HENRY IN FINKLE ROAD
‘Have you seen him since yesterday?’
Terry, Gavin, David and Henry were in Terry’s flat at the Brewery. David had got them all a strong drink, even though it was mid-afternoon. Terry had flown back from Strelzen as soon as he had received Henry’s urgent call.
‘No, Terry,’ Henry replied. ‘Not a sign of him. I’ve been ringing round the Surfing Soc, and no one’s seen him.’
‘How much money has he got, Henry?’
‘No idea. Quite a lot, I’d guess. He spends very little; money’s not his thing. I’m sure he’s got enough to go anywhere he wants.’
‘In that case, I’ll ask Jenna to alert all the Peacher offices. You’d think he’d have gone to Andy, whom he loves, but Justy’s got nothing to report from Castringham. He might have gone to his poisonous mother, I suppose. I’ve just sent Justy business class to New York to meet up with Harriet at Vassar and explain things.’
‘I’ll bet he loved that,’ laughed David.
‘Yeah, he likes the perks, does Justy.’ Terry frowned for a moment. ‘Worry though he is, Eddie’s not our first problem. This is the nightmare scenario we always feared with Eddie, and in its worst possible form. Eddie’s been set up and compromised by a dangerous and clever … person. And I have every reason to know quite how dangerous and clever Tina is, having lived with him for all of a week when I was eighteen and he was seventeen.’
‘So it was a setup, then?’ David asked.
‘Oh yeah. From what Gavin tells me, he had already cottoned on to you as someone interesting, Henry, and the fact that you were friends with the Peacher family led him to look hard at Eddie. Jackpot! Wayne was just used as bait … and yes, Tina is cunning enough to have staged that. Then it was so easy for him. Eddie is just a cock on legs, and Tina is so very sexy. A perfect facsimile of a femme fatale. Eddie had no chance, no chance at all, poor kid. And now comes the payoff for him. Tina is ruthless, and Eddie’s never gonna be let off the hook. If we pay him £50,000, he’ll be along for more in less than a year.’
David frowned. ‘Then we just have to ride it out, we can’t do anything else. He’ll go to the press and the story will break.’
Terry scowled. ‘I don’t give up that easy, sweet babe, as well you know. I’ll find out where Tina is living within an hour or two. I’ve got four guys combing his haunts in Swindon. He can’t hide from me. Then we negotiate.’
‘But apart from money, there’s nothing we have to negotiate with,’ Henry groaned.
‘We’ll see. There may be other things that Tina wants.’ Terry looked grim.
Henry and Gavin walked slowly home through the city centre. It was a cold, grey Monday afternoon in February. High pressure had settled over the Midlands and pressed down on Cranwell like a heavy steel helmet.
Gavin was feeling guilty. ‘Why didn’t I just shut up when that … person started pumping me for information?’
Henry reassured him. ‘You have a trusting nature, Gavin. You weren’t to know what a scheming piece of work that Tina is. Don’t blame yourself. He would have found out just as easily from someone else. Let’s go home and change, baby. We’re both on at the King’s later.’
The King’s was quiet, and Frank Hutchinson was quieter. It was difficult to get any sort of a rise out of him. Terry came in at seven and took Frank off to a table to look at plans for the new club. A couple of the regulars drifted over and offered their comments on the blueprints. Terry laughed and listened good-naturedly, although he ruled out live sex and a darkroom. ‘I want it to be a place to meet and not shag, lads. You can still go out the back lane to have your back passage massaged, Haggis,’ he said to one of the hardest.
‘Iss where I did you, when you wuz a little bar-whore, Terry.’
‘Ah, the good old days,’ reflected Terry, not in the least offended. Then he looked over at an abstracted Frank. ‘What is it, Frank? Why didn’t even that ring your bell?’
‘Whaa?’ said Frank. ‘You’re the boss now, Terry. Do what you like, say what you like. I can’t afford to take exception, can I?’
‘It’s never stopped you in the past, Frank.’ He gave his manager a long and calculating look, then folded up his plans and went over to the bar.
‘Sweet babes, I’m off back to my Davey. We got some catching up to do. Keep your eyes and ears open, and check in with me tomorrow, early. Okay?’
They said they would.
Andy Peacher arrived in Cranwell the next morning, full of anxiety. He came to No 25 at eleven. Henry was in, but Gavin had lectures and seminars.
Andy hugged and kissed Henry as soon as he was through the door. They sat down over a tea and Henry explained all he knew and all he had seen.
‘Poor Eddie. I’ve been through the media mill, and Peter has too with that Caird book last year. Now it’s Eddie’s turn. I’m so sorry for him. But we’ve had to live with the humiliation of it, and so now must he.’
‘You don’t think there’s any way to save him from the press?’
‘No. Terry is brilliant, but we have no options. It’s a case of publish and be damned to that transvestite slut. He’ll get his payoff from the tabloids, but he won’t get the endless supplements that blackmail of the Peachers would earn him. He can take his blood money and, unless he gets on that Celebrity Big Brother freak show, that’s all he’ll ever get.’
‘Then we have to find Eddie and try and help him through it.’
‘And there’s the tragedy. The boy was finally making good, Dad was smiling at him, and the world was looking bright, but now this. I doubt that he’ll bounce back. There’ll always be a taint of sleaze over him from now on. He was the straight Peacher boy, the future of the dynasty. I hadn’t realised how much he had built on that fact; it gave him his place in the family. After this, he’ll be bracketed with me and Petey.’
‘Any sign or clue where he might have gone?’
‘He’s disappeared too. Terry is disconcerted. He thought his local knowledge would make it easy, but Tina has outsmarted us right down the line. He had this fully planned out. At one level, you can only admire him.
‘Come and have lunch with me, Henry. I need your cheeriness … but even that’s in short supply, I see. You’re down too, aren’t you, sunshine.’
‘Yeah. I love Eddie, probably a lot more than he likes me. I had hoped he could talk to me and trust me, like a friend. But when the chips were down, I was just an embarrassing queer, to be brushed aside and ignored. He didn’t treat me like a friend, but like an outsider.’
‘Oh Henry, I wish things could be different, but with guys like Eddie, brought up in the surfing culture, faggots are to be kept at a bemused distance – tolerated, but not gotten close to. He could never really open up to you … and that’s what you like in your friends, isn’t it? You like intimacy and openness. But you’ll only get it from the likes of Davey Skipper and Ed Cornish. Don’t cry for the moon.’
Andy and Henry had a solemn lunch in the empty spaces of the County Radisson, and were disappointed at it. Most unusually for both men, conversation dried up, and they took a sad farewell of each other in reception.
When Henry got back to Finkle Road, the house was empty: no Eddie and no Gavin. He picked up the Wardrinski notebook by way of a distraction.
He had made good progress with the Priory of St Veronica, and what he was finding would have been riveting had it not been for the distraction of Eddie’s disappearance and the pending media crisis. The priory was, it seemed, an inner group of the KRB, a chapter of senior activists. The constitution explained its mission: to preserve the revelation of Christ in Rothenia against the forces of unbelief. The twelve acolytes of the chapter observed a rule of life as if they were associates of a monastic order. They had a particular devotion to the office of the Virgin and the mass of St Veronica – a new form of veneration for Henry. There were oaths to swear and a rule of strict obedience to the Master. Had Wardrinski been the Master? It did not seem so. Perhaps it had been the KRB’s Direktor, Stefan Gulik.
After the rule, there were several of Wardrinski’s memoranda, drawn from the writings of St Fenice for the most part. But there was also a careful sketch of the Vision of St Fenice, similar to the depiction on the ivory plaque that Henry had seen in the British Museum. It had not been drawn from the ivory, however, because there were a few different details. The source might have been a woodcut or an illumination. The face of Christ that Fenice was meditating on was the beardless, boyish figure, not the bearded long-haired one. Around the drawing was a Latin text in Gothic writing: VBI XPTI FACIES ESTNE. IN ARCA DOMINI. VBI ARCA DOMINI ESTNE. IN MANIBVS ANCILLAE SVAE.
There was also a long and unexplained list of Rothenia’s sacred places, beginning with the shrine of the Black Virgin. An even longer list named all the female saints of Rothenia and the places where their relics were to be found. There were quite a lot of them, more than Henry would have imagined. After each name and location was a paragraph of notes, concluding with the Latin words APERTUM ET VACUUM INVENTUM EST. Henry scanned the list for the site of St Fenice’s burial, but instead of the reference to the Marienkoster which he had expected, he found scribbled in Rothenian, ‘Once Medeln, but now lost’.
Henry laboriously copied the Latin words down. He had no idea what they meant, but he knew people who could help. Dr Mac knew Latin, but so also did Harriet Peacher. He went upstairs to Eddie’s room and booted up the machine. He connected to his own e-mail account and typed into it for a long time, stopping every now and then to think things out. Finally he pressed the Send button.
Then Henry went back to worrying about Eddie. He was too restless to do it in the comfort of his own house, so he headed into town and rang to see if David was home. He was, and said he also needed distracting. They sat over a coffee in the kitchen, watching Terry pacing up and down the living room, making call after call.
‘It’s buggered up my year for me, Davey,’ Henry sighed. ‘It was all too perfect. I found Gavin-baby and I had it all: love, devotion, decent digs, a good – if weird – job, friends and intellectual excitement. Eddie and I were getting there, we respected each other and were comfortable together. Then, one mistake and it all collapses. Poor Eddie.’
David sympathised. ‘Poor Henry, too. Hey, don’t worry! If 25 Finkle Road gets shut down, I’ll make Terry give you a bed here.’
‘And what about my Gavin? He’s pulled out of his place in hall. He needs Finkle Road as much as I do.’
‘Bunks?’ suggested David and laughed. Despite the circumstances, Henry laughed too.
Terry came in. ‘I’m glad someone’s finding something to laugh about. I am not amused, however.’
‘Anything doing, lover?’ said David, grabbing Terry’s hand and kissing it.
Terry sat down with them, and tapped his mobile absently on the tabletop. ‘Anthony has surprised me. There’s not a trace of him in Swindon. He may still be in Cranwell. I had a discrete word with me dad, who’s put the city CID on the alert for him. Failing that, I’ve been calling in markers all over Fleet Street. If a new Peacher story starts being touted round the tabloids, I’ll hear about it. But so far, nothing.’
‘We have some time yet then, Terry?’ asked Henry, a little relieved.
‘A while maybe.’
Gavin finally arrived home late, and in an odd mood. But then, everyone was in an odd mood that day, so Henry just cuddled up to him as they watched the lounge TV. Eventually Gavin relaxed.
Henry cooked some pasta. Then they looked at the devastation of Eddie’s room.
‘We could clean it up,’ Gavin suggested. He had a tidiness thing that had passed by Henry.
‘Okay, Gavin babes. It’ll look nice for him when he comes back. Maybe he’ll realise how much we missed him,’ confirmed Henry. But he rather thought Eddie would not be back, and that what they were really doing was beginning the house clearance. Sad though it was, that was another good reason to do it.
Gavin gathered up the scattered clothes, quirkily holding up two discarded bras. He took the mass of washing down and began the laundry. In the meantime, Henry started sorting papers, books and crockery. Next to the bed he found a used rail ticket. This was curious. It was a single ticket from Swindon to Cranwell dated three days before. Then it clicked. This was Tina’s, and it indicated that a return to Swindon was not his plan. Terry had been wasting his time. Tina was still in Cranwell … or, Henry’s reason reminded him, gone on to a third place. He rooted out his mobile to call Terry, and got a long-distance pat on the head.
It took two hours, but Eddie’s room was transformed at the end. Henry even changed the bedding for the first time in months. The base sheet had been stiff with a variety of stains, causing Henry acute disgust. The guy might have been a mate, but he was a total slob.
Henry wiped the computer down, then booted it up. He had a reply from Harriet, with a prompt translation of the text he’d found in the Wardrinski papers. He looked it over. It was in the manner of a question and response:
VBI XPTI FACIES ESTNE. (Where is the face of Christ?)
IN ARCA DOMINI. (In the ark of the Lord.)
VBI ARCA DOMINI ESTNE. (Where is the ark of the Lord?)
IN MANIBVS ANCILLAE SVAE. (In the possession of his handmaiden.)
The other passage relating to the holy tombs of Rothenia, APERTUM ET VACUUM INVENTUM EST, meant ‘It was opened and found to be empty’.
Now that’s decidedly spooky, if not ghoulish, thought Henry.
Then Harriet gave her take on her brother’s disappearance. The aching need to be with him positively radiated out of the screen. She railed at the vileness of the plot against an innocent and happy boy. She seemed to believe that Tina had backers in the press, and that the sting on Eddie had not been his own private enterprise. Justin was there, apparently, and had been interrogating her pretty thoroughly – though sensitively – about where Eddie might go in the States. She had suggested Santa Barbara as most likely, and the Peacher office there was now on alert. Justin was heading on out to California to intensify the search at a list of places she had given him. Lucky old Justy, Henry thought.
Gavin and Henry washed the dishes and retired to bed. They nestled together under the duvet, Henry rubbing the smooth skin of Gavin’s belly and kissing his neck. Gavin’s hand found his lover’s member and stroked it erect. ‘Please Henry,’ he said, ‘I need it.’
Henry chuckled. ‘You always need it, baby. Let me work on you for a while.’ They coupled in a leisurely and deeply satisfying way, and Gavin drifted off to sleep cuddled into Henry’s arms.
Henry woke in the night to find himself alone in bed. The clock said it was four in the morning. Gavin had not returned to him by the time Henry drifted off again.
They were working the next day in the King’s Cross, and Gavin disappeared once more up to the pub office to work on the computer. He had been quiet all morning, which bothered Henry a little. Gavin was one of those who talked about their problems and insecurities with whomever they felt they could trust. The quietness when with Henry was not usual and seemed to betray some sense of trouble. Henry wondered if the uncertainty of their tenure at 25 Finkle Road was beginning to get to Gavin, and decided to tackle him about it that evening.
Frank was also absorbed in a personal misery, although such a state was by no means unusual for him.
Terry and David appeared for a late drink around ten. They sat at the bar to chat to Henry when he wasn’t serving customers. Justin, it appeared, was driving up and down the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible, having a great time pursuing enquiries about Eddie’s disappearance. But although he had found and interviewed several of Eddie’s former surfing buddies, there was no clue to be found.
Henry was ringing last orders when Gavin finally appeared from upstairs. Henry watched him whisper something to Frank, who looked at first startled and then fearful. There was a short and intense conversation, followed by Frank’s rapid disappearance upstairs.
‘What’s going on, baby mine?’ Henry asked Gavin.
Gavin smiled hesitantly at him. ‘Computer stuff, Henry. Look, I have to stay late and sort out a bug, or we’ll be offline for days.’
‘No, please Henry, it’s not necessary. I’ll try to be home by one.’
Henry was not convinced. There was something else going on. But he could do nothing other than head home after he’d tidied the bar and washed the glassware.
Gavin had not returned by the time Henry finally gave up and went to bed. Gavin had turned off his mobile so there was no raising him.
When Henry woke the next morning, the bed was still empty. He was alarmed, but found Gavin asleep on the lounge sofa. Henry covered him with a soft blanket and went to make breakfast. Eventually Gavin walked blinking and stretching into the kitchen.
‘Morning, Henry my Henry.’
‘You look like the cat who got the cream,’ observed Henry, using one of his mother’s favourite similes.
‘It’s a good morning,’ laughed Gavin, an entirely different boy from what he had been the day before. ‘I have this feeling things will get better this afternoon.’
He opened the back door. The sky had cleared of the oppressive grey ceiling that had depressed them for days. The sun was shining and a fresh breeze was blowing, carrying with it the first hint of spring scents. Henry too was feeling a lot better.
After a morning’s study in the Arts library, they joined David in the Union. He was bursting with something. ‘Tina’s surfaced. He wants a meeting, a one-on-one with Terry here in Cranwell. They’re meeting at the Bentinck wine bar at two.’
‘What does he want?’ asked Henry.
‘He wants to deal, I guess. But the fact he wants to talk to us means he’s not gone to the press, and maybe he can be talked round. If we go to the Brewery at four, Terry’ll be back. Then we can find out what’s going on.’
‘Any news of Eddie?’
David looked less gleeful. ‘No, not a thing.’
They were sitting round the lounge of the penthouse flat when Terry returned, throwing his car keys into the fruit bowl in the hall. ‘Well, sweet babes, that was a turn-up for the books, and no mistake.’
‘What happened?’ David asked, breathlessly.
‘Complete surrender. Tina said he’d thought it over, and he didn’t want to be responsible for ruining the life of a decent kid who was, after all – he said – a damn good fuck. He’d been drunk and angry that night, and it had been the anger that had spoken. He genuinely liked Eddie, who he had thought knew he was a tranny. So we’re not to worry, and it won’t get to the press through him.’
‘This is incredible!’ Henry exclaimed.
‘That’s exactly what it is,’ Terry replied. ‘It’s beyond belief. There’s something going on here I haven’t worked out yet. People like Tina don’t walk away from the possibility of £50,000.’
Gavin joined in a little hesitantly. ‘Terry, he might just mean it. He may not be so bad a person as you think.’
Terry smiled a little tightly. ‘Gavin, you’re a nice kid, but take it from me when I say that Tina has no good side.’
Gavin replied, ‘I think you’re wrong.’
Terry looked surprised. ‘How on earth can you say that.’
Gavin seemed flustered. ‘No reason. It’s just that on the night when he chatted me up, he was kind and very concerned. Not at all the monster you guys make out. Maybe he has a heart after all.’
‘He has as much a heart as Frank Hutchinson. They’re not dissimilar characters. It’s no surprise they’ve had this on and off thing going for years.’
Gavin shrugged and went mute. But Henry kept watching him. The boy was bubbling with something. As five o’clock approached, Henry said, ‘Work time, baby. The King’s needs us.’
‘So,’ said Henry, as they walked up the road to the pub. ‘You were right. Half the problem has resolved itself in a very unexpected way.’
Gavin smiled to himself. ‘Are you pleased?’
‘Pleased? I’m astounded, baby.’
For some reason, Gavin looked very gratified at hearing that.
Returning home through a mild February night, Henry stopped Gavin and sat him down on a bench in the Memorial Gardens. ‘Okay, my special baby, talk to me.’
‘What did you do?’
‘Me? Why are you asking?’
‘Because, Gavin, you’ve been throwing off strange signals since Eddie disappeared. It’s time to tell me why.’
Gavin’s glasses glittered at him in the dim illumination of a nearby streetlamp. ‘And if I do … you must not tell anyone. Right?’
Henry was becoming anxious. ‘Gavin baby … I hope to God you’ve done nothing rash.’
‘No … well, yes … maybe.’
Gavin looked so trustingly at him that Henry almost cried. ‘Okay, my Henry, I want no secrets from you. It’s like this. You know I’ve been watching the pub’s finances since we started working there. Well, I began keeping my own figures on the till receipts in November, before the brewery sold the pub to Terry. Frank knows so little about the computer that, when he gave me access to it, he didn’t realise I could check the receipt figures he entered in the database.’
‘And did they match?’
‘Did they heck. He was siphoning off about £300 a week, fiddling the till before he entered the figures.’
‘Well that explains the nervousness about the brewery review before Christmas. How long do you think he had been doing it?’
‘I noticed a changing pattern of receipts starting in August, after the last review. So not that long. My first guess was that he knew he was going to be forced to resign, and was making sure he got a decent redundancy out of the firm, one way or other. As it happens, the rising bar receipts in the second half of the year more than disguised his fiddling, and the brewery accountants missed it.’
‘Aha! But that was just your first guess.’
‘Yes. You know Frank and Tina are quite close?’
‘Everybody says Frank had a fling with him five or six years ago and never recovered from it.’
‘So they said, but … come on, Henry, can you see Frank as a disappointed lover?’
‘Maybe. He had this boyfriend who died in the eighties, they said.’
‘Okay, yes, but flashy Tina the twenty-something tranny and him? Come on!’
‘It does seem a bit unlikely when you put it like that. So what is the connection, blackmail?’
‘Er ... no, Henry. Anthony Morris, a.k.a. Tina, is Frank’s son!’
Henry’s jaw bounced off the ground and clicked shut again, or felt like it had. ‘Er … how did you … how could you possibly know that?’
‘When I started getting suspicious about Frank and the pub, I began looking round when he was out. I know it wasn’t the sort of thing you’d do, so I did it without telling you. I didn’t want a flash of Henry anger coming my way. There are pictures of a very beautiful schoolboy hidden away in the desk drawer, a boy effeminate but devastating. I thought it might be wanking material, but it was only the one boy all the way from primary school to Year 11, and the face was Anthony’s. There was other stuff too.’
‘His birth certificate, for one thing. Giving Francis Hutchinson, 29, as father, and a Tania Morris, aged 17, as mother. I’ll bet that’s an interesting story.’
‘I’ll bet. So, Gavin. So you’ve been very naughty and discovered that Frank is Tina the Tranny’s dad. There has to be something else.’
‘As soon as I worked all this out it became clearer. I don’t think Frank was behind Tina’s scheme, but he was helping out. Tina was in hiding upstairs in Frank’s top-floor flat at the King’s all the time. No wonder Terry couldn’t find him.’
‘How did you know that?’
Gavin giggled. ‘You could smell his perfume, it’s a bit distinctive.’
Henry was looking at Gavin as if he were a stranger. Where had the boy found all this courage and enterprise? ‘So what have you done with all this knowledge?’
‘Oh well, Henry, things were getting worse and worse and I had to try and make them better, because you and I … we need that house, Henry, if we’re to be together. I can’t live without you. I’d do anything to keep us together. So I told Frank I knew he had been fiddling the till and I wanted to talk to him after closing time yesterday. He thought I was going to blackmail him for a cut, the sour old bastard; was he surprised. No, when I got him in the office, I told him I wanted to see him and Tina together, and now. He blustered until I told him I knew Tina/Anthony was his son, and that I wanted to talk to them both.’
‘Yes. So after he picked his jaw up from the floor, he went and got Tina. I looked at Tina and said he had to drop his blackmail of Eddie. He laughed and asked why I thought he’d do that. I told him I knew his dad was robbing the till for him and, if anything came out about Eddie’s little mistake, then Frank would go down too!’
‘Jesus! Gavin! How did you have the nerve?’
‘I don’t really know,’ he said, blushing deeply. ‘But I did it without stammering. And they looked so shocked. I guessed Frank was taking the cash for Tina, not himself. I dunno, maybe it was for hormone treatments and stuff. The guy’s got tits, you know. But the big gamble was how Tina felt about Frank. It looks like they both do have some human feelings after all. They care about each other, and Tina went white at the prospect of his dad’s arrest. He threatened me a bit, but Frank hauled him off. And that was it. They agreed to forget Eddie if I forgot the thieving.’
Henry looked stunned at Gavin. Who was this boy? He thought: I couldn’t have done that, Ed couldn’t have done it either. Terry maybe, or Justin, but no one else I know. Gavin looked more and more worried as Henry just stared at him.
Then it hit Henry: he had become so caught up in being the dominant partner in their relationship that he’d begun to treat Gavin as childlike, forgetting he was not a toy, but another man … for he was clearly more than a boy. And Henry felt a little ashamed. He was quite sure Ed Cornish had treated him in a more equal way, even when they were sixteen.
When he realized Gavin was trembling on the brink of tears, Henry reached behind his head and pulled him in for a long and lingering kiss. And as he let Gavin go, he whispered, ‘My hero!’
After a night of very passionate if exhausting sex, they sat together naked in the kitchen over a coffee.
‘Any ideas about solving the Eddie problem, Gavin? I was going to say “Gavin baby”, but as you’re the bravest of all of us, it seems patronising.’
Gavin blushed very nicely, the flush going down to his shoulders. ‘I love it when you call me baby … please don’t stop.’
‘Okay, Gavin baby, any ideas about Eddie and where to find him and, oh yes, what to say to him if we do?’
‘Sorry, Henry mine, my miracle gland’s all drained. Prostate’s fine though; do you fancy another …?’
‘Suddenly you’re very randy, baby.’
‘It’s all the excitement, it’s done things to my sex drive. I thought people had looked everywhere Eddie might have gone, and there was a major Peacher alert across the planet.’
‘Then it’s down to deduction. He’s not gone to his mum’s or Harriet’s, he’s keeping his distance from his brothers, and he’s not returned to his Californian haunts. And that means only one thing.’
‘He’s never left Britain. He’s not that far away. Now where in Britain is he going to go if it’s not to his brother’s or father’s houses?’
‘Dunno,’ said Gavin, ‘otherwise he only goes surfing … ah, surfing!’
‘Yes,’ Henry concluded, ‘the only time he’s truly carefree is when he’s on his board. He’s gone to a beach somewhere, but where? He’s done the bigger British beaches … Fistral with his mates, and the East Coast. Hmmm. Follow me, Gavin.’
They went up to Eddie’s room, now neat and tidy, and logged on. Terry had tried to access the e-mail, but it was locked tight. Now Henry checked Eddie’s favourite sites, and not surprisingly they were mostly surf-related. Then he checked the history and found that the last site visited had been Surfwatch UK. He clicked on it. It gave weather reports and alerts as to exceptional conditions of tide and swell. The beach of the moment was Walbrough South Bay on the Yorkshire coast. Forecasts made it sensational for surf for the next three days, as it had been already for nearly a week.
‘I’m off to Walbrough, baby,’ he announced.
‘No, Henry. WE’RE off to Walbrough. I love the seaside.’
‘I wouldn’t go without you, lover,’ smiled Henry. ‘Now, here I am bending over this desk, and it doesn’t give you ideas?’
Their laughter and groans went on for the next twenty minutes. Gavin didn’t seem to care any more that he might conceivably be seen through the window, enthusiastically humping his lover.