In this chapter: David attends the hospital for his first check up, Janet not being happy over the outcomes. Being the final week, David departs Hounslow to return back to London, where he spends Christmas and the New Year with Edward, David coming to learn of Edward’s home life in London. Outside of the students, Miss Howard finally gets some romance she’s long deserved.
For the final week of the annual year, as like most other schools, the students of Hounslow spent their time having fun. Christmas music was played in classes as they continued to work, and there was a theatre production on the Wednesday afternoon for the school to watch. As for Mr Garrison, the investigation was still ongoing. The interrogation had taken place but he was awaiting a court date for the trial, the police pushing further. However, because the trial had not yet been taken place, the confirmation of his withdrawal from the school was still yet unknown, so Mr Sachs was still acting as principal for the time being.
During the Friday afternoon, classes finished early so that the students could return to their boarding houses and begin packing their items to return to their homes, the coaches leaving for the station at 9am. David on the other hand was at Newbury Hospital, Grace accompanying him at his appointment with Janet Howell. They met in her office, bundled up in warm clothing. Opening the door as she called David’s name from the waiting area, Grace and David followed on through, taking the chairs adjacent to Janet’s.
Scanning through his file on her desk for his most recent results, she focused on David, her tone light and welcoming. “Since you were discharged, how have you been?”
David kept to a civil manner, his mind more focused on getting back to Ashbury House and going home. “Fine, thank you.”
“And have you been eating?”
David looked down towards the table, his voice silent. Grace answered for him, trying to reassure a concerned Janet as well as not to disturb David. “Gradually, he’s eating more now than he was when he was discharged.”
Janet was no fool though, and was more concerned on the evidence rather than the analysis, her tone sharp. “Hmm, we’ll soon see the results. I hope to find progress. And did you perform at the concert with Edward?”
That soon caught his attention, making him much more light-hearted and upbeat. “Yes, it was rather a good night. Surprising I might add.”
Janet soon dropped the conversation and went back to her errands of reviewing the requirements of his examination. “And have you been for a blood test yet?”
“Have you ate or drank anything for a minimum of eight hours?”
“Good. Well, following your weight check, I’ll send you over to June and she’ll take a blood sample. It saves you having to go to the other side of the hospital.”
“Thank you.” David then got up from out of the chair, chucked his shoes off as well as his coat and blazer. Leaving the items with Grace, he walked over to the weighing scales and stepped on, David knowing the procedure without having to be guided and Janet reading the scales. Janet’s expression didn’t change, other than that her frame slightly stiffened, her grey locks in the form of a bun clamped to her skull, as if there was bad news to be told. Grace was concerned.
Grace eyed Janet for the conclusion, desperately needing an answer. “He hasn’t gone down has he?”
“He’s nine stone six. He’s lost three pounds.”
David didn’t seem rather concerned, having more important affairs going on in his mind, the centre of his thoughts streaming back to Edward. If anything, he saw this as progress, knowing that Janet needn’t be so worried. It wasn’t as if he was severely underweight. “Eight more pounds to go.”
“Yes, but then you have to maintain it.”
“Two weeks with Edward and he’ll put it on.” David came off the scales and went back over to the chair, placing his shoes along with the rest of his clothing on, not fastening the buttons due to his blood test. Janet returned to the desk to note the figures down and add them to his file. She then reached for her diary in the far-end corner of her desk, flipping it open to where they currently were in the calendar year. Thankfully her diary slightly ran into 1995, which she’d update the details once she had a new diary in her possession. “When do you return to Newbury?”
“I’m due to start classes Monday 7th January, but I’ll arrive at the station the Saturday beforehand.”
Grabbing her pen, she skimmed down the page until she found the correct date, finding an available appointment. “Okay, so I’ll arrange an appointment for Tuesday morning for 9:30am.”
“That’s fine with me.” Grace took out her diary to note the details. Janet wrote the details on a sticky note, handing it to Grace, which she pocketed. Writing a note in David’s file, she keyed in some notes on her computer and printed off some notes in correspondence to David’s appointment; these notes would be handed over to June. Closing his file and her diary, placing it back, she went to question David’s injury. “One more thing, how’s your ankle?”
David lightly smiled, not wanting to be fussed over that much. “It’s more or less healed.”
“I’ll get Dr. Roberts to write you a prescription out for some more gel and painkillers.” Janet then got up from behind her desk, grabbing hold of David’s file and walked over to the door, David and Grace following suit, David closing the door. Walking over to the reception desk, she asked the receptionist for the papers, this being the only printer on that floor. Handing them over, she turned to the pair. “Good, now if you’d like to follow me,” and the three went in the direction towards the blood testing department.
Arriving back at Hounslow on the evening, Grace hung up her coat and set herself straight to the kitchen to cook up something (preferably something less time-consuming), George helping her out. Edie, who had been monitoring the lads whilst Grace and David were out, returned back to her quarters to finish off for the night. His arm a little sore from the blood test, David gradually eased out of his coat and blazer, dropping them on Edward’s former bed and then stumbled into the closest room for his suitcase, finally happy to be heading home. The first thing to pack was the majority of his clothes, following with his uniform. Zipping open the suitcase, he found his Norcross uniform inside, untouched since the day he’d shown Edward, and paraded around the bedroom with it on for him, just for Edward to take it off again. Sighing, he knew deep down that he was no longer going to need the uniform, but it provided the warm memories of what could have been if David hadn’t of transferred, but that was now a different story, and Jason had Daniel, and he had Edward.
At dinner, Grace made sure that everyone – with the exception of Edward of course – was at the dinner table, being their final together before Christmas. In turn, each would mention what they were doing during the Christmas holidays, David being the last student to be asked.
Edgar was chobbling on some mince – the result of the emergency dinner crisis being spaghetti bolognese – when he gulped and muttered, his eyes boring into David’s. “You’re obviously off to meet the pansy.”
Grace scolded Edgar, a mild slap to the wrist, Edgar next to Grace at the table. “Leave it.”
David was done with Edgar and his comments, and felt better just to ignore him and let believe his own scenarios, Edgar rapidly losing his ego, holding a hand up to shush her, the fingers from his other hand loosely tangled around the fork. “No, Miss, it’s okay, let him say what he wants. It’s not as if anyone listens to him anymore. He’s already lost the faith of his cronies.” His gaze diverted to Edgar, barely glimpsing the wiry, shorter lad. “No Edgar, you’re right. I’m off home back to London. I’m going back home to my boyfriend. It’s the one place where I’d rather be and I’m glad I’ve got two whole weeks with him.” David sighed as he took a gulp from his glass. Satisfied, he continued. “Sometimes we get these rare moments which we should be happy for.”
Stephen added, curious as to what others find of the outcomes of their relationship, wanting to know David’s thoughts. “And it doesn’t bother you of what others think?”
David’s head was constantly turning back and forth communicating with the students, his gaze one minute on Stephen, the next on Mark and the other housemates. “No, why should it? As long as I love him and he loves me then what’s to worry?” Dropping the conversation, he was curious as for his housekeeper’s personal matters. Not that it shouldn’t bother him, but everyone deserves someone to confine in. “So, how about you, Miss? Going home to a loved one?”
Grace blushed, not knowing what to say, especially when it’s a member of staff communicating with students on personal matters. “Well…” Regardless of her starting point, the students demanded answers. “C’mon Miss, we’ve all mentioned ours. It’s only fair.” With the noise growing progressively louder, she raised a hand to shush them all, giving in, a hand stroking her hair, not knowing where to begin. “Oh alright, yes I’m going to be spending time with someone. I’m going to see my parents, and I will be meeting up with friends and family.”
Mark mumbled, refusing to meet her eye, too focused on his food. “But that’s not really spending Christmas with them is it?”
“Well no, but sometimes as you get older, you’re on your own for some things.”
George followed on, also concerned, but at the same time George was being George, always eager to know the details of what goes on around the place, always daring to go one step further than was deemed reasonable. “I think you should spend time with Mr Lewis. He seems rather smitten for you.”
“I’m serious. I’m not being funny but he has the eyes for you.”
Grace went back to a professional manner, thoughts scattering her mind of what the handsome, dashing P.E. teacher could possibly get up to during two weeks. “What Mr Lewis gets up to in his spare time is none of your business. And I’d keep your tongues shut just in case someone arrives here. At the same time, the walls aren’t that thick.” Grace wasn’t going to mention the fact that he’d been onto her all week about staying the holidays with him. Minus David, due to being rather new, the other six students knew that for a while, both Grace and Alex Lewis had the eyes for each other and were diverting secret looks. They and everyone knew that they loved each other, but they were too afraid to admit it. Grace called for order across the table. “Now c’mon, eat up or it’ll go cold. It’s an early night for us all.” For the remainder of the meal, the students chatted amongst themselves.
David stayed behind to help wash up and clean the dishes whilst the others went upstairs and continued to pack, David only having a few more items to wedge into boxes and the suitcase. With Grace washing up and David drying up and placing things away, the doorbell rang. David noted the time, glancing at the clock in the dining room, just above the arch that stood between the front room and the dining room. “It’s 9pm; who would be calling at this hour?”
“I’ll go and find out.” Dropping the tea towel onto the nearest counter, David left her alone to continue, Grace leaving things on the draining board once they were clean. David opened the door to find Alex behind it, holding a bottle of wine, David extremely curious. “Sir?”
Sucking in a breath, not helping by the fact that it was bloody freezing outside, Alex found the confidence to ask of the whereabouts of his friend and crush. “Good evening, David. Where’s Miss Howard?”
Pulling the door closer to him, that giving Alex in the invitation to come in, David swiftly replied. “She’s in the kitchen. Come in.” Stepping aside to allow Alex in, Alex followed David to the kitchen entrance, passing the dining room. David eyed Alex and then eyed the kitchen, sounds of someone placing a plate onto the draining board the obvious sign of presence. “She’s in there.”
David popped his head around the entrance to provide Grace with the details. “Miss, you’ve got a visitor.”
“Thank you, David.” Knowing Alex’s intention, David departed himself and went upstairs to join the others packing. Since Edward’s return to London a week ago, George had returned to being lodger to keep David company, the lads not spoiling his ‘lodger bed’. David found said person inside packing when he walked in, George by the bed. Curious as to who was their visitor and knowing David was downstairs, he questioned the younger. “Who was that?”
David grinned, coming to meet George, collecting some items on the way that needed packing. “Miss Howard’s boyfriend.”
George smirked with glee. “Boyfriend?”
Nonetheless delighted, George still questioned David for further details. “How do you know it’s for that intention?”
“It’s after 9pm on a Friday night and he’s come here with a bottle of sparkling white wine, knowing we’ve all got an early night.”
“Ooh, he’s a charmer.”
Back downstairs, Grace was washing up a spoon when Alex placed the bottle onto the kitchen counter, slipping his gloves off and placing them next to the bottle. Tiptoeing behind her, he snaked his arms around her waist and leant in, his chin resting on her left shoulder as his voice deepened, a tone only used for her. “And how are we this fine winter’s evening?”
Secretly pleased, she tried avoiding his gestures. “Mmm, fine thank you. Now can you let me do the washing up?”
Alex leant in closer. “I will, only if afterwards you’ll join me in drinking this lovely bottle I brought over.”
As much as Grace loved him, she knew Alex had something up his sleeve and intended to find out. “What is it you want?”
“You know perfectly well what I want.”
“Fine, but only if you’ll help me finish washing up.”
Satisfied, he made a face and then grinned, hugging her from behind as he kissed her cheek. “Oh Grace, you are a persuader.” Grace fluttered her eyelashes, needing help, knowing Alex would give in. “Fine.” Slipping his coat off and placing it on the back of a dining chair, he rolled up his sleeves on his royal blue jumper; he grabbed the discarded tea towel that David had dropped onto the counter earlier on and helped to finish the chores, Grace adding some more hot water to the bowl and Alex drying up the items on the draining board and placing them away.
Once the drying up was done, he handed the cloth over to Grace to dry her hands. He then went in search for two wine glasses in the cupboard. Initially, wine glasses were never there, but since the first night they drank together on a miserable teacher training day four years ago, they’ve always kept them in the cupboard for future amends. Alex Lewis was a warm-hearted, joyful fellow and rather agile. Quite like Grace, he was tall and broad with short, cropped black hair, pearly skin and dark chocolate eyes. Around his late thirties, thirty-seven to be exact and roughly around Grace’s age, he also lost his former love, Anna, but instead of losing his through a war, Anna was murdered five days later after they had graduated. Since then, he’d found it hard to love another. Beginning his career at Hounslow five years ago, he’d had his eye on Grace since. Over the years of knowing each other, they’d grown closer and had become close companions, both wanting something more, but not quite knowing how to go for it.
Finding the glasses, Grace grabbed a cork from the cutlery drawer and opened the bottle, but went upstairs first to make sure the students were fine. Taking off her glasses and placing them into the case, her own room rather empty from packing earlier, she returned back to the front room. Alex drew the front room curtains closed and kicked off his shoes, hoping his feet weren’t that terrible and would stink up the place and possibly put Grace off. Having the glasses on the coffee table in front of the sofa, he went in search for some matches. Finding the box in a drawer in the kitchen, he lit a few candles in the front room, putting out the match and then turned off the lights. Alex was slumped on the sofa when Grace joined him, leaning into him, her feet coming up to rest on the edge, Grace toeing her shoes off.
“How are they?”
“They’re good. Most of them are finishing off and settling down for the night, a few are still up. I’ve told them to keep the noise down though due to others wanting sleep, some having a longer journey.”
“And how’s Dave since I last saw him? I heard he hadn’t been too good.”
“He’s actually doing rather well. I think he’s over the moon to be going home though.” Alex leant up and poured two glasses of wine, handing one to Grace as he poured one for himself. Leaning back into him, he removed the clip that kept her ebony hair together and dropped the clip to the table. His free hand then stroked her soft, waist-length hair as she sighed, leaning into his touch, Alex unwrapping the locks. “It’s good to know he has a man who’ll take care of him.”
Alex sipped some of the wine from his glass and then continued, leaning into the sofa. “And I suppose that they’re together for Christmas?” Alex was definitely onto something.
Small talk would be how Alex got to his main question, trying to ask her in a different way to his usual failed attempts during that week. “So, who are you with this Christmas then?” Grace whined as he nosed her cheek, planting a delicate kiss there, Alex not daring to go any further. “Tell me.”
“I told you, I’ll see family, old friends.”
“So you’re alone then.”
Grace took a swig and explained her situation. Maybe then he’d understand. “Alex, I live in Northchapel. Of course I’m on my own. It’s bad enough having to travel to Lewes to see my parents, never mind Bexhill for my friends.”
Alex took her free hand in his own, eyes on each other as he delicately spoke. “Then stay with me. You can still see your family and friends, and you’ll be closer. You know Robertsbridge is closer anyway.”
Grace diverted off the topic, focusing on the wine. “Nice wine by the way.”
Alex sighed, worried about her wellbeing, but would briefly divert to the new conversation. “It’s French.”
She then went back to the topic. “Why are you so interested about me staying with you? Wouldn’t anyone else mind? You know, other people?”
Alex then went off the topic, afraid to admit his initial reason. “God your hands are sore!”
Grace analysed her hands, knowing that she’d not long bought another tube of hand cream. “From the work; I’ll go upstairs and fetch my hand cream.” Grace went to budge but a hand came at her bosom, keeping her put, her eyes trying not to flicker on the way his hand almost stroked the area, Grace going red. “Let me.”
“Upstairs, top drawer.” Dropping his glass on the table, he was up there and back down within a minute. Flipping open the lid, Grace placed her wineglass onto the table, joining Alex’s, Alex squirting some cream into the palm of his hand and placed the tube down onto the table. He then took Grace’s hands and massaged each of them, the lotion softening them up. “You never answered my questions,” she muttered as he caressed the skin. Once he’d finished, both took their glasses and continued to drink the wine.
“Grace, I’m thirty-seven and single. I haven’t had anyone in nearly two decades and I’m on my own as well.”
“Well that makes two of us then.” Grace shuffled about so that she was facing Alex. “So let me get this straight, because you’re lonely you fall for me?”
A lump formed in his throat as he set things out straight, coming out honest. “No, I fell for you because I love you and I couldn’t bare the fact to see you all alone at Christmas, at any time. No one deserves to be alone.” Grace’s mouth fell shut, surrendering as Alex cupped her cheek and inched closer as he caressed it. “I’m in love with you, Grace. Please?” They inched closer still, the alcohol settling into their systems, both feeling much warmer. Alex leant in a little closer and briefly planted a kiss to Grace’s lips. Bumping noses, her eyes fluttered shut as her lips began to quiver, shuddering from long-awaited sensations. Grace’s mind when ablaze as she inched forward and returned the kiss, their wine glasses going to the table as Alex went back into the sofa and Grace moved over him. A hand went to the back of Alex’s neck to bring him closer, Alex leaning up to meet the kiss. One of Alex’s hands went to her lower waist, stroking fondly as the other remained at her shoulder, occasionally dipping down to clench onto her black cardigan, the hand at her hip slipping south towards her rear, pulling her closer. Pulling back, she lightly grinned. “Okay, I’ll stay.”
“Thank you.” Alex held up the half-empty bottle, giving the signal as to more wine. Nodding, he poured the remainder of the wine into the two glasses, handing Grace her own. Grabbing the TV control off the coffee table, Grace flicked the TV on, some terrible B-rated movie being broadcast as they lounged on the sofa together, finishing off the wine as they shared kisses from time to time, happy and in love. When the wine had been drunk, the glasses and bottle now empty, Alex glanced at his watch, slipping off the sofa. The movie was still running. “It’s getting on for 10:45. I better be heading back to my quarters.” Alex lived in the staff quarters, one of the lucky ones to be away from the students out of school hours, feeling sorry for Grace and therefore helping her out when he could.
Alex took the bottle and glasses and took them to the kitchen, placing them on the counter to be dealt with in the morning, fetching his gloves off the counter. Heading into the dining room to grab his coat, Grace met him there, slipping her arms around his waist as she teased him, slipping her hands under his jumper and toying with the buttons on his shirt, popping one open. “At this time of night? You’ll wake everyone up!” Alex dropped his gloves onto the dining table.
Twisting around so that they were face to face, Alex’s eyes darkened as he leant in for another kiss, their hands roaming wherever they wished. Replying, he mumbled near her ear, causing her to shiver. “Oh yeah, then tell me Grace, what do you propose I should do?”
Continuing to tease, she toyed with the lower buttons, popping two more open, a hand splaying and fondling his chest, the digits of her fingers feeling the taut muscle beneath. “Stay with me tonight and keep me safe and warm.” Alex thought about it, a rather satisying look on his face. “Or you can have the sofa if you prefer?”
Wildly grinning, he returned the kiss. “I choose the former.” Grabbing her hand, he tugged her towards the front room, where they blew out the candles. Making sure everything was off, he re-took her hand as he followed her upstairs into her bedroom, making sure the door was locked as they slept together, both finally getting some happiness.
The sheets were more or less on the floor and Alex acted as the bigger spoon, both of them waking up to students bustling about, making sure everything needed was packed before the coaches arrived at the school entrance for nine. Many of them were annoyed that there was no breakfast ready, and so went to cooking their own. Hearing Edgar whinging over no cooked food on the table, taking the simple things for granted, Grace groaned as Alex stroked her hair, rousing her awake, leaning onto his side as her eyelids fluttered open, not quite remembering what exactly happened the night before.
“Good morning, gorgeous.”
Grace bit her bottom lip, concerned as to just how long they’d been in bed. “Alex, what time is it?” Stretching over, his hands went searching in the pile of clothing for his watch, wondering where he chucked it as they were undressing each other the night before, heading towards Grace’s bed. Finding it beneath his boxers, he blinked his eyelids open, one hand gripping onto the headboard to make sure not to fall out as he checked the time. “Eight fifteen.”
Grace launched herself from the bed, hopping over to the bathroom. “Jesus Christ! I should have been up an hour ago!!”
Dropping the watch and meeting her near the bathroom door, her closed her in an embrace, trying to calm her down. “Shh, it’s okay. Don’t panic. We’ll get through this.”
He chastely kissed her, sightly swaying them to calm her down. “Very quick shower. Because I’m quicker at dressing, I’ll deal with the students whilst you finish off and get ready. Then once you’re down we’ll get the students on their way on the coach. Once they’re gone then we’ll sort ourselves out.”
“We can’t. I’ve got to go and make sure all my lot are on the train and see them off. That’s why I’m panicking.”
“Well, you go with the students, I’ll run to my quarters and finish off. I’ll drive up to here and then when you get back we’ll sort you out and then off we go.”
“You sure about this?”
Alex gripped her shoulders, making her face him. “I’m certain. Look, it’s going to be okay. You’re doing so well, Grace.” Huffing, she followed him into the bathroom, sharing a quick shower.
Drying off her hair using the hairdryer, still only half-dressed, Alex was hopping about the room getting into his clothing from the night before. Shrugging on his jumper and using the end of the bed to sit to tie the laces on his shoes, he quickly pecked Grace and then left the room. Stephen and Luke were outside hauling their suitcases down the stairs, Will and Edgar giving them a hand. All eyes were on Alex.
Edgar gulped, wondering what had happened the night before. “Sir? What are you doing here at this time of day and coming out of Miss Howard’s bedroom?”
Alex sharply replied, keeping professional, well, almost. “None of your business.” The students could easily predict exactly what had happened within the last 20 or so hours. Alex eyed the students. “Now, who’s almost done?”
Stephen continued. “I’m done. Edgar’s stuff is by the door, as is George’s. Luke is taking his suitcase down, following with two boxes, making him complete.”
“And what about Mark, David and Will’s?”
Will spoke for them. “We’re all complete, minus David who’s just in his room packing the final items.”
“Right. Once you’ve got your cases downstairs, Luke, grab the final boxes, someone aiding him. The rest of you make sure you’ve searched the entire house and make sure you’ve left nothing behind that you’ll need at home.”
With the other students continuing where they left off, Alex knocked on David’s door. “Come in!” Trotting in, David was literally packing everything he held in his possession, Edward taking home his final few belongings a week ago. “Hello sir.”
Alex stood in the doorway, Alex leaning against the wooden object. “How much have you got to pack?” David was near Edward’s bed, the suitcase lid flipped open on the bed.
“Just my alarm clock and the final few things into my rucksack.”
“Do you need any help? Such as to get the case downstairs?”
“If you don’t mind, sir.” David took the battery out of the alarm clock, shoved it into a side compartment on his case and then placed the clock into a small gap, his eyes scanning the room for anything else, the room now completely bare, save for the few items on the desk. “I think that’s it. Can you check the closest room please?”
“Of course.” Moving away from the door, Alex opened the other door. “There’s only your violin in here.”
“Bring the case out and lean it against the door. Can you check the bathroom as well?” Obeying David’s commands, Alex wandered over to the other side of the room, not having to hop over various things. Flicking on the light, Alex checked the cupboards and shower. “Empty.”
“I’ve got everything then. Good good.” David then zipped up his case and fastened the clips together. Alex turned off the light and closed the door, meeting David at the bed, David pointing at various things. “Right, the suitcase needs to go by the door as well as my violin case. Those two boxes on the other bed can also go. George was going to take them down. I’ve just to pack the final few things on the desk and then I’ll bring the remainder down.”
“Fair enough.” Alex took hold of the suitcase from David and wheeled it out. At the stairs, Will was kind enough to help guide him down the stairs without stumbling. At ground level, he placed the case by the door, most of the other students already out of the house and on their way to the school entrance. George came up the stairs and took hold of the two boxes of books, following Alex back down. With his rucksack now packed, David did a final check of the room. Satisfied, he grabbed the rucksack from off the desk chair and swung it onto his right shoulder, closing the door behind him for the cleaners to attend to during the break.
Coming down the stairs to meet George, Will already gone, Alex helped to carry some of David’s things, George only taking his suitcase and rucksack back with a box of books. Grace took hold of the box whilst George carried the rucksack on his shoulders and wheeled the case. Alex took hold of David’s boxes and wheeled his case in one hand, carrying the rucksack on his shoulders and the violin case in the other hand.
Departing Ashbury and taking the short walk up to the entrance, the coaches for each year were lined up outside the school entrance. Grace took hold of her clipboard for her housing group and form. Alex led the lads towards their coach, which was situated at the back of the line. With their items named, David and George placing labels on the boxes the night before, the coach drivers took hold of their items. George and David then boarded the coach. With most of the Year 11 coaches now full, she boarded the first and began to read off names. Once all the names from each were read off, and information had been given over to Mr Sachs, now knowing that every student under his care was now on the coaches, the form tutors boarded the coaches, Sachs giving the signal for them to go. Outside were the remainder of the teachers who were still behind, waving them off as they departed Hounslow.
The coach ride, as it was coming from the train station into Hounslow was a short one, David and George muttering to themselves on the way back, knowing that once they were off the coach, this would be where the two friends bid farewell.
The coaches pulled outside the station entrance, some trains already at main two platforms. Grace took the clipboard, one by one, the students coming off the coaches. Near the ticket office, as the station was still open to the public, there stood some poles with numbers attached to them, going from one to six.
Of the six, two had arrived. Grace along with others went to the front. The woman with the clipboard who David had been first introduced to a good three months ago was at the front, calling orders. “Right students, you know the drill. For students going towards Exeter, line up at Pole 1, those heading towards York, Pole 2. Pole 3 for Birmingham and the Midlands, pole 4 for London and the South East, pole 5 for Southampton and Portsmouth and pole 6 for those heading towards Manchester, the North-West and Wales.” George and David shared a departing hug, David having hold of the CD’s for Jason and Daniel in his rucksack. Grabbing his violin, he wandered over to pole 4, being near the front. A member of staff came along and asked for names, flicking through the chart to find a match, gradually going further along. Once the names had been ticked off, it was announced that poles 4 and 6 were the first to leave. David’s line first, they went to the empty coaches and grabbed their items, using a trolley to push their items towards the cabins for the attendants to deal with. Once David’s suitcase and boxes had been handed over, he boarded the train, waving to Grace and George, going in search for the old cabin where he first met Edward.
A few hours in, the sun hitting its natural peak for the time of the year, a little well-deserved nap and some focused reading would bring David and the famous Hounslow steam train back into Paddington station. Students overjoyed in the cabin next door roused David awake to see parents and families outside on the platform. Noticing his destination, David pounced at the window, eyes searching wide for his lover.
Allowing the majority of the others to get off the train first and getting them out of sight, David collected his rucksack and violin case, hauling the one on his shoulders and using the attached cord to place the case over a shoulder, his back bunged up with luggage. Allowing the screech of the door to pass, David sending shockwaves through the others – seriously, they needed some oil on these doors, – David followed the others to the end of the carriage and stepped off the train. Before tracking down Edward, he stayed in line and went to the end of the train to the final carriage, as if you were at an airport waiting for baggage. Items were being carried off as students’ got hold of trolleys, David gripping one through necessity. Noticing his two boxes and the suitcase, an attendant aided David in placing the case onto the trolley, the two boxes joining it along with his violin and rucksack. There was no point in carrying things if aid was to be provided, especially when he wasn’t deemed fit enough to be carrying out heavy lifting or other gruelling tasks. His next and main mission was to find Edward.
Through the parade and traffic of the students and others, David could just about glimpse the dark curls with the black-rimmed glasses, not to mention the unmistakeably noticeable black woollen coat. Grinning, regardless of whether the bitter cold hit his frail bones, he pushed on ahead and carted the trolley across the platform, dodging all forms of life. Arriving near the lifts, where an eager Edward was awaiting with Sylvie and Alfred, David halted the trolley a good two metres from them and stepped around to be greeted with Edward, David’s hand coiling around Edward’s neck, Edward’s hands on David’s hips. Closing in on each other, they bumped noses, David going that little inch more and kissing him.
“It’s so good to be home,” David mumbled into Edward’s hair, his features creased up from elation.
Edward broke away just to lean back in, a hand studying David’s hair as he kissed David’s forehead, bringing the shorter man closer to him, wrapping his arms around him, David resting his chin on Edward’s shoulder. “It’s good to have you home. Too long you’ve been away from me.”
“This is our life now. This is what we’ve been working for.”
“And this I intend to keep with me, forever.” With both of them grinning, Edward lifted David up, David’s legs wrapping their way around Edward’s hips as he spun him, David squealing with delight, Edward over the moon to see such a sight. Letting him down, Edward took the trolley from David, David insisting that he could manage. “You must be exhausted. Come, let me take you home.” Edward shifted his left arm out for David to twine them together as they took the lift, Sylvie and Alfred following.
The drive was only a matter of minutes away, Alfred driving a rather expensive car. In traffic though, it felt more like a good half-an-hour. Pulling into the curb and stopping the engine, Alfred pulled up near one of your typical Belgravian townhouses. The house was terraced and coated in white paint with a black door, as well as having a good number of floors. This was something only David could dream of living in. This was the beginning of David properly finding out about Edward’s home life in London. Following the party out of the car and towards the front door, Edward grabbed hold of the suitcase out of the boot, David already holding his rucksack and violin. Sylvie unlocked the front door and allowed them inside. Passing the main hall and further back towards the large kitchen, Sylvie began to make tea for the group. Alfred dawdled into the front room to read his copy of The Guardian as well as The Financial Times. A young woman of around thirty came downstairs, her heels clicking. Dressed formerly but in basic colours of cream and black, her wavy, shoulder-length auburn hair flowing behind her, she elated into a grin and greeted the young man, David curious as to who she was.
“Amanda, may I introduce Mr David Chamberlain?” She curtseyed to the blond, David giving her an affirmative nod.
“How was your journey, sir? I hope it was quite splendid?”
Why was she calling him sir? He wasn’t her employer and so set things out straight. “Please, call me Dave. It was actually, but I’m more than glad to be back.” Softly smiling, she drifted towards the case. “Is there anything in which you require?”
David was about to start, not needing anything in particular, but Edward cut in front of him. “The clothing from the case needs washing, and David will need to attend his house later within the week to deal with some important business. Just after Christmas, presumably the 27th, we’ll need to attend Jason’s house to hand over the CD’s. We also need to go shopping within the week as well.”
“Of course. If you’ll excuse me…” Amanda took hold of the suitcase, hauling it towards the laundry room. Seeing her struggle, David stepped forward and aided her. “It’s quite alright, Dave, I can manage.”
“Nonsense, you need help, let me.” Gripping it, together they dragged it to the laundry room, Edward following. Edward understood that unusual behaviour would occur during the first few days, David constantly insisting on helping, but he’d soon fall into place, hopefully. At the same time, Edward wasn’t too keen of having Amanda around – not that she wasn’t unpleasant or bad company; in fact, she was a very lovely and caring young woman -, but he didn’t see the need of having someone employed to do basic work for you when people should do it themselves, unless they had so many priorities to handle. Sylvie noticed David helping Amanda in the kitchen, the laundry room next door as she cleared her throat, the two gazing towards her, Sylvie setting the spoon onto the counter as she firmly stared at the two, dissatisfied to see the sight before her eyes and aimed to put things right. “David, leave her be, she’ll be fine.”
David’s eyes flickered between glancing at the pair. “No way, she’s struggling with the case. The least I could do was help her.”
Amanda placed a hand to his shoulder. “It’s quite alright, Dave, I can manage.”
“No, you need the help and I’m in no position to watch you suffer.”
“Amanda, you’ll address David properly.”
“I said that wasn’t needed, she can address me how she wants to.”
“Very well.” Tugging the case inside, David unclipped the fasteners, setting the case onto one side and unzipping it, lifting the lid up, muttering. “This is going to take ages to do.”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll be sure to have it done quicker.”
“It’s okay, I’ll help you, we’ll sort it out.” Amanda tried to protest but David shushed her, David beginning to file through the clothes, setting out the whites from the colours. Instead of Amanda usually carrying tea on a tray for the household through, Edward completed her job instead, Alfred concerned as to why Amanda wasn’t completing her duties as his eyes diverted from the paper and towards the tray, noticing Edward’s pale, spidery fingers as he placed the tray onto the glass coffee table.
“You know that isn’t your job.”
“It may not be, but Amanda clearly has her hands full with washing David’s laundry, David being a guest for the holidays, and because only one thing can be done at a time, which many of you don’t seem to understand, I brought the tray in. It’s only a simple task, which anyone can do. Also, if I don’t learn things for myself, how am I supposed to get on in life later on?” Alfred grumbled, but nonetheless, continued to read his paper. Edward went back to David, Sylvie joining her husband in the front room. David had finished separating the clothes into the two main piles, Amanda bunging the whites into the washing machine, but before she could set the machine off, she needed David’s shirt, which he was still wearing his uniform. Thankfully he had a change of clothing in his rucksack.
Edward’s fingertips slithered across David’s palm, David gasping from the contact, eyes wide as glanced up at the younger man, Edward sliding his fingers into place as he clasped their hands together, Edward turning to Amanda. “If you’ll excuse us, c’mon Dave.”
“I still need your uniform Dave.”
“Oh don’t worry, we’ll soon have it ready for you.” Edward smirked as he pulled David up and out of the laundry room, guiding them through to the main hall and up the stairs to the second floor. David glanced across the landing, curious as to the extent of the house. “How many floors does this house contain?” he’d asked Edward on the way up.
“Enough,” was his reply. At the second floor, there was one door. David eyed the door and nudged Edward. “I’m guessing that your bedroom?”
“Our bedroom,” he muttered as he continued across the landing, David following. Twisting the handle, he pushed the oak door open, stepping aside for David to saunter through. Coasted in baby blue wallpaper, the room was massive. A desk was to one side facing the window, which contained a computer and several objects on his desk. A set of solid oak doors built into a wall opened up to be the wardrobe. Backed against a wall was a double bed, the sheets and covers were of fresh linen. It was particularly messy in the fact that only so much of the room had been tidied whilst the three usual occupants were away, Amanda having some spare time. Another door on the far side led to the ensuite bathroom. David was gobsmacked.
“When you said your house was huge, I didn’t think it’d be a mansion!”
“Well, it’s very expansive, spacious and yes, expensive. I’m sorry for the mess.”
“Don’t worry, I’ve seen worse. My room for example.”
“It’d be more messier if my experiments and science equipment was in here. Those I have to complete in the attic.” Whilst David was admired over his boyfriend’s knowledge and intelligence, he was far too focused on the items in the room, particularly the bed. “And you have a double bed! Lucky!”
“I haven’t long had it, about seven months to be exact.” David dropped his rucksack onto the wooden floorboards as his hand made contact with the duvet, the linen soft and cushiony, a burst of fragrance in the air; the duvet must have been washed recently. Then David’s eyes pondered the floor and the walls, noticing that there was no radiator in the room. “Isn’t it going to get cold tonight, having no radiator?”
Edward stood inches from David and began to undress him, slipping the blazer from off his shoulders and let it fall off onto the bed, next going for his tie, undoing the knot and throwing that on the bed. Going for his hips, the jumper was soon off and then he tugged the shirt up, the bottom half creased, where he started undoing the buttons. “Yes it will be cold, but we’ll soon warm each other up,” His voice lowered, growing deep, raw and husky, his lips settling across David’s ear, Edward tracing his lobe, getting suckling on it. “… and thinking about your return, many, rather… intimate ideas of things we could possibly get up to have come across my mind.”
David’s hands roamed down Edward’s chest, David pulling Edward’s jumper off and going for his hips to bring him closer, bodies pressed up. David’s one hand went lower towards Edward’s groin, where he started to rub, Edward gasping in bliss, David whispering into his ear, tracing the shell with his tongue. “Hmm, I’d very much like to test those out.”
“Good.” David brought Edward closer to lock lips, a hand immediately going back to Edward’s curls, Edward’s hands going for David’s arse, rubbing the trouser material, David stumbling back onto the bed, landing in the centre of it as Edward fell atop of him, having the yearn to continue kissing him, not caring if anyone walked in on them. Having David undressed, panting for more, Edward collected David’s uniform from off the bed and floor, David coming up to meet Edward as he prodded his left forefinger into the centre of David’s chest. “I’m just going to take these down to Amanda. Shan’t be long, and don’t you dare get dressed yet, I haven’t finished.” David passionately smirked, leaving a trail of hot, wet kisses down Edward’s throat, opening his shirt’s collar buttons, pulling the one side of his shirt collar back and leaning in to graze his collarbone, Edward arching his head back. “I won’t…” Pulling back, very flushed, Edward got to the door and winked, closing the door behind him as he rushed down the stairs. Whilst gone, David went to his rucksack and found his fresh clothes that he would change into. Draping them on the desk chair, he could hear movements and so left the other items inside, Edward coming back in, locking the door and tackling David back to the bed, David beginning to pull Edward’s glasses off, placing them on the bedside table, following with undoing the remainder of the buttons on Edward’s shirt as David slid it off his arms, David repeatedly kissing Edward’s left shoulder, sucking a bruise there as he chucked it somewhere, sealing him in a bruising but wet kiss, Edward desperate to latch his tongue everywhere. Dipping down on to the bed, rubbing circles into his hip, Edward went south of David’s body, kissing his way down David’s chest, where he came to the navel. With David’s inviting member throbbing, he removed the final garment and took him in his mouth, both making sure that they brought their other half to their climax before the evening was over.
A quiet dinner provided by Amanda, little conversation being passed other than how was your week and is your current health improving, Amanda seemingly the only interested person at the time, Edward and David soon departed the table, David eager to ask questions, which Edward was fearing. Having not properly spoken of his life to David, he was terrified that now that David knew exactly his life inside out, he would abandon him, considering David’s distaste towards the richer folk. For the time being, Edward remained silent. The silence would soon be broken though.
Leaving the dining room, David tugged Edward behind towards Edward’s room. Shutting the door behind him, David’s face was stern, an uncomfortable lump forming in Edward’s throat, which he couldn’t swallow. Shifting towards the bed, Edward positioned himself half on, half off. David remained stood nearby the door, angered but not furious as to why he didn’t know the entire truth.
“Edward, exactly who is Amanda?”
Edward knew that keeping secrets was only going to make matters worse, and so spoke up, hoping David wouldn’t throw a wobbly. “Amanda is our maid, well; she’s more than a maid. She’s been working for us since November, so I’ve been told.”
David wasn’t shouting, but you could tell in his voice the anger of the truth being hidden from him there, which made Edward jittery. “You said you weren’t like everyone else, you were like me in some ways.”
Edward tried to explain, not getting very far. “I’m not though, I’m still me.”
“Then why are you on a scholarship when you’re possibly the richest student in Hounslow?”
Edward opened up, tears in his eyes. David and he rarely fought, and when they did, it wouldn’t be long before they soon apologised and made up for it, usually in the form of something romantic or sexual, not that anyone else needed to know that. “I’m not on the same scholarship as you. Because I’m an orphan, I receive a scholarship to help with my studies. I know, for someone who lives like this it’s repulsive, ignorant towards the not so well-off and it makes me look awful, which I’m ashamed of. When I started to receive it, we weren’t living here. Because my great-grandparents died a few years ago, this being after my scholarship had begun, my grandparents inherited this house and a load more wealth off them, meaning that we moved here. Knowing that for the time being, my financial condition was more than stable, I requested to be taken off the scholarship, knowing I’d be fine. The school refused though. If anything, the bursary I receive I’d immediately give to you, or save it up for our future together.”
David moved away from the door and parched himself next to Edward, a comforting arm bringing the younger lad closer. “My grandparents are rich, stupidly rich, but I’m not. I’m not them.” Edward went silent; David knew he was hiding something from him, David kissing Edward’s cheek to comfort him, rubbing a hand soothingly down his back. “What is it? Something’s on your mind.”
Edward shook his head, not wanting David even more worried. “It’s nothing,” Edward shrugging it off.
“It must be something because I can nearly hear your thoughts. You’re thinking too hard again. It’s okay Ed, you can tell me.”
Gulping, he found the words to describe his feelings. “Two things, but please don’t yell at me. One, it’s been boggling my mind but I don’t think Sylvie and Alfred are my real grandparents. I knew that since I was little that my parents always referred to them as my grandparents, but I came across an old photo album of mine ages ago, and they look nothing like me. Something seems strange.”
“There are some things in the world that we’ll never know.”
“I can show you…” Edward was about to get up from off the bed, David reaching out to stop him, Edward loving the feel of David’s warm, well toned hand clutching at his shirt, heat radiating through him.
“Better do that in the morning. I think we need an early night, it’s been a long day for us all.”
Getting changed, they threw their clothes into the washing basket, Amanda bringing up David’s clean clothes earlier during the day. Easing into bed, David cocooned Edward in his arms, stroking at the curls, fingers ghosting their way down his arm and spine. “Ed?”
“What was the second thing?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“I …. I was scared that because now you know me near enough inside out, that I’m not entirely like you, that I come from a really posh background, in a sense, I thought you’d leave me, especially with your distaste towards the posh folk.”
Delicate kisses were planted on his cheek. “Oh Ed…” The kisses went lower. “My beautiful Ed, I’m not leaving you. I said I’d never and I still keep my promise. You’re too good to be let go of. It doesn’t matter if you’re better off than me or smarter, I love you and you love me and that’s all that matters so stop worrying, okay. Say, imagine our lives a decade from now.”
“Hmm, we’d wake up in the mornings, somewhere calm and peaceful. You’d go off to the surgery to work each morning – minus weekends of course, that’s just for us to enjoy – and I’d be in the lab somewhere, maybe working in a hospital in some department, trying to find cures for things, or making medicines and remedies for people. We’d come home on the night to find the other cooking, and then following lots of beautiful sex, we’d sleep together, me in your strong, warm arms every night, being close to the man that I love, and always will love.” More kisses were exchanged.
“Life would be beautiful.”
“It will be.” Edward leant up to kiss David, David holding him closer. “Now sleep my love.”
“Goodnight, my love.” That night was the first calm night in weeks.