GALEN FOUND THAT HE COULDN’T TAKE HIS EYES OFF the boy who sat so quietly—almost fearfully—in the corner of the café, his head bowed, hands wrapped around a steaming mug of cocoa. He knew him instantly; it was Seth, the very same boy he had harbored a secret infatuation for several years before when he had been teaching over at the Academy.
Seth Gentry. An odd boy, quiet and thoughtful, who always seemed to have the haunted look of someone being followed. He always wore long sleeves—even in the summer, and his eyes— the sweetest shade of grey—were full of secrets and dreams. Though he never spoke in class, he was one the brightest of his students, scoring highest on every exam. Galen had found him intriguing, and—admittedly—disarmingly attractive, though as his student he had been strictly off-limits.
But that was years ago. Seth had certainly graduated by now and Galen, now weary of living alone and hungry for a bit of companionship—and yes, perhaps some sexual gratification— decided that there was nothing wrong with approaching him now.
He had just muscled up the courage to do so when another male suddenly approached Seth, sitting down comfortably next to him and putting his arm around him.
Disappointed, Galen looked away, but then found his gaze returning to him again. He frowned, realizing that Seth did not have the look of someone who was sitting with a lover. The boy had stiffened, though his eyes were still locked on the cup of cocoa in his hands, while the male leaned close to him, whispering in his ear. He fondled his hair with one hand, while his other hand—Galen could not help but notice—was on his thigh, rubbing him in a decidedly sexual way.
Was it his imagination, or was Seth trembling?
Seth continued to stare at his cocoa, motionless, though now Galen noticed that his fingers were white—as though he were gripping his mug. The male laughed, loudly, then stood up, leaning down to whisper some final comment. The boy’s mouth twitched, ever so slightly, but other than that he made no response. He sat, motionless, like a mannequin, as though he did not hear him—as though he was not even alive at all.
Galen waited only a moment once the stranger had left. He stood up and approached Seth’s table, smiling when Seth looked up at him, surprised. A look of confusion, and then recognition, and the boy offered the merest hint of a smile.
“Professor Willoughby,” Seth said softly.
“Ah. You remember me. I’m flattered. I was wondering if you would. Might I sit with you a moment? Do you mind?”
The boy’s eyes widened again, and then he shook his head, blushing. “I don’t mind. Then you…remember me?”
“Of course. Seth Gentry. I’d never forget you.”
Galen sat across from him at the table, noticing right away that the boy seemed different…thinner, perhaps. He had a look about him—a hungry look—that was almost alarming.
“You look well,” he lied, smiling. Although the boy was just as beautiful as he remembered, he seemed pale, almost fragile. “Though I think you have lost a bit of weight?”
“I don’t know,” Seth answered, blushing.
“Have you tried their clam chowder here? It’s quite perfect. You know, I suddenly feel a bit hungry. I can smell bread baking—do you smell that? Oh, I have a weakness for hot buns. How about I order us a couple bowls and some fresh rolls and we can visit a bit? My treat. If you don’t mind, that is? I’m anxious to hear how you’re doing since your Academy days.”
Seth seemed to hesitate, swallowing hard. He stared down at his cocoa again, and then nodded, as if ashamed to accept.
“Splendid! Oh, and I wouldn’t mind a bit of wine, what do you say? Do you like wine?”
Seth frowned, biting his lip. “I’ve never had it,” he whispered.
“Never? Well now. I think today is the perfect day to try some.” Galen motioned to the waiter, who immediately scurried to the table.
“We’ll have two large bowls of clam chowder, and the bread basket. Make sure you put plenty of rolls in there, I have quite an appetite! And a nice Mineogret wine, if you have it? At least 7 years? And two generous pieces of chocolate cake. Oh! And a coffee, for me, with the cake. Seth? Would you like more—what is that? Cocoa? Or perhaps something else?”
The boy hesitated a moment. “Might I have some chocolate milk?”
Galen had to struggle to keep from laughing. “Chocolate milk it is. One check, please.”
The waiter nodded, and Galen thought he discerned the smallest smile tease Seth’s lips as the man departed.
“So. Now tell me, what are you up to? Working somewhere?”
Seth nodded. “At the Marina.”
“The Marina? That’s odd. I would have thought you’d be working in some forensics lab by now.”
“I wanted to, but…actually, I couldn’t find a job.”
Galen studied the boy, who suddenly seemed embarrassed, his head bowed again. He could see the problem right away; the boy couldn’t get past the interview. It didn’t matter how brilliant and hardworking he was. He didn’t have confidence, and he seemed a bit strange. No one wanted to give him a chance.
“I have a colleague who works for the city,” he remarked. “I’d be happy to talk to him, if you like. Give him my personal recommendation. He has a lab and they keep very busy—I know he’d love someone like you. Would you like me to set up something? Have you a dossier?”
“Um…I think so. I’m not sure. I have a résumé.”
“No matter. I’ll tell him you were at the top of my class and he’ll probably hire you without an interview.”
“You…you would do that for me?”
“Of course. I’ll call you—what’s your number?”
Seth blushed. “I…that is, at the moment, I don’t really have a phone.”
Galen nodded. He suspected at much. From the looks of the boy, he was starting to get the idea Seth was living in poverty. He had to smile at the look of utter delight on Seth’s face when the food arrived—the boy was hungry, that much was clear enough.
“No matter. I’ll…perhaps you can give me your address, then. I’ll contact you that way.”
Seth nodded, but seemed too preoccupied with the food to give much more of a response.
Galen watched him eat, sipping his coffee. He suddenly felt an overwhelming desire to gather the boy up and take him home. There was something about him that seemed so vulnerable and lost. The world was eating him alive, and Galen hated to see it.
And Seth was attractive, no question. Those beautiful grey eyes, and the soft, golden brown that curled ever so slightly, just at the tips. Galen longed to run his hands through it, to push the boy back on his bed and undress him, slowly, and then make love to him, relishing his gasps and moans.
“The chowder’s good, right?”
Seth nodded, smiling. “Delicious! Thank you so much, Professor.”
“Galen. Please…call me Galen.”
A flash of lightning and the rumble of thunder caught the boy’s attention, and he looked out the window at the sudden rain, frowning. “Drat,” he whispered.
Drat? Galen could not help but smile at the boy’s sweet curse word. “Yes we have quite a downpour. Is something wrong?”
“I rode my bike,” he answered.
“No worries. I can drive you home. Your bike will fit in my trunk, I’m sure of it—I have plenty of room. So…Seth, if you don’t mind me asking, are you involved with anyone?”
“No?” Galen frowned. “What about the gentleman I saw here with you before?”
At this, a look of fear pressed into the boy’s features. He shook his head. “He’s not…we’re not involved.”
“Hmmm. I must say—and pardon my being blunt—that he certainly made free to touch you in ways that he should not, if you and he are not lovers.”
Seth swallowed, staring down at his plate.
Puzzled, Galen studied him for a moment, then decided to change the topic, as it was clear Seth was uncomfortable with his remark. But he’d come to a judgment regarding the stranger he’d seen earlier touching him: he didn’t like the man. He was trouble, Galen was sure of it.
“What did you think of the cake?”
“Oh! Delicious. The best cake ever!”
Galen smiled. “Good. And the wine?”
Now Seth blushed a little. “Um….”
“It’s all right. I want your honest opinion.”
“Well…it was nice of you to offer it, but I don’t think I care much for wine. The chocolate milk was really good, though.” Seth’s eyes shone, and he seemed relaxed, for the first time that afternoon. Then he suddenly looked at his watch. “Oh. I…should get back.”
A little disappointed, Galen nodded. “I’ve enjoyed this. So, I’ll drive you?”
“We’ll have to run for it. I haven’t an umbrella.”
Galen paid for the meal and then they rushed out to the car, into the pouring rain. Seth struggled to unlock his bike and then Galen put it in the trunk, and by the time they were both inside the car, they were soaking wet. It was a cold rain, and both of them shivered for a moment, until they could feel the heater.
“You’re…shivering, still,” Galen remarked, frowning. Seth was so cold that his teeth were chattering.
“We’d better get you inside where it’s warm and you can change your clothes.”
The boy made no reply, continuing to shiver. “Where to?”
“Just around the corner. The Braxton Creek Apartments.”
Braxton Creek. Galen shook his head slightly. It was just as he expected—the boy was living in a complete dump. Braxton Creek had a very bad reputation, and unless Seth was there to further his studies in forensics by witnessing, firsthand, various crime scenes, it was a dangerous place for him to be.
“Seth. I want you to tell me the truth. Do you have heat in your apartment? Because you need to be someplace warm.”
“I don’t…have any, at the moment,” Seth confessed.
“That’s what I thought. Look. You’re wet and cold. That’s a bad combination—you’re in danger of hypothermia. Why don’t you come over to my place for a bit and we’ll get you warmed up? And then I can drive you wherever it is you need to be.”
Seth seemed to hesitate a moment, then nodded.
“Good.” Although Galen was glad he had agreed, part of him was a little surprised at how quickly the boy had consented to accompany him to his place, especially since he had acted as though he needed to be somewhere. But he didn’t feel he could really scold him for it, as he had wanted him to come. Still, it bothered him, though he said nothing.
They were at his house in a few moments, and pulled into the garage. Galen fumbled with the lights, feeling rather cold and uncomfortable himself. “I’ll make a fire,” he said, pointing to the sofa. “Please, sit down. Wrap that afghan around you.”
Seth looked around the room, as though in awe. “So many books!”
“Ah. Yes. I like books.”
“Me, too.” Seth hesitated before sitting down. “I’ll get your sofa wet.”
“Don’t worry about that! That old thing—I’ve had it forever.”
“It’s very nice, though,” the boy murmured, sitting down a little gingerly, as though afraid to take up much space.
“I know this sounds a bit odd, but I think we should both change our clothes. These wet clothes feel awful. I think I can find a robe for you, and then you can put your clothes out to dry, here by the fire?”
Seth seemed to hesitate. “Um…can I…change in the bathroom?”
Galen laughed. “Of course. You didn’t think I meant for you to strip in front of me, did you? Hold on. I’ll be right back.”
The professor hurried into his bedroom, rummaging through the closet until he found a nice, thick robe, and a change of clothes for himself.
He tossed the robe on the sofa and then pointed toward the hall bathroom. “You can change in there. I’ll use the one upstairs.”
A few minutes later, they were both more comfortable and dry, sitting in front of the fire.
“You look really cute in that robe,” Galen teased.
Seth blushed, but smiled.
“Feeling warmer now? You’re not shivering, anyway.”
“Yes. I’m fine.”
They sat and talked for a bit, but Galen had trouble concentrating on the conversation. He was too distracted with the thought of the boy sitting next to him, naked but for his robe. Though he tried not to dwell on it, he was becoming uncomfortably aroused. He wouldn’t dream of actually doing it, but just the thought that one tug on his sash would reveal all, that he could have the boy beneath him in a matter of moments, giving him a good, hard fucking, was making him so hard that he was almost wincing. He closed his eyes, biting his lip.
“Seth,” he whispered, finally.
“Huh?” the boy looked back at him with wide eyes, his lips slightly parted.
Galen paused for a moment, swallowing hard, then slowly leaned forward to kiss him, gently, on the lips. He was surprised when Seth kissed him back, opening his mouth to allow him admittance. The boy tasted sweet and inviting, and the next thing he knew he was kissing Seth hungrily, his hand buried in his soft hair.
“Mmmm. That was nice,” he said, pulling away. Then he was kissing him again, and then, much to his surprise, he felt Seth tugging at his zipper. Stunned, he broke away from the kiss, watching with delight as the boy proceeded to slip his hand down his pants.
“Oh my. Oh! Seth,” he breathed. He swallowed, hard. The boy’s fingers felt warm on his cock, fondling him in a skilled manner Galen found surprising.
And then, Seth was on his knees before him, his mouth closing over him.
“Oh God! God yes,” Galen cried, spreading his legs and offering himself eagerly. It had been a long while since he had been with anyone—too long—and he found he was so aroused he could hardly think straight. Never in his wildest dreams would he have expected the boy to give him fellatio, but there he was, on his knees, and more than this, Seth was amazing. His skill was perfect, his tongue moving expertly in all the right places.
He was sucking him and licking him, all at once, his throat clamping down on him as he withdrew, his fingers carefully cupping his scrotum. Galen was so excited that he could only gasp and moan, rather wildly, his eyes rolling back, his hands in Seth’s hair as the boy continued to pleasure him so deliciously.
“Seth. Oh, Seth.”
And then he was there, releasing his semen into the boy’s mouth. It was glorious—and probably the single most erotic moment of his life.
“Seth, that was…absolutely perfect,” he whispered, finally.
The boy rose, wiping his mouth as he moved back onto the sofa.
Galen smiled, and reached for the tie on his robe. “Now, let me pleasure you.”
Seth pulled back, as though alarmed. “No! I…don’t need anything, Professor.”
“Professor?” Galen blinked, frowning, a horrible thought suddenly occurring to him. “Oh no. Seth…you didn’t just do that…out of some sense of obligation, did you?”
“I didn’t mind,” he replied, softly.
“Oh God. No. I’m such an idiot!” Galen sighed, burying his head in his hands. “Seth.”
“Did I do something wrong?”
Galen let his hands fall away, shaking his head. “No. You did nothing wrong. Seth, I’m so sorry. I… how stupid of me. I made you think,” he sighed, finding it difficult to find the right words. “I meant to say, I absolutely loved what we just did. But, I wasn’t expecting you to do anything. That’s not…what I had in mind. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m…actually a bit taken with you. But I certainly never intended you to do something with me…that perhaps you didn’t really want to do.”
“It’s all right,” Seth whispered. “I didn’t mind it…with you. I liked it, actually.”
“Truly?” Galen studied him, concerned. And he couldn’t help but wonder what the boy meant by ‘with you.’ There was something that was troubling him, and Seth’s actions now made him fear his suspicions were correct. He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them. “Seth. I have to ask you this. Are you…in some kind of trouble? With the stranger I saw you with today?”
The boy frowned, refusing to make eye contact. “I need to go back now,” he said. “I’m really…late. He’ll…can you take me?”
Galen paused for a moment, wanting to pursue the matter, but feeling, at the same time, that he had no right to pry. It was none of his business. He nodded, rising. “All right.”
He waited as Seth took his clothes back into the bathroom to change, kicking himself for not realizing how the boy must have interpreted his actions—buying him lunch, offering to get him a job, then bringing him back to his place and suggesting they undress—it was understandable that he had mistaken his intentions.
He desperately hoped he hadn’t ruined his chances with the boy. Seth had given him pleasure, in those few moments, like nothing he had ever experienced before. And it was more than just that. Galen felt himself—already—falling for him. In just the few short hours they had spent together, and now, after the intimacy they had shared, it was as if Seth had moved into his mind, taking up all available spaces and pressing into the darkest corners of his thoughts. There was something about him that intrigued him, no question. But there was also something that was disturbing, a strong sense that something was not quite right, though he could not quite put his finger on it.
He felt as though Seth was full of secrets, terrible secrets—and though he was not quite sure why he believed this to be true, he felt it was so, far more now than he had when the boy was his student. Even then he had suspected something was amiss, though he wasn’t sure exactly what.
Now, he knew it. He was seriously worried about him, and longed to protect him, to prevent him from going back to Braxton Creek. Somehow he felt as though all the darkness in the boy had its origins there—all his instincts screamed at him that it was so.
One thing was certain: he wanted to know who the stranger was that Seth seemed to fear. Was he from Braxton Creek? Galen suspected so. And he was resolved to get to the bottom of it—that very day.