Authors: Suki Fleet
I wanted to close my eyes, but I couldn’t.
“I was so proud of them—of being the subject in them—I wasn’t thinking straight. When I got home, I showed Mum. At first she was just confused. She stared at them for ages. ‘Who did these?’ she asked me. ‘One of your friends?’ I told her no, it was my art teacher. I told her I sat for him after school sometimes.
“I told her I liked to stay behind after school to talk to him. She asked me what about and… I think I was possessed by some alien, because I told her I was gay and he was gay too and he’d give me advice and stuff.”
Thomas covered my hand with his and shifted closer. “Come here,” he said, and the way his voice caught over the words made me want to curl up in his lap and stay there.
The weight of his arm came around my shoulder, and I leaned into him. I was so grateful for his solid bulk at my side. Now I closed my eyes.
“I told her over and over he’d been nothing but kind to me, and nothing inappropriate had ever happened. But she didn’t believe me. She said the pictures were proof. She said he’d perverted me. Turned me gay. She phoned the school.”
I put my hand over my face. I needed a shower—my skin smelled of sweat and grime. I felt bad for pressing against Thomas, but I didn’t stop. I couldn’t.
“In the end she blackmailed Samuel Felix with going to the police. She told him she wanted ten thousand pounds to keep quiet. And he paid her and handed in his notice and left. He didn’t want the scandal. I never saw him again. I don’t even know if he blamed me, if he thought I’d planned it all out. I stopped going to school after that. All the other teachers were wary of me.”
A sound like a sob escaped my throat. A thousand more seemed stuck in my chest.
Very, very gently, Thomas threaded his fingers through my hair. It felt good, even though I didn’t.
“And you know what the worst thing about it was?” I whispered. “Her last boyfriend was the fucking pervert…. Trent Blake. He’d abused me since we’d moved to Brighton, and she never knew. He used to take me out in his car so no one would hear us.”
Thomas gasped. “Fuck.”
“Now you swear!” I blinked up at him, trying to smile, but my tears ruined the effect.
Thomas looked up at the ceiling, and I could tell he was trying hard not to cry. He looked so shocked.
“It’s okay,” I said. I only meant it was okay for him to cry, I didn’t mind. He didn’t have to pretend to be stoic and strong—he was strong enough. I knew none of this was really okay.
For a moment his breathing was deep and shaky. I dropped my head to his shoulder. God, I felt empty. It was as though I’d poured myself out and there was nothing left inside me anymore. But being empty was what I wanted—being empty brought its own kind of peace.
“When did it stop?”
“She split up with that boyfriend before I met Samuel Felix. We moved. I don’t think Mum gave him a forwarding address.” It had always been a bit of a volatile relationship.
“You were thirteen.”
Somehow it was easier being vague. I could almost pretend I was talking about something else.
Thomas rested his head on top of mine. It wasn’t the most comfortable position. But I wouldn’t have moved if the world was ending.
“I just told you stuff I never thought I’d tell anyone,” I said quietly. I felt a little sick. I hadn’t planned all that to come out. I’d always been so afraid of it all spilling out of me some day. And now it had. I wasn’t sure how I felt.
Thomas reached for both my hands and held them tightly.
“I’m glad I’m here with you and you didn’t tell me over the phone.”
When he shifted back up the bed, I shifted with him, until Thomas was sitting against the wall and I was lying on my side, my head rested in the crook of his neck, his arm around me.
“Thank you for trusting me. I will always listen to you, Sash. Always.”
The only thing that stopped me feeling repulsed with myself was Thomas’s warm body holding mine. No one had ever held me like this in my whole life, and being all close with him, our heartbeats echoing, his warm breath in my hair, took my own breath away. For a moment it was as if I could forget all the words I’d said, all the bad feelings. I only wanted this.
I hadn’t locked the door to my room, but I didn’t expect Corinne would be back for a few hours yet. I wondered abstractly how she’d react if she found us here like this. Would she be disgusted? Would she see me differently, like Mum had?
It hurt because I wasn’t different. It hurt because it felt so fucking right to lie here with Thomas. There was nothing perverted about it—it felt only pure and safe. So safe.
I was so close to another person, it felt as though I was locked within the boundaries of our skin.
I knew with a sudden certainty that Thomas wouldn’t touch me, apart from holding me like this, unless I asked him to. He understood something about me that I would never have said out loud. At the same time, I wanted to touch
But I was scared.
I thought about his hands a lot. The way our fingers locked together as if we never wanted to let go. Like now.
I’d touched his hands before. I’d wanted to hold them for hours on end. It was okay. But I wanted to touch more than his hand.
Taking a deep breath, I let go, and his fingers released me. Gently I brushed over his wrist. The skin beneath his cuff was so, so soft and silky. It was soft as the skin at the top of my thighs below my balls. I tried to let go of my hesitation and touch him more firmly. I imagined kissing his inner wrist, pressing my tongue against his pulse point, feeling the distant beat of his heart. Thinking that turned me on. And though I would never get the courage to go that far, I wanted to know where I ended and he began. If I thought deeply, I could admit I wanted to be pushed inside him, my mouth on his, lost in the complete circle of our bodies.
I shifted my hips backward to move the growing heat in my groin away from his thigh. Even though I was hard as a rock, this wasn’t about sex. It was more about feeling close to him. But what is it about desire that makes you feel bold and uninhibited?
His nipple was a visible point through the fabric of his shirt. I let my finger rub over it briefly, and Thomas made a soft noise in his throat that I could tell he was trying so hard not to make. I couldn’t look at his face, but I knew he was watching me. I slipped my hand through the gap in his shirt, between the buttons, to feel the hot skin of his stomach, and he gasped before bending his legs. I didn’t look to see if he had an erection. I didn’t have to. He was burning up, every point of contact between our bodies ablaze.
We stayed like that for a long time. My fingers pressed against that tiny area of skin beneath his shirt, the both of us hot and tense.
“Must be almost tea time,” I said a little hoarsely after what felt like hours but must have been only ten or fifteen minutes. I pushed myself up off his chest with difficulty. “I should walk you home.”
If I felt unsteady, Thomas was doubly so. His face and neck were flushed, his eyes all dark, his hands shaky. We’d done nothing that couldn’t be denied, by either of us—Thomas had held me when I was upset, that was all, I’d stroked him out of comfort—but the atmosphere between us was full of a longing that tugged at my chest and stomach and most definitely my dick. It wasn’t altogether unpleasant.
That night he called me, and we talked in sporadic bursts until I was almost asleep. And when I did sleep, it was with the phone still tucked against my ear.
day Thomas was waiting for me by the front gate when school finished. For the first time since I’d moved there, I had no urge to spend the hours after school searching for glass.
“Do you want to come back to my house?” he asked. I could tell he really didn’t want me to say no.
I’d been so worried that his reaction to what I’d told him yesterday was just delayed. But he gave me a wide smile and looked at me like he always did, like he saw
, not the outward shell, but the shit-scared boy inside it.
I nodded and smiled back. Being with Thomas felt like relief and breathing all mixed together.
“My gran is out until late. We could get a pizza on the way home if you like?”
“Are you trying to break my addiction to chips?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
the pizza from a little Italian restaurant on a posh tree-lined street near Thomas’s house. The place was open all hours, and the pavement outside it was chock-full of people at the dozen or so little tables covered with checkered tablecloths. The day was warm and hazy, and the air smelled of cut grass and hot bread.
When we got to Thomas’s house, we dropped our bags in the hall and went straight up to his room. It was as if we had an unwritten agreement to head there.
I kicked my shoes off and sat cross-legged on Thomas’s bed while he sat on the floor in front of me, hugging his knees. We ate the pizza out of the box, the both of us hungry and silent. We’d spent ages choosing different toppings, and we’d settled on chicken and chorizo, and pulled pork and pear. Thomas had paid for it. He hadn’t even let me see how much it was. It was probably the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten. Afterward I felt comfortable and sated. I didn’t often feel like that. I leaned back against the wall behind me.
“So now I know you like chips
“Yeah, seems that way,” I said as I stroked my hand across the dip in his mattress. It was a small crater, a valley for a body to lie in. It was my connection to him when we spoke on the phone.
Thomas watched, his expression curious.
“My mattress dips like this in the middle,” I murmured. “Sometimes I think of you lying here.”
“I think of you when I’m lying there,” he admitted softly with a rueful smile.
I didn’t know what to say. We kept looking at one another, but neither one of us could hold the eye contact for more than a few seconds. It felt as though we were standing on a tightrope, the both of us trying to stay upright, to achieve the delicate balance required.
“Have you ever… been with anyone…? I don’t mean—” Thomas tripped awkwardly over the words and closed his eyes.
I knew what he didn’t mean.
“No… for a long time I thought I might’ve become asexual or something, but now I’m pretty sure I’m not….”
Mostly because I want you so fucking badly
, I tried to imply as our eyes locked for a second. It’s possible I just never really felt close enough, safe enough, with anyone before now. Liking people from afar was so much easier. My foot juddered up and down of its own accord. I wondered if Thomas found it annoying.
“It’s understandable, though,” Thomas replied quietly. “Do you… masturbate much?” He blushed hard as he spoke, but I liked that he said it anyway even if it made him uncomfortable. I guess he just wanted to know if I was still interested in sex after what had happened.
“No. Sometimes I do, but….” Now it was my turn to feel embarrassed. “I find it hard to come.”
Weirdly I felt myself smiling just at the exquisite awkwardness of our conversation. We were barely looking at one another at all now. When I lifted my head, I saw Thomas was smiling a little too as he looked at his hands.
“What turns you on?” he whispered, as if he were asking me for a thousand precious secrets. And perhaps he was.
“I don’t know… when I jerk off sometimes I look at….” I didn’t know how to describe it.
I shook my head. “Pictures. They’ve got to be sort of artful and, I don’t know, posed in a certain way—like their expressions have to be sort of faraway… like they could be statues or something.” I was sure Thomas would find it weird.
“Because of… of what happened, maybe you need them to look nonsexual or something.”
I stared at him. He blinked his large brown eyes and sucked
on his full bottom lip as he looked back at me a little
It was a pretty accurate approximation.
“Sometimes I have this fantasy… but I can tell you’re just going to psychology the hell out of it too.” I grinned wryly at him to show him I was teasing. I wasn’t upset. In fact it felt kind of freeing to talk about this stuff all of a sudden. I’d never imagined I would ever tell anyone any of it. And here we were, trusting one another to talk about our desires.
“I won’t. I promise.”
God, he looked so earnest and sincere. It hit me then how much Thomas wanted me. It was like being whacked in the stomach with a thick plank of wood. He wanted me and I wanted him. The atmosphere was no longer swimming with our cautious uncertainty. At some point we had both realized the other was all the way onboard here. And I didn’t have a fucking clue what to do about it.
“It’s a kind of obvious fantasy…,” I began. I felt a little light-headed.
Thomas waited, watching me closely, his eyes half-hooded and his pupils dilated, eyelashes touching his cheeks as he blinked.
“I’m always fully clothed, and the other person is…. They will…. I say what I want them to do, and they do it.”
“You’re in control.”
“Yeah, completely…, I mean, it’s just a fantasy. I know it’s not
or anything….” I trailed off.