The boys are nearly here. Late June/early July you'll be able to read about the café where it's not just the coffee that's hot.
So, until then, here's a little taster. It's the opening scene...
Danny looked at the ring, and the knot tightened in his stomach. He clamped his lips together so tight his jaw ached. He couldn’t hear Jude prattling away above the high pitched scream of static that filled his head. He clenched his hands into fists, feeling the sharp dig of nails into his palms. The pain grounded him, made him not scream and rage at Jude to stop, just stop.
The ring was cheap and nasty. Jude deserved so much better: a better ring, a better man, a better life. Jude accepted whatever crap was doled out to him, and he was doing it again. If there was any gold in it, Danny was a virgin. Three bits of glass, which tried to pass themselves off as diamonds, were glued along the top. It looked like something out of a Christmas cracker. A cheap, budget-range Christmas cracker. Danny’s stomach clenched, and the volume dial cranked up in his head. Jude was worth so much more than this gaudy rubbish, but he didn’t see that. He never saw.
"It means something, Danny, doesn’t it? A ring. You only buy a ring for somebody if they're special. Everybody knows that." Jude had stretched his arm out in front of him, his fingers splayed. He was smiling so damned wide. Anybody would have thought the ring had been a bespoke design from a top-end jeweller instead of a piece of crap from the market. Danny didn’t think it would have cost more than a fiver, and that was being generous.
"It’s lovely isn’t it?" Jude said as he gazed at the ring.
Danny made a strangled sound, not trusting himself to answer
"We’d better go, or we’ll be late."
Danny pulled on and laced up his boots before pushing himself up from the lumpy sofa. He picked up the bag he’d dumped in the corner of the tiny living room the night before when they'd returned home from their shift. Wallet, travel card, mobile, keys, cigarettes, condoms. Everything he needed. Danny unhooked the air force jacket from the peg on the back of the front door and shrugged it on. Unlike the ugly ring, it was an original, the genuine article; it had belonged to his granddad. It was warm, soft with age and one of his two most treasured possessions.
Danny glanced at Jude, who still gazed at the ring. He’d moved it from his middle to his ring finger.
Jesus Christ, he’s thinks it’s an engagement ring. This was bad. This was very bad.
"Jude!" Danny's tone was harsh. He hadn’t meant to be so curt, but Jude’s doe-eyed mooning was making him feel queasy.
Jude looked up at Danny with startled big, smoky-grey eyes.
"Why are you being so snappy?"
Danny stifled a sigh, but when he answered his voice was softer.
“We need to get a move on. We can’t be late again.”
"Yeah, okay. I’ll just grab my stuff." Jude let his gaze drop and got up. He disappeared into bedroom, from where Danny could hear him rummaging around. Seconds later he emerged, ready to leave. "What do you think the others will say, when they see this?" He held up his hand and wiggled the finger with the ring on it, his face split in two by a wide grin.
Danny's stomach plummeted but he said nothing as he let them out, locking up behind them.
A E Ryecart
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