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This short chapter is less sex and more talking about sex, gearing up for the final chapter in this arc. Future stories of Laura and friends will be delayed by the day job…
That final weekend, Richie and I could have gone to London and stayed with Sanj. But we agreed it would be an unnecessary culture shock, being in her mum’s pristine apartment — us looking more scruffy than ever — and then back to a campsite for a final week. Not to mention the six to eight hours in a rammed minibus with a dozen gobby teenagers. ‘Known to the police’ was the euphemism used. With the younger kids, that might be via social services or because of their parents’ doings, but with these, thirteen and fourteen, most of them had records in their own right. Which half of them liked boasting about.
Until Andy pointed out that having a record meant you were stupid enough to get caught. He deliberately let slip some of the less-pleasant features of adult jails. The detailed descriptions of slopping-out might put a few of them off crime, if we were lucky.
One more week.
I would, in fact, miss most of the kids, for all their cheek and surliness. I’d miss the wonderful local countryside and the river even more. On the other hand, I couldn’t wait to have access to a proper bathroom again. Even Tesco’s toilets seemed luxurious, now.
Richie and I had a leisurely weekend. On Saturday we lounged around reading or explored, separately, reuniting for a pub dinner.
On the Saturday evening, we helped each other ‘shower’ with some buckets of almost-warm water, then hung out in the tent.
Richie was as chilled-out as I’d ever seen him.
“Fancy a fuck?” I asked.
“Sure. Why not.”
He filled me from behind, deep and hard.
I luxuriated in being able to make noise. Not exactly screaming, but certainly I let satisfied groans escape the tent walls.
Only the birds to hear.
He and I spent all of Sunday in the pub, reading and chatting with the few locals and staff from other campsites, avoiding the rain, until the last set of children were due to arrive.
Meanwhile, Andy and Ali drove a minibus back to London. Richie might have guessed how their weekend went, but I didn’t find out until later.
I’d overheard Ali tell Jude coldly, “No, I won’t be at yours this weekend,” but I hadn’t asked where she would be. I did notice she seemed very cheerful when she and Andy returned on the Sunday, with their dozen eleven-year-olds, but I’d put that down to a weekend in London without Jude. I should have guessed.
Seeing as he and Ali were both rota’d to be in London for the coming weekend, Andy had sought Al for a private word, a few days earlier.
“Do you want to stay at mine this weekend? It’s not much, but if you’re not comfortable at Jude’s no more…”
“Could I? Oh, please!”
“Course. Any time.” He looked like he wanted to have said more, but clearly the words so far had been as much as he could produce.
“You’re a star, love.”
He really was a bright spot in Ali’s life. She’d come to really value his quiet support and humour over the last year, as she’d watched him slowly get used to busy London and crowds of people. Women, he still didn’t seem completely used to. If he had been, she might have got together with him instead of Jude!
Possibly just as well. Jude was a lot more experienced at relationships and could damn well cope with being dumped. Andy, more likely, could have easily been broken. But now he seemed much better at coping with life. The summer in the country had really suited him, being able to take quiet moments to himself, and to show off his youth management and woodcraft skills. Several kids had responded to him who had ignored Sam or herself.
Ali was now sufficiently over her previous relationships to seriously think about Andy in ways that went beyond a potential ill-judged fling. He was pretty. All the dark curly hair and long eyelashes! Pure muscle and sinew, no fat! And modest with it all!
Ali awoke late on the Saturday morning. The throbbing pain in her wrists, which physios insisted must be from too much computer use, was back, despite her not having been near a keyboard in two months. She knocked back more painkillers and sighed. Perhaps it would get better on the journey.
“You OK to drive the first shift?” she asked Andy.
Twelve young teenagers present and correct, Andy drove out of the field, with his usual admonitions that if the kids got too noisy, he got to choose the music. As usual, by the time he’d reached the motorway, half of them were dozing. He’d reached Heston services, on the edge of London, before needing to offer a comfort break. They’d got it down to a fine art, frog-marching the kids to the toilets, waiting outside, taking it in turns themselves to run in. Luckily, this lot might be noisy but none had snuck off into any shops nor indulged in any obvious thefts.
“Phew,” Andy said as he let the group walk ahead back towards the minibus.
“Mm. Andy? Could you keep driving?”
“Aye. kızılay escort You all right, hen?”
“Arms hurting. Again. I’m sorry.”
“Huh. Best give them a break, aye. No worries.”
Children reunited with their parents or carers, both Ali and Andy drew large sighs of relief.
“Back to mine?” he asked.
He nodded shortly, and led her in silence through back streets to a somewhat dilapidated Victorian terrace, multiple doorbells betraying that it was divided into flats or rooms. “My bedsit’s on the top floor.”
Ali didn’t reply, saving her energy for the stairs.
“Here’s me. Sofa’s all yours.”
Ali looked around the room. Double divan bed with hideous duvet cover, battered 50s wooden wardrobe to the side. The chipped melamine on the small bedside table suggested it had been retrieved from a skip or the street, by Andy or his landlord. The large window had even uglier curtains. The sofa pushed up against the foot of the bed, facing both a TV on a table and a short run of kitchen cupboards, which housed a sink and under-counter fridge, a Baby Belling oven with two hot plates, and kettle and microwave. The units were dated, battered, but clean and tidy, like the rest of the room.
“Toilet and bathroom both on the landing — there, look. Two other guys in the other two rooms — don’t mind them, they’re odd chaps, but they won’t mess with you.”
Ali nodded, used the facilities, and returned to Andy. Andy passed her a welcome mug of tea.
“Agh!” Ali had fumbled the handle and sloshed boiling hot tea over her hand. She plonked it on the floor and leapt to the sink to douse her hand in cold water.
She seemed to be shaking more than the minor burn deserved. “You OK?” he asked, pointlessly.
As Ali rested her weight on the counter, Andy sprang to her. “I’ve got you, hen. A dook under the tap’ll sort it, just let the water run a while. Eh, love, don’t be greeting, it’s nae bother. It’s the shock that’s got you, just a wee burn.”
Ali said nothing, just watched the water run.
“No matter if your legs are all wobbly, I’m holding you. I’ve got you. No worries, pet. Ah, it’s just a minor burn, hardly a mark.” Andy kept talking, trying to reassure her with his soothing tone. “Eh, let’s get you laying down, here, on me bed. The settee’s not so comfy. You bide there a while, rest yoursel’, right? You need more of your tablets?”
“Them ones you take when you think no-one’s looking, usually before you say you’re having a migraine. If they’re meant to stop the headaches, they clearly ain’t working.”
Ali’s stiff body seemed to collapse, giving in. “They’re painkillers. Supposed to help the muscle and nerve pain, prevent spasms…”
“At night, yes. I can sleep. But the side-effects are like being drunk, so I can’t take them in the day, not if I’m going to be driving. I only need them when I get a flare-up — suppose after six weeks of camp it was time? But ‘migraine’ always sounds better than ‘my body is falling apart’.”
“Huh. Right. I’d offer you a cuppa — here, it’s probably cooled down now.”
“You look like you need a nap.”
“Like shit? Yeah.”
“You’d never look like shit, love. You go to sleep there. I’ll chill on the sofa. Wake me when you wake up, I’ll sort food an’ all.”
Andy checked the mug was in no danger of falling, and turned back to what he liked to think of as his living area.
“You… you don’t need to sleep on the sofa. Would you — it would be nice if you’d… Ali managed to indicate the empty side of the bed before wincing and closing her eyes again. Andy wondered if she actually did have a headache as well.”
And then realised what she’d said.
He thought for a moment. Ali was a good friend. Possibly his only friend, other than Pete. Obviously, he fancied her, but he hadn’t particularly missed sex over the last six years. Anyone you could trust — he supposed that was the definition of friend — was more important than getting his leg over. He didn’t want to jeopardise his friendship — and trust — with Ali.
Though, having been persuaded to break his years-long sex drought with Laura the week before, the thought of such things with Ali had crossed his mind increasingly frequently. He snorted, realising he hadn’t needed any persuasion, just an offer.
Andy wasn’t sure what Ali was offering, but right now she wasn’t in a state to offer anything, whatever she said.
“All right. I’ll sit down here a wee while, read my book.” He sat on top of the duvet, Ali beneath it beside him. All chaste and polite. Ali fell asleep, the grey pallor fading from her face.
Andy watched Ali sleep, rather than read.
He enjoyed it.
Around two hours later, Andy speculated about dinner, as Ali woke up. “Man, that’s better.”
“I’m afraid dinner’s no better than on site. Pasta, pesto, peas, cheese.”
“It’s different. kolej escort Pesto. Even if it was the same, I’d be happy.”
She used one hand to eat, again, Andy noticed. Clearly not totally recovered. Ali held a couple peas aloft on her fork. “I never thought I’d be so happy to see frozen peas!”
That reassured him. Her humour was always a good sign. She’d lost it for that three weeks before finally splitting with Jude, not to mention much of the next fortnight. He’d been worried, or rather, more worried, then. Physical pain was a bastard, but depression and sadness were worse.
“You’ll not be wanting booze tonight, am I right?”
Ali shook her head. “Doesn’t mix well with the meds. I feel drunk enough with the temazepam — it’s supposed to help me sleep…”
“I know what jellies are! Shit, pal, you’ve got a fortune there! Um. Yeah. Don’t worry. I don’t know anyone, any more…”
“People buy them?”
“Oh, you sweet innocent lass! Yeah. About a fiver each. You can melt them down and inject them, people say it’s like Ecstasy… Or mix with heroin, for a bigger high — course, what goes up must come down… No, I haven’t. I’d have nicked them and sold them, before, rather than use them myself. Why I’m still alive, innit.”
“Right.” Ali felt she had to say something. “Good. That you’re alive, I mean.”
“And well?” Andy asked drily. “Aye. I coulda been more stupid.”
“So you were just a young pisshead, not a druggie, then?”
“Mm. Never injected anythin’,” Andy agreed, glossing over various experiments involving tablets and crystals, and plentiful teenage weed use. “Just a bampot goin’ radge too often. Ach, what do you call it…”
“I’ve seen Trainspotting. ‘Violent batshit fucker, exploding soon as anyone looks at you funny’?”
“About right. Start in on anyone before they can start on you, that’s what I used to think. Not that I did thinking, beyond getting a bit of cash — that was my problem. Like to think I do think now. I think, therefore I am not just a glaikit wee bawbag…”
“I saw your Sociology textbooks. Are you doing a degree?”
Andy blushed, awkward again. “Might be.”
“What do you mean?”
He winced. “Yeah. Aye, I am,” he confessed. “Starts next month, three years. Working around it, fewer hours. Want to be a qualified youth worker, end up working at a proper residential place, a centre in the countryside somewhere, teach proper activities, maybe work properly with troubled kids an’ that. Who knows? Long way from that, now.”
“Good on ya, love.”
The term of endearment wasn’t just a vocal tic, Andy reckoned.
“It’s getting late. You’d best get to bed.”
Ali gave him a hard stare. “You, too.”
Both seemed frozen by the silence that ensued. Ali was familiar with the fan-fiction trope of ‘two people, one bed’; Andy was equally unsure what was being asked of him. Ali dropped her gaze.
Eventually Andy swallowed and spoke. “I was gonna say, you was always welcome to stay here. Move in, like, long as you need…”
Ali’s throat scraped, “And? But?”
Then she whispered, “Could I?”
They moved closer, into the sort of friendly hug they’d had before, but with more intent and body weight behind it.
“Bed,” she told him, her forehead to his. “I’m not having you sleep on the sofa if I’m living here.”
Andy pulled away so as to better inspect her face. “Meaning?”
She held him, possibly more for support than for romance, and leaned towards the bed. “Come on. Not promising anything tonight — we’re both too tired, right? — but next weekend — we’ll be done with the camp? No Jude watching our every move. Take it from there?”
Andy nodded slowly, letting the idea filter through his brain and out into a smile. He let her pull him to the bed. This time, they both got under the covers.
Andy seemed stiff, almost frozen, at the contact with Ali’s body, despite them both being still fully clothed. He forced himself to breathe, slowly.
Ali stretched over and gave him a kiss on the forehead. “You’re a good man, Andy.”
He managed to turn to her, his muscles easing a fraction. “Eh?”
“La, la, violent criminal jailbird, blah bla blah! You was a screw-up, you learned, you got sorted, now you’re working on becoming a professional. You’re an adult now, you know to control yourself, I know you wouldn’t hit anyone now…”
“Doesn’t mean the past never happened, though, does it? “
“Not saying that. But it doesn’t have to wreck your future. I’ve worked with you a year now. I can trust you, is what I’m saying. I like you…”
She melted at the expression in his eyes, his deep brown eyes crinkling, like an abused dog finally realising his new owner won’t hit him.
“I like you, too.”
“Good. Hold that thought, gorgeous.”
The word clearly startled him.” You’re gorgeous.”
Ali seemed equally resistant to compliments. “Whatever. Come here.”
Slowly, their bodies wriggled closer to each other.
“You’re maltepe escort lovely and warm,” Ali told him, more for reassurance as she stated the obvious. “Relax!”
Andy was still lying rigid, a few inches away. Then he took a deep breath, gave an embarrassed smile, and determinedly nudged his body to make contact with hers. Another face of concentrated thought, then he gave Ali an awkward kiss on the cheek.
She turned her head. He hesitated, then kissed her mouth, holding her tight. His kisses were slow, powerful and reciprocated.
“Mm, you’re good,” Ali said when they broke for air. “Coming back to you OK?”
Andy made the most equivocal sound he could, and embarked upon more kissing. Whether he needed it or not, he wanted more practice.
Unlike with Laura, it was vital to him that he made a good impression upon Ali.
He stiffened slightly when Ali snuggled up to him, then forced himself to relax.
“You OK?” she asked.
“Fine, aye. Just, y’know.” Andy exhaled. “Used to share beds in the jail sometimes, to keep warm, but all strictly well-behaved, least with me and my cellies it was… Bit different, this.” He paused. “This is nice.”
“Good! So, I guess, you had those five years out of the dating scene. Then you weren’t exactly social when you started down here. How long has it been, for you, then?”
Andy was about to admit to nearly seven years — lots of parties at a certain lass’s place, Enigma or Dire Straits always playing in the background, the smell of fag smoke and patchouli — when he recalled his evening with Laura a few days earlier, and choked to a halt.
“What? Are you a virgin?”
He couldn’t help laughing at her concern. “No! Had plenty! Free leisure activity, innit? Before.”
“OK. Yeah, it was over six years. Until last week.”
Ali ran through the possibilities. “Who? Where?”
“On site.” Before Ali started jumping to any conclusions, he added, “Laura.”
“Oh, you jammy, jammy bastard! How did you manage that?”
Andy blushed again. “Richie. No! Not like that! He asked if I was interested in her, obviously I couldn’t say I wasn’t, he swore Laura was, and suggested I come into their tent that night… I told him he was a mad cunt and wasn’t going inside unless Laura explicitly invited me too. An’ he just whistled, the gallus fucker, and said ‘see you later’.”
“And, so: I made a thing of tripping over the guy-rope, he calls out to me and asks if I want to come in, Laura makes some kind of noise like she’s kinda up for it but also wanting to slap the bastard, so I come look inside. And there’s Laura sitting up all topless, with her long hair and the best tits ever looking at me — actually, her naked legs were stunning too — and she goes, ‘come in if you’re gonna, you’re overdressed.’ So obviously I get my kit off and join her, Richie at the back of the tent pretending he’s not there, looking so smug I wanted to punch him, only, obviously, Laura.
“Mm, she was good…” Andy tailed off.
“Oh, I bet! Tell me more. What happened? I’m envious.”
“She does shag women too, she said. Just saying.”
“I know. It adds to the dream. Go on.”
“Eh? Well, I’m having a grand time, and I reach down and turns out I can reach her arse, and…”
Given Ali’s eager interest in hearing every detail, Andy was persuaded to share his happy memories, providing a moment-by-moment account of the encounter in response to her interrogation.
“We’re both having trouble keeping our faces where we want them on her, so I asked if it’s OK if me and him hold her still. I swear, she was practically coming at the bare idea! I got me arms all round her, trapping hers, me and him had our legs round her, she’s moaning into my neck. Soon as that gallus wee bastard gets his tongue on her again, I was having to hold her head into my chest to muffle the screams, she’s that into it!”
“Oh, man! Wish I’d been there.”
“We’d have needed more space!”
“Eh. We could have kicked Richie out,” Ali decided.
“You that good with your mouth, love?”
Ali smiled, with a sleepy yet predatory expression. “Oh, you wait and see! What else? Did you go fuck her exhausted body?”
“Not immediately! I was cacking myself, all out of practice, so I goes ‘are you sure?’ like some glaikit idiot. She goes, all calm and posh and sure of herself, ‘you don’t have to, but I’d love it if you would.'”
“I can just hear her…”
“Aye. I was just getting brave enough, when Rich goes ‘I’ll fuck her if you don’t,’ which got my mind made up! Next thing I know, she’s giving me this wicked smile, reached for my cock and sunk her head down over it… You’d never think it, her so posh and proper, but the girl is a right sex fiend!”
“I’m thinking it now!”
“I bet! Anyway, she gets me hard as iron, gives this mischievous wee smile, and turns round on her hands and knees, wiggling her bum in the best invitation of this decade…”
“Mm… You had to, really, didn’t you?” She gave him a kiss on his lips.
“I couldn’t let the lady go disappointed… But, something else — she had marks on her…”
“Like Richie. Couldn’t have been anyone else, I guess. Love-bites all over under her breasts — basically wherever would be hidden by her swimsuit. And some scratches and a bit of pinkness across her arse.”
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