This is how he chooses to tell the story: that it had happened entirely by accident, that he had been nothing more than a victim of circumstance, that Tom invited him up to his room of his own accord and hadn’t been forced. It had been clear even from the beginning that Chris was going to give in, if not right away then in slow increments, no matter how hard he tried to fight it. The kid tapped right into the heart of his weakness: he was at that age where sex was an ever present question in the fringes of his mind, his body was soft in the right places, tight and taut where it mattered. He was eager to learn through experience, a soft-lipped boy at the cusp of self-discovery, willing to please.
Chris wouldn’t say he regretted any of it. He just wished he had the foresight to quit before he got caught.
He hadn’t meant to, of course, he knew the risks involved, but there was Tom in the yard, his bare ankles crossed as he sat in the creaking swing reading a battered copy of The Lost World. He was sixteen and long-limbed, with obvious knees and elbows that jutted out awkwardly. Even in ragged shorts and old band shirts, he was something to look at, his skin flushed from the summer heat, his lips a delicate curve that parted to reveal the barest hint of braces. Everyday when Chris came over to work on the deck, he would sit there in the shade, flipping quietly through his book, periodically glancing up at Chris. He ducked down whenever their gazes met or hid his face behind whatever book caught his fancy that day.
Chris watched him intently from the corner of his eye, curious at first, and then utterly transfixed: he wondered what Tom’s voice sounded like huffing out labored sighs. Chris took inventory of the noises Tom would make as he read book after book: the sparkling little laugh as he threw his head back, the startled gasp in the middle of a suspense novel. It was thrilling in its own way, addicting.
Tom’s clothing changed throughout the summer to accommodate the heat: his family had just moved in from London and they were more accustomed to colder weather. Eventually, the cargo shorts were discarded in favor of cotton shorts that bunched high above the knobs of his knees. The shirts too became tighter, hiking up the back whenever Tom bent over to pick up his flipflops from the grass with two fingers hooked into the rubber straps. Chris resolved to stop watching him, to simply do his job as he was paid, and move on. But it didn’t last.
And then Tom started speaking to him.
He went up to Chris one afternoon and asked him, apropos of nothing, if he were thirsty. It had been a simple question, innocent enough. Still, it took Chris completely by surprise – Tom often avoided interacting with him directly, too shy to speak unless spoken to. He hung around in the periphery but never actively engaged Chris in conversation and this was be the first time he’d spoken to Chris all summer. His parents and sisters had gone out that day, leaving the two of them alone. Maybe it was the precise circumstance that bolstered Tom’s confidence and what made Chris, in turn, feel decidedly reckless.
Tom had folded his book shut in his lap and was eyeing him with a barely concealed flush in his cheeks and Chris decided that, all things considered, a drink would be harmless. He’d done his best to reign in his interest all summer long, he could do this, it wasn’t that hard, and besides, he was feeling overheated, anyway. Tom led him back to the kitchen, his bare feet noticeably pale against the dark cherry wood of the floor. Chris tried thinking of other things, of his self-made promise not to do anything to the kid that he would come to regret later. He wasn’t much older than Tom, being in his mid-twenties. But it was still wrong to want to nail him, to want his soft pink mouth wrapped wetly around Chris’ cock.
Tom was probably still a virgin so he wouldn’t know anything about sucking cock. He certainly looked the part, and walked around with a distracted quality about him, an air of dreamy innocence Chris was loath to sully.
Tom handed him a bottled drink and their fingers brushed, which made Chris start violently out of his thoughts and jerk away from the point of contact. “Thanks,” he said and sat himself down on a barstool as he pretended to examine the furnishings: the family pictures that hung framed on the varnished walls, the white lace curtains stirred by the breeze outside.
He’d been hired by Tom’s father to work on the deck but had rarely been invited inside. Tom’s father was a busy man whose line of work necessitated that he traveled frequently, but he never said exactly what it was that he did for a living, only that he got paid a lot for doing it. And it certainly showed: the family owned three cars and lived in a gated community fenced in from the rest of the world. It had its own drug store and super market, a clinic and gym. Tom’s father had found out about Chris through a mutual friend, an old client for whom Chris built a children’s play area.
Chris loved his job enough not to throw everything away for a gangly teenager, no matter how susceptible to suggestion the kid was. Tom was sweet, unsullied. But the way he looked adoringly up at Chris wide-eyed and earnest made Chris’ thoughts tread a dangerous path.
After the drink, they walked back to the yard where they resumed their earlier activities: Tom in the swing, reading his book quietly, Chris by the bare-bones framework of the pool deck, pretending he wasn’t watching Tom tip back his head to the sun and sigh.
Chris had been doing a remarkable job of pushing unfriendly thoughts to the back of his mind when Tom’s father walked up to him one day with a request: somebody needed to take Tom to the dentist and since Tom’s father had a meeting in town, there would be no one left to drive him. The only other option was Tom’s mother who was heavily tranquilized in the living room. She had taken a bunch of prescription pills that morning and could barely recognize her own son, speaking to him as if he were a stranger and referring to herself in third person.
“Anyway,” said Tom’s father, slapping a couple of hundreds dollar bill in Chris’ hand as they shook on it. “You don’t have to worry about it. I’ll pay you a little extra. I’m sorry this is such short notice. It slipped my mind he had a dental appointment today. You do understand , don’t you?” He winked and Chris felt uneasy, like he was breaking some sort of moral code, but pocketed the money nonetheless. He wouldn’t say no to a little spending money.
He changed out of his sweaty shirt and headed to his car to grab a comb when he saw that Tom was already there: leaning against the passenger side, his lips pursed in a disappointed line. He stood up and uncurled his shoulders when Chris got within speaking distance. “Ready?” Chris asked.
“I hate going to the dentist,” said Tom but cinched on his seatbelt as he sagged against the seat with a little thump Chris recognized as teenage petulance. The drive to the dentist was peaceful, interrupted from time to time by Tom’s astute observations of the many pedestrians they passed by: the clinic was nearer to the beach so they passed a handful of college kids dressed in summer clothes, clutching surfboards and talking loudly. Chris had kept the windows rolled down to let a breeze trickle in; the interior of his car felt stuffy and humid, even with the air conditioner rattling warm air in sporadic feeble bursts. He had meant to get it repaired a long time ago but kept putting it off. Chris folded an arm out the open window, tapping the side of the car as he slowed down for a red light.
Kids Tom’s age zipped past them on skateboards. Tom muttered something under his breath, watching them from the side mirror until they disappeared at the end of the sidewalk. “I know them from school,” he said quietly, fiddling with a frayed thread that had come loose from the seatbelt. “They’re not very nice people.”
Chris wasn’t sure how to respond.
The dental appointment took longer than expected: they spent forty minutes in the waiting room during which Tom, crammed right next to Chris, the sides of their legs touching interminably, squirmed nervously in his seat. He wore jeans that day, thankfully, not those shorts that rode up his thighs and drove Chris crazy, but because of the proximity Chris could smell the soap on his skin, sweet and faintly powdery, which was still equally if not more so distracting.
The back of his neck was, Chris could see, damp with beads of sweat and for a brief moment Chris entertained the thought of licking them off, lapping Tom from chest to neck just to see the color in his cheeks rise, feel his nipples harden under the weight of Chris’ tongue. And his sweet little hole, jesus, – Chris would get him loose and ready, wet for his cock, lubed up with baby oil and spit. He’d finger him to the knuckle, wait until Tom begged and cried for his dick, before fucking him nice and slow into the mattress, taking his sweet time. He’d fill that eager little body with his come till Tom was nothing more than a babbling quivering mess, spread wide around Chris’ thick cock and squirming around it. Chris would take good care of him too, cover all the bases, teach him how to suck cock like he was made for it, and make him come from just getting fucked up the ass. There would be lessons. Small steps to victory. But all of this was just fantasy, theory, idylls of a wandering mind; thinking about it was one thing, putting it into play was another.
Tom had his hands in his lap and wouldn’t stop writhing in worry. He said he often got anxious in waiting rooms and when Chris asked why he just ducked his head shyly and looked away.
Chris lay a soothing hand on his back and rubbed his shoulders, no ulterior motive in the act though he still felt vaguely guilty especially after letting his thoughts run their course. Tom curled into his touch, like a starved cat, shuddering as Chris pressed slow circles to the small of his back with this thumb.
“Relax,” said Chris.
“I’m relaxed,” Tom said stiffly, knocking his knees together and sucking in his bottom lip.
Chris squeezed his shoulder. He couldn’t deny he wanted the kid, but he was a decent enough human being not to let it color his interactions with Tom. To an extent. He let go of Tom’s shoulder as soon as Tom’s name was called and flashed the receptionist who’d been eyeing them for awhile now with a sheepish smile. Tom hopped out of reach, and in the process almost tipped over a potted plant. He walked backwards until the door to the dentist’s office was right behind him.
“Hey, um, Chris,” he said. He blushed, saying Chris’ name, a pink flush spreading across his face and ears. “What’s your favourite color Chris?”
“Blue, I guess,” Chris said, shrugging, not quite sure why it mattered. It was the first color that came to mind even though he had no particular favourite.
“Cool,” said Tom with a nod. He waved before walking backwards into the office. “Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool.”
It was only when Tom walked out an hour later, holding up a plastic cup of water, that Chris understood why he’d been asked in the first place: Tom grinned shyly up at him, blushing, pointing to his mouth which he opened proudly up at Chris. A blue rubber band wreathed the metal brackets in his teeth. His lips shone with spit.
“Ice cream?” he asked, hunching a little, shoving his hands in his pockets after he’d dunked the plastic cup in a nearby bin. He snapped his mouth shut with an embarrassed sniff, sucking in his bottom lip which he worried with his teeth till the skin reddened considerably. When he looked up at Chris again, smiling and flushing, a combination that sent a particularly troubling wave of guilt in Chri’s gut, his top teeth was showing: a row of silver brackets adorned by baby blue rubberbands.
They went for ice cream at Maynard’s. It was just a ten minute drive from the dentist’s office, a shop Chris used to frequent when he was a lot younger, around Tom’s age. It faced the sea and catered mostly to beach-goers: sun-tanned young people in electric-colored bikinis and beach bracelets, walking around barefoot.
The two of them sat at a table outside, under the shade of a beach umbrella, each with a sugar cone in hand. It had been hot enough earlier, near boiling point, but now the temperature had dropped and settled. The clouds that rolled across the water were the color of dust and a gust of cool air kicked up the sand around them. Tom held his cone protectively against his chest, something he realized too late was a bad idea as a large of dollop of ice cream fell right into his lap.
“Oh god,” said Tom, looking like he wanted to die of embarrassment. He glanced up at Chris helplessly, looking years younger with his eyes so wide and wet.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Chris, already getting up to fetch paper napkins. “I’ll be right back.”
When he returned a full minute later, a handful of kids Tom’s age were fanned around him. They seemed to be taunting Tom, a sneer in all of their faces, a smugness in the way they stood towering over Tom like wraiths. But Chris was too far away to hear anything much less do anything and as soon as they caught sight of him, they made a run for it, shoving at each other like the miscreants they were.
“Who were those guys?” Chris asked.
Chris thought he recognized the kid with a skateboard.
Tom shook his head and didn’t reply, grabbing the paper napkins handed to him, wiping furiously at his face. He looked even more miserable than when Chris had left him; his eyes were dangerously watery like he might cry at the slightest provocation.
“I just want to go home,” he said. There was a definite wobble to his voice that made Chris feel like he was about to do something dangerous in public.
“I have a better idea,” said Chris, and hauled Tom up to his feet. Tom let himself be dragged back to the car, where, after he was strapped in in the passenger seat, he stared gloomily out the window, bottom lip jutting.
Chris reached out for him, hesitating for a second before finally giving in and ruffling his curls – an innocent gesture, meaning nothing at the time, but Tom turned to him anyway, startled, like Chris had gone and kissed him on the mouth.
“Sorry,” Chris said.
Tom sank back in his seat, rubbing his elbows, and pressed his chin down to his chest, seemingly too embarrassed to look Chris in the eye. “It’s fine,” he muttered. And then finally: “I don’t really mind.”
Chris tried hard not to smile.
“You want to see where I live?” he asked Tom instead. He brought his hand back down to the gear shift, but not before brushing his fingers across Tom’s elbow.
Tom kept his gaze glued to his lap before his head bobbed up and down as he nodded his assent. “Okay,” he said, teething his knuckles to keep himself from grinning too hard. He always did a poor job of hiding his excitement.