by Jolyon Lewes
(CC Image amended courtesy of 'Christopher Bown' on Flickr)
My family lived in a beautiful house high on the North Downs, in Surrey. In material terms, my little sister and I had almost all we could possibly want but despite these advantages, I didn't make friends easily and was quite reclusive. I've always blamed my shyness on the uniform at my boys-only prep school, particularly the grey, corduroy shorts that the school insisted be cut extremely short. By the time I was thirteen, I was very nearly the tallest boy in the school. My sexual awareness was developing quickly and I became increasingly troubled by the bareness of my thighs, especially when wearing school uniform in public. People would cast their eyes with obvious interest below my waist and long-trousered boys from other schools were always teasing me about my bare legs. The daily journey to and from school, punctuated with wolf-whistles and rude comments, became the bane of my life.
Luckily, relief was at hand. In September 1990, a month before my fourteenth birthday, I started as a boarder at an independent boys' school in Wiltshire and at last graduated to wearing grey suits with long trousers. I didn’t mind boarding, because gone were the daily bus rides and all the associated humiliation. I was a bit homesick at first but got over it and eventually made a few friends.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen the last of short trousers. My parents had bought me for my thirteenth birthday a new suit for special occasions, like visits to the concert hall. This suit was light grey and made of a fine mixture of ordinary wool and cashmere. Yes, it had short trousers but with legs twice as long as those on my prep school cords so not quite as embarrassing to wear in public. I was growing quickly, however, and in no time at all the new shorts couldn't reach even a quarter of the way down my thighs. The news that even after I'd started boarding school I'd still be expected to wear what I called my concert suit did not please me at all.
What made it worse was that my sister, two years my younger, was allowed to wear skirts that went to her knees, so sitting in the taxi on the way to some posh event or other, her upper legs were covered but mine were almost entirely bare. To make matters worse, we’d arrive at our destination and boys much younger than me would be in long trousers. How they sniggered at me!
The problem didn’t arise at my new school, because I wore long trousers, nor at home, where I wore jeans or chinos or whatever other teenage boys wore but several times that winter we visited the theatre and even in cold weather I had to wear the concert suit. While my sister was in tights and knee-length skirts, I presented what seemed like a yard or so of bare leg and spent the evening tingling with embarrassment. To cap it all, my poor legs often got extremely cold.
The publishing firm owned by my father was doing very well and my parents developed a taste for even more concert-going, including visits to London and events that lasted for two or three days. I was to be included in the party for a long weekend at Glyndebourne in the early summer of 1991. I was quite musical - I'd reached Grade 4 on the piano while still at prep school - and was looking forward to it, but for the fact that I’d have to wear my concert suit for three whole days.
All my requests to wear my school uniform were turned down so it was with great foreboding that I travelled down to Lewes in Sussex on the Friday. Once at Glyndebourne I was gratified to see a few boys of prep school age in short trousers but for the evening performances they looked like miniature versions of their fathers and wore dinner suits, with long trousers. It’s very snobbish, is Glyndebourne. Lacking black tie, I was obliged to wear my concert suit each evening, making me highly conspicuous as the only boy in the entire theatre with bare legs.
Assuming that when I grew out of this suit I’d be given one with long trousers, I’d been trying to eat lots of food to get fat and outgrow the wretched suit more quickly. That didn’t work, as I remained sylph-like, as I still am today, at thirty-something. Instead, I was growing taller and my shorts seemed ever shorter. How people stared at me that June weekend in Glyndebourne! How I wanted to go away and hide! My mother insisted on introducing me to her friends and I was tongue-tied and tingling all over with self-consciousness, especially when introduced to other children but I knew better than to make a scene: that wouldn’t help at all.
We saw The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute but although I'm sure they were first class performances I didn't enjoy the experience because I felt so conspicuous and it was a great relief to get home again and into sensible clothes once more.
In the summer holidays I no longer stood out from other boys. We spent the time in the South of France, at our place in Juan-les-Pins and it was fun. Like most other teenagers, I was in shorts or swimming gear most of the day and shirt and chinos in the evenings, so there was no need to feel the embarrassment I’d suffered at places like Glyndebourne. However, there was embarrassment, and for once it had little to do with what I was wearing.
During that month in France, it dawned on me that I wasn’t interested in girls. Don’t get me wrong - I wasn’t crazed with lust about boys, it’s just that I found myself looking more at boys than at girls. Some of those French boys, in stripy T-shirts and tiny shorts, looked very appetising indeed. I loved the way their legs were brown right to the top and wondered if they sunbathed nude. I admired their easy manner and their obvious self-assurance; they looked perfectly happy, whatever their age, in those extraordinary little shorts.
It now seemed stupid that at Glyndebourne I’d worried so much about my little grey shorts. Yet I knew I’d never feel comfortable dressed like the French boys and I bought some long, floppy bathing shorts that came almost to my knees, a bit like board shorts. I hated to admit it to myself but there was another good reason for this purchase. Watching these French boys was giving me frequent erections, always at the wrong time, and I hoped my new shorts would hide my state of arousal better than my Speedos had done. To some extent they succeeded, thereby saving me from too much embarrassment.
I met a shy-looking and very attractive French boy who bucked the trend and wore long chinos on even the hottest of days. Dark-haired Frederic was shorter than me but looked about my age and I got to know him because my father knew his parents. They owned a huge yacht, Mistral, which spent most of its time in the marina at Antibes and they entertained us on board for dinner a couple of times. That was when I discovered that although Frederic wore long trousers by day, he changed every evening into a very smart suit with short trousers!
The suit was charcoal-grey with shorts as brief as my prep school cords, making Frederic’s thighs almost entirely bare! It was a surprise to learn he was fifteen, exactly a year older than me. His voice had broken but his clear complexion and pale, hairless legs were those of a boy yet to face the ravages of adolescence. When he was looking elsewhere, I studied his face. He had a sweet little way of knitting his brow as if in deep concentration even when he was just standing around sipping a drink. After dinner one evening his father asked him to play the grand piano in the saloon of Mistral. Frederic was a superb pianist and, perched cutely on the piano stool, brow tightly knitted, he looked utterly divine. He hardly acknowledged me but I guessed he was either too aloof to mix with a mere English boy or, just possibly, embarrassed about his bare legs. From that night, unwittingly, he inspired many of my most glorious wet dreams.
By the end of the holiday I’d yielded absolutely to my inclinations and was wanking every night over Frederic or some other French boy whose appearance I’d found particularly sexy or whose manner was especially beguiling. Back in England, nicely suntanned, I tried to persuade myself these feelings were just a passing phase that would vaporise in the autumn mists. I didn’t feel any differently towards my friends, which was a relief but I did find myself eyeing some of the other boys and the wanking sessions continued, now with English boys joining the objects of my lust. It seemed the holiday fling was developing into a permanent state of affairs. I was gay.
I told nobody, of course, and carried on just as I always had, with the obvious exception of what I thought about in bed. There was something else different: my voice had broken. I assumed that this, coupled with my new interest in boys and insatiable appetite for wanking over the nicest of them, was a sure sign that I was becoming a man and it was disconcerting, to say the least.
My fifteenth birthday came and went and there were more concerts at which I had to wear the dreaded concert suit, despite my fervent complaints that boys my age no longer wore short trousers and that my legs got cold. I lived in fear of being spotted by my school friends. I was still growing taller and the shorts had become still tighter - and very, very short. At last, at New Year, my mother gave way and hinted at a new concert suit for the summer. Until then, to my immense relief, I’d be permitted to wear one of my long-trousered school suits for concerts.
Frederic’s family’s Christmas card had no robins or crib scene on the front but a colour photograph of his extended family. Prominent among the formally dressed adults and children was Frederic, the only boy in the picture with bare legs. He was perched sweetly on the arm of a chair beside his mother, who looked positively regal. Looking characteristically shy, Frederic wore a mid-grey suit with scandalously brief short trousers. His dark knee-socks emphasised the total bareness of his lovely, pale thighs. He’d be sixteen now! I couldn’t help but study that picture closely every time I passed it and it generated ample fuel – both physical and mental - for some really juicy Yuletide wanks. After Twelfth Night the card found its way into my bedside locker; I could now study Frederic in the privacy of my bed. He was beautiful! I couldn’t wait to meet him again, in the flesh.
In February came news that we’d been invited for a short cruise in Mistral at Easter. The prospect of seeing Frederic again so soon excited me greatly and the Christmas card was consulted more earnestly than ever. Even better was the news that I was to be given a dinner suit and shiny, patent leather shoes to go with it. I saw myself on the yacht, sipping a Martini – whatever that might be - carnation in my buttonhole, looking every bit the young James Bond, with bare-legged Frederic looking on, admiringly. The very thought provoked a massive erection.
The Easter holidays arrived and we set off for France. We flew to Nice and Dad grumbled about the extra he’d had to pay for all our extra baggage, which had to include formal clothing for evenings in Mistral. We spent a few days relaxing in Juan-les-Pins, with me in my long swimming shorts by day. I’d dispensed with Speedos for good.
Then we travelled the short distance to Antibes to board Mistral. It was huge! I was in blazer and chinos and immensely excited about seeing Frederic again but there was a rather large fly in the ointment, which I will shortly describe. It being daytime, Frederic was also in chinos and he greeted me politely but without enthusiasm. He still looked dreadfully shy and had grown only a little taller; in fact I now towered over him by four inches. Deckhands were bringing the luggage on board and Frederic showed me coldly to my cabin, or stateroom. It had a huge double bed and its own bathroom. I was vastly impressed. Then Frederic beckoned me next door, into his stateroom. I saw a large TV and a shelf of videos. Also there, on a chair, was the mid-grey suit he’d worn in the Christmas card photo. I knew it well enough to recognise it anywhere!
“My father suggested we might watch some movies in here,” he said, in his perfect English, waving his hand elegantly towards the TV.
My heart jumped. Was there a hint of mischief in his look or was it wishful thinking on my part? Probably the latter, for as I looked around his sumptuous stateroom he must have seen my eyes fixing on his suit lying on its chair and, casting his eyes down and knitting his brow, he showed me quickly to the door. It was clear that our conversation was over before it had begun.
Back in my stateroom, I saw a tiny glass of sherry on the desk and a printed programme for the cruise. We’d be leaving Antibes in the morning and on this first evening there’d be a cocktail party, followed by dinner. ‘Oh good,’ I thought, sipping the sherry and feeling very grown up. ‘Frederic will see me in in my fine dinner suit. Oh, but I suppose he’s got one too.’ I felt a momentary disappointment that I might not see his beautiful bare legs. Then I remembered I’d seen in his stateroom the suit from the Christmas card and my cock instantly went erect.
The programme stated that for the following two nights we'd take ‘informal dinner at sea’ but on the fourth night there'd be a ‘black tie banquet’ on board Mistral in Monte Carlo. I could see we weren't likely to starve and I looked forward to gracing the assembled company each evening with my black-clad presence, my wit and repartee resplendent and at my side a doting Frederic, his smooth, pale thighs glistening alluringly. Or was I fooling myself?
When I went down after tea to bathe and change, a young steward was preparing my clothes for the evening. He wore a short, heavily starched white tunic and black, skin-tight, extremely hairy trousers which emphasised every delicious contour of his thighs. The trousers could only just accommodate his prominent buttocks and cut deeply into the cleft between them. The rough material clung so closely it even followed the dimples each side of his bottom. He can’t have been much older than me – seventeen at most. If Frederic didn’t want to be my friend maybe the steward would like to be. Oh, he had such a sweet face! When I tore my gaze from his ravishing body I realised with thudding chest that he was brushing not my dinner suit but my old concert suit! How did that ridiculous thing get here?
And here is the fat bluebottle in the ointment. What I hadn’t bargained for was that my dinner suit was to be reserved for the last night and I’d be compelled to wear the concert suit for the first three nights. There was no option. Giving me a winsome smile, the steward departed and I took a shower. I dressed nervously, first putting on the high-sided briefs the steward had laid out in place of the boxers I wore under my chinos. The boxers were considerably longer than the grey shorts so he’d correctly judged that I couldn’t wear those! I put on the linen shirt and then, gritting my teeth, the shorts, which were now really tight – but not as tight as the steward’s trousers. It was nerve-racking and I nearly had a fit when I looked in the mirror and saw my tan-line, nearly six inches below the hems of the shorts. However, having no alternative and not being the sort to sulk, I put on the ankle socks, then the black brogues, tied my tie, put on my jacket and went next door, hoping against hope that Frederic would not be in long trousers.
And he wasn’t! He was in his Christmas card suit! The shorts finished only just below his crotch and without prompting, my cock responded enthusiastically. Frederic looked absolutely stunning but seemed shyer than ever. Then he saw what I was wearing; his eyes brightened and I saw for the first time a sweet little smile.
“Ah, Richard,” he said, looking me up and down. “We could be like brothers. Let us go up to join the party.” It was the first time he'd used my Christian name.
Whereas my voice hadn’t yet quite decided whether it wanted to be deep, medium or high, Frederic’s was a well-modulated, light tenor. I loved it, just as I loved the thought of us being like brothers. He led me to the steep companionway which climbed to the sundeck, where the cocktail party was to take place. Aware as ever of my frighteningly short trousers, I took comfort from Frederic’s company and hoped I wouldn’t be too conspicuous.
As he started up the steps I noticed that his jacket was cinched in by a sort of belt in the same mid-grey cloth, reaching across his back at waist level and finishing before it got round to his sides. It was plainly ornamental but it meant his jacket splayed out slightly over his bottom, as if designed to draw attention to that delightful part of his anatomy. Frederic was now almost vertically above me and I looked up. His trousers were not only shorter than mine but much wider in the leg and I realised I was looking up at the graceful curves of his bare bottom. There was no sign of underwear so his briefs must have been even tinier than mine. I resisted an urge to reach up and touch his buttocks.
About thirty guests came to the cocktail party, some English, some French and all were adults. Frederic assisted his parents to greet the guests and to introduce them to my parents. I hung around with my sister, all of thirteen and of course in a long dress. I hadn’t worn the concert suit for months and the shorts felt tighter than ever. I was painfully aware of my self-consciousness kicking in as I saw people looking at me and taking in my long, bare legs. Frederic wore knee-socks so it was only his thighs that were bare. I wanted to stay close to him but he was doing his duty and mingling with the guests, despite his obvious shyness. For me, it was like being at Glyndebourne again: I felt the object of everyone’s gaze and got tongue-tied whenever anyone spoke to me.
At last the party was over and after the last guest had stumbled down the gangway we went into the saloon, thankful for its air-conditioning after the sultry air out on deck. Even the grown-ups looked relieved. We two families were now served a delicious dinner and I had my first glass of wine of the evening. Even better, I was able to sit next to Frederic and actually get him talking, only a little, as I politely asked him to explain what part the various guests played in the social whirl of Antibes. Our bare knees touched a couple of times, sending a thrill down my spine.
After dinner my sister went to bed and I wanted to follow suit, keen for the privacy of my stateroom and to shed that wretched concert suit. I hoped Frederic would take the lead and indeed he did but it was to invite me out on deck. It was nearly midnight and the sky was dark but a dazzling sight was presented by the lights of the town and from the myriad boats of all sizes. We leaned on the stern rail, looking in companionable silence at the harbour. The temperature had plunged and a chilly breeze was blowing. As my eyes adjusted to the conditions, I began to spot people walking about on the waterfront and on the jetties and pontoons between the vast array of boats. Laughter carried across the water and everyone seemed to be having fun. Some were doing it quietly and I saw loving couples schmoozing their way along, seemingly oblivious to any onlookers.
“Look!” whispered Frederic. He pointed down to the jetty twenty metres or so from Mistral. Two young men were walking slowly along, locked in embrace. They were scruffily-dressed, in jeans and sweaters. They stopped just below us and embarked on even deeper intimacy. I saw hands sliding inside the back of jeans, mouth in contact with mouth, groin pressed against groin. Frederic and I watched in silence and I felt the breeze chilling my legs. After about five minutes, the boys separated and moved off again, hand in hand. Frederic must have moved imperceptibly closer to me for I became aware with a tingle that our bodies were touching.
“It’s funny, is it not?” said Frederic. “Our parents are so rich compared to those boys and yet they give us nothing to wear on our legs.” As I murmured my agreement I caught the scent of his cologne.
It was quite cold now and I felt Frederic shivering. He moved away and I looked to see him rubbing each thigh in turn, vigorously.
“We should go in now,” he said, his breath condensing in the cold night air. I followed him indoors and we said goodnight to our parents. Then he led me down below. If he’d looked up, hoping to see my bare bottom, he’d have been disappointed, my shorts - unlike his - being far too tight to give him a view inside them.
Outside my door, he gently pulled me to face him. “I like you, Richard.” He went up on tiptoe and gave me a sweet little kiss on my cheek. A second later it was over and he stood looking at me with shining eyes. I was frozen to the spot. Had he really kissed me? I was speechless and confused. Before I could properly register what had happened he cast his eyes down, whispered ‘Bonne nuit’ and vanished into his stateroom. I went into mine and tore off the concert suit, taking care not to bash my very rigid cock. Suddenly, I knew this was going to be a cruise to remember, for most of the right reasons.
It won’t surprise you to read that I had a restless night, fantasising about Frederic, just as I’d done at home so many times. And now he was only in the next-door room! He was even more beautiful than I’d remembered and, being quite a bit shorter than me and with such a smooth complexion, he seemed younger than me, not one year older. Having taken precautions to protect the luxurious bed linen, I had a glorious wank in Frederic’s honour before falling into a dream-filled sleep.
I was awoken by the pretty young steward, who came in at eight with a little pot of coffee and a glass of orange juice. I thought the hand gently jogging my shoulder was Frederic’s but of course I was still half-dreaming and Frederic wouldn’t address me as ‘Monsieur,’ would he?
The steward said we’d be leaving port in thirty minutes. Would I like to watch? I was sitting up in bed now, with an erection that stiffened further when I looked at Serge, for that was the steward’s name. How on earth did he get in and out of those tight and horribly hairy trousers? There wasn’t a bit of slack anywhere – not even in his crotch. Where did his balls fit and what happened when he had a hard-on? He leaned across me to reach the light switch and as his hip brushed against the back of my hand I thought my skin was about to be rasped off! How could he wear such material next to his skin? I felt sorry for Serge and that made my cock even harder. It was quite a relief when he left my stateroom. Self control, Richard!
I chose a pair of loose-fitting chinos, partly to match what I assumed Frederic would be wearing and partly to accommodate the inevitable erections I was sure to experience during the day, what with Frederic and Serge being around. I went up on deck and prepared to spend the day having my senses delighted at almost every turn.
Frederic was indeed in chinos, and long-sleeved shirt and whenever out on deck, a wide-brimmed Tilley hat. It was obvious the Mediterranean sun didn’t suit his skin. But it seemed that I didn’t suit him either. Instead of the shy charm he’d shown me the night before, he seemed cold and aloof, not catching my eye and speaking only when good manners so dictated. What had I done? At lunch we sat far apart but I often caught him looking in my direction. He had his head down and was looking at me through his eyelashes but if he saw me looking he’d quickly look away and I could swear he blushed, every time. His brow spent a lot of time furrowed.
The day progressed. Frederic’s father showed me round the bridge and indicated on the charts where we were heading. My parents lazed on the sundeck and my sister lapped up the sun in her swimsuit. For long periods of time there was no sign of Frederic. I presumed he was down in his stateroom, maybe watching videos. He didn’t even emerge to watch us anchoring for the night off San Remo. Racking my brain to work out what I’d done to annoy him, I lay uneasily on my bed before bathing and changing for dinner.
Serge had pressed my concert suit and came in to drape it on the chair. It can’t have taken him long to iron what little there was of my shorts. I knew I’d have to wear them again but at least tonight there’d be no strangers, just my family and Frederic’s. Serge kept smiling at me and I smiled back. If Frederic wasn’t going to be my friend perhaps I could have Serge. I was sure he liked me but I knew it wasn’t done to fraternise with servants. Never mind, I could dream.
For an informal dinner at sea, the evening was surprisingly formal. I guessed that was how Frederic’s family lived, even at home, in Paris. The yacht’s captain joined us so it was eight of us round the table, to be impeccably served a meal of great distinction. Well, that’s how my parents described it – at fifteen my palate wasn’t sophisticated enough to judge. In any case, my concentration was directed, as subtly as possible, towards Frederic, once again in his mid-grey suit. He’d hardly spoken to me but I tried to smile whenever he looked in my direction, which was very often. He didn’t invite me out on deck after dinner but said he had a headache and quietly excused himself to go to his stateroom.
Instead, it was my father who asked me to join him outside. “Let’s take a look at San Remo by night, Richard!”
It was warmer than the night before and we stood watching the dancing lights in the harbour but we were too far from shore to see any people.
“I bet you’re looking forward to wearing your DJ on Friday, in Monte Carlo,” he said, stating the obvious.
“I certainly am, Dad. You know how I hate this concert suit. It’s so embarrassing!”
“Your mother’s keen for you to fit in, Richard. When in Rome and all that. She wants you to dress like Frederic. It’s a mark of respect to your host.”
I muttered something in reply but he ignored me.
“You see, we’re keen that you get on with Frederic. I’ve got a big business deal coming off with his father – our companies might merge, you know - and it would look good if our sons and heirs get on well. Could you try to make a bit more effort?”
How could I tell him I was driving myself insane with lust for Frederic? I said nothing but in bed that night I decided that here was a paternal request that I’d be most happy to comply with – if Frederic would let me.
Next morning I awoke early and lay in bed, awaiting Serge’s wake-up call and thinking hard. How could I get close to Frederic? I needed to show him I liked him. Ah - sympathy - that was it! I hatched a plan. Oh, do hurry, Serge!
When Serge came in I asked him, in my best French, if he’d kindly convey my greetings to Frederic and ask whether his headache had gone. At this, Serge looked at me pityingly. Was my French that bad? He must have thought it was I who had the headache for he came and put his cool hand gently on my forehead. To reach me he had to put a knee on my bed and I saw the bristles on his trousers, like fierce little thorns sticking out of the material. What must that stuff feel like next to your skin? And why did all the other stewards have trousers of thin, smooth material?
I wanted to repeat my request to Serge but it was so good just lying there, feeling his fingers on my forehead, that I just moaned softly, which seemed to make him even more keen to soothe my brow. When he at last stood up and walked around my bed to pour me some juice I could swear an erection was trying to force a bulge in those fearsomely tight trousers. I wanted to get up but dared not, because my own erection was almost out of control. So I stayed in bed and Serge smiled and left my stateroom. I wondered if he fancied me as much as I fancied him!
Two minutes later there was a gentle knock on my door and in walked Frederic, dressed for the day in shirt and chinos.
“Richard – Serge tells me you are sick. May I be of assistance?” His English was perfect.
The look of compassion on his beautiful face, his brow knitted in concern, would have melted the heart of a barbarian. I reached out of bed to meet his outstretched right hand and clasped it, instinctively drawing it to my face as if to kiss his fingers. Then my left hand joined my right and held his hand just over my chest. He still looked concerned.
“I’m sorry, Frederic,” I said. “I think Serge misunderstood me. I meant him to ask if your headache had gone.”
“And you worry about me as you lie sick?” interjected Frederic. “My headache was nothing. It was an excuse, nothing more. But what about you? Where is the pain?”
“No pain,” I said, “it’s you I was worried about. I am perfectly well!” I was still clasping his hand.
“But I am also perfectly well!” Frederic smiled for the first time. “I thought you didn't like me and I was sad.”
“Why wouldn’t I like you?” I asked, suddenly desperate to tell Frederic that ‘like’ was far too weak a word to describe my feelings for him.
“Well, the first night, when we said goodnight, you looked shocked when I gave you a little kiss.”
My heart was pounding. “And you thought I should kiss you back? And I didn’t. And is that why you wouldn’t speak to me yesterday?”
Frederic looked down at the floor. “I thought you despised me for it,” he said, sadly.
“Oh, Frederic, no - I wasn’t shocked, just surprised. When you said we could be like brothers I was really happy!”
“Oh, you English, you’re so cold!” said Frederic, giving a sardonic little smile. “Time you got out of bed!”
He pulled both my arms and dragged me out of bed and bang went all my British reserve as I found myself standing with poking out of my pyjama trousers the biggest, stonkiest hard-on you can imagine.
“Ah, I believe you are thinking about Serge! He is very pretty, is he not?”
‘You’re not kidding!’ I thought – but in my panic said something like “Oh God, I’m sorry!” as I sought my dressing gown. Frederic laughed good-naturedly at my pathetic attempts to cover up.
At that moment our problems began to resolve. I knew Frederic wasn’t ill and he knew I wasn't ill. It was true that I hadn’t been quite ready for the Gallic kiss but I knew I’d like more of that sort of thing if it was on offer. Frederic for once looked relaxed and said he was happy that we could be friends again. I privately blessed Serge for unwittingly engineering our rapprochement, as Frederic called it, before leaving me alone to shower and dress. I found myself singing in the shower – something I rarely did. I was so looking forward to spending time with Frederic, not as mere fellow travellers but as friends.
At breakfast, what a contrast from the day before! My father nodded approvingly as he watched Frederic and me in animated conversation over our fruit, yogurt and croissants. We were all on deck as Mistral weighed anchor and proceeded. Then Frederic asked me if I’d like to see the engine room. Heavens, I’d have accepted an offer to scrub out the bilges if it meant spending time in close company with him! There was no part of the yacht I didn’t want to see.
We needed to wear protective clothing in the machinery spaces, apparently, so Frederic asked Serge to get us each some overalls and so clad, we descended into the engine room, which was immaculately clean. It housed two diesel engines, quietly thrumming away as they propelled Mistral at about fifteen knots on a southerly course. The value of wearing overalls became clear once we started to inspect hotter and dirtier parts of the yacht, like the cable locker, the place that housed the massive, grease-coated, iron anchor cables. Frederic knew every nook and cranny of the ship and explained what everything was for, flashing me the occasional smile and making me tingle every time our hands made glancing contact.
When our tour was over he led me to his stateroom and offered me a cool drink from his fridge. We took off our overalls and that was when I realised why I’d been so hot. Unlike Frederic, I’d worn my clothes under the overalls whereas he’d worn nothing but a thong-like pair of briefs that left his buttocks almost entirely bare! No wonder I hadn’t seen any underwear when on the first night I’d peeped up his shorts.
Frederic reclined on his bed and his beautiful, pale body looked utterly irresistible as he sipped his Orangina. Was he inviting me to touch him? I wanted to leap onto his bed and caress his lovely face, his arms, his legs, his bottom…. But I held my ground, not daring to make a fool of myself. How I managed to control my hard-on I’ll never know.
“Ah, Richard,” he said, looking at his watch. “We must go up on deck. Soon we have a ride on the launch. And then we'll return for dinner. After all that is done, shall we watch a video here?”
At two o'clock Mistral anchored off Corsica and we all went for a ride on the launch to investigate the north coast of the island. It wasn’t any old ride, of course. All the grown-ups were dressed smartly and we boys were in shirt and chinos. Serge served drinks. The temperature soared. The launch dropped anchor in a quiet bay and we were served a lobster salad with chilled white wine. Frederic spent his time under the canopy erected by Serge to keep the sun off his delicate skin and I sat beside him, chatting. It was like a scene from a Merchant-Ivory film.
Frederic and I couldn’t have a deep conversation because the others could hear us so we talked about sports, schools, music, etc but not about ourselves. I was itching to get him to myself and I was sure the feeling was mutual. Oh, how I wanted the time to fly until I could be in his stateroom watching a video. Then Frederic’s father said he was sure everyone wanted to get back to the comfort of Mistral. The two seamen, immaculate in white shirt and shorts, made the launch ready to weigh anchor and started the engine. Serge brought round freshly-made coffee. He was perspiring in the heat and his white tunic was limp and damp. Once, when he had to squeeze past me, his trousers brushed my face and the material harshly scratched my cheek and felt incredibly hot. What must his poor legs feel like, imprisoned all day in that stuff?
An hour later I was back in my stateroom and the ubiquitous Serge, in a crisp, freshly-starched tunic, was laying out my evening clothes. He winked at me as he pulled little bits of fluff off my tiny grey shorts. I felt myself blushing. In one more night, thankfully, I’d be in my dinner jacket and long trousers.
The evening went well. There were no strangers and I could cope in my grey shorts so long as Frederic was there as well, in shorts considerably more revealing than mine. He was persuaded to play the piano and I watched and listened in rapture, confident that tonight I’d be returning the goodnight kiss. At close of play it was raining so nobody went out on deck but instead to bed. Frederic indicated that we should go down but as I was following him out of the saloon my father called me back.
Dad lit another cigar and we sat alone, and I thought I was going to get a lecture about something. Surely he hadn’t noticed the way I’d been gazing at Frederic?
“It grieves me to say this, Richard,” he began, sending shafts of fear through my body, “but we’ll be leaving Mistral in a couple of days. It’s been fun, hasn’t it?”
I nodded, wondering what was coming next. “Well, we’ll obviously have to invite Frederic’s family over for a return match and I thought Glyndebourne, in August. Now, it’s most important to me that you’re hitting it off with Frederic. I can see you’re making a big effort and I’m most grateful. If you two genuinely like each other it will make life so much easier.”
“Oh, yes, Dad, we’re getting on really well,” I said, adding quickly “thanks to his perfect English.”
A few minutes later I knocked on Frederic’s door. “Oh,” he said, brow tightly knitted. “I thought you might have cold feet, again. Come in.”
A Eurythmics CD was playing. He’d taken his jacket off and I saw for the first time that he wore braces, which probably explained why his shorts rode so high, stopping just below his crotch. As if reading my mind, he pulled the braces off his shoulders and his shorts dropped a couple of inches. "That feels better," he said.
“It’s late now,” said Frederic, “but you can look at my videos and choose one we can watch tomorrow. It will rain so you will not wish to be on deck. Much nicer here.” His shorts were slipping further down so he grabbed the waistband and, swearing softly, tugged them right up again before sitting on his bed to remove his shoes and socks. Then he lay back on his bed with his hands behind his head.
I tried to concentrate on his shelves of videos but my desire was to join him on his bed.
“Have you been to Venice, Richard?”
“No,” I said, looking at Frederic. He drew his knees up, which gave me a glimpse of his bare bottom and I felt my cock expanding again. “No, I’ve never been to Venice.”
“Well, there’s a movie called Death in Venice and I think you might like it. It’s about a pretty boy and the man who falls in love with him.”
I felt myself blushing. “But why would I want to see a film like that?”
“Because I have seen the way you look at Serge and I think you want him to seduce you. We could watch the movie together and pretend that Serge is the man in the story. You would like that, would you not?”
I didn’t know where to put myself. I hadn’t realised I’d been looking at Serge like that but Frederic must have noticed. How embarrassing! But then – how could I say I liked Serge but had been totally infatuated with Frederic for almost a year? I just stood there, opening and closing my mouth like a goldfish.
Well, I can see you’re thinking about him now!” said Frederic, his brow crinkling.
Instinctively I looked down and saw the growing bulge in my stupid little shorts. I felt myself blushing. “P-poor Serge has nothing to do with this,” I stammered. “But I’ve seen you looking at me.”
“Of course I do! Why shouldn’t I? You are moderately good-looking - for an Englishman.” He snorted with laughter.
As I approached his bed he drew his knees up higher, as if in self-defence. His dark eyes followed mine. I stopped beside him and very tentatively put a hand on his right knee. It was the first time I’d deliberately touched any part of him, except for his hands. I rocked his knee from side to side, looking down into his glittering eyes.
It was a moment of pure magic; Frederic’s knee felt warm and solid but I could rock it to and fro without any resistance. Consciously or not, he was submitting to me. With my free hand I tried to press flat the tent in my shorts but it wasn’t going to work and it made Frederic giggle.
“You can't hide your feelings, you know! Look, Richard, if we have to dress like little boys we may speak like little boys. Do you like me more than Serge?”
I felt the tears welling in my eyes as I replied “I only met Serge two days ago but you, Frederic, I have thought about for nine months, night and day!”
“Come here, mon ami!” He grabbed my hand and pulled me down on top of him.
My first sexual encounter with Frederic was thrilling but it didn’t last long. When he pulled me down onto his bed I fell into a state of shock – I simply couldn’t believe that after all the months of thinking about him and masturbating at the thought of his beauty I was actually getting to touch him in the flesh! It was a thousand dreams coming true but I was totally unprepared emotionally and to my great surprise the erection he’d just been teasing me about dissipated within seconds.
I was now lying on top of him with my arms around his slender shoulders, my face closing on his. It was as if my body was warning me not to go too far, not to sully our friendship before it'd had time to develop, not to make a mess inside my grey shorts and risk more teasing, not to spoil what I’d been thinking about every night for months.
In truth, I felt in awe of Frederic. Not only was he a year older than me but he was my host on board Mistral and I knew I must let him take the lead in whatever was now to take place. If I were to appear in any way forward, he might be offended and everything I’d hoped for would be smashed into smithereens. These thoughts jostled in my brain against the natural instinct to have wonderful, spontaneous sex.
Please remember that for me, sex of any kind, wonderful or spontaneous, had until then consisted of nothing more than solitary but joyous wanking and fabulous dreams from which it was always a sadness to awake. Frederic had been the subject of many of these dreams and fantasies. Of course I'd kissed the occasional girl and held hands but only out of duty; it had all been very chaste.
Now I had the boy of my dreams literally in my grasp and it was too much for me to take in. Frederic pulled my head closer and closer until our mouths were touching and then I felt his tongue darting about, tickling my lips. I parted them in order to draw breath and a second later was enjoying my first ever French kiss. My tongue found his and the two pink, fleshy organs began a friendly wrestling match, wriggling and writhing this way and that. It was fantastic!
By now our legs were also having a sort of wrestling match; Frederic and I were on our sides, facing each other. Our bare legs were intertwining and writhing together as if they wanted to copy what our tongues were doing. Frederic still had both hands pulling my head tight to his but my hands had moved down and were around his waist. Gradually, I rolled over until I was on my back and Frederic was nearly on top of me. My right hand began to move down over his bottom, feeling at first the cloth of his grey shorts but then encountering bare flesh, warm and very smooth.
While my shorts were embarrassingly short and extremely tight, Frederic’s were even shorter and very much looser-fitting, so my fingers quickly found their way inside to touch his bare buttocks! This was all too much – I wanted to stop the clock and just lie there, stroking the gloriously smooth, firm flesh of his wonderful bottom. That would be quite enough sex for one night! Well, in a rare moment of self control, that’s what I was thinking but Frederic had other plans. He began to thrust his pelvis into mine in exciting little jerks. The kissing stopped and Frederic reached round my waist and pulled me close and this time it was my body not my head he was pulling.
“Oh, Richard!” he groaned, in what I assumed to be ecstasy. I listened carefully, for every tiny aspect of this encounter I wanted forever to remember. “Oh, Richard!” he repeated, rather more breathlessly this time.
My left hand joined my right hand in clutching his bottom and I slipped into his rhythm, pulling him towards me each time he gave a thrust. It was exquisite joy but all so totally unexpected. Then he rolled away, stopped thrusting and just lay on his back, breathing heavily. I guessed he must have climaxed. Well, I'd wanted him to take the lead, hadn’t I?
I stepped off the bed and stood looking at him. He was feeling the front of his shorts and let rip a French swear word I’d never heard before. Zut! was the strongest swear word we’d covered in French GCSE and his sounded very much worse than that. I saw a large dark patch on the front of his shorts. No wonder he was upset.
Then he looked at me. My light grey shorts were unstained and I no longer had an erection. “You must go, Richard,” said Frederic, his face pink. “I am sorry about this. My self control is atrocious!”
I wanted to stay, either to commiserate or better still, to continue the fun. I’d got over my initial shock and my cock began to stir again. Yes, I definitely wanted to stay but Frederic, who was my host, said he needed to go the bathroom and that I must leave. He seemed annoyed with himself but also with me. His brows were knitted more tightly than ever.
I dithered about, one hand in my pocket, rubbing my cock but it couldn’t decide whether or not to get properly erect. Frederic got off his bed and made for his bathroom, holding the front of his shorts away from his body in a gesture of disgust. I could see he’d had a massive emission – the stain was huge and now beginning to glisten stickily. He said goodnight sharply and went into the bathroom, slamming shut the door behind him.
Back in my stateroom, I tried to come to terms with things. Was Frederic upset with me and if so, why? Or was he just furious with himself for losing control so quickly? As I lay in bed I tried to remember if I’d said or done anything to offend him but failed to come up with anything. I went through in my mind all we'd done and quickly found myself incapable of thinking of anything other than his supremely beautiful body so treated myself to another gargantuan masturbation, after which I fell into another dream-filled sleep.
It must have been a deep sleep because in the morning I wasn't lying awake waiting for Serge to come in. Instead, it was his hand gently touching my shoulder that welcomed me to the new day. He wished me Bonjour and gave me some orange juice. I could smell the coffee in the silver pot he'd put on my bedside table. I wondered if Frederic had this treatment every day or only when he was on board Mistral.
I sat up in bed and watched Serge pick up my clothes from the chair. My shirt, socks and briefs went into his laundry bag and the concert suit was destined for the wardrobe but not until he'd inspected the shorts closely, even giving them a little sniff. Of course - he'd have seen what Frederic had done to his shorts and wanted to check mine for semen. It would have been terribly embarrassing if I'd had a similar accident but my shorts were clean and I expected Serge to put the wretched things away but he showed me a little split in the rear seam and took them away, giving me a smile and a wink as he did so.
Once again, Frederic wasn't keen to catch my eye at breakfast and this time I felt I knew the reason. I wanted to assure him I hadn't been shocked or offended by his little accident but how could I say I'd like it to happen all over again but this time with me playing an equal role? As he'd predicted, it was raining and we'd be spending the time indoors as Mistral made speed to Monte Carlo. I went to ask Frederic if we could watch a video in his stateroom and his whispered answer was frank.
"I thought you would never want to visit me again, after my self control failure! My behaviour was abominable."
"You've nothing to apologise for," I whispered back. Then, speaking normally: "And I'd really like to see that film about Venice."
"Venice, darling?" said my mother, who'd overheard. "How lovely! We might be going there in the autumn."
"Well, travel broadens the mind," I replied, glancing at Frederic, whose face had gone slightly pink.
I feared my mother would suggest my sister come to watch the film too but luckily the little madam, who loved dressmaking, had been offered an hour or two with Mme Dupont, the onboard housekeeper, who was also a seamstress. When I heard that Mme Dupont would mend the seam in my grey shorts it struck me that she might be responsible for the length of Frederic's shorts. I'd have to ask him.
After breakfast Frederic and I went down to his stateroom, after I'd told my parents that we'd probably watch some pop videos after what I called the little film about Venice. Frederic still looked agitated and I hoped I could persuade him his little accident hadn't offended me at all.
"You must think I'm a sex-crazed Frenchman," he said, smiling at last. "Before we watch anything I want to take the Eurythmics CD to Serge. I promised he could borrow it. Would you come with me, Richard?"
Having serviced the staterooms, Serge had just gone off duty until lunchtime. When we entered the compact space he shared with the other three stewards he was changing out of his uniform, tugging off his trousers, a task that required immense effort, they being so incredibly tight and the material so thick and coarse. One of his mates had to help him.
At last Serge was standing in just a pair of briefs. As he was putting on a white T-shirt and extremely brief, blue cotton shorts I looked at his legs, just as shapely naked as when fully clothed and saw how the skin on his upper legs was red, looking very inflamed and painful. It must have been that awful material with all its little wiry bristles that tortured his skin, for his lovely thighs soon began to fade into a rather fetching pink. I knew I’d have to have a special wank for Serge that night.
Frederic chatted to him in French and I couldn't really make out what they were saying until the other steward had left and Frederic gave Serge the CD, their hands remaining in contact for rather longer than it usually takes to hand over a CD. Then Frederic asked about his grey shorts. It seemed they'd have to go for dry cleaning in Antibes, at which news he swore and cast his eyes down, clearly disappointed. Then, with brow deeply furrowed, he took me back to his stateroom.
"Richard, you told me Serge doesn't arouse you but I was watching you as he took his trousers off."
He pointed accusingly at the front of my chinos and told me I'd had a huge bulge there so I felt obliged to answer with the truth.
"Yes, I do get aroused, because those trousers seem to be torturing his legs. Did you see his skin? It was all red and looked painful. Why is he the only crew member with trousers like that?"
"Because he is only seventeen. The captain makes the rules. He says it is to toughen up the boy sailors. Serge is not alone - there is another boy like him but not so pretty. When he's nineteen Serge will be allowed the more comfortable trousers. Then - no more nettle rash! Look! I can see you have a new erection! You're a sadist, Richard!"
I brushed my hand down over the tent in my chinos but couldn't hide my obvious arousal. Now it was my turn to blush.
"See," said Frederic. "It is true that you like Serge more than me!"
His brow was deeply furrowed. He looked quite hurt and I didn't know what to do. Maybe it would be best to tell the truth.
"Look, Frederic, I have liked you ever since we met last summer. It's not easy for me to say how much but if I told you I've had very many erections thinking about you, would that make you feel better?"
"How many?" asked Frederic, his eyes looking eagerly into mine.
"Look, I'm English; we don't talk like this. How can I say how many? Lots and lots of times. When you're playing the piano, for example. And always when I'm in bed. And now it's happening again!"
"We can watch the movie later," said Frederic, smiling shyly. "Let's go to the fitness studio first!"
"Why? I thought we were going to watch Death in Venice."
"Because we can take our clothes off! Then we can come back here for the movie. Serge can bring our lunch down here."
If my father knew I was exercising with Frederic and then taking lunch in private with him he'd naturally think I was making big efforts to develop our friendship and that would please him. So I was going to indulge myself with Frederic and please Dad at the same time! What a bargain!
The fitness studio in Mistral was tiny but had a rowing machine, cross-trainer, exercise bike and some weights so there was enough to occupy us for about forty minutes. I tried not to look at Frederic in his Adidas athletics shorts because it would have put me off my stride. Meanwhile, he could see very little of my legs because I was in my long swimming shorts.
I concentrated hard on my exercising and it's not easy to pump iron properly with a full-blown erection so I kept my hormones under control, hoping there'd be a time to express them later. When we'd done enough Frederic led the way back to our staterooms and I opened the door to mine.
"Oh, Richard, are you going to have a shower?" he said, furrowing his brow.
"Well, yes, if that's OK. I mean, will there be hot water?"
"Of course, even at sea we manage to have hot water available! What I mean is why have a shower in your own bathroom? Mine is free."
So I found myself sharing Frederic's shower with him. It was the first time we'd seen each other totally naked and it was an ecstatic experience, certainly for me. We stood under the jets of hot water, soaping each other and giggling. I ran my hands all over his head, his torso and his arms and he did the same to me. Below his neck, the only hairs on his body were in his groin and his armpits. His chest, arms and legs were totally hairless. So was his bottom, his cute little bottom. We stood face to face, soaping each other's bottom, our turgid cocks bumping into each other and making us laugh. He made no attempt to touch my cock so I didn't try to touch his, at least not with my hands. After what seemed like ages we stepped out of the shower and dried ourselves, exchanging little guilty looks. I wondered what he'd suggest next.
I was up for more romping about on the bed but Frederic put on a silk dressing gown and passed me one made of cotton. It bore his initials and to know it had clothed his naked body drove my cock into full rigidity, so I sat down and tried not to look too randy. Then, remembering what we'd just been doing in the shower, I stood up and walked slowly towards him, smiling sweetly. But he waved me away and picked up the phone by his bed.
After a brief conversation with somebody he replaced the receiver and spoke to me.
"I am sorry, Richard but we must be careful. Serge is bringing our lunch very soon and my mother might call in to see how we are. So the bed will have to wait. If you still like me after tonight's banquet we could meet there afterwards - perhaps."
I must have looked disappointed, so he changed the subject. "I've already messed one pair of short trousers so I'll keep a towel around my waist while we watch the movie!"
So we watched Death in Venice and lunched, sitting side by side, with towels ready for any mishap but although I thoroughly enjoyed the film and was pleasantly hard for most of it, I wanted to keep my powder dry - as it were - for the likely midnight assignation with Frederic, a boy even more beautiful than Björn Andrésen,who plays Tadzio in the film. My sister popped in once but all she saw was her brother and his friend sitting demurely in dressing gowns, watching what we said was a travel film.
The only other visitor was Serge, who called in just after the film had ended. He told us about a slight change of plan. Before the gala banquet on board Mistral we were to attend a reception in some palace in Monte Carlo and would we please be ready to depart in one hour. Frederic swore roundly. Serge said that on our return he'd have our dinner suits ready to wear at the banquet.
Oh God! Did that mean the bloody concert suit for this reception in town? Yes, it did. Serge had laid it out in my stateroom, apparently on my mother's express orders. My heart sank. Mme Dupont had mended the seam in the shorts and I was thankful to see the damned things hadn't been made even shorter. But why did I have to wear the ghastly suit in Monte Carlo, in front of hundreds of rich strangers?
But what was Frederic to wear? He couldn't wear the suit he'd worn last night so he'd have to wear another one. I had to find out so I dressed as quickly as possible and went next door. He was in a strange little suit I hadn't seen before, made of dark blue tweed. The shorts were slightly tighter than the ones he'd stained so badly and even shorter. The jacket didn't have a funny little pretend-belt but two vents. My jacket had only a single vent. He wore very hairy knee socks of dark blue. He looked divine.
I remember little of the reception and I hung close to my parents, trying not to catch anyone's eye. Ironically, the one person I could look at was Frederic and I did occasionally catch his eye and saw his knitted brow. He didn't look any happier than I felt. I could hardly believe the way his shorts stopped exactly where his bottom began to curve deliciously out from his thighs. His braces must have been extremely tight to make his shorts ride so high. I noticed he often had his fingers inside the legs of his shorts, scratching.
My mother said "Lovely boy, isn't he, Richard? And doesn't he look charming?"
"Yes, Mum," I replied, quickly adding "very smart indeed," in the hope that my mother would assume I was referring to Frederic's turn out and not to his beautiful face, elegant pose, graceful movements and those dreamy thighs, bare right to the top.
"Yes, dear, it's such a beautifully tailored suit."
Back in Mistral, we had an hour to shower and change into black tie. At last I was to wear my dinner suit and my legs would no longer be bare. It was also nice to be able to wear my boxers again. Frederic looked magnificent in his dinner suit and we must have looked more like brothers than ever. My self-confidence blossomed and I'm sure Frederic's did too as we climbed the companionway to the sundeck, for once looking and feeling like young men and not little boys.
It was a marvellous party. I was allowed more than a few sips of champagne, the food was wonderful and the guests were good; some even spoke to me and managed to look not at my legs but at my face. There were some famous actors and at least one famous costumier but none was stupid enough to try flirting with Frederic or me or, for that matter, with my sister. I enjoyed listening to the speeches, which were all in English and even my sister behaved herself. I was excited about my assignation with Frederic but the evening was such fun I forgot to look at my watch.
At midnight the guests had mostly departed and Frederic's mother kissed him goodnight and said we could both go down to our staterooms. We didn't need any further encouragement.
By his door, Frederic said "Well, Richard, I was watching you tonight and you never seemed to look at Serge but you were looking at me so I think I believe you now. You do like me more than him, don't you? Please put on my dressing and join me in five minutes."
As I was taking off my dinner suit I sensed rather than heard the engines running. Stripped down to just my boxers I put on the cotton dressing gown bearing Frederic's initials and looked out of my port-hole to see we were leaving Monte Carlo. In the morning we'd be in Antibes and after breakfast I'd be leaving Mistral with my family for a couple of days in Juan-les-Pins before our flight back to England. This would be the last night I'd see Frederic until August. I couldn't afford to waste any time and went round to his stateroom. In his silk dressing gown, he was spreading out two giant towels on his bed. Then he took off his dressing gown and was left in just his tiny, electric-blue, buttock-baring briefs.
I thought I knew what that meant and made to take off my dressing gown but he told me to leave it on. The soft light was playing on his gloriously smooth skin, giving it an uncharacteristically golden glow and emphasising with shadows his juicy contours. As I stood gazing in wonder my cock remembered what it was for and came smartly to attention. Frederic looked at me and with slightly knitted brow gave me his shy smile. There was a huge bulge in the front of his little briefs.
"It is I who will undress you, Richard. But first, some music."
At the flick of a switch there was soft, smoochy music and then he came to stand behind me. I felt his hands touch my shoulders and shivered in delight as they slowly made their way down my arms until they reached my waist. Gently they untied the cotton belt and then moved sexily up my body again until they were positioned to pull the dressing gown off my shoulders, which they then proceeded to do but oh - so slowly. Here was another moment when I wanted time to stop still, leaving me transfixed - and emotional.
Frederic edged the sleeves down my upper arms until they'd reached my elbows and then, making a little squeak, he let go and the dressing gown fell to crumple at my feet. I assumed that next event would involve his bed but what I didn't expect was that he'd stand back and burst into shrieks of laughter.
"Oh, Richard - what are you wearing?" he giggled.
Oh God, he thought my boxers were funny! He motioned me to the full-length mirror and I had to see the funny side; he was naked apart from tiny briefs of electric-blue and I was in polka-dot boxers that went nearly halfway down my thighs. Boxers that were severely tented at the front.
"Take them off, or I'll never be able to take you seriously!"
Suddenly, I felt nervous. I knew we'd been naked together in the shower but it seemed wrong somehow for me to be stark naked in his company. It wasn't as if we were in bed with the lights out. I made no move but was thinking quickly.
"May I borrow some briefs, please?"
"Oh, you English!" he teased, as he went to his chest of drawers. He selected a pair of silk briefs in brilliant red and tossed them to me. They seemed to weigh about two grams. "These will look nice on you, Richard."
I turned away from Frederic and swapped my boxers for the shimmering silk briefs. They proved just large enough to accommodate my frontal equipment but left my bottom largely bare and felt wonderfully sexy - much sexier than my own little briefs. When I turned round Frederic was lying on his bed with his knees drawn up, exactly as he'd done the night before. I knew what was expected of me and walked over to hold his right knee and waggle it slowly. This I did for many seconds before he offered his next invitation.
The tip of his tongue poked out from between his lips and when it wiggled I knew that signal, too. Pushing his knees well apart I leapt upon his beautiful body and planted my lips on his. My hands were about his head, his were on my back and we kissed. It was another of those French kisses and this time it lasted an age. His mouth tasted pepperminty and delicious. Once again, I wanted the clock to stop.
When at last we needed deep breaths I levered myself up and knelt between his legs looking down at the face of an angel. His hands were now free and he spread his arms wide on the bed as if in supplication. I felt his inner thighs clasping my hips and instinctively put my hands on his knees and slowly ran them run along the outside of his sumptuous thighs. Oh, how smooth and firm they were! I was staring into his shining eyes and was speechless with ecstasy. When my hands reached the top of his legs I had to decide what to do next. The simplest choice was to keep going until I was holding his waist.
Frederic shifted slightly but it was only to reach a switch and dim the lights still further. He picked a peppermint from a little bedside dish and slowly brought it to his mouth but instead of popping it in he licked it sexily and then brought his hand slowly down his chest and put the sweet on his tummy button.
"It's yours, Richard!" whispered Frederic, breathily.
I shifted my knees back a little and lowered my face onto Frederic's stomach.
"Eyes closed," he murmured.
In searching for the mint in its special receptacle my tongue found lots of smooth, French abdomen to lick. Frederic must have spent many hours in his fitness studio for his stomach was firm and taut. He now had his hands on my head, trying to steer it away from its goal and he was beginning to giggle silently at the sensation of his tummy being explored by my tongue. Even with eyes tight shut, my homing instinct was pretty sharp and it wasn't long before my mouth closed on the little round sweet and sucked it in.
My cock was now raging for action and I wondered what was next in the foreplay Frederic had presumably planned for us. I was soon to find out for he pushed me out of his way and got off the bed. He went to his fridge and brought out a little jar of something golden. Oh hell! Was this Vaseline or some other sort of lubricant? I wasn't ready for anal intercourse, if that's what he was planning. Remember, I'd never even touched another boy - or girl, for that matter. I'd heard about shoving cocks up other boys' bottoms but it sounded awful! Mind you, if it had to be anyone, I couldn't think of anyone better than Frederic to try it with. Only not tonight, please ...
I lay on my back and wondered what to say. Something caught Frederic's attention on his way back to the bed and I saw his eyebrows knit. He put the jar on the bedside table and returned to whatever had attracted his interest. I noticed the jar was labelled Miel. So it was honey. I relaxed a bit as surely he wouldn't use honey as a lubricant.
It was my boxers that Frederic had spotted and he picked them up and began to laugh. He held them by the waistband at eye-level and composed himself enough to ask me how I could wear them with my grey suit. Before I could answer he'd got the tweed shorts he'd worn at the reception - with the braces still attached - and held them up together with my boxers. You can guess which pair was longer, by about four inches!
"Actually, I don't wear those with my grey suit. I have to wear briefs." I felt myself blushing. "And I don't have to wear that stupid little suit very often, thank God."
"I like your stupid little suit - it makes you look so sexy!" said Frederic. "But I have never worn anything like this," he said, sniffing my boxers before dropping them on the floor in mock horror.
"But you must have long trousers for evenings when you don't have to be smart."
"Yes, of course, when we're at home, in Paris." Then he added "Unless we go to the theatre or to receptions like tonight. And I wear long trousers at school, of course."
"Same here," I said, feeling my desire for Frederic grow even stronger. We had so much in common.
"It's rich boys like us who have to dress like little kids when we are with our parents," said Frederic, becoming serious. "Other boys of sixteen are allowed to look like men." Throwing his tweed shorts onto the floor he added sadly "I hate this suit most of all. It's so itchy!"
He told me he had six more short-trousered suits at home. In winter the weaker sunshine wouldn't harm his skin so he could wear shorts in the daytime during cold weather. In fact, it seemed he was compelled to; his father had told him it would toughen him up. Moreover, Mme Dupont had been instructed to make all Frederic's shorts extremely short, to stop him getting above himself. With privilege must come humility, apparently.
"Even the youngest French boys wear longer shorts these days," he said, looking forlorn and utterly desirable. He nodded towards his wardrobe. "But not me. In there is another suit, with trousers no longer than these!" He kicked his tweed shorts into the corner and then shuddered in disgust. I gave him a sympathetic look.
Then with sparkling eyes, he said "I always have to behave perfectly in public so in private I think I should misbehave - badly! Don't you agree?"
He advanced to the bed and telling me to lie on my back and keep still, he took the jar and poured a little honey onto the hollow just below my Adam's apple. The honey felt cold. Then he climbed nimbly onto the bed and lay alongside me, licking the honey with his tongue and exploring my bottom with his hands. I could feel him sliding his fingers into what little there was of the back of the red silk briefs and tickling the cleft between my buttocks. My cock was going berserk.
Soon he'd licked up all the honey so he put his sticky lips on mine and we had another French kiss, languid yet thrilling. He'd stopped exploring my bottom and was just holding me tight. Now instead of peppermint I could taste honey. I would never forget this night. In about nine hours I would be leaving his company for four whole months. How would I cope?
As if reading my mind, he muttered - once our mouths had disengaged - "Oh, Richard, I wish you were not going tomorrow. We've only just begun!"
Now the foreplay moved up a gear as Frederic began gently to wrestle with me and our legs intertwined and wriggled as our bodies slid about in very close contact. Like Frederic, I had no hairs on my arms and legs, nor on my chest, so it was a case of smooth skin gliding past smooth skin. I expected the pelvic thrusts to start any time and wondered which of us would lose control and shoot his load first. I gave myself a minute at most.
He must have been reading my mind again for he suddenly wrenched my briefs down to my knees and did the same to his. Now we were writhing about on our sides, facing each other and locked together by our arms. I pulled Frederic even closer as he started thrusting and I felt his hardened cock on my tummy. My cock was somehow between his legs just below his groin and instead of my own hands doing the work it was his rhythmically thrusting inner thighs massaging my cock and bringing it to climax. The thought crossed my mind that if Frederic had been taller than me it would have been my cock making love to his tummy and my thighs bringing his cock to climax.
His hands were now up by my shoulders and mine were clutching his glorious bottom, squeezing and pulling in time with his ever more urgent thrusting. I knew I was about to come and squeezed his bottom extra hard and at that moment Frederic let out a gasp and my tummy suddenly felt very warm, while at the same time my cock squirted and squirted onto his inner thighs and onto the towel he was lying on. My heart was pounding in my chest and I felt delirious with lust. We'd climaxed at the same time and our thrusting gradually subsided until we just lay there, locked in embrace. I eased my spent cock from between Frederic's legs and lay quietly on my side, kissing his cheek and with my arms clasped around his back as if frightened he'd escape. I felt his body trembling and held him tight.
For the first time, I was dimly aware of the ship's motion. She was rolling gently as she made her slow progress westwards. Frederic turned his head into the pillow and the trembling turned into heaving as he began to sob.
"What's the matter, Frederic?" He gave no answer but rolled onto his tummy and sobbed into the pillow.
I pulled myself clear and made to stand up but my knees were bound together by the red briefs so I had to work them up to my waist before I could stand up and look at Frederic. His whole body moved to his sobs and his blue briefs had slid down to his ankles, looking faintly ridiculous. He didn't resist when I removed them altogether. I looked down at the totally-naked Frederic, his pale and hairless body looking so young and so vulnerable. Again I leant over him and asked him what was wrong.
Sniffing loudly he rolled onto his side and looked at me with tear-filled eyes.
"If my father knew what I was like he'd throw me out without a centime!" He drew his knees up and hugged them. In the foetal position he looked more vulnerable than ever.
I felt a spasm of guilt - had I been guilty of seducing Frederic and was I responsible for what he was like? A second later I realised I couldn't be guilty; it was he who'd taken the lead in all our delicious little games. When I wondered how many other boys he'd played with I felt jealous of them. Why should they have had his lovely body? Then I felt angry - was I just the latest in a line of conquests? Was he using me as a plaything to amuse him on this tedious voyage? It wasn't long before I had my answer.
"Richard, would you pass me the tissues, please?"
He wiped his eyes and blew his nose. Then, seeming to realise he was naked he climbed quickly off the bed and wrapped one of the towels round his waist before sitting back down on the bed and patting a place beside him where he wanted me to sit. He turned up the lighting a little. I adjusted the red briefs and in so doing accidentally let the elasticised edges snap back onto my bottom with a sharp, slightly exciting sound, causing Frederic to look up, first at my midriff and then at my face. His brow was knitted as tightly as ever I'd seen it. I sat beside him.
"Richard, I've wanted to lie with a friend like this for so long but I've never dared to in case the news got out, maybe at school, maybe at home, maybe at my father's business and if it did he would kill me. Serge knows what I'm like but he is kind and I trust him. That's why I was jealous you might like him more than me. I was worried that if you and he became friendly you might talk about me and laugh."
"Oh, Frederic, why would I want to laugh at you? I admire you, I would never do anything to hurt you - in fact - I think I love you!"
He turned to me and cupped my chin with his hand, moving his fingertips ever so slightly.
"Do you have to shave yet, Richard? I don't. I wish I did, as my father might let me dress as a man and not a little boy."
"But Frederic, it's just the same with me!" I felt his smooth chin and brushed the back of my fingers over his cheeks. Not the faintest indication of bristles. "We have so much in common! Oh, I wish we didn't have to say goodbye tomorrow!"
My erection was building nicely and I wanted to lie with Frederic again, as he'd put it. His electric-blue briefs caught my attention as they lay on the floor and I picked them up.
"You know, my friend, that towel is horribly sticky," I said. "Why don't you put on these nice blue briefs?" And he did. "That's better, now I can admire your legs properly. You hide them from me during the day so I must make best use of the night!"
Surprised by my own forwardness, I felt I should put my cards on the table, like Frederic had done. So I told him I'd had no sexual experience with anyone else and reminded him I'd dreamt about him constantly for nearly a year. He smiled, just a bit and that made me very happy. It had been awful watching him cry.
Feeling emboldened, I decided to take the lead. "Look, we have to part in the morning and I won't see you till August. When you come to stay with me we're going to have a lot of fun and we won't have to wear little boys' clothes because at the concerts we can wear dinner suits, like tonight at the banquet. But now, I want to look at you closely, very closely, so I'll be able to remember all the details until we meet again."
Frederic leaned over and gave me a little kiss on the lips, not a French one this time. "Oh, Richard, I will count the days - and hours - until we meet again. And I pray to God that your parents will still make you wear the stupid concert suit."
As one, we lay back on the bed and slowly, sweetly, lovingly, we explored each other's body with our hands and our eyes. And with our tongues. Frederic was incapable of making a clumsy movement: every little gesture, turn of the head, movement of his legs was performed with such grace and artistry I began to wonder who'd taught him but I believed him when he'd said he'd never done this before, so it must just have been his natural poise.
If I'd thought his face was silky I was even more thrilled to discover his nether regions were just as perfect. His skin everywhere was smooth and flawless but best of all were his thighs: firm, cool and with a soft, downy texture at the rear, while at the front and sides the surface felt like expensive, glossy paper, most especially on the upper regions. I felt indignant that thanks to the criminal brevity of his tweed shorts, the entire length of his wonderful thighs had been bared to hundreds of people in Monte Carlo that afternoon. I should be the only one entitled to see and touch such delicate perfection. After all, it was I, not all those millionaires, who worshipped Frederic. OK, maybe Serge could have an occasional peep but nobody else deserved such a treat.
"I'm tired," said Frederic, making me think he'd had enough of me. "Will you sleep with me, Richard?"
"Oh - I mean - yes - but if I sleep here Serge will see us here in the morning. I should go next door and ruffle my sheets a bit so it looks like..."
"Don't worry," Frederic interrupted. "Serge will not tell anyone. I'm sure he expects to find you here with me!"
We stood up and looked at each other. His smile was as broad as I'd ever seen. "Carpe diem!" he said.
"Carpe diem!" I replied, my erection back in an instant.
Five minutes later we'd washed, cleaned our teeth and were snuggled up in bed, hugging and kissing.
"And in August, Richard," spluttered Frederic, freeing his mouth from mine, "when I come to see you, I want us to go camping together. Just the two of us. OK?"
My experiences in Mistral with Frederic fed my loins with lust for many weeks. My bedside locker now had a few more photographs of him, the best being those of him wearing one or other of his short-trousered suits. A press photograph taken at that reception in Monte Carlo showed a side-on view of the two of us together, talking to some millionaire or other. A concerned look played on Frederic's sweet little face and his brow was well and truly knitted. Despite his being sixteen, a year older than me, he looked younger by virtue of being shorter than me and having entirely bare thighs. His shorts were only just visible below his jacket, whereas you could see that at least my shorts had legs on them, albeit only two inches in length.
A month after we’d returned to England, my mother sent that wretched concert suit of mine to Oxfam and was I pleased to see it go! I pitied the poor sod who'd have to wear it next - unless it was some child of ten, the age for whom it must originally have been designed. From now on I had my dinner jacket for posh dinners and my school suits for the theatre and so on, meaning I was at long last in long trousers for formal events. I'd forgotten there'd be a nice new concert suit for me in time for Glyndebourne in August, when we'd see Frederic and his family again, this time as our guests. I was dying to see him again.
The summer term at school began and I played hard and worked hard. Dad’s computer had a facility to send and receive basic e mails and he let me use it when I was at home to exchange messages with Frederic. We had to be very careful about what we said as only our fathers could operate the system but there was no doubt we were dying to see each other again. Our friendship pleased Dad as the merger between his company and Frederic’s father’s was looking certain.
“We’re really going to push the boat out in August and make Frederic and his family feel at home,” said Dad, one day. “We'll eat French food, too and I hope you'll join in the spirit of Frenchness. There’ll be Glyndebourne as well, of course. I wondered if you'd like to take Frederic away for a couple of days beforehand, just doing boys’ things. What about going camping?”
Why did Dad suggest that? Did he know how Frederic and I felt about each other? Had he peeped into my bedside locker? No, he wasn’t that sort. He’d been to public school, so I thought he might have guessed something but if he had, he was too much of a gentleman to say anything. Instead, he made it seem the most logical thing in the world for Frederic and I to go off together and sleep in a little tent, which was exactly what Frederic hoped we could do. That night I had three epic wanks.
School finished for the summer and I spent a lot of time playing tennis - we had a court in the garden. Some of my friends from prep school days turned up to play and the rest of July seemed to be tennis just about every day. Hoping that really short shorts were a thing of the past, I'd managed to get hold of some longish shorts that came nearly halfway down the thigh. All my other tennis-playing friends - including some of the girls - seemed to be growing hairs on their legs which made me shy because my legs remained as smooth as glass.
I took the opportunity, when I had a free day, of working out where Frederic and I could go camping. Surrey isn't exactly noted for its areas of wilderness and the campsites near us looked rather tame and sanitised. I thought Snowdonia or the Lake District looked much more interesting but both were too far away for just a couple of days so I looked at places on the South Coast that we could reach by train. Then Dad came up with a solution.
"What about Seaford? You can get there by train, it's a nice seaside resort, not too big and not too stuffy and it's only a short train ride from there to Lewes, which is close to Glyndebourne. We could meet you at Lewes Railway Station after your couple of days and go straight to the hotel and we could have all your smart clothes with us so all you'd have to take camping is your tent and stuff and maybe some beachwear. How about it?"
One day Dad drove me to Seaford for a recce. There were all the usual things, like funfairs, cafés, a shingly beach and plenty of places to walk to get away from any crowds. I even saw people pitching their tents on the beach, well above high-water mark, which looked fun. I was really excited about going there with Frederic, just the two of us, with nobody else to answer to. Dad bought two sleeping bags and two rucksacks and I already had cooking stuff and a tent, which I pitched in the garden, just to prove I knew how to do it. That afternoon a chilly wind blew up and, looking at the wind rustling the tent, I pictured two boys inside, huddled together for warmth. It provided the theme for the glorious wanking session I had that night.
Well, the big day arrived and Dad and I drove to Heathrow Airport to meet Frederic and his parents off their flight from Paris. I wished I hadn't gone, though. A car full of parents is not the place to get cosy with the boy you've spent the past year dreaming of in the most carnal of terms. Frederic and I sat on the back seat, with his mother between us and all we could do for the fifty-minute journey home was make polite conversation. The boy of my dreams was within grasping distance but I had to keep my hands to myself. I could at least look at Frederic. He hadn't changed much in the past four months: still pale, beautiful and somewhat shorter than me. He hadn't lost his habit of knitting his brow and he seemed slimmer than before. Oh, how I wanted him to myself and to see him unclothed again.
With five bedroom suites in our house, there was one for Frederic so I couldn't suggest he had the second bed in my room, or even the little room next to mine that shared my bathroom. At the hotel near Lewes, though, we were to share a twin room. "Do you think Frederic would mind sharing a room with you, darling?" Mum had asked months before, when she'd booked accommodation.
Dad hadn't even let me reply. "Don't be absurd, sweetheart!" he'd said. "Of course the boys will share a room - imagine how bored they'd get in two separate rooms! Boys that age have things to talk about that grown-ups wouldn't understand. Isn't that true, Richard?"
"Yes, Dad, probably," I'd replied, blushing and then adding lamely "You know, sport and stuff."
Then Dad had given me a wink. Did he know something about Frederic and me or was he remembering what he'd been like at fifteen?
As soon as we arrived home I took Frederic for a tour of our garden and we could have our first proper chat. He was still in his travelling clothes, which included chinos tight enough to emphasise the contours of his heavenly little bottom. I supposed the first time I'd be able to see him even half naked would be inside my tent in a couple of days' time. I could wait.
Far more important now was to make sure we still liked each other. I'd been dreading his telling me he had a girlfriend or, for that matter, a boyfriend. I sensed he might be thinking along the same lines for one of his first questions was to ask whether we'd be meeting any of my friends.
"Oh no," I said. "My school friends all live miles away and I don't really know any of the local boys."
"What about girls?" asked Frederic.
I shook my head and felt myself reddening because I didn't know any local girls either. There were those who came to play tennis but none was exactly what I'd call a friend. Surely Frederic would have some female friends? He was looking at me with his brow furrowed.
"So, nobody special, then, Richard?" he said, beginning to smile. "Nor me. Just acquaintances. Except for one and he is walking beside me!"
I almost fainted in shock. I led Frederic to the summer house and as we entered, his hand brushed mine and a sensation of undiluted joy shot round my body. Once inside, we could talk without fear of being overheard and I was able to tell him how I'd thought of him every day since we'd last seen each other in Antibes.
"And I've thought of you every night as well!" beamed Frederic. We were right back at where we'd left off!
We had a lot to talk about but it won't interest you, dear reader, so I'll just say that I eventually got round to telling Frederic what we'd be doing for his week's visit.
"We're having a barbecue on the terrace tonight, so no need to dress up smart. No short-trousered suits necessary. Mine's gone to a charity shop, thank God. I don't suppose you still wear them, do you?"
Frederic blushed. "Unfortunately, yes, I do. Not by choice, of course. I even had to bring one with me; the grey one I messed up in Mistral that night. Do you remember?"
"Yes," I said, giggling at the memory. I put my hand on his thigh and patted it. "I don't think you'll need to wear it here. We'll be in dinner jackets at Glyndebourne."
I now had a full erection and Frederic spotted it. He began to giggle and told me it was on that first night on board Mistral in Antibes, back in April, when he'd first seen me in my concert suit, that he'd begun to like me. I thought we could have a little cuddle in the summer house and shifted along the bench to be closer to Frederic - just in time for my dear little sister to appear with a tray of cool drinks.
"Hey, boys, don't get too cosy! I've brought some lemonade."
The rest of the day was spent in company with other people and Frederic and I could chat only about mundane things and give each other little looks when we thought we could get away with it. After tea he put on new jeans that redefined the expression 'skin-tight' and set them off with a black sweatshirt. Oh God, talk about sexy!
When he'd seen our piano I admitted I could play some basic stuff but hadn't practised for ages so I asked him to play something. He began some Chopin and then stopped because he needed the music. We had only basic sheet music I'd used in my lessons so he decided to improvise and played some cool jazz.
His playing was like a magnet for soon everyone had come into the drawing room to listen. Dad said it was time for the first drink and produced some champagne with which we all toasted our wonderful house jazz pianist. The barbecue was fun and afterwards Frederic was persuaded to return to the piano. He played a slow, dreamy piece that lasted seven minutes and sent me into rapture. He later said it was called Peace Piece and was composed by someone called Bill Evans. It wasn't just me that the music affected; Frederic's mother had tears coursing down her cheeks.
At bedtime we were obliged to go to our own suites but you can be sure that only one topic was on my mind when my head hit the pillow and I like to think it was the same for Frederic. Roll on the day after tomorrow!
The following day was mostly spent doing what our parents wanted us to do but we did have a chance to assemble the kit we'd need for our camping break. There was my tent and cooking stuff and the two rucksacks and sleeping bags Dad had bought so that just left clothes to think about. As all our smart clothes would be coming down in the car with our parents all we needed was shirts, jeans, trainers, a fleece, a waterproof, a few bits of underwear and some socks. I packed two old pairs of denim shorts and hoped Frederic could be persuaded to wear one.
Again, we simply had no time to be by ourselves. That evening we all went to some friends of my parents and it was a relief to Frederic that we didn't have to dress formally, because I'd told him that in England no boy of sixteen would be seen dead in a short-trousered suit. I noticed that my dinner suit had been taken from my wardrobe by the housekeeper, whose duty it was to pack all our smart clothes for Glyndebourne. I smiled as I thought of Frederic and me, each looking impossibly elegant as we attended the opera. Before that, however, there'd be fun together in the tent and I just couldn't wait for the next day to dawn.
Dad drove us to Gatwick Airport to catch the train. It's under an hour from there to Seaford with one change, at Lewes. Before looking for a train, Frederic and I went to the airport concourse, to have a milk shake and to look at the exotic places you could fly to.
"What about Caracas?" said Frederic, with a bit of foam on his lips. Out came that tongue of his to lick it off. I hoped it wouldn't be long before that tongue had a little wrestle with mine.
"We might get sold into slavery," I replied. "What about Los Angeles?"
"No, been there; too much traffic. I'd like to go where the sun isn't too hot. How about Vancouver?"
"I know where the sun isn't too hot," I said, looking into Frederic's lovely eyes. "Seaford. I might persuade you to take off your jeans! Let's go and get the train."
We arrived at Seaford in mid-afternoon and found the sun not at all hot. In fact, I was glad I had my jeans on as bare legs would have been rather chilly. Apart from a few hardy souls on the beach, most people were well covered. We had a snack in a café and Frederic was introduced to the delights or otherwise of English seaside cuisine. As we walked along Marine Parade, towards the campsite I'd spotted when Dad and I did our recce, I began to wonder whether this was such a good idea. I was expecting Frederic to recoil at the heady smells coming from a fish and chip shop but he sniffed deeply and said "Mmmm, tasty!"
A little further on I noticed Frederic looking with interest at a blond lad of about seventeen cavorting about on a skateboard. The boy wore kneepads but his legs were otherwise entirely bare, his torn-off jeans unable even to cover his bottom properly. Frederic whispered in my ear "Mmmm, tasty!"
We entered the campsite and went into the office, paying for a pitch for two nights. It wasn't easy to find anywhere to camp that wasn't close to other tents but we settled for a spot near a corner of the site. The beach was just fifty metres away. We dropped our rucksacks and erected the tent. As I was going round adjusting the guy-ropes I spotted the blond skateboarder coming our way and went to give Frederic a discreet nudge. The boy walked past and made for a larger tent two along from ours. I whispered to Frederic "Mmmm, so tasty!"
He giggled and nudged me back and said "You're trying to make me jealous!"
We watched as the boy dropped his skateboard and was greeted by a hairy man in his twenties wearing jeans. Followed by the man, the boy crawled into their tent, showing a delightfully generous glimpse of bare, white bottom.
"Don't worry," I said. "I think he's spoken for." Frederic giggled again and I felt an erection coming on. I wanted us to be in my tent, having a cuddle. I suggested we unpack our sleeping bags and roll them out.
Seconds later we were in the tent. "You're my guest," I said. "Which side of the tent would you like?"
Without hesitation he replied "The west side, please. I want the first thing I see in the morning to be sunbeams striking your golden hair!"
That made me giggle and in a trice we were lying on the groundsheet, snogging. Our lips met and the tips of our tongues met and then we were having the first French kiss of the holiday. I hoped there would be many more to come. I was in ecstasy but that quickly turned to fear when I realised we hadn't closed the tent flaps. Anyone could have seen us! I pulled myself away from Frederic and zipped the flaps together so that we'd be private. Then I wriggled back alongside him and put my arms round him. "I've waited so long for this!" I whispered.
Once again we engaged tongues and this time kissed as if our lives depended upon it. Frederic was on top of me and I could feel his rigid cock pressing into my tummy through two layers of denim. After some of the best minutes of my life I came up for air. Frederic rolled onto his back and I looked at his adorable, smiling face. His eyes were shining but through a veil of tears.
"Mmmm, so tasty!" he murmured, happily. And so was born our catch-phrase. We used it liberally for the rest of Frederic's stay and in correspondence thereafter, when it was abbreviated to ‘MST.’
"We'd better bring our gear inside," I said. "There's room in the tent for all our stuff and the two of us, so long as we lie close together." Frederic responded with a dreamy 'Mmmm...'
On opening the tent flap I saw that less than five metres away and directly opposite were four grown-ups, sitting under the awning of their tent, drinking cups of tea. I felt myself blushing as I imagined them wondering why two boys would want to zip themselves into their little tent so long before bedtime. Deliberately loud enough for our neighbours to hear me, I said to Frederic that now we'd checked the integrity of the tent we ought to get all the gear inside and then go and explore the town.
And that is what we did. Back along Marine Parade we strolled, until we hit the town. Ahead of us were the chalk cliffs which lead to Beachy Head; I thought they'd be a good place for a walk the next day. We looked in at a couple of amusement arcades and spent most of our coins without any material gain but we had a good laugh. Then we wandered about on the beach looking to see if there were any nice boys but there weren't. At seven we went to the café and had a milky drink but one look at the menu made us want to leave and see if that fish and chip shop was still open. It was and Frederic declared the fish 'so tasty.' He'd never had batter like that before. The chips, however, he pronounced disgusting and he did so with his brow tightly knitted.
We trailed back to the campsite with some chocolate and cans of coke, as well as a carton of milk for breakfast. It still wasn't dark. We were enjoying each other's company but I wished the time would fly so we could be snuggled up together in the tent. Tomorrow we'd get away from the crowds and just be ourselves. Back at the tent, we went in turn to the wash house to visit the loo, have a wash and clean our teeth.
Frederic went first and nodded to the old people opposite, who were still sitting outside their tent, chatting and having a smoke. He passed the blond skateboarder's tent but of him and his hairy mate there was no sign. I sat in the tent and wondered if this trip had been a big mistake. Frederic and I were alone together and yet we weren't alone. All these strange people were around us and within earshot of whatever we might say or do together. As these thoughts were flitting through my head there was lots of female chatter and I looked out to see four girls, somewhat the worse for wear, making for the tent between us and skateboarder's.
I couldn't make head or tail of anything they were saying and assumed they were totally drunk but then I remembered the car beside the tent had an NL plate. So they were Dutch girls. No wonder I found them incomprehensible. If they were going to shriek to each other in Dutch all night it would mean Frederic and I could make all sorts of noises without being overheard. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Frederic came back and crawled into the tent. He gave me a little kiss and I could smell his toothpaste. I said he wasn't to go and flirt with the Dutch girls or I'd get really jealous. At that he grabbed my head and began to nibble my ear. I put my hand on his crotch and felt his erection.
"Go and make your breath smell sweetly, my beautiful Richard," he said, "and I'll be waiting for you. Alone."
I trotted off to the wash house with my sponge bag and towel. I performed the necessary functions and before cleaning my teeth took off my shirt and washed under my arms. I certainly wanted to smell sweet for Frederic. I looked in the mirror and wondered what Frederic saw in me. He'd never before called me beautiful. Then I cleaned my teeth extra well and departed for the tent. It was past ten and the sky was at last nearly dark.
I savoured the walk. How often in my life would I be able to say I was walking to spend the night with the person I loved most in the world? I somehow knew I'd never get married so I must truly savour moments like these. As I approached our tent I could hear the Dutch girls chattering and laughing and then I saw skateboarder coming towards me, his hairy mate in tow. They were arguing. The hairy one was trying to put his arm around his mate.
"Oh come on, Troy - please!"
"Gerroff, you bloody poofter!" grumbled skateboarder. "You can bloody sleep in the bloody car! I'm not having your creeping bloody hands anywhere near me!"
I let them pass and a thousand thoughts filled my head. First and foremost: Frederic and I must never argue like that. I got to our tent to see Frederic lying on his sleeping bag, watching me as I crawled in. He'd clipped the lamp to a tent pole and was in T-shirt and very tiny blue briefs. I zipped up the tent flaps and undressed to my boxers. Then I rolled over to face Frederic and told him how nice it was to see his legs again, after all these months.
"And I would say the same to you Richard but your legs are covered with those funny shorts. Please take them off." He switched off the light. "Now it's nearly dark so you needn't be shy!"
The noise from the Dutch girls made it impossible for us to be overheard so we could talk away happily. I pulled off my boxers and unzipped my sleeping bag, sliding one leg inside it and letting the other one curl over Frederic's hip. I felt his arms drawing my face close to his and we kissed, our tongues sliding over each other and our groins pressing into each other. My fingers confirmed his skin to be as blissfully smooth as ever.
When we'd finished kissing I felt I had to tell Frederic that skateboarder's name was Troy. Frederic snorted with laughter. "What else could it be?" he giggled. "I suppose you've arranged to meet him tomorrow."
With that I slapped Frederic's mostly bare bottom and drew him close again. Then there was a shout from outside and we both froze in terror. It took us a moment to realise it was one of the oldies yelling at the Dutch girls to keep the noise down.
Within a few minutes silence reigned and we realised we'd now have to talk in whispers. I apologised to Frederic for bringing him here but he said it was much more fun than going to dinner parties with our parents.
"In your suit with incredibly short trousers," I whispered.
"Don't mention those horrible things!" he whispered back, giving my bottom a playful slap. And another.
"Ssshhh! People will hear us!"
A car door banged shut. Was it Troy's hairy mate being banished to sleep in the car? The sound of the sea advancing and retreating on the shingle beach lulled Frederic and me to sleep in each other's arms.
There were no sunbeams to dance on my hair when we awoke because it was overcast and when I poked my head out I saw it was drizzling. What on earth were we going to do? The Glyndebourne Festival suddenly seemed very appealing. Even better, we'd have a plush hotel room to ourselves, a world away from snoring Dutch girls, coughing old people and Troy arguing with his mate.
The smell of wet grass, coupled with the aroma of other people's breakfasts cooking contrasted with the cold, dampness of my jeans as I dragged them across the clammy groundsheet. These memories would last a long time. Many months after Frederic had gone home I'd still savour these smells and sensations and recall the moment his lovely eyes opened to see me gazing at him.
His beautiful face creased into a gorgeous smile. "Bonjour, Richard. Ça va?"
We indulged in another French kiss and his juices were sweet and his hands moving in my hair were better than any massage money could buy. Afterwards I told him it was drizzling and that our jeans would get soaked so it might be better to wear shorts today with our cagoules.
"But I have no shorts with me, Richard."
"Ah," I said, pulling the two pairs of denim shorts from my rucksack. "Voila!"
Picking up the smaller pair, Frederic grinned and said "In these, Richard, you'll look even sexier than Troy!"
It was then I realised I hadn't got any briefs with me and I must have looked panicky because Frederic said I'd better wear the slightly longer denims because how stupid I'd look if my boxers showed. He gamely pulled the shorter pair over his tiny briefs and stayed in them for the rest of the day, causing me to have a virtually permanent hard-on.
We made breakfast, of sorts, and then set out to walk to Beachy Head. We didn't get there, of course. Frederic said he felt tired and in any case it was too far. But we did get to see the famous cliffs called The Seven Sisters and had a delicious lunch at Cuckmere Haven. The drizzle had stopped but it stayed overcast so Frederic had no fear of the sun burning the skin on his precious legs and nor did he need to keep the hood of the cagoule over his lovely head. An unpromising day turned out to be a time of wonderful companionship. Knowing we had three nights in a hotel room to look forward to, we had no need to indulge in unseemly sexual antics on the cliffs so we just chatted, laughed, touched hands and relished each other's company.
We talked about the merger of our fathers' companies. Would we one day be joint chairmen? Would it mean we could live together? Perhaps because he was older than me and therefore wiser, he said we'd better not look too far ahead. I didn't tell Frederic but I had this wonderful feeling that I'd never have to try and find a girl to marry because I could live with him instead.
I was so proud to have Frederic as my friend. Everything about him was beautiful. I could see why he caught the eye of people we passed and it made me even prouder. Back in Seaford he wanted to visit the chippy again but this time he had the battered cod and no chips. The sky had cleared when we walked back to the campsite and who should we see but Troy, performing daring skateboard stunts in a car park, watched by his hairy mate and a few other people. We paused to admire his skills. His shorts were badly torn and totally indecent but it didn't seem to bother him. His buttocks were very white compared to his long, well-tanned legs.
A black-garbed priest was one of the spectators, watching avidly. When Troy had finished I saw the priest looking at Frederic in a way I didn't much like and I wanted to hurry back to our tent. As we walked on, Frederic put his arm round my shoulder.
"Did you see that priest looking at you, Richard?" asked Frederic. "He looked like he wanted to eat you!"
Back at the tent we changed into our jeans and as there was going to be a lovely sunset, went and sat on the beach. We chatted happily away until dark. When it was time to turn in, we agreed that the showers in the washroom were disgusting and looked forward to using a rather better bathroom the next night. Not to mention a luxurious bed. As we lay snuggled together in the tent, I thought Frederic smelt impossibly sweet, despite by now being slightly grubby. As for me, he told me I smelt 'Mmmm, so tasty.'
Our long walk in the fresh air had tired us out and we slept well. I was briefly awake a couple of times and savoured the sensation of Frederic's soft breath on my face and the dear little squeaks and moans he made in his sleep. I wondered if he was dreaming of me.
"I saw them!" announced Frederic as I awoke on a lovely, sunny morning. "I saw the sunbeams dancing on your golden hair!"
As I lay there, blinking in the strong sunlight, he gently stroked my hair and I thought I'd gone to heaven. We enjoyed an hour or more of cosiness before deciding to get into T-shirt and jeans and to face the day. We couldn't be bothered with breakfast and dismantled the tent and packed up all our stuff. Troy sauntered past, carrying his skateboard and giving us a cheery smile. Following him was his hairy mate, positively leering as he enjoyed the view of his indecently-exposed young friend.
"I wonder if we'll see them at Glyndebourne?" said Frederic, starting one of his delicious giggles.
Two hours later we'd met Dad at Lewes Station and he was driving us to the hotel, Frederic next to him in the front and me in the back. We told him of all the things we'd done, sparing him only the more delicate details of what we'd done in the tent and of Troy's tendency to indecent exposure.
"Well, boys, I'm glad you had fun. You wouldn't have enjoyed being with us boring grown-ups. But we've got more fun lined up. Tomorrow, as you know, we're going to see Cosi fan Tutte. There's some unfunny jokes but I guarantee people will dutifully laugh," (Dad gave an impression of a posh person laughing at one of Mozart's feeble jokes), "and the music's great. The next night it'll be The Queen of Spades, a story by Pushkin and music by Tchaikovsky. Russian soldiers, gambling, love and loss, a couple of deaths and for good measure, a ghost. Awfully sad ending. Look around and you'll see half the audience in tears."
Frederic gave a polite laugh and I sniggered. I was about to tell Dad I expected to see him weeping buckets but he got in first with "Especially the loving couples!"
Frederic's little chuckle rapidly faded and I saw the back of his neck turn pink. I, too, felt myself blushing; did Dad think we were a loving couple or was I being too sensitive?
Dad told us the plans for the rest of the day. "No Glyndebourne tonight. We're having lunch and a lazy afternoon, time to settle in. Then at six we're all going to a reception and then dinner in a super French restaurant near Lewes. It'll be a chance to wear your new concert suit, Richard. Frederic's mother had it made for you in France and your mother's thrilled with it so do try to look pleased, old chap."
I felt a stabbing feeling in my chest.
Our room in the hotel was magnificent. There were two beds, each big enough for two adults, so I was sure we wouldn't be using both. In the bathroom were two washbasins - one each - and only one shower but it was a walk-in one and certainly big enough for two to share. Which is exactly what we did, washing away the grime of two days' camping by soaping each other and giggling and letting our dancing dicks dally with each other under the jets of hot water. We didn't have time for any sex as we had to be down for lunch but as we were putting on clean shirts and chinos Frederic asked me if I'd like him to give me a head massage the next time we took a shower.
"Oooh, yes! I've never had a head massage. How come you learnt how to do it?"
"My hairdresser showed me," said Frederic. "He always does it to me when he cuts my hair and last month he taught me and let me practise on another boy."
A little frisson of jealousy surged through my body as I pictured this hairdresser getting a hard-on as he massaged my Frederic's lovely scalp. I wondered what else the wretched man had wanted to massage.
At lunch my mother told me she'd be giving me my new suit afterwards and asked me to thank Frederic's mother for having it specially made in Paris. "You and Frederic are going to look a real pair of poppets!"
I thought we'd look more like a real pair of wallies, as my chest tightened again. Or a pair of overgrown ten-year-olds; I began to sweat with fear.
Up to our room went we two boys, to be joined shortly by our mothers. Frederic's Mum gave me the new suit, in a plastic cover. I began to tremble as I unzipped the cover and my heart was palpitating as I saw the suit was made of dark blue tweed.
"Just like the one Frederic wore in Monte Carlo, darling," said my mother. "The one you admired so much! And just as beautifully tailored. We must be very grateful to Madame Dupont."
Of course, it was shorts, not long trousers and of course they were very short indeed; yes, really short. Instead of loops for a belt they had buttons for the attachment of braces. I'd never worn braces. The thick cloth felt heavy and very prickly. My manners only just overcame my revulsion and I tried to smile at Frederic's Mum as I thanked her for going to so much trouble. Frederic put his hand on my arm and said it was a good thing he hadn't got his tweed suit with him or we'd look like twins. I tried to smile at his comment but felt faint and had to sit down.
"See you both at five thirty," said Mum, "all ready for the evening."
Frederic and I now had a couple of hours before we had to dress for the evening so I left my new suit on a chair and tried to ignore it but he told me I'd soon understand why he hated his own tweed suit. We watched a bit of TV and chatted, neither of us looking forward to putting on our suits and not in the mood for any sex. When I suggested the hotel's gym he said he didn't go to the gym any more. In fact, he looked tired and listless, bucking up only a little when I said we could make up for things later, after we'd come back from dinner and torn off the suits, never to wear them again, at least not on this visit.
When at last the time came to change I saw the housekeeper had packed some of my tiny briefs; my boxers would certainly have shown below the legs of the new tweed shorts, which were no longer than those on my late and unlamented, grey concert suit. Frederic looked embarrassed but incredibly sexy in his grey suit, his knitted brow giving him a look of vulnerability and I'd have got a hell of a hard-on if I'd been allowed to wear long trousers but instead, I had to put on the tweed shorts. The wretched things extended barely three inches below the jacket but were a little longer than Frederic's shorts, which extended only an inch below his crotch. We both looked like ten-year-olds. Before we went down to join our parents we indulged in a leisurely French kiss, partly for fun and partly to give us the courage to exhibit our bare thighs to polite society.
It was a tedious evening, both of us forced to be on best behaviour and to mix with the other guests. Before sitting down for dinner Frederic's father had a quiet word in his son's ear and Frederic, distinctly blushing, left the room. When he returned his shorts seemed even shorter than before. I saw waiters staring at us and gazing long and hard at our bare legs. My little sister, only fourteen, was in a long dress. How do you think that made me feel? And that wasn't the only irritation - when sitting in the taxi and at the dinner table I felt the rough tweed scratching uncomfortably at the front of my thighs. It was quite painful and I wondered why on earth the jacket was generously lined with some kind of smooth material while the shorts were entirely unlined. I found myself pulling the legs of the shorts even further up my legs in an effort to reduce the area of skin being rasped by the hairy tweed. I wished I still had my old concert suit - it was equally revealing but at least it didn't cause physical pain!
As we travelled back to the hotel, Dad promised me we'd seen the last of short trousers for this visit. Back in our room, Frederic smiled at me when I said I wanted to get that suit off without delay.
"So now you understand why I hate mine, Richard; so damned itchy! I have some cream you can rub in at the top of your inner thighs, which I find the most painful part. I'll do it for you, if you like. But first, I want to look at you properly and get some memories to store away. Take off your jacket, please."
I flung the jacket onto a chair and stood looking at Frederic. At last it was safe to have a hard-on and it didn't take many seconds to appear. The boy was utterly beautiful! He looked at me and knitted his brow. He advanced and I was expecting an embrace but he put his hands on my chest, on the adjustment buckles of my braces.
"Naughty Richard," he breathed into my ear. "Braces must always be tight. Let me...."
As he tightened the braces I winced as I felt the rough tweed pulling hard into where my legs join. He told me his father made him wear his braces as tight as possible and took off his jacket to show me exactly what he meant. That's why he had to leave the room before we had dinner and why his shorts had got even shorter.
Frederic stood back to inspect me and to murmur "Mmmm, so tasty!" His cock was making a tent in one leg of his shorts and looked like it might pop into view without warning. "I love your concert suits, Richard. If you'd worn long trousers in Mistral while I was in these bloody shorts I would never have wanted to speak to you."
Then he went over to one of the beds, slipping his braces off his shoulders and letting his shorts drop about two inches. Before sitting on the bed he hitched his shorts up again and a few seconds later was lying on the bed, his knees drawn up, affording me a delicious glimpse of his beautiful, creamy bottom. I took hold of one of his knees and waggled it slowly from side to side. 'We've been here before,' I thought, as I gazed down at him with love in my eyes. He returned my gaze just as amorously. I knew what was going to happen next. The head massage would have to wait until morning.
"Mmmm, so tasty!" I said, rather breathlessly, as his lips parted enough to let the tip of his tongue escape and to flick sexily about in invitation. I removed my horrible tweed shorts and joined Frederic on the bed.
After a five minute French kiss and some writhing together of bare thighs, we had the sense to pause in our love-making long enough to discard all our clothes. "Can't afford to mess up those shorts again," said Frederic. "Might have to wear the damned things again."
"No, my darling," I whispered, "all plain sailing from now on! Three days of happiness!"
"Call me 'darling' again, Richard."
"You are my darling," I said, unashamed for once of my nakedness. "The darlingest boy in the whole wide world!"
"And you are the most beautiful boy in the world. Je t'aime!"
It had been impossible to enjoy such luxurious intimacy at home in Guildford, impractical in the tent at Seaford and now, in this gorgeous hotel room near Lewes it was not only possible but entirely appropriate and there was no time to waste. Naked between the white linen sheets, we cuddled and chuckled and kissed and giggled. We were in complete harmony; we were enchanted, delirious with joy and gasping for sex. Our love-making that night went way beyond my wildest dreams. Frederic was mine and I was his.
Those days at the hotel near Lewes were three of the happiest of my life. During our morning showers Frederic gave me marvellous head massages which enhanced even further the joy of sharing our time together under the jets of hot water. Our days were spent enjoying the richest companionship, the evenings sitting side by side in our smart dinner suits eating picnics and then watching the opera. We even found tears running down our cheeks during The Queen of Spades, just as Dad had predicted would happen to loving couples. Were Frederic and I now a loving couple?
Certainly our love-making in bed would qualify us as the most amorous of loving couples, and these were fantastic sessions, each of us improvising and having to use our imagination, neither of us having ever slept with anyone else. Indeed, it was probably our lack of experience that made the whole thing so marvellous, because we knew it was spontaneous and novel. Even without all the physical activity, it was wonderful just to lie with Frederic, while gazing lovingly into his eyes and stroking his smooth, firm body. And he seemed to derive just as much joy as I did. He no longer seemed so tired. I lost count of the number of times he said I was beautiful - or in our own special language - 'Mmmm, so tasty!'
When we left Lewes and returned to Surrey there was just one more day before Frederic and his parents departed for Paris. He didn't want to play tennis so we just hung around the garden. It was a rather melancholy last evening at home, with a quiet supper, after which the two fathers disappeared into the study for cigars and brandy, leaving two mothers and two boys in the drawing room, my sister having gone to bed. At my request, Frederic went to the piano and played that slow, dreamy jazz number again, Peace Piece. My mother asked me to sit beside her for a cuddle. There was something strange in the atmosphere. Frederic's mother was again reduced to tears by the beauty of her son's musicianship.
When Frederic had finished Mum said "That was absolutely beautiful. Now, listen, boys. The housekeeper's made up the spare bed in your room, Richard, so if Frederic wants to he could sleep there as it's the last night."
I tried to mask my glee but probably failed and Frederic said "Oooh, thank you! I would very much like that!"
The atmosphere lightened at once and Frederic began to play Percy Grainger's Country Gardens, very jauntily. Then the two fathers came in, looking rather pleased with themselves. The merger of their two companies would take months of hard work and there'd be no cruise in Mistral this autumn but to compensate, she'd be sailed to the Caribbean in November and our two families would fly to Barbados and spend three weeks on board over Christmas, cruising the Windward Islands!
"And no posh parties, so no need for smart clothes, boys," said Dad. "You have my promise!"
My joy was tempered with worry about the hot sun and Frederic's apparent allergy. "But won't it be too hot for Frederic? He'll have to spend all the time under cover!"
"I'll be alright, Richard," said Frederic. "Christmas in the Caribbean is kinder to me than summer in the Med. I know from experience. But thank you for your concern."
"Yes, thank you, mon petit," said Frederic's mother. "What a thoughtful boy you are!"
That night, our last night together for months, we spent in cosy togetherness, cuddled up in my bed. We chatted in whispers about Christmas and I mentioned the possibility - in a generation's time - of our being joint chairmen of the company. Frederic said we'd better wait and see. I asked him if he'd meant what he'd said about the Caribbean sunshine.
"The Trade Winds make you feel less hot but the sun is still fierce. However, wearing long trousers in the Caribbean is preferable to shorts in Paris in mid-winter!"
There was only one answer to that and I felt round Frederic's waist, unbuttoned his pyjama trousers and pulled them down. I needed to feel his gorgeous flesh now - I couldn't wait till Christmas. We lay awake, kissing and cuddling and whispering sweet nothings. In the past three nights we'd had enough sex to fill a lifetime but tonight we couldn't make a noise so we were content to hold each other and let our love pass between our two bodies in a spiritual way rather than a physical one.
Frederic tried so hard to stay awake but at about one he slipped into sleep, his last words being after he'd kissed the hollow of my neck, where he'd licked the honey that night in Monte Carlo. "Mmmm, so tasty!" he murmured.
The rest of the school holidays passed without anything much of note happening. I played some tennis, we had family days out and I didn't have to wear that awful tweed suit again, with its infernal short trousers that itched so horribly. Frederic and I exchanged postcards or e mails every week or so, always ending our messages with ‘MST’ – the abbreviation for ‘Mmmm, so tasty!’ It seemed he missed me as much as I missed him. We couldn't wait for our three weeks together in Mistral at Christmas.
Just before the school term began, I received a gift from Frederic. It was a CD: Everybody Digs Bill Evans and he'd written a little note inside, which said 'Play Track 7 and think of me. MST.' The track in question was, of course, Peace Piece, the music he'd played so beautifully in our drawing room. I played that CD countless times, mostly at school but often at home. It was as tangible a link to him as I possessed.
Photos were tangible links of a kind and I had quite a collection of colour slides of Frederic standing and looking at the camera. One night, when I was alone in our house, I set up Dad's projector so that it threw the image onto the far wall of the hall, which was plain white. By adjustment I found I could get a life-size image of Frederic on the wall. I then poured two drinks and wandered into the hall, pretending it was really my beloved friend standing there. Offering him a glass I began to chat to him. It was a bit of a one-sided conversation and to anyone listening it would sound as if I was on the phone but it meant I could say nice things to him and look at his sweet face and lovely body. He was a bit static, it's true but I could project different slides and in some of them he wore a short-trousered suit and I could stand gazing at the beautiful image before me and getting a hard-on.
This process had its shortcomings but for me it worked and it was less crude than employing, for example, a blow-up, life-size dummy!
Then I returned to school and to the friends I had there. My future with Frederic seemed so certain that I didn't bother to develop any serious friendships. There were naturally some boys there who were good chums and some who were decidedly interesting from a sexual point of view. Obviously, I told nobody of what I'd been doing with Frederic in the hotel near Lewes and I listened patiently to other boys telling of their conquests with girls - and very occasionally, boys - without saying anything much in return. I was able to have some fine, solitary wanks while fantasising about some of the prettier boys at the school.
I began to think that Frederic was now far too important to wank over. It seemed to soil our friendship if all I did was lie in bed, with my head stuffed in the pillow, shagging the mattress, fuelled by thoughts of Frederic's gorgeous body. It was cheap and nasty. Far better to reserve my quiet hours for thinking about him, about his gentleness, his humour, his musicianship and his looks, and when I wanted to discharge semen, to think instead of a cute boy I'd seen in the changing room or, for that matter, who was sleeping across the dorm from me.
Half term was soon upon us; a week in late October when I'd be at home. It was nice to be at home but it also meant we were halfway to Christmas and seeing Frederic again. E mails between us showed we were both counting the days to our flight to Barbados, the start of three weeks of guaranteed bliss. It hadn’t escaped my notice that I’d also be seeing Serge again, the sexiest steward on the planet.
One evening I telephoned Frederic. I must have caught him at a bad time because he sounded exhausted but he was the same wonderful boy I knew more intimately and loved more deeply than anyone else in the world. Something was wrong with the phone line because the line went dead just as he was about to utter 'Mmmm, so tasty!' I knew he was going to say that because even on the phone I could recognise that uniquely musical drawing-in of breath he always made before intoning our catch-phrase. I tried to reconnect but the line had obviously failed so I had to give up.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to wear my concert suit at half term. My parents evidently thought my normal school uniform was sufficient for most excursions and for the smartest dinners I now had my dinner jacket. Oh, I did like my smart DJ! I'd worn it for my sixteenth birthday dinner earlier in October and had felt (and looked) the bee’s knees. There were now just six weeks before I'd be with my best friend again, zooming across the Atlantic to Barbados, en-route for Mistral and all the luxury (and the sex) she could offer.
In early December my mother telephoned me at school to say I'd be coming home for the weekend because on Saturday we’d be going to Oxford to see what they called a ‘difficult’ opera but one that I would ‘gain from.’ My sister wouldn’t be coming as she’d be in Wales with friends and in any case the opera wasn’t ‘for little girls.’ We'd be having an early supper with important friends, who'd be joining us for the opera and we'd all be coming home afterwards. Oh and I'd have to wear my tweed concert suit.
I argued and argued but Mum told me I would be wearing my concert suit and that was that. In the dorm that night I thought not of other boys but of myself. How could I get out of this one? Wearing that horrible suit would not only be uncomfortable but hideously humiliating. I was bound to be spotted by someone I knew.
At home on Friday I looked at my naked self in the bedroom mirror. Embarrassingly, I got a hard-on looking at my legs, at the acres of bare flesh I'd be forced to display the following evening. Oh, how people would stare! Could I pretend to be thirteen, maybe a French thirteen-year-old? No English boy my age had worn clothes like that for years but Frederic, now seventeen, still had to wear the briefest of short trousers on formal occasions, as evidenced by the photo on his family's latest Christmas card. With characteristically knitted brow, he was standing behind his seated mother and his partly visible right thigh was bare almost to the very top. Yes, I’d have to pretend to be French.
I sat on my bed and put my hands on my knees, drawing them slowly up my thighs. But what was this? Hairs! I had little fair hairs on my legs! How come I'd never noticed before? They must have grown very recently. I looked closely at my legs. Hairs on my shins, too. Well, those would be hidden by the long socks Mum wanted me to wear but the ones on my thighs would really stand out. How could I possibly look thirteen with hairy legs? I’d have to shave them!
I'd been given an old-fashioned razor for my birthday which I hadn't yet used as my face never needed shaving but when I had my bath I carefully shaved my legs from just below the top of my thighs, where the hairs started, down to my knees. On emptying the bath I saw the sides coated with hundreds of tiny hairs so had to clean it properly in case I aroused suspicion. My thighs now felt quite sore but I convinced myself that with legs as smooth as a baby’s bottom, I’d pass off to the general public as a thirteen-year-old French schoolboy, a thought that gave me a hearty erection.
On Saturday, when it was time to get ready to go, all bravado had deserted me. I was deeply ashamed of my shaven thighs and terrified of the prospect of having them on display all night. Last-minute pleadings with my parents to wear my school suit failed so off came the boxers, on went the tiny briefs and then the hated concert suit. The tweed shorts hadn’t magically grown any longer and, being unlined, felt horribly itchy. When I’d pulled up the zip I was aware of a vast length of bare thigh. I let go and the damned shorts began to slip down over my hips. I could hardly spend all evening holding them up myself so the braces had to go on. They held the shorts frighteningly high but would at least stop them falling down. I remembered what Frederic had said about having the braces as tight as possible but I just couldn't bring myself to follow his example. I wished I could use a belt rather than braces but there were no loops for a belt to pass through.
I caught my reflection in the full-length mirror. An unmistakeable tan-line showed, four inches below the hems of my shorts! That damned tan-line, produced during the summer by my tennis shorts, accentuated the frightening brevity of my tweed shorts. Nobody mentioned tan-lines at school, probably because in our tiny PE shorts most of us had visible tan-lines, the result of wearing longer shorts in high summer than we were obliged to wear for PE or cross country in a freezing English winter. I tied my tie, put on my jacket and went downstairs, only to receive a kiss from my mother for looking ‘so sweet.’
"Can you guess who might be the important friends we're meeting later, darling?"
"Is it anyone I know, Mum?" I asked, morosely, not really caring.
"Well, it's Frederic and his parents! We wanted to keep it secret but I can't wait to tell you! They're flying over for the opera - and an important meeting on Monday, of course. So they're all coming back here afterwards and Frederic and his mother will fly home to Paris tomorrow! He can sleep in your room, if you don't mind."
"Oh!" was all I could say but inside I was suddenly alive with joy. I'd be seeing my darling boy that very evening! And he'd be staying the night! Oh! I couldn't wait! I could bear any embarrassment if Frederic was there to share it with me. I was incredibly happy!
"Why didn't you tell me before, Mum?"
"Didn't want you to get too excited, darling, in case it put you off concentrating on your schoolwork. Now you know why we want you to wear your concert suit."
Oh, how well do mothers know their sons. If Dad had said that, I'd have been really embarrassed but coming from Mum, well, I just went up and gave her a big hug.
I hadn't time to recover from this news when Dad came out of his study. "Time to go! You know what Friday traffic's like. Mustn't be late at The Randolph!"
Sitting in the eight-seater Peugeot on our way towards the M25, all I could think about was seeing my Frederic again, sitting next to him, watching this 'difficult ' opera and then, best of all, spending the night with him in my bedroom. It was all so exciting. I asked the name of the opera we were going to see.
"It's Billy Budd," said Dad, "by Benjamin Britten. It's a bit serious but Welsh National Opera are fantastic so it'll be worth watching."
Having seen the film, with Terence Stamp playing Billy, I knew the plot involved cruelty, whippings, murder and then Billy gets hanged. Just the sort of thing to watch with my boyfriend! I felt my cock hardening. This was going to be a great evening.
We were heading northwest along the M40 when the car-phone rang. Dad answered it.
"Oh, hello, François - yes - no - the wretched thing probably didn't have a signal - oh - yes - oh no, I'm so sorry...."
On he went for a while longer. François was Frederic's Dad. They weren't coming. I went from ecstasy to misery in two seconds flat. When Dad had finished he explained.
"Something really important's cropped up and they can't come. He tried us earlier but couldn't get through. He's phoned the theatre to cancel and we'll be coming home without them. What a pity! I'm sorry Richard; you must have been looking forward to seeing Frederic again. But it can't be helped."
I could tell Dad was now in a bad mood. Sitting sullenly in the car I felt the itching increasing in intensity. I'd thought the long socks would be uncomfortable enough but that was nothing compared to the way the tweed material of the shorts was chafing my skin. I was constantly scratching the uppermost parts of my thighs. No wonder Frederic hated his tweed suit more than all his others.
Pre-theatre supper at The Randolph was a rather morose affair. Dad was grumpy because his important meeting with Frederic's father had been postponed and I was grumpy because I was in my concert suit for no good reason. More than anything, of course, I was mortified that my unexpected meeting with Frederic was no longer to happen; I was so miserable I almost forgot to feel self-conscious in that bloody concert suit.
"You look lovely, darling," said Mum, reminding me of my ridiculous appearance. "And just think: a fortnight from now and we'll be in Mistral, cruising the Caribbean!" As if the thought had ever left my head!
I had my long raincoat with me and although the weather was dry and mild, I wore it for the brisk walk to the Apollo Theatre to give me a little modesty. We arrived with less than ten minutes to curtain-up, which at least meant we could go straight to our seats and I wouldn't have to hang around the foyer for everyone to point and snigger at.
The next part of this chapter is narrated by Mike Beresford, a young theatre-goer
In early December 1992 my dearest aunt had lent me her cottage in Oxfordshire for a long weekend while she was away in New Zealand. “Treat the place as your own, Mike darling,” she’d said. “I’ll see the cellar is well-stocked.”
On the Friday I'd discovered that the opera Billy Budd was playing in Oxford and the following evening I arrived at the theatre and managed to get a last-minute ticket as somebody had cancelled. It was the first time I’d seen anything by Benjamin Britten and this theatre was far from home so I didn’t expect to see anyone I knew.
I didn’t want to be identified showing interest in music by a gay composer and I especially didn’t want to be seen at an opera with such a blatant homoerotic theme. In my intended profession it was important to project a squeaky-clean image. The story of Billy Budd, the young sailor bullied by his Master at Arms and then hanged for killing him, had enthralled me since I’d seen the film as a teenager at boarding school. Billy was loved by the rest of the crew, not least by the ship’s captain, who was nearly destroyed by the weight of the decision he was forced to make to execute poor Billy.
I was only a first-year Cambridge undergraduate so why the sensitivity? Well, my ambition was to join the Foreign Office and I’d already made contacts there. I was told that my career prospects would be enhanced if I ‘kept my nose clean’ and wasn’t ‘one of those shirtlifters.’ As I’d never been interested in girls – at least, not sexually – I resolved to be asexual. And in my manner I was.
Yet I knew I had to see Billy Budd, if I could get a ticket but I’d have to keep it to myself. That wouldn’t be difficult, as I had no really close friends with whom to discuss these things. I’d turned eighteen in October and had a small car, a Peugeot 105 called Doris. So, there I was, looking forward to seeing what Britten’s opera might do for me. I took my seat and buried my head in the programme, making myself as inconspicuous as possible. It seems silly now but I imagined there to be spies everywhere. At five minutes to go my row was full but for the three seats immediately to my left.
Then the occupants of the seats arrived: a smartly-dressed man and woman of about forty, with their son, a tall, fair-haired teenager in a long raincoat. As I stood to let them pass in front they thanked me, the boy saying 'Merci' in a strangely husky whisper. They sat down, the son in the seat next to mine. I felt a little frisson of excitement.
The theatre was very warm. I heard the mother hiss to her son “Take your coat off!”
“I don’t want to,” he said, in a very English accent.
“You will take your coat off! Stand up and take it off, before the lights go down.”
“Do as your mother tells you!” This was the father, leaning to his right and speaking quietly but emphatically.
With a deep sigh, the boy stood up to remove his coat, to reveal a dark blue, tweed suit - with short trousers! Short trousers of truly thrilling brevity! I noticed he was wearing knee-socks of dark blue wool, thick with little bristles. I suspected he’d rather keep the coat folded on his lap but his mother hissed “Put it underneath!” and with a sigh of disapproval he stuffed it under his seat before preparing to sit, tugging at the hems of his shorts to try to stop them from rising as he sat down. That little gesture was pointless as by the time he was seated, the shorts had risen to expose almost the entire length of his long thighs. He sat rigidly, his hands clasping his knees.
“Don’t get stroppy, Richard,” said his mother. “Make the best of it. Just enjoy the show.”
“But you know how I hate this concert suit!” said the boy, in a deeper voice. I’d misjudged his age; to be wearing shorts he must surely be at most thirteen and yet his voice gave him another year or two. So he might have been as old as fifteen. I found it all very exciting.
“New suit next year, Richard, when you’re seventeen,” said the mother. “Now be quiet, it’s starting.”
“But it’s so embarrassing,” muttered Richard, almost to himself. So he was only two years younger than me!
I tried to concentrate on the opera but was captivated by the pale thighs to my left. They seemed to be smooth and hairless. Richard kept forgetting to keep his hands on his knees and each time he shifted in his seat his shorts rode even higher. His socks must have been itchy because he kept leaning forward to scratch his calves and to run his finger around the inside of the tops of the socks, which were biting into his flesh. He was also scratching under the hems of his shorts. Richard was not a boy entirely at ease with what he was wearing.
Towards the end of Act 1 Scene 1 the Novice was to be flogged. The atmosphere in the theatre was electric. Like Richard and every other member of the audience, I concentrated on the action. Richard was leaning forward, enthralled. The flogging took place off stage but then, to my amazement, the young Novice staggered on stage, wailing (in perfect tune) and entirely naked. He carried his clothes in a bundle before him, which gave him a little modesty in front but when he turned to stumble upstage we were faced with his back and his bare bottom criss-crossed with livid, red whip marks. It was terrifically dramatic.
Slight movement to my left alerted me to Richard’s left hand. He was rubbing his groin. He was clearly highly aroused and was doing what all healthy boys do when aroused. I was embarrassed for him and leant forward to try to stop myself staring at him. Scene 1 closed and Richard took control of himself but now his shorts had climbed even further up his thighs. He leant back in his seat, raised his bottom and yanked the hems of his shorts down as far as he could, which wasn’t far. He shot me a glance laden with self-consciousness. I gave him a benign smile.
For the next two scenes Richard managed to resist rubbing his groin but kept putting his fingers inside the legs of his shorts to scratch where the tweed cloth must have been irritating his skin. He sometimes let his right legmove in my direction and for a few minutes our knees were so close they were almost touching. With two beautiful, bare, male thighs beside me I was struggling to concentrate on the opera and when the interval began I had a seriously firm erection.
I’d intended to go for an interval drink but sat tight, for two reasons: I wanted to be close to Richard’s shimmering thighs for a while longer and if I'd stood up, my erection would have been plain to see. Two girls selling ice cream stood at the front of the stalls and a queue quickly formed. Richard’s father leant over and passed his son a fiver.
“Would you nip down there and buy three ice creams?”
I could feel Richard tensing up. “Do I have to?”
“Yes, dear,” said his mother.”It’s really very warm in here. Go on, now.”
Richard stood up, turned about and passed in front of me, tugging down the legs of his shorts and giving me what I can only describe as a look of desperation. His cast his eyes down, reached the aisle and hastened to join the queue. He was standing by the stage, tall, slim and blushing, with what looked like a yard of bare leg showing. His socks had slipped down, so the top half of his lower legs had joined his upper legs to present an eye-catching display of pale flesh. And eye-catching it jolly well was. People were looking at him and didn’t he know it. He kept tugging pointlessly on the meagre three inches of his short trousers that showed below his jacket. Much lower down on each thigh was an obvious tan-line, about four inches above the knee.
Richard’s mother turned to me to ask if I was enjoying the opera. Startled, I took my lustful gaze off Richard and said I thought the production intriguing and beautifully performed. She smiled in agreement.
“We’ve come from Surrey to see it,” she said.”Have you come far?”
“Well, yes, I live miles away,” I said truthfully but without giving anything away. “But I’m staying at my aunt’s and she lives not far from here."
I mentioned the name of the village and Richard's mother said "Oh, I have a good friend who lives there: Daphne Beresford."
"That's my aunt!" I said, before I'd had time to think.
Oh hell: now my trip to see Billy Budd could be all round the family within weeks.
When Richard got back with the ice creams his mother, having first scolded him for having let his socks fall down, introduced me. "This is Mike Beresford, darling. Would you believe it - he's a friend of the family! Pop down and buy him an ice cream, please."
When I saw the expression on Richard's sweet face I instantly said thanks but I really didn't want an ice cream. With obvious relief, Richard sat down beside me and ate his ice cream. I'd been hoping to have a conversation with him and now I could, because we'd been properly introduced. It seemed incredible that he wasn't much younger than me. We spoke about the opera but I could tell he was as cagey as I was to say too much about the theme so we discussed the music and the very impressive set, depicting the man-of-war HMS Indomitable. Then, as he disdainfully pulled up his socks on a reminder from his mother, I asked him about school and told him what I was doing at Cambridge.
When it was time for Act 2 to begin Richard had relaxed considerably and I think he liked my company. He was a thoroughly nice boy and I'd loved to have got to know him better but we'd be going our separate ways after the show so I'd just have to make the best of the close proximity of him and his pale, twinkling thighs while I could. I knew I'd be thinking hard of Richard as I lay in bed that night.
As the opera progressed there was so much drama that Richard forgot to scratch his legs. It really was a fantastic performance and one you just couldn't describe to anyone who wasn't there. It was inevitable but disappointing that Richard and his parents left straight after the curtain calls were over as they had to drive all the way to Guildford. I watched as Richard's bare legs became the focus of many people's attention as he hastened out of the theatre. I swear I wasn't the only man with an erection.
Doris was a mile away but it was a dry, clear December night and I enjoyed the walk, my brain buzzing with thoughts both musical and carnal. Richard was the boy I'd dreamed of for ages and now we'd never meet again.
Once in Doris, I made my way out of the city, aiming for the A40 eastbound. Traffic was unusually quiet and I was soon on the dual carriageway, making good speed. I'd hardly gone a mile, however, before blue flashing lights ahead suggested an accident. As I got closer I saw the road wasn't blocked but traffic was being allowed through on the outer lane only and by the time I passed the overturned white van on the hard shoulder I was moving at a crawl. Then I passed two ambulances, a police car and a fire-engine. Obviously quite a serious accident. The second vehicle in the crash was one of those people carrier things and it was on its four wheels but with its side crunched in and firemen were using cutting gear to get access to the driver's seat.
I was now free to accelerate but I saw an astonishing sight. Sitting on the grass verge, attended by someone in dayglo orange, was a boy with a silvery space blanket wrapped loosely around his shoulders. It was Richard! How could I tell? Well, how many young men were there in Oxfordshire that night in jacket and tie and with shorts that left their legs entirely bare?
What could I do? A policeman was waving me on. What if I was mistaken? How could I help? The emergency services had it all under control. If it was Richard he didn't seem to be injured but they'd be treating him for shock. I wouldn't be allowed near him. They'd think I was just some ghoul, hoping for a closer look. On second thoughts, I hadn't seen his face properly, so it could be anyone; some late-night reveller who'd lost his trousers, probably. I had to drive on.
Thirty minutes later I was in my aunt's cottage. That accident had disturbed me and I poured myself a glass of water. Could it have been Richard and his parents? He'd said they had a big car, for the friends they'd planned to meet but who hadn't been able to make it. It was a big car. They would have used the A40 eastbound. It was all beginning to add up. My heart was pounding. There was no way I could just go to bed; I had to find out.
By midnight I was at the hospital. My head was spinning when I'd been introduced to Richard and I couldn't remember his surname but I could ask at A & E if any road casualties had arrived in the last hour. I made for the reception desk. Seated in rows were people who'd come to grief during the evening and were waiting to be patched up, or despatched. Some were plainly very drunk. It was very hot in there. Then, in a seat right at the back, I saw him.
He was hunched forward, hugging his knees and staring at the floor, like a nervous schoolboy waiting outside the Headmaster's study. His tie was loosened and his socks were down at his ankles. His bare thighs were shining whitely in the hard light of the waiting room. As I walked towards him a scruffy old man approached him from the other side, leering horribly.
"You bin to a fancy-dress party, ducks? Jus' for gay boys, wuz it? Cor, let's 'ave a look at yer!"
Richard looked up with a pitiful expression on his lovely face and several people turned to stare at him. An old man muttered 'bloody queers' and another spat viciously on the floor. My heart on fire, I stopped beside Richard and put my hand on his shoulder.
"Richard, it's Mike Beresford. What's been going on? I saw the crash. Are you injured? And your parents...."
Richard took two seconds to recognise me and then said his parents were being treated for cuts and bruises and needed monitoring following mild concussion. He thought they'd probably be released the next afternoon. As for himself, he'd escaped injury but had to wait in the hospital until his parents were free to go. There wasn't a bed for him - he'd just have to sit in the waiting room. I asked if I could do anything to help. His answer thrilled me beyond measure.
"Oh, Mike, please take me away from this place! I'm dying of shame!"
Later, in my aunt's cottage, I was making cheese on toast and Richard and I were drinking tea. We'd been to see his parents who were more than happy for me to take Richard back to the cottage. They hoped to drive home in a courtesy car on Sunday evening and would pick up Richard on their way. He'd have to spend Sunday night at home and go back to school on Monday.
"Thank you, Mike," Richard's mother had said. "You're a real Godsend. Richard couldn't have coped with spending all night and most of tomorrow hanging about in the waiting room, poor lamb."
Richard was ravenous and ate two helpings of cheese on toast, followed by some cake I'd bought as a treat for Sunday afternoon. When he wasn't eating he was scratching inside his ridiculous little shorts. The colour had returned to his pretty face. And pretty it certainly was! He began to talk about the accident, which wasn't as serious as it had looked. The car was a write-off but nobody was seriously injured, not even the van driver.
"Well, it's past two o'clock," I said. "I should think you need some sleep. There's only one bed but you can have it and I'll crash out downstairs."
"You know what I'd like most of all, Mike? I'm not sleepy but I'm dying to get out of this bloody suit. These stupid shorts are torturing me! You haven't got a dressing gown, have you?" He stood up to remove his jacket and I saw the braces attached to his shorts.
"Sorry," I said, "I've only got my overnight bag here but my aunt's bound to have one. I'll nip up and have a look."
In the bathroom I found a flimsy little cotton dressing gown and the thought of it clothing an otherwise naked Richard gave me an instant erection. I took it downstairs and gave it to him.
"I don't mean to be a wimp," he said, taking off his tweed shorts and handing them to me, "but how would you like to have to dress like this? It's bloody humiliating and the cloth itches like hell."
For such a tiny garment, the shorts were remarkably heavy and the tweed cloth thick and very hairy. I was amazed to see no lining at all. "Christ! I'd hate to wear anything like this!" I said. "Why do your parents make you?"
Richard, comfortable at last, began to explain but I interrupted. "Look, we don't have to surface until midday, earliest. I haven't any beer but do you like wine?" He nodded enthusiastically.
We sat in the warm kitchen, drinking my aunt's wine, while Richard told me about his friend Frederic, the yacht in the Mediterranean, the imminent merger of the two businesses and that my seat in the theatre had originally been Frederic's but for the French family's need to cancel at very short notice. I learnt that Frederic, now seventeen, always wore short trousers when dressing formally and that was why Richard had to follow suit, out of respect to Frederic, his elder by one year.
"So, were you pretending to be French?" I asked. "You said 'merci' when you moved past me to your seat. "
"Oh God, yes," said Richard, blushing. "No English boys wear clothes like that so I tried to pretend to be French. It didn't fool you for long!"
He was clearly embarrassed so I changed the subject. "So what did you think of the opera?" I asked, pouring Richard his third glass of wine.
"Oh, poor Billy! Why did he have to die?"
"Yes and poor Captain Vere, too," I said. "Making that decision to hang Billy wrecked him."
We chatted about Billy's friends on board Indomitable and how Billy seemed to forgive Captain Vere for sentencing him to death. This conversation led Richard back to Frederic and he said how disappointed he was that Frederic hadn't made it to Oxford. I kept private the selfish thought that had Frederic made it I wouldn't have found myself seated next to Richard in the theatre. I was rapidly becoming obsessed with Richard.
The dressing gown didn't meet at the front, so as Richard sat on the kitchen chair, his bare legs were fully exposed - much as they'd been all the previous evening. With his fair hair, grey eyes, beautiful face and a body to die for, he looked the picture of troubled perfection. Vulnerable and very, very sexy.
"Can I tell you a secret, Mike?" said Richard, putting his empty glass on the table. I assured him he could. "It's just that Frederic and I are more than just friends. I think about him all the time. Can't help it. It's the way I am. And he feels the same. Is it wrong, Mike?"
I reached over and took Richard's hand. "No, of course it's not wrong. It's actually rather beautiful. Friendship is the most valuable thing in the world."
"It's more than that," said Richard, tears welling. "We love each other." He began to cry, gently and silently.
I wanted to give him a big cuddle but managed to restrain myself. "Look, it's past four, why don't you go to bed and we can chat more when you get up. Even better - I think my jeans and sweater will fit you so you won't have to wear your concert suit tomorrow."
Richard went unsteadily upstairs and I made sure he was safely tucked in before I made to go downstairs. "Goodnight, sleepyhead," I said but he was already asleep. The most beautiful boy I'd seen in ages was asleep in my bed wearing nothing but a tiny pair of briefs. "Goodnight, darling," I added, under my breath.
Richard resumes the narrative
I awoke in a double bed wearing only the wretched little briefs that went with my concert suit. Downstairs a radio was playing and I heard a man's voice singing along to the music. Oh yes, it was Mike. He must have slept in a chair or something. Next thing I knew, he brought me a cup of tea, and sat on the bed to ask me how I felt. The events of the night before came flooding back. "I must see if my parents are OK."
"Don't worry, Richard; they've just phoned and they're fine. They're coming to pick you up at four. That's in two hours, after they've bought themselves some clothes. Your Dad's just off to the Oxford John Lewis in a bloodstained suit and he's half-expecting to be apprehended by Chief Inspector Morse!"
I smiled in relief and my smile broadened when he showed me the jeans, sweatshirt and pullover he wanted to lend me. Ten minutes later I was downstairs, eating toastand feeling normal at last, in normal clothes. He said I looked far nicer in his clothes than he ever did. I recalled our conversation about Frederic and Mike's sympathetic response to what I'd been saying. It struck me that he, too, might prefer boys to girls, especially when in an unguarded moment he said I looked 'absolutely scrumptious.' He wasn't bad-looking himself, as it happens.
He gave me his address in Cambridge so we knew where to send the clothes I was wearing. "If you ever need to talk, Richard, here's my number. You never know - things might not always go right between you and Frederic and if that happens, I promise I'll always be ready to listen. And to understand."
He ruffled my hair and then, as if he'd realised it had made me feel like a little boy, took my hand and shook it firmly, not letting go until he'd looked long and deeply into my eyes. I had the impression he knew me better than I knew myself and it gave me a warm, bubbly feeling inside.
My parents, looking slightly battered and oddly modern in their new, casual clothes, collected me and we drove home to Guildford. Dad had already told my school I wouldn't be back before Monday lunchtime. Once at home, my horrible concert suit joined Mike's clothes in the laundry bin and I put on my own clothes. Dad spent a long time on the phone to Frederic's Dad and when I asked to speak to Frederic Dad said I couldn't because he wasn't there. So I sent him an e mail instead, signing off as usual with 'MST.’
As Dad's Monday morning meeting had been cancelled he drove me back to school himself. He was unusually quiet but I assumed he was still annoyed about the cancelled meeting. So much hung on the merger of his company with Frederic's father's. When he dropped me at school he called me 'old chap' instead of Richard. Was it because I was growing up?
On the penultimate morning of the school term my Housemaster took me aside and said that owing to unforeseen circumstances my father would be collecting me that lunchtime and taking me home. No details were available except that I'd need to have my passport. It was only five days to our flight to Barbados and I hoped nothing had happened to jeopardise those three wonderful weeks when Frederic and I would be together all the time, day and night.
Dad picked me up in the BMW and we headed east. "Look, old chap, we're not going home but to Heathrow. Mum's going to meet you there and you're both going to Paris, tonight. The thing is, old chap, Frederic isn’t well. He's not well at all. He's asked to see you ... before ... before it’s ..."
But I'd already broken down and was howling, howling like a baby.
I tried so hard to be brave as Dad drove me to Heathrow but the news he'd just given me that Frederic was critically ill was too much to bear and I alternated between periods of tense, forbidding gloom and bursts of weeping. When I asked what was wrong with Frederic Dad wasn't sure but thought it was a rare form of leukaemia. I asked him how long he'd known.
"Well, old chap, it's the reason they had to cancel their visit to Oxford, because Frederic was in hospital for tests. His father expressly asked me not to tell you then because Frederic was adamant that you weren't to be worried."
This had me crying again - crying for Frederic and his concern for me. I remembered that morning in Mistral when he came to see if I had a headache; it was the very moment when our love for each other sparked into flame, a flame that had since grown stronger and stronger.
When I'd quietened down, Dad told me to prepare myself to see a different Frederic this time. "He's terribly weak, old chap. He wants to see you but he may not be fully conscious. Needless to say, the Caribbean trip is postponed until he's well again."
"But will he get better, Dad? Will he?"
"I really don't know, old chap."
Mum was there at Heathrow and gave me a big hug before telling me we were due to take off at 17.30 and would be boarding very soon. As I sat in my school uniform, waiting for the summons to board, an overwhelming feeling of numbness developed. I'd cried all the tears I had and just sat, hearing nothing, seeing nothing and completely unaware of the bustle around me. Passing before my glazed eyes was image after image of my darling Frederic. Each time he was looking into my eyes and his expression was one of ineffable sadness. His sweet brow was knitted more tightly than I'd ever seen it. Oh, how I wanted to be near him and to touch him, to feel his warm, smooth skin beneath my fingertips and to know he was safe.
I remember nothing of the night flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle, nor of the taxi that sped us to the private clinic where my darling friend was being treated but I'll never forget the walk to his ward, clutching my mother's arm, fearful of what I would find and filled with dread.
Frederic was in a room by himself, a room that had the minimum of medical apparatus hanging off the walls. Through a window I could see the Eiffel Tower, brightly illuminated in the dark, December sky. I'd expected Frederic to be hooked up to all manner of things, and tubes to be passing into his precious body but he just lay between crisp white sheets, propped up on two fat pillows. He was asleep and beside him sat his mother, ashen white. His brow was perfectly smooth, with not a crinkle to be seen.
Frederic's mother stood to embrace first Mum and then me. She gave me a long, silent hug and I reciprocated as best I could. While this was going on Mum was stroking Frederic's hair but there was no reaction from my darling boy. Then Frederic's mother said I could sit and talk to her beloved son, that he might be able to hear me and so I should talk about our times together.
"If he responds to anyone, it will be you, mon petit. He talks about you so much. Never anyone else, just you."
I knew my tears were perilously close to shedding but I knew I must be strong. The two ladies left me with my sleeping friend and I sat down beside him. I reached for his hand and I don't know how I didn't choke to death with emotion as I at last touched his perfect skin and folded my fingers gently around his. He was breathing but so lightly his chest was hardly moving. Looking round, I saw the door was closed so I was completely alone with Frederic and I began to speak, very quietly.
I recounted the times we'd had in Mistral and at Seaford. I mentioned Serge the steward and Troy the skateboarder and how in their different ways they'd both appealed to us. I talked about some of the pompous millionaires we'd had to be polite to in Monte Carlo and at Glyndebourne. I didn't say anything about the fun we'd had in bed because to do so would have been indelicate and in any case, I would have collapsed into sobs. I paused for minutes at a time, just holding his hand and watching his still beautiful face for any signs of wakefulness.
I was absolutely heartbroken but I didn't cry because I felt if I carried on talking he might just wake up and see me there and that would be a huge reward. I was running out of things to say and began to pick on the more trivial things we did, like when in Seaford he chose to have the fried fish with no chips. I reminded him that he'd said 'Mmmm, tasty' and how that had become our catch phrase.
"Mmmm, so tasty!" I repeated. Tears were now filling my eyes.
I could now see only a blurred image of his face and it was a tiny squeeze of his fingers on mine that told me he was conscious. Wiping my eyes with my free hand I saw he'd moved his head very slightly and that his lovely eyes were half-open. Yes, he was actually looking at me!
"Oh, Frederic, my darling boy, have you any idea how much I love you?" I said, at normal volume, immediately panicking that someone else may have heard. But the door was still closed and I was alone with my beloved Frederic.
He squeezed my fingers again, a little more firmly this time.
Looking into his eyes, I began to say what we'd do when he was better again. Camping in the Lake District, skiing in the Alps, maybe another visit to Seaford to see if Troy was still there ...
Realising I was babbling away and not giving him a chance to speak I stopped talking and just looked at him, to see his eyes were nearly closed. His fingers had relaxed and were no longer exerting any pressure on mine.
"Oh Frederic, please don't leave me!" I beseeched him. "I love you so very much!"
His eyes opened again and his dear little tongue peeped from between his lips, just briefly, did a little wiggle and then retreated. His eyes fixed on mine and his mouth opened slightly, just for long enough to whisper "Mmmm, so tasty...."
Then his eyes closed and he lay still.
I was enveloped in a cold, paralysing darkness. It seemed to last ages but it probably wasn't long because people rushed into the room and I was ushered outside and into the arms of my mother. In her warm embrace my feeling of numbness dissolved and I convulsed into fits of uncontrollable weeping that went on and on as I realised the significance of what I'd just witnessed and that I'd lost the dearest friend I'd probably ever have, however long I live.
That night I slept in the same room as my mother as I couldn't bear to be alone. We flew back to London next day and went home to start the Christmas holiday. Except at night, I was hardly ever physically alone but sank into a dark little world of my own, numb to the festivities going on all around. My parents let me remove the Christmas card which pictured poor Frederic. The more I looked at it the more sorrowful seemed his expression, as if he knew what was happening to him. I hid the card in my bottom drawer.
I tried to cope with Christmas but thoughts of Frederic never left me. How long had he known he was ill? He'd told me he'd stopped using the gym. He'd tired quickly when we were walking on the cliffs near Seaford. His mother had cried when he was playing the piano. He'd said we should never look too far ahead. Were these signals I should have spotted? And what about his father making him wear shorts in the Paris winter? What if, instead of toughening Frederic up it had actually made him ill? A dislike of Frederic's father kindled in my head and even though I knew deep down that I was being irrational it soon became a burning hatred. I wanted the merger of his company with my father's to fail. It's just as well we weren't asked to attend the funeral because I would have let Frederic's father know exactly what I thought of the way he'd mistreated and humiliated his son.
One of the worst things about that Christmas was that I had nobody to talk to about my love for Frederic. Mum was brilliant when I had my first, hysterical outpouring of grief but I could hardly sit down and tell her - or anyone else - about why Frederic meant so much to me. I just kept it bottled up and lay in my room for hours on end, thinking and crying. I felt utterly empty.
Just before New Year I was persuaded to join my parents and sister for a trip to London to see a concert at the Royal Festival Hall. We'd go by train to and from Waterloo. Inevitably, there were important friends to meet for pre-concert supper in one of the private meeting rooms and I'd have to be formally dressed.
My father was tentatively broaching the subject of what he hoped I'd wear when to his surprise I said "It's OK, Dad. I'll wear the concert suit. I'll do it for Frederic's sake."
That night I dreamt I'd be meeting Frederic at the concert and when I awoke I tried to ignore reality and continue the dream throughout the day. I knew I was kidding myself but it gave me something nice to think about. While changing for the concert I saw some new little hairs on my legs. 'Frederic won't like to see those!' I thought, so I hastily scraped them off with my razor before steeling myself and putting on those little tweed shorts. I pulled the braces over my shoulders and glanced in the mirror. My thighs had never looked so bare.
As you've probably guessed, I regretted my actions. In the train and at the Festival Hall it was impossible to continue with the fantasy and I felt nearly as self-conscious as I'd always done when wearing one of my concert suits. I say 'nearly' because I was still feeling numbed to my surroundings - I can't remember anything of the concert or of people staring at me - but my skin was not numbed to the sensation of that awful tweed scratching away so cruelly. Add to that the irritation resulting from dry-shaving my legs and you can guess that my fingernails were hard at work all evening, much to my embarrassment and probably to the annoyance of people sitting beside me. I was so glad to get home, shed my clothing and rub Nivea Creme into the area where my legs join, where the vicious tweed cloth had caused most distress. I slept badly that night; my little fantasy had crumbled and I lay there with what seemed like a great weight on my chest. It was a sense of loss deeper than I could possibly have imagined. I wanted to fall asleep and never wake up.
I stayed in my room for almost the whole of New Year's Day, 1993. My grief was as profound as ever. At home there was nobody I could talk to and it would be the same at school, just a week away. Nobody there had even heard of Frederic. Mum came up with some sandwiches and cakes and said I must eat something or I'd waste away.
"Seeing Frederic go must have been truly awful, darling," she said. "But I know you'll make new friends and one will become your best friend. That's what'll happen."
Oh, what did Mum know? What did anyone know? Only Frederic and I knew what we felt for each other and now he'd gone. The tears were rolling down my cheeks again.
An hour later Mum came upstairs again. "Sorry, Mum," I said, "I was just going to bring the dirty plates down."
"That's alright, darling, I haven't come for that. I've just had a phone call!"
She looked so bright and cheerful. I wondered why she thought the news was worth telling me. Nothing could change the way I was feeling.
"It was Mike Beresford. I told him last month he'd always be welcome here and he's just said he might be passing tomorrow and could he call. I think it would do you the world of good to have someone about your own age to talk to so I invited him to stay the night and he accepted! He's coming tomorrow about lunchtime and he can sleep in the little room next door - if you don't mind him using your bathroom."
"Thanks, Mum but I won't be very good company," I said.
Alone again, it dawned on me that Mike was the one person I could talk to about my sweet Frederic. I'd told him after he'd rescued me from that Oxford hospital about the way Frederic and I felt for each other. He'd seemed to understand. He might even be the same way inclined. Oh yes, I could talk to Mike! I drifted down to join the family for the rest of the evening.
Mike arrived at noon the next day, in the funny little Peugeot he called Doris. He gave Mum a big bunch of flowers. He looked younger than I'd remembered from our first meeting but I suppose it was because then he came as a knight in shining armour to rescue me, look after me in his aunt's cottage, listen to my woes and then lend me clothes for my journey home, whereas now he was just an eighteen-year-old boy who'd called in to say hello. Roughly my height, he wore moleskin trousers and corduroy jacket, had brown hair and blue eyes and was very good-looking.
"Your mother told me about Frederic," he said, having beckoned me into the hall. "I'm most dreadfully sorry, Richard. I know you and he thought so highly of each other. Look, after lunch, can we go for a walk or something?"
He drove us to Box Hill, a local beauty spot on the North Downs. It was a cold, bright afternoon and perfect for a brisk walk. We walked to the viewpoint known as Saloman's Memorial and looked southeast over The Weald. The trees were bare and wood-smoke hung in the air. A vapour trail made a curved line in the pale blue sky. The low, wooded hills went on for miles, as far as a high ridge in the hazy distance - the South Downs, which led eastwards to Seaford and Beachy Head, where Frederic and I had been so deliriously happy only five months earlier. Somewhere, just over that ridge, was the hotel near Lewes where I'd spent the best three nights of my life.
Mike saw the tears rolling down my cheeks and put his arm around my shoulders. "You can tell me all about it, you know," he said. "Get it off your chest. Nobody else can hear."
As we walked slowly along, my streaming eyes gazing blearily towards the South Downs, I told Mike about my sudden visit to Paris, about the time I'd spent alone with Frederic, about my criticisms of Frederic's father, about my feelings of despair and my terrible sense of loss. I didn't tell Mike about what Frederic and I did in bed or about our catch-phrase, 'Mmmm, so tasty!' Some things were too private for anyone else to know.
Mike's gentle presence somehow encouraged me to talk about things I'd never shared with anyone, things like Frederic's way of knitting his brow, his brilliance at the piano, his laughing at my boxer shorts, his pretending to fancy Troy and his utter contempt for the incredibly short trousers he was made to wear, even at seventeen. It helped so much to be able to let out my thoughts and I'd by now stopped crying. Mike still had his comforting arm round my shoulders. He stopped walking and gently turned me to face him.
"What you've told me is sad beyond compare, Richard but it's a very beautiful story. You told me some of this at my aunt's cottage so what you've said about your feelings for Frederic haven't surprised me too much. It seems certain he felt the same about you. Love is a wonderful thing and your memories will never leave you. I wish I could say something constructive and helpful but I just don't have the words. It's a privilege to be taken into your confidence and I'll always be ready to listen - whenever you need me."
"There's nobody at school I can talk to like this, Mike and obviously I can't tell my family. I already feel better. It's a miracle, you turning up like this!"
Mike now had both his hands on my shoulders and was looking straight into my eyes. "Not quite a miracle, Richard. I've been meaning to visit you and your mother very kindly asked me to pop in and even stay the night. The thing is, and please don't take it the wrong way, I just had to see you again. The night I met you was fraught with drama of all kinds and we didn't have time to say all we wanted to. And now there's this terrible business with poor Frederic. I just want to help, if I can."
I was so caught up in my own distress that what Mike said about having to see me again didn't mean much until later that evening. We had a cosy family supper and I'll admit I was more cheerful than at any time in the last twelve days, or maybe I should say less withdrawn and tearful. Not for a moment did the image of Frederic in his last moments leave me but knowing that Mike understood my feelings helped hugely. I was really glad he was staying the night.
After supper we all watched TV for a while but it wasn't long before I said I wanted to go to bed, as I could feel myself sinking back into melancholy and didn't want to burden everyone with my misery. Mum got Mike talking about his aunt so I didn't feel rude and went up to my bedroom. After all, it wasn't as though it was I who'd invited Mike to stay - it was Mum. Alone for the first time for about ten hours, I felt the now familiar blackness descending and I flopped onto my bed for a good cry. Would my life always be like this?
After an hour of grieving I undressed for bed. My only New Year resolution was that I'd say goodbye forever to boxer shorts. Frederic had only ever worn briefs so that's what I'd do from now on. So, clad only in a pair of the skimpy briefs I had to wear with my concert suit, I went to my bathroom to clean my teeth and blundered straight into Mike, who was in pyjama trousers and looking at himself in the mirror.
"Oh, sorry!" we both said. I wasn't used to people using my bathroom but Mike's room led straight into it so of course he had every right to use it.
"I should have knocked or something," I said. "Sorry, Mike, I'll come back when you've finished."
"No - don't go," he said. "I've finished anyway. But I'd hoped to see you, just to wish you goodnight. And now I can."
I'd only seen Mike fully clothed up to that moment but now he was naked from the waist up. I'd regarded him as so much older and wiser than me but now he looked like an ordinary boy of eighteen, with just a few hairs on his chest and arms. For a few seconds we stood looking at each other and not saying anything. I felt embarrassed to be wearing only briefs and when he cast his eyes down to look below my waist I felt the same self-consciousness I'd felt so many thousands of times before, when wearing my prep school cords or either of my concert suits.
"Oh, Christ!" said Mike. "D'you mind if I say something, Richard? I think I can see what Frederic saw in you. You're beautiful! There, I've said it. I'll leave in the morning and you'll never have to see me again." He opened the door to his bedroom.
I didn't plan what I was to say next - I must have been on autopilot. "No, Mike, don't go.... you've made me feel so much better today and I want to tell you more tomorrow - if you'll let me. And I'm glad you like me. I really need someone to like me now that Frederic's .... gone."
"Like you, Richard? I bloody adore you!"
Mike came up to me and I didn't resist when he put his right hand on the small of my back. He was nearly six feet tall so unlike dear Frederic, he didn't have to go on tiptoe to kiss my cheek. It was the gentlest possible kiss and that's all he did. I could just catch the pepperminty smell of his toothpaste but I wasn't about to taste it too, because even if he'd offered, I didn't want a French kiss. That privilege was Frederic's and Frederic's alone. I did, however, feel Mike's rigid cock pressing against my thigh as he leaned close to execute his kiss and it made me excited.
"Please can we go for another drive tomorrow?" I asked.
Mike seemed a bit shy at breakfast next morning. "It's OK, Mike," I said. "About last night, I mean." Our eyes met and he held my gaze. He looked relieved so I spoke again. "Have you got to rush off or is there time to take me for another drive?"
His eyes lit up. "You mean it? I've all the time in the world? Fancy a trip to Wisley?"
"What's at Wisley?" I asked.
"The Royal Horticultural Society. The gardens are marvellous to walk in and they'll be pretty quiet today. We could talk our heads off and nobody'll be around to listen."
In many ways Mike seemed more than two years older than me. For one thing he was at university and I hadn't even got to the Sixth Form. He had a car. He liked things that grown-ups like, like jazz, real ale and gardening. One interest we shared was classical music but whereas I liked the most well-known composers like Beethoven and Chopin, he knew about more modern composers like Poulenc and Prokofiev. He even knew something of politics and talked about John Major. Yet when I looked at his face I saw a boy like me, in full-time education, not a man of the world. I was growing to like him very much.
At Wisley we walked in the vast gardens, almost the only visitors. Mike encouraged me to talk about Frederic and although I kept the more intimate details to myself, words just tumbled from my tongue. Frederic and I had enjoyed each other's company for only twelve days but it's amazing how many little memories I was able to recount. Mike was such a good listener. Again, he seemed much older than me; I felt like a little boy telling his favourite uncle about all the animals he'd seen on a visit to the zoo. He bought us coffee and buns in the restaurant and I felt even more like a youngster treated to a day out, not that he was in any way patronising, just kind.
Later on, walking in the parkland, among tall trees still sparkling with hoarfrost, I became more sombre. There were one or two trees and shrubs that had succumbed to disease and died, just as poor Frederic had. Mike detected my change of mood, put his arm around my shoulders and offered wisdom beyond his years.
"You must always be proud of your friendship with Frederic, Richard. There'll be many people who won't understand how you felt for each other - or won't want to. Forget them, they're not important. Your parents know you loved him and so do I. You and he had something unique and really beautiful and you must never forget it."
"Have you felt like this, Mike?" I asked. "You say such lovely and wise things; it makes me think you've been through this yourself."
"Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved, Richard. Yes, I had a friend at school; he had a terrible accident playing rugby. Broke his neck. It was two years ago. I'll never forget him ..."
Mike stopped talking and I thought he was going to cry. I wanted to ask his friend's name but dared not invade Mike's privacy. So I stopped walking and looked at Mike's face. He was staring with watery eyes at the grey sky. Then, as he walked on, he answered my unspoken question.
"His name was Mark and I worshipped him."
We walked on in silence until I asked him if he'd had anyone he could talk to after Mark's accident. He looked at me sadly and said 'no.'
I couldn't think of a suitable reply so held my tongue. A little later I asked him if he'd been able to get over his loss.
"I'll never get over it, Richard. All I can do is learn to live with it."
It struck me I'd been selfish to expect Mike to listen to me talking nonstop about Frederic so I asked him to tell me about Mark but he didn't want to say much. I did learn that had Mark lived, he'd be the same age as me. Privately, I wondered what sort of things Mike and Mark had done in bed. Of course, it might have been a purely platonic friendship but considering what Mike had said and done in my bathroom, probably not. It's not like me to pry so I didn't pursue the subject.
A pale sun managed to break through the cloud and as there was no wind, the day seemed less cold. Mike took off his gloves and sat on a bench overlooking the gardens and I seated myself beside him, very close.
"You know, Richard, the last time you came and sat down beside me, on my left, was last month, watching Billy Budd."
"Except in the car," I said, actually managing a little chuckle.
"Oh, that doesn't count," said Mike. "I was just thinking, in the theatre you had your concert suit on and were pretending to be a young French boy."
"Well, that little ploy didn't last long," I said, feeling a blush coming on. "Do we have to talk about that bloody concert suit?"
"OK, no, but there's one thing that intrigues me. When we were sitting in my aunt's cottage I couldn't help noticing that your thighs had no hair at all in some places but little patches of hairs in others. I put it down to a skin condition but last night, in your bathroom, I noticed the patches had moved." Mike put his finger on the side of my right thigh."One had been here but now it's up here!" He moved his finger six inches further up my leg. "You haven't been using a razor, have you?"
Now I was blushing hard."Oh God, Mike, was it that obvious? I didn't think a boy of thirteen would have hairs on his legs so tried to shave them all off. And I wore the bloody concert suit a couple of nights ago so had to have another go. A dry shave this time and it itched like hell."
"Well, at least I know you haven't got a skin disease!" said Mike, grinning broadly. "I can understand your motive but next time try to do a thorough job - you missed the backs of your legs completely!"
"There won't be a next time; I never want to wear that thing ever again! Oh, hell - now I feel ridiculous!"
I turned to look at Mike's smiling eyes. He was seeing the funny side and my only option was to do likewise. "Well," I said, "I hope there won't be a next time but if there is, maybe you could come and do a thorough job on me with your razor!"
"Your wish is my command," he replied, slapping his hand on my thigh and leaving it there, which I didn't mind. "I'll buy some good razor blades!"
The business of my shaved legs created a turning point in our friendship. Up till then we'd been so serious but now we had something to laugh about and when I'd realised I'd shaved only the parts of my legs I could actually see I recognised what folly it had been in the first place. Preferring not to think about the other people who'd spotted what Mike had seen, I laughed at the ridiculous sight I must have presented.
"Don't worry, Richard," said Mike. "Only those with an eye for such things would have noticed and there aren't many of us about, thank God!"
"Remember the Novice in Billy Budd who got whipped!" I said. "D'you think the person who made him up and put on those horrible whip-marks had to shave him first? He did look remarkably smooth. I got a hard-on."
"So I noticed, you sweet boy. You were rubbing yourself like crazy!"
"I was scratching where the tweed cloth was hurting!"
"Rubbish! You were pummelling your cock!"
"OK, I give in. But why were you watching me and not the stage? I can't have been that interesting."
"Oh yes, you were!" said Mike, sliding his hand along my thigh.
By the time Mike left us that afternoon to drive home he and I had reached an understanding. I knew he was gay and fancied me and he knew I was gay and needed gentle treatment. He knew I'd be having lots of bleak moments in the weeks and months ahead and said I could phone him any time and he'd understand and be ready to listen. It made going back to boarding school much better than it might have been and I phoned him on the first night back. He answered within two rings.
"Hi, Richard, I knew it'd be you," he said. "How's it going?"
I told him about the other boys boasting about their skiing holidays and sexual conquests and he said "Forget 'em, my dear young friend. You've done something far greater - you've learnt about life and death and you've matured more than you realise. Let them brag and you can even pretend to be interested but they wouldn't understand what you've been through so don't try to tell 'em. When you feel sad, which you will, far too often, just remember the good times with Frederic and smile. It's what he'd have wanted you to do. Trust me."
My regular calls to Mike became a sort of lifeline and gradually I got used to the loss of my darling Frederic. I'd go and sit in the school chapel sometimes, all alone, to think and have a little weep. Although not really a believer, the beauty and serenity of the place gave me comfort and the paintings on the walls inspired me. I thought I was getting over the worst of it when in tea one day I heard a boy say 'Mmmm, so tasty!' and it threw me back several spaces as if my life had become a game of Snakes and Ladders and I'd just slithered down the longest snake on the board. I phoned Mike again that evening.
My parents never made me wear the concert suit again but I kept it in my wardrobe because of its strong links with Frederic. I have it still and its rough texture always sets my nerves on edge. My friendship with Mike grew because although we rarely met, he was the only person with whom I could discuss my feelings for Frederic. Instead of going with my family to Juan-les-Pins for the summer holiday I went kayaking on the Pembrokeshire coast with a party from school. Pembrokeshire harboured no memories of Frederic. Afterwards Dad told me the merger had failed so there'd be no more invitations to Mistral. I was mightily thankful for this, as I would never again have to see Frederic's father, for whom I still felt contempt.
I devoted myself to schoolwork and my friends must have thought me rather distant but I didn't care. Privately I still worshipped Frederic and my chats with Mike helped to keep the flame burning. After my seventeenth birthday I went to visit Mike in Cambridge and he delighted in showing me around. We heard Choral Evensong in King's College Chapel one day and were both reduced to tears by the beauty of the singing and by the magnificence of that fabulous building. It was almost a year since Frederic's death and I thought I was learning to live without him but that evening, Mike put on a newly acquired jazz CD.
"Just listen to this track and tell me it isn't the coolest jazz you ever heard!" he said.
Well, the track was Peace Piece, played by Bill Evans. It was the tune Frederic had played on the piano in our drawing room and which had made his mother cry. I hadn't dared to play my copy of the CD since he'd died and hearing it in Mike's rooms sent me crazy with grief. I screamed "Turn it off!" and then burst into tears and poor Mike was very alarmed.
That night was the first time I'd slept with Mike. There was no sex; there never had been. I was so distraught Mike just held me in his arms and tried to comfort me. I needed a strong person to look after me at a time like that and Mike fitted the bill. For the millionth time I pictured Frederic submitting to me in his Mistral stateroom and I began to think I should submit to Mike, to whom I now owed so much.
The following Easter, Mike took me to the Lake District for a week's fell-walking. We shared a twin room in Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Great Langdale. One of the waiters there was an attractive boy with ultra-tight trousers, dark hair and saucy eyes who took a shine to Mike. He reminded me of Serge and I couldn't help smiling at him but it was Mike he was interested in and Mike loved it!
I realised I was jealous and next morning put on the scarily brief denim shorts Frederic had worn at Seaford and waited for Mike's reaction when he came out of the bathroom.
"Hello, sailor!" he said. "Showing a bit of leg, I see! I like it!"
We had a strenuous morning, walking up to Three Tarns and thence to Crinkle Crags. When we stopped for a rest I lay on the grass with my knees drawn up and saw Mike looking at me. I knew the frayed hems of my shorts would have ridden above where my bottom starts because they'd done so with Frederic, who was shorter than me. Mike put his hand on my knee and rocked it from side to side. History was repeating itself. Mike told me how much he enjoyed my company.
"Well, leave the waiter alone, then!" I said, instantly regretting it. "Oh God, Mike, I'm sorry. It's him that's doing the flirting, not you."
Mike let go of my knee and we continued our walk, not mentioning the waiter again until a few hours later, when we went down for dinner.
"He's dead cute, Richard, but not my type," said Mike.
"I'm glad to hear it!" I replied.
At dinner, we both ordered steak and ale pie. When the saucy waiter served Mike he purred into Mike's ear "Here you are, Sir. Mmmm, so tasty!"
After the meal Mike asked me why I'd been so quiet.
"It's the waiter - he said 'Mmmm, so tasty.' It's the catch phrase Frederic and I made our own."
That was the first night I let Mike do more than cuddle me. I put on some tiny little silk briefs I'd bought from a company called Figleaves and lay on my bed in a submissive pose, arms outstretched and knees up.
"Bloody hell, Richard!" said Mike when he emerged from the bathroom. "Do you have any idea how sexy you look?"
In reply, I silently took a piece of Kendal Mint Cake (having none of the peppermints Frederic had used) and popped it on my tummy button. "It's yours, Mike but you've got to keep your eyes closed. And no hands!"
Like me, Mike was wearing only briefs. He knelt on the floor beside me and, with hands behind his back, lowered his face onto my tummy. I grabbed his brown hair and tried to pull his head away from its target but very soon he had his teeth on the chunk of concentrated carbohydrate and drew it into his mouth, making exaggerated sucking noises.
"Is that it?" he asked. "Do I win a prize now?"
"Well," I said, "this bed's just big enough for two healthy boys ..."
The sex we had that night wasn't better than it had been with Frederic; it was different. Like Frederic had done, I tried to take the lead but it was usually me on my back, being submissive. Mike said he was amazed at my repertoire - considering I'd been with nobody else but Frederic. I told him Frederic was extremely imaginative and had taught me lots. After a couple of hours I'd taught Mike lots and he seemed deliriously happy. I'd even lain on my front and let him enter me, which he did very tentatively and very briefly.
Later, as we lay quietly with our legs and arms enfolded, I felt a little sorry for Mike. He'd be twenty in a few months but this was the first time he'd had real sex with anyone, whereas I'd learnt these techniques at only sixteen, thanks to the wonderful inventiveness of dear Frederic. Fearful that Mike might be put off me, I decided to make it clear that he was in charge of our relationship; he called the tune. That's the way I wanted it. I liked taking orders.
Next day, I wore those dangerously revealing cut-offs again, in a flagrantly blatant gesture to show Mike I enjoyed being his boy, his sexpot. I wanted him to dominate me. On the mountain, he was cross with me for accidentally sitting on and squashing our lunchtime Mars Bars and I hoped he'd put me over his knees for a spanking but of course, he didn't. He was far too kind.
Our walk that day was the longest we'd done and took us to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in all England. It was wonderfully exhilarating to be on the summit but there were lots of other walkers sharing our experience so we left and headed down to Esk Hawse and then to Angle Tarn, an idyllic spot to rest after our considerable labours. Once again, I adopted the Frederic pose of lying on my back with my knees drawn up and once again, Mike responded by standing over me and waggling my knee.
"You're a cheeky young scamp, Richard," he said, looking pointedly up my shorts. "In more ways than one. I'd like to celebrate our visit to Scafell Pike by having a special night together. A really good meal, to start with. In fact, let's have some wine this evening. And I think you should look smart for your Uncle Mike. There are some unsightly hairs on your legs and I propose to get rid of them. I trust you have no objection?"
"No, master," I said, grinning and pretending to make light of it but inside, I was thrilled that Mike wanted to rule me. Oh yes, I wanted to be subservient to him.
Back in our room. Mike took his razor to my legs but left the regions covered by my skimpy briefs. "I don't want us to be too kinky!" he said. The job didn't take him long as there were so few hairs to remove. "You're not wearing those indecent cut-offs at dinner so you can wear the Rohan shorts I bought you. They just about reach your thighs and I don't want that cute little waiter getting ideas!"
When we went down to eat I tried to be like a younger boy being treated to a slap-up dinner by his older cousin, after a strenuous day on the fells. Well, Mike was virtually family so it wasn't far from the truth. I knew people were looking at my bare legs but instead of feeling self-conscious and humiliated I rather enjoyed the attention. I tried to picture what dear Frederic might now have looked like, had he lived. Probably still quite a bit shorter than me, still smooth-limbed at eighteen, slim and incredibly sexy. His brow would be sweetly knitted.
Mike and I had another night of sex. He seemed to enjoy his new role as dominator but his kind nature made it impossible for him to be rough with me. Again, he was amazed by the little things (and the big things) Frederic and I had invented during our time at Lewes. "How did you discover how to get your tongue down there? You could write a book about it, you know!"
The next year I turned eighteen and Mike twenty. We were meeting more and more often, albeit only about once a month but they were classy meetings, sometimes in Cambridge and sometimes in pubs and youth hostels in areas good for walking. He'd given up The Foreign Office as a career and instead was aiming for journalism. For my part, Dad knew I had no interest in taking over his company but wanted to make a living in design and in October 1995 I managed to get a place at Bristol University. My family was delighted and so was Mike, because he'd graduated and secured a post with the BBC in Bristol. Having come into some money he was renting a very smart flat in Clifton and he hoped I'd come to live with him. There was a room I could use as my own study and the bedroom had a king-size bed far too big for one person. In January 1996, with my parents' blessing, I moved in with Mike.
The next part of the narrative is provided by Mike
Not only were we both in Bristol but Richard came to share my flat. I thought all my dreams were coming true and that's exactly how it proved. He made a wonderful flatmate and our life together seemed pretty well perfect. I'd been aware for some time that Richard was changing. No longer was he the shy, self-conscious teenager I'd met in Oxford, nor the boy who'd visited me in Cambridge and was spooked by the Bill Evans CD I'd played to him.
Now he could talk about Frederic without bursting into tears and he seemed to be copying some of Frederic's characteristics. This first became evident during our week in The Lake District when it was Richard who took the lead in our thrilling sex games in the hotel. Apparently, it had been Frederic who'd done the seducing in the yacht Mistral and in Sussex. Time and again had Richard told me how he hated to bare his legs in public yet on our holiday he seemed hell-bent on affording me the most glorious views of his fabulous legs - and more - by wearing startlingly short denim cut-offs that left nothing to the imagination. He'd said Frederic had once worn those very shorts so it struck me that Richard was copying his dead lover and adopting the role of seducer.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining: I absolutely loved all this. Richard was putting on a show for me in much the same way that I imagined Frederic putting on a show for him. There was another little act that Richard told me he'd copied from Frederic. It was the way he would lie on his back, knees up, brow crinkled, waiting for me to come and waggle one of his knees....
The sentimental side of me wanted to recreate the boy I met in that Oxford theatre, acutely self-conscious in that extraordinary tweed suit. He kept it in his wardrobe, probably to remind him of Frederic. I wanted him to wear it again, and in public.
Richard resumes the narrative
Mike had a framed photo on his side of our bed of Mark, his friend who'd died and on my side I had a photo of Frederic. Mike knew I thought of Frederic constantly and would often say "You must never forget him, Richard; he was your first true love."
I thought Mike had forgotten about 'Mmmm so tasty!' as he never used the expression and nor did I, (except in my thoughts) but after we'd been living together a few weeks he gave me a gift that was not only very generous but extremely thoughtful. He'd exchanged Doris for a new car, a VW Golf and I had a nearly-new Peugeot 206, a gift from my parents. Mike poured me some wine and presented me with a flat parcel.
"It's personal number plates for your car," he said. "I hope you like 'em but don't unwrap them yet. I wanted a combination that means something to you and when I saw RCS 2T for sale I couldn't resist it. Can you guess what it stands for?"
"Well, it's not my initials ..." I thought hard. "No, no idea."
Mike was now grinning broadly. "It stands for 'Richard's Concert Suits, Two Times.' Well, you had two of the damned things; the first was what attracted Frederic to you and the second one is what first caught my attention. You ought to be grateful to them! By the way, it's high time I saw you in the tweed one again!"
After all this time I could see the funny side of my awful concert suits and I'd long realised that each had been instrumental in the formation of the two great friendships in my life.
"I'll wear it if you want me to, Mike, but only in the privacy of the flat."
"Excellent!" said Mike. "Because I want you to wear it for dinner tonight! And don't forget those long hairy socks."
"Well, if I must .."
"And there's more," he said. "I've bought a CD set of Billy Budd and I thought we could listen to it after dinner tonight, with you sitting on my left, in your concert suit, just like it was in Oxford. And afterwards I want to ravish you. How about it?"
"Well ..." I said, scratching my upper thigh in anticipation of the feel of the tweed.
"Excellent! But I decided against RCS 2T and bought you something I hope will have a deeper meaning. I hope you think it's, er, tasteful. Now you can open the parcel."
Intrigued, I unwrapped the number plates; they read MST 17. 'MST' - that was how Frederic and I used to sign off our letters and e mails.
"Mmmm, so tasty?" I said.
"Yes," said Mike. "And seventeen was Frederic's age when he was taken from you. I never want you to forget him and I know he'll always mean more to you than I will."
"Oh, Mike ..." I felt the tears coming and went to Mike for a hug. After a bit I composed myself enough to say "Thank you, Mike. It's a very sweet idea and I'm sure Frederic would approve. Yes, I want to have those plates on the car as soon as possible. And you can have your way with me tonight!"
Mike had another surprise for me and as I was in the habit of submitting to him I accepted his proposal without complaint. Before I put on the concert suit I had to have my legs shaved and, just as he'd promised me that morning at Wisley, he'd do it himself and would do it thoroughly. When he'd finished, my legs were perfectly smooth all over and in that bizarre tweed suit and long socks I looked like a thirteen-year-old boy. I still needed the braces to stop the shorts from falling down and Mike tightened them until I felt that horrible tweed ramming hard into my crotch. Poor Frederic must have felt like this on countless occasions.
There was a distinct feeling of déja vu as Mike and I sat together for the opening bars of Billy Budd but this time Mike didn't keep his hands to himself and was soon stroking my bare thigh. Before I knew it, a massive erection was trying to force itself out of the leg of my shorts. I could see we wouldn't be concentrating too hard on the music.
"What's that funny smell, my darling?" said Mike. "Did you turn the cooker off?"
Before I could say anything the main fire alarm sounded and smoke was coming under the door from the communal landing. We were on the fourth floor.
"Come on!" yelled Mike, grabbing my hand and pulling me up.
"Not like this!" I squeaked.
"Yes, just like this! Unless you want to fry! Come on, Richard!"
Sitting on the low wall beside the road, surrounded by residents from the other flats, I felt as embarrassed as ever I'd felt. Most of the people knew me by sight and even the frantic activity of the fire engines wasn't enough to divert their attention from my ludicrous appearance. I was a nineteen-year-old in shirt and tie, dark knee-socks and black shoes but wearing a tweed suit with short trousers that had a job to reach the tops of my thighs. I was oblivious to the biting cold and just wanted to hide.
The fire chief spotted me and came over. "You goin' to a fancy dress party, Sir? Cor! Let's 'ave a look at yer!"
Filled with shame, I shook my head and Mike came over to protect me. Quick as a flash, he said "Of course we're going to a fancy dress party! Teachers and pupils. He's my boy, my pupil. I'm his master! Why else d'you think he's dressed like that?"
The man turned to Mike. "In that case, Sir, you are a very lucky man!"
When the wretched man had moved on I said "Oh, Mike, please take me away from this place! I'm dying of shame!"
"Now, where have I heard that before?" said Mike, unable to stop smirking.
We all had to wait for clearance to go back indoors. I'd have done anything to sit in my car but the keys were in the flat so I had to endure a humiliating ordeal outside. My legs were freezing. The fire had been caused by a short circuit in the lift well and there was no damage to any of the flats so after two long hours Mike and I were back in his flat and I made for the bedroom to rip off the concert suit.
"Not yet, boy," called Mike, pouring us each a drink. "I want you in that suit till bedtime. In fact, you'll be wearing it much more in future and not only when we're listening to Billy Budd." He looked up to see my reaction. "Yes, I thought that would shake you."
Mike's words had sent a shaft of fear coursing through my body. He'd obviously meant what he'd said. He'd even called me 'boy.' He adopted an even sterner tone.
"You've loosened your braces, Richard. Frederic's father said braces are to be as tight as possible. Kindly attend to them and come and have a drink."
I didn't question Mike's command - I went meekly into the bedroom, took off my jacket and tightened the bloody braces. For the first time it struck me that he was my master. I was his boy. Did I love him? I really didn't know. We sat with our drink and he began to stroke my thighs, praising their beautiful smoothness.
"That's the way they're going to stay from now on, Richard."
I was frightened. What had I done? I wondered what Frederic would think of me now. He'd probably be amused. Or alarmed, more likely.
Mike ordered me to get ready for bed. "I'm going to ravish your gorgeous body!"
When Mike came into the bedroom I was lying on the bed in just my tiny silk briefs, trembling a little. My knees were drawn up and my arms outstretched. To give me courage, I was gazing yearningly at the picture of Frederic, the boy I love. I love him still. Mike took my right knee and began to waggle it. I offered no resistance.