The Spencer Cohen Series, Book Two

By: N.R. Walker

THE SPENCER COHEN SERIES

BOOK TWO



Dedication




This series is dedicated to every Spencer out there: for those who have lost everything but still have hope, for those too afraid to love again but crave it all the same, for those who have been through hell yet are still strong enough to smile, and for those who wear their scars inked into their skin.





CHAPTER ONE





I was nervous. I was also hungover, but my adrenaline was pumping, my heart was pounding, my palms were sweating, but in that totally exciting, this-is-really-happening kind of way. Andrew looked at me and smiled. “I hope you don’t mind that I slept on your couch?”

“No, not at all,” I replied quickly. “I’m glad you did. I’m sorry about last night.” It was about the fifth time I’d apologised. “I don’t normally drink like that.”

“Emilio told me,” he said. “He came up and knocked on the door to see how you were. You were still asleep, so he told me to come down into the shop. He spent the morning trying to tell me not to be mad at you and that you were one of the good guys.”

I looked at the table between us, feeling a little embarrassed that Emilio had gone into bat for me. Andrew had suggested the Moroccan place I’d taken him to before, and without even asking me what I wanted, he ordered what I’d ordered for him once: a full breakfast of pancakes and khobz b'chehma, coffee for him, and green tea for me. It filled me with an unfamiliar warmth to know he knew me that well. “Yeah, he and Daniela are good people.”

“He said he’d only ever seen you like that once before,” Andrew said gently. He kept his hands on the table but slid his foot alongside mine. That simple touch was reassuring, yet such an innocent gesture. My stomach flooded with butterflies. “That it was when your brother turned up? Emilio didn’t say anything more than that.”

I swallowed hard and gave him a nod. Thankfully Zineb came to the table with our drinks. It gave me a moment to gather my thoughts. Normally I would deflect the question, and for one split second, I thought of calling veto. But Andrew was different. This was different. So I took a deep breath, and although I spoke to my green tea, Andrew listened intently.

“I have two brothers, Lewis and Archie. I’m the eldest, and we’re all two years apart. My youngest brother, Archie, came to visit last year. It didn’t end well.” I cleared my throat. “I um, I’ve been on my own since I was sixteen. My parents kicked me out.”

“Because you’re gay?”

“Yeah.” I looked up at Andrew then to find a look of shock and anger on his face. I gave him a sad smile. “It’s funny you know, I had the best childhood. It really was. Great neighbourhood, good friends, we rode our bikes, played sport. Mum and Dad both worked, but they drove me and my brothers around after school to a bunch of different sports and stuff. We did things together as a family, went camping, had holidays up the coast. I thought I could tell my mum anything.”

“Oh, Spencer,” Andrew whispered. He slid his hand across the table and gave my hand a squeeze. I grabbed hold of his fingers, not wanting to lose that touch, which surprised even me. I hadn’t realised how much I’d needed the contact.

“As it turned out, it was probably something I should have kept to myself.”

“What happened?”

“Mum went kind of quiet. Dad went off. I’d never seen him so mad,” I answered with a shake of my head. “For two days our house was… well, it wasn’t a very nice place to be. When I got home from school on the second day my mum sat me down and told me I had to go.”

“They what?”

“Yep. My things were already packed. Just some clothes and a few school things out of my room. I couldn’t take anything else. Wasn’t allowed. And my old man just sat there and never said a bloody word.”

Andrew’s jaw bulged. “You were sixteen? What did you do?”

I stayed at my friend’s place for a week or so. But then my dad put an end to that by telling my mate’s parents that maybe I’d corrupt their son, and I couldn’t stay there anymore. Spent a few nights in the park before my aunty heard and took me in.”

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