The Price of Friendship

Chapter 10

“Come on, Rick. Let’s go to the club rooms and celebrate!”

I had to smile at Drew’s high level of excitement. I wanted to tell him about my chat with James, but I knew it would upset him, and I wasn’t going to take the shine off the win. It had been a tough game, with the result uncertain until the dying seconds.

“I should get back to our dads. They’re probably wondering where I am.” I glanced around. “And where Will is.”

Drew chuckled. “If Will’s lucky, he’ll be finding his own way home sometime later this afternoon — he could probably walk it if he had to. If he’s unlucky, he’ll be in the club rooms before us, trying to talk someone into giving him a drink. Dad knows that’s where I’ll be, so he’ll bring your dad.” He winked. “Any more excuses? I promise I’m not going to try to get you drunk so I can talk you into my bed… I’ve got that scheduled for later tonight.”

I snapped my head around to see who might have overhead that comment, but there was no one paying attention to us.

“Relax. I’m not going to out you again. I’ll be on my best behaviour, I promise.”

I couldn’t tell him that he had already outed me to James, if that was the right term for the situation I was in. “In that case, where’s the club rooms?”

It didn’t take us long to get there and find it already filled with celebrating players and friends. As Drew had predicted, our dads were there. They were chatting away like old friends, each holding a stubbie of beer.

“Drew, great game, mate!” Mr. Canter said. “Did you want a beer now, or later?”

“Later, Dad. I’m going to have a shower first.” He leant over and whispered to me, “I’d invite you back there with me, but I don’t want your eyes to wander.”

That remark had a significance that I wouldn’t have grasped if I hadn’t spoken to James. I wondered if Colin, the guy James had been sleeping with on the side, was still part of the club. It was the wrong time to bring that up, so I grinned and whispered back, “And keep your eyes and hands to yourself, too, Drew.”

Drew gave me one of his innocent looks. “Who, me?” He grinned. “I’ll be back as quick as I can.”

I turned back to see our fathers staring at us. Drew ignored them and disappeared, leaving me the focus of attention. I was wondering what they had in mind.

“Would you like a beer, Rick? Ken said Drew will be having one when he gets back.”

I was surprised, but I quickly accepted. “Sure, Dad!” Mr. Canter ducked away to get it, leaving me with my father. I raised an eyebrow at him, silently asking what was going on, and he grinned in return. Somehow, it felt like I was growing up, though I couldn’t work out why.

Ten minutes later, Drew rejoined us, followed in five minutes by Will.

“How did it go?” I asked Will when I got a chance.

“How did what go?”

“You were helping the redhead find something. Did you succeed?”

He scowled. “Yeah, we found the car keys for her loser of a boyfriend’s sports car. What a total waste of time that was. If I’d known what the keys were for, I wouldn’t have bothered, since it’s obvious she’s got no taste. Sports cars are for guys with small dicks — they help them compensate.”

Drew, who was listening in, started laughing. “Are you still planning on buying a Ferrari with your first million?”

Will shrugged. “Of course, but that’s different. Ferraris aren’t a wank car.”

I decided that the ability to look innocent, even when caught, was a trait of the Canter family, at least amongst the male offspring.

We chatted about other things for a while. Will questioned me about my last school. I managed to keep to general and unrevealing responses, but from the way Drew was listening intently, I suspected he had arranged for his brother to ask those questions. Drew knew there was more than I had been saying, but I didn’t really want everyone to know any details. I was uncomfortable enough with Brandon knowing.

The conversation then shifted to football, and I met a few of Drew’s team mates. Most just had the casual attitude that’s typical when meeting a total stranger, but a handful gave me searching looks. I had the impression that they suspected there was more to our relationship than just mates, which was how Drew had introduced me. Drew addressed those unspoken suspicions when he explained about my cast. Several of the people we spoke with assumed I had broken my ankle playing sport.

By the time the topic shifted to the barbecue coming up that night, about half the crowd were gone and it looked like most of the rest were settling in for the afternoon. Our dads were still happily chatting in the corner, along with a few of what I assumed were other fathers.

“Is there anything you have to do at home?” Drew asked.

I shook my head. “Not really. Why?”

“Why don’t you come back with us, and let your parents come over whenever they like? No need for you to be bored at home — there’s a tonne of stuff we can do at our place.”

“You’ll probably have to help get things ready.” Will glanced down at my cast. “Then again, maybe not.”

I considered the suggestion and was tempted. I thought that with others around, the more gross of Drew’s expectations wouldn’t intrude. “Sounds good to me. I’d intended to have a shower and get changed before going to your house, but if you can put up with me being in these old clothes for the night, I’ll skip that.”

Drew’s eyes flicked up and down my body.

“Don’t say it, Drew,” Will said, giving his brother a warning glare.

“What aren’t I supposed to say?” Drew asked. The grin told me that he knew what Will was thinking.

Will turned to me. “You do not give Drew leading lines like that. Not unless you enjoy that sort of thing, and I definitely don’t.” He glanced around before lowering his voice. “And certainly not if you don’t want to be outed.”

Drew frowned for a moment and then gave me a wink. He spoke softly, so only the three of us would hear. “I was only going to say that if Rick doesn’t like the clothes he’s wearing, I’ll be happy to take them off of him.”

I went red. There were certain things in the art of innuendo and flirting that I had never learnt, and I had blundered into that one.

“Drew, I don’t want to know!” Will said.

“And then, if he wants to put on something else — a definite waste — he’s about my size and he can wear some of my things,” Drew added.

I remembered the conversation between Drew and Joe on the first Friday night. “I’m not going to wear any of your underpants, Drew.”

Will rolled his eyes. “You’re as bad as he is. I’ve now got an image in my head that I have to get out before it drives me crazy. I’m going to find some girls.”

Drew chuckled as Will went in search of other company. I was too embarrassed to say anything, because I realised how bad what I’d said had sounded. I kept my gaze to the floor, hoping that no one had noticed our low-voiced conversation.

“Seriously, you can have a shower and get changed at our place. Mum will have a garbage bag or something to put over your cast to keep it dry, and I can wash your back for you.”


“You can’t blame me for trying.” Drew cocked his head. “Well?”

I smiled. “Okay. But I get to take my shower by myself.”


We headed over to our dads and let them know what we had decided.

My dad gave me an odd look before agreeing. “In that case, I should head home to let Jess know. I’ll see you tonight around six, Ken.”

“Assuming the house is still standing after three teenage boys run riot for a couple of hours.” Mr. Canter glanced around. “Drew, can you let Will know we’re going? If he’s not at the car in ten minutes, he’s walking home.”

“He went off looking for some girls. I’ve got no idea where he could be.”

Mr. Canter looked at Dad. “I’m still not sure if you’re lucky with your boy, but just be glad you only have one. And don’t get me started on what the girls are like! I’m going to an early grave, I just know it.”

“While we’re on that subject, what colour gravestone do you want, Dad?” Drew asked, the picture of innocence.

Mr. Canter stared at Drew for a moment and then turned back to my dad. “Would you like an extra boy, just to keep your life from becoming too sedate? I’ve got one going cheap.”

Drew wasn’t impressed. “Dad! If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s cheap!”

Mr. Canter rolled his eyes. “I know, son. Believe me, I know.”

We finally left, about twenty minutes later, without Will. Drew had told me that Will had walked home in the past, but I had thought he was joking.

“Is he going to be okay?” I was sitting in the back, with my leg stretched out on the seat.

“If he found someone, he’ll be walking home with a smile.” Drew glanced back at me and grinned.

“He knows the rules, Rick. Don’t worry about him,” Mr. Canter said. “And, Drew, I would appreciate it if you didn’t make comments like that about Will. You both know what’s expected of you in that respect.”

Drew rolled his eyes. “I still think you’re over-the-top about that. I’ll be eighteen next year. Penny and Angela are both well over eighteen, and you still act like they’re little girls. Scott and Penny have been going out for over a year. When are you going to lighten up?”

Mr. Canter took a moment before answering. “Rick, Drew thinks I’m old-fashioned because there are certain things I won’t permit in my home. In particular, sex between unmarried couples.” He glanced across at Drew. “The girls understand the rules and abide by them. There’s only been one person who’s broken that rule, that I know of.”

The mild rebuke didn’t seem to affect Drew. “And can I point out that the rule is decidedly unfair, since the law says I’m never allowed to get married?”

“I know that, and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but seventeen is too young, and sixteen was definitely too young. When you can show me that you’re in a long term, committed and happy relationship, then we can talk. And by long term, I mean years, not months. Until then, the rule stands and I expect both of you to comply.”

I noticed something that I had no doubt Drew was aware of, too — the rule only applied to the Canter home. There wasn’t an explicit restriction on sex elsewhere. I wondered if I should ask about that, since it might help me fend off Drew, but it might also make me sound eager. As it turned out, I didn’t have to ask.

“As for what my kids do in private outside of my home, I have little say in the matter. They all know how I want them to behave, but I’m not going to run their lives for them. I expect them to have respect for others and to be considerate of those around them, but I can’t force them. Rachel and I have to trust that we’ve raised our kids well, though I have serious doubts about this one,” Mr. Canter said, flicking a thumb in Drew’s direction.

Drew grinned. “And I love you, too, Dad.”

“Rick, don’t get me wrong. I think Drew’s great, but he’s also the wildest of the bunch. I wouldn’t normally be having this chat with the new boyfriend or girlfriend of one my kids, but he broke the rules with that James guy, and I want to make sure he doesn’t think he can get away with it again, with you. That’s all.”

Drew was frowning as he glanced back at me. “Rick, cover your ears. I don’t want you to hear what I’m going to say next.”

I gaped for a moment, but Drew’s expression told me he was serious. I put my hands over my ears, though not very well.

“Dad, James was a mistake. I know that now, and I’m not going to do the same thing again. Rick means a lot to me, and even though I keep teasing him, we’re not planning on doing anything like that for a long time. We’re taking things slowly. Please trust us.”

“I do trust you, son, but I know you, too. I also know what it’s like to be a teenage boy with hormones running rampant, and how good intentions can go out the window in a moment of passion. Take care, son, and I hope Rick’s the right one for you. I really do.”

“Thanks, Dad. Rick, you can stop pretending not to hear now.” Drew wasn’t looking at me when he said that last.

I kept my hands over my ears.

Drew looked back and grinned. “Okay, Rick. You can let go now.”

I took my hands away. “Have you finished?”

“I think so. I got Dad to let me have a sleepover at your place tonight, since you won’t be allowed to have one in my room.”

I waited for Mr. Canter to deny that story, but when he didn’t say anything I knew it was a test. Drew was teasing, but his dad wanted to know how I would handle it. I started thinking furiously, because I had to say just the right thing.

“I think I can talk your dad into letting me have a sleepover in your room.” I was crossing my fingers that I was taking the right tack.

“You do?” Drew seemed surprised and then suspicious. “How?”

“Mr. Canter, can I sleep in Drew’s room tonight, while he’s at my place?”

Drew’s dad laughed. “Sure, Rick. Any time he’s not there, you’re welcome to stay the night.”

Drew’s lips twisted into a wry smile. “That wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but okay. At least I’ll be able to tell everyone at school on Monday that I spent the night in your bed.”

I rolled my eyes, but a grin gave away my true feelings. Despite all his flaws, Drew was my best mate, and that was the way I wanted it to stay.

* * *

“They’re here!” Drew raced to meet Sue and Joe as they walked up the driveway.

I hobbled along, watching one of the people behind the young couple. Mrs. Sandler seemed to be in a pleasant mood, unlike the day I had met her. I regretted that my crutches meant I couldn’t offer to carry the basket she was holding. The other three were also carrying items for the barbecue, leaving Drew and me as the only unencumbered ones.

“Good afternoon, everyone,” I said, trying to look as pleasant as I could in Drew’s slightly ill-fitting clothes.

He had found me a pair of tracksuit pants — the only thing he had that would go over the cast — a T-shirt and a thicker shirt to go over the top. He had also left a pair of boxer shorts on the pile of clothes, but I had declined to put them on. I was sure Joe would ask, once he realised whose clothes I was wearing, and I wanted to be able to answer honestly.

“Rick, isn’t it?” Mrs Sandler paused before smiling. “We didn’t get off to a good start last time, so how about we start again? Pleased to meet you. I’m Sue’s mother.”

I grinned. “Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Sandler. I’m sorry I can’t offer to carry that basket inside, but I’m sure Drew will do that for you.” I raised my voice for the last phrase, which had the desired effect.

“Let me take that, Mrs. Sandler. Mum’s in the front room and I’ll bring you in a drink as soon as you’re settled. Would white wine be okay?” Drew was laying on the charm.

It wasn’t completely effective. Sue’s mum eyed him suspiciously while handing over her basket. “That would be fine, thank you.” She watched as Drew, followed by Sue and Joe, headed inside, and then turned to me. “Rachel told me that you were a good influence on that young hellion, but you’ll forgive me if it takes me a while to believe it. Regardless, thank you, Rick. It’s nice to see another fine young man from the current generation.”

“Thanks from me, too. Oh, and hi, I’m Sue’s dad. I expect we’ll be seeing more of you in the future, from what she’s told us.”

I shrugged and then hopped to the side of the path to let them pass. “I hope so, but you never know what’s going to happen.”

“Something that’s especially true when that young rascal is involved.” Mrs. Sandler smiled. “But we can always hope.”

I followed them in and watched as Mrs. Sandler and Mrs. Canter started chatting. Drew brought in glasses for both of them, and then indicated he wanted me to join him in the kitchen.

When I got there, Sue and Joe were unpacking the containers that they’d brought. I could see Drew’s and Sue’s dads outside by the barbecue. Joe grinned as I entered. “G’day, Rick. That was a slick move out there. Drew’s going to have to watch himself with you around.”

Sue elbowed him. “Leave him alone. He was only being polite.”

Drew’s attempt to look righteous wasn’t as good as his ability to look innocent. “You tell him, Sue. And I offered the drinks completely on my own, without prompting.”

Joe chuckled. “Yeah, though I had to make sure you didn’t spit in her glass before pouring the wine.”

“Drew! You wouldn’t have, would you?” Sue sounded uncertain.

“Of course not!”

“He’s done it before,” Joe said, “to someone else.”

“What?” Sue was shocked. So was I.

Drew shrugged. “I was pissed off. Phil deserved it for the way he was carrying on. Anyway, he didn’t seem to mind – he drank the beer without complaining.”

Joe grinned. “Maybe, but you’ll notice I’ve never let you get me a beer since then. Not unless it’s unopened.”

“You don’t honestly think I’d do that to you?” Drew seemed offended.

“Let’s just say I’m not willing to take the chance.”

Drew shrugged. “Fair enough. Anyone for a beer? I’ll get them. No need for anyone to move.”

Joe laughed. “I’ll get my own when I’m ready.”

Sue gave Drew a scathing look. “I’ll pass.”

When Drew turned to me, I relied on my instincts and smiled. “I’d love one. Thanks, Drew.”

He came back with a stubbie, with the top already removed. I eyed it for a moment before taking a swig.

“See? Rick trusts me.” Drew leant over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I let him, even though I was uncomfortable with him doing it in front of others.

Joe grinned. “True, but the big question is… does he also wear your underpants?”

* * *

Will showed up about twenty minutes after the Sandlers and Joe had arrived. He seemed happy, but I didn’t know him well enough to ask him what he had been up to.

He and Drew were directed to bring out chairs from the garage, and then to get a fire going for those who would be staying outside. The guys brought out a large soot-stained copper bowl and stand which they placed on the decking outside the back door. They put some firewood in it and started the fire. It not only looked good, but the heat was very welcome as it took the chill off the late winter air. It was clear that the fire bowl got a lot of use.

My parents showed up soon afterwards and were introduced to everyone. Drew’s two sisters, Penny and Angela, arrived just after six, along with Scott. They had been in the city at an AFL game, something they had planned well before the barbecue was organised.

When the two girls went inside to get changed, Scott walked over to where Drew, Will, Joe, Sue and I were standing.

“G’day, everyone.” Scott glanced around. “I hope there are no sprinklers around here.” He grinned at Drew. “Otherwise, someone might get castrated.”

“Who, me?” Drew grinned back. “Good to see you again, Scott. How was the game?”

Scott shrugged. “It was okay. Not one of the higher standard games, but still entertaining.”

“The Demons lost, then,” Joe said, alerting me to the fact that Scott barracked for the Melbourne Football Club. A definite black mark against him, though I suspected none of the others supported Collingwood, like all sensible people.

Scott rolled his eyes. “And what’s new? They’re having the season from hell this year.”

Joe laughed. “Definitely appropriate for the Demons. A pity the Saints aren’t having the year from heaven.”

“A St. Kilda supporter? You have my condolences.” I had already finished one beer and was feeling happy.

“I see.” Joe narrowed his eyes at me. “And which team do you barrack for?”

“There’s only one team worth following.”

Drew rolled his eyes. “Rick’s a one-eyed black-and-white supporter. It’s his one flaw in otherwise a perfect person.”

“Drew, please don’t try to make us all sick!” Sue grinned at me. “There’s nothing wrong with Collingwood… when they lose.”

Some good-natured bickering followed, about which team was best. As usual, the others were too blind to see the truth, but I wasn’t concerned. I knew that Collingwood was the best team, even if they didn’t, and the ladder didn’t show it.

The conversation then shifted to Drew’s match earlier that day. Will, Drew and I filled the others in, and I noticed that the two brothers tended to exaggerate -- Drew in a positive manner and Will in a negative. I sensed it was a game they played, because the disagreements seemed good natured.

Talk of Drew’s match reminded me that I needed to speak to him about my chat with James. I hadn’t originally intended to do it that night, but the time seemed right. The alcohol may have contributed to my decision. “Drew, there’s something I have to tell you.”

Drew’s eyes went wide. “Don’t tell me you’re pregnant!”

Sue rolled her eyes while the other guys laughed.

“I’m being serious. Can we go some place where we can be alone to talk?”

“Sorry.” Drew looked at me quizzically. “How about down the back, near the garden shed?”

I looked where he indicated and it seemed fine. We headed over and stopped at the side of the small structure. I caught the curious stares from the others, but I didn’t want them getting involved.

“What is it, Rick?”

“You’ll probably be angry, because you asked me not to, but I spoke to James today at the game.”

Drew’s reaction shocked me. I was ready for anything except what he did. He grabbed me and started giving me a series of quick kisses. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

I waited until he stopped, though he still held onto me. “I thought you’d be upset.”

“I was, when Will told me, but I’ve got to learn to trust you. And I was right. Will owes me twenty bucks, because he bet you wouldn’t say anything. Now I just need to work out what to get you as another present for being the best-ever boyfriend.”

My head was spinning. I hadn’t known that Will had seen me with James — I had assumed he would have been busy with the redhead who’d lost the car keys. “You don’t have to get me anything.”

Without letting go, he opened up a space between us so he could smile at me. “Duh. If I had to get it for you, it wouldn’t be a present. Anyway, Will’s paying, so it doesn’t really count for much. You don’t have to tell me, but what did you and that dropkick talk about?”

“You, actually. Did you know he’s been going to all your games, even since you broke up?”

Drew scowled. “I didn’t know he’d been to all of them, but I’ve seen him around a few times. Waiting for another chance at Colin, I suppose. Did anyone tell you that the guy he was cheating on me with is in my club? I’m just glad we’re not on the same team.”

I nodded. “James told me. He gave me his side of the story. And no, it wasn’t to see Colin. He only went to all those games to see one person.” I stared at Drew.

He got the hint. “Me? But the bastard was fucking around behind my back! Why would he want to see me?”

“He said that what he did was the biggest mistake of his life. He even said he still loves you.”

Drew snorted. “Some kind of love, when he was seeing someone else on the side.”

“He knows that, and he knows he fucked up. He also told me how much pain it’s caused him, not only having all his friends turn their back on him, but most importantly, losing the guy he wanted the most in the world. He let his cock overrule his head, and he still regrets it.”

“And he probably went straight to Colin to ease the pain of being a cheating bastard!

I glanced around the backyard after Drew shouted the last few words. Everyone was looking at us. Sue and Joe were already heading in our direction and I could see Mr. Canter following.

“Drew, there’s more. Can you please ask them to give us some privacy?”


I tilted my head to those approaching.

“What’s this about a cheating bastard?” Sue asked Drew, as she directed her glare at me.

“Rick and I were discussing James.” Drew’s voice was flat.

Sue smiled. “Okay, in that case, yell it from the top of the trees. I just thought it was Rick you were talking about.”

Drew went wide-eyed. “Rick? No way!” He pulled me close to him. “This guy’s no James.”

I smiled at Sue, Joe and Drew’s dad. “Do you mind? Drew and I were talking about some private things.”

“Sure thing, Rick.” Mr. Canter headed away immediately.

Joe started moving, but stopped when Sue didn’t follow; she was staring intently at me.

“Sue, it’s okay. Can you leave us only for a bit?” Drew asked.

“If you’re sure.” Sue didn’t seem keen to go.

“I’m sure. We’ll be with you soon.” Drew glanced at me. “I think.”

“We shouldn’t be much longer,” I said.

Sue turned away, though she was clearly unhappy. She glanced back over her shoulder when she was halfway across the yard, before she and Joe joined the others.

Drew smiled. “Sue can be a bit protective at times. Now what else did you want to talk about? I’m assuming it’s still about James.”

“Just two things. The first is that he’s really lonely. I remember how that feels, and I’d like it if you’d let me talk to him, maybe even be his friend.”

Drew pushed me away and I had to hop a couple of times to keep my balance.

“No fucking way! You’re not going to be friends with that bastard!” Drew’s voice was loud enough that Joe turned his head to stare. Sue had already been watching us, which I’d noticed when she settled down near the house.

“Drew, please. I know what you’re probably thinking, but I can assure you that I don’t find James attractive at all. There is absolutely no way I would want to even kiss him, let alone sleep with him. I can’t think of anyone I’m less likely to have sex with.” All of that was true, but I cringed internally because of the deception.

“Then why?” Drew’s voice was calmer and quieter.

“Because he needs a friend, and I’ve been in that situation. I promise I won’t keep secrets from you — I’ll even tell him that anything he tells me, he’ll have to assume I’ll tell you.”

Drew considered the idea. He glanced at where Sue was frowning in our direction, and then turned back to stare at me. He smiled. “I need to trust you more. Okay, but you can’t tell him that, because it would make him suspicious. How about saying that you’ll tell the group, rather than just me?”

“That’s the other thing. He knows. He worked it out at the game, from the way you came up to me at each break. He said the only other time he saw you do that was when you two were going out. That’s when he realised you’ve got a new boyfriend.”

Drew looked mortified. “I’ve outed you again? He’s not going to try to blackmail you, is he? If he tries it, I’ll get Brandon and Angus and we’ll beat him up.” Drew’s forehead wrinkled. “That mightn’t be a bad idea, anyway. Get in first before he thinks of it.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket.

“Drew, wait!”

He paused and looked up from his phone.

“Do you know what he said to me after he told me he knew? He congratulated me, saying you’re a great guy, and that I had better make you happy, or else. He warned me not to do what he did, and said that maybe it’s finally time for him to move on and look for someone else. The rest of what he said may’ve been bullshit, but I’m sure he was sincere. I don’t think he’ll tell anyone.”

Drew stepped forward and gave me a hug. “You’re simply wonderful, did you know that? I don’t think I know anyone who seems to care for people as much as you do. Okay, you can talk with James, even be his friend, but on two conditions.”

I didn’t think I was that wonderful. I just didn’t like people hating me, and that fact made me responsive to others who were hated.

“The first condition is that I can be there the first few times you talk with James. I want to hear for myself what he has to say.”

I was surprised. I didn’t think Drew would get within eyeshot of James, unless he had no choice. “Okay.”

“The second condition is that you sleep with me tonight.”

I was stunned. My mouth opened but nothing came out. After the talk in the car with his dad, that was the last thing I had expected to hear.

“Gotcha!” Drew grinned. “The second condition is that I’m allowed to give my wonderful, extra special, absolutely fabulous boyfriend a long, slow kiss to show him how much I love him.”

It didn’t escape my notice that that was the first time Drew had used the L word, but I was more concerned about what he was asking for. “Here? Now?”

“Here. Now. I want everyone to see what you mean to me. Pucker up, Rick!” Drew grinned at me, but he waited for me to respond before acting.

It didn’t take me long to think about it. He wasn’t being unreasonable from his point of view, and probably thought the last condition was a non-issue. To me, it was a bigger condition than the first one, but I was already in deep and couldn’t deny him what he asked for.

I closed my eyes and leant into him. I let him lead, though I tried to do enough so that he would know I was still conscious.

As we finished, I opened my eyes to see Drew’s smiling face. There was no doubt in my mind how much he had enjoyed it. I smiled back, because I liked seeing him happy, even if I didn’t like what I had to do to make him that way.

I then looked past him and saw my mother’s face. It showed a horrified expression, as if she knew something was too gruesome to look at, but couldn’t stop herself from doing so.

“Drew,” I whispered. “Have a look at my mum.”

Drew turned and caught her before she looked away. He was serious when he turned back to me. “In the future, I don’t think that we should do that where she can see us. She’ll come around eventually, but we don’t have to rub her nose in it.”

I felt depressed. I didn’t mind having a way to stop Drew from kissing me, but I was scared that I was building a wall between myself and my mum. I was going to have to make a choice very soon as to which one I wanted to keep happy: Drew or Mum.

Drew gave me a squeeze. “Hey, cheer up! It’s going to be okay, trust me. No matter what, I’ll be there for you. You’re my best mate, and best mates are always there for each other.”

Drew had a way of making me feel worse, even when he was trying to make me feel better.

Copyright Notice — Copyright © January 2009 by Graeme.

The author copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form — physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise — without the author's expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.

Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.

A special thank you to Ray, Kel, C James and Shadowgod, and also to everyone at The Mail Crew. The help they have given me with this story has been fantastic. Special kudos go to Aaron and Rain of The Mail Crew for doing a brilliant job of editing. I can thoroughly recommend their website to all teenagers who are gay, lesbian, bi or not sure.