By Paul Jamison


Chapter – 23


Gerald Robinson walked through the main entrance of the Royal Grammar school and up to the desk. He’d spent the previous few days making calls and checking facts regarding the Russell case and was fast coming to the conclusion that the boy was anything but at risk, despite the mother’s allegations, all of which, as far as he could so far ascertain were proving to be somewhat groundless. He approached the receptionist

“Good morning. Gerald Robinson. I’m from county social services to see the Headmaster,” he said presenting his official ID to the receptionist.

“Please take a seat, Mr Robinson,” the receptionist replied, handing back his ID and giving Mr Robinson a Visitor badge as she did so. “I’ll just let the Head know you’re here.”

“Many thanks,” he replied tucking, his ID into his jacket, and clipping on the Visitor badge he took a seat.

Within a few minutes the Headmaster’s secretary appeared and after a brief welcome she escorted him through to the school office complex. The Headmaster rose from behind his desk as Mr Robinson was ushered directly into his office.

“Mr Robinson, do sit down,” the Head said. Mr Robinson took the proffered seat and taking out his file began.

“Headmaster, thanks for seeing me so quickly. It makes this a lot easier for all in the end,” he said in reply to the Head’s welcome.

“We are glad to be of assistance. Since your phone call yesterday and your follow up email I’ve had time to check a few facts. To put it simply there’re no obvious problems at all. Liam’s attended every day, on time. All his prep assignments have so far been completed on time and to his usual standard. His appearance is clean and tidy, as it always has been, and his behaviour is as we’ve come to expect from him. If anything, one member of staff reported yesterday when I enquired that he seems more at ease and cheerful when I enquired. We’ve no complaint with him in any way,” the Head stated.

“That’s good to hear and from what you said yesterday on the phone pretty much what I was expecting. I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that the problem’s not of Liam’s making, but that’s another issue entirely,” Mr Robinson said.

“We’ve had a change of address from the friends he’s currently staying with and as he’s over sixteen we see no need to break that confidentiality, although I now believe it’s common knowledge where he’s staying for the time being?” the Head replied.

“Well, yes, I agree,” Mr Robinson replied and then added “I’ve visited the accommodation and assessed the situation there from an ‘at risk’ point of view. We’ll be closing his file on that today, although we’ll maintain a watching brief and if there’s anything the school feels is a cause for concern, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at the department at once,”

“Oh, of course. Any at risk situation that I discover or that my staff brought to my attention would be reported immediately,” the Head assured Mr Robinson.

Mr Robinson put away his file and rising shook hands with the Head. The Head showed him to the outer office and within minutes he was back in his car heading into county hall and his own offices. I’ll have to go and see Mrs Russell next, he mused, as he parked in his bay at county social services and made his way up to his office.

* * *   * * *

Will’s viewpoint

A few more days had passed, Dazzer was back at school on the Monday and he’d kept right out of our way and said absolutely nothing to either Jus or me during the classes we shared. We just got the odd glazed look or two from him. It was so totally different from how he’d been on the first day back. Friday came around and I couldn’t wait for swimming practice. Jus still hadn’t had his stitches out, but he was as good as healed now. He reckoned they’d be out the following Monday when he went to the doctor’s. We both headed to the pool after last period and waited with the others for Mr Wellings to appear. Jamie and Craig appeared with Liam and a few moments later Mr Wellings opened up the pool and we all trooped in.

Justin went to find Mr Wellings and give him an update on when he’d be able to go back in the water and then went off to the seating area to watch us. I got changed, went poolside and within minutes was being put through training exercises with the others. I looked up from time to time at the seats and saw Jus with Craig chatting away together. Liam was up on the boards with Jamie and they were doing diving preparations and launch positions with the other divers, so I turned my attention back to what I was doing.

Mr Wellings blew his whistle for the end of practice and we all made our way to change and go home. Jus was waiting in the car park with Craig for us and Mrs Naylor arrived a few minutes after that. She’d already set the extra seats up. So we all piled in as usual and headed home. Mrs Naylor dropped off Craig, Jamie, Liam and me at Paul and Rick’s and I watched them go as Jus grinned back at me as they turned and drove off.

I saw a big skip of builder’s rubble in our driveway so went over to have a look just as Mr Clarke came out of our backdoor and turned to lock it up. He saw me and said

“I s’pose you want to see how we’re doing?”

“Yes please,” I replied. He opened up the door again and motioned me to go inside and have a look. I went through to our old dining room and saw that a new shower room was well under construction.

“That’ll be almost ready middle of next week,” Mr Clarke said. “We’ll be leaving all the tiling till last though. We’ll get all the building done first,” he explained to me.

“Oh, right,” I replied nodding as I did.

“We’ve done all the knocking out this week and got this far with the first shower,” Mr Clarke explained. “Next week we’ll be onto the top room conversions and then the middle floor en suite in your father’s room,” he finished.

“Okay, thanks for showing me,” I said.

“Take it your bike’s all right?” he asked.

“Yeah, thanks, it’s good as new,” I replied.

“That’s good. We don’t want any more nonsense like that do we?” Mr Clarke finished.

“No…” I agreed.

He turned and led me back out and locked up. Liam’d gone inside so I said goodbye to Mr Clarke and headed in through the kitchen door.

Once inside I joined Liam at the kitchen worktop where he was making tea. He turned and asked

“Want a brew?”

“Yeah, please,” I replied. “I wonder if there’re any burgers in the freezer.”

“Should be four left,” Liam replied. “I’ll have two if you’re going to grill them up?” he grinned at me.

I laughed and turned on the grill to warm before going out to the utility room to get the burgers from the freezer. Liam’d got some burger buns out of the fridge and was slicing them to toast.

“Want grated cheese on top?” I asked.

“Yeah, defo,” he grinned back.

We got on with the job of preparing food when the phone rang. I answered it and it was Paul wanting to talk to Liam.

“’S for you. It’s Paul,” I said, handing him the handset.

“Hi,” Liam said into the receiver and stood quietly listening for a few minutes before handing it back to me. “Paul wants to talk to you now,” he said.

“Hi, Paul.” I listened as Paul explained that Rick was springing a weekend surprise for him and Paul and they were going up to Yorkshire and having a special dinner on some train or something, but they’d be away till Sunday afternoon. I mumbled “Okay,” and continued to listen as Paul explained that there was some money for our weekend food in the drawer and he’d filled the fridge with plenty to tide us over till Sunday night. Then we’d go to Mario’s again and would I book a table for the four of us. The downer was he’d told me that there were to be absolutely no overnight guests or wild parties. Liam was in charge and we were on trust. Paul also gave me a hotel phone number and mentioned they both also had their mobiles with them.

“Bit sudden, isn’t it?” I asked.

Paul told me that it wasn’t really. Rick’d been keeping this one a complete surprise. He knew Paul just loved old steam engines and this run was going to be headed by one for the dining cars trip on the Saturday night he explained.

“Oh, okay, have fun then. We’ll be all right,” I said and handed the phone back to Liam.

Liam listened to a bit more then said “Bye,” and rang off. He put the phone back and then turned to me and said

“So no hanky-panky with Jus this weekend?” he grinned. “I’m in charge, okay?”

I blushed red as usual and then answered “Actually, Jus can come round and we can do anything we normally would. He can’t stay overnight that’s all… so there.”

“Okay, only teasing. I know he can come round. Paul said so. He’s already talked to Mrs Naylor, so I expect he told you that too?”

“Yeah, we can’t have overnight friends or parties is what he said. They’re going on some dining train thing. Oh, we’ve gotta book the Italian place for eight on Sunday, okay?”

Liam looked at his watch. “Call ’em now. Then it’s done, okay? Have you their number?”

“Yeah, there’s a menu on the sideboard. The number’s on the front,” I replied.

Liam turned round and rummaged through the small pile of stuff on the side and found the menu. He picked up the phone and called the restaurant. While he was doing that I slipped the burgers under the hot grill and popped the buns into the toaster. Liam came off the phone and said

“All sorted. A table for four of us at eight on Sunday.”

“Oh good,” I replied. “Help me turn these and cook the other side, please,” I asked. Between the two of us we got the burgers cooked and spread with the grated Cheddar cheese and we sat down to eat them. Liam had made another brew then asked

“What are you going to do this weekend then?”

“Well, homework tonight and tomorrow morning. I’ve maths, history and an English essay to do, so that’s a few hours I expect,” I replied.

“I’ve work till four tomorrow, but how about we try and do a nice meal and you ask Justin and I thought I could ask Craig to come round,” Liam said coyly.

“Then we could do a meal for the four of us?”

“Ohhhh, Craig is it?” I said knowingly. “So, do you fancy him then?” It was Liam’s turn to go beetroot and he falteringly replied

“Ye…es, I like him a lot and I think he sort of likes me too,”

I grinned widely at Liam. “He seems okay,” I said. “I haven’t said much to him though and Jamie’s okay as well. He’s dead keen on swimming anyway. Is Craig gay or aren’t you sure?”

“I’ve just got a feeling that he is, but I’ve not asked. So I’m not a hundred percent sure yet,” Liam answered.

“Oh, so you reckon if he sees me and Jus he’ll feel safe telling you then?” I giggled. “Found you out, Liam!” I chortled.

“Well, not exactly, but he might feel safer is what I thought, that’s all,” Liam replied anxiously. “I mean, do you mind?” he asked me.

“Nah, ’s okay. I’ll have to tell Jus though. You know what he’s like if he discovers stuff like that!”

“Yeah, okay, then. But no-one else mind. You two and Rick and Paul are all I want knowing for quite a while,” Liam said.

“What’re we going to cook for this masterpiece and… can you cook?” I asked.

“Well, I’ve done quite a lot of basics at home as I’d have to help my mother a lot,” Liam replied, “but I’ve never done the whole thing start to finish though,” he said anxiously.

“Oh, this should be fun. I’ve done next to nothing till I got here and I’ve helped Paul and Rick. That’s all,” I said.

“Let’s go and see what’s in the freezer first then?” Liam suggested.

We got up and cleared away the mugs and plates into the dishwasher and went through to the utility room and lifted the freezer lid. There were four joints of meat and one frozen chicken in the freezer. One was a leg of lamb, one a loin of pork then two big chunks of beef according to the labels.

“How about we call Paul and simply ask?” I suggested.

“Yeah, good thought,” Liam agreed. “We’re on trust this weekend not to screw up. So, if we ask, there’s no problem, is there?”

“Call Paul. Rick’ll be driving I bet,” I said.

Liam fished out his mobile and pressed a speed dial button. After a few seconds he got through. Liam explained what he was hoping to do and then he went through into the kitchen, sat down with a pen and pad he’d grabbed off the side and began scribbling some notes down while I listened in to his side of the conversation. When he was done, he rang off, turned smiling towards to me and said

“Yeah, it’s okay.  Paul says use the chicken. Then there might be a bit left for us Sunday lunchtime. We’ve to take it out of the freezer now and leave it in the sink overnight, put it in the fridge on a plate tomorrow, after we’ve taken any giblets out and dumped those. It’s twenty minutes a pound at 180șc and he’s given me a simple recipe for chicken gravy as well, okay?”

“Sounds good,” I replied. “What about potatoes and veggies though?” I asked.

“That’s simple. One decent size potato per person, peeled and cut into four, boil for five minutes, drain and then shake about in the pan. Put them into a roasting dish and top shelf for forty-five minutes after liberally spreading with groundnut and olive oil. They’re done when golden brown.”

“Okay, that sounds easy enough,” I replied. “What about other veggies though?”

“Fresh carrots from the market stall in the town centre. I can get them lunchtime tomorrow. One bunch’ll be plenty, Paul said, and frozen peas. It keeps it simple for our first effort. It doesn’t sound too hard does it?” Liam queried anxiously. “Simmer - what’s that? -  peas for three minutes and steam carrots after peeling and slicing for twelve minutes,” Liam read from his notes.

“Simmer’s just on boiling,” I replied. “You’d better ask Craig if he wants to come then,” I grinned at Liam. “Let’s give it a go. Can we use the dining room?”

“No we can’t. Paul says put a cloth on in here use the stainless cutlery. No alcohol, just soft drinks as they’re not here and the green dinner service plates and servers. Do you know what they are? He says they’re in the dining room in the far side cupboard.”

“Let’s get the chicken out, you message Craig, I’m calling Jus, then we’ll go find this stuff and get it ready on the side over there, okay?” I said

“Yeah, okay,” Liam agreed and got his phone out and started texting.

I went back into the utility room, called Jus and told him what was up. He was excited and wanted to help, so got permission to come over after he’d had lunch and done his homework. He told me his mum said he’s to be home by eleven latest. I got the chicken out of the freezer and went and dumped it in the sink in the utility room then headed back into the kitchen. Liam was off the phone and seemed to be waiting for a reply.

“Let’s find the plates and stuff,” I suggested.

“Okay,” he said, glancing at his phone on the table.

“You’ll hear it go off from the dining room. So don’t worry,” I said noticing his glances.

“Yeah,” he replied following me across the hallway.

We’d just found the green dinner service and had counted out four main course plates two vegetable servers and four dessert plates when Liam’s phone bleeped a message signal. He picked up the plates and carried them through to the kitchen and after putting them down, checked his messages. I closed the cupboard and brought through the vegetable servers. I stacked them all on the side worktop ready.

Liam clicked his phone shut and smiling at me said

“Yes, it’s okay. He can come. He’ll be here at seven thirty and do you reckon we’ll be ready by then?”

“Yes, easily, as long as you don’t hang about in town after work. We’ve lots to do as soon as you get in, okay?”

“I’ve got quite a bit of instructions here, but I think its okay. Paul says check the weight of the bird carefully. He said he thought it’s about three and a half pounds. So that’ll be an hour and  half in the oven and then twenty minutes resting on the carver while we finish the veggie cooking, then serve up. So working back from there, to eat at seven-thirty it needs to go into the hot oven at… um about twenty to six, okay?” Liam said.

“So what we need are some nice nibbles and cokes to have in the sitting room while the last minute stuff’s being done?” I suggested.

“Okay, um… what?” Liam asked.

“How about thin toast with pâté or cheese on Ritz biscuits? Um… I dunno,” I offered lamely. “It’s just we had the pâté when we had a big dinner party here the night after I came to live here. It was really good. They had it as a first course, though, already laid out to eat before we went into the dining room.”

“Do you like French cheese?” Liam asked.

“Yes, but that’s an end, not a starter, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Yeah, guess so. Scrap that, eh?” he replied.

I thought for a moment. “Do you like celery and carrot sticks to dip in stuff?” I asked him. “I think they’re called crudbites or sommat.”

“Sounds complicated,” he replied. “Let’s just have a few crisps and nuts, okay? I can get them at lunchtime when I get the veggies.”

“Yeah, all right, I’m going up to do my homework now.”

“Sure, I’ve gotta get started on mine too,” he replied.

I got up and put my crocks in the dishwasher and picked up the neat stack of ironed school shirts that had been on the side worktop and headed off to my room to do homework. A few minutes later I heard Liam’s door open and close too. So I guessed he must have been doing the same. After working on my homework till a quarter past ten I called Jus for a chat. I’d been hoping for some more fun this weekend, but didn’t seem possible as we were going to do this dinner thingy. Jus was as excited as I was that we were doing it all on our own. So I was pleased about that. At eleven I went to the bathroom, took care of needs and had a shower before going to bed. The house was strangely quiet and I could just hear Liam’s hi-fi playing from across the hall as I turned off my lamp and fell asleep.

* * *    * * *

The following morning I got up and went down to the kitchen for a brew and some toast. Liam was already having his breakfast. So I said hi to him and got my toast going while I made a mug of tea.

“Got a shopping list?” I asked him.

“Yeah, did one last night before going to bed,” he replied.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded up sheet of file paper which he opened out and put on the table in front of him.

“I’ve put potatoes, carrots, nuts, crisps and a pudding,” he said. “I thought I’d get a ready made trifle or something in the supermarket as I don’t know I can do anything special just yet.”

“Prolly a good idea. It’s not like you’ve got all day to sort it with work and stuff,” I said.

“Yeah, I was thinking that too,” Liam said.

“Hang on I’ve got an idea,” I said getting out my phone and speed dialing Justin.

I got through at once and then asked to speak to his mum. Mrs Naylor came on and I asked if she was going to the supermarket that morning at all and if so if I could have a lift. I listened to the reply and with a big grin thanked Mrs Naylor and rang off.

“You’re in luck; Justin’s mum’s going to the supermarket in fifteen minutes and can take me there and back. So I can get all the stuff and Jus and me can get some of it ready while you’re at work. So don’t hang about and get home quick, all right?” I told Liam.

“Oh, that’s brilliant,” Liam replied. “Saves me rushing around in the lunch break and going to the supermarket on the way home. What’ll you get for a pudding then?”

“Um… not sure, fruit trifle or something?” I said.

“Sounds okay,” Liam replied. “Right, I’m off to work now. I’ll see you at about half past four then, okay?” Liam said as he cleared away his breakfast things and picking up his backpack slipped out of the kitchen door.

I finished my tea and toast, loaded the dishwasher and started it going as it was nearly full and I thought we’d need it empty for the dinner things that night. I went to my room, got my backpack and wallet, then slipping on my top I went back downstairs and out the kitchen door, locking it behind me and headed off to Justin’s house.

Mrs Naylor met me in the driveway. She was ready to go. So I got in the car and belted up and we set off.

“I hope you didn’t mind not seeing Justin yet,” she said, “but he’s got quite a lot of prep to do and if it’s not done by after lunch he’ll not be coming round to yours until it is. So I thought it best you not distract him,” she explained.

“Yes, that’s fine. I’ve got one more subject to do before he comes round anyway,” I replied.

“In that case I’ll take you straight back after you’ve got what you need so you can get on with it. Paul’s very keen that no homework goes unfinished just because they’re away this weekend.”

“Oh, thanks very much. I don’t actually need very much,” I said getting the list out that Liam had done.

“Did you remember to put the chicken in the fridge this morning?” Mrs Naylor asked.

“Oh sh**! No, I forgot,” I said, colouring up furiously. “How did you know that’s what Liam’s cooking,” I asked.

“Oh, a little chat with Paul on the phone yesterday evening,” Mrs Naylor replied. “If you three need to know anything, get Justin to call me, all right? But I expect you’ll manage just fine with Paul’s instructions, I’m sure. But, get that chicken into the fridge on a plate as soon as you get back okay? Where is it defrosting?”

“It’s in the sink in the utility room,” I replied.

“That’s just fine. It’s only had a few hours defrosting so far and that room isn’t heated, is it?” She asked.

“No, it’s always cool in there,” I said.

We got to the supermarket, parked up and went in. I only needed a hand basket. So I scooted round to vegetables and got potatoes and carrots, then off to the snacks aisle and got a big bag of hand-cut crisps and a mixed nuts tub, then off to the fresh chilled display where the trifles and things were. Mrs Naylor spotted me and suggested a large fruit trifle with custard and cream topping would do easily for the four of us. I added that to the basket and after getting a two litre bottle of Coke I turned to Mrs Naylor said

“That’s the lot on my list.”

“I’ve a few more things I need,” she replied. “It takes a lot of food to keep Justin stoked up for a week,” she smiled.

I laughed at that and knew that Jus enjoyed a good feed when there was one going. We finished Mrs Naylor’s shopping and headed for the checkouts. I paid for mine and followed Mrs Naylor back to the car.

A few minutes later I was back home again and started unpacking the shopping. The veggies I left by the sink to do later, I put the fruit trifle into the fridge with the large Coke and then went and got the chicken out of the sink in the utility room. I unwrapped it and then rinsed it out under the tap and dried it with kitchen paper before putting it into the fridge on a plate. I checked the weight from the label and wrote it down, 1.6Kg, around three and a half pounds just as Paul had thought. That done, I washed my hands and went up to my room to finish my homework.

* * *   * * *

I packed away my last homework books, tidied my desk and as it was almost half-past-one decided to go down to find a snack before Justin arrived. I grilled some bacon, made bacon with cheese sandwich and had a can of Coke. I’d just finished that and started unloading the dishwasher and putting the stuff away when Jus shot up the driveway on his bike and was tapping away at the back door. I shouted that it was open and he breezed in all smiling

“Done your homework, then?” I asked grinning.

“Oh, yeah at last,” he groaned. “That maths was awful! Did you understand any of it?” he asked.

“Yeah, I know. Some of it, not all though. I’m gonna have to get some help with that stuff. I just don’t understand half of what Mr Andrews is talking about half the time,” I replied.

Justin came up and plonked a big kiss on my lips and I had to put down a handful of mugs hurriedly so as not to drop them.

“Mmmmmmm,” I squeaked and just avoided dropping them all. “Help me get this stuff away. Then we need to do some things before Liam gets home, okay?

“All right,” he replied so we’re not getting any fun today then?” he asked.

“Not right now except another kiss!” I said landing one properly this time, now  I had both hands free, “but I thought after the meal we could leave Liam and Craig to do the washing up together and go to my room?” I winked at him.

“Oh, yeah… definitely!” Justin nudged me. “So what’s to do?” he asked.

“Lay the table up with a cloth, peel the veggies and get them ready, stuff like that,” I replied.

“That won’t take too long then, will it?” Justin replied.

“Nah, I don’t think so. Let’s get started on the veggies. Then we could go and ‘have a shower’?” I said grinning widely back at him.

We peeled potatoes and carrots and set them ready in saucepans on the hob. Then I cleared the kitchen table, got a tablecloth from the cupboard and me and Jus set up four place settings. Once that was done I got two roasting tins out and set them ready for the chicken and the potatoes. Then quickly looking round to see if I’d forgotten anything said

“I think that’s it, don’t you?” I asked Justin.

He looked around and said “Yeah, looks good. I think that’s all we can do now. Let’s go shower?” he said with a wicked grin. “How long have we got till Liam’s home?”

“Oh, about an hour and a half,” I replied glancing at my watch. “He should be home by half-four, I think.”

Justin headed out of the kitchen and took the stairs two at a time. I followed as quickly till we reached my room. Once in we shed our clothes as fast as we could and Jus grabbed me from behind as I was getting my socks off.

“Have you got that massage lotion stuff?” he asked as he nuzzled into my neck.

“Yeah, it’s in the bathroom cabinet,” I replied. “Go get it and bring a big bath towel too, okay,” I told him.

Justin came back with the lotion and towel and laid it out on my bed.

“You first,” he said.

I lay down on the towel, Justin straddled my legs and applied some lotion to my back and bum then he started to massage me. I was getting very excited. So he turned me over and played with my very stiff cock that was already leaking pre-cum. Then he played his tongue up and down my cock until I could hardly stay still on the bed. Then he took my cock right in and gave me the most explosive blow-job I’d ever had. After I’d stopped wriggling I changed places with Jus and proceeded to get him all excited by massaging his bum with long strokes down his back right between his cheeks and brushing over his bum-hole to the back of his balls then back up again. He was soon writhing about and squeaked

“I’ll… Ohhhh…. come like this, if you don’t stop,”

“Go on then!” I giggled back.

“Nooooh! I want what you had…” he protested.

So I got him to roll over and did the same to him as he’d done to me. After he’d finished coming and it’d been quite an explosion, we cleaned up and showered. We soaped each other all over and I nearly came again as Justin washed my cock… I was definitely turned on enough.

“Not now, let’s wait till later, okay?” I said getting back under the water stream. Justin nodded and as soon as we were both clean we shut off the water and dried ourselves. Returning to my room we dressed and headed downstairs to make a brew and wait for Liam, as a glance at my clock showed he ought to be home in around a quarter of an hour.

 * * *      * * *

We’d just finished our tea when Liam came in through the back door.

“Wanna brew?” I asked him. “We’ve just had one.”

“Yeah, thanks. It’s been a really busy day for some reason in the shop today.”

I made Liam a tea and sat down by the window while he took a drink.

“Thanks for getting this all ready,” he said. “It looks great. I guess we’d better get started in a minute?”

“Turn the oven on to one-eighty to get to temperature,” I suggested. “Then we can get the chicken ready to go in at just after half-past-five, I reckon?”

“Yeah, did you put it in the fridge?”

“Yeah, but, I forgot this morning. Justin’s mum reminded me while we were shopping,” I said.

“You went shopping with my mum this morning?” Jus asked surprised. “I’d a gone too, if I’d known,” he whinged.

“Your mum wouldn’t let me tell you. She said you still had loads of prep to do,” I told him.

“Oh, yeah, I guess so,” he grimaced. “Still it’s done now anyway,” he smiled.

Liam had been reading the instructions Paul had given him over the phone last night and looked up and said “I’m going to get the potatoes underway so they’re ready to go in the oven at the right time, okay?”

He got up and turned on the gas under the potatoes pan and ignited the flame and then sat back down again.

“Yeah, good idea,” I said.

Justin nodded and added

“Whatever. I can’t cook so I hope you know what your at?” or are we all gonna get poisoned tonight.”

“Nah, no chance,” Liam said. “I’ve got this all sorted now, no probs. It’s going to be just fabulous.” He grinned at us both. “I’ll get the chicken out now and it can come up to room temperature. Apparently it’ll be more tender if you do that, according to what Paul said.”

So we all pressed on with the preparations and Liam got out the snacks and nibbles he’d got in town and we set them out on the coffee table in the sitting room. Jus grabbed a few crisps as they were just tooooo tempting he told us both with a laugh. The potatoes came to the boil and Liam set the timer for eight minutes. When it went off he drained the spuds and rolled them around in the pan to ‘fluff up’ a little. He then put them into the second roasting tin and liberally sprinkled with olive and groundnut oils. They were then ready to go in the oven forty-five minutes before they were needed.

We got the chicken into the roasting pan and spread some butter over the breast and wings and then Liam covered the bird with some cooking foil and it was ready to go in the oven at about twenty to six. Justin and I had a Coke and just watched Liam being a busy cook.

“Do you know how to carve it?” I asked Liam.

“Um, well sorta I think,” he replied. “I’ve done it at home with chicken my mum’s roasted, so I should be able to, but do you know where the carving knife and fork are?” he asked me.

“Yeah, they’re with all Paul’s good knives in that box over there,” I pointed to a dark wood case on the end of the kitchen worktop. “Anyway, it’s time for the chicken to go in. It’s almost twenty to six,” I said.

Liam opened the oven door and slid the chicken into the oven, closing the door and setting the timer for forty-five minutes.

“Why only half the time?” I asked.

“Because that’s when the potatoes go in on the top shelf and also when the foil comes off the chicken so the skin all browns up golden like,” Liam explained. “Paul told me to do it that way last night.”

“Oh, okay, sounds good,” I replied. “When did you ask Craig to get here?”

“Oh, about seven fifteen,” Liam replied. “I thought that’s be enough time to have a coke and a few crisps ‘while the potatoes finish and the veggies cook and while the chicken rests on the carving plate with the foil covering it’,” Liam read out from Paul’s instructions.

Justin giggled. “I’m starving already. I can smell the chicken and it’s only been fifteen minutes too. There’s over an hour to go,” he complained.

“I’m just going upstairs to have a shower and change, okay, but, please, don’t eat all the nibbles,” Liam begged us both.

“Nooooo, we wouldn’t do a thing like that, would we?” Jus turned to me grinning away like a Cheshire cat!

“You better not, Naylor, or you’re a dead ’un!” Liam shot back as he left the kitchen.

We both laughed and got a few crisps each from the ones still left in the big pack I’d bought. I then looked at Paul’s instructions that Liam’d left out by the cooker. The gravy was mentioned and I’d noticed Liam hadn’t got any stock ready. I got a Pyrex jug out and added a stock cube and then boiled the kettle, added some boiling water to the cube and stirred till it dissolved.

“What’s that for?” Jus asked me.

“The gravy. I think Liam’s forgotten about it,” I said.

“Oh gotta have gravy with roast potatoes,” Jus answered.

“Yeah, definitely!” I agreed.

Justin and I went through into the sitting room and turned on the television as there was not much we could do until it was time to put the potatoes in the oven. I persuaded Jus to leave the crisps and nuts alone till Craig had arrived. Jus looked at his watch and commented

“But that’s not for another hour yet, though!”

“Didn’t you have any lunch then?” I asked him.

“Yeah, but that was hours ago and we’ve been having fun since then,” he complained with a giggle.

Shortly after six fifteen Liam came back down looking ever so smart in navy blue trousers and a superb silk shirt we both did a double take when he came into the sitting room.

“Dressed to attract then?” I giggled and Justin rolled over laughing.

“Shut it, you two or I won’t feed you!”  Liam retorted.

“Is it too over the top?” he then tentatively asked us

“No, not really. It’s awfully smart though,” I said.

“More sorta adult than us,” Justin added.

“I’m a bit older, I guess, so stands to reason?” Liam queried.

“Yeah. It actually looks pretty amazing. Those trousers are… um… quite sexy,” I said, colouring furiously as I did.

Liam coloured up too and said “Um… thanks. I hoped they’d show me off a bit? But it’s not too over the top?” he queried.

“Nah, I’d fancy you in those,” Jus chirped up from the sofa!

“You’d better not!” I hastily retorted, though the giggles all over Jus’s face gave the game away that he was kidding really.

Just then the oven timer went off and we went back into the kitchen to continue cooking. All went smoothly and we’d got the spuds roasting away, the chicken browning nicely and the veggies ready to pour a kettle full of boiling water over to get started quickly when Craig arrived.

At exactly seven fifteen the doorbell went and Liam flung off his cook’s apron and anxiously went to answer the door.  A few moments later he returned with Craig whom he sheepishly ushered into the sitting room and asked him to make himself at home. I went through and offered soft drinks and the snacks. Craig asked for a Coke and I went to get them for all of us. Justin carried the tray of drinks through and I looked at the oven timer just to see how long there was to go on the potatoes as the chicken was out and resting on the carving plate. I boiled the kettle and started the veggies, then added the stock to the meat dish and gently heated up the gravy. I left that on really low heat and went into the sitting room to chat too. I noticed that Craig’s eyes often darted to look at Liam. I nudged Jus and he noticed my line of sight and grinned wickedly back at me and blew a couple of surreptitious kisses at me.  That creased me up and it was as well the oven timer went off as Liam leapt to his feet and excused himself to the kitchen. I heard him busily getting everything onto the table and in just a few minutes he appeared at the sitting room door to say

“Gentlemen… Oh, and Justin, ‘Dinner is Served’,” with as equally as wicked a grin as Jus had displayed, while we’d been teasing Liam with blow kisses in the sitting room.

Craig laughed and we all went through into the kitchen. Liam’d got everything laid out and a lot of the chicken carved on the plate ready to serve. We had a fabulous feed, chatted and laughed and really enjoyed the meal. It’d all turned out just right. At least I thought so. After the trifle we all went back into the sitting room for some coffee that Liam had made. He then produced some super posh after dinner mints that were very good.

Justin looked over at me and looked upwards. I took the hint and we made our departure to my room leaving Liam and Craig to chat alone. Jus and I were so full when we got upstairs that we ended up collapsed on my bed just cuddling and kissing for half and hour or so. Then reluctantly Jus said he’d have to set off home as he daren’t be late. As we got back downstairs Craig and Liam must have heard us coming as they appeared out of the sitting room and both had well messed up hair. I glanced at Jus and smirked before seeing him to the door. Craig was in the kitchen getting his coat when I plonked a goodnight kiss right on Jus. He returned it at the same time as Craig re-appeared with Liam and his coat. He couldn’t fail to have seen us. I said bye to Justin and went back into the kitchen. Liam said goodnight to Craig at the front door and after shutting it behind him came into the kitchen and surveyed the mess we’d created.

“Let’s put what we can in the dishwasher and run it, then do the rest in the morning, okay?” Liam said.

“Yeah,” I agreed, “there’s an awful lot, isn’t there when you have friends to dinner?”

“Too right,” Liam nodded.

“So, how’re things with Craig?” I asked.

“Um… pretty good so far I think, Liam said quietly. “I really do like him and we’ve got on so well tonight too.”

“Well, did anything happen? Is he gay? Did you tell him you are?” I tumbled out the questions.

“Hang on, give me a mo. Yes, I’m pretty sure he is and I think he likes me. He wants to see me tomorrow afternoon,” Liam replied.

“Oh brilliant,” I jumped about the kitchen. I was so pleased for Liam.

We tided away as best we could, locked up and headed for our rooms. I texted Jus and filled him in on the latest vis á vis Liam and Craig. Then after going to the bathroom I got ready for bed, checked my email and found one from Dad that I replied to and then turning off my computer I got into bed and was asleep very quickly.


End of Chapter 23

 By Paul Jamison