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Subject: The Hunters, chapter 13 The Hunters – Chapter 13 Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction which features sexual activity between teenage boys, as well as between teenage boys and adults. If you do not want to read such a story, or it is illegal for you to do so because of your age or where you live, then I recommend you go read something else instead. Feedback is very welcome. So, if you are enjoying this story, please do drop me an email at hoo If you can, please support Nifty with a financial donation – whatever you can afford – so that this archive of stories can remain free and available. Just go to fty/ *** Tuesday morning. Will was stood outside the office of Mr Sanderson, his housemaster. The teenager had received a note during registration requesting his presence. The request had worried him. Was he about to be bollocked again for missing the maths test last week? He had thought his housemaster had bought the lie about his aunt’s cancer scare, but perhaps not. Steeling himself, he knocked on the thick wooden door. “Come in,” his housemaster called out. Will entered the office. It was a room he knew well, having been to see his housemaster many times over the years, though always for positive reasons. He wondered whether this morning would be different. It was a thought that scared him. Despite knowing his father was not his real father, he still feared letting the man down and being a disappointment to him. “Don’t look so worried Will,” his housemaster quipped. “You’re not in any trouble. Come and sit down.” “Oh, okay,” Will replied, following the man’s instructions and seating himself on a chair next to his housemaster. “I thought this might be about what happened last week.” “No. Although I hope we never see a repetition of that incident again, in the circumstances, it was understandable.” “Thank you for your understanding, sir.” “How is your aunt doing, by the way?” “She’s bearing up okay, thanks,” Will lied. “That’s good to hear. Are they planning to operate?” “Too early to say,” Will replied, the deception growing bigger. “They still need to run more tests.” “Well I hope she gets through this,” the man said, reaching out and patting the teenager’s shoulder. “So what did you want to see me about, sir?” “Oh, yes. We spoke a couple of weeks ago about the upcoming position for Head Boy.” “Yes sir. I remember.” “Well the application packs are now ready. Here’s a copy for you,” the man said, handing an envelope to Will. “Thank you sir. So you still think I should apply?” “Of course.” “But what about last week…?” “Forget about last week, Will. You’re a good lad. We all make mistakes sometimes. The important thing is how we learn from them.” Will’s chest puffed out, his spirits soaring. “Yes sir. Thank you sir.” “Now just make sure you ace that application. As I said to you before, it’s high time this house had the honour of having the Head Boy in its ranks.” “Thank you sir. I will.” “As you’ll see in the introductory letter, the applications have to be in by next Wednesday.” “That doesn’t give us long.” “No. The Headmaster likes to do it that way. He says it gives him an idea who can cope well with pressure and work to tight deadlines.” “Right.” “Though if I were you, I’d aim to get it in early. I think that would impress him.” “Okay, sir. I’ll try to get it done by Monday.” “And I’d be more than happy to look through your application once you’ve finished it. I’d recommend you let your father take a look at it as well.” At the mention of his `father’, the teenager felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. “Yes sir. Thank you.” *** That afternoon. As soon as Brandon entered the hotel bedroom, Timothy was all over him. “I’m horny as hell,” he explained, before wrapping his arms around the youngster and kissing him. “Oh yeah,” the teenager responded as he ground his stiff pole against Timothy’s crotch. “I’m ready for a hot fuck.” “Good.” Timothy took Brandon’s hand and led him towards the bed. Once there, the man unfastened his own trousers, freeing his swelling cock. “Do you want to suck this?” “When have I ever said `no’ to that?” the seventeen-year old replied, before falling to his knees. He grabbed Timothy’s stiff shaft and stroked it roughly while sucking him like a starving calf. Timothy almost laughed. Brandon was jerking his rod like he was milking a cow. Still, getting milked like this was pretty damn sexy! The tension in Timothy’s balls was soon approaching bursting point. “I’m getting close,” he told Brandon. “Want me to cum in your mouth?” The seventeen-year old stopped his frantic sucking. He fondled Timothy’s rock-hard pole while kissing its tip. “I love tasting your cum, but I’d rather get a full load up my arse instead.” “I think we can manage that,” Timothy said, starting to unbutton his shirt. “I need your cock so damn bad,” Brandon said as he also hurried to take off his clothes. “Well, you’re going to get it,” Timothy replied, taking the duvet off the bed and dropping it on the floor. He pointed to the bare sheets. “Get up there. It’s time to fuck your brains out.” Doing as the man had requested, Brandon lay on his back at the edge of the bed and folded his knees against his chest. Timothy bent down and took some lube out of his trouser pocket. He moved between the teenager’s raised ankles. “Seems like forever without your cock,” Brandon told him. “Stephen and I fuck almost every night. He likes it. So do I. But still, these days, it’s always your big, hot rod I dream about. Pounding me like a bitch.” Timothy laughed. “Well, don’t worry. I’m going to fuck you like the whore you are.” He spread some lube on his finger and slid it up the teenager’s hole. It went in easily. He twisted his wrist while moving his finger in and out, distributing the slick gel evenly. “Oh yeah,” Brandon moaned, looking hungrily at Timothy’s towering pole. “I need you inside me. I need you to pound me.” “Damn right!” Timothy pulled his finger out of Brandon’s arse, squirted lube into the palm of his hand and stroked his painfully-stiff penis, getting it good and slick. “I’m going to fuck the hell out of your tight little bottom.” “Oh yeah! Sounds so fucking good!” Brandon pulled on his ankles, lifting his butt higher. Timothy bent forward and kissed Brandon. The teenager kissed back, enthusiastically. Timothy pressed his tip between the youngster’s sculpted buttocks. Brandon almost screamed as Timothy’s stiff dick rammed inside him. “Jesus!” Timothy pulled back and then slammed home, shaking Brandon’s body. “Oh shit!” Timothy yanked his cock out of Brandon’s butt. “Put it back,” the teenager whispered. “You think that hurts?” Timothy slapped Brandon’s arse as hard as he could, making a noise like a pistol shot. “How about this?” “Oh fuck! Oh! Oh!” Brandon’s hard-on jerked wildly as Timothy spanked him roughly, leaving red hand prints on his buttocks. “Please stop. Please. Please,” the youngster pleaded. Timothy laughed and jammed his rigid pole into Brandon’s bum-hole. “Take it, bitch! Take this big fucking cock!” “Oh fuck!” Brandon cried. “You’re so big!” he screamed, as Timothy pounded his arse. “God, no! Stop. Please!” “I’ll tear your fucking arse open!” Timothy slammed Brandon harder and faster. “Fuck your arse until it bleeds.” They were both shouting at the tops of their lungs. What the guests in the rooms next door must be thinking was anybody’s guess. “I’m gonna shoot,” Timothy gasped. “Fire a big hot load of cum inside you!” “Oh God! Fill me up!” Brandon jacked off while pushing his bottom back to meet Timothy’s driving rod. Timothy’s nuts tightened. “Here it comes bitch!” He thrust his throbbing cock as deep into the teenager as he could manage. “Oh fuck yeah! Shoot it!” Brandon cried out as he spewed cum on his crotch, belly, chest, and even his face, while Timothy came inside him. Several moments later they collapsed side-by-side onto the bed. “Fucking hell,” Brandon said, his chest heaving. “That was… wow.” “Yeah,” Timothy agreed. “I needed that.” Brandon stared into the Timothy’s eyes, noting a pensive look on his face. “What’s up,” the teenager asked. “Oh, it’s nothing.” “It’s not nothing,” the seventeen-year old said, as he toyed with the hair on the man’s chest. “What’s bothering you?” Timothy took hold of the teenager’s arm, pushing Brandon’s hand away. “Just drop it.” “Oh come on Tim. Don’t give me that. The way you just fucked me… clearly you needed to get something out of your system.” “Fine,” the man sighed. “But this stays between the two of us. You can’t tell anyone else.” “Scout’s honour,” Brandon replied, raising his hand in a mock salute. “It’s about the twins…” Timothy began. *** Twenty minutes later, Timothy strode out of the hotel and headed towards his car. He’d told Brandon everything. In many ways it was a relief, as if, somehow, part of the burden of carrying this secret around had been lifted. As he got into the car, a thought nibbled at the back of his brain. `But how can you be sure Brandon won’t spill the beans?’ He tried to brush it off, turning the radio up in an effort to silence the nagging voice in his head… only it was still there when he arrived home. *** The following morning, Jennifer arrived at the village hall for a meeting of her charity committee. To her surprise, she heard voices coming from the meeting room. It sounded like everyone was already there. She checked her watch and saw she wasn’t late. Could she have got the time wrong? She stopped outside the door, checking her make up in the mirror of her powder compact while half listening to the conversation. “I just don’t understand it. How can you not know your own baby?” She closed the compact, her blood running cold. “When I think of the lectures she’s given me on raising children and all the time she was raising someone else’s.” Jennifer’s legs turned to jelly. She fought an urge to run while recognising Brandon Price’s voice. “You’re not being fair. These things happen.” “Not with identical twins, they don’t!” “Exactly. How can you make a mistake over that?” “Look David, it’s possible,” Brandon continued to defend her. “It can take weeks to determine whether twins are identical. Besides, I understand she was ill when they were born.” “She still should have known. I would.” “So would I.” “Poor Joshua, having to watch his mother favour someone else’s child.” “And not just any mother, but `mother of the year’.” A ripple of laughter passed through the room, as sharp as a knife. “Imagine how he must be feeling.” “Imagine how the other boy must be feeling, knowing his own mother didn’t recognise him.” “Apparently she didn’t even want to meet him.” “Probably too ashamed.” “Probably worried his shirt wouldn’t match the curtains.” The laughter grew louder. “Please stop,” said Brandon anxiously. “She’ll be here in a minute.” “No doubt eager to disparage all our children.” “She does, doesn’t she? When my son did badly in his GCSEs she was so patronising I could have slapped her.” “That’s enough!” Brandon said forcefully. “This is a dreadful thing she’s going through and she deserves our support.” “Oh Brandon, you’re so naive. Imagine if one of us was in her position? She’d be the first to throw stones.” The discussion continued. Jennifer remained where she was, breathing deeply, trying to gain some degree of composure. `You can’t run,’ she told herself. `You can’t show weakness. You have to face them.’ Again she opened the compact and stared at her face. It was like that of a frightened child. She hated it. She hated them, and she was afraid of them, but she would never give them the satisfaction of seeing it. Straightening her back, she entered the lion’s den. Instantly, all conversation stopped. She walked briskly to the head of the table through a silence thick with embarrassment and malicious glee. “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting,” she said crisply. “Not at all,” Barbara Stewart said, sweetly. The same Barbara who had just been condemning her. The same Barbara whose son Ethan had done badly in his GCSEs. `Was I patronising to her?’ Jennifer asked herself. `I didn’t mean to be. I honestly didn’t.’ But she had been. She knew it. Barbara knew it. They all did. She pulled out the agenda for the meeting and pretended to study it, aware of all of them waiting for her to falter. “Shall we get down to business?” she asked. “Yes, lets,” Brandon said brightly. lara kendi evi olan escort Jennifer cleared her throat, ready to begin. “How are the boys?” Lorraine Mayer asked. Jennifer managed not to flinch. Lorraine was smiling, her expression one of innocent curiosity. The rest followed suit, only most were not as accomplished actors as Lorraine and the spite was clear to see. All except Brandon, who looked anxious: her one true friend for whom she was sincerely grateful. `No weakness,’ Jennifer told herself. `Ride it out.’ “William is unsettled, naturally, but he knows Tim and I love him and that as far as we’re concerned he’ll always be our son. Joshua is fine, and Jonathan is a charming young man of whom any mother would be proud.” She paused, exhaling slowly. “Thank you for asking, Lorraine. It was very thoughtful of you.” Lorraine’s smile faltered. Others too looked taken aback. Clearly, none of them had expected her to be so honest. Not that it changed anything; the character assassination had already begun. Again Jennifer cleared her throat. “So, turning our attention to the agenda…” The meeting commenced. She chaired it as she had so many times before, her manner calm and confident, giving no hint of the turmoil that raged beneath. `How do they know?’ she asked herself. `Who what was it that told? Who did this to me?’ *** An hour later, Brandon walked home with Jennifer. “But how did they find out?” Jennifer kept asking. “You know what village life is like. Nothing stays secret for long.” “Who told you?” “No one.” Jennifer looked confused. “Well, no one directly,” Brandon added. “It was already being discussed when I arrived.” “But who heard about it first? Who told them?” “I don’t know. I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling…” Jennifer wasn’t listening, too wrapped up in her own train of thought. “None of the family would have told. I’m sure of it.” “Why not?” “Because that’s what we agreed.” “Did you? I mean, did everyone?” “Yes…” Jennifer hesitated. “My sister did.” “But not the others?” “Well, not expressly. But it goes without saying…” “Of course it does. Only, with the best will in the world, the truth does have a way of slipping out. The important thing is to remember that whoever it was didn’t do it deliberately because that would mean they were trying to hurt you and no one would want to do that.” Jennifer began to look troubled. “Tim certainly wouldn’t,” Brandon went on. They had reached the drive of Jennifer’s house. Jennifer stared at him. “Tim?” “You know what people are like. When things go wrong we always need someone to blame. I imagine if I was in your situation then Stephen would blame me. He’d probably spread the word himself just to make me suffer.” Jennifer grew pale. “But Tim is nothing like Stephen,” Brandon continued. “He’d never want to punish you. Not that there’s anything to punish you for.” “I need to go. I’ll call you later.” Jennifer started up the drive. “Yes, call whenever you need. I’ll always be here for you.” Jennifer turned back. “Thanks for sticking up for me.” “You don’t need to thank me. What are friends for? Ignore the others. Let’s face it, this could have happened to anyone.” The two of them hugged each other. Jennifer walked towards her house. Brandon remained where he was, watching until his friend was out of sight. Only then did he begin to laugh. *** Jennifer stood in the hallway, Brandon’s words echoing in her head. `Whoever it was didn’t do it deliberately because that would mean they were trying to hurt you and no one would want to do that.’ She wanted to believe that. She wanted to so desperately… only she didn’t. Timothy came down the stairs. “I was at my committee meeting,” she told him. Nodding, he made for the front door. “They know about Jonathan,” she added. He turned back, looking startled. “You told them?” “Of course not.” “Then who did?” She didn’t answer, her suspicions too painful to share. “Well?” he pressed. “I don’t know. Brandon couldn’t say.” His eyes widened. “What does Brandon have to do with this?” “He’s on the committee.” “Oh. Of course.” Although doing his best not to let it show on his face, inside Tim was seething. It was quite obvious that Brandon had been the one to let slip. Why had Tim been foolish enough to let the teenager in on their secret? “They were talking about it when I arrived,” Jennifer went on. “All of them were saying I should have known.” He winced. “Don’t look so shocked. You said the same yourself.” She noticed he was holding his jacket. “Are you going out?” “I could stay if you want.” She shook her head. “No. Really, I could,” he insisted. “I mean, if you’re upset.” Touched, she managed a smile. “I’m okay; just a little shocked. But thank you.” “I’m sure whoever it was didn’t do it on purpose.” “That’s what Brandon said. Dear Brandon, the only one of my so-called friends…” “I’ll see you later,” he said abruptly. “Call me if you need me. I’ve got my mobile with me.” “Thanks, Tim.” He stroked her cheek with his finger. The last time he had done that he had been apologising for hitting her. Again he seemed to be apologising, only this time there was no need. Not when the blow had been struck by someone else. He left. She walked into the living room and stared at a photo of William on the grand piano. `How could you have done this to me?’ she asked, picking the frame up. `How could you go behind my back and tell everyone like this?’ It was a meaningless question. She knew the answer already. But it didn’t excuse a betrayal like this. Nothing could. Not after all she had done for him. She thought of the happy boy he had once been, the boy who was always cheerful and eager to please. Doing whatever it took to make himself her favourite. He had made it happen. If she had ignored Joshua it was William’s fault, not hers. He had manipulated her; played her like the piano on which his picture stood, as if he had known the truth all along. Her eyes shifted, coming to rest on a picture of Angela and herself. Angela seemed to be shaking her head, as if warning her against listening to the dark thoughts that flooded her brain. But she wanted to listen to them – welcomed them in fact. Welcomed anything that allowed her to blame someone else. *** Nine o’clock, Thursday morning. Timothy sat in his study, a plethora of thoughts running through his head. What would happen when the tests confirmed that Jonathan really was their son? How would the three boys react? How would he and Jennifer deal with the fallout? Why had he trusted Brandon with the news? And what on earth was Tim going to do to about it? The doorbell rang. Climbing out of his chair, he walked across the room and out onto the landing. As he headed towards the stairs, the front door opened. “Hi there. I’ve got a package for Timothy Hunter,” he heard the stranger’s voice say. “That’s my husband,” Jennifer replied. “Am I okay to take it for him?” “Sure. I just need you to sign here.” Timothy was now stood in the hallway. “Thanks for signing for that,” he said to his wife, once she had finished exchanging pleasantries with the courier. “That’s okay,” Jennifer replied. “I knew you’d be busy up in your study.” “I presume you know what it is?” he said, nodding his head towards the package. “Yes,” his wife replied, with a slight quiver in her voice. Without another word passing between them, she handed him the envelope, which he carefully opened. After pulling out a piece of paper, he studied it intently for several moments. To Jennifer, it felt like half a lifetime. But she knew better than to push him; knew what the consequences might be if she did. Instead, she waited, waited until Timothy was ready to tell her the news. Eventually, a slight smile appeared on his face. Without him having to say anything, she already knew what the results were. Her lungs tightened, as if someone had placed them in a vice. A rasping breath shuddered from between her lips, the last hope of a return to normality fading like the evening sunset. *** Half past eleven. “I know it was you,” Timothy told Brandon. They were sitting together on their hotel bed. The teenager smiled at him. “What are you talking about?” “Don’t play dumb. You know damn well what I’m talking about.” Brandon lay back on the bed, revealing his naked body in all its glory. Fortunately, they had already had sex and Timothy was temporarily immune to its charms. “Why do you think I did it?” the seventeen-year old asked. “Because I know you.” “Is that a fact?” “Absolutely.” “Then what on earth possessed you to tell me?” Momentarily silenced, he just stared at the teenager. “Maybe you wanted to the truth to get out,” Brandon suggested. “And why would I want to do that?” “To punish Jennifer.” Tim shook his head. Brandon prodded the man’s groin with his foot. Angrily, he pushed him away. “You want her punished,” the teenager goaded. “Deny it all you want but we both know it’s true.” “No, it’s not. Besides, this reflects just as badly on me as it does her.” “On you?” Brandon started to laugh. “What? You think it casts a shadow over your parenting skills? The only way you could do that is by actually killing one of them.” “What the hell do you mean?” “Who’s playing dumb now?” “I’m a good father.” “And I’m a virgin.” “I am a good father!” “So why do you never talk about them?” “I do, constantly.” “You never talk about Josh and you only ever complain about Will. If both were to die tomorrow I doubt you’d even notice.” “They’re my sons. I love them.” “Really? The only person you truly love is yourself. Josh has only ever been a disappointment and Will’s only ever been an ego boost. Only now there’s the possibility he will spoil it by eclipsing you in the success stakes.” “Rubbish. He’ll never be more successful than me.” Again Brandon laughed. “I rest my case.” “You don’t know anything.” “I know that you feel threatened by Will. I know the only reason you invited Jonathan to your home was to remind Will who was boss.” “Shut up.” The teenager moved beside him and began to massage his neck. “Stop being so defensive. I’m not judging you. When it comes to issues of decency, I’m hardly in a position to throw stones.” Tim didn’t answer. Brandon nibbled his ear. It tickled. Against his will, the man smiled. “That’s better,” Brandon whispered. “You still shouldn’t have done it.” “Who said I did?” “You did.” “No, I said you wanted me to. That’s not the same thing.” “Who else would have done?” “You’ve always said your sister-in-law has a mouth like the channel tunnel.” “It wasn’t her.” “But it wasn’t me. Why would I?” “To hurt Jennifer. You hate her enough.” “Only because she gets in the way of us.” “There is no us. Not in the way you mean.” “We’re good together. That’s what I mean. This is what it is, but it’s still good. Better than good, in fact.” The teenager began to kiss Timothy’s neck, his breath hot against the man’s skin. Brandon’s arms tightened around him like vines. Six months ago Tim would have found it erotic. Now he just felt smothered. Brandon radiated need, while all Tim wanted was sex. Once that was all the teenager wanted too, but now all he wanted was for the man to leave Jennifer. Brandon would never admit it, but Tim knew it was true. A part of him longed to end it, yet he kept holding back. The sex was still good and besides, Tim didn’t want Brandon as an enemy, not when the teen took so much pleasure in inflicting pain; just as Tim had taken pleasure inflicting it on William. Brandon now had ammunition against him; ammunition he was sure the teenager wouldn’t hesitate to use. He had to keep him onside; that was the simplest solution. Besides, Tim had other, more important things to worry about. Brandon continued to caress him. He allowed the teenager to do it, waiting for desire to eliminate shame. *** An hour later. Tim sat in his study, staring at a wooden paperweight on his desk. It was in the shape of a Rolls-Royce. William has made it for him several years ago. He picked it up, turning it over in his hands and stroking its grooves with his fingers. It was a beautiful piece of work: remarkably accomplished for such a young boy. `How old was he?’ Tim asked himself. `11? 12? What was it for? Christmas? Birthday? And why can’t I remember? I should be able to remember.’ lara otele gelen escort But he had kept it all this time. Surely that counted for something. He remembered some of the visits to the boys at their school over the years. Standing by a sports pitch, watching Will score a try. Sitting in an assembly hall, watching Will receive prizes. Meeting teachers who told him what an exceptional boy Will was. But there had been few such occasions. He had usually been too busy working. On the few occasions when he had accompanied Jennifer, the boys bounced around him like excited puppies, eager to tell him their news and show him all they had achieved. It’d been a good feeling: to know how much they missed him; how much his presence meant. His gaze fell on a leather chair in the corner of the study. In his mind’s eye he saw a fourteen-year old William sitting in it, asking him about Oxford and promising to gain admission to his old college. “I’ll study 24 hours a day if I have to,” William had vowed. “I won’t let you down, Dad.” And he never had. Whatever had been asked of him, Will had always delivered. He was a fine son, the sort any man would have been proud to father. Only that man wasn’t him… and it hurt. For the first time, he realised just how much it did so. But pain was good. It showed he cared, that he was not the person Brandon said he was. He was capable of loving someone other than himself, and he was bloody well going to prove it. He remained at his desk, turning the car over and over in his hands, pondering what his next move should be. *** Half an hour later. Will was once again in his housemaster’s office, sitting on a chair next to Mr Sanderson. “This is very, very good,” his housemaster said, having just read through the teenager’s application form. “With this in front of them, I think the Headmaster and the rest of the panel will have a very hard time turning you down.” “Thank you sir. And do you think there’s anything I need to add or change, perhaps?” As he was saying these words, he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He ignored it. “I’d perhaps put a little more emphasis on your trip as school ambassador to Paris; talk a little more about how this shows your commitment to internationalism. I don’t know whether you realise, but the Headmaster is very pro-Europe. You should have heard him when the Brexit result came in.” His phone buzzed again. “Thanks for the advice, sir. I’ll make sure I add in a bit more about that.” “Excellent. But remember that the application form is only the first hurdle in the process. There will also be a formal interview.” “Okay, sir. Thanks for the heads up.” After exiting the office, Will checked to see who had been trying to call him. It was the man he’d spent the last sixteen years calling `Father’ – not that he really was. Will’s good mood deflated as quickly as a balloon that had been attacked by a pin. He stuffed his phone back in his pocket, not yet ready to hear what the man had to say. *** Will found the rest of the afternoon difficult, and he struggled to concentrate in class. Eventually, he gave in and listened to his father’s voicemail message, his phone having felt like it was burning a hole in his pocket. The teenager had been pleasantly surprised by his father’s message: he was sorry if Will had felt put out by Jonathan’s visit at the weekend; that he and his mother still loved him; that he wanted to meet up for lunch on Saturday to talk things through. Will felt torn. On the one hand he was very pleased by the man’s warm words, especially by his apology – something he could never remember happening before. However, something about his father’s words troubled him. They seemed so out of character. Was this some kind of trick? He rang his father back, confirming that he was free on Saturday lunchtime. The man suggested that they meet at a rather exclusive club in Manchester where Timothy was a member. The teenager figured it would probably not be a comfortable meeting, but knew that his father would be relentless until he agreed to it. Feeling buoyed by his father’s pleasant manner, Will told him about the application for Head Boy. “Well, if you can get it finished by Saturday, I’ll be more than happy to have a look through it when we meet,” the man said, echoing his Housemaster’s words from earlier in the day. “Thanks… Dad,” the teenager replied, still unsure of how to address the man who, up until a few days ago, he thought was his real father. *** “Hello. Can you put me through to Graham Sanderson, please,” Timothy said, down the phone. “One moment,” the receptionist replied. A pause. “I’m afraid he’s busy right now, sir. Can I take a message for you?” “I’m not sure you realise who you’re speaking with,” Timothy said, his hackles raised. “This is Timothy Hunter.” “Oh. I do apologise Mr Hunter. I’ll put you right through.” A pause. “Timothy, how are things?” Graham Sanderson asked. “They could be better,” Timothy replied. “Oh, you’re not still upset with young William are you? It’s water under the bridge. I’m sure he’s learnt his lesson.” “No. It’s not that. Something else has happened, and I think it’s important that I tell you about it.” “Oh, right.” Over the next few minutes, Timothy filled the housemaster in about what had happened with Jonathan and the fact that William wasn’t actually their son. “My goodness,” Graham said. “Yes, I bet that’s been rather a shock for you all. It can’t have been easy finding out about all that on top of William’s aunt being diagnosed with cancer.” “About that… she doesn’t actually have cancer. Will made it up. It’s understandable really. Will and Josh had met for lunch but they’d got into an argument about the situation with Jonathan.” “Well, I wish he’d have told me the truth.” “I know, but I’m sure you can understand why he didn’t.” “Yes. Though why didn’t you tell me all this when I rang you about the drinking incident last week?” “I’m sorry,” Timothy replied. “But at that stage, we weren’t certain. We hadn’t even met Jonathan at that point. But now we have, and there’s no mistaking it; him and Josh are like two peas in a pod. We’ve also done some DNA tests. We got the results back this morning. It’s true. Jonathan is our son, and Will isn’t.” “So what’s going to happen now? Is Will going to stay at the school?” “My solicitor told me that things will be far easier if we formally adopt Will. So yes, he’ll be staying with you.” “Well that’s a relief,” Graham said, risking a joke. “I’m counting on him becoming Head Boy, and he’s already started on his application.” “Yes, he mentioned that when I spoke to him earlier. By the way, could you email me a copy through? Just so I know what he’s working with and see if I can give him a hand.” “Now you know that goes against protocol, don’t you?” the housemaster said. “Graham, Graham, Graham. How long have we known each other?” The teacher sighed. “Fine. Since it’s you.” “Thank you. After all, I’m sure you want Will to succeed as much as I do.” “Yes, it’s been far too long since Crompton House had a Head Boy amongst its ranks.” “Right, well I’d better let you get on with the rest of your day. I imagine those boys must keep you very busy.” “Thanks. And you will keep me updated with the situation about William and Jonathan, won’t you?” “Of course. I’m sure we’ll be in touch again soon.” “Thanks. Bye.” After ending the call, Timothy dialled Jonathan’s number. It was time to share the news with him. *** Saturday lunchtime. Will was sat with his father in the bar of a private members’ club. Set in a Georgian house, not far from Picadilly gardens, it was the sort of place where the rooms were all oak-panelled and the staff wore uniforms and treated members with the excessive deference his father had always enjoyed. They sat together at a quiet table. Nearby stood a Christmas tree – classily decorated in red and gold. Will had already given Timothy a copy of his Head Boy application. The man had said he would take it home and read through it. Will had told him he didn’t need to, but the man had insisted. Their food arrived. “No chance of an ashtray?” Timothy asked the waiter. “I’m sorry, sir.” “Bloody nanny state. Next thing they’ll be banning alcohol.” The waiter smiled unctuously then slid away. Will folded his arms, bracing himself to the usual interrogation about school, together with the inevitable disparaging of his progress compared to that of the great Timothy Hunter. Instead, the man sipped his drink, looking uncomfortable. Feeling the same, Will gazed about the bar, saw someone he knew and waved. “Who’s that?” Timothy asked. “Someone from school.” “Is he in your year?” “Yes.” “And is he running for Head Boy too?” “Yes. At least that’s what I’ve heard, anyway.” Silence. Timothy began to drum a tune on the table. Will sat, watching. “`The Entertainer’,” the teenager said eventually. “Sorry?” “You’re playing `The Entertainer’, the sole piece in your finger piano repertoire.” The man nodded. “Five years of piano lessons and it’s the only piece I can remember.” “You’re doing better than Josh and me. Sixteen years of lessons between us and we can barely manage `Chopsticks’.” “And to think of all the money I’ve wasted on lessons.” “We keep telling you we weren’t any good.” “But it makes your mother happy. There’s nothing she loves more than sitting in the front row at your school recitals, listening to the two of you butcher the classics.” Will smiled. “How is your brother?” Tim asked. “I don’t know. We haven’t spoken since last weekend.” “Normally you two are as thick as thieves.” “Well, we used to be.” Another silence. Will sipped his lemonade, wishing it was something stronger. “I know it was difficult for you, but we had to invite Jonathan into the house. We couldn’t just pretend he doesn’t exist. According to my solicitor, he’s our responsibility, legally. That means he has to become part of the family. So I had to make him feel welcome. You probably felt I was getting at you but I wasn’t. The truth is, Will, I wasn’t sure how to play it. There’s no rule book for a situation like this. But one thing I am sure of is you mustn’t let it affect your relationship with Josh.” “Unfortunately that’s not just up to me.” Timothy paused, judging how to manage the situation. “You know Josh,” he said eventually. “He loves playing the big man. At the moment he’s playing it for Jonathan but once the novelty wears off he’ll come looking for you. People talk about blood ties as if there sacred, but it’s shared history that really counts. You’ll always be his true brother, just as you’ll always be my true son.” Will masked his surprise with nonchalance. “And where does that leave Jonathan?” “Like I said, he’s our responsibility now. We’ve got to look after him.” “But what did you think of him?” Momentarily, the man was taken aback. “Well… he seems a nice enough lad… but he hardly compares with you.” “He hasn’t had my opportunities.” “It’s not just about opportunities,” Timothy said, regaining his stride once more. “It’s about knowing how to make the most of them.” He sighed. “I remember when I was at school. Most of the boys in my class were so complacent. Their parents were wealthy and they expected everything to fall into their laps. My parents were wealthy too, but I never expected anything. I knew I didn’t need money behind me to get somewhere. Just like you.” Suddenly embarrassed, the teenager shook his head. “It’s true, Will,” his father went on. “You’ve got my drive. Look at everything you’ve achieved at school.” “Having your reputation behind me doesn’t hurt.” “Doesn’t it? You have to prove yourself twice as much as everyone else. But so far you’ve done that, every step of the way. And I’m proud of you.” Will looked down at the table, trying to remember when his father had last expressed pride in him. “Thanks,” he said quietly. “That means a lot.” “Why?” “Because I’ve done it all for you.” “I know. That’s what I meant when I said you’re my true son. Jonathan doesn’t change anything. Not where you and I are concerned.” Will looked up. His father was smiling. The teenager unfolded his arms, feeling the last of drops of animosity drain away. They were still family. That was what mattered. “Another drink?” Timothy asked. “Sure.” “Let’s make it a strong one this time. The Scotch here is excellent.” “As good as the stuff lara rus escort you keep in your study cabinet?” “And how would you know about that?” “How do you think?” “So that’s why it’s started to taste so watery.” “We hoped you wouldn’t notice.” “Of course I’ve noticed. I was young once too. By the time I was ten I was already taking swigs from your grandmother’s Sherry.” “Sherry?” the teenager grimaced. “You’re telling me! It was your grandfather’s fault for being teetotal. Be grateful you have a father with taste.” The waiter brought more drinks. They clinked glasses. “I think they water it down here too,” his father remarked. “Are you going to complain?” “Am I hell? It’s still better than bloody sherry.” They both laughed. Will noticed his classmate was leaving with the middle-aged man he was with, and gave him another wave. “It’s a long time since we did this,” his father observed. “We should make more of an effort. After all, we never had much time together when you were younger. That’s something I regret.” Again Will felt embarrassed. “Well, you were busy with work.” “It wasn’t just work. Your mother was always so possessive of you boys. Whenever I tried to get close to either of you should always make me feel like I was trying to steal you away.” “I never knew you felt like that.” “Well, I did. Not that I blame her. The home was always her domain. I was never there enough for it to be mine. I’d tell you not to make the same mistake but I’d be wasting my breath. You’re my son, after all. You’ll do things just as I did.” Will wasn’t convinced, but nodded anyway. His father started to laugh. “What?” the teenager asked. “I’m trying to imagine you with a Bolton accent.” Will didn’t respond. Unexpectedly, the comment made him uncomfortable, annoyed even. “A lucky escape, eh?” the man suggested. “It’s just an accent.” “It’s a bloody awful one. How is anyone supposed to take you seriously when every time you open your mouth you sound like Peter Kay?” His father took another sip of his drink. “You had a very lucky escape.” Will told himself to let it go. Just to enjoy the fact they were getting along. But in his head he saw the photograph of Jonathan’s parents and knew he couldn’t. “That’s a bit harsh, Dad. The Wilsons were good people.” His father snorted. “They were,” the teenager insisted. “Come on, Will. You heard what Jonathan said about his father.” “Yes. He sounded like a good guy.” “No. He sounded like a loser.” “He didn’t.” “He spent his life fixing cars. What does that tell you?” “That he enjoyed it. And he was good at it, so Jonathan said.” “It’s still a loser job.” “So you think I’m a loser?” His father frowned. “Why do you say that?” “Because last weekend you told me I’d be a natural at it.” “I was joking. Come on, Will. You’re much better than that.” “Better?” “You know what I mean.” “Yes, I do. I’m your true son. Therefore I must be as remarkable as you.” The frown deepened. “Why are you being unpleasant?” “Why are you acting like you’re better than Mr Wilson?” “Oh, for god’s sake…” “Well?” “Do you really need me to answer that?” “No. I get it. He had a regional accent whereas you speak with a silver spoon in your mouth. So much for not needing family wealth to get on in life.” “It’s not just the accent…” “Then what is it?” “Will, drop it.” “Why? You’re the one who brought it up. Why are you better than him?” “Well, what did he ever achieve?” “So it’s about success. You’re better than him because you earn more?” “It’s not quite as simple as that.” “But that’s your basic point.” “Yes, if you put it like that. Most people just coast through life. It takes balls to actually get somewhere. I have them. He didn’t. Anyway, why are you so bothered? He was nothing to do with you. You didn’t even know him.” “No, I didn’t.” “So be grateful. I tell you, Will, you should thank your lucky stars the hospital fucked up the way it did. You may have it in you to get somewhere in life but you’d have found it a damn sight harder with that loser holding you back.” Will sipped his drink. His father watched him, the benevolent expression replaced by one of anger. There was nothing his father hated more than being challenged. Will should have known better. He had had it with drummed into him enough times. Only this time, he couldn’t help himself. “I’m sorry, Dad,” he said softly. “You’re right, of course.” His father nodded. “He was a loser,” Will added. “Just like you said.” Another nod. “Do you think Stephen Russell says the same about you?” His father’s jaw dropped. “Do you?” Will pressed. “What the hell are you talking about?” “Stephen Russell’s achieved more than you ever did. He makes a tonne of money buying and selling shares. His father was only a butcher from Bury. Wow, Dad, while we’re on the subject of balls, his must look like melons compared to yours.” The look of anger became one of fury. “Don’t compare me with him!” “Why not? You’re the one who’s so big on comparisons.” “Only ones that are true.” “So you’re more of a man than Stephen Russell?” “I’m ten times the man that jerk will ever be.” “Yeah, right.” “Don’t take that tone with me! Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?” “A better man than Mr Wilson, apparently. He never bullied his wife. What a loser he must have been! Thank God I had you to learn from instead.” “You did learn. You’d be nothing if I hadn’t pushed you.” “That’s right. I’m going to become a big important actuary like my big important father. All I need to do is marry Zach, treat him like a doormat and adopt a couple of kids I can’t be bothered to spend any time with and the wheel really will have turned full circle.” “That was your mother’s fault. Not mine.” “So you’re not denying you bully Mum?” “I’m a good husband.” “Yeah, and so was Henry VIII. Next thing you’ll be claiming you’re a good father too.” “I am!” “Bullshit. You’d written Josh off by the time he started school. The only time you noticed he existed was when you were shouting at him to get out of your way.” “That’s not true.” “Of course it is.” “Josh has only got himself to blame. He should have made me notice him the way you did.” “I shouldn’t have had to make you. Neither of us should. If you were any sort of parent you’d have realised that.” “I provided for you. I gave you everything.” “Everything? All you ever gave Josh was an inferiority complex and all you ever gave me were stress-related ulcers. Mind you, we should consider ourselves lucky. You probably gave that Swedish au pair gonorrhoea.” His father swallowed. “I was six years old,” Will continued. “Josh and I were playing cowboys and Indians in the garden with Mum. You couldn’t join us. You said you had to work. But I went to look for you and what did I find? You in your study hard at work screwing the au pair on your desk. In my innocence I went and told Mum that neither of you had any clothes on and she told me I’d imagined it and that I was never to talk about it again. Which I didn’t. Not to her, or Josh, or anyone.” “It never happened. It’s all in your head.” “I can still see it now. You were telling her she was a dirty bitch who couldn’t get enough. It’s a classy line, Dad. I must remember to use it the first time I cheat on Zach.” His father’s expression was murderous, his hands clenched into fists. “I’m warning you, boy. You’d better stop this right now.” “I’m not a little boy any more. I’m a young man, and I’m going to become more successful than you.” He laughed. “And that absolutely kills you, doesn’t it?” “I’ll kill you if you don’t shut your lying mouth.” “What are you going to do? Hit me?” “I mean it, Will.” He leaned across the table, staring into his father’s eyes. “Hit me, then. But don’t think all that rugby playing hasn’t paid off.” The teenager flexed his arm. Slowly, Timothy’s fists unclenched. But the murderous expression remained. “What’s the matter, Dad? Not feeling so tough now?” “Don’t call me that. Not anymore.” “What? Are you disowning me? I should be flattered it’s taken you sixteen years. With Josh it took a less than six.” “You leave Josh out of this. At least he’s mine. Not like you. Oh, yes. We did a DNA test last weekend and the results came back a couple of days ago. Jonathan’s definitely our son, and you’re definitely not. You’re just a worthless Bolton mongrel and you are nothing to do with me.” Will rose to his feet and stared down at his father, suddenly certain their relationship was irreparably damaged. He waited to experience a sense of loss, but it never came. Perhaps it would take time. He wasn’t holding his breath. “That’s right,” the sixteen-year-old said. “I could never be your son. Not when you’re a hundred times the man I’ll ever be.” Then, after downing the rest of his Scotch, he walked out of the bar. *** Timothy remained where he was, shaking with fury. He reached for his glass but his grip was so tight it shattered in his hand. The waiter hurried over to clean up the mess. “Are you hurt, sir?” he asked, obsequiously. “I’m fine.” “Are you sure?” “Of course I’m bloody sure! Bring me a refill, will you, and quickly.” The waiter scurried away. Timothy looked about the room, noticing a dozen pair of eyes hastily being averted. In the distance, someone was laughing. It reminded him of the distinctive chuckle that Brandon had. He pictured the gardener’s face. The expression was mocking, taunting Timothy with the fact that the teenager had been right about him all along. The waiter returned with a fresh drink. As Timothy lifted the glass he noticed blood on his finger. He wiped it away with a handkerchief, wishing it belonged to Will instead. *** Midnight. Jennifer sat in bed, waiting for Timothy to join her. He emerged from the bathroom, wrapped in a towel. She pulled back the sheets in readiness but he just paced backwards and forwards, radiating aggression like a trapped animal. She sat very still, feeling trapped herself. “Aren’t you going to ask?” he said eventually. “I didn’t want to pry.” “I tried to tell him that none of this matters. That he is still our son. That we still love him.” He exhaled. “More fool me.” “Why? What did he say?” “You don’t want to know.” “But…” He turned towards her. “Trust me. You really do not want to know.” “You make it sound as if he hates us.” His silence was more eloquent than any speech. A chill swept through her. “Does he?” she asked. “You should have heard him, Jen. Going on and on about how wonderful his real parents must’ve been. How much better his life would have been if he’d grown up with them. Listening to him, you’d think all we’ve ever done is hold him back.” She swallowed. “I’m surprised you’re not defending him,” Timothy said. “He can’t do anything wrong in your eyes.” She didn’t answer, instead remembering her visit to the post office that morning. Two of her so-called friends had been there when she arrived. Both greeted her with overly wide smiles, as did the man behind the counter. Did he know too? Had the three of them been discussing her beforehand, gleefully tearing to shreds the perfect facade she had spent so many years creating? It was surely what Will had intended when he let slip the truth. “What did he say, Tim? What did he say about me?” Timothy’s expression softened. Pity crept into his eyes. It frightened her far more than his aggression had. “No, don’t tell me,” she said. “I don’t want to know.” Tossing the towel aside, he climbed into bed. “So there it is,” he said. “What’s done is done and now it’s finished.” “Finished?” “With William. We’re finished with him. Both of us.” “What are you saying? That we just cut him off completely?” “Yes.” “But we can’t. What about his schooling? What about Oxford?” He snorted. “Fine. We’ll continue to pay his school fees. But he’s going to have to stay at school during the holidays. There’s no way I’m having him back under this roof. I’ll have to phone the school tomorrow and discuss things. And once he’s finished his A-levels, he’s on his own.” “No…” “Yes. That’s how it has to be. You see that, don’t you?” His jaw was set. She felt like crying but didn’t dare. Tears would only make him angry and that was the last thing she wanted. Otherwise he might discard her the way he was discarding William, and she couldn’t risk that. For better or worse, her life was with him. She was too old and too scared to try to make another. “Yes,” she said. “I see that.” He kissed her cheek. “Good.” After switching off the lights, he lay down to sleep. She lay beside him, staring at the ceiling, trying not to imagine the things Will had said, only for ever more savage possibilities to fill her mind. Time passed. He started snoring. Only then did she allow her tears to fall.
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