and watched as Rick and I ate one apiece and the boys finished off the remainder of the pack of twelve between them. The boys cleared away and Liam said
“I need to shower and change before I do anything else.”
“Yeah, that’s fine,” Will said. “Jus’n I’ve had ours. So bathroom’s all yours,”
Liam picked up his bag and one of the two of toiletries and went upstairs. I turned to Will and Justin and asked
“Would you two help Rick in the dining room for a few minutes while I just get finished here?”
“Yeah, we’ve done it before. How many are we?” Will asked.
“Six for dinner,” I replied, “Me and Rick, you and Jus, Liam and your dad.”
“Yup,” Will replied. “So two down each side and one at each end?” He asked.
“Yes, exactly that, thanks. I’ll leave it to you,” I smiled. “But get Rick to help you with the table extension.” I added.
“Yeah, okay,” Will replied, as he headed out of the kitchen and into the dining room with Justin in tow.
I opened the fridge and took out the joint, setting it into a roasting tray on top of some thick onion slices. I seasoned the meat and leaving it aside I let it come to room temperature while I turned on the heat under the potatoes. I then peeled three large Bramley apples and after coring and roughly chopping I set them to slowly stew with a little water and caster sugar.
Rick came through into the kitchen just then and made us both a drink. He then quickly made a crumble mix and after pouring out the part stewed apples into a dish covered them fully with the mix, finishing with a sprinkling of Demerara sugar. I drained the potatoes and left them to rest in the pan. Then I opened the oven, which had reached temperature, placed the joint inside set the timer and sat down.
“How’s the table looking?” I asked.
“Just fine. Will and Justin are showing Liam how it all goes as if they’ve been doing it for years,” he laughed.
“Well, let’s leave them to it and go have a look when they’ve finished.”
“Yeah, I did the centre section and came in to do the apple crumble.”
“It’s all in hand now anyway, so we can relax for a bit. Let’s go and have a shower and change,” I suggested.
“What a good thought!” Rick said mischievously.
So we did just that and came back into the kitchen just as the oven timer was sounding. I reset the timer and heard the boys in the sitting room laughing away at something on the TV. So I went through with Rick to have a look at the dining room. The boys had done a wonderful job, all six places set with cutlery, glasses, sideplates and napkins.
“Hey, that’s good,” I remarked.
“Yeah, it is. Notice there’re four wine glasses and two soft drink tumblers,” Rick laughed. “Looks like Liam feels he’d like some wine this evening,” Rick smirked.
“So what? It’s fine by me. Not that he’s likely to overdo it. Shall we open one or two bottles, d’you think?” I asked Rick.
“Oh, one for now I think. Have two out though. I’m not sure Frank’ll have too much with his long drive back tomorrow. It’s only when the gang are here we go through a few.”
went through to the garage and came back with two bottles of red wine. One he
opened at once and decanted into our claret jug and set on the table, the other
I left on the sideboard. Rick and I carried the dinner plates and vegetable
serving dishes through to the kitchen to be warmed in the top oven and after
checking the joint I started to prepare the potatoes for roasting and slid the
dish onto the top shelf of the main oven. Then I prepared the Yorkshire pudding
mix. I glanced at the clock. It was almost a quarter past six and the joint was
nearly ready and needed resting on the carving plate. I got out my
The boys and Rick were watching one of the episodes of the Gerald Durrell dramatisation of My Family and Other Animals that both Justin and Will were doing in school. I’d wondered what they had been laughing while I was in the kitchen. The crazy lifestyles of Gerald’s family were bringing hoots of laughter from them both. Just then the front door bell went and I grinned at Will as he bounced up to go and answer it. He soon returned to the sitting room with his dad following, bearing a bottle. I welcomed Frank with Rick and excused myself to go into the kitchen to set the vegetables steaming.
The episode came to an end and Rick switched off the DVD. Frank had sat down and was chatting to Liam as I re-entered the room.
“Okay, guys, just a few more minutes and we can go through to eat,” I said.
“Good, I’m starved,” Will announced to all.
all laughed and I went back to the kitchen to do the last few tasks before
summoning everyone to the table. Everything was ready. Rick came through to
help with putting the vegetables into the serving dishes and straining the
gravy into the gravy boat. I placed the
“Dinner is served, please come through.”
We all went through to the dining room. Frank took the far end of the table with Liam on his left and Will on his right with Justin next to Liam and Rick next to Will and me at the other end. Once everyone was seated, Rick went round with the wine. Everyone had some wine except for Will and Justin, who both preferred fizzy concoctions.
As soon as the wine and soft drinks had been served, I carved the beef and placed slices together with a Yorkshire pudding onto plates and passing them up till everyone had a serving. We all helped ourselves to vegetables and gravy. Then Frank raised his glass and with a smile announced a toast to good food and friendship. We all joined in and then to Will’s plaintive
“May we start?” to his dad, with much laughter. We ate!
There was little said for a while as serious eating was being done, but both Rick and I noticed that Frank continued to chat to Liam as well as with Will when breaks in eating occurred. Will and Justin carried on a lively chat about the Gerald Durrell DVD they’d been watching and even hinted that they might enjoy that set book. Rick smiled at me and just raised his glass mouthing ‘lovely food’ as he did. I grinned back and enjoyed the meal immensely. Plates were emptying nicely and I offered seconds for those who could manage it. Liam, Will and Justin had a little more. Then when all were satisfied the boys cleared away the main course plates and cutlery and Rick went to see to the apple crumble. Liam re-appeared from plate carrying to the kitchen with a jug of cream and set that on the table. Rick followed soon after with the crumble and Will with the warm dessert plates. Rick served up and we enjoyed the sweet. I slipped away to the kitchen to put the coffee on and then returned to sit while the boys cleared away again. As they did so Frank finished his wine and said
“Guys, that’s the best meal I have had for weeks. I’ve had endless hotel grub and well, when at home, we’ve not been ones for cooking really. My parents did almost all of that. When Will and I were on our own it was mostly convenience food and nothing came close to this tonight. Very many thanks.”
“Thank you, Frank,” I replied. “I never mind the work involved if it’s appreciated.”
“Oh, what I got at home was nowhere near like this,” Liam added. “It’s a fantastic meal. Thanks… I’m stuffed now though,” he finished.
“What did you get at home Liam?” I asked out of curiosity.
“Oh, baked chicken legs or breasts, you know frozen southern fried sort with frozen veggies or sausage, mash and baked beans. Occasionally a roast on Sunday if Mum could be bothered. Recently she hasn’t been,” he replied. “Oh, bought in pizza, steak pies, y’know, stuff like that. Nothing actually home made ever.” He went on.
“Paul makes wicked burgers,” Justin chipped in.
“I know. I’ve had them. Remember when I got my computer fixed?” Liam replied.
“Oh yes, after swimming, wasn’t it?” Will said.
“Yeah, lot’s happened since then,” Liam sighed.
“Okay, guys, Rick broke in. “Let’s have coffee in the sitting room, okay?”
We all got up and then Liam organised the clearing of the table while Frank, Rick and I went through into the sitting room and settled into sofas.
“What can go into the dishwasher?” Liam asked from the sitting room door.
“Oh, not much, I’m afraid. I’ll come through and show you,” I said getting to my feet and following Liam back to the kitchen. I quickly showed him the whys and wherefores of the china, glass and silver, then helped Will and Justin get the coffee organised. It being nearer nine thirty, I made decaffeinated so we wouldn’t be awake all night. The boys carried through the coffee and then quietly excused themselves and I heard the washing up underway in the kitchen under Liam’s supervision.
We sipped our coffees and Frank turned to us and said
“It’s been a wonderful evening. I’ve really enjoyed the dinner and the company and while he’s busy, a word about young Liam. I’ve been having quite a chat with him tonight. I think you’ve a vey well adjusted young man there. He’s got his goals, he knows what’s required to achieve them and he’s set his sights on doing exactly that. He’s got character and guts and he’s the sort of lad that’s fiercely loyal to those who’re important to him. That includes all of you in this house. Believe me I know loyalty and character when I see it,” Frank finished.
“We saw you chatting quite a bit with him tonight,” I replied. “Hadn’t realised you’d sussed that much in an evening though,” I smiled.
“Oh, that comes with the training and the job, something you develop a quick insight for, those that can be trusted when the chips are down. He’s one of them, I’m sure. I also wanted to assure myself that I was right in my original assessment of Liam from the couple of occasions I’ve met him at the swimming and since. I’m confident he’ll be a good friend to Will also,” Frank added.
“Yes, we’d that feeling about him when he asked for our help. We didn’t hesitate to offer our home as refuge, until, or if, something, or not, gets resolved between Liam and his mother,” I said.
“Rather you than me on that one,” Frank replied. “Any news on that front?”
“No, nothing at all since Mr Robinson called last week,” I replied.
We all fell silent considering the implications ahead. Frank finished his coffee and then said
“Right, I’m for my bed. I’ve an early away tomorrow morning. My thanks to you both and we’ll be in touch, I’m sure. We do quite well for email contact, but you’ll see me again late December, hopefully, in time for Christmas.”
We both got up to see Frank out. I called out
“Will, your dad’s leaving now.”
Will came out of the kitchen, holding a drying up cloth, and said his goodbyes at the door.
“What time are you leaving Dad?” he asked.
“Around seven tomorrow morning,” Frank told him.
“Okay, Dad,” Will said, as he gave him a hug and then closed the door behind his father.
Will quickly returned to the kitchen and continued with the others in the clearing operations. Rick and I sat down again in the sitting room and simply enjoyed the sounds of the activity going on. All seemed to be unbelievably normal. We smiled and relaxed. At about ten fifteen the boys came back into the sitting room and with exaggerated yawns both Will and Justin made noises to suggest they were ready for bed.
“Tired?” I amusedly asked.
“Oh, yeah, best head up, I think,” Will said grinning at Justin.
“Get away, the pair of you,” I laughed, “and don’t make too much noise, okay?”
Liam grinned wickedly at them making a small gesture with the thumb and first finger of his right hand and moving his left thumb in and out of the circle made. Justin’s eyes bugged out and he snorted at Liam. The pair quickly disappeared upstairs to Will’s room.
“I saw that,” I chided.
“Didn’t say a thing,” Liam said innocently.
“I know, but not too much, all right? You just wait till you’ve met someone. Those two’ll declare open season if you don’t give them a break.”
“I won’t do it again… unless they start it. Then it’s fair game, I reckon,” Liam replied.
“So tomorrow we’ll get your room sorted so you can call it yours and settle in properly. I think a lie in’s called for. Let’s say brunch after eleven, and no disturbing Rick and me, either.”
“Sounds great,” Liam replied, “Oh, that meal was so good tonight,” he said as he lounged back in his seat.
“Pleased that you enjoyed it,” I replied. “Did you not get roast dinners at home then?” I asked.
“Not recently, no, not really since Dad left. That was when I was ten.”
upped and left shortly after Mum joined her church. He didn’t like their
attitudes, I think. There were rows about it and other things too. I didn’t
really understand much about it all back then. He just went one weekend. I
think he’d someone else. I got Christmas cards and small birthday presents for
my eleventh and twelfth birthdays, both from
We remained quiet after Liam’s explanations and after a few minutes he sighed and got up from the sofa and turning to us smiled and said
“I’ve not really told anyone or dealt with it. My mother and me just got on with things and being at school I’d plenty to keep me going. I miss a family and things like tonight,” Liam said with tears streaming down his face. “Thank you so much for letting me come and live here. I’m feeling like I belong now,” he said.
Rick and I got up from the sofa and pulled Liam into a hug, nothing more, just some simple reassurance. He relaxed and then quietly we all went into the kitchen and busied ourselves with tidying away the dinner things, before locking up and heading for bed.
End of Chapter 21
Thank you so much for the bumper crop of emails after the last chapter. I think I replied to you all. I’m pleased that you are enjoying the story. I also saw a lot of new members in the Google and Yahoo groups too. I keep an up to date full story in Pdf. format there, for anyone who’d like it complete in sequential chapters, with illustrations.
William will run till we have completed the current story. I then have in the pipeline a sequel titled - Liam.
Until then, may I wish all my readers pleasant Christmas celebrations for you and yours and a prosperous New Year… Although I doubt the latter is in store for many of us to be honest! ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ seems to sum up the situation for many this year-end. My own occupation has gone to the winds of change.
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