Michael Arram










  A fortnight went by.  The boys worked together daily, and Justin even went into Hornsey College with Nathan on his day releases.  Hanging round the college coffee bar, he ran into one or two of his more clued-in former street mates, who barely recognised the new Justin but definitely approved.


  ‘Fuck me, Animal, you look like a million quid.’


  ‘Yeah, I gone on the game.  I’m a high-class rent boy now.  I can recommend it.  Wanna intro to me pimp?’


  On weekends they swopped between houses, although of the two, it was Matt’s that was now the happier.  Justin had achieved a first in his life and become popular with a houseful of adults.  They joked with him, and were happy to chat.  As he opened up further, a deep inner stream of fun began to emerge in his character.  Popularity had become real affection by the end of a fortnight.  Happiness was infectious, and its effect on Matt and Andy was noticeable.  They took pride in Justin, and tried to get him and Nathan to come out on their social duties where they could.


  The climax of the fortnight was a black-tie premier in Leicester Square, where they followed Matt and Andy up the red carpet, though they didn’t quite have the nerve to walk hand-in-hand as the older couple did.  They did publicly neck in the reception that followed, however, and got a mixture of strange and approving looks.


  At three in the morning, as the limo was taking them back to Highgate, Justin was fast asleep.  Matt looked lazily – and a little blearily – at Nathan.  ‘You know we fly out on Sunday, don’t you?  Are you going to be okay without your boyfriend for a few weeks?’


  ‘Course.  Justy’s never been abroad.  It’d be selfish of me to resent his chance to travel for once.  Where’re you taking him?’


  ‘To Andy’s place in Annandale to begin with, then – I dunno – probably down to St Kitts to meet Peter, Andy’s brother, and his lover Tim.  This is vacation time in the USA and the boys are soaking up the sun.  The new Peacher yacht will be anchored off Basseterre by now.’


  ‘Poor Justy.  What a life of wealth to have to get used to!’  Smiling indulgently at his sleeping boyfriend, Nathan gently lifted his hand and kissed it.


  He woke him as the car pulled up at Matt’s house.  ‘We’re back, lover.’


  ‘Wha …?’


  ‘Highgate, and it’s bedtime.’


  ‘Oh, right.’


  They made their way to Justin’s bedroom, which was filling up with more of Nathan’s plants.  Nathan began undressing.  ‘It’s our last night together, Justy.  And the results of the tests on both of us said we’ve been good boys.’


  ‘You first then, Nate.  I want you in me bareback … oh, I’m so gonna love this!’


  They sighed and groaned out their love for each other till the sun came up, then slept in each other’s arms till midday that Saturday.  Their parting was difficult for Justin, who’d had too little real happiness in his life to want to give any up.  He wished he could cry, especially when he saw tears in Nathan’s eyes.  He touched them with respectful awe, realising they were a lover’s tears shed for him.  He kissed them away.


  A short while later Nathan’s father arrived to chauffeur his son home.  Justin did not resent Matt’s holding him by the shoulder while he watched longingly through the window as Nathan disappeared.  Indeed, in his unhappiness he cuddled into his foster father on the sofa and let him stroke his hair.  He kissed Matt and Andy on the cheek before he went to bed, and was kissed gently back.


  ‘We love you too, y’know,’ they said.


  He nodded, and as he did so, he looked at them and gave a woeful smile.  He found he needed something new for him: reassurance and comfort.  Once you get used to being together with another human being, to giving and receiving back affection, its absence does strange things to you.  In Justin’s case, it made him vulnerable and needy in ways he had not known before.  Matt and Andy understood that, and he knew they did.  As he went upstairs he found the tracks of tears running down his own cheeks for the very first time he could remember in his life.




* * *




  The bags were already in the hall when he woke.  Terry and Jenna were travelling too, and the limousine was purring outside.  A minivan driven by Dave Evans, the PA, waited behind to carry the luggage.  Justin dressed casually for the flight, getting more and more excited.


  The doors closed and the convoy pulled away.  Sitting in the back seat between Matt and Andy, he asked, ‘Where we flyin’ from?’


  Andy said, ‘An airfield in Northolt.’


  ‘What, not Heathrow or Gatwick?  I thought thass where all the transatlantic flights lifted off from.’


  ‘Not this one.  And it’s less of a problem getting to it, as it’s just off the North Circular.  We’ll be there in half an hour, and in the air in forty-five minutes.’


  Justin was disappointed.  He had so wanted to see a huge international airport.  The disappointment evaporated, however, as the car turned into an airfield and he saw the large, sleek private aircraft on the tarmac.  ‘Jeez!  It’s your own jet!  You got your own jet!  So cool!’


  ‘Actually it’s my dad’s, but yeah, it’s ours for today at least.’


  Immigration officials were on hand to give their documents a cursory check before sending them on their way within ten minutes of arriving.  Justin’s eyes widened when the long-distance plane lifted into the air, kicking him in the back with the power of its ascent.  As it rose high over North London, he was glued to the window.  All his young life had been played out on the small patch of ground disappearing below him.


  ‘Okay, criminal babe,’ suggested a grinning Terry, ‘how ‘bout cards?  You play blackjack?’


  Terry’s grin did not last.  ‘You’re cheating, yer little sod!’


  ‘Bad loser,’ was the only reply from an intent and intense Justin.




* * *




  The luxury of the flight was matched only by the subdued fun in the cabin.  The food and drink were plentiful, served by a team of stewards on hand to cater to their every need.  Justin was even allowed a beer.  Everybody seemed to be in a good mood.  Terry was returning to his boyfriend and Jenna to her husband, so they were full of good humour.  Matt and Andy, bubbling, simply enjoyed travelling.  Even though the world was taking Justin further and further from his lover as it turned, still he was conscious that Nathan would be thinking of him day and night.  His mobile was topped up and ready for long conversations.


  Flying in across Chesapeake Bay and up the Potomac, the jet curved gracefully in to a landing at Dulles.  Although Justin again was glued to the window, his view was blocked by low clouds, which also made for an alarmingly bumpy descent.  He found cold sweat on his forehead when they finally came to a halt.  A minibus conveyed them all to Immigration, where Matt took Justin’s passport and walked him through the gates of the hall.


  They all met up again outside the terminal concourse at the convoy of black cars with Peacher drivers, which whisked them away to the big house in Annandale.  Justin watched as America flowed past him: strange road signs, wooden houses, and yellow school buses driving on the wrong side of the road.  It was just like the films, but unlike.


  Andy’s house was really big, with a huge pool out back.  Justin was introduced to Mrs Fuentes, the housekeeper, who assigned him a much larger room than the one he had in Matt’s place.  It came with a widescreen TV, antique lamps and flower arrangements.  A maid unpacked his case, folded the clothes and hung them in the closet.  Not wanting to wait around while she did it, he decided to explore the house and grounds.


  Terry and Jenna had disappeared into their own worlds, and he soon missed Terry a lot.  Dinnertime found him a little dozy but still up to sparring with Matt and Andy, who began filling him in about the Peacher family, its personalities and its history.  It was fascinating stuff, especially the figure of Peter Peacher, Andy’s younger brother.


  ‘You think you’re a problem, Justy?’ exclaimed Matt.  ‘He put the family in an uproar for years.  You may have terrorised Upper Holloway, but he caused the California National Guard to be called out four years ago, when he staged his own kidnapping.  There were road blocks all along the Pacific Coast Highway.’


  ‘God, don’t remind me of it,’ groaned Andy.


  ‘Funny thing is, he had it in for me too,’ Matt mused.  ‘I wonder what it is about me that brings out the worst in adolescents?’


  ‘Yer lack of spots, Matt.’


  ‘I wish that were it.  I never got on with my brother Carl at that age either.  It must be me, I suppose.  But eventually Pete got his act together and in his junior year found his Tim, a lovely lad who’s civilised him amazingly, just the way Nathan did for you.  He’s quite a star now.  You’ll likely be seeing him in a few days on St Kitts.’


  ‘Does he know about me?’


  Andy smiled.  ‘Oh yes.  I e-mail him regularly about my new delinquent.  He’s looking forward to meeting you.


  ‘Oh sod!  We’ve not done anything yet about beach gear for you.  I’ve got to get on to campus tomorrow.  Matt, can you sort it?’


  ‘Sure, not a problem.  My last makeover of Justin was generally admired.  A few pairs of shorts and flip-flops won’t be a challenge.’


  In fact, the shopping took most of the day.  The two of them drove from mall to mall and, much to his own surprise, Justin enjoyed himself.


  ‘Thing is, Matt, iss a good way to see the Americans in their natural environment.’  They were sitting in the food court of a giant mall on the outskirts of Washington.  Justin had bought piles of cotton trousers, board shorts, sandals, flip-flops, loose shirts and tee-shirts of all sorts – even one or two hats that caught his fancy.


  ‘You’ve got a few classy pairs of swimming gear, baggy and otherwise.  Do you swim, Justy?’


  ‘Nah … never got round to it at home.  I wuz always absent from school when they did swimmin’ lessons.’


  ‘We’ll see if Andy’ll help you in the pool this evening.  He’s an excellent swimmer.’


  Andy tried to teach Justin to float, with no great success.  In the end he said they’d just have to keep working on it.


  The next day Matt had a try, with better results.  ‘Fact is, I found swimming difficult when I first tried.  It took me a long while to gain confidence.  I think I’ve got a better idea of the problems than Andy, who’s part dolphin.’


  By the end of the sunny Virginia afternoon, Justin was floating and splashing happily just out of his depth.  ‘Of course it would help if you could stop having erections when I touch you,’ Matt complained.  ‘They’re overbalancing you.’


  ‘Hang on, I’ll go jerk off behind that bush.’


  ‘Wait.  Christ, put your shorts back on!  You’re a bad lad!’


  ‘Thought for a moment I was goin’ to do it, didnya?  Nice dick though, innit?’


  Matt, ignoring the prick teasing, hauled out of the pool and ordered drinks, admiring the boy while he carried on splashing around.  Justin was irresistible when he was having fun, for under the tarnish of the abused delinquent there was still the cheerful little boy he had never been allowed to be, bubbling to get out and play.




* * *




  The dark green mountains of St Kitts swung below them as the helicopter turned to approach its landing on the deck of the yacht MV Speculator, Richard Peacher’s new toy, moored well off Basseterre harbour.  It was more of a small liner than a yacht, with a helipad and resident copter behind the tall black funnel.  The crew was unloading even before the rotors stopped turning.


  Cool as only a slim, attractive boy can be, Justin got out, shades in place, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, baggy shorts and flip-flops.  He had topped the lot with a round, broad-brimmed straw hat set back on his head.  Matt had done his hair for him and, unable to stop himself, had kissed him on the lips when he finished.  Not to be outdone, Justin had reached up, put a hand behind Matt’s head, and kissed him back hard.  Letting go with a lascivious grin, he cooed, ‘Can I seduce you, Matt?’


  ‘Be good, you randy imp!  Go and seduce the boys on St Kitts.  You won’t find it too hard, looking the way you do.  You’re just too cute in that hat.’


  A handsome woman in her mid-thirties, carrying a small toddler, was waiting for them.  Matt and Andy went over to hug her and kiss the child.  ‘Sylvia,’ said Andy, ‘this is Justin, whom we’ve fostered.  Justin, this is Mrs Sylvia Peacher, my stepmother, and my baby sister Elaine.’


  Justin gave his cheeky street grin, always guaranteed to charm older women, and said, ‘Pleased to meetcha.’


  Sylvia smiled back.  ‘Welcome aboard the good ship Speculator, Justin.  What a name to give it.’


  Andy chuckled.  ‘I didn’t think dad had a sense of humour.’


  ‘It was Peter, naturally.  Your father guffawed for ten minutes once he got it.’


  ‘Where is Pete?’


  ‘On the island with Tim and a crowd of fraternity brothers he brought along with him for the week.  They’ve gone to look at the fort.  Dinner will be at seven, white jacket and black tie.’


  ‘Great,’ enthused Andy, then caught the alarmed look on Justin’s face.  ‘It’s okay, Justy, you’re sorted.  Matt had a suit tailored for you just before we left.  It was to be a surprise.’


  ‘Justin, you’re in the cabin next to Matt and Andy’s.  They know where to go, so follow them.  Your bags should be there already.  It’s drinks on the stern promenade in twenty minutes. Bye, guys.’


  White-jacketed stewards circulated with silver trays under the awning that protected the deck.  The sun sparkled on the clear, blue waters while gulls screamed overhead.  The low houses of Basseterre with their coloured, corrugated roofs climbed up the hill opposite.  Justin watched as a ferry slipped its moorings at the long quay to move out past the yacht, saluting it with three tremendous blasts on its horn.  The yacht’s reply was even more impressive.  Justin smiled and waved at the laughing people lining the ferry deck, who waved back.  He sipped on something called ginger ale that tasted like nothing he’d ever tried before, served in a glass crammed with vegetation and clinking with ice.


  A speedboat approached the yacht from the harbour, bouncing across the waves.  Its pilot brought it elegantly alongside the companionway so a group of five or six young men could clatter up and dash towards the stern.


  Peter Peacher was easy to identify.  He was blond and naturally pale like his elder brother, but far better built and decidedly handsome.  He swept the crowd, saw Justin, and plunged towards him, only to stop abruptly in front of him, put his hands on his hips, and comically size him up.  ‘So, hi there, foster-bro!’


  ‘Uh … hi,’ responded Justin, a bit taken aback.


  ‘You gave Matt a hard time, didn’t you?’


  ‘Er … yeah, I did.’


  ‘Me too.  He brings out the worst in good-looking boys.  It’s his perfection.  It gets up your nose.  You are nice looking, too … a lot like my Timmy.  So is it true you’re a criminal?’


  Justin smirked.  ‘Only a petty one.’


  Peter laughed and put an arm round his shoulder.  ‘Come and meet my Timmy babe.  Nice to have another gay kid on board … top or bottom?’


  ‘Bottom mostly.  Is this the sort of things gays ask each other?’


  ‘Nah, I’m just salaciously curious.  You don’t look like the guy who goes under.  You seem too aggressive for that.’


  ‘Iss overcompensation.’


  ‘What did you think of Terry O’Brien?’


  Justin got enthusiastic.  ‘He’s me hero.  Awesome bloke!’


  Peter smiled.  ‘Mine too.  That guy changed my life.  I date everything that’s gone right for me from the day I met him.’


  When Peter laughed happily at the memory, it was instant affection as far as Justin was concerned.  He liked this man.


  Tim, on the other hand, rocked him when they were introduced.  More pretty of face than classically handsome, Tim was darkly tanned and of a height with Justin.   His smile was a little secretive, as if they were already sharing a private joke.


  The sudden sexual fixation Justin felt was something new to him.  Even Nathan had taken a while to arouse him.  Tim’s slim and elegant brown legs – with very little hair on them, Justin noticed – below his cargo shorts and above his sockless trainers turned Justin right on, making him ache to see the rest of that body, very much.  Tim was talking with easy confidence to a group of strapping males, rather bigger than either of them, who had to be part of the Yale set.


  Justin hung round on the fringes of the group for a while, but couldn’t find an entry.  Bored, he wandered off back to the rail, feeling suddenly out of it.  Matt and Andy were nowhere to be seen.  Sylvia was chattering with two younger kids, the twins he’d heard about – what were their names? – Ed and Harriet.  He stared down through the sparkling depths of the perfectly transparent water, seeing fish float past in shoals.  He wondered whether there were sharks.


  Someone joined him at the rail.  ‘Love the hat!’  It was Tim.


  Justin smiled a little shyly, a first for him.  ‘Hi.’


  ‘It’s gorgeous out here, isn’t it?’


  ‘Hmm.  I never thought I’d ever see it.’




  ‘The sea.’


  ‘You mean you’ve never seen the sea before?’


  ‘Nah.  Only from the jet when we came over.  Seen it on the telly, ’course, but that doan’ prepare you for the smells and the sounds.  S’fantastic!’


  ‘You seem to be handling this all very well, Justin.’


  ‘Call me Justy, Tim.  Me mates do.  Matt and Andy are cool guys, once you get used to ’em.  They’ve been really good to me and as long as they’re around I’m okay.’


  ‘The Yale crowd were a bit much, though, weren’t they?’


  ‘Yeah … well, it can’t be expected to have big rich lads like that interested in talkin’ to me.’


  ‘Oh, I dunno.’  Tim’s voice was low and intimate.  ‘I think you’re really interesting.’


  Now I wonder what that meant? Justin thought.  ‘Cheers,’ he said, uncertain if he dared push things on a bit.  ‘You’re pretty amazing too, if you don’t mind me saying.’


  Tim dropped his eyes and smiled the smile.  ‘I don’t mind it at all, especially from you, Justin.’


  Justin smiled back.  ‘How long you and Pete been an item?’


  ‘Since junior year in high school.  He kept me from being bullied, then came out in order to defend me.  He was so cool about it, and what a god, eh?’


  ‘He’s totally fit.  It must be amazing havin’ sex with a guy who’s got a bod like that.’


  ‘What’s your boyfriend like?’


  ‘Not too unlike Pete, though not quite so big or muscular.  Nate’s my rock.  Anything good in me is built on him.’


  Tim looked impressed.  ‘I don’t think anyone could put their love better, boy or girl.  There’s a lot more to you than rumour lets on, Justin.’




  ‘That’s cool.  Tell me how you and Nathan met.’


  Justin spent the next half hour recounting the story of his arrest, his forced labour at Andersons, and how he found himself in Nathan’s arms.  Peter brought them drinks and stayed to pick up the thread of the story.  He was particularly interested in the bugging of the house in Highgate.


  Justin paused.  ‘So yer know all about this guy Anson, do you?’


  ‘Oh yeah.  Did you hear the story of how Terry took him down?’ asked Peter.


  ‘Nah, just hints like.’


  ‘It’s quite sexy.  He told us in Santa Barbara when we were ratted and we were …’  Peter looked at Tim.  ‘Can I tell him?’


  ‘He’s your foster bro.  It’s time you decided whether you trust him or not.’


  ‘Okay.  Justy, this must not go further.  Andy, Matt, and my dad and stepmom do not know this, but Tim and I have done group sex with Terry and his boyfriend Ramon, couple of times now.’


  ‘Jeez!  Have you had Terry’s huge dick up …?’


  ‘Oh yeah!’


  ‘What?  Both of you?’


  ‘Absolutely.  Although not simultaneously, big though he is.’


  ‘Wow!  Envy … envy.  So, er … you were saying about how he took down Anson?’


  They were still talking intently when the chief steward appeared at Mrs Peacher’s shoulder with the announcement that dinner would be served in half an hour.  She clapped her hands and told the party it was time to dress.


  Justin, Tim and Peter headed to their cabins.  When Justin got the suit off its hangers, he found it fitted like a glove.  He managed everything, even the crimson cummerbund, apart from the tie.  He tried to follow the instruction card, and was just panicking when Andy knocked on the door to check on him.


  ‘Do me tie, Andy, or I’ll be in tears soon.’


  Andy obliged and brought him next door into his and Matt’s cabin where there was a big mirror.  He covered Justin’s eyes till he had him in position.’  ‘Okay, Justy, let me get your hair right.  Now you can look.’


  ‘Oh me bleedin’ God!’  Andy and Matt were proudly contemplating a glamorous boy in immaculate tropical evening dress.  He almost burst into tears.


  ‘Not just cute now, Justy,’ Matt told him.  ‘You’ve crossed over into downright handsome.’


  ‘Thass me, innit?’


  ‘It’s you, you heart-breaker.  Let me get a picture.’


  They walked him to dinner in the ship’s large wardroom, where he was seated between Tim and Pete, opposite the captain.  He was intrigued to see at last the great Richard Peacher himself down the table, next to his wife.  Now in his early fifties, Peacher was thought by some to be the richest person in the world, although many disputed it.  Catching the man’s eye, Justin suddenly felt very small.


  He chatted to Peter and Tim with growing intimacy, thankful they didn’t push down his throat the fact that they were students.  They had the same modesty and lack of self-consequence he found so endearing in his Nathan.  They spent their time being funny and outrageous at their end of the table.  The captain was guffawing at their humour, while Matt and Andy were deeply grateful to Peter for taking Justin under his wing.


  Only the Yale boys were uncomfortable.  They had clearly hoped to monopolise the billionaire’s son, as well as freeload.  Justin also decided – with justifiable smugness – that he looked better in evening dress than any of them.  He had no more qualms about sit-down dinners.  If Matt hadn’t been all too obviously monitoring his alcohol intake, he would have been perfectly happy.


  After the dinner, people drifted away into the tropical night, with its stars blazing in the sky above them.  The Milky Way was spread across the heavens like a river of pale mist.  Justin, who had only ever seen the orange and obscured night sky of a great city, was quite amazed.


  Tim had come out with him.  ‘It’s fantastic, isn’t it, Justy?’


  Justin had never been aesthetically moved before in his life, but now he was.  His soul was awake and he held his breath as he gazed at the points of light burning like diamonds in the velvet of the firmament.  He shivered, not with cold in that tropical night, but with the inhuman beauty of Creation.


  His hand blindly sought Tim’s, and was gripped.  ‘London and Holloway seem to belong to a different universe, all the grey streets, damp and fog.  I keep feelin’ I’m gonna wake up soon in me bedroom in me mum’s flat, and it’ll all have been nothing but an incredible dream.’


  Tim was very close to him.  Taking him round the waist, he whispered, ‘It’s real alright, Justy, as real as you and I, as real as the feelings I think we have for each other.’  Justin realised with amazement that he was being seduced by another boy, one who turned him on rather too much.


  ‘What about you and Pete?’


  ‘Pete knows how horny I am.  He shares me with his friends.  He was sucking me as Terry took me from behind … my idea of heaven, at least till I saw your pretty face and slim bod.’  He closed and their lips met.  Tim’s small pink tongue licked at Justin’s, whose own duelled back without quarter.  As the passion of their kiss deepened, Tim’s hand snaked inside Justin’s trousers, scrabbling to grip his all-too-obvious erection.  Justin was not fighting the moment, although a part of him was tapping its foot, its arms crossed and frowning, while Nathan and Pete stood behind unhappily.


  Tim was on his knees now, his lips closed around Justin’s penis, sucking it deeply into his mouth.  Justin seized the back of his head and began to thrust back in rhythm.  After only a few minutes, Justin came forcefully, and Tim rose to share his ejaculate with him, feeding it back in a renewed liplock.  Justin swallowed his own semen and licked into Tim’s mouth.  Eventually they separated, Tim replacing Justin’s now flaccid member inside his trousers and zipping him up.


  Tim patted Justin’s crotch and grinned.  ‘Gotta do this again, Justy, oh yeah … and maybe more.  Night.’  He left, whistling to himself.


  Justin had managed to get hold of cigarettes, and lit up one as he looked over the side at the phosphorescent water.  Retrieving his mobile he rang Nathan’s number.


  ‘Justy!’ he heard a sleepy voice say, ‘Oh Justy, thanks for ringing.’


  ‘Oops.  What time is it where you are?’


  ‘Four in the morning.’


  ‘Ohmigod!  I’m so sorry.  I’m crap at maths.’


  ‘Doesn’t matter.  I’m just so glad to hear you.  Wassup?’


  ‘Well, Nate,’ he began, ‘you won’t believe this …’  He talked for twenty minutes.