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Chain of Secrets (HBTC Novella)

Excerpt from: George, Aged 14


    "What did you get up to yesterday?" George asked, popping open packets of sweets to fill the large bowl Josh had put on the kitchen table.
    "Not much. I went to Ellie's in the afternoon and stayed for dinner."
    "Did you have fun?"
    "Yes. Sort of. It's a noisy house."
    "Why?"
    "Well, Ellie's the eldest, then there's Ben - he said hi, by the way - then there's Charlotte, who's nine, Luke, who's seven, Tilly, who's five, and Teddy, the baby."
    "Wow. Six of them?"
    "Yes. They're Roman Catholics."
    "Ah, yeah. I knew that."
    "Did you?"
    "You told me."
    "Did I? I don't remember. It's probably a good idea you don't mention to Ellie you've got a boyfriend, though."
    George's stomach flipped.
    Josh turned slowly and looked him in the eye. "You have got a boyfriend, I take it?"
    "Um..." George knew he was blushing and couldn't get his mouth to cooperate, so he answered with a nod.
    Josh grinned and picked up the bowl of sweets. "So I shouldn't ask what you got up to yesterday, by the looks of it." He walked away, leaving George floundering in the kitchen. He really hoped Josh didn't start asking questions. It meant a lot to have his blessing, but there was no getting past the fact that he was the first boy George had wanted to kiss. George liked Kris, and he definitely wanted to do more of what they'd done yesterday. But he'd also had to do a lot of soul searching, to make sure he wanted to be with Kris for the right reasons, and not simply because he couldn't do all of the other stuff with Josh.
    "Don't forget the lemonade," Josh called. George picked up the bottle and quickly went through to the living room, where Josh had already laid out their sweets and snacks and set up the video. George sat next to him on the sofa and poured the lemonade. "Ready?" Josh asked. George nodded, and Josh pressed play. The title music started, and white writing flashed up onscreen.
    "We're still OK, aren't we?" George asked.
    Josh leaned forward, and without looking, picked two Love Hearts sweets out of the bowl. He gave one to George and kept the other in his hand.
    "What's the forfeit?" George asked.
    "There isn't one. Say it or do it."
    George glanced down at the sweet. "Say it." He grinned and held the sweet up for Josh to read. Josh laughed.
    "Yes," he said. "But even if it hadn't told me to 'say yes', the answer would've been yes, we're still OK." Josh flipped over the sweet in his hand. "Do it," he said, holding it up so George could see.
    George read it and looked to Josh in confusion. "Really?"
    "Yes. If we can't hold hands anymore, we could at least hug sometimes."
    "Fair enough." George shuffled along the sofa and put his arms around Josh. "I thought you didn't like being hugged."
    "I was wrong."

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