For Real by Alexis Hall

For Real by Alexis Hall

Author:Alexis Hall [Hall, Alexis]
Language: eng
Format: epub, azw3, mobi
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Published: 2015-05-05T18:30:00+00:00

He turned up in good time the next Friday afternoon, carrying what looked like a bundle of clothes in a Tesco’s carrier bag. I leaned in to kiss him and recoiled, eyes watering.

“Good God, you smell like my father.” I sniffed cautiously, and wood and citrus assaulted my nostrils. “Why are you wearing Old Spice?”

He shuffled his feet. “I don’t know . . . Well . . . I thought it would be cool to have like a signature scent or something?”

“So you chose Old Spice?”

“It reminds me of my granddad. Also wasn’t there adverts? Isn’t it cool again?”

I took his hand and pulled him into the downstairs bathroom. He didn’t protest as I tugged off his hoodie and his T-shirt, and gave him a hasty sponge bath until he smelled, well, something like my boy again. “I’m sorry, Toby, but Old Spice will never be cool. And it really doesn’t suit you.”


One very small monosyllable from a very small Toby. Fuck. I’d crushed him. If there was ever a time for disastrous stylistic and sartorial experiments, that time was being nineteen. “Maybe I overreacted. It just . . . took me by surprise.”

“No.” He hung his head. “You’re right. It’s weird on me. Maybe I put too much on.”

“Everybody’s skin and body chemistry react differently. You might just need to try a few things before you find one that’s right.” I smiled in what I hoped was an encouraging manner. “It’s a good idea, though.”


“Absolutely. You know, if we left now, we’d probably have a bit of time before dinner, so . . . if you wanted . . . we could . . .”


“Go shopping?” I offered. “Try to find you something.”

“What? Both of us? Together? You and me?”

No, Toby, someone else. “Yes. Both of us. Together. You and me.”

He gave me a smile I’d never seen before. It was so shy it nearly broke my heart. “You’d do that with me? You wouldn’t mind?”

“No, not at all. It’ll be fun.” For some reason, the nakedness of his joy made me slightly awkward. “Also, it’s mainly selfishness on my part because I really can’t stand Old Spice.”

He scampered gleefully out of the bathroom.

“Um, Toby . . . shirt . . .”

He came back for it, laughing, and then ran upstairs mysteriously to get “something,” but finally we had our coats on, our bags in hand, and we were ready to go. We took a taxi to Paddington because I wasn’t in any mood to wrestle the Tube, and despite Toby’s best if somewhat sheepish efforts to pay for things, I got us two first-class tickets to Oxford. Which was possibly excessive for an hour of travel and made Toby’s eyes get very wide indeed, but one of the advantages of having a well-paid job and very little free time was that certain minor luxuries—like travelling in moderate comfort—became incidental.

“Y’know,” said Toby, as we got ourselves settled on the train, “I’ve literally never travelled first-class ever.”

“Well, it’s hardly the Orient Express.


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