- different boys — The Series
- About the Book
- About the Author
- Main Characters
- Friends and Family
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 10
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
- Chapter 14
- Chapter 15
- Chapter 16
- Chapter 17
- Chapter 18
- Coming up on the next episode
different boys — The Series
The new gay romance series “different boys” tells the tempestuous story of Colin and Tom, twin brothers who could scarcely be more different from one another, but who are both simply trying to get their lives in order and find the secret of love and happiness.
About the Book
EPISODE 2: FALSE FRIENDS
During the art exhibition at A-TOM, Tom is forced to watch in disbelief as his friends perform a chainsaw massacre set to music. But all his anger vanishes when he suddenly finds himself face-to-face with Michael, the cyclist who ran him over — and whom he hasn’t been able to get out of his head ever since.
After a ferocious argument with his brother, Colin goes to a gay sauna to let off steam. San Francisco’s hottest gay bachelor, Eric, is just what he needs at the moment. But Eric talks Colin into making a grave mistake …
About the Author
Norman Stark is the pseudonym of a successful author who has developed plots and written screenplays for numerous TV productions for a number of years. He lives with his partner in Cologne, Germany, and is an expert on the colorful world of gay society.
Colin regards monogamy as the greatest possible denial of human nature and prides himself in his serial sexual escapades. His job as a flight attendant takes him all around the world, to the most popular gay hotspots and the hottest guys.
Tom prefers to surround himself with other things, things that make life more beautiful. He runs his own designer boutique in San Francisco, selling home accessories. But among all the gleaming candlesticks and plush cushions, something is missing — the one thing he longs for more than anything else: his ideal man, the love of his life. Until one day, that man literally falls at Tom’s feet.
Friends and Family
Their mother, Ella, and their friends, Jenny, Jason, Deb, Beata, and Adrian, are further sources of turmoil and confusion in the twins’ lives. And then there’s their sister, Lisa, whose ultraconservative husband is trying to break up their family.
Today was the big day.
“Where did you get those pants? The Salvation Army?” Jason looked Tom up and down, disgusted.
“I got them from a designer in L.A. I happen to like them, actually …” Tom replied hesitantly.
“They look more like they came from a thrift-store bargain bin.” Jason made a disparaging gesture.
“But they’re a good fit,” Tom argued dejectedly, running his hands over his upper thighs.
“Tom!” Jason reprimanded him sternly. “This won’t cut it. You’ve got to put up more of a fight than that! You need to start playing dirty! Show the Viper you mean business!”
Tom’s mother, Ella, was arranging her homemade Indian pakoras on a platter. She shot her son a pitying look. “Don’t be so mean to him, Jason,” she scolded. Tom hoped his mother wasn’t about to relate an embarrassing episode from his elementary-school days. He’d run home crying to her on more than one occasion because some mean girls had made fun of his velour sweater, the one with the embroidered balloons.
“I have to be!” Jason declared in a firm voice, thereby forestalling any narrative excursions about Tom’s traumatic experiences at school. “Otherwise, the Viper will eat him for breakfast! He’s an expert at making everyone around him look like crap just so he can shine all the brighter.”
Jason nudged Ella. “You’d be better off helping me — say something mean to him, too!”
Ella made a face like Jason had asked her to say the Lord’s Prayer.
“I can’t insult my own child,” she bristled.
“It’s for his own good.” Jason appealed to her maternal responsibilities.
Ella cleared her throat. “Your hair is messy.”
Tom hastily checked his appearance in a wall mirror with an elaborate Baroque frame.
Jason turned back to Tom. “Well, no points for meanness, but that was an astute observation,” he sighed leniently.
Tom really didn’t look very well groomed. The previous night, his anxiety had kept him awake. And then he had overslept. In the morning, he had hastily thrown on an old T-shirt and poured some coffee down his throat before setting off for work — at A-TOM, his little designer shop on Fillmore Street. All without observing the normal rules for morning hygiene. He urgently needed to shower and change before the start of this evening’s event in honor of Deb’s friend, Beata, and her impressive concrete sculptures. But first he had to set up the buffet and help Beata and Deb transport the heavy artworks. They really did still have a lot to prepare. And, above all, Tom needed to prepare himself mentally for the prospect of seeing Michael and his Viper again.
Viper had become their code word for Alex, Michael’s dolled-up, egotistical, superficial, and spoiled lover. Tom found many couples difficult to fathom. Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. Tina and Ike. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Or the way his lesbian mechanic friend Deb idolized Cher. But there was no pair he found quite as bizarre as Michael and Alex.
Jason felt the same way. “Alex doesn’t deserve Michael. Michael’s a successful doctor at St. Luke’s and, as if that weren’t enough, he’s also incredibly attractive,” he harangued Tom, trying to bolster his flagging morale.
He’d just taken a bottle of cava out of a case on the floor, and as he said this, he swung it around like a battle-axe. Tom instinctively took cover and resolved to be especially careful opening the bottles that evening.
But Jason’s blood was definitely up. The bottles of cava clanked together as he hauled them off in the direction of the pantry.
Ella opened a Tupperware container, carefully tipped a bevy of little falafel balls onto a plate, and then smiled tenderly at her son. “You’ve been raving about this Michael so much. I don’t want you to kick yourself afterwards for not having done whatever you could. Remember that time at the swimming pool when you didn’t want to dive off the ten-foot diving board and …”
“OK, Mom, I get it,” Tom curtly interrupted his mother’s reminiscences. Jason really didn’t need to hear every gory detail of how he’d climbed back down the ladder from the high board, whimpering and knock-kneed, while the other kids laughed at him.
Taking leaps into the unknown still wasn’t Tom’s strong point.
“But how will all this help me, if Alex …”
“His name is Viper!” Jason insisted. The use of clear terminology was obviously an integral part of his strategy.
“OK,” Tom conceded. “But even if I intimidate the Viper with my dashing looks and witty repartee, what good will it do me?”
Jason raised his arms into the air in an imploring gesture.
“That’s just one part of our plan of attack. You’ve got to turn the tables on the Viper. Tear off his cute little mask so that Michael will realize what a despicable reptile he’s fallen for.”
Tom fetched silverware from a drawer in the pantry, sorted it out into metal mugs, and put them on the buffet. He was preparing for a major onslaught of guests. Beata would definitely have told all her friends to come. And he was expected to battle the Viper at the same time? He was feeling increasingly doubtful about all this.
“Maligning his boyfriend is not exactly going to make Michael throw himself at my feet.”
Jason, having pilfered one of the falafel balls, mumbled with his mouth full: “Well, he threw himself at your feet the very first time you met.”
“Only because I stepped in front of his bicycle and he fell off.”
“But afterwards, you couldn’t get him out of your head!” Jason reminded him pointedly.
Ella nodded sympathetically as she poured cucumber mint dip into a glass bowl. “You certainly couldn’t!”
Jason placed his small hands on Tom’s shoulders. “We made a pact, don’t forget! You wanted to be a bit more like your brother.”
Shocked, Ella jerked her head up, spilling half the dip onto the table. “More like Colin? What has this got to do with him?”
“Colin invests more time and energy in making new acquaintances. Statistically speaking, Colin makes contact with more men than Tom — or than pretty much anyone else on the planet. It’s true that these contacts are usually solely designed to facilitate sexual activity, but they could potentially lead to a relationship,” Jason explained, sounding for all the world like a tweed-sweatered academic. Turning to Tom, he continued his speech: “So, you could increase your chances of finally finding the love of your life if you took a page out of your brother’s book when it comes to openness.”
Having explained his theory, Jason shoved another falafel ball into his mouth and smiled sagely.
Ella had calmed down a little. She was spooning the remains of the cucumber mint dip into the glass bowl. “You don’t have to be quite as …” she searched for the right word, “ …as excessive as your brother. One man would do for now.”
“Maybe Colin could give you a few tips!” Jason winked at him. “Where is he, by the way? Isn’t he coming?”
Tom checked his smartphone. No messages. Before he left for Miami, Colin had firmly committed to helping with the preparations.
“I’m sure he will, once he’s landed and has had a chance to rest.” Tom was certain of it. A memory suddenly surfaced — of his brother back then, at the swimming pool, climbing up to the ten-foot board with him and the two them jumping off together. A grateful smile flitted across his face.
However, he couldn’t count on Colin to help transport the concrete sculptures. He was probably on the descent to SFO at that very moment. Tom was uneasy at the thought of having to haul the unwieldy monstrosities from Oakland to Fillmore Street in Deb’s ancient Volvo. But he was a lot less calm at the thought of the meeting that awaited him. A meeting with a flesh and blood monster: Alex, the Viper.
“I’m afraid we’re out of barbecued chicken.”
Three pairs of hungry eyes were staring at Colin. Three pairs of eyes that made the hearts of so many girls beat faster, not to mention those of a few boys. Three faces that smiled out from magazine covers, billboards, and TV screens, no matter where you were on the planet. Except that they weren’t smiling right now.
Vince, Pete, and Raúl had barely entered their twenties, but they had already achieved almost everything you can in life. Discovered by prescient music-industry scouts, as the Skizzles they’d taken the international pop charts and dance floors by storm in record time. Their mixture of Korean pop and house was now part of the standard repertoire of every DJ and radio station, and their videos got millions of views online.
Before takeoff, Colin and his crew had been informed by head office that they would be hosting the three VIPs on the return flight from Miami, as the band was about to begin its official US tour in San Francisco. Colin was used to having celebs on board, but he’d still been thrilled at the thought of meeting the three gorgeous boys in person. However, the boys had slept through almost the entire flight so far — Colin had been waiting all this time for an opportunity to talk to them. And now he couldn’t provide the menu choice they wanted.
“But I highly recommend the pasta with spicy shrimp. It’s much tastier, anyway …” He wasn’t even lying. But Colin still furrowed his brow, as if it broke his heart not to be able to fulfill the boys’ desires.
“OK, but only if you bring me another drink with dessert,” Raúl proclaimed in a Spanish accent that added a lively note to his informal English.
“I’ll have the pasta, too, then,” Pete decided. Colin found his sky-blue eyes very distracting.
“Well, you guys are an easy sell,” Vince said with mock severity. He threw back his head, tossing his copper-colored curls out of his eyes, and then looked shrewdly at Colin.
“What can you offer me to make my pasta taste better?”
There was something salacious about his direct gaze that set Colin’s antennae vibrating. The fact that Pete and Raúl rolled their eyes in amusement only strengthened his suspicion that Vince might have something more in mind than just a little snack. “Come by the galley later, and we’ll see if I can find you something to your taste,” Colin replied in a tone of voice that suggested he was planning to give Vince a few free chocolate bars. But now he was curious: Was his imagination playing a trick on him, or did the redhead really play for his team? Maybe he was interested in more than just a drink.
Colin’s best friend and colleague, Jenny, had been discreetly following the scene, and now she shot him a questioning look. Of course, she’d guessed his real intentions at once; Colin was pretty sure of that. He remembered how Jenny had flipped out when she’d learned that the Skizzles were going to be flying with them. She’d been seduced by the band’s charms, too, and she always listened to their songs while on the treadmill. The echoes of Korean pop music reminded her of vacations in her father’s home country. But if Colin knew Jenny, the main reason she was so crazy about the trio was because the boys were so damn good-looking. Jenny was as much of a gourmand as Colin when it came to men. And she wasn’t going to surrender these tasty morsels to Colin without a fight.
With a deft gesture, she smoothed down the fabric of her blouse over her cleavage, then bent over the Skizzles and gave the boys a revealing view of her breasts as she served the pasta with the bright red shrimp.
Raúl stared wide-eyed at the unexpected sight, every straight man’s fantasy. “Well, those are very generous portions,” he panted in surprise, beaming at the flight attendant. Pete was also staring, captivated by the velvety, gleaming skin of Jenny’s breasts. He seemed to have forgotten his hunger. Only Vince, who was stuffing spoonfuls of pasta into his freckled face with relish, seemed uninterested in the flight attendant’s little act. He smiled at Colin and mumbled with his mouth full: “See you later …”
“Is everything OK up there?” A severe female voice called from one of the back rows. A scrawny woman of advanced years was craning her neck and squinting at them through the rows of seats. Jenny straightened up with a jolt and adjusted her uniform.
“Everything’s fine, Boss!” the Skizzles muttered in chorus.
“That’s OK, then” the woman pronounced. She was clearly not only the Skizzles’ manager but also some kind of governess. She adjusted the collar of her grey business suit and leaned back again. But she kept a careful eye on Colin and Jenny, as if the flight attendants were evil wolves just waiting to tear her little lambs to pieces.
A faint scent of food filled the cabin as the passengers dined on barbecued chicken and pasta with shrimp. Colin felt exhaustion gradually descending on him like a kind of viscous cloud. As soon as they landed at SFO, he would have a coffee with Jenny and then take the BART home. He was looking forward to his bed, even though there would be no one to share it with today.
“You really do turn on the charm with pretty much every male creature you encounter, as long as they’re good-looking,” Jenny said, amused, switching on the coffee machine in the galley.
“Well, when we have important passengers on board, they require our special attention. That’s our job,” Colin protested innocently. Jenny laughed condescendingly. “You just want to take another conquest home with you. But this time, you’re wrong. Those three boys are definitely on my team!”
“How do you know?