The Year We Grew Up – Chapter Fourteen.

Surprise Visit.

Zack said he would be back late on Friday, they were out on a trip somewhere and not due back to the college till around 7 ish. I’d made up my mind to pop over and see Josh, to find out how he was doing. I wasn’t sure what I could do to help him with his family problems, but at least I could be there for him, someone he could talk to, or more likely a shoulder to cry on.

I’d talked to Aaron about Josh and his experience of coming out to his brother, Zack and I had talked about it, but no one could come up with any concrete plan. Not surprising, because how can you change a person’s mind set, it was exactly the same between me and my dad, but my problem there was on hold until he recovered.

I wasn’t really doing much, just listening to music and sorting through some clothes, when the door bell rang. I wasn’t expecting anyone, so I had no idea who it would be, but with nothing much to do I thought it would be nice to see a friend. Then as I reached the bottom of the stairs and was wizzing along the hall to open the door, I thought maybe it’s just someone selling something, or worse, Jehovas Witnesses.

The shadow through the front door gave only the impression of one person, so it couldn’t be the god squad because they were always in pairs. I opened the door and was face to face with a slim blond haired, blue eyed, gorgeous young man, who was looking me straight in the eyes.

It seemed like minutes passed before he spoke, I was transfixed by his gaze and his beauty, because it was so natural, so unassumed. In reality it was a couple of seconds before he said in a soft voice, “Ah hi…” Then paused as if he wasn’t expecting to see me there.

“Hello,” I replied, taking in as much about him as I could. He had on blue tight fitting jeans, a T shirt with some image or other on a cloudy blue and white background, a red scarf wrapped low round his neck and next to him a suitcase and holdall.

“I was looking to find Zack,” he said as a sort of question.

“Oh right, he’s not here, he’s at college,” I replied, now wondereing who this beautiful guy was. Obviously, he knew Zack, but he was older than either of us, around 24, 25 I guessed.

“He does still live here though, right?” He seemed like he was unsure if he’d got the correct address.

“Yes, of course,” I smiled as I replied and he seemed to relax a bit with the news that Zack still lived here. “Look,” I continued. “Why don’t you come in and wait for him, but I don’t expect him back anytime soon.”

“If you don’t mind,” he smiled back. “I really have nowhere else to go.”

That last statement intrigued me, ‘nowhere else to go’ well I thought you can stay here and explain what you mean. “Come in,” I moved aside and as he was struggling with his luggage I said, “Let me take one of those,” I took hold of the suitcase. “It’s up the stairs, all the way to the top.”

“Yes, I know,” he answered.

As we struggled up the stairs with his luggage, it wasn’t light, at least not the suitcase I was hauling, and judging by the size of the holdall, that was equally heavy, I thought to myself, so he’s been here before.

We put the luggage to one side in the attic, although the place being so small it kind of occupied a large part of the floor. “Sit down,” I said, indicating the room which gave only a choice of the bed or floor cushion, he chose the bed. “Would you like a cold beer?” I asked. “Or, something else if you prefer.”

“A beer would be just fine,” he smiled again. God was he attractive, he had a beautiful smile.

I got two beers out of the fridge, gave him one and took my place on the bar stool, from where I could easily see him. “I’m Michael Woodrow, Mikey to all my friends,” I said.

“Good to meet you, Mikey,” he replied. “Adam Clifton, I just arrived back here today.”

“You’re the guy who used to live here, is that right?” It was fitting into place now, although I new nothing about this friend of Zack’s, except he gave Zack the attic and went off to America.

“Yes, that’s me,” he smiled again, so endearing his smile. “Zack and I used to share this place before I went to New York.”

He used to live here with Zack, now that was news, Zack never said they lived together, I’d always assumed Adam moved out and Zack took over, not that they lived together. Maybe that’s why Zack never said anything about Adam, because if they lived here together, they must have slept together, there’s only one bed.

“Hey, don’t worry,” he said, like he knew what I must be thinking. “I haven’t come back to reclaim the attic.”

No, maybe not, but that wasn’t exactly what I was thinking, no I was thinking he’s come back to reclaim my boyfriend.

I must have not looked too pleased because he asked, “You sure it’s OK me being here, I can go if it’s a problem?”

“No it’s fine,” I gave a half hearted smile, I wasn’t sure if it was fine or not, but I wasn’t about to throw him out, even if he was Zack’s former boyfriend.

“So you just got back? Do you mean you just arrived from New York?” It wasn’t difficult to make that conclusion with the luggage he had with him.

“Yes Mikey and I was hoping I could crash here with Zack, but I can see that’s not possible. I assume you two are living together?”

Adam seemed like a nice guy, not just nice looking, but a genuinely nice guy, so I wasn’t going to be mean to him and I actually thought I could help him out.

“Yep,” I said smiling as I thought about me and Zack. “But I think I have a solution for you.” I looked at Adam and he seemed both tired and relieved, almost like he was ready to accept anything someone would propose. “I used to share an apartment just up the road from here and was going over there later to see a friend. There is a spare bed because I moved in with Zack, you’d have to share a bedroom and I need to check with Josh. That’s the guy you’d share with, but I’m sure it will be OK, maybe not permanently, but just till you sort yourself out.”

“Oh Mikey, Mikey, you’re a saviour, I’m just so beat, anywhere someone will have me would be fine.”

“I’ll call him and explain.” Which is exactly what I did and whilst I was talking to Josh, Adam just kind of crashed out on the bed. I looked at him lying there sleeping, I wondered about him and Zack, how long had they been a couple? It couldn’t have been too serious between them or Adam would never have left for New York. Why did he leave? Was it a job or for someone else, or to get away from Zack? When you don’t know what happened you tend to fill in the gaps with all sorts of imagined histories.

I told Josh I would be over later, but I wasn’t really sure when. I didn’t want to leave Adam here alone, what would happen when Zack got back, no, I had to wait for Zack to get home. Perhaps then I would get some answers to fill in the blanks, although I’d already discounted Adam leaving to get away from Zack. If that were the case, he might have left him the attic, but I couldn’t seeing him turning up out of the blue like this. So something must have happened, something important, my guess, it was to do with another person.

* * * * * *

It was 8PM, or just a little after when I heard footsteps on the stairs. I’d moved from the stool to the floor cushion and not done anything for the past couple of hours except prepare some pasta to eat for Zack. I’d done that as quietly as possible, but I doubt anything would have woken Adam, he was sound asleep, maybe suffering jet lag.

As Zack came in I stood up and gestured, putting my finger to my lips, for him not to make too much noise. “Adam is here,” I said, moving aside so that he could clearly see the person asleep on the bed.

“Oh my god,” Zack whispered. “He’s back from New York?”

It was a question not a statement. “Yes,” I replied. “He just flew in today and turned up here… to see you,” I added. “He needs somewhere to stay, so I’ve sorted that out with Josh, we’ll go over there in a bit.”

“That’s great Mikey.” Zack put his stuff down carefully, he saw Adam’s luggage as he leaned over. Then he took me in his arms and kissed me, “I love you Mikey,” he said. “I can’t believe Adam is back, and on his own, without Sophie.”

“Without Sophie?” I asked. “Who is Sophie?”

“Well, I don’t know what Adam has told you, if anything at all, but Sophie was the reason he went to New York.” We were whispering our conversation, but I was paying close attention, not wanting to miss any information, afterall I was very involved here, even if you might say I was at the end of these events.

“He told me you shared the attic with him,” I said that a little petulantly and immediately hated myself for acting like a little child. “So I figured Adam is gay and you were a couple.”

“Well yeah, kinda,” Zack replied. “We slept together and shared the attic here for a couple of months, but Adam was in love with Sophie and she went back to the states, to New York, and he went with her.”

“So Adam isn’t gay, or what?” I asked.

“No, he likes guys, but he probably likes girls more, I don’t really know Mikey. It didn’t work out between us, it wasn’t at all like you and me, anyway it was all over a year ago.”

All over like it happened a year ago or all over that their relationship was finished. I knew I was being too pushy with wanting to know and I was maybe starting to annoy Zack, he wasn’t someone who easily talked about himself. That was hard for me when I wanted to know everything about him, but I guess you have to be patient and you have to accept people as they are.

Sometime later that evening when Adam woke up we ate the pasta together then went over to see Josh. Adam got introduced to Aaron, seemed to get on well with both of them and so he became the third person in the apart, taking over from me and sharing a bedroom with Josh. From what I could see Josh looked pretty happy about meeting Adam, who wouldn’t be, and I wondered what would happen there. We never went into all the history of Sophie or Zack and Adam, that was up to Adam later, if he wanted to talk about it.

next – Josh has disappeared!

Chapter Fifteen – Missing