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Never Again

Guest TelephotoMarigold

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Story title: Never Again

Type of story: Long fiction

Main characters: Aden, Belle, Nicole, Geoff, Roman, Annie,

BTTB rating: A (L SC)

Genre: friendship, romance, drama,

Warnings: Contains Reference to Same Sex Relationships

Summary: Aden and Geoff are a new couple, shocking the Bay by coming out together but what happens when Nicole Franklin hits Summer Bay and they both fall for the newcomer…..

Aden put on his usual thrash metal and turned it up loud. The sound reverberated through the house he shared with Roman Harris, the guy who had taken him in. He sighed, feeling the throbbing beat go through him and release the tension of the day.

He was part way through taking his HSC again and the studying was getting him down. Roman had given him shifts to work in the diner and he was grateful for the money especially when the man charged him a pittance in rent. He pulled out his books and swore. He had been sharing a textbook with Geoffy Campbell and the other man must have it with him. He only just heard a knock on the door and he went over to open it.

“Geoff.” He said. “What can I do for you Bible boy?” he asked only just keeping the sneer from his voice.

“Well I though I could do something for you actually.” Geoff said.

Their eyes met at the unintentional double entrendre.

Neither of them sniggered.

Eventually Aden took a deep breath and hissed it out between his suddenly clenched jaw.

“Anyway I have that text book.” Geoff said after a minute.

“Thanks.” Aden said.

He took a step back opening the door wider.

“Do you…” he paused. “Want a drink or something?” he asked not looking in Geoff’s eyes.

Geoff took a long breath.

“Yes.“ He said.

He walked into the house and Aden showed him through to the kitchen and he sat quickly at the table. He made a show of flicking through one of the books on the table.

“I have cola?” Aden said looking in the fridge.

“Yeah ok.” Geoff said his voice sounding breathless.

He sighed.

“What’s up Bible boy?” Aden asked.

“Well that for a start.” He muttered. “I’m having a hard enough time fitting into the Bay with out you calling me that all the time.”

Aden nodded.

He placed the two drinks on the table and moved away turning the music down before sitting next to Geoff at the table.

“Well I guess I can ease up a little,” Aden said and smirked. “As long as you don’t think I’ve gone soft.”

Their eyes met and Geoff moaned under his breath.

“What?” Aden said.

“Well the bible says it’s a sin.” He muttered.

Aden looked at him. Their eyes met.

“If I was in a relationship with someone sex wouldn’t be a sin.” Aden muttered a flush of embarrassment staining his cheeks.

“It’s not sex that I’m worried about. I have feelings for someone.” Geoff said feeling like he had just taken a bravery pill or was committing suicide.

“Feelings are good.” Aden said.

“Really?” Geoff said quickly, almost hopefully.

“Well yes. You don’t want to be with just anyone mate.” Aden didn’t admit that he was quoting Roman at that moment.

“But what if the feelings are for someone unexpected?” Geoff asked.

“I don’t have any easy answers..er Geoff. I’m going through this stuff just as blind as the next bloke.” He grinned. “And well I have a few trust issues.”

“Yeah.” Geoff said softly. “But..”

“You can ask.” Aden nodded.

“Do you like ..” Geoff couldn’t’ ask the one thing he wanted to now.

“Am I gay right, because of what happened?” he grinned. “I don’t know.” He answered truthfully. “That is why I’m taking my time to figure stuff out!”

“Oh.” Geoff gasped.

“Are you having feelings for someone of the same sex?” Aden said after a long silence.

Geoff looked at him in shock before nodding slowly.

“And you want to now what to do?” Aden guessed again.

Geoff nodded once more.

“Well I think you should tell that person you like them and see what they say. If you are getting vibes from them that they might like you."

“But what if it is someone say like you?” Geoff asked.

Their eyes met again and their gazes locked.

Aden stood up and held out his hand to Geoff who stood slowly and took hold of Aden’s hand.

“Does this feel wrong Geoff?” he asked indicating their joint hands.

Geoff shook his head.

“It doesn’t feel wrong but the bible tells me that I can’t be a Christian if I’m gay because this is a sin.” He said and a sob tore through him at the crisis he was having.

“I know.” Aden murmured.

He looked into Geoff’s tortured gaze and pulled him towards him taking him into his arms and holding him.

“So how about we keep quiet about this and take it slow.” Aden said.

Geoff looked at him.

“Are you saying ..” he began.

Aden lowered his lips to Geoff’s and kissed him softly.

“I think we are going to see where we go before we come out to the Bay.” He said taking responsibility for their relationship in that one sentence.

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“Roman can I talk to you?” Aden asked.

Roman was standing in the kitchen about to grab a beer from the fridge. He looked over at Aden and picked out two, handing the other one to him. Aden looked up with a puzzled expression on his face before accepting the bottle and going and sitting with Roman on the back patio.

“You’ve been wanting to talk to me for a while I reckon, mate.” Roman said softly.

Aden nodded and took a drink of the beer.

“Well I never thought I’d say this but I have feelings for someone.” He muttered looking down unable to meet the other man’s gaze.

“Does this person have feelings for you?” Roman asked.

Aden nodded.

“But it wasn’t expected.” He added.

“Never is.” Roman said softly. “I take it you are being careful?”

“No.” Aden said and grimaced. “It’s not gone that far.”

Roman laughed.

“I meant about seeing each other not anything else.” Roman said finally. “As to the other you probably know more than me on that score.”

“You know its another …” Aden said his gaze flew to Roman’s.

“It’s Geoff isn’t it?” he said and Aden nodded.

“Mate.” Roman said softly. “I’ve always been into girls myself but when you’ve been around you pick up vibes.”

“Oh my gosh.” Aden said amending the last word even though Geoff hadn’t been there to hear it.

“I’ve been giving off gay vibes?” Aden asked.

Roman shook his head.

“No its just something when Geoff is around you.” Roman grinned. “But if you are concerned about it maybe you aren’t ready to explore that side of you.” He took a long swallow of his drink. “And I’m maybe not the best person to talk to about this.”

“Why?” Aden asked. “You have a crew cut, a girlie tattoo and you like uniforms.” He pointed out.

Roman laughed again.

“And I also spent most of my life hanging out with lots of big butch men!” he added to the list a smile playing on his lips.

“Well I wasn’t going to mention it.” Aden grinned. “But well you and Miles are close.”

“Not that close despite his girlie hairstyle thank you very much.” Roman grinned.

“So you aren’t shocked?” Aden asked finally.

Roman shook his head.

“Or disgusted?” he voiced the question on his mind morning noon and night.

“Aden, mate, you will be whatever it is that you are meant to be. I just hope I don’t come home one day and find you in Morag’s clothes.”

Aden looked up.

“Well that beige number she wears is quite nice.” He commented.

Roman raised his eyebrows.

“Not your colour.” He said grinned.

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Aden saw Geoff in the corridor at school. He wondered how they did this. He nodded acknowledging him. Geoff grinned and moved into his classroom. It answered his question at school they were low key. Well it was one hurdle crossed over he supposed.

He moved into his classroom and started the lessons. By the time Lunch had rolled around he could barely focus on the work. Instead he wanted to see Geoff. See, speak to and er…kiss. Admitting the last to himself felt monumental. He had a free period after lunch so he decided to head home. He saw Geoff in the distance once more and wished it were as simple as just walking up to him and just talking.

He moved past him.

“Hey Aden.” Geoff called out.

“Yeah.” He muttered trying to adopt his former tone when he spoke to him.

“I’ve got the rota for the diner from Irene.” Geoff improvised.

“I’m heading home now.” Aden muttered. “Can it wait?”

Geoff shrugged and handed over a piece of paper before moving along the corridor with his classmates.

Aden waited until he was outside before he opened the piece of paper and read it.

‘Can’t stop thinking about the other evening. Text me!!!’ he read and grinned. He folded the page and made sure it was securely in his pocket despite the absence of names on it.

He headed home and wasn’t surprised when a knock sounded at the door a little while later.

“Hey.” He greeted Geoff.

“Hi.” Geoff said adopting a casual tone of voice.

“Come in.” Aden said finding that he was feeling nervous. Nervous and excited he confessed to himself.

Geoff walked into the room and waited until the door was shut before he became the aggressor. He backed Aden up against the door and kissed him. His hand pushing aside Aden’s shirt to touch his flat muscular stomach. They hadn’t done this before and Aden was shocked at how good it felt. He returned Geoff’s kisses, and put his own hands on the other man.

“Maybe we should slow down a little.” Aden suggested.

Geoff pulled back a smile on his face.

“If you want to.” He murmured almost sounding as though he was disappointed.

“I want to enjoy this.” Aden murmured. “But you have to be back in school and it needs to feel right and I so sound like a girl right now don’t I?” he muttered blabbing out words.

Geoff grinned at him and Aden suddenly noticed how the corners of his eyes crinkled up when he smiled. It was kind of cute.

“Are you saying that we are going to go further?” Geoff asked.

“You want it too don’t you? I’ve never done this before.” He muttered suddenly blushing.

Geoff leaned forward and kissed him again. A soft gentle kiss with none of the heat and passion of earlier this was sweet and innocent. Aden responded stroking his hand through Geoff’s hair and held his head close for an extra minute.

“Tonight?” Aden asked.

Geoff nodded.

He looked down at his watch and groaned.

“I have to go.” He grinned.

Aden grinned back and moved to open the door.

“I’ll see you later then.” Geoff murmured. “Around 7?”

Aden nodded.

“By the way I should tell you that Roman knows.” Aden murmured.

“He does?” Geoff muttered and the worried look came back on his face.

“He’s cool with it,” Aden suddenly grinned.

Geoff raised his eyebrows.

“Not that in that way! Apparently he’s always been into girls!” Aden chuckled.

“But he won’t mind us being here?” Geoff asked.

Aden shook his head.

“He’ll be fine. I take it you can’t tell Irene yet.”

Geoff moved and sat on the arm of the sofa.

“It’s not that I can’t tell her it saying the words.”

Aden nodded understanding.

“I was ashamed at first because according to the bible it’s a sin.” He stopped and looked at Aden. “But you made it ok.”

“I don’t know about the bible but it can’t be a sin to be with someone you like.” Aden pointed out.

Geoff looked down.

“I do like you.” He confessed.

“I like you too. I didn’t expect this or want this but…” Aden stopped.

They looked at each other.

“I’m glad its you.” Aden finished.

There eyes met and they smiled.

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Roman came home at 8 and walked in the front door. The house was quiet. He moved through to the kitchen and snagged himself a beer. He went through to the lounge and sat down to drink it. It was then that he heard music coming from upstairs and smiled. He would never admit it to Rachel but he did kind of like having a teenager in the house, despite all the angst. He pulled out his phone and scrolled through the messages until he found the one from Nicole. He hit reply and typed out that he would like to see her soon and she should let him know when! He pressed send and put his phone away before picking up a magazine and skimming through the pages.

Aden walked Geoff down the stairs. Both of them stopped when they saw Roman on the sofa and although he had his back to them he called out a greeting.

“How does he do that?” Geoff asked Aden.

Aden shrugged.

“I don’t but you should try living with a trained SAS killer. No way am I going to miss curfew.”

Roman laughed and looked up at them.

They walked though to the kitchen and Aden looked in the fridge.

“Is there anything to eat?” he asked.

“Might be some pizza’s in the freezer.” Roman told him and refrained from asking if they had worked up an appetite.

Aden looked in the freezer and took out a ham and pineapple pizza and put it in the oven to cook. Geoff looked over at Aden and the two shared a minute of uncomfortable silence.

“Maybe we should bring out books down and finish our homework down here?” Geoff eventually asked.

“Not on my account.” Roman told them walking into the kitchen.

“Well we ..” Geoff began and broke off blushing.

Roman looked at him and smiled, grabbing another beer from the fridge for himself.

“I trust you.” He said softly to them. “And if you’ve decided on the next step in your relationship I know you won’t be sneaking around you’ll be ready to be open to everyone.”

You mean come out?” Aden asked him in a tone of voice Roman hadn’t heard from him for a long while.

“Something like that.” Roman said gently. “It really doesn’t matter to me and I will back your choices if you need me too.”

Aden backed down exhaling slowly the tension was easing in him. He hadn’t realised that he could do that quite so easily, be ready for a fight one-minute and calm again the next. Maybe living with Roman something was rubbing off on him.

Aden and Geoff looked at each other.

“I’m not ready for all this.” Geoff admitted honestly.

“Maybe neither of you are. You are both quite young.” Roman pointed out to them.

“Are you saying we don’t know our own minds?” Aden asked him.

Roman shook his head.

“No I’m saying that you have time to sort this out.” He looked Aden in the eye. “I’m not just talking about sex I’m talking about feelings and emotional growth. Maybe you’re gay, maybe you’re not! You don’t need to rush this. “

Aden nodded and went to sit next to Geoff.

“What do you think?” he asked Geoff.

“He makes sense I suppose, but well there seems to be something between us.” He admitted and found that it wasn’t as painful or embarrassing as when he’d finally admitted that to himself. He looked into Aden’s eyes and they smiled at each other.

The timer went off on the oven and Geoff and Aden finally broke eye contact. Roman looked at them and grinned before moving into the lounge. He clicked on the tv and listened to the news.

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“Mr Jefferies are you with us this morning?” Martin Bartlett called out to him.

He dragged his attention to the board and looked at the equation again.

“Yes sir.” He said quickly.

“Perhaps you’d like to tell us the answer.”

“Not particularly Sir.” He denied.

“And why is that Mr Jefferies?” Bartlett called out.

“Well I think that everyone should work it out for themselves and not rely on me to give them the answer.” He replied quickly with a smirk.

“You are right of course Mr Jefferies, however in this instance please step to the front of the class and solve this equation on the board and let us all in on the secret of you genius.” Bartlett instructed him placing his steely gaze on him.

Aden stood up slowly and walked to the front of the class and accepted the chalk from the headmaster. He focused on the equation and started working through the process of solving it in his head. Within moments he had a solution written out on the board.

“And how did you solve that?” Martin Bartlett asked him.

“It was easy once you worked out the value of y.” Aden shrugged and smirked at the principle handing back the chalk.

“Into your seat Mr Jefferies.” He instructed.

“Why so formal? I mean we’ve shared chalk and everything.” Aden smirked at him.

“Back to your seat.” He muttered.

Aden smirked and turning he went to his seat.

The lesson continued with Aden only paying half attention to it coming back to the present with a start.

“A word please Mr Jefferies.” Martin Bartlett called out before he could ease through the door and go to lunch.

“What is it Sir?” he asked.

“You new penchant for math has surprised me.” He said. “I want to talk to you about it.”

Aden shrugged his shoulders and took a step back.

“Nothing to talk about Sir, I just solved a riddle.” He muttered.

“You solved a complicated math problem that quite frankly I didn’t expect half the class to get.” He told him.

“Well that was a bit stupid of you to do that. I would have thought the idea was to teach not pontificate.” Aden looked at him.

“I see that Mr Copeland is improving your grammar however your rudeness had just earned you a detention.” He told him. “And I want to see your parent or guardian.”

“Maybe you should pay more attention because I don’t have either.” Aden snarled suddenly furiously angry. He looked into the other man’s eyes before he swore and stormed off. He walked past a concerned Geoff but didn’t slow down needing to get away from everyone in that moment.

Roman walked up to him as he sat on the beach.

“News travels fast in the Bay.” Aden muttered.

“Not that fast. Geoff called the diner to tell me you were a bit upset.” Roman pointed out.

“It was stupid and I admit it now before you even say anything.” Aden muttered looking out on the sea watching the waves hit the shore.

“Mind if I sit?” Roman asked him.

Aden looked at him.

“I thought you would anyway?”

He grinned.

“Not if you don’t want to talk about it.”

“Bartlett got on to me and I reacted the old way.” Aden said after a moment.

Roman sat down, he flexed his knees and rested his arms on the top of them his hands loosely clasped. He too looked out at the sea. He remained quiet.

“He wanted to see a parent or guardian and I lost it ok. The thought that I didn’t have either kinda threw me.” Aden said after a long silence.

“Yes you do.” Roman said quietly.

“You mean Larry?” Aden sneered. “Does he qualify as a parent?”

“Didn’t mean him.” Roman looked at Aden and waited for his understanding.

“You mean you?” he asked Roman after a minute.

Roman nodded.

“If you want?” he asked him.

Aden looked back out to the sea and blinked suspiciously.

“Yeah, ok, I think you could do.” He muttered after a minute his voice hoarse.

“Then get your backside back to school before I have to ground you.” Roman told him. “And I’ll come and see Bartlett later.”

Aden stood and started walking. He stopped and turned looking at Roman.

“Does this mean I get an allowance?” he asked him.

“No but it does mean you get to do chores around the house.” Roman told him with a laugh. “School.” He instructed.

Aden turned and went back to school, a smile on his face.

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Aden grabbed his bag and started the long walk home. It was late. He’d had detention. He walked past Geoff and the others on the footy team doing their training and he found himself sneering. He caught sight of Tony as called them over and spoke to them before they dispersed. He caught Geoff looking at him a smile on his face but he didn’t return it. He moved away quickly and went home.

Roman was in the kitchen cooking and he dumped his bag on the sofa before going up to the kitchen door.

“Don’t you get fed up of that?” Aden muttered.

“Well good day to you too.” Roman said turning around. “And no I like cooking,” he murmured.

“But to do it all day and then..” he trailed off at Roman’s look.

“What do you suggest we eat? Takeaway? Why don’t we go to the diner?” Roman said a touch of sarcasm lighting his words.

“Sorry.” Aden said backing down.

“What’s wrong?” he asked him.

“I got out of school and saw them practising footy.” He confessed after a long silence.

“Mate, I can understand that you miss it.” Roman told him. “But with everything you have going on can you afford to take the time out to play right now?”

“Yeah, I don’t need logic right now.” Aden said with a sigh.

“So what do you need?” Roman asked.

Aden smirked.

“An allowance would be good.” He said quickly.

“Such a good try. Now do you want to try again?” Roman murmured to him.

“I saw Geoff ok.” he said at last.

“And?” Roman said to him sitting at the table.

“And I got jealous.” Aden muttered. “Ok?” he said turning around and heading for the stairs.

“Jealous of what?”

Aden paused his hand on the banister.

“I don’t know.” He said his confusion coming through. “I just don’t know.” He added in a quieter tone and moved upstairs.

Roman heard the bedroom door slam and his music come on. The loud beat reverberated through the house and he sighed and moved over to the fridge pulling out a beer. Maybe taking on a teenager wasn’t such a good idea after all. He took a drink and moved back to the cooker to finish cooking dinner.

Geoff didn’t bother getting changed before racing to Aden’s house. He heard the loud music even as he knocked on the door. Roman came to the door and opened it.

“Hey mate.” He said to him. “Now might not be a good time.”

“I just saw him go past us when we were training.” Geoff murmured.

Roman turned and saw Aden standing at the top of the stairs. He stepped back and Geoff walked in past him and up the stairs.

“Hey.” Geoff called out.

“Hey yourself.” Aden said and leaned over to kiss him.

Geoff pulled back and cast a nervous glance at Roman before nodding at Aden’s bedroom. The two moved into the room slowly closing the door slowly.

“So are you ok?” he asked Aden.

Aden shrugged and looked at him.

“Are we allowed to kiss now we are safely behind doors?” he asked in a sarcastic tone of voice.

“What do you want from me Aden? We agreed low key ok, and I just didn’t want to…”

“Kiss me?” Aden supplied.

“Yes but in front of Roman. It’s one thing for him to be cool with it but another to flaunt it in front of him. “ He told Aden softly.

“Maybe I just want to be a bot more open.” Aden grumbled.

“Look you’re spoiling for a fight so I’m going to go if you don’t want to talk.” Geoff stood up from his place on the bed and moved to the door. Aden blocked his path.

“Bible boy.” He sneered.

Geoff looked at him and a angry light came into his eyes at the taunt.

“Fine you want to be that way.” He muttered and went to push past him.

Aden reached out and caught hold of Geoff’s arm pulling him back. He looked into his face and all his anger and pent up feelings erupted and before he could stop himself he kissed him hard. His lips pressing down passionately on Geoff’s. He felt Geoff gasp against the hard onslaught but he didn’t stop.

Geoff moved restlessly and he moved him to press him against the door behind them. The same door that Geoff had tried to move through just a moment ago. Aden pulled back and looked at him.

“You better go.” He muttered eventually.

“Aden?” Geoff asked puzzled.

“Go on get out. “ Aden said and pulled the bedroom door open knocking Geoff out of the way. He pushed past him and slammed into the bathroom leaving Geoff looking puzzled. Finally he moved down the stairs with a sigh, calling out goodbye to Roman he let himself out.

Roman stood and moved to the stairs debating whether to go up and talk to him. After a moment he moved back to the kitchen. Aden would come and talk to him when he was ready. Hopefully before the neighbours complained about the noise of the music.

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Geoff went for his morning run along the sea front. He pounded his feet hard into the sand trying to focus on something besides that last scene in Aden’s room. He looked out on the horizon and stopped running dragging in lung fulls of clean sea air. Kicking off his trainers he waded through the rolling surf into the deeper sapphire blue water before diving flat and swimming fast out as far and as fast as he could. He rolled over after a time and let himself float, feeling the undertow start to drag him further out to sea. He gasped and turned swimming back to shore. It was harder going that he had figured. He was fighting the current all the way back and for a wild second it flashed through his head that he should stop and just see where the wild sea took him. Eventually he crawled out of the heaving sea and collapsed on to the sand.

“What are you trying to do Bible Boy?” Aden asked him kneeling down next to him. He was dressed in jeans and a white shirt, the school tie slung around his neck like an afterthought. His school bag lying abandoned a little way off, lying like it had been dropped to the hot sand below.

Geoff rolled over and coughed as he eased up on all fours before sitting up.

“Don’t call me that.” He said when he was able to talk again.

Aden sighed.

“Fine. Geoff.” Aden murmured.

“I went for a swim.” Geoff said.

“Well, yeah, I can see that.”

Geoff looked at him.

“And you asked because?” he murmured in a dry tone of voice.

Aden chuckled.

He stood and held out his hand.

Geoff looked at it for a moment before putting his hand in Aden’s firm grip and letting the other man help him up. They stood close for a second, droplets of water running down Geoff’s torso. Aden caught sight of a tiny rivulet tracing a path down the hard muscular plans. He found himself mesmerised by it as it skimmed the taught nipple.

He sucked in a hot unsteady breath.

Geoff caught Aden’s gaze and they starred at each other.

“I’m sorry about last night.” Aden said finally.

Geoff nodded.

“I’m not.” He said finally.

Aden gasped and felt himself leaning forward checking the movement at the very last second.

Geoff grinned.

“Now who doesn’t want to kiss in public?” he asked quietly.

Aden pulled back a smile on his face.

“Fair point.” He murmured.

“So how about coming back to my place and waiting while I grab a shower and we walk to school together.” Geoff found himself suggesting.

Aden nodded and moved to collect his bag.

Geoff looked along the beach before he found his trainers and he started walking. After a moment Aden caught up with him.

“You do realise we just spend five minutes holding hands on the beach.” Aden pointed out.

“I know.” Geoff said a light in his eyes. “And it was so good I have to go have a shower now.”

Aden chuckled and looked at him.

“Since when did you get a sense of humour?” he asked.

Geoff chuckled.

“I dunno maybe something is rubbing off on me.” He answered Aden back. “Hopefully.” He added and watched as Aden blushed.

He pushed open the door to the beach house and poured out a couple glasses of juice before he went and climbed into the shower.

Aden sat at the table nervously fiddling with the glass. He heard the water running and the mental image of Geoff naked wouldn’t leave him. He found himself walking over to look at the cd’s on the shelf to distract himself when Geoff walked out of the bathroom with just a towel wrapped around his waist.

They looked at each other with fierceness.

“I need to get dressed.” Geoff said huskily.

Aden nodded, unable to speak his mouth dry.

Geoff stepped towards him and kissed him. His lips pressing on Aden’s with the same passion as the previous nights’ kiss. Aden put his hands on Geoff’s arms feeling the hard muscles under his fingers. He slid them up his arms and caressed his shoulders and then neck, winding his arms around him.

Geoff moved forward pressing his hard body to Aden’s and moaned against his lips. They heard a noise from outside and broke apart flushed and breathing heavily.

“I’ll be down in a minute.” Geoff said and they looked at each other against the double meaning behind the words.

Aden nodded and stepped back letting Geoff go up the stairs. He moved back to the table and picked up the juice.

“Hello Darl what are you doing here?” Irene asked lifting the shopping bags on to the top.

Aden had to take a breath and flatten down the momentary panic.

“Waiting for Geoff. “ he said honestly. “We bumped into each other on the beach and decided to walk to school together, he’s upstairs getting ready.” He offered the explanation, unaware it was probably the most he had spoken to Irene ever.

Irene nodded.

“Ok Darl.” She said and turned to make another trip to fetch the shopping. She came back in and put them on the top too. “Flaimin’ kids eat ya out of house an’ home.” She muttered under her breath.

“Is there any more?” he asked her. “Do you want a hand?”

Her head shot up at the question.

“No that is it.” she told him.

He nodded and moved uncomfortably to pick up his bag.

“Are you ready?” Geoff called coming down the stairs.

Aden nodded avoiding looking at him.

“Hello Irene.” Geoff greeted the other person.

“Let’s go.” Aden mumbled.

Geoff nodded, fiddling with his own bag strap he followed Aden outside and they began the walk to school.

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Annie stumbled home along the beach a bottle of stolen brandy in her hand. She took another long drink and collapsed in the dunes before she passed out. Aden spotted her lying there and went to see if she were ok. He remembered his first time drinking stealing beer from Larry. He propped her up and looked at her. Patting her face he brought her slowly round.

“Oh god it’s you!” she gasped and turning she threw up.

“That’s it Annie.” He said rubbing her back gently.

“I saw you it’s disgusting.” She moaned and threw up some more.

Aden reached into his bag and piled out a bottle of water.

“Drink some of this.” He instructed.

She glared at him and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.

“You and my brother?” she hissed at him.

“Drink Annie.” He said in a tone of voice that brooked no argument.

She sighed and opened the bottle taking a long drink.

“What did you see?” he asked curiosity getting the better of him.

“You were touching him this morning.” She muttered turning her head she spat out some of the water rinsing the sour taste out of her mouth.

“It’s a sin against God. He should know that. I don’t know why it’s you.” She said to him.

Aden pushed back her hair and looked at her.

“So is it because it’s me or because it’s against God?” he asked her.

She shook her head.

“I don’t know.” She moaned falling back on the hot sand.

“Come on Annie sit up. Drink some more water.” Aden told her.

She shook her head but obeyed him.

“I feel Like I’m dying.” She moaned.

“Yeah and this is nothing to how you will feel tomorrow.” He promised.

“Why you?” she asked again “You perverted him.”

“Annie sweetheart, that is harsh and un-true.” He declared. “For one thing its none of anyone’s business and for another we don’t know what happening ourselves so you need to keep your mouth shut.”

She shook her head.

“I can’t it’s wrong.” She said to him.

“Ok, fairy princess time to get you home.” He said with a sinking sensation in his gut.

She looked at him and smiled.

“Why don’t you like girls?” she asked.

“Oh Annie you are gorgeous.” He said to her.

He reached down and picked her up carrying her in his arms all away along the beach.

She closed her eyes and pretended that he was her boyfriend carrying her home after a date. She sighed as she turned her head and rested it on his shoulder.

Aden carried her all the way to the beach house and dropped Annie on to the sofa. He stopped to put a cover over her just as Belle came out of her room.

“What the hell do you think you are doing Jefferies?” she gasped.

“I’ve just brought her home.” He tried to explain, still breathless from the exertion.

“What did you do to her?” Belle muttered moving over to the sofa.

“Nothing.” He said.

She stroked Annie’s face.

“He kissed Geoff.” She said slurring her words.

Aden felt his heart leap into his throat at the misspoken words.

“It’s ok.” Belle said to her and ran to the bathroom for a facecloth. She put it under cool running water and squeezed out the excess before bringing it back and bathing her face.

“Are you still here. Just go!” Belle muttered to Aden.

“Fine Taylor!” He snarled and walked out of the beach house making a point of slamming the door.

Belle sat near Annie and pushed her hair away from her face.

“It’s ok sweetheart.” She said to her.

“Where’s Aden?” Annie mumbled burying her head into the covers.

“He’d gone.” Belle told her.

“He’s my secret boyfriend.” She told her. “Shh!”

“Ok Annie.” Belle murmured.

“He is so strong. He held me.” She said.

“What is she saying?” Irene asked walking into the room.

“Something about Aden. She’s drunk.” Belle told the older woman.

“God teeth!” Irene exclaimed. “What had that boy done to her?”

Belle shook her head.

“I can’t get any sense out of her.” she said at last.

“Well I’m going to go sort this out!” Irene gasped and stormed out of the house. She went straight back to the diner and cornered Roman in the kitchen.

“Can’t get enough of the place?” he asked her.

“Cut the charm my boy and tell me what that Aden thinks he’s up to?” She muttered to him.

Roman took a breath.

“What do you mean?” he asked quickly.

“I mean that Annie is at home now drunk out of her mind and your Aden is responsible and she’s muttered about him holding her. I swear if that no god boy has done anything I’ll have the coppers on to him.” she said angrily.

“Irene what are you talking about?” Roman asked her calmly.

“Just as I told you. Annie is at my house drunk and muttering something about Aden.”

He took a breath.

“I don’t think that Aden will have done anything to her.” Roman said cutting through the start of another tirade.

“Oh and what makes you think that?” she sneered at him.

Discounting the phrase, Aden thinks he’s gay, Roman starred at her.

“Because I trust him and it’s about time other people gave him a chance round here.” He said instead and found that he was speaking the truth.

“I’ll give him a chance when hell freezes over.” She muttered and stormed out.

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Geoff heard the gossip at school and ditched the last class. He got home and saw Annie still passed out on the sofa.

“What happened Irene?” he asked the other woman.

“You new friend Aden Jefferies that’s what happened” she muttered.

Geoff took a breath and waited for the next part.

“He got her drunk and took advantage of her.” Belle said from the corridor near her room.

“I don’t believe you.” Geoff said quickly his voice a peculiar pitch. “You’re lying!” he gasped.

He ran past a startled Irene and out of the house. He kept running until he got to Roman’s house. He burst in without even knocking. Roman was standing in the kitchen talking to Aden who was out of sight but he heard his voice. Geoff walked up to them..

“What happened?” he said quickly folding his arms across his chest looking at him. Not wanting to believe that Aden’s lips had been his that morning and were on his sister the very afternoon. Let alone that someone he liked and trusted could do something so vile.

“You’re sister saw us this morning.” Aden began and their eyes met. They looked at each other across the space of the kitchen with a hungry gaze remembering the passion they had felt.

Geoff took a steadying breath.

“And?” he asked his voice seeming calmer now.

“She got hold of some booze. I saw her drinking and took her home. End of.” Aden finished with just a touch of his original arrogance.

“And why would Irene think that you took advantage of her.” Geoff forced himself to ask despite believing that had been the full story.

Aden stood and moved over to Geoff.

“Maybe because this town has it in for me. I didn’t lay a hand on you sister. I took care of her. She was off her head.” Aden shouted.

“Aden!” Roman called out.

The man sighed and took a step back.

“Roman has pointed out that if your sister knows we should think about coming out.” Aden muttered his gaze going to an interesting spot on the floor. “ That it might stop the rumours about me being a sex pest spreading.”

“I didn’t actually say that.” Roman pointed out.

Aden smiled.

“No, he called me a pervert.” Aden grinned.

“Tell me again why I took you in Aden?” Roman asked a smile playing on his lips.

Geoff looked at them blankly and watched as Aden chuckled.

“He said that I would end up labelled a pervert either way.” Aden looked to Roman who nodded. “Either I took advantage of Annie or well you, being’s as I’m the older one.”

“But that isn’t true.” Geoff gasped.

“We know what’s true. It’s the people out there who are going to twist it.” Roman murmured to them. “You have to decide how you want to do this.” He said and only just stopped himself adding the word boys to the end of the statement. They were not boys anymore.

“I don’t know.” Geoff said.

“Tell me Bible boy” Aden began and he himself flinched at the nickname. “Sorry, Geoff,” he murmured and saw the answering smile in the other man’s eyes. “Did you think that I did something to Annie.”

Geoff shook his head.

“I was jealous actually.” He confessed and grinned. “It sounded very romantic when I first heard the story. You striding along the beach carrying her in your arms.”

Roman let out unexpected laughter and earned the glare form the two men.

“Sorry.” He got out at last. “Mental image of you two on beach.” He murmured.

Aden raised his eyebrow.

“I hope you aren’t suggesting for a single moment that I couldn’t do it?” he asked.

Roman laughed some more.

“Sorry.” He gasped again.

Aden and Geoff looked at each other before Aden moved over to him and picked him up. He groaned.

“Maybe I need to work out a bit.” He confessed breathlessly before dropping Geoff on the floor.

Roman tried to stop himself but it was too late. He was struck by hysterical laughter.

“Hey! I bet you can’t do any better.” Geoff said to him in defence of Aden.

Roman sobered slowly wiping tears from his eyes. He held his hand out and pulled Geoff up from the floor. In a fluid movement he swept him up off his feet and carried him to the sofa where he dropped him onto the cushions.

“Ok I’m going to the gym for a workout.” Aden said quickly.

“And I think your dumped Aden.” Geoff said and fluttered his eyelashes at Roman.

Roman laughed.

“Back to the subject.” He said seriously to them.

Geoff laughed.

“I was jealous ok.” Geoff admitted quietly. “I knew you wouldn’t do anything to hurt her but I was jealous that maybe you wanted something different.”

Aden sat next to him and took hold of Geoff’s hand.

“I didn’t ok. I just wanted to get her home safe for you.” He almost whispered and leaned forward.

Geoff put his arms around him and they kissed.

Roman eased back into the kitchen and reached for a beer. He opened the bottle and took a drink. After a moment they walked into the kitchen.

“What do you suggest we do?” Geoff asked Roman.

“Me?” he asked. “I’m not an expert you two. I just know that whatever you decide it’s going to be tough. And Aden needs to focus on school.”

Aden nodded.

“I have slipped a bit already.” He admitted.

“Well that tells me that maybe you need to focus on that and not your social life.” Roman pointed out. “I’ll deal with Irene.”

Aden looked at Geoff and he nodded.

“Ok.” he murmured.

“Great so I can expect you to catch up on what you missed today.” Roman said quickly and Aden groaned. “And go to school tomorrow.” He added.

Aden nodded.

“Fine.” He said hearing Geoff chuckle. “What?” he turned round and asked.

“Well tomorrow is Saturday.” Geoff pointed out.

Aden shot a look to Roman.

“Look if you can’t tell the days of the week then you really need to focus more on school.” He said taking a drink of his beer.

“You can go off people you know.” Aden muttered and turned he moved back towards the stairs. Geoff followed but paused at the bottom.

“I should probably go see if she is alright.” He said softly.

Aden nodded.

“Text me later ok?” he asked.

Geoff grinned.

They moved close again and cast a quick look at Roman before they kissed. Geoff moved to the door and then out closing it behind him.

He walked into the beach house a while later and saw Irene standing in the kitchen a cup in her hands.

“Spill it.” she said quickly.

He looked over to the sofa.

“She’s taking a shower.” Irene told him.

“And Belle?” he asked.

“Her shift at the diner.” Irene said equally quickly.

“Fine. Aden didn’t do anything. I trust him ok.” Geoff said to her.

“Over your sister?” Irene murmured.

“My drunken unintelligible sister. I need to talk to her myself before I make any judgement.” He said maturely.

“Fine.” Irene murmured backing down a little. “But if anything fishy did go on there will be trouble you mark my words boy.” She muttered.

Geoff picked up his bag and moved up the stairs.

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It was a strange day at the diner.

Strange because although Irene was technically still talking to him she never failed to glare at him and tell him what he was doing wrong, via Colleen or even Leah. When the messages started coming through Belle he turned to her and muttered a choice phrase that had Belle no longer speaking to him.

Roman sighed and moved to the fridge to check the ingredients for the following day’s menu.

“Hey Roman.” Aden called out.

“Yeah.” He answered distractedly.

Aden moved into the kitchen and looked at him.

“I’ve caught up on my math.” He said.

Roman moved away from the fridge closing the big glass door firmly.

“Well done. What is the but?” Roman murmured.

“Well there is a concert next week that I want to go to.” Aden began.

Roman folded his arms.

“So you’ve caught up on your math and you think you can go to the concert next week. And you’re asking my permission?” Roman said quickly.

Aden nodded.

“Why?” Roman asked him after a minute.

“Well for a couple of reasons.” Aden murmured. “One, I will need a ride and Two I have spare tickets so I was wondering if you wanted to go with us.”

He looked at Aden for a moment.

“How many spare tickets?” he asked.

“Two.” Aden confirmed.

“Great so I can bring a date.” Roman muttered.

“Yeah about that.” Aden murmured. “It is a date.” He looked around and saw Belle lurking in the corner and Colleen nearby. “With you know who.” He said finally.

“So let me get this straight, you want me to chaperone your date?” Roman let out a short bark of laughter.

“Er… no. I think we can control ourselves. I just well, need a ride there and well in case someone says something…” he started trying to explain.

“You want a bodyguard? In Yabbie Creek?” Roman asked incredulously

Aden flushed uncomfortably.

“Look this stuff isn’t easy ok? And well there was the Annie situation.” He murmured to Roman who was still looking at him incredulously.

“I am fully aware of the Annie situation. It is lovely working here at the moment.” He said and indicated with his head.

Aden followed the movement and saw Belle glaring at them.

“Ok.” he said quietly lowering his head.

“Look mate, it’s not that I don’t have your back you know that but well double dating?” he said in a quieter tone of voice. “And what do I tell my date? I mean they will probably be from here.”

Aden looked up.

“Ok it’s a dumb stupid idea. Forget it.” Aden said angrily before he turned and moved to the door.

After a moment Roman went after him and caught up with him on the beach.

“I’ll do it. I’ll ask Miles if he wants to come. He’ll be cool with it and will keep his mouth shut.”

Aden looked at him again a curious expression on his face.

“Are you sure there is nothing between you and Miles?”

Roman turned and slapped Aden playfully on the back of his head.

“Go home before I change my mind.” He instructed before going back into the diner.

Aden grinned as he started the long walk home.

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