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A NineStar Press Publication

www.ninestarpress.com

Coming In

Copyright © 2017 Michelle Ogilvy

Cover Art by Natasha Snow ©Copyright 2017

Edited by: Jason Bradley

Published in 2017 by NineStar Press, New Mexico, USA.


This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, NineStar Press, LLC.


Warning

This book contains sexually explicit content, which is only suitable for mature readers.

Coming In

Michelle Ogilvy

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

About the Author

Chapter One

Jay knew it was going to be a hard night. Adam had come by the store to pick up something for dinner, and he’d been mumbling to himself again. It was becoming a habit with him. Ever since Adam had started the new semester, he’d been complaining about this one subject. It didn’t seem to make any difference what Jay said or did. There was only one thing that could distract Adam. Not that Jay had a problem with providing that kind of distraction—it was the bitching and moaning that preceded it that had him dawdling to get home.

This would be the third year that he and Adam had been flatmates in Adelaide, and Jay could picture exactly what he would find when he walked through the door. He pasted on a smile and braced himself. Sure enough, Adam was sitting in the middle of a pile of textbooks and handwritten notebooks spread across most of the floor space with various highlighters and pens strewn throughout the mess.

The more stressed Adam got, the less likely Jay would be to see the floor, or the bench in the kitchen area, or pretty much anything in Adam’s room. Jay always drew the line at any of that shit ending up in his own room. His aim for the night was to get Adam in there where the other man couldn’t torture himself over whatever went wrong that day.

At least now Jay didn’t have to worry about Adam literally pulling his hair out from stress. Adam had starting cutting his hair short after he’d started at uni. The new hairstyle had broken the stress-pulling habit, so Adam had kept it. The muttering had gotten worse, though. Jay wasn’t even sure that Adam knew he was doing it half the time.

“So, what sludge have we got for dinner tonight?” Jay asked, making sure to keep his tone light. Adam didn’t look up. “It was your turn to cook, remember?”

“Oh, right. I forgot. I bought some stuff.” Adam gestured vaguely towards the kitchen area. Jay couldn’t bring himself to call an area bounded by benches rather than walls an actual kitchen, like it was a separate room.

“What are we in for? Pizza? Lasagne? Reheated puke?”

“It was rice.”

“In puke?”

“In… I don’t know.” Adam finally pulled his head up from his books and looked at Jay. “It was weeks ago. When are you going to let that go?”

Jay shrugged. “When it stops being amusing.”

“I’m too tired to joke around, Jay.”

“Fridays.” Jay shook his head and sighed dramatically. “I’ll just go ahead and nuke us something then.”

“It’s my turn,” Adam said, not moving from his position on the floor.

“I’m not sure you’re trusted with the microwave, Adam. Do we really have to have the reheated puke joke twice in one night?”

“That wasn’t my fault, bakeboy.”

“Bakeboy? Maybe you should take a break from the study. I think it’s fried your brain. That’s the lamest insult I’ve ever heard. Come on, Obsesso, come get some grub.”

“Obsesso?” Adam was trying not to laugh. Jay could tell.

“I think that’s about at the same level as bakeboy. Figure I’ll keep all my best insults until you’re feeling more up to it.”

Adam huffed but got up off his butt and onto the stool at the kitchen bench. He watched as Jay put the dinners in the microwave.

“You shouldn’t stand in front of those, you know,” Adam said. “They’ll give you cancer.”

“The sad thing about that is that you wouldn’t cry at my funeral,” Jay replied.

“What do you mean?”

“The way you’re going, you’ll die from an ulcer long before I die of cancer.”

Jay moved away from the thing anyway. Their microwave was large, old, and temperamental. Or just plain mental, depending on how generous they were feeling towards it on the day. The clicking noise it was making was certainly a new development.

Adam heaved a large sigh, and Jay turned his attention back to his friend.

“Do I dare ask what the evil wench did today?” Jay asked.

“It’s just that she expects so much,” Adam replied.

“I hear ya.”

“Where did she get such high expectations anyway?”

“Germany.” Jay’s comment barely rated a glance.

“It’s not like we’re all overly efficient geniuses.”

“I’ve always been partial to lazy dimwits, myself.”

“It’s like that stupid subject is supposed to be the centre of our universe.”

“Unhealthy, that.”

“If we don’t spend at least three times as much effort as we do in other subjects, we barely pass.”

“That’s what I’ve heard.”

“I just don’t have that amount of time.”

“Another credit?”

“I never got a C in anything before I took her class.”

“Well, there was PE. You weren’t real good at PE.”

“I know it’s a big joke to you, Jay, but it’s my life.”

“I don’t think uni’s actually counted as life.” Jay was trying for a smile, but all he got was a glare. “Geez, if it bothers you that much, do something.”

“Like…?”

“Hmm. Leave it with me. I’ll think of something,” Jay said as the microwave beeped. “And dinner is served. Enjoy your cancer in a bowl, Obsesso.”

Adam didn’t say anything, but he was finally smiling. The first step in Jay’s plan. The crucial point would be after dinner when Adam would want to go back to studying. If Jay could prevent that happening, at least for the night, Adam might have time to get over whatever issues he’d had that day and look at the problem afresh in the morning. Otherwise he would be obsessing over it all night.

When Adam had finished eating, he dumped his dishes in the sink and started making motions towards the pile of papers and other paraphernalia in the lounge. Jay threw out the first distraction he could think of to prevent a return to study mode.

“Hey, it’s Dan,” he said, directing Adam’s attention to the window and a view of their neighbour. “Out for another night of debauchery.”

“I don’t know how he does it,” Adam said, coming over to stand next to Jay at the window.

“Of course not. You barely leave the flat for anything but uni. Practically a hermit. You’ll end up one of those old men who stay at home all day waiting for some kid to kick a ball into your yard so you can yell at them from the porch.”

“Fuck you.”

“If you insist.” Jay grinned and pressed his lips to Adam’s.

“My assignment. I have to go over the comments,” Adam mumbled around Jay’s tongue.

Jay ignored him. Adam needed this way more than he needed to chastise himself over comma placement or whatever minor issue the professor was cracking down on that week.

Jay had never been afraid of hard work, but Adam made everything harder than it needed to be. Including Jay. Which is how they had started this little dance of theirs in the first place. Now, it was simply a part of life.

Everything about Adam was familiar now, from his long, slightly crooked nose and deep brown eyes to the toenails that he never seemed to trim frequently enough. No matter how many times they did this, though, Jay didn’t get tired of looking or touching. The women that shared Jay’s bed on occasion, they never lasted long. But Adam was his mate. That was something completely different and lasting.

Yet, each time Jay leaned in for a kiss with Adam, there was always a moment as their lips met when he wondered if this would be the night that Adam pushed him away. When Adam finally questioned why the hell they were doing this. Whether this really was a ‘mates’ thing to do. But Adam never questioned.

Jay was glad of it. The guy needed a release, with all the pressure he put himself under. Jay didn’t mind providing a helping hand. And by this point, he knew all the right buttons to push until Adam let go and surrendered to the demands of sensation and impulse. Just the way Jay liked him.



The alarm went off at 3:30. As usual, Adam had latched onto Jay like a drowning man while they were sleeping, but Jay had learnt how to extricate himself enough to roll out of bed.

“Turn it off,” Adam moaned, pulling the sheet over his head.

Jay leaned over and switched the alarm off. Then he yanked the sheet from Adam’s head, put his mouth to Adam’s ear and said, “You could always sleep in your own room.”

Adam groaned and pulled the sheet back up again. Jay grinned and sauntered out of the room to have a shower. A typical Saturday morning.



The early morning shifts usually meant that Jay had a long afternoon nap so that he’d be functioning on Saturday night. On this particular night, though, Jay kind of wished that he was sleepier. It was the only thing he could think of that would have made the night more endurable.

It felt like Tammy had been yapping in his ear ever since he’d picked her up a few hours ago. You would think that somewhere in all that noise, he would have found some commonality to latch on to, some topic to discuss rather than talk at each other. Even some peace and quiet during the movie would have been welcome. But no.

He had not anticipated the night going this way when he’d asked her out earlier in the week. Of course, his attention might have been slightly lower than her mouth when he’d thought that a good idea. She was hot, for sure. He was starting to think that he might need to expand the criteria for a date, though.

Maybe he should just offer to take her home and end the misery. On the other hand, she was the one who’d suggested going back to his place. Maybe they could find some commonality there. Like a shared need for less clothing.

He was in two minds about which option to choose, but when driving, a destination is usually a pretty good idea, especially seeing as the two options were in opposite directions. For the moment, his little mind was winning.

“What made you want to be a baker, anyway?” Tammy said. It took Jay a second to realise it was an actual question, and he should respond. By that point, she’d moved on. “You don’t seem like someone who’s into looking after people. The smell must be just delicious, though. I love the smell of baking. Is that what it was, the smell? I know that―”

“There’s less traffic in the morning,” Jay interrupted.

“Huh?” the girl said.

“That’s what I like about baking. We start early so there’s less traffic when I go to work.”

Tammy just looked at him for a few beats. Then she shrieked in his ear. Startled the hell out of him.

“Isn’t it gorgeous?” she exclaimed, staring out of Jay’s window. “Spunky.”

“Spunky?” People still used that word? Jay grimaced. He glanced over and saw one of those dumb hatchbacks that looked as if the tail had been lopped off.

“You know, cute, zippy, sporty, lush—”

“It’s crap.” He cut her off before she could think of another twenty or thirty adjectives.

“What do ya mean it’s crap. It’s not crap.”

“Zero to a hundred takes a month,” Jay explained. “It’s got average suspension. Understeers. You’d pay through the nose for petrol. And a mate of mine said his air-conditioning barely cooled his left… hand.”

“Seats looked comfy, though.”

God. If the seats looked comfy, it must be roadworthy. Obviously cars were not going to be their common ground. Jay was still betting on nakedness.



Jay had told Adam that he’d be bringing someone home. He’d hoped it would force Adam to rein himself in a little. Even so, Jay held his breath as he opened the door to the flat. Adam was back to studying, sprawled across the lounge room floor again. It appeared to be his usual level of overachievement, though, rather than the disaster area from the night before so Jay figured a mental breakdown wasn’t drastically imminent.

“Can I use your bathroom?” Tammy asked.

“Through the hall, on the right,” he replied.

Tammy smiled and headed through. While she was gone, Jay went over to the fridge to grab a couple of Cokes, leaving boot prints on several sheets of paper on the way. When he turned, Adam was right behind him. He offered Adam one of the Cokes before he got any grief about how important the papers had been.

“How’s it going?” Adam asked.

Jay leaned in conspiratorially. “My advice: don’t engage. She’ll go into an hour-long monologue about her long-term goals, then segue into what yours should be.”

“I don’t know. She looked in a pretty big hurry to me.”

Adam’s statement prompted a grin from Jay.

“I bought the biggest Coke they had and kept shoving it at her. She must have a bladder the size of an elephant,” Jay said.

“What was she? Talker? Toucher? Popcorn hogger? Not…” Adam widened his eyes, “a mobile phone answerer?”

“Talker. Through the whole movie. I swear she didn’t even close her mouth to sip. How is that possible?”

“Could explain the whole elephant bladder thing, though.”

“I gotta start dating out of Woolworths.” Jay shook his head mournfully, and Adam laughed.

Jay made this statement frequently but never took his own advice. Adam always maintained that this was due to laziness on Jay’s part. But it wasn’t laziness, it was practicality. Why bother looking for girls when they threw themselves at him on a daily basis at work?

Neither man noticed Tammy coming back.

“Got any Coke?” she said from the other side of the kitchen counter.

“Adam just drank the last of it, but I’m sure we can find you something.” Jay turned to the fridge, mouthing “elephant” to Adam. Adam hid a smirk and headed to the lounge area.

“So, you want it here or in my room?” Jay asked when he emerged from the fridge with a can of Solo. “It’s a little overcrowded in here.”

Tammy looked over into the lounge area and saw Adam step into the small circle he had made inside of all the junk he had around the room. It might have been less than the night before but was still a remarkable amount of junk for a normal person.

And then Adam started mumbling to himself. They heard “the internet,” said scornfully, with a snort of disbelief. Jay frowned. Maybe it was worse than he’d thought.

“Yeah. Okay,” she said.

Jay led her to his bedroom. He was still frowning as he closed the bedroom door, his mind half on Adam. He should probably check in on Adam later, make sure the guy wasn’t stressing out too much again. The frown dissipated a little when he turned around and found a bare-chested Tammy waiting for him on his bed.

“Not one for small talk?” he said. That surprised him.

“Just come over and show me what you’ve got, big boy.” She patted the bed, and Jay went over and kissed her. Hard and long, savouring the silence. Then he started to kiss down her neck.

“Kinda sparse in here. Don’cha even have a picture of your mother?”

Jay groaned inwardly and made his way back to her mouth.



Jay was lying peacefully in bed after Tammy left when he felt a body slide in behind him. Then breath warming the back of his neck.

“Well?” the body asked. “It couldn’t have gotten worse with elephant bladder, surely.”

“Ugh. If she would’ve shut up for more than three minutes at a time, it might have helped.”

Adam laughed, and Jay would have hit him with a pillow if they hadn’t been lying on both of them. He tried a palm instead, but Adam still snickered.

“She seemed…” Adam paused. “Inquisitive.”

“Inquisitive?” Jay said. “Was she quizzing you on the way out? God, what did she ask? It wasn’t ‘do you have a picture of your mother’ was it? You probably would have liked that.”

“Showing her pictures of my mother? I don’t think I want to hear about the kinky shit you get up to, Jay. Actually, she saw the cans there for recycling and asked me why we use Heinz baked beans instead of SPC. I’d never really thought about it.”

“’Cause SPC are crap. Now go to sleep, ya big wanker.”

“That probably would have been a shorter conversation,” Adam acknowledged. “Going to Ash this weekend?”

“Gotta work.”

“You have to go down there sometime, you know.”

“No. I don’t,” Jay said. He felt Adam turn away and knew Adam was disappointed.

Adam was always more disappointed when Jay didn’t go than Jay’s own family was. Strange boy. Jay had never understood his friend’s attachment to their lame-ass hometown. Jay would be completely fine going the rest of his life without setting foot in Ashdon Harbor.

“Adam?” Jay murmured.

“Mmm?”

“Why is it that I only seem to attract women that I have absolutely nothing to say to these days?”

“Dunno. Maybe you just attract women with bad taste in men,” Adam replied.

Jay slapped Adam again, using the opportunity to pull Adam towards him so that Adam’s front was right up against his back.

“You still feeling stressed?” Jay asked.

Adam sighed, burrowing his forehead against Jay’s shoulder.

“Take that as a yes,” Jay said.

“Thanks for reminding me about it,” Adam mumbled.

“Oh, you were looking for distraction? I can do distraction.” Jay nudged Adam off his shoulder and rolled around so they were facing each other. “Besides, I think I’ve come up with a solution to your problem.”

“Oh yeah?” Adam said, as Jay started with the promised distraction, slipping his leg between Adam’s thighs.

“You know I always come through for you,” Jay said, his hands wandering over Adam’s body.

“Mmm. What’s your solution?”

“I’m gonna buy you a watch.”

“Which will…?”

“You’re always saying time gets away from you. Can’t do that if it’s strapped to your wrist. Only logical.”

Adam made a noise somewhere between a groan and a laugh, mixed with a little arousal as Jay’s wandering hands found a particularly sensitive spot. “That may be the stupidest joke you’ve ever made,” Adam said.

“Doubt it. But stick with me, kid. They’ll only get worse.”

Jay could feel Adam laughing, probably against his better judgement. But he wasn’t tense anymore. Mission accomplished. Still, while Jay was there, he might as well finish what he started.

He pulled Adam closer, hot skin against his, Adam’s erection evidence that tonight wasn’t going to be the night Jay would be pushed away. Emboldened by the encouragement, Jay grabbed the back of Adam’s head and kissed him stupid.

He fully intended to lick his way down, tracing the path his hands had already made on Adam’s body, and do something with that hard-on that Adam had so graciously supplied for him. But, for the moment, he was content staying right where he was, Adam’s tongue playing with his and Adam’s fingers digging into his cheeks, keeping him close.

He didn’t have to work in the morning so there was no need to speed things up. They had all the time they could want. And there was nothing Jay wanted more than to replace the taste of Tammy with Adam’s familiar flavour.

Chapter Two

Adam had been walking along, minding his own business, when it happened. Just coming off another late night in the library. Then, smack, a girl slammed into his chest.

She put her arms around his neck and whispered, “Please. That man. Just pretend you know me.”

Behind the girl, a man was sitting at the bus stop bench, staring blearily at them. The guy was obviously drunk, and had a definite unsavoury vibe to him. Whatever he’d been up to had frightened the girl enough that she’d thrown herself into the arms of a stranger.

“Meg,” Adam said loudly. “Didn’t know you were in town tonight. Do you want a lift home?”

“Thanks, Davis.”

The girl flashed Adam a dazzling smile, and he almost wished he was Davis and knew more about her. She was probably two or three years younger than him, with long blonde hair that she kept pushing back from her face. Adam had always had a thing for long hair. He didn’t know what it was, but every flick she made to move it back went straight to his groin.

“Is your car around here?” she said.

Oh. Crap. She was expecting him to actually give her a lift. Was that a good idea? He could do that. And she seemed like she needed the help.

Adam pointed vaguely down the incline ahead of them. The girl started to walk down there, and Adam followed.

“So, where are we headed tonight?” she asked.

“Home. That is, I was going home.” Adam cursed himself for sounding like a sleaze, but the girl just curved her lips in a sexy smile. Or maybe she was laughing at him tripping over the gravel on the embankment.

“And where is home, Davis?” she said.

“Adam.”

She tilted her head in a question.

“My name’s Adam. Adam Pearson.”

“Well, pleased to meet you, Adam Pearson. My name’s April. But you—” She touched Adam lightly on the chest. “—can call me Ms Williams. We do hardly know each other, after all.”

Once Adam got April into the car, he didn’t know what to do with her. It had been a long while since he’d had a conversation with a girl that didn’t involve lecture notes or a store counter between them. Come to think of it, Jay might be right about him needing to get out more.

“So can I drop you anywhere?” he asked.

“I don’t really know,” April replied. “I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I just had to get out of that house. It’s unbearable.”

“Are you having trouble with your parents?”

“Stepfather.” April said it in a tone that made it clear she didn’t want to discuss him.

“You were at the bus stop. Which bus were you going to get on?”

April shrugged. “Whichever one came first, I guess. I figured if I was gone long enough… I just don’t want to go home tonight.”

“Doesn’t seem like much of a plan.”

“Nope. Not much for plans.”

“Is there a friend I could take you to?”

“You’re about as friendly as anyone has been to me all week.”

Adam didn’t like the idea of leaving her out on her own again. She’d already had one bad experience for the night. All she must’ve wanted was to curl up somewhere safe, and she didn’t have that safe place. The more he thought about it, the more Adam felt obligated to offer her help. He couldn’t rescue her and then desert her.

“If you want,” he said, “I could take you back to my place. Just to give you a quiet place to sleep for the night. Things might not seem so bad in the morning. And I won’t hassle you or anything. No strings.”

April didn’t respond for a long stretch of time, and Adam thought he must have said too much, or she thought he was asking too much. He glanced over at her and found that she was studying him. So not an offended silence but an assessing one. He must have passed whatever test she was running in her mind because when he caught her eye, she smiled and agreed to his plan.



Offering for April to crash for the night had seemed like the decent thing to do at the time. Adam’s good deed for the week. Unfortunately, Jay did not agree. He had dragged Adam over to the kitchen section of their flat to express his displeasure.

Adam was very conscious of April’s presence over in the lounge section. These sections were not very far apart and were really only one not-very-large room. She was probably hearing every word they were saying, even though they were both trying to keep their voices down.

“You don’t know anything about this girl,” Jay said. “Or why she really decided to latch onto you like that. What possessed you to bring her back here?”

“She told me—” Adam started.

“She told you whatever she thought would get her what she wanted. Come on, Adam.”

“It’s not like you know so much about the girls you bring home. All the time.”

“A hell of a lot more than ‘she clung to me on a dark street and asked for help’.”

“It’s one night, Jay. And she had nowhere else to go. What was I supposed to do? Leave her on some random street corner?”

“Duh. Of course you were supposed to leave her. What kind of person throws themselves at strangers like that? Literally throws themselves. She could be some kind of psycho serial killer for all you know. And you’ve let her into our home.”

“Exactly. Our home. I have just as much right to bring someone back here as you do.”

“Sure. But could you assess their sanity first next time?”

“Oh, absolutely. I’ll definitely do that next time.”

Adam turned his back on Jay and walked over to April in the lounge section, an apologetic expression on his face.

“April,” Adam called.

He could feel Jay glowering behind him, but Adam did his best to ignore it. He resented the way Jay assumed he couldn’t think shit through on his own. He was perfectly capable of forming sound judgements of people. Why couldn’t Jay trust him?

Adam never complained about all the women that Jay brought home. And there were a lot. Girls had been throwing themselves at Jay since they were in high school. Jay and his stupid, effortless, just-run-a-hand-through-my-hair-and-I’m-perfect good looks. Any other guy would be annoyed by it. But Adam never complained. Never felt sorry for himself, sitting at home while Jay was out with whoever was flavour-of-the-minute.

Jay was hardly ever even nice to these girls, and yet they still kept coming. Adam didn’t know why they… actually, he did have some idea of why they might come back. Jay could be a self-centred asshole at times but never in the bedroom.

“You can sleep in my bed tonight,” he told April. He never slept in the thing anyway. But that was probably more information than she needed to know.

“You don’t have to do that, Adam. I don’t want to be any trouble.” April looked up at him with wide blue eyes, and any lingering doubt Adam had vanished. She was a nice, ordinary girl, not the crazy serial killer Jay was making her out to be.

“It isn’t trouble,” he said. “If you really haven’t got anywhere else to go…”

Adam heard Jay snort and stomp off.

“But where will you sleep?” April asked.

“Where you are. On the futon, I mean, not in the, um… I’ll show you where my room is.”

Adam led April into his bedroom. His computer desk and chair, bed, wardrobe, and bookcase (which was overflowing with books) were crammed into the tiny space, and from his feet onwards, there were half-opened books and scribbled on papers lying everywhere: floor, bed, desk, everywhere. He knew exactly where to step to make it to the bed, and he began to stack the papers there into piles so that April could actually lie down.

“Sorry about the mess. There’s not really that much room and… well…” he placed the pile in his hand on top of a bigger pile on his desk. “I guess I’m kind of obsessive about studying. That’s what Jay says anyway.”

“Your flatmate?”

“Um, yeah.” There was a pause as he started on the floor piles.

“So, you’re a student? At the uni in town?” April asked.

“No, Magill. Information studies.”

“You study information?”

“Yeah, it’s kind of a dumb course name. I don’t know…” He finally stopped fiddling and headed for the door. “Well, um, the bathroom’s at the end of this hall here. The door opposite is Jay’s room. You saw the kitchen, right? So, I guess that’s about it.”

“Adam? Sweet dreams.”

Adam smiled and closed the door on her. He took a few steps towards Jay’s room and stopped. Probably better if he spent the night on the futon. It was only for one night. That’s what she said. It wasn’t like he was ever going to see her again anyway.



Or at least that’s what he thought until he came home the next day and found her sitting on their doorstep.

“Hi, Adam.”

“April. I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”

“That crossed my mind too. And the thought made me so sad that I had to come back and make sure it didn’t come true. Aren’t you glad?”

“Uh… yeah, sure… Um, why don’t you come in and sit down? I have to get rid of this stuff… Put it in the fridge.” Adam held up the shopping bags in his hands.

He let April into the flat and carried the shopping over to the kitchen benches. After dumping the bags, he leant his arms on the kitchen sink and took a few deep breaths. Okay, so maybe her just sitting there was a little odd, but it didn’t make her a crazy serial killer.

“I thought you were going to put it away?”

Adam jumped as April appeared at his elbow.

“Huh? Oh, yeah. Just a headache.” Adam shook his head. “I’ve got a headache, so I was just… yeah I’ve got to put it away.” He moved to the bags he’d left on the counter.

“I’ll help,” April said. “Frozen dinners? You guys really do live the bachelor life, hey?”

“Well… um… Jay, he’s more of the cook, you know, than I am.”

“Oh. I’ll cook for you. I know I saw some pasta in that cupboard.”

April started rummaging through their cupboards as Adam looked on. She’d seen pasta in their cupboards? When had she been in their cupboards? Had she come out in the middle of the night when he was sleeping and searched their place?

Shit. Shit. Shit. Where was Jay?

“See, right here next to the cereal,” April said, pulling out a packet of pasta. “I saw it at breakfast this morning.”

Breakfast. Right. That sounded much less concerning.

While April prepared dinner, she told Adam more about how bad the situation was at home. She was obviously having a hard time getting along with her stepfather.

“He’s just on at me all the time. Like nothing I ever do is okay,” she said, ending the ten-minute outpouring of complaints. “That’s why I was so glad you let me crash here last night. I couldn’t take it anymore. I just had to get away. I wish I didn’t have to go back. It’s just … ugh.”

“But where would you go?” Adam asked. He got the feeling that April was being a little overdramatic. Her story sounded like every other teenager complaining about their parents. Nothing there to make him really worry about her. If she’d told him the stepfather stories the previous night, he might not have been so quick to assume she really needed a place to crash. Maybe Jay had a point when he’d said Adam should’ve questioned her a bit more. She certainly didn’t seem as reluctant to talk about it as he’d assumed.

“I’m not sure,” April replied. “There’s not really anywhere else to go.”

She lowered her eyes to the sauce she was stirring, and her hair fell over her face. God, she wasn’t crying, was she? And Adam was supposed to do what with that exactly?

“I’ll work something out,” she said.

“Isn’t there anything…?” He paused, trying to think of something that would help in her situation. He hadn’t clashed much with his parents as a teenager. “Well, you could try…”

“Staying here? Adam, I don’t know what to say. You’ve been so great, I can’t believe that you’d offer for me to stay like that.”

“Neither can I,” Jay said from the door. Adam had not heard him come in.

“Jay. Where’ve you been? You want something to eat?” Adam wasn’t entirely sure what had just happened, but it was obvious that Jay was severely pissed.

“There’s plenty,” April added. Jay didn’t even turn as April said this, just glared at Adam and left. Adam trailed behind him into Jay’s room.

“You’re home late,” Adam said.

“Terry’s car broke down.” Jay unbuttoned his shirt and threw it on the floor. Next, he started to undo his jeans. When he was down to just boxers, he looked up and saw that Adam was still watching him from the doorway. “I’m going to go to sleep, do you mind?” he said. Adam remained silent. “Could you at least close the fucking door?”

Adam stepped into the room and closed the door. Jay then took off the boxers and headed towards the bed.

“Would you say something, please?” Adam said quietly. Jay turned to glare at him again.

“What? What do you want me to say?” Jay asked. “I thought I made my feelings clear last night. Then I come home to find you asking her to move in with us?”

“I didn’t mean to…”

“I don’t care how it happened, Adam. Just get rid of her before she knifes one of us in our sleep.”

“She’s probably harmless,” Adam said, automatically going back to defending her.

Jay stared, with his mouth open in disbelief at what he obviously thought was his friend’s stupidity, then turned his back in disgust.

“Jay.” Adam went over and put one hand on Jay’s shoulder and one hand on his hip. “Jay…” He breathed into Jay’s neck.

Jay sighed. “Just fix it, you idiot.”

Adam was tempted to keep arguing his point. But then, he hadn’t actually wanted April to stay any longer either so he wasn’t sure what was left to argue about. Better to go kick her out like Jay wanted.

April was calmly dishing up the pasta when Adam came back into the kitchen.

“April, look, I’m not sure what—”

“Is he okay?” April interrupted.

“Huh? He has to work the night shift that’s all, so he has to sleep, you know, for tonight. April, listen—”

“Did he say why he was late? I mean, you were waiting for him, right?”

“Yeah. But his ex-girlfriend…” It was then that Adam realised Jay had never told him he was going somewhere with Teresa that day. Adam hadn’t thought the two of them were still friendly. Jay didn’t usually stay friends with his exes. But then Jay had never stayed with any girl as long as he had with Teresa.

Adam looked out of the window and noticed his neighbour arriving home. “There goes Dan,” he said.

“Who’s Dan?” April asked.

“Hmm?” Adam hadn’t realised he’d spoken out loud. “Oh, our neighbour. Dan. Dan, the man with the van, out for another night of passion and heartbreaking.”

“What’s he like?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never talked to him. Never met him, really.”

“Then how do you know where he’s going?”

“Well, he’s always staying out all night, and with the van…” He shrugged. “We just…”

“Made it up?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh.” April all but rolled her eyes. Maybe he could get rid of her by convincing her of how boring and immature he was. That would probably take a while, though, and considering Jay’s already high irritability on the subject of her being there, a more direct approach would probably be better. Besides, she did seem to take any slight opening he gave her. He’d have to be clear about this.

“I’m sorry, but you can’t stay here,” he said. “I mean, I’m sure you’ll work things out at home if you try. I think it’s better that you just go … now. Sorry.”

April wasn’t happy about it, but she left, so… success? He should have been glad that she accepted it without any kind of scene, yet Adam felt conflicted about sending her away. Sure, he hadn’t wanted a new flatmate. What he had done, though, felt more like appeasing Jay than asserting his own wishes. He’d kind of liked April. Even if she had been a little overdramatic.

Chapter Three

Jay couldn’t believe it when the girl showed up again the next weekend looking forlorn and friendless, asking if she could hang out with them. Then Adam actually agreed. The idiot had been feeling guilty all week about how he had treated her, like he had been too harsh on her. Jay figured it was her due. What did she expect from some guy she barely knew?

This girl was the first that Adam had brought back to the flat since they’d moved there. Jay watched her out of the corner of his eye as she sat down on the floor with her head resting on the futon between him and Adam. He was trying to figure out what Adam found so irresistible that he had to help. There was nothing remarkable about her.

But then, if the previous weekend was anything to go by, she was perfectly comfortable in pushing Adam into doing what she wanted him to, and Adam had past history with following around girls like that. He’d dated one back in Ashdon Harbor. Gabby. Ugh. Even the thought of her made Jay inwardly shudder. How he’d hated that girl and the level to which Adam had fawned over her.

“So, what are we doing tonight?” April said.

Jay bristled at the way she said “we”. It was unnatural how she had latched herself on to Adam so quickly. He had helped her out once and that made him her boyfriend? Shit only worked like that for people with wiring issues in the brain.

“What do you want to do?” Adam said, like her instant clinginess was perfectly normal.

“Let’s go somewhere,” April replied.

“Where?”

“Anywhere… Let’s go for a drive,” she said. “What about you, Jay? You wanna come?”

“It’s Jason. And I got plans,” he replied, keeping his eyes fixed on the screen in front of him.

“You didn’t say anything this afternoon,” Adam said. Jay just shrugged.

“Is it with Teresa?” Adam asked.

“Why would it be with Terry?”

“I don’t know. I just thought… you know, after the other day… it doesn’t matter. I’ll go get the car.”

Jay turned back to the television until he was sure they had left, then he got up and went to the phone. He’d lied to the girl when he’d said he had plans, but he didn’t like the idea of sitting around all night wondering what Adam was getting up to.

“Tam. It’s Jason. You busy?”



“It was just the prettiest little thing, wasn’t it? Did you see the little book open on the little desk? And the little cake in the little oven? Jason?”

“Huh? Yeah, it was all real small.”

Tammy had seen a dollhouse in a store window on the way back to the car and hadn’t stopped yammering about it since. Thankfully, all the attention she needed was a vague syllable here and there because Jay’s attention had not been on anything in that store window. In fact, it had not been on anything in his physical presence since he’d left he flat. He might have miscalculated in assuming that leaving the flat would distract him from thinking about Adam and his stalker.

“Oh, and the little rocking horse. Adorable.”

“Last stop. Everybody out.” Jay turned off the engine and opened his door.

“Oh, I was having so much fun, I didn’t even realise we were almost here,” she said.

Fun. It means different things to different people. In Tammy’s case, it appeared to mean being with someone who just let her talk all night without interruption. He sure hadn’t been giving her any more than that while his mind was elsewhere.

“Hey, your flatmate’s just arriving back too,” Tammy said. “Isn’t that funny? Getting back at the same time?”

“Yeah.”

“Is that his girlfriend? I didn’t know he had a girlfriend.”

“Yeah.”

Jay wasn’t even listening by then (he hadn’t really been listening well all night). He was watching the scene unfold at his own front door. Adam had been saying something to April when she suddenly rose up onto her toes and pressed her lips to his. It had been a while since Jay had seen anyone do that. It felt weird. It shouldn’t have felt weird. It hadn’t felt weird when he had seen Gabby do it in high school. But then, April seemed pretty weird all by herself.

All this flashed through Jay’s mind in the few seconds it took for Adam to pull away. When Adam saw Jay and Tammy approaching, the guy blushed. What was that about? Jay gave Adam a bright flash of teeth, quickly turned his key in the lock, and went inside. Tammy followed, and he shut the door firmly on the new lovebirds.

“Better hole up and hibernate before the timid creatures come in. Might disturb their mating ritual,” he said.

Tammy laughed, and he led her down the hall to his room.

“That’s more than you’ve said all night. Not much of a talker, are you?” Tammy said.

He could reply that she only allowed him space for one-word answers in between all her babbling, but it wouldn’t be strictly true anyway, especially that night. It was entirely possible that she was just talking to fill the silence, and he had been offering even more silence that night than on their first date. He shouldn’t have called her really, he already knew they weren’t compatible, but if he convinced her to go home now, Jay would be left alone with Adam and his…girl stalker.

“Silence,” he said. “We go cave. Hump nasty. Not emerge till morning.”

And for the first time in Jay’s life, a girl slept over.



It was a new experience, waking up to a girl in his bed, and Jay wasn’t sure it was one that he wanted to repeat. He was feeling restless and edgy, like he wanted to shake her awake and get her up and out of the flat as quickly as possible. This seemed kind of unfair, seeing as he’d asked her to stay so he resisted the urge and wandered out into the lounge. Adam was lying on the futon and stared up at him blearily as he went in.

“Good morning to you too,” Adam grumbled as Jay pushed his feet off the futon to make room to sit.

Jay turned on the TV and started flicking through the channels, more out of a compulsion to be doing something than any real interest in the programming. This appeared to annoy Adam even more.

“Do you have to do that this early?” Adam said.

“Got something better to do?” Jay asked.

“Sleep.”

“Did you sleep out here? What for?” Jay said suspiciously.

“Nothing. Just pick a channel, will you?”

“Grumpy, grumpy. Didn’t Little Miss even give you a tug to ease the tension last night? Stingy.”

“Piss off, Jay. It’s none of your business.”

“We are touchy this morning. Since when has—”

“I’ll bet you were.”

“What?” Jay was confused, and it wasn’t often that Adam confused him.

“Morning, all,” Tammy called as she drifted through into the kitchen.

“Adam, what—” Jay tried again, but Adam cut him off.

“Forget it. I’m getting some coffee.” Adam got up and crossed to the kitchen. Baggy T-shirt, boxer shorts, white socks, and spiky bits of hair that stood out on only one side of his head—Adam definitely wasn’t a pretty sight when woken.

Finding nothing on the telly to grab his attention and not having the energy to figure out what the hell Adam’s problem was, Jay decided to have a shower. Things hadn’t improved when he came back. For one thing, Tammy was still there. For another, she was talking to April. The two of them were lounging on the futon, gossiping about celebrities, looking as comfortable as if they owned the place. Jay went in, took Tammy by the arm, and led her outside away from April.

“Isn’t it a bit early for the cave man routine?” she said to him.

“What were you doing?” he demanded.

“What?” she said blankly.

Jay tried to control his anger. He wasn’t even sure what he was angry about, exactly, but there it was insistently bubbling under the surface.

“What were you doing?” he repeated.

“I don’t know. Talking?”

“To who?”

“Your flatmate’s girlfriend, April. She just came over and—”

“Why?”

“Why? I guess she wanted to see Adam.”

“I meant, why the fuck were you talking to April?”

“Who was I supposed to talk to? The fridge?”

“Might have had more interesting things to say.”

“Than April? She seemed—”

“Than you, that’s for sure.”

“Hey.” Tammy’s anger was starting to rise too. “I didn’t hear you complaining last night.”

“I wanted to fuck you last night. Probably wouldn’t have made any difference if I had complained. The only time you ever shut your mouth is when I put something in it.”

Tammy tried to slap him for that, but Jay caught her hand before she could. He’d never meant to say that out loud. To her. He let go of the wrist slowly, watching to see if she was going to have another go.

“Just don’t talk to April again,” he said, quietly.

“What the fuck is your problem? You’re telling me what to do now? You’re not my boyfriend,” Tammy said.

Jay made a face at the term.

“You weren’t even that great, for the record,” Tammy continued. “After all that shit they say at work—total disappointment.”

This was obviously the worst thing Tammy could think of to say. She hitched her bag on her shoulder and stomped off. Jay watched her walk down the block. He put his hand through his hair and realised it was shaking. What was the matter with him? He couldn’t believe the way he had just flipped out at Tammy. And over what?

He took some deep breaths and went back inside. Adam was flicking through the same channels he had with the same disgust.

“Hey. Dan’s van is parked in the same spot. Maybe his sleaze streak’s over.” Jay tried to gloss over the scene he had just made.

“Hmm. Maybe he met the girl of his dreams and is finished with his wicked ways,” Adam replied.

“Maybe he met the girl of his nightmares and decided to remain celibate.”

“Are you guys talking about Craig?” April said from the kitchen. “He’s decided it’s finally his sister’s turn, now that she’s back from Melbourne.”

“Who’s Craig?” Adam asked.

“And why would we care what he does with his sister?” Jay added.

“Your neighbour. The one with the van. I was talking with him last night, after I left. Nice guy. Goes and stays with his mum a few nights a week. She’s pretty sick apparently. I reckon it must be tough to spend so much time looking after an old fogey, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Although, like I said, he’s sharing mum-sitting duties with his sister now. That’s why he stayed home last night,” April explained.

“You talked to Dan?” Jay said with horror.

“Craig.”

Jay went back into his room and flopped face down onto his pillow. A pillow that smelled like Tammy. Jay groaned. It was early and already this was turning out to be a very bad day.

Jay ended up falling back to sleep. Blessed unconsciousness. All was quiet when he woke up.

He looked around warily for the girl-stalker as he walked out of his bedroom. He didn’t see April anywhere, though, so he went into the kitchen for something to eat. Adam was sitting at the bench that served as their kitchen “wall” with about five textbooks propped up around him.

“So where’s the little woman?” Jay asked.

“Don’t know, she took off a while back,” Adam replied without looking up.

“We should all be thankful for that.”

Jay opened the fridge, mulling over the scarce options available. Before he could even make a sarcastic comment about Adam’s shopping abilities, he found Adam pressed against his back. Jay melted into the embrace.

“You’re making the mini man tired, Adam,” he said.

“I wouldn’t call him mini,” Adam said.

“A grown man would hardly fit,” Jay replied.

Adam’s arms loosened around Jay’s waist, and Jay turned to see the confused look on his friend’s face. All this time and sometimes Jay still had to explain his jokes. But then, that was half the fun.

“Adam.” Jay spoke gently as if he was explaining something to a five-year-old. “If the refrigerator had a big man to turn the light on and off, there wouldn’t be any room for the food. Now move, so I can shut it before his poor mini hand drops off.”

Adam rolled his eyes and stepped back, but not before grabbing onto Jay’s waist, pulling the other man with him.

“Adam, I’m hungry,” Jay whined.

“I’m sure I could supply something nourishing.” Adam mock-leered, and Jay instantly forgave him for his grumpiness earlier. Life was so much more interesting when Adam was in a good mood.

Their lips crashed into each other, the intensity of the kiss surprising Jay a little. He had wondered if Adam’s new stalker would have changed things. If she had been giving Adam this, there would be no need for Jay’s attentions anymore. But the way Adam was tugging at Jay’s belt showed an enthusiasm for this that Jay had not been expecting.

Maybe things hadn’t gone as far between Adam and April as he’d assumed. That was a cheery thought. He started tugging at Adam’s clothes as desperately as Adam was with his. Adam should be more naked. Like, immediately.

When Adam’s chest was exposed, Jay ducked his head and bit Adam just low enough that any marks would be hidden by a T-shirt when he went to uni.

“Ow,” Adam said. “I know I said I’d feed you, but try to leave some flesh on there.”

“Want me to—”

“Do it again.”

Jay grinned. Oh, yeah. He could do that. The man would be marked all over before he’d finished.



Jay had his legs up on the futon, with his feet in Adam’s lap and the laptop at his fingertips. The cinema websites were not giving him any joy.

“How is it possible that there is nothing worth seeing? At all,” he said.

“Maybe because you’re always taking some checkout chick to grope in the dark,” Adam replied.

“Aw. Would you prefer I take you to grope in the dark?”

“No. I would prefer to have a movie we could both agree to watch without you having already seen it.”

“I could watch one of them again. It’s not like I would have seen all of it anyway. You know, being distracted by—”

“I know what you were distracted by. And I know what you’re like when you’ve already seen a movie. I’d rather listen to the movie I’m watching without your commentary track, at least the first time.”

“Pfft. What do you want to do then?”

“We could stay here.”

“Again.”

“We could go somewhere else, like a bar or something. When was the last time we did that?”

“I don’t know. A few months ago.”

“Nah. I reckon it was longer. Before Teresa. What is it with you two anyway? Are you back together?”

Jay shook his head. “Terry’s living in Butcherville.”

“She’s dating a butcher?” Adam grinned. “You’d love that.”

“Any guy that plays around with his meat as much as those guys do gives us all a bad name. He probably doesn’t even remember where to put it when he does get a girl. Poor thing.”

“Mmm,” Adam agreed, shaking his head. “Tragedy.”

Jay knew Adam was laughing at him, but he didn’t care. Butcher/baker rivalry was an important aspect of his working life. Shit, they had to fill their day with something at work.

“So… a bar, huh?” Jay asked. “I guess it has been a while. Why is that?”

Jay put on a pondering face, as if he couldn’t quite recall. He did actually remember why they hadn’t, but Adam seemed to have forgotten, which was interesting.

“Probably because you’re too lazy to go out and look for women,” Adam said.

“Ah, Woolworths variety,” Jay said.

“You always complain about Woolworths quality.” Adam nudged Jay with an elbow.

Jay grinned. “All right. I’m in. As long as you don’t throw up in some chick’s lap again.”

Adam’s face paled, and Jay could tell that now he remembered why they had sworn off bars the last time.

“Come on,” Jay said. “It’s about time we got out of the flat. And who knows when I’ll see you with your nose out of a book again? I better take advantage of it.”

“You’re the one who’s always working ridiculous hours,” Adam replied.

“Maybe you better take advantage of me then,” Jay shot back.

Jay got up and stretched, waiting for Adam to decide if he was coming or not. Well, waiting for Adam to concede to coming. Adam rarely bowed out of anything, unless he was in freak-out study mode, so Jay didn’t doubt the guy would follow wherever Jay decided to go. Before Adam could reach the point of concession, though, there was a knock on the door.

Jay frowned. Not again. The stalker was back. Jay started to feel like throwing up in a girl’s lap himself.

“Adam. Hi. What are you up to?” April asked.

“Jay and I were just talking about going out for a drink,” Adam said.

“Oh, like a bar? That sounds like fun.”

“Um, yeah.”

“I’m not eighteen yet, though.”

“So?” Jay said.

April looked up at Adam with one of those wide-eyed looks. Probably batted her eyelashes at him.

“Well. Maybe we could go to the movies or something,” Adam said. “Jay?”

Jay snorted and turned his back on the whole scene, disappearing into his room. He wanted no part of it.



“We’ve really gotta stop meeting like this,” April said, as she breezed into the kitchen the next morning.

Jay just kept shovelling in his cereal.

“So, how’s it going?” April asked.

Jay wondered if she was always so bright and cheerful in the morning. It was nauseating.

“Good night? Peaceful?” she continued.

Jay got up to leave.

“Why don’t you like me, Jay? I’m a likeable girl when you get to know me.”

“It’ll be over in a week,” he said.

“Okay. I mean, everyone knows that high school friendships don’t last forever. I’m sure you’ll find someone else when Adam realises what a loser you are.”

“Watch your mouth, April.”

April just laughed. It grated against Jay’s already tense nerves. This chick pushed all the wrong buttons for him. And she didn’t seem to care in the slightest.

Jay clenched his jaw shut to avoid saying anything that would upset Adam later. Then he turned and stomped back to his room. He needed to be away from this girl. He needed her to be far away.

“Been a pleasure talking to you too,” April said to his back as he left.

Chapter Four

The flat always seemed really quiet when Jay was out. He somehow filled the space much more than Adam did, even with Adam’s excessive amounts of clutter. On nights when Jay was working, the place was not only empty but also cold, impersonal. Adam spent a lot of nights just waiting around for Jay.

When April turned up the next Friday night, Adam was close to delighted. Spending time with April would be way better than spending another quiet night alone. It was a guilty pleasure, though, because he knew that if Jay was there, the guy would instantly start glowering. Adam opened the door with a wide smile anyway.

“April. Hey. Come in. I just got some takeout if you want some… if you’re hungry… or you want to eat…” Adam ushered April into the flat. “How’re things at home?”

“Fine. So where’s Jay?”

“Work, you know…” Adam shrugged. It was then that he noticed her eye. She had a nasty shiner. “April. What happened? I thought you said things were okay.”

Adam moved closer, and April used the opportunity to lay her head on his chest. She started shaking slightly, as if she was crying but trying not to show it. Adam put his arms around her and awkwardly patted her back.

“April, what happened?” he asked again.

“It’s so awful there. I can’t stand it. It’s like I’m under surveillance twenty-four hours a day. And nothing I ever do is okay with him.” She sobbed, clutching at his shirt.

“Your stepfather did this?”

April nodded.

“It’s all right, April. You’re here now. No one’s going to hurt you.”

God, that was a stupid thing to say. What could he do to protect her? But it felt like the right thing and she seemed to appreciate it. Adam wished he could do more for her.

“Do you want to stay here tonight?” he asked.

“No. It’s okay. I just had to get out of there for a while. Let him calm down. Hell, let me calm down.” She tried to laugh, but it came out shaky.

“Really, April. I think you should stay. I’ll even sleep out here on the futon again if that will make you feel more comfortable.”

“What about Jay?”

“He’ll have to deal with it.”


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