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I fiddled nervously with the ends of my hair as I waited for Cameron Banks. I hadn’t seen him in about 8 years but I’d stalked him on Facebook recently, to see what I was getting myself into, and ahhh, dude, I really didn’t like the look of him. He was one of those guys who just… made me nervous. He could be Steven Adams’ brother- he has the height, and the muscle, and the rugged hair and beard… and he plays rugby on the weekends and works construction. He was gonna take one look at me and piss himself laughing, I could tell.
I’d tried to dress down, in a t-shirt and jeans, but I’ve been living in London being a slaggy model for the last six years- my wardrobe just doesn’t really do casual. For years all I wanted to say with my clothes is ‘Hi, I’m a flaming homosexual, now can you please rip my clothes off?’ Finding anything which conveyed ‘Hey man, I swear I’m not gonna hit on you’ turned out to be virtually impossible. I checked my phone. He was late. Really late. Maybe he’d decided it wasn’t worth picking me up after all.
Not that I’d blame him. The last time we spoke I was like 17, with all the arrogance and insecurity of a 17 year old kid, and he was like 20 and my brother Tui’s best friend. He barely tolerated me, although he did used to buy me booze. And now he had a job, and a life, and he’d been totally guilt tripped into looking after me.
I should have come home months ago, Mum and Dad even offered to pay. I thought everyone was overreacting. I thought I’d be just fine. I guess this is why I have a job where I don’t have to think much huh? I ended up paying for everything and coming home, my tail tucked between my legs. I’m broke, unemployed, nowhere to live, basically unskilled…
Thank god for Tui. I called him when I got set up in the isolation facility.
“Hey bro.” He said. “Got Covid yet?” I steeled myself.
“Funny story, Tu.” I said. “I really hope not because then I’ll have to deal with this shit food for another fucking two weeks.”
“I’m ahhh. I’m in Wellington.”
“You’re what?!” He sounded delighted. “Did Mum and Da-“
“Don’t tell them.” I begged. “Look, just while I get a job… you don’t think I could…”
“Ari…” He sighed. “What went wrong this time?”
“Nothing! I mean… obviously work has kind of dried up… and it’s not like I can do anything over there trapped in my house…Look, I just didn’t want Mum and Dad to know they were right ok?”
“It’s their job to be right! They’re our parents!” He sighed. “Of course you can stay with me. We’ll get you set up. But we are telling Mum and Dad.”
I grumbled and we argued a bit, but we managed to work out an agreement eventually. Only he wasn’t in Wellington for a few weeks- he had a series of lectures he was meant to be presenting which started the day before I was due to be let out.
“But you remember Cam Banks? We live together. He can help you out for a bit.”
“I don’t need a babysitter!” He snorted.
“Well a, you do, and b, Cam’s easy. He can just pick you up and get you settled.” He sighed into the phone. “You’re an idiot. Lucky you have me.”
He was over half an hour late. I was already ordering an Uber when a dirty Rav4 came speeding around the corner. The car squealed to a halt as it approached and I tried not to flinch as I looked up from my phone and Cameron jumped out- in a wife beater and a plaid shirt. I was careful not to roll my eyes too hard. He peered at me.
“That you Ari?” I nodded, and tried to find my voice. Jesus, he was a giant. I’m tall. I mean I thought I was tall. Turns out I’m a midget. He grinned and grabbed my bags off me, with one massive hand as he opened the trunk with the other.
“Uh… Thanks…” I bit back the ‘be careful’ I was thinking. He grunted as he closed the boot. And then… very briefly… he checked me out.
There’s a way guys look at you when they’re interested and it’s just a little different to the way they look at you when they just think youre a lot to take in. I am a lot to take in, so people stare a bit. I’m just under 6 foot and I keep myself in great shape- no shit, I’m a model. I have really long hair, by anyone’s standards. The clean shaven long hair thing works for me. And, honestly, it gives guys something to pull on.
I guess I just got really lucky in the genes department. Dad’s Maori and Mum’s Chinese and Tui and I get asked a lot where we’re from. Exotic, my manager in London used to say. I suppose I should be offended by that.
Anyway. Point is, I’m used to people checking me out. But I really wasn’t expecting it from my older brother’s flatmate who just oozed machismo…
I’m not sure he knew he was doing it actually. Maybe my hair was just girly enough he didn’t really notice he was eye fucking me. He opened my door for me- like I was such a princess- and he thumped in beside me.
“So ah…” He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and winced as his music switched on. He quickly slammed it off and glanced at me. “Sorry.” başakşehir escort He muttered. I shrugged. I opened my mouth to tell him I really didn’t mind but I felt a bit weird around him… my mouth was super dry and I swallowed. “Anyway.” He said. “First meal out of quarantine. On me. What do you want?”
“Don’t be daft. What’ll it be? KFC? The lines went fucking crazy when we opened up. McDonalds? Something fancy? I’ll take you to Logan Brown.” He laughed. I shook my head.
“I don’t really do… that kind of stuff…” He rolled his eyes.
“I won’t tell.”
“The pimples on my face will.” Cameron sighed. I could practically read the thoughts in his head as he sat back. That I was a precious little fag who was no fun and he was stuck alone with me for almost four weeks. I swallowed my pride. “Is Rams still a thing?” I said casually. He grinned.
“Ah. The chilli oil dumplings.”
“Actually I was always into the duck fried noodles.” He swerved onto Cuba Street without indicating and rammed himself into a park. Shit he was a bad driver. No wonder the car was totally dinged up. He hopped out and whistled at me to follow him. Ew. I could really do without that.
I followed him up the street and to my delight Rams was still there, and virtually unchanged since I’d been there last- bar all the Covid tracer app codes. Cameron prompted me to sign in before we sat down.
“Bit precious?” I asked. He frowned at me.
“That attitude is exactly why you had to come back to New Zealand.” He said. “We take Covid seriously here.” I rolled my eyes a bit, but I signed in. He ordered for both of us. God he was so pushy. I wondered how Tui could stand to live with him.
“So what are you planning on doing?” He asked. “Got a job lined up?” The last thing I wanted to talk about. I shook my head and thought about my options.
Look. No ones gonna hire me for modelling work here. The industry is small and I know absolutely no one. Maybe in a year or so when I’ve made some friends but realistically I’m looking at…
“Someone, somewhere must want a dishie right?” I said quietly. I looked up and Cameron was frowning.
“Don’t you have your masters?”
“Bio specialising in ornithology?” He shrugged. “Not a lot of work out there.” I explained. “Especially when you’ve been fucking around in London for six years.” I muttered. Cameron shrugged.
“What was it you did there again?” Oh God. He was going to make me say it. Only I couldn’t say it.
“Bartending.” I squeaked out. He nodded.
“Yeah I guess that’s easy for travel.” I nodded, and I was relieved when the food arrived between us and we could stop talking for a bit.
“Loads of places looking for bartenders.” He said. “You can get your CV in order and you’ll find a job in no time.” He spoke with food in his mouth. It was fucking disgusting. I shrugged and played with my noodles, trying not to think about the pile of grease I was consuming. They were fucking good though. Exactly like I remembered. I shrugged non committedly and continued to eat in silence.
I felt better after the food. Cameron made me eat more than I wanted to, complaining that it was his shout and I was wasting food and money. I think it was the biggest heap of carbs I’ve eaten in years.
I felt great.
The music started blaring again as he started his car.
“Jesus, sorry.” He said. “Your poor eardrums.” I fiddled with a loose thread on my jeans.
“I don’t mind.” I said. “I like Morbid Angel.” He glanced at me with a grin. I glanced back. “Prefer Death though, if I’m honest.” He turned away and switched the stereo back on.
I ended up turning it all the way up and head banging with him as we drove round the bays.
“You play?” He yelled at me as he watched my air guitar.
“Bass!” I yelled back.
“Nice! Lead! We should jam sometime!”
“Yeah dude!” He pulled the horns at me and narrowly missed bowling into a Mini coming the other way. Jesus, the sooner I could get out of this car the better.
He insisted on carrying my bags to the house which was nice but totally unnecessary. Lifting weights is basically my job. Was my job. And I was never one for that shitty chivalrous stuff in the first place.
I let him though. He was just being nice.
He led me to my brothers room and I winced a bit as he threw my bags on the bed unceremoniously.
“Tui said you can use his room until he gets back. Then it’s the couch I guess, till you find a place.”
“Cam.” He insisted. “Unless I’m in trouble or you’re my mother.”
He paused in the doorway, considering something. He cleared his throat.
“The lads and I are going for a pint in an hour or so if you’re keen?” Something about his face said he really, really, didn’t want me to come for that pint. Yeah. Your mate’s faggy kid brother is probably a bit of a downer. I smiled.
“I’m exhausted. Might just have a bayrampaşa escort shower and unwind if it’s all the same?” He nodded and relief flooded his face. Fine by me. I’d find my own crowd eventually. He nodded and rapped his knuckles on the wall as he left the room.
Cameron was gone by the time I got up in the morning, which made sense because he probably had to be on site at like 6.30am. I had slipped into some really bad habits over the last two weeks and slowly crawled out of bed around noon. I sighed as I looked around Tui’s room. Fuck. A few weeks, and then the couch, and that would get old real fast. God almighty I needed a job.
I typed up a CV.
I was never gonna get a job.
I had nothing. I had a Masters which I had never used, and a modelling contract. I mean, I did volunteer work, I guess. Counting corncrakes and that kind of thing in the Orkneys. That’s not enough to guarantee an actual job in my field though, and I couldn’t afford to wait for someone to take pity on me. I just needed a fucking income.
I deleted the document and tried again. Fuck it, I’d just lie and say I did KP work in some restaurant in London. I could be KP somewhere. Yeah, it’s a shit job but honestly, what else could I offer?
I printed it off and went to trawl the streets. I applied for a few places. I flirted with one of the guys who took my CV hoping he could sweet talk the manager into giving me an interview, which totally worked because I got a call a few hours later inviting me to trial in a couple of days.
I signed up for a gym. Yeah, yeah. Real good use of money. Except it kind of is, because it makes me happy, and they have free wi-fi and a place to charge my phone-and if I do end up homeless I can always shower there. I could spend my money on worse things. I flirted with the guy there too- he was really insistent on getting me in for a free training session.
“Should give you my number.” He said. “Just in case.”
“Just in case.” I teased him. Whatever. Hooking up with a personal trainer wasn’t the worst I could do. He grinned and definitely lingered a little as he handed my phone back to me, his fingers grazing mine.
I went grocery shopping, I didn’t want to live out of Cameron’s pocket and I had a feeling he was going to be annoyingly accommodating. I think Tui had given him a ‘my baby bros just a fragile little lost lamb’ speech. Which he should know isn’t true.
I got the idea in my head to cook for him, to say thank you for everything. It’s so hot at the moment I just decided on something light and easy and bought ingredients for a slaw- which was good because that would do me all week. I put some chicken in a marinade when I got home and set the table with a bunch of flowers I’d idly picked and arranged as I walked home. I figured Cameron would be home about 8.30, assuming he finished work on site around 5, and then went to the pub for a bit, so I stripped down to some shorts and nothing else because it was way too hot to wear anything else.
I threw a singlet on before he got home, and looking in the mirror I decided to put in some long sweatpants as well. Anything less and I looked a little too much like… well. Like I was begging for it. It’s just the way I hold myself.
He burst into the home swearing and stumbling, and he paused as he looked at me. He wasn’t drunk, just a huge clumsy idiot. His eyes did that thing again, where he swept them over me hungrily. Huh. I wonder if he knew he did that. It could really send the wrong impression if he wasn’t careful. His glance fell on the table behind me.
“Place looks nice.” He said accusingly. Suddenly I felt tongue tied and stupid. What was I on, cooking dinner for him? He probably already had a chicken schnitty at the pub. And he probably really didn’t want to sit down with me for half an hour. He probably thought he’d already done his duty on that front.
“I… uh. I wanted to make dinner. To say thank you.” I mumbled. “For. Um. Letting me stay here.” I was playing with the ends of my hair nervously- it’s a bad habit- and not quite making eye contact. “But you probably already ate or whatever, sorry.” I tried to give him a get out of jail free card, but he didn’t take the bait.
“Ari, you doll.” He said. I raised an eyebrow at that, but his expression seemed genuinely grateful. Maybe he just talked like a nana. He pushed his hair off his face. “I’ll have a shower then.” He said, and marched off.
I felt myself turn red as he walked away and tried to relax.
He returned in a singlet and long shorts and I tried very hard not to look at his obscene pecs as I served up the salad. I almost took a seat when he glanced at me.
“Grab us a beer.” He said, gesturing to the fridge.
My head flew up but he clearly had no idea how rude that was. I retrieved it stiffly and opened it for him.
“Anything else, your highness?” I folded my arms. He looked up at me and started to turn red.
“Sorry.” He mumbled. beşiktaş escort “Didn’t mean it like… sorry Ar.” I sat down opposite him, shrugging it off and silently wondering when he’d decided that Ari was too many syllables. I didn’t like Ar, I never had. I glanced up as he stood up and got me a beer as well. “I did mean for you too.” He said. “Although I’ll phrase it better next time.” He grinned and thumped down opposite me. He started shovelling food in his mouth and asking me about my day. His mother had really never told him not to speak with his mouth full huh?
“I have a trial on Thursday.” I said.
“KP.” He narrowed his eyes at me and I felt small under his gaze.
“KP.” He repeated incredulously. I nodded and kept eating. He paused in his demolition of the meal and watched me for a bit. I felt hot with his eyes on me. Eventually I sighed.
“Want a picture?” I glanced up and he blushed and started to laugh.
“You’re good with chopsticks.” He said. “Can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone eat a salad with them before.” I shrugged. I would say it’s because we used chopsticks growing up, which is true, but it was also sort of something I picked up in London because it looked good. I almost always used them now. It made me seem… Exotic. I cleared my throat.
“Funny, you’re bad even with a knife and fork.” He laughed.
“Harsh but fair.” He said. “Guess we’re just built differently.” Well he could say that again.
“Don’t fuck him.”
It was Tui’s parting words before he left. I rolled my eyes.
“Dude, I’m not sleeping with your younger brother.” Tui narrowed his eyes.
“I know you, and unfortunately he’s just your fucking type.”
“I don’t have a type!”
“Exactly.” He said. “Ari is… look he’s in over his head, he always has been, ok? Just be gentle with him.” He grabbed his bags and headed out to his Uber. “And don’t fuck him!” He yelled, loud enough the neighbours could hear. Ms Johnstone peered over her fence.
“His little brother.” I kept her up to date. “He thinks I can’t control myself. As if I wanna sleep with that little annoying twerp.”
I knew he had to stay with us. I’m not a monster. I got it. But ugh. Ari was always so quiet and lame. And I’d been looking forward to some time alone. But this was Tui’s baby brother so I did my civic duty and picked him up. 4.30 at the Grand Mercure. Or was it 4? Whatever.
I almost drove right past him. He was standing, playing with his phone, looking bored out of his brain. His hair was long and slightly messy, thick and straight. His hair was something. But his face… his body… Holy hell.
No wonder Tui warned me. The Ari I’d last spoken too was about 5’3, skinny, gawky, geeky, obsessed with birds and fucking annoying if I’m honest- always trying to hang out with Tui and I when we didn’t want him.
This guy was…
He glanced at me and seemed a little unnerved. Well, welcome to the club, buddy. I tried not to stare too hard at his sculpted abs that stood out under his grey t-shirt. Did he know his shirt did that? He bit his lips as I threw his bags in the back. He’d really grown into that face huh? Always thought his mouth was too large. Now he had the kind of lips you look at and just want wrapped around your dick. I’m sorry. I’m obscene. But you gotta understand. Ari was just a pretty boy, a big, tall, toned, dark eyed, fuck me up pretty boy.
And dammit if that wasn’t just my type.
Well, in my defence he’s probably everyone’s type. He’s hot. Just straight up hot.
Don’t fuck him. I reminded myself.
Ms Johnstone was doing her gardening when we arrived and she caught my eye. I looked at her and back to Ari.
“That’s him.” I mouthed.
“Oh no.” She shook her head and mouthed back.
“I am so fucked!” I mimed shooting myself and caught up with Ari as we waved goodbye.
I invited him out but I was so grateful when he didn’t say yes. I was really struggling. He seemed cool, which was a crying shame. If he’d been lame I probably could have gotten over him, but we sort of bonded in the car over metal and I knew he had a good sense of humour because he was Tui’s brother. So having him right there while I was getting drunk was a really bad idea.
“How’s babysitting?” Tama asked. I gulped down my beer.
“Tui’s worried I’ll fuck him.” I said.
“Fair.” Tama said. “You’ll fuck anything if it says yes.”
“Is he gay?”
“Like a billion per cent.” I said. I thought about that. Actually, was he? I guess I assumed so because he was well groomed and I’d been warned, but I guess there was every chance he was just one of those guys who takes care of himself. I texted Tui as I thought about it. He called me two seconds later.
“What did I say about not fucking my brother?!” I laughed.
“Relax! It was genuine curiosity ok?”
“He’s straight.” Tui said. “But I know that doesn’t stop you.”
“Consent means a lot to me.”
“Ah-huh.” He sounded dubious. “How is he?”
“Seems fine to me.”
“He can be a bit… melancholy.”
“Quiet maybe, but he doesn’t seem sad.
“Good. Ok. Cam. Please don’t fuck him.”
“He’s straight and not my type. You have nothing to worry about.” I hung up and shrugged. “Tu says straight.” Tama sighed.
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