Chapter  4


William closed the bedroom door and sat down in the new computer chair they had just set up that afternoon. He looked about the room that was to be his home for the next few weeks; at least it seemed so as his dad had said it would take some time to sort out everything up in Scotland.

He was deeply saddened by the sudden death of Grandma and the serious state Grandfather appeared to be in. He was really worried too about where he would be during school time when his dad was back at sea on normal duties. It didn’t seem at all likely that the old arrangement of Granddad and Grandma staying with him, as they’d done since he was twelve, right from that awful day mum had died in hospital from cancer, could ever happen again, even if Granddad got better. He wondered if he’d have to go to boarding school, he knew there were ones for the kids of serving officers and didn’t much like that thought at all. He knew from what his father had told him that some children didn’t see much of their parents, as leave didn’t always coincide with school holidays. That was the reason that ever since mum had died granddad and grandma moved in to the other front bedroom of their house during the ‘away at sea’ times and life carried on as before.

He couldn’t believe his luck that morning when his dad had said that he’d ask Rick and Paul if they could look after him for a while. He really liked them ever since he and his father had attended their Civil Partnership party. Will had plucked up the courage after then as he saw how friendly dad had been to Rick and Paul, to tell him that he reckoned that he was probably gay as well. It had gone down okay considering. Dad had given a lecture about being sure and sensible, not to get involved yet as he was still only fourteen. Well fifteen in just over a week. Then there was a full half an hour on safe sex and all the awful diseases you can catch if you weren’t. Will thought that was slightly amusing as where exactly would he be getting all this sex? Not at school, as far as he could see there were no other gay lads around or at least none that were obviously ‘out’ but then was he obvious? He didn’t think so. He did have certain desires and really liked his friend Justin, but if Justin was gay or at least thought he was he hadn’t said a word.

Sighing, Will got up and began to get ready for bed. He looked round the room and noticed how good the new wardrobe mirror was at catching him full length. He slipped out of his top and T dropping the T into the laundry basket and not on the floor, as he remembered being asked to do. Getting down to his boxers he looked at himself in the mirror. Not too gross he thought to himself, as he went through to the bathroom to take care of business and teeth. After he was done he came back into the bedroom, had another long look at himself, flexed his muscles and burst out giggling at his own antics. He turned to the bed, and pulling back the duvet snuggled into bed. He was really tired and within seconds was out for the count.

* * * * * *

The following morning, Will woke very early with the sun streaming through the window. He had forgotten to pull the curtains across the night before and was awake well before his normal time for a Sunday.
He lay there and wondered if he pulled the curtains if he would get back to sleep. He soon felt the inevitable morning need to go to the bathroom and decided once he was out of bed to shower. When he’d showered and dressed, he left the room and headed quietly down to the kitchen in search of a mug of tea and some breakfast.

He filled the kettle and switched it on to boil; opening the cupboard where the mugs were stored he took three down, expecting both Paul and Rick to want a drink when they emerged from their bedroom on the second floor. He couldn’t recall where tea bags and stuff were stored, although he’d been given a quick show round the afternoon before. It was a bit much to take in with everything else going on at the same time. He opened the cupboard above where the kettle was and struck lucky. Well, it was the same as where they were kept in their kitchen next door! Taking down the jar of tea bags William dropped one into a mug and added the boiling water, stirring it round for a while then dumping the teabag into the waste bin he added a spoonful of sugar and some milk. He took the brew to the window seat and looked out over the back garden. He was totally lost in his thoughts and nearly jumped a mile when his reverie was suddenly broken into by a voice behind him.

“Good Morning! Sleep well.”

“Um…! Yes thanks Rick”

“That’s good, you’re up early, any reason?

“I forgot to pull the curtains before going to bed so I woke when the sun came through the window.”

Rick laughed and moved over to the worktop and felt the side of the kettle. He flicked the switch to re-boil. Picking up one of the two empty mugs that Will had got out earlier and adding a teabag he made himself a brew and sat beside Will.

“Well I guess that’s because of all that happened yesterday and being in a new place I guess.” He said kindly. “You’ll soon settle and find where things are. Do you want some breakfast? We’ve a bit to do today with friends coming this evening.”

“Yes please,” Will replied. “What’s going?”

“Cereal, toast & marmalade, our own home-made by the way, I think we have full English too if you want it?”

“Um… may I have toast and stuff?”

“Yes, sure, two slices?” Rick asked.
Rick slipped four slices of bread into the machine and turned the timer dial. While he waited for the toast to pop up he took out three plates, knives, olive oil spread and the marmalade. Putting it onto a tray he brought it to the kitchen table and pulled out a chair for himself.

“We’ve things to do and I hope you won’t mind helping out a bit today?”

“Nah, no problem, what’s to do??” asked Will.

“Paul’ll go to the farm in a while when he’s done showering to get the joint of beef. He’ll cook that this evening, I’ll be making the fruit terrine, and you can help with that. Then we’ve the table to set. Not too much really okay?”

“Yes, sure,” Will said.

The toast popped up just at that moment. Rick got up, sliced them diagonally dropping them into a rack as he did so, and brought it to the table. They both prepared toast and munched away for a while.

“Some more tea or some juice Will?” Rick asked.

“Juice please.”

“Juice is in the fridge, help yourself, glasses next to the mugs same cupboard.” Rick replied, pointing to the cupboard as he went to the kettle to make himself another brew.

Just at that moment I came through the door

“Hi.” I said.

“Hi.” They both said back.

“Sleep okay?” I asked Will.

“He forgot to close the curtains so woke with the morning sun.” Rick said.

“Oh!” I replied, “Don’t think you’ll do that again, not like a teen to be up this early on a weekend?” I grinned at Will.

“It’s a bit early,” admitted Will with a slightly chagrined look on his face.

I made myself tea and slipped a couple of rounds of bread in the toaster while we were chatting. I sipped away waiting for the toast when Will turned to me and asked.

“Would it be ok for Justin to come over earlier today? Say after lunch?”

I looked over at Rick who with a mouthful of toast just nodded to me.

“Yes,” I said, “don’t see why not. He’ll most likely get roped into helping with tonight’s preparations though. Would he mind that?”

“Nah, that’s okay,” Will replied. “We’ll both be helping anyway I guess?”

“Oh I think we’ll find something to keep you two out of mischief.” I grinned at him. “We’ll need to spend some time soon choosing stuff for your computer so we can build it before your birthday, in time for school too.” I finished.

While we spoke Will had been texting Justin, he got an almost instant reply and said “He plans to be here about three, is that okay?” he asked.

“Tell him that’s in plenty of time to peel the spuds!” Rick joked back.

“Yeah, I’ll do that!” laughed Will.

A few seconds later Will got the reply and laughed at the message.

“He’s sent a row of sad faces.” He grinned as he held up the phone display.

“You’ll have to tell him he’s to work for his dinner here!” I said.

“So what needs doing?” I asked.

“As soon as we’re finished go to the farm for the joint. Then when we’re back start on the dining room and prepare food?” I said.

“Right, we had better get organised.” Rick replied.

We finished our breakfast, cleared away, loading the dishwasher as we did so. Grabbing my keys from the table I set off down the hall to go.

“Do you want to stay and help Rick or come to the farm with me?” I called after Will as I went.

“I’ll stay with Rick if that’s okay.”

Rick began to get utensils out in preparation for his dessert. He then took out of the fridge a large punnet of strawberries and raspberries. He took them over to the sink and turning to Will handed him a large colander.

“If you’ll give the fruit a good cold water rinse then lay them out to dry on some kitchen roll we’ll get this done quickly. Paul will probably have time to go online to choose computer kit for you later on. How’s that sound?”

“Great! Yes sure.” Will replied.

Will rinsed out the fruit and was laying it out as Rick opened a bottle of pink wine pouring most of it into a saucepan on the hob; quickly bringing it to a simmer he added some sheets of gelatine to the wine. Then stirring till all the gelatine was dissolved he turned to Will.

“Cut all the strawberries in half removing any stalk that’s left as you go?” He said.

“Okay” replied Will. “What’s this going to be?”

“A big fruit jelly using wine as the jelly base, very simple but looks good!” Rick replied. “I want you to lay the nicest looking strawberry halves down in the base of this loaf tin.” He said handing Will a ten inch tin. “Start with large halves face-down in each of the corners then fill in the sides and finally the middle,” he told Will.

Will worked away for a few minutes cutting the strawberries and fitting them into the base of the tin.

“Next do a layer of the raspberries, when you’ve done that fit more strawberries in with the outsides to the tin okay? Fill all the room that’s left with those almost to the top of the tin, if there’s any raspberries left put them in the middle and finish off with any strawberries you’ve got left over.”

“Okay, I’ve done that, there’s a few left over.”

“We’ll just eat those? Don’t want to waste them!”

Rick poured the wine jelly into the tin fully laden with fruit just covering it all and then set the pan back onto the hob. Then he got another loaf tin filled it one third with water and after covering the fruit with cling film set the second tin on top to act as a weight to the fruit. He then carefully placed the whole into the fridge to set.

“What’s the rest of the jelly for? Will asked, looking into the pan on the hob.

“We’ll use it to fill the tin when it’s fully set.” Rick replied.

“Oh, I see - what’s next?” Will asked.
“Set the dining room up for eight, get the dinner service out, and ready.” Rick replied.

“There’s a lot to do for a dinner party isn’t there?” Will said.

“Yes there can be if you don’t keep it simple. Paul and I tend to do simple roasts with an easy dessert, like the one we’ve just done. He doesn’t need to think when he does a roast, reckons he could do one in his sleep! Have you been to a dinner party before Will?”

“Um…no, actually I haven’t. We’d have family Christmas and stuff but not like this at home, even when mum was still okay.” He said.

“Oh, it’s not that much different to any Sunday roast really, just nice china and more people at the table, you’ll be fine and Justin’s here to talk to when we adults talk stuff.”

“I guess so.” Will replied.

“You mentioned your mum just then, what happened?” Rick asked.

“She got sick with a cancer of the bladder, it got bad very fast and she died when I was about eleven. I don’t remember much as dad sent me to be with granddad and grandma while mum was very ill. I went to see her in hospital about a week before she died though.”

“I’m really sorry about that.” Rick said. “Silly question but I guess you miss your mum a lot?”

“I did to begin with, cried lots after the funeral. It’s not too bad now. There’s times I really miss being able to ask things, grandma’s nice but she doesn’t know stuff like my mum did.” He said.

Rick noticed Will still talked of his grandma as if she were still with us. The thought that Will had yet another funeral to attend in a few days time probably, was unsettling. Rick hoped to himself that it wouldn’t be too much of a trauma for all concerned and that Will could recover his cheery teenage disposition again. Teens were pretty resilient weren’t they?
The long chat with Paul the previous day had brought out feelings of parenthood in them both and he wondered to himself where it all might lead. Paul’s suggestion that they might both put themselves forward as foster parents has indeed struck a chord with them both. Let’s see how it all goes with Will he mused to himself.

“Let’s go into the dining room and get that set up.” Rick said.

So between the two of us we cleared the table top and opened out the middle section extending the table to full length inserting another section closing it together and fastening the underside clips to lock it in place. Rick got out a couple of cloths and began to polish up the surface.

“This won’t take long; I polished it properly only a week ago, so it won’t need much now.”

Rick aided by Will, polished up the surface and laid out eight place settings, three down each side of the table and one each at the opposite ends. When this was done Rick opened the sideboard and brought out wine and water glasses and two crystal glass decanters, which he placed at opposite ends on silver stands.

“What would you and Justin like to drink tonight?”

“Oh, I don’t like wine,” Will said, “at least not yet.” He grinned. “Can we have coke or something?

“Did your dad allow you to have wine at home then?” Rick asked.

“Yeah, tried it last Christmas but don’t really like it, didn’t finish the glass I had.”

“Okay, coke it is then, but I’m not having coke bottles on the dining table, I’ll find another jug and then you and Justin can help yourselves.” Rick replied.

Rick opened a cupboard and took down a polished wooden box, setting it on the table he opened it to reveal a very nice looking silver cutlery set. He took some of the cutlery out and laid up a full place setting.

“Look at this, copy that on your side and I’ll do this and then we’re almost done.” He said.

“Okay,” Will replied, “wow, this is really nice stuff.”

“Yeah, It belonged to my parents. It was a wedding present way back and hardly ever used. I can’t remember it being used much at home. They gave it to Paul and me for our Civil Partnership present. Said they thought we’d enjoy it more and actually make use of it. We really do like it and use it every time we have dinner parties. Right, just the table napkins and napkin rings left to do.”

Rick opened another drawer in the sideboard and took out two boxes of napkin rings and a pile of pale blue linen napkins, counting out eight then he emptied one box of six rings and took two from the other putting the boxes back into the sideboard drawer when he had done. He also put the cutlery box back into the wall cupboard. Rick then showed Will haw to fold a napkin and place the ring setting it in position, once done they laid all the napkins round the table. It was looking quite a sight. Rick then opened the double doors of the sideboard and kneeling down took out three piles of plates of different sizes; counting out eight of each he placed them on the sideboard top.

“That’s the crockery ready, starters, main course and dessert,” he said to Will.

“One last touch, I’ll add a bowl of floating candles as a centrepiece later this afternoon. How’s about we have a brew and wait for Paul?”

“Yeah, great, this looks fantastic! I’ve never seen a table set like this before.”

“What not even for Christmas?” Rick queried.

“No we’ve only ordinary china, granddad and grandma have nice stuff though, we’ve sometimes used that when we’ve been to stay with them. They don’t have glass like this or silver cutlery.” Will said.

“Well we’ve been lucky getting lots given to us. Paul’s parents gave us the dinner service too. It’s a Royal Doulton original from the 1960’s called ‘Reflections’. I really like the blue white and silver border pattern. We’ve added to it so we’ve ten place settings and filled a few gaps by looking on Ebay. Let’s have that brew now.”

Will and Rick went through to the kitchen. Rick got down three coffee mugs and made up instant coffees while Will filled the kettle and switched it to boil. They were sitting at the kitchen table when I arrived back from the farm shop with the joint.

“Hi guys, any coffee for me?”

They both said ‘Hi’ back and Rick slid the prepared coffee mug towards me.

“Kettle’s not long boiled; we’ve done the dining room and the dessert.”
“Right okay, thanks that’s brilliant.” I murmured as I switched the kettle back on and waited a minute for it to re-boil, filling my mug, adding milk and sugar. I stirred thoughtfully for a few moments before joining them at the table and sipping away.

“We’ve time to go online then and order some computer components for your birthday present from your dad.” I said.

“Oh wow, dad’s agreed has he? I hoped he would. I hoped he’d have told me something yesterday but all that other stuff happened and I forgot to ask about it. Rick said something earlier, so I was sort of hoping?”

“Yeah, he asked me last week if I’d sort it out. Your dad’s set a decent budget, so you can have some good kit. We’ll look when I’ve finished this. What time’s your friend coming over?”

“After lunch now, I asked if he could come over earlier and he can. Rick said he can peel potatoes” Will grinned.

“Oh yes, and carrots too!” I said, grinning back at him.

“What veggies do you and Justin like?” I asked.

“Um… peas, beans, cauliflower, carrots, I don’t like cabbage or sprouts.”

“What’s Justin eat?” I asked.

“Dunno, I’ve only had pizza or spag bol whenever I’ve eaten at his.”

“Well we’ll ask when he gets here, it’s going to be carrots, roast parsnips, green beans and cauliflower so there must be something there he’ll like?... Oh and roast potatoes.” I added.

“That sounds like I’m going to be pretty full tonight?”

“Well maybe, but you’ll soon burn that all off with some cycling or swimming?” I said.

“I guess so, but I’m growing so I need plenty of food!” He grinned back at us both.

Right! Let’s get online and sort out what you’d like.” I said.

We spent the next hour checking out the sites I used for computer components and had assembled a pretty impressive set up for the amount available. Comprising an Asus motherboard, AM2 2.4Gb dual-core processor, two ram memory strips of a gigabyte each, a decent Radeon ATI graphics card, a sturdy 600w power supply and an attractive gaming case with cool blue fans. We also found a very respectable specification, nineteen inch TFT monitor for less than a hundred pounds. That, together with the latest Windows operating system completed the order that would take a couple of days to arrive.

Everyone was in the kitchen and preparations for the evening were in full swing. I’d bags of veggies waiting to be peeled, scraped or sliced and was preparing the joint for the oven when the doorbell rang.

“It’s probably for you.” I said to Will. “Go and answer the door.”

Will went off down the hallway and came back with another slightly taller and sturdier boy in tow.

“This is Justin.” He said. Turning to us in turn he introduced the attractive boy to us both.

Rick got up and shook Justin’s hand.

“Good to see you Justin, I’m Rick and that’s my partner Paul there at the sink.”

I turned and waved a peeler in the general direction of Justin.

“Hi! I’m sorry but my hands are all wet just now. Will, why don’t you offer your mate a drink and show him round if you like?”

Will turned to Justin and inclined his head as he asked.

“Wanna coke?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Justin replied.

The two boys opened cokes and then Will took Justin on a tour of the house. As they entered the dining room Will turned to Justin and said.

“This is where we’re eating later with the other guys who’re coming; I helped get it set up just now with Rick.”

“Wow!” Justin exclaimed as his eyes darted round the room taking in the full place settings and the array of porcelain and silver tableware and crystal glass. “This is posh then?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty smart I guess. More than I’ve seen before anyway for a meal. I’ve never really been to a dinner party though.”

“I’m not sure I know what stuff to use y’know?” Justin said.

“Me neither.” Will replied. “Rick says we’ll be on either side of him so just follow what he uses okay?”

“Okay,” replied Justin, with more than a little uncertainty in his voice.

“Come and see my new room for while I’m here.” Will said excitedly.

“How long are you staying here then?” Justin asked.

“Don’t know, could be weeks if things are bad with granddad. I don’t really know. Dad said he’d call and say what’s happening sometime today though.”

The boys went upstairs to the first floor. Will showed Justin the two guest rooms small computer room and showed him Rick and Paul’s room but they didn’t enter, merely looked through the open door.

Justin eyed up the large double bed and smirking at Will said

“Bet they have fun in that!”

“Um… I guess so.” Will rather nervously replied.

The two boys continued up to the next floor. Will proudly showed off his room with all the new fixtures. Justin suitably impressed sat down on his computer chair, then idly pivoting round a couple of turns looked at Will and said.

“This is great! You’re up here on your tod and you’ve all this stuff, when you getting your computer over here?”

“I’m not bringing the old one. I’m getting a new one Paul’s building next week for my birthday. We’ve ordered all the bits just before you got here today.”

“Have you got a connection up here then?” Justin asked Will.

“No, not yet but I’ll have one by my birthday Paul’s going to do both these upstairs rooms and add them on to their network. They have superfast broadband through a router, he showed me this morning, says it’s easy to add rooms on just a cable to take down the wall outside and a socket here by the desk.”

“So we can go online and look for all sorts of stuff then?” Justin asked.

“P’rhaps, I don’t know how long I’ll be here. It depends on how granddad is. I might have to go to boarding school if things don’t work out.”

“Boarding school! Where?” Justin exclaimed. “You’re leaving the Royal Grammar?”

“I don’t know for sure, nothing's definite, it all depends on granddad and if dad can find a way for me to stay. If not, I’ll have to go to a service boarding school next term. I don’t want to, that’s for certain!” Will said.

End of Chapter Four... 

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