How exciting! Dominic and River had arranged to meet up the very next day. River was almost exploding with butterflies. And she was so ecstatic that Tom didn’t think Dominic was a dodgy guy.
River wondered how Tom was. She grew a little worried. In the shop it had been funny that he had found the guy she wanted to get with hot. But how would John react? River prayed that he wouldn’t end the relationship. Tom loved him dearly and wouldn’t have dared thought about cheating. Surely he couldn’t help it if he thought another guy looked good. Looks didn’t matter. She had found it positively inspiring when Dominic had told her that a person’s looks wasn’t what made them beautiful. Tom found John beautiful. Yes, she was sure that everything would be fine.
The second Tom had gotten home, he had hurried upstairs to John’s room. John should be home from work now and he usually was found in his room between meals and when not hanging out with Tom. Tom knocked anxiously on the door. He knew there was nothing to worry about, that John would understand, that he was over-reacting, but he wanted a hug and to be told that everything was all right. He felt guilty for finding Dominic handsome: he should only find John handsome.
John opened the door and smiled at Tom.
“Hey, you. How was school?”
“It was good thanks,” Tom answered breathlessly.
John grinned. “Did you run here?”
“Yeah,” Tom admitted sheepishly.
“Well, I’m glad you’re so eager to see me.” John pulled him into a hug. “I missed you,” he murmured in his ear.
Tom sighed contentedly but he hadn’t forgotten the real reason for running.
“...John,” he said hesitantly. “I’ve a confession.”
John chuckled. “Something I’ll like?”
Tom shook his head. “No, I mean a serious confession.”
John stepped back, allowing Tom to talk seriously.
Tom cast his gaze downwards.
“I ... I thought a guy was hot today.”
“And?” John asked, his tone as serious as Tom’s.
Tom’s brow furrowed.
John broke out into a wide grin.
“Oh, you silly boy, come here.” He hugged Tom again, pulling him into his room.
“Er, John,” Tom murmured. “You know what Mum says.”
“Damn,” John whispered. He sighed heavily. “Oh well.” He released Tom. Tom pulled him out into the corridor.
John kissed his forehead.
“It’s okay, Tom. I find other guys hot too. But I know that none of them could ever compare to you. So it’s all good.”
“You sure?” Tom checked.
“Absolutely.” John kissed him again. “Now, let’s go find somewhere comfy.”
Lessons went too slowly for River’s liking the next day. She couldn’t wait for the end of school, to see Dominic again, to become lost in his eyes and drown in his voice...
And eventually, after so many hours, the time came. She spotted a familiar figure outside the school gates. She practically ran to him, flinging her arms around him as she reached him.
“Dominic,” she breathed warmly.
He laughed but slowly wrapped his arms around her. She snuggled into his body.
"Hey!" Tom suddenly arrived on the scene. River hurriedly let go, grinning.
"Hey, Tom." She rolled her eyes in pretend exasperation, looking at Dominic. "Here's the chaperone."
"Oh... I brought my bike," Dominic said, gesturing to a sleek black bike.
"Whoa. No." Tom shakes his head to emphasise the no. "My sister is not riding a motorbike."
River smiled sheepishly. "Got to say I agree, I'm afraid. I don't like adrenaline rushes."
"I wasn't expecting you to."
“Oh, all right. Are you not going to come in the car with us, then?"
"Sorry," Dominic said, smiling sheepishly.
"It's fine." She kissed him on the cheek before following Tom to his car. "Don't get lost," she called.
Tom arrived at the house and parked the car. River waited for Dominic as he walked to the house. A few minutes later, Dominic pulled up and locked the helmet in the compartment.
Upon seeing the mansion, he whistled, just staring up at it.
"What the hell?"
River skipped up to him and caught his expression. She grinned.
"Oh, yes, I forgot to mention - I'm a snobbish rich kid." She stuck her tongue out before tugging at his hand and pulling him towards the front door. Tom was already there: he had opened the door and was waiting for them.
River was sure that Dominic's eyes met Tom's for a moment and that his gaze was deep, which confused her slightly. He looked away soon, though, not giving her proper time to speculate, and followed her closely. Tom shut the door behind them as they entered and walked upstairs. River followed. Mum had been quite strict about Dominic and River not spending time alone together until she had met him and approved.
"Are we going to the games room?" River asked Tom.
"Yeah," he replied. "You can watch a DVD while John and I play pool."
Tom caught a look of nervousness on Dominic’s face which his sister didn’t notice. But why should Dominic look nervous? He didn’t think about it as he heard River sigh contentedly. He saw Dominic wrapping an arm around her shoulder.
"Oh yeah, you'll be surrounded by gay guys," River teased.
Tom frowned slightly as Dominic winced.
"Do you want to ask Emily if she wants to join you?" Tom asked River, trying to find a way to speak to Dominic on his own, to ask him about these reactions. This attempt was unsuccessful, however. And maybe that was good, because otherwise it would have been awkward.
River shrugged. "I could do. I more want to spend time with Dominic, though. She'll forgive me."
She turned to Dominic. "You must be confused. Our mother takes in kids who need a home. John and Emily are two of them."
"Cool," Dominic says keeping his attention on her. Tom saw her face light up with an inner glow at the attention she was receiving.
The three of them arrived at the games room which was equipped with a pool table, flat-screen TV on one of the walls, a table for table tennis and table football. At one side there was a large fish tank. John sprang up from the sofa opposite the TV.
"Tom!" he exclaimed. He walked over to Tom and hugged him, kissing him on the cheek. Tom hugged him back tightly, happy to see him again, even though they’d only been apart for a day.
John glanced at Dominic.
"Ah, so you must be River's boyfriend."
River blushed. "He's not my boyfriend yet, John."
"Hopefully soon," Dominic whispered, so that only River could hear it, before smiling at John. "Nice to meet you. I'm Dominic."
John grinned widely. "Wow. You're awesomely hot. Is this the guy you were telling me about yesterday, Tom?" he asked. "Tut tut - fancying your sister's first boyfriend."
Tom play-punched John.
"I didn't say I fancied him, you idiot."
John winked at Dominic. "Denial."
Dominic scratched the back of his head, looking away, embarrassed. River felt sympathetic towards him but also was amazed at John’s extra-homosexual behaviour.
John laughed. "We'll leave you two to it. But ... if you make us feel awkward, we'll make you feel awkward in revenge." He winked. "That's a promise."
Tom rolled his eyes. "You're outrageous."
"You love me for it," John whispered, mischief flashing in his eyes.
The boys walked over to the pool table. River led Dominic to the sofa.
"Sorry about John. I've never seen him so openly gay before. It's wonderful." She lowered her voice. "He got disowned by his parents for being gay."
"So, what are we watching?"
He pulled River gently onto his lap as he sat down on the sofa. River looked straight into his eyes and sincerely answered, "The Story of River and Dominic."
He laughed and nuzzled her neck, causing her to shiver pleasantly.
"Hmm, what DVD are we watching I meant?"
"I don't want to watch anything particularly. I want to get to know you. Well,halfof me wants to get to know you."
"What about the other half?" he asked calmly.
She looked away. "That's abadhalf of me. That part just wants to kiss you and ... well, kiss you." She blushed in embarrassment.
"Hmm," Dominic whispered, his breath going across her neck, warm and sending further shivers down River's spine.
"But ... but that's n-not what l-love is, r-right?" she stammered, though that bad half of her wondered why she was even saying anything at all.
"No, that’s not love but..." He chuckled. "Itisnice. Now how about that film?" He moved her off his lap and went to look at the selection of films.
River stared longingly at him.
"I don't care. I won't pay a lot of attention to it."
He picked 'Much Ado About Nothing'.
"How about this one?"
"Sure," she said weakly, amazed by the fact he has picked a Shakespeare play. Quite without warning, she collapsed so that she was lying on her front.
"Oops," she giggled, but making no attempt to get up.
He laughed and moved back to the sofa, having put the film on. He pulled her back into his lap like he was holding a baby.
She laughed, but stopped after a few moments of looking up into his face.
"See, if I let my imagination wander," she said whimsically, "I could say that I was lying on the lawn, gazing up at the moon."
John had crept up on the pair and his head suddenly appeared above the back of the sofa.
"I'd worry if she's comparing your face to the moon."
"Why would that be?" he asked, now having let go of River.
"Well," John answered, his face quite serious despite the hilarity of his position, "you know what mooning is, don't you?"
"What?" River asked, intrigued,notknowing.
John disappeared. "Bye."
Chuckles were heard behind the sofa.
River’s face turned to Dominic, in the hope of an answer fromhim.
Dominic shook his head, holding back his laughter.
"Let’s just watch the film?"
"Okay," she replied compliantly. She sat up and snuggled into Dominic, though she did watch the film.
Dominic twirled a strand around her hair and didn't really speak. River glanced up at one point and saw that he wasn’t really watching the film.
A few minutes into the silence, River asked, "What are you thinking?"
"Nothing," Dominic whispered. "Just dazed by you." He looked at her with gentle eyes. River focused on his gaze, smiling. She leant in and kissed him on the lips.
He kissed her back, slightly strongly, which was a new, magical experience for River, albeit tinged slightly with a sense of the forbidden, but he soon pulled back. "I'm not sure I'm comfortable with your brother in the same room"
"Oh ignore us," John called. "We're too distracted to notice - we're having fun of our own."
Tom coughed loudly and River suspected he was containing a laugh.
River blushed. "John, do you and Tom need to leave?"
John's head popped up again. His smile was wicked.
"You're not allowed to be on your own."
"No, I think that's a good idea," the invisible Tom said. "Or at least, John needs to go."
John looked offended. "Hey."
"John, later - we live together, remember?"
John rose to his feet and stalked off, but the relaxed look on Tom's face when he stood up assured River that John was only joking
Tom came to sit with them on the sofa.
"You enjoying yourselves?" he asked warmly.
River nodded, staring at his ruffled hair.
"Don't let John be a hairdresser, whatever you do," she teased.
Tom laughed, smoothing it as much as he could. There was an enviable spark in his eyes. River wondered if she'd ever get that from spending time with Dominic.
Dominic smiled. "I'm having a wonderful time," he told Tom but kept his eyes on River wrapping, his arm around her waist
"Me too," River said, smiling.
"River, honey," called her mum from downstairs, startling her. She must have just arrived. "I need help with the shopping bags. It'll take two minutes."
River bounced up, a naturally helpful daughter.
"Sure," she called back. She smiled apologetically at Dom. "She knows you're here, see - that's why she's not calling Tom. But like she said, it'll take two minutes." She kissed him on the forehead and ran off.
Dominic moved to sit slightly further away from Tom. Tom noticed and smirked.
"I only meant my threat if you're bad to River. You've only made her happy so far."
He lounged against the sofa, and watched the film. He glanced back at Dom.
"So, you're into Shakespeare?"
"He seemed to understand that many romantic ventures lead to tragedy." Dominic still wouldn't look at him for some reason. Deep within Tom, something stirred. He ignored it.
Tom frowned, Dominic’s answer disturbing him.
"Not all of them do. Otherwise you wouldn't be wanting to date my sister, would you? I'dhopenot."
"No, of course not. Who would want a tragic romance?"
Tom nodded, relieved.
"So, um..." He searched for something to talk about. "John didn't make you feel too awkward, did he?"
Dominic laughed. He shook his head.
"No, he's cool reminds me of-" He bit his lip, stopping himself.
"Go on," Tom pressed, flushing a little as he realised that he had used the persuasive sort of tone he would use with John. He shook his head to clear it of the recent memories of John's playful kisses.
"It’s nothing." Dominic almost snapped but afterwards he sighed heavily. "Sorry, I just don’t wanna talk about it."
"No, that's fine," Tom answered. "Sorry for prying." He looked at Dominic for a long time. He laughed to himself after a while and looked back at the TV. He was thinking, in a bleakly humorous way, how he would act if he wasn’t going out with John. The thought was slightly worrying because it involved disregarding River’s interest in the guy.
He caught Dominic looking at him from his slightly bowed head. He appeared to swallow before looking away.
"John thought you were hot too," Tom mused randomly. "What's that like? Being called hot by three different people in the space of two days. Normal?"
"Maybe," he said, still avoiding eye contact.
Tom almost choked. The stirring sensation turned into a feeling like there was a beast growling within him.
"Whoa, you sounded sexy there."
Dominic laughed a sort of seductive laugh and for the first time ever Tom wished he was straight and totally enamoured of a girl. Dominic looks towards the door. "Your sister’s taking a while," he mused.
"Must be a lot of shopping." Tom looked at him, and was aware of an expression of slight yearning on his face. "You're doing funny things to my head, Dominic. Stop, please."
Dominic looked directly at him now. Tom couldn’t decide whether this was alarming or pleasant.
"I'm not trying to do anything" he whispered - and his voice to Tom sounded like honey.
He shivered. "I know," he whispered, frightened now. "And I know that John's like ... a few metres away. But I can't help it, I really can't. My mind is like a record, caught on a loop. Round and round and round. Just one single word. Oh wow, make it stop."
"What word?" Dominic asked, slowly.
Tom shook his head, not intending to tell the guy that River was interested in about his secret dark thoughts. But then he suddenly found himself confessing - he couldn’t help it: Dominic seemed to radiate an aura of comfort, inviting people to come to him, to tell him of their problems. "Desire."
Dominic looked at him then looked away.
"I think you should go to another room." His sentence hurt, even though Tom knew he was right even though he knew Dom couldn’t possibly reciprocate his feelings as his confused mind was trying to tell him. He nodded and stood up, but at that point, River returned.
"Where're you going, Tom?" she asked, her buoyant face falling. Gosh, she thought the world of him. And he had been imagining doing with Dominic what she would probably want to do with him when she realised more about the world.
"You can't leave us alone," she reminded him.
Dominic came to his rescue - quite an appealing thought when warped by his over-excited imagination.
"He's just going to see John, River." Dominic got up and wrapped his arms around her hips.
She looked at his arms.
"Aren't your arms a little low?" she teased.
Tom quickly left, mouthing the word 'Sorry' to Dominic. He didn’t seem to notice, though: he had his face hidden in River’s neck.
"How about you show me about the house?" Dominic suggested: the last thing Tom heard of their conversation.