Disclaimer: In case it is not clearly stated in the narrative, everyone in this chapter engaging sexual activity is at least 18 years of age.
Note: This is written in British/South African English, although almost all similar media I consume is American, so that will have its influence too. For the sake of keeping the note short, I’ll post a comment to explain my use of language and obscure terms, if anyone asks or I think of something in particular.
I untwisted my hand from the knot of seatbelt I’d entangled it in, panting and exhilarated. Eric lifted his head from my lap and settled next to me on the back seat. He put a hand on my face to turn it towards him, and kissed me. I could taste the faint trace of my cum in his mouth.
“There.” He grinned, and pushing away from me, climbed into the front seat.
“You don’t want to-“
“I’m not going to jizz in my shorts, thanks.” He turned back to me, his tone reassuring. “And I’d hate to mess up your car. It’s fine. You’ll get me later. Plus, we’re going to be late. We should get going.”
I grinned, and climbed into the driver’s seat, feeling a little guilty. We’d hooked up a few times by now — pretty much for the rest of that weekend after our date, and the whole of the weekend after that. He’d also stopped by at my place a few times in the middle of the weeks between. I still hadn’t quite been ready to blow him, but he didn’t seem to mind doing it without reciprocation, and we still both got to enjoy ourselves a lot anyway.
We’d just come from the restaurant where Louis had booked out a room for his eighteenth. He’d only wanted a small event, apparently, just people he liked and knew well. Which, after two more weeks of hanging out with him around the edges of AP maths, seemed to include me and Ellie.
It also included Sara, who was now officially dating John. Ellie had still been obsessed with their group dynamic, so she’d found out and explained to me — at length — that, apart from Melissa, John seemed to be Louis’ best friend, so Louis inviting Sara made sense. As for us, she thought Louis had just been bowled over by our ‘charming and brilliant personalities.’ Hers, mostly, of course.
It didn’t seem as if Frank and Jared — from the balcony at Caitlyn’s party — had made the cut, so that confirmed Ellie’s suspicion that they weren’t part of the ‘core’ group. Jess had looked pretty upset the whole evening, so I didn’t quite want to ask her about it. I wondered if Ellie had.
“Is Jess okay, by the way?”
“What? Oh, right,” he said, buckling himself in. “Frank broke up with her, so yeah… she’s not having a great time.”
“Yeah. I mean…” He shrugged. “Awful guy anyway. I didn’t really like him.”
I started the car, and put some music on from my phone.
“Ugh. What is this garbage?” Eric groaned.
“It’s a band called the Noisettes, and they’re amazing. If you don’t like them, walking is always an option.”
“Fine, I’ll listen to your dumb music.” He grinned, and reached across to rub the back of my neck. “Come on, let’s go. We’re probably already late.”
Sara had offered up her house as a venue to go back to after we were done at the restaurant. The idea had Ellie’s fingerprints all over it — part of her convoluted plan to worm our way into the group, no doubt. It felt unnecessary, since things were going so well between John and Sara, but the plotting kept Ellie busy, so I didn’t even ask. The two of us had both seemed to crack an invite from Louis anyway, without — openly, in my case — dating anyone in the group.
Most of them had set off for Sara’s house on foot — Louis and Melissa, Sara and John, Vince and Jessica. I’d needed to drive my car there, and when Eric mentioned something about needing to find an ATM and joining me for the car ride, Ellie had decided at the last minute not to accompany us, and rushed off to join the others. I hadn’t realised that Eric was making up an excuse, and had something pretty different in mind. Not that I’d been willing — or able — to argue with him.
It didn’t take us long to get to the house, which I’d been to before for a group project. Sara’s parents were major hippies — and very successful artists — and they lived a very bohemian existence in a bungalow on the beachfront, just near enough the edge of Blue Mountain Beach’s borders to be respectable. They were currently away at an arts festival, a fact which had probably triggered Ellie’s plan for the evening.
The rest of the group must have been walking really slowly. By the time I’d pulled into the driveway, they’d only just arrived, and I had to wait for them to scuttle out of the way before I could park. Ellie lingered back with me as everyone filed through the small gate that led towards the beach area, looping her arm through mine and giving me a mischievous grin. “Have fun?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. We went to an ATM.” I blushed slightly, but couldn’t help but smile.
“Sure.” She patted my arm, and then slipped away once we reached almanbahis the sandy enclosure at the back of Sara’s house.
John’s hulking form was crouched over a firepit, sleeves pushed back off of his muscular forearms, and he was arranging some coals and firelighters in the center. He’d been the only one who seemed to have ignored Louis’s suggestion that we wear beach friendly clothing.
Everyone else had given him good-natured ribbing when he’d rocked up in a button-down shirt and nice jeans — for ‘trying to impress his new girlfriend’. He’d only put up a token protest, explaining that he’d only skimmed the invitation. After that, he’d played along, and defiantly claimed that Sara was ‘a girl worth impressing’, at which point the teasing became about what a sappy romantic he was.
He looked up from the firepit as I rounded the corner. “Hey, Jay, can you bring me one of those bags of logs?”
“Um, yeah. Sure.” I grabbed the bag from a pile that sat up against the house, and brought it over. I tore it open, and started helping John place them around the arrangement of coals he’d set up. Sara brought us things we needed as she flitted around, her blonde waterfall of beauty-queen hair flicking about as she played hostess to everyone. John lit the firelighters with a match, and then we delicately piled a few more logs over the whole arrangement and stepped back to wait.
“You’ve set it up all wrong,” Vincent said, wandering over with a cocky grin on his face. He’d worn a shirt with a hula girl’s torso on it — which had drawn a groan from Louis and a laugh from everyone else when he’d walked into the restaurant earlier. “It’s going to fizzle.”
“Oh, fuck off.” John laughed cheerfully, and then turned to me. “Ignore him. He’s just bitter because he’s been banned from anything to do with fires.”
“He nearly killed us.”
“Oh come on, that was like one time.”
“It was like five times, you moron.” Melissa wandered over to join us at the fire. Tonight she was wearing a short green beach dress that made her red hair seem more vibrant than usual. “And the last time you burnt off my goddamn eyebrows! I had to spend half a year drawing them on.”
“But you looked hot.” Vince grinned.
“I looked like my Great-Aunt Maud.” Melissa tossed her hair in mock outrage. “If you think that’s hot, I’ll give her your number.”
“Great. I’ve been looking for a sugar-mommy.”
“Yeah, Maud’s broke,” Melissa said. “But she used to be an acrobat, and she can remove her teeth, so…”
“Louis! Melissa’s doing it again.” John shouted.
“Mel.” Louis wrapped his arms around her. He looked great tonight. He’d ditched the glasses — presumably for contact lenses — and gelled his hair up into a fashionable mess. Following his own advice, he was wearing a t-shirt and boardshorts, but really nice ones, although the shirt had an optical illusion pattern that I found hard to look at directly. Everyone had been feeding him alcohol all night, so he was a lot more relaxed than usual. “You know John hates it when you sexualise the elderly.”
“She’s a woman with needs, Lou.” Melissa chuckled. “Besides, Vince started it.”
“Yeah, my bad. Great-Aunt Maud and I are in love.”
“Mmm.” Louis looked Vince’s wiry form up and down, smirking. “Maud can do better.”
“Ouch.” Vince clutched at his heart and grimaced.
“I brought you a drink.” Eric popped up next to me, and handed me a beer.
Everyone gravitated around the firepit to watch the weak flames of the firelighters peek out from the gaps in the pile of logs.
“This isn’t going to take.” Vince said in a sceptical tone. “We have to-” Just at that moment, a large tongue of flame leapt out from the charcoal pile and began to char the edges of some of the logs.
“Yes, Vince?” John said, grinning very broadly. He held out his fist in my direction, and I bumped it tentatively with my own, grinning back at him.
“Not important.” Vince said, grinning and holding up his hands. “I’m going to go pour some shots.”
Sara led him inside, and they came out with a tray of shot-glasses, which Vince took to a table and began delicately filling with Jagermeister. Sara rejoined the group, and we stood around the pit watching the logs catch alight.
Louis cleared his throat. “I wanted to tell you guys something. It’s not exactly news, but since it’s my birthday, I thought it might be nice to just say it out loud, and-“
“Speech, speech!” shouted John. Sara slapped him in the stomach.
“I just wanted to sort of officially say something because I haven’t really got the chance before. Too many interruptions.” Louis gave John a reproachful look. “Since it’s my birthday — shut up, John — I just thought it might be nice, as a sort of milestone thing, to say… Well, I’m gay.”
“Oh god, I’m going to die alone.” Melissa exclaimed loudly.
“Melissa and John have known for a while. Which is why they’re being such asses about it.”
Both of them laughed, and Ellie wandered over to Louis and almanbahis giriş hugged him. I felt like I was going to fall over. I hadn’t seen it coming, and it took my brain a few seconds to register that it was actually what he’d said. Louis was gay. Even Eric — after all we’d done — was sticking to his ‘no labels’ thing.
It was a weird feeling — I was no longer alone, but I felt a mild panic at the idea that I’d probably have to come out to Louis, in turn. When Louis glanced in my direction, I gave him what I hoped was a convincingly warm smile. I worried, for a moment, that if my expression came across as weird, he might even think I was being homophobic.
“We were just going to be asses anyway,” John said, causing Sara to roll her eyes at him. His voice caused me to snap back into the moment, and remember that this wasn’t about me.
“A fair point,” Louis said, smiling.
“Okay, we all have to do shots now.” Vince brought over the tray of shots. I blinked, not quite believing how casual they were all being about it. Movies had kind of led me to believe that it should have been a more dramatic moment.
“We do not have to do shots.” Louis crossed his arms as Vince waved the tray under his nose.
“Yes, you do,” Vince said solemnly. “Drink the shot, Lou. Otherwise, we’re going to call you homophobic.”
“That makes zero sense.” Louis grabbed one of the glasses anyway.
“What if I AM homophobic? Does that mean I don’t have to drink the gross dark stuff?” Melissa asked casually.
“Mel, if I want to make you drink, I’ll just remind you of one of your traumatic childhood events.” Vince held the tray out to her.
“I had a perfect childhood. There was no trauma.”
“Oh no? Remember that time you tried to kiss Lou in the middle of the school play, but your hand got stuck in the scenery, and you ended up elbowing him in the nose and everyone saw. And how that’s now even more embarrassing because he’s gay.”
“Well, fuck. Shot, please.” She grabbed a glass from the tray.
“That IS embarrassing,” Ellie said to Melissa. “No wonder you’re homophobic.”
Melissa guffawed loudly. Everyone else gathered around and grabbed glasses, and we dutifully clinked them together and drank. When I put the glass down, a few of them were looking at me strangely.
“What?” I asked.
“You didn’t even flinch.” Melissa said, slightly slack-jawed. “You realise Jager is gross, right? Are you going through some dark stuff right now?”
“No, I…” I frowned. “It doesn’t taste that bad, does it?”
“Leave him alone.” Ellie giggled. “His whole family’s like that. Some odd genetic mutation — that’s my theory.”
“Spooky,” Vince said. “Do another one!”
“Sorry, one beer, one shot. I’m driving.” I shouldn’t have even had anything at all, but I was still a little nervous around Eric’s friends, and I’d been so quiet over dinner. Their reaction made me think accepting the shot probably hadn’t done me any favours, but at least I hadn’t been called homophobic — even jokingly.
“Anyway…” Eric said. “Now that Lou’s eighteen, this means that Jess is the only one who’s still seventeen. Pretty illegal Jess, having that shot.”
“Whatever. Rat me out, and I’ll take the rest of you guys down with me.” It sounded like she was trying to be carefree and casual, but her voice cracked slightly, and she kept her eyes locked on the fire. Eric put his hand on her shoulder and gave it a quick rub.
“Guys, does no one care that I’m dying alone?” Melissa asked the group.
“You’ll have your cats.” Louis grinned, and hugged her when she pouted.
Ellie came to stand by me, and Vince started wrestling with John, even though John was about twice his size. When they nearly knocked her drink out of her hand, Sara came to join us. “I’m going to pretend that’s cute, and that it doesn’t make me feel like I’m dating a ten-year-old.”
“Boys never grow up.” Ellie said, patting Sara’s arm. “Except Jay, of course.”
“Jay’s always been a grumpy old man on the inside.”
“I’ll take back those ‘thanks’ now.” I sighed, and Ellie grinned.
“Oh my god, Jay! I almost forgot, I have to show you something.” Sara pulled out her phone, and began scrolling through a series of photos. “Hang on a sec. Ah, here.”
She held the phone out to me, and I studied the photo on the screen. It was my older brother, probably in a nightclub, and he had his arm around a girl that looked a lot like Sara.
“That’s your brother, right?”
“Yeah, that’s Brian.”
“Cool. That’s my sister Alli.” Sara grinned. “Do you know if there’s anything going on there? She won’t tell me if there is or not.”
I didn’t know what to make of the brief, sharp look Ellie gave Sara, but I was too relaxed to worry about it much. “Um… Brian kind of isn’t dating now. And he hasn’t told me anything.”
“Oh, well. Good to know, anyway.” Sara glanced briefly at Ellie, who was gazing out at the sea.
“Who’s Brian?” Eric had wandered over to us.
“No, almanbahis yeni giriş the one in University.”
“Ah, right.” Eric nodded.
“He’s really cute.” Sara said.
“Gross.” I frowned.
“He is, though,” Sara insisted. “Right, Ellie?”
I thought I could see a brief flash of annoyance in Ellie’s eyes. “Not as cute as Jay.”
“I’m not sure whether I want to say thanks yet. Could you elaborate?” I asked.
“Sure. You’re like a basket of puppies, woven with flowers.”
“I’m still not sure if that’s a compliment.”
Eric laughed. “Anyway, we were thinking about going out into the water. Anyone here coming?”
“Sure,” Ellie said.
“No, thanks,” Sara said brightly, and made her way over to John.
Eric looked at me.
“Um, yeah, okay. Why not?”
I dumped my phone into a pile on the drinks table with everyone else’s, and pulled off my socks and shoes. Sara opened the gate for us, and everyone who was going started to file out. Jess had taken up a position against the fence.
“Not coming, Jess?” Eric paused as he was going through the gate.
“No, I don’t want to get wet.” She wrapped her cardigan tighter around herself. “I’ll just watch you guys, make sure no one drowns.”
“Okay.” Eric shrugged.
John had stayed behind too, but the rest made our way into the water, sloshing our way through the foaming breakers towards the darkening horizon.
“Something just touched me.” Melissa screamed, jumping back. I studied the water nervously, but it was hard to make anything out beneath the glassy black surface in the dim light.
“It’s probably just seaweed.” Eric said dismissively.
Melissa cautiously swirled her legs through the water in front of her, then jumped back screaming again. As she landed, she lost her balance and fell over backwards into the water. Louis sloshed his way over to her, and Vincent reached into the water where she’d been standing.
“Don’t!” Melissa cried.
“Relax, it IS seaweed.” Vince picked up a big lump of kelp, and lobbed it away from us. “See, nothing to worry about.”
“At least you still have your dignity, Mel.” Louis chuckled and reached out a hand to her, but his laughter was cut off when she grabbed him and pulled him into the water. Vincent doubled over to laugh, and didn’t notice as she rose ominously out of the water and sloshed towards him.
“Hey, Vince,” she said sweetly.
“Oh god. No, no, no, no,” He began to run away from her, but she was too fast. She managed to leap onto his back, wrapping her arms around him.
“Get off!” He laughed, and then tipped them both over into the water.
I was laughing hard, and didn’t have time to fight back when Eric wrapped his arms around me and dove us both into the water.
“What the FUCK?” I asked as I sputtered to the surface.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he said timidly, crawling up to me in the water. “Sorry. I thought it’d be funny.”
“It was pretty funny from over here,” Vince yelled cheerfully from his spot in the water.
“Sorry.” Eric grinned sheepishly.
“Jay, if you want me to pack his underwear with sand, I’ll totally do it,” Melissa said.
“I’ll consider it,” I said darkly, brushing the hair out of my eyes. A grin leapt unbidden to my face anyway.
“Hey Ellie,” Vince called out. “You’re looking awfully dry over there.”
“I will end you,” Ellie said haughtily. “Alright, fine — I will get in. But I have demands. I want to do it slowly, and no one’s allowed to wet my hair.”
“I’ll personally drown the first boy who tries it,” Melissa said. “You have gorgeous hair.”
“Thank you!” Ellie said, beaming. She gently lowered herself in, and took a few cautious strokes.
Ellie had barely been bobbing near us for a few minutes when Vince launched a spray of water at Eric’s head. Ellie shrieked, and backed away.
Melissa positioned herself between them and Ellie, as Eric launched a counter-attack, but she quickly got involved and the three of them were splashing each other while Ellie watched from a distance, and Louis and I tried not to get caught in the crossfire.
After a while we all just went back to quietly bobbing in the tide. Eric subtly floated over to me, and held my hand underneath the water.
“Okay, I’m getting out.” Melissa announced, standing up and dripping. “I’ve got sand in places I never even knew I had.”
“Gross.” Louis said.
“Don’t make me drown you.” Melissa squeezed some water out of her hair.
“I better get out too.” Ellie rose from the water gracefully. “My protection is leaving.”
“Can’t trust these delinquents. Come on.” Melissa laughed, and the two began to trudge towards the shore.
“I’m going to head back too.” Vince said. “I have questions about what those sandy places are.”
“Creepy, dude,” Eric said. “I’m not quite done here. Going to hang around a bit.”
“Yeah, me too,” I said quickly.
“Ew, they’re peeing!” Vince laughed.
“I’m going to head out too.” Louis quickly glanced at me, but then turned around to face the shore. “I need to stop Melissa from killing Vince if he actually asks about the sandy places.”
The two of them followed in the wake of the girls, and soon Eric and I were alone in the water again.