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Authors: Suki Fleet

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BOOK: The Glass House
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“Sash, can we forget about this whole conversation? Can we put it down to being the middle of the night or something?”

I wasn’t sure that I wanted to forget about it. I wasn’t sure what I felt. More than anything I was curious now.

“Why?” I nudged him back.

“’Cause it’s upset you.”

“I’m not upset. If we forget about it, it’s not going to happen.”

“Do you want it to happen?” Thomas said tentatively.

“I don’t know…. Is it important to you?”

“I guess I just want you to know I’d do everything with you.”

“You’ve done everything. Doesn’t have to be with me.” I winced a little as I spoke. I was being pathetic. His look told me he wanted me to stop it.

“Different with you,” he said quietly.

Even though I tried to hold it back, warmth flared in the pit of my stomach, glowing embers were breathed into life, and the tendrils of heat spread out from my core.

“Yeah?” I whispered.

His arm came around my shoulder, and he pulled me to him and we lay side by side.

“Do you trust me, Sash?” he whispered into my hair.

I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t
, I thought. Did he think I wasn’t serious when I said I loved him? Didn’t being in love with him imply that I trusted him with my heart? I felt sexy and grumpy at the same time. I was definitely strung out.

I shifted so I could lie on top of him, my half-hard dick trapped between our hips. With a growing intensity, I traced my finger gently around his face and stared into his eyes.

“Did you switch?”

Yeah, I know all the words
, I thought, just had no idea what the fuck it was like to act on them. I still wasn’t 100 percent sure I
wanted
to act on them. Yeah, the idea of sex with him powered me up and turned me on, yet it also didn’t, for reasons I wasn’t going to think about.

“What do you mean?”

“Did he fuck you and then you fuck him?”

“No.”

I waited.

“He did it to me.”

“Did you want to fuck him?”

“Not really.”

I felt strangely disappointed at that. I think it showed.

Thomas shifted uncomfortably. He turned on his side so I slid onto the bed next to him, and he cupped my face in his hands, a fiercely tender look on his face.

“But just because I didn’t want to with him doesn’t mean I don’t want to with you. When I say it’s different, I mean it’s really different. There’s nothing I wouldn’t want to do with you, because it’s like you’d know what I’d want somehow, and it would be good. But I didn’t think that’d be something you’d want to do,” he added quietly.

Couldn’t he see that maybe it was exactly what I needed?

“Ever heard of the theory that to erase a bad memory, you have to replace it with a good one?”

We stared at one another. It was a competition to see who could hold off the longest. I won when he drew his fingers though my hair, gripped the back of my head, and covered my lips with his own.

Chapter Fifteen
Glass Street

 

 

I
T
WAS
the third day I hadn’t gotten out of bed. I’d done no real revision since I’d been at Thomas’s house. Exams started in less than a week, and Thomas had left for school a whole morning ago. I stared unhappily around his room and pulled the duvet tighter around myself. It was the one with the deep red checks. Brushed cotton. Warm against my bare skin.

Once in a while, the stairs creaked as Thomas’s gran moved around in the room below, most likely pinning up new paper cuts in her studio.

I wondered if she knew I was still here rather than at school, because I didn’t get up to use the bathroom or move around or anything. If I needed to piss, I would wait. The handy thing about not eating or drinking was you rarely needed to get rid of bodily fluids.

 

 

“I
CAN

T
watch you do this to yourself,” Thomas said.

Gently the duvet was pried off from around my head. I blinked, not really awake. The light hurt my eyes.

I wasn’t aware I was doing anything to myself apart from sleeping.

I peered around trying to get my bearings on day, time, what Thomas looked so upset about.

It must have been after 4:00 p.m. if Thomas was back from school.

“I’m going to call Corinne,” he added.

“Don’t,” I said thickly, pushing myself up. My hair flopped into my eyes, and I brushed it back so I could squint at him.

“If I wasn’t so horribly in love with you, I might listen,” he said as he knelt on the floor and picked up my phone to search for her number in the contacts.

“Don’t, please,” I repeated. Corinne would worry, and I suspected she was worried enough as it was.

“You can’t just sleep this away! It’s not going away! I know your mum coming back has thrown you off balance, but I can’t watch you give up. Exams start next week, and you’re acting like you don’t give a fuck!”

From him the word
fuck
was glass bright and sharp enough to make me wince.

“I’m going to fail anyway. I
am
fucked, Thomas. I’ve got nothing. I’ve not even got anywhere to fucking live. You think I like having to stay with you and have you wonder how long you’re going to have to share your room with me? You think I don’t know it’s too much to ask of you?”

Where had that come from?

I dragged on the first piece of clothing that looked like mine. Jeans and a ropey black tee.

I wasn’t really storming off. I was only intending to storm to the bathroom. I wasn’t expecting the warm hand that wrapped around my bicep before I had taken two steps.

“It’s not too much,” Thomas said gently.

He let me go.

When I came back, he was sitting on the bed, his bag slung back over his shoulder.

“Put some shoes on, Sash. I want to show you something.”

I didn’t feel much like going anywhere.

“Please. You’ll want to see. Trust me on this.”

 

 

W
E
WALKED
in the shade where we could. The sun was still high, glinting off the sheer glass sides of the newer tower blocks.

It surprised me how much better I felt for being outside. When I could feel the summer air warm my skin and look up at that depthless blue sky, it seemed utterly crazy to lock myself away.

“Where are we going?” I asked, though I recognized the route we were taking to the train station.

“Into the city.”

 

 

O
N
THE
train Thomas made a point of staring out the window as the world sped past. I figured he was still a little pissed off with me, so I didn’t make any conversation either.

“Don’t hate me,” he said suddenly as we pulled into our stop.

Worry fluttered around my heart. Why would I hate him? What had he done that made him think I might? Wasn’t it me who should be worried if one of us was going to be hating the other?

I waited, but he didn’t say more. He didn’t meet my eyes either.

We took the tube to the gallery district. This was old London. Beautiful stone buildings tucked down winding narrow cobbled streets. The area was wealthy and surprisingly busy. Every other shop was a private gallery showcasing a few pieces of expensively priced art.

We took our time, but even so Thomas’s breathing became audible, and he brought his inhaler out of his pocket to take a hit.

“Stop for a minute and rest,” I half pleaded, but Thomas shook his head.

Halfway down some street or another, Thomas finally did stop. I’d never seen him so tense.

We were standing in front of a small gallery. An antiquated Closed sign hung inside the door. It took me a second to see the name etched on the glass. John Greene.

Oh.

Thomas kicked at the dirty pavement with the toe of his shoe, his hands shoved deep in his pockets. When he started speaking, it was mostly to the ground.

“I didn’t want to, but Gran arranged a meeting with John Greene a few weeks ago.” He glanced at me as if trying to gauge my reaction. “I told her what had happened at the party and said I didn’t want to deal with him. Gran was angry that he’d come on to you like he had, but she told me I wasn’t going to be dealing with John Greene directly, and I didn’t have to like him. I only had to be civil. It was a friend of his who was interested in taking on my vinyl sculptures.”

I could guess when the meetings had taken place. Thomas had been busy after school a few weeks ago. I remembered sensing that he had been hiding something.

“I’m sorry, Sash. I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know
how
.”

Having your art displayed in a gallery down here was a huge thing. Compared to Mum coming back and… and—my brain stuttered—the return of other people I never wanted to be within ten miles of, what had happened with John Greene at Thomas’s party paled into nothing. It
was
nothing. I can’t say I wanted to be in the man’s company, but he hadn’t acted particularly inappropriately. I was aware enough to see that.

“John Greene was flirting with me. Yeah, he was being a bit of a lech, but I’m seventeen. I’m not a kid. He deals with young men every day. He photographs them, he paints them. It’s just how it is for him.”

From Thomas’s shocked expression, I figured that was the last thing he expected me to say.

We stepped out of the busload of people filing past us and leaned against the wall next to the gallery.

“He wasn’t to know it was a big deal for me. He wasn’t to know I have no boundary with anyone but you and Corinne. He wasn’t to know that I couldn’t tell him to stop. But if I
had
told him to piss off, I think he would have. He plays the game a lot of people play. I just don’t know the rules.”

Thomas wasn’t the only one who could psychology the hell out of me. I could do that quite adequately myself.

I huffed out a breath and frowned. “But that’s
my
problem, and I’m working on it, Thomas. You don’t have to keep things from me just because you think they’ll upset me. I’m happy for you.”

Slinging my arm around his neck, I pulled him into an awkward embrace, which he returned in an instant. His warm breath against my ear had me squeezing my eyes shut and gripping him even tighter for a second. But we were in the street, even if it was a London street where no one knew us and not on the estate, and we pulled quickly apart.

“So where are your sculptures on display, then? Nearby? Have you sold any?”

“Near here, but I don’t know if I’ve sold any.” Thomas shrugged self-consciously, his gaze flicking over mine. “That’s not what I wanted to show you. I brought you down here to show you something else. But I needed to tell you about this. It’s been eating away at me.”

Making it look as though it was accidental, I ran the tip of my index finger down his palm. Thomas’s eyes darkened, and he blinked slowly. I could almost
feel
his desire as my own. This teasing want was a switch I was learning how to flick in an instant.

“So show me,” I said.

 

 

T
HE
PLACE
was called Glass Street—though it wasn’t actually a street, more an arcade set over two floors of an old Victorian building. The first floor was filled with galleries displaying all manner of glass objects, the second, workshops for glassblowing and lampworking. Everything was open and welcoming, as though the artists expected people to just walk right in and watch them working. I wanted to, but I wasn’t sure I could cross that threshold.

The floors were polished wood the color of honey, and the arched roof was made from what looked like a single curved panel of glass.

On the second floor, there was a whole room full of huge stained glass windows being prepared for a church. Another had glass baubles hung from the ceiling on invisible strings, the lights making them shine like rain falling in sunlight.

I wandered around barely blinking, overcome by how absolutely breathtaking it all was.

 

 

F
OR
A
minute we leaned against a railing overlooking the ground floor while Thomas caught his breath.

“When I was here with Gran, we spoke to an artist in one of the workshops. I told her about the sculptures you did, showed her the necklace you made for me. She said if we were ever down here to come along and say hi. What do you think?”

“Okay,” I said, feeling a little uncertain.

The name above the workshop said Helen Stone. I realized as soon as we stepped inside that this workshop was joined to the one full of glass baubles, and a woman at the far end was in the process of blowing glass. She saw us and waved. She was dressed mostly in black, her hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun.

“Hi! It’s Thomas, isn’t it? I’ll be with you in just a sec,” she called.

I raised my eyebrow at Thomas.

He blushed.

“You came here just the once? Looks like you made quite an impression,” I murmured with a smile.

“I think it was the way I spoke about you that made the impression,” he murmured back.

BOOK: The Glass House
12.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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