Subject: The Hunters, chapter 17 The Hunters – Chapter 17 Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction which features sexual activity between teenage boys, as well as between teenage boys and adults. If you do not want to read such a story, or it is illegal for you to do so because of your age or where you live, then I recommend you go read something else instead. Feedback is very welcome. So, if you are enjoying this story, please do drop me an email at hoo If you can, please support Nifty with a financial donation – whatever you can afford – so that this archive of stories can remain free and available. Just go to fty/ *** Sunday 24th December. “I love it.” Back at work after his holiday, Jon smiled as his colleague Claire admired her present: a framed print of a Barbados sunset. “I’m going to hang it in my living room,” she announced. “It’s just the thing to help me get through another dreary winter.” “And I’m going to open this later,” Nigel, his manager, said, holding the bottle of whiskey Jon had brought him in duty-free. “I reckon it’ll be another busy day here. I’m sure I’m going to need some of this afterwards.” “So how have things been here?” Jon asked. “This past week’s been manic,” Nigel told him. “Everyone buying last minute gifts.” “Who cares about that,” Claire interrupted. “I want to hear all about Barbados.” “What can I say?” Jon replied. “It’s paradise.” “A health club in the sun, eh?” Claire asked. “Health club?” Jon questioned. “You look fantastic,” she told him. “How much weight have you lost?” Jon felt quietly smug. “A couple of pounds.” “More like half a stone,” Claire retorted. “Didn’t you eat when you were there?” “Yes, but the heat killed my appetite. And I did loads of exercise. Swimming, water-skiing, jogging…” Claire’s eyes widened. “You went jogging?” “I used to run on the beach in the evening when it was cooler.” “Sorry to start talking shop, Jon,” Nigel said. “But is there any chance you could do a few extra hours when you’re back in on the 29th?” Jon’s heart sank. “Oh…” “Is that a problem?” his manager asked. “Well, it’s just that I signed up for a gym online whilst I was away and I’ve booked my induction for that evening.” He sighed. “But I guess I could rearrange it.” “No, you couldn’t,” Claire said forcefully. Nigel looked surprised. “But he’s just said…” “I don’t care. He’s getting healthy and that takes priority. I’m sure we can cope between us.” “But maybe I want to go to the gym too.” Claire laughed. “Oh please. The day you jog anywhere other than the local cake shop is the day I give up breathing.” Jon and Nigel laughed too. Claire gave Jon a conspiratorial wink. Feeling grateful, he winked back. *** The same morning. Standing in his bedroom, Josh clutched the envelope he was holding. It had arrived several days ago, when he was still in Barbados. His mum had left it in his room, ready for when he got back. Given how late they had touched down the previous day, Josh hadn’t noticed it until he had woken up ten minutes earlier. Since then, he had stood there with it in his hands, too nervous to open it. Having looked at the postal stamp, he was pretty sure where it had come from, and it was this fact that was making him so anxious. Deciding he could wait no longer, he pushed his thumb under the flap. Fingers shaking, he struggled to open it. Eventually, he managed to extricate the letter. As expected, it was from his school. `Dear Mr Hunter, Thank you for your recent application for the position of Head Boy. I read your form with great interest. We were impressed not only with the achievements at school that you mentioned, but also by what you said about both your character and your background. I am therefore delighted to invite you to attend the next part of the process, which will take the form of a formal interview. All the interviews will take place on Friday 5th January. We would ask that you arrive at my office for 11:25am. Mr J. Robinson Headmaster’ Inside, Josh was glowing. At last, someone had finally seen his potential and realised that Will wasn’t the only Hunter twin who could be a success. He rushed downstairs, eager to share the news with his father, hoping, for once, that the man would offer him words of congratulations. *** That afternoon. Back at the electronics store in Stockport, Jon was showing a couple in their 30s the shop’s range of tablets. “So what exactly are you looking for?” Jon asked. “Nothing too flashy,” the man answered. “They’re for our sons,” his wife added. “How old are they?” Jon enquired. “Five,” the woman replied. “Both of them?” Jon queried. “Yes,” she said. “They’re twins.” “Oh. Me and my brother are twins.” Her face lit up. “How wonderful. Are you identical?” “Yes.” “Do people ever confuse you with each other?” “All the time. Only our parents can tell us apart.” “You’re lucky,” the husband said. “Ours aren’t identical, but they’re really close. There’s a definite bond there.” He laughed. “Not like their elder sisters who fight like cat and dog. They’re with my parents at the moment and I keep expecting a phone call saying they’ve tried to kill each other.” Jon laughed too. “Does your brother work here as well?” the woman asked. “No, he doesn’t. He decided not to get a part time job. He prefers to focus on his schoolwork.” He spoke slowly, replicating Josh’s accent as best he could. He had always had a gift for mimicry and in the final days of the holiday he had listened intently to Josh’s tone and voice patterns, even practising it when he was alone in his room, to ensure he could replicate it perfectly. And it seemed to be working. He kept waiting for the couple to register the deception, but they seemed oblivious. The wife reached into her handbag, pulled out her purse and searched through it, eventually taking out a small snapshot. “These are our twins.” Jon stared at the picture. Two curly haired youngsters beamed back at him. “What are their names?” he asked. “Aiden and Jacob,” she replied. “Aiden’s the boss. From the moment they were born, he’s ruled the roost. But he’s very protective of Jacob. If any of the other children at school try and push him around, Aiden always sorts them out.” Jon thought of all the years he had missed with Josh; of all the experiences William had enjoyed that should’ve been his. “Jacob is a lucky boy,” he said quietly. “Which one of you is the boss?” the husband asked. “You or your brother?” “I am; though I let Josh think he is.” The couple looked amused. Jon wondered why he had said that. `Who would actually have been boss if we’d grown up together?’ he asked himself. `Would it have been him? Would it have been me? Would it have even mattered?’ Jon gave the picture back to the woman. “They’re lovely kids. You must be very proud of them.” Her eyes widen slightly. He realised his accent had slipped. “God, I went really Bolton then, didn’t I? lara kendi evi olan escort We lived there for the first few years of our life, so it occasionally slips out.” He rolled his eyes. “I sometimes use it when I’m with my parents. It really winds them up. They did all they could to drive it out of us.” The couple laughed. He sensed the crisis had been averted. He began to show them a few tablets that may be suitable, all the time keeping his accent firmly under control. Eventually, they settled on Jon’s preferred option, selecting the same model for both boys, though with different coloured cases. The couple walked towards the till. Feeling pleased with himself, Jon prepared to follow them. He caught a glimpse of himself in one of the big screen TVs. His face was thinner now, his jaw line tighter and his skin clearer. He looked better, but there was still a lot of work to be done. *** Early evening. Stepping off the train, Jon made his way out of the station and towards the Hunter family home. He carried a small holdall containing enough clothes for the few days that he would be staying in Hale, along with presents for each of Tim, Jennifer and Josh. Knowing that the trio were used to the finer things in life, he had spent more money than he could really afford. But it was worth it, he considered. Far better than being embarrassed when all the gifts were opened the following day only to discover his was evidently cheaper than those given by Josh or his parents. It was only a short walk to the house and, although cold, the weather was dry. When he had phoned Tim earlier in the day to confirm his arrival time, the man had offered to pick him up. Jon had politely refused; after a day spent cooped up in the electronics store followed by half an hour on a cramped train, he knew some fresh air would be very welcome. Arriving at the house, he paused outside the door. Despite having visited on a couple of occasions now, he was still struck by the grandeur of the facade. He thought back to his childhood home in Belmont: a humble three bed semi-detached. The contrast with this place was quite overwhelming. He rang the doorbell, feeling suddenly nervous. He wasn’t sure why. These were his parents, for goodness sake. And yet they weren’t; not really. Yes, it was their sperm and egg who’d made him, but he still barely knew them. The door opened and Jennifer greeted him with a warm smile and a kiss on either cheek, temporarily banishing such worries from his mind. *** Ten minutes later. Eight miles away, Will stood outside his aunt’s front door in Cheadle. Like Jon, he was also waiting nervously for the door to be answered, though for different reasons. Despite what Olivia had told him on the phone, he was sceptical that his relationship with his aunt and cousin had not changed forever now that they knew for sure that they weren’t actually related. Of course, he was grateful that they’d invited him to stay with them over Christmas. The thought of having to stay at school over the festive period was not one he relished. But he still couldn’t shake the feeling that a week or so with his aunt and cousin could turn out to be a rather awkward affair. The door opened, shaking Will from his thoughts. His aunt stepped forward and flung her arms around him, hugging him tightly. “Oooph,” Will groaned, at the unexpected embrace. “Sorry,” Angela said, letting go of him. “I’m just so pleased you agreed to come and stay with us.” “Thanks. I just wasn’t expecting such a welcome,” Will explained. “Why not?” she asked, before realising the answer for herself. “Look, just because you’re not biologically Jennifer’s son, it doesn’t stop you being my nephew. We still love you, even if…” The end of the sentence was left unsaid, yet both of them knew what Angela meant. “Thanks,” Will said, his eyes beginning to fill up. “Come here,” Angela told him, pulling him into another hug. *** Ten o’clock in the morning, Christmas Day. As had become tradition in the Hunter household, the family sat down together to open their presents after returning from the Christmas morning service at the parish church. When Josh and Will were young enough to still be bought toys, they were each allowed to open a couple of gifts before the family went to the service, if only so the boys could show off to the other families that attended. These days, however, all present unwrapping took place after they’d returned from church. Although not regular churchgoers, Jennifer insisted they went several times a year: at Harvest, Easter, Mothering Sunday and Christmas, because that was the `done thing’ in the village, especially amongst the other members of the Philanthropic Society. When Josh and Will were younger, they also used to go on Christmas Eve afternoon for the Christingle service, although they’d stopped attending this several years ago once the boys could no longer be tempted by a few sweets speared onto an orange. As was usual for the family, the boys were allowed to open their presents first. This year it was Jon who was accompanying Josh in this task rather than Will. Each of them had a large pile of gifts to wade through. Both had them all unwrapped within less than ten minutes, revealing an array of gifts: sophisticated clothing, expensive aftershave, luxury chocolates, and assorted other offerings. “Thank you so much,” Jon said to Tim and Jennifer after he had finished opening them all. “It’s way more than I expected.” “Our pleasure,” Jennifer told him. “After all, they’re both your Christmas and birthday presents.” “Yes, thanks Mum, Dad,” Josh echoed, standing up to give both of them a hug. Copying his twin, Jon did the same. “We do actually have one more gift to give you both,” Tim announced, pulling two small boxes out of a cupboard draw. “Josh first, I think,” he said, handing him the navy blue box. “Oooh, exciting,” Josh said, taking the package from his father. The cuboid box was fairly small, the lid no more than five inches square. It had a velvet covering, with small silver stars on it. Carefully, he lifted the lid, revealing a set of keys. On them was the unmistakable logo of the Mini Cooper. “Is this for real?” he asked. “Of course,” his father replied. “It’s already parked in the garage. We had it delivered while you were in Barbados.” “Wicked! Thank you both so much.” “Go and have a look at it,” Jennifer encouraged, delighted to see her son so happy. The family hurried out to the garage where, parked up, was a brand new red Mini Cooper. “This is so neat,” Josh said, sitting in the driver’s seat and stroking his hands over the steering wheel. “Yeah, that’s such a cool present,” Jon agreed, clearly delighted for his brother. “And that’s not all,” Timothy stated. “We’ve also booked you in for a few driving lessons next week. There’s an independent instructor who lives in Rostherne. By all lara otele gelen escort accounts he’s very good. Most of his pupils pass first time.” “Cool. Thanks,” Josh replied. “We’ve also found you an instructor for when you go back to school,” Tim continued. “He comes recommended by Jeremy Robinson, so he must be good.” “Oh, wow! Thanks Dad.” “Our pleasure,” the man responded. “Besides, it’ll save us a fortune on your train fares coming back and forth from school.” *** Ten minutes later, and with Josh’s new car well and truly inspected by the two boys, the Hunter family were back in the living room. “And here’s your final present,” Timothy said, handing the second box to Jon. This one was burgundy red with small white spots. “Thank you,” Jon replied as he took it from the man. The teenager held it for a moment, wondering what could be inside. Surely it couldn’t be a set of car keys, he thought to himself, reasoning that there was only one new car in the garage. And anyway, why would they spend so much money on him? They’d only known him five minutes, whereas Josh had been part of the family for seventeen years. So what else could it be? A fancy new watch, perhaps? Slowly, he opened the box and discovered two keys nestled on the fabric inside; except these weren’t car keys. They looked more like the keys to a house. They must be a set of keys for this house, Jon told himself. A sign that he was now a part of the family. But why were there two of them? Maybe one for the front door, and the other for the back? “Perhaps we should explain,” Jennifer said, noting the look of confusion on Jon’s face. “We decided you shouldn’t be living in that flat anymore. Not when we’re perfectly capable of looking after you.” “So these keys are for here?” Jon asked. “But what about college? What about my job?” “No, they’re not for here,” she told him. “They’re for your own place.” “My… my own place?” Jon stuttered, unable to comprehend what Jennifer was telling him. “Yes, your own place. We’ve bought an apartment for you to live in. We’ll own it, but it’s yours to live in for as long as you need. And we’ll pay all the bills and things, so you won’t need to worry about that.” “Seriously?” Jon asked, hardly able to take the news in. “Seriously.” She chuckled. “It’s in the centre of Stockport; not far from the college.” “And it’s a brand new build,” Timothy said. “So you can move in immediately. It’s on the former Royal Oak Brewery site; part of a luxury development. It’s on the first floor: two bedrooms, nice little kitchen, lovely sized living area. Oh, and there’s a wonderful shared garden out front.” “This is far too much,” Jon said. Timothy put a hand on the teenager’s shoulder. “Just think of it as seventeen year’s worth of birthday and Christmas presents combined,” the man told him. “Well, yes but… sheesh, I don’t know what to say,” the seventeen-year old replied. “You don’t need to say anything,” Jennifer assured him. Jon exhaled loudly. “Thanks. Both of you. Thank you so much,” he said, before hugging Jennifer, then Tim. “And we’ve already spoken to your social worker to tell her about the situation,” Tim told him. “We thought it best that she knows you’ll be moving out of the flat when you go back. She says she’s very pleased for you, by the way.” Over on the other side of the room, Josh was sat in an armchair, inwardly fuming. Why was Jon getting his own apartment when all he’d been bought was a poxy car? It just wasn’t fair! “Wow, it’s even got a balcony,” Jon said, showing Josh the particulars that Tim had just given to him. “And the main bedroom’s got an en-suite. It looks really amazing. Don’t you think so?” “Oh… um… yeah,” Josh answered, doing his best to force a smile, while inside he felt his stomach churn. *** One o’clock. Will sat with Angela and Olivia at the kitchen table, helping themselves to the delicious Christmas lunch that sat before them. The three of them had been in there most of the morning as Angela cooked. Will had offered to help, but his aunt had categorically told him that he wasn’t allowed since he was their guest. The same reprieve hadn’t been afforded to Olivia, however, who, under instruction from her mother, had peeled the potatoes, cut up the carrots and parsnips, and scored crosses into the bases of the Brussels sprouts. But despite their duties, it had been a fun morning, with the three of them singing along to a CD of Christmas pop songs. Will reflected on the difference to Christmas mornings in the Hunter household, where Jennifer prepped the vegetables the night before, banished the rest of the family from the kitchen, and only allowed the sound of carols from Classic FM to fill her work space. He’d also been surprised when he’d been presented with an armful of presents, far more than his aunt usually gave him. He’d felt rather guilty as he opened them, knowing the expense she must have gone to, despite the fact she had far less of an income than his parents. “Mmmm, this is delicious Mum,” Olivia announced, as she munched on a roast potato, table manners that would never be allowed by Jennifer. “Yes, it’s really good,” Will agreed, enjoying the informality and relaxed nature of the meal. For the next fifteen minutes the three of them tucked into their lunch, chatting merrily between mouthfuls. “So shall we go straight onto the Christmas pudding or do you two want a breather first?” Angela asked, once they’d all finished. “A breather, I think,” Will replied. “I’m pretty stuffed.” “Me too,” Olivia agreed. “Fair enough,” Angela said. “Just let me know when you’re ready. Though the pudding will only take a few minutes in the microwave.” Will smiled to himself, noting another difference to his usual Christmas lunch, where Jennifer would cook her homemade pudding in the steamer for several hours. Angela began to clear the dirty plates from the table. “Here, let me help you with these,” Will offered. “Oh no you don’t,” his aunt retorted. “Like I told you earlier, you’re a guest.” Will sighed. “Fine. But I’ll keep asking for the rest of the week until you let me.” The three of them chuckled. “You should enjoy it while it lasts,” Olivia told him. “If she starts treating you like she does me, then you’ll think they’ve brought back slavery.” “Oi, cheeky!” Angela scolded, giving her daughter a pretend clip round the ears. Will laughed heartily, enjoying the interaction between the two women and almost forgetting about the situation that had led him to being there with them in the first place. “So Will,” Olivia said, once the hilarity had died down. “Have you thought any more about whether you’re going to jack school in?” “Olivia, is this really the time?” her mum asked. “No, it’s fine,” Will said. “After all, we can’t go on pretending like nothing’s happened. I’ve got to make some decisions eventually.” “Well yes, but lara rus escort not right now,” Angela told him. “There’s no reason for you quit school. Tim’s promised to keep paying the fees. You may as well exploit it while you can.” “But what if he decides to stop paying them?” Will asked. “What will I do then?” “I’m sure you don’t need to worry about that,” his aunt said. “If Tim stopped paying the fees, it would make him look bad. He wouldn’t want that. And even if that did happen, though I’m sure that it won’t, remember you’ve always got a home with us.” “Thanks,” Will replied. “But he’s not happy there,” Olivia went on. “He’s only doing the A Levels he is because that’s what Uncle Tim wants him to do. Isn’t that right Will?” “I guess,” he replied. “It’ll be another eighteen months until you do your exams,” Olivia continued. “It doesn’t make sense to keep doing the subjects you are just to please a man who won’t even talk to you anymore.” “Olivia, you can stop that at once,” Angela chided. “This is Will’s future we’re talking about and he doesn’t need you trying to make his decisions for him. He’s got enough on his plate at the moment without you trying to railroad him into making choices that could affect his whole future.” “Sorry Mum,” Olivia said, looking suitably chastised. “It’s not me you should be apologising to,” her mother told her. “Sorry Will,” Olivia said. Will looked downcast. He’d been really enjoying the day but, in a matter of moments, his good mood had vanished. “That’s okay. But I just don’t know what to do,” he said, sounding close to tears. Standing up, Angela came over to where he was sat and put her arms around him. “You don’t need to decide anything. Not yet,” she said, kissing his hair. “Thanks,” Will said, as his aunt sat down again. “Look Will,” Angela advised, “I realise staying at that school might not be the ideal thing for you right now, but it is for the best. At least until you decide what else to do. You’ve got to remember, it’s one of the top schools in the country. Being there is an amazing opportunity and you shouldn’t give that up lightly.” “I guess,” he agreed. “And yes, you’re doing A levels you don’t really enjoy,” his aunt went on. “But they don’t have to define you. You could easily go on and do something totally different in the future. The best thing you can do right now is focus on your schoolwork; try and ignore everything else.” Will gave a wry laugh. “I know it’s not easy,” Angela told him, “But you’re a very capable and intelligent young man. Keep your head down and you could easily come away with As and A stars. As for the future, you don’t have to decide just yet. You could even leave your university application and take a gap year. Really take some time to figure out what you’re going to do.” “Thanks. That means a lot.” *** Half past one. In contrast to the lunch in Cheadle, the Hunter family Christmas had an air of formality and sophistication to it. Each component of the meal was placed in its own china serving dish, all perfectly matched and each, no doubt, expensive. The four of them were sat in the dining room, a special Christmas cloth on the table with a central decoration of larch, orchids and Calla lilies in the centre, and purple candles dotted around. “This looks lovely,” Jon said, causing Jennifer to beam with pride. “Thank you so much.” “It’s my pleasure,” she replied. “It’s always nice to cook for more than just Timothy and myself.” “Yes, it must be quiet during term time,” the teenager said, helping himself to a thick slice of turkey. “It can be,” Jennifer confirmed. “I’d have liked to have had them nearer home, but Tim had other ideas.” “It’s one of the best schools in the country,” Tim shot back. “And I still hope we’ll be able to get you in there too, Jon. Besides, I went away to boarding school and it didn’t do me any harm.” Jon felt a little guilty for having caused an argument at the dinner table and so began to serve himself some sprouts. The rest of the meal passed in relative silence, just the occasional word of gratitude about the food breaking the frosty atmosphere that had descended. “Mmmm, that was really lovely,” Jon said, putting his knife and fork down. “I’m glad you enjoyed it,” Jennifer told him. “Would you like any more?” “Thanks, but I’m rather full,” he replied. “Besides, I want to leave room for your infamous Christmas pudding.” “Infamous?” she queried. “Oh yes,” Jon confirmed. “Josh had told me all about it. I can’t wait to try it.” “Well I hope you won’t be disappointed,” Jennifer said. “Oh, I’m sure I won’t be,” Jon said. Jennifer smiled. “You’re too kind. Though there will be plenty more puddings over the next few days. We’ll feed you up before you go back to Stockport.” “Are you still planning on going back on Thursday?” Tim asked. “Yes. There’s a train just before eleven that I thought I’d catch.” “Are you sure you can’t stay with us for longer?” the man enquired. “We’d love for you to celebrate New Year with us too.” “No, sorry. It’d be great to spend some more time with you all, but I’m due back in at work on the 29th.” “Well, I suppose that can’t be helped,” Jennifer said. “No,” Tim agreed. “Though I don’t see any reason for you to carry on there. Not now you’ve got us to support you.” “But I enjoy it,” Jon replied. Tim huffed, showing he didn’t agree with the boy, but not wanting to sour the atmosphere. “But we can’t let you go back on the train,” Jennifer said. “We’ll drive you. After all, we want to see your reaction when you see the apartment.” “And no doubt you’ll need some help moving your things out of the flat,” Tim added. “Thanks, but I wasn’t expecting to move into it immediately,” Jon replied. “I’ll need to buy some furniture for it first. I’ve got a bit of money set aside, but I might have to save up for some bits.” “Oh you don’t need to worry about that,” Jennifer told him. “We’ve already furnished it. We’ve gone fairly neutral so hopefully you’ll like everything. But we’ve kept the receipts so we can always exchange anything if there’s something you dislike.” “Thanks, but that really is too much,” Jon responded. “Nonsense,” Tim said. “As I told you earlier, we’ve got seventeen year’s worth of birthday and Christmas presents to make up for.” Jon shook his head, unable to believe how generous they were being to him. `Or do they just feel guilty?’ a voice in the back of his head asked. “Though there’s still a few finishing touches we haven’t got yet: rugs, cushions, those sorts of things,” Jennifer said. “I thought I could come over and take you out shopping for them sometime.” “Yeah, sure, thanks,” he replied. There was silence for a few moments. “Are you okay Josh?” Jennifer asked, turning to her other son. “You’ve been very quiet during lunch. And you haven’t eaten much.” “I’m fine,” Josh replied. “I think I just ate too many Quality Street earlier.” In reality, he’d lost his appetite as soon as his parents had told Jon they had bought an apartment for him to live in. Josh knew he shouldn’t feel like this, that he should be happy for Jon, but he couldn’t help it. All his life he’d been second best; always in Will’s shadow. When he discovered Jon, he expected that to change. He thought it had. Now he wasn’t so sure. 2

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