(Story 11 in the Building to Last universe)
I can't say I was thrilled when Bodie suggested we invite his sister for Easter weekend. Cheryl and her son William Andrew remind me too much of a bad spot in our relationship. But I behaved meself and told my mate to go ahead and invite her. Didn't know what I was letting us in for, did I?
It was Friday evening and I was looking out the front window so I had a front seat for act one of our family comedy. Maisie, Bodie's step-mum, parked her motor in front of our flat. The moment Cheryl opened her door a leggy half-grown dog of dubious parentage leaped out on the pavement. The pup spotted Raven sprawled across our doorstep, soaking up the sun. The fuzzy brown mutt rushed up the walkway, yapping hysterically (you could just hear the hint of terrier in his voice).
Raven, the lazy sod, rolled over and sat up facing the oncoming dog. Our moggy didn't fluff up; didn't lay his ears back; didn't stand up. He just raised his right paw and flexed his claws.
The pup stopped dead at the foot of the steps, which showed more sense than I expected, the way he was carrying on. It was obvious he'd tangled with cats before.
Cheryl rushed up with the lead and snapped it on the dog's collar. "Bad doggy! Heel, Pepper! Heel!"
"Bodie," I called over my shoulder. "Your sister's here." I put down my cuppa and started for the door. Bodie nearly beat me to it. I just managed to get it open when my partner rushed in from the kitchen and out to greet his sister.
Raven didn't want to turn his back on Pepper, so I blocked the door open and went to take the dog's lead from Cheryl. "I'll just take the dog round back."
Of course, I was mostly talking to myself. Bodie was all wrapped up in Cheryl's hug, and Maisie was busy off-loading Little Willie and his duff.
Fortunately, our flat was on the ground floor and had a small fenced garden. I tied the pup's lead to the clothes-prop. Just as a precaution, I took down the sheets that were airing on the line. (We all know what Pepper would've done to them if I hadn't.)
By the time I put the sheets in the airing cupboard and took the dog a bowl of water, Cheryl and Willie's things were installed in the front bedroom and Maisie was gone. Just as well. Cheryl's mother loathes the sight of me, and I don't much care for her.
In the lounge, Raven was lying cross the back of his favourite chair. His green eyes were alert and suspicion was plain in his body language. Our moggy was waiting for That Dog to show up again.
Cheryl sat next to Bodie on the settee, nattering on about nothing in particular. She stopped long enough to toss me an, "Hallo, Ray."
"Hallo." I'd been so busy keeping an eye on the pets that I hadn't noticed Cheryl's hair. Last time I'd set eyes on Bodie's sister, she'd been a bottle blonde. Now she wore a neat brunette cap almost as short and dark as her brother's--only Cheryl hadn't beaten her curl into submission the way Bodie had.
Cheryl noticed where I was looking, and blushed. "Yeah. Let it go natural, I did. It was horrible while it was growing out."
She'd done more than let her hair grow out. Cheryl wasn't wearing any makeup; she'd put on half a stone; and her taste in clothing had improved. The first time I'd seen her, she'd been done up in a red lace mini, stiletto heels and half an inch of face paint.
"You look much better as a brunette." It was all I could think to say.
"Thanks." Cheryl looked years younger when she smiled. "Where's Willie?" I looked about the room but didn't see him.
"We put him down for a kip." Bodie was looking all paternal. It gave me a queasy feeling in me tum.
I sat down in Raven's armchair. Our moggy stood up, stretched, then dropped down into my lap. I felt a bit better as I stroked his warm pelt.
Bodie and Cheryl caught up on what had been going on in their lives since they'd last talked. My partner tried to keep me in the conversation, but I just wasn't interested in child-rearing, Maisie's industrialist husband or Cheryl's new boyfriend. I did manage to make appropriate comments, but didn't contribute much.
It was about half seven when we heard the thump in the front bedroom. Something, or rather someone, had fallen off the bed. Cheryl started to get up, but the door into the lounge swung open and Willie toddled in.
'S amazing how much a kid can grow in a year and a half. I didn't recognize the little beggar as the babe in arms who'd rocked my and Bodie's relationship. But the change was all for the better. In fact, Willie looked a whole lot like a miniature Bodie--with freckles. All black curly hair and blue eyes, he was. I could feel my insides turn to instant mush.
After Cheryl finished fussing with the little chap, Willie turned to his uncle. "BoBo!" Little hands reached for my stunned mate.
I managed to turn my cackle into a cough, but I didn't fool Bodie. My lover shot me a glare.
"BoBo?" Bodie asked plaintively.
Cheryl shrugged. "It's as close as he can get to Bodie." I heard just the hint of a laugh in her voice. Sibling rivalry never dies; it just finds new ways to express itself.
"Cheer up, mate." I waited until Bodie turned to look at me. "It could be worse, you know. 'E might've said 'BooBoo instead."
Bodie groaned and picked his nephew up. "Don't give him any ideas." He got off the settee and carried his charge over to my chair, then set Willie on his feet in front of me.
"Willie, say hello to your Uncle Raymond."
"That's right." There was approval in Bodie's voice and no little satisfaction. "And this is Raven."
"Cat!" Willie reached towards our moggy.
Raven's no fool. He leaped off my lap and hid behind the settee. I looked ruefully at the snags in my jeans. It'd be nice if the cat wouldn't use me as a launching ramp. Despite that, I was feeling much better about the Easter hols. I even started adding my bit to the conversation.
We spent the rest of the evening watching Pepper and Willie wrestle in the garden, having dinner, and putting the little one to bed. It was decided that Pepper would sleep in the small pantry inside the back door. The rest of us talked for a bit, then went to bed.
When the bedroom door closed behind us, Bodie turned to me. "Feeling better, are we?"
"Yeah." I grinned at him.
"Knew you weren't looking forward to Cheryl's visit. What changed your mind?"
"Yeah. He looks like you." I put my arms round my lover and kissed his lips.
"Me?" Bodie's voice rose an octave.
"Yeah. Or how I imagine you looked at his age. Except for the freckles, of course."
"Of course." Bodie's eyebrow arched in mock disdain. "I never had freckles."
I kissed him again, then gave him a shove towards the loo. "I'll lock up."
By the time I made sure everything was locked, and that Pepper and Raven both had food and water, Bodie was done with the loo. I brushed my teeth and washed sketchily. On my way to the bed, I did a detour and locked the bedroom door.
Bodie laughed at me with twinkling blue eyes. "Don't want my sister to catch us in bed together?"
"Nah. Don't mind that. It's the thought of your nevvie bursting in on us that gives me the horrors."
"Willie? He's not quite two."
"Yeah. 'd you want to try and explain us to him? Eh?"
"Don't worry, pet." I patted my mate's arm as I climbed into bed. "Unless he's been taking lessons from a second story man, our secret's safe from that one."
Bodie gave me a reproachful look as he realized I'd been having him on--at least partially. I really didn't want Little Willie bursting in on us, and kids that age can't be relied upon to stay where they're put.
"Come here, you berk." Bodie dragged me into his arms, then reached over and flicked off the light. "Good night, Ray." His kiss was warm and soft...and totally passionless. There's something very off-putting about having your relatives in the same flat with you.
"'Night, love." I cuddled up against him. But it was a long time before either of us slept.
'S a good thing CI5 agents are used to being awakened at any hour, because Willie was tearing round demanding brekkers before the clock went seven. Bodie put a pillow over his loaf and tried for a bit more kip. I gave in to the inevitable and headed for the loo to wash and dress.
I found Cheryl in the kitchen. "'Morning...Cher."
Bodie's sister laughed. "'S all right, Ray. I've outgrown that phase. It's just plain Cheryl now." She handed me a cuppa.
I grinned back at her. "Gave up showbiz, did you?"
"More like it gave me the push." Cheryl looked rueful.
I could feel my eyebrows go up in surprise as I sat down across from her at the table.
Hadn't known Cheryl had aspirations that way, had I? It'd just been a joke about her nickname being the same as that American pop star.
"Yeah," Cheryl continued. "I had visions of being a rocker. All stockinet and rhinestones. Mickey was going to make me a star an all. Instead, he got himself killed and I ended up a single mum."
I didn't regret Starrett's death--the man had been a right bastard. "'S hard raising a kid on your own." I'd seen a lot of single mums when I was with the Met.
"'S almost harder trying to do it with me mum round all the time. She has a habit of treating me like I'm the same age as Willie." Cheryl rubbed her nose and looked down at the lino.
"Maisie has a very...overpowering personality." I was trying to be tactful.
Cheryl sniggered. "She can be a right cow, is what you mean. I know my mum."
Her comment caught me with a mouthful of tea, which promptly went down the wrong pipe. I choked and spluttered. Cheryl pounded my back.
Bodie walked in, immaculate as usual. "Tsk, tsk, sunshine. Your table manners are appalling."
I was busy trying to breathe, so I couldn't answer.
"You all right, Ray?" Bodie was looking concerned now.
"Yeah," I croaked. "I just tried to breathe when I should've swallowed."
Bodie looked at Cheryl. "'S why we don't eat out more often," he explained. "What's for brekkers?"
"How hungry are you?" I raised an eyebrow.
"Best feed me more than a handful of Muesli and half a cup of skim or I'll be fighting Pepper for his kibble."
I sighed heavily. "A fry-up, then," I agreed. "But we use the whole meal bread, poach the eggs and use the cholesterol-free marge for the rest."
Bodie looked like a kid with the promise of Christmas before him. I decided to throw out all the stops and do French toast.
"Good morning." Bodie leaned over and kissed Cheryl on the cheek. "Where's the rug rat?"
"Morning, Will." Cheryl giggled at Bodie's frown. "All right. I'll behave meself. Good morning, Bodie. Willie's out in the garden wrestling with Pepper."
"What'd you want to do today?" Bodie started setting the table. "Trip to the zoo, visit to the Tower, a museum or two, shopping? We're at your service."
Cheryl hesitated. "Promise not to laugh?" She waited until Bodie crossed his heart. "What I'd really like to do..." The rest of her words came out in a rush, "...is-dye-Easter-eggs!"
"What?" Bodie sat down across the table from his sister.
"I'd like to dye Easter eggs." Cheryl sat twisting her hands together. "All the time I was growing up, I always wanted someone to dye eggs and hide them for me to find. A real Easter egg hunt with the little baskets and the chocolates covered in foil. You know."
"Yeah." Bodie put his hand on Cheryl's shoulder. "But we never had the brass for extras like that. I don't think it's silly, wanting to give your kid better than what you had. I don't think it's silly at all."
Cheryl looked up at Bodie with a relieved smile on her face. "Then we can do a real Easter egg hunt for Willie?"
"Yeah. We'll get a basket with that frizzy green stuff in it...and chocolate eggs wrapped in foil, as well."
"We can get a kit for dyeing eggs at the local Tesco." I put the food down on the table.
"Probably need to get eggs as well." Bodie looked up at me and grinned.
"Yeah." I sat down at the table. "This lot used up most of ours."
All the breakfast talk was plans for The Great Egg Scramble, as it came to be called. After the washing up, we packed Willie and his duff and trekked out to the shops.
Made me feel nostalgic, helping the two of them shop for the hol. I minded the baby while Bodie and Cheryl egged each other on (if you'll pardon the expression). For a while I thought we'd buy out the place, the way the two of them kept finding just one more thing that was absolutely essential. But we managed to get it all in the motor--including Little Willie (who badly needed a change of nappies).
When we got home, I gladly left Cheryl to wrestle with nappies and baby powder, and I joined Bodie in the kitchen. He'd dragged out every pot we owned and was busy filling them with eggs. There were a lot of eggs. When I finally got round to counting, we had at least three dozen, and maybe a bit more. (I suspect Bodie added whatever was left over from breakfast.)
I must admit, I enjoyed the whole bloody thing. It'd been years since I'd helped me mum and siblings dye and decorate eggs. I dug out some of my crayons (went to art school, I did, and I still mess about every so often), then helped Bodie mix the egg dyes in teacups--and made sure he didn't use the company best china.
By the time all the eggs were boiled, it was time for a bit of lunch. Cheryl helped me put cheese and salad sarnies together while Bodie kept Willie entertained. We ate in the lounge since the kitchen table was all over egg dyeing equipment.
After lunch, Cheryl put Willie down for a kip, and the rest of us got stuck into our artistic endeavours. The results probably say something about our character, but I couldn't tell you exactly what.
Bodie took charge of the cooled eggs. He divided them evenly into three bowls and gave each of us one. I noticed that the jammy sod managed to get most of the larger spheres in his.
Cheryl used clear crayon to draw designs on her eggs--mostly rabbit faces and messages like 'Happy Easter'. Then she dipped the results in the dyes. She liked the brighter colours--red, yellow, purple. Quite a few of her eggs were half and half combinations.
Bodie preferred shades of blue and green. He spent a lot of time experimenting with layered shades, dipping an egg in one pot of dye, letting it dry, and dipping it in another colour. He also used crayon to etch designs in his eggs before dipping His efforts were decorated with Celtic crosses and geometric designs.
I got out the book I had on Ukrainian Easter eggs and tried reproducing some of the designs in black crayon, then dyed the shells. The results were nice, but I knew that I could've done better with melted wax. That's the problem I have with art--I'm never quite satisfied with what I produce. I've got more taste than talent.
Part way through our design session, Little Willie awoke from his nap. Cheryl was mostly done with her share of the eggs, so she took her son out into the garden to play with the dog. Bodie finished slightly before I did, so he had time to go through and examine everyone else's product. Then he wanted to look through my Ukrainian egg book.
"Wash your hands first." I'd been careful to keep the book on the seat of one of the chairs, well away from the Easter egg dye and my smeared hands.
"Yes, mum." Bodie was as thorough as most doctors. His hands looked red and raw when he picked up the book.
"These are beautiful." My lover looked about ten years old as he pored over the colour pictures. Then he looked at my eggs. "These are beautiful, too. Too good to peel and eat."
No higher accolade could come from my mate. He had put my art before his interest in food.
"Ta, mate." I finished my last egg and began the clean up. Fortunately, we'd had the foresight to spread newsprint over the table top, so I was spared the trouble of cleaning dye off of it. The worst part was trying to get the colour off my fingertips.
"Why don't we take Willie to the park before dinner?" Bodie was still pretending an interest in the eggs.
"Great idea, sunshine. In fact, if Cheryl agrees, we could pack an early dinner in a basket and have a picnic in the park."
Bodie gave me that particular smile, the one that usually ends with the two of us rolling round our bed...or the floor, or the kitchen table, or whatever is most convenient. Down, boy, I told my unruly bit of anatomy. I took a few deep breaths for good measure. When I'd recovered, I noticed Bodie was doing some deep breathing exercises as well. All I could think of was that 48 hours of celibacy shouldn't be this hard.
Bodie smiled ruefully. "I'll go ask Cheryl."
The park was lovely, but a bit cool. Bodie took Willie on almost every piece of play equipment. As we sat and watched them, I asked Cheryl, "Do you feel like an old married couple watching our kids at play?"
Cheryl laughed. "They do look much the same age, don't they?"
"Yeah. At least Bodie's no longer in nappies."
Cheryl sighed. "Yeah. It'll be nice when Willie doesn't need them any more. At least he's sleeping the night through these days. At one time I thought I'd never have a decent night's kip again."
An hour or so on the play equipment left Willie and Bodie tired and a bit sleepy. Since it was really too cold to sit for very long outside, we decided to take the picnic back to our lounge.
I spread out the checkered cloth and plunked down the picnic gear. Bodie started a fire in the fireplace. We toasted bread and marshmallows over the flames. Willie fell asleep and had to be saved from falling into the cream cakes.
Cheryl packed him off to bed, saying that she'd see us in the morning. She was going to read a while, then have an early night.
Bodie sat in his favourite overstuffed armchair and I sat where I could lean back against his legs. After a while, I felt his hand slowly stroking my curls. For some reason, Bodie loves to touch my hair. Can't see it myself. To me, it's just a bloody nuisance. I can never get it to do what I want it to. I'd probably get the whole mess cut off if it weren't for the fact that all those curls take people's attention away from my broken cheek. I admit it. Even though it's been years since the accident, I'm still a bit sensitive about it.
Bodie's touch was very soothing. That, the warm fire and my full tum almost sent me to sleep
"Wakey, wakey, sweetheart." Bodie gave me a careful nudge on the shoulder.
"Wasn't asleep." I yawned and stretched.
"Nah. You always snore when you're wide awake." I could hear the laugh in his voice.
I turned round indignantly. "I was not snoring!"
"Oh. Must've been a jet going over, then." Bodie was enjoying himself.
"Was I really making that much noise?"
He smiled gently. "Nah. You were just beginning to breathe hard. Thought I'd better wake you and save myself the effort of having to carry you to bed."
'"S only gone nine." I sat on Bodie's lap and nuzzled his lips.
"Yeah." Bodie sounded a bit breathless. "But you know how small kids are. Willie will probably be up at the crack of."
"Bags on the loo." I kissed the tip of his nose, stood up, and gave him a hand to help lever himself out of the chair.
This time, Bodie locked our bedroom door. When we'd finished our wash up, the two of us came together in the middle of the bed. 'S no good trying to sleep in decent privacy on my side; Bodie is naturally attracted to my body heat. He unconsciously chases me cross the sheets until he lands in his favourite position, which is curled round my body like a dragon guarding his horde. I long ago gave in to the inevitable. It helps that I enjoy sleeping in Bodie's arms.
"Will you do me a favour tomorrow?"
"It must be lerv. You didn't even ask me what it is first."
I poked Bodie in the ribs. "That's because you caught me in a moment of weakness."
"Yeah. Every time I lay down with you, I go all weak in the knees."
"Convenient, that." Bodie waited until I leaned up to give him a suspicious look. "Means we both fall to the bed at the same time. Yeah," he confessed softly, "I go all shaky on my pins as well."
I kissed that pouting upper lip. "What's this favour you want done?"
"Mmmh?" Bodie collected his thoughts. "Oh. Just please don't smile at me until Cheryl leaves tomorrow. And if you can possibly help it, don't walk up any flights of stairs in front of me."
I lay back down in my lover's arms. "Turned you on this morning, did I?"
"Yeah." Bodie ran his hands down my back and over my bum. "Abstinence is harder than it used to be."
I gasped. "Then you'd best quit what you're doing or I shall rape you here and now."
Bodie moved his hands off my rear. "Sorry, love. I didn't mean to get you going."
I turned onto my other side, facing away from my partner and tried to think pure thoughts. "'S all right. But you'd best cooperate with me tomorrow or I won't be able to keep me hands off you."
"What do you want me to do?"
"For one thing, don't look at me with lust in your eyes. Don't stick your lip out in that little boy pout. And whatever else you do, don't let me catch you eating chocolate."
"No chocolate?" Bodie asked plaintively.
"Definitely, no chocolate." I was firm. "Every time you taste the ruddy stuff, you get this look on your face like you're about to cream your pants. It's enough to give a bloke feelings of inadequacy."
Bodie sniggered against the back of my neck. "Don't worry, angelfish. If it ever came to a choice, I'd pick you over Cadbury's any time. Maybe not over Black Magic, but definitely over Cadbury's."
I turned round to grin at him. "Ta, ever so."
Bodie kissed me. "I'll do my best not to get you on heat."
"And I'll do my best to do you that favour." Promises given, we settled down to sleep.
Of course, Willie was up with the birds. I was glad we'd made an early night of it.
After breakfast, we took turns minding the baby so that all of us got a chance to hide eggs round the garden. When everything was ready, we brought Willie out and gave him the Easter basket--a neat wicker affair with a blue ribbon laced round the handle.
Cheryl explained Easter egg hunting to her son and helped him find the first egg. After she placed it neatly in the basket, she pointed Willie in the right direction and let him go.
Bodie, Raven and I were sitting on the back step. We made room for Cheryl to join us, and Bodie handed her a cuppa.
Our first mistake was turning the dog out to join the fun. Pepper gambolled round Willie, wanting desperately to be in on anything going. But I noticed that he carefully avoided coming anywhere near our moggy. The pup found the second egg--which promptly disappeared down his throat, purple shell and all.
"Oh, Pepper!" Cheryl cried in exasperation.
Willie toddled past his pup and almost tripped over the next egg (one of my Ukrainian design efforts). He picked it up, turned it round and round in his little hands, then threw it hard against the garden wall. The black and red shell splintered and all that was left was a smear of dry egg yolk and splattered bits of egg white.
"Bloody hell!" Bodie almost swallowed his tea the wrong way. "What an arm that boy has. He'll make a great bowler when he's bigger."
"Uh-huh," I agreed. Willie was giggling and clapping his hands.
Pepper got the next egg, a dark blue one of Bodie's. He also got the one after that (one of Cheryl's pink ones).
But Willie beat the pup to the next egg, and promptly threw it against the wall of our flat. After that, it was a race between the boy and the dog for who could destroy the most eggs.
By this time, we'd all gotten into the spirit of the occasion--all of us except Raven, that is. The moggy decided that all of this was beneath him and quietly slipped into the flat.
Every time Willie beat out Pepper, we all cheered and whistled. Bodie started giving him directions. "A little to your left... Back a little... There you go!" And another missile would hit the garden wall.
Finally, sitting still got too much for him and my partner leaped to his feet. He joined Willie out on the grass, supervising close up.
Cheryl was laughing so hard she could hardly sit up. She had to lean against the wall behind her and hold her aching sides.
I realized I was missing a golden opportunity. Our camera was just inside the pantry, so I opened the door and grabbed it. Got a lovely shot of Cheryl with tears streaming down her cheeks and her mouth stretched in a grin. When she heard the shutter click, she looked up and waved me a two-fingered salute.
Next, I got a shot of Bodie crouched down to hand Willie an egg. Then there was a picture of Willie about to deliver a perfect leg-cutter. The rest of the film went fast, but I did manage to catch Bodie slipping something underneath his jumper. Had a fairly good idea of what it was, too.
I could feel my face split into a grin. It isn't often that Bodie really lets himself go. I treasure every occasion.
We had a small ham for lunch. I baked buns, using my mum's favourite recipe. We also had the traditional two veg, and a swiss roll for afters. Bodie's eyes lit up like a kid's; he likes swiss roll better than anything except chocolate.
You may be wondering about the chocolate; the ones wrapped in foil, I mean. We hadn't hidden them in the garden, and that was my fault.
"'S not a good idea, Bodie. What if we overlook a couple of them?"
"Then I suppose they'll get trampled into the ground."
"Only problem is, Raven might find them first. Chocolate is poisonous to cats."
"Oh! We can't have that." Bodie had thought for a moment. "I suppose we can just put some in his basket and let him take them home with him."
"Yeah. Besides, three dozen-odd eggs is quite a bit for such a small tyke to find all by himself."
Well, I hadn't known that Willie would have help. Between them, Pepper, Bodie and Willie had managed to find all of the eggs we'd dyed and hidden.
Shortly after lunch, Maisie arrived to carry her daughter and grandson back north. I helped carry things out to the motor so I had a clear view of Willie's farewell to his uncle. Instead of swiss roll for afters, Willie had had chocolate eggs. Anyone who's ever been round an almost-two-year-old can imagine what his face and hands looked like.
As Cheryl embraced her brother, Willie broke away from his grandmum, who was using the tried and true method of cleaning small children in public (spit and a pocket square, for those who don't suss what I'm talking about).
"BoBo!" Willie ran straight to Bodie and planted chocolate handprints on both legs of my very favourite pair of cream trous. Anyone who's ever seen my mate lean up against the wall in those trousers knows exactly why they're my favourite.
Bodie picked Willie up off the ground and received a chocolate-flavoured kiss for his efforts.
"Bye-bye," Willie told his uncle.
"Goodbye, Willie. Be a good boy and mind your mum." Bodie handed the kid to Cheryl.
"Take care, big brother. And try to remember to write me sometimes." Cheryl belted Willie into the kid seat.
As I closed the passenger side door after her, I told Cheryl, "Don't worry. If he forgets, I'll remind him. Bye, now."
"Bye, Ray. Take care of yourself."
I leaned down and whispered, "I'll take care of him, too." I gave her a wink. Cheryl winked back. Then I moved away from the motor so that Bodie could say his last farewells. Even Maisie had a civil word to say to him. It seemed to take forever, as those things usually do, but eventually everything had been said and they started the long drive back to Manchester.
As soon as the door to our flat closed behind us, I made a grab for the slight bulge under Bodie's jumper. My lover fended me off.
"Here, here, now. What's the matter? Can't keep your hands off me manly charms?"
"That, too," I agreed. "But mostly I want to see what you've hidden under the black cotton."
Bodie used his greater height and weight to keep me away from his secret. "You've seen it all before."
"Want to see it again." I don't think my partner realized he'd backed all the way across the lounge. At least, not before the back of his legs hit the settee and he sat down--hard.
I straddled Bodie's legs and sat down on his knees. "Now I've got you where I want you. Give over."
"Shouldn't you be twirling a long black moustache when you say something like that?"
Bodie was still trying to guard the mysterious lump.
I leaned forward and whispered, "I know what you've got."
"You do?" Bodie looked doubtful.
"Yeah. 'S an egg."
Bodie looked downcast. He brought out one of my Ukrainian eggs. "How'd you know?"
"I saw you pick it up and stuff it under your jumper," I admitted.
He looked mildly outraged. "That's dirty pool, that is! Spying on your partner..."
"Why'd you pick that one?" I asked.
Bodie looked down at the egg in his hands. "Because it's the prettiest."
Very flattering, that. And it was my best effort. "What are you going to do with it?"
"Keep it." Bodie still wouldn't meet my eyes.
"Not very practical."
Bodie's eyes shot up.
"It'll go bad on you." I hated the look of disappointment in those blue orbs. "Tell you what. Tomorrow or the next day, I'll get out my paints and I'll paint an empty eggshell for you."
"An empty eggshell?" Bodie looked incredulous. "You intend on gluing it back together?"
"Nah. I'll just have to glue over the two little holes we chip at either end."
"Two little holes." Bodie looked blank.
"Yeah. You use a nutpick and scramble the yolk inside the shell. Then you blow air in one side and it forces the yolk out the other. After that, you rinse the inside with water, and voila! Empty eggshell."
"You'll really paint an egg for me, one of the Ukrainian ones like the photos in the book?"
"Yeah," I whispered before I nipped his left ear between my teeth. "I'll even do two, if you're a good boy."
Bodie put the egg down on the table by the settee. He wrapped both arms round my waist and pouted. "Oh, I'll be a good boy, I will. A very good boy." Then he fluttered his eyelashes outrageously.
I put my head down into the crease of his neck and sniggered helplessly. But the feel of Bodie's hands caressing my bum was so erotic that I had to gasp for breath.
"Bed? Now?" Bodie moaned softly and I felt his cock twitch against my thigh.
Somehow we managed to stagger to our bedroom and fall onto the bed. The feelings were so urgent that we didn't have time to undress properly. We just pushed shirts, trous, jumpers and pants far enough out of the way so we could get at each other. Bodie pulled me on top of him and I humped my cock against his, frantically seeking relief. We kissed, licked, nipped and sucked every inch of flesh we could reach while our hips pistoned together in a demanding rhythm that soon led to ecstasy.
When the earth finally stopped moving, we languidly removed our twisted clothing. Bodie gazed ruefully at the chocolate fingerprints on his cream trous. "We'll never get that out."
"Then we'll just have to replace them. I think you look sexy in cream brush cotton." I yawned, then reached under the bed for a small package and handed it to Bodie. "This is for you."
Those midnight eyes lit up with surprise and he gave me a sweet smile that took at least a decade off his age. "A pressie!" He meticulously opened the package without tearing the rainbow-coloured wrappings. Inside was a solid chocolate Easter bunny and a music box in the shape of a carousel.
Bodie wound the key on the music box and sent the painted ponies turning round and round to a song from My Fair Lady. (I know all about Bodie's secret love of musicals.) Then he set the carousel on the bedside table and turned to me. "Thank you, sweetheart. It really is loverly."
I kissed the tip of his nose. "You're welcome."
Bodie hugged me until I thought my ribs would break. I pretended that I didn't see him surreptitiously wipe his eyes with the edge of the coverlet. When he got his emotions under control, Bodie unwrapped the rabbit and we fed each other bits broken off his poor body.
"Your sister is turning into a very nice young woman."
"She is, isn't she? And Willie's at a cute age, too."
"Yeah." I ate another bit of bunny before I said, "I almost understand those gay blokes who yearn to have their lover's kids."
Bodie nearly choked on the tail he was crunching. I pounded him on the back. When he got his breath back, he turned incredulous blue eyes on me. "What did you say?"
"You heard me. I said that I almost understood those blokes. They're so much in love that they want to give their partner everything--including genetic immortality. 'S not the same as saying that they'd rather be female. 'S just that they envy birds the one thing that no bloke can do."
"Thank God! For a moment there, I thought you'd gone round the twist. Had visions of you hopping off to Sweden for the operation."
I cuffed Bodie lightly on the ear. "Not even for you, lover. I'm male and I like it that way."
"So you don't yearn to carry my progeny?"
I looked deep into Bodie's eyes and said softly, "I just want to give you the earth, the moon, the stars...your heart's desire."
Bodie took me into his arms again. "As long as I have you, I've got my heart's desire."
He kissed me.
That's my favourite memory from the Easter Hols. It isn't often that Bodie opens up like that and actually says the words. Most of the time he just shows me how much I mean to him. Usually, that's more than enough. But sometimes I need to hear it as well, which makes that particular memory of Easter doubly precious to me.
-- THE END --
Originally published in Holiday Shrieks!, Whatever You Do, Don't Press! (Agent with Style), 1992