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different boys - Episode 5

Contents

  1. Cover
  2. different boys — The Series
  3. About the Book
  4. About the Author
  5. Main Characters
  6. Friends and Family
  7. Title
  8. Copyright
  9. Chapter 1
  10. Chapter 2
  11. Chapter 3
  12. Chapter 4
  13. Chapter 5
  14. Chapter 6
  15. Chapter 7
  16. Chapter 8
  17. Chapter 9
  18. Chapter 10
  19. Chapter 11
  20. Chapter 12
  21. Chapter 13
  22. Chapter 14
  23. Chapter 15
  24. Chapter 16
  25. Chapter 17
  26. Coming up in the next and last episode of the different boys series

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 5: GAY PRIDE AND OTHER DISASTERS

It is Gay Pride weekend in San Francisco, and everyone is excited about the big parade. Ella is planning to participate with her own float to represent the Dive. Colin can hardly wait to see all the hot guys who will show up in town for the event. And for the first time in his life, Tom won’t be watching the parade as a single man.

But then nothing goes as planned: Ella attracts the wrong kind of attention with her float’s bizarre theme, a terrible mistake from Colin’s past catches up with him, and Tom gets dangerously close to Michael again. Too close?

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.

Main Characters

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.

Chapter 1

Pork and ginger, chicken and chili, tofu with tarragon. Tom stared at the platter of dim sum. He just couldn’t decide what he wanted. Not because of the large selection of little Chinese delicacies, but because of the guests sitting at the white lacquered table with him.

Sasha had clearly inherited his protruding ears from his father, Tom thought, discreetly examining the well-groomed older man on the other side of the table more closely. But he’d gotten his hazel eyes and pointy chin from his mother, who was sitting next to her spouse, sipping her Sauvignon Blanc.

“Help yourself,” Sasha’s father politely encouraged Tom, offering him the serving tongs.

The gathering in Sasha’s apartment that evening wasn’t a business dinner. But there was a clear agenda that night, all the same: Sasha wanted Tom and his parents to get to know one another. It was high time his mother and father met the person their son had been raving about excitedly for weeks. It was a chance to make Tom feel like part of the family, and Sasha’s parents seemed more than willing to regard him as a second son. Whether or not Tom himself was ready for this was an issue that no one seemed to have taken into consideration.

Yvonne, the pointy-chinned woman in the fashionable pantsuit whom Tom had met just twenty minutes ago, was beaming at him. The man with Sasha’s sticking-out ears was named Richard. The two of them clearly saw Tom as a kind of future son-in-law. Tom felt like he was in a car without any brakes, speeding down a hill. He lifted the corners of his mouth a little awkwardly in an attempt at a solemn smile.

They had toasted one another as they sat down to eat. The delicate glasses had met with a resounding clink, symbolically finalizing Tom’s acceptance into Sasha’s family. But at that festive moment, all Tom could think about was the fact that Michael was single again.

“Come on, have something to eat,” Richard said, pressing the serving tongs into Tom’s hand with a grin. “Sasha told us that you two usually eat French fries with each other, but these pot stickers are much tastier. And healthier.”

Sasha tenderly stroked the nape of Tom’s neck and laughed. “Don’t worry, I told them about other stuff too. Not just about the French fries."

“But only good things,” Yvonne assured Tom, smiling warmly at him.

Tom forced out what he hoped sounded like an amused laugh. He absentmindedly let the serving tongs circle above the platter so that no one would notice that he was miles away.

He really couldn’t make up his mind. Not even between pork and ginger, chicken and chili, and tofu with tarragon — let alone between Sasha and Michael. Tom felt like he was trapped in the wrong movie, a movie in which he was condemned to be not only the director, but also the lead actor. But in his head, there was the loose end of a reel from another film flapping about, a film that was only halfway done.

In that other movie, the Viper had just broken up with Michael in the San Francisco airport. Making a dramatic scene, of course, so that everyone in the airport knew what had happened. He’d snatched one of the big-wheeled suitcases out of Michael’s hands. And then the Viper — that is, Alex — had hoisted his little designer suitcase on top of the larger bag. It was stuffed full of clothes that he had purchased during their brief vacation in Miami, all paid for with Michael’s credit card, naturally. The contents were probably worth as much as a small car. Then Alex had stalked off, still cursing and complaining at top volume. Michael had stood there as if rooted to the spot, helplessly watching his ex-boyfriend go.

“I’m fine,” he had said, his eyes hard and flinty, when Tom had walked over to comfort him. Michael was so shocked by what had happened that he didn’t even ask himself why Tom had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He’d just gone on looking in the direction Alex had disappeared, even though the Viper must have long since hailed a taxi to take him back to the city.

“That’s funny,” Michael had said distractedly when Tom explained that Colin was his twin brother. Then he had picked up his remaining suitcase and wandered off toward the exit.

Tom had considered running after him, taking him in his arms and telling him that he would be there for him whenever he needed.

Instead, he merely shook his head and whispered to Colin: “I don’t think there’s anything we can do for him right now. Let’s go.”

But what he was really feeling was the chasm that had opened up inside his head. From deep within the yawning gulf, a question was racing upward toward him: what did all this mean for him? If Michael was no longer with Alex, did that mean that Tom and Michael’s story could have a happy ending?

“Why don’t you try one of each,” Yvonne’s voice broke through, clear as a bell, just as Tom’s fantasies were beginning to get out of hand. He had been about to get to the scene in which he and Michael drove off into the sunset in a red 1958 Corvette, an image that had been haunting him for weeks now.

Tom placed three pieces of dim sum on his plate and passed the platter to Sasha, who probably couldn’t have cared less whether they were eating dim sum, fries, or nothing at all. Because he already had his happy ending: Tom was sitting right next to him, and they were a couple. Tom didn’t understand why he didn’t feel the same way. He could tick off a lot of items on the “successful relationship checklist.” He and Sasha both loved modern art. He and Sasha both enjoyed eating fries. He and Sasha had pretty good sex. Even when they didn’t have sex, they fell asleep snuggled up against each other.

And he’d already passed the first hurdle: the in-law test. Yvonne and Richard had been smiling at him the whole time as if he were the second coming. They had been taking it in turns to ask him questions, eager to get to know their boy’s new flame a bit better.

By the time Tom had polished off his pork and ginger dumpling, they already knew what new stock he had ordered for A-TOM for the fall.

“I’d love a Japanese tea set, myself, actually,” Yvonne mused happily.

“We could stop by the shop and see if we can find anything nice there,” Richard suggested, winking chummily at Tom.

By the time he’d eaten his chicken and chili dumpling, they’d found out that his twin brother worked as a flight attendant.

“Well, he must get around a lot …” Richard speculated with interest.

Tom nodded. “He’s probably just arrived in Bangkok as we speak.”

“Bangkok!” Yvonne gave a sigh of delight. “You two should go there together!”

And, by the time he’d finished the tofu with tarragon dumpling, Sasha’s parents had been informed that Tom’s mother ran a gay bar in the Haight, and that his father was a GI who had deserted his family shortly after the Gulf War in order to begin a new life with a cashier with permed hair in the godforsaken one-horse town of Gaylord, Michigan — of all places.

“I’m really pleased you’re so happy together,” Yvonne said after emptying her glass. She smiled warmly at Tom and then turned to her son. “Especially after everything you went through with Martin.”

Sasha’s hand, which had been gently stroking Tom’s knee, shrank back in alarm.

“Mom, please …” Sasha said through gritted teeth, shooting his mother a stern look. The atmosphere around the table instantly turned icy. Martin was the bastard who had dumped Sasha, provoking a severe emotional crisis. During that crisis, he had met Tom, seduced him into a one-night stand, and then pushed him away. At first, Sasha just couldn’t get over Martin, but soon he had realized that he wanted to get over him — he wanted to emerge from his crisis and begin something new with Tom. Tom reached for Sasha’s hand, squeezed it, and smiled at him encouragingly, but he felt like a phony. How could he be the new mainstay in Sasha’s life when he himself felt so torn, uncertain of what he actually wanted?

“Oh, well, it’s all water under the bridge now.” Richard dropped the subject. He began uncorking another bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. “Would anyone like some more wine?”

“Yes, please,” Yvonne warbled, holding up her glass. “It feels so cozy here, with everyone together.”

Tom suspected that it was going to be a long evening, over the course of which he would have to answer many more questions. But there was one question he knew he wouldn’t be able to answer: Why couldn’t he stop thinking about the fact that Michael was single again?

Chapter 2

“Share a room?!”

Colin looked at Nat in horror. Nat seemed to be equally terrified by the thought.

“I’m afraid we’ve had water damage on the third floor. It’s going to be a little bit of a squeeze for all of us,” the receptionist behind the marble-topped desk said. She flashed the two recently arrived flight attendants an unfalteringly hospitable smile, as if she had just offered them an upgrade to the presidential suite.

The soft, soothing sounds of the hotel’s airy lobby — elevator chimes and clinking teacups, mingled with the peaceful gurglings of a small fountain — weren’t enough to prevent Colin’s blood pressure from shooting up.

He’d just had to endure sixteen long hours of his coworker Nat’s company on the flight to Bangkok. Night flights were generally a little more peaceful because most of the passengers were asleep. Colin usually had time to chat with the other flight attendants or to rest for a few minutes in order to conserve his energy for exploring their destination. But Nat didn’t seem to believe in relaxed conversation or even in simply keeping his mouth shut. He regarded Colin’s mere presence as a constant provocation — especially since, as purser, Colin was in charge of the crew and could give him orders.

They had barely begun their journey across the Pacific when Nat began complaining because Colin had delegated the task of distributing blankets to him. He’d spent the time between California and Hawaii in the rear galley, bitching to Katie about Colin. And he kept running his index finger over his eyebrows the whole time, something he always did when he was feeling particularly sulky. Somewhere near Guam, he’d picked another fight with Colin because he didn’t feel like cleaning the restrooms. And during the hurried breakfast service over the Gulf of Thailand, he hadn’t stopped whining about having to make the rounds with the coffee pot. “This is harassment,” he had hissed, rubbing his eyebrows.

He was rubbing them again right now as the lady behind the marble barrier held out the key cards to their shared room. And for once, Colin empathized with Nat’s annoyance. After sixteen hours of close combat on board the Boeing 777, he could have done with an entire week on a South Thailand beach. Unfortunately, his flight home — and the second round of Colin vs. Nat — took off in only 24 hours’ time.

“That’s completely out of the question,” Colin pronounced his verdict. The receptionist smiled on, although the corners of her mouth tensed slightly.

“Our agreement with K-Air permits us to take certain measures in the case of extraordinary circumstances,” she chirped, undeterred, continuing to hold out their key cards.

Nat exhaled scornfully and rubbed at his left eyebrow, but didn’t say a word.

“Well, I’ll have to look around for another hotel then,” Colin decided, frustrated beyond belief. The magic words made Nat smile triumphantly, but at the moment, Colin was reluctantly willing to accept that. It was better than having to put up with the sight of his ugly mug for an entire night.

A few minutes later, Colin found himself standing in front of the hotel’s glass exterior by the side of the six-lane Silom Road, which was badly congested, as always. An unending river of sheet metal was flowing torpidly past him, as sluggish as lava. A mixture of acrid exhaust fumes and the pungent aromas of a nearby cookshop inundated his nostrils. The combined odor in the fierce, muggy heat almost took his breath away.

Luckily, he had been able to reserve a room at Sayam’s guest house at short notice on his smartphone. He knew the place from an earlier stay in Bangkok. The pretty boutique hotel had individually decorated rooms and, more importantly, was walking distance from the Babylon Sauna, where Colin planned to spend a few pleasant hours later. The prospect cheered him up instantly.

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